Sorting label for a Twitter search / SAT 2-13-21 / Jazzman who was a pioneer of Afrofuturism / Bly who traveled around the globe in 72 days / Sister channel of Flix for short / Literary member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (just two toughish areas for me)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SUN RA (46A: Jazzman who was a pioneer of Afrofuturism) —

Le Sony'r Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993), better known as Sun Ra, was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, "cosmic" philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. For much of his career, Ra led "The Arkestra," an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.

Born and raised in Alabama, Blount became involved in the Chicago jazz scene during the late 1940s. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Le Sony'r Ra, shortened to Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun). Claiming to be an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, he developed a mythical persona and an idiosyncratic credo that made him a pioneer of Afrofuturism. Throughout his life he denied ties to his prior identity, saying "Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."

His widely eclectic and avant-garde music echoed the entire history of jazz, from ragtime and early New Orleans hot jazz, to swing musicbebopfree jazz and fusion. His compositions ranged from keyboard solos to works for big bands of over 30 musicians, along with electronic excursions, songs, chants, percussion pieces, and anthems. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall AllenJohn Gilmore and June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the Space Age. (wikipedia)

• • •

This movie is amazing. God bless the Criterion Channel
Since I've (largely) stopped timing myself on puzzles I do first thing in the morning, I feel like I'm seeing the whole question of "Difficulty" a little more clearly. Which is to say, I think the clock can be deceptive. Don't ask me to elaborate on this theory, because I haven't thought about it too much. I just know that if I'm not in speed mode, I can feel the tough spots better, and see their ... I don't know, let's say "absolute toughness" a little better, as opposed to the kind of "toughness" that comes from the idiosyncratic mistakes one makes when speeding (fat fingers, poor reading comprehension, etc.). In that same time period (so ... the past three to six months), the late-week, "difficult" puzzles have seemed to get appreciably easier. I doubt they have actually moved much in terms of difficulty in that short a time period, so I think I'm just picking up on a broad recent phenomenon, which is that the "difficult" puzzles (Th-Sun, but esp F & Sat) have been made easier in recent years. Probably in the name of accessibility. I certainly haven't gotten *better* at puzzles. Not faster, anyway. I'm just noticing how easy it is for me to stroll through a Saturday these days, with none of the sweat and tooth-grinding that often characterized a Saturday solve for me even at my speed-solving peak (roughly ten years ago). I think that now that the NYTXW is doing such enormous business (like the cooking app, it's carrying the paper in terms of human attention, if not outright $$$), a conscious choice has been made to make the "difficult" puzzles more accessible, and I don't think this is necessarily bad. Casual solvers should have a shot at all the puzzles on offer, or should at least feel like they can get there one day. I do miss the genuine struggle, though, sometimes. 

Today's puzzle only put up a fight in two places for me. It definitely has teeth enough to make the solve interesting, and it's a good-looking grid. But I didn't look at a clue I didn't know for the first 1/3 of the puzzle. I opened like this, bam bam:

And then proceeded, with no hesitation at all, all the way down the west side of the grid until I hit the (by far) obscurest clue in the puzzle. Weirdly, it was a clue for a mere three-letter word: TOP (45A: Sorting label for a Twitter search). Totally inscrutable to me for the longest time—and I do Twitter searches *often*. It wasn't until I got TOP (entirely from crosses) that I remembered, "oh, right, when your search results come in, there *are* a bunch of headers at the top, different ways you can sort results"; the only two I remember (now) are "Latest" (which shows the results in reverse chronological order) and "TOP" (which some algorithm has determined are the most "engaging" or whatever dumb names they use to monetize your attention and anesthetize that way that you feel). So ... TOP! You *really* gotta use Twitter to have a shot there, and even many Twitter users (hi there) are gonna squint at that one. That little clue packed a lot of wallop, esp. relative to most of the rest of the grid.

The more serious challenge came in the SE, where REPRIMANDS fit perfectly at 51A: Upbraids (REPROACHES), and where, facing S-UR--E at 36D: Popular ice drink (SLURPEE), I decided I would write in SOUR ALE (!?!?!). My 10-year-old self is looking at me right now like "dude, you went to 7-11 and drank cola SLURPEEs every damn chance you got. I'm drinking one right now!" Embarrassing. No one else is making that error, I'm fairly confident, so I can't ascribe it to the puzzle's "difficulty." But I definitely had to work around the REPRIMANDS trap. But even there, RED SKY was a gimme (41D: Morning omen for sailors) and CATE Blanchett was a gimme, so even though "GEE, YA THINK?" was slightly hard to parse (54A: "Thanks, Captain Obvious!"), I fought my way up and out of there with only a normal Saturday amount of struggle. The rest of the grid felt handed to me. If you don't know STEVE / KERR (4D: With 16-Across, championship-winning head coach of the Golden State Warriors), maybe it's harder, but with him (and he's a gimme for me), you've got toeholds in two parts of the grid. Really opens things up. 

There were a few answers I couldn't get right away. 
  • Thought the Hajj was maybe a HIKE (!?) (it's a RITE) (23A: Hajj, e.g.)
  • Had the "H" but no idea what to do with it at 25A: Overplay (HAM UP)
  • I had the -OR and wanted ARDOR at 42A: Vehemence but then thought "no, ARDOR's more love than [Vehemence]" ... and then TOP got involved and really messed things up, so even though I guessed ARDOR early, I took a while to commit to it.
  • I didn't hesitate too much at 'ZINE, or, rather, if I did, it was out of disbelief that anyone would think The Atlantic was a 'ZINE (28A: The Atlantic, but not the Pacific, for short). I'd give you MAG before I gave you 'ZINE, which has a very specific non-commercial / DIY meaning. The Atlantic is a mass-market slick. It's the antithesis of a 'ZINE.
I do feel bad for people who have never heard of Lincoln in the BARDO, because how in the world are you gonna know if you have that one right. Unless your knowledge of Buddhism runs pretty deep, you aren't likely to recognize BARDO as a word at all. And when you don't recognize a word at all, when it seems like you're staring at nonsense, then all of a sudden *all* the crosses start to look suspect. BARDO was a gimme for me (Lincoln in the BARDO won the Man Booker Prize in 2017), but if you struggled with that one, I see you, and I sympathize.

That's all. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Spitfire27 7:04 AM  

Warriors fan who was thrilled at STEVE KERR. Now if only 2D had been clued "Nickname of long time Warriors coach now growing marijuana on Maui."

Lewis 7:06 AM  

Some random observations of things I liked:
• Will N’s puzzles are always junk-free, ARTFULLY filled in, and today is no exception.
• Two mini-themes: Double E’s (6) and consonant-vowel-consonant-e (RITE, ZINE, CARE, TASE, CATE, LIVE).
• Backward OMEN to pair with RED SKY.
• RESTAURANT crossing YUM.
• Answer about stuffing (ROSEMARY) sharing the grid with GOBBLE.
• ARBOR and ARDOR. (Okay, it's ARBORS, but still...)

Will, you gave me some easy and you gave me some gnarly, but as always, I left your puzzle thinking, “Man, I’m glad I did that!” Thank you, sir!

bocamp 7:15 AM  

Thx, @Will; breezed thru this one, and enjoyed every minute of it! :)

Easy solve. Slight holdup in the SW, but not for long.

Birth Of The "Blues" ~ Sammy Davis Jr.

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Conrad 7:29 AM  

I needed Sergey & Larry to help me with BARDO, which as @Rex said, looked so wrong that it made me question all the crosses.

But that wasn't my big hang-up. That honor goes to BIZzaRO WORLD, which kept RUMINATE and HAS OVER lost in the fog for way too long.

Frantic Sloth 7:29 AM  

Hmm. This was simultaneously challenging and over quickly. Don't ask me how that's even possible, but somehow when it was all over, I felt slightly battered and deep fried and my time was still considerably below my average for the Saturdee.

Eh. Who cares? It was a worthy exercise with colorful surprises like PENUMBRA, BIZARROWORLD, GEEYATHINK, and NERDPROM.

No complaints to speak or write of - I'll leave that to Rex,

And so, I bid you good day.


puzzlehoarder 7:41 AM  

I was surprised to find this puzzle took 6 minutes less than yesterday's solve. Certainly there was some very easy material that moved the solve along but it still felt more difficult than the Friday puzzle.

The only section I had any doubts about was the SW. It was the two squares where NERDPROM crossed TOP and NEMO. All three were unknown to me but NERDPROM just had to be right.

While average in difficulty this puzzle was above average in quality.

Hungry Mother 7:44 AM  

The NE corner had me pausing before I entered that ‘T’, but then I was done. Less of a slog than usual with some very nice cluing. Worthy challenge!

kaoconno 7:59 AM  

This was incredibly hard for me - 10 minutes over my regular time. Just didn’t know any of the proper names that would have helped me get a foot in the door.

Trockmn 8:09 AM  

Had HEM for SUM so briefly stalled there. Isn’t the correct phrase “HAM it UP?”

Joaquin 8:09 AM  

"The Atlantic" is definitely *not* a ZINE. I know that because they have a lot of back issues in the waiting room at the BARDO.

Trockmn 8:14 AM  

Who puts ROSEMARY in stuffing? Ick.

mooretep 8:15 AM  

SW was the toughest for us.

Thank you making Sun Ra the WOTD.
Saw the band twice in the 80's in Atlanta.

A New Year's Eve concert had me rolling on the floor in that the range of emotions they expressed musically were a roller coaster.
Was never sure if they were a visionary jazz group or a very bad marching band.
I went with the former.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

No mention of BIZARROWORLD? What is this Bizarroworld?

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Even though her best-selling album and biopic are both titled "Lady Sings The Blues," defining Billie Holiday's production as "BLUESMUSIC" (as opposed to jazz or swing music) is like defining the Sex Pistols as merely pop music. All for a nonsensical pun in the clue ("Holiday production")?

amyyanni 8:22 AM  

Popped in Pond instead of ZINE, so that lengthened the solving experience. Can recommend the novel Lincoln in the Bardo. Liked the clue for BLUES MUSIC. Good Saturdays, everyone.

TTrimble 8:27 AM  

I do have some knowledge about Buddhism, including Tibetan Buddhism, and know the word BARDO, but "Lincoln in the BARDO" just seemed so utterly unlikely that I had a hard time believing I hadn't made a mistake somewhere. In general, the SW kicked my butt: didn't know NEMO, SHO, and TOP, and while SEA ROUTE and ARDOR looked promising, I had a heck of a time putting it together with (i.e., seeing) NERD PROM and PLATOON. Really, that's what it's known as, NERD PROM? Okay.

The rest of the puzzle wasn't nearly so problematic.

It does baffle me that Rex enters ANGSTY immediately. The word looks recently made up, specifically, made up by young people who lack a great command of the language.

Missteps: I tried "PRimpS" before PREENS and "SLUshEE" before SLURPEE.

Puzzle didn't look outrageously heavy on people's names, although the names didn't play to my strengths. I knew at least it's CATE with a C. But STEVE KERR had to be inferred from crosses. NEMO I've mentioned. I didn't know NELLIE Bly. I liked the (Billie) Holiday clue.

I'm inclined to dispute anyone saying they have much feel for "absolute" toughness. Though here I might agree that the weekend puzzles are getting easier. I can't absolutely tell, because maybe it's partly that I'm getting better (I've been consistently doing the puzzle for over 400 days now, and can track my progress, although I'm still pretty far away from Rex's level).

As a general rule, teachers shouldn't say that something is "easy". I know they may sometimes mean to be encouraging that way, but the predictable effect is that's it's going to make some people feel stupid if teach says it's easy and they still don't get it. (Also, avoid saying something is hard if the likely effect is to stress students out.) It's better to encourage students by saying the material is well within their grasp if they work at it. Anyway, my point is that people can easily disregard Rex when he says a puzzle is easy by saying, "all he means is that he found the puzzle easy; it's subjective". But if Rex posits himself as an arbiter of "absolute" easiness or toughness, then it could get bothersome.

Unknown 8:33 AM  

Rex: "So I think I'm just picking up on a broad recent phenomenon, which is that the "difficult" puzzles (Th-Sun, but esp F & Sat) have been made easier in recent years."

I started going through the archives last Spring as a way of getting through the pandemic. It was immediately obvious that puzzles of 10 years ago are far more difficult. A Wednesday of 2010 equates to a present-day Friday.

Not sure how this escaped Rex.

None of the regular commentators from that era seem to be still be around, except maybe the guy who recently reappeared who compares his solving time to his median average; I think he was a daily poster back then? I also liked the implicit "3 comment" rule that was honored back then . . . but then what would Z have done? (P.S. Dear Z, I thought your comments on MANSPLAINing were hilarious, on so many levels! Thanks for the laugh!)

Z 8:42 AM  

Hand up for BIZzaRO WORLD.

Phoebe BRIDGERS smashed her guitar on SNL and a whole bunch of (mostly middle aged white) guys got all ANGSTY about it which resulted in a bunch of younger people to get very Get Off Of My Lawn about the middle aged dudes. BIZARRO WORLD indeed. And then David Crosby got dragged into the middle of it.

Anyone else pause at singular RITE for the Hajj? Since it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam I can’t really say it is wrong, but I don’t think of a pilgrimage as a RITE. Add to that feeling the simple fact that the Hajj involves several RITEs along the way and the answer got a slightly arched eyebrow here.

Have NYTX late week gotten easier? What does that even mean? With all due respect to Rex, I trust his difficulty ratings based on times much more than whatever sense he gets from solving. Is Lincoln at the BARDO an easy or hard clue? If 20-40% of clues are culture references (and they are) then isn’t that just a matter of what people’s cultural experiences are and nothing absolute about the puzzles’ difficulty? So that leaves the rest of the cluing and answers. Going with chocolate and caramel for the HUEs seems like a fairly typical late week misdirection. OTOH, today, in particular, I can see where clues were made easier (39D could be just the first word, 53A just the last two), but is that a systematic thing? If we had a large sample of times taken over time we could make some sort of systemic assessment if the puzzles are generally easier. Without that I don’t know how anyone can say anything more authoritative than, “ puzzles seem easier to me.

ChuckD 8:51 AM  

I liked this puzzle - although I wouldn’t put it in the easy category as Rex did. It gave just enough pushback for a Saturday. I’ll admit I used to read all those DC comics so BIZARRO WORLD was a fill in - NERD PROM is an apt neighbor. The Billie Holiday clue was fantastic and liked RUMINATE and REPROACHES. Little side eye to the ARD repeat of LARDED on top of ARDOR.

Not sure whether it was intentional but I got a kick out of the numerous repeated letter words here - SNEER, SLURPEE, PREENS, GOBBLE, NELLIE, PEER PRESSURE etc.

BARDO is a wonderful story. I would recommend all of Saunders’ work especially Sea Oak from Pastoralia. There’s a sentimental quirkiness to his writing that is comforting.

Really nice solve today - I’ll take them like this every week.

feinstee 8:53 AM  

Slushee at 36D had me spinning for a bit

pabloinnh 8:57 AM  

I read the clue for 1A and thought "oh please please don't be ANGSTY" and I went elsewhere on general principle, but of course eventually I had to return and it was still there. Finished the puzzle, but I'm lodging a protest anyway.

When I was in seventh grade we had spelling bees with teams lined up on opposite sides of the classroom and when you missed a word you had to sit down. (Spoiler alert, I almost always won these things.) One day our teacher ran out of words and started looking through a science book that was sitting around and came up with PENUMBRA, which he asked me, but I heard as "penumgra" and spelled it thusly. Nice man that he was (also my baseball coach), he deduced instantly that I hadn't heard him correctly, and gave me another chance, and I got it right, and left the room on the shoulders of my teammates accompanied by loud huzzahs. In short, PENUMBRA was a gimme and a happy memory.

I have yet to send or receive a tweet, so TOP was a complete WOE, and I had to get all the letters into GEEYATHINK and read it two or three times before it made any sense, a nice doh! moment.

Breezy Saturday over too soon, WN. Thanks for all the fun, except for ANGSTY.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

I "cash out" at a casino to convert my chips to money. Perhaps people "cash in" coupons? That they can do anywhere.

Brian 9:05 AM  

Super easy — almost my Saturday best.

Z 9:22 AM  

@TTrimble - I agree with just about everything you wrote, but The word looks recently made up, specifically, made up by young people who lack a great command of the language made me chuckle. I think you got that wrong on two counts, I think it is a word coined by old fogies with enough facility with the language to draw a distinction between “real” ANGST felt by adults and a bunch of spoiled teens being all “woe is me” ANGSTY. This isn’t to say young people can’t experience actual ANGST nor that adults can’t be ANGSTY, just that I see it used mostly by older (>30) people to minimize the emotions of younger people. BTW - Merriam-Webster traces ANGSTY to 1956.

@Anon8:20 - Huh? So her best selling album says that she sings BLUES MUSIC but you know more about what she is doing than she does? Alrighty, then.

RooMonster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
BIZARRO WORLD indeed when it's spelled that way and not BIZZARO. Add me to the list of those who got it "correct" at first. :-)

Had nIPPERS first for ZIPPERS. Har either way. Really surprised Rex didn't get all racial slurry on that. Is he getting less sensitive? Hopefully..., but I doubt it.

Is PEER PRESSURE really at the College level? I would've like that clue to say "High School" instead of "College".

Nice themeless, despite my nitty nits. For 1A, wanted ANTSY, but too short. ANGSTY took me a minute, as ANGST is a known word, but add that Y and it seem BIZARRO. "And ... we're ___!" went through done-Lost-LatE-LIVE. slyFULLY-ARTFULLY, Tab-TOP, apPROACHES-REPROACHES, heMS-SUMS, soy-OAT.

Turned out to be a flowing, semi-easy, semi-tough puz. I like to be able to do a slow-flow through a SatPuz, so if it's been getting easier over the years, that's fine by me! Proportionate to me getting older, and not as many brain cells as I had when younger! Har.

HAM, UP over GOBBLE. :-)

One F (TEENSY amount)

Nancy 9:36 AM  

So, knowing how much I hate proper names in clues, how ANGSTY they can make me, my sometime collaborator Will Nediger gifted me with a puzzle containing almost none. Thank you, Will!!

The one you did give me, however, almost sunk me completely. SUNRA didn't strike me as a "pioneer" of Afrofuturism or anything else. He sounded as old as the Egyptian pyramids to me.

I almost crashed and burned there because of the ice drink. First I tried SLUSHIE. When that didn't work I tried SLURPIE. And SLURPIE it remained while I tried to get 54A from what I had: ?EIYATHINK. (URGE wasn't coming to me either: I wanted something more specific like LUST or some other 4-letter word for sinful pleasure.)

I love the way PEER PRESSURE is clued. It fools you into thinking the answer will be bEER something-or-other.

I got BIZARRO WORLD only because of Seinfeld. That's the episode where Jerry says to the BIZARRO group: "Sorry, we already have a George."

Is the Correspondents' Dinner really referred to as a NERD PROM? Funny!!!

Very ARTFULLY done. (Not in the "cunning" sense, but in the skillful sense.) Great clues for CPR; ABODE; ZINE; BLUES MUSIC; PLATOON and ZIPPERS. Lively fill. I enjoyed it a lot.

Teedmn 9:38 AM  

You would not believe how much time I tried, with NE_O in the grid, to make sense of "Why, every fault's condemn'd nemo it be done." (Shakespeare-speak for "no more"?, I wondered.) I was pretty sure of NERD PROM though as Rex writes, TOP was a WOE. I finally moved on to the SE, and tried 56A and, voilΓ‘, I went back and read 55A, breathed a sigh of relief and threw in that M. Crazy how many times one can make the same error (I know you're feelin' me, eh @Roo?).

Other than that, no real issues. Knowing fellow Minnesotan, Lindsey Vonn, having read "Lincoln in the BARDO", having a local theater called PENUMBRA, with, weirdly, no idea where I've heard BIZARRO WORLD, not falling for the 17A Holiday misdirection for too long and knowing 14A was one of those crazy exclamatory clues (though with "wait", I was thinking of a reception area due to the RE start), meant this played easy for a Saturday, relatively speaking.

Will, nice job, thanks!

Ann 9:41 AM  


TJS 9:47 AM  

Saw Sun Ra on acid in 1971 or72. Couldn't talk for about an hour afterward. You either know what I mean or you don't. The "marching band" comment is hilarious, @mooretep.

I think I set a personal record for running thru the alphabet to get the last letter of a fill; Cate with a C, (B)ardo, (G)ee (had wow), to(P) crossing Nerd(p)om. Hate to admit I was thinking "catmilk" ?? at one time. Sheesh...

Great puzzle. Very satisfying to complete, thank god I wasn't solving with pen on paper with all the in-and-outs I had.

No question that Fridays and Saturdays of the past were more difficult,IMO.

RoccoChaz 9:55 AM  

The late week puzzles aren’t getting easier. I’m getting better. Not interested in any evidence to the contrary, thank you. Enjoy your Saturday.

Sixthstone 9:59 AM  

Spot on write-up, Rex. This was super easy, my fastest Saturday ever. Fun and clever but very little resistance.

I, too, started immediately with ANGSTY and ARBORS. For those complaining about ANGSTY, put this in your crosswordese file: EMO = ANGSTY. Usually, however, the clue/answer is reversed to get the cute 3-letter answer to "angsty genre" or such. Tore through this, stumbled also with REPRIMANDS but this was quickly remedied with CATE. Never heard of Lincoln in the BARDO, but the crosses eventually spit it out.

Nice puzzle but maybe better for a Friday.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Saturday NYTXW are definitely becoming easier. Just go to archives and pick a random Saturday from 200 or so..........

Birchbark 10:07 AM  


@Z (9:22) -- To my ear, @Anon (8:20) is closer to the mark about Billie Holiday and BLUES MUSIC. She sings blues progressions and songs, but that's not the first thing I'd say about her music (I'd have said jazz, though no professional). The "Spinal Tap" scene where they're arguing about whether it was a jazz-blues festival or a blues-jazz festival comes to mind.

I have an incredibly good Phillip Glass album on vinyl called "Songs." But if I clued Phillip Glass as "songwriter," I'd be afield. Same with crossword friend Brian Eno and "New Age," clued as such more than once here.

I did get a good laugh out of your "real ANGST" distinction (9:22), which kids these days can't appreciate -- like the many miles in the snow I used to have to walk to get to school, and now they just log on.

TTrimble 10:08 AM  

Oh, @pabloinnh, you bring back a sweet memory: winning the end-of-year spelling bee in the third grade, and being carried aloft on the hands of my cheering classmates. Like an astronaut on his return to Earth.

It feels strange, and innocent, and from an era never to appear again.

And very different from my son's experience. He was an early reader -- I taught him to read myself when he was 2 and 3 years old and it's probably my greatest pride as a teacher, although he was a complete natural and he made it all seem like a cinch. He was always a very good speller. In the district spelling bee in the third grade, he was one of the final four, but foundered on "significant", subbing a g for the c because that's what his ear heard. He had to leave the room and was weeping and disconsolate, alas.

I find the National Spelling Bee fascinating, and the contestants very, very impressive. Spelling may seem like a trivial pursuit, but those kids learn language and etymology very deeply, and that's bound to stick with them throughout their lives. I consider such knowledge valuable.

Barbara S. 10:11 AM  

I found this hard, but ultimately doable. Unfortunately, I thought the Hajj was a “trek,” “be peevish with” was carP AT, “vehemence” was vigOR, and “overplay” was “emote,” a word much beloved by the NYTXW. It took a while to sort all that out. I didn’t know BIZARRO WORLD was a thing, but did know BIZARRO. Was there a court case for copyright infringement? And, hey, wasn’t every last member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen a character from literature (Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Mina Harker, et al.)?

The SW corner was the last to fall. I’ve never heard NERD PROM, didn’t know SHO, was shaky on BARDO, and couldn’t see PLATOON (I thought it was going to be PLAy-something, as in theater company). Looking back at all these missteps, it’s a wonder I finished, but I did and I thought it was a strong and junk-free puzzle. Thank you, Will. (But did you miss our @Nancy?)

Today we have ELAINE PAGELS, born Feb. 13, 1943

“…arrived in Cambridge, and made an appointment to meet the formidable Krister Stendahl, a Swedish scholar of fierce intelligence, now to be my first adviser. We met in his office. I was nervous, but also amused that this tall and severe man, wearing a black shirt and clerical collar, looked to me like an Ingmar Bergman version of God. After preliminary formalities, he abruptly swiveled in his chair and turned sternly to ask, “So really, why did you come here?” I stumbled over the question, then mumbled something about wanting to find the essence of Christianity. Stendahl stared down at me, silent, then asked, “How do you know it has an essence?” In that instant, I thought, That’s exactly why I came here: to be asked a question like that—challenged to rethink everything. “
(From “Why Religion?: A Personal Story)

Mr. Cheese 10:15 AM  

... Is “angsty” even a word?

kitshef 10:20 AM  

Some Saturday puzzles you have a lot of trouble getting started, but once things start to come in, having a few crosses makes it easier and you finish in a big rush.

But some Saturday puzzles you never reach that 'big rush' - it is hard work all the way through. Today's was one of those.

Even better, today the hard work was due to the cluing, rather than to unknown proper names. I think I only new things for me were the clue for TOP and - sort of - SUNRA. After the fact I recognize that SUNRA has been in the puzzle before - and no doubt will be again - but during the solve that was like a big void in the grid.

Oh, and BARDO. I was a little worried that might be birdo/snip at rather than bardo/snap at.

Frantic Sloth 10:23 AM  

@Trockmn 814am I do. Along with sage and thyme. It's a pretty classic combo, I think. In New England, anyway. What do you use? (Fingers crossed that this won't dredge up the ol' stuffing vs. dressing "controversy".)

@pabloinnh 857am Don't you just hate it when ANGSTY doesn't go away? 😁

@TTrimble, @pabloinnh Does either of you know whether ESPN still televises the Spelling Bee Championship (or whatever it's called)? It fascinates me.

GHarris 10:31 AM  

I get that a restaurant is where a waiter does his thing but how do you justify the exclamation point?

Barbara S. 10:32 AM  

Oops, forgot to mention that CASH IN can also mean die, as in this excerpt from "The Cremation of Sam McGee":

He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll CASH IN this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

It's funny if people at the casino actually CASH out rather than CASH IN, because of the ubiquitous expression "to CASH in one's chips", heard in a variety of contexts.

Stix 10:37 AM  

Shout out to the band BARDO Pond from Philly helping me get that answer.

Whatsername 10:39 AM  

Agree with Rex that the Times crosswords in general seem easier lately. Maybe it’s a move generated to interest people stuck at home and doing puzzles out of boredom. An attempt to level the playing field so to speak. This one definitely had some teeth and was a pleasure to solve.

Had PRIMPS before PREENS. It’s been a while since I did either one for any occasion, much less a date. On that subject, I recently watched President Obama’s last NERD PROM on YouTube the other day. He opened his remarks by saying “It is a pleasure to be here at my last - and perhaps the last - White House Correspondents Dinner.” It did turn out to be the last one attended by the occupant of the Oval Office. Hopefully that will change now that the one who chose to SNEER at it is so OVER.

I’ll be off tomorrow so Happy Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate.

Malsdemare 10:44 AM  

It was a fun puzzle, made me work all the way through but never really blocked me. I loved the clue for RESTAURANT.

I really wanted Corea for 46A. I was saddened to hear he died. He was such an exciting, eclectic musician.

egsforbreakfast 10:46 AM  

@TJS 9:47 “ Saw Sun Ra on acid in 1971 or72. Couldn't talk for about an hour afterward.”. Not sure how you knew he was on acid. Could have just as well been magic mushrooms! Reminds me of the time I saw @John X on MDMA and mezcal. I couldn’t talk about it til now.

OTOH, I’ve frequently seen LINCOLN IN THE BAR DO strange things (speaking here of Sen. Lincoln Chafee, of course).

Did anyone notice the phonic dupe of CACHE next to CASHIN? For that matter, do CACHE and stash really rhyme as claimed?

Quite liked the puzzle. I didn’t time myself, but I did time Rex. He was right around 34 minutes.

jae 10:47 AM  

Easy-medium. SW was the last to fall, hence the medium part. Did not know TOP (I don’t Twitter), had to guess at NEMO, and @Rex ARDOR didn’t seem right.

BARDO was a WOE.

Fun with quite a bit of sparkle, liked it a bunch!

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Can someone explain the “restaurant” clue to me?

Newboy 11:01 AM  

TEENSY ANGSTY solve typical of Saturday here. Clues were a BIZARRO WORLD shifting from expected literal (ie, RED SKY & BARDO) to SEA ROUTE where some mental shifting was needed. Probably “monitor” as a verb hurt my head the most when the penny dropped with RESTAURANT a close second. Thanks Will, you give us much to RUMINATE on with your usual grid antics. Hope others enjoyed as much!

bocamp 11:02 AM  

Just checked out "Lincoln in the "Bardo" (audiobook) from my online digital library. Looking forward to the listen.

Re: difficulty of NYT puzzles in the "Will Shortz" era. As one who enjoys doing the older puzzles, I find, in general, the further back I go (to '93), the more challenging the puzzle. This is even more pronounced wrt the weekends. I record and track my times and dnfs, and by those metrics, the current weekend puzzles seem to be gradually getting easier.

"Sun Ra" documentary

@albatross shell 10:01 PM yesterday

Apologies for the early B.D. wishes (contrary to your wishes πŸ˜”); I was late on @GILL I.'s, so just wanted to even the B.D. score. Really tho, I'm in @A's camp when it comes to "blursday every day"-dom. 😴 Anyhoo, wishing you a very happy day tomorrow any way you look at it. 😊

@TTrimble 10:08 AM

"That all of good the past hath had

Remains to make our own time glad"

John Greenleaf Whittier

pg -10

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Carola 11:11 AM  

An easy one and a pleasure to solve. @Lewis 7:06 - I appreciated your comment about Will Nediger's puzzles. When I see his name at the top, I always think, "Oh, good!" but I couldn't have put my finger on exactly why. ARTFUL, indeed.

Like @Rex and others, I've been thinking for a while that the Saturday puzzles have gotten easier; I can't have gotten that much smarter. I do miss the days when the put-it-down-and-come-back-later method was required in order to finish.

Matty 11:15 AM  

Man...thought I was getting better at puzzles. Turns out puzzle just getting easier. Ah well...

mathgent 11:19 AM  

Very enjoyable. I thought that I would crash and burn in the SW but OTOH stabilized me and then came LARDED. Made it back safely to the carrier.

For those who don't follow the NBA, @Spitfire (7:04) is referring to Don Nelson, known as NELLIE. He lives in a remote part of Maui, near one of the world's greatest restaurants, Mama's Fish House.

NERDPROM seems like a strange name for the correspondents' dinner. Do they consider themselves news nerds?

I don't like clues like "Wait here" for RESTAURANT. Nancy would have come up with something better. She would also have improved "Monitor, e.g." for LIZARD.

Don't want to end on a negative note. Eric Agard is one of the best and this an excellent piece of work.

Frantic Sloth 11:20 AM  

I have to agree with others who say the farther back one goes, the higher the difficulty with the NYTXW.
I'm curious much of that is PPP which is no longer current? Frankly, I don't think this question can be fully answered.
Just a thought.

Glen Laker 11:23 AM  

A Restaurant is where a waiter works. So the answer is describing “here” where waiting is done, not “wait here”. You’ll see this form of clue every once in a while; the exclamation point is the giveaway.

TTrimble 11:26 AM  

@Frantic Sloth
I'm pretty sure ESPN would, were it not for the coronavirus. Last year's Bee was canceled. I'm not sure what will happen this year.

I liked the Bee when they had that word caller, now deceased, named Alex J. Cameron, with his severely arched eyebrows and somewhat redoubtable and intimidating manner (actually, he was quite a nice guy). The current pronouncer, a former champion, doesn't carry have the same air of scary authority to my mind.

Here's some video from 1997, which I remember especially for being the year that the intense and irrepressible Rebecca Sealfon won (she's the first contestant you see, and there's Alex Cameron).

@Barbara S.
Thanks for that! I remember when Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels came out, and I was enthralled. The whole story of the Nag Hammadi papyri was as if out of a thriller (which unfortunately it became -- or so I am led to understand -- unfortunate because the author was Dan Brown and I can never make myself read more than two pages of his stuff). The story of her professor Stendahl is awesome.

Doc John 11:56 AM  

What? No comment about BIZARRO WORLD? Easily the best thing in the puzzle.

Z 11:57 AM  

@Anon10:50 - See @GHarris 10:31

@GHarris - I think of it as the editorial team giving us the middle finger.

@Birchbark - I can’t help but wonder if you are confusing Rhythm and BLUES with BLUES MUSIC. Note this sentence in the wikipedia article, The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll,... @8:20 wrote [calling Billie Holiday a BLUES artist is] like defining the Sex Pistols as merely pop music. Which is funny to me because Punk is very much a form of “pop music.” Anyway, both “Pop” and “Blues” are tent pole terms with lots of other forms inside the tent. I feel like “Blues” today is often used as short hand for R&B, making for this sort of confusion.
At any rate, here is an article that isn’t on point but that you might find interesting.

About the time machine difficulty, I think @Frantic Sloth is certainly on to something. PPP is ephemeral. Plus, a certain amount of PPP difficulty is always based just on obscurity. Look at 50D. In 25 years how many people will have forgotten Flix and SHOwtime? Or how about some of the too common PPP of 2021. Will Harry Potter still be beloved or consigned to fad status? Will anyone in 2046 remember that owls played a role in the novels? So just how much of the difficulty of a Saturday puzzle is from some absolute difficulty and how much of it is from the interests of 1994 not aligning with what we remember in 2021? I should add, I’m not saying the conjecture is wrong. Late week puzzles might be easier in some sort of absolute sense. But Rex’s “I’m not timing myself and now I think they are easier because I’m not timing myself” is what I would call bass ackwards.

Newboy 11:59 AM  

@Mathgent you’ve enjoyed that highway to Hana obviously and Mama’s is worth a revisit for sure. Good memories of swimming with sea turtles & nightmares of driving both awakened by your post.

Hand up for fans of George Saunders whose Lincoln in the Bardo won the Man Booker a couple years back. Fox 8 is his modern fable for the trump/biden transition era (or just a shaggy dog story). As wildly creative as Lincoln in the Bardo for sure, but much more linearly structured; an amusement for an afternoon with a warm fireplace and a cool beverage

Cmorgan 12:05 PM  

“Angsty” is defined in both the American Heritage and Merriam Webster dictionaries as an adjective meaning full of angst. The American Heritage calls it “informal.”

Nancy 12:09 PM  

I just couldn't watch Trump's smarmy, angry, dishonest defense team any longer, so I turned off the impeachment hearing and wrote this instead.

(For those of you with a different political outlook, please feel free to scroll quickly by. Though I fervently hope and pray that at least some of you will be re-thinking views of very long standing at this time.)


"Oh, give us a fig leaf," they pleaded.
(For that's what the GOP needed.)
"We don't care if it's true,
Smoke and mirrors will do!" --
And so Trump's attorneys acceded.

They huffed and they puffed and they blustered,
They got red in the face, they got flustered.
But out of their wiles
And their scowls and their guiles,
A wisp of a fig leaf was mustered.

"Whew!" the senators said, and I quote 'em:
"Our consciences? We needn't vote 'em."
Well, the fig leaf you wear
Leaves your private parts bare --
No, it won't even cover your scrotum.

Joaquin 12:13 PM  

@Nancy (12:09) - FTW!

CreamyT 12:14 PM  

Spent longer on the SW than the rest of the puzzle put together. Never heard the term NERDPROM, BARDO (or the book), the term LARDED, OTOH, and didn't know NEMO. SEAROUTE didn't connect until I got a number of acrosses. PLATOON took way too long to get, as I got stuck on the myriad options within context of a business-company.

Granted, I'm not nearly as experienced/skilled as many of the people here, so just throwing out my personal experience. Got 80% of the puzzle super fast, on pace for a PB, but that corner put me above average by a decent amount.

GILL I. 12:15 PM  

Ah, Will....One of my favorite ANGSTY puzzle constructors. Did I find this easy? My PENUMBRA runneth over.
I had to work, work, work. G SUITE? STEVE KERR? ZINE? SUNRA? even BARDO . I know BARDO, I know Tibetan Buddhism but why is Lincoln in there? Waaaah.
I had to put this down several times. Solving late at night doesn't seem to cut it for me. Perhaps it's the Pinot that overtakes my brilliance. Morning Peet's coffee seems to work better. I finished this but I had to cheat on the above names. Waaaah.
Loved BIZARRO WORLD and ZIPPER because Z's are fun to draw. I put a little dash through mine. My jeans zippers definitely have little teeth that like to get caught in my tummy skin while I oof and poof trying t get them on. I am not LARDED and I don't PREEN, I ARTFULLY slip them on and they pay me back with tummy holes.
I have a new heroine and her name is Jaime Herrera Butler. We shall see, no?

egsforbreakfast 12:17 PM  

Bravo @Nancy πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Teedmn 12:19 PM  

@Nancy, quote 'em, vote 'em, scrotum, that is wonderful!

And really, we are in BIZARRO WORLD if those lawyers think that passed as a defense of the indefensible!

sixtyni yogini 12:29 PM  

Appreciate your/Rex’s thoughts on how he, myself, and probably all of us perceive a puzzle.
I have been focused on time, but sometimes I just relax and fill in what i know and wait for the other answers to drop by.

This was a tough one for me today bc some of the answers did not just leisurely float down from the sky as I like. And without a fun theme, there just wasn’t any zip. However, I did love BIZARRO WORLD and Lincoln in the BARDO, and if I could, I’d upload an image of a Tibetan Buddha and the book cover.
Cheers, all!

sixtyni yogini 12:33 PM  

Good one @Nancy. πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ˜‚πŸ‘πŸ½

Birchbark 12:34 PM  

@Carola (11:11) -- Agreed on liking the "put-it-down-and-come-back-later" challenge. What surprises and pleases me is how often, on return, an answer jumps out right away and things smoothly fall into place.

@Z (11:57) -- I confess I didn't check Wikipedia to see what BLUES MUSIC is, but doubt I'm any more confused that usual. Blues progressions and songs, yes. And a painful life and death -- all that is Blues besides being plain tragic. But if you asked me what sort of singer Billie Holliday was I'd say "Jazz" without hesitating, and without reflecting too much on music theory, history/folklore, commercial genres, etc.

More objectively, the words "Jazz" and "Blues" each appear 10 times in the Billie Holliday article you linked. The "Jazz" references all describe the music and the musical world she lived in. "Blues" is never used descriptively -- it appears because the title of her book, "Lady Sings the Blues" shows up ten times.

"All the truth that 1956 could handle" is a very good phrase from article. Tough stuff.

fogmachine 12:47 PM  

A slightly longer than usual solve for us, had several ah-ha moments, felt satisfied when finished. Those finding these too easy should do them after a few cocktails like we do. Ups the entertainment value, too.

Phil 12:50 PM  

thought a very good guess at 55A Literary member of the ... would be NERO like in the gentlemen of mystery NERO Wolfe. So had to look up NERDPROM. Like Rex says if you don’t twitter ( very limited) and the R I was lost.

MLC 12:51 PM  

No doubt in my mind the puzzles have gotten easier. I’m not very good at solving (science major with patchy literary knowledge and about zero interest/knowledge of sports) but can usually get through a Friday. I am currently going through older NYT puzzles and can rarely do a ten year old Friday. Big difference that can’t be accounted for by time. I’m old enough to remember and probably be more familiar with older cultural references.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

I am currently going through older NYT puzzles and can rarely do a ten year old Friday

I have a book of Sundays from late 90s. Oh boy, what a difference! Just gave up on one strewn with Yogi Berra (also an answer, not a given) quotes (10 counting Yogi).


Hi-ho, Steverino - After my first visit I start from the bottom and work back, so found your entry.

Whatsername 1:11 PM  

@Nancy (12:09) Brava! Absolutely brilliant. “We don't care if it's true, smoke and mirrors will do!" pretty much SUMS UP trump’s entire term.

From Ivanka Trump — The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life:

“Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. ... don't go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.”

A chip off the old block. No wonder daddy’s so proud of her.

Ethan Taliesin 1:11 PM  

Rex, I wish you would start including you completion time every day. You used to always include it. What happened?

bookmark 1:17 PM  

@BarbaraS. Thanks for the daily birthday quote. Please continue!

My favorite George Saunders short story is "The Semplica Girl Diaries" from Tenth of December.

spedwig 1:26 PM  

Really just wanted to thank Rex for the sly Radio Radio reference.

oceanjeremy 1:32 PM  

When I’m on enough acid I can’t talk at all, Sun Ra or no Sun Ra.

That said, I’ve seen live music (sober and otherwise) that left me speechless for up to an hour afterward.

I’ve seen Sun Ra’s Arkestra twice in the last few decades (both times at Yo La Tengo shows), but this was of course after Sun Ra Himself had died. Not mind blowing, but great nonetheless.

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

If U work the older puzs now, they definitely seem a tad harder … becuz they have "current events" names that have since faded from yer memory. This is the slippery slope one gets onto, when a lotta "fresh/current" stuff gets splatzed into the puz, I reckon. May not stand the test of time.

Anyhoo …

Welcome back, Mr. Nediger dude. Always a pleasure.
Very nice and smoooth fillins in this themeless rodeo. Only a few entries were a TEENSY ANGSTY for the solvequest, at our abode. [yo, GSUITE, NERDPROM, BARDO.]

TEN makes an immediate comeback! Do-the-math -- TEN U's. TEN weejects. Like.
staff weeject pick: UFO. Interestin & tough-ish {Subject of many a conspiracy theory} clue for UFO, IM&AO. [UFO, as in Unseated Factless Orangehead …?]

fave sparklers included BIZARROWORLD. Let's stop & wait right here … Is this a reference to the epic Bizarro World of Superman comix semi-fame? It's sure as snot why I got it, offa only a coupla filled-in letters. Bizarro World was most intriguin, to a young M&A lad. First of all, it was the home of Bizarro Superman and friends. Second, their planet was cube-shaped. Fun to read all about, squattin on the floor in a dark-ish closet, way back when. But, I digress.

Also really liked: PENUMBRA. GEEYATHINK. GONUTS [Trump Corp. defunct donuts brand].

Thanx for the fun and fond bizarro memories, Mr. Nediger. U do good work.

Masked & Anonymo10Us

p.s. extra-runtz day, onaccounta lotsa folks bein shut-in by nasty frigid weather...



jberg 1:43 PM  

Very nifty puzzle, as you'd expect from Will N. Fortunately, I knew SUN RA (got a vinyl album of his around here somewhere), and I'd seen NERD PROM in a previous puzzle -- maybe the NYT Acrostic. It still required a lot of thought before, e.g., RESTAURANT swam into view as an obvious answer.

If you had asked me if I'd ever heard of "Lincoln in the BARDO," I'd have said no -- and really, I wanted yARDs first-- but once I had it I knew it was right, so I'm guessing I saw it in the news when it got the Man Booker prize; but unlike Wolf Hall, the title didn't stick with me.

I definitely never heard of BIZARRO WORLD. The Boston Globe runs a one-panel comic strip by Dan Piraro called "Bizarro," so I thought it might be related to him; not that that helped, I had to get it mostly from crosses. Unlike STEVE KERR, which I had to get entirely from crosses. The only college coach I know if Tommy Tuberville, and I know him only from other activities, like getting phone calls.

@Nancy, you've done it again! Hope it's OK -- I sent it (credited to you, of course) to a bunch of family members. BTW, I've got an idea for a new musical, if you're interested: "ARDOR in the ARBORS." It could be a parody/sequel to Desire Under the Elms.

oceanjeremy 1:48 PM  

No question, the Friday/Saturdays have been getting easier.

I started solving the Saturday & Sunday puzzles with my fiancΓ©e (on paper) maybe two years ago or so. She introduced me to Rex Parker around the same time. About eight or nine months ago I decided to start bingeing my way through the archives because I wanted to be of more help to her on Saturdays.

So while my skill has definitely improved, I can say still say without a doubt that my Friday solve yesterday (alone, on the app) was half the time it takes me to do most Fridays in early 2018 (where I’m at working backward through the archive).

This puzzle I started the same as Rex: ANGSTY then YUM. From there we raced through the whole grid at breakneck speed until getting stuck in the SW. We had AngeR instead of ARDOR for the longest time, and right when she suggested we look up “Lincoln in the ______” (“because we have things to do today, Jeremy”) I remembered from some other puzzle somewhere that it was indeed BARDO. We corrected our few mistakes and rocked out the rest of the puzzle from there.

Funny that BARDO escaped me, as I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for seven years now — and have done a great deal of study into it. But I practice Japanese Buddhism, not Tibetan. The BARDO is not a concept in Japanese Buddhism (at least not that I’ve been exposed to).

Prior to today I had always associated that word with the great psych-rock / space rock band BARDO Pond.

Give them a listen, I dare you. ;)

jberg 1:51 PM  

@A, from yesterday -- thanks for the flute info! My wife plays flute, so I sent her that video.

GILL I. 1:52 PM  

@Nancy....Ay dios mio....You are da bomb! Can you come up with a sweet little poem for one of the few Republicans who actually has a conscience? I misspelled her last name....Jaime Herrera Beutler...she rhymes with cream delicious butter. No fig leaf need apply.

scott from angels 1:54 PM  

think i coined a new phrase with my initial (yet incorrect) fill for 35 across. "beer pressure", or, going along with a really stupid idea because you've spent too much time too near the keg.

scott from angels 1:56 PM  

think i coined a new term with my initial (thought incorrect) fill for 35 across: "beer pressure", or, going along with a stupid idea because you've spent too long too near the keg.

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  

From Syndiland:




this is day 5 of year 7 in Syndiland,
ONEORMORE verses each and every day.

Masked and Anonymous 2:06 PM  


For those on the edge of their seat, waitin here (!) for today's Hidden Constructioneer Name Analysis …

Exhibit A: There is only one W in the puzgrid, with no I shootin out anywhere from it in any direction. This rules out a *full* hidden WILL NEDIGER.

Exhibit B: There's three G's in the puzgrid -- the one in ANGSTY, the one in GOBBLE, and the one in GEEYATHINK. The GOBBLE one is definitely the key suspect, contributin to the promisin string of NE+GOBB+RA.

Exhibit C: Just for completeness sake, in the ONEDAY region, there is a NEDA+nuthin. And in the NEMO zone, there is a NEMO+E+GR.

Hope y'all can rest easier, now and can smoothly digest them cinnamon rolls.

M&A Help Desk

Nancy 2:15 PM  

We’ll said!!! Thanks for stating what I’m thinking on this puzzle!

sanfranman59 2:31 PM  

Easy-Medium NYT Saturday ... 11% below my 6-month Saturday median solve time

I think I might be in a growth phase with my crossword solving skills ... at least with more difficult puzzles. This one seemed harder than Easy-Medium and I was surprised when I saw my solve time at the end, particularly since I was 1:22 into my solve before I entered my first correct answer. I half expected my solution to be rejected since I wasn't at all sure of NERD PROM {33D: Nickname for the White House Correspondents' Dinner} crossing both TOP {45A: Sorting label for a Twitter search} (I don't Twitter) and NEMO {55A: Literary member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen}. But the Crossword Gods smiled upon me today.

Other curiosities:
-- I know of both Google Docs and Drive, but didn't know that they're part of something that used to be called G SUITE {3D: Set of programs including Drive and Docs, once} and is apparently now known as "Google Workspace". Huh.
-- RESTAURANT {14A: Wait here!} ... Saturday-tough clue
-- LIZARD {24D: Monitor, e.g.} ... ditto
-- HUE {7A: Chocolate or caramel} ... I sure don't think of these as "hues", but then, once you get beyond tertiary colors in the color wheel, I'm pretty lost
-- BARDO {30D: "Lincoln in the ___" (2017 best-selling novel)} ... news to me ... I'm glad to learn what BARDO is
-- 'heMS' or SUMS {43A: Bottom lines}?
-- 'SLUshEE' (is this a thing? ... I don't know my convenience store beverages) or SLURPEE {36D: Popular ice drink}?

Z 2:34 PM  

If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.
-Isa Blagden
@Whatsername - I think this was written as a critique, but has been converted into an instructional primer by some.

@Birchbark - That phrase caught my eye, too. It always seems like society has truths it can’t handle.

kitshef 2:37 PM  

One puzzle does not a trend make, but I will say I found the February 13,2010 puzzle to be much, much harder than today's - and it had nothing to do with the recency of the names. Although ... that one did have an outright error in the clues that did not help. But I can't make that responsible for so much of a difference.

Barbara S. 2:43 PM  

@Nancy (12:09 PM)
Hilarious, tragic and accurate. Well done.

pmdm 2:51 PM  

Nothing much to say about the puzzle except I like it a lot more than most of Will puzzles.

Are late week puzzles becoming easier? I endorse Z's observation that PPP is ephemeral. For that reason, the PPP in current puzzles should be easier than in puzzles from years back. If you have a great memory for old PPP, the uzzles would not seem easier. If not, they would seem more difficult. One other point. Usually one improves with tasks one does frequently. As one does more crossword puzzles, one should become more adept at solving them. So I would predict today's late week puzzles would seem easier to those solving puzzles for a long time.

I consider "blues" to be a word with multiple definitions. While it could refer to a music genre, it also can refer to a musical 12 bar structure which can cut across genres. Not all the music performed by Holiday would fall into the genre I would call "Blues." And certainly not all of the songs she recorded fall into the blues structure. So perhaps a more correct cluing would be "Holiday production at times." But as Z often points out, end of week clues tend to be trickier. I could go on, but I'm not in the mood to beat a dead horse.

For those who won't ost tomorrow, happy Valentine's Day.

bocamp 2:55 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM wrote:

"If U work the older puzs now, they definitely seem a tad harder … becuz they have "current events" names that have since faded from yer memory."

True, but for me (being of the "Silent Generation"), that's not as much an issue as the "esoteric" stuff (imo), since I'm very weak on almost anything one might consider to be of a cultural nature. I'm flat out "culture uncouth" πŸ˜‚ I've read a lot, but promptly forget most of it, so it's always fun to re-read. Anyhoo, it just seems to me that so much of the older puzzles are Mensan/Jeopardy fodder (no disrespect intended). I can usually figure most of the oldies out, but often with great travail. Always enjoy the challenge tho, and there are some words, facts, ideas and even strategies learned in that arena which facilitate current puzzle solves.

@Anonymous 1:07 PM

And, hi-ho, Steverino to you! that's the way I navigate, as well. :)

Z 2:34 PM wrote:

"If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.

-Isa Blagden"

Sadly, that pretty well "sums" it up! πŸ˜”

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Trockmn 3:21 PM  

Sage only. Learned from my mum who’s from the land of Willa Cather. I’m going to try it your way next time.

JC66 3:22 PM  


Great. Loved it.

I hereby withdraw my request that you write me a poem.

Joe Dipinto 3:43 PM  

As previously noted, the Billie Holiday clue is kind of wrong, or at least ultra-vague, in a typical Shortzian failed attempt at cleverness. I don't know what "blues music" is supposed to mean; she almost never sang traditional blues-format songs. Her repertoire came largely from the Tin Pan Alley pop songwriters of the day.

But she did have a couple of standard blues songs in circulation in her set list, including "Fine And Mellow", seen here on a CBS television broadcast from 1957 called "The Sound Of Jazz". (Instrumental soloists: Ben Webster, Lester Young, Vic Dickenson, Gerry Mulligan, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge.)

I'm surprised Rextch didn't kvetch at the use of the herb to clue ROSEMARY instead of an actual female, say, Harris or Clooney.

A 4:00 PM  

Had no idea what to put in at 1A, so I started with YUM and traipsed around clockwise. Felt smart for a while, especially getting SEA ROUTE with only two crosses. Then I had to come back to the NW and it knocked the wheels off my wheelhouse. ANGSTY? I would say i learned a new word but my brain won't let it in. Also no idea what GSUITE is. I actually had eLvES MUSIC for a while. Saw before SEE. Came here to become unbefuddled. So DNF but enjoyed the crunches!

Whatsername 4:07 PM  

@Z (2:34) It’s a direct quote from the book. The Trump Card

GHarris 4:13 PM  

Thank you, I needed that after the disgraceful lack of courage displayed this afternoon in DC

TTrimble 4:23 PM  

@Joe Dipinto
Might Strange Fruit, recorded by Holiday, be considered an exception?

TJS 4:42 PM  

Jeezus, do any of you actually listen to Billy Holiday music ? She sings the Blues.

I dont care if it's the National Anthem or White Christmas, when she sings it, it's The Blues.

@Burma Shave, re. Sindiland. Thanks for the warning.

Masked and Anonymous 4:58 PM  

@bocamp (2:55pm): yep. Like U, M&A also has trouble with not knowin the current rap stars, pop music stars, and even many new movie/sports star names. But then again, that may just make such puz-entries even harder for solvers to get, when workin the puz 10 years from now.

This ain't scientific, but M&A took a random look at a ShortzmeisterEra puz from about 10, 20, and 26 years ago, lookin for the "hard stuff" ...

2010 puzgrid had ICC, CHAUD, ASAS, ZARF, EDRED, RATEL, and BALPAESE in it. It had 4 ?-marked clues. It also had this clue: {Like an old English coin worth 105 shillings} = ?.

2000 puzgrid had ALCAN, HUS, INDRA, and EOLIC in it. It had 2 ?-marked clues. Clue of mystery: {Longtime basso Berberian} = ?.

1994 puzgrid had POULENC, OBOVATE, SDEATH, EDOMITE, PAPHOS, APAREJO, ELEMIS, TAUTO, PERORAL, ALMAATA, and JALAPA in it. Woof. It had 2 ?-marked clues. A coupla feisty clues: { ___ Ducommun, 1902 Peace Nobelist} = ? and {Year in Ethereid the Unready's reign} = ?.

A lot of this stuff that made the older puzs harder, at our house, seemed like just plain obscure stuff that most solvers maybe wouldn't prefer in their puzs anyway, today.

Yeah, maybe today's puzs still have some rap stars and sports stars and etc. to not know. They also have 26 years of trivia in their arsenal, that didn't even exist, 26 years ago. Bet the solvers 26 years ago had some similar complaints, tho.

Can only speak for m&y self … SatPuzs were hard 26 years ago. They're still pretty hard today, but I like to think I've wised up a little bit to *some* of the trivia answers and them ?-marked clue misdirections, over the years. Still not too sure about that ZARF thingy, tho …

M&A Two Cents Desk

p.s. Better learn ZARF. I'm puttin it in a runtpuz, asap. har

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Sounds like the music aficionados in this crowd agree that the Billie Holiday clue was wrong. Z, the self proclaimed aficionado on everything, thinks it was fine. LOL.

Joe Dipinto 5:11 PM  

@TTrimble – "Strange Fruit" isn't a blues, but it sure ain't a pop song. It started as a poem, which its author Abe Meeropol then set to music. It's kind of sui generis; it sounds almost like an "art song", or something out of musical theater. Meeropol's story is something else again —he adopted the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after the parents were executed!

Unknown 5:18 PM  

To those of you supposing that the (dated) PPP from ten years ago accounts for why those older puzzles seem more difficult -- No, that's not it. The overall cluing is genuinely tougher and typically more ambiguous. While that's what we expect for today's Friday or Saturday, 10 or 15 years ago you were seeing more of that on Tuesday and Wed. puzzles.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

"Restaurant" as answer to the clue "Wait here!" is bogus, IMO. The answer could just as well have been "bus stop" or "train station" or "emergency room."

There's no reason this clue, for that answer, should have survived the editing process. Even adding a ? would have *slightly* improved it, but IMO it's just simply a lousy clue.

newbie 5:25 PM  

Good one, Nancy!

The puzzles are definitely a bit easier, except for that pesky one, ugh, on Thursday. I was able to slug my way through it today and get it all!

Never heard of SunRa but the name sounded like one of the bad guys on StarGate. The description of the music reminded me of a dentist I had who played public radio in the office, which usually was ok. But once he left me sitting in the chair for half an hour or 45 minutes letting a dental mold “set” while some bizarre “experimental jazz” screeched on and on. Unintentional torture, rivaled only by the sound of a dental drill. Eventually, he rescued me and apologized.

I’m with A and others who ended up in the NW puzzling over ANGSTY but even more over GSUITE.

Pete 6:11 PM  

I once dated a lady who had a G-Suite. It made things very easy for me.

Lady Day could sing the blues with the best of them, but she wasn't a BLUES SINGER. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Skip James, Robert Johnson, James Cotton, 100 others were, hundreds more still are. Lady Day was a Jazz singer.

I am very angry.

pabloinnh 6:13 PM  


Unfortunately I read your delightful poem after I learned of the verdict, and nothing about this whole mess strikes me as light-hearted right now. Is this America? indeed.

jae 6:48 PM  

I’ve been wending my way through the Shortz era archives for quite some time. I’ve done all the Saturdays and am a couple of years into the Fridays (1996). The clues that seem most susceptible to the ravages of time deal with long gone TV shows and current events trivia. Happily there are not many of them. I have run across easy late week puzzles but most of them are tougher than today’s fare.

@Nancy, liked it a bunch!

Terry 6:52 PM  

Also, if you have not read Lincoln in the Bardo, it is excellent.

bocamp 6:53 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous 4:58 PM

All good examples of the "esoterica" I referenced. Gluttons for punishment, we are (@Yoda).

pg -1 wheels spinning, they are.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Z 7:22 PM  

@Whatsername 4:07 - I fear I was unclear. I meant to say that the Isa Blagden quote (from 1869) was meant as a critique but Ivanka Trump (and all of Trump World and others) took it as a primer.
I should add that similar quotes have been attributed to Mao, Lenin, Goebbels, and Hitler. I found that Blagden is probably the source after you posted and I tried to track it down (I thought it was Goebbels, but he never seems to have said anything like this that has been documented).

@TJS - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

If you choose to insult people, it works better if you understand the meaning(s) of the words you use to attack them. Just sayin'.

Charlie 10:32 PM  

Bizarroworld held me up. My bad there, but... The Atlantic is far from a zine, which is usually practically homemade. I think one cashes OUT more than cashes in.

Whatsername 11:33 PM  

@Z: Thanks for the clarification. I understand now what you were saying.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP