New York college named after a Franciscan friar / SAT 3-20-21 / Flour in Indian cuisine / Oper famed German concert hall

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Constructor: Emily Carroll

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ALTE Oper (55D: ___ Oper (famed German concert hall)) —
The original opera house in Frankfurt is now the Alte Oper (Old Opera), a concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt am MainGermany. It was inaugurated in 1880 but destroyed by bombs in 1944. It was rebuilt, slowly, in the 1970s, opening again in 1981. Many important operas were performed for the first time in Frankfurt, including Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in 1937.
• • •

This is a lovely puzzle, but it's a Friday puzzle. Possibly on the tough side for a Friday, but the contrast with yesterday's puzzle (a Saturday-level bruiser) is stark, which raises the question, "Why?" Why not just put the puzzles on their appropriate days? Or at least edit them down / up to the appropriate level of difficulty for their day of the week? It really looks like someone noticed that there hadn't been a woman constructor on Saturday at all in 2021, and so this puzzle was moved to Saturday to make that "0" in the Saturday column disappear. This is not a big deal, but it is weirdly cynical. Or maybe it didn't happen this way at all, and *I'm* the cynical one. It's hard not to be cynical about the NYTXW's treatment of non-white-male constructor numbers, given the editor's history of not caring at all about such things. It's remarkable that, after considerable external pressure over a number of years, the NYTXW was able to bring its number of women constructors up *67%* in *one year*—30% of the puzzles published in 2020 had a woman as constructor or co-constructor, after that number had languished in the mid-to-high teens for a full decade. So, hurray, progress. But remember that the progress came from immense, sustained outside pressure, which resulted in important new hiring. Also, 30% is not 50%. Anyway, things are on the right track, at least. But if you're going to publish a woman on Saturday (as you should, roughly every other Saturday), then edit the puzzle to Saturday-level toughness. I'm not a huge fan of difficulty porn, but it's weird how historically the NYTXW has reserved "difficulty" for puzzles by men (women's numbers have always been much better on Monday than any other day, for instance). Here are the numbers on women constructors in the Shortz era, properly color-coded (red for "doing bad," green for "doing good"):

 (taken with absolutely no permission from—but hopefully with
the warm wishes of—Parker Higgins)

The puzzle: Loved it. I even loved the inventive ways it tried to make its worst parts a little better: I'm never gonna love seeing crosswordese like ALTE, TES, or ATTA in the puzzle, but at least today there were original and interesting clues on all of those answers. The longer answers are the more important part, of course, and they were particularly shiny today. That NW corner is a gem—those long Acrosses aren't just great as individual answers, they form an entertainingly bizarre trio. Sometimes I like to think of the answers as people hanging out together in their corners, like they're in a room at a party, and, well, I want to go to the party where the guest list includes a trash-talking Muhammad Ali, the EASTER BUNNY, and the cast of "A CHORUS LINE" (17A: Show that opens with "I Hope I Get It"). I also like the idea of an ITALIAN FLAG "flying" over a CONTENT FARM which is somehow an actual farm and located entirely UNDER THE SEA. Just acres of servers on the bottom of the ocean, with the red white and green just wafting in the current. Ariel works in management there, probably.

Here's the solving progress:

Started with TEASE—not a *huge* fan of that answer for that clue, as "Flirt" seems reasonably positive, but TEASE, ick, that has connotations of manipulativeness, negative connotations that I don't so much like. I hear "TEASE" in more of an angrily disappointed dude voice. Whereas "flirt" just doesn't convey the idea that the person is somehow dishonest about their intentions. Let's just say there are profane words for women in particular that have -TEASE as the suffix (or ... I guess it's more the profanity that's the prefix ... you get the idea). Anyway, that was my first (however reluctant) answer in the grid, and then SEEK and then EVOKE ERNESTO ASHEN STOKE and then bam, the EASTER BUNNY drops in and the party starts. Solving flow is steady from there until I get into a very mild pickle in the SE:

We've all been here, where you get the front (or back) end of a long answer, but it's a complete word and you canNot figure out what the word is that's supposed to go with it. And today, that happened with two adjacent answers. ITALIAN blank, CONTENT blank. In the first case, the only Italian airline I knew was AL ITALIA (crosswordese!) and ITALIAN AIR (?) wouldn't fit. And then with CONTENT, I just couldn't remember the term. I knew I knew it, but I was just blanking. So I thought I'd just go up and over the black square above NTH, but there I hit EAR blank! (48A: Sensation from a song that you're really, really into, slangily). And wrote in EAR WORM! So ...  -GASM over FLAG over FARM proved quite a pesky little defensive line there in the SE. But ATLAS (50D: He's got a lot on his shoulders), broke everything open, showed me my EARGASM mistake, and led the way to FLAG and FARM and freedom! Finished up in the NW, where DREW *TO* was the biggest enemy I faced (still sounds wrong for its clue—hard to swap out DREW TO and [Attracted] in a way that makes sense; DREW IN works much better). I think my favorite moment of the puzzle was going from thinking "-MF!? No one's name starts -MF!" to a huge aha with E.M. FORSTER (29D: Novelist who received a Nobel nomination at least 20 times, but never won). Hope you found something to enjoy as well. See you tomorrow. Happy spring, everyone.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:24 AM  

Yesterday I felt like I had been left for dead in downtown Natick. Today was a walk in the park on a sunny day.

Plus, I was quite pleased to find 1-A was not “draft dodger”, even though the letter count is the same as TRASH TALKER. And speaking of Ali, if you have not heard Billy Crystal’s eulogy of him, google it. Most amazing eulogy ever! Or you could copy and paste this:

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” — Muhammad Ali

JJnytxw 6:53 AM  

I thought this was a challenging, creative Saturday (I especially liked the clues for EASTER BUNNY and SOMMELIER). Consensus here and elsewhere is that yesterday was the Saturday and today was the Friday. Seems likely, but I definitely had less trouble with yesterday's puzzle, so I guess that makes me the outlier. Ah well.

Also, I'm always glad to have my attention directed to the lack of diversity in the ranks of crossword creators. Too often I skip right past the name at the top of the puzzle, when I should really give more credit where it's due. So thanks to Emily Carroll for putting together a great puzzle.

Lewis 7:07 AM  

Oh, man, this was a trek for me. No splats today. A few steady crawls, but mostly hack hack hack through thick jungle, then taking a moment to clear my mind, then go at it again. The NW was the thickest jungle of all. I kept thinking the “I Hope I Get It” show was Willy Wonka (!) and wondering, “Is it WILLIE???” And after all that struggle, when EASTER BUNNY emerged, I was as thrilled and delighted as I was by that creature when I was four. A gridgasm, if you will..

Emily, you are a beast, a Queen of Vague and Clever. Now that I’ve treated my scrapes and scratches, I want more. More, I say! This was fantastic. Thank you soooooo much!

Conrad 7:08 AM  

Immediately and confidently popped in "BLACK MULSIM" in 1A. Oops! But that wasn't my sticking point. I had the same problems as @Rex in the SE, except I didn't know ATTA. Once Sergey and Larry gave me the Indian flour, I finished quickly.

Flying Pediatrician 7:13 AM  

In the world of pediatrics, up until 2016, ALTE stood for “Acute Life Threatening Event” and referred to terrifying episodes when typically perfectly healthy babies went blue and limp for a short time. The name made these terrifying episodes more scary, so now they’re called BRUEs (Brief Resolved Unexplained Event). That definitely didn’t solve the terrifying problem. Also, ENTs often get (unnecessarily) brought into the evaluation of these!

jlspencerisom 7:15 AM  

I got tripped up my putting Draft Dodger across the top. Trash Talker is a better answer, but it took me a while to figure out my mistake.

pabloinnh 7:22 AM  

Unlike OFL, I started with COP and the P gave me PETSTORES, and then I found long answers here and there that gave solid toeholds. ERNESTO I knew (lo siento, GILL I) and ACHORUSLINE and UNDERTHESEA (thanks, granddaughters) and EMFORSTER after the F in FRESH. Nothing like long answers to help with those short answers. EARWORM had to be replaced by EARGASM, but that was about it.

Which is all to say that I agree that this felt very much like a terrific Friday. Nice to see ATTA as something besides ___boy! and I never remember ENT as anything but a Tolkein creature, and the rest of the cluing was fresh and fun, but it was all over too soon, darn it.

Thanks for a really fun Saturday, EC. Wish it hadn't been so Easily Completed.

Lewis 7:25 AM  

@rex -- Just goes to show, wheelhouse/mode of thinking -- how different we all are. Yesterday's puzzle gave you a "feeling of incompetence", but today's is starkly easier. For me, just the opposite. So it goes.

Frantic Sloth 7:38 AM  

This took me 2 minutes less than yesterday. I don't know what that says, but I actually felt like I struggled more with this one.

Maybe because of things like:

Why Florence necessarily for 58A? Is that an attempt at a misdirect? If so, it's lame.

The clue for 12D really could have done without "you see?". It adds nothing and it isn't clever enough to call itself a misdirect either.

Does the EASTERBUNNY actually "produce" eggs? I always thought it just carried them around in that basket. Real bunnies don't egg, they baby-bunny, so neither should the EASTERBUNNY.

Still, there was a lot to like here: TRASHTALKER, ACHORUSLINE, ABSCONDED, EARGASM, SOMMELIER (especially as clued), and CONTENTFARM, which was new to me, but it seems appropriate enough.

A few specks of dreck (you know who you are) as is typical, but overall I enjoyed it.


bocamp 7:48 AM  

Thank you @Emily for a skookum and most enjoyable Sat. puz; liked it a lot! :)

Easy+ solve; over 4x faster than yesterday's very challenging, but excellent puz.

No foothold in the NW. Got ENNEAD, DREWTO and BROWSER; branched out from there. No major holdups.

Instant 😊 when I got EASTERBUNNY.

Really love Brave BROWSER on my MacBook Air. Much less of a memory hog than Chrome.

Peter Cottontail ~ Gene Autry

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ TOLERANCE ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Wine Diver 7:51 AM  

Started 1A so assuredly with DRAFTDODGER, and kicked myself the rest of the way through.

longsufferingmetsfan 8:21 AM  

Very nice puzzle, miles easier than yesterday. If theres one thing I enjoy more than ram down your throat political opinions on a supposed crossword blog, its the ad nauseum men vs women, white vs black vs asian vs martian, straight vs LBGQT. Today we even have a scoreboard to show us all. How about if we have a scoreboard illustrating just how many great puzzles vs average puzzles vs poor puzzles NYT publishes.

Wouldn't that be a cool refreshing change to look at the quality of the work instead of gender, ethnicity, or sexual proclivity?

Birchbark 8:28 AM  

"MAGMA-teared Lord of Hades" -- Allen Ginsberg's description of plutonium.

TES -- A Spanish-language clue to a Spanish-language answer, nice variety to the more crossword-familiar French.

As for German, these puzzles slowly convince me it's a language made up of a single word, and the word is ALTE.

For the Italian and Greek, DNF on SCUSi/ENNiAD, despite checking and rechecking. I guess I needed aen EAD.

puzzlehoarder 8:30 AM  

This puzzle took me 6 minutes longer than yesterday's but when I finished it felt more like the long solve was due to my own inept solving than the puzzles' actual difficulty. There were only 8 comments when I came on but so far they support my suspicion.

The NW really put me off. Like @ Conrad BLACK MUSLIM was my brainstorm for 1A and it caused me to ignore or at least not properly put together the easier answers in that section. When I backfilled it off of ABSCONDED to finish I was embarrassed by how easy it actually was.

Like @pabloinnh I started with COP and PETSTORESin the NE. This was how I started yesterday's solve those 3x3 blocks are generally soft on resistance.

In addition to time wasted in the NW trying to start the SE turned out to be another time suck. I had the EARWORM/EARGASM write over and even with MAGMA, ITALIAN and UNDER THE SEA in place I was stuck with CONTENT___ for a long time until I came up with GAFFE and FLAG.

Great new clue for ATTA. It makes a piece of crosswordese seem like not such a piece of crap after all.

While there was some real resistance my time was more a result of poor solving. Once again I did this at night on my phone which sucks. I much prefer paper.

amyyanni 8:32 AM  

A CHORUS LINE makes me happy anywhere, and today, gave me an inroad to the solve. Love this one. Gradually figuring out E. M. Forster was especially fun. Now must disturb the sleeping black & white cat on my lap in order to start our Saturday.

Hungry Mother 8:41 AM  

Easy for this first day of spring. The SE was the last to fall with EARGASM bringing me home. Excellent challenge.

Barbara S. 8:42 AM  

Wow, TRASH TALKing EASTER BUNNies in A CHORUS LINE – what’s not to like? I agree with Rex about the relative difficulty of today and yesterday. I got the two big corners, NW and SE, plus the diagonal bit between them first, then expected to be brought low by the two smaller corners, but hey – it was all good. Had “own” for COP briefly but “own to” is so awful that I knew it couldn’t stand. Other errors: teND for MIND, compS for ORALS, bRAND for GRAND. Loved NARRATIVE beside EM FORESTER, and NARRATIVE beside TREATISES. Too many clever clues to list. Some I liked: Be it (SEEK), Old-fashioned letter opener (SIRS), It flies around Florence (ITALIAN FLAG), One who’s in the heat? (RACER), One helping you find a cab? (SOMMELIER).

Today, a voice from Antiquity, PUBLIUS OVIDIUS NASO, known as OVID, born Mar. 20, 43 BCE:

Nothing is constant in the wide world. Everything is in a state of flux, and comes into being as a transient appearance. Time itself flows on with constant motion, like a river: for no more than a river can the fleeting hour stand still. As wave is driven by wave and each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead, so time flies on and follows, flies, and follows, always, for ever and new. What was before Is left behind; what never was is now; and every passing moment is renewed. You see the nights, completed, pass into day, the shining rays of morning succeed the darkness of the night: the colour of the sky is not the same, when all things lie wearily in the still midnight, as when Lucifer emerges on his white steed. It changes again when Aurora, forerunner of the day, gilds the sky she must hand on to Phoebus. The orb of the sun-god himself, red in the morning when he rises from beneath the earth, red when he sinks below, shines white in the heights of heaven, because the air is better there, far removed from earth’s contagion. Nor can the moon by night retain one and the same shape: she is smaller today than she will be tomorrow, if she is waxing, and greater if she wanes.
(From Metamorphoses, Book XV)

QUOTER’S NOTE: Lucifer to the ancient Romans is the planet Venus.

IRA SY 8:43 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle, but had a big DNF in the SE. Never heard of CONTENTFARM Finished yesterdays.
Liked the TES TIS and TEASED, then TRASH, SMASHED and ASHEN.

Good Work Emily.

mmorgan 8:45 AM  

Wow, a good tough struggle for me, fun and satisfying. I was a smidge deflated to see Rex rate it as Easy, but I was pleased to see he had the same problem in the SE corner as I did. There is justice in the world. More like this, please!

Cassieopia 8:53 AM  

Love puzzles like this one, which at first seem unscalable mountains shrouded in fog, then step by step gradually reveals itself until at the end, I’m standing on the summit looking down at the clouds. Absolutely lovely solving experience, thank you Emily Carroll.

Son Volt 8:55 AM  

Rex is right - these should have been swapped. The difference being yesterday we get the tricky word play and today Marvin Hamlisch and Disney. The puzzles exist at two different levels. I liked the top half of this one - the SE long block was not great. Crickets again from Rex on ERNESTO. Fine clues on EASTER BUNNY and SOMMELIER. For some reason didn’t know the plural TREATISES. We’ve seen Blotto in different forms lately - I’m assuming that’s the editors addition. Never read EM FOSTER.

Enjoyable solve - maybe just not for a Saturday. On to the Stumper.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

I got 7-11A without too much effort, which, with ------alker left me wondering for some minutes why I had never heard about Ali being a sleepwalker. On 58A, I got Italian---- fairly quickly. I've lived in Florence for a few years, and for this puzzle would have been better off never being there, since I never thought of the Italian flag as a prominent part of the Florentine landscape. There is such an ingrained localism in Italy, partly due to old traditions and partly due to the bad taste left by Italian nationalism in the 20th century, that nationalism has some difficulty (again) taking root. Many Florentines would be very happy to see 21A, Siena, clued as a New York college instead of that blot upon the Italian landscape some miles south, and, further south, those from Perugia will be very happy to inform you that in antiquity Perugia was a thriving civilization when Florence was "two mosquitos on a tree along the Arno."

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Unknown 8:59 AM  

Wow, reading rex's review (rant) today makes me so glad I had taken some time away from him . . . . .
I had OWN instead of COP for the longest time, which presented a lot of woe in the NE corner, but once that was straightened out the puzzle flowed very nicely. A perfect Saturday.

kitshef 9:09 AM  

Alternative clue for COP at 12A: One who's in the heat?

I very much doubt I’ll be alone in thinking this was easier than yesterday, and it was not close.

Why the “?” on the clue for MAGMA? If that gets a question mark, pretty much any clue can.

And what a bizarre clue for TES. Why use Trinidad and Tobago, an English-speaking country with heavy French influence, for your Spanish-language clue?

Bill 9:17 AM  

Show me the data that says 50% of submissions are from women. That’s the only way that stating 50% of puzzles should be from women makes any sense. Unfortunately for Rex, I don’t need to see the data to know that is not the case. However I would love to be proven wrong.

Mr. Cheese 9:27 AM  

@longsufferingmetfan 8:21am

Is there any way to force Rex to read, and reread, and reread, and reread your post?

I too suffer from Metitis.

I'm just saying... 9:28 AM  

I put in "Heavyweight" for Muhammad Ali and found some down words that seemed to fit and it was all downhill from there. So, not easy for me.

Joe Dipinto 9:34 AM  

@Rex → I hear "TEASE" in more of an angrily disappointed dude voice.

Me too. In fact, I could totally hear it in your voice, Rex.

A better choice for ERNESTO.

Nancy 9:35 AM  

After racing through 3/4 of the puzzle, thinking this is perfectly enjoyable but certainly not a Saturday, I hit the Easternmost point of the SE and crashed. I tried to cheat in the most benign way -- i.e. using Roget and not Googling actual answers -- so I needed a 5-letter word ending in "E" that meant "blooper". Roget didn't even mention GAFFE; all it gave me was LAPSE. I didn't like it, but I dutifully wrote it in.

You see, the thing flying over Florence was an ITALIAN plane or airline, as far as I was concerned. I never once thought of FLAG.

I've never heard of a CONTENT FARM. I could have STAREd at the clue all day and not gotten it.

I've never seen ATTA clued that way, it never appears on an Indian menu, and I could have STAREd at that clue all day too.

My bad, perhaps, for not knowing EARGASM. I get EAR WORMs all the time -- almost 24/7 -- and that's what I thought it was. I didn't write it, though, in because it didn't work with ATLAS.

Should I have gotten MAGMA? Of course I should have. But I was having a Senior Moment which I have almost as often as EAR WORMs.

An easy Saturday that I, alas, flunked. If MAGMA had come to me, it might have given me ITALIAN FLAG. And then...who knows?

Teedmn 9:36 AM  

This was a very nice puzzle. It felt harder than yesterday's, to me, even though I solved it a minute faster than yesterday's. But I think that “harder” feeling arises because it took what felt like a long time to get a start in today's puzzle. I had to wander to the south, and with ICU, EVE and ENT in place, started making inroads. After that, only SloSHED before SMASHED held me up.

Three Kings Day - I wouldn’t have known about that day except I happened to be on St. Croix Island one year and it's a full holiday there; parking in Christiansted was free which was nice.

I originally thought 11D would be “lox”. That would make 17A end in X. Could there already be a musical about the pandemic and “I Hope I Get It” is about the vaX? No wonder I had to wander to the south to get started!

Thanks, Emily Carroll, this was a fine Saturday puzzle.

Frosty Flake 9:42 AM  

Loved the puzzle, hated the review.
I'm with @longsuffering 8:21 and @ Mr. Cheese 9:27.
Strange that in Rexworld racism and sexism only work in one direction.
Puzzles, college entrance exams, job applications, etc. should be judged

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Wanted Alan Menken for 63A (Oscar winner from "The Little Mermaid"), which of course did not fit. Eventually realized the clue was referring to the actual song title. Coupled with 17A ("A Chorus Line"), I greatly appreciated the musical shoutouts!

albatross shell 9:49 AM  

Maybe harder than yesterday's last night. But much easier this morning. Go figure. Still needed 3 cheats to finish. Never heard of CONTENT FARM. Nefarious gaming of the system to get you to see ads instead of finding good info. Clicker beware.

A curiosity. I read Wordplay today and mindlessly clicked on its answer key link which has never actually displayed the answer key on my phone or tablet. It worked today. I do not know what changed but something did. Things to which I will never know the answer.

The puzzles seem to be getting better of late. Is something in the water or what? Even Rex has been more positive. Will he actually say so soon?

I had my second Moderna shot on Thursday. I hope y'all get protected too.

David Eisner 9:56 AM  

I ran into the same problem, but I also had Black Muslim there at one point. Was saved by 9D (which my grandmom made all the time)

Keith D 9:57 AM  

On that note, is it possible that Will Shortz is simply going with the best puzzles that are submitted to him? If so, is that wrong? Just asking...

Conrad 9:58 AM  


> Why Florence necessarily for 58A? Is that an attempt at a misdirect? If so, it's lame.

Without Florence the clue wouldn't have been specific enough to lead solvers to the "ITALIAN" part of the answer. It could have been Genoa, Milan, Naples or Rome, (and per @Anon 8:55, perhaps one of those would be a better choice), but you needed something Italian in there.

> The clue for 12D really could have done without "you see?". It adds nothing and it isn't clever enough to call itself a misdirect either.

"You see?" is there to indicate that the answer was in the form of a question. "I'll take Delaying Tactics for $200, Alex."

Z 10:01 AM  

Ali was a heavyweight. Other than that, what Rex said about the puzzle. Much easier here than yesterday’s puzzle except for having to fix the NW from the back end. I agree and disagree with Rex on flirt —> TEASE. If it is “to flirt” then he’s right, to flirt is less negative than “to TEASE,” the latter conveying a hint of bullying to it. But if it is “a flirt” —> “a TEASE” there’s barely any difference. He is such a flirt. He is such a TEASE. Granted, add the profanity to make a compound word and it’s a whole different story, but that’s also a whole different word.

There’s only one entry I would prefer to see disappear from Crossworld, RATED PG (and all of its siblings). It is not quite as bad as the Random Roman Numeral (now nearly extinct), but sussing it out never gives me a frisson of aha, just an annoyed, “oh it is you again.” I dunno, maybe new solvers who haven’t seen the RATED family find these clever, but they have dropped by fir a visit and now we can’t seem to get them to leave.


@Frantic Sloth - Why Florence? I think just because the clue writer wanted a city other than Rome on Saturday. And, “CAN IT WAIT? I’m a little busy, you see” works for me. That “you see” works as short for “if you weren’t so self-absorbed in your own needs and desires you might have noticed all the signs that I am really really busy getting ready to open the Placebo and Tentacle and don’t have the time to help you fix that damn roller coaster.”

A White Castle discussion last night and I missed it? Dang. There are quite a few still in metro Detroit (or were the last time I was there) all open 24 hours. There are also a few of their forebears around making sliders the same way but with better hamburger, including one right by the school districts admin building (Carter’s - at Outer Drive and the Southfield Freeway - it looks like it is still there). I occasionally see restaurants get all hoity toity with their “sliders” and just shake my head. Calling your small burger a “slider” does not make you cool or hip and why would you want to associate yourself with White Castle, the fast food choice of all drunk and stoned people at 3:30 a.m? Besides, you’re not even open at 3:30 a.m. when a slider is actually needed.

Whatsername 10:13 AM  

What a pleasant Saturday morning breeze with an early appearance by the EASTER BUNNY. And look! He’s hopping across A CHORUS LINE. Had trouble with the NE but mostly my own fault so I SEEK no SCUSE for my failings there, SIRS.

If I’ve ever visited a CONTENT FARM, it was by mistake. Didn’t much like 40A. One DAMPENS one’s emotions. Not sure DAMP could even be used as a verb, but I’m going to look into it.

Just curious, would an EARGASM be RATED PG? Happy Spring to all who celebrate.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

I realize that I didn't discuss the top of this puzzle at all and why it played so easy for me.

A CHORUS LINE was a gimme for me, the Broadway musical buff who never forgets a lyric. But for those who didn't know it, that's a lot of empty space up there to contend with.

I was surprised to see how many people wrestled with TRASH TALKER. So many things to say about ALI that I wrote nothing in until I had crosses. TEASE, RACER and ASHEN quickly gave me TRA and I knew immediately. That's my era, and Ali was a TRASH TALKER par excellence. Today TRASH TALKERS can be quite nasty; Ali was an absolute hoot.

@Poggius (8:55) -- What you have to say about Florence and the Florentines is SO interesting!!! Don't miss his comment, everyone.

@Birchbark (8:28) on ALTE. Funny!!!

Jennie 10:31 AM  

I zipped through this puzzle in record time until...the SE. Italian and Content sat alone and lonely for the longest time. Flag should have been easy and when I finally got it I was mortified it took so long, but Content Farm was a new one to me. I know Click Bait. Thank Gof my teenage daughter was there to give me Eargasm. She is also helpful with clues about Harry Potter and computer games. Anyway, this was a relief after a Friday, which left me feeling very stupid.

kqrbob 10:32 AM  

Same here. Struggled to finish both, but much more today. Two great workouts, in any case.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Yeah. . . We DEFINITELY need a quota system for crossword puzzles. . . .That idea has worked SO WELL in our general society. . . GOD HELP US!! (OOPs - If I offended any atheists, I humbly apologize).

Frantic Sloth 10:45 AM  

Agree with Rex's take on TEASE.

@Conrad and @Z For the record, I understand "Florence" was to get the ITALIAN part of the answer, and perhaps it was chosen instead of Rome for Saturday reasons; however, why not just say "Italy"? My point was if you're going with a city (and any city would work just as well), that's where I assume the "misdirect" attempt comes from. It just bugged me as being weak.
The 12D clue bugs me because "I'm a little busy, you see?" Seems like it's a quote from the Z's Placebo & Tentacle workaholic (including the inflection) and the question mark is part of the quote, not for the sake of the clue. Who really talks like that? Even if it is to indicate a little clue misdirect (and should be outside the quotation marks in that case) I still think it's lame and unnecessary. All IMHO, but those are my gripes. Minor, I agree, but sometimes it's the little things that easier to get stuck in the ol' craw. πŸ˜‰

Then again, maybe the constructor had personal reasons for selecting Florence and 12D was just an editing GAFFE. So there's that.

@Whatsername 1013am I thought the same about DAMPS, but I was already cranking too much about a puzzle I actually liked, so I omitted mentioning it. Glad I'm not alone though. 😊

@Nancy 1014am Completely agree about Ali's TRASHTALKER wizardry. What I'm wondering is why so many people immediately started with drAftdodgER. And at what point does a conscientious objector become one?

Newboy 10:49 AM  

What a difference a day makes. Skipped over most of the Rex rant on gender equity, but was glad to see that my EARworM wasn’t unique. That ear error coupled with absolute confidence that PR folk coveted control of the news cycle made finishing harder than it needed. Back top now to see commentariat take on EARGASM....probably a common phrase for many digitants.

Douglas 10:51 AM  

Yeah, I never really liked the term ALTE. The “acute” was pretty redundant.

OffTheGrid 10:53 AM  

I liked this immensely. I was thinking conscience objector for Ali which was obviously way too long. Then I thought draft resister which also wouldn't fit. Dodger never came to mind. I perceive the term "draft dodger" as somewhat pejorative. Friday or Saturday worthy? I don't give a FF. This is a beautiful puzzle.

Douglas 10:57 AM  

Maybe 90% of the puzzle submitted are constructed by men. Maybe women constructions are actually overrepresented. Maybe 90% are submitted by women and they are actually underrepresented. No one knows. I think only Rex cares. I am surprise he hasn’t broken his leg jumping off his high horse.

MetroGnome 10:59 AM  

"Be it" = SEEK? Huh?

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Interesting chart on women constructors but, is everyone ready for another crossword scandal? It looks like xwordinfo stole their data directly from Parker Higgins. Women Constructors.

jazzmanchgo 11:04 AM  

Yes, "flirting" is "teasing," whether it's done by men, women, or someone else. It's a game, and it's fun. Remember "fun"?

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

refused to believe draft dodger for 1 across but the NW was still problematic for me.

The Vez 11:08 AM  

The Friday and Saturday puzzles should have been switched. I would have rated this easy medium. My only mistake was I left out the a of a chorus line.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Metro. "Be it" in the game Hide and Seek.

Carola 11:08 AM  

This one was lots harder for me than yesterday's. I feared a DNF in the SE, where I realized how sadly out of date I am on current language, having no idea about EARGASM or CONTENT FARM. A last-minute neuronal eruption of MAGMA opened the way to finishing.
Favorite moment: the appearance of the EASTER BUNNY! I also liked the literary corner of EM FORSTER next to NARRATIVE and TREATISES x ORATES.

@Frantic Sloth, re: Florence - I've noticed that these sorts of clues often alliterate, like "man in Mannheim" (Herr), where any German city would do.

egsforbreakfast 11:10 AM  

Of course ITALIANFLAG could have been clued even more deviously as flying around 21D (SIENA) if the 21D clue had been rewritten as, for instance, “Famous Palio site”.

I’m in the crowd that found this easier than yesterday’s, but not all that much. An absolutely wonderful puzzle Emily Carroll.

JC66 11:16 AM  


Maybe they were going for alliteration. It flies around Fkorence: ITALIAN FLAG.


Ever play Hide and SEEK when you were a kid?

GILL I. 11:17 AM  

So wasn't Muhammad Ali famously called THE GREATEST? And now Emily tells me he was a TRASH TALKER?
@Frantic....You've never seen an EASTER BUNNY lay an egg?
This one got a few of my PEA picking brain cells jumping for joy then.....the EGO deflated with things like CONTENT FARM ATTA and the EARGASM from hell. Why not the little worm?
So I actually saw A CHORUS LINE on Broadway sometime around the 80's (I think). Dad bought us all tickets and I was the Thrilla in Manila. So I hope I get It was my first "I got it." Second, was my favorite murderer ERNESTO and then I kinda was able to cruise along wearing my favorite ESTER.
@kitshef stole my thunder on TES but that's OK....that's what I get for posting late.
SCUSE me while I kiss this guy.......

mathgent 11:21 AM  

All the things that a puzzle should have. Crunch, sparkle, few threes (allowing 15 longs), junk-free.

This puzzle was not easy. Nancy whiffed on it but she solved yesterday's beast clean. Irrefutable evidence.

By the way, I was away yesterday and didn't post. I found yesterday's effort by KAC extremely hateful. I'm not complaining about its difficulty. There were 20 mysteries which puts me on the border of DNF territory. I like being challenged like that. It was the cluing. There were seven unfair clues. If you'd like to know what they are, let me know.

I want to end on a positive note. I thoroughly enjoyed today's beauty.

Perry 11:21 AM  


jae 11:21 AM  

Easy. So that’s what happened to the Friday puzzle.

Solid with some sparkle, liked it a bunch!

JC66 11:22 AM  

Do I get points for being doubly redundant? πŸ˜‚

Bax'N'Nex 11:23 AM  

When you are “it” in hide and seek, you SEEK...

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

I’m guessing you’re onto something. Take a look at television. Blacks are over represented. Persons with same sex attraction are immensely over represented. Asians? That’s another story altogether. They don’t count. Just ask Harvard admissions.

Sir Hillary 11:28 AM  

Great puzzle, with the exception of the oh-so desperate TES.

Definitely felt to me like Friday and Saturday were switched.

With a few letters in, and having not read the clue, I was thinking 12D might be CAterWAul. That word needs to be in a puzzle ASAP.

Pleased to meet you, EARGASM -- now that I have, I'll never forget you.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

JFC,it was a fine puzzle - no need to find something wrong with everything. Try it, life goes better.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Ali gave himself the greatest moniker. He was a trash talker. And a draft dodger. But man could he box. And he was only a very few people I’ve been near who had a presence. I was no closer than thirty feet from him when he, and his entourage, passed me. It was electric.
Previously I’d never really believed that electric or magnetic or presence description about a person. And regardless of how ham-fistedly I’m describing it, he had it. Whatever it is.

Whatsername 11:34 AM  

@Lewis (7:07) “Gridgasm.” TrΓ¨s brilliant!

@Z (10:01) For a while a few years back, Steak ‘n Shake had mini burgers they called Shooters and some of their locations are 24 hours but not all. I thought they were excellent and really wish they’d bring them back but then I never ate one stoned. Opinions may vary.

@Frantic (10:45) I promised to look into it. I did and I stand corrected. DAMPS is indeed listed as a verb with the definition of: “To restrain or check; news that damped our enthusiasm” (American Heritage Dictionary). Live and learn.

jb129 11:34 AM  

What a pleasure afterday yesterday

Mikey from El Prado 11:35 AM  

After spending a little time in the NW with no luck (I see others guessed incorrectly at 1 across, which I left blank, so less time lost) I moved to the NE, got in a groove, and worked clockwise to the finish line back in the NW.

My solve time was around half of yesterday’s, so I agree with Rex and others: puzzle difficulty from Friday and Saturday was the reverse of expectations. I find Rex’s theory interesting, and wonder how much Will Shortz reads and heeds this site or just dismisses. We shall see.

For the most part this was a really solid puzzle, from the shorts to the longs. Great grid.

Frantic Sloth 11:43 AM  

Of course!! Alliteration!! Duh. Thank you @Carola & @JC66!

@GILL 1117am "You've never seen an EASTER BUNNY lay an egg?"
Only Mr. Bumblypants. And those were plastic.

@Whatsername 1134am Yeah. I figgered as much. Doesn't mean we have to like it though. πŸ˜‰

TJS 11:51 AM  

Hide and Seek..."tag, you're It."

Two great puzzles in a row. And another great entry from OFL in the nit and peck category.

I had nothing until Ernesto and I wasn't really sure of that,but racer and ashen looked good and I somehow came up with Degas/ego/Andes which led to the great "sommelier". Then nothing for quite a while and the part of the solve that I love, those " How the hell do I know that?" moments which were planted all over this great puzzle. Thank you, Emily Carroll, for a great start to my day.

With ya, @Joe D. And another great one from @Barbara S. Now to check on that White Castle discussion. I always thought their slogan should be "Never had one sober".

GHarris 12:02 PM  

All went well once I got off the kick of trying to label Ali a draft dodger until I was left with the SE. It didn’t help that I got one letter wrong in spelling sommelier, stupidly wrote in under the sun and made up something I called a contents app. Finally finished with the aid of “check puzzle”.

old timer 12:20 PM  

Yesterday was a rare and miserable DNF for me. It STOKEd rage. It incited me to papercide. Today was tough, very tough, but not only doable in the end, but gratifying. TRASHTALKER and EASTERBUNNY were brilliant, though I kick myself for not guessing ACHORUSLINE right off. And I just grinned and grinned when I got ITALIAN FLAG. Did anyone else try ITALIAN Alps before remembering that the Alps are far to the North? There are some lovely hills around Florence, and a few villages where you can spend a delightful afternoon guzzling the local vino. But no alps.

You know, the trouble with our friend @Lewis is he likes something about every puzzle. I suspect he loved this one to pieces. I did, anyhow. Brava! Ms Carroll.

GILL I. 12:35 PM  

@Anony 11:30. I never ever liked boxing. husband made me watch Ali. My husband was an amateur boxer while in the British army and he was hell bent on getting me to appreciate the finer points of the art.. I thought Ali was mesmerizing . He danced, he pranced, he gave everyone the show of all shows. After him, I never watched again. Even Fraizer (sp?) didn't amuse me as much.
@Frantic....You need a Little Bunny Foo Foo bopping on the head. No plastic involved...just a little hare today, goon tomorrow.... :-)

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Great SatPuz … had m&e at EASTERBUNNY.

Also, kinda feisty again, like yesterday's, at our house. Got started with LULU, ENNEAD, SCUSE. Then bogged down, and again fled to the weeject wefuge in the NE corner.
Mighty smooth fillins, tho. Musta been them clues [yo, @EASTERBUNNY] that made it hard-ish.

Didn't know: CONTENTFARM.
Sorta knew: ERNESTO. Needed the -TO part, to jog the old M&A memory bank into spillin its info beans.

staff weeject pick: TES. Total mystery -- both clue and answer. ERNESTO probably woulda understood.

Thanx for the challenge and the Easter nod, Emily Carroll. Kinda neat, that yer bottom-most answer was UNDERTHESEA, btw.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


A 12:41 PM  

Happy Alien Abduction Day!

Other-worldly sounds from The Planets: Venus, Bringer of Peace (She wisely makes sure the horn player is ready for the opening solo.)

I believe. The EASTER BUNNY and it’s alien APEs ABSCONDED with my MIND. Left me totally blank-headed in the NW for the longest. ASHEN thankfully held down the fort until they were finished with their experiments.

Anyone else try philanderer for 1A? Fortunately I didn’t leave it.

Strangely, ITALIAN FLAG was one of the obvious ones for me, having only the I of SOMMELIER and the L of ATLAS.

I did manage to sort everything out, and enjoyed seeing little glimpses of light coming through the cracks. Lots of clues were just vague enough to give that “needle in a haystack” feeling. Element. Provides an address. Field worker. Give up. But I didn’t give up, I put my TRUST IN the process, and watched the NARRATIVE unfold bit by bit.

Only two real WOEs. The ? made me hold off on MAGMA until EARGASM forced both it and CONTENT FARM out in the open. And I resisted ABSCONDED because I had never, ever heard it used without its “with.” Now I know.

Another good puzzle - thanks, Ms. Carroll!

Mercury, the Winged Messenger (Go, contrabassoon!)

Frank 12:41 PM  

50% male + 50% female constructors is insufficiently iinclusive. You’re overlooking ‘non-binary.’ You insensitive monster. Keep it up and you’ll be canceled.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  

Almost forgot: Happy Vernal Equinox!

This is pretty funny.

This is pretty groovy.

janet 12:53 PM  

@JJnytxw I agree. Yesterday was tough but easier for me than this beast!

janet 12:55 PM  

Meeee too!

Unknown 12:56 PM  

I am still puzzled on one clue. I don't understand the connection between K and GRAND on 47D.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Ali was incredible. His footwork would’ve been a miracle for featherweight. He was nonpareil in that regard.
Frazier wa not amusing. But he could swat. His left hook was, ironically, helped by a horrible accident he suffered as a boy. A broken bone in his left arm never set properly. His ferocious left hook was partly a result.
The third of the holy trinity of 1970s heavyweights— George Foreman-was something else altogether. His power was incredible and, in early days, his menace truly frightening.
I saw Foreman fight Holyfield for the title I the early 90s. Not a great bout, but the fact that Foreman was still a credible boxer at that age was staggering. Ali was in attendance as it happens. And the love the crowd showed for him was quite moving. And appropriate.
I don’t know the year. Maybe 91? It was in Atlantic City.
Not a heavyweight of course, but this pst week Marvin Hagler died. He was magnificent. I wish I had seen him fight live.

Z 1:05 PM  

@Jennie - I realize it was just a typo but your “Thank Gof” made me smile.

@Frantic - I hear you, de gustibus and all that. To my ear “I’m a little busy” is different, less frustrated and annoyed, than “I’m a little busy, you see?” - With that question mark really emphasizing the “are you too dense to notice” part of the statement.

@Anon11:02 - It’s actually more likely that Parker Higgins went to to tally up the data. That’s the only spot I know of with all the constructor data. Since that is the site Chen runs counting what is there would be an easy enough task for Chen. My question is about the coding. There are a fair number of names that are gender neutral and Chen doesn’t even have pictures of a fair number of constructors identified as female. I wonder how many constructors are misidentified in their data set. Probably not that many and they probably offset, but we don’t actually know, especially for constructors from the 1990’s who people today may not personally know.

@JC66 11:22 - Two gold stars. ⭐️⭐️

@Whatsername - Steak ‘n Shake is a step up from White Castle, but I would not append “hoity toity” to them. Just solid, no pretensions, burgers. They also have those skinny fries and real shakes and wait staff, so are closer in spirit to the kind of burger joints that spawned White Castle than other fast food places. Now, the question is did the cook their shooters like White Castle. Onions and water to create steam. Add butter. Cook the patty on top of the onions with the top of the bun on the patty. It’s the melding of onion, patty, and bun that makes a slider a slider.

@TJS - I actually tried “tags” there when I still had “heavyweight” messing things up.
Also “Never had one sober” is just about the perfect White Castle motto.

Has anyone ever tried the White Castle burgers available in the freezer aisle? I don’t think I’ve ever been that drunk or stoned.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Doh. I lost my train of thought because of the Ali aside.
. Though the Holyfield Foreman fight wasn’t a classic, it did have one classic round. In the seventh or eight round, Holyfield missed a punch and foreman, seeing the opening, struck. The next two minutes was first class heavyweight action. Titanic exchanges. Each boxer landing several blows any one of which would’ve knocked a normal man out.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I get the frozen White Castle a couple times a year. Just what you’d expect- a pale imitation of the real McCoy. And relatively speaking, pricey. But as I say I probably get a box twice a year.
And to the regular who casually started the Castle thread yesterday, I ask again, is getting the rat burger w cheese kosher, or am I a dilettante who only thinks he’s a devotee?

Z 1:14 PM  

@unknown12:56 - I’ll risk getting a gold star... Both “K” as in “kilo” and GRAND are slang for “one thousand.” As in “how much did you spend on coke that you ended up at White Castle at 3:30 a.m?” “Dude, only one K.” or “Dude, only a GRAND.”

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Re old timer (12:20 p.m.), on Alps flying around Florence. Most of us limit the term "alps" to what is the Swiss/Pyrenees version, but historically the term has been used for "other" alps or mountainous areas as well, including areas right near Florence. San Benedetto in Alpe (St. Benedict in the Alps) is a short (about 2-hour) drive from Florence, and is a favorite day-trip destination of Florentines, especially in the hot summer. It has a spectacular waterfall and monastery, and a generous description in Dante's Inferno to boot! (Inferno XVI: 94-102) Dante lived there for about a year, after he had been exiled from Florence.

But these Alps don't really "fly around Florence."

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anoa Bob 1:25 PM  

I confidently dropped in THE GREATEST for 1 Across "Muhammad Ali was one, famously". Left it there for the longest. Changing to the correct TRASH TALKER came late in my solve. I think "...Infamously." would be a better way to describe that.

One thing I'm sure of is that Ali was not a draft dodger. Draft dodgers were the ones who did things like get married, have children, go to college, etc., solely for the purpose of avoiding military service during the Vietnam War. Some also fled to other countries, especially Canada, for the same reason. The well heeled could play their trump card and pay some doctor to diagnose them as having flat feet and escape the draft that way. Some even went to the extreme of literally shooting themselves in the foot to dodge the draft.

Ali did none of those things. He didn't dodge anything. He was completely open and up front about it when he refused to go to Vietnam and kill people. He said "No Vietnamese ever called me ni...r". He faced up to five years in prison for his stand. He was also stripped of his Heavyweight Boxing Title. I think "conscientious objector" would be more apropos for Ali's actions rather than "draft dodger".

The long-time crossword staple RES pays a visit at 62 Across clued as "___ ipsa loquitur" which translate to "the thing speaks for itself", RES being the "thing". We see "rebus", the ablative plural form of RES, in these pages regularly. It translates to "with or by way of things", an example being "non verbus, sed rebus" meaning "not by words but by things". Nota bene: It does not translate to "multiple letters in a single crossword puzzle square."

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

No way. Ali’s petition to be classified as a conscientious objector was rightly denied (unanimously) by his draft board.
It was Potter Stewart, a legal dullard, who bizarrely changed his vote to uphold that draft board’s dcsion ( The Court was 4-4 on the matter owing to Marshall’s recusal of himself).
No one sine 622 AD has properly understood Islam to be anything other than a religion of the sword. That Ali invoked his wrong-headed interpretation of Islam, and compounded his error by introducing the nutty idea that because the Viet Congress hadn’t called him a name he was relieve of a duty i, well, sad.
I like Ali. A lot. But his claim to conscientious objector status is wrong. And he rightly paid a high price for his error.

A 2:05 PM  

Wow, draft dodger - now I don’t feel so bad about philanderer!

@Birchbark, don’t forget EIN, EINE and EINS.

@Barbara S, fantastic selection from Ovid. Were you motivated by the ENNEAD clue, as I was with the Holst, or had you already chosen it? Nice convergence on Venus, anyway!

@Poggius, maybe a sleepwalking philanderer? Nice to have your take on Florence, too.

@Joe D, re ERNESTO - agreed, and nice selection! Those Stravinsky videos are awesome, too.

@kitshef, yes, the ? in the MAGMA clue should have been left off. @Nancy, I bet you’d have seen it except for that. Boo, hiss!

@Frantic, how about “Don’t you see I’m busy?” More natural, and the question mark works. Italy wouldn’t work because ITALIAN. Had to be a city. Or maybe, “It flies over a boot”? (mwahahahahaha!)

Birchbark 2:30 PM  

@A (2:05) -- To your point, I should have said it is a language made up of one word and one-words.

Whatsername 2:33 PM  

@Z (1:05) “Did Steak ‘N Shake cook their shooters like White Castle?” Short answer, no. They were basically just a smaller version of the regular burgers with different toppings. I’ve never tried the store bought White Castles but I don’t know how they could come close to the real deal. I have to stop talking about this now. If I don’t I’m going to have to drive to St. Louis to get a fix. I’m getting fidgety just thinking about it.

Pete 2:33 PM  

@1:43 - Naked bigotry is never very pleasant to see.

Loved the puzzle, but played well hard for me, though I chock that up to a stressful evening. My wife has a 90yo friend who didn't answer her phone Thurs or Fri. A drive-by showed the car in the garage, accumulated mail, and now answer at the door. Multiple calls to her family, and a visit to one nearby son later, we called the police. She'd been laying on the floor for 4 days, but was still OK.

If you got old folk in your life living on their own, call.

Harry 2:56 PM  

Skipped the NW corner because nothing popped out for me, and then found myself sweating hard through the balance of the grid. It was a rough solve, but my brain fired on all cylinders. Were it not for the NW corner, would certainly have been a "best time".

Returned to the NW corner and started stabbing in the dark. Nothing took form and I ended up with a non-resolvable mess. After so much clever solving, very disappointed that the lights went dark on "Easter Bunny"!

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Mine is a considered opinion, shared by historians, scholars and the sentient the world over.
Yours is the sort of tripe I see on bumper stickers. Not so much on Charlie Hebdo staffer’s cars. I mean, anymore. But bumper sticker philosophy all the same.

Georgia 3:31 PM  

When you play Hide and Seek and you lose you're "It" and have to then be the seeker.

Georgia 3:33 PM  

In finance-speak you would shorten $10,000 to $10K.

Joaquin 3:36 PM  

@Anonymous (1:43) said, "...he (Ali) rightly paid a high price for his error," the *error* being his claim to conscientious objector status.

I believe Ali paid a high price for sticking to his principles. I salute Ali for his courage.

And I am a Vietnam veteran.

Barbara S. 3:39 PM  

@A 2:05PM
I'd already chosen it (before seeing the XW). A similar thing happened yesterday when Roth's "wrong and wrong and wrong" was so accidentally apropos for a particularly hard puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 4:01 PM  

@Z 105pm Exactly. "I'm a little busy" seems nicer and more natural - to me, anyway.

@Anoa Bob 125pm Amen! Conscientious objector is exactly right. Also, love your final paragraph! πŸ˜‰

@A 205pm Argh! Of course, you're right about the Italy/Italian problem. Didn't even notice. What a jamoke.πŸ™„

@Pete 233pm Thank goodness (and your persistent involvement) that your wife's friend was okay! That could have been a real tragedy.

And so, it starts. πŸ™„

Until tomorrow, Ciao!

Z 4:10 PM  

If I am remembering correctly, to be considered a “conscientious objector” during Vietnam in order to be excused from serving you had to demonstrate opposition to fighting all wars, not just Vietnam (which wasn’t even legally a war... but let’s not get into Congress’ abdication of their constitutional duties). So Quakers and Mennonites and the Amish could be excused. This posed a particular difficulty in the faith I was raised because it made a distinction between “Just War” and “Unjust War.” If you believed the US to be engaged in an unjust war in Vietnam (and even then it seemed obvious to me that this is what our country was engaged in) it was morally wrong to serve. Luckily for me, I was too young to be forced to ever face that decision. Ali was not so fortunate and his case may have been decided on that basis.

@Whatsername 2:33 - πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Luckily for me there is no White Castle hereabouts and the nearest Steak ‘n Shake is a 40 minute drive.

@Anon1:12 - Purely just my opinion, but introducing cheese between the patty and the bun strikes me as a sin against Gof and should be avoided at the risk of your immortal whataburger.

Anyone do today’s LATX and chortle at the last across answer? That was a far easier Stella than she posts at her Tough as Nails puzzle site. Those of you liking Croce’s offerings might want to take a shot at a few of hers.

newbie 4:19 PM  

Funny - my opinion of the puzzles yesterday and today was the opposite of Rex’s. Not unusual.

Yesterday, I finally finished, triumphantly. Today I finally gave up and, after looking them up, I was sure that I never would have gotten some of the answers. But then, I’ve thought that before (like yesterday about halfway through) and managed to finish - “and still she persisted!” Not today, alas. CONTENT FARM? All I could think of was Reddit - no offense.

I never got on the right wavelength with this one. Even the ones I should have gotten, I didn’t. I was thinking of A CHORUS LINE, picturing it in my head but I must have tried it without the “A” or put in a “The” because I never quite got there.

And how could I not think of THE EASTER BUNNY? I was mired on a beach somewhere with an ocean turtle for awhile and then wanted emperor penguin in the worst way. Platypus? Black swan? Sigh.

I enjoyed revisiting UNDER THE SEA (a family favorite, especially with my husband, when our son was little) and, with all the flag talk earlier in the week, I eventually got past airline carrier thoughts to come up with ITALIAN FLAG. Smile.

My only excuse is that my brain was fried after yesterday’s challenge plus taking somebody’s advice and trying our @Nancy’s puzzle of last year (3-15-20), which actually reminded me a lot of yesterday’s puzzle - very challenging but fun as well. I recommend it, too. A definite sense of humor came through and the themers not only were entertaining but helped with solving as well. I quite liked it, Nancy - keep them coming!

Cliff 4:29 PM  

Interesting how similar my solving experience was to Rex's:::: ~

• Evoke before Stoke
• Earworm before Eargasm
• Staring for a bit at Italian (blank) and Content (blank), resolved by our faithful friend Atlas!!

An enjoyable solve, with interesting stacks.

Z 4:31 PM  

Ah, memory. The apparently unanimous decision to overturn because the Justice Department screwed up.
And, The TL;DR Wikipedia synopsis if you don’t want to read pages of legal documents that are formatted oddly.
It does not appear that Ali served any substantial jail time, but he was stripped of his boxing licenses while the case was decided, so he lost his primary means of income from age 25-29.

newbie 4:53 PM  

My opinion of the puzzles yesterday and today was the opposite of Rex’s. Not unusual.

Never got on the right wavelength with this one. Even the answers I should have gotten, I didn’t. I was picturing A CHORUS LINE and must have left “A” then tried to put in “The” because I never quite got there. Frown.

And how could I not get THE EASTER BUNNY? I was mired somewhere on a beach for the longest time with an ocean turtle and then wanted it to be an emperor penguin in the worst way. Platypus? Black swan? Sigh.

I enjoyed revisiting UNDER THE SEA, a family favorite when our son was little (especially of my husband, oddly enough - was it all the mermaids? Hmmm.) - and, after all the talk about national flags earlier in the week, I eventually got through airline carriers to the ITALIAN FLAG. Smile.

My only excuse is that my brain was fried after conquering yesterday’s challenge, plus taking someone’s advice and trying our @Nancy’s Sunday NYT puzzle of last year (3-15-20), which actually reminded me a lot of yesterday’s puzzle. I recommend it, too. Very tough but fun. The themers not only revealed a sense of humor but also helped with solving. Keep them coming, Nancy! 🌞

newbie 5:14 PM  

P.S. Filling in EARGASM and SOMMELIER were highlights. But liked heavyweight and Black Muslim for Ali.

Giovanni 5:15 PM  

I worked on it for 30 minutes and I only had about 1/4 of it. It seemed very hard. I slept on it. This morning, I eked out 2 more corners after squeezing my brain into oblivion. I actually type in random letters, just to see if anything develops. That's how I saw Under The Sea- just typing in letters. Then there was the NW corner where I only had Easter Bunny. More brain squeezing and experimenting with random letters. Finally at 1 hour and 5 minutes, I got the happy music. I really love a puzzle like this, where it seems hopeless, but I don't cheat, I don't give up, and eventually solve it correctly. It feels like a great brain workout.
Then I come here, and Rex calls it easy. I guess that is one year of solving vs. 30 years of solving, but I think for me I enjoy the results of my hard work more than he does. I'm on cloud 9 after this solve. Yesterday was 1 hour 28 minutes of solving to a completed puzzle. I almost feel sorry for the 5 minutes people! Just kidding.

jae 5:35 PM  

....meant to add me too for EARworm and DREWin.

@ bocamp - I just started Croce’s Freestyle #593 (yes, I skipped a few to avoid scrolling) and it seems a tad more accessible than the last one but still in Stumper territory. Speaking of which @Son Volt - there is no more Stumper. It’s been replaced by the “Saturday Themeless” which is not nearly as difficult as the bygone Stumper. If you want the Stumper experience, try Tim Croce’s Club72 site.

newbie 5:40 PM  

CONTENT FARM? I wonder if anyone actually knew that answer. After reading the clue, all I could come up with was “Reddit” - no offense! 😁

CreamyT 6:01 PM  

Certainly did not find this easy for a Saturday, and in fact had a harder time than yesterday's puzzle. I did enjoy the cluing more. There was many more "oh right!" than "oh c'mon" exclamations from me or my wife.

There were a couple, what I found to be obscure trivia-type answers, but I think it's fair enough for a Sat.

The only clue I really didn't like:

EASTERBUNNY - The Easter Bunny isn't a an animal. It's a fictional being with magical powers represented as a bunny. But it's not I know Saturdays are intended to be more vague, so it as "animal" instead of "mythic animal" or something. So maybe this is nitpicky, and I get how it's clever, but it's too far off the mark for me.

I did some !highly scientific! by asking a few friends what they thought of about 4 answers from this puzzle, the EASTERBUNNY one included, and everyone kind of groaned at it where they liked the others. Science has confirmed it!

But for real, great puzzle overall. Quite challenging for us!

Kenny Mitts 6:26 PM  

@anon1:03 That’s why they called him Magnificent Marvin Hagler

bocamp 6:31 PM  

@jae 5:35 PM πŸ‘

td 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ TOLERANCE ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Randy Miller 6:40 PM  

I filled in the bottom half pretty easily but I started out with HEAVYWEIGHT at the top and that lead me down the wrong path until I realized some of the crosses were just impossible.

Whatsername 7:14 PM  

@Pete (2:33) Bless you and your wife for being concerned enough to check on her friend. How sad that no one else had bothered. I hope she is doing okay. Thanks for the reminder to always be kind.

albatross shell 7:17 PM  

Your post seems to be misleading in some ways. Harlan not Potter
changed his mind to make it 4-4 which would have upheld the conviction. The legal "dullard" Potter was the one who pushed the legal technicality that his clerk changed it to an 8-0 decision. A result all wanted to get to apparently. At least they did not want an evenly split decision. Moreover, your opinion on the essential nature of Islam is of no legal significance since the law makes no mention of the interpretation of the religion except through the beliefs of the draftee. And if you are going to claim to @Pete that bigotry has no place in your opinion, you might at least consider if anti-Black or anti-Islamic or pro-war feelings had any part in the draft board's decision. The hearing officer took Ali's side and was ignored by the board.


Are CONTENT FARMs homes for contented cows?

oriordan 7:25 PM  

I’m definitely in the minority who found this much harder than yesterday. Was pretty sure the streak was coming to an end but slowly, slowly got through it. NW corner was the last to fall for me. A real workout with a great feeling of satisfaction at the happy chimed. Thanks @Emily!

Anonymous 7:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher Jones 8:12 PM  

I was really hoping for “Black Muslim” to be the answer to that clue as well.

Z 10:58 PM  

@newbie 5:40 - CONTENT FARM even has its own Wikipedia entry. Candidly, I recognized it once I had enough letters to figure out the words, but it’s not something that I would have gotten without some letters in place. I think I recognize it as a pejorative used around discussions about journalism and paywalls.

Nancy 11:09 PM  

That's very nice of you to say, @newbie (4:53). Thanks so much!!

newbie 11:51 PM  

@Z - I was vaguely aware of them but didn’t know that they had a name or that they were such a problem - thanks for the info.
@Nancy - credit where it’s due - you’re welcome!

Art 10:23 AM  


stephanie 10:49 AM  

see, this is a nice puzzle. a good puzzle. an enjoyable puzzle. i started yesterday afternoon and got hardly any answers just going straight through the clues and thought, "oh glob, i hope it's not worse than yesterday." then i got interrupted by other things i had to do (rude!) and then we lost power. but it turns out even if you don't have internet, if you have a puzzle already open, you can keep working on it! and my laptop had plenty of battery. so, lucky me, in a way. anyhow, by literal candlelight i worked this puzzle and managed to finish the whole thing by myself, without even google to check my guesses as it wasn't available.

have to agree i also didn't like TEASE and refused to put it in until the very end, grumbling all the while, "they're going to make me write TEASE aren't they." flirting is fun and consensual, being called a tease is just something men say when you weren't even flirting to begin with but now they're pissed you won't sleep with them or give them the time of day. sure, you can consensually TEASE someone in a sexual context, but i don't think that's where this clue was drawing its answer from.

but truly, i enjoyed the rest. did i know muhammad ali was a TRASH TALKER? no! have i ever seen or heard A CHORUS LINE? no! have i ever heard of a CONTENT FARM, SIENA college, ERNESTO guevara, or E M FORSTER? no! but were they all fun and possible-to-accomplish, satisfying reveals? yes! i actually had ITALIAN FLAG early on but i thought "this is too easy. it's too obvious, right?" i really let friday's puzzle get into my head. but soon it washed away. and cheers to that. perhaps i'm just in a good mood because the power came back on this morning. either way, i'll take it.

stephanie 10:51 AM  

@Art 'scuse me, comin' through! beep beep...

Bob Mills 1:11 PM  

Rex Parker says women should represent half of all published puzzle constructors in the Times. It's a gender issue with him, obviously.

But suppose 80% of the submissions Will Shortz receives are from men? In that case, to insist that women be represented fairly, 20%, not 50%, would be logical.

This is a case of "bias based on outcomes," not real bias.

Alicat 12:11 AM  

@bocamp, when I was growing up in 1940s Vancouver, the native word skookum meant “strong” as in skookumchuck (strong river) or skookum kid (a sturdy strong baby boy). I never hear the word anymore until I started reading your excellent posts. But I wonder at the way you use this adjective. Where did you learn it?

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Much easier than yesterday. Much less fun. I had number of liked clues: 15a, 19a, 46a, 25d, and a number that i thought were awful: 20a, 24a, 40a, and 7d, The three letter clues and solves belonged in a Wednesday. I’m talking about you ICU, eve, the lame res, rye, tis, ent, tes.

This was clearly a let-down due mainly to its appearing on Saturday. It wasn’t Friday level except for the three high stacked 11s. I thought Italian flags was lame, however.

I guess to single out the greatest boxer of all time as a trashtalker is parr for the course here at nyt xwd world. There are plenty of other sports figures both more renowned as trash talkers including some that had little game to go with the trash and would have made better examples.

I too, cheerfully put in earworm before quickly realizing that it didnt support atlas and was clearly a gaffe.

OFL was having an off day to not find lulu maleskaesque. At least it wasn’t oner.

Paper and pencil as is my wont. Doing it online feels more like a kibitzer constantly making tutting sounds.

I remain, Purity of Essence

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

FIELD WORKER: Calling a person who works so hard and on whether to provide you food for your table a PEASANT is unforgivably elitist. I would say that person as heroic. Whenever I come across a person who is providing food for me, I always earnestly thank them.

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

Agreed: easier than yesterday--but still no slouch. 99% of ALL crosswords are easier than yesterday's. I started with SMEE/SOMMELIER/EGO/DEGAS and radiated out. Hand up for wanting EARworM, but ATLAS seemed certain, so I waited. CANITWAIT? MAGMA seemed right too, but EAR_A_M?? Man that one took a lo-o-ong time. When I finally got it it was a headslap moment.

At some point during the solve--I can't pinpoint it--the answers just suddenly start to become apparent. Of course, not some exotic animal but simply the EASTERBUNNY, e.g. It was like that all around. After a somewhat slow start, I actually found this easy--for a Saturday. Call it easy-medium.

Not sure what controlling the NARRATIVE means; I guess it's in-the-profession language. Whatever. DOD LULU sang "To Sir With Love;" maybe certain people today would like to revise that title: "To Sir or Madam With Love." 'Nuff said. Mark me down for a rare back-to-back eagle.

Burma Shave 1:15 PM  


ITALIAN wine was LULU's lustin'(she'd heard A SPOTON THE AIR).


Anonymous 1:21 PM  

Too pisser infested to be called "easy". No fun to be had here.

rondo 1:41 PM  

Took about a half hour, but the most spotless grid I can make; just all of those correct letters.

@spacey is correct, LULU sang that song, and of course, the SIR'S Sidney P. The only other LULU I know is LULU Roman from Hee Haw.

The corners are the TRAP PART.

Good puz regardless of constructor gender. Let's not demand quotas just because.

Diana, LIW 2:09 PM  

Oh well - I am in the "yesterday was easier" camp. About an 87% correct.

But...learned some new words/notions. CONTENTFARM - must avoid them. EARGASM - nae, nae - TIS but a worm.

Still enjoyed it. 'Cause I'm no TRASH TALKER.

Diana, Lady and Truth Speaker

thefogman 2:24 PM  

I thought this one was just right for a Saturday. The SE corner was the hardest part for me. Lots of good puns. Overall, very good. I’m a bit disappointed Burma didn’t do anything with 48A...

Michael Fleming 3:31 PM  

I tried “war objector”. Equally fruitless.

leftcoaster 4:02 PM  

LIked the style of this puzzle--which required some cheats in the NW and SE as well as a couple of other places.

EASTER BUNNY and EARGASM don’t make a good pair, but they stood out as oddities for me.

I’d call this a pretty FRESH puzzle.

Unknown 6:13 PM  

1A: heavy weight to heavy hitter to draft dodger to trash talker. Yeesh.

thefogman 11:34 AM  

Pretty good, but it would have been even better with a reveal like - Swole: PUMPEDMUSCLES

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