Sta4nce for instance / SAT 6-5-21 / Opening of a toaster / Explosive cited in Hamlet / Brand of cashmere pronounced say / Basketball game in an arcade / Third-tier cast member in Brave New World / 8'2" children's character /

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: RHEA Seehorn (40A: Actress Seehorn of "Better Call Saul") —
Deborah Rhea Seehorn (/ˈr ˈshɔːrn/; born May 12, 1972) is an American actress. She is best known for playing attorney Kim Wexler in AMC's Better Call Saul (2015–present), for which she has won two Satellite Awards for Best Supporting Actress and one Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television. She has also appeared in NBC's Whitney (2011–2013), ABC's I'm with Her(2003–2004), and TNT's Franklin & Bash (2011–2014). (wikipedia)
• • •

This was so easy I got suspicious. Like, I started peering around corners wondering what was going to jump out at me and murder me with an axe (or adze or awl or other crossword-related implement). Had a quarter of it done in almost no time. Anyone else have this opening gambit?:

Yes, today, truly I was ... saved by the bell. Or saved by the "Saved by the Bell" clue, anyway. Always super proud to put my teen shlock knowledge to use. Wasn't sure if he was a ZACH or a ZACK, but that's what crosses are for. In the NW, only POP-A-SHOT gave me any trouble (never heard of it, thought it was maybe POT-A-SHOT, since that at least rhymes), but all the crosses were easy (even the Latin-for-eggs OVA clue (2D: Ingredients in Caesar's salads?)). After I polished off the N/NW and then threw BLACK SABBATH across the grid, I was starting to regret not having the timer on, but also remained very, very wary of some difficulty-horror lurking around the next bend.

Off of BLACK SABBATH, I threw down all three long Downs, in order, without hesitation: A LA MODE, BIG BIRD, BEER NUT (just one!?)! Do you know how rare it is for me to just go 1-2-3 on a string of 7s (!!) with that little information? The Power Of The First Letter was really in effect there (though I think I could've got all those answers with no crosses at all ... maybe would've needed a boost for BEER NUT). So now I'm half done and have encountered no resistance. PIPPA / PREGGO gets me the whole NE pretty quickly. Got the Steinbeck novella "THE PEARL" off the THE, so SW went down pretty quickly too (Love the SACBEE down there—both 'cause it's original and 'cause I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Sacramento, where our paper was also a Bee) (47A: NorCal daily). Finally I came to the S/SE and there, waiting for me, was the scary-monster part of the grid I had been anticipating all along, only ultimately it wasn't that scary. 

The trouble started with UPPED THE GAME (44A: Took things to a whole new level), which I had as UPPED THE ANTE, as that is a real phrase. You can up your game, one can up one's game, but UPPED THE GAME feels real weird in my mouth. One other (smaller) issue was TSE, which ... wow, yeah, tough one if you are not a fabric aficionado (37A: Brand of cashmere pronounced "say"). Didn't know cashmere had "brands." Anyway, TSE, which is quintessential crosswordese, was very well hidden there. But the real stumbling block in the bottom right was a trick that completely fooled me. Didn't see through it until practically the last square. And that trick was: 46D: Opening of a toaster ("HERE'S"). I had that thing down to HERE- and was squinting at it. Realized the cross was LOSE A DAY, which left me with HERES, which, I thought, "WTF, is that Latin??" and then bam. The aha. I had stubbornly been sticking with the pop-up toaster, the turn-bread-into-toast toaster that sits on kitchen counters. The idea that a toaster might be someone making a toast never entered my head. Humiliating. But fair. And then I was done.

One of the best parts of today's puzzle was finally seeing RHEA clued as the best actor on the best show on television (40A: Actress Seehorn of "Better Call Saul"). The way you know that the Emmys are a garbage awards org. is that RHEA Seehorn should have five of them by now, and she Hasn't Even Been Nominated. Every time I think of this fact, I literally shake my head. Anyway, I love her and I love that show (which is even better than the show it spun off from, "Breaking Bad"), and I'm going to be super-excited when the show returns next year and then equally super-bummed out when that season is over because it's the last one. But for now, excited for it to come back, and especially excited to see RHEA Seehorn in my crossword. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Sta4nce is a REBUS because it's a picture puzzle, a representation of the phrase "for instance" (because "4" is literally "in" the word "stance"). Semi-hilarious that the clue also contains the phrase "for instance" (43A: Sta4nce, for instance)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:40 AM  

NYT columnist Margaret Renkle, who often writes about nature – flora and fauna – says in her book “Late Migrations”, which I’m reading, that it takes a lot of nerve to be a nature writer when she never formally studied the science of nature. Her qualification to write about it, she says, comes simply from being a steadfast observer of it. Then she adds, “the flip side of ignorance is astonishment, and I am good at astonishment.”

Yes! That is exactly how I feel about crosswords. I have not thrust myself into puzzle analysis, and as a result I don’t feel like I know much about the science of crosswords, and so, after all these years of doing the puzzles, I’m still astonished by them, by how words weave together, by the wordplay that jumps out of them.

May that never change. May I never become crossword jaded. May this pastime continue to thrill and delight me.

JD 7:36 AM  

What @Rex said almost exactly, except I was on to Here's and think it's a great clue. Desperately clung to Upped the Ante and did not get Mothballed. Aware of the Navy term mothball fleet, but thought it meant something in storage for later use. I like this other usage.

I've never heard the word Pend to mean Has Yet To Be Decided. Pending yes. Not saying it's not a word or that it doesn't mean Has Yet etc. because someone here will find a dictionary somewhere where it's the 7th listed meaning (archaic). It's in the Scrabble dictionary though so it must mean something.

Doubling down on yesterday. @Pete, On getting the clue wrong. Blinded by ire. Hoisted On My Own Petard. Thanks. However, I Believe your reference to @bocamp confirms my point about Peace. I didn't say it can't be used in parting. I said it doesn't mean See You Later. Closing with Peace, @Bo is wishing you something specific emotionally and socially because he is a sincere person. Let's give Peace a chance to maintain its meaning in parting.

And that's why @mathgent (if you were referring to my post, beg pardon if not), your comment at 7:13 is invalid. But I like your proposal for use of that phrase.

bocamp 7:41 AM  

Thx Peter; what a great Sat. puz! Lots of crunchiness; was definitely a THRILLER! :)

Med+ solve.

Was cruising along until the mid-Atlantic Coast and SW. Took as long to get that section as all the rest combined.

Felt fortunate to have finished with no guesses. Again, fair crosses come to the rescue.

THRILLER ~ Michael Jackson

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Son Volt 8:14 AM  

Liked it - strong wordplay. Lost on some of the trivia - PIPPA, RHEA, SACBEE but crosses were fair. Agree with Rex on the toughness here - didn’t really skip a beat anywhere in the grid.

Love me some Ozzy and BEER NUTs. I’ll assume we’ll have another REBUS discussion later. The SLACKS entry feels Don Draperish.

Do doggos get PREGGO?

Snazzy Saturday - enjoyable but no stumper here.

Z 8:16 AM  

Lots of good stuff, but both POP-A-SHOT and UPPED THE GAME are major demerits. I’m pretty sure I know what POP-A-SHOT is now that I’ve got the answer, but I never realized the game had a name. And what Rex said about UPPED THE ante or UPPED your GAME. And now that I look, EVIL LOOK isn’t a real familiar stand alone phrase, either. There’s lots I liked, MAKE HAY and PETARD both brought a smile, but that several longish answers clanked got this puzzle a high level of arched eyebrow from me.

Unknown 8:17 AM  

About as easy a Saturday in a long time.
HERES was just inspired.
I don't think of TIMBRE as a quality of music per se, so much as the quality of a specific tone, but I'm not nit picking, it was pretty easy to suss out.

I do feel compelled to note that rex, several weeks ago, called out folks who thought that The Wire was the best TV show of all time - I think he referred to them as insufferable Fan boys, and here he is today, "fan boying" about the best show ever, only it happens to be Better Call Saul. Now I've never seen that show, and for all I know, he may be right. Just wish he'd tone down the tone of derision & just stick to explaining puzzles. *sigh* one can dream . . . .

Unknown 8:19 AM  

"Low stats for some MVP winners" is terrible cluing for "ERAS." Pitchers are almost never named MVP, so that clue points directly away from the answer.

Ken Wins 8:21 AM  

Yes to Rhea Seehorn. She is brilliant (and continually brilliantly understated) as Kim.

Apparently she's also just a very nice down-to-earth woman who doesn't spend her time promoting herself and playing the celebrity game. Hence the lack of Emmy nominations.

A word of caution, though: should she ever introduce herself to you as Jezelle St. Clair and offer you a tequlla, just run.

Lewis 8:21 AM  

Random thoughts re today’s puzzle:
• World class misdirect – PIP for ZIT, with [Spot on a face].
• That lovely meeting of EGGO and PREGGO.
• I’ve had a BEER NUT or two in my time, and I’ve known a BEER NUT or two in my time.
• That lovely PuzzPair© of OVA and EGGO.
• Seeing Peter’s name atop this puzzle, I expected to crawl through it and encounter falls from which it would be hard to get up. I was amazed to wend my way through it with sweet resistance, but far less than I anticipated.
• Lovely clues: AIR, B TEAMS, HERE'S, REBUS, and PIP.

This solving journey was like sipping delicious wine or tea. Thank you so much for making this, Peter!

Nancy 8:23 AM  

Oh, now I see what tripped me up in the bloody awful SE -- which I left almost white as snow except for the wrong UPPED THE ANTE instead of UPPED THE GAME. The last E worked with the AT EASE cross, so I never questioned it. And this prevented me from getting what might have been gettable in that corner -- namely MUSEUM (I had ?U??T) and perhaps (or perhaps not) REGALIA, but I had R?A????.

I cheated on RHEA, but it didn't help me, and after that I was no longer tempted to cheat or to try to finish the SE -- where I didn't know the Brave New World caste member or the Star Wars granddaughter. (I had already cheated on the BLACK of BLACK SABBATH in order to try to finish the Midwest, where I had A TEAMS instead of B TEAMS at 21D.) But I had misspelled GASPACHO, didn't know ZACK (JACK? MACK?) and certainly didn't know POPA SHOT. I had PO?A SHOT which could have been anything at all.

Easy???? This was like a puzzle from another planet for me -- full of a great many unimportant things I care about not in the slightest. I disliked it intensely. Too bad, because TIL now it's been a terrific week.

Frantic Sloth 8:27 AM  

Landsakes alive - I didn't know anything! If ever there were a it is! Ultimately took me almost 10 mins. past my average time for the Saturdee.

That Middle East? Screw that.

And does anyone even dare to say PREGGO anymore?? Ew.

Not a fan of PIMPLE for a nightcap, let alone any breakfast test. Ew. Ew.

Wanted UPPEDTHEantE instead of GAME because that's the phrase I've heard most often.

The freakin' PPP ate me up. Even though the grid wasn't quite as slathered with it as some have been lately, what was there taunted me and my ignorance as if I'd just arrived from Neptune. Meep.

I don't know. The challenge aspect was appreciated, but I really didn't enjoy this one. Too much nose-wrinkling going on during the solve.


kitshef 8:29 AM  

I felt the admiration about this the way everyone else did about yesterday’s. Full of interesting words, and everything needed a cross or two to make headway, but there was always enough to keep going.

ShortS before SLACKS
vIsa before CITI
bEmoan/bEwail before REVILE
EVE before EVA – thinking extra-vehicular excursion
AngorAS before ALPACAS.

Hoist with your own PETARD employs the seldom-used intransitive sense of ‘hoist’. Fun.

Nancy 8:30 AM  

Few Rexblog comments have ever made me laugh any harder than @Joe Dipinto's 11:21 p.m. quip from last night. But in order to laugh yourself, you have to watch the video he provides a couple of comments before, plus my response.

CuppaJoe 8:47 AM  

I, too, can’t wait for the moment they Bring Back “Saul” but I never cared for the Rhea/Kim character; probably because I can relate to a woman way overdue to DTMFA. Yes! Terrific acting, I love the way she carries out stage business like smoking.

The puzzle? I struggled but it was worth it.

GILL I. 8:47 AM  

Well....My PETARD runneth over. I was hoping for a hoist to boost a bit of my failed morale.
I had the EVIL LOOK at the start. Where do I begin? OOH..@Rex said this was so easy....Really? I couldn't even get started. No laundry to be done so I had another SIP of wine last night and called it a LOSE A DAY.
So I'm up early, pour myself some coffee, and see if my TIMBRES resonate. Well I'll be a monkeys uncle.....cobwebs cleared and I begin to make a little headway. Where did I start? Well, GAZPACHO, of course. I just made some the other day. OK, so I can probably do this. I did. I cheated with POP A SHOT because I haven't been in an arcade since before Jesus shared a bit of bread with BIG BIRD.
So then I get to 20A. I said to myself: please, please, please don't let it be PREGGO. It was! That's almost as bad is having a bun in the oven followed by baby bump. Besides, PREGGO sounds like some spaghetti sauce. I don't have a clue what EVAL at 50A means but all the downs made sense. HERES Johnny....I BELIEVE I can fly came in next. Little by little, flood gates opened. The THRILLER from Manila was the MATCH POINT. PIP PIP Hurray. I finished with only one Google.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

This is the second time I’ve done a crossword while tripping on shrooms. I highly recommend. Very fun. Took me 2 min longer than usual which I guess means it was an easy puzzle.

Barbara S. 9:00 AM  

I’m in the this-wasn’t-easy-it-was-hard camp. So much I didn’t know: POPASHOT (kept wanting “hoops” or “NBA” somewhere in the answer), ZACK Morris, BLACK SABBATH (as clued – I know of the band), DRU Hill, SACBEE (although I think it’s been in previous puzzles and I shoulda known it), PETARD (as clued – it’s a bomb?!?!). I had a complete mental block about Steinbeck’s THE PEARL. Sheesh. It was a DNF for me and a painfully slow one at that. Such a solving contrast to yesterday.

I liked PIP and PIPPA, although I expect complaints. I liked EVIL and EVAL. I liked AIR being “inspired stuff.” I liked the “bug IN A RUG.” And I got a kick out of REVILE and REGALIA side by side. It sounds like the mantra for a new anti-Coronation movement. I couldn’t decide whether “You’re in such trouble!” for OOH was absolutely terrible or the quintessential Saturday clue. I’m right there with love for RHEA Seehorn and “Better Call Saul.” Didja know she pronounces her name “Ray”?

Today’s excerpt is courtesy of RICK RIORDAN, born June 5, 1964.

The older lady harrumphed. "I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate."
"And get stuck in the Underworld!"
"Mother, please-"
"And here it is August, and do you come home like you're supposed to? Do you ever think about your poor lonely mother?"
"DEMETER!" Hades shouted. "That is enough. You are a guest in my house."
"Oh, a house is it?" she said. "You call this dump a house? Make my daughter live in this dark, damp…"
"I told you," Hades said, grinding his teeth, "there's a war in the world above. You and Persephone are better off here with me."
"Excuse me," I broke in. "But if you're going to kill me, could you just get on with it?”
(From The Last Olympian)

Diane Joan 9:13 AM  

I liked the MATCHPOINT and LET cross. Very timely. It made me think of Naomi Osaka's exit from the French Open. I believe it took a lot of strength for her to withdraw in order to protect her mental health. She has faced the best players in the tennis world and has done so with poise and grace. I can't even imagine what it took to play against Serena Williams in past tournaments, to compete during a pandemic, and to have the media sniping about your weaknesses. She was a highlight at the US Open last year. I wish her well on her journey.

Suzy 9:16 AM  

I totally agree with @Lewis! Thank you, Peter Wentz for a great Sat morning puzzle! I’m happy to admit that it
was plenty crunchy for me. Why else bother?

Sixthstone 9:20 AM  

This played hard for me. Just couldn't get a foothold, partly from accidentally missing some gimme clues (ZACK/HOCKS). Enjoyed it though!

Carola 9:31 AM  

I'm with the "not easy for me" group. I managed to soldier through 75% of the grid but almost foundered in the Bermuda Triangle of the SE, which I was able to populate only with the OUT of LAYOUT and the incorrect (me, too) "ante." Desperate pondering: what could that caste member be? GA??? Wa-a-a-i-i-t a minute....alpha, beta....worth a try. The A got me AT EASE and opened the still shark-ridden way to safety. Sorry about the metaphor soup.

Made it worthwhile: TIMBRES, MAKE HAY, THE PEARL, PETARD, REGALIA, MOTHBALLED. No idea: ZACK, RHEA, TSE, DRU. Nano-moment of triumph: PIP with no crosses.

@JD 7:36 - Me, too, for thinking MOTHBALLED had to do only with ships.

@Z 8:16 - I had similar thoughts about some of the longer answers: I'm working this hard for EVIL LOOK and PAGE LAYOUT?

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

There goes Rex misusing gambit. And so hard in the heels of his chess dis. For a guy whose life revolves around words, he sure misuses a lot of them.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Toughie for me. SE was at a standstill, so had to go to good ole Google and look up Miss Seehorn. Once I got that, managed to see MOTHBALLED, which was a puzzler, because what else could UPPEDTHEantE be? I call Shenanigans! on that answer. Dang.

Stuck in every section, but managed to suss everything out. Well, SE exception. I BELIEVE 44A to be a EVIL answer. 😁

Bug's place? clue funny. I guess a MonPuz clue in that vein would be, "Snug bug's place?"

Nice themeless. Worked the ole brain out. Now to throw a personal PIZZA PARTY. Har.

One F

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Using the phrase 'for instance' in the clue for REBUS strikes me less as 'hilarious', per Rex, as if it is some kind of cosmic accident, than as inspired cluing. I got the answer after puzzling for a while and already having the RE from crosses but it never occurred to me, even then, that the clue was self-referential in that way. Clever. Meanwhile, overall: liked it, found it medium until I got stuck in the ESE and ended in 31 minutes which is a bit below average for me for a Saturday

Birchbark 10:03 AM  


BEER NUT -- I've had success lately combining equal measures of cashews, peanuts, raisins (or dried cranberries), sesame sticks, and 3/4 or so measure of Ankara mix, a chili-spiced snack blend I found at the Indian grocery store.

It pairs well with a cold Bell's Oberon wheat beer. It gets hotter and saltier as you get to the bottom of the little bowl, because the Ankara mix exotics are tinier than the other ingredients, this blend lacking the chemicals to hold the whole thing together, as we might find in Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

Then to cool everything off with the GAZPACHO course. Today would be a great day for it, with a predicted high of 97. I think I'll mow the lawn now, while there's still some civility in the air.

pabloinnh 10:11 AM  

Hard to find a toehold in this one anywhere, but I finally wrote in BLACKSABBATH because it is one of the few heavy metal bands I know and because it fit. Speaking of fits, after many fits and starts, finally finished in a non-impressive time but without resorting to outside help, so my Saturday is now a success.

I'm sure there are lots of good shows on tv right now but I think the last one I watched with any regularity was M*A*S*H, so no help at all with ZACK or RHEA. Ditto for REY and DRU. Out of the pop culture loop, for sure.

I'm with @FraSlo on my distaste for PREGGO. Yuck. See also doggo and kiddo when referring to one's children.

Today's self-awarded cap feather is for remembering not only THEPEARL, but also The Red Pony, both of which have been sitting up there in the brain locker since something like junior high school. You really never know when these things will come in handy.

Excellent Saturday, PW. A Pulchritudinous Workout, for which thanks.

TJS 10:29 AM  

Hated everything about this on the first pass, and then miraculously got on the wavelength and whizzed through everything but the dreaded SE. Which was about as unfair as a puzzle could be.
"upped the game" is not an in-the-language phrase.
The "rebus" does not even make sense as a rebus.
"tse" ? "HBO" ? "eva ? "gamma" ? Gimme a break.

TJS 10:31 AM  

Interesting that Rex kind of implies that he decides whether he wants to time himself or not. I had always thought that it depended on other circumstances.

AndyinVt 10:36 AM  

Am I wrong: aren't eggs an ingredient in chef's salads, not Caesar's? I don't recall an egg in any of my past many Caesar's. Or perchance are they in the dressing?

JC66 10:43 AM  

Can't wait for @Anoa Bob's comment on REBUS.

George 10:44 AM  

I did the southeast last -- hadn't even started it when I paused the timer to go make coffee, done except for the SE, in 12 minutes. Best ever Saturday is 20...

...and guess what? It still is. :)

What? 10:48 AM  

As others, I had UPPED THE ANTE which forced me to peek. As editors often say (but not this time) UP THE GAME is “ not in the language” but here it is. Is there anything more mysterious than Shortz’s brain?

Mikey from El Prado 10:57 AM  

The clue “Took things to a whole new level” should have a parenthetic qualifier like (alternative phrase) or (not the usual way you’d say it). 99.99% of the time anyone, everyone, says UPTHEante. That tarnished an otherwise easy, but elegant, puzzle.

jae 10:58 AM  

Easy. Me to for UPPED THE ante before GAME.

POP A SHOT was a WOE but GAZPACHO was a gimme off the G in PEG.

Solid Sat., liked it.

@bocamp - I did the Fireball from 2010 and got it, but it took a very long time over two days. I have no memory of having done it in a passed state of consciousness.

Joe Dipinto 11:04 AM  

I don't think I've ever seen so many answers starting with P in a puzzle.
Pippa and Peg were at a pizza party in Peking when Pippa got a pimple and Peg got preggo. Later, Pippa met Pip for a game of Pop-A-Shot, while Peg, clutching a copy of "The Pearl", decided she didn't like its page layout, and blew it up with a petard. The next adventure for each pends...

Frantic Sloth 11:05 AM  

Just in case there comes a time when I've completely deluded myself into believing that I actually belong here, I'm gonna bookmark this page in order to be reminded of my squatter status.

Seems I have more in common with Neptune, which shouldn't surprise me since I have more in common with Neptune.

Except for Rex's appreciation of RHEA Seehorn as Kim Wexler. Totally on board with his assessment.

I wasn't alone on UPPEDTHEantE, though. So there's that.

@GILL 847am, @Barbara S 900am Can't tell you how much your similar takes make me happy for me and sad for youz. 🤣

@AndyinVt 1036am Yes, the traditional dressing uses a raw egg.

Teedmn 11:06 AM  

You start me out with a basketball clue/answer and I'm outta there like a SHOT. I thought maybe 1A would start with NBA but the 1D cross nixed that. I did peek at 3D - "catered tea" would have fit but checking the cross at 35A failed to "inspire" me. I didn't even look at another clue in the NW, I ran south.

Yea, Shakespeare. An explosive in the Hamlet era has to be PETARD. And so it proved. A FEW, SWIRLS, SACBEE, PENDS, all fell into place and I UPPED THE ante. Yes, I fell into that trap but REGALIA put me back in the GAME.

I was quite thrilled when the REBUS answer made sense. Nice one, Peter!

I was going to quote Steely Dan's song Babylon Sisters in reference to GAZPACHO. I always thought the line was "Drink GAZPACHO from a shell, San Francisco show and tell" (listen at the 2:17 mark) but no, it's

Drink Kirschwasser from a shell
San Francisco show and tell

All these years I've been singing that song incorrectly. And what the heck is Kirschwasser? Google says it is a sour cherry brandy. Will I remember that? I'm sure GAZPACHO will still come to mind.

Thanks, Peter, this was a fun Saturday puzzle with some challenges, some fun clues and an interesting PAGE LAYOUT.

C. Cardini 11:10 AM  

@AndyinVT (10:36am)

Caesar Salad dressing is made with raw egg yolks

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I’ll be sure to quote you Tuesday night if I win an Emmy.

janet 11:21 AM  

Yes@Lewis, or should I say lovely non-languishing Lewis?!

Michael Page 11:22 AM  

Sacramento is NOT in the Bay Area.
UPPED THE GAME isn’t a thing, and putting it where UPPED THE ante seems obvious left me with a train wreck in the east.
Brainfroze on GAMMA for a while, leaving me puzzled as to how INERTiA could be a plural.
But some truly excellent clueing, and the three way cross of GAZPACHO PIZZA PARTY TAPAS left my stomach pleasantly growling.

Newboy 11:24 AM  

Liked it a bunch Mr Wentz! Not as easy here as at Rex’s house, but started in opposite NE &SW corners. Paused for an @Lewis moment to appreciate PREGGO, EGGO, GAMMA and SABBATH then we UPPED our game by bridging those double lettered corners to the other two corners. With their EVIL LOOKing whiteness that I BELIEVE took us forever to complete — did we really LOSE A DAY? Nah, just felt like it.
Hope commentariat liked it as much as did we, now back to enjoy those responses.

Joe Dipinto 11:28 AM  

Whoops, I missed prig. Peg, ever the prig, gave Pip and Pippa an evil look when they said, "Have an Eggo since you're preggo!"

Also forgot this.

Impycat 11:28 AM  

I agree that the puzzle was easy for a Saturday, but disagree that Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. The former is excellent, the latter is the best TV series of all time.

Teedmn 11:31 AM  

Rats, my link didn't work. Lately, YouTube URLs all have https in front, which Blogger doesn't like. I tried truncating the address in my earlier link but unsuccessfully. We'll see if this attempt works. It worked when I emailed it to myself so...

Babylon Sisters

mathgent 11:35 AM  

Reassuring to see that some good solvers had trouble in the SE. I didn't go to Google but I did go to my wife. She got ATEASE (correct) and LOSETIME (wrong, but it suggested LOSEADAY).

Peter Wentz is a pro and it shows in this excellent work.

@JD (7:36) re PEND, @Unknown (8:17) and @Unknown (8:19) re TIMBRE. See The Joaquin Dictum.

jberg 11:50 AM  

Tough for me, but I'm not sure if it was me or the puzzle. I knew few, if any of the proper names (well, SACramento BEE and EGGO, I guess). But mainly, I misread the clue for 31D as being 21, so wrote in ATEASE in the wrong place, then confirmed it with TAPAS, ERAS, & AIR. Much, much later I saw that 41A just had to be STYLE, so corrected it to a TEAMS. That took even longer to sort out.

And then there's "palter" (27A). Is it cheating to look up the meaning of a clue? I decided not to, but I needed the L_E before I could even guess. And I didn't look up Toaster Strudel until I had completed the puzzle, but I had no idea why Strudel was capitalized in the clue. The idea of such a think makes me a bit queasy.

@AndyinVt -- You never really had Caesar's Salad -- if you had tried, theyd've thrown you to the lions. What you had was a Caesar Salad, which didn't have a raw egg unless you made the salad yourself (people are so fussy about salmonella these days); but Caesar's would have had an ovum or two.

p.s., I did know who Palpatine was, but can't keep REY and REn straight.

Birchbark 12:13 PM  

Maybe there's a "PPP" meta-theme here (cf. @Joe DiPinto (11:04), with all the esoterica of the southeast (GAMMA, TSE, RHEA,REA, HBO, the place-name-clued MUSEUM and even EVA in its way) a sort of revealer.

pmdm 12:29 PM  

Well, today's and tomorrow's puzzles by two constructors whose work can really displease me. Yet I enjoyed them both. And tomorrow's acrostic. No more to say about tomorrow's puzzles because I don't want to lease any spoilers. And not much more to say about today's puzzle except I liked it.

David Eisner 12:29 PM  

I didn't appreciate having Star War: The Rise of Skywalker spoiled. Too soon!

bocamp 12:37 PM  

Didn't recognize RHEA Seehorn, but sure like her in 'Better Call Saul'.

Thot maybe they made an arcade game out of 1A Space Jam. No crosses disabused me of that notion, at least for this clue. Apparently, there is a video game, so I wasn't totally out to lunch. LOL

Put me on the UPPED THE ANTE squad. Didn't help my cause in the ESE.

Loved Sta4nce

New (for me) use of MOTHBALLED also contributed to my woes in the ESE.

I'll go with Bob Gibson for fave MVP winning pitcher.

Speaking of MATCH POINT, all the best to Naomi Osaka! 🙏

@pabloinnh (10:11 AM)

Phrase of the day: Pulchritudinous Workout. Love it! :)

@jae (10:58 AM)

You rock!

I also spent two days on it; might have pieced it together in two weeks (probably not). Getting it all but the SW (my PETARD) was some consolation, tho. :)

Looking forward to your rec for the Freestyle.

td pg -5

PEACE ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

old timer 12:43 PM  

Help! For some reason I can't get the blog on my iPhone, which was updated overnight by Apple, in what seemed like a harmless security improvement.

Normally, I just Google for rex parker, and up comes the latest blog. Today, I get everything but the latest blog, and only got here by Googling, finding Tuesday's puzzle, going to the end and clicking "newer posts", which I had to do four times. So I guess Googling on my Mac doesn't really work either.

Any help?

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I keep waiting for Better Call Saul to live up to Breaking Bad — Vince Gilligan loves him some slow buildups — and have concluded that it’s just not happening. I put Better Call Saul in the Boardwalk Empire category: a show that had legendary status bestowed on it before it even started, and wound up being just pretty good. Like the first overall draft pick who winds up being, not quite a bust, but just a solid player and not a game-changer.

But I agree that RHEA Seehorn should have all the Emmys by now.

What? 1:19 PM  

I couldn’t get it even before the update. When I google Rex Parker it takes me to a site that says my iPhone as been hacked (“go to …. Immediately and download….”. Yeah sure.
I get here through Xword.

Georgia 1:21 PM  

Hard boiled eggs are, indeed, in Chef Salads. Raw eggs are part of the dressing of a Caesar Salad.

bocamp 1:27 PM  

@old timer (12:43 PM)

Got the most recent updates on my iPhone and iPad; no prob getting today's blog on both. I do keep a Safari tab open on both devices, even tho I do all my blogging on the MacBook Air.

If you haven't already done so, try closing your browser, reopen and see if that helps. If not, then re-boot your device. If that doesn't work, you may want to give Apple a call and ask them to do a screen-share with you. They've always been good to me, even with devices/computers where Apple Care coverage has lapsed.

All the best! 🤞

pg -5

PEACE ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anoa Bob 1:30 PM  

I BELIEVE that if "Sta4nce" is a REBUS (43A) it would read "Stafornce" or "For in stance", neither of which makes any sense to me. But it's better than calling a puzzle with multiple letters in one square a REBUS.

I thought 56A PETARD was a siege weapon consisting of a lance or spear with some explosive attached near the tip and not just the explosive itself, as clued. The fuse would be lit, the PETARD stuck into a castle or walled city door, and the attacker would flee. The ensuing explosion would then blow the door off its hinges and the attackers would charge in. The procedure and timing had to be perfect or the attacker might be the one blown up rather than the fortification. The attacker would be, per Shakespeare, "Hoist with his own PETARD", that is, undone by his very efforts to undo someone else. That would be ironic, right?

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Walter Johnson’s 1913 season is non partial.
Unknown, since you like MVPs so much, do you know who the last switch hitting MVP was?

DigitalDan 1:34 PM  

I judged this one "Hard, but I killed it anyway." Guessed several long answers correctly and surprisingly, which gave me the start I needed.

Marcie 1:35 PM  

Thank you Joe! And… thank you @Nancy for encouraging me to read on. Hilarious!

mathgent 1:37 PM  

@old timer. I'm having the same problem. But on my desktop using Windows, everything's OK. It must be that update.l

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

There won’t be any match points for Osaka unless she drops the snowflake business. ( that’s how the term is used.Not as someone misused it yesterday to disparage conservatives). I wish her well too, but she makes fabulous amounts of money. That money is partly from all that ink those mean journalists provide. Lots of people have anxiety. It can be crippling. But speaking to the press is part of her job.

JD 1:57 PM  

@mathgent, Sometimes you confuse language with math. As with yesterday, your comment is invalid.

Mr. TV 2:14 PM  

There is no best TV show or series and it's arrogant to make such a claim. How about "My favorite of all time is '________________'". It's about taste. I don't have a favorite. It would be too hard to choose. I like different shows for different reasons.

Wundrin' 2:20 PM  

@Michael Page 11:22. Who said Sacramento is in the Bay Area?

Joe Bleaux 2:26 PM  

This one wasn’t easy for me, but no complaints. FWIW, my candidate for Dook o’ the Day is in the LA Times, courtesy of the esteemed Jeff Chen. No spoiler here. It’s 33A.

bocamp 2:29 PM  

@Anonymous (1:46 PM)

Always easy to judge people. Put on your empathy and loving-kindness hat. ❤️

pg -3

PEACE ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Al 2:32 PM  

53 Down — HBO wasn’t the first TV channel to be transmitted by satellite. One minute of a Philadelphia Phillies vs Chicago Cubs baseball game on WGN was transmitted July 23, 1962 as part of the Telstar 1 first public transmission.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

I’m not judging that young woman, I’m judging her actions. An immense and all important distinction.that you don’t see that is quite stunning.
By the way, I much empathy for her. I wrote, and write again, that I wish her well. Bit if she wants to play on the Tour, she has to abide by their, eminently reasonable, rules.

Nancy 3:06 PM  

Re the Osaka discussion taking place on the blog today. I haven't seen an issue that's so dividing people since the election results. I was at the tennis courts today and T. (top player, brilliant lawyer, I have a very nice rapport with him) was quite appalled that I sided with Osaka because he was so was adamantly on the other side. He really pushed his point of view hard. And then M.-- always spoiling for an argument about just about anything -- was ready to argue with me until I told her that I fully supported Osaka, too, and indeed had written a letter on her behalf to the NYT.

Normally, I only show you the letters I succeed in getting into the Times. But for those interested in my opinion on the controversy, here's the letter:

How, exactly, did talking to the media after every tennis match become an "obligation", a "responsibility", a "commitment"? Does the punishment remotely fit the "crime" when a $15,000 fine is levied any and every time a post-match press interview is skipped? If Osaka had chosen to continue in the French Open, how much would all those draconian fines have added up to?

Today's voracious and insatiable media may lionize you when you're a winner, but they're likely to chew you up and spit you out when things go south for you. Osaka has done the best thing both for her own mental health and for her own autonomy -- and she's done it in the only way that was left open to her. Which is a very, very sad commentary on the world of professional tennis.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

The obligation occurred when the $$$ became so great. The press draws viewership. Viewership means money.
If oksana wants to play tennis, she can do so til( her hearts content. If she wants the fabulous $$$ she gets on The Tour, she has to help the Tour make $. It’s not mysterious, or nefarious. It’s business.

JC66 3:13 PM  


Great letter. I agree with you 100%.

Joe Dipinto 3:28 PM  

@Joe Bleaux!

Good to see ya. :-)

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Osaka's sin is pulling back the curtain on 'sports': nearly everything called 'sport' has devolved to 'Professional Wrasling'. Been watching the women's US Open. Most of the players are just as fat and disgusting as the men, but the packed atheletic ones are donned in painted on pants. Too chilly in NoCal this weekend for racerbacks. Same for women's tennis. How about women's beach volleyball? Or even college version?

Some years ago Anne White (American you've never heard of) woman wore an unlined white nylon bodysuit at Wimbledon. Sacre bleu!! How many times has Serena done similar (although not white, IIRC)? Have you seen the Australian women's basketball team duds? And so it goes: sell the sizzle, not the steak.

So, the filleting of players by fat old white guys with gout is a necessary step toward 'reality teeVee' emotional explosion. Nothing of import ever comes from these pressers, anyway.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Is English your native language, Anonymous 3:47? It seems like it just can't be.

Casimir 5:22 PM  

I more or less had the same experience as Nancy. I finished, but it was in "challenging" time, even discounting for the fact that I feel asleep for a long nap with the timer still clicking away. Good puzzle except the SE had just the wrong mix of pop culture references that don't jibe with my interests.

MsCarrera 5:46 PM  

@frantic Sloth What does PPP Mena? Thanks

@CuppaJoe What does DTMFA mean? Thanks

sasses 6:00 PM  

I agree that Osaka's playing skills are a sufficient draw for the sport. Sponsors whine whan they can't get the extra publicity. Remember Mac Enroe's rants? Sort of the Trump of tennis. Brought publicity to tennis but Federer brought more class to the sport. Osaka will do the same.

Michael Page 6:02 PM  

Wundrin: my mistake, for some reason I remembered the SACBEE clue as “Bay area daily” instead of “Norcal daily.” Which is doubly wrong, as “Norcal” clues the abbreviation while Bay Area wouldn’t. Early AM senioritis.

Richard in NM 6:09 PM  

Nobody else had megan before PIPPA? I'll just put my hand up for myself then.

Enjoyable Saturday. Nothing at first. Resolved to quit. Plugged on. Got it!

Re Caesar's (sic) salad. Back in the early '70s, when I was a young pup lawyer representing farm workers in California, the farm workers' union went on strike in the Salinas valley. The (purportedly) best restaurant in Salinas promptly took the Caesar Salad off the menu. (By the way, Cesar Chavez, pronounced his own first name CEE-zer, not Se-ZAR or SESS-er, as most pundits had it).

Frantic Sloth 7:04 PM  

@MsCarrera 546pm Coined by @Z,
PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns - over 33% gives some subset of solvers difficulties. Basically stuff you either know or you don't.

albatross shell 7:11 PM  

People have only mentioned MOTHBALLED in reference to ships. I have not checked to see if I am right here, but I believe mothballs were put in with wool and fur garments and blankets to protect them from moths when they were put away for summer storage. I would assume that is why the term was applied to ships. As an unrelated side note, some gardeners put mothballs around their gardens to keep deer and groundhogs away. Personally, I do not like my garden smelling like mothballs. Kinda ruins the experience. When necessary I resort to fencing. Of course some of them rascals are pretty good getting around fencing unless you go whole hog.

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

FWIW... Osaka did speak with media after her win at the French Open this year. She was interviewed by Wowow, a Japanese broadcaster that pays her for her time, access and words. Hmm. So much for her convictions.

Robert Berardi 7:21 PM  

Ahaha, brilliant!

albatross shell 8:15 PM  

FWIW, you apparently have decided that observation is worth quite a severe conclusion.

Z 8:22 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 7:04 - Down right Zedish. 👍🏽👍🏽

Re:Naomi Osaka - Why did she come up? Anyway, my favorite sports talking heads show has a football season feature called the “Useless Sound Montage,” a review of football coaches answers from the weekend’s postgame press conferences. It is hilarious and highlights just how useless those press conferences are. I find disingenuous all the gnashing and pontificating. Osaka is a professional and she decided she isn’t paid enough to suffer those press conferences. That’s not how she framed it, but that’s the bottom line. And my guess is the French Open loses out on the deal more than she does. Young stars are the engine that drives that money machine and losing a big name like hers has to hurt the French Open’s bottom line. I know she is the only reason I would have turned on a match.

JC66 8:27 PM  



albatross shell 8:42 PM  

Quote of the year whatever year it was: Marshawn Lynch answered every question on Super Bowl media day with "I'm only here so I won't get fined".

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Tennis players come and go. They’ll be playing the FrenchOpen when people can’t recall Osaka’s name.
As for NFL pressers being useless. Maybe. But they sure are crowded. Every week journeys are turned away without getting credentials they ask for to attend the putatively useless press conferences. Two Emmy-winning shows, Turning Point, and Greatest Games use pressers to wonderful effect. It’s pretty great to hear the principals break down a significant play, providing first-hand insight into what actually happened.
But yeah, they’re up useless because someone edited something to make it look ridiculous, It’s a cheap trick.

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

I’m guessing I’m the only one on this board who’s worked with Marshawn Lynch he is in fact is eager to work with the media now. He did a pretty great episode of Peyton’s Places. Worth a watch.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

What conclusion would you draw from someone who says she doesn’t want to,talk to the median but will when she gets paid?
My conclusion is not harsh it’s rational.

Bruce Fieggen 10:59 PM  

Seemed like an easy Saturday puzzle when I can whip out the 1A answer immediately.
I remember going with some colleagues to celebrate a birthday at Dave&Busters and the Pop-A-Shot ticket machine malfunctioned by continuing to spit out the entire roll of tickets. That adds up to some serious prizes. A worker walked by near the end of the roll. Not only did I have the foresight to hide the evidence of the huge stack of tickets before he saw it, I also had the balls to bring him back when the roll ran out to complain that the machine wasn’t rewarding me. The worker dutifully added a new roll, closed the door then walked away as it spit out another half roll of tickets. Our colleague cashed these in for some really nice prizes at the end of the evening.

albatross shell 11:41 PM  

When you say "for what its worth" you are usually giving a fact that you are suggesting may be of import on a situation and leaving it up to others to make they're own judgment. I was pointing out that this is not what you were doing. You were making a firm decision that nothing else matters. Maybe she felt comfortable with her Japanese interviewer. Maybe she felt more comfortable because she felt that interview would not receive workd-wide coverage. Maybe she has control over how things are asked. Maybe she felt more obligated to them than the French Open press people. Who knows? Was it a significant amount of money compared to her tennis winnings or any ad work she does? Was money really the reason? You decided all this, I think, because it is a conclusion you wanted to come to for some reason.

To the other 2 comments marked anonymous I do not know if they were intended as a rebuke to anything I said. Whether or not Marshwan gets along with the media now has nothing to do with what I said. But thanks for the update if that was the intent. He had gotten fined once for not doing an interview. So he showed up and answered every question with that one truthful statement. He demonstrated the foolishness of the forced interview. It was brilliant. Maybe the tennis star should have done the same thing. A defining and defiant claiming of personal space.

Whether or not some pressers are good has nothing to do with the absurdity of forcing unwilling people into them. Or the foolishness of many of them.

Anonymous 11:58 PM  

Sitting down for a one-on-one interview in a familiar setting where you have some control over what questions are asked is quite a bit different from sitting behind a table fielding questions from a room filled with sports reporters. Apples and oranges, and if you think differently you are thinking irrationally.

albatross shell 9:47 AM  

And that was precisely my point. And that is one of the reasons the original anonymous's harsh conclusion was wrong. He was assuming it was the same thing. Of course if I knew that was you it would help direct my reply. So why not let me know when you are you in your replies.

american glasser 11:53 AM  

Had a much different experience. DNF. The toast clue was one of the easiest for me, but no idea on Rhea, Tse, or really anything in that whole area of the puzzle. Still comfused about lose a day. Is eight hoirs considered a day because it's the approximate length of a work day? Where I come from, a day is 24 hours.

Anon 2:52 PM  

Isn't Pippa Prince Harry's sister in law and Prince William's wife?

Who cares but still...

offbrand 4:44 PM  

I take extreme umbrage to SLACKS, as everyone I have ever met uses that word to mean “dress pants.” Hardly casual at all.

Bob Mills 10:42 AM  

I finally finished it on Tuesday morning. I get high marks for endurance, and low marks for speed.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Hooray for the slow-pokes! Just finished it too. North-West difficulty. Don’t know if anyone will ever see this but… (closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?)
So… maybe this is just British English but the expression is “Up your game”, or his/her/one’s game. Personal performance improves, not everyone else’s.

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