May 9, 2020

Saturday, May 9, 2020, Christopher Adams

Themeless Saturday Puzzle by Christopher Adams

Chris got his Masters at Iowa and is now sitting out before tackling his Phd. He is still in Iowa City as a "townie"and is working in test scoring for The Pearson Education Company there although that is "iffy" these days.

Chris's response to my gmail was very interesting and detailed and I have posted it in full at the bottom of this write-up because you should have an opportunity to read it in its entirety. Highlights:  Most of [my] puzzles are originals for [my] site, though some are just puzzles that didn't find a home elsewhere. In fact, this puzzle was almost one of those, until I realized while looking through my files that I hadn't actually sent this to the LA Times like I thought I had. Definitely thought Rich and Patti would like this puzzle, and that it was worth publishing, and I'm glad they agreed with me on that. I think this is my seventh LA Times puzzle (and fourth freestyle), and it might be my favorite of the freestyles (although this October 4th puzzle was pretty much built as a freestyle, and was originally scheduled as a "themed themeless").

This puzzle dates back to at least 2018, if not earlier; at the very least, it's definitely an older freestyle, and people that have been solving my puzzles for awhile can probably spot that. The puzzle was built around the intersecting pair of THIS IS JUST TO SAY and ETIQUETTE, which I had clued as "Not eating somebody else's plums that were in the icebox and which they were probably saving for breakfast, for example". That's the sort of clue that I wrote because I could; I don't mind writing longer clues, and still do that for my site, although I've gotten better at writing shorter clues for puzzles I send to mainstream outlets.

Let's see how you would score this puzzle and be sure to read Chris's full, insightful remarks at the bottom!


1. Pureed condiment: FISH PASTE - C.C. told me that she has used anchovy paste and that this condiment is more common in Southeast Asia

10. Boot: EXPEL - I had to EXPEL evict, egest and eject

15. "Gracie's Choice" Emmy nominee: ANNE HECHE Anne Heche was previously married to Coleman 'Coley' Laffoon (2001 - 2009)She has been in relationships with Liz Brixius (2018 - 2019), James Tupper (2007 - 2018), Ellen DeGeneres (1997 - 2000), Neal H. Moritz (1996 - 1997), Steve Martin (1994 - 1997) and Lindsey Buckingham.

16. Inner determination: DRIVE 

17. Dangerous bar: THIRD RAIL - High voltage bar to drive subway. Don't touch!

18. Selected: TAKEN - College players TAKEN in the first round of the NFL draft will make big bucks

19. Jersey chew: CUD - Not HAY

20. Virtual citizens in a video game: SIMS - A SIM hospital for your SIMS

21. Cristina __, Sandra Oh's "Grey's Anatomy" role: YANG - Beautiful, talented and arrogant 

22. Iowa Department of Transportation city: AMES - Home of the arch rival of Iowa U

24. Kurosawa's "Ran," for one: EPIC - A retelling of King Lear. Ran is Japanese for Chaos

C'mon Dover, move your bloomin' arse!
26. Cravat cousin: ASCOT - Freddie wears an ASCOT at the ASCOT races but non-pretentious 'enry 'iggins  opted for another cravat cousin - a tie

27. Campfire exchange: TALES.

29. Five Pillars faith: ISLAM.

31. "Come again?": HUH.

32. Esther who co-founded In-N-Out Burger: SNYDER - Harry and Esther in 1948 founding

34. Court service: JURY DUTY - I once reported for JURY DUTY at 8 am on the 9th when it was supposed to be there at 9 am on the 8th. I got away with it.

36. Proprieties: ETIQUETTE and 
47. Polite gesture: HAT TIP.

38. Breaks up: DISRUPTS.

41. Best of the bets: SAFEST.

45. __ Energy: PepsiCo drink: AMP - Over 2x the caffeine in my coffee

46. Australian city named for a Scottish city: PERTH.

48. Muslim face veil: NIQAB - Perfectly legal but not on Driver's licenses 

49. Beaufort scale listings: GALES - Wind velocity scale 

51. Shot: STAB.

53. Robin portrayer Ward: BURT - Holy Sidekick, Batman!

54. "Midnight in Paris" actor Wilson: OWEN.

55. Chica's "other": OTRA - Por OTRA lado (On the other hand)

57. Get better, perhaps: AGE.

58. Exchange, as words: BANDY - We do BANDY back and forth here 

60. Winter : hibernates :: summer : __: ESTIVATES - When animals slow their activity for the hot, dry summer months. 

62. Intensity: ARDOR.

63. Title bout, say: MAIN EVENT - Whatever happened to that Clay kid?

64. Gets wind of: HEARS.

65. Gives a fitting role: TYPECASTS 23 TYPECAST actors


1. Wealthy donors: FAT CATS - Pols decry them but cash their checks

2. Barbaric: INHUMAN.

3. Dudley's nemesis, in toons: SNIDELY.

4. Part of HRH: HER - Elizabeth II has been a dignified "HER Royal Majesty". Her kids...

5. Advanced degs.: PHDS - Many are crossword constructors and Chris will get his too

6. Aptly named American Eagle store: AERIE.

7. Seafood order: SCAMPI.

8. "I'm writing so you'll know ... ": THIS IS JUST TO SAY - uh, that job didn't come through

9. Sushi order: EEL.

10. Fort Sumter summer hrs.: EDT - The South Carolina Militia (there was no Confederate Army or Daylight Savings Time yet) starting firing on Fort Sumter at 4:30 am EST on 4/12/65.

11. Diagnostic tests: X-RAYS.

12. Title 2019 Pokémon film detective: PIKACHU.

13. Balance: EVEN OUT and 
42. Represents as identical: EQUATES.

14. Protracted: LENGTHY - I'm more of a "cut to the chase" kind of guy

23. Ritual in the month of Nisan: SEDER - A ritual Jewish feast celebrated on the eve of the 15th of Nisan

25. Footprint, maybe: CLUE.

26. "The Kitchen God's Wife" novelist: AMY TAN Want a signed first edition?

28. Stings: SETUPS - The coup de grâce in moviedom's most famous Sting

30. Liberal group?: ARTS.

33. Fully developed: RIPE.

35. Emergency treatment, for short: DEFIB here's an 
60. CPR specialist: EMT using an Automatic External DEFIBRILLATOR in the field

37. NBA periods: QTRS.

38. Swampy "Star Wars" planet: DAGOBAH  and 
50. Home of the Ewoks: ENDOR. You either know these Star Wars locales or you don't. I'm in the latter group but fill was easy 

39. "You don't need to tell me": I'M AWARE.

40. Low-calorie sweetener: SPLENDA.

43. Portraitist John Singer __: SARGENT All you need to know

44. Certain intradermal exams, for short: TB TESTS - I've got a scar on my upper arm from this

52. Pickle juice: BRINE - or for this purpose

56. "__ plaisir!": AVEC - You're on your own

59. Jr. and sr.: YRS - 2020 srs. got cheated out of a lot

61. "Queen Sugar" creator DuVernay: AVA - If you closely examine this info, you will see a very well known co-creator of this series

Here's the full text of Chris's note

What actually is, though, is that I've been in Iowa City since 2015, and have been making puzzles for pretty much the entire time I've been here. I've had my site since 2017, and have somehow managed to put out a puzzle per week (more or less) since then. Most of those puzzles are originals for the site, though some are just puzzles that didn't find a home elsewhere. In fact, this puzzle was almost one of those, until I realized while looking through my files that I hadn't actually sent this to the LA Times like I thought I had. Definitely thought Rich and Patti would like this puzzle, and that it was worth publishing, and I'm glad they agreed with me on that. I think this is my seventh LA Times puzzle (and fourth freestyle), and it might be my favorite of the freestyles (although this puzzle was pretty much built as a freestyle, and was originally scheduled as a "themed themeless").

This puzzle dates back to at least 2018, if not earlier; at the very least, it's definitely an older freestyle, and people that have been solving my puzzles for awhile can probably spot that. The puzzle was built around the intersecting pair of THIS IS JUST TO SAY and ETIQUETTE, which I had clued as "Not eating somebody else's plums that were in the icebox and which they were probably saving for breakfast, for example". That's the sort of clue that I wrote because I could; I don't mind writing longer clues, and still do that for my site, although I've gotten better at writing shorter clues for puzzles I send to mainstream outlets.

Anyway, the layout is a pretty typical one; turning the corners from triple nines to triple sevens is a little tricky, but not too difficult. I started with the upper corner and mostly felt good about the answers; that said, if I made this today, I'd probably either clue INHUMAN with a reference to the upcoming Marvel film or just not include it at all. The bottom stack was a little trickier, as was connecting it to the middle, where I already had two entries in place. Stuff like QTRS OTRA AVEC isn't the worst, but isn't the best; that part is probably the most obvious thing that hints at this being an older puzzle, and is something I'd like to improve on today.

I'd also like to improve on the lower left; YRS isn't great (especially with QTRS, EDT, EMT already meeting the abbreviation quota for this puzzle) but I couldn't resist including two Star Wars references in that corner. Honestly, I kinda expected ENDOR to get switched to AND/OR to make things easier; I realize all the crosses on ENDOR and DAGOBAH are fair, but if you don't know them, you're missing a lot of letters from the across entries (including the pivotal first letters) and that'll make it hard for some solvers. That said, I wouldn't think twice about this corner if it was running on my site, where it definitely fits the voice / intended audience better.

On the other hand, I like the NE corner a lot more: everything's fairly crossed and well-known, and it works in some interesting letters without hurting the fill. The SE corner kinda does that too; TB TESTS isn't the greatest answer, but I thought it was worth it to get DEFIB and NIQAB in there. Overall, as noted above, I think this is one of my favorite LAT puzzles to date, even if there's some things I'd try to change if I was making it again today. But that's just part of who I am as a constructor, always trying to get better, and always trying to make the fill as clean as possible.


desper-otto said...

Good morning!

This one was very Silkyish. (That's high praise, BTW.) Looked impossible, but came together little by little, and in good time to boot. My WAGs were all golden, and that helped a lot. NIQAB? Sounds like you should need a prescription for it. Very nice, Christopher. Well done, Husker. (Are you sure that scar on your upper arm is from a TB Test and not from a smallpox vaccination?)

Hungry Mother said...

FIR, but a bit sloggish going. Too many write-overs to list, as I burned up a lot of gray matter on this one. Very fair, very challenging.

Yellowrocks said...

This was fun and not too difficult for a Saturday, except for one natick, which I failed. I never heard of DAGOBAR or OWEN, which could have been SWEN or GWEN. I guessed wrong.
I love Any Tan's novels.
Scampi is one of my favorite seafood dishes.

Lemonade714 said...

A solid Saturday with a sprinkling of unknowns, but fair perps. Esther who co-founded In-N-Out Burger: SNYDER ; Winter: hibernates:: summer : __: ESTIVATES ; and, Swampy "Star Wars" planet: DAGOBAH all needed extreme help. I also did not know how to spell NIQAB .

HG, I agree with D-O about the smallpox scar we of a certain age all have. The TB test is done on the inside of the forearm, I believe.

A very comprehensive and entertaining write-up and thank you for including the added insight from Christopher. Be safe all

TTP said...

A slow and steady pace led to the solve today. Got it in two sittings, but not because a break was needed. Had to start the second load of laundry and put the first in the dryer. Man I can generate a lot of dirty clothes !

Anyway, YANG and NIQAB were new. YANG didn't put up much resistance, but NIQAB had me second guessing myself the whole way and thankfully perps paved the way on that one too. I wanted burka.

We've had AMY TAN and AVA DuVernay enough times that regular solvers shouldn't have had much problems with their names, but SNYDER was another name aided by the perps.

No real perp help needed for OWEN (CSO to OwenKL !), BURT Ward or SNIDELY Whiplash. ANNE HECHE was a given after a few perps, and SARGENT was unknown.

In addition to NIQAB, ESTIVATES was the only unknown answer that wasn't a proper name. Thanks Husker Gary, for defining it.

Me too, on DAGOBAH and ENDOR, Gary. I repeat, I've never seen a Star Wars movie.

I'm still finding Pokémon cards around the house in drawers, in other game boxes, behind the couch... One nephew was really into them when he was a young one.

I especially liked that "23 TYPECAST actors link. When I saw the link, the first actor I thought of was Jack Elam, but the actors were much more current. Very well written and in my opinion, very accurate.

Christopher, thanks for your very open assessment of your puzzle. I think you are second guessing yourself on some of the fill, but for a moderately competent solver like myself, there was nothing in it that couldn't be sussed out. I give it an A+. Thanks for the challenge !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including Chris's note. Great puzzle! Interesting that he recognized that two Star Wars references so close to each other would be tricky. I'm not a Star Wars buff. I've never heard of DAGOBAH or AMP, and I only recalled ENDOR after getting most of the crosses, so there was some serious tough sledding in that corner, particularly since the answer adjacent to DAGOBAH is IMAWARE, which isn't quite GREENPAINT but not that far off from it, and YRS is down there, too. But I eventually got it done!

PK said...

Hi Y'all! This puzzle for me can be summed up with "HUH?" -- a real groaner! Thank you, Gary, for your interesting explanations. Christopher is educated beyond my wave length. Not fun.

First pass thru I managed to insert ten words, mostly three & four letters each like CUD & AVA. All other guesses turned red at least once. I would never have come up with a "condiment" called FISH PASTE in a million years. However, that might be tasty to FAT CATS if they were of the feline kind. Couldn't come up with either entry without red-letter runs followed by that HUH?

I read that AMY TAN book years ago but had forgotten she wrote it.

DNK: DAGOBAH, ENDOR, ESTIVATES (don't we all do that?), AMP. Just cruel entries to an old lady who is not a sci-fic fan.

Pickle juice was not "vinegar" but BRINE. With all the gallons of pickles I made during my farm wife career, you'd think I'd know that one right away. Bet Christopher has never BRINEd a cucumber in his life. I need another nap.

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Woohoo! Got it all correctly. Who-da thought? Needed guesses were better than average guesses. Used JzB's advice from YRS ago to "not overthink it." I'm not good at sci-fi/lit types of clues, so patience and luck paid off. I did mis-read 'proprieties' as 'properties' so it took a while to get to ETIQUETTE. Liked the SNIDELY / SNYDER cross. ESTIVATES was a learning.
THIRD RAIL - While the RAIL is arguably a 'bar' I've never heard it called that. BTW - Did you know all such THIRD RAIL is DC?
PERTH came easily. There is a Town of PERTH in Fulton Co., NY.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

Three quarters of the solve were smooth, but the SW quadrant almost did me in. The Star Wars clues were simply head-scratchers as, like TTP, I have never seen any of the movies, but the log jam was my choosing the wrong Wilson brother. This was a careless error as I saw “Midnight In Paris” and even pictured Owen Wilson’s face in my head. Why I entered Luke and hung onto it for so long is a mystery. Once corrected, though, the other bugaboos of Dagoban, Endor, and Splenda materialized and I got my Tada at 34:54, not too bad considering the Wilson debacle. My unknowns were plentiful: in addition to the aforementioned, I was thrown by Yang, Snyder, Amp, Estivates, and Pikachu. I had Exile before Expel and Shrimp before Scampi and my favorite C/A was Liberal group=Arts.

Thanks, Christopher, for a challenging but, finally, doable Saturday and thanks, HG, for an enlightening and elucidating review and for sharing Christopher’s thoughts and construction challenges.

My visit to the grocery store was a strange experience what with everyone masked and nervous about any too-close contact. There was a small supply of TP, paper towels, and facial tissues, but not one container of liquid soap refills, or any liquid soap, period. Certain aisles and shelves were either totally empty or had only a few items to choose from. The meat counter was in pretty good shape but there were limits on certain items. The Deli was operating but the butcher shop counter was closed. Overall, I got everything on my list except the soap refill. I couldn’t wait to get outside and remove the mask.

Stay safe, everyone.

Anonymous said...

I got the upper left but the rest was out of my league. Just didn't know or couldn't connect.

Big Easy said...

Well it's Saturday and the LA Times Saturday puzzle is the MAIN EVENT. And it was a tough one to complete but I got it. Clues from a tv show and movie I'd never heard of-Gracie's Choice, Queen Sugar, & Ran-, an ISLAMic veil I'd never heard of (I know hijab & burka), an unknown energy drink, TWO Star Wars planets in close proximity, and more INHUMAN (not inhumane or un-human?) clues than I care to list. No In-N-Out places around these parts. A French expression crossing a Spanish clue. Ugh!

But somehow I managed to dredge up ANNE HECHE (DON AMECHE had to be removed), YANG, PIKACHU, DAGOBAH, ENDOR, NIQAB, SNYDER, AVEC & OTRA, EPIC, AMP Energy, and ESTIVATES.
THIRD RAIL was all perps- thanks for the pic; I had no idea. Two swampy for anything underground in NOLA>

If a NIQAB is 'perfectly legal' then so should the idiotic KKK masks. In LA it's not legal to wear a complete face mask except during Mardi Gras.

Obviously Anne Heche gets around in more ways than one.

A HAT TIP to Chris Adams.

OMaxiN said...

After the first past there were many open squares. Finally filled all the blanks with 2 bad cells. FIW.
I am a Star Wars fan, but entered DAGOwAH. For BANDY I first tried qANDa, but jrs & srs had to be YRS. So it filled as wANDY. HUH?
Not familiar with the face veil. Thought intradermal skin test first letter T was for for trans, but didn't have any idea what the second letter of the test could be.
Thanks Chris & HG.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Knowing it's Saturday opened the paper to the crossword page with trepidation to find a sea of squares and two Latin crosses. One ominously upside down. Should I take that as an OMEN, skip the puzzle and instead....

1. See what Charley Brown and Garfield are up to?
2. Get some advice from Dear Abby?
3. Make sure my name is not included in today's obituaries?

Can't sit out on the deck. Patio furniture and umbrella I set up last Saturday are covered in snow! So I went for it and, surprise, FIR but with the usual Saturday inky mess.

I see SNIDELY has a perp brother who's even SNYDER. Is FISHPASTE (yuck) made with a 1970's SNL Bassomatic? (way before your time, Chris)

FATCATS are rich but not necessarily generous.

THIRD RAIL metal warning sign in Italy "Chi Tocca Muore!" (He Who Touches Dies!).

It. sole estivo "summer sun" Thought it was spelled aESTIVATION. Maybe a Brit spelling? It's a British med text when I look up "Esophagitis" and it's not under E but O "Oesophagitis". Head slap for not seeing right through XRAYS immediately.

"Holy Cannoli, Batman!" almost spelled (spelt?) BURT with an "E".

Predicting snow on Mother's Day. Mother Nature..not nice to fool us!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know what the infection rate is for the Coronavirus amongst the women and general population of Arab nations where the wearing of the Niqab is mandatory.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Omaxin @ 10:24 TB test... TB for Tuberculosis test. Intradermal injection. Checked after 48 hrs. If no reaction no exposure. If reddened and puffy there's been exposure at some time. Necessary test each year for hospital personnel

Yellowrocks said...

Today is Alan's birthday. He is the best Mother's Day gift I ever had. This morning I went to his residence and had a patio visit with him sitting inside the patio door and me on the deck. It was a great surprise because I asked the staff not to tell Alan I was coming. I dropped off a present and a card near the door for the counselor to bring in. I stayed 20-25 minutes.It was good to see him, but we missed hugging.
The staff was decorating the house with birthday balloons. Tonight they will have a pizza party with small gifts and a chocolate birthday cake. It is a wonderful place with caring, competent staff and fine new friends. We are so lucky.

Shankers said...

As Gomer Pyle would say, "Gollly!" I have to echo almost everybody in saying there were so many unknowns including pikachu, dagobah, niqab, estivates and a few others, but persistence paid off in the end. Like Yellowrocks above, I had only one natick at 49A thinking that Beaufort had to do with mineral hardness. Hand up for voting Rocky and Bullwinkle as the best toon series ever. The Way Back Machine, Fractured Fairy Tales, etc. were just so hysterical.

Picard said...

Thank you all for the good healing wishes. The surgery seems to have gone well and I am home now. Someone told me the surgeon did an additional surgery while he was in there. I am curious to find out what that was about! The chest and abdomen pain feels like I have done 10,000 sit-ups. And sleep is difficult. But overall things are tolerable. My DW and I have already gone for several walks in the neighborhood which seems to be the best medicine. (That, and a bit of codeine!) In between, naps in bed. Thanks again, everybody!
Thanks for the inside story with our constructor. ESTIVATES was a gimme for this wannabe biologist in my youth. But the puzzle had a bit too many proper names for my taste. I have seen all of the Star Wars movies, but I don't remember all of the names. SW seemed impossible with DAGOBAH crossing unknowns OWEN and AMP. Had to WAG that as well as cross of PIKACHU and YANG to FIR.

Picard said...

From Yesterday:
SwampCat glad that you are inspired to check out some of the Next Generation episodes with Picard. Everyone gets something different from Star Trek, but if you liked the original series I am sure you will find episodes of The Next Generation to like, too. I don't do streaming anything, so I bought a boxed set of all of the episodes. It doesn't cost that much, really.

I also enjoyed all the discussion of ancient computer equipment. I was glad that I started programming in the era of paper tape rather than punch cards. But at my first job I did do key punching on punch cards. This was data at the Smithsonian in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles. No programming there for me.

Anonymous said...

This is just to say...
it's actually "por OTRO lado" (masculine, not feminine)

Wendybird said...

Saturdays are tough! I enjoyed the puzzle, especially BANDY, but I FIW, unable to get the SE corner. I have now added NIQUAB and ESTIVATES to my vocabulary. Midnight in Paris is a favorite “Woody” of ours.

I enjoyed the Anatomy of a Crossword Puzzle that Chris shared and am blown away by the intricacies . Still not sure what “freestyle” means.

Thanks for the workout, Chris and for the great tour, Gary.

Onward to tackle jigsaw puzzles and sweat through an online exercise class.

oc4beach said...

Bunch of names and words I didn't know, but with perps and wags it ultimately got done. Good puzzle and good tour through the grid.

I did know the Star Wars clues. Having seen all the movies many times with my kids and grandson.

Along with Big Easy's comment, Anne Heche can't seem to make up her mind.

I have a nephew who lives in PERTH, Australia, so that was a gimme.

I had _I_AB so I put in HIJAB but that didn't work, so NIQAB it was.

All in all a hard but doable puzzle.

IM: The supermarket situation is about the same here. Meat doesn't seem to be a problem, but pasta and paper products are. Except at Wegman's where they got multiple truckloads of paper products over a month ago that resulted in them having to store most of them in what was the now-closed Wegman's Cafe. It's weird seeing the paper stacked to the ceiling. They only put out a little at a time on the shelves and limit the amount that people can buy so they can't stock up and hoard it.

Our area (Northwest and North Central PA) partially opened yesterday. Some businesses are opening, but restaurants are still take-out only, and gyms, spas, nail salons, barbershops, hair salons and entertainment venues are still closed. No groups larger than 25 people are allowed and social distancing and mask rules are still in effect.

Yesterday, as I was leaving the Giant supermarket, a young person (late teenager or early man) came in with a full Hazmat suit on with a fully enclosed helmet with its own air supply. But the older person with him had no mask on and would not put one on when the checker at the door asked him to put one on and they just continued on into the store. The last I saw, the manager and a security person were heading after them to get them to comply or leave. I don't know what finally happened.

Be safe everyone.

Lucina said...


Anonymous @11:44 beat me to it but I'll repeat, it's "otro lado". Remember that adjectives must agree with their nouns: feminine noun, feminine adjective; masculine noun, masculine adjective.

Thank you, Christopher Adams! For a Saturday this was fairly easy. My late DH loved boxing so I'll give him a CSO at MAIN EVENT. He was an amateur boxer in his youth.

I had only to white-out EJECT and replace it with EXPEL, otherwise no errors!

FISHPASTE? Really? It doesn't sound appetizing.

The only Star Wars movie I saw in a theater is The Empire Strikes Back and I remember the EWOKS because they were so cute! ENDOR made an impression on me. However, I did not remember DAGOBAH; it all perped.

The Light Between Oceans is a really good book set in PERTH, Australia.

Shrimp SCAMPI is my favorite seafood dish, too.

Interesting to have ISLAM and NIQAB in the puzzle.

I liked seeing OTRA crossing AVEC, Spanish joining French.

CSO to all those here who have PHDS! a HAT TIP to you, Doctors!

Years ago all teachers were required to undergo a TB TEST before the start of the school year.

Have a delightful day, everyone!

Wilbur Charles said...

With trepidation I open the Saturday review knowing I have WAGS galore. Well, a few. Let's check in with Gary.

Looks like Ms HECHE scored the B in LGBTQ

Oh yeah, I lived near the Boston El in the fifties and well remember that third rail.

Perhaps Lemony and Picard have MTA TALES.

Esther not Duke SNYDER. Oh, he had an I

I inked EMENITIES . What a mess. Thank god for Q's on a Saturday.

There's one of my WAGS, NIQAB. Oops, I had M not G on the next WAG. I actually thought I remembered that scale from a previous CC. DAGORAH does sound sci-fi.

I finally realized the Ewoks were Time Machine not Star Wars-Chris and Rich wouldn't do two SW's. Eh? Or is Gary right? I'll soon learn. Yep, ENDOR . Cruel.

OWEN or Gwen. Is there a Gwen Wilson? I just read Bill's Story today.

ENIRVATES - 9 perps. And, "Je 'recevrai' la cheque, AVEC plaisir" = I will receive..

I better post, there's 20+ posts to follow

Wilbur Charles said...

That should be ENDOR

NaomiZ said...

A wonderful puzzle, in that it looked hopeless at first and I finally FIR! I wanted "proprieties" to have a plural answer, but finally understood that ETIQUETTE fit the bill. Thank you, Christopher and Husker!

Bill G said...

Thanks Gary and Chris. I found this more enjoyable than most Saturday puzzles. It fit OK with my ability level though some of it was too hard for me and I needed red letters in several places.

Again, I will say that I REALLY liked "Midnight in Paris." It's warm, romantic, funny and full of clever twists. Highly recommended.

Spitz, why are third rails all DC?

Picard, welcome back! I'm glad that things turned out so well for you.

AnonymousPVX said...

This Saturday puzzle had its moments.

I’ve seen every Star Wars movie, but I didn’t memorize them. ENDOR looked and sounded right, DAGOBAH filled with crosses.


Funny, 2 Q entries with no U after them today, 1 across and 1 down.

FISHPASTE adds Umami to a recipe. Doesn’t taste like fish unless you taste it by itself.

I’ll be Estivating soon enough here in SC.

STAY SAFE, and see you Monday.

Happy Mother’s Day as applicable.

Spitzboov said...

Bill - I only mentioned the DC connection for interest. I suspect the reason is simplicity of manufacture, operation and maintenance. You might google it . Changing from what's there would involve substantial capital investments which public transportation entities cannot afford. I'm not an EE; only relating something I read.

Steve said...

Super puzzle, perfect Saturday. At first sight it looked like I was sunk, but things slowly came together. I didn't know either of the Star Wars references but the crosses were fair.

Great job, Christopher and HG!

SansBeach said...

Good afternoon, everyone. Stared at this xword and was about to file it in the circular when I put some fill in, and then some more. Pretty soon the top 2/3d's was filled correctly but then ran into the SW corner and got clueless. Fun the part that I was able to get, Chris and thanks for that. Not knowing Star Wars fill and Estivates made the rest not doable. Niqab and tb tests, etc... It's always so easy when Husker splains it. :o) Thanks.

Question to the group?? I solve puzzles until the point that I can't wag anything anymore. I don't use red letters and/or look things up. I simply call it a day. I then read the different daily explanations, which I enjoy. I don't feel bad when I look at the fill and know it was beyond my skill level. With the help of Mr. Google it would be a FIR everyday. A lot of times a fill will move you on to other answers. Is the use of mr google a good way to improve solving skills or not?

Thanks and stay warm (unless you are in FL)

desper-otto said...

SansBeach, there is no right or wrong method for working a cw. Some people solve online with red letters, some without, others solve on paper in pencil, still others in ink. Some use Goggle, Wikipedia, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. for hints/answers they can't figure out on their own. Others soldier on and do the best they can without assistance. I fall into that latter group, but that's just me. That doesn't make my method better. Pick a method that you find satisfying and go for it. It's not a school assignment, you're doing it for fun. Enjoy it.

Lucina said...

I echo what d-otto said. Fill to the best of your ability, guess when you can and in time your memory bank will be filled with all that trivia which you can then use as a source when you need it. Looking up for information is a good way to learn. After a while you won't have to do that.

Yellowrocks said...

I fill in all I can, sometimes guessing. Then I check it with red letters, even when I do it with pen and ink. No bad or empty cells? FIR. If I omit anything or have wrong cells it is a FIW. If I need to look something up or need hints, I call it FIW. Studying in depth what I don't know or was mistaken about is a tremendous learning and memory strategy. Later I also research my successful guesses to fix them in my mind. My philosophy is that we learn from our mistakes. I learn more by digging into it myself before getting it explained. YMMV.

Ol' Man Keith said...

I had fun with this one.
Almost a Ta ~DA!, but in the end I had to do a coupla cheats.
Too many pop references, ranging outside ma ken. (Thank ye, Outlander!)

I liked the grid design. Two crosses, one inverted.
Wait - Isn't that a distress signal?

DAGOBAH? And isn't that an ethnic slur? Tsk.

Otherwise, all was most pleasant.
A single diagonal, on the far side.
The anagram possibilities are limited. I settled for a TV scene designer's dream project, the mansion of a rich sugar plantation boss on Hawaii 5-0,...

Jayce said...

Since oc4beach said so well what I would have said, I will quote him. "Bunch of names and words I didn't know, but with perps and wags it ultimately got done. Good puzzle and good tour through the grid."

WikWak said...

I found this one a bit difficult but fair for a Saturday. Reading Chris’ comments added to the enjoyment, and of course I always look forward to HG’s explanations.

As so often happens on a weekend, I did this in two parts. Got the top half in the morning then had to stop when my brother got here to help me take down the forest of antennae from the roofs of house and garage. (I hate moving.) Getting back to it afterwards, the bottom half was a little easier than it looked this morning. All told, I probably spent about half an hour or possibly a bit more. I thought the puzzle was fair and fun.

Hand up for taking longer than might have been by misreading proprieties as properties.

Now I get to go back to packing a basement which contains 32 years’ worth of accumulated drek and a complete woodworking shop. (Did I mention that I hate moving?) We have to be outta here by Friday and while I’m sure we’ll be OK it surely doesn’t seem like it now. (I think I may have mentioned that I hate moving.)

Stay safe.

Wilbur Charles said...

(Cont).. duh, THAT Fort Sumter. Beginning of the "War of Northern Aggression"*.

I couldn't come up with PIKACHU despite going on Pokemon chases with Phil. Recall is not this deep senior's forte (c above)

Sansbeach, that's my position. The only exception is if I'm with Betsy or Phil: Yoga say for her;Pikachu or SIMS for him. In fact, solving online if the last box is filled and no "Congrats" then that's FIW. Btw, I missed that one box for the FIW**.

As usual the majority found it hard, I'd say relatively easy but I really struggled. fe, SAFEST just wouldn't grok nor ARDOR nor HEARS.

We had a geography game in 6th grade where we'd find something on the globe and the other had to search for it. I remember PERTH as this little dot in SW Australia. We played while the rest of the class got special help with arithmetic.

DC on 3rd rail is what powers the El train. AC wouldn't cut it.

Here's what my gravestone will read

** RiP Wilbur, long may you lay
In life and crosswords
You were one box away.


Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

Boy, that Stings, er Smarts [not 28d!], er, SET UPS? HUH? Oh, wrong sting.

DNF & FIW but fun was had playing with the pen whilst wracking my noodle.

Thanks Chris for the grid and response to HG for some (honest) inside baseball. Enjoy your gap-time and good luck on PhD. //They let you take your time on Advanced Deg. but be careful - we had two kids before DW finished hers.

Thanks for the expo HG - always a bang-up job. SIMS graphics looks way better than when I played in the early '90s.

FIW: nIjAB [sic], BeRT Ward, OTRo|oVEC.
DNF: SW corner. I knew ENDOR but no idea on Yoda's Jedi training planet's name. +1, I did know of OWEN Wilson. That W, though, killed me - knoW rit[e]? //not the fill.
Spitz - I, however, never stopped reading it 'properties' Oy!

Fav: I'm going w/ ESTIVATES. I learnt a new word that applies to Summer-time naps :-)
Do I get a "Wha! Wha!" WikWak? //wait - you're moving? Got dumbbells you don't need? :-)

Lucina - but the clue is Chica; Fem? right? //My only D- in HS was in Spanish, so there's that

Picard - that was quick knife-to-activity go-round. Good on you. Nice to see you in good (codeine induced?) spirits. Don't push yourself too hard, eh?

OMK - Big KAHUNA's indeed!

.PK - you always crack me up but your penultimate line today was LOL. //what say for yourself Chris? - ever pack pickles?

IM - I'm only finding that getting Ivory [w/o perfumey-stinky-stuff] from H.E.B. is difficult. Most else is business as usual [sans limits on meat & paper-products]

Shankers +1 Rocky & Bullwinkle.

//the following response to SB was written b/f I read D-O, Lucina, & YR's insight - repetitive it may be, but here you go:
SansBeach - I say puzzle solving is like playing golf; you internally score yourself. Sure, if I Google'd, grids would be easy but that doesn't mean I know Jack nor I should brag.
My personal scoring is: pen, paper, and no outside resources. If I fill (even w/ WOs) correctly, then it's a 'win'.
Sometimes, I give myself a 'vowel mulligan' if I knew the answer but not the correct AEIOU when pen goes down. I mean, I feel it's a win [hey, I'm dyslexic!] but it'd really be a loss at a competition. Since I'd never do the latter, I'm happy w/ myself.
Today it was DNF (not all boxes had letters) & FIW (wrong letter in a box [and I made up my own crosses!] but I inked better today than I'da a year ago on a Sat.

Ray-O - I was only 6 YRS at the time but I remember the Bass-O-Matic 76.
//personal aside to you: If I'm tracking, you're on the front-lines daily and The Corner is your escape. You have a fan here. God Speed to you Bro. Stay (like you need to hear this) SAFEST.

Cheers, -T

Anonymous T said...

Well kick me in the head and call me pumpkin....
//I have no idea what that means.

SansBeach actually asked "Is the use of mr google a good way to improve solving skills or not?"

Sure it is. If you get stuck 'cuz you just donno anything crossing anything - take a Google, play a little longer, and then learn a little something that you never knew before [Weird Al - 4:40].


Michael said...

FWIW, the clue for 55a is "ChicA's 'other' ", so "OTRA' is the right answer. I don't know where 'other hand' come from.

Vermontah said...

Wow, this one kindof kicked my derriere.

Got off to a terrible start with Dudley's nemesis. NATASHA and BADENOV both fit in that space but if you write in NATASHA like I did the whole NW corner is lost. Especially when you write in AHI instead of EEL.

And it got no easier from there. Couldn't even remember Christina's last name, though I've seen all of Grey's, some episodes more than once.

I really wanted court service to be SUBPOENA but that was not to be. Sigh.

ESTIVATES? That's a new word for me.

OWEN was a gimme, since Midnight in Paris is Woody's best, AFAIC. Gorgeous movie.

This is just to say that I'm looking forward to Monday when I can feel smart again.

Vermontah said...

I often seem to think of something else I want to say after I've posted. My apologies.

I was thrown off, even further than I was off for this whole puzzle, by 55A Chica's "other." It's "otro," whether spoken by a chico or a chica. "otra lado" is incorrect. It's "otro lado" because "lado" is masculine. And in Spanish if it's neutral or unclear or refers to more than one thing it defaults to masculine. "One or the other" in Spanish would be "uno o el otro." Sexist, yes, but hey, the Spanish invented "macho" so it is what it is.

SwampCat said...

No real evaluation of Star Trek, but as you recover you might enjoy a few observations.

Why do all the female officers wear hot pants and go go boots? Is that professional? Today, wouldn’t that be considered sexist?

But then I wouldn’t want to miss Captain Kirk shirtless. As he so often is.

Why do most people on the Enterprise wear ear pieces. Forerunners of BluTooth?

Why do the communication devices circa 1966 resemble clan shell cell phones of today?

Have you noticed Mr Spocks fingers? an observation....

Hehehe...thanks for reminding me how much I liked all this foolishness with the styrofoam rocks with bad paint jobs and the bell and whistles and flashing lights. As CED said, so far ahead of anything else in 1966. Now that I’m hooked again I’ll keep going. Thanks.

Bill G said...


I'm happy to finally find somebody who likes "Midnight in Paris" as much as I do. :>)

~ Mind how you go...

CanadianEh! said...

Super Saturday. Thanks for the fun, Chris (and for the background info) and HuskerG.
This started as a stumper but with P&P, the oceans of white filled.

Learning moment: ESTIVATES.
Favourite: "get better, perhaps" = AGE. I hope this is true for me!
Some Canadian content today with Dudley (was he TYPECAST?) and Sandra Oh.

We have had NIQAB here before; hand up for thinking of Burka and Hijab first.
Another hand up for thinking of mineral scales before wind, and entering Talcs before GALES.

When I am solving (usually in my newspaper), I try to complete without help. If I am really stuck (and especially if it is an unknown proper name), I may resort to Google. I call it a learning moment (and usually report here that I required Google help).

If I understand Lucina's previous Spanish instruction about masculine/feminine adjectives, there is nothing wrong with the clue for 55A. Chica is feminine and OTRA is feminine. I think the OTRA/otro confusion results from HuskerG's comment "Por OTRA lado (On the other hand)". If lado is masculine, then the statement should be Por Otro lado. And that is what Lucina and Anon@11:44 were referring to.

Glad your surgery went well Picard.
Good night all.

Lucina said...

Bill G:
In case I had not mentioned it before, I love Midnight in Paris!

WikWak said...

Anon-T @ 5:21: Yup. Following some dead guy’s advice and going west. A little. From central DuPage County to western DuPage County. Trying (successfully) to get closer to a soon-to-be-born granddaughter. DW is going to be doing a lot of babysitting if the worries about Covid-19 ever lighten up again.