Papuan port / SAT 5-5-12 / Taxonomy suffix / 1945 Tommy Dorsey hit / Pungent fish topper / Film with protagonist Z / Common barn roof / Philippine province on Luzon / Onetime Lake Texcoco dweller / Beatles If you wear red tonight

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Challenging


THEME: none

Word of the Day: GAMBREL (2D: Common barn roof) —
gambrel (also known as a Dutch gambrel) is a usually-symmetrical two-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle, while the lower slope is steep. This design provides the advantages of a sloped roof while maximizing headroom on the building's upper level. The name comes from the Medieval Latin word gamba, meaning horse's hock or leg. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hard to know what to say. This feels half great and half terrible, and in that combination ... the result is terrible. There is so much obscurity, so much nonsense, so much forced fill, that the good stuff ... actually, no. Nothing is really "good." There's lots of stuff that's just fine, but nothing that makes me go "Yes!" The one attempt to get ultra-current falls horribly flat—a single AQUATEEN? (38A: Any of three title characters in a long-running Cartoon Network series) Wow. VEAL RIB ... really? I just ... I don't know what to say about an answer like that. That is not a phrase I've ever heard, and I had no idea that a VEAL RIB could be a [Steak or chop choice]. Those sound like different things ... from ribs, ... but I'm not a big meat-eater, so maybe people eat VEAL RIB a lot and it's a major thing. But I used to eat much more meat, and I can't remember ever seeing those words together like that. RIVER PO?? (60A: It forms much of Lombardy's southern border) God that's awful. Can we do that now? Just put RIVER before the name, like RIVER DANUBE or RIVER MISSISSIPPI??? NEHI SODA, not much better. There is no other NEHI. NEHI SODA = redundant (36D: Drink that had a Wild Red variety). Am I going to confuse it with a NEHI blender or a NEHI razor?

Who is DELIBES? (65A: "Coppelia" composer) I barrrrrely know that name. Came to me from somewhere, and thank god, 'cause that corner is nuts. Not as nuts as the NW, though; I had an error there. Never heard of GAMBREL. Never heard of -OTA (4D: Taxonomy suffix). I'm just shaking my head at -OTA. Brought down by *&$%ing -OTA, one of the worst pieces of fill in xword history. Couldn't parse [Medium frequencies include them] to save my life, so figured it would be some engineering / physics thing I didn't know. Wrote in AMBENDS. Why not? OTE? OTA? Who can tell the difference? And AMBENDS seems as much a word as, say, GAMBREL, so ... pfft. I still don't get FINS (5D: Drum and bass parts)—total guess that ended up right (kind readers tell me "drum" is a kind of fish; news to me). Here's my report on the NE: Let's see ... never heard of BOB STAY (8A: Rope holding down a bowsprit)never heard of "OPUS ONE" (16A: 1945 Tommy Dorsey hit), never heard of RESTONS (18A: Journalists James and James Jr.), never heard of "YES IT IS(14D: Beatles tune that begins "If you wear red tonight") ... and yet that was the corner I got the quickest.


This puzzle is a nightmare, both because it's filled with stuff I don't know (tough luck) and because that stuff seems absurd—I don't expect you to have the same ignorances I have, but I'm confident today's puzzle is going to be an ignorance bloodbath for a lot of people. A lot of smart people. This is a puzzle choked with obscurities and without a single answer that really sizzles (GRIZZLES, yes, but not sizzles). QUIRINO!? (39D: Philippine province on Luzon) Holy crap, did Maleska come back from the grave for this one? I've written way too much about this puzzle already.

Bullets:
  • 1A: Fault line? (I GOOFED) — started with "I'M SORRY"
  • 30A: Pungent fish topper (AIOLI) — one of a small handful of gimmes today. Also, EFT (59D: Small creature that undergoes metamorphosis). Actually, EFT was more "... man, I hope so" than gimme. Educated guess.
  • 23A: Scary sucker, for short (DRAC) — took a while.
  • 20A: Ingredient in gourmet potato chips (SEA SALT) — true enough. Not sure how it's different, flavor- (or other-) wise.
  • 37A: Film with the protagonist "Z" ("ANTZ") — zero memory of that.
  • 46A: With 42-Across, old ad mascot who sang "It's dandy for your teeth" (BUCKY / BEAVER) — another gimme. Thank you, "Grease" (the only place I've *ever* heard / seen the Ipana ad)

  • 49A: Source of the word "robot" (CZECH) — from "R.U.R." I'm guessing.
  • 63A: Central feature of St. Peter's Square (OBELISK) — again, no idea. Looking at how little I knew today, I'm surprised the grid got filled in completely at all, and that there weren't several more errors.
  • 32D: Papuan port (LAE) — ouch. It hurts. Up there with -OTA among my least favorites. I've seen it before and still couldn't remember it completely. Remembered it was terrible, that it was something I'd rejected from one of my own grids before ... but couldn't remember it.
  • 13D: Author of "The Stranger Beside Me," 1980 (ANN RULE) — well, at least I've heard of her. Certainly didn't know this, but was able to put it together off the -ULE. 
  • 45D: Relatives of dik-diks (RHEBOKS) — compared to most other answers in this grid, this was a piece of cake. That's saying something.
  • 38D: Drink that has a Ruby Red variety (ABSOLUT) — superhard. Could think only of grapefruit juice.
Hard is good, but remember—enjoyable. EnJOYable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

153 comments:

optionsgeek 12:18 AM  

Puke. Just puke. That's all I got here. Got through it, wishing I hadn't.

r.alphbunker 12:20 AM  

Tough puzzle. I got to within 13 letters of finishing it before I gave up and Googled MARTY and YESITIS. Why is {longtime ace} an OLD PAL? I had OLD PRO like I am sure everbody else had and that made MARTY impossible to get. I heard the Beatle song in my head but could not think of the title and did not recognize it when I finally Googled it.

retired_chemist 12:30 AM  

Hand up for OLD PRO and having no idea why OLD PAL fits the clue. And why AM BANDS fit medium frequencies also baffles me.

Some cool stuff, but far outweighed by the obscurity of so much of it. Needed a couple of Googles to get through. OPUS ONE isn't even in TD's Wikipedia article. Never heard of the Beatle's YES IT IS either. and BOBSTAY?

22A was NOM de guerre for too long.

I did not enjoy this one.

goshawful 12:37 AM  

Well, you got your hard puzzle!

retired_chemist 12:41 AM  

Oh - meant to add that Sugar (24D) was SUCROSE until late in the game. I get Cupcake but it crosses several obscure answers. AQUATEEN - huh? DRAC - who abbreviates Dracula except this crossword constructor? I knew BUCKY BEAVER but I am a geezer.

foodie 1:02 AM  

Thank you, Rex. Really. Thank you.

I was literally thinking that if this gets rated easy or even medium, I'm giving up on Saturdays, and may be on the whole puzzle business. I simply cannot imagine a normal human, smart though s/he may be, knowing BOBSTAY, DELIBES, GAMBREL, QUIRINO and AQUATEEN, and also figuring out the RIVERPO, VEALRIB, OLDPAL answers based on the clues. Not saying that person does not exist, or that it cannot be figured out with hard work, I just don't comprehend how that happens. If many people did it, then I need to quit.

OK, now onto more positive stuff= I shocked myself by guessing UCDAVIS based on the clue. And I had BEAVER and guessed BUCKY only because of @Wade! Thank you!!! Liked PIZZAZZ with all the Z's, crossing GRIZZLES... Definitely my favorite part. And some food clues were like someone was trying to keep me hooked: SEASALT, AIOLI and for a while it looked like basting was involved, except it was not the right kind. And let's not forget that VEALRIB.

Ok, I appreciate you're listening (whoever did). I feel better.

foodie 1:04 AM  

I appreciate YOUR listening, not you're listening.

Being cranky interferes with spelling. And, ironically, makes it harder to prove you're not a robot.

submariner 1:19 AM  

For all who asked or were afraid to ask, AM bands refer to radio frequencies. Dastardly clue and answer. I'm an old survivor of the Maleska days, but this puzzle has a lot that even he would not have approved. But only two Googles required: UC Davis and Marty. Continue to wonder what an OLD PAL would have to say about this puzzle.

syndy 1:23 AM  

Hard is one thing-this was another!Mr. Whites OLD PAL may have been an ACE but come on.clues must have SOME connection to the answers!Even if I knew DELIBES and OPUS ONE I had no chance and I think Will was saying neener-neener at us

sanfranman59 2:05 AM  

YIKES! Like @foodie, I'm grateful for Rex's challenging rating because I had absolutely no chance of finishing this puzzle without cheating. I got about 3/4 of it but could never have come up with BOBSTAY, RESTONS and CRI (NOM was one of the first things I entered). I adore the Beatles and am particularly fond of John's tunes, but I couldn't pull YES IT IS out of the recesses of my brain. And in what century is an OLD PAL a "Longtime ace"? Other WTFs for me were the same as others have already identified ... GAMBREL (although once I saw it, gambrel roof rang a bell), QUIRINO, AQUATEEN, DELIBES. Next!

chefwen 3:14 AM  

I kept chipping away at this one until I was ready to burn it. Almost finished but gave up in the North West. Like @Rex had I'm sorry, which I thought was fitting, much better than I goofed.

Passed the puzzle to semi-puzzle mate to see if he could fill in a couple of squares. He stared at it for a LONG while and filled in at 41A clue What The F**k. I'll let you fill in the blanks.

Liked the puzzle, cuz I almost finished
but is sure was a workout.

Don Byas 3:28 AM  

Knew MARTY thanks to Herb Stempel in Quiz Show. Capek instead of CZECH slowed me down. GAMBREL seems like a Saturday kind of word. QUIRINO took a while.

today is FCBD

Anonymous 5:10 AM  

Being a carpenter, Gambrel was a gimme. Being an old fart, Bucky Beaver was a gimme. Being a sot, Absolut was a gimme. The rest was not fun at all, googled 4 times and finished but no sense of accomplishing anything. Boo

Dad 5:33 AM  

Awful puzzle. My gimmes (OPUSONE, YESITIS, MARTY, CZECH, OBELISK) and had-to-Googles (DELIBES, BUCKY BEAVER) seem backward to the consensus. Since Rex asked: drum and bass (rhymes with "Ned White") are also fish. OLDPAL is no "ace" that I know of, and 17 Across should have been out of bounds since there is, and can only be, one AM band.

Good ol'l Joe 6:54 AM  

Drum and bass are both fish...the only clue that made me smile after I realized what it was.

mac 7:17 AM  

A bloodbath, alright. Who was it again who asked for tougher Saturday puzzles?

Hand up for old pro. Never heard of Delibes, brawl/mix it up, bobstay. I like grizzles, clue to Santini and.... can't think of anything more. Veal ribs are used for stock.

Am also having a tough time with the Brad Wilber @ BEQ. Not a good puzzle day, I guess.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

I've been reading for years but this is my first post.

Challenging but doable. And you're ignoring the many good features:

"I said so" running off "I goofed."

"Too cool" next to "Ann Rule"

"ZZZZZ cluster" in the Midwest (which was a good place to start from)

Lots of interesting seven-word answers

A shout out to "The Great Santini."

Bucky Beaver!!!!

Quirky, punny cluing.

A little obscurity's worth all those pleasures.

BTW, "Opus One" (or something very like it) was the American Bandstand theme song.

ERS 7:48 AM  

Agree with Rex. Too much obscure nonsense. Dik diks? Slang for gnarly. Old pal is longtime ace? Come on. Hated this puzzle. Took 3 times longer than usual for a Saturday. Constructor should be disarmed.

Rex Parker 7:55 AM  

In retrospect, I let annoyance/frustration get to me at the end and I just gave up. If I'd continued to think on it, AM BANDS would've come. AMBENDS ... man. I think that's what you get when you reemerge too quickly from deep underwater ... in the morning.

rp

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

I was a DNF even with some Googles. However, this puzzle really was a challenge and I welcomed it. @Rex seems to prefer puzzles he can just whip through. I prefer some that make me sit and think and think - really search the deep recesses of my GRIZZLED brain - looking for anything that will pull the answer out. Then the Aha moments are truly satisfying!
Thanks Will for busting my VEAL chops today!

(my capchas were anatomic today!)

Glimmerglass 8:49 AM  

Unusual day. There was lots of stuff I knew that Rex didn't, for a change. However, I'm still scratching my head over "longtime ace." Maybe an old-time "ace" would be an OLD PAL, but during what long period was "ace" a "pal"? One stupid error: I can't spell RHEBOKS. I first had RoeBuck. I corrected that but left RHEBaKS, figuring that RIVER and Lombardy must be towns in PA. Ah, well. That's Saturday. I liked this a lot better than Rex did.

retired_chemist 8:49 AM  

Yes, AM BANDS are radio frequencies, but why medium? Lots of stuff above them in frequency (optical, microwave, gamma rays,...), and I suppose some stuff below (audio, but that's physically different). Medium in the clue is IMO gratuitous.

MaryRoseG 8:50 AM  

Veal chop, yes. Veal rib, no. Had venison in there for a while. Thank goodness for Santini and Marty, the two guys i knew. And i think i am usually one of those smart people Rex referred to....not today. ouch!

foodie 8:57 AM  

My take on the clue for OLD PAL was that you can call a PAL ace. Hey Ace, let's get'er done...

Desperate? Sure...

@Retired Chemist, I had the same problem with that medium frequency definition.

BTW, Quick and Dirty Index places this in the squarely challenging range.

Z 8:59 AM  

First the rat-a-tat-tat of my ignorance bloodbath
Bobstay
Santini
Opus One
Restons
Ibo
Bucky Beaver
River Po
Delibes
Gambrel
Ota
Fins
BoraBora
Ann Rule
Yes It Is
Aztec
Quirino
UCDavis
Rheboks

Now, if that isn't bad enough, there are the ones that just seem wrong to me.
GRIZZLES - nothing to do with aging everything to do with grooming.
VEAL RIB - what Rex said
CZECH - isn't the coiner of a neologism the source? We mention Shakespeare,not English, when we talk about all the words he gave the language, don't we?
OLD PAL - Huh? Hoping someone explains this one
CRI - Nom de Guerre is a phrase I've heard. Why would we need to say 'war cry' in French?
ZALE - ZALEs. Maybe there is an apostrophe I've never noticed

I don't mind hard, I don't mind having to google to work my way through. But this puzzle provided no fun

ArtO 9:00 AM  

Is ACE as OLD PAL possibly a Poker term? I.e. just the card you need.

hazel 9:23 AM  

Ouch. Boo. And hiss.

wordie 9:28 AM  

I reeeeeeally hated this puzzle. I don't mind hard, but this was full of super-obscure junk. I am fluent in French, and I had NOM de guerre. I know classical music and never heard of Delibes. There was not one fun clue or answer today. Just crap. Perhaps this doesn't add much to the discourse, but I just had to vent.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

First time I quit a puzzle in ages.
I like tough ones, but this was too obscure and poorly clued to be worth the time. I like being forced to figure out difficult answers. I don't like having to quit because I lack niche knowledge.

Smitty 9:45 AM  

I didn't dislike it until I came here.. Now I'm annoyed by Nehi Soda, Po River, etc. that Rex mentioned.

But I got some toeholds in each corner.
Knew Gambrel and Bucky Beaver (Geezer like @RetiredChemist) and guessed SeaSalt and I Said So

I remembered the book Stranger Beside Me was about Ted Bundy but couldn't remember who wrote it.
Epilog:
I was disappointed to find nothing but a lone lowly tostada to celebrate Cinco de Mayo
And absolutely no mention of the Kentucky Derby today.
Go Daddy Nose Best!!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:49 AM  

DNF. Other sections doable, but too many unknowns crossing unknowns in the NE, as well-documented by others.

jackj 9:53 AM  

There were entries that were clever and fun, like MNO for “LP insert”, SANTINI, (Robert Duvall’s Oscar nominated Best Actor role), BUCKY BEAVER (of Ipana fame) and DISARM (clued as “Get heat from?”) to name a few of those that come quickly to mind.

Then, there are things like BOBSTAY, QUIRINO, a questionable reach for DRAC, that sailor’s delight, the Papuan port of LAE, FINS, (a misdirect even Maleska mightn’t love) and taxonomy’s OTA and, of course, IBO, (one of 521 Nigerian languages).

(Hmmm….OTA, IBO….IBO, OTA….UMA, OPRAH….OPRAH, UMA. Oops, someone tell Letterman.)

The best constructors create headache inducing tough but fair puzzles, elegant, fun creations which reward the solver who puts in the intellectual effort needed to successfully finish; a result those constructors, (think Manny Nosowsky and Patrick Berry), are clearly hoping for.

Then there are the crossword sadists who construct puzzles with the apparent goal of making it unsolvable by any mere mortal. Hello, Ned White.

Jeff510 9:57 AM  

Thank you Rex for rexcuing my self esteem OLDPAL!

Glitch 9:58 AM  

@retired_chemist & @foodie

I believe *medium* refers not to wavelength but rather *The [broadcast] Media* (ie Radio and TV).

As such, there are AM, FM, LW, SW, UHF, VHF, bands.

OTOH, in this context, there is only one AM Band.

I agree with Anon 9:34.

.../Glitch

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

I also got stumped by OLD PAL. I think the clue is referring to "ace" in the sense of what you might call a close friend.

jberg 10:01 AM  

Feeling really good after reading these comments, since I did manage to finish, slowly and with difficulty. Fortunately I remember the Ipana commercials ("with the big new cap that lets the tube stand on its head!") and actually saw an operetta by Leo Delibes the last time but one we were in Paris. Quite an experience - we decided to test our French knowledge by going to a show (can't remember the title), and bought the cheapest possible seats - which turned out to be in the very front of a steeply-raked upper balcony. It was so steep that we felt like we'd fall onto the stage if we leaned forward too much - and we had to lean forward to see most of the stage. Delibes was like Offenbach, light frothy music for comic performances. I never knew he wrote the music for Coppelia, though.

I didn't know BOBSTAY, but got the BOB from crosses, and other lines on boats are called stays if they hold something in place. My big problems were nom de guerre, and vamp at 23A - which made me think I SAID SO, my first answer, was wrong. Crosses eventually fixed it though, I think with CUPCAKE - panCAKE for sugar was just too much of a stretch.

On the CRI, I really believe Mr. White, and/or Will Shortz, were really thinking of CRI DE COEUR, an idiomatic phrase.

I did look up LAE, but only after I had written it in, so that's OK in my book.

I'm surprised by the griping about RESTONS, though. One of them, K suppose not junior, was one of the most famous NYTimes staff of the 20th century - ended up writing very meaty op eds. I didn't know about Jr., but the R__T were enough for me.

That said, I agree with @Rex about the overly obscure cluing, MNO, OTA, etc. Just feeling good about finishing.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Brake drums can have cooling fins. The fish--bass-- has fins.

KRMunson 10:08 AM  

Did anybody finish this puzzle with no Googling and no mistakes????

evil doug 10:08 AM  

Agreed: Maleska-esque.

Agreed: Old had to be Pro. And I'll even call people "Ace" occasionally.

Agreed: Ran through every juice/soda/tea/Snapple/Gatorade option I could think of for Ruby Red.

As you know, I measure my time by the hour hand if not a calendar---today was about three of the former. But doggone if I didn't ultimately beat this sucker.

Just enough crosses and lucky guesses for Delibes (never, ever heard that one), Quirino (but it sounds like President Aquino, so why not?), bobstay, UC Davis (missed the abbreviation in the clue, and then was thinking they were the Banana Slugs anyway), and rheboks (been conditioned to spell it Reeboks, like the shoes).

In my USAF pilot training yearbook, there I am in my 'tiger shot' picture: Nomex flight suit, helmet with O2 mask, 'fast pants' anti-g suit, bad mustache, climbing into my T-38 'white rocket'. And next to the picture in large type, my call sign: "Cupcake". Kinda reduces the killer 'ace' image....

Evil

Donkos 10:10 AM  

Thank you rex for telling it like it is.

I got gambrel right away and thought this was going to be tough but fun. It was just plain tough. Bucky beaver and Aqua teens? C'mon. I'm too young to remember the former and too old to know the latter. Obscure generational names just make for an unfun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

DITTO to every damn negative thing everybody said!! This is the first puzzle (Sat. or NOT) that I have ever totally given up on less than half-way thru!! Come'on Mr. Shortz - give us a break. This is dreck times 3!!!

Lindsay 10:13 AM  

I must must must stand up for GAMBREL being a perfectly normal and common word. In fact, the first word I filled in. Which goes to show, for the umpty-fourth time, that we all inhabit different universes.

On the other hand, I don't do movies at all, and OLD Pro led me to think the Oscar winner was MR. Something, like MR. RoY, which led to AQUA OmEN .... hurts to even think about it.

Have a good weekend everyone.

quilter1 10:14 AM  

DNF in the NW. Proud of what I knew including RESTONS, GRIZZLES, among others, but agree with Rex's write-up. I like hard but eventually doable with hard thinking.

S. Nelson 10:15 AM  

After my post yesterday complaining about NE regional clues and only decades old stuff, maybe I should be thankful for AQUATEEN and UCDAVIS, but I'm not. I watched a lot of Cartoon Network, but the cluing left me helpless. Got stuck on ed, edd, n eddy (which actually has three characters in the title, but that was my clue misinterpretation).
Aside from the obscurity that I'm used to on Saturdays, being too inexperienced to know many of the "gimmes", I read way too many clues that only makes sense in a twisted GNARLY way. Even then, AMBANDS clue feels backwards (thought the AMBAND had medium frequencies, not the reverse). @Z I totally agree with your list, except IBO and great SANTINI.
DNF for sure.

Merle 10:27 AM  

Clues are much too obscure, and essentially represent the personal whim of the constructor. As usual, a lot depends on one's own frame of reference, one's own cultural base, and quite possibly one's age! For instance, for those of us who were raised with radio but didn't have TVs, AM bands for medium frequencies makes perfect sense -- AM Radio -- a radio frequency. So yes, I know who Delibes is, who the Restons are, but the Aquateens? Never heard of them. Also, the clues are a long stretch from the answer. Evel, first name in long jumping? Yeah yeah, he did great motorcycle stunts, and I guess that some of those stunts are jumps -- but a long jump is a specific term applied to human athletes jumping. LP insert -- yeah, yeah, the run of letters between L and P -- but really, no one has that as a frame of reference for that clue. Bob stay can be derived from other letters -- the B in Bora Bora -- and the context. Bob and stay are both nautical terms, put them together and you get the answer.

But yeah, the puzzle is yucky -- not fun.

orangeblossomspecial 10:27 AM  

I got a few that were obscure to other solvers, but not enough to finish. Entering 'nom' de guerre in NE threw me off there, although 'OPUSONE' and RESTON were easy.

Here's Tommy Dorsey doing 16A OPUSONE.

Here is the Beatles' YESITIS. Lots of discussion a few days ago about Revolver and subsequent albums.

Shirley Temple sang 3D "Get ONBOARD". Unfortunately, the only recordings from Shirley in those days are from film clips. Fox had a policy of not allowing its stars to record commercially.

Tita 10:36 AM  

In a rush - will read more later. Everything everyone else said...

Had AMwAveA forever, along with everything else y'all did wrong.
Did anyone already mention jiBSTAY?

Only think I loved is all those Z's...
On to Sunday.
--TereZa

P.S. weren't some of us complaining how puzzles have gotten too easy? A constructor's conundrum...making a puzzle really tough, but not blech.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

There was the following over at Wordplay -- "I definitely didn't like seeing "ace" used that way because the phrase that it is short for contains such an extremely offensive word" -- but I still haven't the faintest idea how you get OLDPAL from LONGTIMEACE.

Gill I. P. 10:59 AM  

testing

joho 11:03 AM  

I think Will heard everybody carping about how easy the Saturday puzzles have been and ran this just to show us!

I'm happy to know that I might not be as stupid as this puzzle made me feel.

I thought I knew every Beatles tune. Not. GRowsold fits where GRIZZLES is.

In the end I Googled once to get _C_A_IS which helped to complete the SW. I wanted one of the Ninja Turtles for AQUATEEN. Aquateen?

My only wrong square was OLDPAr which was so lame but at that point, it being the last square, I just wrote something in so I could be over with it.

Yikes!

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Horrid. If I knew some of this stuff I'd worry about why.

Ruth 11:18 AM  

I enjoyed turning on my mental MP3 player and following "If you wear red tonight" until I came to the title line. Right smack in one of my musical hotspots (the other would be the first 4-5 Joni Mitchell albums. Ask me ANYTHING).

Sue McC 11:21 AM  

Soooo glad to go to the blog and see the Challenging rating. After slogging through this if Rex had tagged it as Medium or God forbid Easy, I don't know what I would have done. Never had to resort to Googling, but I ran the alphabet a few times, that's for sure.

Gill I. P. 11:25 AM  

Sorry about the testing, but I keep losing my comments.
Without sounding like a complete jerk, I found this puzzzle pleasantly difficult. There was a lot I didn't know which is typical for me on a Sat. but the two I knew right off the bat were UC DAVIS AND DELIBES. Davis is my neighbor and I bet @Mightly Nisden had no trouble getting this as well. When, as a child, you see Alicia Alonso dance the part of Swanilda in "Coppelia," you don't forget DELIBES.
I eat meat and VEAL RIB sounds way too wrong for me as well. I'm not sure I'd ever put AIOLI on my fish. I use SEA SALT because it's coarse and you can see how much you add. Having finished my meal, I did rub my head at BOBSTAY, AQUATEEN, QUIRINO and NEHI SODA.
Loved the clue for MNO and ECLIPSES.
I really did enjoy the work-out - maybe because so many of these answers just slid right in or maybe because I cut my teeth on Maleska's crosswords.
Enjoy your Saturday. I will think of you @quilter1 because we're off to the Grass Valley Fairgrounds to see the Quilt Fair. TOO COOL!

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

I found the whole thing pretty tough. But I got hung up on "het up" (47 across). Can someone explain this? I honestly don't get it.

Not So Helpful Guy 11:30 AM  

Try typing the phrase into Google - or even Bing

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Finished everything but OLDPAL and CRAN. was pretty sure that LAE was right, but OLDPro HAD to right. I've seen Coppelia and Delibes came with a few crosses. Other than old pal, really disliked veal rib. Even a meat lover like me never heard of that one. Inferable, yes, but yeech. Okay, let's add to riverpo to the list

lawprof 11:38 AM  

I'm ecstatic when I finish a Saturday (maybe half the time); happy when I almost finish. Today I'm happy. Gimmies were RESTONS, SEASALT and DELIBES. Write over: because for I SAID SO. Didn't get OLD PAL; still don't (thought "ace" in the clue might be some obscure golf reference, so ended up with old par). Hand up for NOM de guerre, so never able to quite finish NE.

I really hope I never get to the point where I'm able to knock off every Saturday; there's something satisfying about confronting one's own limits.

Mel Ott 11:43 AM  

Well, Saturdays are supposed to be tough, right? Very difficult puzzle, but an engaging challenge. I liked it.

Slowed down by falling into most of the traps: OLD PRO, NOM de Guerre, RUBICON, etc.

Mel Ott 11:46 AM  

BTW the Red DRUM is a popular sport fish. Tasty, too. There's a Black DRUM too, and a few others, I suppose, but I've only fished for the Red kind.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Definitely challenging, but doable. I had two googles, but Saturdays are supposed to be hard! I agree about old pal, but everything else was legit

Mac/Midge 11:51 AM  

"I'm just shaking my head at -OTA. Brought down by *&$%ing -OTA, one of the worst pieces of fill in xword history."

I'm not shaking my head at this puzzle, I'm shaking my fist -- when I'm not giving it the finger.

Masked and Anonymo8Us 11:56 AM  

Gnarly, dude. We finished this puppy. It did put up a fight, as most SatPuzs are wont to do.

Fave clues: Really, I thought the cluing was Extra Great. "Scary sucker, for short" tops a long list of faves. Also admire "Like arias" -- got sucker-punched into going with SOLO for quite a while. Can't believe "LP insert?" bamboozled me -- but it did, for a couple revisits.

Fave fill: thUmbsUp for IBO and LAE. They are solidly in my crosswordese arsenal, so gimmes with hardly any crosses. That whole PIZZAZZ/AZTEC/CZECH intersection thing was pretty impressive.

Oh, and thUmbsUp for the DELI/VEALRIB crossing in the SE, if only cuz it made @#31*!'s write-up extra gnarly, dude.

Standing O, Ned White dude. Loved this sucker.

chefbea 11:57 AM  

Too tuff for me. DNF

Gotta go drub the turkey!!!!

Alice in SF 12:04 PM  

Re 56D--I was scratching my head trying to remember the real name in long jumping. It's Robert "Bob" Beamon who won the gold in the 1968 Olympics and held the record for 20 years. Sorry, but Evel doesn't make it in my book. My husband came up with Delibes but I simply crashed on most of the clues too-absolute ugh to Aquateens and River Po and give me a break with Drac.

Joe 12:07 PM  

I am so happy to have an opinion to the contrary of just about every one of you. I'm probably not alone with my status of "Rex-has-made-me-a-better-solver" but I still often resort to Googling (shamefacedly) on Friday and Saturday.

Anyway, I finished this one all by my pretty self in just under an hour. I got the Mr. Happy Pencil and was thrilled! Saw that Rex deemed it Challenging and was even more thrilled. I've read all the comments and complaints and gotta say that even though it was hard, every cross was fair. Too much esoterica? To me that's what Saturdays are. I feel TOOCOOL today.

Cameron 12:08 PM  

Medium frequency (MF) refers to radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 300 kHz to 3 MHz. Part of this band is the medium wave (MW) AM broadcast band. The MF band is also known as the hectometer band or hectometer wave as the wavelengths range from ten down to one hectometers (1,000 to 100 m). Frequencies immediately below MF are denoted low frequency (LF), and the next higher frequencies are known as high frequency (HF).

Wikipedia

Wood 12:23 PM  

Whew. Very glad everyone else found this so hard too. I've been wishing the Saturdays were harder but... sheesh.

Got the entire NW corner right away, thought I would breeze through. But NE and SW were brutal, just brutal. Agree, lots of nonsense. OLD PAL? On what planet is "ace" a synonym for "pal?" Somebody might say "TOO COOL" when they think something is neat, but not the same person who would say "gnarly." "Cool" would have been an acceptable answer for that clue but not TOO COOL. Never heard of ANN RULE or YES IT IS. Mean, mean clue on CRI. Who didn't start with NOM, hosing up that corner for untold minutes????

Had to have the app clear my mistakes (7) in order to finish, and still didn't get LAE. And still one of my worst Saturday times ever. Ouch, ouch, ouch...

Tobias Duncan 12:23 PM  

DNEFCCTF this one.Everything Rex said and more.

I do know AMBENDS though, it has a similar etymological history to "embiggens".

quilter1 12:26 PM  

Am I the only one who wanted Carl Lewis for the first name in long jumping?

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Started out with an ABSOLUT POUT
GAMBREL, QUIRINO and BOBSTAY were just cruel...
But got ONBOARD with DELIBES and ANNRULE
Now I feel TOOCOOL for school!!

Wood 12:33 PM  

DELIBES is famous for exactly one aria, the Flower Song from his opera Lakme... and justly so. Everyone has heard this song but next to nobody knows the composer.

KRMunson 12:48 PM  

@chefbea: Thanks for the smile at "drubbing the turkey" :-)

jae 12:54 PM  

I literally had a false start with this one. Last night I’d printed Brad Wilber’s puzzle from BEQ’s site on one side of the paper and the NYT on the other. When I sat down to do the Sat. puzzle I did Brad’s (which is a fine med.-tough Sat.). I realized my error when I checked Amy’s blog and saw Ned White’s name. At that point it was too late to do the NYT on paper given the entertainment we had scheduled for the evening. So I did it on the iPad while watching Letterman and Ferguson. I did not get the “you have completed the puzzle” notice when I finished. Figuring there was either a typo (common for me on the iPad) or an error I put it away and checked it this morning. After staring for a few minutes I found I’d typed RHEBOKS with an A(@glimmerglass) vs. an O giving me RIVER PA. I do know the Po River so I’m giving myself a typo and not an error. But, of course, I’m not exactly unbiased. However, I can live with myself on this one.

Me too for OTe at first plus nom and briefly OLDPro (I did know MARTY so Pro didn’t last long).

Closest thing to zip is BUCKYBEAVER.

Rex is right, not a lot to love here...mostly painful but doable if you are willing to slog it out.

I highly recommed Brad's BEQ offering which has it's own bits of obscurity.

NY Times Killed Me 1:03 PM  

Brad Wilber's BEQ puzzle is indeed very good, as is his cross-referenced crossword on the Crossword Fiend Forum. (See Island of Lost Puzzles). There is also a new "Double Decker" crossword there, that has found a new way to make a crossword puzzle challenging.

Lurker0 1:35 PM  

Finished w/o Googling, but I am very GRIZZLEd. Only write-overs were OLDPro and "nom de guerre," like everyone else.

Some late-in-the-morning-from-the-Left-Coast observations:

"CRI de coeur" and "nom de guerre" are "in the language" (English, that is); "CRI de guerre" not so.

"RIVER PO" is legitimate -- with the quotes it gets 340,000 Google hits.

"6 letters?" is a good Saturday-type clue for MNO, though "LP insert?" is cute too and more original.

Little (in sports) UC DAVIS is every Cal fan's best friend, having beaten vaunted Stanfurd in football and basketball in the same year (2005).

My pet peeve (which I don't recall seeing elsewhere): tossing around slang terms as mutual definitions for the real thing.

Sugar, CUPCAKE, hon[ey], sweetie, ... for "dear girlfriend (or wife too, I guess :-)"

Bread, cabbage, dough, doremi, lettuce, moolah, ... for "money."

These are really rotten Saturday-type abominations.

Only four months until football begins in our shiny remodeled earthquake-prone stadium. GO BEARS!!!

Lurkin' Larry, the Golden Bear

louisproyect 1:43 PM  

I thought that most people knew that Delibes wrote Coppelia. But "Old Pal" was just perverse cluing.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

OK got most of it but let me add to the chorus. Old Pal was a stupid and totally unfair word. Especially since old pro was so obvious. Other than that a hard but doable puzzle

Badir 2:10 PM  

Well, this was hard, but I did manage to get through it. I had to start singing "If you wear red tonight" until I got to the title "YES IT IS", though I've always liked that song and am a big Beatles fan. I had to do the math to get 34D: five sharps means up five fifths in the "circle of fifths". Each of those is 7 half-step, for 35 half-steps. That's -1 modulo 12, so you go down a half-step to IN B. Then I finally figured out it was Ipana Toothpaste and Bucky Beaver.

I didn't know a bunch of the same stuff others didn't know. But hey, at least I did it in under 1 1/2 times my usual times! :)

Lewis 2:23 PM  

Well, I needed four Googles, and I have great admiration for those who completed this puzzle without Google. The Googles made it more a glide than a slog, so I ended feeling buoyant rather than crabby.

I agree with Wood about "gnarly" and TOOCOOL not really going together.

"LP insert" was one of the first answers I put down, and I only mention this because someone earlier posted that nobody would have this answer in their frame of reference. It's just a matter of the state of our wheelhouse.

Kaylie 2:48 PM  

If anyone could help, I'm am all HET up about parens in clues. I've heard the phrase "het up" a lot (in Kentucky), meaning worked up or agitated, it is short for "heated up". The clue seemed off to me because shouldn't "up" go with both "worked" and with "het"? Doesn't "up" in parens read (incorrectly) "worked = HET (up)". (...as "worked" by itself without "up" does not equal HET up.) I am thinking that the Clue should be "Agitated (up)" = Answer "HET". Please let me know if I am misunderstanding how to read the parens in clues. I am probably the only person in the world bothered by this.
My other problem today was echoed by almost everyone: How does longtime ace = OLD PAL. Has anyone come up with a satisfying answer to that?
Otherwise I thought the puzzle was challenging and had some pizzazz.
--

John V 2:52 PM  

DNF. Had the all but a couple of letter of the South half, much of the NE, KILLED by in NW. Yep, old Gene's ghost is alive in this one. I'm not one to complain, but this one goes on my short list of Not Fun. Imagine that for me the easiest answer was 65A Delibes, as I took my daughter to see "Coppelia" many years ago, ABT at the Met GREAT music, BTW. Sorry, Ned, not my cuppa. What happened to the rule that two hard/obscure words should never cross??

Can't ever remember seeing as many DNFs here before today. Wonder who test solved this puppy for Will?

Tita 2:57 PM  

Mea culpa..had ITWASME at 1a.
I defend my grumpiness with this puzzle as more than simple ambiance with not finishing.
Jackj had the best assessment along with Rex.
I don't think I've ever seen such breadth of agreement here.
For me, I don't mind being bested with things I just don't know, but it does feel like it has too much of "I know this from puzzles" "knowledge".

Must go to wordplay later to beg that person to explain their OLDPAL statement

Andrea yesitis Michaels 3:02 PM  

Just so there is a record, DNF Sw corner as i had UCtexaS, AQUATmEN...figured they were underwater FBI/IRS guys... It could happen, right?
Gave up after two hours, but 3/4 done.
Agree with @rex on RIVER and SODA....but i do think we've had THERIVERPO before which is the only way to get a twoletter word in the puzzle.

Huge Beatles fan, sang the whole song in my head, got to "it's true, YESIT IS , it's true"... And then tried to put ITSTRUE into the grid.
Encourage those to listen to it, embedded a few comments back...and i bet you'll recognize it after all...but you'd have to be pretty hard core...
Maybe I'll sing it at Beatles karaoke this Monday...my monthly singalong I live for!
(besides this blog, of course)

Absolut Cupcake Mbands 3:13 PM  

The Beatles embed with great vintage photos (John on a skateboard!!!!!) is by @orangeblossom @10:27am

I'd be remiss to not agree with Masked & Anonymous love of PIZZAZZ/CZECH/AZTEC.

Do you think ANNRicE ever gets ANNRULE's fan mail?

Acme 3:21 PM  

By the way IGOofED also on 1A...as I couldn't believe if you had "i" SAIDSO, that you could have an "i" phrase going across too, so "i" couldn't parse that and get 3D ?TA nor
4D ?INS.

I had ABSOLUT but i had LIVES TO as MAKES TO, so one fat mess, and I even knew about the UCDAVIS Aggies because my dog was named Aggie and I had. Bunper sticker that said "I'm an Aggie's Mom" but it was from Texas..how shocking that sports would be my downfall, and how ironic that I GO??ED would be my left blank squares!

treedweller 3:41 PM  

Weird. I managed to finish the NW that seems to have tripped up everyone else, but never came close in the NE (not to mention several isolated pockets elsewhere).

I'm all for hard puzzles, but agree this one wasn't enjoyable. OLDPAL was total WTF, but the bigger mystery to me was why AIOLI was clued as a "fish topper." not a big mayo fan, but I thought this could go pretty much anywhere you might use hellman's or miracle whip. The very concept of fish or seafood with dairy grosses me out, actually.

Lurker0 3:46 PM  

@Kaylie said...

...

My other problem today was echoed by almost everyone: How does longtime ace = OLD PAL. Has anyone come up with a satisfying answer to that?

___

Ah, I think this is another example of the slang-synonym phenomenon that I complained about earlier. Ace == PAL == good friend. Yuck!

Larry, the Bear

Azbert 3:53 PM  

Finally agree with you about a puzzle. BUT...you're doing NY Times puzzles and you never heard of James Reston??? C'mon, man.

Henry Shapiro 3:56 PM  

It always amazes me what Rex Parker knows and what he doesn't know. Leo Delibes was one of the first clues I got, but then again, I like classical music...a lot. Leo Delibes was well known for his ballets and operas.

miriam b 4:01 PM  

@KRMunon: Love the Meh cat!

Yes, I finished without Googling and without mistakes. Started as usual with the KenKens then got a shaky foothold on the crossword. I put it aside lest I be late for a yoga class. On my return, I soldiered on, uttering a CRI de guerre, and finally sorting out the OLDpro vs OLDPAL problem. Tada!

I give credit to the yoga session.

ANON B 4:04 PM  

I struggled through all the comments to see why longtime ace
is old pal and didn't see it.
Did I miss it or doesn't anyone
know?
I vaguely remember in oldtime movies some men were called ace
for no apparent reason.
Just,hey ace!

wordie 4:04 PM  

@Kaylie, I had the same thought process and so, naturally, I think you're totally right. It feels almost like we're longtime aces.

ANON B 4:11 PM  

Rex@7:55)

You say you gave up. If that means
DNF, then where did you get the
answers?

Martin 4:34 PM  

@treedweller,

but the bigger mystery to me was why AIOLI was clued as a "fish topper." not a big mayo fan, but I thought this could go pretty much anywhere you might use hellman's or miracle whip. The very concept of fish or seafood with dairy grosses me out, actually.

Aioli (like mayonnaise) contains no dairy product. In Provence it's mainly served with fish. A version enhanced with chilis, called rouille, always accompanies bouillabaisse.

archaeoprof 4:45 PM  

QSI (Quick & Sleepy Index) rated this one "go-back-to-bed, it's too hard for you."

Took me most of the day.

@Rex: thanks for the Kenny Rogers!

michael 4:47 PM  

Glad to see this was rated challenging. After too much time on this, I got everything but the northeast, where I had to google and still didn't finish. Had nom de guerre, which didn't help, but opusone, bobstay, and Ann Rule! (I did know Restons right away). Never heard of Delibes (not the constructor's fault), didn't like "old pal" even after I got it.

Why is "pout" look down? (I'll have to google this.)

michael 4:49 PM  

Never mind, I figured out "pout" = "look down."

Masked and Anonymous 5:00 PM  

re: ACE:
Wow, when I filled in OLDPAL, didn't give the "Longtime ace" clue a second thought. Automatically equated "ace" to "good guy". Can't find a single dictionary that'll back that up, tho. Strange. Bad news for the Shortzmeister, if he's starting to think like me.

Reckon maybe this puz just happened to be in my wheelhouse. Peculiar, since usually I have big problems on Saturdays, even when others don't. This time, for the few things I didn't know, I would eventually get every cross. My major didn't knows: QUIRINO, GAMBREL, DELIBES. Plus, the Tensest Moment: filling in my ANN?ULE/C?I guess. Guessed RRRright.

Jenny 5:06 PM  

@quilter1: Me, too! And it was about the first thing I did: ASIA -> Ascetic -> carL. One of the many, many things I had to unravel in the course of solving this puzzle - bar ASIA, I think IBO was the only proper noun I could enter without assistance. Finished with what felt like a lucky guess at MARTY; my alternative involved an old "pol" and "buck-e" beaver. (My beaver started out "eager," which I still like best.) But I finished in the end, slowly and without assistance. Yay me.

mac 5:10 PM  

@Martin: aioli was a gimme, a normal accompaniment to fish, and rouille is standard with bouillabaisse, but rouille doesn't have much in common with mayonaise. It's breadcrumbs with garlic and hot peppers, made into a sauce by adding olive oil.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Barely got through it; googled "bucky beaver" and "Quirino" to be sure they were right. Guessed "aquateen" when I realized that "Ed, Edd, and Eddie" wouldn't fit (yes, that show was a CN regular back in the late '90s/early oughts). Didn't get UCDavis until late even though I'm a Berkeley (the Golden Bears) alum and my new girlfriend's soon-to-graduate-high-school daughter will be a freshman at UCD this year. I grew up in Texas, so when I see "Aggies" my first thought is Texas A & M. I agree that "River Po" was about as weak as you can get. This puzzle bit the big one, bigger than Bucky Beaver of Ipana could bite with his over-sized front teeth. Blech.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Oh, and I agree about "veal rib." Have you ever heard of a dish called "veal rib"? Anywhere? In a fancy or plain cookbook, in a snooty or just-folks restaurant? Give me a break.

retired_chemist 5:40 PM  

Well, My Saturday puzzle upper was finding out I had never done the March 31 Saturday Scott Atkinson puzzle, in syndication this week. Did it. Much fun - just the right sort of challenge,albeit a fairly easy puzzle. Nothing TOO obscure, and the obscurities were crossed by solid stuff. Rex liked it too.

Mr. White could take a lesson from Mr. Atkinson.

jackj 5:44 PM  

chefbea@11:57AM wrote"

"Gotta go drub the turkey!!!!"

Priceless!!

Unknown 5:49 PM  

Delibes was the only absolute gimme for me.
I'm a vodka drinker, so ASBSOLUT was fairy easy.
The rest was very very challenging, and never was able to do the eastern half. :(

There's always tomorrow.

Pierre.

chefbea 5:50 PM  

We are having ribs tonight for dinner.
They are pork, not veal!!!

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

i agree with rex...there is difficult and then there is too difficult for its own good. hey, i'm all for challenging puzzles...and i want my saturday puzzles to make me slow down my morning so i can enjoy my coffee. but this one falls in the category of a couple of past puzzles...probably more aptly named "quizzicals," because of the look on my face.

for the record, i knew delibes. i also knew "MNO", but i started to second guess it because it's usually clued, "L-P connection" or something like that. given the amount of clues i had passed up as being too hard to fill in right away, i knew that it wasn't going to be NOM de guerre. i was hoping, anyway. i doubted EFT for the same reason...it seemed too easy compared with the rest.

but ultimately, there were just too many WTFs for me to like this puzzle. i love the NYT puzzles because of their consistency and coherence within the clues and answer. this one exhibits some of the usual style, but at the same time not. VEAL RIB, CRAN, NEHI SODA, HET, and OLD PAL all sucked little putty balls.

Scott 5:55 PM  

Wow, I got completely slaughtered on this. Gave up pretty early. BOBSTAY = BATBOYS btw :)

sanfranman59 6:09 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:33, 6:50, 0.96, 33%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:09, 8:53, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 13:16, 11:50, 1.12, 80%, Challenging
Thu 14:44, 18:55, 0.78, 16%, Easy
Fri 19:12, 24:51, 0.77, 13%, Easy
Sat 40:30, 29:31, 1.37, 96%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 141 Saturdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 48%, Medium
Tue 4:22, 4:35, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 6:54, 5:53, 1.17, 88%, Challenging
Thu 8:23, 9:18, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium
Fri 9:46, 12:18, 0.79, 19%, Easy
Sat 23:53, 16:46, 1.42, 94%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 140 Saturdays)

This one seems to have given most solvers a pretty good butt-whipping. By these metrics, it's not just one of the toughest Saturdays. It has one of the highest ratios (in each group) of any of the nearly 900 puzzles in my spreadsheet. Again, I say, "Next!"

Scott Thomas 6:26 PM  

This may be helpful for the vexing
31A:

From Urban Dictionary:
ace Old school American street slang for "best buddy" or "running partner".

I guess it pays to be old school, Bucky Beaver!

Gill I. P. 6:29 PM  

@Martin @mac I'm glad you mentioned the roille (served with bouillabaise). I make my own aioli with an egg, olive oil, lemon and garlic. The only similarity between the two is that each has garlic. The answer being AIOLI is like @treedweller mentioned, pretty unappetizing with fish. Did I miss something?
I'm hungry now but filled with Fair-going food. Saw some beautiful quilts and my enormous hat goes off to you @quilter1 for being able to make these.

Dirigonzo 7:18 PM  

I'm glad that I gave up early on this one - otherwise I would have wasted too much time on a day that is simultaneoulsly Cinco de Mayo, the running of the Kentucky Derby (over my now - I wonder which horse won?) and the occurence of a spectacular full moon. With that much to celebrate I won't dwell too long on my failure with the puzzle. But I'm still glad to learn that it wasn't just me who didn't get through this one.

TomB 7:52 PM  

Just about anyone who watches television has heard music by Leo Delibes. British Airways used the Flower Duet from the opera Lakme in one of its advetising campaigns also Ghirardelli Chocolate.

Matthew G. 8:31 PM  

This is pretty much the worst NYT Saturday puzzle I've ever seen. I have a horrible cold today, so I decided not to time myself, and instead looked at this off and on over the afternoon between watching hockey and horse racing. Couldn't have picked a better day for that approach.

These are the entries I did not know: BOBSTAY, OPUS ONE, RESTONS, BUCKY BEAVER, HET (up) (!?!?), DELIBES, GAMBREL, ANN RULE, MARTY, QUIRINO. Those are the entries I've flat-out never heard of, not the ones I had difficulty getting because of the clues.

Then there is DRAC, a name which nobody has ever called Dracula. And finally, OLD PAL. I had OLD PRO, and I submit that my entry made sense for the clue and that OLD PAL is utter nonsense for that clue. When did "ace" ever mean "friend"? About the time MARTY came out?

Now that I look up MARTY, I see that it's where my father got the line "I don't know, what do you want to do, Marty?", which he loved to mimic whenever us kids asked about plans, even though none of us was a Marty. I always wondered about that. Glad to learn it, but I still think this puzzle was the worst.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

"Now everything's cool, Drac's a part of the band
And my monster mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you"

-- Monster Mash

Anonymous 9:55 PM  

On the whole, I didn't mind the obscurity. I had IMSORRY along with SANTINI and ISAIDSO, which led to MANSARD for barn roof. 'Took awhile to unravel that. AMBANDS is technically wrong. There's one AM band that runs from 550 to 1600 KHz. Above that is shortwave. 'Had WAYCOOL, leading to BOBSWAY, which rang familiar in a rhyming sort of way, but kept NE messed up for awhile. 'Had IPANA BEAVER, which really messed up SW until ABSOLUT and UCDAVIS got me back on track.

This puzzle was a slog but not an entirely unpleasant one. Mr. White's got some 'splainin' to do about OLDPAL, though.

PhiPi

SaxGuyinPDX 11:09 PM  

Contrary to early comment, Opus One has nothing to do with American Bandstand. (That whirling sound you hear is Dick Clark in his grave ...) The AB theme song is Bandstand Boogie. (And it's fun to play; my Big Band jazz group does it.)

acme 1:55 AM  

ohmygod, I hope it's not bec he wasn't dead when they buried him!

treedweller 2:35 AM  

@martin et al
Thanks for reminder about mayo. I always think of it as dairy-based (and gross) even though it isn't (dairy). Regardless, in my mind it goes with dairy products on the list of things that should not be served with fish.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Prosit!

Leslie 8:12 AM  

Did anybody finish this puzzle with no Googling and no mistakes????

Yes, but as you can see, it took me two days. Can only agree with everyone else's comments (even though no one will ever see my comment, since it's posted so long after the fact).

Norm 11:41 AM  

From Wordplay, an explanation for OLD PAL:

I don't think I've heard the term in quite a while, and don't know whether it is still current. It was used only among African-Americans--only males I think--referring to a same-race close friend as "my ace boon [rhyming word]," which got shortened to "my ace."

Not sure how that one met NY Times standards, but that's the first explanation I've seen that made sense.

rh 3:53 PM  

Like Leslie, finished without Googling, but took me two days and some running the alphabet for OLD PA_. Was still a bit of a shock to see the happy pencil. Brutal puzzle.

Sparky 6:16 PM  

Better late than never. DELIBES first in as big ballet fan. After that, only four more words. Gave up completely. Good for @Leslie and rh for sticking to it. So, someone read your posts.

jazzmanchgo 7:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jazzmanchgo 7:13 PM  

Probably too late to weigh in . . . but I knew the expression "Ace boon coon" (yeah, that's the word -- in the context of this discussion it's not offensive or a slur). Nonetheless, I put "old pro" in there first, before recognizing where it was going.

That one bit of vernacular obscurity wouldn't have been a problem if there hadn't been so many other difficult-to-impossible obscurities to get through here. . .

jazzmanchgo 7:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
I skip M-W 11:03 PM  

Started 1 AM Fri night, stopped at 2 to sleep , finished Sat around 10:30 Am, shocked at how long it took, but all correct, no googling. I think I'm too old to have seen bucky beaver Ipana commercial since I stopped watching TV in '59, but one can suss it out, as one could Aquateen, also an unknown. As others, I'm shocked that Times puzzle doers don't know Scotty Reston and his son. Fin and Pal were indeed obscure, but came from crosses. I believe Quirino was first post-war Philippines Pres. Cri de guerre remains obscure, and agree about worked (up). Het would have been obvious without that misdirection, though again courses required it.

I skip M-W 11:05 PM  

Whoops, that's crosses, not courses in last line

Doc John 4:40 PM  

What Rex said.
It's May 13th and I just finished it. What a slog.

Dave 10:13 PM  

Finished it today (13th) as well. Zipped through the NW, got a start in the NE then hit a huge brick wall.

I'm all for obscurities to help the fill, but this one killed me.

patradresses.org 8:46 PM  

Thank you! I say do it, definitely! Flowers are such a common sticker that you should have no problem finding a set that will work for you. Just make sure you don't get gems like I did. ;) I would love to see the finished mani if you decide to do it! It seems like such a cool idea.
bullet stickers

patradresses.org 9:51 PM  

Thank you! I say do it, definitely! Flowers are such a common sticker that you should have no problem finding a set that will work for you. Just make sure you don't get gems like I did. ;) I would love to see the finished mani if you decide to do it! It seems like such a cool idea.
bullet stickers

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Go figure. I worked quickly thru this with just one error (deRibes / eveR, which was my fault as I should have recognized the Knievel reference).

Typically I struggle with Saturdays only to see Rex rate them as easy. One man's meat truly is another man's poison...

Spacecraft 11:58 AM  

It's not only the obscurity that killed my efforts today, it's the cluing. "Sugar" for CUPCAKE?? How in the WORLD can you expect us to make THAT leap? "Drum and bass parts". Oh, ha ha, I get it (elbow in ribs): they're both fish! Sure. "Get heat from"=DISARM. There's a real winner. "Okay, Butch, I see you're packin' heat, lemme get that from ya." PLEASE. And I STILL need some kind of translation from "longtime ace" into OLDPAL. Maybe it's part of that world-famous IBO language.

And Ned, you have hit the jackpot. You have managed to find a Beatles tune I have never heard in my life--and I would've thought that impossible.

It didn't help that the Wikipedia page on Tommy Dorsey contained NO MENTION WHATSOEVER of OPUSONE--a tune I know but forgot that it was his instead of Glenn Miller's. After that, I just got tired of all the Googling and gave up.

If you finished this puzzle with no errors or help, I'm officially afraid of you. I promise, when you take over the world, I won't make any trouble.

NM Robin 1:10 PM  

Super-Challenging puzzle.

DNF.

Agree that OLD PAL does not seem to fit longtime ace.

Had the same errors as every one else in the NW.

Didn't know about AQUATEEN but BUCKY BEAVER was a gimme.

HC Visigoth 1:32 PM  

Agree with VEALRIB and RIVERPO (wanted it to be RIVIERA), and hate being expected to ever know Philippine provinces.

But to me, the salvation to the whole puzzle was "Drum and bass parts". That to me is quintessential Saturday.

The southwest was evil, thanks to the Philippines... made it out once I saw UCDAVIS rearing its head.

John Pope 1:48 PM  

"Old pal" is not a longtime ace and there is only one AM band with many frequencies. Come on Shortz, you're losing your grip.

DMGrandma 3:38 PM  

Fought my way through this one, but had to surrender in the SW. Have never watched the Cartoon Network and couldn't make anything reasonable out of the crosses I had for 38A. It didn't help that, working off OLDPRO, I had MRMOM for the movie. Also, while I got BEAVER, I was lost on his first name! Yet I still remember his product, advertised on the Edie Cantor show with the line "Ipana for the smile of beauty, Sal Hapatica (sp?) for the smile of health!"! Oh for the days when shows were associated with one sponsor? I can still tell you who advertised what and remember the tag lines and jingles. Yet I couldn't name one of the myriad advertisers on the show I watched last night!
That's my grump for the day. Think it's time for a cup of tea and sit in the sun.

Solving in Seattle 3:45 PM  

Hey, DRAC, can I borrow some SERUM, OLDPAL?

Just bad cluing.

Solved this one, but smoke was pouring from my googler.

Brusha, brusha, brusha
New Ipana toothpaste.
Brusha, brusha, brusha
Ipana for your teeth. BUCKY BEAVER.

The rope holding down the bowsprit often had its angle increased by a wood or metal pole extending down toward the water in order to gain purchase. That pole is called the "dolphin striker." In case you wondered.

nom instead of CRI, forever.

Kicked off with SANTINI/ISAIDSO, and thought, "this is going to be easy." Not.

Saw @Dirigonzo waving from the RT liner.

@Spacecraft you get the @SiS LOL award for the day.

Capcha: steforme. Antonio insisting you hang around. (Yeah, a stretch.)

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

It took us 2 1/2 hours but WE DID NOT CHEAT!!! Only missed one letter, for OLDPAL (yech) and LAE. It's OK to use obscure geographical names once in awhile but they should be crossed with something that a sane human could figure out.
I bet Ned White's ears are burning and he may have had to change his phone number, unlisted I am sure.

Spacecraft 4:02 PM  

@DMG: How about "Stop the Music!", brought to you by Camel ("take your seat in the LEMAC box!"); or, (voice of Tony Marvin) "PEP-sodent! [ha ha ha ha) presents The Arthur Godfrey Show, with all the little Godfreys..."

@SiS: Thank you so much for this wonderful award. I'd like to take a moment to thank all the...{cane suddenly appears and yanks me offstage}

Lola505 4:48 PM  

@Solving in Seattle, I remember it this way:

Brusha, brusha, brusha,
With the new Ipana.
It's a brand new toothpaste
That's dandy for your tee-eth.

Whatever, I'm so old I remember Bucky Beaver.

I remember now, my Mama told me,
"Be careful what you wish for ... "
Yesterday, I was whining about a too easy Friday puzzle, and today's puzzle ate my lunch! I had the same errors / disputed clues as everyone else, and now I don't feel too bad about my several empty squares, but I'm still ashamed I DNF.

DMG 5:02 PM  

@Spacecraft. I seem to recall Pepsodent as a Bob Hope sponsor . Johnson's wax was Fibber McGee, Jack Benny was those 5 delicious favors: J E LL O. Do you remember the Railroad Hour with (pre-movie) Gordon MacRae, and the Carnation Show with contented cows, "you can hear them in the dell"? This whole thing sent me on a pleasant journey down memory lane, past 76 Wistful Vista Lane and Alan's Alley into the past. Would it be too trite to say "Thanks for the memories"?

Solving in Seattle 5:41 PM  

@Lola, I just remember the Ipana jingle from the daily Mickey Mouse Club show. Hadn't thought of it in 50 years.

As much as people have complained about this puzzle, it has drawn a ton of comments.

Spacecraft 6:32 PM  

@DMG: and just one more: "First call to breakfast; Kellogg's call to breakfast!" to kick off Don Mcneil's Breakfast Hour. Drummers in the background actually urged you to march to the table! Those radio days were cornier than a truckload of Kellogg's flakes.

Lord, I miss corny!!

Dirigonzo 7:09 PM  

Wow, so much nostalgia in syndiland today! Is it possible that our little corner of Rexville represents the "senior center" of the community, as lots of us seem to remember (fondly?) those advertisers from the early days of tv.

Here's a little heads up for 5 weeks from now - today's real time puzzle currently has me totally stumped in several areas. If I don't have a break-through (or maybe a breakdown) soon I may have to give up on it. I'm still not totally up to consistently solving Saturday puzzles, but I keep trying. Good luck to all of you with it in the future!

Anonymous 8:16 PM  

Hand up for OLD PRO, which had me guessing AQUA OXEN, knowing it couldn't be right, and not caring.

YES IT IS was the gimme that got me started. For a while I had BECAUSE at 1d, which made for a nice set of Beatles bookends.

Tough one indeed today, but other than AQUA OXEN (which I'd gladly watch with a glass of Ruby Red ABSINTH) the only area that thoroughly stumped me was the SE, the ridiculosity of which has already been discussed. I mean, I knew 60a had to be a river, I just couldn't think of one in that part of the globe containing that many letters. And, VEAL being a complete answer, I had no problem just leaving the three ensuing squares blank.

Marc 10:05 PM  

I'm surprised at how many people didn't recognize The Beatles' "Yes It Is." This was the clue I started with, although I had to hum it in my head to think of the title. Perhaps it's a generational thing.

This was the toughest Saturday in a while, one in which even Googling did not provide immediate relief. I will give the puzzle points for not including too many answers that can be Googled, but at the same time there was too much obscure cluing (and inelegant phrasing) for me to really enjoy the puzzle.

The North half fell pretty quickly for me (I've heard of a GAMBREL roof but never would have thought of it without the crosses). However, once I got to the south half of the puzzle I was ... ah, puzzled. To put it mildly.

I had ASCETIC for AUSTERE for a long time. That probably caused as much trouble as anything else; once I finally figured that out I was able to finish, barely. So while I wasn't thrilled by this puzzle, I'll give the constructor credit for tripping me up cleverly on that one.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

I admit that I only end up at Rex's site when I've had a sweaty work-out - to see if others had the same problems, or can explain a few clues.

That's the case here; glad to see I was not alone, and agree with Rex 98%.

Now I have that icky feeling that comes from having spent a lot of time and not getting those satisfactory "aaahhhhs..."

Perry Ramsey 7:16 PM  

For those still wondering, medium frequency is a technical term specifying a a particular range, specifically, 300 kHz to 30 MHz (300 kilohertz to 3 megahertz, or 300,000 cycles per second to 3,000,000). The AM band is 540 to 1610 kHz High Frequency (HF) is the next decade, 3 MHz to 30 MHz, containing short wave broadcast and much of the amateur spectrum. Very high frequency (VHF, where VHF TV lives) is 30 to 300 MHz, ultra high frequency (where UHF TV lives) is 300 MHz to 3 GHz, etc.

John 11:31 PM  

I think pal = ace might come from a sarcastic use of ace. If someone screws up, you could say "well done, ace!" But you could also say, "great job, pal!" Both meant sarcastically of course.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

This puzzle was sitting on my counter for some time. In fits and starts, over the course of several days, I managed to fill in every box. My downfall was AQUATMEN. Not having cable, it seemed possible that there could be a show about underwater treasury agents.

And, like so many others, OLDPAL -- really?

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