Novelist Leverson / SAT 1-5-13 / City of 750,000 SW of Warsaw / Shrimp protrusion / 1998-2007 Lebanese president Lahoud / Self-titled debut album of 1991 / Writer Wilkinson of New Yorker / Constellation that looks like bent coat hanger / Graceful genie of myth / Where Wyatt Earp operated Dexter Saloon

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: none

Word of the Day: LODZ (30A: City of 750,000 SW of Warsaw) —
Łódź [...] is the third-largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it had a population of 742,387 in December 2009. It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-west of Warsaw. The city's coat of arms is an example of canting: depicting a boat, it alludes to the city's name which translates literally as "boat". (wikipedia)
• • •

As is not unusual with a Silken Saturday, I tore this thing up. Took me only about a minute longer than yesterday's. Not complaining—it's a really well-made puzzle and it was very fun to solve and there were enough sticking points to keep it interesting. But yeah, I seem to have found Barry Silk's wavelength, finally, after years of trying. And I like it. Solid grid, cool fill, and smart, tricky cluing—everything a Saturday puzzle needs. I also think the central crossing is hilarious—I love the idea of a CRYPTOZOOLOGIST, tired of his fruitless search for Sasquatch, dedicating his skills to a new endeavor: the quest for WOODY WOODPECKER. The maniacal laughter is out there ...


There aren't many nits to pick. Would not have crossed DEL and DELCO. Unnecessary DEL repetition. Just change ORAL to OREM and bam, no double DEL. Also, this is the first time I've ever seen ADENI. I've grown accustomed to OMANI, but ADENI is gonna take some getting used to (10A: Certain Arabian Peninsula native). Other than that, I don't object to anything here. Any less-than-deal short stuff (and there's not much of it) is holding together some lovely long block of answers (the SE is particularly nice today). There were a whole host of names I did not know. Didn't know ALEXANDRA Pelosi (15A: Nancy Pelosi's Emmy-nominated daughter). No idea what her Emmy nom was for—let me see ... aha, six Emmy nominations for her documentary of Bush's 2000 campaign, called "Journeys with George" (which sounds more like a book in the Curious George series than a political documentary, frankly). ALEC Wilkinson? Er ... no, sorry. Not ringing bells. He seems quite accomplished, but I let my New Yorker subscription lapse over a decade ago,when they got rid of their cryptic (priorities). My literati credentials are further compromised by my failure to know the name of yet another writer in the grid: ADA Leverson (7D: Novelist Leverson). Forgot about LEW Hoad, though I did remember the L- part, for whatever reason (57D: Tennis's Hoad). EMILE Lahoud was also a mystery, which makes me sad (-ish), since his tenure wasn't that long ago (53A: 1998-2007 Lebanese president Lahoud).


I had to hunt down a typo when I was finished, and it ended up being in my misspelling of PAT BENATAR. Really want it to be BENETAR. But even though I didn't know that Wilkinson guy, I figured his name was unlikely to be ELEC, so: problem solved. The one nearly deadly area of the puzzle for me was the whole LLOYD / LODZ / ALDO nexus. Three names, none of which I was sure about. LLOYD Price could've been FLOYD Price, for all I knew. I think LODZ (30A: City of 750,000 SW of Warsaw) was BROZ at first—is that a place? Maybe I'm thinking of BRNO, which is most definitely a place. I wanted Wyatt Earp to be doing something in TAOS or WACO or some four-letter berg in the Old West, so NOME was something of a surprise (40A: Where Wyatt Earp operated the Dexter Saloon). Don't think I've seen "Monkey Business," so I needed a lot of help from crosses to get STOWAWAYS. Love the clue [Shrimp protrusion], which surely must have been a band name somewhere on the planet circa 1968. Also love the little Indian misdirection in 52D: Noted Indian burial site (AGRA). Finally, I'm a bit puzzled by the clue on LEO (54D: Constellation that looks like a bent coat hanger). What the hell does a "bent coat hanger" look like? You can make a bent coat hanger look like a Whole Lotta things. Why, I once saw someone turn a coat hanger into an uncanny profile of LEW Hoad ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

73 comments:

jae 12:18 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Only major problem was EviCT for EJECT. Hard coming up with a B-Ball player nickname ending in V. CRYPTO...was a gimme but I got sucked in by the 32a clue and was wondering if Buddy Rich had an odd middle name.  Same problem with 28a when Leontyne wouldn't fit.   Thanks for the  Stagger Lee clip which I believe appeared in a Sat. puzzle a few years back.

SW was tough.  Did not know Earp went to Alaska nor the song basis. 

Very nice Fri. from Mr. Silk.  Great 15s with a nod to Democrats...ALEXANDRA, LANI, ADLAI...

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was on a record pace for a Saturday right to the end, finishing with my second fastest Saturday ever (43:48). The SW went last and it took me a few minutes to recall WINCHELL, after which the corner collapsed.

I lost some time in the NE. Getting DR J and then believing that ADENI was really an entry let me finish off that corner.

Only one real write-over: KEPT ON before KEPT AT. My Saturday crosswords are usually covered in write-overs. With ??B>, started to just write in PEABO BRYSON, realized it wouldn't fit, and had to hold off until PAT BENATAR came together.

Lousy cluing was very low, which may explain why I did so well. Particularly disliked "It may be followed by [sic]". Had I not disliked the clue so much, CLOSE QUOTE would have been my entry of the day.

I see that USHERETTE hasn't been seen since 1998, but I liked it (and the clue also).
.................................................

Oh, HAPPY DAY (Close enough excuse.)
.................................................

Finished grid.

Ellen S 12:51 AM  

Wow! Easy? Second-fastest Satuday? For me, this might have been my record for number of clues I had to Google. And Google messed me up good. I wanted ATEIN for "didn't run out to dine", and WOODYWOODPECKER, and DELCO, PAYS DUES -- those were ones I didn't have to look up and knew were right, but I had thought maybe Wilkinson was ALan, Googled him (I consider that half-cheating) and it turns out there is a writer named ALan Wilkinson, so my fate was sealed: the error radiated outward and poisoned the grid. Phooey. if I had searched on "Wilkinson New Yorker" -- well, heck, if I had done that I probably would have found this blog.

I loved (eventually) the CLOSE QUOTE clue; it had me scratching my head (when not tearing out my hair), loved it when I saw the answer.

Adeni, not so much. I wanted Omani of course. Googling Adeni doen't turn up many references. Am I a Chicagoni? The state university's football team is the Fighting Illini, so maybe my school's team is the Marooni. Or would be if we had one. Didn't used to. Just imagine, a school giving up football because it took away money from academics!) Anyhoo, I got on on crosses, after Googling everything else.

The captcha is "fesmigh". Is that a word?

syndy 1:19 AM  

HAPPYDAYS was my first entry,CRYPTOZOOLOGIST my second.Quadrants 1 and 3 fell easypeasy,@ and 4 put up a little more fight-I had WOODY early but that was not the name I was trying to remember! still 26:13 on a saturday is excellent for me.The OSMOSING FUNGUS is kinda scary but William Thackeray is bound to help.

C. Ross Word 1:43 AM  

Nice puzzle from Mr. Silk. Considerably easier for me than yesterday's. Just a V short of a pangram: just change EWERS / WING cross to EVERS (clued: Tinker to ___) / VING (clued: Actor Rhames) and Voila!

Alexandra CloseQuote Mahalos 1:57 AM  

So many names names names names...but I liked.

I would say this is more a crossname puzzle than a crossword puzzle, but I super enjoyed it, bec I learned a lot and like the names.

Mid-puzzle mistake of mItCHELL for the gossip left me with mOODYWOODP??KER
Was there a drummer named MOODYWOODPARKER? MOODYWOODPINKER?

Took a shower, et voila!
heheheheheheheheheh....

Like you @jae, EJECT had to evolve, not from Evict, but Exile.

Glad I resisted Google and did indeed get things thru crosses, but wow there were a lot of names:

ADLAI, ALEXANDRA, ALANIS, ALEC, ALDO, ADA, ANDREW, DRJ, EMILE, PATBENATAR, LLOYD, LANI, LEW, WINCHELL, WOODYWOODPECKER, 15!!!! out of 70 words!
(3x as many men as women, but, what are you gonna do?)

(Plus I'll bet STIPES had an REM clue originally).

Frankly, that is way too many, it's like a PEOPLE puzzle for a more highbrow audience.

Anyway gotta love a puzzle with CRYPTOZOOLOGIST running down the middle!!
My fave, tho, was GIRLGROUP, despite the oddly masculine sort of clue.
Above USHERETTE and the Marx Brothers STOWAWAYS, there was an old timey vibe down there.
(@rex, urge you to see "Monkey Business"...if memory serves correctly, there is an early Marilyn Monroe cameo in it and it's the one with the iconic scene of 50 people in one little cruise cabin.

Just a V short of a pangram...but there were 5 Ws, so that's like 10 Vs!

Anyway, MAHALO, Barry! Very NEET!

Anoa Bob 2:38 AM  

A four-letter town where Wyatt Earp operated the Dexter Saloon? How about YUMA? CRYPTOZOOLOGIST and EYE STALK are pure gold. A real BEAUTY Mr. Silk.

Gill I. P. 4:30 AM  

I can't ever seem to get on Barry Silk's wavelength or radar or whatever. This was way out of my league.
Thought I was clever with that drummer since I lightly penned in Richard Starrkey which would have been wrong even if it was right.
Didn't know any of the proper names, KEPT AT looks so wrong (shouldn't there be an IT at the end?) RAD AQI RHO sheesh.

OTD 6:32 AM  

Easy for a Saturday. Loved WOODYWOODPECKER and CRYPTOZOOLOGIST.

My but Wyatt Earp did get around--Illinois, Kansas, Arizona, Calif., Alaska, etc. Was very fiddle-footed.

Octavian 7:45 AM  

Buzzed through this on the train from Florence to Rome, racing the clock to avoid losing juice on my iPad and still had time left over for a couple of Angry Birds.

So that's my timing, around 35 mins or about average for a Saturday. Not a speed solver in other words.

Started with Dr J (gimme), then Ate In, Adeni, Try On, Interior -- then Lani, Delco, and I was on my way.

Would not have known Cryptozoologist if it had not been in the puzzle a few weeks (months?) ago with the Loch Ness Monster puzzle.

Always feel like I'm on Silk's wavelength for whatever reason -- typed in Liner, Logos, Winchell, Stowaways so fast it felt like a Tuesday. Mahalo was a wild guess but it led quickly to the rest of the Northwest.

Now looking back I spent most of my time unraveling the center -- the Lloyd / Aldo Pat Benatar / Peri triangle. Which is weird since I already had cryptozoologist running down the center.

Anyway great puzzle and a nice way to end my visit to the lovely city of Firenze. If you are ever in Italy, don't miss it.

webwinger 7:48 AM  

Wow for me too—fastest Saturday ever by far, under 15 minutes! Googled a few of the proper names early on, but then seemed to slip into a groove and never slipped out. Got a number of toughly (but cleverly) clued answers entirely from crosses. Can’t be the environment here—I’m at the same university as @Ellen S. The awesome crossing central 15s definitely made this one memorable despite the absence of theme. A cute small touch not mentioned yet—symmetrically placed anagrammatic HES and SHE. Got STOWAWAY quickly from the Marx Brothers reference, but associate that word more with their arguably best movie A Night at the Opera, in which Harpo and Chico were stowaways on a LINER, while Groucho was escorted by grande dame Margaret Dumont, and which contains the hilarious overcrowded stateroom scene mentioned by @ACMe. (Marilyn Monroe cameo was in the much later Love Happy.)

Danp 8:10 AM  

Hated the clue for Woody Woodpecker. Might as well as clued that as hanger-shaped toon.

Paul St-Amand 8:17 AM  

I had CRYPTOBIOLOGIST in there for a while, which was a bit of a monkey-wrench. The Wyatt Earp clue didn't cause me too much trouble; as a big fan of Tombstone ("I'm your huckleberry...") I recalled that Earp spent time in Alaska later in life. On the other hand, I had no idea USHER wasn't a unisex term, so USHERETTE came as a surprise. In all, one of my slower Satrudays.

Tita 8:57 AM  
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Z 8:58 AM  

I had Wyatt spending time in the south of France. NicE may be nice, but it was not correct.

I have to echo OFL about finally starting to get on Mr. Silk's wave length. On my first pass through the accrosses I thought it was going to be my typical Silken tangle as I had HAPPY DAYS, Exile, ATE IN (from checking for the O in omani), ORAL/DEL, LANI, A FLAT, LINER, and not much else. DR J helped me slam dunk the NE. Getting CLOSE QUOTE opened the SW for me. irA Leverson slowed me down in the NW, and my ignorance of Jai Alai and Marx Brothers movies slowed me in the SE. But these were slow downs, not stymies.

I don't track such things, but I am pretty certain that this was my best effort on a puzzle by Silk.

jackj 8:58 AM  

Looking at the filled in grid after solving, there are some wonderful, impossible looking answers that should have been baffling, (key on “should have been”), but instead we have been given the easiest Saturday puzzle in memory.

That’s not meant as a knock on the crossword because the fill has some marvelous redemptive entries like DRJ (though too specifically clued) who likely has often used Tinactin for that irritating FUNGUS we call athlete’s-foot.

And, ALEXANDRA Pelosi was a fun reminder of the “Journey With George” video she shot of Bush #43 during the 2000 campaign, a light, surprisingly humanizing piece of work, not the hatchet job expected from the (now) House Minority Leader’s daughter.

The two 15’s of WOODYWOODPECKER and CRYPTOZOOLOGIST weren’t gimmes at the outset but they were soon enough, once a few of the crossing entries were dredged out and they turned out to be also-rans in difficulty to the “O” words, OSOLEMIO and OSMOSING.

CLOSEQUOTE was a nice entry as well but, with my penchant for little things that are cleverly clued, my favorite in the puzzle has to be “What birds take” for WING, with LIAR, clued as “Interrogee, often”, in the place slot and the joint venture of HES and SHE coming in to show.

A ton of fun, as all Barry Silk’s puzzles tend to be, but, as noted, not tough enough for Saturday solvers, who are always hoping for an intellectual battle royal.

Tickling matches, like this one, are fine too, just run them on Fridays.

I loved this puzzle 9:00 AM  

Can anyone explain to me why this puzzle, for example, can't be clued at a Wednesday level, and spare us the mid-week themed puzzles with their necessary dreck?

Tita 9:04 AM  
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Tita 9:07 AM  

Finished before midnight! But it was a fight.
mpg>>AQI, antennae>>EYESTALK, loOSeQUOTE>>CLOSEQUOTE, omanI>>ADENI.

Not just a nammful puzzle, but of ACME's list, only really knew ADLAI and DRJ. Well, I didn't know DRJ as the answer, but from the J, at least I had heard of him and could throw it in.

Oh - I've heard of WOODYWOODPECKER too.

Love @Rex's writeup today. Actually, nearly any constellation oould look like a bent hanger. Or, maybe we should petition to rename LEO to LEW.

Nice puzzle - not too easy to me, unless by definition any Saturday I can finish is.

chefbea 9:16 AM  

Couldn't do yesterday's but did fairly wee today with a lot of googling.

What is AQI???

EPA 9:38 AM  

Air Quality Index

Acme fan 9:45 AM  

Here's something to anticipate. Tomorrow's puzzle is co-constructed by Andrea Carla Michaels.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

AQ I equals air quality index

joho 10:24 AM  

I love Mr. Silk's puzzles because when I start out I think I have NOCHANCE then through his clever cluing and smooooooth execution I end up finishing and exclaiming, "What another BEAUTY from Barry!"

Total admiration for CRYPTOZOOLOGIST/ WOODYWOODPECKER but my favorite answer was EYESTALK.

Loved it!

Unknown 10:35 AM  

Long-time crossword enthusiast, first-time commenter. Rex, The New Yorker never had any sort of puzzle in it; you must be thinking of New York Magazine, which did indeed have wonderful puzzles and contests back in the day.

Milford 10:44 AM  

This puzzle was bit of a relief to my brain and my confidence after a week of Googling. This may have also been one of the first times I looked at a constructer's name and had a preconceived idea of what to expect.

Like @Octavian said, I think we have had CRYPTOZOOLOGIST or similar in a semi-recent puzzle? So that was helpful. Names of people and places galore, but most were getable with zero knowledge, like ALEXANDRA.

I love science related clues, but OSMOSING feels a trifle made up.

Biggest slow-down was having pop-up for LINER. I guess I stink at baseball strategy.

The W in EWERS and WING was my last entry, and took a run of the alphabet to get. Just couldn't see it.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Marilyn Monroe appeared in a cameo in Love Happy the last Marx Brothers movie. She appeared in Monkey Business with Cary Grant in 1952. Love Happy was released in 1951. The original Marx Brothers Monkey Business was released in 1931. Monroe was born in 1926.

Milford 10:46 AM  

Forgot to say that I had exactly the same coat hanger reaction. I could bend a coat hanger into my name, couldn't I?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:57 AM  

Very nice puzzle. As others have observed, lot of things I didn't know, but everything gettable from crosses.

Has anyone/everyone signed up for the ACPT yet? Only two months away.

@Unknown - As a long-time subscriber to The New Yorker, my rather vague memory is that for a short time -- maybe six months or so? -- they did run a puzzle, some years ago. It wasn't a feature when I first subscribed, and then they gave it up. (This is my impression. Others may know more exactly.)

Joe 11:03 AM  

@Unknown, The New Yorker definitely did have a puzzle. It was a really small (like 6x8, or something) cryptic for a while and, like Rex, I was sad to see it go in the mid 90s.

I blew through this one at record time, too. My little clock didn't start this morning so I don't know how fast, but under ten. Which is ridiculously fast for me. Totally in my wheelhouse.

Sandy K 11:09 AM  

Solved this puzzle faster than Friday's and let's not even mention Thursday's...

A pretty satisfying solve- everything fell in from the crosses, so even when I thought I had NO CHANCE, I was able to EASE BY.

Only ISSUEs- clue for WOODY WOODPECKER was A bit FLAT, and ADENI? New one for me...but NEET start to a HAPPY DAY!

Glimmerglass 11:17 AM  

In my youth, USHERETTE was a gag term for a bridesmaid. Since neither is gender-neutral, I guess the feminists won't complain. Didn't know many of the proper nouns, but muddled through with crosses, except that I didn't think of ALEXANDRA, because I was looking for a two-word stage name. So I had ALEXA NxRA. The only letter I could think of that fit both a last name and 7D was Y. Ah well, no tears.

wordie 11:27 AM  

What everybody said, except I really didn't notice or mind the profusion of proper nouns. I had a bit of a snag in the SW, as for 32D from Wo_fH_LL I chuckled and put in Wolf Hall. Well, it was a big name associated with a lot of gossip, once. If you haven't yet read Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring up the Bodies, I envy you. I'll just wait a year and the grey cells will let me read them again almost as if for the first time. One advantage to getting older.

Tita 11:28 AM  

Just saw a pair of WOODYWOODPECKERS in the woods off my deck!
WOODY is in fact a pileated WOODPECKER, is he not?

They were pecking away, and calling to eachother. They are such a startling site, and a welcome change for the beautiful but annoying crows that thanks us daily for our compost pile.

Sparky 11:29 AM  

Finished NW and SE, then spotty for the rest. I like Barry Silk even when I can't finish. Googled for a while and stopped because I don't enjoy it, particularly when it gives me Ringo Starr who doesn't fit.

Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Phil Collins, Charlie Watts, Ringo, so many and all wrong. WOODY lumbered me.

Don't know my Pucci from my Gucci. Hand up for EviCT. I don't get CLOSEQUOTE. Am I reading wrong? Probably.

Nice new picture @Milford. Looking forward to tomorrow @ACME. Happy weekend.

Tita 11:30 AM  

[from, not for] Forgive my lack of typing skills today - sheesh!

wordie 11:33 AM  

Sparky, [sic] is put in a quote to indicate an error in the original being quoted. At the end of the quoted material there is a close quote symbol.

wordie 11:35 AM  

I really loved the puzzle! What a relief after this execrable week!

Carola 12:16 PM  

Lovely puzzle. Agree with @Rex on "easy" - much easier for me than Thursday and yesterday. And very fun to solve, Those crossing 15s - priceless. Nice that WOODY WOODPECKER is provided the RED color of his crest but alas only one WiNG.

Slowed down for a while by wanting the CRYPTOZOOLOGIST to be some kind of folkLOrIST. Do-overs: thought the jai alai need would be cEstas and guessed wrong on eLiO Gucci.

@wordie - Second you on Wolf Hall; got Bring Up the Bodies for Christmas, on deck for my next read. Also second you on the "all new all the time" - movie spoilers no longer infuriate me because I know I'm going to forget them!

@Sparky - Thanks for explaining why "Emilio" wouldn't fit!

chefbea 12:43 PM  

Thanks all for explaining AQI

Looking forward to tomorrow's puzzle

John V 12:52 PM  

Well, it turns out I can still solve a crossword puzzle, notwithstanding my miserable W, Th and F. I find it endlessly fascinating how each and any of us connect -- or don't -- with certain constructors. I have ALWAYS gotten on Barry Silk's wavelength and I think NEVER gotten on David Kahn's, for example, Why? Maybe Sasquatch [sic] knows; I sure don't.

Lottsa fun, great way to start of the weekend. Thank you, Barry!

Milford 12:55 PM  

@Tita - yes, WOODY is a Pileated WOODPECKER. I was lucky to see one last fall in the woods, and they are huge!

@Sparky - thanks, that is our dog Malcolm enjoying the lovely snow in Michigan.

Two Ponies 1:05 PM  

Considering how many of these people I did not know I was surprised to finish. I am embarrassed at how long it took to get Woody. I was sure it was another person I did not know.
Birds taking wing reminds me of Bert Lahr singing "If I Were the King of the Forest" in Wizard of Oz.
Lots of fun clues today. Fave was the bass misdirect for girl group.
Thanks Barry!

David 1:18 PM  

I love pileated woodpeckers! I live near a city park, and have been lucky enough to see them from time to time on the tree in front of my house. They have a dignified air about them, so unlike Woody.

I do believe that the battery company is not DELCO, but ACDelco!

Evan 1:21 PM  

I'm like @John V -- for some reason, I've almost always hit on Barry Silk's wavelength. Today was no exception as Saturdays go, although he did trip me up right away as one of the first things I threw down in the grid was PSEUDOSCIENTIST instead of CRYPTOZOOLOGIST. You'd think that a big mistake on a grid-spanner with no crosses would have made things way more difficult, but fortunately I recognized pretty quickly that that CRYPTOZOOLOGIST was a possibility, so I erased the mistake only a few seconds later. ORAL and A-FLAT gave me the right answer.

I'm happy to report that yesterday I built a themeless puzzle of my own! I don't know how Barry makes them all the time -- as @acme has said many times before, they're way more difficult to construct than early-week themed puzzles, in my opinion.

@Bob Kerfuffle:

I haven't signed up for the ACPT yet since I don't know what my spring semester schedule looks like, but I hope I'll get to go again. Tons of fun, it is.

Merle 1:24 PM  

Yo, Glimmerglass, look out, feminist good with words on the rampage. Not at you, m'dear -- look out, Barry Silk! Usherette and girl group? Usherette is too cutesy-poo for words, and not something anyone in her or his right mind would say without irony. Girl groups is okay -- there indeed are girl groups -- and boy groups -- and doo-wah groups -- and what-all. But no bass in a girl group? Well, there sure are tenors -- check out Johnny Cash, "Daddy sang bass, momma sang tenor". And then -- check out The parody version by Ray Stevens, with the line, "Momma sang bass". Okay, it is a parody -- but "look out, kid, there's something you did, god knows when but you're doing it again", you're gonna hear some women growling bass notes atcha if you don't wise up. My voice is an alto, and I can hit the "E" below Middle C without effort.

Re Marx Brothers -- that noted boy group -- had the "aways", but didn't remember the movie -- did I ever see it? -- they all blend as one -- antic zanies doing something or other, boy group stuff -- so I misled myself with "castaways", and took a while to straighten up and fly right with "stowaways".

Like Tita -- shout out to Tita! -- got Dr. J from the J, heard of him, kinda, knew the name, plays b-ball, I guess, if he's a "court legend". Baseball and football don't have courts.

Liked 51A, "what birds take" -- bingo! -- wing -- Oh! 'Tis spring, 'tis spring, the bird is on the wing, absurd, absurd, the wing is on the bird.

Pileated woodpeckers are bird drummers -- but Woody Woodpecker never played with "Bird", with saxophonist Charlie Parker. But Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, Chico Hamilton, and Freddy Gruber did. Oh, what kind of "Bird" was Bird"? Bird was short for "Yardbird", that bird that runs around the yard, doesn't fly, and is great for a southern fry.

So -- yardbird would be a great crossword answer with the right clue!

Tita 1:49 PM  

To all you pileated WOODPECKER lovers - check this video that I found while googling to confirm my suspicions...

Wait for it...

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

The yard in yardbird refers to Parker's time in prison. The yard. He was arrested for drug offenses and was sent to Lexington Kentucky. After that he was called yardbird.

Richard W 2:07 PM  

@Alexandra - Possible spoiler alert to puzzlers -Listening to Met Opera on the radio today while working on Sunday puzzle - just coincidence in 9D answer?

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

lottsa proper nouns= lottsa problems & little fun...

ANON B 2:35 PM  

I am constantly amazed by how the
constructors think up clues to
the words which are in the puzzle.
How many people,when confronted with Nome,would come up with
"where Wyatt Earp operated the
Dexter Saloon?

MetaRex 2:52 PM  



Nice Barry Silk puzzle w/ nice comments by Rex.

Rex alludes to but doesn't directly address the in-groupy "Pelosi daughter..." and "New Yorker writer" clues for ALEXANDRA and ALEC, so MetaRex will.

The Democratic Party and the New Yorker are connected to the NYT and to its readership in a way that the Republican Party and the National Review, say, aren't.

Given that, I'm fine with a modest blue state/blue people/NY/CA tilt in the puzzle clues. At the same time, I trust Will and/or the constructors will occasionally give us a MEGAN McCain or a JONAH Goldberg, even if those references are rarer than the shout-outs to the blue side. Maybe they in fact have been doing that...haven't noticed one way or the other.

Thackeray

Lewis 4:14 PM  

What @joho said.

Welcome @unknown!

I love how this puzzle opened up. I love Barry's cluing.

Joseph B 4:50 PM  

PATBENATAR, OSOLEMIO, and HAPPYDAYS were all gimmes, which got me off to quick start, but I penciled in MITCHELL in the SW, which left me stuck for quite a while.

Alas, I blew it at the ALDO/LODZ cross, guessing T instead of D. (Should have gone through the alphabet, as ALDO would have rung a bell.)

Oh well, better luck tomorrow.

sanfranman59 6:07 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:31, 8:37, 0.87, 14%, Easy
Wed 14:17, 11:52, 1.20, 87%, Challenging
Thu 22:43, 17:05, 1.33, 91%, Challenging
Fri 19:54, 20:49, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Sat 18:13, 24:28, 0.74, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:39, 1.02, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:57, 0.92, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:54, 6:34, 1.20, 90%, Challenging
Thu 13:38, 9:27, 1.44, 91%, Challenging
Fri 10:47, 11:47, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium
Sat 10:20, 14:32, 0.71, 5%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 152 Saturdays)

Susan McConnell 7:00 PM  

After the week of puzzles we've had I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one this much. No complaints. PELOTA was new to me. Most of the rest fel easily enough. Loved the long answers. WOODYWOODPECKER was slow in coming, as, like others, I was trying t think of human drummer. Fun Saturday...yay!

michael 7:03 PM  

Even though I know just about every answer Rex had minor trouble with, I still didn't find this puzzle quite as easy as most of you. Maybe medium-easy for me. I did get the whole thing, which I don't also do on Saturday. Still, definitely a lot easier than last Thursday with that memorably obscure se corner.

Bubble Burster 7:07 PM  

@Nate (ANON B) - Loathe as I am to add to your disillusionment with life, but I'm pretty sure that constructors, when looking for new clues for common words, simply go to Wikipedia and find the most arcane fact available.

So, for NOME, one just reads the entry for NOME and comes up with the Wyatt Earp fact.

Sparky 8:03 PM  

Thanks @wordie. I translate sic as "thus said" and, since it can appear in the middle of a quote, I was reading some mysterious meaning to "close." Over thinking again. Close but no cigar.

Sparky 8:36 PM  

MAC is having trouble with posting to the blog. It takes her post and she can see it but when she logs off and then goes back it has disappeared. Can someone help? It's late now so I'll probably post again tomorrow AM. Thank you.

Dirigonzo 8:41 PM  

I thought Merry-ANDREW was just another one of the numerous proper names of a specific person in the grid until a post-solve google told me it's a term that literally means "clown". Am I the only one who did not know this?

Barry Silk's puzzles always produce a number of aha! moments for me and this one was no exception. Sadly, I needed to google to obtain Nome, which let me finish the SW corner where I had stalled.

Not the Cookie Monster 8:53 PM  

@Sparky - @Mac has a cookie problem apparently.

chefbea 9:02 PM  

@mac send me what u posted and I will copy and paste it to rexville

Doc John 9:49 PM  

I was doing a crossword the other day and one of the fills was reminiscent of BENATAR and I wondered if Ms. Pat had ever been in a crossword. Synchronicity!

ANON B 11:36 AM  

@bubbleburster

And before the days of Google. I have been doing puzzles for over
50 myears. 29

retired_chemist 9:05 PM  

four days late so nobody will see this, but I LOVED it!

Ellen S 7:34 PM  

@retired_chemist -- haha! you are not just talking to yourself. I had the comments on this mailed to me, ensuring I will never get any work done. I liked it too.

Spacecraft 1:03 PM  

@Rex: the BROZ you mentioned is not a city, it's a dude. Josip Broz, AKA Tito. Was in a puzzle just this week, I think.

Hand up for KEPTon, my only writeover.

This one produced a strange sensation. When I first scanned the clues, I thought: there's NOCHANCE I'm gonna get this. Then I noticed the Presley hit--my personal favorite of them all--and knew at once it was the tune of OSOLEMIO. And then the Mork clue. Well do I recall the epic "holitacker," the test of thumb power between him and Fonzie. Great stuff.

From there on, it just seemed to open up, getting easier as I went along. By the time I was finished I was almost ready to but OFL's "easy" rating.

Almost. Silk-y smooth as always, but that doesn't mean easy. Calling Woody a "drummer" was a major misdirect; if this hadn't been his full 15-letter name which forces out the answer, I might have considered it close to unfair. I mean, after Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, I kinda go blank...

Thanks for the LLOYD Price song; that and the follow-up "Personality" made him a rare bird: a TWO-hit wonder.

Hmm. PATBENATAR and GIRLGROUP. "We belong we belong we belong together."

My holitacker thumbs are up!

DMGrandma 2:58 PM  

So many specific names! I counted 14. ACME said 15, and I defer to her. Either way, this appeared to be the kind of puzzle I cited yesterday as my bugaboo. But then working my way down with only a single word or letter here and there, I easily solved the SE. Maybe because I can remember when movies had USHERETTES, lots of ...ettes in those days. At any rate, this gave me hope, and I was able to work out most of the names. But sadly, like others, I spelled PATBENeTAR incorrectly. Combined with not knowing the civil rights name, I ended up two letters short of the finish. For me that's a success on a Saturday name dropper.

Waxy in Montreal 5:46 PM  

Apparent syndi-shoutout at 24D to all of those in the NE battling the megablizzard. Trust it isn't too much of an ISSUE for any regulars including @Diri, who usually hangs out with the A-team on Saturday.

@Space, our fearless leader was probably thinking of the Czech city of Brno.

HAPPYDAYS! An easy Saturday - guess many names in a puzzle puts it in my wheelhouse. Would have added one more at 16A with a clue referencing the late actor/author Tom TRYON instead of the awkward test for a tailor. Only real misdirection came from originally conflating novelists IRA LEVIN and ADA LEVERSON at 7D. Oh, yeah, briefly had EMINEM at 2D crossing MENDFENCE at 1A as well.

Never too old to learn something new - always have thought SIC was an acronym for Same In Copy but turns out that it actually references the Latin adverb sic (abbreviated from sic erat scriptum, "thus was it written"). Thus, I stand corrected.


Dirigonzo 7:16 PM  

@Waxy - It's true I go over to the other side on Saturdays but I always check in on the Syndi comments 5 weeks later, too. The blizzard conditions that I said were missing yesterday materialized overnight. The snow has now tapered off but the winds continue unabated - much drifting to ensue. I hope you and everyone else in NE syndiland are warm and safe.

Tita 7:23 PM  

Crystal-blue skies post-blizzard, about 18", but hard to tell with all the drifting.
Power is still on, and as I said in real time, a path to the hot tub has been cleared.
Hope everyone in Auckland... wow...swype auto-suggestion for Syndiland!... has power and heat!

bananfish 4:54 PM  

I had BRIDETOBE pencilled in for "Miss in an aisle," and I still think it's a more clever answer than USHERETTE (she'll only be a bride once she's done walking that aisle).

Also had NAIR written in where NEET belonged.

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