Women's surfwear brand / SAT 1-14-23 / Internet company whose logo is a cat wearing earphones / Fabled tooth-takers / Dated TV star?

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Constructor: David Karp

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: None 

Word of the Day: SALLY Ride (27A: Ride in space) —

 ["Wheel of Fortune, ___ Ride, / Heavy metal suicide!"]
Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American astronaut and physicist. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman and the third woman to fly in space, after cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. She was the youngest American astronaut to have flown in space, having done so at the age of 32. [...] After completing her training in 1979, she served as the ground-based capsule communicator (CapCom) for the second and third Space Shuttle flights, and helped develop the Space Shuttle's robotic arm. In June 1983, she flew in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission. The mission deployed two communications satellites and the first Shuttle pallet satellite (SPAS-1). Ride operated the robotic arm to deploy and retrieve SPAS-1. Her second space flight was the STS-41-G mission in 1984, also on board Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space. She left NASA in 1987. [...] Having been married to astronaut Steven Hawley during her spaceflight years and in a private, long-term relationship with former Women's Tennis Association player Tam O'Shaughnessy, she is the first astronaut known to have been LGBT. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012. (wikipedia)
• • •
***HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS*** How is the new year treating you? Well, I hope. Me, uh, not great so far (COVID, you know), but I'm 95% better, and was never terribly sick to begin with, so I have every reason to believe things will turn around for me shortly, thank God (and vaccines). Anyway, it's early January, which means it's time once again for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. I'm not sure what to say about this past year. This will sound weird, or melodramatic—or maybe it won't—but every time I try to write about 2022, all I can think is "well, my cat died." She (Olive) died this past October, very young, of a stupid congenital heart problem that we just couldn't fix (thank you all for your kind words of condolence, by the way). I'm looking at the photo I used for last year's fundraising pitch, and it's a picture of me sitting at my desk (this desk, the one I'm typing at right now, the one I write at every day) with Olive sitting on my shoulder, staring at me, and making me laugh. It's a joyous picture. Here, I'm just gonna post it again:

I love the photo both because you can tell how goofy she is, and how goofy she made me. Her loss hurt for the obvious reasons, but also because she was so much a part of my daily routine, my daily rhythms and rituals. She was everyday. Quotidian. Just ... on me, near me, being a weirdo, especially in the (very) early mornings when I was writing this blog. She took me out of myself. She also made me aware of how much the quotidian matters, how daily rituals break up and organize the day, mark time, ground you. They're easy to trivialize, these rituals, precisely because they *aren't* special. Feed the cats again, make the coffee again, solve the crossword again, etc. But losing Olive made me reevaluate the daily, the quotidian, the apparently trivial. In a fundamental way, those small daily things *are* life. No one day is so important, or so different from the others, but cumulatively, they add up, and through the days upon days you develop a practice—a practice of love, care, and attention given to the things that matter. If you're reading this, then crossword puzzles are undoubtedly an important ritual for you, just as writing about crosswords for you all is an important ritual for me. It gives me so much. I hope that even at my most critical, my genuine love for crosswords—for the way my brain lights up on crosswords—comes through. I also hope that the blog brings you entertainment, insight, laughter ... even (especially) if you disagree with me much (most? all?) of the time. 

[man, I really wear the hell 
out of this red fleece...]
The blog began years ago as an experiment in treating the ephemeral—the here-today, gone-tomorrow—like it really mattered. I wanted to stop and look at this 15x15 (or 21x21 thing) and take it seriously, listen to it, see what it was trying to do, think about what I liked or didn't like about it. In short, I gave the puzzle my time and attention. And I continue to do that, every day (Every! Day!). And it is work. A lot of work. Asking for money once a year (and only once a year) is an acknowledgment of that fact. There is nothing to subscribe to here ... no Substack or Kickstarter or Patreon ... and there are no ads, ever. I prefer to keep financial matters simple and direct. I have no "hustle" in me beyond putting my ass in this chair every morning and writing.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are three options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

The third, increasingly popular option is Venmo; if that's your preferred way of moving money around, my handle is @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which I guess it does sometimes, when it's not trying to push crypto on you, what the hell?!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. My daughter (Ella Egan) has designed a cat-related thank-you postcard for 2023, just as she has for the past two years, but this year, there's a bonus. Because this year ... the postcard is also a crossword puzzle! Yes, I made a little 9x9 blog-themed crossword puzzle for you all. It's light and goofy and I hope you enjoy it. It looks like this (clues blurred for your protection):

I had fun making this puzzle (thanks to Rachel Fabi and Neville Fogarty for proofing it for me!). For non-snail-mailers who want to solve the puzzle, don't worry: I'll make the puzzle available for everyone some time next month. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

• • •

[36D: Internet company whose logo
is a cat wearing earphones]
Well, you hate to end on a BLAT (almost like ending on the proverbial [sad trombone] sound, wah-WAH), but that [Unpleasant sound from a tuba] is especially unBEFITting today, as this is the best puzzle I've seen all week. Big Friday Energy. Just whooshing and SKOSHing and SKORTing all over the place. Lots of bells and whistles and WHAPS (whatever those are). Lots of LIFE, is my point. Could've used more fight, more teeth, more HEART, more TIGER (56A: Go-getter) (hey, it's "getter" again, can't seem to shake that "word" this week). But I can't fault the puzzle's relative easiness—I'm just telling myself that this is the Real Friday puzzle that got bumped for that thematic WHATCHMACALLIT we got yesterday. Which reminds me: WHATCHAMACALLIT—spelled perfectly on the first try! Can't figure out the difference between BREACH and BREECH (see yesterday), but can spell enormous made-up near-nonsense words correctly, no sweat. Weird, but true. I really liked the shape of this grid, and the unexpected way it unfolded. It just has so much ... let's call it "flow." It basically has all the symmetries (mirror symmetry along the axes and diagonals, plus rotational symmetry—not just 180-degree, but 90-degree as well). It's essentially a cloverleaf, with four corner loops, so you can go spinning around the black squares in all different directions and then go shooting off down the road, and you never find yourself stuck in some dank corner with no one to come to your rescue. Never any "ugh, I'm stuck, what next," because there's always another way to come at things. I botched 1A: Terms of address right out of the gate. Misread it as a singular and wrote in MADAM, and the "confirmed" MADAM with ALT ... but that error never bogged me down. I just moved over to the adjacent top section and started in with THUDS at 6A: Hit sounds, which was also wrong, but then my beloved PHO came to my rescue, so I tried WHAPS for the [Hit sounds] and zooooom off I went. Pretty soon, the first sparkly long answer went streaking across the grid:

PHO! There for you in sickness, in health, and in grid. Truly a miracle worker. As for HOSTILE TAKEOVER, I mostly get bored by business-y economic-y IPO-type words, but it's hard not to like the '80s-movie energy of HOSTILE TAKEOVER. Why do I associate HOSTILE TAKEOVER with the '80s? Probably because that's when I learned the term, and also all "Wall Street" / "Working Girl"-type movie business shenanigans seem of a piece to me. At any rate, I like HOSTILE TAKEOVER as a crossword answer, a lot. I also liked the way my solve unfolded after that. It was just so ... visually odd. And symmetrical!

Once I drove those long spikes down through the HEART of the grid, I knew the rest of the solve was going to be a cinch. Like driving a stake through the HEART of Dracula, only ... nicer, less violent. From the above position, I got WALKIE-TALKIES and then pulled all the Down crosses through the center line, and thus through the answer that ended up being NO TRESPASSING—that was the one answer that did give me a brief (and welcome) struggle, as I had trouble parsing it (as well as grasping the meaning of its "?" clue). I had PASSI-- on the end and at first wanted something-PASSION (sincerely thought "enforced boundaries" was going to have something to do with bondage). Then got PASSING and figured PASSING was a word unto itself. Then the NOTRE part at the beginning ended up looking like the French word NOTRE as in NOTRE Dame ... until finally NO TRESPASSING sorted itself out. This is my kind of "difficulty"—stumbling through befuddlement to come out with clarity on the other side. Struggle ... then clarity! And "aha" clarity, not "ugh" clarity. Good stuff.

There was, of course, stuff I just didn't know. ROXY, for one (16D: Women's surfwear brand). Actually ... that might be it. Weird. I've had Monday puzzles that threw more unknowns at me.  Still, I thought the cluing made things sufficiently thorny—for a Friday, if not really for a Saturday. The SALLY Ride clue was good (if not terribly hard) (27A: Ride in space). I also liked the clue on DRUG (48D: Generic, e.g.). Now that's a proper Saturday clue—a noun posing as an adjective, and just the one word + e.g. Tough. But neighboring Téa LEONI was not tough and neighboring ERE was not tough, and with that much easy stuff lying around, the tough stuff never had a chance to really hold me up (or drag me down). "THE BACHELORETTE" is a scourge, but that is a great clue. This is the magic of crosswords—making me excited to encounter things I have no interest in or actively dislike. HOSTILE TAKEOVER! "THE BACHELORETTE"! Not what I would have called the makings of a Rex-pleasing puzzle, and yet Here We Are. Hope this one gave you a good workout or at least a bracing "good morning" slap in the face. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:10 AM  

Easy enough that I solved it the way I solve early-week puzzles, without reading the clues for the long acrosses. Today I skipped the long down clues as well. ROXY at 16D was a WOE and I didn't remember Michael KORS at 31A. I had move before LIFE at 42A and daS before AGS at 46A. Those made the tuba and horse sounds a little hard to see, but they were quickly corrected by crosses.

OffTheGrid 6:14 AM  

What Rex said.

Glad we didn't get a themer from this list.

2023 Daily Holidays that fall on January 14, include:

Cesarean Section Day 
Eagle Day - January 14, 2023 (Second Saturday in January)
Feast of the Ass (Donkey) - (Celebrates all the donkeys of the Bible)
International Kite Day 
National Dress Up Your Pet Day 
National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day 
National Vision Board Day - January 14, 2023 (Second Saturday in January)
Organize Your Home Day 
Orthodox New Year 
Ratification Day 
Take a Missionary to Lunch Day 
World Logic Day 

Lewis 7:05 AM  

Ahh, such an elegant and gorgeous grid, without scattershot black squares, happifying my Libra sensibilities. David’s first NYT puzzle (this is his second) had the same elegance. That always puts me in a good mood to solve. Then, the six longs, all gorgeous too, none with the “This is the only word that would fit!” vibe.

Thus, a gorgeous framework, worthy of those photo-album corners.

Each of those longs brought a wow and hearty smile, and opened up footholds that opened up more, making for whooshes here and whooshes there, enormous fun in the box today.

Adding to it was a sing-song feel, rhymes all over the place: SPECS by FLEX, GO SLOW, WALKIE TALKIEs, GAL PAL, TWEE crossing SEE. Plus, some smile-producing clues, like those for THE BACHELORETTE and MALLS. Even a lovely PuzzPair©: FLEX and BE FIT.

You greeted my day with a swirl of good vibes, David. Thank you, and please, please, don’t be a stranger!

GAC 7:07 AM  

I usually have difficulty with NYT Saturdays. But not today. The long downs came easily and the long acrosses with some difficulty, but not too much. Offthgrid left out Stand On Your Head Day.

JJK 7:21 AM  

I loved this puzzle. It was easy “for a Saturday”, and I got probably my personal best Saturday time, but it had enough challenge to be really fun. The first answer I got, in an otherwise empty grid, was WHATCHAMACALLIT, which, thanks to my late, beloved father-in-law, who used that phrase all the time when he couldn’t think of a word, which was often, popped into my head the minute I read the clue.

Of the long answers, I had the most trouble seeing THEBACHELORETTE. Never watched it, think it’s a ridiculous concept, and couldn’t parse it for awhile.

Great way to start the weekend!

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Any day Rex likes a puzzle is a good day.

mmorgan 7:58 AM  

Super easy for a Saturday, but who cares — it was so smooth and fun to solve. I got some of the grid-spanning answers off just a letter or two, which made me feel very proud of myself. I also enjoyed Rex’s review —it’s always nice when he has fun with a puzzle. I don’t usually notice (or care about) grid art or architecture, but I really like the black shapes in the four corners — they look like those little sticky triangular things with pockets that people used to use to insert photos in old scrapbooks and albums. You can imagine hidden corners of the puzzle inside them. And they never stayed in place. Who knows, maybe people still use them.

Stix 8:01 AM  

Rex, you missed the opportunity to have a Mustang Sally vid in the blog. Ride Sally Ride....:)

Will 8:04 AM  

Finished this one on record time (for me): 9:38

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

So let me get this straight. Legitimate words like EMITTER and SAUCING get dissed but made up sound words like BLAT and WHAPS essentially get a pass?

SouthsideJohnny 8:11 AM  

Some of the clues today are really stellar - especially the ones for the grid-spanners. No clue what the flamenco/SEVILLE situation is all about - took a stab at it with Uncle Google post-solve and still couldn’t connect the dots. Hopefully it’s common knowledge to some and I’m the outlier.

I believe we recently had a bunch of back and forth regarding GAL PAL (which didn’t really enlighten me as much as confuse) - and even after all of that, I have no idea what “Sister from another mister” refers to. Life would be a lot easier if GAL PAL just meant “a friend who is a woman” but apparently that’s just not meant to be.

Kent 8:12 AM  

It was an easy puzzle, but so clever and entertaining that it didn’t feel easy until I finished and my time was well below par for a Saturday.

Johnny Laguna 8:13 AM  

Fun puzzle from start to finish — mostly I suppose cuz I never got stuck. Fastest Saturday Ever for me.

Joaquin 8:17 AM  

Even though I used to do business with a customer in APIA, "the island of Upolu" meant nothing to me.
A super puzzle with the two long downs being spectacular.

Fun_CFO 8:23 AM  

Agree with Rex. Very enjoyable solve.

Also agree with 80s/90s vibe on Hostile Takeover. See also Pretty Woman.

TJS 8:25 AM  

With you all the way, Rex.

CWT 8:27 AM  

Amazing degree of concurrence this morning. It is quite a feat to produce a puzzle that puts a smile on every face, from the strictist curmudgeon to the pleasure-finding Mary Poppins. Long answers that look intimidating but fall together in a swoosh of delight . Short answers that burst on the scene, spreading joy in their wake, spewing life, whapping hearts, greeting and treating us all to a wonder-filled experience.

TaylorSlow 8:32 AM  

"...the best puzzle I've seen all week," sez Rex. Me too. Yes, it was easy for a Saturday, but it was also clever, energetic, smooth, and above all, fun. You all remember fun, don't you? It's what you're supposed to have when solving a crossword.

Had slAPS for 6A, didn't know NEC or NAPSTER, and had LEONe for 44D--I can never remember how to spell her name, and LEONI looks odd. And that was pretty much the extent of my struggle. Those long answers were sensational and didn't require junk fill to make them happen. I think that's what made the puzzle so great.

Bravo for the MASCARA clue. I expect to see it in Lewis's List.

Son Volt 8:44 AM  

Handsome grid layout - well filled. Yeah not Stumper level but I had to think and it was fun. Have never seen THE BACHELORETTE but the clue was fantastic as was the clueing on NEIGHS and WALKIE TALKIES.


Not sure I really love WHATCHAMACALLIT - took some time to parse. Not a term I use - but it is common. Backed into SEVILLE and ROXY. TWEE is rough.

Enjoyable Saturday solve. @pablo and bocamp - Matt Sewell’s Stumper is a bit more daunting but gettable. The spanning center cross is key.

Scruffy the Cat

Aluriaphin 8:45 AM  

Tooo easy for a Saturday, this would be a very easy Friday in my book! I did get my best-ever Sat time, that's always enjoyable, but at less than half of my average I know it's down to the inappropriate level of difficulty and not my own brilliance. I definitely felt on a similar wavelength to the constructor though - as a Blue Crush-obsessed teen my perfume of choice was ROXY Love and I'm a daily commenter in THE BACHELORETTE/Bachelor subreddit!

king_yeti 8:45 AM  

Bonus Tuesday. good puzzle tho

Space Is Deep 8:50 AM  

Incredibly easy Saturday, but also an incredibly fun Saturday. Great long answers.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Wow, Saturday record by nearly 50%. Would have found this a relatively easy Friday. Thought it started hard, I got nothing except an 'S' in square 10, until 17-across came along and then the three rows from 17- to 27-Across fell like, um, those things that fall really easily, whatever they are. Enjoyed a lot of the clues.

Whatsername 9:03 AM  

While I would not demonstrate such hubris as to call this easy, I will say it wasn’t as difficult as most Saturdays. I was struck by the beauty and brilliance of the grid design. Almost seemed a shame to litter it with letters. Quite an impressive combination with the four grid spanners up and across - and even more impressive that it is only this constructor’s second puzzle. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait long for #3.

Joel Palmer 9:15 AM  

Thanks and just sent a PayPal donation. I am usually able to complete without cheating. Not as fast as the pros here but enjoy both the puzzle and your commentary. Get well and Happy New Year. Jp

RAD2626 9:17 AM  

Terrific puzzle. Liked the grid design a lot. Liked all the long entries. And especially liked the cluing. Reminded me of a Patrick Berry or a Robyn Weintraub puzzle. Lots of smiles as the words go in and you marvel at the cleverness of it all. BACHELORETTE my favorite. And virtually no junk. Nice way to start the weekend. May the football playoffs be as satisfying.

Bob Mills 9:22 AM  

Finished it with one cheat...I had WHAMS for "hit sounds," but when I looked up MHO soup on-line it gave me PHO. I honestly don't think WHAPS is a legitimate word, so I'm giving myself credit for a clean solve.

I was able to get SALLY for "Ride in space" from the crosses, forgetting that Sally Ride was an astronaut. Devilish clue, Will.

Another nit...a HOSTILETAKEOVER can be refused by the company being acquired, but usually without success. A more accurate clue would be "Unsolicited offer."

burtonkd 9:36 AM  

probably my fastest Saturday ever. I tend to do a few rows of across clues, then start working downs fill in from there. This didn't announce it was easy right away, then WHAm(initial wrong guess), grid just filled itself, racing off like the Huskies pulling my DOGSLED the one time I tried - I can't believe they let anybody drive those things, they almost left me behind on the initial jump. Very fun!

I wonder how much joy was brought to Whatsername by the WHATCHAMACALLIT puzzle?

@Southside - I was trying to parse the additional connotation of GALPAL, but on second look it is just female friends who aren't related. While you're here, SEVILLE is the city in Spain where the FLAMENCO music/dance form was developed (guitars, castanets, stomping rhythms, panache, etc.)

@Lewis - I think it's time to change your name to Horace, your daily odes are becoming more and more floral.

mathgent 9:41 AM  

Don't we all love symmetry? Most great art has it. Today's grid has it in almost every way. I found looking at very calming.

Seeing TIGER at 56A reminded me of William Blake's classic poem. Except that Blake's tiger had fearful symmetry.

Birchbark 9:44 AM  

The SLEEPLESS NIGHTS of a NAPSTER -- Sort of. My day yesterday included some intensity followed by exhaustion, and somewhere around 9 p.m. I fell asleep on the basement sofa watching an old episode of "Miss Marple" (Joan Hickson) called "The Murder in the Library." Woke up comfortably at 3:03 a.m. and went upstairs to bed, where for no real reason I lay awake until 4:40, then came down here and did this fine crossword in 10 minutes, 2 seconds, a regulation par by my standards, then back upstairs to sleep and dream about eagles and geese by the river, making really cool paths through the deep snow, the geese tumbling in snow caves of their own making. I feel really good right now.

IPO -- My friend works for a company called Skyward (NASDAQ: SKWD), which went public yesterday. He was up on the platform at the bell with all of the confetti and clapping, their share price up 27%.

And BACHELORETTE -- Hats off to @Rex for the never-ending Trip Shakespeare video -- a truly great band, even if this song isn't the reason (more of a "Toolmaster of Brainerd" fan myself). Over the course of this rambling life, I've played golf a couple of times with their bassist, John Munson (later of Semisonic and The New Standards), a good friend of a good friend. The hair isn't quite so long, but the kindly mien we see in the true hipster remains.

KORS MOOR. I like it. The solution to "The Murder in the Library" is probably hidden in there.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I loved this puzzle as much as I did not like Friday.

RooMonster 9:51 AM  

Hey All !
Would love to believe my solving prowess is the reason for my 13 minute solve today. But, I'm sure it was just an easy puz. Checking my "records kept by the NYT puz app", I see my SatPuz record is at 10:39. Dang, that was Really an easy one. It was on 11/12/22, and can you believe I can't think of it right now? Silly brain.

Liked all the Longs, they helped in zooming through the grid. Neat looking grid, also. Technically has 12 cheater squares. The three in each corner, if not there, wouldn't change the Total Word Count. Well, 4 others also, the ones on either end of the Center 13's. If you took those away, you'd only be at 23 Blockers.

A good (fast) time. What more could one want on a Saturday?
Go *insert favorite football team here* ! Happy Wild Card Weekend y'all.

Three F's

Whatsername 9:56 AM  

Re the continuation of the GAL PAL debate, dictionaries seem to agree on a basic definition of a female who is a friend, but I contend the more accurate interpretation is a female who is a platonic friend of a male. So I took it that’s what “sister from another mister” was hinting at.

Gary Jugert 10:01 AM  

Pretty legit Saturday puzzle with fun grid spanners, but I put it together without Go-ogle (except for the Samoan capital), so I assume people will say it was too easy.

MAAMS and the return of GALPAL. On top of each other. Ug.

Love the word SKOSH so much. I put it in as #12 on my favorite words list.

🦖 likes the clue [Generic, e.g.] for DRUG, but I thought it was a low point. The drug is the medicine. Its branding, or lack thereof, isn't.


1 The sound of granny playing her drums.
2 Where the dumbest phrase in the NYTXW lexicon is moving in terms of frequency.
3 Those refusing to eat Americans because they are too fatty.
4 The sound inside my noggin masquerading as incite.
5 When a horse tells you to take your time with that brush.
6 Eye wings.
7 Corporate policy prohibiting ascots.


Anonymous 10:07 AM  

My Eau Claire roots love the Trip Shakespeare bonus. Nice, easy Saturday.

Smith 10:13 AM  

First thing I thought was wow, lovely grid art, which is not something I normally notice (hi @Nancy).

First thing I wrote in was MASCARA (never used the stuff), confirmed with crosses and whoosh, done in under 10, not quite a pr.

Enjoyable, cool answers, maybe more a Friday than a Saturday but definitely a sparkly start to the weekend. Thanks, DK.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Amy: wheeeeee! Really grand solve. 💃

Tom T 10:19 AM  

Another enjoyable breezy Saturday for me. ROXY and APIA only unknowns, and I was in the wheelhouse on any and all mis-directions. Got WHATCHAMACALLIT & WALKIE TALKIES almost back-to-back and loved them both.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Even though it's a really nicely made puzzle with a lot of lovely long answers, I creamed it. One of the easiest Saturdays I've ever done and I'm wondering if it's just that I'm on this constructor's wavelength. Loved the MASCARA clue -- yet it went in with no crosses and not a moment's hesitation. For everything else that was clever-- like THE BACHELORETTE and WALKIE TALKIES -- I had crosses.

I think it's possible to construct a puzzle with chewy fill and nice clues -- and still have it play very, very easy. I find nothing to criticize in this puzzle -- other than the fact I ate its lunch.

puzzlehoarder 10:22 AM  

Grid art and grid spanners are the bane of difficulty. Combine the two and you get a pushover like todays offering. Not the easiest I've done on a Saturday but still a disappointing experience.

YD pg-1

Weezie 10:36 AM  

Fun, easy, mostly clever - I'll take it after yesterday's semi-slog.

Since I missed commenting yesterday, hi, hello, it is I, the person who exists at the intersection of the Venn diagram of knowing RORQUAL and ARTEST. In French, the umbrella term "Rorqual" is used much more frequently among laypeople, including on an incredible whale watching trip in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

I already knew ARTEST (my Irish twin is a total basketball head), but learned a lot more in the Netflix doc on the Malice at the Palace. It included more of the raw footage, and shed a more critical light on who was and wasn't held responsible for that whole sad situation and how that impacted the players moving forward.

Eater of Sole 10:37 AM  

@Gary: "generic" is often used as a noun in the context of prescription drugs. Easy to find examples on the web: "Standard generics typically don’t become available until the brand patent has expired;" "FDA Approves First Eliquis Generics to Prevent Stroke, Blood Clots" etc.

However, I tried to prove my point using ChatGPT, and not only does it seem to agree with you, but I think I flustered it. Here's an abridged transcript:

ME: Use "generic" in a sentence, where "generic" is a noun referring to a drug.
CHAT: The patient was prescribed a generic version of the medication.

ME: In that example, "generic" is not being used as a noun.
CHAT: ... here's a corrected example: "The pharmacist filled the prescription with a generic drug, ..."

ME: "Generic" in that example is still an adjective, dude.
[a few more iterations of this]

[CHAT, finally] I'm sorry to say that "generic" is not used as a noun in a slang context as far as my knowledge go.

It's that final grammatical lapse that makes me think I flustered it.

gerry w 10:38 AM  

@Rex. Beautiful symmetry but NOT 90-degree.

Sam Ross 10:57 AM  

Solved in half the time of yesterday’s puzzle

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

I am in shock ! I cannot believe that I actually AGREE with Rex ! That NEVER happens…excellent puzzle loved it !

jberg 11:00 AM  

Hello, all! We got back from England Thursday night, but I'd mistakenly ordered our newspapers canceled until today, so here I am at last. Maybe the long absence got me out of form, but I found this harder than most of you. I couldn't get anything until the ER of HIGHER, which gave me REPELS, and it all came together, but slowly -- possibly because I had to keep stopping to admire the lovely clues.

It did have a sort of old-timed feeling with DORIS Day and SALLY Ride; well, LAH-di-dah, I say, they're famous enough to be grid-worthy.

Yeah WHAmS and WHAPS, another kealoa. @Bob Mills, I don't know if whams is a word either, but I think of it as a more reverberant sound, while WHAPS are what you get when you hand a carpet over your clothesline and hit it with a rug-beater. But PHO came to the rescue, as Rex said.

The weirdest part of the puzzle for me was looking at the clue for 50A and thinking, "Ah, THE BACHELOR," then writing it in and only then noticing that I needed 4 more letters. Luckily, they weren't hard to come up with.

"Sister from another mister" had me looking for a step-something, and I was reluctant to accept GAL PAL, since we had it recently with a very different meaning. I think it must be a back-formation from "brother from another mother," which makes more sense. It does have to rhyme, after all.

And speaking of rhyme, and moving a bit to the left on p. C3 of today's NYT, how do you people pronounce "tenterhooks?" The Wit Twister doesn't scan properly unless you put the stress on the final syllable, which I wouldn't. It doesn't affect the solve, but is a little jarring, but maybe it's my upper-Midwestern upbringing.

Rex, I love your cards, and this one looks particularly nice, so I'll mail you a check. Unfortunately, I'm not rich enough to pay you what the blog is worth to me. And, once again, my condolences for the loss of your cat.

pmdm 11:11 AM  

What the comments and writeup today suggests is that solvers prefer a level of difficulty somewhat less than normal for a Saturday. I liked the writeup very much. It shows that Mike is not always cantankerous. And I liked the puzzle, very much. Liked the Sunday puzzle also, and the acrostic, but talking about them would involve spoilers guaranteed to make my comment rejected.Yes, there might have been a few entries that I did not care for that much (blat, gal pal, roxy, twee) but they did not spoil the solve. No hostile talk from me today.

Anonymoose 11:21 AM  

My first thought on "Sister from another mister" was half sibling, same Ma, different Pa's.

Joseph Michael 11:32 AM  

TWEE? BLAT? WHAP? NEC? LAH? AGS? I’ll have to ask my GAL PAL what language this puzzle is speaking. But in spite of its curious VOCAB, it’s a gem of a crossword. Glad Rex gave it a good review.

jae 11:33 AM  

Yep, very easy, maybe a medium Wednesday? TYPE A before TIGER was it for erasures and LEONI fixed it. That said, the long answers had some sparkle and there was some clever cluing, so fun solve. Liked it and Jeff gave it POW.

If you’re looking for a tough puzzle and haven’t done the Monday BEQ this week, give it a try!

johnk 11:42 AM  


Newboy 11:51 AM  

Dittos today for outstanding commentariat go to: @ Gary Jugert, @Jberg, @Lewis & @Birchbark. I’m slow in solving even “easy” grids, so by the time I get to the party all I can add is my appreciation for how often the posts enhance my WHATCHAMACALLIT, belated though they may be.

Congratulations to David for the POW at xwordinfo— first time this year—& on only a second puzzle; surely there will be many more as the years unfold. HEAD was my first aha moment and many followed as WTF clueing led away from an obviously correct entry.

And yes Rex, the insufficient check is in the mail, but hopefully your fans and other whiners will pony up enough for new red flannel.

Tom P 11:54 AM  

I have to agree that this was a great way to start my weekend. After my first time through the grid, I was left with lots of white space and figured it was going to be a slog. But I took a break, and when I came back, I got HOSTILE TAKEOVER and WHATCHAMACALLIT, and everything pretty much fell into place after that. Wham, bam, thank you, MAAM! I ended up with a personal best for Saturday (16:55).

Anoa Bob 11:56 AM  

I join all yous who thought that this was a very fine puzzle and a most enjoyable solve. Good stuff all over the place.

I think "Sister from another mister" is the parallel phrase for "Brother from another mother". In both cases the gist is that although they have different parents, their personalities and life styles are so much alike that they could have been siblings, sorta of like soul mates, even.

Although I give the puzzle high marks, I did notice that the grid fill got a lot of help from the plural of convenience (POC). They're sprinkled liberally throughout the grid and include several uber-helpful two for one POCs, where a Down an an Across share a final letter count boosting S. Even a couple of the grid spanners are two fers. Here's a list of entries that weren't up to the task of filling their slots:


The committee was unanimous in giving this grid a POC Marked rating.

Bob Knuts 12:06 PM  

Great "whoosh" puzzle that, for me, solved mostly from the bottom up. My Dad was a whatchmacallit guy. And the Walkie Talkies clue/answer created instant nostalgia for childhood friends and a vague memory of an adventure/exploration game in the woods.

Teedmn 12:11 PM  

I had to do a bit of faith-solving today, that at some point my sHATCH and lIKES in the NE would make sense with their clues. I was able to give myself a HEAD slAP when WHAPS and WHATCHAMACALLIT cleared it all up.

Other than that, only having the P of APIA trying to lead me to some sort of two-letter steP__ sister held me up much at all. This was a relatively easy Saturday, with the many long entries helping with the harder short stuff like, well, I can't really find any hard short entries either. It was just smooth and enjoyable, not fast but not a GO SLOW solve either.

Nice job, David Karp, no carps today.

JC66 12:11 PM  


Since you take every opportunity to show your aversion to POCs, I find your use of YOUS quite curious. There are plenty of words that are both singular and plural (DEER, ELK, etc.). What am I missing?

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Disappointingly easy puzzle for me today, but I am cheered by Rex’s inclusion of the Trip Shakespeare video above. Great band- one of my all-time favorites.

Grammudgeon 12:17 PM  

Realized today, after enjoying the puz, that I'd appreciate Rex's one-word lede more if it had to do with rating each day's enjoyment factor rather than the degree of difficulty.

Gabriel Mann 12:23 PM  

Perse? Ah. Per se. Added 3 minutes to my time to figure out it wasn’t parse or purse.

Nancy 12:24 PM  

Wonderfully amusing and original comment, @mathgent!

lodsf 12:28 PM  

My first answer for 11A was “friend”. Which fit. Which is what a GALPAL is. But which *wasn’t* the answer (as “places with multiple outlets” quickly pointed out.

Joe Dipinto 12:35 PM  

This is the magic of crosswords—making me excited to encounter things I have no interest in or actively dislike.

Really? You could fool us.

I thought this puzzle was great, because it was comprised primarily of words. Not mundane conversational snippets or a truckload of pop cultural references. Names were kept to a bare minimum. And (almost) no clever-with-a-thud cluage.

I had a fun moment involving the "Sister from another mister" clue: I put NO PROB for "Easy!" at 11d, which gave me N--PA-- at 11a, so then I entertained the idea that NUN PAL was the answer, with "another mister" meaning God. Somehow it seemed to rationalize itself. (I actually don't like it as a clue for GAL PAL.)

Since @Stix requested "Mustang Sally", here's the original recording by writer Mack Rice.

PhotoAde 12:36 PM  

Creamy and dreamy. Loved it, especially after Friday's clunkiness.

Nancy 12:37 PM  

@Birchbark (9:44) -- Not to brag about it or be at all proud of it, but I must confess that Agatha Christie is my favorite author. This because no other author has given me nearly so many hours of pure pleasure -- not even come close. So those Christie detectives are painted indelibly in my mind's eye and I normally don't like it when Hollywood (or the British equivalent) futzes with them. The sole exception being...

Joan Hickson!! They ought to run a banner under her name proclaiming: Joan Hickson IS Miss Marple!!!. She's absolutely uncanny -- Miss Marple sprung directly from the pages of the book and, plunk, into my living room.

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Altho it woulda been a hoot to have a themed puz every day this week, I am sincerely glad for all U solvers who were left really cravin some themeless meat, after yesterday's superstitious surprise.
Agree with most, who found this to be an easyish SatPuz solvequest, even for a 66-worder. However, most (4/5) of the ?-marker clues were in the upper half, for some reason.

Could the SunPuz also be themeless, to sorta even things back out? They've had a few of those, lately. Just sayin.

Nice E/W puzgrid symmetry, with grid-spanners crossin each other like playful rorquals. Some fave fillins included: WHATCHAMACALLIT. WALKIETALKIES. The VIRAL DOGSLED. VOCAB. DOGSLED clue [almost a ?-mark qualifier].

staff weeject pick: AGS. Plural abbreve meat. Coulda had TAGS off a runt-roll, tho. Or BLAGS, which makes about as much sense as BLAT.

Thanx for the primo skort-skoshin, Mr. Karp dude. Great job. Surely U hid a sneaky lil theme i there somewhere tho, yes? I mean, shoot -- the diagonal spells out GSEATS, so there's a possible hint...

Masked & Anonymo1U


bocamp 12:47 PM  

Thx, David; lovely construction! :)

Very easy (would've fit right in on a Wednes.).

Nevertheless, always enjoy a smooth Sat. solve! :)

@Son Volt; thx, looking forward to the Stumper this PM. :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Weezie 1:09 PM  

Re GAL PALS, in case I unwittingly sent some of y’all astray… I think we can all generally assume that the common intended use of the term is to convey (non-romantic) friendship between two or more women. The ironic #GALPALS usage is much less common and very much about critiquing academics who willfully refuse to acknowledge their subjects’ romantic relationships with other women. Basically, I’d be surprised if we saw the Fabi usage turn up in many more NYT puzzles, so I suggest we consider the traditional “gal pal” definition to be in play unless otherwise indicated.

Birchbark 1:13 PM  

@Nancy (12:45) -- Her mannerisms and body language, seeming ability to inhale when she speaks -- genius. The thousand-and-one ways she says, "Oh...quite." And the polite tea conversation of "Well, one does see so much evil I fear." I agree with you.

old timer 1:18 PM  

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fridays are almost always harder than Saturdays. Perfect example here. And yes, this was a very well crafted puzzle, with lots of smiles and a few charming AHA moments. NO TRESPASSING was a little hard, since boundaries don't usually need a sign to be enforced. A fence or a hedge is all that is needed, though out in the country you need a sign to get the local sheriff to respond to your complaint (in England, it is a bit different, as there are many traditional rights of way for hikers, that authorize folks to go through gates or over stiles, sign or no sign).

My kealoa was SEVILLE, because it is SEVILLA in Andalucia, which BTW is a lovely and romantic little city. I actually rented a rowboat there once, just to enjoy seeing the ships and other activity in the harbor, after which I hung out and drank way too much Jerez (sherry). My only question was, while flamenco is indeed performed there, I think of Granada as the real home of flamenco.

I immediately knew the island was in Samoa, and it didn't take long to remember APIA. KORS was the one thing I didn't know right off.

It seems to me GAL PALS is the female equivalent of "brothers from another mother", and in both cases the PALS almost always have neither parent in common. A sister from another mister very much means a stepsister, and stepsisters are very often not PALS at all.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

"Then all his old girlfriends lined up in the sky..."

@Birchbark, I'm in total agreement that Toolmaster of Brainerd outshines "Bachelorette" by far, along with "Snow Days" and "Two Wheeler Four Wheeler". I saw Munson in The New Standards at the Dakota one New Year's, great fun. And Dan Wilson singing Semisonic's "Made To Last" on acoustic guitar at Paul Wellstone's memorial is unforgettable. Such great musicians, that bunch.

Are you Shakesperienced?

Nancy 1:24 PM  

Forgive me, @Gary J, but would you mind if I chime in with a couple of additional uniclues?

1. "I saw that #@%$# Prada markdown before you put your &%#$# hands on it, you $%&#-ing &%&#$!!!" e.g.

2. Tinkerbell and GAL PALS are really, really hangry right now!

3. Stays way, way, WAY off the beaten path.

(scroll down)


okanaganer 1:50 PM  

As @gerry w mentioned, this does not quite have 90 degree rotational symmetry. But it's visually beautiful on top of being great.

When I see "Sister from another mister" I think step sister or half sister. I have 3 half sisters but they are "sisters from another mother" which sounds clunky. However to them I am "brother from another mother" which is epic.

[Spelling Bee: Fri -1, missed this 6er which is SOOOO frustrating because I tried it several times and must have misspelled it each time. Plus it ends my QB streak at 9 days!]

The Joker 1:51 PM  

I understand @Anoa's aversion to plurals. I feel the same way about words with -ed, -ing, etc. They're just used to fill squares. Not real words.

Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Correction from M&A post#1:
"… a sneaky lil theme in there …", not "… a sneaky lil theme i there …".

Other puz diagonal has RVASES in it, btw. Somethin's gotta be up.

@RP -- I like yer idea, pictured in the blog, for a runtpuz with blurred clues. M&A might go with blurred *parts* of clues, tho. Give solvers more of a fightin chance. Just need to figure out how to blur stuff in AcrossLite …


oldactor 1:59 PM  

What a delightful puzzle. Back in the day, our first black & white TV set was an NEC and I've never seen another one. What happened?

CDilly52 1:59 PM  

This is the best puzzle all week! I’ve been out of pocket for a bit with some mandatory (and exceedingly boring) eye rest. However, I have learned a great deal about aids to the visually impaired, and I have to say I am impressed. But enough already. I did have someone reading to me a bit and kept up with the tenor of our neighborhood here. And my niece helped me solve; I do love my streak. But was honestly so thrilled to see such a wonderful Saturday puzzle. After a bit of a not so wonderful week of puzzles. Or possibly it’s just me being cranky and relieved to be un-cranky.

The wordplay made me smile and gave me fits in a fee places. I am very happy that the Ride in space (SALLY) came without any other thought in my head or any letters already in the grid.

My daughter had a poster of Dr. Ride on her bedroom wall along with Baryshnikov Gelsey Kirkland, Gregory Hines and various other famous dancers. From 1983 Dr. Ride held place of honor across from her bed and was joined in 1986 by Christa McAuliffe along with pictures of her Challenger cree members. If I am proud of anything we achieved as parents, I am proud that our daughter never ever doubted that she could achieve anything she was willing to work for.

Her dad loved astronomy and everything about space exploration, and together they looked through Sky and Telescope magazine as he told her stories about the articles and the mysteries the folks were unravelling. While I was at night school getting my masters and law degree, the bedtime ritual was “space and Tolkien.” In the 4 years of my scholarly pursuits, they covered so many topics and he read The Hobbit as well as all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. By my graduation, Kate had turned 5 and was taking her turn at reading aloud. She also knew an amazing amount about our solar system and stars and comets a novas.

Space exploration was her metaphor for possibility long before she knew the meaning of metaphor. She still uses it today with her band of highly challenged students. She sent me pictures of her classroom at the begin ing of the year and as always, there were Sally and Christa and pictures of the moon, Mars and Jupiter with a caption that said “We can go anywhere!” I often tell her that her dad is right there with her.

So much fun today and plenty of resistance. But even more fun enjoying the memories.

pabloinnh 2:11 PM  

Late again, for various reasons. I'm with most here in saying I found this easy and fun especially after I fixed COOLIT and made it GOSLOW, which was the only real hang up. Hesitated between SEVILLA and SEVILLE -shout out to @old timer, who I'm sure knows that Jerez or XEREZ de ka Frontera, the town that is the origin of our word "sherry".

@mathgent re TIGER-My favorite Blake rewrite has always been

Tiger tiger burning bright
What has caused you to ignite?

Very nice Saturdecito indeed, DK. I Definitely Kicked butt on this one which just added to the enjoyment. Thanks for all the fun.

Now on to the Stumper, which I'll have to work on during football, which fortunately offers lots of downtime.

Birchbark 2:23 PM  

@Teedmn (1:21) -- For a brief spell back in the day, we'd say "Tool it" instead of "Cool it." It was fun but never really caught on.

It's hard to find a bad song on "Are You Shakesperienced?" To your list I'd add the funereal "Spirit," not to mention the surreal fish-perspective of "The Lake":

Oh Northern with your eyes so bright,
you can see the home breaking on the shore tonight.

Carola 2:53 PM  

Fast and fun. First in HIGHER x AGED + PHO + SEVILLE led to a quick HOSTILE TAKEOVER with its wealth opportunities for crosses Terrific long answers.
Help from previous puzzles: APIA, NEC. Do-over: Type a.

Anoa Bob 2:54 PM  

@JC66 & @The Joker, I don't have an aversion in its sense of "strong feelings of dislike or hatred". I've never seen a puzzle without a few, including ones I've done. For me it's a matter of how many and what kind of POCs are in the grid. These issues are discussed at the blue links in my comment at 11:56.

@JC66, I have long thought that it's a glaring omission of the English language not to distinguish between the singular and plural second-person pronoun "You". Whether a speaker or writer is referring to one or multiple people, "You" is used. I'm just trying to highlight this shortcoming by using "Yous" when my comments are directed at multiple people rather than a single "You". And "Yous" is not in a crossword puzzle grid.

@The Joker, I think POCs and the "empty calorie" grid filling tricks you mentioned are all instances of letter count inflation. More on this at LCI.

TTrimble 3:00 PM  

Definitely easy, as witnessed by all the whooshing and humblebragging going on. I'm not above having my ego stroked by a crossword either, but I can't take much credit for the fact my time may be a personal best for me (I've yet to check): I think this was objectively easy for a Saturday.

(I'm sorry, Rex, but the symmetries don't include 90 degree rotations. The east-west blackened stalagmite-stalactite formations do not match the dominoes at the north and south. ALAS, the symmetries form a mere four-group.)

(Also, Rex, you XW TIGER you, I find your message, "Hope this one gave you a good workout or at least a bracing "good morning" slap in the face" weirdly inconsistent with your own reportage of a joy ride of zooming and whooshing. Why should we lesser-than-thous not feel a little of the same zooming and whooshing, and be relegated to a morning of bracing and slapping? Thanks -- we needed that!)

But yeah, all strutting and FLEXing aside, this puzzle was smooth almost to a fault. You could almost throw a dart at the puzzle and start there, and not once would you GO SLOW. But it was fun nonetheless, and I'm glad Rex agrees.

I think SNOBS could have been clued, "Ones unlikely to watch 50 Across, say". But in all honesty, I cannot watch THE BACHELORETTE without my full family present, especially my kids with their crazily perverse imaginations inventing back stories for all those people. You have to have the right frame of mind for that show.

Note to all those questioning WHAPS and TWEE and BLAT: the dictionary is your friend. I think WHAPS (from the Middle English whappen) is a great word. What's the term? Echoic.

Whatsername 5:18 PM  

@burtonkd (9:36) This puzzle brought me far more joy than most Saturdays do and WHATCHAMACALLIT was my favorite entry.

CDilly52 8:33 PM  

@JoeD 12:35PM. And I thought I would surely be the only person who had nunPAL!!! That little place really messed with me.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

I look forward to Saturday torture. This was not it.

VinylonVine 12:04 PM  

We knew "Hatchet" from days as students and now as teachers. Remains popular with kids today.

Fun theme, good revealer, great start to a Sunday!

Finished before the album did 🎶, Lady Wray's "Piece of Me," highly recommend!

kitshef 11:08 PM  

Much much easier than yesterday. Only real problem was the IRE/KORS (??) cross.

Milwaukee Talkie 1:15 PM  

Regarding Plurals of Convenience...

Most words With -s, -ing, -ed, etc. are fine, since they are used in conversation. I'm sure it would be much harder to construct a puzzle without them. (Oh yeah, "adulting" and "gifted" should NOT be words.)

Some plurals are ridiculous. Today it was MAAMS. Go ahead and use it in a sentence. You can't! Last month I commented on TSKS. Not only can you not use it in a sentence, you can't even say it.

Some words are probably more common in the plural than singular such as WALKIE TALKIES!

Burma Shave 1:16 PM  




Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@Son Volt 8:44am :
I got twee because I've watched a lot of BBC on PBS.

rondo 1:50 PM  

Easy and very enjoyable. HOSTILETAKEOVER the first one in and then off to the races. The first three long acrosses went in quite easily. A famous quote:
"I knew DORIS Day before she was a virgin." - Oscar Levant
Wordle bogey due to three whacks at BBGGG.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I can't believe how many people are unfamiliar with twee. You need to up your britspeak game.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Lastly, Guy Fieri uses the terms "brother from another mother" and "sister from another mister" when introducing his chef pals on his TV shows.

Diana, LIW 4:16 PM  

Took me a while to suss out GALPAL to finish it off. I was stuck on some kind of "in-law" or step-sisterly thing. Maybe a cousin...?

As to the rest, it also took me a while to get started - to get any kind of steam going. I love it when they start hard, and then one answer leads to another. But YOU know what I mean, you SyndieCat you.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 6:36 PM  

Easy-peasy, but then TWEE?? There used to be a comic strip featuring birds--I don't remember the title--but the kid bird was Skyler, and he *tried* to play basketball. The ref went "TWEE!" That's all I can muster for that word.

Otherwise a piece of Tuesday cake. I guess, in honor of poor Skyler, we'll give it a birdie. DOD to Tea LEONI.

Wordle par.

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