Poor cell connection? / SAT 4-9-22 / Devices used to sterilize medical equipment / Garment of the Middle East / Chinese food also called nagaimo / R&B artist with the 3x platinum 1995 debut album Miss Thang / It turns red in Exodus

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Constructor: Sam Buchbinder

Relative difficulty: Medium (proper Saturday)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: AUTOCLAVES (29D: Devices used to sterilize medical equipment) —

An autoclave is a machine used to carry out industrial and scientific processes requiring elevated temperature and pressure in relation to ambient pressure and/or temperature. Autoclaves are used before surgical procedures to perform sterilization and in the chemical industry to cure coatings and vulcanize rubber and for hydrothermal synthesisIndustrial autoclaves are used in industrial applications, especially in the manufacturing of composites.

Many autoclaves are used to sterilize equipment and supplies by subjecting them to pressurized saturated steam at 121 °C (250 °F) for around 15–20 minutes depending on the size of the load and the contents. The autoclave was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879, although a precursor known as the steam digester was created by Denis Papin in 1679. The name comes from Greek auto-, ultimately meaning self, and Latin clavis meaning key, thus a self-locking device. (wikipedia)

• • •

I thought this was a really solid Saturday puzzle, and I really enjoyed solving it ... which made the fact that I ended with an error that much more depressing. All the joy just leaked out of me as I (carefully, fruitlessly) double-checked the grid, hit "Reveal All," and then realized by stupid-but-understandable (by-me) error. The mistake is my fault, not the puzzle's, but it is a direct result of a "?" clue, so it feels ... mean and personal. Ah well. So, I had the bulk of the puzzle solved, everything from the NW to the SE, and I'd already thrown two Acrosses into the SW, so I left that area and went up to work on the much-more-difficult-to-get-into NE. After my failure to get *any* of those short Acrosses up top (except, tentatively, APBS), or any of the longer Downs, I went all the way to the dregs of that section, to the little answers at the bottom ... and promptly put in wrong answers For Both. Wanted LGS for GES and then BRIE for PATÉ. But because I wasn't sure of my first instincts, I let my mind wander to second instincts, and then I could see: PATÉ over GES just fit. I didn't *know* it was right, but I knew. And then ACTED UP confirmed it (11D: Caused a ruckus), and I sighed in relief; not a huge fan of these cut-off corners where you can feel so desperately trapped, so getting ACTED UP made me feel like yes, I've got this. Then I looked at the -AG at the end of 12D: Poor cell connection? Now it's very very important that I looked *here* first and not at 30A: People of Burundi first ... but since at that point I didn't have the initial "T" maybe looking there wouldn't have helped. Anyway, I know very well that TUTSI are a people, and I believe that if I had had the "TU-" in place and looked there first, I would've written in TUTSI. But I looked at 12D: Poor cell connection? first, and with the "P" beginning and the "AG" ending, I thought about connectivity problems and wrote in the one word I most strongly associate with said problems: LAG. Completely convinced myself that PHONE LAG was a thing. And then when the People of Burundi ended up being TULSI, I just thought, "huh, that must be the people they named her after, I did not know that." That is, if TULSI hadn't been an actual famous human being's name, no way I'm going with TULSI. But it is, and I did, the end. Just a perfect storm of misunderstanding and bad luck. I actually thought my wrong letter was the LAT / TULSI crossing! LAT felt very, very ... well, it felt right (short for "latitude") but as a little abbr., it also felt like maybe I was missing a different possibility. Awful all around. All because of a "?" clue.

Before all this disaster, though, I remember really liking the puzzle, especially the opening. I mean...

Always an amazing feeling to open like this—fantastic answer in the first position, no help needed from crosses. And then to follow that up with my wife's home country, the best place on earth, NEW ZEALAND ... I was so happy then (he said, wistfully remembering the time before PHONE LAG). 

Much easier to move through the NW, center, and SE because they aren't locked off from the rest of the puzzle the way the NE and SW corners are. So as I said, I chewed a path diagonally right through the grid down to the SE section. I made a little error here, trying to get into the SW section:

But BERRA (44A: Who famously said "I really didn't say everything I said") quickly made it clear: not an ANT fair or ANT film, but an ART fair/film. That corner was done inside a minute. And then came the NE, which we've already been over at gruesome length. 

ANT film

Didn't know AUTOCLAVES, but everything else in the puzzle is at least reasonably familiar. Nice for a puzzle to get its difficulty from cluing and not from obscurities. Like the clue on BAD TASTE—very tough, very Saturday, very good (13D: What you find kitsch in). And you get a little "aha ... clever" moment to boot. The best clues are the ones that trick you and make you like it. The SILENT O clue was also a bit like this (21A: Amoeba feature). I had a little trouble in the middle of the grid when, despite having several letters, I couldn't get 37A: Bishop's group or 42A: It might be captured on a safari. I also wrote in SSR before KGB, which made matters worse (38D: Cold War inits.). I ended up pulling out correct answers (CNN POLL! CENSUS DATA!!!) just so I could start the middle over with fresh eyes. Then I put those answers back in, took out SSR, pondered on the various meanings of Bishop, though "is there a person named Bishop?" and *finally* got RAT PACK (it's Joey Bishop, kids—before even *my* time, and down the RAT PACK hierarchy, for sure, but ... yep, it's Joey). Struggled a bit with KAFTAN but only because I thought the [Approving inits.] were ADA, not FDA. Floss, not pharmaceuticals. Anyway ... good times. Until they were bad times. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:14 AM  

It always feels good when there’s a place in a puzzle that at one point I think I’m never going to fill in – and then, a bit later, I come back to it and my brain hands me an answer that I didn’t think i knew, or groks a clue that was totally perplexing me, and boom that area is toast. I think that happened three times today.

Plus there were two other things that brightened me all over, and, on the hope that it may brighten some of you as well, I’m going to share them:

CLAMBAKES – This immediately thrust the magnificent music of “Carousel” through me, because “A Real Nice Clambake”. Followed by the beautiful, “Mister Snow”, “If I Loved You”, “Blow High Blow Low”, “June Is Busting Out All Over”, “When The Children Are Asleep”, and “You Never Walk Alone”.

OBAMA BIDEN – Oh, that night in 2008 when Obama won, when hope and joy was in my air, and the years that followed when, as I saw it, intelligence, grace, and class infused the highest office. To me, an extended shining moment.

So, conquering the impossible three times in the puzzle, bright memories, and some lovely answers and clues like [Gathering that occurs once per decade] for CENSUS DATA – all this made for one mighty fine experience. Thank you so much for this, Sam!

Conrad 6:19 AM  

Like @Rex, I had trouble in the NE, among other places. The big problems for me were psaS instead of APBS at 11A, lgS for GES at 39A and SirloInS for the source of tips at 14D. Overwrites in other places: pewPOLL at 25D, hOOf for FOOTAGE at 42A and NEXTinlinE for the counter request at 63A.

OffTheGrid 6:30 AM  

I liked this a lot, too. Given that nothing is perfect I did have three minor upside down smiles while solving.

1. UBERED-ugly
2. SAWERS-acceptable but correct term would be SAWyERS
3. Silent letter clue Amoeba. Please, not on Saturday.

Congrats, Sam, on your first NYT Saturday. It's a gem!

Wordler 6:45 AM  

Only four 5-letter entries today and none suitable for Wordle. I modified a 6 for my starter.

Wordle 294 2/6


SouthsideJohnny 7:16 AM  

Seems like a pretty clean and sparkling grid today with fair (but difficult) clues and light on the trivia. Rex commented “Nice for a puzzle to get its difficulty from cluing and not from obscurities.” Wow, what a concept (seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before though).

BOBA TEA and nagaimo (Chinese YAM) are both new to me - are they any good ? I was wondering what a SILENTO was for a while (I thought it was like a genus or species or something like that), my bad for not picking up on that one right away. It’s enjoyable to work my way through the grid knowing that I had a fighting chance without bumping into trivia everywhere. I wish we had more constructors like Mr. Buchbinder - well done sir.

Harryp 7:44 AM  

Good Puzzle, but I must have spent over half an hour unscrambling the NE section. My first mistake was psas for 11A, then zulus followed by hutus at 30A, and even dmz for 22D. Finally got LAT at 22D, then CUT A DEAL for 25A, and it finally fell. Thank you Sam Buchbinder for a challenging Saturday

Son Volt 7:53 AM  

Solid puzzle - just enough pushback. Liked the long stacks in the NW - SE. CLAMBAKES so prominent there was cool. Not a fan of the two smarmy ones — GERUNDS and SILENT O.

Felt a little crusty. I liked the misdirect but Joey Bishop will be a stretch for some - add BAER, STOOLIES etc to the list also. Backed into KAFTAN.

NEKO much better than the recent Space Case

Enjoyable Saturday solve.

Spatenau 7:53 AM  

Can someone please explain how "folderol" gets to mean "todo"? None of the synonyms I found in dictionaries came close to that meaning. It was all "baloney," "malarkey," etc.

bocamp 7:58 AM  

Thx Sam, for your excellent Sat. puz! :)


Easy, hard & somewhere in between. lol

Had fits with the NW corner, and dnfed at the PHONE TAG / TUTSI cross. Had originally entered 'lag' for 'poor connection', and when entering PHONE, forgot to double check for the obvious TUTSI. The mind just accepted PHONE LAG (called 'brain-lag'), and off I went to suss out the NW.

Nevertheless, a challenging adventure. Liked it! :)

@okanaganer πŸ‘ for QB dbyd :)

These two are opposites, in a way, but always go together with the letter combos.

@Wordler (6:45 AM) πŸ‘ for eagle. :)
yd pg -3

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Joaquin 8:16 AM  

I found this to be quite easy except for some struggles in the NE, SE, NW, SW, and center.

Yep. Got my Jenny kicked two days in a row.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

My experience was just like Rex’s. Sensed that TULSI was wrong, so ran the alphabet on the first letter. (Hulsi? Bulsi?) Took forever to track down.

albatross shell 8:18 AM  

I could see some green paint here and there, and MONICA CERA TUTSI NEKO are not folks that on the tip of my tongue. Everything else was knowable which makes for a excellent Saturday that was difficult enough that I looked up every unknown on my list. I had to work hard to get Rex's blind fill in IT MUST BE NICE. Indeed IT MUST BE NICE.

The path was arduous but filled with many pleasant, delightful ahas.

Strangely I did know AUTOCLAVE and had AFTERALL in without even thinking of AllinALL (See Rex).

Wordle is easy when you hit the right first word. The second word was a forced tap-in. No skill involved.

Wordle 294 2/6*


OTOH I lost my streak yesterday. I forgot to do it. MAY someone tell me what the answer was?

mambridge 8:27 AM  

Why is EBAY a site for a snipe?

wanders 8:46 AM  

Thereon, last second bidding is referred to as "sniping."

Unknown 8:50 AM  

On ebay, a very last minute bid to win is a snipe.

Jeff F 8:58 AM  

Same problem for me today too. Really enjoyed it otherwise! I still don’t know what a “phone TAG” is though.

kitshef 9:07 AM  

Things got off to a bad start with MUST BE NICE, which grates on my ears more than probably any other phrase. It basically says “I’m unhappy so everyone else should be, too”.

Then things got worse with SAWERS. The word is SAWyERS. Whey not go whole hog and clue it as “People that seen things” or “Adage coiners”?

Then MONICA (never heard of) crossing “Common Italian verb ending”. The three verb endings are -are, -ere and -ire. There are MONaCAs and MONeCAs out there.

At this point, there was pretty much nothing the puzzle could do to win me back.

And yet, it did. Basically everything else was nicely clued, or things I didn’t think I knew until I got them, or really nice fill … plus a small amount of glue.

Bravo, Sam. Can’t recall ever disliking a puzzle so much early on but ending up liking it.

Z 9:13 AM  

@Spatenau - Come at it from the other direction. For example, “What is all the TO DO about Wordle and Hostas?”

@mambridge - I believe coming in at the last second with the winning bid is called “sniping,” so the person doing that would be a snipe.

RAT PACK? How old do you have to be to easily see the Joey Bishop play on names? I think 50 is probably the age cutoff for being aware of him at all. That was a great clue in 1996. Today, not so much. I think even bRAT PACK is a pretty dated term and that’s 20-30 years newer. Anyway, the eyebrow shot up in a painful arch when I figured that one out.

But to the puzzle’s credit, we also get NEKO Case and MONICA to bring some PPP balance to the puzzle.

Hand up for wanting lAG at 12D and thus the NE being a bear. I’m mostly over the letteral clue/answer thing, but I must admit that SILENT O made me smile after wasting precious nanoseconds pondering synonyms for pseudopod and trying to pull out of the cobwebbed depths the diagram of the nucleus. Ε’h well. Post solve I spent some time learning about Lake Tanganyika, the largest great lake that I’m unfamiliar with. As I recall, my guesses were arab —> zulu (no they’re from S. Africa area aren’t they?) —> maybe hUlus (dammit, it’s hUtus) to TUTSI (what am I doing in Rwanda?). Yes, Africa is by far my weakest continent geographically and no I did not know Burundi and Rwanda were neighbors, or if I ever knew that I’d forgotten. And yes, lgS before GES didn’t help.

Other big writeover was emBezzle before ROB A BANK. Is it okay if I like my wrong answer more than the right one? Because I do.


bocamp 9:16 AM  

Folderol (falderal):

• Nonsense or foolishness

• A small showy ornament or piece of jewelry

• A decorative detail or feature

• A long and complicated procedure that seems tiresome or pointless (e.g., TO-DO)

rigmarole bother fuss trouble ado kerfuffle ballyhoo hullabaloo hoopla hassle pantomime procedure commotion nonsense pother performance ritual TO-DO carry-on hoo-ha carrying-on fuss and bother bobsy-die lengthy process red tape tedious business palaver song and dance uproar scene (wordhippo.com)
td pg: 18:11 / W: 4*

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Z 9:19 AM  

@bocamp -Did I miss your explanation of your avatar? It just occurred to me who it must be but I’ve spent some time wondering “who’s the hockey player?”

pabloinnh 9:22 AM  

Tough but fair and a real Saturday. Phew. Hand up for the NE taking forever. PSAS held things up, and I wanted an ED at the end of "caused a ruckus", finally tried something UP out of desperation, which worked. I've seen the SILENT__ lots of times, but didn't recognize for, almost, ever. Face palm there.

Smug smile of satisfaction when AUTOCLAVES materialized in the brain out of somewhere. It still sounds like a musical instrument though.

And today my dear granddaughter turns 10, which seems impossible. She and family are presently in England and we had a nice video chat this AM. It is, coincidentally and happily, my birthday as well, or as it has been known for ten years now, The Other Birthday. That's fine by me, as I've had plenty.

So nice work, SB. A Solid Birthday present for me, and thanks for all the fun.

Joel Palmer 9:23 AM  

Isn't the correct word "sawyer" not "sawer" which is almost unpronounceable

amyyanni 9:35 AM  

Saturday puzzle is just right, pshew said all the xword Goldilocks across the land.πŸ₯°
Yes, @Lewis, Carousel definitely comes to mind when CLAMBAKES are mentioned.
And GERUNDS. Love gerunds. Don't know why, just a grammar lesson that intrigued me and stays embedded in my brain.
Well, there's a Dogwood Festival in my future. Happy Spring Saturday!

Pete 9:37 AM  

I spent years trying to justify consumer demand for satellite telephone service, citing research that people wouldn't mind the 1/2 second transmission LAG compared to land lines if the price were low enough. I knew, everyone knew, that that was false. And yet we persisted, and GTE Satellite pretty much went out of business. Needless to say, PHONELAG went right in, and half my solve time was getting rid of TUlSI. At the risk of too macabre a joke, yes, I am a Hutu.

SAWER vs Sawyer - a SAWYER is pretty much a professional, full time job at the lumber mill. SAWER is fine for occasionally using a saw.


Nancy 9:37 AM  

This was a real struggle today, but I managed to solve it without cheating. Why is it that some struggles are unpleasant and some are sublime? I don't know, but this one was sublime. I "kept the faith" and went elsewhere when I couldn't fill in anything in the NW.

Elsewhere was GERUNDS at 31A, confirmed first by GRAF and then by ALG.

I had ODES before OBIT for "Dead lines". Stupid me! It meant that BERRA wouldn't fit and BERRA had to fit. He was the only person I knew up there, other than BAER who I knew but couldn't dredge up out of my fuzzy memory. I just had to hope that the unknown MONICA -- once she finally came in -- would spell her name like all normal MONICAs. Because that Italian verb ending could have been IRE or ORE or ARE just as well.

Someone will tell me why EBAY is a place for a snipe, yes? Happily I hadn't written in ALE instead of RYE for the brewery supply. And I really didn't think that LOTR would have been set in NEW engLAND. MUST BE NICE to have known TMZ: it would have been so helpful. And I will never remember BOBA TEA -- not even if I see it 100 times. It sounds so...unappetizing. Like bubble gum.

Best clue in a very good collection? The one for RAT PACK (37A). Though it might have given younger solvers some problems.

A worthy Saturday "bear" of a puzzle that I very much enjoyed.

RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
JENNY kicked today. The ole brain refusing to cooperate. All of the world conspiring against me filling puz without help. The cognizance decline continues. Har.

As you can tell, tough puz for me today. Ample Check Puzzle feature use. MUST BE NICE to solve this ala Rex. He just breezes through top to bottom, with only a hiccup here and there. Me, I stare at white space until my eyes hurt. Get an answer here, one over there, nothing jiving with the crosses, hit Check Puzzle, find out that indeed the answers are correct, say, "Hmm, so what in tarhooties are the crossers?", rinse, repeat.

Hoping others found it tough, satisfying your demonic need for a "proper" SatPuz. 😁

The TV REPORTER had FOOTAGE of the RAT PACK going to a CLAMBAKE on their DIRT BIKEs after they ROB A BANK brandishing AUTOCLAVES. They drink some BOBA TEA that their ASSISTANTS brought. They don't need to CUT A DEAL, AFTER ALL, they plead a SILENT O, so no STOOLIES can SCAM them.

yd (too many, embarrassing actually)(chalking it up to starting a tad late)(at least that's what I tell myself)

Two F's

albatross shell 9:45 AM  

Define correct.
SAWER is in the scrabble dictionary e.g.
The occupatioal tite is sawyer but here it is a carpenter.

Whatsername 9:48 AM  

With a couple of select cheats (Hey it’s Saturday.) on a few of the propers I was off to the races. As OFL said, a solid Saturday that I enjoyed very much. Some nice misdirects. Very clever way to clue OBIT and RAT PACK was a cool retro reference. Interesting trivia on the POTUS ticket. Those were the days. [sigh]

@Lewis (6:14) “when hope and joy was in my air, and the years that followed when, as I saw it, intelligence, grace, and class infused the highest office.” Beautifully said. When hope, elegance and civility prevailed. Reminded me of JFK and Camelot . . . for one brief shining moment.

Blue Stater 10:03 AM  


bocamp 10:11 AM  

Zed (9:19 AM) πŸ‘

πŸ’ in lieu of a ringette stick.
Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JC66 10:13 AM  

Happy Birthday @Pablo

MetroGnome 10:16 AM  

What the hell is an IBEFOREE??!!

Sixthstone 10:18 AM  

Like most, 1) I enjoyed this puzzle and 2) I had trouble in the NE. I also had trouble in the center with the unfamiliar AUTOCLAVES, tricky RATPACK cluing, and unseen FOOTAGE.

Not only was this puzzle well-clued and appropriately challenging for a Saturday, but the thoughts and imagery were so pleasant. From the beauty of NEW ZEALAND (and an LOTR mention never hurts) to CLAMBAKES on the beach to the humor of Yogi BERRA, etc. The tone of a puzzle makes a difference as Rex often points out, and this was a fine way to spend a Saturday morning!

TJS 10:20 AM  

Man, I love a tough Saturday. And I hated every second of the five minutes I spent on this one. Since many of the people raving about this are people whose opinions I respect, I will just have to assume my mind is not in crossword mode today.

@Lewis, I felt the same as you when Obama/Biden ticket was elected. It's just too bad they only acheived one thing in the 8 years we gave them. Might have spared us the next 4.

Carola 10:22 AM  

I agree with others about this "just right for a Saturday" puzzle and about the tough NE corner. I'd seen GERUNDS fairly quickly, and my glow of triumph at that blinded me for a long time to the second word trick at SILENT O. After finally getting that, I was faced with guessing what "kitsch" might be found in and thought, "The K section of a dictionary?" Anyway - isn't one of those kinds of clues enough for one puzzle? Enough with the kvetching, though. This was fun to grapple with and to figure out.

As a germaphobic new mom 48 years ago, I told relatives and friends who wanted to come and see the baby that they first had to put themselves though an AUTOCLAVE.

Do-over: Me, too, for psaS. Help from previous puzzles: CERA, NEKO. No idea: MONICA.

Hartley70 10:28 AM  

This was a gem of a Saturday puzzle and I finished in my usual Saturday time. The NW filled in quickly and then the SE, only to leave me hanging in limbo. Thank goodness for AUTOCLAVE, my key to the solve. Joey Bishop and a head slap were next.

CLAMBAKES spell childhood in RI. Too much work today, but there’s a terrific company here that bundles up the ingredients you need in a net inside a galvanized bucket. You bring it home and steam it on the stove or grill. It may not be the original method, but it’s a big hit on a summer evening in this family.

STOOLIES, such a wonderful word that I never hear anymore, opened up the NE and helped me get SILENTO. I’ve had my GE for 26 years and it’s still cool despite not being stainless steel. I have to say that BOBATEA sounds vile, like fish eyes floating in a milky sea, but I remembered it when necessary for just that reason. The extra wide straw completes the gross out.

I had a barrel of fun with this one and then I got to read @Lewis today and had a moment of serendipity. Thank you for that eloquent remembrance of a much more optimistic time, @Lewis.

Birchbark 10:34 AM  

I understood the AUTOCLAVE to be a type of Appalachian harpsichord used in bluegrass/classical crossover compositions.

No TODO about anything: @Spatenau (7:53) re "Folderol" -- It took three dictionaries (two unabridged) to even find the word. On the third try, through the magnifying glass, the old Book-of-the-Month Compact OED just said see "Falderol," where it's defined as sing-song words or "goo-gaws." Webster's 2d (which I trust most) sees the preferred spelling as "Falderal" and defines it in similar sing-song terms. Both dictionaries reference a French expression, "fol de rol."

Meanings evolve according to popular usage of course, and these are older dictionaries.

@Pete (9:37) -- Nice PHONElAG/satellite observation, and true in our case as consumers.

Wanderlust 10:42 AM  

Fan-frigging-tastic Saturday challenge. Rex is absolutely right that the challenge came in the wonderful cluing, not the obscurity. There wasn’t a single thing in this one that I didn’t know, but it took a lot of puzzling to get many of the answers, and so many made me smile when I did - including the one that tripped up Rex.

As for most, the NE was the last to fall, and I worried I’d have to cheat to finish but avoided it. Hand up for psaS before APBS, and I had hUTus before TUTSI. I just would not give those up for the longest time. I just did not see what else the Burundians could be because I was thinking it had to be plural. I finally pulled psaS, and voila! I saw BAD TASTE, pulled hUTus, saw TUTSI, and the rest came easily. BAD TASTE and PHONE TAG were favorite clues, even though they cost me so much time. CENSUS DATA, OBIT and FOOTAGE were also excellent.

As is often the case, the dreaded PPP was what gave me footholds - NEKO, BERRA, YETI, CERA, OBAMA-BIDEN all went right in. And knew the ELDEST March sister was Meg. Loved it!

jberg 10:43 AM  

A fine puzzle, except for the MONICA/CERA Natick. I had to look it up (I had _RE for the Italian ending, but was thinking something along the lines of MONadA for the singer. I mean, why not?

Otherwise, though, I got to TUTSI before I had PHONE (and rejected HUtus as a POC), got AUTOCLAVE and I BEFORE E from one cross each, and admired the tricky clues. I did think SILENT O and GERUNDS was one too many of whatever kind of clue that is. Like half of the commenters so far, I had PSAS before APBS (mentally criticizing the puzzle for duplicating one of the initialized words in the clue-- I should have learned by now that maybe I should rethink my answer in such cases), and although I knew that I knew Max BAER, it took about 5 minutes for the name to pop into my head. But all in all a pleasant solving experience.

If it wasn't for the BOBA TEA I'd think this puzzle had been constructed before 2009, when the first lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson by a woman who claimed that their TALC powder had caused her ovarian cancer (there are now 20,000 plaintiffs, reportedly). So maybe we should find something else to guard our rear.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

Thanks, @Wordler, 6:45!! My first challenge was figuring out what you must have done.

Wordle 294 2/6


burtonkd 10:47 AM  

Perfect Saturday in my book! Fun clues, very few immediately obvious answers, but never felt completely stuck, despite worrisome seas of white squares.

Rex's SSR led me to CLAMrAKES. It looked like a perfectly plausible activity. You gotta rake them before you can bake them. Crosses led to the "oh, yeah that's better" moment.

Birchbark, you might be thinking of the autoharp?

@Southside, I don't have any image on where you might live. At any rate, BOBATEA has been popular in NYC for some time. Flavorful tea of many varieties - frequently fruity and/or milky, with pea sized BOBAs you suck up through the large straw - think little balls the consistency of tapioca. Definitely not a diet drink.

oceanjeremy 10:50 AM  

This was a SUPER easy solve… right up until the NE. Same misdirect as OFL (my wife wrote in BRIE before correcting it to PATE). Then we were stuck.

Probably spent as much time staring at the NE as we did solving the entire rest of the puzzle. Then somewhere from the dark recesses of my brain I heard an old-timey noir detective say “STOOLIES,” and the rest fell into place.

We also really wanted PSAs over APBs, though we (of course) knew PSAs are more the realm of TV than radio. We got there eventually.

Much like OFL, I opened the paper and glanced at 1A and immediately said “MUST BE NICE.” That answer, crossing 6D with its “Snipe” clue, made me want to go watch some Letterkenny.

So here’s a few PSAs:

- Do NOT, as 52A suggests, put TALC anywhere near your “rear” or otherwise nether regions. It will give you cancer.

- DO watch Letterkenny. Some of the smartest and most hilarious television I have ever seen. Both wholesome and rebellious at the same time. It’s also truly unlike anything I have ever watched. Really nothing like it. They speak quickly with a rural Canadian accent, so I recommend turning on the subtitles — lest you miss one of the fifteen or more jokes crammed into every sentence that comes out of every character’s mouth.

Nancy 10:59 AM  

Oops. Reading the blog, I discover that my PHONE LAG/TULSI was wrong. I thought TULSI was rather odd, but I never once thought of PHONE TAG. To me, PHONE TAG has nothing to do with a "poor connection" even in the most crossword-puzzle-y "I am here to fool you and mess with your head" sense. PHONE TAG isn't a problem with technology, it's a problem with inconsiderate people and organizations who refuse to ever answer their bleeping phones.

There. I've said it.

jae 11:03 AM  

Medium. Problems: psas before APBS, ashe before GRAF, gasping before GERUNDS, ssr before KGB. Finally remembering AUTOCLAVES from watching ER in the ‘90s really helped. Solid Saturday, liked it.

Son Volt 11:05 AM  

@pablo - enjoy today and many more. Knowing your affinity for good suds - I have a Maine Lunch set aside for later that I will tilt towards NH.

Joe Dipinto 11:08 AM  

"Didja see 'er?"
"Yeah, I saw 'er. Again. She's a site for sore eyes, that's for sure."
"You mean 'sight'."
"No, I mean 'site'. She's got images of sore eyes tattooed on her back. Actually they're a real eyesore."
"Wow. Still, I gotta say— boy're you lucky! You gonna see 'er again tonight?"
"Mmm, I dunno. We'll see. I'm up and down about it."
"Like you're on a seesaw."
"Sorta. More or less."
"I dig. Oh btw, can I borrow your copy of 'Tom Sawyer'? I left mine in the foyer of my lawyer's office."
"No problem."
"Aw, you're a pal."

Don't mind me. This felt like it took me longer than yesterday's puzzle but it actually took about ten minutes less. Weird. CHAT and FOOTAGE hung around from yesterday. I confidently entered ONE CELL for "Amoeba feature", because, I mean really, what other feature does an amoeba have? Wait, don't answer that! SILENTO!


Ivan L. 11:16 AM  

slowed considerably by plunking BORG and GIRAFFE confidently in the middle.

Joe Dipinto 11:35 AM  

@Ivan L. – GIRAFFE? lolol

egsforbreakfast 11:37 AM  

So how do you like your fridges?
They’re broken
Oh, that’s strange. My GE RUNDS fine.

I’d rather ROBABANK than BOBATEA.

Exclamation to the Poet Eliot upon seeing his nicely bronzed derriΓ¨re? …………….

I’m KEEN to CHAT MORE, YETI must be off to RYE. But first, Happy Birthday to @pabloinnh and granddaughter.

Wonderful Saturday puzzle. My experience was like that of many others. I knew I would eventually have to tackle the NE, and after a few nanoyears I succeeded and danced to the happy music. Thanks, Sam Buchbinder.

Birchbark 11:37 AM  

@Burtonkid (10:47) -- Just playing around, thinking of mythical cousin of the autoharp, but based on a baroque instrument known as the clavier. I find myself alone with my humor now and then.

I'm indeed an autoharp fan (from old Carter Family albums and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle be Unbroken"). It's also Catherine O'Hara's instrument in "A Mighty Wind." Fun.

beverly c 11:43 AM  

I liked this puzzle.
Thanks to folks here for explaining why there wasn’t a y in SAWERS.
I also liked MUSTBENICE — and more so because I didn’t see it right away.
NE was the biggest challenge but once I took out psas it began to come together.

andrew 11:45 AM  

This was one puzzle where, as the ancient Stones sang, Time is on My Side.

Time being my 67 years with some of the answers - RATPACK, BERRA, GRAF, even GES - coming relatively easily. Knew CERA from his great role as George Michael Bluth. Never heard of MONICA - “(in)Famous Intern” clue would have been better but even that was 25 years ago.

For me, Saturdays are usually just hard but not much fun. This one was both. Well done, says this Boomer!

What? 11:46 AM  

I before E

Teedmn 11:47 AM  

I was swimming against the current today - I found my start in the NE and branched out from there, getting CENSUS DATA from just the SILENT O "s". But my lack of geographical knowledge messed up my NW, thinking ALB had to be the B.C. neighbor (it is, in fact) and not knowing B.C. extended past Wash. state. Also, I was convinced that the website with a tip page would be the IRS - turn in tax scofflaws, people! Har. So even though I was 99.9% sure LOTR was filmed in NEW ZEALAND, I walked away from that area and started down the grid, which worked just fine.

Sam Buchbinder, thanks for, as @amyyanni so well put it, this Goldilocks Saturday puzzle.

@pabloinnh, happy birthday!

@kitshef, “People that seen things”, har.

Gary Jugert 11:48 AM  

@MetroGnome "I" before "e" -- (except after "c"): spelling "rule" with lots of exceptions.

Masked and Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Easier at our house than the FriPuz was. Only feisty region was in the center, where the AUTOCLAVES of mystery crossed three perfectly smoooth answers with perfectly sneaky clues: GERUND. RATPACK. FOOTAGE.

staff weeject pick: ALG. Better clue: {Mauled word that would suitably come after item or ejt??}.


some scattered no-knows: MONICA. BOBATEA. NEKO. TMZ [Had no idea, other than have seen it several times in puzs]. M&A just always assumes that ™ Z is somehow associated with Placebo Tentacle ventures.

har. M&A definitely needs to do a Yogi Berra quip runtpuz, sometime soon.

Thanx for all the themeless safari funtage, Mr. Buchbinder dude.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Joe Dipinto 11:55 AM  

Oops, @Ivan – sorry, I mistakenly pictured your GIRAFFE being where GERUNDS is, not FOOTAGE. GIRAFFE is a totally appropriate answer for the safari clue.

Joseph Michael 12:01 PM  

I cheated six times in order to complete this, but at least I didn’t give up. Don’t know how long I spent trying to decipher the meaning of “First winning presidential ticket to alternate vowels and consonants.” And I’ve never been to a CLAM BAKE, so my seaside gatherings were “memorials” (and I have been to a lot of those).

Biggest and most pleasant surprise was discovering that the once-per-decade gathering was not an esoteric term that sounded like ancient Latin, but rather CENSUS DATA. Also really liked MUST BE NICE, ROB A BANK, PHONE TAG, and BAD TASTE. So much great fill.

Sam, you knocked me for a loop, but I enjoyed your puzzle anyway. Now for lunch I’m going to have some Italian SILENTO on RYE, a side of YAM, and a big cup of BOBA TEA.

Gary Jugert 12:06 PM  

Fun and tough puzzle (except Bishop. Ug). NE was really tough. Too many yays to list.

I do wonder how a Burundian would assess 30A. Yes, Tutsi is true, but would we say, "People of Canada" and answer "Scots" (?) or "People of United States" and answer "African Americans"? Those are both true, and we might say that in a puzzle (but I doubt it) and roughly the same ethnic percentages as Tutsi, but to me it feels a bit awkward. Any people of Burundi read this blog?

Z 12:12 PM  

@jberg & @oceanjeremy - The American Cancer Society offers a science based opinion. We don’t actually know what causes ovarian cancer, but we do know the risk factors. Some of these are somewhat of completely under a person’s control, but many of these risk factors are completely outside a person’s control. Maybe at some point an actual link will be found, but the “talcum causes ovarian cancer” contention looks a lot like blame assigning without any real evidence to support it.
And anyone feeling guilty about having used talcum powder to give their babies comfort should stop feeling guilty.

@birchbark - weird - Folderol comes right up in MW Online with falderol as the less frequent alternative.

Beezer 12:13 PM  

After having a breeze of a 15 minute romp through the Friday puzzle, I then take 42 to finish the puzzle today! I ALMOST gave up and cheated a few times but walked away then came back to have some lightbulbs turn on. Fun puzzle overall with very little junk.

Hand up for having PSAS for way too long. Also, since archdiocese wouldn’t fit, my go to Bishop was ELVIN but then I thought HIS group was actually called The Elvin Bishop Group. Yep, Joey was a low level rat packer, although he finally came to mind.

I have absolutely no idea why I know the word AUTOCLAVE but I do, and it really helped me out. I also knew CVS bought AETNA because I signed up for Medicare Part D last year but otherwise that clue seemed pretty random.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 12:17 PM  

@mambridge 8:27 AM - ikr?! @wanders 8:46 AM @Unknown 8:50 AM - Thank you!

Mike in Bed-Stuy 12:23 PM  

@Zed 9:13 AM but really just a general comment disguised as a reply. When it comes to PPP, you simply need to take your lumps. This old Boomer struggled with, well, struggled with most of this puzzle, but when RAT PACK finally did fall into place, I was, like, "Whoa! I love it, but the Rex crowd is going to hate (on) it." And no, I did not know MONICA or NEKO...had to get them via crosses...but learn supm' new, I always say.

Airymom 12:24 PM  

The puzzle was very challenging. After the first run through, I had half of one corner done. But I finished (after making the same missteps as many---PSA vs. APB, LG vs. GE)and am very impressed with the fresh vocabulary and clever clues. ("Ibeforee" and "phonetag" were my favorites.)

Cera was my "gimme"---my son has been stopped on the street many times by people asking him if he's Michael Cera. We were having lunch at the Rock and Roll HOF museum ten years ago, and the family at the next table kept staring at him. Their pre-teener came over and asked my son for an autograph. Fun and fond memory.

I think this is one of the best puzzles the NY Times has published this year. Congratulations to the constructor.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 12:26 PM  

@pabloinnh 9:22 AM - Remember that time Holden Caulfield had surgery on his clavichord?

Mike in Bed-Stuy 12:30 PM  

@Nancy 9:37 AM - We are on the same page to a stunning degree with remarkable regularity. But should OBIT not be clued as an abbreviation? Or "in short" or "informally" or something like that? The word is, after all "obituary," is it not?

Mike in Bed-Stuy 12:34 PM  

@Whatsername 9:48 AM - In cases like this, I like to say "confirm" instead of "cheat." The distinction is looking something up after I have it in the grid, for confirmation. I did that for MONICA after I failed to confirm "SONICA" (which in fact is a band, as you might imagine, but is not the R&B artist in question). I did it for NEKO when the crosses finally gave it to me. So I am only mildly ashamed, rather than wracked with guilt.

Floridamam 12:37 PM  

One error though in 28 Down. Steffi Graf was indeed the #1 ranked tennis player for 377 weeks, but NOT CONSECUTIVE weeks. Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles were ranked #1 for several weeks in between.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

21A stymied me for quite a long time. I had put in GERUNDS at 31A earlier, so I was not watching out for a literal grammar/language/spelling clue elsewhere.

GE/LG/GE/LG - must've swapped out these two fridges 20 times as the NE corner would just not open. Also toggled between TUTSI and HUTUS. Part of my problem there was that PETTRICK fit at 25A, and it went in first before anything else in that corner. It stayed around much too long.

Rob 12:46 PM  

Mens REA? I had never heard of this.

Rob 12:47 PM  

Mens REA. I'm not familiar with this.

burtonkd 12:54 PM  

@Birchbark - this is one example of when explaining a joke helped. Sequencing the works of J.S. Bach could be autoclaving? Or a really early player piano?

@Nancy - the misdirect seems to be that the clue wasn't asking for technology, but the problems people have had connecting since time in memoriam.

With all the backtracking research it took to figure out folderol = todo, kudos to the constructor for thinking of it in the first place!

CuppaJoe 1:20 PM  

I worked my way through college with various factory, office and restaurant jobs. People would say it’s good for your character to have worked in a factory which is where I learned the word, AUTOCLAVE. We sat at a conveyor belt to wrap q-tips and tongue depressors in paper which were then sterilized. I pretended the conveyor belt was a moving train; every morning I had 8 hours and decided where I would go on the rails. I did the puzzle last night and woke up imagining the click click of the pre-wrap machine from so many years ago. The factory expression I’d like to see in a crossword is, “make rate”.

Nancy 1:41 PM  

@Mike in Bed-Stuy (12:30) -- There are some abbreviations that seem to have almost eclipsed the words from which they're derived -- and, though I certainly wouldn't insist on it, I'm inclined to put OBIT in that category. Maybe some people still say: "Did you read his obituary in the Times" but most people I know, including me, would say "Did you read his obit?"

Other words I'd put in that category are MATH and LAB. No one says "mathematics" or "laboratory" anymore.

@burtonkd (12:54) -- That's an interesting perspective I hadn't thought of. But the word "cell" in the clue made me think of technology. Also, while it's certainly true that people have always had problems connecting, I don't think that, before the digital age, there were devices being deliberately created to make it easier to avoid connection.

Case in point: Caller ID. Before Caller ID, you couldn't decide to not pick up your phone in order to avoid the frog, because -- who knew? -- you might be missing the Prince.

I believe that most modern gadgets and apps are more geared toward keeping people apart than bringing them together.

Birchbark 2:01 PM  

@Burtonkd (12:54) -- Exactly.

Much more TO-DO about Folderol: @Zed (12:12) re Folderol/Falderol/Falderal -- the spelling point is fair, if vexing. See also @Bocamp's (9:16) wordhippo.com cite, so far the only one with a definition that supports today's clue.

I double-checked the other dictionaries at hand, none of which is less than 30 years old. The Random House Unabridged follows the OED in directing "Folderal" seekers to preferred "Falderal", defined as sing-song words or "gew gaws." Same with American Heritage 2nd Collegiate and The New Lexicon Webster's. Dr. Johnson's 1st (1753) is silent, which pleases us.

Sometime between 1943 (Webster's 2d) and 1984 (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate), Merriam-Webster decided to prefer "Folderol" to "Falderol." Probably the Third Unabridged. No reason stated for the change, though it squares with the Fol-de-rol "tra-la" root.

I don't fault Merriam Webster for taking this principled (and prescriptive) step away from above-cited "Falderal" canon. But could it be the real reason Nero Wolfe tears pages out of the Third Unabridged and throws them into the fireplace?

Would really like to know the authority behind that wordhippo.com "folderol" definition -- the only one so far supporting today's clue for TO-DO.

Beezer 2:02 PM  

@Nancy, I think that your idea of PHONETAG is what others would call just plain rudeness. Real phone tag takes two to tango and rudeness is NOT involved, for example in a work day you call a familiar and friendly contact. The contact is in a meeting, gets back to their desk, listens to your voicemail and immediately calls back, but NOW you are away from desk and in a meeting. It actually becomes a bit of a joke between the two parties who actually DO want to talk to each other. I always tried to do a hybrid situation by emailing the person to set up a precise time to talk each other. So yes, phone tag is frustrating but does not really connote avoidance or bad intent.

Master Melvin 2:21 PM  

Is SAWER legit? I'll have to consult my LAWER.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  


okanaganer 2:37 PM  

Yes Rex, New Zealand looks nice. My dad went there for the Commonwealth Games in 1974 in Christchurch (our cousin won a gold medal and silver medal in diving). I was shocked when I looked at downtown Christchurch in Google Street View time machine... the later views versus the earliest show the extensive destruction from the earthquake.

I thought the Bishop's group was CLERICS, which fit with SCAM and SSR.

Also had ARE for the common Italian verb ending. Then looking at MONACA I thought, naw, it's IRE. A new clue for such a frequent crossword answer!

[Spelling Bee: yd (Fri) 10:40 to pg, then eventually QB when I ended with this.]

Anonymous 2:38 PM  


Anonymous 2:41 PM  

You call someone, leave a message.
They call you back. You're not home. They leave a message, etc. Until you finally speak.

Z 2:52 PM  

@Mike in Bed-Stuy - Regarding PPP - As I implied, that Bishop clue would have been great once upon a time, and I think the RAT PACK are crossworthy, especially on a Saturday. But going cutesy with someone not Sinatra or Martin or Davis is a push even on a Saturday in 2022.

@Floridamam - It looks like somebody misread Wikipedia when they wrote that clue. Whoopsie.

@Rob - Not a lawer? Mens REA will be in a crossword near you again soon. REA has been in the puzzle 382 times, mostly as the actor Stephen REA but the legal term pops up quite a bit, too.

@Birchbark - Merriam-Webster is descriptivist so probably made the change because “folderol” is what they were finding in writing.
And it still feels to me like many are thinking that “folderol” doesn’t match TO DO because they aren’t thinking of TO DO as a synonym for “nonsense.” I think both can replace “ado” in “much ado about nothing” and convey the same meaning, for example.

Speaking of Merriam-Webster - No separate entry for SAWER but they list it under Other words from saw. SAWyER has its own entry.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Amazing! This is the first time ever that my wife and I finished and Rex didn't.

We knew TUTSI, thanks to 60 steady years of reading the NY Times, and hutus not working with LAT. Knew autoclave. Never even though that PATE might be brie of that GES might be lgs.

SAWER (not really a word) crossing CERA (who?) verged on extreme even for a Saturday, but what else could it be other than an R?

For 37A, kept trying to think of a synonym for synod.


Anoa Bob 3:29 PM  

This Saturday was as tough as a hickory nut to crack with lots of cluing that bordered on the "How can that be right?" level typical of Saturday puzzles.

I always notice the black square count. Yesterday's had 36 which I think is a little high for a themeless while today's is 28. This lower count resulted in more of what might be called non-nutritive fill, a kind of letter count inflation (LCI) added to base words or phrases that boost grid fill power without adding much of substance to the puzzle.

One LCI is changing a verb from present to past tense, often resulting in a two letter boost, such as happens with UBERED and ACTEDUP. The most common LCI is the plural of convenience (POC) and there's a bunch of them here. AUTOCLAVE was too small for the job as were AD SLOGAN and CLAM BAKE. And there were a couple of two for one POCs where a single S gives two entries, a Down and an Across, a grid fill boost. The most frequent place for this convenient S is the lower, rightmost square. Also of note down there is ASSISTANTS, a kind of super POC because it is a POC in and of itself plus it enables four other POCs. The mother of all super POCs would be ASSESSES. Still waiting to see that one in a grid.

This non-nutritive type of fill seems to increase as the number of black squares decreases past a critical point. I'm still thinking that point, the sweet spot for a themeless, is around 30-32 black squares where there's plenty of open space to put in interesting fill without having to resort to excessive LCIs to get it done.

The AD SLOGAN "Join the Navy and see the world" was one of the reasons I signed up and I was super excited when I was assigned right out of basic training to a ship already in the Western Pacific that was scheduled to make port of calls in Australia and NEW ZEALAND. Then up popped the Vietnam War and we spent most of our time in the Tonkin Gulf. Never even made it south of the equator. Major disappointment there.

EV 4:23 PM  

Try telling my brain “it’s NOT astrolabe!”

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

... or when sounded like A as in neighbour and weigh

Joe Dipinto 4:58 PM  

@Pablo – you're never going to receive your due accolades if you keep mentioning your granddaughter's birthday first. Obviously she's walking all over you and you're just letting her do it. Time to fix that.

Put your foot down and say "It's MY birthday. MINE MINE MINE. She's horning in on MY day, not the other way around. I want presents. Where are my presents, dammit?"

Hope you get some nice presents. Happy Birthday!

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Rule often broken: “I before E, except after C”

But I can’t think of an exception off hand. …

JC66 6:12 PM  

@Anon 5:15

As mentioned above. two examples are nEIghbor and wEIgh.

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

I reasoned "amboeba" is a eurkaryote and about the simplest one there is, so naturally the answer must be "nucleus", the *feature* that distinguishes them from prokaryotes. Disappointed by the actual answer!

bocamp 6:29 PM  

Having some fun with the 'i before e, except after c' rule:

Christopher Ingraham, in The Washington Post, cites a University of Warwick statistician who claimed most words follow an "e before i, except after c" pattern over an "i before e, except after c" pattern. Ingraham pokes fun at the nosedive we just took, writing:

As it turns out, for every "ceiling" there's a "concierge," a "conscience" and some "celibacies." For every "deceit," there are "deficiencies," "delicacies" and a "dicier." The iciest glaciers make idiocies out of the conceit of "except after c.

So, although the classic mnemonic is pleasing to the ears (and occasionally true), it's a catchy phrase that many are stepping away from.

If you're really holding on to the "i before e, except after c" ideal, then you'd have to follow Merriam Webster's lead and update it to be more accurate, although much less catchy:

• I before e, except after c
• Or when sounded as 'a' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'
• Unless the 'c' is part of a 'sh' sound as in 'glacier'
• Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like 'fancier'
• And also except when the vowels are sounded as 'e' as in 'seize'
• Or 'i' as in 'height'
• Or also in '-ing' inflections ending in '-e' as in 'cueing'
• Or in compound words as in 'albeit'
• Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in 'cuneiform'
• Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as 'science', 'forfeit', and 'weird'. (grammar.yourdictionary.com)

@okanaganer πŸ‘ for QB yd :)
Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Son Volt 6:37 PM  

I have an APB - Stella Z’s Stumper is aptly named today.

Teedmn 6:44 PM  

Weird science.

Geoff H 7:13 PM  

Love to see NEKO Case getting some NYT recognition.

LateSolver 8:26 PM  

YAY! Back to a normal Saturday! Sticky, but because of clever cluing and not obscure/obsolete answers or cluing except maybe folderol and Joey Bishop). Stubborn but not as offensive as the last couple of Saturdays.

Christophe 9:35 PM  

Bobatea? I call it Bib'l tea.

Beezer 11:09 PM  

A day late and a dollar short, but I think of a “sawyer” (last name derivation) as someone at a lumber mill and not a carpenter who saws off already “finished” lumber (I.e. a 2 x 4 or board) to a shorter length than what one can buy in the market. I agree “sawer” seems awkward but AOK by me.

Breakfast Tester 6:43 PM  

I searched the comments and I'm really surprised that nobody mentioned that tulsi is an actually word. It's a plant also known as holy basil.

Nor did anyone mention the nice crossing of BEFORE and AFTER.

You're welcome.

Rachel 1:11 PM  

This puzzle started out easy and fun for me, in the NW. Obama/Biden was my first entry, as it was easy to figure out using method of elimination in reverse chron order. And I knew LOTR was filmed in New Zealand, so that wrote itself too. But it was all downhill from there! I think Saturdays in general are just too hard for me. My skills aren't there yet.

John Wallman 9:48 PM  
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PhysGraf 8:29 PM  

Same problem with Monaca too. I've heard of Monica and know plenty of regular old Monicas but for some reason I wanted to spell it Monaca like a town nearby in PA. Alas

PhysGraf 8:33 PM  

I don't care if I'm a week and a half late posting. It's for posterity... Naticked at KAATAN/ADA because both of those make mors sense in the clueing (double As common in Arabic to English translation and ADA approved a bit more common than FDA).


thomas 9:54 PM  
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thefogman 12:56 PM  

Very tough. The hardest part was in the center with all the words surrounding the unknown AUTOCLAVES. Every square was a battle. Lots of deceptive cluing like the ones for
FOOTAGE and RATPACK.CENSUSDATA took forever to infer especially since I was looking for a single word. But I did it. This one should be ranked challenging - not medium - even for a Saturday..

spacecraft 1:30 PM  

WOD AUTOCLAVE was my way in! Worked in hospitals a lot. That gave rise to TVREPORTER and the SE. I know of cAFTAN with a C, but not K, so it took a while getting out of there. Started over in the NW by hoping nobody came before OBAMA-BIDEN that fit the clue; finished that (!) and then the center. Then I was staring at those two sawed-off SW/NE corners, with only AFTERALL poking in.

Had to put it down (EAT it??). Returned later and tried CUTADEAL--and suddenly saw BADTASTE. The big groaner: SILENTO. I'd like to stab Sam with a SILENTO! At long last (total solving time, counting the break: two hours), I hit upon BERRA--duh--and tried ROBABANK. The rest soon fell; I balked a bit at NEKO, of whom I had no idea, but left it in. The result is a record-breaking avalanche of triumph points. This was UBER-ED-tough. Did not realize that DOD Steffi GRAF spent seven full years on top. Birdie (can't give eagle to a grid with 21a in it).

Missed an easy birdie putt:


Burma Shave 1:38 PM  


TODO the DEAL with SILENT gall,


Diana, LIW 4:43 PM  

It MUSTBENICE to know all those names. I'm looking at you, CERA.

Of course, starting off with PSAS in lieu of APBS slooooooowed me down for quite a while. Even after getting the SILENTO and GERUNDS.

So I did a fine job, but not a perfect one.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Tom Hanks 9:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Made in Japan 3:20 PM  

Working on some old puzzles I never saw the first time around, I was a bit disappointed at 17A - not the answer NEW ZEALAND, but the uninspired Monday-level clue (Is there anyone who doesn't know LOTR was filmed there?). The NW corner was already on the easy side, and it would have been nice to have a tricky clue, or at least one that taught us something we don't know about this beautiful country.

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