Mischievous character in West African folklore / SAT 7-10-21 / David who took 15 years to write History of England / Julius Caesar's first wife / Capital city near Kangaroo Island

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy (one long answer I didn't know, but otherwise nothing very daunting)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ANANSI THE SPIDER (16A: Mischievous character in West African folklore) —
Anansi (/əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-NAHN-see; literally translates to spider) is an Akan folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is sometimes considered to be a god of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West AfricanAfrican American and Caribbean folklore. Originating in West Africa, these spider tales were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Anansi is most well known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. Despite taking on the role of the trickster, Anansi's actions and parables often carry him as protagonist due to his ability to transform his apparent weaknesses into virtues. He is among several West African tricksters including Br'er Rabbit and Leuk Rabbit. (wikipedia)
• • •

Triple (and sometimes quad) stacks like the ones you see at the top and bottom of today's grid have generally gotten better in quality over the years as the wordlists people use in their constructing software have become more and more robust. Still, most of the time, in my experience, even now, even today, the juice isn't really worth the squeeze. The answers in the stack really have to be startlingly good for the attendant compromises in the shorter fill to be worth it. Today's puzzle comes off fine, I think, but after ANANSI THE SPIDER (truly original), the rest feels pretty ho-hum. I'd rather constructors work on making a puzzle that's joyful to solve rather than on setting an architectural challenge for themselves. I think today's triple-stack grid was a fine example of the form, but there's a kind of joy ceiling on these things, because there are too many shorter / medium answers that are there solely because they make the *stacks* work, not because anyone particularly wants them there. My opening gambit will give you some idea of the type of fill I'm talking about:

To be fair, these first two answers (ÉTÉS, ANOUT) are among the very least interesting in the grid, but my point about not enough stuff being truly *marquee* stuff stands. Fifteen Downs up top and ADELAIDE is the only one I'd say is genuinely delightful (and even that may be entirely personal, since everything antipodean reminds me of my New Zealander wife, and "ADELAIDE" is a beautiful song by Paul Kelly, an artist my wife introduced me to). ODAMAE and OATEN and the redundant ELMTREE give a similar meh vibe to the Downs down below. 

I have smiley faces next to COMMUNION WAFERS and SILENT TREATMENT, so those answers were worth it, but any ONE'S-containing answer in a stack of 15s always seems sad and cliché to me; back in the day, when triple and quad stacks were somewhat more common, the ONE'S answer became a kind of cliché, a routine crutch that constructors would often use, creating an awkward phrase that no one would ever use *unless* they were trying to pull off a stack of long answers. The paradigmatic example of the form is A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE (15). You used to see that ... a lot. Well, not a lot a lot, but it definitely repeated, and 15s really shouldn't repeat such that they call attention to themselves. Anyway, "Feast your eyes on..." is a phrase; "FEAST ONE'S EYES ON" has possibly never been uttered before in the history of human existence, despite being theoretically possible and grammatically defensible (despite being, in fact, the way the phrase actually appears in dictionaries). This means, ultimately, that the 15s in this are both hit and miss. The rest of the fill hangs in there, but I'd like fill to do more than that on a Saturday (or any day). So this isn't a bad puzzle, by any means—there's hardly anything at all that made me wince or give the puzzle dubious looks. It's just flatter than a themeless oughta be. Soda that's sat out too long. Actually, lukewarm coffee is probably the better metaphor for me. Yes, I will *definitely* drink that, but only because I'm too lazy to get up and go to the microwave. [Sips] ... Yes, better than *no* coffee, but all I'm thinking about is how good hot, fresh coffee is.

Five things:
  • 1A: Goof (CARELESS MISTAKE) — [Goof] = mistake. Wish clue had had something more colorful to cue the "CARELESS" bit. Are there careful mistakes? My favorite careless thing is whispers:
  • 12D: Two in a row, say? (TIFF) — Hey, I found a "?" clue that I really like! (a "row" here is a spat or an argument, in case that wasn't perfectly clear)
  • 18A: David who took 15 years to write "The History of England" (HUME) — tricky clue, as HUME is much better known (I think) as a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher ("A Treatise on Human Nature") than as an historian
  • 27D: Unfulfilled duty (ARREAR) — ah, the singular ARREAR. Definitely on my enemies list. Among the most OATEN of answers (OATEN being also on said list)
  • 53D: Part of mayo that's most popular? (CINCO) — transparent wordplay, but not bad wordplay. That makes two "?" clues I liked in this puzzle, which is about 1.5 more than usual.  
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Matthew B 6:19 AM  

I didn't find it quite so easy but enjoyed this. Watching the 15-letter answers emerge gave me a bunch of 'aha' moments. Some fun fill as well ("block letters" ). A pleasant romp.

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

Didn’t like it. The long answers are very dull - careless mistake as a lead off? Can we pair any random adjective and noun now then and it’s valid for a crossword… silly mistake, accidental mistake etc where does it end. Anansi was just a string a random letters, if picking something hardly anyone will have heard of why not go for something inferrable. Hard pass on this one.

Peter 6:54 AM  

I liked ‘block letters’ as well, although I first put in ‘SSR’. I guess that would have been ‘Bloc letters’…

hanDle 7:07 AM  

"Part of mayo that is most popular?" clue is funny and tricky, but I think it is cheating to leave a proper name ("Mayo" = the month of May) uncapitalized. Wouldn't "Mayo part that is most popular" have been more, well, proper?

Flinque 7:08 AM  

I echo those words. (a 15 of my own)

Son Volt 7:13 AM  

Very nice - played as a stumper for me. Liked it more than Rex - although he had a lot of good things to say about a puzzle he was overall ho hum about. Both of the triple stacks were fantastic - SILENT TREATMENT is tops and I have no issue with FEAST ONES EYES ON. The kangaroo and cat helped the solve. Liked CORNELIA and RAPIER.

I’ll thank Kerouac for knowing DHARMA. Nice to see Rex giving Paul Kelly some props today.

Really enjoyable solve this morning.

puzzlehoarder 7:19 AM  

This solve was only a minute and a half longer than yesterday's but I had far more respect for it. Partly that was due to how low my expectations are for triple stack grid spanners. They are consistently heavy on construction and light on solving experience. While it didn't take that long to get into the top stack it was enough time to appreciate how good it was. By the time I had them all in I knew they had to be debuts and with no junk it really put a shine on what was already a good solve.

From there on down the rest of the puzzle was a joy ride. Even that middle section which I had feared would be a minefield of bad crosswordese was clean as a whistle. When I read the clue for 47D I could hear Patrick Swayze shouting ODAMAE.

The bottom stack was far more bland but it went in so quickly that I didn't really have time to notice and it in no way detracted from the positive experience generated by that top stack. At least I've had one good solving fix this weekend.

OffTheGrid 7:20 AM  

Funny how something can bring a memory to the forefront. That happened today when I wrote in RAPIER. I immediately thought of "Gilgarra Mountain" as sung by Peter, Paul, & Mary from the album A Song Will Rise, 1965. Here's a bit of it:

As I was a goin' over Gilgarra Mountain
I spied Colonel Farrell and his money he was countin'
First I drew me pistols, and then I drew me RAPIER, sayin'
"Stand and deliver for I am your bold deceiver...

I found it online and listened while I continued to work on the puzzle. Fun.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

I get that Total is a cereal brand, but I'm not sure I understand how Total package=CEREAL. I was thinking Total package=cardboard box.

"Somme times" is a clever clue, but I wish it had been saved for either FOIS or TEMPS as the answer. The answer, ETES, could have been any season, month, etc if "times" is interpreted so liberally.

bocamp 7:59 AM  

Thx, Trenton for a wonderful Sat. workout! :)

Med solve.

Was all over the place on this one. Thank goodness for fair crosses or I'd've been lost at sea.

Moved fairly smoothly thru the lower 2/3, but took some time to sort out the top three grid spanners.

A most enjoyable adventure, and a bit of a surprise that I got it right. :)

A belated Dancing Queen live performance by a 2000 person choir in Ottawa.


Enjoyed your and Jeff's July 8 Universal Crossword puz! :)


The Ed Early Jan. 22 was a perfect Fri.; thx, again, for the suggestion. :)

@Barbara S. (6:49 PM yd eve)

👍 👍 for your back-to-back 0's

@TTrimble (9:13 PM yd eve)

👍 for 0

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Conrad 8:04 AM  

@hanDle: In Spanish the names of months aren't capitalized, so "mayo" is okay. And the Spanish word for "popular" is "popular" (pronounced poh-poo-LAHR), so that's okay too. But to be fair, the clue should probably have read "Part of mayo that's más popular" or some such.

feinstee 8:06 AM  

In Spanish, the months are not capitalized, unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.

John H 8:07 AM  

Au contraire, I found this one to be extremely difficult. Only found traction in the SW, had to snake my way to the NE, then home.

Shouldn't Mayo be capitalized?

pabloinnh 8:22 AM  

@hanDie--Well, in Spanish the months are not capitalized, so I thought that was fair (and clever).

Hard to get started in this one. Finally got some stuff in at the bottom and a few letters gave me SILENTTREATMENT. Experience with the Acrostic was very helpful, as it was with a couple of the other long answers.

NOTSO for GODNO put the brakes on for a while, as did KHARMA for DHARMA, my bad there.

I liked the feeling of "oh oh" on reading through the clues and gradually chipping away until I finished. Very satisfying solve that made me feel better after being completely baffled by a repair job in the kitchen this morning.

Nice job, TC. Totally Cool, per usual.

****SB mini-rant***
Stuck at -1 yesterday and today's solution was not very satisfying. Adding a letter to a four-letter word does not make it an adjective, or even a word at all, for that matter. I'm filing a protest and holding my breath until justice is done.

(Did they fix it yet?)

Son Volt 8:33 AM  

@OffTheGrid - I’ve always known that as Whisky in the Jar but a little digging shows that it’s one in the same.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

As to the Mayo/mayo issue: in Spanish, neither months nor days of the week are capitalized.

Harry 8:38 AM  

When I was in elementary school in the 90s, it seemed like every year we would have an assembly in the gym where a theater troupe would enact stories about Anansi the spider's cunning exploits. There was even a theme song about Anansi that made the whole thing more memorable. I doubt I'd thought about Anansi since then, but I knew 2A almost immediately.

I thought the Lewis Carroll clue was good because you could infer the answer based on Alice in Wonderland without knowing anything about Carroll's biography. And I agree with Rex that the David Hume clue was surprising and interesting because I, too, always think of Hume as a philosopher and was unaware that he was also a historian. Some people back in the day sure did have a lot of time on their hands.

Dr. Haber 8:39 AM  

Did anyone else have IRS for 61 down? Thinking HR Block.

Nancy 8:49 AM  

So how many of you knew ANANSI THE SPIDER? I would guess exactly zero. In fact, I'm guessing that not only on this blog but also in households from ADELAIDE to RHODE ISLAND to CHESHIRE absolutely no one knew ANANSI THE SPIDER.

So much for the mischievous ANANSI who took up a lot of space and made life very, very difficult for me. And for you too, I bet.

Other than AN OUT, LSU and EINE, I had nothing in the top triple stack and I went south hoping for enlightenment. (Is enlightenment DHARMA, btw? And is DHARMA related to Karma?)

There was that wife beginning with "C" who was screamed her way through "Julius Caesar" warning about "the Ides of March". Now what WAS her name again? Oh, right, CALPERNIA. But oh, no, wrong wife!

Moving right along to the bottom triple stack -- it was easier. It took me forever, but I sewed up the entire bottom right up to HUME, ERODE and FLO.

Changing gasolINE to KEROSINE (which gave me the K) enabled me to see MISTAKE and eventually the deviously clued COMMUNION WAFERS came in. (I'd had the COMMU for ages.) And finally the mischievous ANANSI crawled into sight too.

I had to DIG DEEP to solve this one. It was a struggle, but I really did enjoy the challenge a lot. In a masochistic sort of way.

Teedmn 8:57 AM  

I need a head slap for not figuring out which school would call its yearbook “Gumbo”.

This puzzle was mildly challenging; I wasn’t able to gain entrance until CEREALand SSN so I was getting nervous that I would be stumped today.

RHODE Island, I had the D in place and couldn’t think of what that might be. Duh.

I love the clue for ERS, 15A!

Did anyone else think Will in 42A's clue might be Will Shortz?

Trenton, nice Saturday puzzle, perfectly difficult for the day.

kitshef 9:10 AM  

Solid Saturday, with enough grit to make it fun. My only nits would be the awful clue for ROOM and the appearance of ANANSI THE SPIDER??

Kangaroo Island is supposed to be a good place to see echidnas – one of those animals I’d love to see some day.

At one point I though I was headed for THE SHIRE for Lewis Carroll’s birthplace, which certainly seemed bizarre.

jberg 9:12 AM  

Nice 3-stacks, nice puzzle. I knew about ANANSI from Neil Gaiman's "The Anansi Boys," and before that from Kiss of the Spider Woman, but I couldn't quite remember the word, and started to put in ANAsazi -- from a different hemisphere, and actual, non mythical, people. But it came with a few crosses, and the top filled it pretty quickly.

But then I was stuck. I had the DS at the end of ACCORDS, which did nothing for me, and that was about it. I gave up on crosses and tried the remaining downs, with very little result, until I found CINCO, followed by GIVENS, and those long answers started to fill in. It was a very satisfying solve.

My biggest problem was CORdELIA, who ran away from the King of France to take up with Caesar, until the rightful CORNELIA sent her packing.

Zygotic 9:14 AM  

CARELESS MISTAKE is different than “mistake.” For example, not knowing anything about West African folklore so writing in ANubis THE SPIDER is a mistake. Knowing “EINE Nacht in Venedig” but writing in EINs would be a CARELESS MISTAKE. The term is a valid phrase, not at all green paintish, and a debut. Kudos.

I think this is probably my favorite Charlson puzzle. It seems to me that he leans overly on feats of construction and trivia, and this certainly does the same, but the end effect wasn’t at all irksome today. I really like several of the stack answers, that our mythology isn’t all Greco-Roman or Marvel, and some of the longer fill are interesting words. RAPIER (in the sword sense, not the Bill Cosby sense… although I guess he is the rapiest), LAPDOG, and KEROSENE all seem to fall into the better than typical medium length fill category.

Right with Rex on the HUME clue. I had -U-E in place and thought “HUME? Really? Well, it fits so let’s try it.” It’s been almost 40 years since I last read HUME and probably just as long since I thought about him, but I am pretty sure the fact that his The History of England is what made him wealthy and known is not something I ever knew before today.

@Z is a techie People - I mean, there are commenters here who write computer code for a living, so I’m pretty sure I am nowhere near the most techie crossword person you know. I am willing to look things up and I am fascinated by the issue of user interfaces. With both issues yesterday I was motivated only partly by my Calvinist upbringing, with a good mixture of “Oh, c’mon, surely there’s a way to do that.” Having previous puzzles accessed through an icon that looks like a grid makes some sort of intuitive sense. Burying the print function in two very much not intuitive ways speaks to a broader cultural shift. I have two printers (a B&W laser jet and a color inkjet). None of my sons own a printer. The decisions about that print function reflects that fewer and fewer people ever print anything, so using screen space for a print icon has become a waste of screen space. Just another example of the adage that the only constant is change.

Barbara S. 9:15 AM  

I found this much harder than Rex did (surprise, surprise). I got nowhere up top and had to start with the shorter answers in the middle. Rummaged around there for a while, then went south via ELM TREE, GIVENS and EATEN. More rummaging. Got REVS, got CHESHIRE (guess LC was very familiar with the inscrutabilities of the local cats), finally got enough letters to see all three lower grid-spanners.

Headed back north, got to the point where the lower two-thirds to three-quarters was all filled in and I was staring at a daunting expanse of white tundra. Got EINE, STIR, SPA, and had the bottoms of both ADELAIDE and KEROSENE, so in they went. I had ___OTAT for “Aim for” and it took me too long to see SHOOT AT, but eventually did. Suddenly saw MENDS, which gave me MISTAKE, plug away, plug away, and it was done. Yay, a tough Saturday conquered!

There’s an important book publisher in Canada called the House of ANANSI Press. They came into existence in the 1960s and took it upon themselves to publish up-and-coming Canadian writers at a time when there were precious few publishers willing to take that chance. I have no idea how they came up with their name – must look it up. I liked all six “stack” answers. I thought SILENT TREATMENT and PRIVATE ENTRANCE were clever for having a double letter in the middle at the break between words.

GILL I. 9:24 AM  

Holy light bulbs....this was hard for me. I flickered on and off; I let out delights when brain flashes came on; I groped in the dark trying to remember names.....I LOVED THIS ONE. Sorry, @Rex...I thought this was terrific. I want all my Saturday puzzles to make my brain jump from passive aggressive to docile LAP DOG. This did it for me.
I'll start with Trenton. You give me Whoopi and ODA MAE and the fandango tango gets my new tap shoes flowing. Throw in some primo cluing like CINCO de mayo (my Mexican girlfriend calls it "cinco de drinko") and your clues for EATEN CEREAL...well, I let out some fun ole ole's.
Did I finish without help, you ask? GOD NO. Have I ever heard of ANANIS THE SPIDER? I only know the Eensy Weensy one that went up that water spout. Did I remember where Lewis Carroll was born? No. I only know of the CHESHIRE cat. I had to DIG DEEP. Yes I did. I needed to get out of my rabbit hole. No tea for me. I took my time. I remembered things here and there and little by very little, a letter here, a letter there, tons of AHAS and lots of delight. I finished with some help...I expect that on most Saturdays.
I'll say it again, Trenton.....I LOVED THIS.

Birchbark 9:32 AM  

DIG DEEP. Greetings from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where last night after dinner my mom and I walked around the yard and checked on the progress of things in the garden, how some of the trees are doing, the St. John's wort abloom in the loaming, etc. The Delaware grape vines my grandpa and I planted when I was five are producing nice clusters, if my mom can get to them before the birds and beasts when they ripen.

The point of this is the CACHE of Great Neck lathe chisels I found in a drawer in the woodshed as we were heading back inside. They were a Christmas present to me sometime in junior high. I'll bring them back to Minnesota along with the old lathe and resume my vocation as a maker of OAkEN candlesticks. We have plenty of scrap oak on the property where we've been building the bridge over the stream.

starwarsyeah 9:37 AM  

Can someone please explain how hosts = communion wafers?!

Frantic Sloth 9:42 AM  

Definite WTFuzzle. At the beginning, but then all that rasslin' got me a glimpse into the constructor's mindset and before I knew it, I was nuts, too.
Things seemed to get easier toward the bottom and those were the triple-stack grid -spanners that I got first, with some effort.
It took a lot more of that effort to finish the top stack, which was where I finished my solve.

Nits & Bits:

Didn't get a single answer until FLO. Because the funnies. (my literature of choice)

Not a fan of the S.O.C. ARREAR. Yeah, it exists, but lurks in the shadows and daren't show its face in polite circles.

Calling foul on the clue for 53D not capitalizing Mayo. It's not a misdirect. - it's just wrong. Editing fail.

All nits aside, this was a pure delight for the masochist in me.
Earned ANANSI THE SPIDER (Is that pronounced like "A Nancy"?) solely via crosses, but now I've learned that little fun fact. I won't remember it, but I know it today which is all we have anyway.

All the spanners were gems and the rest of the fill followed in their footsteps.

Just...🤌💋🖐 *MWAH*


Unknown 9:43 AM  

42A Will can change it. I don't understand the answer Tense!

TTrimble 9:53 AM  

Honestly, I feel lucky to have made it out alive*, and I really don't see how one could pronounce this "easy" with any pretense to objectivity. In this instance I feel Rex should graciously say, "Well, I found this easy, but I can see how many wouldn't." (And please don't lecture me that that's always a GIVEN, because sometimes Rex does add such things, and I feel this particular puzzle particularly warrants such a consideration.)

In the first place, let's agree that one is going to need crosses to get those 15-spanners. For example, I'm sure I'm not alone in never having heard of ANANSI THE SPIDER. The single word "Hosts" is hard because that can mean lots of things (scads, counterparts to parasites, party-givers, throws a party, convenes, angels), and of course people who are not Catholic or Anglican or Episcopalian may be at a natural disadvantage here. (I was confirmed as an Episcopalian, and we call that rite "Communion", but that's just my luck in this case.) The renter's amenity could be lots of things. Car rental, apartment rental, what?

Now let's look at some of those crosses. Many people will not recognize KEROSENE as the answer to paraffin oil. I for one don't keep a running tally of Australian cities (or capitals for that matter) -- and I lived there for a couple of years. CHESHIRE: makes sense after the fact, perhaps (CHESHIRE Cat), but how many people know it immediately? [I had CHES____ and wondered "CHESwick?".] CORNELIA: ditto. ODA MAE: same. CINCO: tricky -- it will not be "transparent" to many. SPF: tricky. CACHE: mildly tricky. TIFF: pretty darned tricky! EINE: PPP trivia, and for me a lucky guess. HUME: PPP trivia. Do tell: which of the above qualify as "ho-hum"?

Even in the middle, which is where I got my first bites/nibbles, it's not a giveaway. EDNA: PPP trivia. GOD NO: could also have been "nOt sO" or "nO way" and there may be others. CEREAL: tricky, and arguably unfair.

Now, don't get me wrong: I actually really liked this puzzle! I had to DIG DEEP to solve it, and I enjoyed the challenge. I'm just protesting both Rex's "easy" characterization, and his panning of the puzzle, as unfair. The "easy" because I am certain that there will be intelligent literate veteran solvers who will not find it easy, and the pan because in fact I thought it generally very well done.

*Actually solved it in a time which is very Saturday decent for me.

TTrimble 9:55 AM  

@Unknown 9:43AM
Placing "will" before a verb makes it future TENSE.

Barbara S. 10:03 AM  

Forgot this from Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman”

And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His RAPIER hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

The *real* excerpt for today is taken from the work of ALICE MUNRO, born July 10, 1931.

"I lie in bed beside my little sister, listening to the singing in the yard. Life is transformed, by these voices, by these presences, by their high spirits and grand esteem, for themselves and each other. My parents, all of us, are on holiday. The mixture of voices and words is so complicated and varied it seems that such confusion, such jolly rivalry, will go on forever, and then to my surprise—for I am surprised, even though I know the pattern of rounds—the song is thinning out, you can hear the two voices striving.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Then the one voice alone, one of them singing on, gamely, to the finish. One voice in which there is an unexpected note of entreaty, of warning, as it hangs the five separate words on the air. Life is. Wait. But a. Now, wait. Dream.”
(From The Moons of Jupiter)

mathgent 10:10 AM  

Good puzzle. Some fun fill but also a few clunkers.

Nice post by @Z (9:14) explaining that CARELESSMISTAKE is indeed a thing.

Rex talked about whether the juice was worth the squeeze. What a marvelous expression! Apparently it's been around for fifty years or so, but I can't remember hearing it before. Annie Proulx used it in one of her short stories, according to something I saw online.

"Book it" for ROOM (50A). As an evangelist for Joaquin's Dictum, I've become more tolerant of clues, but I still don't like it. I also don't like the singular ARREAR (27D).

Georgia 10:13 AM  

The Roman Catholic church refers to the small wafer one gets with their communion as the "host." Not something I imagine non-Catholics would know. I'm married to one.

Carola 10:18 AM  

Thanks to a good start in the NW - HUME x CACHE x AN OUT - this one went very fast for me, each new cross suggesting just enough to give me the next Across or Down and allowing for the rare top-to-bottom Saturday solve.
Definitely helped to know ANANSI THE SPIDER, CORNELIA, ODA MAE. Loved finding out the Lewis Carroll was from CHESHIRE!

albatross shell 10:28 AM  

I too thought CARELESS MISTAKE was a thing. A typo. A bit of inattention or distraction. A slip up. Goof. Of course it could be because I make so many of them, I get to discount them. Not real mistakes: errors in judgement, lack of knowledge, misapplication of theory. It makes me feel so much better about myself.
Also I was wondering when you were going to express some embarrassment about your techie prowess. I mean you far exceed me, Nancy and many others here, but you look things up. A somewhat knowledgeable amateur I would think. Knowing what curiosity and necessity has led you to. And despite what certain folk feel about your ego, you do not take false praise well.

I thought this puzzle would satisfy most of those who were upset that yesterdays was so easy. I got about a third of it. Then looked up the easy to look up the PPP I did not know which got me to 2/3 off of immediate progress from those. Then not too long to finish off the last third.

I too like clues like Lewis Carroll's birthplace that you have no idea about, but get enough to suggest CHESHIRE and it suddenly becomes non-trivia and a wonderful clue.

I am pleased with Rex's theories about triple stacks. I tend to appreciate them almost indiscriminately, but I feel like I learned something from his perspective. On the other hand, if he is serious about only enjoying .5 clues a puzzle on average, he is more jaded than I am naive about crosswords.

Diane Joan 10:34 AM  

@starwarsyeah : In the Catholic mass hosts are thin wafers that are given out during Communion.

I found the puzzle difficult and worked from the middle, to the bottom, and finally the top. Oddly I did know Anansi the Spider but as a lapsed Catholic I did not make the connection to the hosts until I was on the last few clues of the puzzle. I found the puzzle challenging but felt accomplished when I was done.

Happy weekend to all!

Joaquin 10:34 AM  

Must second @Z's post regarding CARELESS MISTAKEs. In solving this puzzle I made a boatload of mistakes, most of which were not careless but rather based on a lack of knowledge. I did make one CARELESS MISTAKE when in haste I wrote in an incorrect letter.

Thank goodness that Uncle G. and I are back on speaking terms!

Frantic Sloth 10:52 AM  

So, ARREAR, OATEN, and LATEN walk into @GILL's bar...

As @Z explains and I, et.al. second, CARELESSMISTAKE is most definitely a thing. It's a common phrase, too. Also, a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Gee. Was I wrong about the capitalization of "mayo", then?

@Teedmn 857am Yes on 42A! Are you embarrassed, too? 😉

@Barbara S 915am 🤣🤣 "guess LC was very familiar with the inscrutabilities of the local cats"

@TTrimble 953am You should realize by now that Rex doesn't do "objectivity". 😉 Gotta admit though that when I first saw "Easy" atop his writeup, I actually felt a little annoyed. Happy you guys made it back safely through Elsa.

jae 10:55 AM  

Medium. ANANSI of course (hi @Nancy) was a WOE which made the top half tougher than the bottom. Solid Saturday, liked it.

starwarsyeah 11:01 AM  

Thanks for explaining. I grew up Baptist, so familiar with a type of communion - but it was always referred to as the bread, or the body, quoting scripture specifically. No way could I have imagined hosts. Now that I know what I'm looking for, host from Latin hostia means "sacrificial victim," which makes sense given the connection to the crucifixion. Surprised that I've never heard the term host in that context before, given the "host" of other Catholic lingo I've seen otherwise.

alexscott68 11:02 AM  

Saw 16A and immediately threw down ANANSI THE SPIDER and started checking downs to make sure it was right. That helped make this an easy and enjoyable Saturday puzzle for me. Has no one here heard of Neil Gaiman’s novel Anansi Boys or American Gods? Anyway, if you know anything about West African folklore, you know who Anansi is. But I can definitely see how if you didn’t know this, it’s just a string of letters and THE SPIDER. On the other hand, so is just about any unusual name you don’t know.

Beadola 11:03 AM  

Anansi the spider was a gimme with just the "n" in place. We had a marvelous children's book when my kids were little that was repeatedly requested for our evening reading. Just to say, some of us do know Anansi.

jb129 11:11 AM  

When I saw who the constructor was (Trenton) I knew it would be hard. But when I cheated on 16 Across (the Spider) I was able to plod through which I usually can't with his puzzles. A very Saturday puzzle.

Liz1508 11:20 AM  

I’ve made many mistakes: careless, harmless, honest, intentional, etc etc. my mistake here was falling in love with HARMLESS before MISTAKE thinking that goof meant more like goofing around than like erring.
Then I got stuck on a computer store vs computer storage. I don’t think store applies here and is a dastardly misdirection. Albeit one that I should have gotten, never mind that HACHE and NMNESH make no sense. I tend to get tired of digging deep for elusive answers. Chores await! Two wrong letters is lose enough for me!
Interesting to ponder the different kinds of mistakes. Maybe I’ll make a list later on… and yes, I do think there is such a thing as a careful mistake. Lovely to construct one if it works. 😇

Whatsername 11:23 AM  

This felt like two different puzzles: the north and the south. Took me a while to get going in those lower stacks but once I cracked that brilliant clue for CINCO, filling in the rest in with a lot of fun. That got me pretty much the entire bottom two-thirds with all only those three big crosses at the top remaining. And I SWEAR! I really had to DIG DEEP there, like pulling three rows of teeth. No clue on the SPIDER or WAFERS and didn’t help myself any by making my MISTAKE an INNOCENT one. Finally googled the capital city and the Strauss title to finish it off. So I felt pretty good about only two cheats on a Saturday which I might’ve otherwise RAMMED against Nancy’s Wall.

Thank you Trenton. A tough workout for me but enjoyable.

JC66 11:24 AM  

Well, I never make mistakes, so...

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Wait, I don’t get Book It / Room . . .

bocamp 11:29 AM  

Looks like a few us us knew (or were familiar with in one way or another) ANANSI (hi Harry (8:38 AM) / @jberg (9:12 AM) / @Barbara S. (9:15 AM) / @Diane Joan (10:34 AM) / @alexscott68 (11:02 AM) / @Beadola (11:03 AM)). Never say 'never' (hi @Nancy (8:49 AM)) 😉. Didn't find it a difficult spanner, as all the crosses were fair, imo.

Served a stint as an Episcopalian alter boy, and had many Catholic friends, so knew COMMUNION, WAFER, host, etc. (hi @TTrimble (9:53 AM))

I too, wondered about the non-capitalization of MAYO. Thx to all who clarified it for us! :)

pg -13 (looks like tough going from here)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Photomatte 11:44 AM  

We read Anansi The Spider books as kids so that answer wasn't as "WTF?" for me as it seems to have been for others. I studied Spanish in high school and again in college and didn't know the days of the week nor the months of the year weren't capitalized (in fact, I'm still not sure that's true), so 53D was a challenge. And how Will can change Tense is still beyond me. I can see how changing a will can make someone tense, but how a Will itself changes tense? Nope

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

****Yester-BEE spoiler****.

@pabloinnh. I was stuck at -2 YB. I just now threw in the towel. I agree that BOOMY(assuming that's the word in question) is wonky. My other miss was MOIL which I could swear I tried at some point.

Flying Pediatrician 11:57 AM  

I’ll never forget being in my mom’s Sunday School class at age 11-ish, discussing blasphemy. My mom asked the class, “Do any of the kids in your school use the Lord’s name in vain?”

With perfect comedic timing, the class clown responded, “Oh GOD NO!” Everybody burst out laughing, Mom included, and none of us were struck by lightning.

sixtyni yogini 12:04 PM  

Yes, some clever clues ie “two in a row.👍🏽 And learned some stuff.

Found it difficult to get toe hold in the upper and lower stacks, but I’m getting onto these type of puzzles so times are getting lower.

A few smiles but mostly - meh - so ditto to Rex’s crit.


Joe Dipinto 12:04 PM  

"To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
– Lady Bracknell, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Really great long answers today. Had not previously heard of ANANSI THE SPIDER but it's a perfect entry for a Saturday grid. I don't mind the "____ one's _____" entries if they only show up occasionally.

The only sad note was that the puzzle reminded me of the Cornelia Street Cafe, a West Village venue for jazz, poetry, and whatnot that closed a couple of years ago.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Yes, Anansi the slider is one of the great folk hero’s of the world. As a rogue and mischief maker he puts Loki to shame.
Pay no attention to folks who speak for other folks, especially when she tells you that you don’t something simply because she doesn’t.

Frantic Sloth 12:22 PM  

Someone explain "mistakes" to @JC66. 🤣😘

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Rex didn't say he likes an average of 0.5 clues per puzzle. He says he likes an average of 0.5 clues that are ended with a question mark.


albatross shell 12:58 PM  

Your missing post from the other day I believe is under @Nancy's post concerning acronyming the REBUS from the day before.

BREAKING NEWS: They still have not corrected the header or heading (?) on the July 5 puzzle. A CARELESS MISTAKE for the ages. Also Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Doctor Work 1:11 PM  

"Total package?" should either be "carton" (which I thought was the answer after getting the "c") or "box", not "cereal". Sheesh!

TJS 1:20 PM  

Re. Andy Capp. First panel, Flo is standing on the porch watching Andy coming home from work, lunch box in hand. "Andy, I have bad news".

Second panel, Andy grabbing his heart, "Is it about beer?"

True Saturday puzzle. Great start to the day.

old timer 1:20 PM  

I figured this would be Easy, when I started off with CACHE, ANOUT. and ENMESH, and knew I had a choice between LSU and UNO. But I never heard of ANANSI, and ended up having to Google for the answer there. At least that cheat gave me the rest of the top stack, though COMMUNION WAFERS was a total surprise -- accurate though. Thanks for the explanation as to why "host" is used, based on the Latin word for victim.

The bottom seemed hopeless, too, until the cleverly clued SPF came to mind, Part of my problem there was I had thought of ELM TREE and rejected it as too Lame. Plus I confidently put in the crosswordy "ess" for a self starter. I did know HUME, because as a Macaulay fan, I was amused that his famous History of England was advertised as an excellent prelude to Hume's. This, because Macaulay basically raced through all English history before 1685, in order to concentrate on the ill-fated reign of James II, and the subsequent reign of William and Mary -- at his death, he was hoping to finish the reign of Queen Anne. (Hume, in contrast, focused on the Georgian era, and George I was Anne's successor), Nacaulay became the best-selling author of his day, and died a rich man. Hume's history sold well, but in his day, there were far fewer people who were literate, so he could not live entirely on his copyrights.

egsforbreakfast 1:26 PM  

Never noticed, until doing this puzzle, that harm is at the core of DHARMA. Since DHARMA is the inherent and eternal nature of reality, this tells us something profound, no doubt.

Liked this challenging puzzle.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Anansi has to be some of the worst fill ever.....totally obscure.

Spider the Spider 1:36 PM  

Will can change it -> TENSE. Think I eat my dinner vs I will eat my dinner.

Buddy 1:36 PM  

For a second there, I thought Rhode Island’s favorite daughter, Nancy Ann Cianci, was going to make an appearance.

chance2travel 1:47 PM  

@Anonymous 11:27am - ROOM is the "it" in the clue. The is one of those clues that is in command form, so you being told to "Book " If you haven't seen this clue type before, you'll certainly see it again.

@Photomatte - TENSE is referring to the grammatical category of verbs. So of course adding "will" to a verb will change the TENSE of the verb from present to future, e.g. from present tense "I solve" to future tense "I *will* solve".

Regarding ANANSI I'm in the middle ground where I knew the name but not the THE SPIDER part. Even worse I lived in West Africa but only know the name from the Civilization VI computer game. I totally see how lots of people wouldn't know it, but I say it has a sufficient audience to be totally fair, especially on a Saturday.

Hands up for hARmLESS MISTAKE before CARELESS

Overall this one played Medium for me.

Saturday scale
Easy is under 12 minutes
Medium is 15 to 20, usually with a few answers that I have to try multiple approaches at
Hard is 25 plus, with several areas where I start putting in letters based on statistical letter combinations until something clicks

Unknown 1:48 PM  

Can someone explain 55-Across to me? How is "her" a self starter? As in birth? My solving group is stumped.

albatross shell 1:49 PM  

Thank you.

JC66 2:02 PM  

@Unknown 1:48

She did it HERself.

nyc_lo 2:03 PM  

Nothing like slogging through a puzzle, just narrowly avoiding a DNF, only to have it tossed off as “easy” by Rex. I came looking for AN OUT for my dismal time and did not find one.

I guess my multicultural education was woeful enough that I’d never heard of the aforementioned SPIDER. But plenty of others seem to have, so I’ll chalk that up as a lesson learned and move along.

Some other grating clues still “bug” me though, but they were clued with a “?” so I guess that means I’m supposed to ignore their messiness. I figured out early on that “row” was meant to refer to a fight, but “two in a row” are having a TIFF, not a TIFF themselves. And CEREAL does not a package make. Points also deducted for using my most despised bit of crosswordese, OATEN. Blech.

TTrimble 2:06 PM  

I'm at pg -13 myself, and feel lucky to have made it that far.

Well, that was a feel-good vid you linked to! I'll see your 2000 and raise you another 8000.

Georgia 2:08 PM  

I think it's simply one of the words that can be added to the word self: herself, himself, itself. I blanched at it, but the crosses confirmed it. Maybe someone else has a better reason.

A 2:10 PM  

Now, this is a POW. Saw Trenton’s name and knew it would be tough, and it was, but it was also a joy. So satisfying, and a much needed workout after yesterday. Sorry Rex found it easy.

First thing I had a shot at was the slow David - looked at it and thought, “could that be HUME?” Checked the crosses and confirmed it with AN OUT. Then wrote in hAMMEr, which delayed further progress there. Kept at it, though, and teased the rest out, bit by resistant bit. Only two more writeovers: eRrS before ARCS and ess before HER. Did I give in? GOD NO, I RHODE the SATYR* all the way down to SILENT TREATMENT, my first spanner. Had to back into FEAST ONE’S EYES ON, which made my head hurt.

When I finally clawed my way back up to the frozen north, I backed into all three spanners. -OM——-WAFERS? I grew up receiving the host as COMMUNION WAFERS and still this took forever to come out of hiding. Etymonline says it’s from Latin hostia "sacrifice," also "the animal sacrificed, victim," probably ultimately related to host in its root sense of "stranger, enemy."

@Frantic, I was mystified by the ANANSITHE SPIDER so I searched post solve and found an article about Ananse; it listed as alternative titles Anancy, Anansi, Aunt Nancy, Hapanzi, and Nanzi.

I SWEAR: in the south, some say “I SWan.” My Britannica World Language Dictionary has ‘”swan" v. i., U.S. dial. “swear” dial < E. (northern) "Is' wan," lit. "I shall warrant" used as a euphemism for "swear.’ Apparently it can also be “I swanee” from “I shall warrant ye.” (Back in ye olden days people understood that “I swear” was a curse.)

Fantastic tennis today to go with a fantastic puzzle.

*Dancing Fauns, by Carl Orff (of Carmina Burana fame), born July 10, 1895.

Brooklyn Roasting 2:29 PM  

I generally measure my puzzle success in cups of coffee. This was one satisfying cup of sun-dried Ethiopian. With a little West African Anansi lesson for good measure. First half took forever but the second half was a blur. Started out thinking it was impossible ended up thinking Rex was going to say it was easy. I was right. At least about that.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

It’s called a host because hostis is Latin for victim. And Christ is the ultimate victim.

Breakfast Tester 3:02 PM  

I agree, it has to be FEAST *YOUR* EYES ON. Often I see ONE'S replacing a word of a different length (e.g., HIS, HER, MY), making it a more necessary compromise. And I get that the letters Y-O-U-R are harder to work with, especially needing to be the terminal letters of four words, but substituting YOUR seems doable. I also wish the clue had been:

65A: " _____ this!"

Had the same thoughts as @nyc_lo 2:03 PM about the syntax on CEREAL and TIFF.

Zygotic 3:03 PM  

@Georgia - That’s it. It’s a pretty common clue trope. Any clue that is in “‘word’ starter” form is often looking for either the initial letter or a prefix. I went with “ess” initially because “self” starts with an S. I got the H and then had to decide between Him or HER.

If you have a package of Total™️ you have a box of CEREAL. “Carton” is a plausible answer. Again, this is the kind of misdirection typical later in the week.

I forgot to mention earlier that I thought it was totally unfair to use the “row” that rhymes with “bow” instead of the “row” that rhymes with “bow.”

@albatross shell - Can you prove Franco is dead? Are you asserting that This Is the End?

Regarding Rex’s “Easy” rating, there are two parts of that rating it is important to remember, i.e. Easy compared to other Saturdays for Rex Parker. I still miss that in the really old NYTX online software people’s times were posted and @sanfranman59 kept us updated on how each day compared to previous days. Rex’s rating matched @sanfranman59’s numbers most of the time, but there were occasions when Rex was off. See @sanfranman59’s 9:25 pm comment for an example. I loved these numbers because it took some of the subjectivity out of the rating. Unfortunately, with the improved interface the public leaderboard with every solver’s time disappeared, and so did @sanfranman59 for the most part.

bocamp 3:06 PM  

@TTrimble (2:06 PM)

Impressive; moved it to another tab, playing in the background. Inspiring! 🎶

How went the college visits for your daughter? I don't imagine you made it down to GUMBO U.

pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

PGregory Springer 3:15 PM  

Anansi the spider is a well known children's book. Months and days aren't capitalized in Spanish. I swear some people only post their comments and never even read anyone else's.

CDilly52 3:19 PM  

Whew!!!! What a tough day fir me. There was no answer I didn’t know but I was nowhere close to dialed into the constructor’s wavelength. Heck, I feel as though my dang mental “radio receiver” was broken! Took me as long as a confusing tough Sunday. However, that said, that’s Saturday. I think that the last few just haven’t been easier than usual and my Saturday brain got flabby.

DoesItinInk 3:27 PM  

Could someone please explain 15D “Starts oh hedges” answer ERS.

Masked and Anonymous 3:36 PM  

I probably picked the wrong puz to restart xword solvin with, after a month or so hiatus. NYTSatPuzs don't pull many punches. This puppy ate my nanoseconds lunch, is what I'm a-sayin.
Kinda good to be back in the saddle, tho.

staff weeject pick: ERS. Admired its {Starts of hedges} clue.

fave no-way-moo-cow clue: {Part of mayo that's most popular?} = CINCO. The Shortzmeister actually did a pretty good job of keepin the ?-marker clues in the holster, until he got to the bottom third of the puzgrid.

Thanx for remindin m&e how soft I've gotten at solvin in these rodeos, Mr. Charlson. Good job. And cute squished Jaws of Themelessness blocs, btw.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Rita 3:59 PM  

I have all answers correct but app says something is off. Is there a rebus somewhere or do I need an apostrophe for “feast one’s eyes on”?

pabloinnh 4:16 PM  

@anon 11:49--I knew MOIL from "The Cremation of Sam McGee" (the men who MOIL for gold), but I have never, and will never hear even gold rush times described as BOOMY. I suspect that no one else has or will either. I mean, really.

JC66 4:45 PM  


Hedge, see definition #3.


Welcome back. You we're missed.

What? 4:53 PM  

Well, two ways make a Saturday difficult - clever and obscure. This one used both. Ok but prefer the former.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  


Go marry an Episcopalian instead. We call it 'host', and we get wine as the 'blood'. And Communion every Sunday. I suspect some show up just for the hooch. Not enough to get cocky, though. Used to be: Episcopals were derided, within Protestantism, as just RCs in English. Nowadays, most RC churches do it in English. We still ignore the Pope, though.

A 5:49 PM  

@bocamp, @TTrimble, so glad you posted the multitudes. Curious how so many of the ABBA folks are singing the alto part. Doesn’t seem likely they’d have paid $100 to rehearse, like the Beethoven singers did. Very interesting comments in the Beethoven video. Loved the one asking if B would have predicted 10,000 people singing this on the other side of the world 250 years later. And @Rex calls classical music “bygone.”

I resisted linking Carmina Burana for the Orff tribute earlier, but after your videos it started calling my name. Not quite 2000 but still massive.

Frantic Sloth 6:18 PM  

@A 210pm Thanks for the aliases. They'll likely find their way into a grid someday!

Welcome back @ M&A! We missed you!

@Rita 359pm No apostrophe needed in the grid. Are you sure there's no typo a-lurking?

Time for the Sundee....fingers crossed!

Newboy 6:34 PM  

Certainly not easy from our perspective, but fair crossing and cluing with a smirk made it just gettable with a smidgen of patience. Trenton is becoming a name I look forward to seeing at the top of a page since he always presents a challenging solve. Today’s was a bouncy ping pong game of isolated entries that took a while to knit together. CINCO has always been a second favorite in mayo, closely following the 8th (dare I say “Hurrah, Hurrah!). And I was able to accept HUME after resisting for far too long as others have whined today. We used the Ashanti myth as a core non-western text in Hum-101 trying to expand frosh awareness, so that was a gimme. Most other spots were like @Gill’s flickering lights—“Holy light bulbs” indeed!

If anyone is hanging around late in the day, this dated film might amuse.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

Everyone should ignore the pope.

Anoa Bob 7:07 PM  

I remember the clue for 29D "Sine qua non" from H.S. Latin but given the recent rather cavalier treatment of the Latin rebus "by way of things" (ablative plural of res "thing") in crossword world, wasn't sure if the "without which not" translation was still being honored. I thought maybe it now means a crossword puzzle with one or more letters completely missing from the grid or some such. I was relieved when MUST showed up.

Glad to see the connection between COMMUNION WAFERS and the Latin roots of its clue "Hosts" explained in the comments. Maybe there's hope that the original Latin meaning of rebus will be reinstated in crossword world and no longer misused to mean a puzzle with more than one letter in a square.

And I always think it's a significant demerit for a puzzle when one of its marquee entries needs a convenient S letter-count boost to fill its slot as happened today with COMMUNION WAFER.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

I can't wait until an answer is BOBS FOR APPLES.

TTrimble 8:48 PM  

Thanks for that clip! "Massive" is indeed the operative word. This is of course the most famous passage from the Carmina Burana, quite deservedly as it packs a mighty wallop.

The massive sing-along of Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth* is apparently an annual celebration in Japan, and moves me for reasons hard to explain. I'd so love to be part of such a thing some day. That enormous

Und der Cherub steht vor Gott
Vor Gott!
Vor Gott!
VOR GOTT!!!!!!!!!!!

Holy COMMUNION WAFER, that is big!

@Anoa Bob 7:07PM
Well, I sympathize to some degree, but I told myself in that recent convo that various subpopulations (e.g. mathematicians) will shamelessly repurpose a simple word like "ring" to suit their internal jargon-y purpose, and there's not much you can do about that process. And so it goes with "rebus" -- them's the breaks. My own watch-phrase here will be: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Meanwhile, you and I rest content knowing that we know the proper meaning, goddammit! :-)

I've always internally semi-freely translated "sine qua non" as "without which there is no [i.e., can't be any]". Like an idiot, I sometimes trot out that phrase even though the small smarter kernel deep inside me knows I'll likely have to spend time explaining to my audience what it means. Not a very economical use of time, is it, TTrimble?

Currently pg -6. Haven't looked at it for some hours though.

*Why do I here imagine an internet troll insulting me en route to informing me that the ode was originally penned by Schiller? I can't imagine why I imagine that!

A 9:59 PM  

oops, thought I'd hit 'publish a couple of hours ago....

@Z, I appreciated the instruction on how to get @Lewis’ puzzle. Only problem was I had to avert my EYES because it was filled in. 🙈 I found how to reset, having only seen 1A, and started elsewhere so as not to cheat.

@Frantic, I thought so too, although it was your comment “Is that pronounced like "A Nancy" that prompted me to copy that Aunt Nancy group. 😁

Great to have you and your nanoseconds back, @M&A.

SB folks, I prefer to play in a hall with some reverb, not in a BOOMY ROOM.

Forgot to say I doff my chapeau for the clue for 19A. Now off to ERODE the lasagne.

Dave S 11:13 PM  

Did this in the paper and made a complete mess of it. Looking back hard to see exactly why, but there's the evidence right in front of me, full of increasingly darker writeovers. Not only left my wrong answer for "play a critical role" (yelp) in far too long, also left it in the wrong place, coming off the y in satyr. In my defense, I was doing it in the backyard in fading evening light while squinting at the numbers. Thought whale watchers might watch the sea as well, so I was pretty dim for a long time over there. Rex's writeup is mostly fair-I now really like the answer for "two in a row" , but filled it in with crosses and never got to enjoy it while I was doing the puzzle. Not sure about Rex's objection to "Feast one's eyes on"-sounds perfectly familiar to me. Loved to see Anansi make an appearance.

Anoa Bob 11:37 PM  

TTrimble @8:48 PM, that illustrates the central point I've been trying to make. With a "living" language things are in constant change and evolution so a word like "ring" might take on a totally new meaning in some specialty area and it's up to us to know that change happens and to keep up to speed on such matters. But that is not the case with a "dead' language like Latin or Ancient Greek, id est, one that is no longer the daily tongue or vernacular of any cultures or peoples.

So if you want to use a term or phrase that you can be relatively sure will not change or evolve into a totally different meaning, go with Latin or Greek. That's why many disciplines and organizations like science, religion, linguistics, law, governments, et cetera. use them. You can take advantage of that "set in stone" quality to know that your sine qua non, id est, de gustibus non est disputandum, ad hoc, bona fide, carpe diem, exempli gratia, rebus, et cetera, e pluribus unum---I could go on for days---will mean the same thing today that it meant 2,000 years ago and, crossword puzzlers notwithstanding, will mean the same thing 2,000 years from now.

That's the great value of Latin and Ancient Greek (and other "dead" languages); their timelessness. That's a precious commodity in a world in constant linguistic flux.

Exempli gratia, if in 1853 the founders of Beaver College had chosen to name their fledgling institution Castorea (Latin for "beaver") College, then maybe it would not have been necessary to change its name to Arcadia University in 2001 because "beaver" had taken on an urban dictionary type meaning of female pubes.

When it comes to how rebus is used, I say go with its original Latin meaning and stare decisis.

siehomme 7:27 PM  

Thank you for Sexy Saxophone Man. I don't know where you found him, but it made that excruciatingly hard puzzle worth it.

thefogman 10:57 AM  

Tricky, especially the top part. Rex correctly identified quite a few shortcomings, but I enjoyed it anyways.

spacecraft 12:20 PM  

Guess where I had trouble today. Give you a hint: it's in a Hitchcock title. Got it? Yeah, that 16a was brutal. That was fifteen down answers, that's what that was. But I prevailed in the end, when ...UN....FERS suddenly became COMMUNIONWAFERS, AKA "the host." That breakthrough felled the north. A pretty mean misdirect on 1-down: not "store" but storage. And of course, I think of holdem poker when I think of ANOUT.

"ADELAIDE, ADELAIDE, ever lovin' ADELAIDE is takin' a chance on me!" The song from "Guys and Dolls" reminds me fondly of my college days, when Vivian Blaine--ADELAIDE on stage and film in G&D--did summer stock with us, and I got to play opposite her. A wonderful lady, and my personal DOD.

I mostly agree that those 15 stacks relegate the fill to a bunch of short stuff, with a lot of strain sometimes, but this one pulls it off fairly well. That darn SPIDER is going to give headaches to "hosts" of people, though.

@M&A, let me add my voice to the chorus: welcome back, U dude, we missed ya.

Oh yeah. for the triumph points, birdie.

Burma Shave 1:14 PM  


CORNELIA and HER friend, for a CARELESSMISTAKE paid,


Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Not fun. Seems constructed with malice aforethought - needlessly difficult.

rondo 1:25 PM  

Except for LSU EINE and ERODE, worked this one from the bottom up. I suppose in large part due to the SPIDER. A CARELESSMISTAKE having LAckey before LAPDOG. Shouldn't 'mayo' in the clue be capitalized? Or not in Spanish?


Good enough workout for a SATYR day.

leftcoaster 4:38 PM  

ANANSI(?) THE SPIDER was a CARELESS MISTAKE at the start. And there were a couple of others:

Wanted CORdELIA instead of CORNELIA, and then the more likely “slice” instead of ERODE for “Cut into”. The ERS at the end letters of the top three-stacks were pretty limp as “Starts of hedges" . Got “Two in a row, say?” were not the double Fs in TIFF but like a couple of guys in a knock-down, drag-out fight.

So "Will [Shortz?] can change it”, I.e., the TENSE in a puzzle, whenever he likes maybe? Well, okay, he’s the boss. (Though I’m not quite sure if i’m just kidding about that.)

Overall, got the bulk of this together after a slow start.

Waxy in Montreal 5:05 PM  

ISWEAR when I read 42A. "Will can change it", my first thought was that this was an inside joke among X-word constructors referencing the power of editor Will Shortz with possible answers to include ACLUE and TITLE. Otherwise, enjoyed the Brit-leaning mini-theme of paraffin oil, two in a row, HUME and CHESHIRE and also the way the solution to the puzzle gradually emerged - PROPs to Trenton Charlson!

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