Dr Lester portrayer in Being John Malkovich / SAT 3-10-18 / Bygone skating spectacle / Noah Wallace of old films / Warner Bros cartoon series of 1990s / Like some bad pitches in baseball lingo / Iago vis-a-vis Jafar / common material in tutus

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Constructor: Ryan McCarty

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ORSON BEAN (43A: Dr. Lester portrayer in "Being John Malkovich") —
Orson Bean (born July 22, 1928) is an American film, television, and stage actor, as well as a stand-up comedian, writer, and producer. He appeared frequently on televised game shows from the 1960s through the 1980s and was a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. [...] Bean was a regular on both Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and its spin-off, Fernwood 2Nite. He also portrayed the shrewd businessman and storekeeper Loren Bray on the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman throughout its six-year run on CBS in the 1990s. He played John Goodman's homophobic father on the sitcomNormal, Ohio. He played the main characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the 1977 and 1980 Rankin/Bass animated adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and The Return of the King. He also played Dr. Lester in Spike Jonze's 1999 film, Being John Malkovich. Bean appeared as a patient in the final two episodes of 7th Heaven's seventh season in 2003. In 2005 Bean appeared in the sitcom Two and a Half Men, in an episode titled "Does This Smell Funny to You?," playing a former playboy whose conquests included actresses Tuesday Weld and Anne Francis. He appeared in the 2007 How I Met Your Mother episode "Slapsgiving" as Robin Scherbatsky's 41-year-old boyfriend, Bob. In 2009 he was cast in the recurring role of Roy Bender, a steak salesman, who is Karen McCluskey's love interest on the ABC series Desperate Housewives. At the age of 87, Bean in 2016 appeared in "Playdates," an episode of the American TV sitcom Modern Family. (wikipedia)
• • •

I liked most of this very much, though it does have two of the worst entries I've seen in a grid in some time: HAD A LISP (random verb phrase if ever there was one) and BEERYS (I've seen some plural names in my time, but this is the plural name-iest). But put those aside, and the rest of the grid really holds up. NW and SE are OK, but I really like the huge swath that makes up the rest of the grid—the stretch from SW to NE, with loads of longer, colorful answers, including two baseball answers that really tapped into my current preseason mania. I spend a good portion of my day reading detailed articles about my sure-to-be-dismal team (the Tigers). And not about the starters, either. I'm reading about pitching coaches, prospects, middle relievers ... I'm clearly thirsty. For baseball. In my head, the announcer calls a high and outside pitch "up and away" ... "Up and away, ball one," I hear him saying. Or maybe "high and outside." "Up and in," for sure. Whatever: HIGH AND AWAY is certainly legit, but it's not ... dead on. I'm just dialed in right now. The Tigers will not have any BIG BATS this year unless somehow Cabrera has an unexpected return-to-form year. Oh, what do you care? Back to this puzzle ...

[Rob is my friend. He's also the radio broadcaster for the Houston Astros.]

Opening gambit: FIESTA, OMENS, TISN'T, RAPT. Pretty much done from there. Two narrow passageways in the grid were daunting. ICE CAPADES was enough to get me clean through the first one, as I somehow guessed the seemingly made-up word CADENCED, then got DE SADE (39A: He wrote "It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure") and PET BIRD (35D: Iago vis-à-vis Jafar, in "Aladdin"), and then, improbably, ORSON BEAN (I can barely picture the guy, and I certainly don't remember him from "Being John Malkovich," but the "NB" letter sequence called his name straight to mind). Only two answers that gave me any real trouble today were GAS TAP and GEAR TRAINS—technical terms, the second word of which just wouldn't come. I normally like G&Ts, but I did not care for these. ESPY for GAPE was my only other hiccup. My weekly sacrifices to OOXTEPLERNON* paid off today, as ELIA and ERMA were both delivered unto me. "Aunt ERMA's Cope Book" was an ERMA clue staple back in the day ... and apparently is still with us (37A: "Aunt" of a 1979 best seller).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*The god of bad short fill, who first revealed himself to us in the center Across line of this grid.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JJ 12:17 AM  

I don't believe I've ever heard of a GAS TAP. That took a while. I loved the cluing for all of the down answers in the SE corner--very clever!!! I also tried to squeeze in BROKECITY for the successful Olympic bid.

Harryp 12:37 AM  

When I finished this, I looked up at the constructors name, thinking it might be Patrick Berry. This seemed like it was going to play tough, since my first word in was FIESTA, but GOFORASPIN, OMENS and everything fell into place. Got POI in the southeast, then ONEMANARMY, PIERCEDEAR, and ISLANDHOPS did that side in. Great solving experience. My average Sat. time 42:26, this one 28:20. Thank you Ryan Mccarty!
@Nancy, I am glad you chuckled about the incongruity of IDOANNIE yesterday. I know I was chuckling when doing the write-up, so it wasn't like I didn't realize the absurdity. In puzzling, you never know. Think James Bond's female names. Of course Oklahoma was years before Octopussy, etc.

Carola 12:47 AM  

I'd agree with @Rex's "easy," except for getting stymied at G?STAP x ?NIMANIACS, as each vowel fought for consideration. Fortunately the A won out.
A lovely grid, and very fun to fill. Nice crosses of BIG BATS and HIGH AND AWAY and POI and ISLAND HOPPING.

@chefwen - Speaking of ISLANDs, aloha from Maui!

Charles Flaster 12:53 AM  

Loved this one especially the unique grid design. Should have been a Wednesday offering but only if you are tapped into some oldtime trivia. ORSON BEAN was a brilliant, well-read conversationalist . Loved listening to him.
Only writeover—TELLS for dEaLS.
Thanks RM ( have heard your a cappella group many times at U Penn -enjoyed them immensely).

Randall Clark 1:05 AM  

Last letter to go in was BU_/_EERYS. The across clue was no help, as I'd never heard of the BEERYS, and I was flummoxed about a non-Apple PC or laptop that starts with BU. Figured I'd run the alphabet to see what I was missing, and luckily I realized at the second letter "Hey, BUB - perhaps Mac is used in the sense of a form of address for a man whose name is unknown to the speaker" (ala Cheryl Crow's Bill or Billy or Mac or Buddy). Ta-da - sweet Saturday success!

GHarris 1:13 AM  

High and away may not be a strike but that doesn’t make it a bad pitch. First entry was energy for e (e=mc2). Thought I was pretty clever but no it was a more pedestrian “online”. Sorry to learn Rex considered it easy. Still pleased I finished in under an hour.

puzzlehoarder 1:13 AM  

Seeing the eye catching grid and not recognizing the constructor's name got my hopes up. I wasn't disappointed. That 1A has been used before but the meaning is completely different so I would count it as a debut. One down simply is a debut so a great way to start a puzzle. The NE was the hard part for me.

A SIT/SIC write over blocked ICECAPADES for awhile but FIREPLACE and BARBARAEDEN got the middle off to a good start. Confusing the 23A clue with the one for 22A cost some time. POI was easy and so was the whole SE. For myself going from NW to the SE each section represented a drop in difficulty but not quality.

Great puzzle and I hope to see more from this constructor.

ghkozen 1:47 AM  

Grid skewed extremely old. ORSON BEAN? BARBARA EDEN? Never heard of either one. Fortunately was able to guess the “n.” In the same spot with the equally-mysterious Bonnie BEDELIA and ELIA. Likewise Aunt ERMA and the BEERY brothers. Let’s have a little less fill from thirty years before I was born, and a little more ANIMANIACS.

Dolgo 1:56 AM  

S common gimmick in NYT puzzles is a punning clue which throws you off because you expect the common sense answer rather than the further out one. The choice is usually binary. But here there are several that are REALLY far out and you wind up finding the answer in a third or fourth possibility. That's of course what made this puzzle fun--and a challenge. I checked CADENCED and it is a word in an on-line dictionary, so (by me anyway) it's fair game. It's pretty hard not to guess it even if you haven't already heard it. Of course, it helps to know what a cadence is.

I saw "Being John Malkovitch," but I didn't recognize Orson Bean. I remember him from long ago, so I was pleased to find that he's still kicking.

I got HAD A LISP right away. Also BEERYS.

Trombone Tom 1:56 AM  

Very nice puzzle, but somewhat easy for Saturday. It was a cruise down the West and back up the East. ICE CAPADES gave entry to the center and GEAR TRAINS shifted things along. My only hitch was beaT before ROUT.

I was tentative on BEDELIA but the crosses were fair.

Thought that was a great clue for ISLAND HOPS.

Let's hear it for Ryan McCarty!

jae 2:32 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Interesting grid with a fair amount of zip, liked it. BARBARA and BEDELIA (also known for the original Die Hard and Heart Like a Wheel) were fortunately gimmes which helped open this one up.

@Puzzlehoarder - me too for SIT/SIC

The back and forth on SUPED vs. SOUPED yesterday was fun to read...@JOHN X -thanks for bringing it home.

JOHN X 3:50 AM  

I was on this puzzle like a monkey on a banana. I just got everything, even things I didn't know. I got long answers with only one cross. I was the zen master of this puzzle, whatever that means.

@jae 2:32AM Thanks, but it turns out I was completely wrong. It is SOUPED up, it always was SOUPED up. It comes from 19th century slang for doping race horses. If they were given amphetamines or other substances they were "on the soup" or "souped up." In the auto age, the first real hot-rodders were actually bootleggers who naturally adopted an illegal horse racing term as their own; performance modifications to their engines made them "souped up." Jason Torchinsky at Jalopnik had the best article on this.

Thomaso808 5:30 AM  

Record Saturday for me at 19:02, getting GOFORASPIN, ICECAPADES, and BARBARAEDEN each on one letter and ISLANDHOPS and ONEMANARMY on just two.

That despite sitting there for precious seconds with BUd / dE_ry. I did not know TULL_, so I tried all vowels in vain. Finally stepped back, cleared my head and a few squares, and then saw BUB.

I really liked the grid design - it was breathtaking in a not SLEEPAPNEA kind of way. Very intimidating!

BEDELIA crossing ELIA, each was a WOE. The L was a guess.

Eleven debut answers - that’s impressive.

HIGHANDAWAY? Yeah, I guess, but not what I would call in there. I listen to a baseball game almost every day during the season, so now I’m going to try to flag that phrase if I hear it. And @GHarris is right, HIGHANDAWAY very likely could be the perfect pitch for the situation.

Loren Muse Smith 6:00 AM  

I agree – smooth puzzle, Ryan! And for once I didn’t have a lot of trouble with a Saturday. Northwest was last to fall. Tough corner for me.

The clue for SIPS had me sit up. Ok. I get it. It’s the opposite of “gulp” within the realm of getting the stuff from your mouth to you stomach. Kinda. To me, SIP is more like a second cousin of GULP. It’s really stupid, but I always have to watch people on tv when they take a sip of their wine to see if it’s a sip or a gulp. It’s usually a sip. I guess if I were on tv, I’d do a little dainty sip, too. But once those cameras were off, buddy, I would dispatch the whole glass in a couple of gulps. Same with eating. Decorous little nibbles on camera, full-on troglodyte mode off camera. It’s more of a speed thing than a piggy pig thing, though.

@Randall Clark, @Thomaso808 – I had a dnf because I had “Deery/bud” there. Since I solve on paper, I never would have known it was wrong.

At first I had “how odd,” and winced for Ryan that 43D was “ohhh.” I’ve been over this several times with y’all, but by the time you say OH HI to the person, you’ve already dodged him for a bit, ducked around aisles, buried your nose in ingredients lists…But hey, there’s a reason. This is the guy who’s gonna bring you up to date – sparing no detail - on his thyroid medication and his mom’s neighbor’s bad back.

BEDELIA – I gobbled up all the Amelia Bedelia books as a kid. I totally “got” the joke and saw how ambiguous our language can be. But I’m a linguist; I like ambiguity more than most people.

ICE CAPADES reminds me of the little dust-up a couple of weeks ago involving the clue for SEXCAPADES. Escapade is just the perfect word to weave into a portmanteau. I’ve actually thought a lot about it, about why it works so well. Maybe it’s the final S sound of that first syllable that makes it so malleable? So play-with-able? And the meaning itself? Fleisscapades, micecapades, spicecapades… And all this musing of a final S sound reminds me of a joke one of my trapper students told me. And boy, did he sell it; he always tells me about his traps and stuff anyway, and his delivery was spot-on.

Evan: Hey – wanna know how to catch a polar bear?
Me: Sure.
Evan: You cut a big hole in the ice and place dried beans all around the edge of the hole.
Me: Oh yeah?
Evan: Yep. Then when the polar bear comes out of the water to check out the beans….. you kick him in the ice hole.

PET BIRD reminded me of this clip I’ve shared before. The pair could be my daughter and me at some venue listening to a band playing oldies. She’s classier and more reserved than I am. She eats slow. Sips her drinks.

Lewis 6:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:44 AM  

@rex -- To your credit, you didn't slam the puzzle for "being old"; it didn't bother me that this puzzle could have run a decade ago (I think that's true), but it usually bothers you.

This was three puzzles, the islands (NW and SE), and the big Superman S swath. I wanted to get the islands out of the way first, because puzzle islands can be scary dead ends, where nothing can help you if you have gaps. These islands fell, and quickly for a Saturday. Yay!

My worst area was my final hole, the NE, where having "ZINC" instead of DISC held me up, and the clue for TELLS ("Giveaways") was sinister. I finally figured out RATEDG and boom went the puzzle.

I put BLT in first for "Mac alternative", and there was a memorable moment in the NE, where I had "GAZE" for "Goggle", and HADA_____ for "Couldn't say 'say,' say", and thought the answer was going to be "HADASPAZ". "No, please no!!!," my entire inner being RAILed.

The grid is squeaky clean, with lovely long downs, especially ONEMANARMY, HIGHANDAWAY, ANIMANIACS, and GOFORASPIN, with my two favorite clues bing those for ANTS ("Line at a food stand?") and ISLAND HOPS ("Changes keys?"). Was my day better off for doing this puzzle? You betcha, Ryan -- thank you sir!

Brett 6:52 AM  

Total bummer of a DNF when I tried to cross BUD with DEERYS because who’s ever heard of BEERYS and BUD is a good answer.

Abby Friedman 7:24 AM  

The Bub/Beerys cross was a natick for me... really wanted Bud, which to be fair is probably not as good as Bub, but to be more fair wtf has heard of Beerys? Deerys is also perfectly good if you're just pluralizing random names...

Unknown 7:34 AM  

There may be a generational issue here. I’m not much a baseball fan now, but I followed the Red Sox closely in the 60’s and 70’s. As soon as I saw AWAY at the end of 16-down, “high and away” came to mind. Great puzzle.

kitshef 7:34 AM  


When Friday was easier than Wednesday, that was OK. That happens sometimes. But Saturday easier than Wednesday? That’s a major disappointment.

I had no idea that ICE CAPADES had gone under. Seems like there are fewer CAPADES than ever left to us.

QuasiMojo 7:40 AM  

I liked this one. Sailed right through it. I would prefer a bit more of a challenge on a Saturday but considering how clean it was I can't complain. Rex, how else would you pluralize Beery? Seems pretty straightforward to me. Wallace Beery was a huge movie star and was in DINNER AT EIGHT and married Gloria Swanson, albeit briefly. Seems very crosswordy to me, even today. Because I am not looking for TV stars who sit under UV LAMPS before appearing on The Bachelor.

Orson Bean may skew old but he's done a lot of youngish things in his time. He starred as the John in a racy Off-Broadway play about male hustlers in Times Square called Forty-Deuce. It was also made into a film by Paul Morrissey of Andy Warhol fame.

Like Lewis I threw in ZINC before DISC. I used to collect coins and by far the most interesting ones were those that were not circular. I was always tempted to stick one of the small square ones into a pay telephone and see what happens. But they were too rare (at least for me) to waste on a prank.

I did have some quibbles today. OH HI and IT'S ODD were subpar fill. But maybe the constructor ran out of steam at that corner or perhaps Shortz et al decided to "fix" something they didn't like.

pabloinnh 7:55 AM  

Thought this was great good fun, and skewing old is where it's at for me.

"High and away" strikes me as just right. And no, not a strike. That's described almost unfailingly as a "high strike". The complimentary descriptor is "up and in".

@LMS-The add-on to your joke is to put peas around the hole, then when the bear comes up to take a pea....etc.

Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

@LMS. GArrison Kielor on ice fishing, a popular sport at Lake Woebogone: his uncle (I think) told him that he could sprinkle frozen peas around the hole in the ice and then “when a fish comes up to take a pea, you grab him.” Easy puzzle today.

Loren Muse Smith 8:39 AM  

@Glimmerglass, @pabloinnh – Hah! Ok. So it’s dried peas around the edge. And the punch line could be

When the bear comes up to take a pea, you kick him in the icehole.


Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Is “check out the beans” what kids are calling it nowadays?

mmorgan 8:49 AM  

I don't know how I knew half of what I knew but this puzzle just sort of magically filled itself in. Things like ORSON BEAN and BARBARA EDEN would not have come on their own but with just one or two letters in place, there they were. Fun to be on the constructor's wavelength.

Birchbark 8:56 AM  

nEmesis --> PET BIRD

Wanted "DNF last Saturday at 62A" for HAD A LISP (16A Couldn't say say, say), but it wouldn't fit.

Celesteville is BABAR EDEN.

Two Ponies 8:56 AM  

I nearly fell for poker site being a card table which would have been cool crossing tells.
I considered zinc before disc but that seemed too modern.
I still don't know what a gas tap is. I guess it is related to a gas appliance with a pilot light but who cares.
There's not much in particular that made this a bad puzzle but the long answers were too easy so the whole thing was a bit of a bore.
Best thing today is the polar bear joke.
Best part of yesterday was learning the reason souped up was right.

jackj 9:05 AM  

Astro broadcaster Rob Ford may never have used "high and away" when calling past baseball games but, the human brain being what it is, he is now almost assured to use the phrase during the 2018 season.

A five star triumph of a puzzle from Ryan McCarty.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Fairly easy, but I got hung up at BU_/_EERYS, and a had D in there for far too long.

Georgia 9:10 AM  

Help me with "tells" ... wouldn't the clue be "Gives away," not "Giveaways?"

Teedmn 9:14 AM  

Shucks, I jumped on the Bud/dEERYS bandwagon today - Noah and Wallace were nowhere in my data banks. Especially disappointing because the rest of this puzzle was done in a not-too-shabby-for-me 23 minutes.

In order to enjoy the early morning light for one last time before we lose an hour tonight (it will be almost another month before we regain the light in the morning - I despise DST in March. April was perfect), I didn't turn the lights on to solve but apparently the ambient light wasn't enough. I saw the clue for 14D and put EDEN in at 12D even though I was pretty sure 14A was Bonnie BEDELIA. Then I saw the clue for 18D and put FIXED ASSETS in at 16D. I fixed these almost right away but it made for a messy grid. Then I turned on the lights :-).

I circled three clues as clever - "Changes keys?" for ISLAND HOPS - I was all into music and locksmiths there. "Opposite of downs" = SIPS. I did think of imbibing as one meaning of "downs" but the opposite that I came up with neither fit in the space nor did it pass the breakfast test so I let that fill in with crosses. And for some reason, "For all to see" being RATED G tickled my absurdity bone. I was imagining "exposed" or "buck naked" or something emperor's new clothes-ish but no, it was a G rated movie, ha!

Thanks, Ryan McCarty, nice puzzle #3.

ArtO 9:18 AM  

Wow. A rare Saturday completion. Naturally, it had to be rated 'easy'. And "skewing old." NW last to fall. Thank goodness for BARBARAEDEN and ICECAPADES, POI and a few other toe holds. Agree with criticism of HIGHANDAWAY.

After shooting par on my last five holes yesterday and finishing the puzzle today, my wife said "you've had a good two days!"

Mohair Sam 9:21 AM  

Smooth and easy Saturday. Agree with everything Rex said except the "HIGHANDAWAY" complaint. That's as common as "high and tight" for an inside pitch in my mind. I'm guessing the phraseology depends on which announcers you hear most commonly - although at my age it may come from Mel Allen or Red Barber.

I've forgiven you fools who didn't know ADO ANNIE yesterday - but Bonnie BEDELIA? No excuse. She was the reason for the Bruce Willis heroics in "Die Hard" (the best Christmas movie ever) - how could you not know her?

@LMS - That polar bear joke was just awful. Loved it.

Bob Mills 9:21 AM  

Finished a Saturday puzzle in record time, even though I guessed at "GASTAP." Are "ANTS" really lined up at a food stand? This puzzle was geared for older folks like me, with BARBARA EDEN and ORSON BEAN in there.

Marcie Watts 9:35 AM  

@lms loved bird video. Reminded me of driving carpool and singing to the radio. All kids in back cringed and my daughter couldn’t get far enough away.

Matthew G. 9:50 AM  

You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s BUB and BEERYS and not BUD and DEERYS? That is the most unforgivable Natick I’ve seen in the NYT in ages. The BEERYS are simply not famous enough to cross anything other than a rock-solid crossing. And not only is BUB not rock-solid, it is a less common {Mac alternative} than BUD. To be clear, I considered both a B and a D in that square and opted for D because it was more clearly plausible in both directions. Just a bad square.

Evan Jordan 9:55 AM  

So weird. I was plunging down a long and twisted Wikipedia rabbit hole yesterday, and I can’t remember why, but part of it was reading Bonnie Bedelia ‘s wiki page and a good 15 minutes scrolling through her old film stills on google. When she appeared in this puzzle my blood went cold for a second.

Carole Shmurak 9:58 AM  

@Loren Muse, totally agree that SIPS and GULPS are not opposites.

@Georgia: “tells” (noun) are movements, expressions etc that give one away playing games like poker.

Evan Jordan 10:02 AM  

I remember: Heart Like A Wheel was mentioned on Andy Kindler & J. Elvis Weinstein’s podcast Thought Spiral. Check it out! Very entertaining.

Nancy 10:08 AM  

I'm really sorry this one is over. Loved it. I felt it was crunchy, but also that I was on the constructor's wavelength for a lot of the long answers. While I checked at least one letter of all of them, as is my custom, GO FOR A SPIN; ISLAND HOPS; and ICE CAPADES came to me right off the bat. Many of the clues were wonderful, the best being "changes keys" for ISLAND HOPS. Also loved "for all to see" for RATED G (did anyone immediately think of that?); and "spot for a stud" for PIERCED EAR.

The most effective strikeout pitch, I think is low AND AWAY. HIGH AND AWAY often isn't AWAY enough, and can be creamed by the BIG BATS/sluggers. I had four letters leading to AND AWAY, but was reluctant to write in HIGH for that reason.

I'm so relieved that all the Yoga teacher is "commanding" me to do is EXHALE. I can do that!!! I was really afraid he or she was going to put me in some sort of DE SADE-like contortion that would throw out my lower back for the next six months.

Great puzzle. Intelligent and with no junk. It held me RAPT.

TubaDon 10:09 AM  

Put down GASTAP right away and then blanked on the verticals. Luckily BEDELIA, BEERYS and BARBARA popped out so I was able to work my way around clockwise. Remarkably few blanck squares in a fanblade-shaped grid.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I love how people declaim their ignorance as some sort of badge of honor. Go out and learn something for a change instead of carping here about getting a DNF because you don't know something that gazillions of other people know like the back of their hand.

Aketi 10:15 AM  

I liked the SPIN crossing the ICE since I just finished watching I Tonya. I thought her Mom’s PET BIRD was the star of that movie.

@Nancy, I enjoyed your post several days ago. I too am happy for the moderators.

Hahaha, @LMS, worth taking a break from the hopefully last phase of the empty nest purge and paint frenzy to watch silly bird clips and read bad, but funny, jokes. My new deadline is spring break when my used to be little BIRD returns to the nest for a vacay stay. Amazing the detritus you can acquire in the raising of a child. Actually the worst of it is because my husband and are are both book hoarders.

lg 10:18 AM  

CAN for cooler threw me off, I had fAN for the longest. Easy for me except for that one. HIGHANDAWAY is perfectly acceptable baseball lingo, though it generally gets used as a pitcher works a batter and not as necessarily a bad pitch. Came together just fine, even without knowing ORSONBEAN and never hearing the term GASTAP in my life. It’s been called a gas pump or just pump my entire life. Obscurities aside, this one was was easy but fun.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:19 AM  

Those who don't know GASTAP need to listen to this offering from Flanders and Swann: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyeMFSzPgGc

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

Lots of long names taking up valuable real estate but everything surrounding it was old timey tried and true. I mean OH HI, GOT TO SIC, ERMA GETS WET, BOLERO CAN GO FOR A SPIN...that sort of stuff. I'd like to bring back KABLOOEY JINGOISM.
I usually sing and maybe do a dance when I finish a Saturday without help. I didn't need help at all today but it CADENCED me out the barn door.
I bet someone who HAD A LISPd as a child will scream bloody murder that that "say" is not difficult at all to say. ry it!
I know ORSON BEAN from "To Tell the Truth." That's how old he and this is.
I liked TISNT and I liked the clue for ISLAND HOPS. I've never seen an airport kiosk that sells ADAPTERS - they're usually in the business of selling t-shirts and expensive water but I'm sure they are in great demand.
Doesn't "freak" need an out?

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Anon@10:11, Any thoughts on the puzzle?

smalltowndoc 10:30 AM  

I thought this was a good puzzle. My only (idiosyncratic) issue was with the clue for 49A. Maybe, it’s because I don’t hunt and have always failed to see the fun in hiding in a tree, brandishing a rifle to “drop” a defenseless animal, Bambi’s father, perhaps, for sport. “Drop”: a macho synonym for “kill”.

Also, this is minor, but the clue for SLEEP APNEA is a little too cute for it’s own good. Cessation of breathing, it seems to me, is not really the same as having one’s breath “taken away”.

Otherwise, I enjoyed it, especially since I rarely complete a Saturday puzzle.

Z 10:33 AM  

DNF in the NE. Bonnie BEDELIA is a WOE, just could not see RATED G even though I had the terminal G, I would never buy anything at an airport kiosk so when earbuds didn’t work that one was hopeless, FIREPLACE was my only hope of opening up that corner and FIREsides was just sitting there in my forebrain blocking all alternatives.

I like the look of the blank grid, very much an atypical looking grid. I don’t much like that it creates three smaller grids with single letter connectors (the A in ICECAPADES and R in GEAR TRAINS). Those little choke points can mean that there is no way in to a section and the solver has to start fresh, which is how the SE fell for me. No idea on what came after GEAR so had to start from scratch. BOLERO/JOVE was my anchor in that corner and I built up from there.

Friday Spoilers
@Jennifer K late yesterday - I do see how that clue might sting. I suggest, though, that if such a clue appear again that you not wait for someone else to mention it. From my experience the clue was a simple statement of fact. As an administrator autism was a challenge. Hard to recognize, hard to program for. Hard to convince teachers to adapt methods to effectively teach, hard to get administrators out of punitive mindsets. At least, though, I have enough experience to at least understand your reaction. Many, maybe even most, won’t understand unless you tell them.

@birchbark - My knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. I am happy, though, that the space time continuum survived my idle deconstructive musings.

Nausee 10:36 AM  

How does 'e' translate to 'online'? Appreciate someone's insight here!

r.alphbunker 10:44 AM  

Like @GHarris I wrote in ENERGY right away for 13A {What "e" may signify} ONLINE,thinking that, of course, it must begin with an "e". Took it out right away though because it conflicted with the DAY that I entered for 6D {Snow ___} PEA. I can blame BEQ for my confidence that DAY was correct; he mentioned that his daughter was home on Thursday because of a snow day. @Teedmn also gets some of the blame because she suggested that I do the puzzle.

I was really elated when my solution turned out to be correct. My euphoria abated a bit when I saw that @Kitshef had solved it in a quarter of the time it took me but as I write this it is returning.

Here are the details.

Jett 10:45 AM  

I just love how so many commenters take it personally if they don't know a particular answer. "Can't be me, must be the puzzle." Personally, I lived in Boston, spent a fair amount of time in Natick and knew people there, so not so obscure for ME.

It's a puzzle, not a bottle of wine. Unless you're a better constructor, don't complain so much, just enjoy!

Nancy 10:48 AM  

Oops. Had a DNF. I thought pNI MANIACS (2D) looked strange indeed, but it could have stood for something like, say, Puppet Night Idiocy MANIACS. It could have stood for anything, really. Whereas I wasn't willing to let go of my inspired 1A answer: GpS TAP. You tap on your GPS, and bingo, you're in "control" of all your "pilot"ing. Okay, okay, you're laughing, but it's not a tournament and there are worse things in the world than such an inspired DNF.

@GILL -- I too know ORSON BEAN from To Tell The Truth. God, I loved that show! The guiltiest and pleasurest of all my Guilty Pleasures.

@ArtO (9:18) -- If I could "shoot par on my last five holes", I'd be willing to have a DNF for 27 days in a row. (One has to know what's really important in life). What a great golfer you must be!

Big Jim Slade 10:50 AM  

Soup those horses, watch them run

Twice around the track, then done

Hit the soup and then they’re through

Ready for stew and making glue

Z 10:56 AM  

@Nausee - Putting “e” before something means it is ONLINE instead of physical. Think e-book or e-tail. This is also a common xword trope, e-cig being the quintessential faux ONLINE e-thing that once appeared in a puzzle, so the clue also functions as a little insider joke.

clk 11:16 AM  


Ferlin Dusky 11:40 AM  

Do people of color ever comment on this blog? Talk about Wonder bread, mayonnaise, ham salad, and jello with canned fruit.

@Anonymous 10:23, any thoughts on the puzzle?

the Smart Bohemian 11:41 AM  

Nobody else confidently dropped in STARS ON ICE instead of ICE CAPADES, followed by several minutes of confusion?

J. Garner 11:44 AM  

Any puzzle that includes Ji, Rockford's dad Rocky is, a priori, flawless.

David L. 11:46 AM  

Did anyone else try Larry Hagman for Barbara Eden? - they share a lot of the same letters.

nyc_lo 11:52 AM  

Not that I had much doubt, but I guess I’ve officially entered geezerdom when the only easy fills I got on first pass were celebrities over the age of 65 and/or dead. And GASTAP as a 1-across was a bit cruel, even for a Saturday.

puzzlehoarder 11:53 AM  

@Nancy, don't feel bad about your GPS misdirect on 1A. I thought the clue referred to airplanes or cars. Pilot is the name of an SUV that Honda makes. A "brake tap" will shut off a car's cruise control. When the T of TISNT gave me GASTAP I was confused but knew it was right. The clue must actually refer to a gas stove's pilot light. You can see why that NE section took me more time than some people spent solving the whole puzzle.

To all those who criticize the inclusion of the famous Wallace Beery, who are these famous DEERYS? My theory is you'll see their eyes shining in your headLIGHTYS.

CashPo’ 11:56 AM  

@Z I think the “e” in e-cig stands for electronic.

J. Garner 11:57 AM  

And, btw, while I find most random unrelated plural names to be annoying, the Beerys is certainly not. It refers to a famous acting family: Wallace, Noah, Sr., and Noah, Jr. - one of whom, Wallace, was a Best Actor Oscar recipient and was once the highest paid actor in the world. It is quite natural and usual to refer to the three of them collectively as the Beerys.

JC66 11:59 AM  


"When the bear comes up to take a pea, you kick him in the icehole."

Because I heard my father tell this joke from the time I was a very little boy, I didn't "get it" until my late teens. He also told anyone who would listen that the P in Ptolemy was silent, like the P in toilet. Maybe he should have been a urologist, but he admitted to being a CPA (Cleaning, Pressing & Alterations).

That's all folks.

Oh, and the puzzle was average Saturday for me.

George 12:01 PM  

@David L: Saw 'I Dream of Jeanie' clue and instantly plopped in LarryHagman. Then realized they meant Jeanie herself, and I was like... Elizabeth Montgomery? No. Loretta Swit? No. Florence Henderson? No. And then it dawned on me, but certainly not quickly.

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Others have said it all …

* Primo freaky grid layout.
* Smoooth fillins -- helped make the SatPuz real eazy-E-ish.
* GASTAP. har[and away]. Let me count the better clues ...
* HIGHANDAWAY/BIGBATS. Somebody's ready for openin day.
* Wanted HOWODD before ITSODD.
* Uncool HUNTERS clue.
* Cool ANTS and BUB clues.
* Know yer dog commands!

Knew Wallace BEERY [I think from the "Treasure Island" flick?]. Knew Noah BEERY, JR. [I think from "Rocketship X-M" schlock flick?]

Speakin of which: Movies from yesternite's Schlock Flick Fest: "Guardians of Galaxy II" [excellent, but the "I" one was better]. "Ice Sharks" [low and away]. We waved the cliffhanger serial episodes, in favor of 20 min. of the Rachel Maddow Show [she makes crosswords, yah know], becuz of the Trump/Putin love letter "scoop". Shoulda gone with the serial.
But, I digress.

staff weeject picks: SIC and BEG. Doggies are the best. Speakin of commands ...

Intriguin clue: {Yoga command}. EXHALE was a real let-down, compared to what came to M&A's eager brain replacement part …

2.5. UNWIND!
3. PRETZL! [var.]
6. HI 'N' WAY! [as in: "Leave the yoga area right now -- the zumba class is takin over!"]
7. MORE U'S! [Soothin words]
9. YO! GAZE! [Would also accept "YO! GAWP!]

Thanx, Mr. McCarty bub. Y'all come back again, real soon.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


mm 12:29 PM  

Nice to see Bonnie Bedelia in there. Fine actress!

Z 12:37 PM  

@CashPo' - If you're going to well actually me at least do it well. "E" is short for "electronic" in all the various incarnations. Don't make me mansplain for you what you really meant.*

*If you in any way think I am somehow upset or being serious here you should find a heater and unfreeze your ice hole. Just because it was a good catch by @CashPo' doesn't mean I can't heckle them for not quite nailing my error.

John Hoffman 12:52 PM  

I found this to be impossibly hard. Impressed so many found it to be easy... I’ve a long way to go!

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

I cant believe it, but for once bitchy Rex wasnt hard enough on an entry. High and away is not a phrase used in baseball. Worse, Rex failed to mention its cousin, low and away which is used all the time.
As for Beerys its great. Shame on any American for not knowing both actors. Youve seen both if youve seen any films from the golden age of Hollywood. Hell,Wallace Beery is invoked in the Coen's Barton Fink.
But if all that werent enough, Noah Beefy was Rocky in tne Rocford Files, the greatest detective show in tv history. If you dont know it, theres no hope for you.

jberg 12:55 PM  

I worked my way steadily from NW to SE without any real hangups, so I guess it was easy, though it wasn't that fast for me. BIG gunS before BATS, and SlatE/STeel before finally getting STONE -- by that time the 2d and third squares were unreadable.

I hesitated over BEDELIA because I didn't know the actress, but did know Amelia (Hi @Loren!), which made it seem ridiculous -- only it wasn't, I guess. And I knew Wallace BEERY, of course, but not Noah -- but one was all you needed to figure it out.

I've been slaving away all morning writing about geoengineering, time to quit and hit the beach before it rains.

Joe Bleaux 12:57 PM  

Ah! My newspaper was complete today, so I didn't have to solve digitally again. Thanks for an excellent Saturday diversion, Mr. McCarty. I finished in the NW, but not because I considered it dessert. Hand up on unfamiliarity with GAS TAP (the G-rated version of "gas cock"? Google it). @Nancy (from yesterday), your empathy was genuinely appreciated.

mathgent 1:14 PM  

Like @Nancy, I thought that 1A was GPS?? I was stuck in the NW. So I called in The Closer. She saw ONLINE at 13A and correctly guessed ANIMANIACS and it was done.

We're here in Los Angeles for five days. Los Angeles means Los Angeles County. The city of Los Angeles takes up only about one tenth of the area of the county of Los Angeles. For example, I just learned yesterday that Beverly Hills is not a district of the city of LA but an independent city in the county of LA.

Banana Diaquiri 1:27 PM  

"High and away is not a phrase used in baseball."

I haven't seen the counter arguments: high and tight, high and outside

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Im not follwing you Daq.
High and tight etc are used, and used frequently.
High and away, not.
Ive made an assertion, theres no argument to be made.
You could counter the assertion and say high and away is used, but if you do, Id love a citation.

J. Garner,
I hadnt seen your lost before i spoke anout the Beerys. My apologies. You had it more than covered.

CashPo' 1:43 PM  

@Z 12:37pm, at least I didn't say "e=mc squared." haha

Mohair Sam 1:46 PM  

@Greater Fall River - Awesome Flanders and Swann reference, thanks for the link - humor from them brightens any day for me. After linking I hummed the Hippopotamus song for an hour until Lady M slugged me, so I've switched to "Have some Madeira" - wish me luck.

@Anonymous (12:52) - Good old Rocky in "The Rockford Files". One of the first things I did when I Netscaped my way on to the internet was play every opening phone phone message from the show.

@Everyone - There are going to be answers on Fridays and Saturdays that are out of your ken. Of course you'd mention that here, but please don't whine. Think of the term wheelhouse - BEDELIA and BEERYS both gimmes here, but ANIMANIACS might as well have been in Greek.

Bob Mills 1:50 PM  

I'm 76 years old and have followed baseball on TV since 1948. "High and away" is not heard often, but it clearly means "(a pitch that's) high and outside." It can't mean anything else, so it's acceptable in the puzzle. Don't understand the hue and cry over it.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  


It got so bad you needed blog administrators...but now we have a clubhouse.

“We’re here in Los Angeles for five days. Los Angeles means Los Angeles County. The city of Los Angeles takes up only about one tenth of the area of the county of Los Angeles. For example, I just learned yesterday that Beverly Hills is not a district of the city of LA but an independent city in the county of LA.”

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

I always knew you were right thinking. (Viz, Rockford Files)
3 and out.

Ando 2:16 PM  

"I normally like G&Ts, but I did not care for these [GAS TAP, GEAR TRAINS]." Can someone tell me what Rex means by this? Literally phrases starting with those letters, or is that a coincidence and it means technical terms as answers?

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Gin and Tonics

Stanley Hudson 2:40 PM  

“Ferlin Dusky” ROFL

Hungry Mother 2:40 PM  

Somewhast less of a slog than my usual Saturday toil. Also, I liked the puzzle - a clear indication that it’s too easy. Happy to get it in any amount of time. Saturdays always remind me that I know things that I’m not aware of.

rowellman422 3:33 PM  

Nobody else had an issue with island as a clue and an answer that no less crosses it?!

chefwen 3:38 PM  

@Carola, ALOHA! I happen to be on the mainland right now and anxious to get back. Pace here is now too fast and furious for this transplanted Cheesehead. Enjoy Maui 🏝

Arthur Jackson 4:27 PM  

This was an enjoyable diversion. My favorite part was writing the individual letters inside the empty boxes provided. Simply delightful.

Stephen Minehart 5:13 PM  

"High and Away" is both fine and obvious. For all those haters: even if you have watched every game your team has played for the last five decades, remember that while you were watching your games, 14 other games were being played simultaneously, and each of those games was called by two radio and two TV announcers, and of course, in all of those games, "High and Away" was said a bajillion times.

Great puzzle. I finished, so easy for a Saturday.

jae 5:21 PM  

@JOHN X - When I said thanks for bringing it home I was talking about your post from late yesterday about the horse racing origins...interesting bit of etymology.

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

@Ferlin, No but I come from Angola. Does that make it ok?

Sunnyvale Solver 6:55 PM  

The puzzle really spiced things up this weekend, with HAREM crossing XRATED yesterday, followed by DE SADE today. And BARBARA EDEN played a HAREM girl!

Actually, I wanted MASOCH before DE SADE. Funny how both could have said that quote...

Lindsay 6:59 PM  

HIGHANDAWAY was easy for me, so it must have been in common use by the Dodgers' announcers during the '80's. Got completely derailed by WILLS instead of TELLS (but it works, right?), and thought that Sluggers might be BIGBOYS. Had to sneak a peek at a few of the proper names, and went off the rails again with GEARCHAINS.

So, lots of errors and a lengthy dnf, but fun along the way.

sanfranman59 7:22 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:15 4:09 1.03 60.3% Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:03 5:26 0.74 3.4% Very Easy
Wed 6:48 6:07 1.11 67.8% Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:39 9:51 0.78 17.9% Easy
Fri 11:12 11:42 0.96 44.1% Medium
Sat 15:59 17:21 0.92 43.5% Medium

I'm late for the show today. But in case anyone's still tuned in out there and cares to read more comments ...

Good puzzle and probably not as difficult as my solve time suggests. Looking back through, nothing stands out to me as unfair at all, though I'm not thrilled with CADENCED. It played like 4 puzzles for me ... the NW, the SE, the heartland up to the NE and then a slow slog through the SW.

I had a couple minutes of panic after finishing off the SE before making two really fortuitous stabs at 18A and 18D (FIREPLACE & FIXED ASSETS) and polished off the middle and NE. The SW was a real struggle, partly because I'd made two less than fortuitous stabs at 35D and 16D with 'Partner' and 'HIGH AND wide'. I eventually ruled out 'wide', but notwithstanding my passion for our national pastime, couldn't come up with AWAY and was very slow finishing (30% of my solve time in 17% of the puzzle down there).

I don't recall ORSON BEAN in "Being John Malkovich", so that was an 'aha' moment. HUNTER was the first thing that came to me when I read the clue for 49A, but didn't think it fit because I didn't read carefully enough to see the plural. That was very early on and would have helped tremendously with the SW. For some reason, I didn't return to that clue until much later. Bad on me.

Anonymous 7:24 PM  

High and away was easy, im guessing, for lots of folks.
It is nevertheless not a phrase used in basbeall. Thats the heart of the gripe. And its legit. Sheesh

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:34 PM  

3/4th of this puzzle was cool. I hated the SE corner. I have never, ever heard of the term BUB. Never. BUB/BEERY crossing was hell. Next to it, JOVE. Never ever heard of that one either. Next to it, TULLE. Never ever... Well, I guess I have made my woes clear.

But let's have some objective complaints about that dreadful SE corner too. Island dish clue crossing ISLANDHOPS?!?! Let's just cut the BS and admit that NYT doesn't give two fraks about duplicates etc. This keeps happening. It's not hard to write a code that checks for duplicate words in clues/answers and exclude articles/pronouns. Seriously. Wow.

But yeah, the rest is mostly great. Mostly, because TISNT and SSNS.

Some clues were amazing. Breath-taking experience got a genuine laughter out of me. Some clues weren't helpful at all.

Overall, a good but not great puzzle. I'm amazed that this got a 4+ rating at Crosswordfiend and Jeff Chen gave this a POW! Yesterday's puzzle was much better than this one.

GRADE: B+, 3.65 stars.

Joe Dipinto 7:39 PM  

BARBARA EDEN, ORSON BEAN, and ICE CAPADES were my first entries so I thought this was going to be easy, but it did skew a bit difficult ultimately. The ISLAND DISH (clue)/ ISLAND HOPS (answer) cross is pretty unfortunate and could easily have been fixed. But I liked it over all. My paper copy has "Opposite of downs" as the clue for SIPS, which is fine with me -- if you down a drink you swallow the whole thing at once ("Down the hatch!"). Was "gulps" in the online, or should I say, e-clue?

JOHN X 8:15 PM  

@jae 5:21PM
Thanks again for the nice words. When I first read your comment this morning I thought it was about my original "supe" comment yesterday; I repeated the race horse story because I assumed you and everyone else hadn't even seen my correction yesterday because it was so late. Now I realize you had seen the late one. The race horse doping origin is so much better than the supercharger theory and makes infinitely more sense, although I feel bad for the horses.

Adam Frank 10:21 PM  

Snow DAY before PEA, GOT AT before GOT TO, and BOMBERS before BIG BATS threw me a little, but the crosses were fair. I’d give it an easy-medium, but it was a fun solve. ORSON BEAN! ONE MAN ARMY! Fun answers and good clues. Thanks, Ryan McCarty!

BobL 11:06 PM  

"High and away' Yep. Baseball commentary 101.

Richard Perlman 2:23 PM  

The clue is dead wrong. A gas tap might control a burner, but NOT the pilot [light].

Roo Monster 10:15 AM  

Hey All !
Although today is Monday as I type this, and probably only the Syndi's will see it, I have to post the ANIMANIACS theme song. Awesome cartoon. And the other one I loved back then, DarkWing Duck. "Let's get dangerous"


Sara Frederic 10:34 AM  

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Unknown 8:16 AM  

nice post mgmdomino

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