Bluish-gray pet / SAT 1-28-23 / Self-driving car company that started as a Google project / Cousin of Spanish chirimía or Italian piffero / Horror movie franchise known for both its action and slapstick humor / First NPR reporter promoted to correspondent before age 30 / TV bar with frequent health code violations overlooked by the city's mayor

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Constructor: Kevin Christian

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (much, much harder if those longer proper nouns are out of your wheelhouse)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ALPHAVILLE (27D: "Forever Young" band, 1984) —
Alphaville is a German synth-pop band formed in Münster in 1982. They gained popularity in the 1980s. The group was founded by singer Marian GoldBernhard Lloyd, and Frank Mertens. They achieved chart success with the singles "Forever Young", "Big in Japan", "Sounds Like a Melody", "The Jet Set" and "Dance with Me". Gold remains the only continuous member of Alphaville. [...] Alphaville's song "Forever Young" was featured in the movie Listen to Me (1989) featuring Kirk Cameron in one of his first film roles. (wikipedia) (emphasis—and movie-going low point—mine)

Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution) is a 1965 French New Wave science fiction neo-noir film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It stars Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon and Akim Tamiroff. The film won the Golden Bear award of the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965.

Alphaville combines the genres of dystopian science fiction and film noir. There are no special props or futuristic sets; instead, the film was shot in real locations in Paris, the night-time streets of the capital becoming the streets of Alphaville, while modernist glass and concrete buildings (that in 1965 were new and strange architectural designs) represent the city's interiors. The film is set in the future but the characters also refer to twentieth-century events; for example, the hero describes himself as a Guadalcanal veteran.

Expatriate American actor Eddie Constantine plays Lemmy Caution, a trenchcoat-wearing secret agent. Constantine had already played this or similar roles in dozens of previous films; the character was originally created by British crime novelist Peter Cheyney. However, in Alphaville, director Jean-Luc Godard moves Caution away from his usual twentieth-century setting and places him in a futuristic sci-fi dystopia, the technocratic dictatorship of Alphaville. [...] German synthpop band Alphaville took their name from the film. (wikipedia)

• • •

This puzzle had its moments but all I could think of was the rather large segment of the solving population that is going to be brutalized by the proper nouns. I wrote in ALPHAVILLE no problem because holy cow is that in my particular generational wheelhouse but I would never, ever expect anyone not solidly Gen-X to know who the hell ALPHAVILLE are. I'd've expected to go to the Godard film of the same name, but even that is pretty obscure. Wow, "Forever Young" ... a semi-iconic melancholy anthem if you were a suburban 80s teen. The song was almost wholly ruined for me when, in my first semester of college (at POMONA, in fact), I went to a test-screening of Listen to Me, a college debate drama (!?) starring Jami Gertz and Kirk Cameron (back when he was famous for starring on the TV show Growing Pains, not for being a religious and zealot and bigot like he is today). I guess the college thought they were doing something "fun" by giving us these free test-screening tickets. We saw it at a mall, I remember that—the Montclair mall ... Montclair Place, was it? Maybe. Anyway, the movie was not just bad, it also featured a clumsy climactic debate between whatever fictional college the movie's stars went to and (of course) Harvard. The subject: abortion. Yes, the hot topic all the kids are talking about, the topic that can *definitely* be done justice in a Kirk Cameron vehicle. So I had to watch these allegedly sympathetic characters wax poetic about the merits of making abortion illegal or whatever and even at 17 I was like "this is bad, right?" And *then* "Forever Young" by Alphaville started playing. I was like "But ... but ... I like this song ... I LIKE THIS SONG, STOP THE MOVIE!" We filled out comment cards at the end. I like to believe I just wrote "No" in big letters. I also have a traumatic memory of Kirk Cameron hosting some kind of wacky Ice Capades TV special in the late '80s, with, like, skating Smurfs and random musical acts ... that can't be real, can it? CAN IT!?

Then there's POST MALONE, which ... sigh (13D: His 2016 debut album unseated "Thriller" for the most weeks spent in the top 10 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart (77)). Yes, he's somehow tremendously popular and yet if you are over 50 it's entirely possible you have literally never heard of him. Pop culture is weird these days. Heavily sectored, segmented, silo'd. Between ALPHAVILLE and POST MALONE I could practically hear many older and/or pop-culture-challenged solvers tearing their hair out (if they still have hair) (I sure don't). My own personal proper noun struggle came with WAYMO (40A: Self-driving car company that started as a Google project), which I hated not because I didn't know it, but because ugh, cars, self-driving cars, Google ... it's a dystopic tech bro nightmare. Build efficient public transportation! It's doable! And it's so much better than this apocalyptic vision of hyper-individualism they're trying to sell you. "Oooh, robot cars." Bah. Pffffft. WAYMO, because you'll get "way mo'" pedestrian deaths and way less human accountability for those deaths. Google will not be satisfied until you have Google Brain Implants. At some point you have to stop worshiping your tech overlords, who hate people except insofar as they can be hooked up to machines (literally or figuratively) and drained of their resources and volition. Gonna stop before I write a manifesto and Google tells the feds on me. 

I think that ultimately the proper nouns in the puzzle are crossed fairly, but I'm kinda giving side-eye to a couple of those ALPHAVILLE crosses, the proper noun crosses: CHE and "EVIL DEAD" (another longer proper noun that I suspect is unknown to many solvers) (46A: Horror movie franchise known for both its action and slapstick humor). Puzzles should not get *all* their difficulty from proper nouns, because for those who know the nouns, it's not difficult at all, and for those who don't, there's rarely a feeling of satisfaction waiting for you once you get the answer. I like proper nouns, I think they can give a puzzle personality and life, but I wish constructors/editors were more careful about how they used them. Oh well, at least this one started with a gimme. Too easy, perhaps, but it's nice to start out with a little success:

That WAYMO section was tough not just because I didn't know WTF WAYMO was, but because it gets really tight in there, and there are only a few clues to help you out with WAYMO, and those are either cross-referenced or vague. Two of my three initially wrong answers today went straight through WAYMO (STUN for SLAY, WIN for AIM) (29D: Knock dead, 33D: Hoped-for result). Figuring out that CROC / LACED pairing was the key to finally fixing all that mess, but that really was the only Saturday-hard part of the grid for me today. There was one other clue that wicked + clever quality I like in a Saturday: 12D: Props for some plays (OBIE AWARDS). Just a fantastic example of clue misdirection with "Props" there (it's common slang for "credit," short for "proper dues"). I had SOD before ALE (35A: Product that may be sold by the yard), but no other troubles. Tougher than yesterday's, but not by much. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:19 AM  

@Rex said, "Between ALPHAVILLE and POST MALONE I could practically hear many older ... solvers tearing their hair out.

B I N G O!

Conrad 6:19 AM  

I knew WAYMO. Autonomous vehicles are particularly interesting to me as I am getting up in years and I realize that my driving time may be limited. I'm hoping we'll get them soon enough to extend my behind-the-wheel lifetime.

tony before OBIE at 12D (but with a realization that it might be OBIE, or espy -- actually, espy would be better misdirection for the clue). Got the MALONE part of 13D but struggled with POST. All I could come up with at first was Moses Malone, who didn't fit the clue or the space.

At 46A, EVIL DEAD was a WOE, as was DESERT ROSE at 63A. I had pEAS for the black or green groceries at 51A (thinking black-eye peas, which doesn't really work). Those two made ATONE hard to see.

Rich Glauber 6:20 AM  

Yes tough for the reasons that Rex predicted. Alphaville, nope, Evil dead, nope, Post Malone, well at least it rang a bell. Obie awards clue was fantastic misdirection and a number of the clues were Saturday tough. Great puzzle and a tough solve on this end.

Anonymous 6:27 AM  

I spent far too much time with FAKE SWORDS as my answer for “Props for some plays.” I do, unfortunately, have to hand it to them for the clue.

OffTheGrid 6:39 AM  

This is my POW. What a delight. NW filled quickly but I knew and hoped it would get tougher. It did. Lots of sharp crisp cluing made this a lot of fun. I only needed a few crossing letters to get ARISHAPIRO but ALPHAVILLE had to take care of itself. Very familiar with the song (sung by Bob Dylan in the opening) from watching "Parenthood" TV show with Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, and Craig T Nelson. HERE'S A NICE RENDITION
I had only heard of POSTMALONE from seeing him on Late Night with Seth Myers. I would not know any of his music. Needed help on that one.

Loren Muse Smith 6:39 AM  

To quote Brendan Emmett Quigley on Facebook: I know Kevin. He’s ok. Hah. Just another reason to go to the ACPT, people. Kevin – I’m a stack lover and really enjoyed the fight this morning. I agree with Rex - terrific clue for OBIE AWARDS. And, yeah, since I’m old, stuff like APHAVILLE, POST MALONE, EVIL DEAD were wicked hard.

But I dealt myself a double whammy dnf deathblow:

1. @Conrad, my black or green grocery items were “peas,” too, even though who knows what a black pea is. I mean, I’m sure there is one, but I guess I was thinking bean. This led to a bit of a think on other black/green choices you can make at the store. Olives, pepper, grapes, maybe bananas if you hit it at precisely the wrong time.
2. With magnificent disregard to both the show’s name and bar, I wrote in “Sam’s TAVERN” for MOES.

I can’t believe I’m someone who prefers aesthetic to ESTHETIC. This would mean I’m snobby and pretentious. Like going to the theatre and the town centre are favourite outings.

“Callous” before COARSEN. And I was all geared up to share that thanks to Dreyer’s English I know that callous is a verb or adjective but callus is a noun. They both have the same etymology, so someone should get on that and neaten it up. Dumb to have two spaellings.

I liked the two “hands” clues, by the way. As I senesce, my hands are definitely weakening, and I absolutely cannot open a bottle of Great Value water anymore. My anaemic attempt doesn’t even begin to budge the top, so I invariably have to use my teeth, thus leading to much worse problems.

EVIL DEAD almost feels redundant, right? Like, if some DEAD person is showing up where they’re not supposed to be, you give them zero benefit of the doubt and hightail it out of there. These spirits are demons. (Ok – so I looked into it. Seems that affable, kind spirits are daemons. No, really.)

Nice to have FLIT and TROD sharing a grid. I’m quite the flitter myself, and I just can’t help it. Sometimes I tear through the lobby at our school on some unimportant mission – to go shoot the breeze with the other English teacher – but I bet I scare the hell out of parents in the lobby registering their kids. At an alternative school, any staff member running anywhere is cause for serious alarm. I usually stop and apologize, assure them I’m just a fast walker.

Speaking of my school, I guess I misrepresented myself yesterday. Just because I didn’t end up being a carefree Lady Who Lunches, that I ended up teaching at an alternative school, doesn’t mean I don’t like my job. I love my job - because of the students. They’re bright, courageous, honest (in a bass-ackwards way) kids who deserve to be “seen.” If the superintendent of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools called and offered to double my salary to move to a “better” school to teach AP and Honors English, I’d be like Nope. No thanks.. (Those kinds of students are snarky, sneaky, entitled know-it-alls. I know this precisely because I was one, and I have occasionally taught such kids.) Yesterday morning I was poring over the questionnaires they had filled out (new semester, new kids) about themselves. I had added the question, How would your parents/guardians describe you? thinking this would let them share some good aspects of who they are. I was blindsided by some of the devastating responses - “I’m a bad kid, I’ll never amount to anything, I’m lazy. . .” One guy wrote that he was “dead to them.” I just sat there and cried.

Alrighty then. Happy Saturday, everyone!

morsbergerg 6:58 AM  

That would be the Montclair Plaza.

This 'n' That 7:20 AM  

BEAN for Black or green grocery items. Oh, you wanted a plural? Well excuuuuuuse me!

Other early trips; sod for ALE, bogS for FENS, PeeS for PROS (Whizzes). Not really but I thought of it, like many others did I s'pose.

Fantastic new clue for OBOE-Cousin of the Spanish chirimía or Italian piffero

Has DEETS ever appeared as DEteS?

Wanderlust 7:25 AM  

ARI SHAPIRO - someone in a puzzle whom I actually kinda know personally! The Venn Diagram of NYT crossword solvers and NPR listeners has a lot of overlap so this is one proper name that probably wasn’t too hard.

I knew of POST MALONE because of raising teenagers in his era. Surprisingly never heard of ALPHAVILLE even though I am not that much older than Rex. Rex, I can totally relate to your movie-going experience of hearing a song you love in a movie you hate. I remember reading something about the inauguration plans for the evil orange one and coming upon a list of who was going to perform. I was thinking, “Please don’t let it be anyone I like, please don’t let it be anyone I like …” It was a bunch of country acts I didn’t care about and … 3 Doors Down? Do I like them? I can live with it.

I liked the puzzle - just the right amount of toughness for a Saturday. The NE was the last to fall, with its clever and tough clues for OBIE AWARDS (as everyone has noted) but also POETS and REAL NAME. The latter took me a while because I had put NICEd for “improved, as the weather,” thinking GOD, NO. Luckily, “improved” was an adjective, not a verb.

Two more misdirection clues I loved in the South - “square things” for ATONE and “disruptive board move” for OUSTER. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one looking for something like “petulantly sweeping all the pieces off the game because you’re losing” for the latter.

Harryp 7:27 AM  

Liked this one and it came in just below average time. I momentarily considered PEES for Whizzes at 38A, but then said nah, not in any crossword puzzle.

Al 7:36 AM  

I don't understand ALE for 35 across.

Dave Murray, Writer 7:40 AM  

JUNETEENTH would not come to me. I thought __________ Day for quite a while and actually put in MANATEEDAY briefly because, why not?

CWT 7:56 AM  

Loren, thanks for your heartfelt affirmation of the (heroic) career path you have chosen. I guess I ain’t so worried about you now. “Keep on truckin’” as we said in our hippie days. As for the puzzle: I somehow got enough letters to suss out those long “out of my wheelhouse” entries, so I ended up with a completed puzzle full of stuff I had no idea about. I guess ignorance is bliss on some occasions, huh? Loved the fiendish clueing!

Wanderlust 8:00 AM  

Beer is sometimes sold in pubs in “yards” - very tall glasses.

Jim Stevens 8:03 AM  

Al… you can order a “Yard” of ale at some bars/pubs. The glasses are exceptionally tall… like a yard high. Don’t know how much they hold…

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

A yard is a long fluted glass with a bulb on he bottom. Half yards are also available. For first timers both are notoriously difficult to drink from without dousing yourself when the ale rushes out of the bulb toward your face. They require a special holder called a chevalier so they don’t fall over when not in hand.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Apparently this is a tall beer glass that holds about 2.5 imperial pints. I've also been to some classy establishments that sell beer in tall cylinders with taps, which are, I guess, 3 feet tall.

TaylorSlow 8:17 AM  

Not gonna lie: As predicted, this puzzle kicked my butt. Then put on steel-toed boots and kicked it again. After getting the NW without much trouble (hesitated on BLEH--have never seen that spelling), everything slowed and sometimes came to a complete stop, thanks to the misdirects (delightful! brilliant!) and stuff like ALPHAVILLE, WAYMO, EVIL DEAD (not delightful!). @Offthegrid: I knew POST MALONE from a TV appearance too, not from the clue; that's a name that sticks with you.

I'm a pretty committed gardener--The Spelling Bee guy honks me off regularly for not including common gardening terms--but I've never heard of DESERT ROSE. Maybe because I live up here near Canada. "Used for freeloading" made me think of some kind of vehicle or container--a UHaul or bin or something that would be, y'know, used to transport the stuff. Didn't know the lit Nobelist at 57A and had "bogs" for FENS, so the southwest was simply a beast.

Further difficulty: pEAS for TEAS, "stun" for SLAY, toughEN for COARSEN. I always put the "a" in front of ESTHETICS.

Despite all that, I somehow enjoyed it. ON THE FENCE, REAL NAME, and everybody's favorite--OBIE AWARDS. But I'm also glad it's over.

Weezie 8:18 AM  

I hereby declare May 19th MANATEE DAY. Last year my work shifted our holiday schedules so that we no longer observe Presidents’ Day but do have Juneteenth off, and Columbus Day is now Indigenous Peoples Day. LMS, sounds like you’re doing some really good, hard work. @Conrad, I’d never considered the angle on self-driving cars as accessibility devices for older folks; that’s now shifted my opinion of them somewhat, so thanks for sharing.

Yep to all of what Rex said - a bit too many PPP for my taste, but it *is* a Saturday, and some of the clues were brilliant.

The upper left wasn’t as easy for me as it might have been for some others, because ARI SHAPIRO was basically all crosses and inference. NPR was a constant companion in our home growing up. (I still get the occasional ear worm from Prairie Home Companion stuck in my head, as much as I denounce the creator.)

But then, in my mid-twenties, I had a truly wild, beautiful, and short-lived romance with an NPR reporter, including a torrid correspondence when he was embedded overseas. After it ended, my heart couldn’t take hearing his voice every day. Since then, even though I’m over it, I’ve fallen out of the habit. I have a much better time processing news and discourse when there’s a visual element to it.

Aaaanyway, folks have a lovely weekend ahead of them!

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

@Al - a 36” tall glass of beer is called a yard. It’s a comically large novelty way of drinking beer you don’t really see anymore.

Mr. Grumpypants 8:32 AM  

Yeah, a bunch of stuff I did not know, but things like ALPHAVILLE and POST MALONE [?!?!] were inferrable in light of the reasonably fair crosses, so this boomer liked it just fine.

SouthsideJohnny 8:39 AM  

Another member of the “never heard of” ALPHAVILLE, POST MALONE, EVILDEAD club here. Unfortunately you can also add WAYMO, PAMONA, MOES TAVERN (is that from the Simpsons?), and even Ms. Tokarczuk Into the WOE category for me today. That much real estate dedicated to Dark Matter makes for a very long and tedious solving experience (yes, a SLOG).

I believe I have done both the WaPo and the NYT every day so far this year. The NYT is generally harder (due almost entirely to the heavy reliance on PPP and esoterica). In my opinion, the cluing is consistently superior in the WaPo, but of course YMMV. So far, I would give the WaPo a grade of A for 2023 and the NYT gets a B-/C+.

mmorgan 8:42 AM  

I’m in that WAY older than Gen-X group so ALPHAVILLE the band was indeed completely unknown to me (the Godard film would have been a gimme), but I did get it fairly easily from crosses. Same with POST MALONE, which I thought couldn’t be right, but I trusted the crosses. I agree with Rex that a puzzle shouldn’t get its difficulty mainly from proper nouns (and this thing was dripping with them), but they were all gettable, albeit with some struggle, so I had a good time struggling.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

A yard is a long, unusual beer glass that holds multiple regular glassfuls.

Eater of Sole 8:46 AM  

Woulda been a pretty fast solve for me but for that NE section, which brought it back to average territory. OBIE AWARDS was brutal (but great), and POST MALONE was huh?!? Once POST MALONE fell, my brain informed me that I have actually heard of him. If you'd thrown the name at me and asked what he did, though, I think I might have guessed basketball player. Never heard of ALPHAVILLE (the movie OR the band), but it there were plenty of crosses so it came quickly.

Another hand up for bogs before FENS, sod before ALE. And peas before TEAS (& I was looking forward to self-righteously explaining that they're black-EYED peas, not black peas, you ignorant dolt!). Looking askance at BLEH. I've said (and seen) "blech" and "blah" but never BLEH.

And, @daveyhead, yes, there should absolutely be a Manatee Day. How can we make this happen?

Twangster 8:49 AM  

I was around for the '80s but have no memory of Alphaville or their song Forever Young (which is a different song than the Dylan tune of the same name, Off the Grid).

Post Malone I know from the halftime show at the Super Bowl. I'm a bigger fan of Dave Malone of the Radiators.

TJS 8:50 AM  

I have never successfully completed a puzzle with more answers that I have never heard of. I guess that's kind of cool but I'm not sure.

Son Volt 8:52 AM  

Some nice clueing here and there - Rex covers all of the trivia issues. I’m in the familiarity crowd so this played smooth. @OfftheGrid - this Forever Young is not the Dylan song - here’s Jay sampling it.

Liked SLEEPING IN and MOES TAVERN. Had “got” before SETS EYES ON. COARSEN was rough and agreed with @LMS on wanting the leading A for ESTHETIC.

Backed into WAYMO and POMONA. REAL NAME felt strained.

Enjoyable Saturday solve. Another Steve Mossberg Stumper - could be awhile for me.

the DESERT ROSE Band led by the great Chris Hillman

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

"Brutalized" is an accurate term.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Although his most recent album hasn't done as well as his earlier ones, POST MALONE is a huge recording star. He was Billboard's #1 artist of the year in 2020. He has 2 Album of the Year Grammy nominations and 3 Record of the Year nominations. He's had 11 Top 10 hits since 2016 and 3 #1's. And by all accounts, he's a super nice guy. But pop culture is so fragmented nowadays that he's unknown to a large segment of the public.

ALPHAVILLE, on the other hand, is extremely obscure. My college roommate had that album and played "Forever Young" incessantly, so it was a gimme for me, but even then, the song wasn't well known. It only got to #65, and their only other American charter, "Big in Japan," only got to #66.

TTrimble 9:04 AM  

Wow. A lot to chew on. Where to begin.

First: yes, this puzzle was more on the challenging side for me, but I enjoyed the challenge. The trouble is, I'm terrible with names in the first place, can't summon them sometimes even if my life depended on it. And, I'm not all that hip, like Rex and POST MALONE are. Actually, that name did come to me eventually, despite the clue being really no help at all. I picture him as kind of nasty-looking white dude, with usually unbrushed teeth on which he often wears grills, and he says cool of-the-moment words like "prolly". (No? Just me who thinks that?) In this instance, I know the name, but can't think of a single song to his credit. I did see him on Hot Ones once. For what that's worth.

ALPHAVILLE. That illustrates what I was saying. I can vaguely hear "Forever Young" -- if it's the song I'm thinking of, the lead vocal sounds like Rod Stewart. [Needle scratch] Wait, the "Forever Young" I'm thinking of is by Rod Stewart! (Which has the same number of letters, btw.) Wouldn't it be funny if he also put that out in 1984? Awk-ward. Anyway, scratch that, I don't know this Alphaville band at all.

ARI SHAPIRO. I know the name from crosswords. I'm not an NPR listener, unfortunately. No, XM classic rock is more often where you'll find me. That and, dare I admit it, Spa on channel 68. Aaaaah.

Like a dummy, put in niNETEENTH before JUNETEENTH. Also, had trouble where Rex did, near the center, with WAYMO (don't know the name; that can't be right, can it?) and EVIL DEAD. I did like the CROCS + LACED PAIRing. Over on lower left, "bogs" before FENS. Natch.

Moving on. Rex really brought a wide grin to my face with his frothing rant on "tech-bros" who hate humanity. Tell us what you really think, Rex! No, I got a kick out of it because I've heard it all before, that science-y types "hate people" and have a secret wish to destroy civilization. Not like you humane humanistic humanities types, GOD bless you. (I can grok what he's getting at -- hey, I fear The Singularity too -- but the stereotyping is what amuses me.)

@LMS: I like "aesthetic" more than ESTHETIC too. And "amoeba" more than "ameba". But that would be thin grounds for a snobbishness charge, no? (Oh, I'm sure you were kidding.) I understand that snobbishness is anathema to you, but all it might mean is that a tiny secret part of us is British. Which ain't the same thing.

SB: dbyd, yes I missed the same word my other SB homies did. But yesterday more than made up for it: hard-earned 0. My last word is nearly a non-word, IMHO.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I was 10 when Forever Young came out. I remember it being in the radio sometimes but don’t think of it as a hit the way Thriller or Like a Virgin or Take on Me was. I mostly remember it being in a lot of movies. But here’s the thing. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life hears the name ALPHAVILLE. Until I solved this puzzle I would have sworn it was BRYAN ADAMS.

POST MALONE is not an unknown name to me but my knowledge of him extends no further than he’s a guy with face tattoos that lots of people hate.

Had to do a few reveals towards the end of this one because I was so sick of being stuck on so many proper names. Northwest and southwest fell instantly, and the rest was a joyless slog.

Kent 9:06 AM  

Forever Young peaked at 65 on the Hot 100 chart, so it was a mystery to this Gen Xer (Rod Stewart’s song of the same name is the one that came to mind and will continue to live there the rest of the day, but he’s not a group). The crosses were fair, though. POSTMALONE took nearly every cross too, but that’s a me problem - I can’t complain that he’s too obscure.

Yes, the OBIE clue was fantastic, and a tip of the hat as well for the added misdirection of including AWARDS - it would have been easier to suss out had it just been the typical four-letter crosswordese answer.

kitshef 9:07 AM  

Basically the same puzzle as yesterday. Too many proper names. I sincerely hope this is not the future of NYTXWs. At least I’d heard of POST MALONE, which I can’t say about ALPH AVILLE.

Disagree with Rex on self-driving cars. Given the rate of distracted driving (on a recent trip to Puerto Rico, distracted driving seemed to be mandatory), taking the decision-making away from humans I am convinced would reduce fatalities dramatically.

RickA 9:12 AM  

Rex’s Waymo rant raises an important question that needs to be answered before the autonomous vehicle age is upon us. Last year, there were 43,000 deaths (and far more serious injuries and permanent disabilities) caused by vehicles. Suppose all vehicles were autonomous, and as a result there were no accidents at all, except that each day 10 pedestrians would be struck and killed by autonomous vehicles (3,650 annual deaths). Would we accept that bargain? Should we?

LenFuego 9:13 AM  

This puzzle kicked my butt ... hardest Saturday in a long time for me. And that's even with ALPHAVILLE being a layup for me.

Laura 9:15 AM  

Rex was spot on for most of his sad, I 'd rather get cheered up, but it was tough without much aha. I even had to look up Claremont names that aren't Harvey Mudd

I have to disagree on Waymo, though. Stats for self driving cars are better than those for people...the exceptions just make the news. And a self driving car would me freedom and a lot more safety for me in not that many decades. Better Googl than Musk...

Liveprof 9:21 AM  

Alternate clues:

For 13D: Cheers, after Sam retires

For 27D: Precedes Betatown

@LMS -- glad to hear it. I teach at a college with a wonderfully diverse student body. Our Prez attended a conference out in Indiana a while ago and described it as "the blonde leading the blonde."

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

They are completely different songs though. Which I just learned by listening to the insert here.

Seth 9:26 AM  

Wow, I never thought anyone could be this against self-driving cars. I mean, that's your opinion, fine, but the stuff you said about more pedestrian deaths and less accountability is just wrong. Computers are WAY better at avoiding accidents and being safer than human brains. It's just that, when humans have accidents, we say, "Yeah, humans do that, that's the price we pay to have cars"; but when computers have accidents, we say, "No that can never happen ever not once this is evil and wrong."

Bottom line: self-driving cars will be WAYMO safer than humans driving cars.

Bob Mills 9:28 AM  

ALPHAVILLE, POSTMALONE, EVILDEAD, OBIEAWARDS...all connected to the entertainment business in one way or another. This puzzle is doable only by someone who listens to records or goes to the theater all the time.

And are OBIEAWARDS "props for some plays"??? Is an award a prop? Not according to any language i speak. Bad.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Amy: love Rex's nostalgia over ALPHAVILLE; I was busy getting my career going, etc., so never heard of them. Having slowed the striving over the past 10 years, I am familiar with Post Malone. Love ARI getting his due as I am a big fan. Had some difficulty in the NE, but managed.. Fine Saturday.

Anna Beauchamp 9:32 AM  

@Southside Johnny - The Washington Post prints its own puzzle on Sundays. The rest of the week it publishes the LA Times puzzle. Found this one pretty easy. I knew all the pop culture references. My only hiccup was I stupidly put in PEAS instead of TEAS (Black or green grocery items) and took forever to find my mistake. RP’s incoherent Kirk Cameron insult (“ not for being a religious and zealot and bigot like he is today “ huh ? ) betrayed his own bigotry against Christians. Oh well. It’s a free country and all that. For now. Happy weekend everyone.

Kent 9:33 AM  

Loren: I taught school for just one year, in a very rural district. I had two senior classes, one for those who were college-bound, one for everyone else. If I could have just taught that second group, I might still be teaching today, but the snarky, sneaky, entitled know-it-alls in the college prep class that broke me.

A possible aid to get into that Great Value water bottle: wrap a rubber band around the cap (the wide bands work best) for a little extra grip. I was at a basketball game one night and literally tore the skin on my index finger trying to open a bottle Of Diet Pepsi. I was complaining about it the next day in the office and a young coworker taught me that trick. Might help save some dental work down the road.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Familiar with literally none of the proper nouns as I’m 81. Relied on all the cross clues and was able to solve. Exactly what a Saturday puzzled should do! Loved it because of the satisfaction it gives when it’s completed.

bocamp 9:48 AM  

Thx, Kevin; perfect Sat. puz! :)


Fairly smooth solve, with the NE being a bit on the tricky side.


Win before AIM; bog before FEN; layS before SETS.

Fun adventure! :)

On to Steve Mossberg's Sat. Stumper. 🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

TaylorSlow 9:48 AM  

@Bob Mills: "Props" as "recognition." As in "Give him some props for that achievement." OBIE AWARDS are recognitions of achievement. It's a pretty great clue, no?

puzzlehoarder 9:51 AM  

Most of this puzzle was on the easy side. That center section was what put it into Saturday territory. A big stumbling block was having LACED supported by CLOG. CROC didn't cross my mind until I came up with SLAY and recognized PAIRS.

That west exit from the NW was no good to me because the clues for MASTERS and OLLIE went right over my head. Poor OPEC hung off of ESTHETIC all by itself the entire time I was spinning my wheels on that center. It was ironic how easy it was to backfill the SW after the center fell in spite of my never having heard of ALPHAVILLE.

From the SW the rest of the solve was fun Friday level.Backfilling the NE allowed me to fix my biggest mistake of the whole solve. I had put NICEN in at 8D. Why I read the clue as " Improve, as weather" and how that 'd' just disappeared I have no idea but it blocked out REAL NAME and forced me to concentrate on cracking that center .

I printed out the puzzle and solved it last night. It was the perfect distraction from trying to finish the SB which I subsequently did.

yd -0

Unknown 9:52 AM  

I'm 67: I have never heard of Alphaville or Post Malone. I used to think I had some knowledge of popular culture, but puzzles like this one show me how out of touch I am

Jeremy 9:53 AM  

I had that same mistake as one of many troubles in working out the thorny NE corner.

jberg 9:53 AM  

Yeah, it was tough, and I finished with an error -- more on that later. I knew of ARI SHAPIRO. of course, or at least that he was either ARI or iRa; but I don't keep track of the ages and job titles of journalists much, so the clue didn't help until I had the IRO. I had to get MALTESE CAT from the end, as well, I knew they existed but not their color, and was looking for a10-letter animal name.

No idea about POST MALONE, and didn't figure out OBIE AWARDS until late in the solve. My wife considers herself a Malone (her mother's family), so my life up to age 65 was Pre-MALONE. I hope there is never a POST.

I had heard of the movie ALPHAVILLE, but never saw it, and I had a vague impression that it was from the silent era (probably due to confusion with Metropolis). But that was enough to let me fille it in as plausible, given a few crosses. As for OLGA, I had no idea but I did have the G, so it was either oOLGA or inGA, and I took a chance. Can proper names be a kealoa?

And speaking of kealoas, how about CROC vs. ClOg in the laceless shoe category?

Which brings me to my error, jOES TAVERN. Somehow I never considered the Simpsons, and I think I was influenced by Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre.. er, Theater; and I misread the clue for 58-D as "video game organization" (small print, you know), and jOD seemed as good as anything. Not the hill I would have chosen to die on.

Oh yeah, the self-driving car company. I put in WAYze, figuring if you could plot routes you could make a car follow them. That made things tough for awhile.

@Loren, and others -- I just saw the Nan Goldin movie "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" last night. It's about a lot of things, but an important one is holding up the lives of people who can't conform as worthy of being seen. See it if you can.

C.Pozzini 10:01 AM  

Did anyone else put in SLAM for SLAY and think to themselves that WAMMO is a really bad name for a self driving car?

Teedmn 10:13 AM  

Rex has the right of it today. ALPHAVILLE had their moment in the sun while I was in my early twenties. I wasn't liking the direction popular music was going at the time so I tuned into the oldies station during that decade to catch up on the previous generation's music, the 50s and 60s (now oldies stations never even hit those eras, too oldie I guess). Thus I missed most of the hits of the 80s; listening to Rex's link to the song brought not a single memory of it. Rather ho-hum in my opinion.

11A took the longest time to POPS out at me. I didn't know either 11D or 13D so _OMONA and _OSTMALONE were my last two fill-ins. Ran the ALPHAVILLE-bet for the college and got it, and then the no-knows looked quite familiar.

I couldn't tell if "square" in 47D was an adjective or a verb; having black or green pEAS didn't help at all. I finally remembered the movie was EVIL DEAD, not EVIL DEeD which was very tempting, and ATONE rang true for "Square things".

Thanks, Kevin Christian, you gave me a nice, medium Saturday challenge.

Gary Jugert 10:13 AM  

It was a Saturday and it Sat just fine. Difficult. Plenty of research projects. Northwest was trouble. Those 12 stacked long answers are impressive. Not a single clunker.


1 Barbara, i.e. Baaabs.
2 One with commitment issues improves break-up skills.
3 Hollywood director Stone known affectionately to friends hosted unmemorable party.
4 Revolutionary Guevara refuses to ride in autopilot automobile when asked.
5 To be chainsawed without remorse.
6 Flighty female flummoxed.
7 Teen brides and grooms.
8 Despite his best efforts, he glanced at the woman in the miniskirt.


mathgent 10:15 AM  

I call some clues or entries "mysteries." They are clues that don't narrow down possible entries for me and entries that aren't in my memory bank. If a puzzle has twenty mysteries, it's usually a DNF for me. Today's had 15 -- I finished but it was tough.

pabloinnh 10:16 AM  

What everyone my age said about the PPP. It even took me forever to remember JUNETEENTH and what "senesces means. I blame senescence.

I wanted the "blue gray" pet to be a Russian Blue, as we had a big old very loveable cat that fit the description, although he didn't have any credentials. Still miss him.

Now then. FOREVERYOUNG is a wonderful song that Bob Dylan wrote as a lullaby. It is one of a few songs that I recorded for my grandchildren a while ago and something my singing partner and I play frequently when we're performing in nursing homes. Any other version is clearly inferior. Also, POST is a dumb first name. He dicho.

Nice tough Saturday, KC. Kept Chipping away until I succeeded, and satisfying it was. Thanks for all the fun.

Sam Ross 10:16 AM  

Fun medium-ish Saturday puzzle. Nice “aha” moments at OBIE AWARDS and ATONE (another good and tricky clue).

TTrimble 10:22 AM  

I teach too, and I think I have a slightly different take on the "know-it-all" kids. The main thing is: they're still kids. They're both feeling their oats and they're usually, or at least often, insecure. I try to speak with them as I do any other student: courteously as I know how, avoiding putting anyone down, and keeping an ear out for the rightness of whatever they're saying, redirecting as needed.

On the plus-side, some of the "know-it-alls" are in fact enthusiastic, and their energy can be very useful.

(To be fair: I don't think I've ever had a class that is full of "entitled jerks". That would feel very different, no doubt. I've never taught high school. Kids fresh out of high school, sure.)

Where I teach nowadays is an urban university with a pretty diverse population. The cost is relatively cheap as universities go, but a lot of them need to work, maybe more than one job, and they may have families where their support is vital. English is very often a second language. So I see much less of kids feeling entitled, and more of kids feeling flat-out stressed -- moreso these days than any time in the past. Although I think that's probably true of kids everywhere, including those with more money in the family.

OffTheGrid 10:25 AM  

If I may quote Emily Litella, "Never Mind" on the "Forever Young" thing. Anyway, I had fun remembering "Parenthood". Thanks to those that enlightened me.

burtonkd 10:26 AM  

@OfftheGrid: Different "Forever Young" - see Rex's link or watch the fantastic "Napoleon Dynamite", somehow almost 20 years old...

Evil Dead I & II were from 1981 and 1987, not sure age is a disqualifier. Ooh, it looks like another one, Evil Dead Rise, is coming out this year, still time to catch up...

@LMS - either snobby & pretentious, or just Canadian (small Venn Diagram overlap).
I think aesthetic looks more esthetic, and using either word already puts me in the snobby&pretentious (S&P?) category, so I'm going all the way in!

@kitshef: I agree with your take that accidents could be reduced, but we are more willing to accept human error than death at the hands of the machine. Much like airline deaths have a zero acceptability rate, while auto deaths are rampant. Human need for control, perhaps?

@RickA - this reminds me of a test where an observer sees a train barreling into a crowd. This observer can pull a lever to reroute the train to where it will clearly kill one individual: what will they do? The statistical answer is obvious, but how many people can live with the knowledge that they caused the one death? (I think this may have been re-enacted in The Good Place?)

@LMS - I did the opposite, having gone from an inner-city challenging environment to a tony suburban private school. Each has its challenges: there was a fresh "real" environment, and I had wonderful connections with the students and teachers, but not sure I'd go back now.

On to the puzzle:) I had none of the crosses in the NW and not many confident downs. It was the last to fall with a lot of white real estate. I finally guessed that the pet was some kind of "CAT" and that started a domino cascade of whoosh answers to fill in the rest and discover that I did know all the longer acrosses.

Good vague misdirecting Saturday clues. I had "sitsbehind" for "Spots" as if at a gym.

The Smolney Institute 10:27 AM  

Mix of hard and easy. Got EVIL DEAD right away since I am a horror movie buff and Bruce Campbell is awesome and one-of-a-kind in those movies. Never heard of POST MALONE but the crosses were fair. Even though I was an 80s kid and was in middle school in 1984 I got ALPHAVILLE because of the Prom Dance scene in Napoleon Dynamite (2004), which means is should be gettable for younger solvers as well with the +20 yrs added on (Thankfully I never saw the Kirk Cameron movie). Thought of CHEERS for the bar first but obviously too short and then I had AVERN which quickly got me to MOESTAVERN easily enough. The CROC/LACED cross did seriously help in the middle, but I also didn't know YARD in that context and gave side-eye to MOOCHEDOFF (weird phrasing for me) and for some reason NICER was odd, also maybe due to the wording. Didn't seem as crisp as the rest of the puzzle. Also no idea what a DESERT ROSE is despite having two degrees in biology *shrug*.

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

Hey All !
PROS. What a let down. I had PeeS in first, really thinking the Times has gone rouge. Chuckle worthy misdirect.

Tough for me all over. Ended in NE, where I broke down and Googed for the Claremont Colleges. Don't know colleges, outside of the "knowns", Yale, Harvard, etc. Had trOD in for PLOD, and NICEn for NICED, further exasperating me there. Wrote in GOAWAY and ALE just to see if I could get some pattern recognition going, and lo and behold, saw POST MALONE. Didn't know he was quite that popular. He has been branching out in commercials, by the way. He's the guy with the face tattoos who did some Doritos spots.

Not so up on all things JUNETEENTH related, so after a few crossing Downs, I wrote in maNaTEE day. 😁 Because Manatees deserve a day, no?

Still ended up with a one-letter DNF, MOOCHEsOFF/sINES. Thinking the English Perveyors changed "signs" to "sines". You never know when words first get changed.

Had POurOVER first, then readOVER. Again, those English Perveyors confounding me with POUR v PORE.

Liked the EASTER/OUSTER symmetric pair with their STER endings. Can you guess what else ends in STER? Hint: it starts with Roo.

EVIL DEAD turned funny/campy. The first one was basically a straight forward scary flick. "This is a BOOM stick!"

Puz was OKOK. Hope you got your tough-puz fix , y'all.

Three F's

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

This isn’t the same song as Bob Dylan’s Song. bob Dylan sand his Forever Young

Tom T 10:47 AM  

The fact that I solved this without error and (as always) without cheats or help and the fact that it took over a hour--more than twice the time of the last several Saturdays--will tell you a) that not only did I not know almost all of the proper nouns (ALPHAVILLE, POSTMALONE, WAYMO, etc--even struggled to remember ARI SHAPIRO); b) but so many other things somehow fell outside my wheelhouse; and c) that I am in fact and old f**t with waaay too much time on his hands. :-)

When I finally got LACED, I PAIRed it with ClOg (a shoe that can't be LACED--I also thought briefly of having OWNED instead of LACED, but I don't know of a shoe that can't be owned), and having PAIRed it with ClOg, I couldn't see PAIRS (for weakish hands).

I suspect others, like me, were ignorant to the POREOVER/POurOVER distinction, which caused all sorts of problems--my final entry was the E in "What's the USE?"

Took forever to see SET EYES ON, and REAL NAME also baffled me for too long (complicated by driER instead of NICER for the improved weather, which also wrecked the NW for a loooong time!

Finishing this beast with the Happy Music felt like a significant triumph--so there's that.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Anyone else notice the large number of “God”-containing answers lately? Coincidence or deliberate normalization of taking of Lord’s name in vain? I’ve been doing the crossword for about 15 years and have noticed three or so in the last six months. I would think this would jump out to Christians in the same way that vaguely illiberal concepts jump out to Rex.

Tom P 11:03 AM  

DNF. As an aging Boomer, this one was definitely not in my wheelhouse.

Ray Yuen 11:05 AM  

For those of us who aren't 'murican, this stuff is killer. What's supposedly a gimme at 1-A was death. 11-D? Another death blow. NPR? C'mon! Have a heart! Now we add a rap crapper at 13-D and the entire thing just turned ugly.

The bottom half from 22 downwards was all fun; the top half is a 'muricans only party.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I had the exact same issue. I anchored on SWORDS for the longest time. The devilish clue did make me smile once solved.

burtonkd 11:25 AM  

@roo - hands up for manatee day;)

Mr. Cheese 11:27 AM  

I’m old(er) than most and out of touch with popular music in the last 30 years….
BUT it’s hard to believe that someone I’ve never heard of would have a album that outsold “Thriller”!

Also, my admiration for @LMS grows by the day.

jae 11:27 AM  

Easy-medium. West side easy, east side slightly tougher. I held on to lOyOlA (which is NOT a Claremont College) for way too long in the NE. Too bad the clue wasn’t Rex’s alma mater. I also had adDS before WEDS. Solid with a bit of sparkle, liked it.

Re: ALPHAVILLE - I knew the song but not the group.

Nancy 11:28 AM  

Boy, did I ever struggle! Everywhere! Not just in the areas near the completely unknown POST MALONE and ALPHAVILLE. WAYMO, CHE and EVIL DEAD were also WOES. I couldn't for the life of me come up with JUNETEENTH without a lot of crosses. But I was greatly helped in the very difficult but not at all BLEH NW by my encyclopedic Agatha Christie knowledge. Once I counted letters in the two Downs, I ejected END HOUSE from my thoughts and wrote in THE NILE with confidence.

I'm going to surprise you all and say that, despite the completely "Huh?" pop culture names, I quite enjoyed this puzzle. It was both challenging and interesting and the cluing was great. I was proud of myself for not having to cheat -- though I came close to cheating on POST MALONE. Once I got MIST (I had the T and was staring at it, like, forever) and once I figured out that those Spanish and Italian thingies sort of sounded like musical instruments, the POST guy finally came in. But what a peculiar name for a singer. In fact, what a peculiar name for anyone.

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

I don't like pain...who does? I gear up for pain on a Saturday and hope it doesn't hurt too much. I had lots of ouches....You can take the word ouch and infer what you may. My ouches today were fleeting. No pain medication needed...or so I thought!
I was able to remove my band-aid several times. I'll start:
JUNETEENTH and POPS gave me hope. The upper section looked pain free. I did a small dance with a Persian CAT but the down JAMB gave me my M. Yes....MALTESE CAT...and it didn't claw me.
I wasn't flying through this at all; taking my time and enjoying some fun. I worried about POST MALONE and wondered if it was his REAL NAME. It was. I became confident but decided the West Coast had more of my calling. I got as far as MOOCHED OFF. Oh it SLEEPING IN? YES! MASTERS it is and then my first fisty cuff: I had ALPHA....Beta Gamma? Just leave that section and go claw your way through the middle and the east. Ouch!. WAYMO. I like my WAMMO wrong answer better. I wanted my OBIE AWARD (great answer) to hang over my head with joy. It wasn't about to happen.
Of all things that might cause pain was my bafflement at my misspelling. I did more than skim through 38D. I just knew it had to be Pour OVER....Rats! you supposed to spell it PORE. Dios mio. That stupid error held me up for hours. I couldn't get GAS, USE and OUSTER. Does a laborers hand look CLAUSEN? Is that a new word for me?
It pays to go to bed and get some sleep.
Morning: Coffee, new band-aid, and put on thinking cap. I did. Didn't really work. I had to call my nosy neighbor an ask him what a video game customization is. He told me MOD....Oh...I bet it's MOES TAVERN and I was ON THE FENCE smelling my DESERT ROSE...No owies....
Back to try and figure what comes after ALPHA and what that horror movie franchise is all about. I totally guessed at VILLE and being Forever Young....(take a band-aid off) Alas (sigh) I ran out of right guesses because EVIL LEAD was surely going to get rid of my pain. Ouch... EVIL DEAD sounds so much more
By the way. The clue for 47 D (Square things) ATONE.... wouldn't you square up things? I played with square deals. Thank you TEAS for alleviating some of my angst.
I actually enjoyed some of the pain today. I did smile at my only known proper name, ARI SHAPIRO. I like NPR and listen to it. Even though Spanish was my first language, I had no idea that a chirimia was an
OBOE. Will I remember that?
Adios amigos, compañeros de mi vida.....

egsforbreakfast 11:31 AM  

Seems like a chance was missed by cluing 34D CROC as “Shoe that can’t be 32A” (LACED). It could have been “Shoe that comes in 37A, but can’t be 32A” (PAIRS/LACED).

What did the hedging atheist say when asked if he believed in a higher power?


Although I’m expert in most things Irish, I don’t remember ever hearing of the name O’KOK.

For 38A (Whizzes), I initially had PeeS (hi @Roo!). I was very happy with it. Until I wasn’t.

POSTMALONE seems like a good clue for the current era of the Utah Jazz.

Really fun, crunchy puzzle. Thanks, Kevin Christian.

Lewis 11:32 AM  

I feel like Kevin treated me to a cluing clinic today. As he says in his notes, he received help from a number of constructors (several on my who’s who list of cluers) on how to clue a themeless puzzle, as out of his 16 NYT puzzles, this is his first themeless.

Not only must he have gotten excellent advice, but he showed me today that he has the chops to run with it. Wow from top to bottom on the cluing. Fresh, brain-bending clues, precisely Saturday-style.

There were parts-of-speech misdirects, like [Square things] for ATONE, or [Whizzes] for PROS. Where the clue sounds like it’s for a plural noun but it’s a verb, or sounds like a verb but it’s plural noun.

There were vague clues that could have yielded a number of answers, like [Work] for TRADE, or [Blast] for GAS.

And then there were fantastic wordplay clues, which I live for. Usually in a themeless, there are a couple or three, but quite a bit more today, including [Up for a drive?] for TEED, [They form lines for their work] for POETS, [Something that isn’t assumed] for REAL NAME, [High degree] for MASTERS, [Weakish hands] for PAIRS, and [Disruptive board move] for OUSTER.

Notice that all the answers in the last three paragraphs are common words that could have been give prosaic clues, but today they were made special through cut-above cluing.

Kevin, you are a quick study, and, it turns out, very talented on the cluing side, IMO. This was brilliant – shiny and smart. More like this, please, and thank you for such a treat!

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Just to further @Rex's annoyance, I will assert the "Props for some plays" was a gambling reference - prop bets are bets on specific, hypothetical incidents within a game. Betting that the first score in the Super Bowl will be a field goal is a prop bet. There will be millions of prop bets made this weekend on all of the playoff games.

Eater of Sole 11:39 AM  

To those claiming that self-driving car stats are better than human-driven car stats: I do believe that this will, at some time in the future, be unambiguously true. And I agree that an accident in an autonomous car is far more likely to generate headlines than another accident.

For now, though, we need to be careful to compare apples to apples. Where are Tesla drivers most likely to engage "fully autonomous" (or whatever it's called) mode? On highways. Probably uncrowded highways. Good way to rack up lots of accident-free miles, which *should* be compared to humans driving in the same conditions. But Musk, in official Tesla communications, appears to compare that to all human-driven miles to support the claim that the autonomous car is safer --- which, well, he knows better so basically this is an intentional lie (source: some article I read, somewhere, very recently). Sorry, can't comment on WAYMO stats.

pabloinnh 11:41 AM  

@bocamp-Found the Stumper to be about twice as tough as the NYT. Some obscure words and challenging spellings.

Good luck!

Carola 11:41 AM  

I'm with @Rex on "easy/ medium," thanks to the gift of crosses. My way in was through POMONA x OBOE, MIST,, setting me on a clockwise circuit of the grid that ended at JUNETEENTH x JAMB. Fun to write in MOOCHED OFF, PORE OVER, ESTHETIC, DESERT ROSE, fun to figure out the tricky clues. I had OBIE from crosses so didn't have to unravel the "props," but "Square things" really got me. Genius clue.

Do-oves: aESTH...ran out of room; bog; OKay. Help from previous puzzles: MOES. No idea: POST MALONE, ALPHAVILLE.

beverly c 11:42 AM  

Rex called it with the PPP, but what did me in was confidence in an error in the NE. I was sure of ____AWARDS but I had Lays Eyes On. MIST didn’t work. Since I didn't know POST, OBOE or POMONA I thought OBIE might be wrong. Finally I resorted to looking up piffero, and saw my mistake.

Since the ALPHA folks and MOESTAVERN were unfamiliar there wasn’t any thrill in getting them. Ditto for several others.
Yay! for MOOCHEDOFF. And clues for POETS, OKOK, and REALNAME

I want the A in ESTHETIC too, but I don't think of myself as snobby. I get confused because of a lifetime of reading English.

Beezer 12:00 PM  

Yeah the puzzle beat me up big time but I enjoyed the challenge!

@TTrimble…THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one that thought…”Damn, what WAS the name of Rod Stewart’s band”? And, by the way, I looked it up and Rod’s FY was released in 1988. I did not the Alphaville OR Dylan version. I saw him in concert several years ago…I think he was early 70s at the time…amazing performer!

@LMS, every time you write it is clear how much you love your students! It sounds like you might be lucky to have an administration that values you and just “gets out of your way” so you can excite the kids about learning and teach to the class rather than to the test. Whoa. That sounds like I actually know something about the biz. I do not…just my gut feelings.

johnk 12:06 PM  

Short fill messed with the long. I had JUTS (POPS), BOGS (FENS), CLOG (CROC), ACES (PROS).

Newboy 12:21 PM  

Another tag team morning here as senescence took its toll as Rex predicted. POMONA was one of few gimme entries even though the CGS experience was back in 1976. A long time ago, but wonderful memories. More recent stuff….sigh. Sat there staring at ??ILDE?? For what seemed hours & having sod across the grid with absolute confidence; well, it was just that kind of Saturday. Fun, but in an excruciatingly painful way.

Joe Dipinto 12:30 PM  

I liked this a lot. It required some brainwork but nothing was really troublesome. The only things I specifically didn't know were ALPHAVILLE and WAYMO but they were crossgettable (plus I knew ALPHAVILLE the movie, so sure, why wouldn't there be a band named for it?)

My one funny blip came from misinterpreting "Improved" as a verb instead of an adjective in the clue for 8d, so for awhile I had NICED as the answer. I figured it must be some new or regional slang— "Look out the window Marge, it niced up outside, we can go to the park" —and DEAL seemed like a plausible beginning for whatever 24a was gonna be. But that got fixed eventually.

An observation: it seemed to me like a lot of the answers here have been in the grid in some form extremely recently: AGES, OLLIE, THE, TEA, GOD NO, DEETS, CROC — that's not including standbys like ALE, OBOE, EPEE...

LACED drinks

RandomThoughts 12:32 PM  

I can never remember if it's "Ari" or "Ira" or "Ara" Shapiro. (Yeah, I thought the "Nale" was wrong but possible, not being up on Agatha Christie.) Thought the clues on "Obie Awards" and "Real Name" were fair, but oblique. "Pomona" and "Evil Dead" and "Post Malone" and "Alphaville" I had to rely on the crosses and my vaguest memory of the latter three. Any one else had "peas" for "teas"? I'm just glad I was just one letter off.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

This GenX spouse of a Pomona prof only had the faintest recollection of Alphaville. Even for fans of that genre, the band was nowhere near famous enough to be a xword answer 30+ years later.

Camilita 12:47 PM  

Your telling me there is no App called MOOCH-A-SOFA?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

I had never heard of Alphaville . There are lots of clues about singers, bands, musicians and the like that I don’t know but I always listen to their song and find delightful entertainment. The Alphaville piece was great! So, I am glad to get these clues— get a lot of enjoyment. I even became ,at my age, a fan of Lil Nas and the slightly overweight English singer, Adele.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Not unusual for the Times to confuse difficult with obscure.

r 1:09 PM  

I agree with the puzzle commentary. Felt a bit too much like a trivia contest. I do find the Google rant interesting given the platform on which the blog is hosted…

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

I’m older, knew Post Malone - knew Forever Young, but not the band.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

I’m 74. Took awhile but got it.

andrew 1:17 PM  

Agreed with much of what Rex said, outside the knee jerk and tangential screed about Kirk Cameron. Who was, in fact, nowhere to be found in the puzzle.

Look, I’m an atheist (like many here) and have never watched a KC movie, tv show or debate (assuming he has those) but come ON!

How his faith - an automatic GODNO from me - is related to this xword is beyond me. Just seems gratuitous (and you got the damn ticket for FREE - let it go!)

Puzzle was too easy in NW, then became challenging beyond. How could I never have heard of an artist who topped Thriller?

Completed most of it with only a Cheat from Chen in the SW corner.

All in all, kinda fun. All ruined by KIRK CAMERON!!!! (Am I right?)

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Its starting to feel as if Crocs are paying the NYT for product placement since CROC has been clued so often as the shoe recently. So many other ways to clue that particular answer: the Batman villain Killer Croc, Peter Pan’s Tick-Tock the Croc, the regular old animal, etc etc

Sailor 1:19 PM  

FWIW, the several (American) dictionaries I checked all listed "aesthetic" as the preferred spelling, and the non-a spelling as a variant. I don't think of the leading "ae" as snobbish because it's just how I've seen the word spelled my whole life (ditto "amoeba").

This boomer pretty much agreed with everything Rex said about today's puzzle. Except that I'm still ONTHEFENCE about self-driving cars. But WAYMO, never heard of it. :)

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Agree completely that this was quite an easy Saturday except for the proper names. But, hey—the Google knows. And now, so do I.

TAB2TAB 1:29 PM  

Was absolutely shocked to immediately write in a long 1A answer on a Saturday, JUNETEENTH, so was off to the races. Was also shocked to be able to write in ALPHAVILLE (80s new wave high school demographic here). Finally a Saturday that is solidly in *my* wheelhouse, having not obtained a degree in Gaelic Slang or Cretaceous Protozoa.

Then we hit the telephone pole: _OS_MALONE which was complicated by 21A They form lines for their work: PrEsS (that's reasonable) and the resulting _OSSMALONE... MOSS MALONE? ROSS MALONE? BOSS MALONE? HOSS MALONE? This is the person who unseated Michael Jackson?? And PrEsS also killed any chance of getting 11D Claremont College working from _OMRNA when it seemed everything was correct.

I hated doing it but Uncle Google that I had misspelled Post Malone. What is a Post Malone??? Went to Spotify and 10 second-listened to the top 5 'songs' of POST MALONE. As old as this makes me sound, I would have been so depressed to be in high school now, with POST MALONE being *the* thing. I've quickly switched my Spotify (see I'm not *that* old) to ALPHAVILLE and am much happier now.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Bless you!

Anonymoose 1:38 PM  

Self driving cars just seem like a really bad idea, like guns, religion, bagpipes, and social media.

TAB2TAB 1:45 PM  

For those of you (including Rex) scarred by Alphaville's Forever Young being paired with Kirk Cameron, here's a much better way to remember Forever Young in film:

oldactor 1:46 PM  

I thought the clue for 13 across sounded like some kind of fantastical creature like Big Foot or the Chupacabra, so I confidently wrote in Yeti even tho I played the oboe in HS.

Always happy to see EPEE. I was never an athlete, but in acting school we were taught to fence. I seemed to have a latent talent for the sport. At the end of the year we had a tournament and in the final match I beat the late actor Wayne Rogers and he had been on the Princeton fencing team. My one athletic achievement.

I still don't understand Tom on the fence. Anyone?

Anoa Bob 1:48 PM  

Popular culture is the last category I would choose in a game of Trivial Pursuit so the puzzles yesterday and today were especially unpleasant for me. As OFL says, even when the crosses allow me to piece together the trivia, there's not much crossword joy to be had.

There were enough plurals of convenience (POC) to hold my interest, including three of the two for one POCs, where a Down and an Across both get a letter count, grid filling boost by sharing a single S at their ends. The first happens when neither 25D AGE nor 37A PAIR are up to the task of filling their slots. Also WED/DINE and PLEAT/FEN needed two-fer help.

A couple of long entries, OBIE AWARD and SET EYES ON, also got POCified. The latter is of the stealth variety, where the gratuitous S is embedded within the entry. Those two did, however, allow for the appearance of the lovely COARSEN. OK OK, I'm just being a smart ass on that one. COARSEN is butt ugly, no?

I think MOOCHED OFF, without a final OF, is a 10 letter partial. Now to see if I can come up with a believable sentence or maybe even a paragraph with COARSEN and MOOCHED OFF in it. Any suggestions?

Anyone else try siaMESE before MALTESE CAT?

Nancy from Chicago 1:50 PM  

C.Pozzini said: "Did anyone else put in SLAM for SLAY and think to themselves that WAMMO is a really bad name for a self driving car?"

Yes, exactly! :)

TTrimble 2:00 PM  

I don't know, I found Rex's remembrances seeing the Kirk Cameron movie kind of funny in its stream-of-consciousness way. @Andrew's push-back got me to reread what Rex wrote, and that in turn got me curious about this movie I'd never heard of. So on to Wikipedia.

The thing I love about the Wikipedia article is that despite the putative NPOV (Neutral Point Of View, a central principle of Wikipedia article writing), you can read virtually the entire thing in a sarcastic tone of voice and it becomes pretty funny. Intentional?

From the Plot Summary:

"The team eventually wins a chance to debate the issue of abortion against Harvard in front of the Supreme Court. Along the way, the students learn lessons about life, love, friendship, and politics."

From Production:

"It's kind of the flipside of Less than Zero," said associate producer Chuck Cooperman. "These people are our future leaders. They're just as bright, concerned and just as passionate as anyone."

From Reception:

The film's marketing was going to focus on Kirk Cameron, then at the height of his popularity. However Jerry Weintraub over-rode them and insisted on ads that emphasized the fact the film dealt with a debate about abortion, hoping to stir up controversy. The movie was a flop at the box office. "Fans were neither angered or disturbed, they simply stayed away," wrote the Wall Street Journal.

Film historian Leonard Maltin gave the picture 1.5 (out of a possible 4) stars: "After 9 years, the star and screenwriter of The Blue Lagoon reunite for this slick travesty...set on the kind of party campus where Dick Dale and the Del-Tones wouldn't be out of place. The climactic abortion debate is cheap and hokey in roughly equal measure; Kirk Cameron's shifty Oklahoma accent certainly doesn't help."

TV Tropes doesn't disappoint either.

Beezer 2:09 PM  

@oldactor you always have good stories and I also thought I was looking for a beast and NOT an OBOE!

And also…the clue for ONTHEFENCE is…TORN. Hah! The lower case letters due look like “tom”

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

@oldactor. T o r n

Masked and Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Good SatPuz. Had WAYMO stuff I knew than on average. Gave M&A a nice fightin chance, even tho the clues were extra sneaky. thUmbsUp.

fave stuff included: The LACED/CROC set. To a lesser extent, the THE+NILE set. EVILDEAD especially as a followup to the {A time to dye?}=EASTER clue. The third EVILDEAD flick is extra-primo, btw. The REALNAME/OBIEAWARDS cluin combo [both pretty sneaky, for non-?-marker clues].

staff weeject pick: CHE from SNL. Like Mr. CHE dude, but still kinda got a kick outta the CHE? … WAYMO? … GODNO! row. I notice that @Gary Jugert dude also found it to be a fave. har

Thanx for the themeless fun, Mr. Christian dude. Real good job.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

p.s. EVILDEAD inspires M&A to recall the FriNite Schlock FlickFest viewins this week:
1. "The Dunwich Horror". 1970. Starrin Sandra Dee & Dean Stockwell. Good one. Dean goes for the Oscar.
2. "Doomsday Machine". [This was M&A's contribution, btw.] 1972. Starrin Bobby Van & Ruta Lee. Laughably dull sci-fi. Was hosted by Elvira, who almost flipped out over how bad its endin was.


Joe Dipinto 2:18 PM  

(Just following the instruction at 13d in the grid. I don't get it. Is something supposed to happen now?)

@Anoa Bob – I started putting in BURMESE CAT even though I was pretty sure they're dark brown. That was before I had anything in that corner.

@oldactor – are you joking? Cause I'm laughing. (It's t-o-r-n, as in undecided) :-)

tea73 2:26 PM  

Baby Boomer here. I knew Dylan's Forever Young. Interestingly my husband (all of two years younger than me, but often seems like a different generation) recognized the ALPHAVILLE song (though not sadly the name of the band) immediately. The movie sounds vaguely familiar. I always mean to watch more French movies to practice my French, but I never do. I thought I was reasonably up on 1980s music. Did not know POST MALONE, but when I listened to the first song that came up on Youtube, I recognized it immediately. Not a rapper, by the way, to whoever thought he was.

I've never watched a single episode of The Simpson's, (I just dislike watching animated cartoons), but put in MOES TAVERN confidently. I'm pretty sure that means I've done too many crosswords.

Luckily ARI SHAPIRO is in my wheelhouse. Otherwise I made all the same mistakes everyone else made.

RooMonster 2:29 PM  

Har, seems a bunch of us wanted Manatee Day! Being a Pacific Time-r, when I finish the puz (usually 6AM or so), there's a bunch of posts already there I tend not to read for times sake (laziness?), and post my silliness thinking how clever am I.

Glad I wasn't the only one! Now, to get a Rooster Day...

RooMonster Day Tripper Guy

CDilly52 2:32 PM  

@LMS. Thank you, thank you thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to the kids “who deserve to be ‘seen.’” It took forever for us to create an alternative school environment. For far too long, those students had wonderful teachers, but kept being marginalized by havi g no official school campus, and the facilities were (in the ki dest words possible) sub-par. With so much community and educator support, we finally opened a new K-12 building and campus.

All teachers have my thanks and support. Those who devote their careers to the more challenged and challenging students are true heroes. Thanks!

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

For those of you who got the laced/croc duo wrong do not feel bad because it is flat out incorrect. Croc makes sneakers and they have laces. I own two pairs.

CDilly52 2:39 PM  

This was very hard for me. Tough clues. The one for PAIRS (“weakish hands”),
“Props”’ meaning OBIE AWARDS, and so many others made this tough but fun. I struggled for all the reasons cited by @Rex - and I enjoyed the tussle!

DigitalDan 2:47 PM  

Ned Ludd got nothing on Rex Parker, I tell ya.

Chip Hilton 2:54 PM  

Two puzzles. I flew through the left half, even getting the never-before-heard-by-these-ears ALPHAVILLE. But the right side. Yeesh! My best moment was coming up with MOESsalooN, proving, yet again, that The Simpson and I exist in different universes. Oh, well . . .

oldactor 3:58 PM  

@Joe Dipinto: HA HA ha, of Course I was JOKING! What? You think I'm stupid or can't read? or something?

I may be 90+ but I still have the eye of an eagle! Glad you enjoyed my little jest.

Nancy 4:08 PM  

Gary's left some good ones on the table and Barbara isn't here.


1) What Cleopatra and Marc Antony indulged in after a torrid night

2) Eric Rohmer's lust-smitten hero's first look at Claire

3) "Don't judge our 1950s fashions and we won't judge yours"

4) "Bad kitty!!! B-a-a-a-d kitty!!!"


Joe Dipinto 4:19 PM  

@oldactor – I was going to suggest that the Tom on the fence is a Maltese cat ;-)

Gary Jugert 4:58 PM  

@Nancy 4:08 PM
That Cleo wears a fellah out.

OISK 5:39 PM  

Yesterday and today were both overloaded with obscure (not only to me, apparently) pop references. Answers that once I filled them in, meant nothing t me. Post Malone? I did almost finish it, as I did (unlucky guess...) yesterday. But this puzzle was FAR less annoying. Some of the pop stuff at least made sense once filled in, like EVILDEAD.... but I had "Joe's Tavern" and JOD, - what the heck is a VIDEO game customization...seems there was a video game reference yesterday as well..... Still, should have had "Moe's"...that's a Simpsons reference, right??

John Face 6:05 PM  

Super hard for me. I had Rave Review and thought that has to be it. I have never heard of Obie. Got to file that away. I’d never heard of Alphaville, though know the song very well. It lives on in movies and was in Napoleon D. I also can’t spell today. I couldn’t for the life of me think of how coarsen was spelled, made worse by writing pour over instead of pore over. 🙈🙈🙈

I was so rattled by the time I got to Moe’s Tavern I couldn’t see it, though I can quote the first 10 seasons like nobody’s business.

This puzzle truly beat me up.

Oh, I’m a young gen -xer, for reference.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Rex, it used to be Montclair Plaza back when I went to Pomona shortly after you were there. They changed the name to Montclair place in 2015.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

1A shoutout to Fort Worth hero Opal Lee! I’d like to see her as a proper name in a puzzle.

dgd 6:50 PM  

About real name. It took me a while to get it, but I disagree that the clue is strained. To me, the use of assumed (name) for alias is a good tricky clue for a Saturday.

Beezer 8:45 PM  

@old actor. Sheesh! I’m 67 and sometimes misread! No biggie.

RooMonster 9:06 PM  

Regarding POST MALONE, I was just at a Toy store (ala Toys R Us,which doesn't exist any more (?)) and saw a Funko Post Malone. If you don't know what Funko's are, go to a toy store and that's all you'll see. Holy moly, they've taken over the figurines market.


Nancy 9:49 PM  

We can put men on the moon. We can map the human genome. So why is it beyond our intellectual powers to invent a typeface or font where a lower case torn (TORN) doesn't look quite so much like a lower case tom (TOM)?

I bet even I could do it.

JC66 9:59 PM  


Somebody already did. 😂

TTrimble 10:25 PM  

There are, I just looked it up, hundreds of thousands of fonts. A lot of them will not have the particular kerning issue that appears in the word "kerning" (k-e-r-n-i-n-g, in case there's any doubt).

Another pitfall is L next to I, as in FLICK, if the letters come too close together.

Nancy 10:34 PM  

That is hilarious, @JC66!!!! When I wrote my comment, I had absolutely no idea!!!

JC66 10:56 PM  


Glad you liked it.

Joe Dipinto 11:12 PM  

Did we have a kerning discussion here at some point? Was there a puzzle that used ambiguous kerning as the basis for the theme? Or maybe it's my imagination.

I predict an outburst from Rex about two of tomorrow's theme entries.

Anon 11:22 PM  

The Forever Young story was great, and well told! Thanks for sharing :).

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Boomer here. Hated it. Clueless for every cultural reference

nitpicker 12:23 AM  

I'm not familiar with "epee" as a sport. I've only heard/used epee as a sword-like implement used in the sport of fencing.

Anonymous 4:50 AM  

Completely un-do-able, and some of the clues were very wrong (as in "epee" as a sport, which it certainly is NOT!). Not worth my time, so I wisely left this massively unfinished in favor of really enjoying my Saturday afternoon. Absolutely NWE: Not Worth the Effort!

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Hung on to cosmETIC for way, way too long. Made the entire NW impossible, despite thinking that ARISHAPIRO and THE NILE would make a lot of sense.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Fake Swords is pretty awesome. You should get some credit for that!

gdaddywinz 1:53 PM  

My wife and I struggled until she figured out the croc/laced clues. She had also heard of Post Malone. What can I say, she's as very young 80 whereas I am almost 82. But somehow with crossed the finish line with no errors.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Rex at his finest:

My own personal proper noun struggle came with WAYMO (40A: Self-driving car company that started as a Google project), which I hated not because I didn't know it, but because ugh, cars, self-driving cars, Google ... it's a dystopic tech bro nightmare. Build efficient public transportation! It's doable! And it's so much better than this apocalyptic vision of hyper-individualism they're trying to sell you. "Oooh, robot cars." Bah. Pffffft. WAYMO, because you'll get "way mo'" pedestrian deaths and way less human accountability for those deaths. Google will not be satisfied until you have Google Brain Implants. At some point you have to stop worshiping your tech overlords, who hate people except insofar as they can be hooked up to machines (literally or figuratively) and drained of their resources and volition. Gonna stop before I write a manifesto and Google tells the feds on me.

Burma Shave 11:53 AM  


ONTHE stool at a TAVERN called MOE'S,
she MASTERS THE game,
she has NO REALNAME,


rondo 12:02 PM  

I got it all, but not without write-overs. My board move was caSTle before OUSTER and bogS before FENS. Shout out to @TEED in the puz.
Wordle par.

Diana, LIW 1:19 PM  

Say it isn't so Joe! You're MOE! Oh no! (and this after guessing DESERTROSE correctly) Guess who doesn't play video games. And I shoulda' known about MOE's.

Yes, @Rondo, our friend @TEED shows up again. And I, too, changed to OUSTER, but from something really, really dumb.

The rest of the puz gave me a lot of triumph points.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 2:27 PM  

I have to record a DNF on this one. That there's someone named POSTMALONE is incredible enough, let alone out-thrilling Thriller. Even for some of the shorter stuff, the clues were absolutely brutal. "Has, with 'on'" = DINES. OKOK, "has" as in "eats." But the clue itself is terribly obfuscating. Several other examples exist. I give, you win. Kevin 1, me 0.

OTOH, Wordle gave me a startling eagle after BBYBB GGGGG. I take my victories wherever I can find them.

BTW, the syndie date is approaching a month turnover, and guess who's SLEEPINGIN again! Wake up, Link person! Or, perit!

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