Six-time N.B.A. All-Star Kyle / SAT 11-26-22 / Key piece of an overlock sewing machine / "Crazy Rich Asians" actress Gemma / Mountain whose name means I burn / The first Black American sorority in brief

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Constructor: Kanyin Ajayi

Relative difficulty: Very Easy

THEME: maybe? — there are some suggestive symmetries, but theme? I don't think so ...

Word of the Day: Paulo COELHO (35A: Paulo who wrote "The Alchemist") —
Paulo Coelho de Souza (/ˈkwɛl.j, kuˈɛl-, -j/, Portuguese: [ˈpawlu kuˈeʎu]; born 24 August 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist and a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002. His novel The Alchemist became an international best-seller and he has published 28 more books since then. (wikipedia)
• • •

A literary puzzle for me, a literature professor, on my birthday (true story). I absolutely crushed this puzzle, as many of you will have as well, since it is basically a Tuesday / Wednesday-level themeless. Hmmm, perhaps if you are completely unfamiliar with "WIDE SARGASSO SEA" (16A: Jean Rhys novel that's a response to "Jane Eyre") and "THINGS FALL APART" (56A: Chinua Achebe novel that's a response to "Heart of Darkness"), the puzzle might've played more like a Saturday for you, but those titles are CANTERBURY TALES-level familiar to me, so whoosh, I lit them up. I really liked the literary pairing there, one grid-spanning post-colonial novel echoing the other. But that wasn't the only symmetrical echo. HIT OR MISS gets paired with RIDE OR DIE, and then there are the TWOSOMES who TIE A KNOT. I know, technically the term is "tie the knot," but I still choose to see this as a mini matrimonial theme, which gets TIE A KNOT a pass on its EAT A SANDWICH-ness. TIE A KNOT is (k)not good, but as part of a matrimonial twosome with TWOSOMES, it magically becomes good. So you've got yourself a themeless puzzle here, but there's a certain attention to symmetrical pairings that gives it some semi-thematic playfulness. I really liked it, on the whole. 

LOOPER was by far the hardest thing in this grid (45D: Key piece of an overlock sewing machine). I wrote in LOOMER at first because .... uh .... "sewing machine" and LOOM seemed to have something to do with one another, clothing production-wise. Thankfully, I knew that the Chinua Achebe title was not "THINGS FALL ... A MART!" so I was able to change LOOMER to LOOPER—which is a reasonably well-known movie, directed by Rian Johnson, whose "Glass Onion" just opened this weekend (so excited to see it!). I would've loved a movie clue for "LOOPER," but instead we get this somewhat obscure sewing machine terminology ... and it still doesn't really slow me down in any appreciable way. There were some other things I didn't know. Gemma CHAN, for instance (40A: "Crazy Rich Asians" actress Gemma). But crosses made it clear it would be CHEN or CHAN, and then COCOA sealed the deal (it's CHAN!). I had SAN before SAO, but that didn't last long. I had COEHLO before COELHO, but that didn't last long. I forgot Kyle LOWRY existed, but then I remembered (couldn't tell you a thing about him, but I follow basketball enough to know his name) (26A: Six-time N.B.A. All-Star Kyle). If there were other pauses or hesitations in my solving experience, they were minor. Overall, this puzzle was SASSy and I enjoyed it. 

Bullet points:
  • 1A: Influential book sellers? (BLURBS) — this is a very good clue. I hate (most) BLURBS—they're (mostly) embarrassingly similar in their hyperbolic / cliché language. And do they really "sell" books!? Sigh. OK. Anyway, my feelings about the blurb industry aside, this clue is good.
  • 23A: Finish that's rough to the touch (STUCCO) — sincerely tried to make STUBBLE work.
  • 3D: Locale in Dante's "Inferno" (UNDERWORLD) — so ... Inferno, then. "Inferno" means "Hell," which is the UNDERWORLD. So this is like cluing HELL as [Locale in Dante's "Hell"]. Unless Dante's "Inferno" is really a story about the criminal UNDERWORLD and I've been teaching it wrong all these decades ... entirely possible. 
  • 44A: Bugs's archenemy (ELMER) — OK, you're stretching "arch-" pretty thin here. ELMER is a dope who never poses any genuine threat to Bugs. This is like saying The Harlem Globetrotters' "archenemy" is The Washington Generals. Come on.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Robin 1:01 AM  

I have read neither of the two long novel names, but I knew the titles, et voila.

Only problem was trying ONESELF rather than THESELF, but that set up a CTxx, and no, that's going to work.

Not sure I have ever seen an ISSA Rae show, but she has turned into predictable XWese.

okanaganer 1:29 AM  

Well not quite as easy as yesterday's, for me. Knew neither novel. Misspelled COELHO as COEHLO. Somehow RIDE OR DIE was new to me. (DO OR DIE, that I've heard of.)

SARGASSO right by SASS. Two ASSes beside each other, just like in a two holer outhouse. Sorry.

Thoughts: SHOWS UP can mean: attends, or eclipses?! GET IN by itself sounds like a command (why isn't it clued thusly?.. eg: "C'mon, let's go!")

30 years ago I discovered I could set up my credit card to be automatically paid when it was due. Never paid a cent of interest in those decades. Sometimes AUTOPAY rules!

Tom T 2:01 AM  

First time responding on the "night before." And Rex is correct, this is an easy and enjoyable Saturday. I got off to a slow start--nothing across the top. But things got moving on the west side: LABOR, OMANI, LOWRY, ONLINE, etc. Not familiar with RIDE OR DIE and didn't know either novel title, but crosses pulled those together.

Liked ILLUMINATI and clever clue for BLURBS.

Alternate clue: Last stop in San Fran? BART END

jae 2:37 AM  

Easy except for the COELHO section which required a bit of staring and guessing. It didn’t help that I was looking for a specific song for the piano bar clue. LOWRY, CHAN (as clued), and RHETOR were also WOEs. Knowing both book titles helped, maybe I’ll get around to reading them some day. Liked it.

Puzzled 4:03 AM  

I hate to say a puzzle is easy because I hate it when I come here and find people talking about how easy a puzzle was that I struggled with. That said, this was, indeed, very easy for a Saturday. Still enjoyable though. Or maybe because.

Anonymous 5:06 AM  

Happy birthday, Rex Parker!

TimG 5:08 AM  

Happy Birthday to you and Tina Turner along with THE SELF , Class of ‘55, that’s 1955. Enjoyed the puzzle a lot!

Conrad 5:28 AM  

LOWRY (26A), CHAN (40A), RIDE OR DIE (42A), LOOPER (45D) and LITA (50D) were WOEs, but my first guess for just about everything else in the puzzle proved correct, so they fell quickly. I didn't know THINGS FALL APART as a title, but it's a common enough phrase that it filled itself in from crosses. Easy Saturday, lots of S's and O's.

Anonymous 5:45 AM  

Literature is not everyone's cup of tea...: this played hard for me. And as for literature, I would hardly count pastiches or whatever these are in that category; the originals for sure, not these wannabes. Ugh.

Lewis 7:01 AM  

Just what I want in a Saturday…

• Satisfy my brain’s work ethic. There were five answers out of my ken, others that required memory-rooting, many that needed crosses to see, others that required stabs instead of sure fill-ins, and riddles galore to crack.

• Reward my brain’s LABOR. Several splat fills after finally getting an answer that was eluding me.

• Provide A-1 clues, such as [Turned to refuse], [Open many tabs, maybe], and [Convenient setting for the forgetful].

• Beautify with lovely answers, such as the book titles, HIT OR MISS, RIDE OR DIE, and CROONER.

• Amaze me. “This is a debut?” “You mean to say AUTOPAY and COELHO have never been in the NYT puzzle before?”

• Stoke the post-solve contentment with sweet discoveries, such as having TWOSOMES in the same puzzle with RIDE OR DIE and HIT OR MISS, such as the cross of THINGS FALL APART and “TIE A KNOT!”, such as a second minitheme to complement the literary one – Liquidy Answers: WIDE SARGASSO SEA, BARTEND, MARINA, COCOA, and SALUT.

Pure pleasure, a bounteous experience. Congratulations, Kanyin, on your most impressive debut, and thank you for this magnificent-for-me Saturday!

This 'n' That 7:29 AM  

While working in the SW I saw that I had AUTOP_Y. Plunked in the S but then read the clue. I wish this was funny somehow.

After the solve I googled RIDEORDIE and SARGASSO SEA to sea what those are about.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

Isn't CIRCA the plural of circus?

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

The 3's did a lot of letter sharing today.



Son Volt 7:46 AM  

I thought I woke up and it was Monday - you know with all the turkey and everything. Trivia laden and further - fill in the blanks easy. If you’re going to run this type of puzzle - do it early week - not Saturday when people are looking for some juice. This is just poor editing.

The two spanning novels give up so much ground here. Add ILLUMINATI and UNDERWORLD and half the grid is complete. LITA and Joan Jett were so cool

THE SELF x FAKE TAN provided a Trump related chuckle. Always like to see ELMER and I really like RHETOR in lieu of RHETORic.


Not a bad puzzle - just misplaced. Lester Ruff’s Stumper provides a little more bite.

pabloinnh 7:47 AM  

I'm that guy, or one of those guys, who has read neither of these novels and therefore had a Saturday experience with this one, although after I got started on the Left Coast, things filled in pretty smoothly. I thank Acrostics for helping me see word patterns, which happened with both the grid spanners.

ASAP before STAT, did the SAN/SAO thing, never remember the names of Asian actresses, learned what a LOOPER is, ditto for what a RHETOR might be, but that one's totally inferable. And the next time I say RIDEORDIE will be the first.

TIEAKNOT edges dangerously close to EATASANDWICH territory.

All in all, a nice solid Saturday, and done with enough time left over to get back to watching the World Cup. Well done, KA. Knew A lot of the stuff and found out some new things, so thanks for all the fun.

mmorgan 8:08 AM  

Scene 1: Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle….

Scene 2: Somehow, finally, finish, feel immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Scene 3: Come here and see Rex rate it as “very easy.”

Oh well. It was a workout for me but I enjoyed it!

I really liked the movie version of Wide Sargasso Sea when it came out some years ago (… 1993?!?!? Yikes!), but I didn’t remember what it was about.

Happy Birthday, Rex!

Dr.A 8:36 AM  

Happy birthday! I had a bit more difficulty than you did, but still loved the puzzle and knew you would too. Now I have a couple of books for my reading list as well. If you ever want to tell us what you are reading currently, I would not be mad!!! Have a great one.

SouthsideJohnny 8:37 AM  

Lol Rex, heck - “easy Saturday” went out the window for me when Jean Rhys and Chinua Achebe arrived at the party. Not having a clue regarding either of the grid-spanners leaves a lot of real estate unaccounted for, and with Saturday crosses I was pretty much toast. And this being the NYT, you know your going to encounter all types of esoterica/trivia such as ILLUMINATI, LOOPER. PERE DU’N, LITA, LAIT . . . non of which is very interesting/entertaining - just parsing and hoping. Sorry, but parsing together every clue to come up with something like COELHO and hoping that Mr. Happy Music agrees is not a very exciting proposition.

A big positive for me was the clue on BARTEND (open many tabs, maybe) which was a nice clue and misdirect combination. I greatly prefer those types of witty, creative clues and answers rather than the Dark Matter “you know it or you don’t” trivial stuff.

Bob Mills 8:42 AM  

First I had OUTERWORLD for Dante's inferno. Then I had INNERWORLD. But the only possible answer for 1-ACROSS was BLURBS, so it had to be UNDERWORLD. The rest of the puzzle seemed easy, especially for a Saturday. Nice work by the constructor.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Amy: Happy Birthday Rex. How great to spend it with your family. Have a lovely day.
While I'm not an English teacher, I am fairly bookish so this was very easy. Even knew COELHO. Since the plan is to shop downtown for small business Saturday, appreciate finishing a bit faster. And yes, will be buying a book at our indie bookstore. 😃

Rich Glauber 8:57 AM  

The novels weren't gimmes for me, so this played like a medium challenging Saturday. Very solid puzzle and a pleasure to solve.

kitshef 9:02 AM  

There’s a lot of nice stuff in here, but it shades a bit too much to PPP for me. Many I knew well, like LOWRY and COEHLO, some I’ve never heard of, like LITA and RHETOR, and of course there is ISSA, who does not exist except in crosswords.

Third absurdly easy Saturday in a row. NYT isn’t even trying any more.

Hipy papy bthuthdth thuthda bthuthdy, Rex

Nancy 9:08 AM  

I promise to be loyal to you, but I'm not gonna RIDE OR DIE for you since I don't even know what that means.

A very easy Saturday for me -- except for the section where ??R?A for "about" had me writing in soRtA and then seAN for the actress at 40A. But "ItES out" isn't a phrase for shunning someone or for anything else for that matter...and so I corrected soRtA to CIRCA and seAN to CHAN.

We've had two unusually easy late-week puzzles in a row, so maybe Will Shortz thinks we've gone soft in the heads from too much turkey and need to be treated gently. But my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of lambchops this year -- and hence I was capable of much greater challenge yesterday and today, Will.

jammon 9:09 AM  

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the vast majority married for life...tied THE knot. Today, given the rate at which folks marry and divorce, tying A knot is probably more correct.

kitshef 9:12 AM  

I thought we had just had RIDE OR DIE, but it turns out it was back on June 19 2021. A puzzle I described as 'terrible', so I don't recommend going back and doing that one.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Agree with Rex. Both novels (and COELHO) are well known to anyone following contemporary literature. My ex is a librarian, so these went in before I finished reading the clue. As others have said, still an enjoyable and remarkable puzzle with the symmetry going on and electric answers. RIDE OR DIE is awesome. LOWRY could’ve been clued as the author (of “The Giver”). Would’ve been nice to see Jackie CHAN too! Big fan.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Love sharing my birthday with Rex AND Tina Turner AND Charles Schulz AND Bruce Paltrow!

Being an avid reader sure did help with this enoyable puzzle! Loved ILLUMINATI, AUTOPAY, BARTEND, and the clue for BLURBS, which it took me quite some time to get.

J.W. 9:16 AM  

This one draws a pretty hard line. Either you know the novels right off the bat and it's Easytown, Next Exit, or you don't and you've got 30 potential spots for Naticks. I had to move around to find footholds but I eventually remembered both titles with help from crosses, and it came together slowly but surely.

Starting with a punny clue at 1A is usually a bit of dirty pool, in my opinion. Probaby fair play for a Saturday though.

Agreed that "archenemy" is too strong a wording for 44A. "Nemesis" is better.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Missed the opportunity to clue UNDERWORLD as the Don DeLillo novel.

andrew 9:26 AM  

As noted above, nothing like struggling for 19 minutes and learn this was a VERY EASY. So no birthday wishes from this TOO SLOW solver,

Didn’t know either of the books so it took 5 minutes longer. Satisfying time when THINGSFALLTOGETHER, one cross at a time. From unfilled to fulfilled with satisfaction of completing the challenge. Then a VERY EASY rating here undoes image of THESELF.

For the non-Literati, this was indeed a good Saturday and a terrific debut for Kanyin! And Ok, happy birthday, Rex - for years to SCUM (since that word offends you - which so many do, it’s VERY EASY to yank your haughty, though entertaining, chain!)

burtonkd 9:26 AM  

The ILLUMINATI were made up for an article in Playboy Magazine to be a parody of how ridiculous conspiracies are. Clue treats them as real people who claim to possess special enlightenment - so now the NYT Xword is in on it too?

Happy Birthday, Rex! Puzzle Easy-Medium for me with a few WOEs that were ultimately gettable. It played a little harder than the last two Saturdays, right in the sweet spot if I want to get on with my day. (So why am I typing here?)

I wonder how many more puzzles STUCCO will continue to stick around before taking the HORSY out of town.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
Happy Birthday Rex! You old rapscallion! What're you now? 54? Getting up there! Har.

Wanted 63A clue (Most seaside towns have one) to be Rye, in honor of our departed @Z. Miss going to Z's Placebo and Tentacle Bar . Had some good times there. 😁

Not quite as "very easy" for me as for Rex. Didn't have too many answers at first pass through, then bounded all over the place filling in what I could, ending up in the NW. Last letter in, got the Almost There! message. Hmm, says I, as I scratched my chin. Is it the O of RHETOR/ROT? Tried a U and a A. Nope. Went back to O. Scanned the puz, and amazingly stuck with it, as angstness usually sets in, and I don't give a fig whether I hit Check Puzzle or not. Saw I had SeWER/COELHe, of course not knowing the particular Paulo being asked for. Said, " maybe it's not SeWER (pronounced sow-er)", erased the E, saw it could be the other SOWER, threw in the O, and blam! Happy Music!

Going on Rex's mini-theme-long-words theory, there's also TRASHED THE SELF. Could be clued "Berated in front of the mirror?"
Or the center row - "These drinks are taking forever!" e.g. - BARTEND TOO SLOW. Plenty of other pairs I'll leave for y'all to come up with.

Good SatPuz. No ROT. 😁

Two F's

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

You have to watch ISSA Rae’s show. It’s incredible! Very existent.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Thank you!!’

Birchbark 9:37 AM  

HIT OR MISS -- I took a big chance with some leftovers yesterday afternoon, just putzing around, and it worked out: frittata made with roasted julienned parsnips and carrots, stuffing, gravy, and a half-dozen eggs. Paired very well with wild anise hyssop tea, courtesy of the meadow, and equally good cold right now with a cup of medium roast coffee. It's akin to a savory bread pudding.

CRAN bonus -- A couple of uses for leftover cranberry sauce, also discovered yesterday: poured over warm biscuits for breakfast, and mixed with blueberries and plain Greek yogurt as a supper side. Both were very good.

Diego 9:41 AM  

I knew WIDE SARGASSO SEA and THINGS FALL APART so that helped. A pleasure all the way for moi; loved the symmetries that Rex cited (Happy BD🎉BTW!), particularly TWOSOMES and TIE A KNOT; was familiar with Coelho but took a cross to spell. This played more like a New Yorker puzz than a NYT, no? It was relatively easy for a Saturday but I enjoyed the literary motif, plus the wit and crunch. Bravo to the constructor!

Lewis 9:42 AM  

@rex -- Happy birthday! May the year ahead be very very good to you.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Before you comment on whether or not these books are fine literature you might want to read them. Otherwise you just sound foolish

egsforbreakfast 9:48 AM  

Random reactions:

OMANI loved the answer to 27D.
When I saw the answer to 49D, I said “UHUH”.
28A struck me as HITORMISS.
I thought 38A was TOOSLOW.
I answered 53A ONCE.
I knew I’d have to fill in 48D STAT.

63A might have been better phrased as “Most seaside towns, including Rye, have one.”(hi @Roo)

I thought this was an excellent puzzle by any standard. Not difficult, but fun for the reasons illuminated by @Rex and @Lewis, who are both ILLUMINATI in this little world. Given that it’s a debut, I’m bowled over. Congrats and thanks, Kanyin Ajayi.

Beezer 10:10 AM  

Phew, finally rested up from Turkey Day extravaganza and was happy to see the Saturday puzzle bust through easy for me. I’m familiar with WIDESARGASSOSEA (but haven’t read it) and THINGSFALLAPART (I DID read and highly recommend) and that made for a lot of crosses that were cleverly clued.

I have to say I haven’t heard of RIDEORDIE but it was inferable from crosses so I like it and learned a new term that I may shout out to my husband the next time I ask for something that seems unreasonable.

Like @Rex, I was struggling for a particular “circle” of The Inferno…I remembered Limbo, and thought well, seems like Greed was one…then thought, are they looking for Italian!? At any rate, the clue was perfectly fine because all “circles” were a locale in the UNDERWORLD. This got me thinking about the whole concept of Limbo which just tends to piss me off.

Happy Birthday @Rex!

Smith 10:14 AM  

@Rex Happy birthday!

Very easy puzzle indeed. Knowing the books basically filled it in. I, too, thought of Z (hi @Roo); what became of our ultimate Frisbee player?

WIDESARGASSOSEA is like fan fiction or midrash, where one character or scene from a well known story is expanded upon. To me this is more than "a response", although in Rhys's case she was also polemically responding re the position of women in society... and it's a great read.

Another great example is Ahab's Wife, which is based on just one sentence in Moby Dick (if I remember correctly).

Teedmn 10:25 AM  

A 10 minute Saturday solve? Thank goodness there are really hard themeless puzzles available to satisfy my craving because this one didn’t come close. I kept filling things in while noticing how the clue could have been toughened up. For instance, drop the “so to speak” on the 6D clue. I was expecting something more complicated than UNDERWORLD for the Dante locale, some tier or other. I did like the clue for 14D where my head heard “refuse” as a verb first. I had to change CiELHO when no piano bar mainstay, CRIO___ER, came to mind. And I thought the clue for soRtA wasn’t informal enough, which is why the answer for “About” was actually CIRCA.

Really, the puzzle was nice, just too easy. But I'm not going to SULK.

BLURBS - I’m rereading a fantasy book that has blurbs written by Ursula Le Guin, Terry Brooks, Orion Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Lev Grossman and more, all huge names in the genre. It might make me want to buy the book (and I did, and its sequel). But I'm re-reading it because I lent it to a friend for her book club and she gave it back saying she only read the first 150 pages and that no one in the club had finished it; it was universally disliked. Now, having reread it, it's fine. Not the greatest fantasy book ever written, it's fine. So what's up with the blurbs?

Kanyin Ajayi, this is a very sweet puzzle. Congratulations on your debut!!

pabloinnh 10:26 AM  

Anyone else try the Stumper?

Didn't think it was too bad.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

You summarized my thoughts perfectly

Joseph Michael 10:38 AM  

Fun puzzle. But very easy? Not for me. However, I did solve the puzzle thanks to lucky guesses for RHETOR, COELHO, CHAN, LOWRY, and WIDESARGASSOSEA (yikes).

Wanted BAR HOP for 36A, but it was too short or PUB CRAWL, but it was too long. So, I was TOO SLOW in coming up with BARTEND, though I did like that answer as well.

Favorite answer, both for its clue and it’s existence as a word: BLURBS.

FAKE TAN under THINGS FALL APART suggests a modern political saga.

Whatsername 10:39 AM  

This has some very nice wordplay and certainly was a smooth fill for Saturday but the proper names were next to impossible. I’m an avid reader but have never seen these SHOW UP on a “recommended for me” list anywhere. Aside from THAT, it was just right for a Saturday when we’re all feeling a little bit lazy. Congratulations to Kanyin on the debut.

AUTO PAY is a wonderful invention. I certainly don’t miss the time I ONCE spent writing out checks, addressing envelopes and putting them in the snail mail. Then hoping THINGS don’t FALL APART if they don’t arrive on time.

@Rex Parker: Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! And don’t forget to get your Mom some flowers today.

Trina 10:41 AM  

Did not know the novels or most of any other proper nouns. But fill made these totally ‘getable’. Had my personal best Saturday time even without knowing these.

Juli G. 10:51 AM  

Happy birthday, Rex! Nice to see THINGS FALL APART in the grid. I studied it long ago in college. The clue may have been better if it referenced The Second Coming, by Yeats, from which the title derives.

Grouch 10:52 AM  

Question for the "too easy" complainers. Why not stop when you realize that? I quit an occasional Thurs or Sun when I see that it's too cute and/or too stupid.

Puzzled 10:59 AM  

@RooMonster, when you say “departed @Z” do mean no longer on this earth, or on this blog? I miss his commentary and wonder what happened to him.

GILL I. 11:01 AM  

EASY???? Blimey! I struggled with this beast. He bit me in my RHETOR; I almost passed out with RIDE OR DIE and boy did LOOPER throw me for a loop. I was so frustrated that I got up and went dumpster diving to see if any Sashimi was lingering about. I needed reinforcement.
Well, I didn't find any tuna but there was a dragon roll. I regrouped and put my smart pants on. It helped. I was incredibly proud of my self for finishing this without any help from my know-it-all neighbor. Didn't know what 7A High jinks means I had ANT IDS. Erase.Erase.Erase.
I've read "Jane EYRE" but not anything from Jean Rhys. WIDE SARGASSO SEA did show up and I was eternally grateful. I had CACAO for 24D instead of COCOA. Are they the same? @Birchbark maybe you know the difference? I had THERAPY for 22D but my misspelled TYLENOL gave me a leg up. THINGS did FALL APART with my HIT OR MISS morning puzzle. Maybe I'm rusty; several days without doing puzzle does that to me.
Anyway..I took several breathers and little by little I finished. I even spelled COELHO correctly.
I like a good Saturday struggle and maybe learning new things and words...This provided what the Dr. ordered. Thank you, Kanyin (love your name!)....
@Rex....APY VERDE TO JU (as they say in my neck of the woods)...
Anyone watch yesterdays World Cup England/USA? I didn't know who to cheer for. Husband is a Scouse but they win all the time. does Argentina and they got whooped. USA looks good and still has a chance.....USA USA?

bocamp 11:03 AM  

Thx, Kanyin, for your LABOR d'AMOre! :)

Happy B.D. @Rex 🎉


SNAG was ironically my only get in the NW to start with. The rest was SOMEwhat HIT OR MISS.

Eventually, everyTHING FeLL into place.

Thot I was a bit TOO SLOW, but my time proved to be sub-avg.

Misread 'refuse' as meaning refusal, so TRASHED was hard to see.

Big fan of AUTOPAY.

Loved COELHO's 'The Alchemist' (time for a re-read).

BUSed dishes at Portland's Kitchen Kettle Armenian restaurant during h.s. days ($1.25 hr).

Ex BMW spot welder in Munich ('69).

Fun Sat. morn RIDE! :)

Now joining @Sun Volt, Pablo on Lester Ruff's Sat. Stumper. 🤞

I see Alex Eaton-Salners' Puns & Anagrams awaits the morrow.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

puzzlehoarder 11:11 AM  

I've never read the books but I'm familiar with the titles so both grid spanners we're as easy as the rest of the puzzle. This would have been a complete softball of early week proportions if it hadn't been for COELHO. Going over and over that section trying to make that look like a name cost me a couple of extra minutes. The crosses wouldn't budge so I had to leave it in. The spelling is so odd that Jeff Chen reversed the L and the H in his notes and didn't even notice.

Another boringly easy late week offering from the NYTXW. At least the SB is good today.

sixtyni yogini 11:11 AM  

🦖, you are indeed part of the LITERATI!
🧩 - easy, yes. But not VERY easy..
Loved many of the words and phrases but fave is
Much prefer it to “woke” which I’ve never figured out why it is used as an insult by some.
ILLUMINATI is preferred but “woke” is fine by me.🤗👍🏽🤗… if one must label predilections 😂
Good 🧩

sixtyni yogini 11:13 AM  

Ps - 🦖 - 🎂🤸🏽‍♀️🎂 good wishes!

TTrimble 11:17 AM  

As always, these ratings like "Very Easy" are in the eye of the beholder, and I think Rex adequately delineated which beholders we're talking about. I'll join Rex to say it's a highly decent puzzle. (And: Happy Birthday!)

So I'm not put out that it didn't play very easy for me. Maybe I'm TOO SLOW. Whatever; it's all good. I learn new words like RHETOR and new names like LITA (instead of LOLA this time). I'm not sure what a LOOPER is, but I'll find out after I'm done here. I also don't know about this "parabolic" SOWER. Biblical reference?

I think TIE A KNOT is not at the level of "eat a sandwich": the flaw of the latter is its randomness, but TIE A KNOT definitely is the last thing you do in threading a needle; I don't know that anything else would fit. TYLENOL is more random than TIE A KNOT.

RIDE OR DIE makes me think of a wife or girlfriend of a member of a motorcycle gang, who will stand by her man come what may.

The THE in THE SELF is justifiable, yes?

In response to someone: no, CIRCA isn't the plural of circus. I'm not about to say everything I learned from Google Translate in the last few minutes about circuses and circles and all. Anyway it's a preposition. Similarly, I'll zip my lip about the real plural ILLUMINATI, except to say that it was an Enlightenment-era society, and the clue is not as unenlightened as you may think. As long as we're on the topic of Latin roots, the clue for ETNA is a "maybe".

A HAT TIP to @egs, for finding a certain word wherever it SHOWS UP. 'Preciate it, dude. Also, ISSA is ASS I backwards.

SB: yd 0, but uncleanly since I typed in random guesses for the last. Missed this the other day, but I hope never to miss it again, because this could be an important word for me and my family.

Son Volt 11:18 AM  

Good morning @pablo - I agree with you - more Saturdayish than this one but straightforward and gettable. I especially liked 26d on what would have been Charles Schulz’s 100th.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

My French utterly failed me on this one, and, even with LAI, I could not think of what "Brie base" would be. Of course after I gave up I about wanted to bang my ahead against the wall, because that wasn't difficult aside from the lack of French in the clue itself. I did rather like BARTEND for having two valid meanings of "tabs" that both fit the clue while still having a third meaning to navigate around.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Anyone else have Eliot for bugs’ archenemy?

صباغ الكويت 11:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Newboy 12:01 PM  

I’m with @egsfor today, but wondering how far into his cheek @birchbark is as he joins the post-feast culinary parade. Welcome Ms Ajayi to the wonderful Crossworld clan; any debut brightens my day, but your grid foreshadows remarkable progress.

Masked and Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Cool SatPuz -- Themes in symmetric(al) twosomes. This is a debut puz for this constructioneer … maybe this themeless-but-with-twosome-themelets approach will be her signature "trademark" thing? Time will tell. But M&A really really approves.

Day-um, a ?-marker clue right outta the chute, for 1-Across. That really rhetored my coelho. Howsumever, then there weren't no more ?-marker clues at all in the whole rest of the SatPuz [aka the puz underworld]. Uniquely different again. Kanyin darlin was becomin even more of a fave, as the solvequest progressed.

staff weeject pick: Kinda partial to AHS next to NOS. But ,,, then again … BUS was my first "GETIN" word, at the start of the solvequest, givin M&A an immediate U-fix.

Thanx for the unique themed themeless fun, Ms. Ajayi darlin. And congratz on yer primo debut.

Masked & Anonym007Us

Happy B-Day, @RP dude.

harder than frozen snot, for those left cravin that:

Carola 12:30 PM  

For me, easy without the "very." Knowing the book titles definitely gave me a leg up, but I still needed to hopscotch around, relying on the helpful "threes" (BUS, AMO, ROI, UNE, ROT, to get the longer answers. Rewarding and fun to fill it all in, from BLUBS and MANHUNT to FAKE TAN and MARINAS. Thank you to @Rex and @Lewis for pointing out the bonus pleasures of the pairings and symmetries. I also liked SHONE next to ILLUMINATI. For me, these extra flourished made up for the puzzle's not being exactly Saturday-difficult.

@Kanyin Ajayi, congratulations on your debut! I understand you've got a dissertation to attend to, but I hope it won't be too long until your next puzzle. This one was a gem.

JC66 12:43 PM  


Swingfish 1:33 PM  

Must’ve been the Tryptophan Blues; it was a challenge.

pabloinnh 2:00 PM  

@Son Volt-Yep, nice to see the Schulz shout out. Most of the comics in our local paper had some kind of tribute, and most of those involved Snoopy.

Birchbark 2:01 PM  

@Gill I. (11:01) -- I can say only that cocoa is made from beans of the CACAO tree. Why they decided to swap the As and O is known only to the ILLUMINATI. I pondered this as I sorted old nuts and bolts at the workbench this morning, then came inside and consulted an ancient tome of forgotten lore. I discovered that the symmetrical _A_AO --> _O_OA inversion is a form of incantation, so powerful ALTERS the molecular structure of the bean, and that's where the magic happens.

DigitalDan 2:41 PM  

Literary ignoramus techie here, which made this at least a MEDIUM, leaning towards CHALLENGING, at least for the acrosses. I always thank Darwin for the downs, which tend not to be thematic and to give one some purchase. The titles sounded familiar after some fill, which allowed me to finish in decent time even though I was pretty clueless on my first tour through the acrosses.

I wish I could get the NYTCP powers that be to reset my best times to my average. I have a hunch that in the early days I cheated and solved offline only to type in the answers for some of my "bests," which does not allow for true improvements in best times to show up. First world problem, for sure.

ebpcanimal 3:03 PM  

NY Times's website wouldn't let me update the payment method for my subscription. Apparently it was grandfathered from an older platform they used when the account was opened decades ago? I called this morning and they said I need to set up a new subscription, but promised I could keep the same account with all my games history. I reluctantly agreed, but now when I log in everything is gone. I called again to complain but they say they can't find the old account and there's nothing they can do. I don't care about Wordle and other games, but all those years of crossword solutions...erased with one keystroke. Pretty distressed right now. Is there some tech-savvy department I can contact to fix this?

Lexi 3:06 PM  
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Gary Jugert 3:24 PM  

Except for the athlete, the author, and the actress, this dropped together nicely. Oddly I knew the rock star. She's 64.

Otherwise, not much to write home about, no knee slappers, but not much to rage and storm over either. Just a Saturday on the easy side. I'm anticipating the early solvers will already have said something like, "Where's my Saturday," or "Nice Tuesday," or "WS is solely responsible for dumbing down America." I've decided to take what I've paid 12¢ to acquire each day, and solve it by looking up the people I've never heard of if necessary, and then rush over to this blog to see who's having a tizzy. It doesn't seem to matter much what day of the week it is when we're having tizzies, we can do it everyday.


1 "It'll knock your socks off" and "defines a generation" and "groundbreaking."
2 Stand in the way of of a drunken orgy.
3 "It looks good."
4 Fudd on a Hog.
5 How my local news anchor maintains his Caribbean glow through the depths of winter.
6 Wrestler in hell.
7 "Looks like one of those hoity-toity words with the thingy on top, but which one, and can you make those on the phone keyboard -- oh sweet, you can."
8 Gigolo.


CDilly52 3:25 PM  

Really liked TWOSOMES and TIE A KNOT. Technically though, one doesn’t tie a knot all the time in hand sewing. Liked HIT OR MISS. Weakest clue in my opinion was the one for TRASHED. My brain really had to stretch the tense/usage of “turned,” but it stretched - barely. Like OFL, I’m a bookish set and knew the titles, but misspelled COELHO on the first and second tries. Overall, nice Thanksgiving Saturday; easy enough not to tax me as I continue to recover from three days of cooking and this eill be the third day of eating. Time for more football.

Anoa Bob 3:52 PM  

Contemporary literature would be the last category I would choose in a game of Trivial Pursuit. I had no idea what the grid-spanning TWOSOMES would be. Pieced them together but that made this one a little more on the challenging side for me.

Once again the NYTXW appears to be one of the last bastions of Freudian theory when 38D THE SELF is clued "Psychoanalytic subject". THE SELF is the subject of many psychological and philosophical systems. I would go with a clue such as "Subject of humanism" or "Subject of existentialism" rather than with one from an archaic, discredited system like psychoanalysis.

THE SELF is another example in the recent spate of gratuitous articles. Why THE SELF but not, for example, THE UNDERWORLD? Maybe it's a new category, Articles Of Convenience or AOC. Oh wait, that's already taken. Nevermind.

For some reason I linked 42A RIDE OR DIE, clued as "Unfailingly loyal", with 61A FAKE TAN. Maybe 43D DEIFY also.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Please tell us what the book is!

Gruff 4:50 PM  

To paraphrase Senor Wences, easy for you, deefeecult for me! Nevertheless, I solved it and enjoyed it! Happy birthday, Rex!

Beezer 6:38 PM  

@Puzzled…rest assured that @Z is NOT in the UNDERWORLD OR in Purgatorio or Paradisio. He just quit workin’ the NYT puzzle. I HOPE he still checks in occasionally because your worry is very sweet. @Z BARELY makes it to Boomer status ( not sayin’ THAT is good) so methinks he will be around for a long while. Who knows? Maybe he will “come back” some day.

dgd 7:03 PM  

They are not pastiches at all. The stories are very different.They look at the world from the Caribbeans' and Africans' point of view, respectively.

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

42A: Never heard of "Ride or die".

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

What’s the book? (Asking for a friend;))

RooMonster 10:40 PM  

Thanks for answering about @Z. A lot of days, I don't get a chance to come back to the blog for answering questions. I didn't mean it to sound like he shuffled off this mortal coil. Apparently I did. Oops. Apologies to @Z and everyone else.

@All who haven't ever heard Ride-or-Die
Dang, you need to watch more "Fast & Furious" movies. 😁

RooMonster Late Reply Guy

John Face 12:42 AM  

I worked in book stores for years during college, so I knew Coehlo and Things fall apart immediately, but I kept thinking Jean Rhys was Jean Auel and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which book from the Clan of the Cave bears would fit in this puzzle and the relationship to Jane Erye. So, I had to back into that clue from Sea them realized Sargasso Sea and get the downs for the wide. This process took me a while, so my time was way slow for a Saturday. A bit of a slog, but sometimes it’s fun when you do eventually get it.

Ride or Die was definitely my highlight.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Didn’t know the novels or any of the names. This one was really hard for me.

thefogman 11:58 AM  

Nice. A well-crafted themeless puzzle to end 2022. Bravo to Kanyin Ajayi on her NYT debut. Corner squares spell BATS, STAB or TABS. HNY to all my fellow cruciverbalists and all the best for 2023.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

"Very easy". Perhaps for a Literature professor, but too much trivia for the ordinary solver. A fair rating would be "medium".

Diana, LIW 1:26 PM  

Well I was a lit major, but only vaguely had heard of the books. Got them anyway, along with the rest of the puzzle. Not much else to say.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 1:28 PM  

Scanning the clue list, I despaired of even coming close to finishing. The authors of the gridspanners were not familiar to me, and I recognized only one PPP: DOD ISSA Rae. She let me GETIN (I wish).

Toughest part was right there in the NE: getting SHOWSUP from "eclipses." I realize it's Saturday, but yikes, these two look more like antonyms! I sort of get it; it's like "upstages," or "starts to first base after the ump calls ball four a strike." But hard to see: I had _HOWSUP and still hesitated writing the S.

Overall this turned out to be easier than I thought it would. When all those S's started SHOWing UP in the NE, I thought of the movie (which I knew was adapted from a book) WIDESARGASSOSEA, which would give me BMWS for 1-down: making sense so far.

Similarly in the south, The long one began with THINGS, and so it came to me that THINGSFALLAPART sounded familiar (it was: in King's "The Stand," Ed Harris' character cries "THINGSFALLAPART; the center does not hold!" just before eating a bullet). This fit with gimme CRAN, and so on.

Last letter was a guess: the O of COELHO--a total unknown--and SOWER, the preacher in a parable. I thought I knew all the parables but that's a new one on me. Well, it was either that or SEWER. I went with the O. Overall I guess I have to agree with easy--for the day. Birdie.

Wordle par, and Happy New Year, everybody!

Burma Shave 1:59 PM  




rondo 2:11 PM  

I knew nothing of those books or mister COEHLO (also guessed on the last O) so the crosses had to do all of the LABOR. Gemma CHAN, yeah baby.
Wordle birdie!

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