Colorful Pillsbury cake with a portmanteau name / SAT 4-17-21 / Series set in Middle-earth, for short / Targets of leg raises / Some Renaissance-era scientists

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Constructor: Leslie Rogers

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TOWER OF HANOI (7D: Mathematical puzzle with movable disks) —

The Tower of Hanoi (also called the Tower of Brahma or Lucas' Tower[1]and sometimes pluralized as Towers, or simply pyramid puzzle[2]) is a mathematical game or puzzle. It consists of three rods and a number of disks of different diameters, which can slide onto any rod. The puzzle starts with the disks stacked on one rod in order of decreasing size, the smallest at the top, thus approximating a conical shape.

The objective of the puzzle is to move the entire stack to last rod, obeying the following simple rules:

  1. Only one disk may be moved at a time.
  2. Each move consists of taking the upper disk from one of the stacks and placing it on top of another stack or on an empty rod.
  3. No disk may be placed on top of a disk which is smaller than it.

With 3 disks, the puzzle can be solved in 7 moves. The minimal number of moves required to solve a Tower of Hanoi puzzle is 2n − 1, where n is the number of disks.

• • •

Annoyed to wake up this morning to find a text on my phone's lock screen from my daughter that read as follows:

Once the puzzle comes out (at 10pm the night before), I don't look at social media til I'm done solving, precisely so that I know Nothing about the puzzle when I sit down to solve it. I don't want even the tiniest bit of information or inference in my head. Nothing. Nada. I have learned that when it comes to "spoilers," I have only myself to blame. Don't blame social media—That's Where People Go To Spoil Things. It's the raison d'être of the entire Internet—ruining things you love, or might love, before you've even had a chance to enjoy them. So I stay off. But I don't block texts from my family. Who could foresee such betrayal!? Et tu, Ella!? Anyway, I'm proud of her Saturday accomplishment (I couldn't finish a Saturday puzzle at all until I'd been solving for years) (they were harder back then, but still). But I knew this puzzle was "Easy" before I even started, so then of course I'd get frustrated with myself when any answer gave me trouble. "I WAS TOLD THIS WAS EASY!" Well it was easy, but not ridiculously easy, so I think my daughter's just better at solving than she thinks. Also, the constructor appears to be a young woman, i.e. she looks much more like my daughter than she does me, so maybe, Maybe, generational similarity matters, and it's simply more likely that you'll groove on a puzzle made by someone your own age than by someone who isn't. I like puzzles by all kinds of people, but it's not terribly surprising that my favorite constructor of Friday puzzles, Robyn Weintraub, is approximately Rex years old. And yet ... I liked this puzzle too! A constructor's generational similarity isn't the only factor in puzzle groovability. But it just might help.

[The Young RASCALs!]
["You and me and Leslie..."]

I laughed when I looked up TOWER OF HANOI after I'd finished solving because I realized instantly that I have "never heard of this answer" at least once before. I definitely used it as Word of the Day before, because I remember the little puzzle-solving animation (above). Still, today, no idea, so I just got it all from crosses. It was the only thing in the grid that wasn't familiar to me. This includes FUNFETTI, which I know somehow, how? (1A: Colorful Pillsbury cake with a portmanteau name). Wait, what are the two words in the "portmanteau." I thought "fun" + "confetti" ... but it feels weird to call it that, since it's less a mash-up of two words than a pun on the first syllable of one word ("confetti"). Unless the "fun" comes from "funnel" or "fungible" or "fundament" (one of your less popular cakes, I imagine). Lots of good food stuff in this puzzle. Didn't know SAGE was a big deal in Italian cooking, but I do enjoy a SOFT CHEESE and an ICE CREAM CONE now and then and I have definitely been in a FOOD COMA

Nothing really sizzled today in the long fill department, except (ironically?) FROZEN SOLID. I also like the SW corner overall; it's a nice little stack. Good clue on DRAG RACERS too (38A: Zoom participants?). I am tired of Zoom, since it's where I do all my teaching, but apparently I'm not tired of Zoom-based wordplay. Yet. Was not fond of all the fill-in-the-blank clues (truly the lowest form of cluing). Five (5) of these!?!? Blank Star (sadly, not "DEATH"), blank bike, blank blue, On the blank, and then the blank in the Dorothy Parker quote. Had me longing for more "?" clues, which never happens (actually, there were five "?" clues today, which seems like the Perfect amount for a Saturday). OK, I have to run to the hospital to get blood drawn (far less dire than it sounds). Can't eat until that's done. so, goodbye. Cheers. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JOHN X 6:17 AM  

I found this puzzle to be practically Wednesday easy.

I was handcuffed, first by a dominatrix and then by the police, so I had to tap out the answers on my iPad with my nose. Fortunately I was extremely high on crank and poppers so my concentration was razor sharp and I came in at 16:21. Oddly enough, the police completely forgot to charge me with anything so I just walked out of the station. This really happened.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Smooth and scrumptious, like SOFT CHEESE. Answers kept popping in, and the crosses that resulted helped just right with the vexers. (And, for the record, regarding crosswords, I’m pro-, not anti-vexer.)

Along the way there were words I love (RUBRIC, NOMAD, CRICK, RASCAL, HERETICS); rhyme (RACK/PACK/BACK); pattern (OVA/HODA/ARENA/COMA); PuzPairs© (PILOT and ACE, LOST next to ART), and canny cluing (I especially liked those for RUNS and LOO).

My heart smiled with RAG DOLL, the kind of cat our Merlin was, who I loved. There are good Merlin stories, and I’ll mention one. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and after he was out for a fair while, he would often scratch desperately at the backdoor screen, begging to come in, because he had to use the litter box.

All this made for an experience with sparkle. Thank you, Leslie!

floatingboy 6:48 AM  

Had MUSTAINE before MATTHEWS. Megadeth, anyone? I was about to be excited that he got the mention!

kitshef 7:26 AM  

Is TASTER just British? Feel like I hear that all the time.

I liked most of this puzzle, but not 1A (obscure non-word that needed every cross) or 60A (meta clue).

Tough to get started today. Could not get a foothold until BOAR/EBBS, but that led immediately to TAX BRACKET and things opened up.

The Tower of Hanoi gets time-consuming quickly. With four discs, you can watch Rex's animation solve it in less than 15 seconds. With 40 discs, if you started the day you were born and moved one disc per second, with no stops for sleeping or eating, it would take you almost 35,000 years to finish.

Son Volt 7:35 AM  

Liked it. Fun, quick solve for me - top to bottom with no real pushback - the long downs were all gimmes which helps. HANOI is used exclusively in Data Structures to teach recursion so that went right in. FUNFETTI has been around for awhile - my youngest son loved that stuff in the early 90s. Wanted Mustaine before MATTHEWS but then figured that wouldn’t fly in the NYT. Never really understood how people could stomach that guy’s music - but then again John Mayer has a following also. I’ve never been in a FOOD COMA but do love SOFT CHEESE especially baked en croûte with dried sour cherries.

SAGE and butter are mainly a northern Italian thing - the clue is a little loose. In Latin - SAGE is salvia. My Perugian grandmother loved the stuff - cooked with it all the time and would always use salve! to greet people.

Enjoyable Saturday solve.

bocamp 7:40 AM  

Thank you @Leslie – what a delightful, crunchy Sat. puz! Just enuf challenge to make me work hard, but not break me. :)

Med+ solve. Not at all on my wave-length.

No luck in the NW, initially. Thot 15A: AVIATION, but couldn't get any crosses, so left it blank and moved on. Hit and miss all the way, with very few gimmes. Got some crosses off the short ones; eventually everything fell into place, finishing in the NW with the "u" of FUNFETTI being the last cell to fill, requiring a half-educated whack-a-vowel.

RUBRIC is a fine word; have heard/seen it but not recalling the def.

Coincidence of the day: NOMADland, the first part of which I watched yesterday (Disney+) after having watched an interview with the author of the book (Jessica Bruder) a day earlier on PBS News Hour.

RAGDOLL ~ The Four Seasons

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

Wow! That was easy. Probably a PR, but I lost my stats when I had to reload my app due to a balky SB. Actually, it’s a relief not to have the stats hanging over my head.

Flying Pediatrician 7:50 AM  

As a huge AVIATION buff, I find it awesome that a piece of fabric from the Wright FLYER is included in the Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s payload! Hoping its first flight goes well this week! Scientific American (is that an oxymoron now) article HERE.

Ω 7:55 AM  

TOWER OF HANOI went in with no crosses and maybe three nanoseconds of foraging (Temple of HANOI... no... TOWER OF HANOI). I had dRAFTS before CRAFTS. Here ends the discussion of all the difficulty the puzzle gave me. I didn’t time myself, nor do I care enough about my time to have a fancy color chart, but @John X’s “Wednesday easy” sounds about right. A Saturday this easy is often due to high PPP in my wheelhouse, but that’s not the case today. 16 of 72 for 22%. You won’t find less PPP in a NYTX often (Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns).

Neither Grohl nor Roth are long enough, but FAM, NIT, and FATHER made MATTHEWS pretty obvious. Ultimate teams max out at 27 players and we generally go to a tournament with fewer, but nevertheless we once were able to put 7 Daves on the line. Now I’m thinking a Dave Super Group might have been fun. Grohl on drums, MATTHEWS on lead guitar, Bowie as singer. Brubeck on keyboards. We need a rhythm guitarist and maybe somebody on horns.

@kitshef - TASTER doesn’t seem especially Brit speak to me either.

pabloinnh 8:00 AM  

Still no printer so the on line, less satisfying solve process continues. I don't think I'll have the time or patience to try tomorrow's, as the closings are done and the moving in begins in the new place which will involve lots of painting and a new floor before we get settled. There was an end in sight, but it turned out to be a beginning. Ay vida.

Puzzle was midweek easy , liked the long answers, TOWEROFHANOI a WTF, as was FUNFETTI, but otherwise straightforward enough. I am now experiencing the "almost" aspects of the NYT scolds, but was able to go back and fix a dumb error and keep my modest "streak" alive.

I miss my printer.

Dan Scan 8:02 AM  

Sir, this is a Wendy’s...

kitshef 8:04 AM  

Oof. Just did the April 17, 2010 puzzle (also a Saturday). That was a haaaaaaaard puzzle.

David Eisner 8:06 AM  

I'm approximately Rex-years-old, too. My time was 16:38, which is very fast for me. I've only been able to reliably solve Saturdays since November 1st, 2020 (when my cut streak began). Partially helped by being familiar with the Towers of Hanoi puzzle. You can't get a CS degree without learning about it.

Alexa & Dan 8:06 AM  

Also a Saturday PR for us. We enjoyed Dave Matthews crossing UVA (he's from Charlottesville, where the school is located.) It's where we met, and later returned for our wedding (complete with a funfetti cake!) The NW was made for this couple. - A + D

Ω 8:08 AM  

@bocamp - In an education context the clue is pretty much spot on, a RUBRIC is a grading aid. A RUBRIC will provide the specific criteria one uses to grade an assignment. Of course, that’s only the fourth definition listed by Merriam-Webster. Some complaints about Rex are essentially that his puzzle grading RUBRIC is inconsistent. People use RUBRICS all the time, but we tend to just call them “criteria” outside of education.

Frantic Sloth 8:31 AM  

Despite being on a different wavelength, this was quick for me. Odd. But, I liked it.
Like @Lewis 624am, I loved how RUNS was clued. Like Merlin, I also prefer indoor plumbing. ❤️


Trockmn 8:44 AM  

Stupid easy.

Ben 8:48 AM  

Me too!

Guilherme Gama 9:08 AM  

I'm not in the habit of getting Saturdays in 12 minutes. This was an objectively easy puzzle.

Barbara S. 9:14 AM  

That was a satisfying Friday and Saturday puzzle pair. I liked both and solved both with no look-ups. I was prepared to plead “COVID arm” if I’d done badly today. I finally got my first Moderna shot yesterday and have a decidedly sore wing. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen, which enabled sleep. Believe it or not, I have to wait until August for SHOT #2! Vaccine roll-out is a shoddy affair here and supply is an ongoing problem because we don’t manufacture the stuff in Canada. Grr. Anyway, back to business. I got my first toehold in the center with LOTR and radiated out from there until I stalled. Then went to the far south and completed the solve from the bottom up. The NW was the last to fall. I had what turned out to be a critical error which, when fixed, led to success. For "___ Star" I had LOdE rather than LONE, which made the answer to “Snap” a word ending in TADT. Huh? (What does lode star even mean? [Looking it up.] “a star that is used to guide the course of a ship, especially the Pole Star.” And it’s all one word so no capitalization of the S.) Once I mended that and got INSTANT, I was on my way.

Today’s quotation comes from MARIAMA BÂ, born Apr. 17, 1929.

“Books saved you. Having become your refuge, they sustained you. The power of books, this marvelous invention of astute human intelligence. Various signs associated with sound: different sounds that form the word. Juxtaposition of words from which springs the Idea, Thought, History, Science, Life. Sole instrument of interrelationships and of culture, unparalleled means of giving and receiving. Books knit generations together in the same continuing effort that leads to progress. They enabled you to better yourself. What society refused you, they granted.”
(From So Long a Letter)

LtKije 9:14 AM  

Can confirm what Son Volt said above, super common around Bologna where my in-laws are from. Take some tortelli filled with parmigiano, egg, and a little nutmeg, then after boiling then for five mins stir around in some sage-infused brown butter, and you have a nice easy festive Italian meal.

TheMadDruid 9:16 AM  

David Sanborn?

Rube 9:17 AM  

Here is the problem that we see way too often. Have not read Rex yet.
1A. No idea what FUNFETTI is as I haven't purchased or eaten a Pillsbury cake product in 50 years. Of course it can be solved via crosses. But why not use CONFETTI instead? Plenty of excellent clues for that and for the two crosses CAM and OVA. In the overwhelming majority of cases using a real word is better than a silly brand name. Just sloppy editing.

Piano Phil 9:34 AM  

That didn’t feel like a Saturday. My fastest ever, well under half my average, even with zero knowledge of college sports, towers of Hanoi, or Pillsbury cakes. These Saturday puzzles used to be much more challenging.

Unknown 9:35 AM  

Given how often rex can spoil a perfectly fine morning with his rants there is a certain irony to his comment "Don't blame social media—That's Where People Go To Spoil Things. It's the raison d'être of the entire Internet—ruining things you love, or might love, before you've even had a chance to enjoy them."

That being said, we both liked liked today's puz. I didn't think it was particularly "fresh" but it had some fun answers and just sort of clicked along.
I'd never heard of a "TASTER," even having eaten my way across London and having spent the pandemic binge-watching the entire GBBS this past winter.
Kitshef hears that word all the time, so we must travel in very different circles.

John 9:41 AM  


Nancy 9:44 AM  

Oh, please. Don't start off a puzzle with the ridiculous "portmanteau word" of FUMFETTI. A portmanteau of what?? What kind of cake could it possibly be? This 1A clue FUMFETTIed up my entire solve at the top of the puzzle. In fact, I was completely FUMFETTIed for what seemed like hours. (Can we make FUMFETTIed a future crossword verb like NATICKed? Thank you.)

Managed to avoid looking up MATTHEWS, which further stymied me. Never heard of the TOWER OF HANOI math puzzle. Had hooK before RACK at 25A; INSert before INSOLE at 18A; and FAtE before FAME at 49D. All of which made my solve more difficult. And my solve was very, very difficult. For those of you intimidated by Rexites who are calling today's puzzle "easy", you have me to make you feel better about yourselves. Aren't you grateful?

A well-constructed, grown-up puzzle that had some wonderful things in it, FUMFETTI not being one of them. But this is not necessarily the sort of puzzle you want to do the day after a Covid shot. Thought For The Day: Don't get vaccinated on a Friday -- you may not have enough energy to really want to wrestle with a tough Saturday puzzle :)

Sixthstone 9:45 AM  

Super easy--my fastest Saturday ever and more like a Tuesday or Wednesday time. The puzzle was fun and clever, but it went by too fast. I don't enjoy puzzles with a lot of 3-letter answers, but even the 3-spots in this puzzle were different and clever: FAM, UVA, NIT (basketball tournament not bug), BMX, ACE, IRK, WIT.

Teedmn 9:52 AM  

I'm sure I won't be the only one, but I had CORNish hens in at 39D and it was messing with my ability to put CONE in after my ICE CREAM because I could think of no words starting iO and associated with Thanksgiving. Thankfully, FED came to me before I could become FED up with the puzzle, or even IRKed.

I've eaten FUNFETTI cake, I think - our friend's late mother always made him an angel food cake for his birthday and the one I had a piece of was filled with the colored sprinkles. It was fine but I'm a pie person, not cake.

TOWER OF HANOI elicited the same reaction as it did for Rex. I thought I'd never heard of it but with OF HANOI in place, TOWER eventually oozed into place, and when I saw the animated solve here on the blog, I remembered seeing it before.

@Leslie Rogers, thank you for a Saturday with a bit of bite, but with an overall smoothness and little PPP. I enjoyed watching the SABBATH fill in, clued as a Rest stop?

Carola 10:00 AM  

From FUNFETTI to FOOD COMA this was an enjoyable romp, with CORNFED, SOFT CHEESE, and ICE CREAM CONE packed in between, the wit making up for the lack of brutal brain-racking. HERETICS + FLINCHES: Galileo?

Help from previous puzzles: TOWER OF HANOI, HODA. Help from teaching college students way back when: MATTHEWS. Help from one form of my pandemic therapy - reading food blogs: FUNFETTI (surprisingly many bakers are posting confetti cake recipes, the goal being to create a homemade confection that tastes like a boxed mix).

bocamp 10:03 AM  

For 7D, I conjured up some complicated device, maybe like an advanced form of the Rubik's Cube. Turns out I've enjoyed doing TOWER OF HANOI with various numbers of discs. Brain memory waves just not functioning on this puzzle. Glad everyone had a day off on this one. It was a work day for me. LOL

For what it's worth, don't recall having heard TASTER for 'sample' or 'sampler'. Like it, tho. :)

I did know 3D, NIT, but guess I wasn't confident enough to enter AVIATION solely based on the 'i'. Had I gone with it, the puz may have unfolded in a much different way. Will never know. Life is like that sometimes. The choices we make (or don't make). 🤔

@Z (8:08 AM) re: RUBRIC

Thx for the link. Having been in the education field for most of my adulthood, I realized after having looked it up, that I had been using it in the 'criteria for grading' sense all those years.

@Rube (9:17 AM)

Confetti would have been no FUN. :(

td pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 10:07 AM  

Looks like it's "record your time for all to see" day.

I register an objection that WEST is 270 degrees. Says who and whose army? I've begun teaching a component of my math course that deals with trigonometric functions, where I have to explain to my students that mathematicians use radians to specify angular measure, starting at the point (1, 0) (which I'll call "East"), and moving in a counterclockwise direction along the unit circle corresponds to increasing the radian measure. So for me and my class, 270 degrees (or better, 3pi/2 radians) corresponds to "South". I can only assume that WEST means North is at 0 degrees and moving clockwise is considered the positive direction?

With optimal play, the TOWER OF HANOI takes 2^n - 1 moves to solve if the number of discs is n. So the number of moves is roughly doubled with each additional disc. (Finding the correct moves is a good exercise in recursion, which was a major theme of Gödel, Escher, Bach which we discussed the other day here.)

It's a little hard thinking of Dave MATTHEWS as a "rocker". As broad categories go, sure, let's call it rock. But it's safe adult-contemporary VH1 pop sort of rock. I'm sure I'll be made to regret saying this, but I don't think anyone truly rocks out to Dave MATTHEWS, in the mode of head-banging rock. Remember on Friends, I think it was Monica who had seen Hootie and the Blowfish and said she had made out with one of the Blowfish backstage? Yep, that pretty much sums up the target demographic for what I'm talking about. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. It's not important.)

George 10:18 AM  

Just wanted to share my rollercoaster experience

1. Skip NW entirely, totally dumbfounded by ALL downs and acrosses
2. Dig into the right half of the puzzle, and solve it Wednesday-fast (or faster)
3. Start getting excited about a seriously improved PR
4. Work clockwise back up to the NW, oh my god we're like 12 minutes in...
6. Suddenly, get "Funfetti" in a flash of recognition and a grim nod to the success of consumer packaged goods' marketing while taking a break making coffee
7. Be absolutely sure that the PR is in hand; begin preparing acceptance speech
9. Muddle through; curse profusely; what is the "Triad of Hanoi", what is happening, oh no my PR
10. Solve in 24 minutes
11. Be proud that "Matthews" didn't even OCCUR to you because that dude is NOT "of rock"
12. Visit the blog

Andy S 10:25 AM  

@RooMonster must be in seventh heaven today. I'd love to play Battleship with you Roo. I'd leave all ships off the sixth column and cruise to victory. I enjoy your posts.

Birchbark 10:34 AM  

A regimen of calisthenic wisecracking sustains the healthy WIT, Dorothy.

INSTANT CORNFED FOOD COMA. By that I mean 17:14, on the challenging side of a medium-challenging Saturday. It took a while to find a toe-hold, then went along methodically.

I got a righteous feeling from TAX BRACKETS. Last night, I was looking at my account online and saw that both the federal and state authorities had withdrawn their prescribed amounts on April 15, as instructed. I don't really like paying taxes, but it's a civic responsibility and I feel good to settle the obligation. ON TIME or a month early, depending on how you measure it.

Douglas 10:37 AM  


RooMonster 10:40 AM  

Hey All !
@George 10:18
Har! That was my solve too! Except it took me 37 minutes. And using Check Puzzle to ferret out the wrongness.

The NE was tough. Had Airplane for AVIATION, wanted RIU for UVA, had apiece in for FATHER, and absolutely no clue on ETHER as clued.

SW, Parti for PILOT (as in Part1), and FLYER trickily clued. Couldn't get "round" out of the ole brain for Circular. And FAtE.

Wanted steamroller for 16A, Grading aid, but obviously too long.

@kitshef 7:26
How do you know the 35,000 year thing? Has someone been playing that long?
(Har, c'mon people, I know it's a math equation! 😁)

Surprised the Frozen film franchise hasn't come out with a sequel titled FROZEN SOLID.

Seven F's (Nice!)

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

You often link to that dictionary. It’s not great. And their rubric entry is a pretty good example of why.
First, it misses what the word means. A rubric is a printed or written text in distinctive , especially red, lettering.
It doesn’t take a lot to see where the definitions Merrimam come from.. Cleary rubric, or a rubric, was an important part of the text in a manuscript or book, or a code. Notably legal codes. In law in fact, the heading of statute or even entire sections of the code begin with rubrics.
Again, the step to prescriptive note, or general rule is very short indeed.
A better dictionary, I contend, would help you understand the word much better. Also, a rubric is not a criterion in any way shape or form

mathgent 10:43 AM  

Lewis's heart smiled, mine didn't do anything at all. My brain also feels left out because I didn't learn anything worth remembering.

I read recipes and haven't seen SAGE required for any Italian dish. The only time I've seen it is as an ingredient in bread stuffing.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

@Barbara S -- Really sorry about your post-vaccination pain. Don't miss my post yesterday (Friday) at 9:05 p.m. Maybe it could help you avoid a painful 2nd shot.

If you want more info, you can always contact me off-blog.

Steve M 10:44 AM  

Me three

JOHN X 10:49 AM  

Just wait until Queen Elizabeth dies. That funeral will be like the Super Bowl times a thousand.

Click here in honor of Prince Philip's funeral.

JD 10:53 AM  

Enjoyable in the same way as taking a high school test after not studying but finding I somehow knew all the answers.
No sense of triumph, just dumb luck.

The NW corner with Funfetti and its downs was a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. The kids and their friends loved it. Think of it as a Millennial's red Kool-Aid.

The rest was similar to how Rubric went in. R and C already there so, "Oh, she must want Rubric here." And, "Oh, could this be Heretic?"

I don't share @Lewis's enthusiasm for "Soft Cheese." It sounds like an insult for passing a test you didn't study for, "Well that some soft cheese isn't it?"

@Nancy, Nice to see you feisty after your vax. Glad to see it all worked out in the end.

Whatsername 10:54 AM  

Liked it overall, not totally easy but not really what I’d call difficult either. Had a little trouble with the long downs, mostly of my own doing. The constructor herself said she was surprised to see this run on a Saturday. She also said this was based on the grid from the 5/8/2015 NYT a puzzle. Thanks for that info Leslie. I enjoyed today’s and plan to take a look at that other one later.

My culinary skills RUN closer to preparing CORNFED chicken than calzone, so I had SALT at 31D. I would never season an Italian dish with SAGE which is something I only associate with turkey dressing and the delicious ensuing FOOD COMA.

@Barbara and @Nancy: Fingers crossed your vaccine reactions remain mild. My sweet little niece-in-law lost her grandmother to complications from Covid yesterday. Please continue to exercise the recommended precautions folks. It’s not over yet.

Son Volt 11:07 AM  

@Z 7:55 - theres always Navarro or the great Dave Schramm who would both take over lead and push MATTHEWS to rhythm.

Alfonso 11:10 AM  

I am stumped at the clueing of RUNS, from Homecomings.

JC66 11:24 AM  


Think baseball.

mouse 11:26 AM  

Gets to HOME base

Alfonso 11:29 AM  

Aaarrrrggghhh! And I, who lives just beyond a long home run from Wrigley.

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

FUNFETTI sounds like a mixture of fungus and spaghetti. AND....the TOWER could've been Babel for all I knew. WAIT.... Isn't RUBRIC missing a cube?
So I did my SABBATH and came back at the CRICK out, visited the LOO and finished in fine FORM.
What scared me the most was knowing that a male hedgehog is a BOAR.
Found a little SOFT CHEESE in the fridge ate it and pondered TILES for 13D. I've spent some bodacious times in Granada and hours at the Alhambra. You haven't lived until you've seen Fonteyn and Nureyev dance together in the gardens or listened to Lucero Tena and her castanuelas taconeos. The queen of flamenco.
I have just one question....Why is ETHER a clear sky?

This has nothing to do with this puzzle alert: It has to do with @Nancy and her rear end shots from yesterday....
@Nancy....Towards the end of our living in Cuba, my dad and mom bought this little "finquita" outside of Havana in a beautiful, lush place called Mulgoba. It was in the middle of nowhere. There also were no doctors close by, but because everyone had a horse or two, a donkey, some goats and chickens, there were plenty of vets. When my favorite horse bit the tip of my finger off, mom had to take me to the vet to get me some pain killesr and a bandage until she could drive me into Havana. I was about 10 years old but I remember him giving me some horse pills and a shot with a hypodermic needle the size of a nuclear atom bomb. He gave it it me in the rear. I couldn't sit for a year. A shot in the arm is now my happy place. I never don't want to have anymore pain when sitting on the LOO. Listen to your friends......
Rant alert over......

Phaedrus 11:36 AM  

@Lewis runs and loo are also a PuzPair.

Jctyrone 11:37 AM  

Second time this week that UVA (University of Virginia) was an answer. Go ‘Hoos!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Please don’t allude to a clue without explaining it.
I still have no idea how 10 down “homecomings” leads to “runs”. Please, someone, explain in simple words. Please!

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Re 19A HERETICS. As "some Renaissance-era scientists," I guess this must be referring to Galileo, perhaps Copernicus, and perhaps Giordano Bruno. I know something about the Renaissance but not much about Renaissance science, and I wonder if others are being referred to. The Church was not quite as harsh as generally believed--I wonder how often they really punished people for *believing* something in error, as opposed to *teaching* such. This latter they tried to suppress.

A century and a half before Galileo, "science" taught that below the equator there was an inhabited, temperate zone, and then further south a freezing pole. This was roughly the world as we today know it. The difference was that the equator was a boiling hot mess--even if ships were not burned there they would be capsized. The "theological" problem was that between this boiling equator and the south pole there was a temperate zone--did people live there? Augustine said they could live there but didn't, since Christ could not have died for them. Origen, a Christian thinker a century before Augustine, suggested that Jesus went to the people living there, undertook a gruesome death, and thus saved them. Origen's hypothesis, needless to say, didn't take hold. 15th-century Portuguese passed the Equator and reported back that they had found people just like us.

Perhaps sobered by the realization that God didn't create inhabitable areas that were not really inhabited--one of the great early modern mysteries was about how native Americans originated (were they a lost tribe of Israel?)--when scientists realized, from Galileo, that the earth had moons etc., and other planets had moons etc., these planets were very much like earth--Galileo had already shown, or attempted to show, that the laws of motion were the same everywhere.

Thus I wonder if Giordano's notion that planets were inhabited everywhere was as dangerous to the Church, or to received opinion, as some think. If the creation was made to glorify God, why did God create planets as dead objects around useless suns?

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

I agree. I’ll bet that was an edited clue by Will Shortz.

jae 11:44 AM  

Easy. Started out with BFS at 1d which meant I gave up on the NW (FUNFETTI was a WOE) and solved it from the bottom up. That proved fruitful as TOWER OF HANOI opened up the grid for me. Solid and smooth, liked it.

Nancy 11:45 AM  

Anon 11:40 -- When you score a run in baseball, you have to "come home", i.e. cross home plate.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

wait... when I lived in DC UVA were the Cavaliers. the wiki says Wahoos/Hoos is 'unofficial' whatever that means. is it only used among the illuminati on campus?

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

In baseball, it is called a run when you touch home plate as a base runner.
So a homecoming is a playful way to describe the act of reaching home plate.which means to score a run,

Pete 11:54 AM  

@Z - See, if you cite M-W, that alone makes it "not great". It doesn't matter that it is the dictionary of record for the NYTXWP, and therefore referencing it here is specifically apt, your using it makes it "not great". It doesn't matter that is the de-facto dictionary of record for US English, your using it makes it "not great". You simply ruin everything.

I don't know how you manage to go on each and every day.

Ellen 11:56 AM  

Not only a new Saturday PR (7:51), but a PR lower than my Friday AND Thursday records!

Nancy 11:57 AM  

@GILL -- A properly-given shot in the buttock is given above the area where you sit. You never, ever will have to sit on it.

My shot yesterday was expertly given and with a very thin needle. At the moment, I barely know I even had a shot. Sometimes it can get worse over a few days' time, but even if it does, I know from past experience that it will not be all that terrible. Whereas the kind of excruciating pain I used to suffer from shots in the arm has made me a lifelong inoculation-phobe. I suspect I'm unusually sensitive in that area and have a lot, a lot, a lot of nerve endings there.

Ω 12:00 PM  

@Anon10:42 - Do you mean something like:
Did You Know?
Centuries ago, whenever manuscript writers inserted special instructions or explanations into a book, they put them in red ink to set them off from the black used in the main text. (They used the same practice to highlight saints' names and holy days in calendars, a practice which gave us the term red-letter day.) Ultimately, such special headings or comments came to be called rubrics, a term that traces back to ruber, the Latin word for "red." While the printing sense remains in use today, rubric also has an extended sense referring to any class or category under which something is organized.

Maybe next time try scrolling down before posting something so deeply idiotic. Oh, wait. You’re that guy who wants to argue that a dictionary is wrong.

@Anon 11:40 - First, we tend to assume people figured out the clues unless someone asks (and we all have asked at one time or another). Second, it’s been explained twice. “Homecoming” as in “coming to home plate and scoring a RUN” as in baseball.

Julien 12:01 PM  

Plus, calling what Dave Matthews does 'rock' is a stretch.

RBC in NYC 12:06 PM  

Wahoowa!!! Go Hoos!

Puzzle was weirdly easy... not much misdirection, particularly in something like ICE CREAM CONE. Wish the wordplay had been a little tougher because this one didn't have a ton of resistance. FROZEN over before FROZEN SOLID. That phrase isn't one I've ever heard use. But overall enjoyable!

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

No.I meant what I wrote, you use a poor dictionary. Rubric is still used this very hour in the way your cut and pate post describes as a centuries old usage. Again, you need better reference material.
You also should know that the wee brings in education took the meaning of rubric as a general rule and twisted it to get their usage. Its what people with e.d.D’s do. (And why we don’t call them doctors).

jberg 12:17 PM  

I don't have a time to report, but I found some of this puzzle too literal and therefore too easy, like SOFT CHEESE and TAX BRACKETS, some ridiculously hard, like DRAG RACERS (which was fun to figure out, though) and SABBATH, and some just the right amount of challenge, like HERETICS--the best thing in the puzzle, for me. I was trying to squeeze alchemists in there. Me too for CORNish @teedmn. It was confirmed by hinDmoST at 60A.

@Nancy, the basketball clue through you off -- it's the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT, giving you FUNFETTI. Still a horrible word. And I thought it might be too indelicate to ask, but since @Gill bought it up -- did they give you a private room for that injection? I got my shots under the stands at Fenway Park, with about 20 tables inoculating people, all out in the open. Anyway, like Gill, I prefer the shoulder.

I guess I had heard that thing linked to HANOI before, but I've always thought of the puzzle as Indian or Tibetan; personally, I think of it as "that thing with the rings and pegs."

@kitshef and @Z -- I'm starting to see menus with "starters" in the US, too; words spread across oceans and national boundaries somehow.

Ω 12:18 PM  

It really is quite amazing isn’t it.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

The amazing thing is your arrogance z. Note the definition you linked to. 1b. Title it’s right there. But of course, it’s not quite right. It’s a heading, more than title. That’s why the definition improved was the superior definition.
And I needed no scrolling to find the definition, contrary to your incorrect and mocking assertion. I merely consulted my OED to confirm what I already knew.

Whatsername 12:23 PM  

@T Trimble (10:07) “I can only assume that WEST means North is at 0 degrees and moving clockwise....” Yes as in 270° on a compass heading which would be due west.

Mark Breitenberg 12:24 PM  

Baseball. When you run home it’s a run

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Think baseball. Gets to home. Scores runs.

Pete 12:44 PM  

@Anon 10:42/12:06 - You do realize that you're making an issue about whether it's Definition 1 vs Definition 2 in the dictionary, right? That you, who can't even provide a nom de blog, has more credibility about usage than the world's premier lexicography organization? That you aspire to credibility but can't post with fewer typos than I, who has three fingers bandages so outrageously that my left hand looks like Mickey Mouse's?

Just curious, what benefit do you accrue by going out of your way to be an obnoxious fool?

A 12:52 PM  

Maybe there’s no theme but there is a crunchy collection of hard C/K sounds, all crossing:

Glad I’m not a rocker so I could blithely put in Dave MATTHEWS to confirm FAM. FUNFETTI took a bit longer but I made it to the finish line with the only major hurdles being “on the SCENE” and SEEDing my yard. Minor stumbles at zIPS before RIPS, FliER before FLYER, and twItCHES before FLINCHES.

INSTANT FUNFETTI DRAG RACERS (Happy Nothing Like a Dame Day!)

Yesterday was Wilbur Wright’s birthday, which he shares with my Mr. A, Charlie Chaplin, Pope Benedict XVI, and Henry Mancini. Loss of Love

Thanks, Ms. Rogers, for the hard C’s and the SOFT CHEESE!

Nancy 12:57 PM  

@jberg -- I had to avoid all those state-run mass vax centers for the very reason you mention. No privacy. OTOH, Mt. Sinai had a row of small individual cubicles with three real walls and the fourth side open to the public. Two chairs -- one for you and one for the vaccinator. For the purposes of my strange request, they rolled a screen in from wherever it's kept and placed it in front of the open wall. Since they have these screens on hand, I guess other privacy-requiring occurrences do happen there from time to time.

Ω 12:58 PM  

@John X - you made someone concerned. 😂😂😂

@Pete - My favorite is that they clearly don’t read carefully.

bocamp 12:58 PM  

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ~ and a large dose of TOLERANCE in the mix 🕊

Anonymous 1:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ethan Taliesin 1:05 PM  

I sometimes wonder if crosswords were harder in years gone by. I'm split. I think a lot of it has to do with keeping current on the crossword zeitgeist, like Loretta SWIT might have been a gimmie at some point but would be a real poser for many today.

Two things are certain: the longer I do crosswords the easier they are and the last crossword I do is generally published after the last one I did.

Frantic Sloth 1:43 PM  


Anonymous 1:44 PM  

thanks, Nancy - it was NOT clever and NOT easy

A Moderator 1:51 PM  

If you do not want people to respond to your comments do not post comments. Many people posting from Google accounts have emails in their profiles.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

What comment?you nuked mine. What was wrong with it?

Bruce Fieggen 2:17 PM  

@Nancy 11.57. I never had pain getting shots in my arm because I was taught to never tense up when the shot was given. This COVID shot only caused pain starting that evening.
I donated plasma all through college to pay for books and getting a thick gauge needle in my arm twice a week got me so used to it that I could watch it without apprehension.
As a kid I noticed the pattern of the Tower of Hanoi followed the order of markings on a non-metric ruler. The smallest marking, for 1/16 of an inch corresponds to disk one, 1/8” is the second disk and so on. As long as you knew where to put the first disk, you just follow the ruler and it’s easy. Just start with the second mark.

Unknown 2:42 PM  

@Ethan Taliesen
Yes, the puzzles over the past several years have gotten *much* easier.
If you have access to the archives, go back 10 or 15 years and it's an entirely different ballgame.

To both Anonymous & Z, if the two of you could somehow avoid responding to each other, the world would be a quieter, gentler place.

3quicky2 2:47 PM  

You and me ENDLESSLY groovin

SFR 3:04 PM  

I went from POLE to LODE to LONE. (Oregon is a long way from Texas)

jae 3:11 PM  

@bocamp - I started Croce’s freestyle #601 today and so far it seems tough but doable. Most of the bottom half I’ll get to tomorrow.

Barbara S. 3:14 PM  

@Nancy and @Whatsername ** HEALTH REPORT WARNING **
Thanks for the good wishes. It's been 24 hours and already I can tell my arm has improved. I can move it around with less ouching. I'm hoping to be back to strength training by Monday. Life is out of joint when I'm not doing my full complement of exercises.


@mod 1:51 By now it's obvious this constant starting of arguments by this anonymous troll, usually toward Z but anyone can be targeted, has ruined this comment section. He's never critiqued the puzzle. It's time to ban this shit stirrer.

bocamp 4:33 PM  

@SFR 3:04 PM

I'm originally from Oregon, as well, but I knew a girl from Texas, so I skipped POLE and went directly from LODE to LONE. 😉

@jae 3:11 PM

I'm with you! :). Currently, I'm having a go a @Kitshef's Apr. 17, 2010.

@Barbara S. 3:14 PM 🙏

td 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ~ and a large dose of TOLERANCE in the mix 🕊

Whatsername 4:46 PM  

@ANON TROLL (3:20) Or ... everyone else could give “posting-purely-for-the-sake-of-arguing” comments the attention they deserve and just let them hang there, flapping in the virtual breeze.

Unknown 4:53 PM  

Echo 3:20 comment

Joaquin 5:37 PM  

What is it that this Anonymous, @Z-hating, troll does not understand about crossword puzzles?

Is it that the lists provided are *clues*, not necessarily exact definitions or synonyms?

Or is it that crosswords are supposed to be *puzzles*, and therefore a less common usage of a word is properly in play.

Or is he/she simply an obtuse pot-stirrer who gets off by sucking the joy from this comment section?

N. Alien 5:54 PM  

Although your Towers of Hanoi wonder me
with your majestic and superior cornfed hen,
your obsession with college sports I do not understand
so I put your puzzle in the bin
May I never hear Dave Matthews music again.

Piano Phil 6:06 PM  

270 is due west to a pilot.

Ω 6:10 PM  

BTW - All of this prompted me to wonder what are the criteria for definition order in Merriam-Webster. It turns out to be historical. That is, the earliest sense they can find is listed first. So the fact that RUBRIC as clued today is listed fourth means that this sense entered the language after the three definitions above it. What I don’t see on that help page is the criteria for removing a sense that has disappeared from usage. Apparently they just get an “archaic” in front of the no longer used definition like eke has.

burtonkd 6:56 PM  

I stopped to chat with my wife twice mid-solve and still got my personal best today, so hands up for easy.

TTrimble 7:17 PM  

I think you answered your own question by correctly identifying the poster as a troll. By definition, an internet troll is trying to stir the pot and get a rise out of commenters, taking pot shots from the side. There used to be an initialism, PDNFTT, Please Do Not Feed The Troll.

I picture this particular troll as an older white man who no doubt has read a lot of books, but whose scholarly pretensions and ambitions far outstrip what he can hope to achieve in real life. I also picture this individual as miserable inside his own skin. I mean, how pathetic is it, being the resident troll on a crossword blog commentariat of all things, spending so much time trying to find faults in what other people write, busying himself in troll-like fashion, scurrying among his books to bolster his assertions and comebacks on really inconsequential stuff. What a lame, pathetic, pitiable way to spend what precious time is left in life.

I would like to think that actually this individual has a lot to offer, but as it is, all of what he offers is delivered in this really disagreeable ad hominem way, and nobody here likes him. So sad. But, it seems to be a particular fate in a human life.

JC66 7:36 PM  


I wonder what @JOHN X pictures.😂

Unknown 7:47 PM  


What a great way to say piece of .....!

Sara Marie Claven 7:59 PM  

@tTrimble your description of Anonymous Troll is wonderful. You are a very good writer. I think the same about this shit stirrer but I'm not able to express it as eloquently as you did.
It's all such inconsequential minutia that he picks fights over.
I used to post here daily but I now just skim the comments now and then and when I see that this Troll still has free reign here, I stay away for a few more weeks. I read Rex's write up and skip the comments.
A lot of you are really interesting and amusing, but this Troll raises my blood pressure so it's not worth it.

bocamp 8:23 PM  

@kitshef (8:04 AM)

As advertised; well worth the time spent. Thx for the rec! :)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

this Troll still has free reign here

While I am currently among the Mice, at one time long ago I posted a query to the Mods about being able to track the Anonymice by IP or otherwise; to do to them/us what Twitter did to a certain ex Politician. The reply was that the Mods had no way, but RP might as he's the Blogspot site holder. Haven't, that I recall, seen any further replies from The Powers That Be in this regard.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

@anon 8:31 I would think it would be a simple as Block This User, next to the post. Or don't approve his posts for awhile until he gets the hint. He's easy to distinguish from other Anons.

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Enjoyed this one, but doesn’t the B in BMX stand for “bike”?

Matthias 6:33 AM  

You should try it out: heat butter in a frying pan, but don‘t burn. Throw in a handful of sage leaves. While gently frying them, cook some linguini or spaghetti. Serve pasta with butter and sage plus freshly grated parmesan and pepper. Excellent first course.

Perry 10:48 AM  

The answer to "Dave of rock" should have been MUSTAINE. I am sure that The Dave Matthews Band is comprised of fine people, but 'rock' they are not. Dave Mustaine is also appropriately obscure for a Saturday puzzle.

ASW-20 1:33 PM  

I was pleased with myself that Sitriani crossed with NIT, except his given name is Joe, doh!, so that held up the NW for too long. The eraser is my best friend after the last “ink only/no write overs🤞days” which is approaching Thursday for this neophyte.

ASW-20 1:58 PM  

Agreed. Your gimmes may vari(ometer)

Louis Proyect 8:36 PM  

Rex, can I make a suggestion? Could you provide two measures for the difficulty of a puzzle? One for you as a quasi-professional and one for us patzers? I found this one pretty difficult and I say that as someone who does the Harper's and WSJ cryptic puzzles with little difficulty.

cindylkaplan 9:50 AM  

The puzzle was fine, as I feel they all are. The problem with becoming too sophisticated an expert, such as the likes of dear Rex, is that one becomes so discriminating as to lessen one’s ability to enjoy what was once always a source of great pleasure. Reminds me of when I first started going to the Met (opera) in the late ‘80’s and hearing the sophisticates who had seen him in the ‘60’s groan at how horrible Pavarotti’s performance was. I get it. They had an ear that couldn’t enjoy the very same performance that sent shivers through me and tears to my eyes. Kind of like how I became a scuba diving snob having gotten certified in the Red Sea. After that, nothing could compare.

spacecraft 9:56 AM  

Well, let's get DOD out of the way; she's HODA Kotb, because she was my entry into this puzzle. I soon had the SE built up, and most of the rest flowed decently easily after that. Did not know the TOWEROFHANOI, but working upward had the last two letters. Not too many things end in -OI. (Aside: No carping from OFC about HANOI?)

And of course, as soon as I hit RAGDOLL, when NOODLE wouldn't fit, the stylings of the Four Seasons got in my head. Not the worst ever earworm, methinks. One slight holdup: I thought for a while Ms. Parker was talking about ART--until that word appeared elsewhere! Then I realized, of course, I should've known, it was WIT. A nice, breezy Saturday, maybe better suited for a Thursday, but OK. Birdie.

thefogman 11:00 AM  

Decent Saturday. NE corner was the hardest part to solve for me. Not big on college basketball or university acronyms and I only solved that corner by sussing FUNFETTI. A wild guess that paid off this time.

Burma Shave 12:57 PM  


HODA has FORM in the RACK,
the INSTANT she's ON her BACK
you take TIME to TASTER.


rondo 1:11 PM  

I was on the SCENe before on the SCENT but WEST cured that. Otherwise kinda easy.

Different earworm than @spacey, but from same line. Got my first Black SABBATH cassette tape 50 years ago. Paranoid earworm for me. I did have the Four Seasons on 8 track though. A guy I work with woould opt for Dave MATTHEWS.

Nice ENDEAVOR here.

Diana, LIW 3:05 PM  

Wouldn't you know it!? When I come across a crossword with names I know, names like Chomsky, Kotb, Des & Othie, Parker, and the Wrights et. al., I still get hung up on a couple of letters. Like my designs were dRAFTS, not CRAFTS. And I didn't want to believe HERETICS were what those scientists were called. And, of course, the requisite sports hurdle - I thought the Hoos were in Indiana. rrrrr

But I did git er done. Not bad for me for a Saturday!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 4:15 PM  

Relatively easy for a Saturday, with a number of good clues and answers. Cleverest (to me) was SABBATH clued by "Rest stop?"

Didn’t get into a couple of them cleanly, though. One was TOWER OF HANOI and the other was FOOD COMA.

Otherwise a pretty smooth solve.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

No go on this one. As incomprehensible to me as SMSG Geometry was back in the day.
Gave up after 4 pissers in the NW right off the bat.

EightAndEight 7:48 PM  

In the CS department of U.T. Austin, we always referred to the puzzle as the "Towers of Hanoi," in the plural. Having just one tower wouldn't require any moves at all.
And Birchbark, we residents of the Lone Star State have only the Feds to pay at tax time. ;-)

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP