Former name of Kazakhstan's largest city / SAT 4-3-21 / Soup bone selection / Pro in tech since 2015 / Maker of candy corn and conversation hearts / The sentinels silent and sure per a Les Miserables song / One of 20 standing in the House

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ALMA-ATA (36D: Former name of Kazakhstan's largest city) —
Almaty (/ˈælməti/Kazakh pronunciation: [ɑlmɑˈtə]CyrillicАлматы), formerly known as Alma-Ata and Verny (RussianВерный), is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of about 2,000,000 people, about 11% of the country's total population, and more than 2.7 million in its built-up area that encompasses Talgar, Boraldai, Otegen Batyr and many other suburbs. It served as capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and later independent Kazakhstan from 1929 to 1997. In 1997, the government relocated the capital to Akmola (renamed Astana in 1998, later renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019) in the north of the country.
• • •

Pretty easy stuff, with only the SW and NE proving in any way KNOTTY. The high point was probably just remembering B.B. King's version of "THE THRILL IS GONE"; the stack of longer answers in the middle is solid, but KICKS IT UP A NOTCH feels like an Emeril slogan at this point, and I guess if you like remembering Emeril, hurray, but if you like remembering Emeril, you and I are very different. The SW was tough because LOL what in the world is ALMA-ATA? That answer is a real blot on this otherwise not-full-of-arcane-trivia puzzle. Truth is, I couldn't have told you the *current* name of Kazakhstan's largest city, so "former name" ... well, I guess a "former name" always has the chance of being better known, but in this case, uh, no. Just a bunch of letters, mostly "A"s. That's what makes that answer bad to me. I know for sure that the constructor didn't think it was a cool thing to put in the grid. No one puts that in the grid unless they are Desperate for a bunch of low-value Scrabble TILEs to make the corner work out. It screams "crutch." No one but no one is dipping into the "bygone Kazakh place names" jar if it's not an absolute emergency. A-TEN adds to the unpleasantness down there; leagues change shape and size seemingly every year and I can no longer really keep track. Plus, ATEN ... again, no one's going to accuse that of being good fill. No constructor leaps at a chance to put ATEN in there (The "A" stands for "Atlantic" btw). But the struggle down there didn't last long, as the crosses were easy enough to get.

Bigger struggle for me was the NE, where the core of the struggle was just getting into that corner at all. I tore through the NW with no problem, and was able to drop down the west side very easily via the adjacent long Downs:

Finished the northern section pretty easily, but could not leap out of it into the NE. The problem starts with having SPOOL instead of SPOIL (9D: Turn), though even when I changed it to the correct answers, I kept wanting its cross, 22A: Squat (THICK-SET) to start THIGH-, like ... a THIGH DIP or something (I was obviously thinking of "squat" as a gym exercise). And LUSTRE ... well, I had that, only I had the correct spelling, LUSTER. Cheap to signal British spelling simply by mentioning Crown Jewels. In fact, I'd say not just inaccurate, but cheap. The jewels cannot spell. I do not spell LUSTER differently simply because I am describing something British. Just awful logic there. But the misspelling wasn't the issue. Even with LUSTER in place, which is mostly right, I got nowhere. Just couldn't remember CURIOUSER. Bizarre. Curious, even. So I just went down the west coast, across the south, and then circled back up via Emeril (again, yuck), finishing up in the NE with the APOSTLES

  • 48D: Jump over (OMIT) — "Jump" is terrible here, you'd say "skip." I know you want to mislead people, but keep the clues at least plausible.
  • 28A: Buenos Aires-to-Brasília dir. (NNE) — no one likes dir. answers, but I was thrilled to guess this one correctly on the first go. I am usually Terrible at mentally calibrating these things.
  • 1A: Kind of poet (BEAT) — opened the puzzle, saw this clue, and thought, "SLAM!" As I got up to close my office door before solving, I thought "BEAT!" And then as I was sitting back down, I thought "LAKE!" Any other four-letter poet plausibilities. Anyway, it was nice to start solving with a small army of possibilities in my head for 1-Across. EARLAP confirmed that BEAT was the right choice pretty quickly.
  • 34D: Massenet's "Le ___" (CID) — can't remember seeing this clue for CID (bad partial crosswordese that used to be way more common). Wondered if maybe Massenet wrote an opera about Le C.I.A.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


bocamp 6:29 AM  

Thank you @Peter for a perfect Sat. puz; was on your wave-length all the way! :)

Easy+ solve.

Great start in the NW, down the coast and counterclockwise, ending up in the NE.

Lots of KALE in my diet.

Lived two years in Louise Anderson Hall, EWC, Cheney, Wa. (about 18 miles from Gonzaga in Spokane).

A fave sleepy-time song: Marble HALLS ~ Enya

@CreamyT (8:43 PM) last eve. 👍

yd pg -4

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Amity ~ Kindness ~ Hope ~ "With malice toward none; with charity for all" (A.L.) 🕊

Lewis 6:52 AM  

KNOTTY indeed!

So many times when I thought I finally broke this thing open by placing in a new answer I was sure of, I checked the crosses, certain that new answers would appear, but no. So it was back to wrangling with clues that already spurned me. But here and there, crosses would reluctantly emerge. Unusually for me, that triple stack in the middle was the easiest to fall.

For the second day in a row, we have such beautiful NYT debut answers, answers that enrich the oeuvre: FLIRTATIOUS, KICKS IT UP A NOTCH, I’M SO EXCITED, ALL TATTED UP, and HAM HOCK. Clues ran from devilishly vague to devilishly clever. I especially liked [Mistake?] for STEAL.

This felt like Saturday puzzles should feel, skillfully repelling me at every turn, and yet leaving a sliver of light to tantalize me further in, reminding me of Leonard Cohen’s lyric:

“There is a crack, a crack in everything
That is how the light gets in”

Peter the ACE. With 116 NYT puzzles amply represented every day of the week. This puzzle shows you haven’t lost a step. Thank you, sir!

Stimpson 7:05 AM  

3 UPS. 2 crossing. Boo.

amyyanni 7:36 AM  

Good fun. Did half last night, did the other half in the wee hours when struggling with some insomnia, then back to sleep. Enjoyed the stacks. It is just 49 degrees here in SW FL, going to appreciate our last few days of coolness. Happy Saturday.

John H 7:42 AM  

Once again, if it's not in Rex's wheelhouse it isn't important. I'm not a sports fan but I did recall (somehow) Alma Ata so could not have gotten A Ten without it.

But what is that condescending crack about Emeril? Yes, Rex, you and I must be very different. Emeril's "Bam!" was playing to the crowd, a bit annoying, but not enough to brush him off like that. Emeril is, in fact, one of the truly great chef's of America. "Bam!" literally saved the Food Channel's butt, which they shrugged Emeril off unceremoniously, in favor of the likes of Guy Fierri, and other reality show hosts that do nothing to add to food culture. Emeril is a philanthropist and a hero of Katrina recovery. He runs a free culinary school for underprivileged youth that does a great job of placing them in the restaurant industry.

A truly fine person and a great American who does not deserve to be brushed off with a sniff like that.

Shame. Rex, know what you are talking about before you trash it.

Can you tell I'm pissed off?

Hungry Mother 7:45 AM  

Some wags in the SW carried me to victory today. As a sometime vegan (thanks for asking) I knew KALE, which helped. Very nice challenge.

Ω 8:01 AM  

This didn’t have anywhere near the PPP of yesterday’s endeavor, but its level of “I only see it in crosswords” words seems higher; TOILES, GESSO, HESS, el-less CID, and ALMAATA. For that last I really feel like ALMAty was the version that appeared last and there was a lengthy discussion of it here. At any rate, My eyebrow didn’t twitch in the least as I filled in the crosses and it appeared.

I’m wondering if the idea of HAMHOCK SPERM will have anyone CLUTCHing their pearls. Overall, the APOSTLES seem a little out of place. The UMPIRE LUSH who is ALL TATTED UP is being FLIRTATIOUS with SADE, telling her “I’M SO EXCITED” and he KICKS IT UP A NOTCH really gives this puzzle a Viagra vibe.

@albatross shell late yesterday - Yep. Your comment got me thinking of the advert fave 18-34 “generation.” Makes as much sense as any of the named generations and is changing every, well, day if you’re really technical about it.

Unknown 8:04 AM  

Challenging the way a Saturday should be. Really enjoyed it.

Ω 8:12 AM  

@John H - Geez dude. Rex isn’t into your favorite celebrity chef. It’s okay. I think he also dislikes Guy Fieri (someone for whom there appears to be no middle ground). I can’t remember him so much as mentioning cooking. He does spend an inordinate amount of time on Twitter describing cocktails. Whatever. He didn’t actually trash Emeril. All he said was that if you like remembering Emeril you’re different from him. Being different is okay. Rex’s comment says more about him than about Emeril.

Son Volt 8:23 AM  

This played pretty easy for me. Goofy looking, low word count grid with fine wordplay - unlike yesterday’s TMZ Jeopardy offering. The little internal theme of the center stack and long interlocks were solid. Really like IM SO EXCITED on top of FLIRTATIOUS - add SPERM bank and FLAUNTED and we may have some action.

Never had an interest in Alice so CURIOUSER looks weird to me and more of a construction convenience. Liked TROPIC but thought APOSTLES was clued oddly. The Buenos Aires to Brasilia clue seemed flat also given the common abbreviation in Spanish/English.

Overall an enjoyable Saturday. On to the stumper. I see Stan constructed today - that’s always a challenge.

Wine Diver 8:27 AM  

I started the NW with EPIC crossed with POMPOM. That stymied me till the rest was done.

Teedmn 8:47 AM  

They seem to have kicked it down a notch today. I whizzed through this, faster than yesterday. I didn’t have Rex's NE troubles as I ran with the LUSTRE British Clue and the IPAD Pro.

Curiously, I needed more than CUR to get CURIOUSER, had to jump back to the center to make progress. The SE put up more resistance than any other sector. I had SAUTÉ crossing NOTCH but the rest was empty because I couldn’t come up with TROPIC. I finally got ETHYL alcohol and finished the remainder.

My favorite moment was coming up with STARS at 44D with the S in place and only my imagination on what someone might consider a sentinel, poetically. Must be kind of clichéd - I’m not known for my creative analogies.

Peter Collins, thanks for the AMUSing Saturday puzzle.

Marcy 8:48 AM  

Does anyone still call a stove a “range” (47A), especially when combined with “top”?

Barbara S. 8:59 AM  

“Pretty easy stuff” – oh, Rex, you’ve stabbed me to the heart. I found this puzzle very difficult indeed and had a DNF. At one point I had most of the western half filled in (with the exception of ALMA-ATA) and most of the eastern half blank. It would take up the whole blog and be tedious in the extreme to list all my trouble spots, so I’ll end this paragraph on a high note and say that I thought this puzzle was terrific. Saturday puzzles ought to be tough – they should make you struggle and sigh and furrow your brow, and this one more than fulfilled its mandate.

I had another malapop – I’ve caught malapop fever. I put in PARKA at 15A (Coat in winter) – I really wanted “rime” there but it was too short. ICE UP was the right answer for 15A, but then PARKAS turned up at 37D (Worn down apparel? – cute clue). I learned “Squee!” It’s so silly and foolish and giggly pre-teen that I’m going to go round all day exclaiming it and drive my husband nuts! Seems like a mature plan. I liked those three central marquees: I’M SO EXCITED, FLIRTATIOUS and ALL TATTED UP. Really, you could add FLAUNTED and KICKS IT UP A NOTCH, and I’d have to say THE THRILL wasn’t GONE at all. It was right there is that 15x15 playground.

Today there are two quotations from JANE GOODALL, born Apr. 3, 1934.

“How healing it was to be back at Gombe again, and by myself with the chimpanzees and their forest. I had left the busy, materialistic world so full of greed and selfishness and, for a little while, could feel myself, as in the early days, a part of nature. I felt very much in tune with the chimpanzees, for I was spending time with them not to observe, but simply because I needed their company, undemanding and free of pity.”
(From Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey)

“At that moment there was no need of any scientific knowledge to understand his communication of reassurance. The soft pressure of his fingers spoke to me not through my intellect but through a more primitive emotional channel; the barrier of untold centuries which has grown up during the separate evolution of man and chimpanzee was, for those few seconds, broken down.

It was a reward far beyond my greatest hopes.”
(From In the Shadow of Man)

mmorgan 9:04 AM  

I really enjoyed this but had two issues. 1) in the NE, first turnsITUPANOTCH then picksITUPANOTCH messed me up. And 2) I’ve been at and around UMass for almost 40 years and had no idea at all about what to do with A_EN. With ALMA-A_A, an ultimate Natick for me.

burtonkd 9:15 AM  

I was on the set of Emeril with a musical group once. I think I mistook something he did as a cue to say "Bam", so I did get a solo, if not an aria. I don't remember what it was, but seems he had some kind of cancel issue? @Z - Rex did circle around to him with a "yuck", so there's that.

for Squat, the first unfortunate thought was JACKSH**, for ___bank, it was SPERM. Ruled them both out. 50% not bad.

Agree totally on ATEN and ALMA-ATA. Shall we begin a great basketball debate again? Is Riley a better coach or GM? I know a gentleman who was on the Texas Western team that beat Kentucky featuring Riley. His post-college career was not on a par with Riley's (whose is for that matter?)

Nice clue for 5D. Even though I work with singers, I couldn't get out of baseball or advertising. __GHC just had to be wrong.

I loved that the total block on the NE broke open once entry could be made.


Triple stack in the middle a very nice themed set.

Does Will do this on purpose? Feature a puzzle based on one-name singers, then have SADE a few days later. I vote yes.

TheMadDruid 9:15 AM  

I wonder what Rex would’ve written if this puzzle was crafted by a woman. There’s some brilliant stuff here.

kitshef 9:18 AM  

Did not know ALMA-ATA, and really feared I had an error either in A-TEN or PLAIT, or maybe even SADE.

The Kazakhs need to stop changing the location and/or name of their capital. In just the last 25 years it’s been Almaty, Akmola, Astana and now Nur-Sultan. Apparently Alma-Ata is the Russian form of Almaty.

Very salacious puzzle today, with IM SO EXCITED, FLIRTATIOUS, THRILL, SPERM, ARSE (which crosses ASS).

Also, this puzzle could have run on a Wednesday and not been out of place, difficulty-wise.

Nancy 9:21 AM  

Unlike my nits about pop culture, I never complain about all the geographical and place name answers that flummox me. That's because I believe that these are things the educated person should know. Even when I don't. And mostly I don't.

Today I wouldn't have finished the pesky SW without cheating on ALMA ATA. (I could have cheated instead on KATO and ATEN, but they were shorter.) Oh, and I had THE THRILL, put it into my search box, and got the IS GONE. Two cheats.

FLAUNTED went in and then came out, quite messily, because I so wanted STOVE TOP and it didn't work. When RANGE TOP finally did come in, I put the messily erased FLAUNTED back where it had been. FWIW, I have never once called my stove a RANGE and thus never thought of it.

(FWIW, My stove doesn't care what I call it, because I almost never use it.)

CURIOUSER is not the most "non-standard" thing in this puzzle. That dubious honor belongs to ALL TATTED UP. I tried to fit in ALL TATTOOED UP and it didn't fit; then KICKED IT down A NOTCH by trying all ALL TATTOED UP; then tried ALL TATTOO UP and then burst into tears.

I was not on the same wavelength as today's constructor, obviously. But I was never bored as I wrestled slowly and not very successfully with the puzzle.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Oh, I forgot -- my unnoticed (until I came here) DNF in what I thought was the much easier SE. Instead of TOILES/TEEN MOM, I had TUILES/TEEN MUM. Well, it could have been a British TV series, right?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:28 AM  

I had no idea Alma Ata was now called something else. But it fit. CURIOUSER and CURIOUSER.

Birchbark 9:30 AM  

KICK IT UP A NOTCH. @John H. (7:42), @Z (8:12) -- Emeril had fun cooking interesting dishes in a relatable way, sort of heavy on the salt as I recall.

As for @Rex, the tone and cadence of the review (10D is about Emeril, when the connection hadn't occurred to me, then dwelling on it like a recurrent itch) suggests that @Rex used to like Emeril, but then something happened -- no-one is sure exactly what -- and now, well, you know how it is.

I'M SO EXCITED, FLIRTATIOUS, ALL TATTED UP: like the occasional cross-floor glance of a kindred beauty at First Avenue in the old days, 'mid the backbeat and bass-line of some cool band, late in the evening. The LUSTRE of possibilities -- mostly unrealized of a Saturday morning and rightly so.

Nice that the triple-stack is bracketed with THE THRILL IS GONE on the one hand, and KICK IT UP A NOTCH on the other -- two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

kitshef 9:31 AM  

@Marcy 8:48. I've never heard anyone call a range a stove, so it may be a regional thing. To me, a range is the thing in your kitchen with an oven and burners. A stove is the thing in your cabin that keeps it warm in winter.

mathgent 9:33 AM  

Really liked it.

I believe that Peter Collins is a mathematics teacher, so it's not surprising that I'm a big fan of his puzzles. Fractals is a new area of mathematics, introduced in the 70's. I've read a little about it but I'm not much interested. I'm an algebra guy, It has to do with computer-generated geometric figures. I think that TILE refers to the fact that certain tiles with odd fractal shapes can completely cover a plane with no overlapping.

FLAUNTED reminded me of Jo Anne Worley on Laugh-In. "If you've got it, flaunt it!"

I've heard that in its early years that the Food Channel was losing a lot of money while Emeril, their top attraction, was making a fortune with the sales of cookbooks, spices, and equipment. He was let go when they couldn't agree on terms in a renewal contract.

Tennis umpires sit in elevated chairs by the net poles. They need to go up three or four steps.

Barney Google with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes, a hit song of 1923.

Teresa 9:36 AM  

DNF. Loved it. A great, fun challenge and it beat me fair and square.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

If I heard someone say “squee”, I’d consider them an “arse”hole.

Carola 9:46 AM  

Easy with lots of treats: the THICKSET HAMHOCK, KNOTTY, LUSTRE, CURIOUSER, and especially the first-in THE THRILL IS GONE.
Help from previous puzzles: ALAMAATA. Do-over: SPOoL.

Unknown 9:50 AM  

As John so eloquently put it an hour or so ago:
Rex, know what you are talking about before you trash it.

Ω 9:52 AM  

@burtonkd - Shortz has stated that things like SADE’s appearance are serendipity. Doing other puzzles has increased my belief in this assertion.
Also, I did elide past that “yuck.” 🤷🏽‍♂️

Someone asked about some controversy leading to Emeril’s show getting canceled. As I remember it it was the canceling that was the controversy. A shallow google search seems to support my memory, that Food Network saw the signs that his star was fading but that he was still their biggest star at the time. Whatever you think of Fieri, he is all over that network now so he must be doing something right. It seems Emeril wasn’t interested in doing those kinds of shows.

domaddy 10:00 AM  

How is 'proofreader's 33 down' (undo), 'stet'? Stet means let stand, the opposite of undo, no?

RooMonster 10:05 AM  

Hey All !
Hooray! Surprised myself when I entered the last letter and got the Happy Music! 41:11 on a tough-to-me SatPuz. I must be getting better at solving these things. Posh to them getting easier! 😁

Wanted TImE for TILE, but through crosswords, knew of TOILES. Never heard of TOImES, so save 1 of a DNF. That last letter in was the L of PLAIT/ALMAATA. Didn't know Kazakhstans former Capital, heck, don't know its Current Capital! Thought it was one word. Seemed the logical letter choice, as PLAIT is something I've heard of, although not as clued. That L was my last letter in. Save 2 of a DNF.

Some writeovers, rear-ARSE, stoveTOP-RANGETOP (Hi @everyone!), jacKet-PARKAS, AlUrES-AMUSES (isn't it allures?), SPOoL-SPOIL (tricky tricky, either one works for the clue), dormS-HALLS, apoinTeEs-appoinTEE-???-COMMITTEE.

EARLAP bothers me. It's an EAR FLAP, no? Don't diss that F! ☺️For TROPIC, having just the T, wanted THE MIR for a bit. Har, don't think anyone uses THE before MIR.

So a nice SatPuz, that seemed impossible at first, but digging away throughout ended up with a 100% correctly finished grid. IM SO EXCITED, I GESSO.

One F

kitshef 10:14 AM  

@Roo Monster 10:05. I had the same thought about EAR (f)LAP. says "earlap" is an alternative, to which I say is an idiot.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I died in the NE because I was so sure 13 down was EARNED.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Back when junior high school existed, before morphing and splitting into middle school and something else, a social studies class included memorizing:
US states and capitols
SA countries and capitols
European countries and capitols
Asian countries and capitols
African countries

Note the difference. Why? Because back then Africa was creating new and re-configured countries and capitols with abandon. Of course, it could have been implicit prejudice due to the fact that Africans were the lower race. We learned that the Belgians, those nice innocuous folks who mostly spoke French and birthed a famous detective, were the worst, in the sense of applying cruelty to Africans, colonizers on the continent.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

EARLAP is a thing? I expected EARFLAP, but it didn't fit and then had me wondering if there were multiple letters in some boxes. And 'SQUEE'? Seriously? I hate to say this, but it makes me think of 'Deliverance'. The west was the hardest bit for me. Wish my neurons had fired just a bit faster.

Tom R 10:35 AM  

Unlike Rex (big surprise) I found this puzzle quite hard. Only comment I have on the write-up is that Rex must not have been a fan of "Welltress" a game that required a log-in every time to prove you owned the game that based on Russian SSRs. Alma-Ata was one of the answers. But, yeah, pretty arcane stuff.

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

Saturdays are never easy for me, but this one was at least satisfying. I liked KNOTTY, PLAIT, CLUTCH, COSI and look at that - there’s a mononym. Made a face at EARLAP which I gather is a variant of earFlap and winced at dog PILE but will admit it is a thing, or multiple things in my case with multiple dogs. Things which need to be removed from my LUSH back yard once a week before the lawn service comes to mow. Not a job to get EXCITED about to any EXTENT.

@Barbara (8:59) Loved the quote today and I so admired Goodall’s works. Going to check out that book later.

@burtonk (9:15) Glory Road, the movie about that Texas Western team, one of my favorites.

@mathgent (9:33) Laugh-In. There’s one I haven’t thought of in years. You bet your sweet bippy! 😂

Steve M 10:39 AM  


Anonymous 10:39 AM  


God, I wish you hadn't said that.

Ω 10:44 AM  

@domaddy - That one made me pause, too. The editor makes a correction that she wants UNDOne, so writes “stet” to UNDO the incorrect correction.

What? 11:00 AM  

They get 200 submissions a week and we get ALMAATA. Ok.

bocamp 11:01 AM  

@burtonkd (9:15 AM) / @Whatsername (10:38 AM)

The story of Texas Western (1966): Glory Road streaming on Disney+ (Apple TV, Canada).

pg -14

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Amity ~ Kindness ~ Hope ~ "With malice toward none; with charity for all" (A.L.) 🕊

egsforbreakfast 11:02 AM  

I can tell you that THETHRILLISGONE to the EXTENT that you have ARSE RASH, a frequent precursor of SLOPITCH.

EARLAP was so unknown and unlikely sounding to me that I started playing around with rebii to get the “f” in. Probably lost more nanoseconds than a pregnant nun has excuses.

Still, even with ALMAATA, I liked this puzzle a lot. Thanks, Peter A. Collins.

jb129 11:06 AM  

A great Saturday. Thank you Peter.

Wundrin' 11:20 AM  

Why is Emeril in the discussion?

Sixthstone 11:37 AM  

This was pretty fun but too easy, my fastest Saturday ever, and I really didn't stall at all. The longs are peppy and interesting, and there were only six 3-letter answers, which made me even happier. SW is pretty weak with 2 proper names and the terrible ATEN crossing ALMAATA. Otherwise good fun, just needed to be a bit more challenging. Also every Saturday needs a libation

sixtyni yogini 11:38 AM  

What Rex said except, for me, ‘twas very KNOTTY and difficult.
Loved some of the clever clues (it’s so fun to grok them) and thought others were way off, vague, misleading, etc.

puzzlehoarder 11:40 AM  

This was my first puzzle since Sunday. I've got too much going on. Saturday's I'll make an exception for so it was a bit unfortunate that this one had so little challenge. The one thing I hesitated over was EDITED at 13D. Other than editing being work for which editors get paid I don't see any particular connection between the clue and the answer maybe there some nuance I'm missing because it just looks random. Looking over the xwordinfo clue list after solving didn't turn up anything enlightening.

EARLAP? When that went in my first thought was @Roo Monster got cheated out of an F. That was the only speed bump in that Monday easy NW.

JC66 11:49 AM  


10D was Emeril's catch phrase.


re: 13D EDITING. The clue capitalizes the m in Money indicating it's referencing the magazine (where editors work).

bigsteve46 11:51 AM  

This one ate me up - but, fair and square. The pop culture and buzz-word crap is here to stay and I can usually manage through it, but in an exceptionally difficult puzzle like this one, it's more than this golden-ager can handle. But still - quality Saturday stuff, and - as long as I can get up to the plate and take my swings - I'm not complaining (at least not too much! - without complaining we wouldn't have much of a blog.)

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Flirtatious is another great song by Pointer Sisters

Anonymous 11:57 AM  


likely better known for "BAM!"

Whatsername 12:06 PM  

@Wundrin’ (11:20) Emeril Is a hot topic because Rex Parker made a comment in his review which some interpreted as kind of a slam against him.

Chris 12:08 PM  

The capital M in money makes it the magazine Money.there is the tie to editor.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@SteveM 10:39am kinda echoes M&A's reaction to "Squee!", altho his squeecomment had more ?-marks in it than M&A's.

Only 6 weeject choices???? staff weeject pick: NNE. Better clue: { IX minus the I??}.

fave sparklers: CURIOUSER. THETHRILLISGONE. BRACHS [in the candy corn sense]. M&A has to be weaned offa the candy corn, every year after Halloween. Gets the shakes. Important tip: the candy pumpkins help with that, tho.

This SatPuz was pretty hard, at our house … but hey, most SatPuzs are. Had some false starts, like with BARD before BEAT, LUXURY before LUSTRE, FLIRTATIONS before FLIRTATIOUS, DORMS before HALLS, REAR before ARSE, CELL before TILE. Lost precious nanoseconds. Got THETHRILLISGONE offa the openin TH-, tho … so that sorta helped offset those other misfires.

All is forgiven, tho -- cuz we had a grand re-openin of The Jaws of Themelessness, in this fine puzgrid.

M&A was gonna accuse ALLTATTEDUP of bein a major Ow de Speration moment, but it actually Googled quite well. Sooo … ok. Just don't think U can now just move right on to {Covered in tots} = ALLTATEREDUP, Shortzmeister. [snort]

Thanx for the challenge, Mr. Collins dude. ALMAATA???? [yo, @SteveM -- that feels pretty good!]

Masked & Anonym007Us


p.s. Happy EasterEve, y'all. Special Easter Bunnyesque puz on tap for tomorrow.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

I agree you and I are very different..I’ve been lucky enough to have some mighty good meals. Some have even been in some pretty high faulting places like The French Laundry (the week before Super Bowl L) , Noma, and Le Cirque back before it was me picking up the check. They were all swell. But like the legendary Philly restauranteur and gastro-guru Holly Moore ( you are missed sir), I prefer joints without pretense, pedigree or tablecloths. Reds Eats in Wiscasset is such a place. So is Rutts Hutt in Jersey. Or Bright Starin Bessemer, Alabama.
But the very best meal I’ve ever had, and it’s not that close, was at Emerils flagship restaurant on Tchoupitoulas st. (week of Super Bowl 31)
And he was not only thee, he was doing some of the cooking. He was also holding court. And I had a front row seat. The restaurant has, or at least did, have a counter with seating that faced directly into the open kitchen. Yep. The pots and pans and stoves and chefs were all plainly visible and hard at. Including himself. As I say he cooked some then would turn and address the room, which owing to its proximity to him, more often than not meant the half dozen o4 so people at this counter. His banter was ok. But his food was some of the best I’ve ever had. Certainly the deep sea scallops he made were the best entree. So, yeah Rex, I very much like recalling Emeril.
And I also think people come in only two genders. So, as you say, we are very different.

Mill City Architect 12:28 PM  

Overly confident for too long with THETHRILLoflove, ALLTATTooed, dialSITUPANOTCH, then takeSITUPANOTCH. Present tense clueing for APOSTLES is wrong. They ‘were’ on a mission. Now they are dead. Or in heaven, or whatever, but their evangelizing days are over.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

D’oh. Bloviating about restaurants I forgot to mention we all know stet. Or at least a form of it.
It’s from the Latin ver sto: remain, ontinie unchanged. We hear another part of the conjugation often enough when The Supremes decide to let an old ruling stand citing their avowed preference for stare decisis ( to let the decision stand)
Stare is the infinitive of sto.

pabloinnh 12:36 PM  

Just when I thought I had reached Genius level on Saturdays, this one comes along and makes me work, like, a lot. The only obvious answer after the first time through was CURIOUSER. Downhill, or uphill, from there.

Same do-overs as lots of other folks, but may I offer SHUTTLES for "they're on a mission" as a brilliant answer that locks up your brakes instantly. Sheesh.

I will defend EARLAP as a word we used when I was a kid. It even get changed to EARLAPPERS sometimes, which made us all giggle.

Also, I was pretty sure UMASS was in the ECAC. Uh, no.

Anyway, eventually I finished, correctly, which was extremely satisfying and what I like on a Saturday. Congratulations to all of you who zipped through this. And thanks to PAC, for a Pretty Awesome Challenge.

JC66 12:37 PM  

@Anon 11:57

Emeril did use BAM a lot too, but that doesn't mean seeing KICK IT UP A NOTCH in the puzzle wouldn't evoke thoughts of Emeril. And I'm not that knowledgeable on the subject to know which phrase he used more often.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Agreed. But letting Rex get to you for not knowing what he's talking about (but talking about it anyway) will leave you permanently pissed off. The information you provide is helpful - appreciated.

Mike 12:45 PM  

Hear, hear

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

"Emeril (again, yuck)". Seems like trash talk.

Cherry-picking your evidence says what about you?

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

John H,
I feel your pain. And Z’s willful misinterpretation of Rex only adds to the insult. Surely Rex was, as you rightly say, sniffing haughtily at Emeril. It’s so insulting partly because it is so ignorant. So profoundly supercilious. I never got to Commander’s when he was there which is a regret.
I did take my lovely bride there for our first anniversary. she liked it better than Noma.....

Anonymous 1:30 PM  


SB XXXI was January, 1997. By my recollection, and the wiki, this was before Emeril got a swelled head and belly from his 'Emeril Live'. He had just finished 'Essence of Emeril' on FoodTV, which had no fawning, hooting audience. A much more better show, I guaaaarunnnteee.

A 1:47 PM  

Happy Pony Express Day!

The first ride began on April 3, 1860, with one rider departing St. Joseph, MO and another departing Sacramento. The mail arrived at the other end 10 and 11 days later, respectively. The telegraph put them out of business less than two years later.

Horse-delivered mail always reminds me of post horns and coach horns. There were distinct signals that indicated departure, arrival, clear the road, and many more. I read on one pony express-related site “a fellow with a bugle a mile from the station would signal when a rider was approaching so the next horse could be readied.”

Military buglers had calls for various purposes throughout the day, including TATTOO. It signals that all light in squad rooms be extinguished and that all loud noises stop within 15 minutes.

These post horn players from the Bands of HM Royal Marines KICK IT UP A NOTCH.

Not sure Emeril deserved that “yuck” from Rex - maybe he’s confusing him with Paula?

CLUTCH saved me from the clutches of EAR_AP. (Hi, @Roo, @kitschef, @Whatsername, @egs!) I’d have assumed it was Thursday and written in FL. What the CFLUTCH is an EARLAP?

@pablo, shuttles is brilliant! I would never have come up with that - my NE was only held up briefly by KeLp, as it’s also a non-dairy source of calcium. Doesn’t have quite as much as KALE, but KALE doesn’t have as much magnesium.

Loved the clue for HIGH C (HI, @burtonkd). Remembered SADE from Rex’s writeup a couple of days ago. Last letter in was the A - KATO/ALMAATA cross, neither of which I knew until today.

Very doable Saturday, with lots of LUSTRE. Thanks, Mr. Collins!

Ethan Taliesin 2:03 PM  

I knew "Mistake?" was obviously going to be STEAL, but I felt it was wrong to not have hyphenated the clue.

THICKSET was good, but I wasn't smart enough to understand it (DUH) until some time after I had it entered in.

Liked having to changed ALLTATTOOED to ALLTATTEDUP. Good one.

TTrimble 2:13 PM  

Well, he did mention Emeril a few times, the last time with a "yuck", so he did seem to go on over-long about the guy. Once would've been enough. I like Emeril Lagasse well enough, and what he produces in the kitchen looks like food I'd really enjoy. Anyhow...

No real complaints about this puzzle, and lots to enjoy. Well, the only thing I might complain about is how often the Kazakhstanis seem to change the name of their cities. I think I'm doing well if I just remember Almaty and Astana. Nur-Sultan annoys me a little. And who can remember ALMA ATA? Don't look at me!

The long answers are quite nice, I find. I like KICKS IT UP A NOTCH and THE THRILL IS GONE, and CURIOUSER and FLIRTATIOUS and ALL TATTED UP. They put up enough resistance to be satisfying, but without taking up lots of my time. (Yesterday's was *really* easy for me -- close to a PR.)

GESSO kept me guessing a while, but was glad to have recalled it. And AMISH gave me pleasure, once found (didn't know about the Ordnung, although I recognize the German word; I wasn't expecting to find the answer on this continent).

Love me a split pea soup with HAM HOCKs in it. Bam! Would be perfect on a chilly day like today.

Side-eye at Rex for complaining about the cluing for LUSTRE. I thought it was fair, and honestly, someone of his experience ought to be alert to the possibility of different spellings, so I say he only has himself to blame.

(@Frantic Sloth -- if you're reading, hope all is well with you. Miss ya!)

jae 2:40 PM  

Easy-medium. Solid, reasonably smooth, and sparkly, liked it a bunch!

@bocamp - I started Croce’s Freestyle #597 today and at this point I have serious doubts about being able to finish it. Too bad the Stumper is no longer with us.

Harry 3:02 PM  

A couple of straightforward but fun long fills.

Some "near misses" the kept the going slow:
KICKS IT UP AN OUCH (spice ... I originally had "Turns" vs "Kicks" too)

Still unhappy about EARLAP. Initially thought this must be some obscure theme variation on "earflap"; was tempted to fill 15-A ICEAP ("icecap").

ALMA ATA? Had to peak on that. I HATE obscure geography fills and don't feel the smarter for having learned them.

The Ordnung? My first fill was REICH until cross fills suggested AMISH, with a modest forehead slap.

When GESSO revealed itself, had to immediately look it up. (This one I DO FEEL "SMARTER" FOR knowing now ;) )

I lust for the day when a relatively tame Saturday (in hindsight) such as this is a breezy run! (No time soon ...)

jberg 3:21 PM  

Well, I've heard of Alma-Ata, but thought it was further east than Kazakhstan, and was wondering whether there was a new name for Ashkhabad (there is, Ashgabat, but that doesn't fit either -- and it was supposed to be the old name). So I needed a couple of crosses. And I live in Massachusetts and thought the U of M was in the ACC (not a sports fan). But my real problem was getting to Brasilia. I made the all-too-common mistake of thinking that since BA is on the East Coast and Brasilia in the interior, it must be NNW. I needed EXTENT to fix it.

My experience at Emeril's is similar to anon's -- we were staying at a B&B in the French Quarter and our host recommended it. We couldn't get a table, but they offered us two seats at the counter about three feet away from a fry cook. It was just after opening; when we got there a lot of diners were standing around, and we could see the staff inside holding a kind of pep rally; then they all came out, each one calling the name of someone with a reservation, whom they led in. Very impressive -- and watching the guy at the fry station managing about 10 little skillets at once was amazing, as was the food.

I think 'let's kick it up a notch' came first; when he got popular, he created Baby BAM to bottle and sell. I could be wrong, though, I never actually watched his show.

A fun puzzle, with lots of nice entries, but the three UPs did bother me.

Chip Hilton 3:27 PM  

A Saturday challenge, exactly what I want. Rex. Geesh. While Emeril isn’t my favorite, he certainly doesn’t deserve Rex’s trashing (and @Z, you betcha, it was a trashing). I also couldn’t understand Rex’s problem with the LUSTRE clue. Crown Jewels = England-related, ergo, an alternate spelling. Not an incorrect spelling, just different from U.S. standard.

Emeril defenders: Good on you.
Peter A. Collins: Thanks for a fine tussle.

jbh 3:35 PM  

Easy for a Saturday - but fun!

Years ago, I interviewed BB King and asked him to record a voicemail for me that I then put on my phone - it said: "The Thrill is Gone, and so are the (our last name).... so please leave a message after the beep." This is the edited version; he said it much more charmingly and roundabout. Everybody loved it.

bocamp 3:57 PM  

@jae 2:40 PM

Thx, I'm on it; sounds like a full week's workout.

Currently doing Newman's Sat. Themeless; thx @Son Volt (8:23 AM). Don't recall ever having done a Stumper, but this one is challenging (tougher than a typical NYT Sat).


Watching Space Raiders (Disney+); just got to your part. Btw, nice opening scene on "The Vals" (YouTube).

pg -4

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Amity ~ Kindness ~ Hope ~ "With malice toward none; with charity for all" (A.L.) 🕊

Ω 5:16 PM  

The comments read like a high PPP puzzle, so I double checked. 19/66 for 29%. EARLAP seems to have caused people problems. Both American Heritage and Merriam-Webster say “see ‘ear flap’” so i guess there’s room for complaint. I did learn that EARLAP is from the 12th century while “EARfLAP” is a relative neologism from the 1820’s. I had no problem with EARLAP which makes me suspect my youth in a lake effect snow belt might have something to do with getting that easily. At any rate, I am surprised that so many found this challenging.

@Chip Hilton - “Again, yuck” just doesn’t strike me as a “trashing.” We’ve seen Rex trash something, and this ain’t it. As someone alluded to, Rex trashed Paula Deen. That was a trashing. As @John H pointed out, Emeril seems like a pretty nice guy generally, but I’m not going to lose sleep over Rex not agreeing.

CreamyT 5:43 PM  

My wife and I have been doing Saturdays for maybe 6 months so far? This was the hardest we've personally run in to. I think it was largley the result of just having trouble getting a footing in the start. We knew very few of the trivia-type answers off the bat, and we had a number of wrong answers for the more vague clues. I actually jokingly guessed SPERM bank, but didn't put it in because I did not expect that to be in a puzzle. So we had river and then .. something else for a bit. ochre instead of SAUTE.

Also, BROWN != SAUTE. Saute is to fry something in a pan with a fat. You absolutely do not have to brown something to saute it. Sometimes you actually don't want to brown something - say if you're sweating onions. Outside of the NATICK-y SW corner, this is the only clue I can remember having any issue with it. Mostly good stuff, just was not on the wavelength today. Better luck tomorrow!

Thanks @bocamp!

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Ladies and gentleman of the board,
I implore you: read Z’s last post and John H’s post.
Z has lied, baldly, by omission. The point of John Z’s post wasn’t to praise Rex as “Generally a nice guy”, but to take him for task for his errant attack. We all know Rex was attacking Emeril by dismissing him. Chip Hilton is quite right.
But back to the point. Z is lying when he agrees with an assumption of his own making and completely ignoring the black letter complaint that John H made. This is so patently dishonest it’s bizarre. Why on Earth is Z so interested in protecting Rex? It’s clear many reasonable people here believe as John H does that not only does Emeril not deserve a yuck but that a yuck means trashing. Set aside whether you agree with his assume that. That IS his assessment, clearly. That Paula Deen was more severely criticized by OFL does not change the fact that OFL was criticizing Emeril. I’m not sure who Z thinks he fooling with this self evident false equivalency.

Larry 6:08 PM  

Emeril might be a great chef & a nice guy, but I doubt anyone but @Lewis could watch his infomercials for any length of time and not want to punch him right in his fat face.

TTrimble 6:47 PM  

@Larry 6:08 PM
Gotta say, that made me laugh. No, I've never seen an Emeril infomercial. But the vehemence of your apparent emotion was funny. Could I recommend changing the channel or turning the TV off? ;-)

(I'm like that too sometimes. I won't name the people I can't stand, because I could do without the hate mail that would arrive in the form of comments. But often I put my objects of scorn on mute. Sometimes mimicking them also works for me.)

oriordan 7:43 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. A real battle but got there in the end with no cheats.

It’s interesting that ARSE is used freely here. In the UK and Ireland, it’s considered quite rude; much ore so than ASS here. Always makes me do a double take and think Really? when I see it

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

@Anonymous 5:58. F that! @John H castigated Rex by saying Emeril “shouldn’t be brushed off like that”. And, correctly, recommends that Rex shouldn’t trash a subject he knows nothing about. @Z has been banging this drum since 8:12 this morning.
Isn’t there a frisbee tourney or a public school district to grift somehow?

BrucieK 6:41 AM  

@domaddy — Technically, you’re correct that stet means let stand. But this clue, I believe, refers to the routine editing process of a manuscript in which an editor (or proofreader) rejects a specific proposed change in the manuscript by crossing out that proposed change and writing “stet” — meaning, “Nah, this change is no good [for any number of reasons], so please stet the writer’s original version of the sentence.”

JCo 12:47 PM  

How is it not earFlap? The missing F made me think for a sec that it was a themed Saturday.

Joe 1:51 PM  

Only tough part for me was Almaata. I had ATEN, and then thought UMASS had gone to the AAC like Temple. Left it at ATEN. Had Black Magic Woman for my first answer, but couldn’t get any crosses. Erased it and put The Thrill is Gone. Kept rolling until I had Almayta. Changed the y to an a.

thefogman 11:18 AM  

IMSOEXCITED I BEAT this one. And it’s not because my alma mater is ALMA ATA U. I give it ATEN.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Hess? Is this a regional brand? Someone please explain...

Burma Shave 1:15 PM  


ATEN, TOP NOTCH, can't fight IT,


Diana, LIW 3:17 PM  

When BurmaShave didn't fit into 1A, and BSII fit but didn't help, I knew I was in trouble. But things got better.

Hey - HESS trucks show up- in crosswords all the time, even if you don't remember the gas stations.

It must be Saturday.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 4:17 PM  

There’s a story here --


The end.

leftcoaster 5:09 PM  

....but not quite the end. This story could have been made even longer by inserting CURIOUSER, FLAUNTED, and TEEN MOM in the obvious places. (Was this a set up by Mr. Collins?)

spacecraft 7:48 PM  

I've got one bone to pick--and it's not a HAMHOCK. It's the clue for 11-down:

"THEY'RE (emphasis mine, present tense) on a mission."

You mean to tell me that after two centuries, those guys are STILL AT IT?? This clue screams foul ball. It's bad enough to earn a bogey for the whole puzzle.

ramroot 4:59 PM  

Does no one complain about UP being in the puzzle 3 times? TATTED UP 36A, KICKS IT UP 10D, ICE UP 15A?

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