Voyage group / SAT 4-29-23 / Target for a certain mallet / Pro whose home stadium features a life-size pirate ship / 2017 Tony-winning play whose main characters are diplomats / Hit 2022 sci-fi horror film / Dwellers at the top of mesas / Philosophy associated with beaches / Subject of a much-anticipated return in 1983 / Words on a Spanish name tag

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: PICKLEBALL (28D: Game with paddles) —
Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor racket/paddle sport where two players (singles), or four players (doubles), hit a perforated hollow plastic ball over a 36-inch-high (0.91 m) net using solid-faced paddles. Opponents on either side of the net hit the ball back and forth until one side commits a rule infraction. Pickleball was invented in 1965 as a children's backyard game on Bainbridge IslandWashington, United States. In 2022, pickleball was adopted as the official state sport of Washington. [...] In 2021, 2022 and 2023, the sport was named the fastest-growing sport in the United States by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, with over 4.8 million players. A growing interest in the sport is attributed to several factors, including a short learning curve, appeal to a wide range of ages and fitness levels, and low startup costs. There are now thousands of pickleball tournaments throughout the United States, including the US National Championships and the U.S. Open Tournament, along with two professional tours and one professional league. (wikipedia)
• • •

I love a puzzle that has the confidence to rate itself not once not twice but thrice. "WHAT A TREAT!" "HOW NICE!" "WOWIE ZOWIE!" I don't know if I'm succumbing to the puzzle's subliminal suggestions here or not, but I loved this puzzle from start to finish and everywhere in between. This is the *Friday* puzzle I have so desperately wanted for so long. I don't think the traditional Fri/Sat difficulty levels have ever been swapped so glaringly as they were this weekend. Yesterday's puzzle took me probably twice as long, and absolutely mowed down a good chunk of solvers. This puzzle, on the other hand, is unlikely to hurt anyone (anyone who solves Saturday puzzles regularly, that is). This puzzle was like "Hey, buddy, did you have a rough day yesterday? Well, let's take it easy today. Maybe a few laps around the track and then, I dunno, how about a walk in the park, and maybe ice cream after? Does that sound good?" Yes it does. To be clear, I quite enjoyed yesterday's puzzle. But it worked me like a Saturday, whereas this one was breezy fun for most of the ride. It's amazing to me that with all the personnel and infrastructure they have invested in the NYT Games department, they (routinely) can't gauge something as simple as Friday / Saturday difficulty progression. But even if they came out in the wrong order, I'm very grateful I got the puzzles I got this weekend—the best themeless weekend I've seen in a while. This puzzle ... it's such an endearing way to cap off the week. It even has its own little CHAMPAGNE SHOWER celebration. Adorable.

The marquee answers really Marquee It Up. That is, they are marquee-worthy, and the central Across provides a nice little surprise after giving you a nice little challenge (33A: Line at a luxury boutique?). The "?" clue keeps you at arm's length for a bit, as does (potentially) the letter sequence, which is somewhat challenging to parse, especially if you come at any part of it from the middle, like this:

The "MONEY" part wasn't really helping me, and then the first two letters I plunked down mid-answer were, coincidentally, the last letter of one word and the first letter of another—impossible to see at that point. Weirdly, the phrase "[Your] MONEY IS NO good here" flashed into my head, but I doubt that that is a "line" you would hear at a "luxury boutique." But I got CHAMPAGNE in the long Down (the SHOWER part would come a bit later) and then IFSO (34D: "Assuming you're right ..."), and that "I" suggested the second word was "IS" and so "MONEY IS NOO.... [beat, beat] MONEY IS NOODLES? [beat, beat, beat] ... oh! MONEY IS NO OBJECT! woo-hoo. Nice!" A few seconds later, I had both 15s locked down, which meant I had access to every corner of the grid. I was, as they say, in business.

Toughest part of the grid for me was CRAB CLAW (5A: Target for a certain mallet). Had the "CR-" and then when the answer wasn't CROQUET-something, I was lost. I was especially lost because AVA who? (7D: ___ Raine, W.W. E. wrestler who's the daughter of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson). No idea if that was EVA or AVA, so ... blank. Then I had -ETON at 8D: Back, in a way and thought maybe GET ON (????) but wasn't sure. I had written in ADRATE at 9D: Bank figure—a crosswordese reflex of some kind, I guess, as ADRATE makes no real sense for that clue. And then there's -ETS at 12D: Sprinkles on, e.g., which had me thinking only of ice cream sundaes (which you might like ... sprinkles on). The breakthrough for me up there came when I ran the alphabet at -ETON. Luckily for me, "B" comes early in the alphabet. BET ON, of course. That "B" gave me CRAB but I was still looking at something like CRABALAG until I saw that the "A" in ADRATE was supposed to be a "C" — CRABCLA ... W! There it is! Sitting on SHAVED ICE. WHAT A TREAT! No, really, CRAB CLAW is sitting on SHAVED ICE and SHAVED ICE is sitting on "WHAT A TREAT!" Seems like an unusual flavor combination, but I'll try most things once. Sweet & Savory Crab Ice for everyone!

PICKLEBALL made me laugh out loud, what a dumb fad, by which I mean, if that's your thing, more power to you, but man it seemed to come out of nowhere and suddenly every middle-aged to older person in the world seemed to have taken it up. My doctor (whom I adore)—big enthusiast. Two things she loves to talk about: her kids, and PICKLEBALL. It's like ... half tennis, I guess, with solid paddles and a plastic ball? It was designed as a "children's backyard game" (see Word of the Day, above). Whatever keeps you active! Enjoy! I'm looking this grid over now and it's so pretty. SPEED CHESS! BLURTED OUT alongside "BAD ROMANCE" (I know the song and like the song, so my enthusiasm there may be greater than yours). By the end I was indeed ALL SMILES. That answer was actually the very end of my solve, as I could not parse 47D: F words? to save my life, not until I was all the way down to that last square: SEE_E. Me: "No word fits there." Me one second later: "Oh, but two words fit there." SEE ME—the "words" you (might) see on your test if you get an "F." I have never loved "SEE ME" as fill, but that clue is stupid brilliant. 

Other things:
  • 4D: Social climber? (APE) — I had the "A" and proudly wrote in ANT (famously social, right?). But the "CLAP back" made the answer AP- so I (less proudly) wrote in APP (APPs are ... social ... sometimes ... right?). Third time's the charm! Trolls are RUDE and so APEs are social (and climb!).
  • 41A: ___ -spot (TEN) — another RTA (run the alphabet). Had TE- and no clue. Then I hit "N" and said "D'oh!" A TEN-spot is just a ten dollar bill. Not sure when / if that slang ever died, but it's familiar to me.
  • 62A: 2017 Tony-winning play whose main characters are diplomats ("OSLO") — it's been a very OSLO weekend, though yesterday we got the much showier (and probably unnecessarily specific) OSLO, NORWAY. (What other OSLO would it be. OSLO, KANSAS?)
  • 22A: With 18-Across, colonial-style houses? (ANT / FARMS) — A malapop is when an answer that's wrong for one clue turns up later as the *correct* answer for a different clue (happens, weirdly, a lot). Today, I wanted ANT at 4D: Social climber? (wrong) and then ended up getting not just an ANT but thousands of ants. Farms of them. Went looking for a single ant, found a horror movie's worth. No idea what you call that. Speaking of "horror" movies ...
  • 21D: Hit 2022 sci-fi horror film ("NOPE") — a truly great and deeply underrated movie. I think one of the reasons audiences were puzzled by it is that the genre classifications applied to it don't really work. It took me a few beats to get this answer today because I don't think of "NOPE" as "horror" at all. It's definitely sci-fi, but I think of it as far more "western" than "horror." That movie is very aware of "genre" and ends up blending genres into all kinds of strange and beautiful and funny shapes. It's an art film masquerading as a blockbuster. 
  • 18D: ___ Beauty, brand founded by Rihanna (FENTY) — I knew this. Well, with a couple crosses, I knew this. How do I know this? How has this managed to seep in? So grateful that my brain is still admitting new knowledge at this point.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kitshef 7:08 AM  

Really enjoyed this solve. Huge number of excellent clues, headlined by ‘colonial-style houses’. Steinberg at his best.

I did have a lot of trouble getting started, with a lot of stuff penciled in but nothing certain. Bizarrely, the fist two entries I felt 100% on were FENTY and BAD ROMANCE; two of the PPP entries in a grid generally wonderfully free of them.

Conrad 7:21 AM  

Medium for me. Very little in the NW, NE or E. Finally got a toehold with HBO (54A), ISLE (60A) and OSLO (62A) in the SE and blossomed out from there. Only hangup was having a few letters at the end of 56A, guessing _OWIE_OWIE and not sure of the first letters of each part.

SouthsideJohnny 7:28 AM  

Usually when I think that Rex is going to love a puzzle, he unloads on it with both barrels of the shotgun - so a bit of a surprise to see it get a rare Rex Rave.

My nit is with WOWIE ZOWIE, which sounds like something that a cartoon character may say for effect. I wonder how often it is encountered in the wild.

It will be interesting to see if anyone will be able to manufacture a plausible objection to the very fair (in more ways than one) way that BLOND was clued. That will be a tough one today - we shall see if anyone is up to the challenge.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

How could I dislike a puzzle with wowie zowie in it?

CWT 7:47 AM  

No way in heck could I call this “easy”, but I guess what’s easy for Rex can be very difficult for others. The main thing is :”is it enjoyable?” And my answer is a resounding “YES!”
First time through the whole puzzle netted about four tentative guesses. Fortunately they turned out to be correct. Kept plugging away, making a guess or two, checking my answer (I know, that’s cheating, but I don’t have the leisure time to spend hours chasing phantoms or barking up the wrong tree.) took a break about half way through and did some Wordles (I do five in different languages), and came back refreshed and got a “champagne shower” and some “shaved ice”and “how nice!” was that! There’s a big difference between a “slog” and an enjoyable challenge, even if they take the same amount of time. And (to use my preferred version of the expression) “Wowie Maui” was this enjoyable!

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Yay pickle ball, yay Bainbridge Island!

andrew 7:50 AM  

Was sure GATORADESHOWER would be the long down, but didn’t fit. So begrudgingly put in AGATORADESHOWER and had to use my one and only Chen Cheat to find CHAMPAGNESHOWER.

From there, was able to grok the rest - even getting FENTY. Unlike Rex, I was glad this Rihanna brand HADN’T seeped into my brain.

Good puzzle from a reliable constructor!

Wanderlust 7:56 AM  

OK, hands up if you’ve ever said MONEY IS NO OBJECT without sarcasm … Yeah, me neither. Increasingly, money is no object in the sense of something physical. I played a poker game about a week ago and had to go to an ATM to get some TEN spots (actually 20s, of course) and realized it was the first time I had needed cash in a very long time.

I liked the puzzle a lot, but while it was faster than yesterday, I definitely didn’t solve it in half the time. The first pass through wasn’t getting me much, but I saw CHAMPAGNE SHOWER off a few letters and that helped a lot. (I hope it was real Champagne, David, and not some cheap bubbly from California, or the French are going to demand that you change it to “sparkling wine shower.”)

I didn’t get the F words / SEE ME connection until I read Rex, and now agree it’s a great clue. My last letter in was the LEMON / FENTY cross. I had LiMOs for the not-so-hot wheels (didn’t see how they are not-so-hot, but they are wheels). BLURTED OUT made it clear that it had to be LEMO- but I blanked and had to run the alphabet. I paused briefly on N, trying to think how lemon wheels (wedges?) could be not so hot. Since no other letter worked at all, I put in the N and got happy music, then had my Doh! moment of getting the lemon joke. Nice one.

I live in the middle of a city where there’s not a lot of space for PICKLE BALL, but my suburbs-dwelling family are fanatics, and there’s always a tournament when I visit. I feel like I did back in elementary school, dreading being the last one picked. They are serious competitors and no one wants me weighing them down. I never know when it’s OK to move into the “kitchen” and when I can hit a ball on the fly and when I have to let it bounce. That’s aside from my general lack of coordination. Can we play SPEED CHESS instead?

Lobster11 7:58 AM  

@CWT: What Rex means by "easy" is "...for a Saturday."

I'm all in with Rex today. This was the whoosh-whooshy Friday we didn't get yesterday.

Andy Freude 8:04 AM  

The mallet clue for 5A really had me wanting “marimba” or “xylophone” or something along those lines. Crosses gave me CR—, and for a second I thought “crotales???”

Later, in the SW, I was reminded of the xylophone work in a song from Freak Out, Frank Zappa’s first album: WOWIE ZOWIE.

GAC 8:14 AM  

I expected to see CHALLENGING as the rating for this puzzle. Was not pleased to se the EASY rating from OFL. That's the way the pickle ball bounces, I suppose.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Loved this! And, frankly, I couldn’t care less about the Fri/Sat difficulty being swapped. Either way is good.

H. Gunn 8:14 AM  

There is NOTHING not to love about this puzzle. NOTHING.

Though the Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC) is likely none too pleased. I suspect it may already have begun action to suppress the puzzle and destroy all copies.

Weezie 8:22 AM  

Yep, easy-for-a-Saturday for me, though I definitely had to work for it until the whooshing set in. I was so relieved to get BAD ROMANCE and SHAVED ICE right away, even though the northeast still took me a long while to get. In general, similar solving experience to Rex.

And yep, this puzzle was full of really nice misdirects and clever cluing. The clue for MONEY IS NO OBJECT was *so* good, especially because MONEY didn’t reveal it right away. Similarly loved “It requires you to pick up the pieces fast” for speed chess. And I appreciated that both yesterday and today found ways to spice up OSLO.

Weirdly I don’t think I know anyone that plays PICKLEBALL? Maybe that’s a New Yorker thing. I had no idea it involved paddles.

All that said, I liked but didn’t love this puzzle, despite being obviously a solid offering with some excellent cluing. I’m such a trivia nerd that I always want to learn something new (and for me, sports trivia just doesn’t fit the bill). This just didn’t have the “today I learned” sparkle that I hope to encounter in my weekend puzzling. And yet, I know the same thing will be a significant plus for many of you, so that’s a silver lining I guess!

Twangster 8:25 AM  

As Rex aptly says: "I don't think the traditional Fri/Sat difficulty levels have ever been swapped so glaringly as they were this weekend."

But I wonder if there's some explanation for why this happened? I can't imagine anyone making the case for today's puzzle being harder than yesterday's.

pabloinnh 8:26 AM  

Not a whoosh here but more of a "brisk walk", which is replacing my "jog", which replaced my "run". The birthdays just keep on a-comin', and that's OK.

I had ANT FARMS from "colonial" which I changed to BEE HIVES because I wanted the "natural border" to be a RIVER. Should have stuck with the faith solve.

Didn't know ABBA or AVA as clued and have never heard or heard of BADROMANCE. See also FENTY. Any three-letter Max should be MAD. Are OREO balls a real thing? Not around here.

I had a nice conversation with my 41-year old son yesterday; he had just played PICKLEBALL for the first time. As he's very athletic so I wondered what he thought of it and he described it as oversized ping pong. He had a good time though.

I thought this was just right for a Saturday with some clever clues and nice aha! answers. Well done you, DS. Delightful Saturday, and thanks for all the fun.

Darren 8:28 AM  

Hated every minute of the puzzle. As a person who does Saturday every week, I could not get into constructor's mind and probably by the time I had spent 10 minutes with it, I was just over it so I didn't care anymore! Hated it!

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

I'm so glad you said this. I thought I was just inferior to everyone else who did this puzzle Didn't enjoy at all

RMK 8:40 AM  

Imagine away...

Dr.A 8:54 AM  

I had similar issues in the NE but Ava Raine just sounded so much better out loud than Eva Raine that I bet on it and then my mom loves CDs so CD rate came pretty easily although there was no hint that there was an abbreviation in the clue. So I got that corner, but the NW corner tripped me up! I did not know the song Bad Romance which would have helped and I had Ant for social climber, until Ant Farm made delete that, but I finally did get the whole puzzle and also enjoyed it. I guess Clap back came into my head and let me finish it up. oh and the AGNE for a while was giving me a total “huh?” But once I got Champagne that part “flowed” well. LOL thanks as always for your work here, it’s so fun to read.

Bob Mills 9:10 AM  

Finished it without cheating, but I still don't understand 1-DOWN. I've been a baseball fan for 75 years, and wrote a book on baseball, but I've never heard of a baseball field occupying three acres. Did Will Shortz include the parking lot outside a stadium? Even then it's probably not three acres in size. Very puzzling.

Otherwise, a fairly easy Saturday. Compared to Friday, VERY easy.

Marty 9:10 AM  

Hated this puzzle from start to finish and everywhere in between. Just like yesterday’s…. Brutal Friday/Saturday combo. Ick…

beverly c 9:15 AM  

I had to start in the SE - lucky with SPEEDCHESS and PICKLEBALL. But bee hives, river and “Price is no object” were stumbling blocks. Also contributing obstacles - unfamiliarity with BADROMANCE, or what a CRAB CLAW mallet is, or the songs of ABBA. I also was wondering if there was a ___LAW term for a judge's gavel. And I fell for the capital C and thought the syrup treat was specific to Carnival, which I've never had the good fortune to celebrate.

Liked OASIS and GASMETER clues. I've said WOWIEZOWIE. It's just fun. Finished successfully with the same puzzling final letter as Rex for SEEME. Clever end to an enjoyably challenging puzzle.

@Joe D. More LEMON today! Regarding yesterday’s Limoncello - Thanks for the warning re HD lemon sorbet. Later it dawned on me the zest in the clue referred to lemon zest as the ingredient. Sometimes I'm slower than I'd like.

Laura 9:21 AM  

I was a bit slower than average, but not so tough. Would have been easy if I remembered Bad Romance. But great fun as always.

Answers were a bit different. How nice, all smiles, what a treat... probably not debuts, but I don't remember them. Very low count of pop culture figures, so I wasn't out of my wheelhouse.

Good puzzle.

Aelurus 9:25 AM  

Loved this! Favorite puzzle of the week. There was lots of pondering, sometimes accompanied by squinting (why does that seem to help?), and lovely AHA!-ing, and the clues were clever, clear, devious, and fair.

Learned about:
WOWIE ZOWIE – Sadly, not fun to say
CLAPback – MW on this: “A quick, sharp, and effective response to criticism. Not to be confused with a garden-variety diss” [no, of course not, never]
SPEED CHESS – really? while speed dating too?

Lots of new-to-me PPP, but with crosses that gave enough to complete by guessing, i.e., guesstiplete!, or simply let fill in.
AVA – remembering that Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila is a boxer, checking...checking.... She retired in 2007 with an undefeated record of 24-0.

Awards to new cluing for familiar answers:

____ balls (decadent dessert) for OREO

“Voyage” group for ABBA

I looked back over the week’s puzzles and saw that Monday’s CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE bookends today’s CHAMPAGNE SHOWER. Let’s put that champagne (real of course; hi, @Wanderlust) in a glass and raise it to cruciverbalists!

Thanks, David!

puzzlehoarder 9:29 AM  

This was actually a little harder for me to solve than yesterdays. Parts of it were easy like the grid spanners but the grid is rather segmented and I found myself getting bogged down in sections.

The NE was the big holdout today. There's nothing unknown about CRABCLAW and SHAVEDICE they just weren't what I expected. After yesterdays LIMONCELLO I was convinced the "Carnival refreshment " would be some mixed drink I'd never heard of. OASIS and ACAI were like pulling teeth but they were the missing pieces that cleared the fog. How RATS went over my head for so long I have no idea.

When I finally finished all was clear with the exception of FENTY. As solid as all the crosses were I was convinced it had to be some kind of sleeper dnf but it held up.

I've always thought the 56A phrase was WOWIEkaZOWIE. Slowed that section a little but luckily it was one of the easy areas.

yd -0

Anne 9:30 AM  

EASY? I finished, but it took over 20 minutes. Not even for a Saturday was this easy for me. But I liked it a lot!

Dave 9:36 AM  

I have to lodge a strenuous objection to SEE ME. I had no earthly idea what the relation was to the F words? clue until I read Rex’s explanation. I’m apparently not so adept at ESP that I could tell what the constructor had in mind there. Absolutely ungettable. Call me old fashioned, but I think a clue should actually give you a clue to the answer. This one might as well have read “pick any five letters.”

I don’t think TONEDUP is quite right for Put on muscles. Also, are ANT FARMS always built as colonial-style houses? I didn’t understand that one either.

Add to that too many of my least favorite kind of “clue” - random phrases in quotation marks to which the answer is some other random phrase - and the whole thing becomes more of an exercise in mind-reading rather than puzzle-solving. DNF and NF (no fun).

Eh Steve! 9:42 AM  

I was in Stockholm last year, so starting with ABBA was a nice way to get going. 'Course, then I wanted ALOU for ACRE for the baseball clue, and got hung up there. Oh well. Definitely found this one more fun - and much easier - than yesterday.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Kinda bummed Rex didn’t link the Mothers of Invention version of “Wowie Zowie”.

RooMonster 9:47 AM  

Hey All !
Did find this one slightly easier than YesterPuz. However, got stuck and got a DNF. Eek.

The CLAP/APE cross was tough! Ran the alphabet, twice, and settled on the P thinking that was the best correct letter. Finished in the NE section, which was by far the toughest section for me. But... Almost There! RATS!

Hit Check Puzzle, thinking that P would be crossed out, but amazingly enough it wasn't. What was crossed out, was in SW corner. TEa/aUtISM/SHAtE. Not one Earthly Idea on the clue for 42D, Philosophy associated with beaches. Thought there may have been a tie-in with AUTISM that I was just not aware of (there's quite a lot I'm unaware of...)

Erased my wrongness, to see SHADE finally (a hue was the furthest thing from the ole brain on that clue), then got a chuckle when I saw it had to be NUDISM. Ah, not philosophy like Nietzsche, but something else.

Anyway, good SatPuz that SHAVED off a few more brain cells.

Fwords? as a clue. Har. Alternate answer -- Need more of them in practically every puz? 😁

Happy Weekend!

Two F's

Rick 9:57 AM  

easy??? wow. one of the hardest saturdays in recent memory

Teedmn 9:57 AM  

Not easy for me at all - easier than yesterday, sure, but I struggled today in the way one does on a Saturday.

I learned FENT_ on Jeopardy this week but didn’t know if it was FENTi, FENTe or FENTY. I got my true start with the smallest of guesses - Njord reminded me of fjord so I went with SEA at 35; IF SO next to it begat FEE and SASH and I was able to turn the corner into the SE.

I considered “wagoN” and “sedaN” for 23A's “Not-so-hot wheels” but couldn’t come up with a rhyming baby/father animal with either of those. Very tricky clue for LAMB, I thought.

OREO balls are decadent? And BALL in PICKLEBALL, oopsie.

The NW, not knowing the song, had me wondering if I was going to have to leave 1A, 13A and 15A unfilled but I finally saw ACRE and was done. I'm just glad I was able to stop myself from throwing in NASA at 1A when I first started the puzzle but I realized that would be “Voyager”, not “Voyage”.

Nice job David Steinberg!

Aelurus 10:01 AM  

And @Rex, thanks for the wonderful write-up! HOW NICE to imagine the puzzle confidently rating itself. As well it should, IMO too.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

I guess ABBA must have a song or an album called "Voyage"?

Why is an APE a social climber? I mean I know it climbs trees and all but...?

All baseball fields are exactly three ACRES???

Got news for everyone. When I respond quickly to criticism, I don't CLAP back. Clapping's what I do when I want to show happiness and approval. In the face of hostility, I might LASH back. Or SLAP back. Or even SLAM back. But never CLAP back.

I had PRICE IS NO OBJECT. I felt it wasn't working with any of the crosses but I kept it in there for much too long. That's what I always say rather than MONEY IS NO OBJECT.

(Actually I never say either one. PRICE/MONEY is always an object to this very frugal solver.)

I had so many possible answers to "not-so-hot wheels" and PRICE was making my guess so much harder. LEMON? But it seemed not to fit. HEAPS? EDSEL? EDSEL would work if Rihanna's brand was FALSE BEAUTY. FALSE worked with PRICE, you see. So I wrote in both FALSE and EDSEL.

When my cheats came. they came in droves. FENTY BEAUTY???? Who on earth would know that? Had I ever heard of NOPE the horror flick? NOPE.

I thought no puzzle could be harder than yesterday's. I was wrong. Today's was impossible.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Had price instead of MONEY for 33Across way too long!

timjim 10:09 AM  

Such a delight, especially compared to yesterday's obscure slog.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Maybe the NYT should just devote an entire week to xwords by puzzle editors at other dailies....

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Wowie zowie, what a treat! I'm all smiles. Agree wholeheartedly with Rex. This Fridayish puzzle took up almost exactly half the time of yesterday's tough Saturdayish.... which is good, because of got stuff to get on with.

Burghman 10:18 AM  

Wow, I dropped PERFECTION in there for the “picking up pieces” clue with no hesitation. Couldn’t get away from it easily and it really hosed me up.

egsforbreakfast 10:18 AM  

If you watch the campy Rom-Com Emily in Paris on Netflix, you know all about CHAMPAGNESHOWERs. She invents a Champagne specifically for said purpose to help a client of her PR firm get rid of their low quality bubbly at a profit. It’s a kind of a lowbrow show that we’re addicted to.

Speaking of addictions, PICKLEBALL is also on the list. If you look at where the money is pouring into the game from, and the very, very good pro tennis players that are switching, you won’t call it a fad.

MONEYISNOOBJECT could be the motto for a cryptocurrency.

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that SHAVED ICE is arguably incorrect and that the original, and still correct, term is SHAVE ICE. I’m sure that by the time this comment appears, a dozen or so commenters will have mentioned this and I’ll look more idiotic than usual.

Really nice,smooth, whooshy Saturday. Thanks, David Steinberg.

Tom F 10:20 AM  

I too am very surprised to learn that a baseball field is three acres. That just can’t be right.

Easy for a Saturday - very enjoyable puzzle!

Tom F 10:22 AM  

Ah, I learned something today. Baseball fields ARE about three acres (and can go up to 4.5):

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

I say wowie zowie often. Honest. I’m 71.

Beezer 10:32 AM  

This puzzle was a delight! I just love a puzzle when I circle around and the light bulbs go off!

I can’t WAIT to see wait @egs says about @Rex’s PICKLEBALL remarks. I am old AND a tennis player trying to take up pickleball. This last “indoor” tennis bubble season our court had a bunch of young pickleball players. Amazing to watch and it’s not just an “old persons” game.
@Weezie…it’s not a “New Yorker” thing. It’s all over the country now. (Believe me cuz I’m in “flyover.”

Gary Jugert 10:33 AM  

A pleasant solve. I am on this puzzle's comedy wavelength. Very cute. I did pretty well for a Saturday, but I did not know there was mallet for crab claws. Sometimes I think there should be mallets for people who don't do things I think they should, but we'll take it out on the crabs instead, eh?

The folksy sayings in crosswords can go either way, but this collection was nice.

Hey Tampa, can you actually go into the pirate ship? I hope so.

We dined at a hipster place a couple weeks back and they had SHRUB as a drink on the menu, so I tried it skeptically and it's delicious.

Our local pickleball courts were closed because the neighbors were losing their minds over 14 hours a day of clipclopclipclophahahaha.


Tee-Hee: NUDISM.


1 The dude called upon to bring home the potato chip.
2 Grizzly with the sizzly.
3 Nudists' dot on an atlas.
4 Tools used to ensure a hole in a former lover's heart.
5 Varmints eager for reservations.
6 Suggestion for winning the "gentlemens' preference" contest.
7 "I'm pretty good at it," and "I usually win."


kitshef 10:39 AM  

@Bob Mills 9:10 - I don't know about any specific field, but a rough calculation seems to support the field size.

The average field is about 330 feet down the lines and 400 to center. The baselines are at right angles, so an estimate for the area would be one quarter of an oval with major axis of 800ft and minor axis of 660ft = 1/4 x pi x 400 x 330 = 104k square feet. Throw in foul territory. Fenway is listed at 20k sqft and Oakland at 35k, and those are the lowest and highest in the majors. Let's say 27k for an average.

So 104k fair territory plus 27k foul = 131k sqft = 3.007 acres.

Beezer 10:44 AM  

@Egs…I was expecting a little more “snark” in your defense of PB but well-stated! You must have commented while I was composing…

Weezie 10:48 AM  

Thank you @egs for being brave enough to make the Emily in Paris reference that I was too embarrassed to bring up. It’s definitely an enjoyable bit of fluff.

For whatever it’s worth, FENTY Beauty is more than fair play imo! It’s a Saturday and it’s fairly crossed. And, even if it weren’t, I think it’d be hard to find many people in the US under 45 who use makeup or like Rihanna who wouldn’t be able to get to the answer. I think it’s important to include the occasional cultural reference gimme for younger folks alongside ones that might skew older.

Just because I think they’re cooler than the average capitalist corporation, I’ll add that FENTY is a massively successful, Black woman-owned, multi-billion dollar company - the most successful celebrity makeup brand in the US, the UK, and France. They’re especially well-known for finally bringing high quality foundations in a very wide range of skin tones, and for hyperpigmented colors that show up well on dark complexions. Their Stunna Lip Paint “Uncensored” shade has a cult following for creating a universally flattering perfect red lip.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

@jberg—This began as what @Lewis calls a faith solve. I went through the across clues and got nothing until 18-A. The question mark tipped me off what kind of colony it was, but ants or bees? Ah, some ALTO instruments. ANT hillS. But then that border might be a river?

More later

Carola 11:04 AM  

Very challenging for me, very satisfying to finally reach the breakthrough point and see I'd be able to finish. Last in: the final E of SEE ME - a genius clue and the perfect cherry-on-the-top flourish for this terrific puzzle.

I had such a hard time getting started - as in: my first entries were GOT x WOO, and from there it was like chipping away at granite with a CRAB mallet (one of which I possess, by the way, having lived for time in Baltimore, home of the blue crab). What saved me was suddenly remembering BAD ROMANCE, the N of which along with the OO of WOO and ALTO suggested MONEY IS NO OBJECT. At last, some letters to work with!
In sum - a truly Saturday-worthy struggle for me, complete with moments of looming DNF despair. Loved the clues, loved the answers. For me, David Steinberg's finest so far.

jae 11:09 AM  

On the tough side for me, but not nearly as tough as yesterday’s. Unlike @Rex FENTY and BAD ROMANCE were WOEs plus I didn’t know the ABBA song so, like yesterday, the top was tougher than the bottom. Solid with some fine cluing. liked it a bunch!

The OSLO play clue reminded me two Netflix series in that genre: “Borgen” is set in Denmark and is excellent. It has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. “The Diplomat” just came out and is also very good. If you liked “The West Wing” you will probably like this...dare I say Sorkinesque?

Nancy 11:12 AM  


1) A movie about "Jack the Piercer" -- great great great grandson of Jack the Ripper.

2) King Kong guards his squeaky-clean image on that billboard

3) You really thought Katy Jurado and not Grace Kelly would get Gary Cooper's love in the end?

4) Where no one says NOPE to NUDISM





mmorgan 11:12 AM  

Yesterday was impenetrable. This is sweet.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I was wondering about that, too. A football field is roughly one acre, for example.

mathgent 11:13 AM  

Liked it, but needed a couple of cheats to finish (CLAP and FENTY).

A big reason for my doing the puzzle is to keep up with current slang. Old guy trying to stave off irrelenance. So I'm happy to learn CLAPback, which I've never heard. In what subculture is it used? Rap?

SimonSays 11:14 AM  

Terrific puzzle. . . fun and informative. . .and so are Weezie’s comments @10:44 about FENTY, a company I knew zilch about.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Sprinkles are for winners.

burtonkd 11:15 AM  

@Andy Freude, nice shout out to Frank Zappa! I was running with musical mallets, then sports, then general tools. Same problems as Rex up there.

Also same APE/ANT malapop + my FARM was a hill - saw the misdirect immediately. Hill made for a SCHLUB as a natural border, maybe for social climbers?

@Wanderlust - I was introduced to Pickleball as an all-inclusive sport for families like croquet, whose MALLET didn't fit. I later ended up playing in a small town rec center and was stunned by the level of competitive seriousness and militance over the sign-up sheet. (this from an insufferably competitive table tennis player). I thought that if you were going to be that gung-ho, just play the real sport, tennis. There, I said it! Okay, I get it is easier to find an indoor court and also easier on the joints.

I'd go with medium/easy: I don't recall a puzzle yielding so few immediate results, then exploding with woosh.

FENTY a WOE, assumed a 2009 song would be also, then pleasantly surprised by Lady Gaga song that I know. While on music clues: "four letter band name" would have been the same for 1A, and entirely gettable once you rule out ACDC.

@Nancy, I usually SNAP back...

I like RP's last line about being happy his brain still admits new knowledge. I was thinking about how much I have picked up doing the Xword when I heard a list of muses on a podcast(the excellent Judge John Hodgeman) and only knew ERATO well.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

@BobMills, Easy enough to measure for yourself, if you use Google Maps. Find your favorite baseball field (provided it's not a roofed/domed stadium with the field covered) and use Google Maps' measurement capability.

If you outline the entire playing field with a closed polygon, it will give you an area measurement (in either sq. ft. or sq. meters), which you can convert to acres (using Google, again).

I measured Wrigley Field, including foul territory, and came up with about 122,000 sq. ft., which is about 2.8 acres.

The stadium structure's footprint itself is about 8 acres, and the block upon which it sits is about 10.5 acres.

Whatsername 11:23 AM  

WOWIE! Since I get along much better with Mr. Steinberg than I do with Mr. Agard, it was NO surprise that I liked it. Agree with Rex that Friday and Saturday should have been swapped this week. I wouldn’t really call this easy but it certainly was a TREAT after yesterday’s slog which left me feeling like a real CRAB. But I’m ALL SMILES today SO thank you, David. NICE job.

bocamp 11:37 AM  

Thx, David; WHAT A TREAT! 😊


Not sure why this one was kinda tough for me.

WOWIE wOWIE caused a technical dnf. I did see that wIT wasn't going to fit the bill (thot, maybe nIT), but once again was plagued with that bad habit (working on breaking it, slowly, but surely) of failing to come back to revisit problem areas before filling in the last cell. Nevertheless, easily repaired the 'blemish'.

Had an inkling for ABBA, but didn't fill it in at the time. Came back to the NW with BLURTED OUT, then ABBA and the rest fell nicely into place.

Price before MONEY held me up for too long in that area.

SEE ME came quickly. One of the most important experiences in my college days was having this scribbled across my very first blue book essay exam ever. My visit with the prof was enlightening, to say the least. I went on to write some much better essays, and ended up with a B for the course (and an A the following semester).

SPEED CHESS came to my rescue in the SE, altho I'm no good at it (nor most anything that requires mental adroitness). SPEED cubing is another matter, as it involves pattern recognition and the employment of memorized algorithms – which, with concentration, flow naturally in the process of solving.

CHAMPAGNE SHOWER was the highlight of the puz!

I'm basically an ALL SMILES guy (for the most part); un-SMILiES (both inner and outer) are leveraged as problem solving opportunities. 🙏

Yesterday's debate re: racism engendered excellent dialog and good will. SMILES ALL around for the participants! 😊 😊

Speaking of SMILES, this morning I came across this article, which introduced me to a beautiful new word, 'freudenfreude'. It perfectly defines one of the keystones in my philosophy.

The following excerpt from this article resonates:

"“It truly makes me happy when other people are happy,” said Sarah Parniak, a Toronto account manager who says she doesn’t have a lot of time for jealousy. “I love celebrating people. I love it when people feel good, because it makes me feel good.”" 🥰

A wonderful adventure this AM; loved it! 😊
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness & freudenfreude to all 🙏

Joe Dipinto 11:37 AM  


What do you call a strategy-game tournament conducted in dead silence while camembert is served?*

So apparently we've gone to Oslo, Norway for the weekend, with a side trip to Stockholm, Sweden to visit ABBA. This looked like it was going to be harder than yesterday's puzzle at first glance, but turned out to move quite a bit faster, and fell into place more organically.

@Andy Freude 8:04 – CROTALES would have been an excellent guess. I had the initial C and the L in LIES, and wondered if a CARILLON mechanism somehow employed mallets.

I don't usually gush over clues but I did like "F words?" for SEE ME. Apropos and clever and succinct. It made me smile.

*A speechless speed chess cheesefest.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

In total agreement with Rex. Love this.

* was thinking WOWIE WHOA-Y, which is what we say in my fam. No problem with ZOWIE.

jb129 11:57 AM  

Although this was no way "Easy" I redeemed myself after yesterday.

jberg 12:05 PM  

I posted a brief comment from my phone earlier, but it hasn't shown up here yet. As I said there, this one started tough, mainly because of ultra-vague cluing. But as I started to get some crosses, the answers started to fill themselves in, and I finally saw MONEY IS NO OBJECT. I have a lawyer friend who hated to hear that phrase from a client, having learned from experience that they meant HIS money was no object.

I don't think I've ever written BLOND without its terminal E, as certified by Anita Loos. But the dictionary says I can't complain, so OK.

My sister-in-law plays PICKLE BALL fanatically, so I got that one OK. I've never seen it played, though.

I started to write in SPEED dateS, but figured that was a little too vulgar. @Aluerus, in SPEED CHESS you set the clock to buzz every 10 seconds; when it buzzes, you have to move. It can be fun, or frustrating, or both.

As for "Voyager" I think I waited for a cross, but if it's in quotes it's a show or a song, and if it's a group it's a song, and any 4-letter musical group in the puzzle is either ABBA or AC/DC, and the latter will usually say 'metal' in the clue.

Two kinds of BALL in the puzzle, plus BAWL, and two kinds of ICE, SHAVED and HOWN.

I don't usually solve on Sundays, but rumor has it that tomorrow's will be a treat, so you may see me here.

mezzaluna 12:25 PM  

Having only really encountered it in Hawaii where it’s just “shave ice” it took me a while to get past that and add a D. But generally this went well for me and was appropriately more challenging than yesterday. It took me just under 20m for the Friday and just over 30 for today. Enjoyably challenging for my weekend play.

Whatsername 12:34 PM  

@bocamp: I like your freudenfreude. Thank you for sharing that. I find that as I grow older, I have less and less envy of the experiences, possessions, etc. of others and a much greater ease with just feeling happy for them. Not always of course, but at least if I can’t join them, I no longer have the desire to beat them.

TAB2TAB 12:38 PM  

priceISNOOBJECT led to 18D FEmme Beauty (much better than FENTY in my opinion unless you happen to be on a last-name-basis with Rihanna. Had no idea about NOPE, and *should* have known ABBA, but with all those strikes against me it pretty much killed the NW until I caved to my pesky urge to consult Uncle Google on "I want your love and I want your revenge" which revealed the error of my ways on price. From there, every fell into place. Unlike Rex that NW made this a harder puzzle for me than Friday. Despite the ever-so-slight cheat and DNF, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.

pabloinnh 12:39 PM  


I thought today's was on the easy side for a Stumper, which makes it on the hard side for a Saturday NYT.

Good fun.

Mark Pinzur 12:46 PM  

As a high school math teacher, I loved "SEE ME".

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Ditto. I hated this puzzle too. I am admittedly new to crosswords but I could not find any footholds at all. Bad Romance was my best one but I mistakenly put it in the wrong row at first due to ABBA and the equal length side by sides.

I realize that being new means I am probably not the best to judge. But you were not alone. Hated this one.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

I got ABBA right off the top and was thinking "they can't possibly mean that."

johnk 12:49 PM  

Easy except the NW. So no CHAMPAGNE SHOWER for me. Snap back, slap back, lash back, slam back: I've heard, but never uttered, all of these. CLAP BACK? Never. I didn't know BAD ROMANCE. Big romance? Boy romance? Boo romance? Bah. And a RUDE troll? What a RUDE clue! Leave it under the bridge!
Even so, this puzzle was otherwise enjoyable.

bocamp 1:03 PM  

@Whatsername (12:34 PM) 😊

@pabloinnh (12:39 PM)

Joining you on Lester Ruff's Sat. Stumper. 🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness & Freudenfreude to all 🙏

burtonkd 1:06 PM  

@jberg & aelurus - Speed chess uses a clock that gives you a certain cumulative time to make all your moves, say 5 minutes. It only counts down when it is your turn, but there is no limit for any individual move.

kitshef 1:12 PM  

Just to be clear, is an album. Went to #2 in the US in 2021 - the only ABBA album to crack the top 10.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Challenging finding a foothold.When done, , rather straightforward. ABBA belongs in the dustbin of Crosswordese history along with anything remotely related to OREO.What the hell is CLAPBACK ?

Rather fun, all in all.

Anoa Bob 1:36 PM  

I was surprised to see the grid has 40 black squares. That's high even for a themed puzzle. Per, the average number of black squares for a Saturday puzzle is 30.9. The 40 black squares resulted in lots of short stuff including 18 3s and 24 4s. By the way, if you go to xwordinfo and click on "Solution & notes" and then go to the bottom of the filled grid and clues and click on "Analyze this puzzle", lots of these kind of stats will be displayed.

I definitely gave the stink eye and then some to 26A ESP being clued as "Subj. in experimental psychology". I have a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and taught college level psych course for well over 30 years. ESP is what's called parapsychology, which means it is outside of standard, mainstream psychology. The closest to it being a subject in experimental psychology was back in the 30s when J.B. Rhine studied clairvoyance and psychokinesis at Duke University.

Rhine's claimed results supporting ESP were never replicated by other researchers. His methodology was criticized for lack of controls, cherry picking results and outright forgery. ESP has never been supported by properly designed studies reported in professional, peer-reviewed journals. And Rhine was a botanist, not a psychologist.

Joe Dipinto 1:57 PM  

@me – damn, that was supposed to say "quickie strategy-game tournament"

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Couldn't disagree more with Rex's comparative assessment of yesterday's and today's puzzles. I did Friday's in a breezy 20 minutes, whereas today's took me a solid hour. I was delighted by answers like Whitey on the Moon and Apotheosis; Wowie Zowie and Pickle Ball elicited groans.

MarthaCatherine 2:22 PM  

This weren't mah first crossword, buhbuh. But hoo-boy it might be one of the toughest ever for me.

I hate it when I have such a hard time with a puzzle only to come here to see that most everyone else found it a fun breeze.

Not ashamed to say I resorted to shameless cheating quite a bit today. I call it a learning opportunity.

Bob Mills 2:39 PM  

For Kitschef: Thanks for setting me straight. Your numbers look right. My apologies to Will Shortz.

old timer 2:49 PM  

A silly DNF. Never thought about an ACRE. Thought the answer to 13A had to be sLAP back. I've never heard of CLAP back, as a response to a critic. Nor do I think of trolls, in legend or online, as necessarily RUDE. Curt sometimes, or (as I first had it) evil.

And it took me forever to get CRAB CLAW. Here in CALI, we tend to use pliers to crack the parts of our tasty Dungeness CRABs that need some shell pulled off. Or a restaurant equivalent of pliers. The hammers made me think with regret of a long-gone NYC restaurant that featured blue crabs from Maryland. I adored it, but it only lasted a few years. Everyone was issued a hammer. I suppose New Yorkers eventually got tired of what was basically a one-trick pony, delicious though the CRABs were.
I also love the Grand Central Oyster Bar, which I suppose has been open over a century. I suppose they sell CRAB dishes too, but I go there for the fresh oysters from all over the East and Gulf coasts.

I was amused by WOWIEZOWIE, though back in the day I knew a bit about Maui WOWIE.

Whatsername 2:51 PM  

Mary Catherine: That’s what I call my shameless cheating. And when I say a Saturday was “easy” what I really mean is, I didn’t have to do as much cheating as usual. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not only allowed but encouraged on Saturdays.

Gary Jugert 2:52 PM  

@Nancy 11:12 AM
🤪 We each found naked happiness in the isles.

A 2:57 PM  

Easy? Not for me, but WHAT A TREAT! Much harder than yesterday but so much better. I didn’t think I had a chance at solving this - seriously, here’s everything I didn’t know going in:

CLAP back (I’d fire back, except I generally don’t - I just give a “didn’t your mother teach you any better” look)
MOPEDs were hybrids
the USO has lounges
HBO Max (I might’ve scrolled by it but that’s it)
OSLO the play
Baseball fields are 3 ACREs
BAD ROMANCE (the movie, that is)
AVA Raine
Njord’s domain
OREO balls

All that ignorance combined with the tricky (and top-notch) cluing meant my first pass yielded nothing but a couple of esses. And yet, WOWIE ZOWIE, I managed to get it all filled in correctly. It was like a “faith solve” minus the faith. Just one short entry after another, leading to a breakthrough at the luxury boutique line. More staring, more “aha’s.” When I filled in the last square I BLURTED OUT “I did it!” Now my brain is the [Sore spot] but I’m ALL SMILES.

So many imaginative clues - SHRUB, LEEKS, LIES, ISLE, ANT FARMS, LAMB, LEMON, ADAPT, OASIS, ERR, APE, MOLE and WETS all had great ones. Even the puzzles weak spot, the SE corner with the OREO/OSLO cross, was saved by the clues.

Didn’t get the [F words] meaning until reading @Rex. I was thinking a job-related situation, maybe F words as in SEE ME so I can Fire you.

Cute to see NUDISM by SEE ME.

Time to go practice wind quintet music. We’re working on the first movement of the Nielsen for our upcoming Principal bassoon audition. Cool piece. In later movements the oboe doubles on English horn.

Thank you, Mr. Steinberg!

Boodleheimer 3:48 PM  

Good fun! Excellent cluing. Went from agony of defeat to thrill of victory when the longs fell in nicely. Got a DNF because of USO / SEE ME. That was tough.

As usual really enjoy the comments here like about the three Alous in baseball and Ruth Underwood's glorious mallet-work with the Zappa band.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

it's "shave ice" not "shaved ice"

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

In 33 across, I had the —oobj filled in but didn’t think boob jobs was going to be allowed

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

A 400 ft centerfield fence would yield 4 and a half acres.
You have to go down to a 315 foot fence (at dead center) to have a 3 acre field.

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Don’t knock Pickleball until you try it!

Leighroi 5:13 PM  

My first two answers were BEE HIVES for the colonial houses clues, rather than ANT FARMS. Kinda put me in a hole to start out.

Liam 5:16 PM  

I never predict Rex’s reaction. I often finish a puzzle thinking, “how clever!” Rex hates it. Conversely, like today, I think, “How could anyone like a puzzle that uses ‘wowiezowie’?!” Rex loves it. Sigh.

CDilly52 5:35 PM  

Mr. Steinberg and I do not typically operate on the same wavelength. Heck, our wavelengths aren’t anywhere near each other on the “crossword band.” Today was no exception.

Now, don’t get me wrong, his puzzles are among my favorites and I’m happy each and every time I see his byline. Do you feel the “but” coming here, gang? Sure enough, but I cannot say this was easy. Enjoyable? ✅ Clever? ✅ Fresh? ✅ Challenging? ✅✅✅ (for me anyway). Just the way I like my themeless Saturday.

I agree that this one was certainly easier than yesterday’s, and it had fun a seers. The longer ones especially. It also had the Lady Gaga song with which I am not familiar. She’s great, no doubt about it, but her music just isn’t my cup of tea, so I had no idea. Accordingly, the tiny little NW corner was the last to fall.

Bit it wasn’t just the stuff I don’t know that hung me up, it was the quintessential DS wordplay that emanates from his wavelength on a galaxy far far away from mine that has me pulling out my hair and then absolutely dancing a jig and cheering while I mimic a CHAMPAGNE SHOWER type celebration upon deciphering the clue.

My biggest miscue was the mallet clue. Vintage DS. When marimba didn’t fit nor did any other of the many mallet instruments my percussionist-husband hauled around and played so expertly, I was lost hi @Andy Freud 8:04 AM!). Food never entered my mind. So I gave up with only a few answers sprinkled onto the snowy fields of the top half of the puzzle. I was so frustrated and so certain I was on the right track that I didn’t even look at the downs in the NE.

And then I suddenly got on a roll, or maybe the mental calisthenics at the top got my brain TONED UP, but whatever it was, things improved mightily and I got my whoosh whoosh going. When I got to WOWIE ZOWIE, I also had what I thought was a perfect mental epiphany, but I actually tripped on my hubris. All of a sudden, my librarian who had been back in the musty dusty stacks of my subconscious thinking of names for mallet instruments came rushing to my frontal cortex ALL SMILES. “Bell Tree! It’s a bell tree!!” So of course I quit with the whooshing and back to the top I went. Only to write it in, start looking at the downs expecting to reengage the whoosh, only to head quickly to Mr. Backspace. Oh well.

The SHAVED ICE, WHAT A TREAT and OASIS (there’s gotta be some great uniclues in here, guys) finally gave me enough to CRAB CLAW my way to the end. What a delight! As an aside though, if you want the frosty treat in Hawaii, it is SHAVEICE, pronounced as one word.

And the clue that made me laugh? “Colonial style houses” - brilliant. Just brilliant. You put me through it again, Mr. S, and as usual, you did not disappoint. Kudos.

Aelurus 5:37 PM  

@jberg 12:05 pm, @burtonkd 1:06 pm – Thanks for the information about speed chess. I think having to move a chess piece before a buzzer sounds would indeed be frustrating for humans, who are unlikely to strategize out very far in such a limited time (me in particular!). But I guess that would make it a different kind of game. jberg, Thanks too for the tip about a possible crossword treat tomorrow; fingers crossed.

Nancy 5:38 PM  

Yes, Gary, we did. I cracked up over your #1, btw.

@burtonkd -- I love the thought of a SCHLUB barrier.

Aelurus 5:55 PM  

@A 2:57 pm – What a lovely piece! Thank you for posting it. A few weeks ago I went to a cellos-only program, cellos being a favorite, with cellists playing solo, as duets, as quartets, and then all eight of the symphony orchestra’s cellists playing the last piece. Aside from the Bach (and everything else, really), a surprise favorite was an instrumental presentation of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” which was beautiful with a cello quartet (though I don’t know the original metal version). Here’s the Finnish cello rock band Apocalyptica’s cover of it.

mathgent 6:06 PM  

@Anoa Bob (1:36). Drop down to this corner of the playground. We've got a nice piece of cake for you.

Sian 7:12 PM  

Anyone else have Ladas for not-so-hot wheels?!

B$ 7:13 PM  

To Anne @ 9:30 Nice humblebrag.

Anoa Bob 7:15 PM  

@mathgent, if it's German Chocolate Cake with shredded coconut and nuts in the frosting, I'm already on the way!

hey mister 9:52 PM  

Found it much harder than Friday's, which was relatively straightforward. Several of the longer answers came easily today, but a few not so much, and the fill was just hard for me. Usually when the longer ones work out the rest follows, but not today.

Jeremy 11:21 PM  

Well, I sure wasn’t expecting a write-up that called this puzzle an easy reprieve after a tough Friday. Yesterday’s puzzle came in a few minutes under my Friday average but this one took me almost three times as long, putting up a fight at almost every turn. I did quite enjoy it in the end, though.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

First Google result: “For a baseball field, you will need approximately three acres of land that is 400 feet long by 400 feet wide.”

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

I do them every Saturday. This was the hardest one I can remember. Not sure why, maybe I was tired or distracted. Fridays was easier for sure

jberg 11:10 AM  

@burtonkd -- I haven't played the game for years, but Wikipedia says it can be done either way--total time limit only, or timed increments for each move. That's my memory, too, but of course the rules may have changed. Back in the 60s it was just recreational, but apparently FIDE now has rules, classifications, and sponsors tournaments.

Andrew R 2:43 AM  

What puzzles me is how many roadblocks and wrong letters Rex had to go through while still rating the puzzle as "easy." Reading his review alone I would have guessed that his rating was at least medium challenging. I realize that the rating is on a Saturday curve, but even so...

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

It’s a play on words - “colonial” as in ant colonies.

Anonymous 3:27 AM  

Dave @9:36 I agree completely. SEE ME for "F words?"? I've never, ever associated the phrase "SEE ME" with any grade or in any academic setting. The fact that Rex and several others love it... just puzzles me deeply. Even after I read Rex's explanation, I didn't understand it. Even now that I understand it, it doesn't strike me as clever in any way, and certainly not "aha" or "gettable".

However, I agree that the puzzle overall had several brilliant features. SEE ME was the only stinker -- but it really stunk.

Burma Shave 2:06 PM  




Anonymous 4:02 PM  

@egsforbreakfast 10:18am:
Shave ice is Hawaiian, shaved ice is mainland.

spacecraft 7:01 PM  

Late to the page today because I didn't have it all quite done before our little trip to the casino, and we just got back. But what a difference--and it's the constructors. Yesterday's was impossibly obscure and downright ungettable; this one has Saturday toughness but it's all in the cluing. Thus, when enough letters come in: gettable.

CRABCLAW was very hard to get, as I'm used to hearing "crab legs." NE was the end of the road, and it was finally traversed when I remembered SHAVEDICE. Never liked it; gimme my sausage & pepper hero, or "Top o' the Beef," and I'm good. Oh, the smells!

Good stuff all the way around. DS was born for this. Eagle.

Wordle DNF, but if you're gonna triple up on me...

Diana, LIW 7:12 PM  

Hooray for a DS puz. Especially after yesterday's hot mess.

Good to be back in the world of solvability.

Diana LIW

rondo 9:25 PM  

Nice DS puz.
Wordle phew.

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