Some arcade habitués / SAT 8-6-2022 / For whom the gymnast Nadia Comaneci won gold in 1976 / 1984 #3 hit with the lyric "Ain't no law against it yet" / Sheltie shelterer, in brief / Worker who processes wool

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium (mostly)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EDSELS (41D: Group with the 1961 hit "Rama Lama Ding Dong," with "the") —
The Edsels were an American doo-wop group active during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The name of the group was originally The Essos, after the oil company (!!!), but was changed to match the new Ford automobile, the Edsel. They recorded over 25 songs and had multiple performances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

Today the group is known almost exclusively for "Rama Lama Ding Dong," written by lead singer George "Wydell" Jones, Jr. The song was recorded in 1957 and released, under the erroneous title "Lama Rama Ding Dong," in 1958. It did not become popular until 1961, after a disc jockey in New York City began to play it as a segue from the Marcels' doo-wop version of "Blue Moon." (wikipedia)


• • •
Hi hi, everyone. Amy Nelson here, another first-time Rexword contributor, and I'm excited to be filling in today. 

Solving this puzzle was an emphatically fine experience. An okay time was had by all. Throughout, the grid largely contained what felt to me like fresh fill, relatively speaking (if nothing else, LIESL got another day off, bless her heart). There was also minimal crosswordese to tangle with. But, at the same time, I wouldn't so much call this a particularly entertaining puzzle. And Byron Walden's previous NYT puzzles have, in my experience, been generally delightful solving events (if at times maddeningly challenging), so my expectations were perhaps unfairly high. That said, I'll go ahead and call in some of the hard PASSes I had to dole out in this one.

First off, DESK PERSON??? I just... I can't with it. Nor do I want to with it. DESK PERSON is the kind of fill that seems to have been designed specifically to torpedo an otherwise potentially lively puzzle. The cluing PRETTY straightforwardly signaled (in what for me didn't read in a very buzzy way) that the answer was going to be a job involving, well, something other than standing. (I initially just wrote "sitting" but I guess there are also jobs where you're, like, lying down... a lot? Like... a mechanic? Is there such a thing as a professional sleeper? That would be a great job. I would like to be that when I grow up please.) But really, DESK PERSON? I could honestly rant about this one answer for my entire post, but y'all get it. I don't want to become a one-note BORE straight out of the gate.

Other "nope" moments for me included THE NFL (get out of my crossword if you're already taking up this much real estate in my daily news pls & thx), JUICE BAR (just... blah), and BUBBA, or, more specifically, the arguably stale (and a lot less lighthearted in the #MeToo era) cluing for BUBBA [27A: Nickname for Bill Clinton]. Vanderpump Rules watchers, assemble! (IYKYK.)

It would also, I think, offend exactly no one if the NYT would just give SSN and OLE a rest already, even if only a temporary one. I know, I know, pigs sooner flying, etc. I can at least appreciate the unexpected cluing for OLE [44A: "Still the Same ___ Me" (George Jones album)] this time around. But E-TAIL can fully go ahead and get laid out on a pyre and be set on fire and pushed out to sea and maybe it'll eventually be like it was never even here.

High points, and there were a few, included JUMP FOR JOY [5A: Jubilate] (clue-into-answer alliteration? and with J's, no less? *chef's kiss*) and PÈRE [25A: ___ Noël], but the Christmas season is one of my favorite things in life, so maybe I'm biased. I also really liked the clever cluing for MEDIUMS [7D: Dead ringers?] and FALL ISSUE [37A: It's bound to run in the third quarter]. (Full disclosure: I 100% spent the bulk of today's solving time forgetting that baseball doesn't do "quarters" and consequently trying to come up with the name of whatever baseball position it would be that would, idk, be doing this running at this part of the baseball game?).
This particular Père Noël is decidedly *not* a high point.

Additionally, with IUD seemingly have been made to shoulder the entire [26A: Form of birth control] cluing brunt for *checks watch* ever, VASECTOMY shows up here as both flashier, more interesting fill as well as an example of topical fill that isn't a) so blandly on the nose, like THE NFL, or b) connotative of something especially, as Rex put it on Thursday in reference to TASE, violently off-putting.

Yet even with the occasional amusements interspersed throughout the grid, it felt like the puzzle as a whole was sort of weighed down by a larger proportion of insipid answers and/or cluing. In my opinion, the down answers suffered more from this than the across ones did, as when the lineup of two-word down answers in the NE corner (JUICE BAR OSCAR BID YES DEAR) spilled over into the SW corner (CHAT LINE LEFT ENDS) before essentially petering out into similarly unremarkable shorter fill (TROOPED BATTENS FULLER). I mean, regardless of whether or not it lands for you personally, at least BIDENOMICS has unfamiliarity/newness working for it. 

On the other hand, ENDOWMENTS will likely never be the thing that successfully elevates a puzzle, and PUTS ON HOLD isn't bringing much to the [43A: Tables] either. Elsewhere, instances of more compelling fill (SHE BOP SONORA, for example) are, to some extent, diminished, whether it be by irksome parallel answers, like ULTRAS, or by crosses with a watering-down effect, like BORE ORAL PASS. These occurrences of, for lack of a better way of describing it, canceling-out exacerbate this puzzle's kind of global "meh" quality, resulting in the shining bits of fill being too often overshadowed.

To wrap up, I'd say that this week's Saturday issue was somewhat easier than others we've seen in recent weeks. However, there were some answers that I was only able to get because I knew enough of the crossing fill (GUSTAV, ROLLO, DEL SARTO, BOK). Unsurprisingly, all are names; indeed, all are names that, with the exception of DEL SARTO, could have been clued in more engaging ways. Why you'd forgo the chance to involve a Viking in your puzzle is, frankly, a question I don't care to know the answer to.

This is... one of the stranger music videos I've seen in a while? If you have ~5 minutes, I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch. And if you've got an hour to spare, you can watch it twelve times.

Variety acts:
  • 29A: Make sound (REPAIR) — Not, in fact, as in: (transitive) "make" [an] "audible sound." Yeah... idk, -PEAL ended up as guess fill early on for some reason after I inexplicably ran with this incorrect interpretation of the clue, and it took ages to identify it as the root of that problem area.
  • 36A: A whole bunch (RAFTS) — I was today years old when I first heard about this meaning of this word. Is that just by random chance? Or has every other person encountered this sense of "raft" before? (In my defense, until last year, I'd spent the better part of the past decade as a medieval lit grad student. And the OED clocks this meaning of "raft" as entering the language in the 1820s, i.e., basically at least four centuries too late for me to have been able to notice it. Yep. Sticking to that excuse.)
  • 10D: Excited reaction at trivia night (OH OH) — I'm sorry, but two disembodied OHs do not an excited reaction make. This answer seems to be popping up frequently-ish lately, clued in various iterations, though perhaps most commonly in a classroom, "call on me" type context. Which, actually, at least makes sense, whereas I've never been to a trivia night that entailed having to be called on in order to answer.
Signed, Amy (writing from the hotel room I moved into after the first hotel room was already occupied by ants, a SITCH that did not seem to faze the front DESK PERSON like, at all, which of course isn't worrisome in the least)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 5:40 AM  

Well, heck. I prefer my Saturdays much harder than this walk in the park.

First entry and gimme was DEL SARTO. I adore the Florentine frescoes, their stunning composition and expressive use of color. . . magnificent. If you’re into John the Baptist – pop over to the Cloister of the Scalzo and take in those frescoes. (And then head to London to check out the Frick Collection at the National Gallery; Del Sarto’s Portrait of a Young Man is terrific.)

Just kidding. I’m not even sure I know what the heck a fresco is, and I certainly have never heard of DEL SARTO.

Seriously, this was beastly hard. So hard that I had to beat back panic that I wouldn’t come near to finishing. The clues were as brilliant as they were dastardly. Byron, I probably cuss at you more than any other constructor. But it’s a friendly, good-natured cuss. I felt supremely satisfied and smart when I finally finished. The B in BORE was my last letter.

Amy – great write-up! I have to say though, that the clue for DESK PERSON made me very happy to have it in the grid. It should go in the Clue Hall of Fame.

Can’t not point out that CUTS crosses VASECTOMY - YAWP! Get your VASECTOMY in December to ward off a FALL ISSUE. Hah.


TV CHEFS – I have eaten at Le Bernardin, and Eric Ripert came over to my table. We chatted a bit. So I’m kind of a big deal.

Fun seeing the word DOTARD considering that -tard suffix I was talking about. A DO-TARD could be an idiot sporting a ridiculous Comb-Over-Plugs-Whatever-Do who fools no one.
Well, he fools some. Chilling.

I had no idea that the hat Rocky wore was a BEANIE. Until I looked into it, I thought a beanie was only that striped deal with the propeller. Seems a BEANIE is like a watch cap, but it may have a floppy section in back. So people might think you have a buncha hair I guess?

I loved learning about the job of a FULLER. It seems that way back when, people noticed that wool was scratchy, so they were like, I know what let’s do! Let’s soak this cloak in stale urine and then find someone to stomp on it for a bit. Enter the hapless FULLER stage left. Silent prayer that he didn’t moonlight as a grape-stomper.

Byron – what a rich experience your puzzle served up for me. I learned about Italian Renaissance frescoes, FULLERs, and BATTENS as in batten down the hatches. Thanks for broadening my horizons.

Abigail 5:41 AM  

This is a great write-up, Amy! Congrats on your first time as a Rexword contributor!

amy 6:02 AM  

@Loren HA! Somehow, I managed to catch the football-themed cross but to miss the VASECTOMY/CUTS one completely.

W.M. Bulger 6:36 AM  

If you attended parochial school in New England, this recurring "OH! OH!" thing is completely unfamiliar. Every kid knew that if you wanted the teacher's attention you raised you hand, waived it half-leaping out of your seat, and desperately pleaded "ssssta! ssssta!"

For those who are from other parts of the country and of other confessions who requite translation, that would be "sister! sister!"

jammon 6:46 AM  


Just pure crap.

See also: poop, feces, New York Times Crossword

Trinch 6:57 AM  

When I picture a DESKPERSON, I imagine the person working the desk at a hotel. Now, I have not been to every hotel in the world, but of the many that I have visited, I’ve never seen the DESKPERSON not standing.

Gary Jugert 6:58 AM  

Yeeshk. Miserable for me mostly. The first 30 posts will be how easy this was, and I will become sullen at my stupid-ness which I intend to carry to my grave, but later today I'm hoping my "this was no fun" peeps show up.

"Dead ringers" for MEDIUMS is the sole clue I just adore.

How can you not love a VASECTOMY staring you in the face at 5 in the morning?

Learned San Francisco's opera house name and it's maybe actually worth knowing.


SITCH, BELT, PINBALLERS (though it's never been said by anyone ever), ENDOWMENTS, DESK PERSON, YES DEAR.

Too cute (in a bad way):

JUMP FOR JOY happens after you jubilate, and my phone's dictionary doesn't know what jubilate is, mate.

Why "THE" NFL? Why the THE? Of course, to clarify it from all the other NFLs.

RAFTS... sure happy so many find Saturday cluing un-ridiculous. They're boats, right?

900 numbers. How on Earth did this show up in anyone's head? SRSLY. CHAT LINE ... 30 years ago. Now, I wonder if one still exists I could call.

TV CHEFS. "The box" is soooo cute.

Long way to go for JOB.

OHOH at trivia night? Maybe after trivia night.

Bad cluing we'll excuse because it's Saturday:

TAUNT. HAWS. Numbers in Italian, thanks. RECUTS. YAWP. UPSIDEDOWN. PRETTY. BETTING (zzzzzz). ULTRAS. (i.e., waaaay too many).

PPP-palooza (16):



1 Urologist.
2 Ums.
3 Millennial's self-appointed task explaining why rap music needs to be in crossword puzzles.
4 Ukrainian grampas.
5 Anything other than flipping off.
6 1-900-GET-FUZZ


Lewis 7:03 AM  

Hello ULEE my old friend.
I’ve come to write you down again.
You were once just like the OREO
All the time you came to say hello
Not the long-lost friend
Who has faded in memory
A tragedy
You’ve been the sound
Of silence

But then you rang my bell today
Gave a hug and gleamed away
What a joy you were to have and hold
And feel the shimmer of your ULEE gold
I’m kinda fonda of you
Stay I pray amen
Don’t fade again
Into the sound
Of silence

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

Reak nice write up

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

Horribe cluing, awful word play and a gamut of subjects that are just ridiculous. A former president of Harvard, San Francisco's Opera House, a character from a comic strip no one has read for decades and two NFL references? The last citation the OED gives for 'HAW' is from 1884. I love how the review starts saying this solve was fine and then proceeds to highlight how rubbish this puzzle really was. No one says 'OH OH' at trivia night. I would even argue that an SSN is not an id, it's a number on an id. How do all these problems get by the editor?

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Good analysis, Amy! I think you gave this one a bit more praise than it deserved, but you did it well, and I picked up a new phrase: "I was today years old when I learned..." Like it!

There were some terrific clues in this puzzle, and there was a lack of junk fill. But a lot of impossibly esoteric fill was substituted for the junk. A minor character in "The Katzenjammer Kids" comic, which debuted in the 19th century? There is pinball but is PINBALLERS a legit word? Excited trivia contestants might whisper "Ooh! Ooh!" but not OHOH to indicate that they know the answer. ENDOWMENTS as "university stores" is just a bubble off plumb. Former president of Harvard? Did BOK do anything especially newsworthy? No? So how about "former president of Villanova/University of Michigan/Bama/Notre Dame/Fill in some other college?" Hate the "THE..." clues. And...DESK PERSON...yeah. Awful.

I did know DEL SARTO because I love the Italian Renaissance, and that was one of the few happy moments for me. PRETTY for "rather" eluded me forever, but in the end...applause.

@Loren Muse Smith: You met Eric Ripert. Lucky you!

Conrad 7:50 AM  

Well, I'm old enough to remember the EDSELS and Rama Lama Ding-Dong, but I didn't remember the connection. Medium-challenging for me, with more than a little help from Sergey and Larry. 33D was my one major triumph -- I'd never heard of the artist and guessed DEL SARTO from D---ART-, just because it's a common Italian name that fit the pattern. But as others have noted, the non-word YAWP crossing the non-thing DESK PERSON detracted from the solve. cULLER before FULLER at 37D made FALL ISSUE hard to see.

Son Volt 7:54 AM  

Typical Walden level - pushed my way thru with a few guesses here and there. JUMP FOR JOY atop OPERA HOUSE was really nice. Not sure BIDENOMICS is a thing - but interesting that DOTARD and BUBBA are adjacent. Favorite clue was “big shot”.

Don’t see the basis behind the rant against DESK PERSON - I agree it’s not snazzy but the misdirect was fine. Go into any DMV or other government agency for an example of a DESK PERSON who can’t stand working. LEFT ENDS was awkward as was the vague OSCAR BID.

Laughed and then winced at @LMS find of CUTS x VASECTOMY. The SHE x GENTS cross is apt as well.

A few good games of PINBALL and a double whiskey sour

Enjoyable Saturday solve - and fresh Amy take.

hatton-man 7:55 AM  

Amy, If Rex doesn't make you a regular commenter, start your own crossword blog. You'll be a hit.

SouthsideJohnny 7:57 AM  

Saw the Bond villain at 1D and didn’t get my hopes up much, but wandered around the grid and enjoyed some of the good cluing that others have mentioned (like MEDIUMS). Sure there was some stuff like HAWS and OHOH that were a little nonsensical, but that may be a result of the constructor intentionally amping up the difficulty level.

Unfortunately, I’m not proficient enough at getting sufficient crosses to navigate my way through a section such as this puzzle’s SE. DELSARTO, ROLLO, SHEBOP, SONORO and EDSELS are just too far out there for me. That’s a large number of squares that need to be discerned via the crosses, which put this one beyond my difficulty level. Much respect to those of you with enough solving chops to consider this of MEDIUM or even easy difficulty level.

B Right There 8:01 AM  

Best I can say is that I kept at it and went round and round the grid, putting in guesses and taking them out one by one tediously in my second and third go rounds: bodiceli for the unknown to me DELSARTO, cardER for FULLER, women for GENTS, OchO for OTTO, HmmS for HAWS until ETAIL brought that down, exec for the Big shot BELT, PINhoLdERS for PINBALLERS - thinking that maybe you got an annual subscription to the arcade these days and then used a pin on the machines instead of feeding it quarters. (I know, my imagination is too bizarre for my own good sometimes). And do arcades still exist? Because I'd love that! I blew most of my first job paychecks on the one in the back of the bowling alley, loving Joust, Space Invaders, Quix, Frogger, even the occasional PINBALL game (and, believe me, PINBALLERS said no one ever!) etc. until my fingers cramped! Someone wanted to put a JUICEBAR in near the arcade, but the community was afraid that the teens would hang out there and start melees or rumbles! Oh 80s! Fun times! But back to the puzzle. So, I got a few tricky clue/answers worked out, and around minute 20 or so thought a might have a shot at felling this one. But no. The PPP and strange noises (YAWP in particular) foiled me, in the end. YAWP, BOK x the Green Paint DESKPERSON (which I put in grimacing all the way) did me in. Had to actually hit the Reveal Square button 3 times on this one. Y for YAWP, B for BOK, and S for SITCH (which is what?! I mean, in looking at it afterwards and sounding it out, it may be valid, but I have never come across it, and the brain just was stuck on UPsideDOWN instead of UPISDOWN). Always a low feeling to lose a solving streak. Sigh. I'll try to hold on to nicer imagery, like that of the arcade; and the always fun to see ALPACAS bopping to SHEBOP. and Would one need a FULLER to process their wool, too? I mean, after they get all sweaty from all that dancing, they'd want to get sheared to cool off, and then the wool processors step in. Right?

Shirley F 8:01 AM  

Pounced on the state bordering AZ and NM, because my California hometown is named after SONORA Mexico from which came many gold seekers in 1849, and on San Francisco's War Memorial because OPERA HOUSE flowed as part of that phrase, which i proceeded to put into 18A instead of 16A. Even after fixing that I was stuck! Shouldn't have had so much trouble with BETTING since my grandfather was a bookie...Hats off for those of you who found this one easy.

Lewis, that poetic tribute to ULEE is a gem!

Hands up if you agree that using "THE" in an answer should be disallowed.

Apropos of not much -- Rhubarb brought to mind the wonderful 1951 movie of that name, starring the incomparable Orangey as a cat who inherits a baseball team. Cats! Baseball! Rhubarbs in the boardroom, locker room, and on the field! What could be better?
Orangey also starred in Breakfast at Tiffany's and won two "Patsy" awards (animal Oscar) and is buried beside other notables at Forest Lawn.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Great write-up! I had much the same feelings about this one.

GAC 8:34 AM  

53A clue - someone who can't stand working - produces an answer - DESKPERSON. The only desk persons any of us know are the ones who must stand working - behind a hotel desk. How did this get by the editors? Tough puzzle, for me, and not enough entertainment. Reviewer Amy seems to be a bit out of control - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Joaquin 8:39 AM  

Well ... there was enough I didn't know in this puzzle that I felt like a complete DOTARD by the time I cheated for the eleventy-leventh time.

Bernadette 8:46 AM  

Great write up, Amy, but definitely needs a link to the great George Jones:

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

This writeup was much more enjoyable than the puzzle. Particularly, the comments on ohoh and the always unwelcome etail....

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Wonderful commentary, Amy! I think your write up sheds more light on what makes good or bad answers than Rex’s snarky, hyper-opinionated rants (although in spite of myself I do enjoy the predictable and expected RexBombs). From this relative novice, I hope you become regular fill-in. I want to learn.

Bruce Borchardt 9:11 AM  

Another ancient comic strip connection:
speaking of people who lie down for work, Lil Abner had a job as a mattress tester.

alexscott68 9:11 AM  

I was really beginning to like this puzzle after writing in DESK jockey for 53A. But, hoo boy, after realizing that SSN and PALME were crosses that didn’t work with jockey, it took a while to come to terms with the fact that the answer was the awful DESK PERSON. I think you could put almost any noun in front of PERSON, and it would sound just as colloquial. Bread PERSON. Shoe PERSON. You get the idea. Really highlights the puzzle’s other shortcomings.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

I beg the contributors and Rex to keep their political opinions out of the write-ups. It’s gauche to give one’s take (no one cares!) on THENFL and Bill Clinton today, and whatever else tomorrow. These words are just answers in a crossword. For goodness sake, you wouldn’t want only ideologically pure words in the grid, would you?

kitshef 9:30 AM  

Puzzle seemed to run out of steam at the bottom with its DESKPERSONS and PINBALLERS. Of course, the bottom also had my absolute favorite entry, SHE BOP, which had me dancing in my chair.

OSCAR BIo made DOTARD hard to see (from --TARe).

chance2travel 9:38 AM  

@LMS, you had me there for a sec. I found this one much harder than a walk in the park and I was just in Florence and have seen lots of Dontallo, Bronzino, and Della Robbia, but no DEL SARTO. But then I got sarcasm.

Is it too much to ask for my BOK to be of the chow variety?

Buona Giornata a tutti.

bocamp 10:00 AM  

Thx, Byron; what an outstanding brain-stretcher! :)

Hi Amy; welcome aboard! and, thx for your write-up. :)

Very hard; 2x avg Sat. puz.

Equiv to an easy Croce; my fave kind of workout!

Way off BW's wavelength; definitely a 'trampoline' solve.

Knew ULEE, SPCA & ALPACA, but still had to come back at the end to finish the NW. Loved the clue for GARB.

PRETTY much JUMPed FOR JOY when I got this one right!

Excellent adventure! :)
Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

PPP was completely inaccessible even with a decent number of crosses. And agree with many of the other folks that the cluing at an unfavorable number of places throughout the puzzle was atrociously recherché. Really did like the MEDIUMS clue but…

BIDENOMICS feels entirely unused outside its reference to the actual term people use, Reaganomics. Is this like -gate for any/every “scandal” that comes out of a White House now and for the rest of time? Biden doesn’t have any clear or discernible economic philosophy so attributing a big spending bill with no vision doesn’t really make “BIDENOMICS” a legit term.
LEFT ENDS is not how people who watch, announce, or enjoy football ever refer to players who play defensive end. Try googling it - it doesn’t come up in analysis or discussion so pretty hard to suss out.
CHATLINE felt so dated that a character from the Katzenjammer Kids (wth?!?!) might have used one.

In general it is hard to get on a puzzle’s wavelength when it feels equally hyper self aware and completely self-unaware.

Definitely was aware of the lack of editing and direction for tone from the NYT puzzle dept on this one. Had a lot of potential that feels squandered sadly.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Best part of today’s puzzle-solving experience! Thank you.

pabloinnh 10:22 AM  

I'm saying OHOH because I felt like the smart guy at Trivia Night. I wondered if knowing what a FULLER does would ever prove useful, and today it did. Also knew stuff like PALME and PERE and SONORA and YALTA and BATTENS and DELSARTO right away. OTOH, this did not lead to a lightning-quick solve, as several clues were of the mysterious variety and answers were a long time coming.

YAWP should always be clued as "Barbaric ______".

And that deaf dumb and blind kid sure is a mean PINBALLER, no?

Very nice Saturday indeed, BW. Bloody Wonderful to finish this one, and thanks for all the fun.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

Oh, dear, that awful SE!

I couldn't think of a state that borders Arizona and New Mexico ending in A (or anything else, for that matter), but geography has always been a glaring weakness of mine. So I Googled "map of the US" -- I sometimes do allow myself geographical cheats -- and there was no such state. "I wonder if it's in Mexico?" I pondered, so I Googled "map of US and Mexico" and there it was!!! SONORA!!! "Nice Googling, Nancy," I told myself.

That gave me GENTS instead of GIRLS; confirmed PUTS ON HOLD; and gave me the two pop song culture answers that were a great big "Huh?" for me: SHEBOP and EDSELS. There was actually a singing group that named itself after that doomed dud of a car???!!! Surprised they had even one "hit" song.

FALL ISSUE meant that the wool processor had to be a FULLER. Really??!! Not a cULLER or a pULLER? What on earth is a FULLER?

But I'm not home free yet. Is it PELT or BELT? Is it PATTENS or BATTENS. (I know nothing about supporting strips in construction.) I guessed wrong, and thus a 1-letter DNF -- even after my geographical cheat.

The puzzle was only medium hard everywhere else. But that one area was a real bear.

Carola 10:43 AM  

I never thought I'd combine "Byron Walden" with "easy," but this one went very fast for me, thanks to the early gifts of ULEE and OPERA HOUSE, whose crosses allowed me to glide right down diagonally to the DESKPERSON. Getting into the SE took some extra time, though, as FALL ISSUE was hard to me to see. Last in SHEBOP x BORE.

Andrea DEL SARTO I knew from a chance encounter in Florence some years ago, when I was brought up short by a fresco in a rather unassuming spot, a lunette over the entry to a cloister of a church. It's a rendering of the holy family's rest on the flight into Egypt: Joseph is lounging against a sack of their belongings and reading a book, while Mary, to me, looks a bit worn out, with that wriggling baby on her lap. The perspective is from below, as if the three of them are really sitting in the architectural space above the door; Mary's foot even "extends" over the edge. I wish I could have found a better image to convey the wonderful palette of pastel colors, but this will give you an idea.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

GreaT write up thanks

Anonymous 10:48 AM  


Photomatte 10:51 AM  

This was a great Saturday puzzle. Not too esoteric and just crunchy enough to keep it fun. My one nit was on 9-Down, "Rocky wears one in his famous training montage." Having grown up in downtown Philly, watching them film the movies (my twin brother was one of the kids who ran with Rocky through the city streets), I remember everything he wore in the movies. He mostly wore grey sweat pants and a grey sweatshirt. He did occasionally wear a hat. However, nobody called it a beanie. When Rocky was made, a beanie was a baseball hat with a little propeller on top. I'm not sure when beanie morphed into a generic term for hat, but it certainly wasn't in the 1970s. Other than that, great puzzle!

Liveprof 10:52 AM  

"Fuller" is new to me -- nice to learn it. So it must be one of those early occupations that became a surname -- like Baker, Farmer, Smith, Mason. So we have Buckminster Fuller. One of his many quotes was: There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly.

Pete 10:56 AM  

So, how do you not jettison your band name The EDSELS by 1961? Even Ford did, and his kid was named EDSEL. I get that in 1958 it seemed like a good idea, the new brand/band, but you have to learn to cut your losses.

To those who question YAWP, learn your Robin Williams, both iconic. That pair spans enough of our common history make the WTFs inappropriate. You may not know RAFT as collection, but this raft of otters may etch it in your mind. If you think 900 lines are old news, you don't watch TV at 3 AM. Psychics, CHATLINES, all the classics.

Other than the DESKjockey vs DESKPERSON issue, I thought the clueing was brilliant.

In BUBBA related news, my Bubba has a new partner, the oddest looking puppy you ever saw. I ran into a semi-retired Vet friend and spilled my tale of woe regarding adoptions, and he said he works one day a week performing VASECTOMYs (ok, neuterings) for local adoption groups. We met up one day, and this little girl just went up to Bubba and gave him a big kiss. Her breeding is highly suspect, probably a chihuahua x whippet x gof knows what, but we're pretty sure she's mostly canine. She's timid, but coming out of her shell rapidly. After only a week, I can now touch her. She's 100% my wife's dog.

Whatsername 10:56 AM  

Thanks Amy, very thorough and thoughtful writeup. Come back soon.

I was prepared for a Saturday September and I sure got one. Then throw in the added ISSUE of trivia which was all over the place - WW2, 1961, 1984, 1935, 1997, 1976, and from the Katzenjammers before even I was born all the way up to 2022 - from SONORA to YALTA to Harvard. Absolutely no hope for me ever finishing without looking up a few of those.

As a huge fan of THE NFL, I can’t say I’ve ever heard any player referred to as a LEFT (or right) END. Wanted HOODIE at 4D and resisted filling that in as long as possible. I’m no boxing fashionista but I call that a stocking cap SS was wearing when he TROOPED up those stairs. You’re telling me The Italian Stallion wore a woosie BEANIE?? Please! You don’t think I hear things? I mean fughettabout it!

Lewis 10:57 AM  

A decade ago Byron’s puzzles destroyed me, left me wondering why I’m even solving puzzles at all. Now, when I see his name atop a puzzle, a tinge of fear from those days taps my shoulder, but because my skills have honed, it’s more girding up for a terrific workout and knowing that there will be some clues that make me burst with happiness.

And there were. Devilish ones, like [Make sound] for REPAIR, and [Dead ringers?] for MEDIUMS. But also fresh nonstandard ones, liked the clues for EDSELS, and OHOH.

But there were nonstandard answers as well, as there always are in Byron’s grids – 12 NYT puzzle debuts today. A dozen! Fresh in their own right to perk up the solving journey. One of them, FALL ISSUE, had such a lovely clue: [It’s bound to run in the third quarter].

Then there’s the Walden quality. A 66-worder without junk -- try making one of those sometime. Plus, I always find things to learn in Byron’s puzzles (as I did today with FULLER). And there is always a place or three where I’m stuck for a bit, aarghing, but then I figure it out, and I have to concede that it was very fair.

It’s clear, Byron, that you put in the time and effort, have the talent and chops, and like a magical garden, produce fresh and luscious treats without fail and without blemish. You are a Crosslandia landmark, sir, and I’m so glad you make puzzles. Thank you!

jae 11:02 AM  

Medium-tough. Most of the resistance came from the SE (hi @Nancy). BOK, ROLLO and FULLERS were WOEs so FALL ISSUE was not easy, BELT took a while and DESARTO was a huge WOE. I did know PALME, EDSELS, and SONORA which is why I could finish. Solid and mostly smooth, but a tad meh (or what @Amy said), liked it.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

You had me for a minute. I share your knowledge of Italian frescoists.

Grouch 11:32 AM  

I didn't care for the DESKPERSON entry but millions and millions of people work sitting at a desk. Why is that so hard to understand? Jeesh!

Fun Song 11:58 AM  

Ok, now we know who put the Ram in the Rama Lama Ding Dong but WHO PUT THE BOP IN THE BOP SHOO BOP SHOO BOP? AND THE DIP IN THE DIP DA DIP DA DIP?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Nice review. Thanks.

Newboy 12:10 PM  

Thanks for a well-reasoned response Amy. Harder here than at your house, but mostly self imposed restraint kept first responses like BUBBA & JUMP FOR JOY from solidly grounding a response. Ultimately able to REPAIR the DOTARD errors like not seeing BOOKMAKER as a single person rather than a corporate giant publisher—sigh! I often find Byron’s creative efforts as heavy lifting, but Boy Howdy. At least LIESL had a day off so ULEE could get a day’s work as Amy noted.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

@W.M. Bulger -

Well... only if you went to elementary school (that's what they were called then) in the North End of Beantown. These days, Roxbury.

How many guys had their vas deferens tied off, but ignored the admonition to 'use other birth control for 2 months' only to find he'd fathered half a dozen kiddies?

How do all these problems get by the editor?

Because he's been runnin' on empty for a couple of decades?

I keep up with the news (not Fox or Newsmax) and I've never, ever seen or heard BIDENOMICS.

beverly c 12:19 PM  

Ugh. Too much PPP for me. And Jubilate? What kind of grammar is that?
UPISDOWN isn’t something I hear spoken.
I know “hems and HAWS” but HAWS alone?

FALLISSUE had a clever clue - it took some work to suss out.
How about tit for tat? Forced VASECTOMY for men who legislate forced birth?
Decidedly little to enjoy in this puzzle.

Brian Stiltner 12:28 PM  

I sang this entire song out to my wife. Love it!

GILL I. 12:30 PM  

It was a tough and strenuous and grueling storm in the night. The morning light gave me a sparkling, jolly and glorious window view. I went from so many unknowns to OH OH moments. What a difference a day makes.
BW has always given me the shiver me timbers vibe. I can always count on clever and deceitful cluing. Surprise, surprise. I certainly had my moments of despair but I also was so proud of myself for persevering. The end was worth the angst agitation dyspepsia feeling I had at the onset because.....I started remembering things here and there.
It can be maddening when the only entry you have for eons is ULEE. I didn't even really like the movie. Then I got to Andrea and took one of many breaks. I used to be an art major and I studied the Renaissance movement..but his name just didn't pop. Until it did. SITCH was also a woe until it wasn't. I even got DESK PERSON and didn't wince.
My biggest pause was for 6D. UPISDOWN who became my Sisyphean pause. It was my last entry. One last ditch effort. I did a JUMP FOR JOY because VASECTOMY came to the rescue. How? you may ask. I don't know.

@Loren 5:40. Tres fun post to read (as usual)
@Lewis 7:03 Tres magnifico....Are you a poet in disguise?
and Amy...a refreshing write-up. Thanks, and please come back.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

@beverly c

4 thumbs up (that includes my prehensile ones).

Beezer 12:36 PM  

Omg @ LMS, you took me in with your first few sentences and I’m thinking, I must be a total dunderhead because I found this puzzle EXTREMELY challenging, even for a Saturday! Well. I DID learn a lot!

So. As I was doing this puzzle I felt sure that Byron Walden just HAD to be at least 15 years older than me, and imagine my surprise when I Googled him later to see photos of him. Katzenjammer Kids, the Edsels? As a “right in the middle” Boomer I was totally channeling the feelings that the Millennials and Xers will speak of with a puzzle, plus is it just me but do people say (or think to themselves) UPISDOWN?

I know next time I see Byron Walden is the constructor I will need to eat my Wheaties before I begin!

Newboy 12:36 PM  

I’m JUMPing FOR JOY to have @Loren back with tongue safely tucked in usual cheeky manner. @Lewis returned to poetic ACTIVE DUTY & @Carola has illustrated today’s obscurata with a lovely link. My day is complete though it’s only 10:43 blog time.

YAWP in its “barbaric” form appears in Whitman too, so it’s fair game on a Saturday.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Deskjockey fit. When it failed, and I filled in “person,” the puzzle fizzled right out.

D’Qwellner 12:42 PM  

The BATTENS DELSARTO ROLLO three lane highway was too much. A parallelonatick with three names and/or words completely foreign to me. The rest was great.

A 12:48 PM  

Thank you, Amy! Your review made this “global ‘meh’ quality” puzzle worth solving. You are my nominee for permanent fill-in and eventual RP successor. Nice ETAIL banishing imagery. As far as I’m concerned, ETAIL can take ULTRAS and TAUNT along for the [Ride] on the burning RAFTS.

At least I finished without cheating, so there’s something. PRETTY amazing, in fact, considering I knew exactly none of those names Amy did. Also didn’t know FULLER. All of which made for a real tussle at the end with FALL ISSUE. But I put on my thinking-BEANIE and FALL finally fell.

Agree with Amy that DESK PERSON fell flat. Really wanted DESK jockey.

UP IS DOWN was fun to write in, and I liked the side-by-side PRETTY FANCY.

To GARB or not to GARB? That is the question for Venus in this aria by Barbara Strozzi, Italian composer and soprano baptized August 6, 1619. Sung by a trio from Pinchgut OPERA in Sydney.

Horace Clark 12:57 PM  

Had the bottom half of the Dead Ringers answer and immediately threw down ALARUMS.

LenFuego 1:01 PM  

Nice write up, new girl! (I think I can get away with that since it’s the name of a TV show.).

This one was medium all the way until I tried to fill in FALLISSUE with its crosses FULLER, BATTENS, DELSARTO, and ROLLO, none of which I knew or at least had any confidence in.. I must have spent at least 40% of my solving time sussing that out. The real “issue” was after running the alphabet, I felt sure the wool related job had to be CULLER, HULLER or PULLER and stubbornly would not consider anything else until forced to. Could not fathom what a FULLER might do, and I’ve paid good money to get demonstrations of sheep shearing on sheep farms in both New Zealand and Ireland!

OffTheGrid 1:04 PM  

I rarely reach for my pearls. But perhaps the use of DOTARD should be looked at. It's basically a slur referring to an elderly person who has decreased mental function. There is really no other meaning.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  


So, the Trumpster goes from being insulted (although, Kim was clearly correct), to being in love???? That's more adolescent than geezer, I'd say.

TJS 1:29 PM  

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity." (from The Second Coming", William Butler Yeats).

or, I guess,"up is down"

or, if you prefer, "I just...I can't with it. Nor do I want to with it." ("medieval lit grad student").

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

This puzzle sucked. Too much obscure, old trivia. A secondary character from a comic strip that hasn’t been published in 70 YEARS? A 60-year-old one-hit-wonder band? A 500-year-old B-side of a Renaissance painter? A 40-year-old album from a singer that has released about a thousand albums (I know because I had to Google when I couldn’t get OLD to work)? And I’ve heard the word YOWL. I’ve heard the word YELP. I’ve never in my life seen or read the word YAWP. WTF is a YAWP. My usually pleasant Saturday morning solve devolved into a desperate google sesh when I realized this puzzle was designed for trivia nerds who haven’t said “OHOH” outside of a trivia setting in their entire adult lives. Have the day you deserve, Byron and Will!

old david 1:50 PM  

Definitely not for me. But I'm a dotard.

Sitch? Is that like, 7th grade valley girl talk or something?

Ohoh? Haws? "I'd like to thank the academy..." Where's the "hee"?
Um Er Huh sure. Haw???

Build back better is legislation, there is no such thing as "Bidenomics." Plain old "economics" here kids. Old school macro 101 at that. When Presidents run on made up stuff like "Voodoo" economics we name it after them.

Likewise, "Bubba" was never a "nickname" for WJC. Maybe some haters called him that, but calling a slur a "nickname" is quite a stretch. They called Obama some slurs too, will they be in the NYTimes Xword as "nicknames"?

Ah Dotard. Ageism, the only prejudice allowed to be freely practiced by the kids who say "sitch" these days. Nice.

CDilly52 1:59 PM  

I have missed your full-on hilarious contributions, @LMS. Glad to see you in top form.

CDilly52 2:01 PM  

Right there with you @W M Bulger. Needed absolutely zero translation.

CDilly52 2:04 PM  


misterarthur 2:17 PM  

Desk Jockey: yes. Desk person: only in the NYTXW

CDilly52 2:22 PM  

Whoa Nellie this one nearly DNFd me for sure. I always struggle with Byron Walden’s puzzles. His clues often seem so close to being not quite legit that it takes me ages to figure out any answers and then to get some in the same area of the puzzle so as to get some real traction. Very much the case today.

Amy, thanks for such a thorough analysis. Loved your humor. Still chuckling about LIESL’s day off! Glad you found it easy. It was a hunt and peck nightmare for me. At least there were some bright spots. The clues for MEDIUMS and FALL ISSUE were clever and brought a bit of much needed humor to my otherwise painful solve.

Dave S 2:30 PM  

I probably would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't had such a brain fog this morning that even the easier answers were slow in coming. But slow in coming they were, so the annoying answers were perhaps more annoying than the should be. The two biggest were BIDENOMICS which continues a trend of ascribing personal names to policies drawn from and with consultation from many, making them easier to dismiss. I'd actually never seen the word before, and a quick google check explains that 's pretty much only ever used by snarky right wing commenters that I've pretty much managed to shut out. Less gruesome was the annoyance, being from Philly, of not being able to immediately fill the Rocky clue. I mean, he wears a hoodie, definitely, and a watch cap and sweatpants. Waht else? Some sort of sneakers, I guess? A BEANIE, though-I have a specific idea of what a beanie looks like, and it's not that( but I still should have gotten it earlier). Niggling things were that it seems like even a DESK PERSON can use a stand up desk, I thought ETAIL was a thing of the past and while I love keeping the Katzenjammer Kids in the public consciousness, I would have been jsut as happy with ROLLO the Viking rather than a secondary character. PINBALLERS just sounds like something no one says.

Dis enjoy the FALL ISSUE clue a lot, along with VASECTOMY and SONORA and JUMP FOR JOY, though.

sixtyni yogini 2:32 PM  

What Amy said. 👍🏽
Tho answers may have been drab, the clues were sparkley 💥 and fair enough but def. not an easy PASS.

egsforbreakfast 2:42 PM  

Here’s hoping that BIDENOMICS leads to a PRETTY FANCY JOB for some.

I believe that a DOTARD is a leotard that covers your body and your hair.

I can’t wait to REPAIR with my wife, now that I’ve had my VASECTOMY. Actually, this reminds me of arriving home from having my VASECTOMY. My daughter was 5 or so, and we had explained in some child-appropriate way what Daddy was having done and why he would need to take things easy for a bit. When we pulled up and got out of the car, she was with a bunch of neighbor kids and adults doing something across the street. On seeing me she yelled (or maybe YAWPed), “Hey Dad. How’s your wiener?”

I liked this puzzle a lot, especially all the tricky misdirects. Thanks, Byron Walden.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  


johnk 3:04 PM  


Anonymous 3:05 PM  

proof that one can get a (folk?) song from most anything:

Nancy 3:12 PM  

Lewis -- Cute poem! I too had noticed the unexpected re-emergence of ULEE and then wondered why I had never noticed its long absence. I expect I'll think about its long absence much more often now. (Unless you've succeeded in bringing it back -- a dubious blessing.)

Your VASECTOMY story is a howl, @egs.

Several people here complained about LEFT ENDS, but for me it was a no brainer. You only have 8 letters for the defensive football players. "RIGHT" uses up all but 3 letters. GUARDS uses up all but 2 letters. TACKLES uses up all but 1 letter.

What's left at the end? (Pun intended).

Dorkito Supremo 3:18 PM  

Thank you for this, Lewis. I scroll to seek out your commentary every day. This is pure gold.

Shza 4:01 PM  

I came here hoping to see commiseration on the horrendous answer DESKPERSON, and I am not disappointed. “Hello, I’m interviewing for the position of ‘desk person.’” NO.

Am I the only one who lost a bunch of time with sorting out it not being POLLISSUE? Checking the downs and seeing it should be BATTENS and not BoTTENS showed my error, but PULLER seemed like it must be the wool-producing job, so FALL was not even on my radar, though it should have been.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

I think YAWP says it all…poorly.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

How is a big shot a belt?

Michael 4:41 PM  

A BELT as in to belt a home run, etc.

ROLLO, ODELLS, ULEE were big misses here from a subject matter perspective. OTOH I got ASAP MOB yesterday so I shouldn't complain too much.

Barbara S. 4:43 PM  

I’m all smiles about this puzzle, thanks to a great feeling of accomplishment. I found it hard but completed it with no googling (unlike yesterday). One of my lucky breaks was DEL SARTO, which I filled in with no crosses. It was a bit of buona fortuna – this answer is smack dab in the middle of my wheelhouse, but I know it wasn't for many. And, btw, I loved @LMS’s riff on DEL SARTO at 5:40 this morning. I believed it all -- she took me in, hook, line and cinquecento.

I’ve always liked the elegance of Andrea DEL SARTO. You see it in his paintings and his wonderful drawings. On my wall hangs a reproduction of this Head of Mary Magdalene (scroll down) and I never tire of looking at it.

The hardest part of the puzzle for me was the north center-to-east, specifically two errors that were invisible for a long time. For 8D [Rather], I splatzed in PREfer, as in “I would rather go swimming”/”I would prefer to go swimming”. I see now that they’re not equivalents because you need the infinitive after “prefer”, but at the time this answer seemed hunky dory. And right beside it for 9D [Like] I put in FAvor. This was all very insidious because both my wrong answers had the first two letters correct, so I was able to fill in JUMP FOR JOY and OPERA HOUSE and think everything was unfolding as it should. But then, with the puzzle done except for this largish area, I got absolutely stuck. I finally realized that I had to ditch PREfer and FAvor (in spite of their obvious brilliance) and when I did, I immediately got BIDENOMICS and practically raced to the finish. Thanks, Byron Walden!

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

I had carsISSUE instead of FALLISSUE and never realized anything was wrong.

cULLER, DErSARTO, and ROssO all seemed like reasonable answers to me.


Nick D 4:49 PM  

Not being up on my 16th century Mannerist painters and pre-WWI comic strips, the combination of DELSARTO and ROLLO resulted in a rare DNF for me today. I salved my wounds with the delight of seeing SHEBOP, and a happy reunion with our old friend ULEE.

Son Volt 4:56 PM  

@Michael 4:41p - I saw it as alcohol related - “I need a BELT” - didn’t connect it with baseball but thanks for posting that.

Everyone 4:57 PM  

@egs. Way, Way TMI. Ick

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

I took Big shot/BELT as reference to a drink.

JennyO 5:23 PM  

I thought it was desk jockey!

Nick 6:12 PM  

Random trivia quiz. Not fun.

Unknown 6:23 PM  

@Loren I slammed in Mantegna with all sorts of confidence; worked on that Met exhibition catalogue in grad school. Really slowed me down.

Anoa Bob 6:59 PM  

I tried LLAMAS for 2D "Wool source" until crosses crossed out that possibility. Having joined the Navy for a six year hitch helped with those crosses. It was for four years ACTIVE DUTY and two years reserve duty so when I saw the 23A clue "Not reserve" and I got that one right away, I thought the rest of the puzzle would be a JUMP FOR JOY solve. The trivia from long ago stuff, however, changed the hoped for solve flow into more of a laborious JOB. Did finish so there's that.

I learned that there is a wool worker called a FULLER. Like several others, I thought that would be PULLER, as in someone who pulls a wool card through coarse wool to help straighten out the fibers.

BATTENS (35D) are also used to give the sail a little more rigidity and help maintain its proper air flow shape. They are thin slats, originally made from wood but more likely from fiberglass or carbon fiber these days. Sails have dedicated pouches sewn into the material to hold the BATTENS.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

VASECTOMY actually might be “violently off-putting” to about half the solvers, lol

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

@Anonymous 8:30

Isn't it pretty well known that vasectomies aren't actually that painful? Like maybe some mild to moderate discomfort during the (comparatively brief) recovery period, but there's definitely no "violence" to the procedure. It's not even surgery, just a procedure unless a patient has conflicting health stuff going on or, say, debilitating anxiety, or something like that. THere aalso isn't much risk when it comes to side effects or complications or whatever.

And that's not even getting into how much less the procedure costs than it costs for a woman to be on birth control for years and years.

Not saying that vasectomies are right for everyone so no one come at me with that bs, please. Just noting how relatively simple they can be for a man or couple who decide they don't want kids.

puzzlehoarder 9:05 PM  

Another late comment for me. This time it's because today's comment got lost in the ether.

I wouldn't call today's solve easy but it felt that way after an unusually difficult Friday. I knocked around 10 minutes off of yesterday's solve.

I'm not as disappointed as some over DESKPERSON. Like many I thought of JOCKEY immediately but at the same time I thought that I'd have to eat my hat (or maybe BEANIE) if the constructor could fill the section with entries ending in those letters.

DELSARTO next to ROLLO gave me the most resistance and that section filled in last. For some reason I'm familiar with the term FULLER.

yd pg -1

Anonymous 11:50 PM  

Your comment brings me back to the Sheraton Pretoria in South Africa, where the reception area consists of a row of wood paneled desks at which the DESK PERSONs sit while they check you in and out. You get to sit too, in a comfortable chair, like at an old bank — which is a good thing, because they take their time. Don’t go if you’re in a hurry.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Teedmn 12:02 AM  

Rarely does the Baader-Meinhof effect rear its confounding head so quickly, but today was my introduction to FULLER as the urine-using wool processor, and 15 hours later I'm reading about FULLERS and their being the recipient of urine as a trade commodity. Weird and faster than the usual Badger-Meinhof exposure in my opinion. If you are interested in where I ran into FULLER as clued, it was a book by K.J.Parker,, “Sixteen Ways To Defend A. Walled City”, page 62.

Unknown 12:43 AM  

So I finished this puzzle and then remembered that "Rex" was on vacation. "Oh no" (not OHOH) I thought, "why did he have to go on vacation *now*!" But then I read the blog. Thanks, Amy! Excellent critical but fair writeup, one which did not shy away from pointing out the puzzle's many issues. One addition: the surgically separated from HEM, bogusly noun-ized, pluralized, mis-clued HAWS.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

Thought the clues were pretty terrible

Anonymous 5:12 AM  

@Anonymous 9:22AM

In Amy's defense though, her comment about THE NFL wasn't that political. She was just saying, I'm guessing, that it feels sorta gratuitous to feature as a puzzle answer the one professional sports entity we've already been hearing about day in and day out lately.

I mean I guess I took what she said to be saying, why waste puzzle grid space on an answer like THE NFL, since
-it isn't even a good crossword answer on the league's best day
-in this puzzle, it isn't even given an interesting clue
-and on top of that it's also already worn out its welcome in this week's headlines and in Americans brain space too

But now that's just my interpretation of what Amy said. If it were me talking to you about whether to have THE NFL as an answer, I'd absolutely say that there's no logical reason that the most famous crossword publisher in the world needs to include any mention of the ONE professional sports league that happens to be pretty tied up right now in a big, messy sexual misconduct controversy. If they're trying to meet a "current sports trivia" quota or something at the NYT for their puzzles, then there are literally hundreds, or more likely, thousands, of ways to go about doing that that get you out of having to have this exact argument with people.

What about all the league players who aren't involved in the controversy at all, for one thing? Dropping their names into a crossword wouldn't be the same thing at all, since all the people watching the news lately haven't been forced to listen to story after story about those other player's or hear their names constantly. I'll quote what my friend said when I asked him last night about what his opinion was on all of this. He said "just the phrase "THE NFL" by itself hits folks' ears differently right now because this mess has been playing out in the media in real time, every day." He said people can't control how much exposure they get to certain issues from watching the regular news shows, so why not do something different for people, since crossword creators do have control over what they expose their solvers to. And since doing something different doesn't take any more effort that not doing it.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

The third quarter of the year is July-Aug-Sept. Not really Fall in my book, so that threw me off.

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

After banging my head against this puzzle for 30 minutes, I finally gave up and hit the reveal puzzle button for the first time in several years.

Even reading the answers, a truly impossible for me on the southern part of the grid. The small toe holds I got were never going to get me the PPPs that I've never heard of.

Tough one for me as a 35 year old but the other comments from folks who found it doable make me think I was not the target audience here.

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