1997 voice role for Meg Ryan / SAT 12-1-12 / 1234 singer 2007 / Dutch financial giant / Belladonna lily / Desert gullies / Emulated Tiresias / Eponymous container / Dutch financial giant / Decahedron-shaped die to gamer

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: none

Word of the Day: MONOTREME (31D: Egg-laying mammal) —
Monotremes (from the Greek μονός monos "single" + τρῆμα trema "hole", referring to the cloaca) are mammals that lay eggs (Prototheria) instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials (Metatheria) and placental mammals (Eutheria). The only surviving examples of monotremes are all indigenous toAustralia and New Guinea, although there is evidence that they were once more widespread. Among living mammals they include the platypus and four species of echidnas (or spiny anteaters); there is debate regarding monotreme taxonomy. (wikipedia)
• • •

This started out easy, but it didn't stay there. NW was a piece of cake, SW a bit more thorny, the NE tougher still (I was thwarted by the unlovely combo of APPL and ARBOL) (10D: Washer, e.g.: Abbr. + 10A: Part of a Spanish forest), and SE very tough (if I'd ever heard of a WIDOW'S walk (41D: ___ walk (old house feature)), it probably would've been much easier). That tough SE quadrant is actually the nicest part of the grid—I just couldn't get anything except ZEBRA (45D: "I finally got around to reading the dictionary. Turns out the ___ did it": Steven Wright), MTM, and a tentative TREES at first. Well, I just figured out one of the reasons that corner stumped me—tiny speck on my screen was positioned to look exactly like a "." after clue at 56D: Direct. I figured "Direct." must thus be an abbrev. for something. Me: "That's a stupid abbrev. Isn't the abbrev. DIR." Ugh. That's some bad luck right there. Oh well, corner would still have been hard, as I don't know what kind of container a DEWAR is (I'm guessing it holds scotch?) (52A: Eponymous container), and I didn't know the official name of the OBAMACARE case (55A: Virginia v. Sebelius subject, in headlines) and I know SAM MENDES but forgot he ever won an Oscar ("American Beauty," I think).


Had AIG for ING. LOST for GONE. SEE and then GET for NET. These mistakes all made the center of the grid ... interesting. No idea what I would've done if I hadn't known FEIST (as I know many solver today won't have) (29D: "1234" singer, 2007). Took forever to figure out what came after GOES at 39A: Poses a bomb threat? (GOES DEEP). It's a football term. I thought "bomb" meant "failure." GOES DOWN? GOES DEAD? Don't know what GST is  (it's Greenwich Sidereal Time ... yeah). Didn't know PAPA followed Oscar in any alphabet. So that explains the trouble in the NE. Only real trouble in SW was MONOTREME, which I've never seen or heard of or anything (31D: Egg-laying mammal). Every single letter came from crosses. NW, as I say, no sweat.


I have never seen a production of "The Iceman Cometh." I think it's the play that Dustin Hoffman fails to get a role in before he becomes Dorothy in "Tootsie." PIPE DREAM is the name of my college's student newspaper (1A: What many a character in "The Iceman Cometh" expresses). I have also never seen "ANASTASIA," but for whatever reason, I got that answer with just a couple of crosses (15A: 1997 voice role for Meg Ryan). I managed to tame that NW corner by going PACTS to STAY and TITAN and then ESSAY. Clue on D-TEN is kind of obscure, though the TEN part of the answer is inferrable from the clue (5D: Decahedron-shaped die, to a gamer). RIO was a gimme (11D: 2014 World Cup locale, for short), but BANGALORE took some thought (12D: India's so-called "Garden City"). My favorite answers in the grid form an interesting symmetrical pattern stretching from NE corner to SW corner: LOST A STEP / SOMETHING FIERCE / AS IF TO SAY ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

101 comments:

Joseph B 1:05 AM  

I cannot get to the Times puzzle page. My browser complains of a redirect loop. Is it just me? Tried Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. (Firefox just crashes.)

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

Interesting comparison of solves. I also found it a toughie, but almost completely in reverse. The SE went first and fairly quickly. WIDOWS was the first entry in the grid, a gimme for me.

SW went next, slowed some by going with BISCOTTI before working out AMARETTI. The MI in AMITY, were the last two letters to go down in the grid.

The NW was brutal for me. Wound up having to pencil in some possibilities (which I hate to do) until I saw a couple of answers and finally cracked the corner.

Anonymous 2:10 AM  

@Joseph B, I'm having the same problem. So glad it's not just me or my computer. I'll try again tomorrow.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

@Joseph B & Anon - I was able to get the puzzle page with Firefox, but was unable to download the puzzle in Across Lite and had to use their horrid format. Sent a complaint, let's see how long it takes them to correct the situation.

As for the puzzle, HTG and DNF. Might have been able to pull it off in the morning, however, impatience reared his nasty head again, and here I am.

Better luck tomorrow.

jae 2:56 AM  

Excellent medium Sat.  I typically like Joon's work and this was no exception. Plenty of zip...CURSEWORD, LOSTASTEP, OBAMACARE,   WRITLARGE, MADLIB and of course SOMETHINGFIERCE...plus crunchy enough to require some effort.  The erasure that caused me the most trouble was utiL for APPL.  

WOEs: MONOTREME, DTEN,  and FEIST

Nice one Joon.

Oh, and the point I was attempting to make yesterday (in a sort of kidding way) was less about MCCASKILL and more about needing to pay attention to what's going on in the world if you are serious about doing late week puzzles sans google.   In today's puzzle for example,  OBAMACARE (which Rex didn't know), SAM MENDES, ORL, DTEN (WOE), RIO,  FEIST (who I did not know)....If, on the other hand, you are doing these more casually with google as part of your process, please ignore me.

C. Ross Word 3:00 AM  

Absolutely hated this puzzle, until I loved it. Quite a challenge - thank goodness for pencils with erasers. Was in Jeopardy (shout out to Joon) of not finishing, uttered a CURSEWORD or two, LOSTASTEP here and there but finished WITHEASE. Great Saturday puzzle with a minimal amount of junk fill.

Anoa Bob 3:44 AM  

Great puzzle. My favorite is WRIT LARGE, followed closely by AMARYLLIS and its clue "Belladonna lily", aka deadly nightshade.

I think of a WIDOW'S walk (41D) in more specific terms than "old house feature". Isn't it part of a house near the coast where a mariner's wife could go and watch for the return of her husband's ship, all too often in vain---thus the widow part?

MaryRoseG 5:48 AM  

Can you say , "Google?" Liked it, but tough!

Anastasia Curseword Monotremes 6:11 AM  

Jooooooon
Got only top half...five googles to finish!!!
Who is Deioces? Who is Tireasis? (oh yeah) P In alphabet code?
Plus two to check spelling of MONOTREME and AMARYLLIS.
Kicked my butt SOMETHINGFIERCE, but i got GOESDEEP!

Well, I learned a lot. I expect as much from a Harvard Professor and Jeopardy! Champ!

Puzzle was FEISTy. Speaking of whom,
Thanks for the video, @rex!
Boy was that on the cheap!

"ok you 6 guys, show up in something green, or as close to it as you can...you 6 guys wear red...if you know someone free Saturday morning, meet us at the warehouse to make a video. Doesn't matter if you can dance or not..as long as you try and don't drop FEIST or grope her during crowd surfing."

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

A Dewar flask is a thermos bottle

Dick M.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

I'm also having trouble with the NYTimes puzzle site. Attempt to download in across lite format gets an "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable", and often I can't access the site at all getting "
The page isn't redirecting properly".
I've reported through their help page with no response.

jackj 7:56 AM  

No CURSEWORD for this puzzle; Joon has given us a beauty!

Starting with PACTS and the “Lab” misdirect of STAY, then moving over to WADIS and PAPA and tossing in YIN, gave me the low-hanging fruit of the grid.

Linking clues to these words, though, like “Certain harpooner”, had me fretting over Moby Dick memories to no avail but then, when INUIT evolved, it was a more satisfying answer anyway. (ESSAY did come easily).

The idiomatic phrases Joon sprinkles about, like LOSTASTEP and SOMETHINGFIERCE are joys to behold and while showing off his sports chops when anticipating Sunday’s Patriot's game, GOESDEEP seems to be an order to Wes Welker, with touchdown WRITLARGE by Brady’s instruction.

And, speaking of players, “It’s in front of a benched player” was a clever way to hide a PIANO and it’s a good thing, too, as it serves to negate the puzzle’s main flaw, the unworthy RECOAT.

Finally, WIDOWS Walks are common in coastal New England but not so much elsewhere. They are usually fenced in, small platforms on the roofs of grander, multi-storied 19th century homes (often ship’s captains homes), where wives would anxiously seek out a glimpse of their family members, returning under full sail in their prized schooners, after a lengthy stay at sea.

Today, in New England especially, they are often added to new, Victorian style homes as an elegant architectural touch.

(BTW, Did I mention that AMARYLLIS was a delight?)

Thanks for ending our solving week on such a high note, Joon!

Jim Walker 8:14 AM  

What I love about Joon's puzzles is that they challenge without obscurantism. They force you to look at words and phrases in a variety of Ways. Unfamiliar terms or names, such as FEIST are easily inferred from crosses.

I love the word WADI. Wadi Rum in Southern Jordan is one of the most magical places on earth. I had the privilge of visiting it many years ago with a Bedouin guide. Recommend you consider adding it to you bucket list, along with neighbouring Petra.

Thank you Joon.

dk 8:43 AM  

Rex, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

MONOTREME, is that not a single episode of an HBO series?

Went South to North on this one. No idea what a DTEN was.And, over thought Con men.

Was certain 17a was about cooking not cussing, sigh.

After struggles and checking my spelling (I think of it as cheating by half) I was done. Woo woo!

*** (3 Stars) As Lincoln Hayes would say: Solid man!

evil doug 9:00 AM  

chefwen,

Many is the Saturday when I have to put the puzzle down, break my fast, watch some 'Law and Order' reruns, and return to the grid before football starts---and my luck nearly always improves. You need to overcome that impatience thing---and maybe go to bed at a decent hour? Geez, I'm asleep by 8:30 anymore....

But today went pretty smoothly in one sitting. Had 'paled' before 'paced', and that set me back. Never heard of Feist, and usually even if I'm not familiar with the music I've seen their names around.

Enjoyed the football imagery of 'goes deep' with 'lost a step'. Daryl Lamonica: The Mad Bomber, heaving one to slow but crafty Fred Biletnikoff---the 'zebra' rules it a catch....

Love 'fierce', but 'something' in front of it kind of dilutes the impact. 'Writ large' is a phrase that deserves more use.

Only one dash for a curse word? Maybe for one letter in it, but I'd expect several---or $%#@!---for the whole word.

Wrestled with vale vs. dale. Wasn't familiar with the dewar thing, but Scotch still made more sense.
*******************
ELAINE: So how's it going with my friend?

JERRY: She's a sentence finisher. It's like dating Mad Libs.
*******************

I can relate. I'm getting to that stage where I have trouble remembering anything with a capital letter. So I whip through descriptive terms, and my wife comes up with the name/place/title. Early onset, um, whatchamacallit....

Evil

Emily Litella 9:05 AM  

@Rex - How can you be so stupid as to not know about OBAMACARE? Don't you pay attention to anyting other than crosswords and comics?

Oh, upon further reading, you said you didn't know the official name of the Supreme Court case. That's a little different.

Never mind.

Glimmerglass 9:17 AM  

Good puzzle. Zippy and crunchy (Anonymous 1:29). Lots of fresh answers, especially the long A's. Just the right difficulty for a Medium Saturday.

Bob Snead 9:34 AM  

It seems like I always do better on Saturday than Friday, and today was no exception.

Anyone else out there often have that experience?

Carola 9:40 AM  

I echo @jackj and @jae - no muttering of CURSE WORDs, so many lovely entries. Especially loved WRIT LARGE, LOST A STEP, SOMETHING FIERCE. And the ZEBRA and PAST quotes were a treat, too.

Lucky in knowing some of the perhaps less familiar entries. Had learned MONOTREME in ages far past but remembered it today because of the They Might Be Giants song "Mammal," had SAM MENDES on the brain after just seeing Skyfall, and my son is a big FEIST fan. Having been weaned on the NFL, couldn't believe I had GOESDEE_ before I got the bomb reference. Geez.

Thank you, Joon Pahk - just beautiful.

joho 9:48 AM  

I, too, was unable to access the puzzle both yesterday and today. I finally found a way to solve on line which is not my favorite method by a long shot.

I love Joon's puzzles and thought this one was fantatic even though I didn't finish in the SW. Got most of it but wouldn't let go of unITY where I needed AMITY. Plus the phrase ASIFTOSAY wouldn't come to me and I didn't know what Tiresias did.

Regardless of my DNF I loved this one SOMETHINGFIERCE.

Thanks, Joon! And, Will, if you check in, please talk to the crossword tech team and get the site fixed!

joho 9:50 AM  

fantatic = fantastic!

joho 9:52 AM  

Here's the message we're getting:

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

Steve J. 9:57 AM  

Same here, same message. Happened all day yesterday and so far today. No response from the help line. Same happens when I try to get to the acrostic. How are some people getting through to the puzzles?????

JC66 9:58 AM  

Great puzzle. Just what a Saturday should be. A lot of crunch and a lot of fun.

@ACME

Maybe FEIST being from Canada explains it.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:06 AM  

Challenging but fun. Good one, Joon.

Two write-overs: BISCOTTI before AMARETTI, and PERU (I was so sure, but apparently just from my imagination) before PAPA.

enoughwiththestickers 10:17 AM  

Could not solve without multiple googles.

But I knew Feist because for a while my 2-year-old was a huge fan of the Sesame Street version of her 1234 song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ9WiuJPnNA

jvn 10:18 AM  

Started having troubles accessing the puzzle yesterday: the browsers say they can't redirect and AcrossLite says service is unavailable. I too would like to know why some have access and others don't. I sent a message yesterday to NYT and haven't heard back. Eventually, yesterday, I was able to access the puzzle but not in AcrossLite so had to print it out.

Z 10:26 AM  

No problems accessing the puzzle here. It was on my front porch at 6:45 when I got up.

NW - Easy, SW - Medium Easy, SE - Medium, NE Challenging. Wanting World Cup 2014 to be in Qatar sure didn't help. Same issue as others with GOES DEEP - my first impulse was GO postal. Combined with the PIANO sports misdirect Joon got me twice. Also thought astronomers would be calculating orb(its). Time solving the NW easily exceeded the time to solve the other 75%.

@ANASTASIA CURSEWORD MONOTREMES - That song became famous when used in an iPod ad. I bet the return on investment was impressive. I wonder how much the guy in green who didn't drop her got.

lawprof 10:34 AM  

Some days you eat the bear. For some reason this was an easy Saturday for me, something that hardly ever happens. I DNF half the time, maybe more.

A few writeovers (Spielberg before SAMMENDES; lOst/GONE; sEe/NET) slowed things down, but not for long.

Not familiar with ELUL, TTYL, MEDE, FEIST, PARTA, but all easily gotten through crosses.

I was reluctant to put in PECAN, which I don't think is a particularly hard nut to crack -- unlike a brazil nut -- but there it is.

Arrgh...now that I look back on it, I had sIN for the dark side (still a pretty good answer, no?), so a big "duh" for missing YETI (I was thinking college basketball powerhouse for "beast of the east," such as UConn or Syracuse and settled for sETI - Southern Elmira Technical Institute?). Oh well, sometimes the bear eats you.

Cheerio 11:00 AM  

This was one of my easiest Saturday solves ever. Widows was about the first thing I put in. Once you see these and here the name, say on Nantucket Island, they are hard to forget. But I assume the widows walks were actually built so the man of the house could scan the ocean....

I have liked some puzzles by Joon Pahk in the past, who is on my personal list of favorite constructors. I may add Mondays constructor to that list. Nice week it was especially with these Monday and Saturday bookends.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

To all http/1.1Service Unavailable people-try getting the real thing thrown toward your doorstep by shadowy figures in an old Mercury. I love putting the answers (when I have them!) onto real newsprint! Plus it's FUN waiting for the plastic-wrapped thing to land on the sidewalk before dawn...me, in my underwear, hiding behind the door and listening for that familiar "thump"!

Merle 11:10 AM  

20th century newspaper-in-hand reader didn't have to download the puzzle -- just had to download Rex after I got stuck. Haven't commented recently, because puzzles this week were very easy, a breeze. Today's was a true Saturday puzzle -- challenging.

And once again, reading through all the comments, starting with Rex's, of course, it is apparent it all depends on your cultural frame of reference, your cultural knowledge bank. I got Tiresias, Elul, Titan, pipe dream, in a pie, wadis, widow's walk, John Locke's essay and Anastasia readily. Should have known Sam Mendes, but memory failed me.

Feist -- WTF. Sounds like something I don't want to know. Like I've said before re clues like these, if it ain't Mozart or Motown, I don't know it.

Didn't know Virginia v. Sebelius case, but once I Googled it and saw the subject matter of the case, since I had the Ob, Obamacare fell right into place. Don't text, so 44A is another WTF. What do those four letters, TTYL, stand for?

Yes, like others, I had biscotti before amaretti. Wanted yeti, but biscotti messed that up.

Wish I had known Bangalore. Now I do.

Recoat is awkward. 5D, DTen, way too obscure for me. Don't know diddly about sports, so 2014 World Cup is another WTF. Question: How many times do I have to say WTF doing a puzzle. Answer: as many times as I have to....

Merle 11:14 AM  

Yo, lawprof, parta is not one word, but two -- part a -- could be followed by part b. Now you get it, right? Mede. Persians and Medes of antiquity.

Question for all and sundry -- Rex puts one letter in red with every solved puzzle he posts. Why? What is the meaning of the scarlet letter?

Scott 11:20 AM  

Perhaps I am missing something obvious, but why is ONESPLACE (I assume parsed one's place) "beside the point"?

Thanks

Milford 11:25 AM  

Lovely Saturday, loved it more than yesterday's puzzle, just more my wavelength. Knowing FEIST and ARBOL were very helpful. Many writeovers, as per usual for a Saturday: Speilberg before SAM MENDES, sEe/gET/NET, biscoTTI before AMARETTI.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks of "Tootsie" with "The Iceman Cometh". I believe he also lost a job playing a tomato.

PIANO was a great misdirect, I tentatively had PItch at first (was I thinking of cricket?). And PECAN was like reverse psychology for me, being an actual nut.

In seventh grade a girl sat next to me in class and would roll a D-TEN (or something similar) continuosly and write down the numbers in her notebook. I finally asked her what she was doing and she said it was to "save time" while playing D&D. Didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

TimJim 11:27 AM  

Got but didn't understand answers to "beside the point" or the zebra joke, Can somebody help?

not the answer man 11:27 AM  

@Scott - the ONE'S PLACE is next to the ten's place on the left and the decimal POINT on the right.

@Merle - Your question and many others are answered in the FAQ's. Not the meaning of TTYL, though, it is text speak for Talk To You Later.

Milford 11:27 AM  

@ Scott - think of the ONE'S SPOT as next the the decimal point.

Norm 11:30 AM  

ones place = column immediately to the left of the decimal point

merle: red letter is just where the cursor was when rex took his screen shot (or whatever it is that he does to post the completed grid)

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

TimJim: The answer to a mystery or the conclusion of a story is generally at the end of the book, so, in the dictionary. quipster finally got to the Z's. It's not really that funny.

Milford 11:33 AM  

Sorry, that would be ONE'S PLACE. Not sure what I was thinking. I'm done now.

Ellen S 11:45 AM  

I downloaded it to AcrossLite last night using Safari on my iPad, no problem.

This was more like it! Tough but I was able to finish without Google despite never having heard of FEITH. Needed a bunch of crosses before the head-slap moment where I filled in OBAMACARE.

I resisted 31D for a long time because of the cross that would produce ORL, which for some reason looked like random letters despite many visits to Disney. I had no trouble with AMARETTI (they're pulverized in a truffle recipe I often use) or SELMA, and i even knew who Tiresias was and what he/she could do. MONOTREME sounded vaguely familiar, I knew it was a word, but thought it was some kind of boat, like a trireme. After my brain woke up and decided to help with the puzzle, I realized ORL was Orlando which confirmed MONOTREME. Then I went to Google to get myself etymologically straightened out. Fascinatin' critters, those platypuses. Their eyes, according to Wikipedia, are more like those of hagfish or lampreys than other mammals.

Thank you, Joon, for delivering a cliché-free puzzle. Oh, wait! Lampreys? Har! The platypuses snuck eels into this puzzle after all, but delightfully so.

OldCarFudd 11:48 AM  

RECOAT is awkward only if you think it refers to dressing in layers. If you're painting something that requires multiple coats, RECOAT is fine. Paint can instructions often mention times between RECOATs.

Two Ponies 11:52 AM  

Lots of fun even if it ended as a DNF.
I did know monotreme!
Pecans are about the easiest nuts to crack so that was unexpected. As for the container, I had a hard time letting go of Mason (jar).
Thanks, as always, Joon.

Jenny 12:11 PM  

Some weird issues with the NYT Xwords site last night (well, not that weird - it just wouldn't load)... and now I went to get the Saturday puzzle (today's) and find that thought it's only 11am Central time, the SUNDAY puzzle is already up. What?!

I'm looking forward to solving, nevertheless :-)

Sandy K 12:19 PM  

Struggled SOMETHING FIERCE and still ended up like @law prof-

sIN instead of YIN!!

How did I get PAST BANGALORE, FEIST, WRIT LARGE, and GOES DEEP? Have no idea...and YET I left sETIS instead of YETIS!

CURSEWORD!! Love your tricky cluing, Joon, but I need some OBAMACARE!

Gill I. P. 12:21 PM  

@lawprof - Southern Elmira Tech Inst.? - Gee, I went there too!
I'll join the second seating crowd. Couldn't seem to get my %@#& mojo working last night. Got WADI and PAPA then went to bed.
Finished this AM but it took lots of Google help. Also had tons of write-overs. My saint had a HALO and my eponymous container was CRATE (Crate and Barrel ?) - OLEO befor MAYO etc. etc. etc.
I use pen so the erasure holes didn't look too clever. Well, kept on plugging away and even though I had help I just couldn't finish. Really liked it though - just like my Sat. poached eggs and bacon.

syndy 12:50 PM  

Fridays puzzle took four tries to download-no problemo this morning! I almost fell foe the SIN?SETI trap but took a second look! bisCOTTI was more of a problem but as an bonus MO helped dredge MONOTREME frome somewhere fierce.The real beauty of a Joon pach Is finding all the stuff you didn't know you knew.and it looks so obvious once it's there!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Here's the response I got from NYT tech support:

We are not able to duplicate this issue from our end. Please try refreshing the crosswords page and trying again.

We hope this e-mail was helpful.

Lewis 1:35 PM  

@lawprof -- amen, those Brazils are the hardest to open.

Tough, solid puzzle, which for me opened bit by bit, with some smiles, and yes!es -- a terrific Saturday. Thank you Joon!

Dead Tree Solver 1:37 PM  

Paper version isn't always perfect, either. Blob of ink blotted out clues 20A through 26A. Regardless, not sure I would have finished the NW without a Google for 15A.

Loved clue for PIANO - father played piano and organ; took me far too long to see the answer.

Badir 1:47 PM  

I didn't have any trouble getting the puzzle from Cruciverb.com, which is a very useful site and is where I get most of my puzzles. (You still have to subscribe to get the NYT.)

I was tearing through the puzzle pretty well. FEIST? Sure--I have her album with "1234"! MONOTREME? I've always thought they were cool, so I got it immediately from the clue. WIDOW'S walk? Yeah, I remember reading about those, so no problem there.

So I was heading to one of my best Saturday times, and then I hit a brick wall with the SE. I put in TREES and then just sat and stared for several minutes. I tried _ALE (V or D) and stared. Eventually, I dug out DEWAR and stared some more. Finally, I think I got PECAN, and then it started to unravel, but I spent about 2/5 of my time in that one corner!

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

I think this deseved a challenging rating because I literally spent 30 minutes to guess dewar (vale was as good as dale) and ones place because who knew papa followed oscar. Tough puzzle ultimatel worth the effort but In comparing it with other Challenging puzzles it rises to that level

Davis 2:47 PM  

This one was actually an "easy" Saturday for me — I achieved my best-ever time, and didn't have to Google a single entry. Somehow, everything fell into my wheelhouse here; I wonder if Joon and I had similar backgrounds.

DEWAR — in college I was a physics major and TA, and we had to use these to hold liquid nitrogen.
D-TEN — let's just say I was a big D&D nerd as a kid.
WIDOW'S walk — I think I learned what this is in the context of some book involving the sea, and the notion just stuck with me.
MONOTREME — I've read enough popular science books on evolution for this to be a familiar word (thanks Richard Dawkins!).
OBAMACARE — I'm a lawyer now, so I got this as soon as I saw "Sebelius" as a party name.
ANASTASIA — Even though I was in college when it came out, I saw this one in the theaters. (The movie itself wasn't especially memorable, though.)
FEIST — she's on many a playlist in my collection.

So while I'd like to believe I'm finally improving at Saturday puzzles, I suspect this one was just a fluke.

bigsteve46 2:57 PM  

A solution for all of you complaining about your faulty computer downloads: get a NYT newspaper subscription and do the puzzle the way it's supposed to be done!

John V 3:16 PM  

This was really hard. Finished with RECOAT shouted YES, came here and realized I had a couple of open spots in the SE. Not sure I could have gotten SAMMENDES, new to me.

But, anyhoo, I feel good having pretty well nailed this one. I simply have never connected with Joon's puzzles. Came very close with this one, which was WAY challenging and only a little bit of fun.

joho 3:38 PM  

That was a lame and unhelpful email answer from the NYT. I will not write.

To those who say just do it on paper in the newspaper ... guess what? The NYT doesn't deliver to my town. I could get dressed, drive to the nearest supermarket that carries the paper and if I'm too late miss it anyway. (I think they get about 2 or 3 papers.)

I can't access the puzzle on Cruciverb, either.

So, all in all, I'm getting pretty cranky now because it looks like my Sunday morning treat will not be available.

I am so disappointed. :(

3:37 PM

Anoa Bob 4:09 PM  

NYT isn't delivered where I live either. That's why I've been an online puzzle subscriber for 3 or 4 years. Never a problem and it's around $40/yr, which is, what?, 11-12 cents per puzzle.

I've cracked my share of nuts over the years. Pecans are easy and can be cracked bare handed. Brazil nuts are definitely tougher, but the mother of all tough nuts to crack is the hickory nut. Forget those squeeze-type nutcrackers sold in kits with picks. You have to smash it with a heavy hammer. Anything less won't do the job. There was a saying when I was growing up in Tennessee, "It's tough as a hickory nut".

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Even when I can get the site to load, when I try to print the puzzle, it prints without clues! It worked fine up until a few days ago. But if the NYT doesn't admit a problem, it'll never get fixed. I'm paying $40 for this; they have an obligation to make it work.

Ellen S 5:04 PM  

So obviously some people are able to access it electronically. I use Safari on my iPad and it worked the same as always. @Joseph B was the first to post, and the first to report the problem -- no joy trying Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Some are getting it on Cruciverb. Some can't.

So in case I'm sneaking through because for the last week I haven't closed Safari and have stayed logged in, I tried starting from scratch. Got logged in okay, and ... why is tomorrow's puzzle posted already? (@Jenny reported this at 11am Central,5 hours ago). Well, I click on the date like always, then click on "Download for play on Across Lite" and -- "Page not found." I wonder if it will ever be found!

Maybe except for the print subscribers, the rest of us will have to spend the rest of our days discussing politics, sex, recipes, butterflies ... wait a minute, that's what we do already.

Sir Hillary 5:04 PM  

Always annoys me that sometimes the year of an Oscar winner is listed as the year of the film (as with this puzzle) and sometimes as the year of the award (as with the Academy's website). I dropped in Spielberg who won for SPR at the 1999 awards show. Obviously, that set me back. Grrr...

Great puzzle though!

michael 5:19 PM  

Opened the paper, took out a pen, and accessed the puzzle. Nice Saturday -- perhaps on the easy side because I got it all...

Don't understand the pipe dream answer, but might if I had seen or read the play. Off to the internet to find out what's up.

jberg 5:20 PM  

This must have been challenging, because I DNF. I had no idea about DEWAR, and thought maybe every saint had a secT until I figured out PECAN. And in trying to guess the long acrosses in the SE I decided 59A should start with WenT ... and 61 A was StevE somebody (having guessed MTv instead of MTM). I did, at long last, figure out SARGE, and the best I could do for the container was decide it must be a VE JAR, shaped like the letter, and thus eponymous. Argh!

SW was almost as bad, as I wanted ZEN (for Zenith) instead of MTN, and oleO before MAYO. Then when I got the _ED_ in 51A I thought maybe LEDA (the swan-lover) might be one of his subjects. The real problem there, though, was that I guessed AS IF i care instead of ... TO SAY, and wasn't confident enough of MONOTREME to be sure that T wasn't a C, or the M wasn't a T. I did finally get that corner, but not the NE.

BANGALORE was interesting. As long as I was asking "which Indian city could be a garden city?" I was stumped - but as soon as I started asking "what city starts with B and has L_R_ at the end," I had it.

Despite my frustration, I think it was a fine puzzle.

mac 5:22 PM  

Beautiful puzzle, but beyond challenging for me. Loooved "something fierce".

Widows, Sam Mendes and Obamacare came easily, but I to had paled for paced, and biscotti for amaretti, even though I just bought the almond paste to bake the latter in the next week!

Ellen S 5:35 PM  

My last post. I checked the wordplay blog and they are all hollering about the download problems SONETHING FIERCE.
One suggestion:
"Just keep retrying the link. I need to click-back-click two or three times before I get the download screen instead of the http 1 error. I don't clear the cache or anything in between."

But I wonder if that was just lucky timing. In the post preceding that one, Deb Anlen said:

Welcome to Wordplay, and I'm sorry you (and others) are having trouble accessing the puzzles. The tech team is aware of the issue and yes, they are working on it. No, no one is on vacation, although I'm sure they wish they were.

If you are having trouble getting a response from general Customer Care (they have been DELUGED with emails and phone calls, and need to respond to queries in the order they receive them), PLEASE try writing to:
crosswords@nytimes.com

That is the help desk that has been specifically set up for crosswords issues. And please be patient. No one is being ignored, but they get a huge amount of traffic and have a very small staff that deals with the issues. If you don't hear from them in 48 hours, write again or call:
(800) 591-9233

Bird 5:43 PM  

Saw the constructor's name and thought it would be a good puzzle. Disappointed that I didn't finish - but not unexpected as Saturdays are still on the challenging side for me.

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

Ellen S: thank you for that input about the NYT website issues.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

MARSUPIAL is the same length as MONOTREME.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

"Letter after OSCAR" = PAPA in the phonetic alphabet used by the military, pilots, and radio operators.

Starts with "ALPHA", "BETA", etc and ends with "ZULU"

retired_chemist 7:13 PM  

Too much not in my wheelhouse. So, a challenging experience with several Googles. But a lot to like in the fill - the weakness was mine.

Last fill was the R in PART A - I had PASTA, thinking it might be the first section of a meal. Left CUSSEWORD as a WTF but then I saw the light. %#$@**(&^!

Had ADAR for ELUL but was willing to change once a cross so indicated.

Nice one,Joon. Thanks.

mac 7:57 PM  

Belladonna, or deathly nightshade is a different plant from a Belladonna Lily, isn't it? Always thought deathly nightshade was in the potato family.

Dirigonzo 8:24 PM  

My local paper does not publish the (syndicated) Saturday puzzle so I stop at the convenience store on my way to work and plunk down $2.50 for the NYT. Then I do the puzzle when I get home after work, so no problems accessing the puzzle here. Weekend Puzzle Partner and I blew through the grid with no real problem - the SW was the last to fall as SELMA and AMITY remained hidden for a while. And contrary to what @ED says, SOMETHINGFIERCE is a wonderful phrase that means exactly what the clue calls for. I missed OBAMACARE when it first appeared many months ago but I nailed it this time. This may be the best $2.50 I ever spent.

evil doug 8:36 PM  

You miss my point. 'Something _____' could be many things: special, crazy, wild, awful---so forth. So while 'something fierce' certainly fits the clue, the key part of the answer is the more vivid 'fierce'---'something' is a dull word that couldn't stand alone like 'fierce' could.

Evil

Dirigonzo 9:34 PM  

No, you miss my point - "something fierce" is a phrase that where I come from means precisely what the clue says, "Tremendously". So "I love her something fierce" is totally in the language - maybe it's a regional thing, but it works for me.

English Language 9:34 PM  

@ED - Except that, in this case, 'something' is an amplifier. It takes fierce to another level.

acme 10:02 PM  

@Z
Ahhh, that's where I knew the song from!

@Sir Hillary
I'm with you about Oscar years, but frankly in order for it not to be a pure trivia question, I would like SOME info on what director it is, name a film he directed or say Kate Winslet's ex-, SOMETHING other than a year. Like a Random Roman Numeral, Random Oscar Year
(ROY) is of little help. I mean I know it's not random, it's an actual year. But do you know what I mean?
There needs to be some clue to SAMMENDES' identity.
And given Joon's admittance to being totally not into pop culture, I'm sure he had a different clue for FEIST or maybe doesn't even know who SAMMENDES is but it fit!

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

I never heard of GST, presumably Greenwich Standard Time (22A).
It's more commonly known as GMT, Greenwich Mean (as in average) Time.
Astronomers now refer to it as UTC, Coordinated Universal Time.
Pilots (those who use Oscar and Papa) call it Zulu, as 2300Z.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

GST should be GMT

Dirigonzo 10:22 PM  

@acme - But SAMMENDES is inferrable from the crosses, no? I had no idea who he was yet Joon's grid produced the solution with no problem so that's good thing, YESNO?

mac 10:36 PM  

One Feist I know is a mathematician/great puzzle solver I've met several times at the ACPT!

Anoa Bob 11:55 PM  

I wondered about 22A GST being clued as "Astronomer's calculation, Abbr.". I thought the G referred to Greenwich and the ST was Standard Time. GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, is more commonly seen.

Either way, it's not an astronomer's calculation. Zero degree latitude is decided by political/historical/yadayada factors, not astronomical ones.

Rex cleared this up with Sidereal as the S in GST. Sidereal time is determined by astronomical calculations, no matter what the longitude.

sanfranman59 12:02 AM  

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 6:31, 6:46, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:20, 8:57, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:16, 11:48, 0.87, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 10:36, 18:44, 0.57, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 177 Thursdays)
Fri 17:24, 24:18, 0.72, 8%, Easy
Sat 24:28, 28:59, 0.84, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:41, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:46, 4:41, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Wed 5:51, 5:57, 0.98, 48%, Medium
Thu 5:39, 9:22, 0.60, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 177 Thursdays)
Fri 9:03, 12:08, 0.75, 14%, Easy
sAT 14:21, 16:28, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Still can't access any of the puzzles online :(

Ellen S 4:23 AM  

Exceeding my limit but wanted to report, I tried downloading the Sunday puz, got the http1 error, tried the suggestion I posted above: click to download, got error, click Back button, click-Back, click-Back, until all of a sudden it worked.

Tita 10:20 AM  

NW easy? Slayed me..
BANGALORE was easy, since it is technology center.
OBAMACARE shoulda been so easy from the lead OB-, but it eluded me for a long time. PIANO misdirect got me.
Thought TITAN was the largest, so didn't throw it in till I becamse desperate, and wanted aomething, anything, in that CURSEd NW.

Liked MADLIB (a favorite roadtrip game as a kid), and SOMETHINGFIERCE.

@Rex - if you spend any time in seafaring towns, you will see WIDOWS walks everywhere.

THanks for a classic Saturday struggle, Joon...

OISK 11:47 AM  

I do the Sunday puzzle on Saturday, and the Saturday on Sunday; the magazine comes with the Sunday paper. I really enjoyed this puzzle. Perfect Saturday, as far as I am concerned, even though I never heard of feist. Dewar is easy for a chemist. Great puzzle! Thanks, Joon, hope you see the late comments.

Dirigonzo 7:35 PM  

@Tita - In a bit of syndication synchronicity, today's Sunday puzzle (which appeared a week ago for you) clued GANYMEDE as "Largest moon in the solar system" so that little bit of trivia would have cured your resistance to TITAN.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

It's not a real puzzle, ad always a tricky word play always remembering the old good REAL puzzles.





Tita 9:25 PM  

Haha, @Dirigonzo - Yes, I DID know that then, now that you mention it, but funny that it didn't shake my conviction here that TITAN was the biggest.
I must attribute that to the fact that TITAN is extremely in the language and familar.

Joon 3:10 PM  

andrea, you malign me. that FEIST clue was indeed mine; i'm very familiar with her because i was incessantly exposed to those ipod nano commercials with that "1234" song that seemed to run something like 5 times during every NFL game during the 2007 season. i was actually quite sick of the song, the video, and FEIST herself by then; either the years have whittled away my distaste, or i've fallen victim to some variant of stockholm syndrome.

as for SAM MENDES? i said at the time that i saw it that american beauty was my second-favorite movie ever. it left a very strong impression on me, and would probably still rank in my top 5. (i actually suspect i wouldn't like it nearly as much if i watched it again, which to me is good reason not to watch it again.) and it was his directorial debut--very impressive. what i've caught of his subsequent work has also been outstanding. i noticed a while ago that his name is tailor-made for the bottom row of a grid, so it was actually a seed entry here. when OBAMACARE/WRITLARGE/SAMMENDES came together like that, i knew i had hit upon something good.

as for the clue and the oscar year ambiguity, i'm afraid that was a deliberate trap; the best director award for 1998, presented in early 1999, was SPIELBERG (same # of letters, same S) for saving private ryan.

thanks for the kind words, everybody (or at least everybody who was successfully able to access the puzzle).

Acme 3:45 PM  

@joon
Ha! I sit corrected!!! Thought I was shedding light, but actually cast some shade! Was going on comments you'd made before about pop music and not seeing a ton of films.
Obviously no maligning intended, but I am sorry!
Plus got you to she'd even more light on this tough but fabulous puzzle...so there's that!

And I can relate not wanting to see something again less it spoils it being one of your faves...
I'm this way about the film "Amerika" an Italian/Albanian film I've seen but once but would put in my top 5 of all time!

Anyway, thankyou @dirigonzo for alerting me to @joon's late post and giving me a chance to apologize to Joon (and clarify!) my 10:02 pm post!

Spacecraft 10:10 AM  

I solved this, no errors or help--but I still don't know how. Stuff I knew: TITAN, MADLIB, INAPIE, TTYL. Pretty much everything else I had to work at. It astounds me that @Sanfranman's group--AS A GROUP--rated this "easy." Let's just say I don't want to play Jeopardy! against those guys, let alone our worthy constructor.

WRITLARGE was mentioned by several as a "favorite." It's certainly no favorite of mine. Who, post-Elizabethan, says that? Today, "writ" is something involved in a "court determination." It will most likely be writTEN. That, along with OFW (obscure foreign word) ARBOL, go beyond the pale for reasonable crossword entries, IMO.

That they were necessary to complete this grid, which in large part is brilliant, gives them a grudging pass. Nice, hard but fair, clues--loved the one for PIANO--made it a satisfying solve. One writeover: My WR GOESlong instead of DEEP, but he gets there. Now let's hope he makes the catch.

rain forest 2:59 PM  

All my astrologic signs are aligned, my karma very positive, and I must go out and buy a lottery ticket...

Two days in a row I have dashed, with no curse words, through Friday and Saturday. Today my "seed answers" were BANGALORE, FEIST, TITAN, PACTS, WIDOWS, INUIT, and MONOTREME, all downs, and all of which were pretty well just written in, no crosses. So despite not knowing the Hebrew month, the DTEN thing, the Roman (or Greek)individuals, this was quick. Again, I'm not saying it was "easy", although SanFranman's statistics say it is, but I just flew through it.

DMGrandma 3:10 PM  

Not an easy day for me, my SW is a mess with write-overs. I wanted "onoff" or the reverse for 60A. Was stumped when platypus wouldn't fit. No idea who Deloces ruled, so tried Jedi which made Jiff my spread. ACH!!! Also trouble in the NE. Never heard the expression LOSTASTEP and couldn't figure anything LOST that could cross with REwrAp, and it didn't help that I thought the city is BANGladORE, which, of course, didn't fit. Enough said!

@Waxy. I appreciate your advice, but the problem is that the address you gave, the one I've used "forever", no longer brings the site with options across the top, it just brings the real today's puzzle. No help to Syndilanders. I thought maybe it was my ancient, original iPad, but got the same result on a brand new one at the Apple store. So, I stand by my advice, if you have somehow latched on to the "real" page, hang on to it!

Red Valerian 4:50 PM  

@JC66--the explanation for the Feist video being so lame is that she's from Canada??!? I'm wounded ;-}

Thought the puzzle was fine, though groaned at PONES and the clue for PECAN. Oh, and at both the answer INAPIE and its clue "Where blackbirds may be baked?"

Really liked SOMETHING FIERCE (which is in the language) and WRIT LARGE (ditto).

Nice of @Joon to stop by and straighten out some misconceptions.

Ginger 9:13 PM  

Loved this puzzle which I almost finished. For me this is a good thing on Friday or Saturday. In fact, I almost finished yesterday's puz too. So I'm feeling pretty good.

Did not know MONOTREME, and thank you Rex for making it the WOTD. Wanted platypus, but, no. Had T-YL but couldn't parse it. Love the Lab directive, (wish mine would), and the clue for GOES DEEP.

I'm a pilot, so PAPA was easy. Strongly agree with the decision on Virginia v. Sibelius. It proves that we may actually be a civilized society, that takes care of each other.

Nice of Joon to stop by, and though he probably wont see late syndiland comments, Thanks for a fun Saturday.

LobgBeachLee 9:46 PM  

Am I the only one that saw low-esteem as what the Icman Cometh characters expressed? Hung on to that way too long.

Ellen S 10:05 PM  

@dmgrandma-- probably your iPad is automatically connecting you to the "mobile" version of the blog, which doesn't have the tabs you need. Scroll aaaall the to the bottom and click on "show web view" (or something like that--i am typing on my phone at the moment and navigating at all is difficult. )

Hope this works for you.

Waxy in Montreal 1:33 AM  

Loved LOSTASTEP and GOESDEEP which are quite appropriate for the NFL's wildcard weekend. Can't say the same for TTYL, DTEN, MADLIB and ELUL which, changing sports, are out of my strike zone. Had also hoped that the Beasts of the East were a college football or basketball squad - never heard YETIS given that particular description.

Many WIDOWS WALKS still extant in coastal New England homes once probably lived-in by certain harpooners who were not INUIT. Has always been a PIPEDREAM of Mrs. Waxy that we should retire to such a house in Maine.

As always, Joon's puzzle was the real deal, a worthy Saturday challenge even if in the end I had to resort to Google to complete the Pac N-W. Even a DNF can feel like a victory.

Anonyrat 3:28 PM  

SW was by far the easiest for me. Monotreme was a gimme - got if off the R. Credit for that goes to having kids that watch "Phineas and Ferb" all the time.
I've never heard of DTEN, but I know D12. (See, e.g.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZB0VjkoCT8. Warning - not safe for work or children.) No idea WTH FEIST is though. OK, just watched the video. My gawd that's awful.
@ Spacecraft 10:10 AM - ARBOL is beyond the pale for a Saturday, but "avostrepatoot" or whatever it was is fine for a Monday? The only puzzle I DNFed in the last two weeks was Monday's. Maybe it just depends on what language you took in school...
In any event, got to love a puzzle with no French. Thanks, Mr. Pahk - keep up the good work.

Lennie Augustine 6:26 PM  

First time ever that Rex rated what I thought was a sure "Easy" as difficult. Not sure I've ever had an easier time ... WIDOWS and ARBOL dropped right in and it was off to the races, even though I was bone tired when I started.

Didn't really care for WRITLARGE (never seen that used in my life), but other than that, a nice puzzle.

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