Saturday, January 28, 2012

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SAND BARREL (56A: Many a crash cushion at a construction zone) —
[can't find a definition—[define "sand barrel"] yields very few hits. Looks like barrels filled with sand ??? never seen the term before]
• • •

Solve from NW to SE, and this is one puzzle (easy); solve it along the other diagonal, and it's something else (hard). Those NE and SW corners were light years harder than the other corners. Not sure why that should be, but that's how it worked out. This was a typical Barry Silk puzzle—solid but unflashy grid with clues designed to be as tough at every turn. Very few flat-out gimmes (mine were MEAL PLAN, BAG, RED, G'DAY (17A: Sheila's welcome), PEAR, and INDIE). Several places where I had all but one letter of an answer and still had no idea (first letter of -ICS for 27D: P.R. releases ... and my final letter, the "W" in BREW and BLEW, which I had to run the alphabet to get) (9D: Java, for one + 21A: Messed up). NE was hard mostly because all the shorter crosses for those 10-letter answers were fantastically vague. The one I was sure I had correct ended up being wrong (I had STOATS; answer was STOLES—14D: Some ermines). In the opposite corner, same problem. PARR and ERMA side by side? That's very rough play. (53D: "The Incredibles" family name + Aretha's Grammy-nominated sister)

Wrong answers: STOATS for STOLES, SHAD for HAKE (8D: Cod relative), ENL for LTR, ETON (?) for ELON (63A: School in the Piedmont region). I think that's it. Never heard of SAND BARREL or ROAD GRADER (62A: Civil engineering vehicle), which tells you how much time I've spent on construction sites. I don't think "'02" is enough of a signal that 5D: One of the subjects of the best-selling '02 books "The Conquerors" is an abbr. (HST). Also having trouble accepting the phrase NO TAIL as a "trait" (13D: Manx trait). It's not there, so it's not a trait—the "NO" part is what's bugging me. RED HAIR or GREEN EYES or adj. / noun of any kind, I'd buy as a "trait." I thought "coulee" was a racist term for a Chinese man ... but I was thinking "coolie" (see here). How is OMAN the toe of a boot? Italy is a boot. I have never, ever, ever heard the Arabian peninsula referred to as a "boot." Booooooooooo ... t.

Bullets:
• 1A: Concern for a dermatologist (LUMP) — this is what we call a "F&ck You" clue, in that it takes this form *only* to trick you into writing in a wrong answer, in this case ACNE. Maybe we should call it an asshole clue, but "F&ck You" clue just has too much poetry on its side.
• 22A: Roster curtailer: Abbr. (ET AL) — inventive, if weird, cluing
• 39A: Signs near a teller's window, maybe (ENDORSES) — there should be a term for this–where clue is written to suggest a word is one part of speech (here a noun) when it's really another (here, a verb)
• 47A: Silverwing flier (CESSNA) — I know nothing about planes, but I had the "C" and I also know that CESSNA is a reasonably grid-friendly plane.
• 24D: Her help was solicited in a hit (RHONDA) — I guess this was pretty close to a gimme too.

• 38D: Universidad de las AmÃ©ricas site (SANTIAGO) — pfft, no idea. But I had the -GO, which was enough.
• 40D: "Children of the Albatross" novelist (NIN) — she's a crossword double threat. First and last names, very useful.
• 51D: Daughter of Zeus and Themis (IRENE) — guessed off the "I"; seemed reasonable, though the possibility of IRENA crossed my mind. Then I decided that sounded more like a Russian tennis player than a mythological character.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Rickter

You know what "cuts power in half"? Dividing by 2. You know what you get by taking the square root of power? The square root of power. Earthquakes and decibles are most often presented on a logarithmic scale, but a 4.0 earthquake has almost twice as much power as a 3.0 earthquake (16/9).

jae

This felt medium to me also but the west side went pretty smoothly, so...?    Nothing really zippy here, just a very solid Sat.   Write overs were SABLES and FOOTPATH.  Needed to run the alphabet to get PISTOLS.  Got fooled by the pair of PRs.   Nice to get a day appropriate puzzle.  Thanks Barry Silk!

Evan K.

The square root of x^6 is x^3. Generalizing, the square root of x^2a is x^a. Dastardly, ain't it? Sneaky cluing in general.

Had FOOTPATH for BIKEPATH. SANDBARREL is a term I haven't seen explicitly but can intuitively grasp -- if you've seen any of those things busted at an exit in front of a solid barrier, you know what they are.

Michaela

Things 1A was not:
rash
boil
bUMP

...the last of which was in there until the very end, which made 1D baGGAGE, which made 57D "how the heck is this BAG?"

Which is also to say I really, really hate "random definitive article in a foreign language" clues.

pk

Of course, my first thought for 1A was "acne," but I didn't actually put it in, because none of the downs worked. My second thought was "lump," and when 1D fit "luggage," my heart jumped a little. That whole NW corner was a piece of cake. (Maybe this is an age thing, cuz my dermatologist and I are well past being concerned about acne - we're looking for lumps.)

And then there was the rest of the puzzle. I still don't get Oman as being the toe of the boot. Guess after I log off here, I will go look at a map.

Pistols was really hard to see, mainly b/c I know nothing about poker, so "I check" means nothing to me. Same mistake as others with "foot" before "bike" on the path. And same lucky guess as Rex with Irene.

I really enjoyed this one.

chefwen

This one was pretty difficult for me HTG and DNF, actually, just gave up. Pretty tired after entertaining for the last two weeks.

40D (here we go with the large bra sizes again) "Children of the Albatross". Our neighbor's property in front of us has been approved as a release and nesting site for the Layson Albatross. They released four of them yesterday and I went over to watch. Usually they just take off toward the ocean as soon as they are let out of the cages, but these guys stayed around flirting with the decoys and preening each other for about two hours, one of them even spent the night there. They are fascinating to watch and we are hopeful that they will return to nest when they are mature.

Aqaba Crucial Mealplans

Took me like an hour, but finished I'm happy to say!

Many alphabet runnings, because i had hIKEPATH, bUMP, ALPHARot, ?EAR?
Here was something new: I so couldnt decide between CLOSER and NearER that I wrote in both letters in each square for CLOSER/NEARER, like it was a Sudoku puzle and i had narrowed it down to two choices.

Moment of synchronicity: watching Aretha Franklin singing a duet with Tony Bennett when I came across 34D.
Felt like shouting at the TV " You have a sister? She's also a singer? What's her name?"

A UGANDA clue that doesn't include IDI? Wow!

GALOSH is freaky in the singular and sounds like a euphemism for drunk. " I got totally galoshed last night!"
Actually I so don't drink or watch cartoons that the P in PEAR/PARR was my last letter.

If anyone is Anywhere near Silicon Valley tomorrow, come to the puzzle fest and workshops and stop by and say hi!
Will be there with other constructors: Mark Diehl, Byron Walden, Tyler Hinman, Jeremy Horowitz, young David Steinberg...almost all the Northern California gang!
(details atop Rex's blog)

I skip M-W

@ACME no need for any galoshes tomorrow, should be very nice weather for SV puzzlefest, too nice for me to spend doing puzzles, but sorry to miss you. also I'm busy, when indoors, rewriting my novel. Agree one galosh is weird; is there really such a word?

finally finished, but felt stupid not thinking of alpha ray sooner, since didn't consider radioactive decay, though the whole concept was invented by my father's mentor.
rest of puzzle was a good slog, w/ Amman before Aqaba, before I finally realized how it could be sq root.
never heard of I check, Rhonda (ok some faint memories of that) Erma Franklin or Parr, but did like the internal cross checks, such as bag and luggage and dis- and oriented.
@Rex, hard to believe you've never heard of a road grader - it could be someone who reads over student papers while flying from point a to point b (and on to c and d)
read quite a bit by Nin but don't remember any albatross. Actually, I'm sorry now I ever wasted time reading her stuff; a journal that was mostly lies, for instance.
hope everyone saw crossword-related cartoon in latest New Yorker

I skip M-W

@Michaela, forgot to add, unes sounds pretty INdefinite, but article from Catalan is too much of a stretch. What's next, article from Romansch? At least Slavic languages don't have articles (to my knowledge) but there's always Welsh.

Deb

Hand up for footPATH. Considered and rejected both acne and skin for LUMP. Thanks for the chuckle, pk, but I'm taking my LUMPs to an oncologist.

I had to resort to google on PARR and ERMA to finish the SW, so I'm happy to see I wasn't the only one who struggled there.

@Michaela, hear, hear on the random foreign words. Even if I happen to know the word, seeing them in crosswords irks me. It feels like a big fat cheat for constructors; no good English word that'll fit there? No problem, there are plenty of other languages to cull from. Pfui, I say!

Aussiedan

There's no such thing as an alpha ray. Of the three kinds of radioactive decay, alpha and beta are both particles and only gamma is a ray.

johnranta

Had "baggage" and "bump" and was perfectly happy to accept "anes" as a Spanish article. Stuck with "ink" for P.R. For a while. Otherwise it went pretty quickly. JR

Scott Thomas
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gareth Bain

Not FOOTPATH or HIKEPATH but LAKEPATH for me! Which sounds made up, but then so does ROADGRADER...

dk

1 hour to finish. Andrea we have so much in common.

And no Googles. Like 2 ponies if I stare long enough even fill like ALPHARAY beam in.

LUMP is a FYC (see Rex). As I filled 1a in I mouthed bastard in smiling you tricked me you devil way.

Solid Saturday

*** (3 Stars) the hath returned. Thanks Berry?

Leslie

I'm apparently johnranta this morning. Same wrong answers in the NW. I also had bEAR schnapps and the bARR family, thinking maybe there was a brand of schnapps with a bear for its logo.

Wanted to throw down HASH BROWNS right away, but it took a good while to figure out enough downs to confirm.

Thank goodness for the explanation of ENDORSES! Put it in because it clearly fit, but didn't get the joke until I read the write-up.

Darryl

Oh, you fancy scmhancy east coast liberal elites with your paved roads and everything, don't you feel stupid now! Out here in the real America, our dirt roads which have the potholes/ruts/gulleys smoothed out monthly, so we know all about ROADGRADERS.

Gareth Bain

P.S. For those who don't regularly do the LAT, there's another Silk puzzle there as well...

foodie

I did reasonably well around the periphery but the core did me in. I had --STOLS for the longest time and just could not see PISTOLS. Of course as soon as you see it you have a V8 moment. The P.R clue, as coupled with P.R releases, was just plain mean. And yes, Rex, that type of misdirection for ENDORSES is equally dastardly and deserves a name.

Barry Silk's puzzles make me want to figure out more about him. I imagine you could meet him at some random dinner and he'd seem understated, friendly, quiet. His scintillating companion would make you wonder if she might find him a tad boring. And then he makes a passing comment and you go: Whoa! Where did that come from! Never underestimate those quiet types...

May be those of you who know him will tell me he has a bubbly personality, and I will need to reassess.

r.alphbunker

The middle gave me the most trouble. Why is NOTCH a step? Is it because that is how someone might keep track of their progress by notching each step on a stick?

RP uses "top-notch constructor" in his side panel to mean excellent constructor. Has such a constructor climbed the steps of some ladder of competence?

Cluing NOTCH as "Step" is far more devious than the dermatologist clue which at least provided an abundance of possibilities (including NOTCH - "Doc could you look at this notch on my arm?"). If a clue is going to trick me I would prefer that it do so by giving me a feast rather than a famine.

And in case Evil Doug doesn't show up today, I might point out that the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson River was called Sully. He certainly did not disgrace himself on that day!

SethG

Yup, LAKE PATH. And I was very confident of STAMP, and I had a lot of nothing for a long time.

SE was easiest, with NEAR in place from the clue for CLOSER, but much more trouble in the NW, with only G'DAY in place.

The most brutal clue in the puzzle? WON'T DO.

Shamik

That dermatologist is one busy doctor! Not only was the doc busy with ACNE, but also busy with looking at a BURN along with aforementioned lump and skin.

My first gimme was RHONDA and first corner was SE, to the SW, NW and then NE.

@Darryl: I wish the ROADGRADER would hurry up and get to my niece's house up in Dewey, AZ....those washboard roads are killers on your car and your bones!

Medium for me at 18:57 for a Saturday. But that's my medium. YRMD

shucluvm: A vaguely Yiddish word for messy things or alternatively, a tasty pastry? Perhaps a messy pastry?

johnranta

@ralph, notches (or steps) are the gaps in a ratchet into which a pawl clicks (making up a mechanical step system). Which I learned when I was a typewriter repairman, about 100 years ago.

So, a question for you all. If "anes" had turned out to be an actual Spanish article, then this puzzle might have had two valid solutions. Certainly, that has happened. The puzzle app that I use to do the NYT puzzle on my Ipad only allows the "one, true" solution, so it would do me no good. But what do you call it when here's another valid solution? Is there a bonus to be paid?

Airymom

After 35 years of solving the NY Times crossword with pencil and newspaper, I tried acrosslite. Interesting, but I missed the feel of the pencil and eraser. Especially since I had a lot of "do-overs". Took me a long time to figure out that one "P.R." was public relations and the other was Puerto Rico (you lovely island). @Rex, you've likely seen sand barrels on highways, big orange barrels filled with sand, often placed at exit ramps, so if someone is headed into a crash, they hit the softer barrel, rather than the median wall.

Glimmerglass

A relatively easy Saturday puzzle with a lot of problems. GammA RAYS are products of radioactive decay. Never heard of ALPHA RAYS. Just went to Google Earth. The Arabian peninsula looks a bit like a child's snow boot (ironic, eh?), but not nearly the classic Italian model. I don't think those rubber BARRELs are full of SAND -- maybe a bit in the bottom to weight them down. Tricky clues are fine with me ("sign," "stick," "packed"). GALOSH is silly.

Anonymous

Nice writeup by Rex today, even funny. '02 is probably ok for a Saturday and not having a tail is the one charateristic that sets a manx apart from other cats.

Started at the bottom and worked up and found the NE the hardest. LUMP seems more appropriate for another kind of doctor, whereas acne, mole, rash, skin all seem more appropriate for a skin doctor, but there are some lumps that a skin doctor might spot and treat.

air gage, oil gage, gas gage, lug gage....

JFC

RaÃºl

Where GALOSH comes from.

r.alphbunker

@johnranta
Thanks. But I hope that WS did not expect us to know that.

There have been several puzzles that have deliberately had more than one solution. The most famous one is arguably the NYT Tuesday puzzle on election day 1996 Done by J. Farrell. It has two Across Lite versions
and

If you subscribe to the NYT online puzzle I strongly recommend that you check these puzzles out.

ArtLvr
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr

@ r.alphbunker -- Me too, on the middle NOTCH, because it reminded me of Emeril's annoying phrase "kick it up a notch", but I did appreciate the clever clue for ENDORSES. And I had LUGGAGE okay, but probably strayed farthest out of the park with a Fire Lane before BIKE PATH because the F went well with FANGS at 50D!

jberg

Are we all straight on the power thing? Taking the square root cuts the power, not the number, in half.that's what @Evan K.'s example was getting at, in case you were intimidated by all the symbols.

When I was in school, we called them ALPHA RAYs, but learned that they were particles. Not that we had any idea what a particle was.

So much for the math and science - but I had no idea about the Incredibles, figured I'd take my schnapps nEAt, forgot to check the cross on ItENE, and so thought they must be the nARR family, thereby finishing with two errors. Sob.

We always called them ROAD GRADERs back in Wisconsin, maybe it's a regional thing; or maybe you have to live in a place that has enough gravel roads for them to be useful.

I had CentrAL for a long time at 44A, which at least kept me from writing in 'brAzil' for the coffee exporter. Finally LOGON forced me into UGANDA.

JHC

Ah, this is why I read these comments. So glad I wasn't the only one with baGGAGE/bUMP/aNES.

Yogeshvara

ens Five in the ninth inning? What the heck?

mac

Lovely Saturday puzzle that didn't take too much of my time; places to go and things to do.

Luggage and galosh were my first entries, the barrel and grader took a little longer. Beautiful word, undulate. Our son has a Manx, so knew about the tail non-feature.

A week to the Westport tournament! I'm counting heads for the party and dinner.

jackj

This was a tough puzzle from Barry Silk and though it began with a couple of gimmes in GDAY and GALOSH it quickly evolved into a bit of a struggle, with too many clues offering all the satisfaction of “kissing your cousin” (who isn’t too fetching to begin with).

Anyone who plays recreational poker knows that “I CHECK” is heard quite often. What it means is just that, “My hand stinks and I won’t waste a plugged nickel on it but, if no one bets, I’ll stay in the game and, who knows, maybe I’m wrong and I can steal a pot.” (Never works.)

I don’t know about 1A being called a “F&ck You” clue; anyone confident enough to be tackling a Saturday themeless should be sufficiently experienced in the pitfalls of puzzling to know that the answer to this clue will never be ACNE.

Now, if you want a real “F&ck You” clue, it has to be able to confound an experienced solver into writing in the “certain” answer, only to learn, after much head-banging, that they’ve been gulled, as in today’s 14 down, “Some ermines”.

A solid puzzle from Barry, gripes notwithstanding.

retired_chemist

Hand up for ACNE, STOATS, SHAD, and getting SANTIAGO with only a couple of letters. Agree ALPHA RAY is wrong, the R thus being my last (correct) letter.

DNF because I do not know my schnapps (except that PEPPERMINT wouldn't fit), don't know The Incredibles, and didn't know Aretha (Franklin?) had a sister ERMA, or maybe IRMA. Tried _EAR which gave me BEAR (brand) schnapps, _IAR not being promising (LIAR not sounding like a brand name a smart mfr. would use). So, wrong.

Tried SHEILA before RHONDA, only late in life learning many old pop songs from non-puzzle wife and having "The Bridge" on Sirius Radio constantly.

As others have noted, lots of tricky cluing, leading to a no-holds-barred battle of wits with the constructor and editor. This is my most enjoyable solving experience, and probably why a Barry Silk Saturday is in general my favorite puzzle.

Thanks, Mr.Silk.

Tobias Duncan

In Taos, the ROADGRADER is a very welcome sight.Our little town simply has never owned enough of these to keep the roads anywhere near flat.When I was a kid my father kept a special six pack of beer in the fridge for the grader operator.He would flag the guy down and as nonchalantly as possible, invite him over for a beer.This meant he had to drive up our long rural driveway and he was always nice enough to drop the blade when he did.
Everyone did this back then, its a good thing those things only go about six MPH because by the end of the day that dude was tanked and had a cab full of beer.

Lindsay

Yes to baGGAGE, bUrn and bUMP. Ditto "Coolie is OK in a puzzle?" INDIE is not a gimmee if one is wedded to STOatS.

Here in the glamorous world of local politics we wile away our lives debating questions like "Should the town buy a new ROAD GRADER?". Which btw we use more for plowing than grading.

Anonymous

@Yogeshvara said...

ens Five in the ninth inning? What the heck?

Five N letters in NiNth iNNiNg

@Raul..Loved the Calvin thing.

loren muse smith

This puzzle killed me! Hardest for me in a long time, and it beat me. Had to google AQABA.

@pk - the NW was the hardest corner for me. Resisted "acne" but flirted with "scar." Had GDAY but had "pancho" instead of GALOSH.

@Deb - I thought the same thing; if I get a LUMP, I'm going to an oncologist.

LOVED "Five in the ninth inning?" @Yogeshvara - 5 Ns.

archaeoprof

@yogeshvara: there are five instances of the letter N in the words "ninth inning."

Really wanted "basePATH" for 50A.

AQABA is one of my favorite places in the Middle East. The King Hussein Airport is tiny, but the town and people are delightful.

Gill I. P.

Another Silk puzzle that BLEW me away. Like @chefwen, I finally gave up.
15A UNES? Was so convinced it was Spanish not French and was about to go into a long blah blah blah. If ever you are in the Pyrenees, stop at every bar at both borders and eat some of the finest (especially seafood) cuisine. I highly ENDORSE it.
Had wellie instead of GALOSH. @Raul (with the accent on the u) thanks for a big smile!
Why is INDIE a non-hollywood? Also I too don't get ENS for 33A.
I looked at Mr. Silk's LAT for today and it looks like more fun.
G DAY

retired_chemist

And how many of us, besides me and @iskip, put AMMAN instead of AQABA @ 6D, and kept it until the end?

Two Ponies

I don't know if Rhonda ever really helped the Beach Boys but she sure helped me today. This was the puzzle I've been waiting for all week. Thanks, as always, Barry.
Wicked good clues today. Like @SethG, Won't do took some brain twisting.
Loved seeing pistols.
@ r.alphbunker, I also thought of the difference between sully and Capt. Sully. Recently a friend asked me what was the most incredible thing I ever saw. My answer was that plane landing safely on the river.
@ dk, yes this one required patient staring.
Any fashionista knows no one makes boots like the Italians.

Bob Kerfuffle

Not specifically related to today's puzzle, but a must-read for all who are amused by names (like MEL OTT) which appear frequently in crosswords - this article by Matt Gaffney.

Larry I in L.A.

Cheated to "finish" for the second consecutive week, and this time I have no righteous indignation to justify cribbing the last two letters from Rex.

I share the pain of Michaela@1225, JHC@954, ETAL. Because of 57D, should have realized that baGGAGE was incorrect, but stubbornly kept it as there has been so much speculation of late that Mr. Shortz is beginning to relax his "rules". Even so, I really should have questioned aNES.

Before the DNF, I thought my real hangup was in the SE, trying to fill in the blanks of dEC--DED. Originally tried dEfeNDED, and unfortunately kept ENd at 33A when the middle of my 34D unraveled. It shouldn't have been that hard (49A had to be LOGON or LOGiN, OMAN is well-known in crosswords), but I stared for a loooong time.

I'll take solace that a few answers that were struggles for Rex came easily to me: ERMA (she's on my iPod, but not nearly as often as her sis), NOTAIL, STOLES, ELON. Because of Grand Coulee Dam, GULCH made sense, in stark contrast to OMAN. It's torches-and-pitchforks time if I ever again see a geographical "boot" clue that isn't about Italy!

David

A Medium for me, was able to just finish in under a half hour. Changed BAGGAGE to LUGGAGE very close to the end - I was almost willing to accept both BAG and BAGGAGE; I mean, BAG is 3/7 of BAGGAGE, the clue was "Bit of 1-Down"....but it was a non-confident feeling in ANES vs UNES that gave me the aha, not BUMP vs LUMP, as well as a simple crosswordy sense that both baggy words would not fly.

Otherwise, in agreement with @Rex and others that the SW and NE were the toughest quadrants. ROAD GRADER is a very familiar term, SAND BARREL is not, and it took longer than it should have to grok ENDEARMENT.

Actually really liked the clue for NO TAIL. I learned that at the age of 8 or 9 when a Manx cat was an answer on the game show Celebrity Sweepstakes.

skua76

Great smooth fun,just smooth enough that I could eventually finish. Hands up for wanting STOatS (14D) and Amman (6D) but didn't write them in. As I sometimes play a civil engineer I knew that a ROADGRADER often works behind what could be SANDBARRELS, the first thing I thought of was orangeBARRELS which didn't fit. Remember when they used to use real steel barrels instead of the plastic ones? Sometimes the bases are filled with water, easier to fill, no mess to empty. The permanent ones at guardrails and the large ones on the backs of trucks protecting a work zone are often filled with light high-tech impact absorbers.

Thanks, Barry...I'll save the LAT for later today.

jae

@ret_chem -- I avoided AMMAN because I already had ALPHARAY but I did try PETRA.

joho

Lovely Saturday puzzle thanks to the inimitable Barry Silk.

The NE was hardest for me but what's worse, I ended up with the same error as others with baGGAGE instead of LUGGAGE. I actually talked myself into accepting BAG as a cute answer that was connected to 1D.

I think it's funny how many us have been trained to absolutely know that an ermine is a stoat!

@Aqaba Crucial Mealplans ... I agree that GALOSH sounds like somebody who got sloshed and it also reminded me a word you used recently in a puzzle: GALUMPH!

Yogeshvara

oh god. 5 "n" s count em in ninth inning. I hate clues like that. Get snagged by them all the time. I'm glad to see some people love them since my pain is balanced by someones pleasure.
Thanks @LMS

quilter1

I had most of the gimmes and mistakes as @Rex. Barry Silk's puzzles are usually a pleasant challenge to me and this was no different. I do know ROADGRADER, but not SANDBARREL. Seen them, of course, but never thought about what they were called. I don't think that, culinarily-speaking, ROMANO would ever be substituted for Swiss cheese, being totally different styles of cheese, but maybe Barry has a recipe.

evil doug

Couldn't get Aqaba---Mecca? Amman?---and stayed with "can't do" instead of "won't" (still think my answer is closer to "falls short", since effort is involved in can't more than won't, and falling short seems to imply an attempt). So those lovely hashbrowns and square root never appeared. I don't mind losing to a puzzle as fine as this.

We call them: Orange barrels. Much clearer image than 'sand'.

Words with three g's are cool: Luggage, baggage, gaggle, giggle, goggle....

Popsicle! Vivid old product names are always endearing. Little article in the WSJ about old cereal brands.

Heard of Aldo Ray, but not his cousin Alpha....

"...a "F&ck You" clue...": I do that little substitution trick sometimes, too. But now that I think about it, is anyone really less offended by the simple replacement of a letter with a symbol when it's clear what is being written? When you read it, don't you say 'fuck you' to yourself (I mean, what else could you say?). I think I'm going to just go with the damn words if I decide to use them for emphasis or accuracy.

...and I'm not going to say "no offense" afterward.

evil

Z

I had the entire east done and nary a letter in the west. It took me forever to uncover the SW. So Easy East, Challenging West, Medium.

@Michaela - Whether RDA-FL or RIA-FL, I'm right with you. Not as bad as RRNs only because they do not appear as often.

My dermatologist's concerned look was from a mysterious mole. Then I thought acne. Had LUM- and ran the alphabet. Really wanting my horror flick characters to be zombies didn't help.

I'm sure I said this before, but AQABA sounds more Star Wars than Middle Eastern to me.

@Raul - What great synchronicity. Watterson should not have been allowed to retire.

OldCarFudd

Hand up for bump/baggage/anes. I knew Catalan would be different from Spanish, but I don't know its articles. And I agree that words in a language rarely studied in the USA is sort of cheating. Many of us have had some French, Spanish, Italian or German, so we'll know their most common words or be able to suss them from the crosses. But Catalan? And when the crosses are ambiguous?

I've been out of the small airplane hobby for many years. If there's a Cessna model called the Silverwing, it's pretty new. Or does it refer to the fact that many small Cessnas have unpainted aluminum wings? So do/did lots of other small planes. Big ones, too, I think.

Darryl - I live in liberal, elitist New Jersey, and we have lots of dirt roads. But, since we're liberal elitists, many of those roads are in very wealthy areas, where we effete snobs keep them unpaved so the rest of you riff-raff will leave us alone with our horses, hounds and martinis. A few years ago I hosted a Horseless Carriage Club tour for one-and two-cylinder cars, and one day I was able to put 23 miles of a 36-mile tour onto dirt roads. I had a paved alternative route for people who don't like dust mixed in with their oil streaks, but most folks elected to drive the dirt roads, and loved them. And we waved at any effete snobs who were close enough to be seen, but most were on their back patios surveying their estates.

loren muse smith

@Evil Doug - I agree; words with three Gs are fun, but "gagged" isn't as adorable, is it? Something about the -ggle ending that's fun. On a slightly different note, how 'bout all the words that begin with SN that have to do with the nose??

snort, sneer, snout, snarl, snot, sneeze, sniff, snore, sniffle, snoot, snicker. . .

Snob and snub could fit here, and snap, snippy, and snide may qualify, too.

evil doug

Ball-gags are fun---I mean, that's what I heard....

How 'bout your professional views on f&ck vs. fuck, Loren?

Doug

Anonymous

5 n letters? About as awful and obscure a clue as I've ever seen.

Matthew G.

I agree with all of Rex's nits, and would add another: you never LOG ON to anything anymore, really. Logging on is when you use a dialog connection or other service that requires you to enter a password just to be online at all. Does anyone still have to do that? When you connect to an individual e-mail account, you log IN. Boo on that clue.

My solving experience was just like Rex's -- I sailed though the NW and thought I might get a record time, but then I stalled bigtime in the NE before restarting in the SE. Worst of all was the SW.

Hurt myself a lot with wrong answers I was incorrectly sure of, including AMMAN instead of AQABA and PEEL instead of PARR (I confused my Avengers with my Incredibles and was erroneously proud of getting a pop culture name off just the P). Did not know Aretha had a notable sister. Nor did I know ROAD GRADER or SAND BARREL, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself there was something called ALPHA RNA because I was so sure of AMMAN. And yeah, who thinks the Arabian peninsula looks lke a boot?!?

Tough one, Barry.

syndy

I fell hard for the STOAT and got ENDORSES but not the joke until REX explained it to me.GAMMA is a ray BETA is a little iffy but that ALPHA is a big ole chunky particle!BS you wicked evil man -LOVE your puzzles!

loren muse smith

@Evil Doug – “professional” in that I’m a trained manners maven?! You’re right – when I see f&ck, I say the word to myself, so it does kind of defeat the purpose. BUT I think a lot of times the visual appearance of the word has its own effect. With this F word, seeing it spelled out is visually more jarring. And don’t you feel yelled at when someone texts you in all caps? And isn’t the following fun even though it’s not a true phonetic alliteration?

petty pneumonic philanthropic psychotic pterodactyl

This forum is a bit edgy, and I don’t object to jarring here.

How serendipitous that this came up because I wanted so much to start out today with “This puzzle really kicked my a _ _!” Really. Just sayin’. . . No offense...

Anonymous

I was reluctant to put in alpha ray too, because I know about the difference between alpha particles and gamma rays, but post puzzle googling finds alpha ray defined as "a stream of alpha particles".

Z

@Bob Kerfuffle - Great new measure of fame. I do have to wonder where they got that pic of Charlotte RAE, certainly not from her PR department.

Anonymous

@OldCarFudd I think @Darryl's comment was tongue-in-cheek. Of course, maybe your response was too. (I guess that's why we use emoticons with printed comments :-)

@Evil With over 40 years in steel mills and the military, I'd be hard pressed to form a sentence without some vulgarity. Still, I don't do it in polite company.

dk

@evil and loren, best want ad ever:

Man wanted to ball evergreens.
No experience required.

In Maine our grader was a set of old box springs weighted down with rocks. At the end of mud season we would drag it to one end of the road when we left and drag it back when we returned. After a few round trips the road was fine.

Clark

I liked NO TAIL as a trait. It only works because we think of 'having a tail' as one of the traits of 'cat'. So if we are trying to work through the traits of the breeds, we have to point out the exception to the cat trait of having a tail by saying that the manx has the trait of having NO TAIL. (It's an example of what Aristotle called the 'specific difference'.)

[Blogger won't take my comment. I think it's screening out the pedantic ones. Let me try another route—cause pedantic will out.]

evil doug

Loren: "“Professional” in that I’m a trained manners maven?!"

Well, yes, there's that, but also the linguistics thing. The language is a beautiful organism, living, breathing, pulsating. Why bastardize it with symbols or other self-defeating dilutions?

Yes, some words are "jarring" (I like your use of that), but I presume that that's why we employ them. Of course, when they're overused they lose their impact. But if, say, "fuck" is the word we really need to fulfill our intention in voice or in print, shouldn't we go with that?

Anonymous: If "polite company" isn't a dated term, I don't know what is. I've learned some juicy words from the, ahem, fairer sex. Seems like on the one hand you've overused good, graphic expletives in the service and at work, and at the same time shortchanged yourself on the infrequent occasion where it might have great impact on polite and impolite company alike....

Evil

KRMunson

Loved the puzzle. Scared at first, but it came together nicely. Didn't understand "ens" until it was explained here. Lots of misdirection in this puzzle - my absolute fav cluing!

Anonymous

Lots of mis-steps:

AMMAN for AQABA
GAITER for GALOSH
GORGE and then GULLY for GULCH
STOATS for STOLES
PICNICS for PISTOLS
and BAGGAGE for LUGGAGE, giving BURN and then BUMP instead of LUMP, but I think BUMP is better!

loren muse smith

@Evil Doug -“The language is a beautiful organism, living, breathing, pulsating.” ABSOLUTELY! YES! AMEN!

“Why bastardize it with symbols or other self-defeating dilutions?” I think “f&ck” (the written version of “friggin’ “ or “frickin’”) are not bastardizations. Language is, at its purest essence, human, and anything a human produces as language is not so much a bastardization as a manifestation. You yourself don’t tend to pull punches (though I wonder if you’ve ever had to gently answer the question, “Do these pants make me look fat?”), and that’s your style. I DO pull punches and temper my language accordingly, as do many others.

As a descriptivist, I love phenomena like f&ck, @#\$#\$\$!, l8er. . ., and I truly don’t think they’re bastardizations.

I don’t think Rex’ usage of "f&ck" was self- defeating because I bet he wasn’t trying to jar anyone.

archaeoprof

@Bob Kerfuffle: great link! I've forwarded it to my crossword students. Most of those f&cking names are not exactly in the wheelhouse of 18-22 year olds.

Unknown

Had Amman for Aqaba, Brazil for Uganda and San Diego for Santiago. Took forever to chisel those out. Geography fail all around :-(

chefwen

@ACME - Check out today's Calvin & Hobbes cartoon at Go Comics. Very cute.

quilter1

As a grandma I thought Silverwing flier referred to the kiddy lit series about a boy bat named Shade Silverwing. CESSNA seemed kind of dull after that.

John V

Happy to be here on a Saturday, a rarity for me. Like @Acme and others, took about an hour but found my solution to be flawless. Played pretty easy for me. South last to fall with PEAR Schnapps.

@Rex has sometimes used the term, "constant solver." Having recently a) acquired Patrick Berry's book and b)been seconded to Charlotte, I've taken to working the puzzles in his book. Notwithstanding a pretty crazy week, I ended today with six perfect solutions. I suspect that solving more, particularly PB style puzzles, may have had the sort of effect @Rex mentions. I suppose that the solving synapses keep fire better if used more.

And, oh yes, I initially fell for the ACNE trap.

GammaRay

@Z: Same here, finished the Easy East first (with only ETA in the West). For 34D Backed up, I had many writeovers: defended, recanted, recinded (thinking it might be a variation of rescinded)... this was an excruciating area for me. Meanwhile I was waiting for 1A to declare itself with so many choices available as previously noted (were rash, mole, and boil mentioned?); I didn't even consider LUMP until the very end, as it connotes (to me) breast cancer and thus oncologist. However I suppose a sebaceous cyst or a lipoma could be described as a lump.
@EvanK: You made me very happy with your explanation. I put in SQUAREROOT because it fit so well but was puzzling over how in the world could that be correct. Vague math memories propelled me forward, but I was meaning to look it up later, so your explanation was very welcome.
Nice puzzle, Mr. Silk.

Darryl

@OldCarFudd - Actually, I thought of going that way with my post for those who don't know of ROADGRADERS. I've spent my fair share of time on the dirt-roads of Bedminster & Far Hills, chasing the hunt, River Rd, up Larger Cross Rd up to Long Road, all dirt. Yes, I'm a liberal east-coast elitist, and my name's not Darryl.

For those who care, the township would dearly love to pave the roads. It would be much cheaper to do so than to have to grade the roads two or three times per year, but the residents say no, and when the heir to the Mars fortune says no, well, it's no. And Jacky's not the wealthies one around.

Anonymous

Yep, alphss are particles, not rays - but it took some time to figure that out. Heady times for physics, everybody wanted to discover something (google "N rays").

Alphas turned out to be helium nuclei (He in xwordese).

michael

One reason why I like this site is that I can see that I am not alone in going down the wrong path (though I did get bike path without problems) as others before correcting myself (or not).

wrong initial tries -- stoats, Amman, burn

mistakes never fixed - baggage, bump [though I know that "bag" couldn't possibly be a "bit" of baggage)

Dirigonzo

Re 12d, "that plan falls short" = "that plan won't do" works for me.

Finished with no errors after some late re-working of the baggage/luggage debacle in the NW corner so I'm feeling pretty smug. I'm sure my comeuppance will be swift.

Yesterday saw a few inches of snow followed by torrential rain which resulted in a wet slush that made travelling on foot very dicey. I asked a youg man who came into the store if he had worn his galosh(es), and he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

Larry I in L.A.

"Charlotte Rae" in the Slate (?) article sure looked like Titanic's Gloria Stuart to me...

retired_chemist

@ Anon 5:02 - arrgh. He is the chemical symbol for helium, not crosswordese.

mac

Galoshes seem like such an old world thing, but I've only ever seen them in New York.

@dk: love the box spring story!

hazel

@bkerfuffle - thanks for sharing the link. Super interesting.

Give it a few years and REA and ILER will be right up there. Also, would love to know where ASTA fits in!! Although, After I saw Uggy in The Artist - and heard him compared to ASTA, I might develop a soft spot for ASTA.

Great Sat. Puzzle. had to come back to it 3 times. Oddly found NE the easiest; SW the last to go.

AnnieD

Can't think Aqaba and not think Lawrence of Arabia.

Someone told me that Spielberg watches it before he starts to direct a new movie because the direction in that film was so superb.

Tita

Tough puzzle, htg AQABA and PARR.
Liked POPSICLE and GALOSH.

Mostly liked all the great stories here in Rexville - thanks everyone!

Anonymous

been away from puzzles for a while... but did this one sunday night.

picked it up at a newsstand and the guy was working on it himself, still,- .. green ink!

told him i wanted to buy the saturday... for the puzzle... and he just pulled the section for me- a fellow crossworder!

i was happy to complete the puzzle... and to come back here and poke around a bit.

might have a quarrel with ROMANO- was the only jarring thing to me- but not really. maybe better clued as "Not Swiss".. but no quarrel.

Rex's comment, as is, was jarring,
as intended, i suppose, and completely sufficient to the task.

to the man who enjoys calling himself "evil doug":

a grown man insisting on using to-the-letter vulgarity in a polite setting is akin to a fat middle-aged man in a suit standing on a sidewalk and eating an ice-cream cone......... legal, perhaps, but with nothing else to recommend it.

(this time annonymous)

Anonymous

I worked for years both as a bartender and topless club DJ, and as one might expect, the language used among employees was quite "salty". It's a matter of using language that your peers use, of course, but most of us kept it clean around new employees until we knew more about their particular communication habits. One could say it's a matter of courtesy to not assume that those around you aren't offended by certain language...

Edy

But, OMG!, what did you do about people who were offended by ice cream cones?

Byron G.Butler

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Rangmanch Women's Indian MixNMatch Kurta

Spacecraft

The brain gets a tough workout at the weekend gym here; today is no exception. I figure I need at least two or three gimmes to stand a chance of finishing--and I found them in RHONDA (@RP: what, no Beach Boys video??) and ICHECK--a statement I make over, and over, and over again at the poker table.
Almost wrote down AMMAN where AQABA is; after all, it's the capital of Jordan, but hesitated because I saw problems with the long crosses at the M's. Big ol' hand up for the ultra-reasonable STOATS: my only writeover. Finally had to give it up for INDIT (??)--no, must be INDIE. And then at last the list curtailer (ETAL: duh!) showed itself.
Since I had to work to get this without help, I guess I'd have to call it--for me--challenging. Well, maybe medium-c. because there were sections that seemed to flow pretty well. Great puzzle, marred only by the horrendous ENS. Please, constructors, PLEASE don't do that. It's such a cheap copout. But last word: thumbs up!

Red Valerian

I liked it, but DNF on account of one error. SANDBARREd, and dTR. Stupid, I know.

GULCH was Gorge then GUlly...

Does anybody know why there's no longer an option to have email follow-up? (Apologies if that's already been addressed, as I'm not completely up to date on the blog. Probably nobody'll read this, so there's nobody to apologize to...) And the double and messy captchas don't seem to be deterring bots.

Bob Kerfuffle

@Red Valerian - The lack of the email follow-up option has been discussed, though not to my satisfaction. It seems to be simply a preemptive move by Google for their own reasons. Some commenters have suggested strategies to mimic this lost function, but I haven't found any to be satisfactory.

I am reminded of a strange point in cosmology. According to current theories and observations, dark matter and dark energy are causing the universe to expand at ever-increasing speeds, and eventually, by some loophole I don't understand, the expansion will be faster than the speed of light. Thus, where our ancestor believed we lived in a static and isolated universe consisting of only the Milky Way, the finest astronomers living 100,000,000,000 years from now, however refined their instruments, will be able to observe only a static and isolated universe consisting solely of the Milky Way.

I read your post, from a puzzle which I did five weeks ago, because the follow-up function was still working then and is being honored now, but I know that without it, all evidence of other galaxies, in this case Syndication Solvers, will eventually cease to reach me, and we will be isolated in our Present State.

Sorry, just had to get that out!

Z

What @Bob Kerfuffle said.

Red Valerian

@Bob Kerfuffle and @Z--so sad!!! Obviously, I had to come back here and hit refresh to see your comments. I wonder if that's a habit I can or should form.

Dirigonzo

@Bob Kerfuffle - so Google is to the internet what dark matter and dark energy are to the universe? That certainly explains a lot!

Anonymous

A workout. Finally finished on Sunday morning, confident that I had everything correct, yet more than a little disturbed that I had no idea what that baseball clue was (I mean, baseball clues are the first ones I fill in, generally). I ended up with RECORDED for "backed up", which left me with ENR for the ninth inning thing. Got me, Mr. Silk.

BIKEPATH was timely for me, as I began this puzzle just before undertaking an urban bike ride through San Francisco with a friend. Beautiful day for it.

Anonymous

Why is there a question mark on 30A, Stuck in the freezer? That is not such a stretch. It just made me overthink the clue. It's frozen, just stick it the f&ck in the freezer.

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