Synthetic material also called frozen smoke / SAT 8-21-21 / Patchwork elephant of children's literature / Apt bingo call to lose on by the sound of it / Exercises with squat thrusts and jumps / Give waves to with a curling iron once / Disneyland attraction with a racetrack / Couleur du brocoli

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Constructor: Joseph Greenbaum

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MARCEL (13D: Give waves to with a curling iron, once) —

Marcelling is a hair styling technique in which hot curling tongs are used to induce a curl into the hair. Its appearance was similar to that of a finger wave but it is created using a different method.

Marcelled hair was a popular style for women's hair in the 1920s, often in conjunction with a bob cut. For those women who had longer hair, it was common to tie the hair at the nape of the neck and pin it above the ear with a stylish hair pin or flower. One famous wearer was Josephine Baker. (wikipedia)

• • •

Well this puzzle was FULL OF SURPRISES (of course I was going to use that phrase, how was I not going to use that phrase, sorry to be so predictable, only human, etc.). The first surprise was hey, look, once again, Friday comes a day late. This puzzle had way more of the zing, bounce, and swagger that I come to expect from Fridays. Also, it was easyish, as themelesses go (like a Friday is supposed to be). I can see how solving this puzzle involved, at many points, being one thin proper noun away from complete breakdown, but if you knew the right names, as I seemed to today, then this one was a ... [drum roll] ... BREES! (that was one of the names! that I knew! and that if I hadn't known, yikes, AEROGEL (????) and B-TEN all of a sudden get a lot lot harder) (44D: 2020 N.F.L. retiree who leads all QBs in career pass completions (7, 142)). So I tooled along, blissfully aware of the cliffs and potholes around me. Another surprise was that I didn't have to work at all for the *longer* answers, whereas the shorter answers were occasionally thorny, fussy, and troublesome. Which -SAT is it? P- or L-? And I put my e-signature (ugh) where? LCD? PDA? PDF? Oh, and which Lesser Kardashian name was it? It was like when you walk through a bit of spider web and you're like "gah, what is this, get it off me." Spider web doesn't exactly put up a lot of resistance, but it's annoying and takes a bit of work to get completely off of your hair and face. I find. So long answers fast, short answers less so. Weird. Another big surprise was how many damn good answers are crammed into this grid: all five of the very long ones, all the central Downs (TURDUCKEN, RAIN DATE, and SYNAPSES, to arrange them according to level of quality), and even a few of the 7s—I like BURPEES (1A: Exercises with squat thrusts and jumps) 'cause I got it instantly and because of its weird spelling (-EES, not -IES), which flummoxed me for a bit, and I like AUTOPIA (51A: Disneyland attraction with a racetrack) because it provided a burst of nostalgia (needed crosses to get it, but then it all came back in one whoosh of childhood memories). Then of course there's the last surprise, the biggest surprise of all: the return of THE ROCK (55A: Actor in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, familiarly). That's twice in three days. That's a lot of THE ROCK. You can sit the next few out, buddy. You've done your part. Thank you for your service. 

ELEVATOR PITCH is great and FULL OF SURPRISES is great and then somehow THE WAR ON DRUGS is even greater, so the marquee answers were really doing their two most important jobs today: looking great and streaking across my grid like shooting stars. Look at the streaking of these long answers!

And I took that shot *before* THE WAR ON DRUGS and THAT HITS THE SPOT, both of which also went streaking across the grid, as I got them at first sight (after a few crosses had been filled in). Pyrotechnics, that's what this one had. I had started the grid slightly worried, as I didn't know (and still don't know) who this so-called "Patchwork elephant" is. Uh ... looks like ... a children's book series ... from 50+ years ago ... yeah, this is the very first I'm hearing of it, even though I would've been the perfect age for it when it first came out. My parents really let me down on this one.

Not too familiar with O'REILLY auto parts either. Not a "giant" where I live (that title belongs to NAPA and maybe AUTOZONE). So the NW was a slightly ominous place to start, with the elephant / auto parts issues, but ELEVATOR PITCH and RENEWABLE ENERGY both came shooting out of there, and nothing was too tough thereafter. Oh, except one particularly harrowing moment at the LEN / IRENE crossing. No idea what / who IRENE Neuwirth is, "jewelers" not being a subject I know anything about beyond KAY and DEBEERS and ... JARED, maybe (?), so I just had to infer a name there, and this was made much harder when I totally forgot if [Director Wiseman] was a LEN or a LES. I figured ... LEN Deighton, LES Wiseman, that must be the distinction. But no, they're somehow both LENs. Yeesh. Crossing proper nouns, once again, threatening my life. But IRESE is thankfully not a plausible name, even for a jeweler, so LEN and IRENE worked it out and I went on my merry way. 

This puzzle gets a bit ugly only once, in the successive Downs APORT HOSP ACTI—I thought "left" was just PORT. But now I've gotta deal with *A*PORT? Would you say *A*STARBOARD? ... oh, well, yes you would, apparently ... ask a stupid question ... And I guess the clusters of short crosswordese in the west and east aren't terribly pretty. But honestly the subpar fill is too small and infrequent to be worth mentioning (much). The good stuff today outshines everything else. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:51 AM  

Ooh, this is one solid, gorgeous, and entertaining structure of marquee long answers on which to build a puzzle. Four of them are NYT debuts – RENEWABLE ENERGY, THE WAR ON DRUGS, THAT HITS THE SPOT, FULL OF SURPRISES – all of them well in the language, making me wonder why they’ve never been in these puzzles before.

Such a strong foundation easily, IMO, outweighs any nigglesome answers. Furthermore: BURPEES, a word I’ve loved for years. Not to mention the minitheme of double-E’s (7).

Then there’s the mysterious ways of the brain. I saw ESAU and what popped in my head was “She sells seashells by the seashore”, that classic twister, and the next thing I heard in my head was “We saw meemaw on the seesaw”. How dotty is that?

Anyway, Joseph, my gut says that CrossWorld will become a better place with your inclusion. WTG on your debut, and thank you – I greatly enjoyed this!

Richard 6:56 AM  

Burpee was named for its creator physiologist Royal Burpee.

chance2travel 7:00 AM  

Not as easy for me as it was for Rex, fairly solidly in the medium category for Saturday.

I was happy to get BURPEES off the bat (after first trying crossfit which didn't fit). We talk about ELEVATOR PITCHes at work all the time, but that was about the only long answer that really streaked in for me.

I like the clue for SYNAPSES. And I enjoyed seeing TURDUCKEN in the grid.

Buona giornata a tutti!

Son Volt 7:04 AM  

The long ones got me thru this relatively unscathed. Ambitious grid resulted in a lot of ugly short stuff but overall a nice puzzle. Got the TURDUCKEN x FULL OF SURPRISES cross early and then RENEWABLE ENERGY - off to the races after that.

THE WAR ON DRUGS and ELEVATOR PITCH were flat. Knew AEROGEL and O’REILLY which helped but backed into IRENE, LEN, CAIT and MARCEL. Liked the clues for BTEN and SEXT. ELEV, APORT, SYS, ICI etc are all really bad and do drag down the fun.

RIP to the great Tom T.

Enjoyable Saturday solve.

Anonymoose 7:23 AM  

My solve was delayed when I stopped to catch up with my old friend EWER. Why is there a "?" on Oinkling? Is there any conceivable answer that would not be PIG related?

mathgent 7:51 AM  

When a puzzle has 20 mysteries, I'm in big trouble. This one had 17. Hard for me.

A mystery is an entry I don't know like IRENE or ELMER. Or, if I've heard of it, I need a lot of crosses to recognize it, like BURPEES or TURDUCKEN.

Also, I wasn't at my sharpest last night. It took me forever to see RENEWABLEENERGY even though I had a lot of its letters. P in the middle from TAP instead of DAB threw me off. And I know Drew BREES very well but he didn't come to me for a long time.

I feel good about solving the damned thing without cheating and that's enough. It needed more sparkle to make it fun.

John Madden would talk about TURDUCKENs when doing NFL commentary.


Conrad 7:54 AM  

How was this not easy? Let me count the ways. Not solid on BURPEES, never read about the elephant, Didn't know the meaning of MAHATMA, had MAHATMA and removed it because I couldn't think of a six-letter word for noggins starting with M, never heard of MARCEL (tried MARCaL), thought the tee follower would be you, weak on French colors although I figured it'd have to start with V, no clue about the Kardashians, never heard of AEROGEL, wanted GAGfest instead of REEL.

So yes, @Lewis, solid, gorgeous and entertaining. But not easy in my book.

DavidP 7:57 AM  

ELEVATOR crossing ELEV (which is short for Elevation) was the weakest thing about the puzzle.

amyyanni 8:05 AM  

Agree with Rex. Sprightly and full of zest. Easier than yesterday's by a bunch. Still engage in the lost art of letter writing so smiled at that entry. Off to do some urban biking. (Yesterday, had ice cream for lunch. Seemed like a Friday in Retirement thing to do. May repeat.)

Mikey from El Prado 8:12 AM  

A lively puzzle indeed. Great, great, great longs!

THEWARONDRUGS…. another government debacle spanning many administrations of both sides. Lessons learned are only as good as they are applied.

Joaquin 8:21 AM  

What a great debut from Joe Greenbaum! Checked off my two main xword boxes: fun and informative.

Anybody else like to parse it as TURD UCK EN? Didn't think so.

And I'm not sure how I have lived this many years and not heard of a MARCEL wave, but that was a new one (and a stumper) for me.

Zwhatever 8:35 AM  

I assume THE ROCK has an epic coming out soon about THE WAR ON DRUGS. I was more than a little amused that my musings about whether a certain answer yesterday was redundant included a grid spanner today. If those random musings helped fire the SYNAPSES today, you’re welcome.

I thought all the Kardashian’s first names began with K, so “I am CAIT” involved a writeover. I briefly thought it was krIs and VERs could be an alternate spelling for VERT. Which reminds me, seems like French is the new English, VERT, VOILร€, ICI, MARCEL Marceau,….

Favorite clue today was “Comedy of errors?” When I saw it was going to be GAG REEL I laughed. Maybe even out loud. It managed to hit my funny bone.

Not familiar before today with the idea of an ELEVATOR PITCH, so my first thought was “I’d really prefer my ELEVATOR to not PITCH, thank you very much.”

Zwhatever 8:43 AM  

LOL - spoiler for a four letter answer earlier this week. What’s scary is I’ve only been on Reddit for four days and I only joined for Ultimate reasons, and this showed up in their “posts that might interest you” email. Uncle Google is Big Brother.

TTrimble 8:50 AM  

It had zing, bounce, swagger... oops, I think Rex forgot to say sass. It had sass.

Anyhow, I liked this puzzle a bunch. I agree with Rex's picks like SYNAPSES and TURDUCKEN (that's Turkey, Duck, and Chicken rolled into one -- I don't think I've ever had it, but I imagine THAT HITS THE SPOT).

What didn't I know? Well, I've vaguely heard of BURPEES but I couldn't say what they are -- BURPEE I associate with seeds, ones that come in little packets, to start your gardens with. O'REILLY is unknown. CAIT, who? What's AEROGEL? (I had AERO??L but AGEE came to the rescue). BREES I didn't know, but B-TEN was deducible. AUTOPIA I didn't know. That might be all of them.

MARCEL. If that doesn't conjure up The Charleston and The Ziegfeld Follies, I can't imagine what would.

PIGLET, my favorite Pooh character. There's a pair of books, The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, by Benjamin Hoff, which some of you may know. The first has a certain charm. The second has a similar theme but sometimes comes off a little grouchy, most unfortunately given the titular character.

(My eye follows 4 Down and takes a sharp left (APORT?) at 17 Across to make PIGMEN, a subplot of a Seinfeld episode. Zaniness ensues.)

I really like EENY for "Start of some decision-making". And I also like the French 101 pop quiz "Opposite of lร " (ICI). As well as "Low notes" (ONES). There's a certain impish SLYNESS that pervades the cluing.

THE WAR ON DRUGS came up here yesterday, dontcha know?

I'll let that be all for now. Really nice job, Mr. Greenbaum.

yd 0
td pg -10

Tom T 8:52 AM  

Briefly stunned by Son Volt's "RIP to the great Tom T." Sorta like reading one's own obituary!

I'll be happy to continue living as the lesser Tom T! :-)

Fun Saturday. Fairly fast time for me. Got hung up a bit at the end by having BRiES before BREES. Shoulda known better.

thfenn 8:52 AM  

Bit of a rollercoaster for me. Was thrilled as several longs fell into place quickly and then stumped on multiple fronts.Even with a good start in the SW downs I couldn't get AEROGEL and was stuck on GAGfest. And in the NW the only childhood lit ephelant I could think of was Babar, which added several issues. But where I really got stuck was trying to remember what alternate plan Santa had for his ReINDeer, which sat there until I ran across THEROCK again. Jeesh.

Piano Phil 9:04 AM  

The long answers were lots of fun. Also LOSTART, MAHATMA, BTEN.

Now the bad. I try to remain blissfully ignorant of celebrities famous for being famous and highly paid actors who know nothing about their craft and I’ve been doing a great job. My Saturday puzzle is the last place I’d expect to be sucker punched. Burpees are just seeds to me. Aerogel? I raised kids in two different eras, besides having been one myself once, but Autopia and Elmer fell through the cracks. Never ran into Irene or Len, but the crosses were fine. Somehow I soldiered on and solved the thing. Yay me.

Overall this one left me feeling a little dirty, like joining in a celebration of the dumbing down of our culture.

Blue Stater 9:05 AM  

Once again I'm at total odds with OFL. There were easily a dozen words here that I've never heard of, and the English language is (or was) my business.

jberg 9:18 AM  

This was tough for me, despite getting RENEWABLE ENERGY off the second E. But BURPEES, O'REILLY, AUTOPIA were complete unknowns, with the last requiring all the crosses to rule out AUTOPIx/c/e etc. BREES was in a puzzle, maybe this one, recently, and ditto THE ROCK, or I wouldn't have known them, either. I gather the latter specializes in the kind of movies LEN Wiseman (also unknown to me; my mind couldn't get past the great documentarian Fred) directs. I'm pretty sure that CAIT is short for CAITLIN, who used to be Bruce, a transition that got enough news coverage for me to be aware of it.

Me too for knowing MAHATMA, but leaving it blank while I searched my noggin for an M word.

I had to wait for 20D to fill up with crosses. I had TUR, so I figured it would be something involving turkey; then I got the D, which set me back for many nanoseconds wondering what kind of dish might involve THAT -- and then it came to me.

@Richard, thanks for explaining BURPEES. I'm a little disappointed, though; I was really hoping they were exercises that made you belch; second choice was you were replicating the motions of planting seeds. But no, sadly.

I don't do Sundays anymore, so see you all in a couple.

kitshef 9:20 AM  

I liked this, despite some WoE issues (CAIT, IRENE, MARCEL). ELEV crossing ELEVATOR??

jberg 9:23 AM  

@Rex, I'm glad to see you are finally trying to learn about nautical terms. Here's a little hint -- putting A in front of a directional adverb adjective makes it an adverb, so we have APORT, astarboard, astern, a(b)aft [since aaft is unpronounceable], alee, asea, ashore, aloft, even awindward. Lots of fun.

Carola 9:32 AM  

Medium for me and lots of fun to solve with the zany ENERGY of its SURPRISES, SLYNESS, GAG REEL, BURPEES, and a TURDUCKEN right down the middle. Favorite spot: the cross of MARCEL and LOST ART. One of my favorite family photos is of my mom at age 18 with her two older sisters, sometime in the 1920s, all with their blonde hair marcelled. This was in the days when people didn't automatically smile for the camera, and they all look beautiful and rather fierce. Hardest spot: the NW, but in the end I was able to pull BURPEES and O'REILLY from my brain's rag bag of randomness and tied things up with a BOW.

Do-over: TEE-vEE. Help from previous puzzles: THE ROCK. No idea: ELMER, LEN, IRENE, AEROGEL, AUTOPIA.

@Joaquin 8:21 - Thank you for pointing out that this is a debut. Quite something!

mill city architect 9:34 AM  

9D clue was clearly written by an ignorant landlubber trying to be clever with misdirection. Left = Port. To the left = aport.

bocamp 9:45 AM  

Thx Joseph; an excellent, crunchy, Sat. challenge! :)

Med+ unsolve.

Hit-and-miss the whole way.

Dnfed at CAIT / VERT.

Didn't know ICI, but reckoned that AUTOPIA came from utopia, so that worked out.

Didn't know BURPEES, OREILLY, ELMER, but all the other crosses left no other alternative, so that also worked out.

MARCEL was a woe, but the crosses seemed right. Same goes for AEROGEL.

Didn't know TURDUCKEN, but guessed right on the 'C'; too bad I had CAIN, instead of CAIT for the dnf. :(

So, learned lots of stuff (maybe), and enjoyed the battle, as always! :)

@Eniale (3:48 PM yd)

Thx for sharing your status; best of luck on today's. ๐Ÿคž

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

MarthaCatherine 9:50 AM  

Loved this one even though it had a few tough spots, AEROGEL in particular. Loved all the long answers. Husband spotted me the BREES answer. Is that cheating?

8A made me think of a saying from Sesame Street I used to say to my kids all the time. "Mahatma! How can you sing when your teeth aren't clean?" and "You have to brush them every day or your teeth will turn to gray!" said by a talking toothbrush with a British accent to a hairy creature with wings who has big teeth. I looked it up, not having actually seen it in about 35 years. It is very, very weird:

RooMonster 10:01 AM  

Hey All !
AUTOPIA. Dang. Had AUTOP_A, and the ole brain said E! Never saw UTOPIA/AUTO mashup, but think now that it's pretty neat. So, my one-letter DNF. And after managing to get that crazy NE correct. No DAB for me. ๐Ÿ˜

Was gonna ask how BTEN was that answer, but just now realized it sounds like BEATEN. Hardy har on that.

Nice themeless, agree not as tough as YesterPuz. Couple of AHAS. Another debut, man, quarantine has been good to puzzledom. Wonder how many underlings Will has working for him now? If he was getting 200 submissions a week BC (Before Covid), what's the number now? 500? More? None lately from me. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Gonna rest my MELON now.

Two F's

albatross shell 10:03 AM  

Yesterday was on my wavelength. Today I did not know where I was. Asea? Adrift? APORT? Atop K2?

BURPEES: Almost a seed company is what I know. If I had to guess: uncontrollable belching or a cousin of a slurpee.

OREILLY. Just a Irish guy who did not know how to spell his name. I got that one (if you call it that when you looked up ELMER early on) but checked on google because no idea. Did the same when BURPPEES filled in.

TURDUCKEN. I knew TomtUrKEy but knew that was wrong. When the correct word appeared I did not know it so looked that up and then remembered I had sworn to remember it the last time it was in the puzzle.


Eventually looked up AEROGEL and AUTOPIA. Cool beans.

So a fairly disastrous Saturday from a pure solve standpoint but still a better and a but more fun than yesterdays. Some magical solving moments. One was filling in MAHATMA from the T and the final A and being sure the answer was right just because that is what MAHATMA obviously should mean. And I stuck with it even though the crosses didn't come until I got PITCH.

Baseball trivia alert!
I made what I think was a correction to the discussion late yesterday and added a not too difficult question of my own.

rjkennedy98 10:05 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. It was very easy for about 3/4s of it (Friday easy for sure), but once I hit that NE corner, I was totally stumped. Never heard of ALTHEA or MARCEL, and struggled to see MAHATMA.

GILL I. 10:12 AM  

I guess I would BURP and quite possible PEE if I were made to do squats and jumps. What happened to the little seeds?
I got chewed up and spit out. I'll start out with TURD UCKEN. He and I never quite saw eye to eye - especially on Thanksgiving. My MELONS don't involve noggins. Nosireebob, When I make a short spiel, I certainly don't do it in an ELEVATOR. AND....the only OREILLY I know is that No Spin News guy with a first named Bill.
Yeah...this was FULL OF SURPRISES - as in this wasn't a BREES. Can someone please tell me why 37A doesn't start with a K? Don't all the Kardashians have a K in their names?
And the beat went on and it took it with me.
To be fair....this puzzle did have some eye catching stuff; just not up my dark recessions of my mind.

Liz1508 10:35 AM  

I liked it! Between me and my Consultant on clues about sports, drinks & politics we got it done.
I thought that the only thing that I knew about the Kardashions (except that their celebrity is disturbing) was that all the names began with K, and I thought there was a Kloe, so that was a holdup. Otherwise fun and satisfying.

jae 10:37 AM  

On the tough side for me. I held on to kris before CAIT for too long even though CAIT is in the CA news these days. The Kardashians are not part of my “must see TV”. Plus, AEROGEL, MARCEL, and ELMER and IRENE (as clued) we’re WOES.

If you want a real sense of how old you are TRY doing a BURPEE.

Solid with sparkly long answers, liked it a bunch! A fine debut.

Nancy 10:37 AM  

This was the very epitome of what I like to call a "Keep the faith" puzzle. Keep the faith that if you can't enter here...and you can't enter there...but that if you can find just one tiny little toehold, anywhere, the puzzle will eventually be solvable. Even though you wouldn't bet a nickel on it right now.

I got in -- finally, finally -- at the SEXT/SPIN/AKIN (AKIN came first) nexus.

The puzzle was FULL OF SURPRISES and quite wonderful. BURPEES sounds like something you do to an infant after a feeding. Nicely ironic clue for THE WAR ON DRUGS. Why, when I had ENERGY did I have such trouble with RENEWABLE? All that was coming to mind was ALTERNATIVE and NATURAL. I love the well-clued ELEVATOR PITCH which rang a bell, sort of, though no one has ever pitched me in an elevator and I needed plenty of crosses to get it. PAT before DAB (28A) gave me a lot of trouble. I never watch it, so I forgot how SYFI was spelled. My favorite clue was "Start of some decision-making" for EENY. another clue with great irony.

Did anyone know AEROGEL? Don't all shout out at once.

Oh, yes. I had TURDUrKEN/rAIT for a technical DNF. Technical because it's the least important thing that's happened to me today and I am pronouncing this puzzle "Solved!!". I don't keep up with the Kardashians and I don't eat fake turkey. (If that's what TURDUCKEN is).

Doesn't matter. I adored this puzzle, which made me "work" really, really hard.

Barbara S. 10:53 AM  

We were taught this sentence in French class, probably to prove that the French language can be just as wacky as English:

"Le ver vert va vers le verre vert ร  l'envers."

Which means: "The green worm goes towards the upside-down green (drinking) glass."

I always enjoyed French.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

has anyone actually made a TURDUCKEN?? you can, I suppose, stuff a DUCk into a TURkey, but stuff a chicKEN into the DUCk??? unless it's a Cornish Game Hen (just a baby chicken) may be, but every broiler/fryer at my MegaMart is at least the size of a DUCK, if not larger. Madden was more famous for his 6 (or was it 8?) leg TURkey. you can look it up.

albatross shell 11:16 AM  

THE WAR ON DRUGS. Yes it came up yesterday. I believe it was @Z doing a defensive dance. If he keeps revealing tomorrow's answers the mods should really ban him. They should also do something about Rex for revealing yesterday's answer. You know that rock-y actor. See my clever misdirect? Maybe they should delete Rex's post or at least give him a warning.

Actually I do not believe there should be any restriction on relevant discussions on yesterday's puzzles or at most a yesterday alert atop the comment. It's a foolish restriction.

I'm glad you brought up ashore and those other a words. Until I re-looked at the puzzle I thought "left at sea" might mean something like adrift and as APORT showed up I took it to mean the ship had gone to sea and left you in port, that is to say APORT. Talk about not being able to see the obvious for the convoluted.

Add MARCEL to the list of things I did not know until I looked it up after it was in. Saw the photo and "oh yeah".

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

BURPEES???? The last time: HS gym class. Just the calisthenics at the beginning. Not that Physical Education instructors would allow anyone within earshot say 'gym class'. And, naturally, military Basic Training. Why some guy with a silly name gets credit for these 'exercises' is yet another clue that Western Civilization is headed down the Sh!t Tube.

Unknown 11:21 AM  

THEROCK makes a repeat, in ACTI . . . .
Loved the long spanners. In fact, everything in this puz (except the jeweler) was pretty much in my wheelhouse. Liked the cluing for ATOLLS.

Whoever adjusted rex's meds over his long vacation, thank you, they seem to be working! lol

PS, RIP, Chuck Close.

Zwhatever 11:28 AM  

@albatross shell 11:16 - ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ - Tomorrow’s word: Ennumerate.

Wanderlust 11:31 AM  

Anyone else start with IONE for the bingo clue? Yeah, it doesn’t make total sense given the wording of the clue, but I thought maybe an opponent was yelling it. Even after changing to BTEN based on crosses, it took me a while to get it.

Frantic Sloth 11:53 AM  

Never heard of the patchwork elephant named ELMER. Oh, well - Fudd it.
This was fun fun fun!
Pretty much agree with all the same high points that Rex cites. All the longs: ๐ŸคŒ๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ–*MWAH*

Someday, I'd like to see a TURDUCKEN in real life. I mean, I've seen pictures, but really. Why??
What's next? A cowlambPIGLET? Yuck.

Was supposed to have dinner with my sister tomorrow - right in the big, fat, middle of that rat bastard Henri. Haven't seen her since Christmas 2019 and now I'm sad and stressed. Can you even imagine what that does to a frantic sloth?? ๐Ÿคฏ ๐Ÿคฃ

๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง 

KnittyContessa 12:04 PM  

I'm not sure how I managed to finish this one.


Loved all the longs which is what saved me.

Crossing SEXT with THATHITSTHESPOT made me laugh.

OffTheGrid 12:09 PM  

This was a beautiful puzzle. I don't care for TURDUCKEN right down the middle but otherwise it was solid. That does not mean it was easy. I DNF'ed at TRY/SYS cross. NW was tough. I had alternateENERGY and didn't know BURPEES as clued. Plus there were HENRY, OREILLY and a university's initials. I completed the entire south first and worked back up. Challenging and fun.

Frantic Sloth 12:13 PM  

Oh, my - I forgot to congratulate Mr. Greenbaum on his NYT debut! Stellar beginning to what I hope will be a loooong stretch (see what I did there? Right. Who cares?) of many more crosswords to come! Please hurry back!

I'm sure someone has brought this up already, but CAIT is for CAITlyn Jenner, so no "K" required.

Mary McCarty 12:14 PM  

@jberg (9:23) “APORT, astarboard, astern, a(b)aft [since aaft is unpronounceable], alee, asea, ashore, aloft, even awindward. Lots of fun.”

For most of these words, the a- prefix is from the Latin preposition “ad”, meaning towards, at or near. The -d- is not often dropped, but changed due to the letter that follows, often duplicating it (e.g. advance, approach, attract, etc.) I think it’s unusual that these nautical terms use the single -a-, which usually denotes the opposite prefix ‘ab/a-“ meaning away or from, as in absent, avert, and apparently “abaft”. I wonder what other words use the single a- prefix to denote “towards, near”. Not to be confused with “a-privative”, which denotes “a lack of” (as in amoral) which is derived from IE *ne, meaning “not”. Language is indeed lots of fun, even, maybe, a mystery, that we can communicate so well, given all the anomalies, exceptions and possibilities.

Kinda like this puzzle for me, with clues and answers that ranged from simple facts & names, to slang, puns, and such a variety of language levels: SYNAPSES to “oinklet”!! What a lovely stew!

puzzlehoarder 12:19 PM  

High quality Saturday debut. I'm SURPRISEd that some found this easier than yesterday's puzzle. It took me an extra 15 minutes to finish today.

ELEV gave me ELEVATOR PITCH for a nice start up top. The repetition is a minor nit for a puzzle this good and who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth.

MAHATMA was a gimme so the NE was the first to fill in despite MARCEL and ALTHEA being unknowns. I the NW ELMER was the only unknown but I still had to work harder there.

There were issues with three of the four stair steps. In the east it took me a long time to realize that the clue for 35D was referring to one of the letters in the acronym. TRY as an unknown compounded the confusion.

I was slow on coming up with VOILA and I had a TURN/SPIN write over at 30D. This was followed by a prolonged CAITlin mental block.

LEN and IRENE were both unknowns and that was complicated by my SYFI/SYFY and ENNY/EENY write overs.

The southern third went smoothly. Only AEROGEL and AUTOPIA we're unknowns. I had a brief GAGTAPE/ GAGTEEL write over but otherwise the south was very straightforward.

ACTI twice in a row is no big deal. THE ROCK twice in three days is a real coincidence.

egsforbreakfast 12:23 PM  

Do you all remember the madness, the people desperately clinging to fleeing aircraft, the mob scenes at the airport when it became clear that we had lost THEWARONDRUGS? The political finger pointing, the calls for impeachment? But then the victorious DRUGS started insidiously taking the MELONS of those who had played a role in the WAR. First to go was John X, who was so thoroughly broken that he flipped and became one of the chief advocates for DRUGS. Then whole states surrendered, until DRUGS became a way of life, and the WARONDRUGS was remembered chiefly by its victims. Today, few recall when our best young boys donned their khakis and went off to fight this implacable foe. Few learned the obvious lesson, that a war against a common noun is unlikely to end in victory. Shortly thereafter, we declared war on terrorism. And that common noun has also now taken deep root astarboard of our country’s keel.

Sorry to have gotten carried away. I liked the puzzle, and the fact that, like many others, I found the grid spanners to be gimmes, but struggled to make good use of them. Thank you and nice debut, Joseph Greenbaum.

jb129 12:23 PM  

Well, this puzzle certainly gave me my run for the money (whatever).

I enjoyed it even though I didn't finish - I should have tho cause some of the things I missed were givens.

Oh well. Enjoy the weekend.

A 12:26 PM  

@Nancy, I was just reading yesterday’s (multitudinous, and RIFER with disagreement) comments and saw you asked who knew what your song is that describes NYC without naming it. Stopped reading and came here to ask, “Downtown?” Now I’ll go back and find out.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

M&A ain't a real big fan of themeless puzs, unless they have some sorta special 'tude. This puppy definitely had it, due to its criss-crossin puzgrid spanners of: RENEWABLEENERGY. THATHITSTHESPOT. FULLOFSURPRISES. They're sorta like great theme answers forever in search of a theme.

Slightly easy-ish on the nanoseconds for a SatPuz, due to them a-fore-mentioned friendly-to-solve puzgrid spanners. Helped m&e make lotsa progress pronto.

Coupla important points, re: TURDUCKEN …

1. Deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck stuffed into a deboned turkey. That way everything sorta fits. M&A votes for just bakin up a turkey, and then maybe -- maybe -- warmin up some leftover duck and chicken scraps, to dump on top of each turkey meat servin. Maybe not, tho. I mean, why chicken out and duck the pure, wonderful taste of pure, perfectly baked turkey.

2. This sounds like a mighty potent idea for a puztheme: WORDUCKEN. Word stuffed into another word, in turn stuffed into a third word. [Possible TuesPuz theme, for the RandolphRossmeister. M&A will not be denied, on this quest.]
Proof of Concept Example: SUGARCOATED. [ARC inside of GOAT inside of SUED.] … Oh, so y'all think U got some better examples?!?* …

Thanx for the cool themeless SatPuz, Mr. Greenbaum dude. And congratz on yer debut. U musta suffered, buildin this as yer first constructionquest outta the chute.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

* note the sneaky challenge, to try to get some more WORDUCKEN themer contributions.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  

@jberg 9:18 → I don't do Sundays anymore, so see you all in a couple.

You're not missing anything.

—Renรฉ Wablรฉe-Nergy

_________is my Name-O! 12:47 PM  


B, 1-15
I, 16-30
N, 31-45
G, 46-60
O, 61-75

mathgent 12:50 PM  

I think that TURDUCKEN is real turkey. Nancy may be thinking of tofurkey. My brother had it for Thanksgiving once. Only once.

My favorite posts this morning.

Nancy (10:30)
Barbara S (10:53)8

mmorgan 12:52 PM  

So much I didn’t know here (mostly PPP), but somehow I was able to work my way through it. Cool puz!

Zwhatever 12:58 PM  

Wow @M&A - Way to pose a challenge. I’m taking @LMS barely edging out @Lewis in my betting pool of who will have the most/best Worduckens.

zephyr 1:00 PM  

Knew marcel, voila, vert, mahatma, thathitthespot but WHAT is truducken? Sounds unpleasant to eat.

A 1:17 PM  

@A, Wrong, A-breath! Good thing - my comment might’ve gotten nixed if I had revealed the right answer. Is the “no spoilers for previous puzzles” also the rule for comments, @albatross? I totally agree with you on that, btw - if you're still doing a previous puzzle, WAIT to read later comments until you're finished or take the consequences! Anyway, @Nancy, I had forgotten that song, and I have to say I was a bit surprised when I heard it, given your distaste for grating voices. Yikes!

Anyway, upward and onward to Mr. Greenbaum’s EPOCHAL debut: bravo! My experience was like Rex’s in that the grid spanners came easily. What nearly got me was the TRY/SYS cross (hi, @OffThe Grid!). I just wasn’t buying that anything in rugby was a TRY - rugby seems like a “There is no TRY, there is only do… or do not.” kind of sport. Almost went with EtAS for the special times, but then what - TTT/STS? Also, really didn’t wan’t the double ELEV, so resisted that to the end. Finally put it in, took my best shot and checked Rex - Yay! Got it DONE!

Loved Rex’s writeup today, too. “Zing, bounce, and swagger” abound.

Gotta run buy dog and cat food, maybe birdseed too; haven’t filled the “squirrel feeders” lately. Should be interesting to see if our squirrels are all still around, considering one of their main highways was cut down recently.

A 1:26 PM  

Forgot to mention, Mr. A made TURDUCKEN once, just to say he'd DONE it. I'm with you, @M&A, it's not worth a repeat. Ok, dog's begging with her big brown eyes, "Time to go get food now!"

The Cleaver 1:45 PM  

anyone remember that other lost 'war' WARONcancer?? started about the same time?

drugs: "The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by President Richard Nixon"

cancer: "The signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971 by United States president Richard Nixon"

both - the wiki

imagine The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) having the unselfishness to even attempt to help the Ordinary Citizenship? didn't think so.

Unknown 2:18 PM  

A lot of trouble with the first three A's and accompanying D's. So not off to a good start, but that's all on me. A little cheat moved me along. Thank you @Mary McCarty, indeed a lovely stew.

The War on Drugs. In the 90s, the feds sent the Army to do flyover reconnaissance on California pot farms. Raids happened, indignant citizens protested, and the Army surrendered to the pot farmers. Well, not quite. But the flyovers stopped.

As the story was told to me, there are two basic strains of pot, Sativa and Indica.
Sativa was being grown in California because the War On Drugs slowed shipments from south of the border reducing supplies and raising prices. Indica, a strain from India, is relatively low growing, and can't be seen from the air. After the raids, California pot farmers turned to Indica and then hybrid strains, producing a much more potent product. Then pot farming got rifer and eventually corporate.

Epochal comedy from the War On Drugs.

okanaganer 2:21 PM  

@Nancy nailed it: "Keep the faith that if you can't enter here...and you can't enter there...but that if you can find just one tiny little toehold, anywhere, the puzzle will eventually be solvable." My first 5 minutes was "Arrgh what is wrong with me". Then better, picking up speed, and before all that long, done!

However I finished with a 2-square error. Confidently plopped in AEROSOL, untroubled that BROES and ASEE were 2 people I've never heard of (happens a lot), and carried on.

That's the problem with these unfamiliar names, you just don't know that you've got them wrong. Of course I have heard of AGEE, but not the other oddly named NFL guy. Oh, well, fair enough for a Saturday I guess. And just a great puzzle! Those long answers were all so solid.

Lewis 2:57 PM  


BRIGANTINE (a two-masted sailing ship)

An ANT soaked in GIN in a shell of BRIE

Apologies to vegans and teetotalers.

Joan 2:58 PM  

I was a Children's Librarian when Elmer was published and I have no recollection of those books. Evidently they weren't in the NYPL collection, which is a fairly damning comment on their quality.

stephanie 3:16 PM  

wow, i surprised myself with this one! completed in 40 minutes, which may or may not have included the time i spent reading about ELMER the elephant (i scroll to where i can't see the timer and sometimes when i tab out it pauses, other times not). never heard of him either, but my nephew was born in june and my sister asked for books. my mom saved all the good stuff from when we were kids so i've been at a bit of a loss what to get him. after reading the wiki, i think i'll check out this ELMER fellow.

unlike yesterday, my smugness over coming up with BTEN on my own early on remained in tact. although i didn't innately know several of the clues, i was able to make educated guesses and/or get them via crosses, which is precisely the type of puzzle i love, and is so rewarding. brain feels happy.

appreciate the blurb on MARCEL as that was the only thing i looked at after and thought "huh?"

if there was one downside, it's that that damn "O, O, O, O-REILLYYYYYYYYYY...AUTO PARTS." jingle will be stuck in my head for at least a month now. hope everybody enjoyed PIGLET over NIBLET and NUTLET and has a nice rest of their weekend ;)

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

I admire the cleverness of SUGARCOATED and BRIGANTINE (from M&A, Lewis) but the form is not the same as TURDUCKEN, which does not have words stuffed into one another. It's the first three letters of TURkey, all of DUCK, and the last two letters of chickEN (or three letters of DUCk and three letters of chicKEN). Nice TRY, though.

Gio 3:26 PM  

I'm mad about ACT I. After it appeared the other day, I was about to post how the letter I isn't a 1, but I guess it is a Roman numeral --lame. It's such annoying crosswordese, if you don't do these a lot, you won't get it.
Anyway when I first started doing these, I kept getting stumped by ACT I remember one puzzle when I was first starting where I finally gave up and that was why.
Then in the other puzzle this week, I got ACTI immediately and I was so proud that I was making progress - hah they can't fool me anymore with this crap-- and also went on a little rant in my head about how lame it is.
Sure enough, the ACT I answer today took me 90 minutes to figure out! Just the irony that I WAS JUST THINKING about how I'd outsmarted it. Fockers!

Gio 3:31 PM  

That whole north east corner killed me. I put LEMONS instead of MELONS except I had a typo in lemons and I spelled it LENONS so for the letter writing I had NO as in NON or NOT somethING like Non Task. Then the Mahatma was LA something and that was impossible too. Of course the curling iron word and the tennis player I didn't know either.
Crikey! Started it, as usual as I'm falling asleep so got back to it this morning and never noticed LENONS. Would up taking me 2 hours to get the music. Ouch my brain

stephanie 3:33 PM  

@GILL I. because caitlyn is not a kardashian, nor was she born to one - she's a jenner :)

stephanie 3:35 PM  

@Nancy turducken is actually a real turkey stuffed with a real duck, stuffed with a real chicken! i believe you're thinking of tofurkey, which is just a loaf of...some kind of grain mash and whatnot.

real and/or imitation meats aside, you're right on the money with your description of today's puzzle. loved that.

Masked and Anonymous 3:53 PM  

@Lewis - Very well spotted, my son. That makes two WORDUCKEN themers.

M&A counters with: FORTUNATELY. TUN within ORATE within FLY.

btw: staff weeject pick for today's puz: HEE.

@Anon w/o mask at 3:22pm: Well noted. Altho, TURDUCKEN is also a fowl within a fowl within another fowl. So maybe WORDUCKEN can be a word within a word within another word, yes? (If U would but humor m&e; many puzthemes require similar minor leaps of logic/sanity.) Thanx.

M&A Worducken Desk

GILL I. 4:49 PM I'd rather eat okra for Thanksgiving than eat ( much less try to make) a TURDUCKEN. GUESS WHAT? there's also the Veggiducken. Ready? It has sweet potatoes stuffed inside leeks inside banana squash.
Not to be outdone...What's for dessert?....Ready? We can all have a Cherpumple which is a cherry pie baked inside a white cake, a pumpkin pie baked inside a a yellow cake and an apple pie baked stuffed inside a spice cake. Don't even get me started on "Tofucken."

@stephanie 3:33. Oof...Ok, thanks....I guess I can't keep up.

BJS 5:17 PM  

Been following this blog for a while, but first comment - only real hangup was the NE, I got aport, Althea, acti, and Marcel ("Keep Young and beautiful" by Annie Lennox kept running thru my head), so my first shot at momentous was SPECIAL. Was pretty sure on MAHATMA, so developed a brain freeze on the other downs. Took a lot of staring stupidity to figure it out.

Joseph Michael 5:37 PM  

From one Joseph to another, nice job overall and congrats on your debut, but did you really have to cross a Kardashian with a freaky dish that epitomizes gross excess and gluttony? A chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey??? Really!?! I’m getting sick just thinking about it. Glad I didn’t do the puzzle this morning while having breakfast.

At least seeing another THE ROCK took my mind off the image I was trying not to see after I made the mistake of looking up TURDUCKEN.

Loved ELEVATOR PITCH, RAIN DATE, LOST ART, and RENEWABLE ENERGY as well as a lot of the clues which were FULL OF SURPRISES. Also found it interesting to think about the fact that the long-running WAR ON DRUGS is an official failure.

Anoa Bob 5:38 PM  

My sense from reading the comments is that today's puzzle scores a bit higher on solver satisfaction than yesterday's. I'm of the same opinion. Both puzzles have good entries but I think today's has fewer rough spots, although it does have some, as many posters have noted.

I think part of the reason for this is because yesterday we got a 26 black square grid while today we get a 30 black square one. Just those four black squares make quite a bit of difference in the amount of questionable fill that must be resorted to in order to make it all work. That's why I think the 30-32 black square count is the optimum number for a themeless. There's still enough room for top notch long entries but the fill doesn't suffer as much from unsightly "glue" to hold it all together.

TURDUCKEN? Really? A turkey that is stuffed with a duck that has been stuffed with a chicken sounds like the groan-inducing punch line of one of those long, convoluted jokes that we hate but can't wait to tell someone else and make them endure the groaner experience too.

Barbara S. 5:47 PM  


WORDUCKEN contribution:


A 6:07 PM  

Well, the old girl had a great time going to the pet stores and sniffing all the treats (not me, the other old girl). Then we stopped at the farmer’s market where they actually had peaches from Chilton County, Alabama. The. best. peaches. Y'all. Yes I did sniff those.

On my way there I passed UMMC, the hospital where they’ve had to set up tents in the parking garage to treat COVID patients. It’s about a mile from my house. So devastating. Came home, went online and learned today is the birthday of Dame Janet Baker, born 21 August 1933. Lots to choose from, but today
Strauss’ “Morgen!” HITS THE SPOT. (First line, “Tomorrow the sun will shine again”) Those of you, who, like me, shed a tear watching @LMS’ Ode to Joy link, have your kerchief at hand.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

Too many unfamiliar phrases totally slowed me down.

A 6:28 PM  

Ooh, forgot to say, @M&A, love the worducken challenge! Hard to find a proper name for it, since we're just looking for a word inside a word inside a word. You could up the difficultly level by calling it an adjverbun - a noun inside a verb inside an adjective.

oisk17 6:28 PM  

Ugh. Glad to have finished without errors, but didn't know that until I checked here, with so much I've never heard of. Turducken, of course. Anything having to do with the Kardashians. And I really didn't want to begin the answer to a food clue with "Turd." Burpee is a gardening site, never heard of the exercise. Nice feeling of accomplishment for having gotten through, but generally disliked this puzzle...

TTrimble 6:37 PM  

@Barbara S.
Excellent! A fine contribution indeed -- I actually had put down money on you for the TURDUCKEN challenge, and you came through!

I like yours much better than this: animation (anion containing it containing ma).

td 0

A 7:05 PM  

Just came across the NYC Homecoming Concert in Central Park on CNN. I don't know this if will work for streaming - if not go to

Anonymous 10:16 PM  

Marcel mentioned a few times in Last Exit to Brooklyn.
It's also where the doo-wop group the Marcel's (Blue Moon) got their name.

spacecraft 12:30 PM  

Not quite so easy here. ELEVATORPITCH is a term new to me, though inferable. To harass a "captive" audience with a sales "PITCH" is low, and I would NEVER buy any product so advertised. I've never heard anything but dumb old music on one of those things.

So is BURPEES, filled that in on crosses, and same with OREILLY: where are they a "giant," Ireland??

Had the QB question with BR___ and thought, wait a minute. Tom's still playing! Who could possibly have thrown more completions? Really? Drew BREES? That's a statistic that's FULLOFSURPRISES for me.

So I agree that the puzzle is FULLOF great answers, but not all that easy. ALTHEA Gibson is a fine DOD. Give it a birdie, like all the ones Team USA are making right now!

Burma Shave 12:54 PM  


SURPRISE SLYNESS is next, and ALTHEA is hot,


thefogman 1:03 PM  

Easy? No way. I got it but it took a while. Toughest Saturday in a long time for me. Rex is being nice lately. I liked that this one was very crunchy - like a Saturday should be. But a lot of the fill/cluing was smarmy and kind of stilted. Just trying a bit too hard to trip you up (MARCEL, OREILLY, AUTOPIA, VOILA) etc. Better cluing would have helped. In spite of all the SLYNESS, I wasn’t BTEN by this beast.

rondo 1:39 PM  

Those ads for OREILLY auto parts are on the radio incessantly in these parts.
I guessed on the T in the CAIT/VERT cross; not a Kardashian fan and didn't know the foreign color. But no write-overs and a few AHAS.
Look for CABS at the corners. Fun puz.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Big plus for 9D and 42A. Great clues/answers.

Diana, LIW 4:36 PM  

Admit to looking up the one or two unknown names, but other than that it was a fun workout. work out at the gym...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 4:38 PM  

@Spacey - an ELEVATORPITCH is your sales "spiel" that you COULD deliver in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. Not a literal thing foisted on any and all.

Lady Di

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

I am really surprised by how many people on here have not heard of O'Reilly Auto Parts stores. There are over 5600 of them. Maybe they are concentrated in certain areas, and not others.

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