Apr 3, 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021 Ryan McCarty

 Saturday Themeless by Ryan McCarty

Today I am happy to blog my third Saturday puzzle by 2014 Princeton grad, Ryan McCarty who is currently a senior federal consulting manager in D.C. He supplies us a real challenge with quad stacks that he references in his gracious note:

Hi Gary,

Thanks for reaching out! My write-up below 


I was interested in making a grid design with quad stacks that were very connected to the rest of the grid, as often they are relegated to more closed-off corners.  I got the NE stack first, and then spent a very long time trying to find a corresponding SW stack that would work with it. I'm used to working with open middles, but I find open corners even harder because you have to find a matching pair for the other side.

After a lot of iterating I came up with the SW stack you see here, which I actually like better than my initial stack.  From there I filled in the SE and NW.  I'm happy to be able to feature some colorful entries despite the inherent challenges in the grid design, and thanks to the editing team for their work here. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. - I recently launched my indie puzzle blog McGrids if you are interested in seeing more of my puzzles


1. One may be planted on a cheek: PECK - A euphemism for my first entry of KISS

5. One who gets famous just for kicks?: SOCCER STAR - Lots of dekes below.

15. Volunteer's words: I CAN.

16. Use sound to get around: ECHO LOCATE.

17. Large volume: TOME.

18. Reaction that can be grateful or sarcastic: THANKS A LOT.

19. Call from a brooder: CHEEP - A staple of my grade school classroom once a year

21. Getting better: ON THE MEND

22. Arrive by car, say: ROLL UP - Can you spot "the crappy blue Chevy Nova" Axel Foley used to ROLL UP to "The Beverly Palms Hotel"? Bonus: Name that movie.

24. Perception: GRASP.

25. Make a typo ... or miss one: ERR - D-Otto always calls them misteaks.

26. Surprising sound: BOO.

28. Setting of van Gogh's "Café Terrace at Night" - ARLES - Here's the picture and the actual cafe today in ARLES, France.

30. Stop shooting: WRAP - Humphrey Bogart, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Michael Curtiz (who 45. Directed: RAN Casablanca), "That's a WRAP."

32. Let the air out of: PUNCTURED.

35. Area where skateboarding likely originated, briefly: SO CAL - SOuthern CALifornia

37. Activity cube user: TOT.

38. One may get rubbed out: GENIE - Not the Barbra Eden Jeannie

40. Failed to uphold: RENEGED ON - Lenten promises?

43. Gorilla researcher Fossey: DIAN - Dian and the gang

44. Turning part: ROTOR - Part of car brakes

47. With 42-Down, unlikely racetrack pick: OLD 42. See 47-Across: NAG.

48. Milwaukee draft pick?: PABST.

50. One obsessed with guns?: GYM RAT - Oh, those guns.

52. Utensil in Valencian cooking: PAELLA PAN.

56. Isle off the Sorrento Peninsula: CAPRI - The ferry we took takes about 50 minutes between Sorrento and Capri and costs about $20 each way

57. Captured soundly?: AUDIO TAPED.

59. Hardly promising: GRIM - Husker FB prospects for this fall

60. Walk-in clinic focus: URGENT CARE - If you're in my town and need help...

61. Fashion: MODE.

62. Espies: LAYS EYES ON.

63. City on the Skunk: AMES - 1911


1. Retiring groups?: PIT CREWS - Cute re-tire clue!

2. Film genre for Shyamalan's "The Happening": ECO HORROR - Looks like it was a HORROR on an artistic level as well

3. Competitor who's over the hump?: CAMEL RACER - Humans riders have mostly been outlawed and now the jockeys are usually robots manipulated by remote control.

4. Prepare to talk to a tyke, maybe: KNEEL.

5. Prepared: SET.

6. Figure eight, in tango parlance: OCHO - How do you do that, Gary?

7. Harry Potter love interest Cho __: CHANG -
 If you're going for a partial, how 'bout P.F.___

8. Independent __: CONTRACTOR 

9. South Bend suburb: ELKHART - Just upstream on the St. Joseph River as it flows to Lake Michigan.

10. Larva that attacks Valentine's Day plants: ROSE SLUG - Cause and effect

11. Ran playfully: SCAMPERED.

12. Fabulist's work: TALE.

13. Buckets or barrels: A TON.

14. Out of a job, perhaps?: Abbr.: RETD - Me - B.S., M.S., RETD.

20. Trivia site: PUB - Playing Trivia at Clancy's PUB in Omaha

23. __ fly: POP - Oops!

27. Arena for the stars: OUTER SPACE.

29. Annual coronation event: SENIOR PROM - Our hometown is having one this year no matter what. Okay, it's going to be outside but still...

31. Impressive displays: PANOPLIES - Historically a PANOPLY is a complete set of armor but now can refer to any collection or display

33. Rest for a bit: NOD.

34. Transport service for the disabled: DIAL-A-RIDE.

36. Much less: LET ALONE 

39. Armageddons: END TIMES.

41. Lose it: GO BATTY.

46. Site of the HQ of five major sports: NYC - The NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and WNBA

49. Croquetas or caracoles: TAPAS - This clue from editor Rich generated a nice conversation between me, Kathy (YR), Lucina and Ryan. Croquetas can be made with snails as Croqueta de Caracole or as stand alone TAPAS like you see below.

51. It forms igneous rock: MAGMA - Once that MAGMA emerges onto the surface it becomes lava and forms igneous rocks upon cooling where brave/stupid tourists can walk

52. Microsoft co-founder Allen: PAUL Bill Gates' regrets about PAUL Allen

53. Intangible quality: AURA.

54. Norm-challenging: EDGY - You know you've aged when you hear the EDGY music of your ute playing on the elevator.

55. Role in the Monteverdi opera "The Coronation of Poppaea": NERO - Talk about yer Saturday cluing for NERO! Poppaea Sabina was NERO's second wife and she led an intrigue-filled life
Can you make out her name?

58. Big-screen TV site: DEN.


Wilbur Charles said...

I couldn't think of Allen's first name and couldn't spell DIAN's. Normally the PIT CREW Clue would be re-tired I would think(but it's Sat)

Finally, I had sets EYES ON, liked AURA but EDGY was slow to form

I had CHEEP but had trouble fitting until ROLL(UP) POPped in.

And not panorama, and the ride was DIALed. The end result was very messy. One sports ?, NYC was obvious but a rare solid.

With better light or glasses I'd have caught on to Poppaea. I see "Opera" and pray for perps.

I found it difficult but I'm not sure if others will. Satisfying FIR.


desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Whew, what a workout. Didn't need the Wite-Out until 1a. Yup, KISS before PECK. (Have I ever mentioned that I hate it when I need Wite-Out at 1a?) "Misteaks," Husker? I don't think I resemble that remark. Does that refer to Omaha misteaks? Oh, the puzzle... Worked this one counter-clockwise, and almost came up empty in the snow-covered northeast. ON THE MEND finally popped in, and then I remembered that ELKHART is the "RV Capital of the World." Suddenly there were enough perps to finish it. Thanx, Ryan and Husker.

"Activity cube" -- The name didn't conjure up any image for me. But seeing Husker's illustration, I realize that they've got one at the haircut shop I patronize. Now I know what it's called.

AMES: I mentioned recently that in the little town of my ute our H.S. teams were named for the river through the town -- we were the mighty Pigeons, a crappy name. Iowa State missed their chance. Instead of wimpy Cyclones, they could've been pungent Skunks. "Hey, you guys stink!"

Hungry Mother said...

Not so much of a slog this morning. I was one of those tourists standing around the red hot lava on a cruise stop at Kona. Also, I espied CAPRI from the Amalfi Coast on another cruise stop. We ate TAPAS and PAELLA during our 4 months in Spain. Lots of memories.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Put an s for buckets/barrels assuming it was plural till perpwalked. My daughter frequently uses DIAL-A-RIDE, shouldn't have needed those perps but did.. Was everyone tempted to start the puzzle with a kiss 💋 ? (Too obvious for a Saturday, right?)...another perp: PECK with KNEEL. Knew Poppæa was a wife of NERO. Her name is spelled in Greek on the coin, probably buy you a gyro in Athens.

If you listen can you ECHOLOCATE ECOHORROR? (Or cho-co-late)

Inkovers: led/RAN, tacos/TAPAS, rideup/pullup/ROLLUP.... pulled ELKHorn out of thin air, partly wrong but easily righted ..
Activity cube user: CAT? Wrong, TOT

AUDIOTAPED, klever but klumsy klue. For some reason thought URGENT wouldn't fit and, at first, inserted our emergency OP service name: PromptCARE instead. Perp therapy cured that. OUTERSPACE shouldn't have taken so long.
Gary your Capri map shows how many more grotte (grottos, "caves") there are on the the Isola di Capri besides the famous "Grotta Azzurra".

Wouldn't skate boarding start on a slide? Aha? Oho? Aah? Ooh?..nope BOO 😱
Sound from a brooder (hen) "cluck" sound from a broodee (chick) "CHEEP"

"No, my DW, OLD NAG does not refer to you!"

Not a bad Saturday, obviously since I FIR 😁


Spanish guys' ball....SENIORPROM
Best Dads....TAPAS
Male gnat....POPFLY
Lazy gardner....ROSESLUG 🥀
Grateful arthurian, Sir _____ THANKSALOT 😖
Untrustworthy dinosaur...RENEGEDON 🦕
Impressive displays of iberian cookware...PAELLAPANOLIES

PANOPLIES stop!! 🙄

ATLGranny said...

I got it finally and FIR as Husker Gary confirmed in his helpful write up. Some areas were a struggle with lots of ink used, like 1D where I tried to put PITChERS, thinking they retired batters. Other spots just stayed white until the aha moment: oh, SOCCER STAR and CONTRACTOR! I too wanted kiss to start out, D Otto, but waited long enough to see KNEEL wouldn't allow it. Little by little, interesting words and phrases filled the grid ending my Saturday puzzling. Thanks Ryan for the puzzle fun as well as your note about its construction.

Hope you all are having a more social holiday weekend, as safely allowed by vaccinations. I look forward to reading your comments about the puzzle. (Thanks, Ray O,for making me smile, as usual.)

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

This challenge brought back fond memories of many a Silkie Saturday solve. At first pass, I thought I was surely facing a DNF but, like solving most Silkie puzzles, chipping away here and there and gaining a few footholds finally led to completion and a resounding TADA! I thought the cluing was very clever with lots of misdirection that was challenging, but fair, IMO. I liked the Eco/Echo duo and Ocho crossing Echo and the Den/End anagram. I, too, had Kiss before Peck and my only unknown was Rose Slug, but that was easy to infer. I also appreciated the low three letter word count.

Thanks, Ryan, for a truly enjoyable challenge and the insider info and thanks, HG, for the great review and commentary. As usual, I’ll have to return to see the links as most of them didn’t show.

Have a great day.

Oas said...

Hola Me he divertido much , gracias a Ryan McCarty.
Was able to FIR with a little help from my trusty atlas for ELKHART .
AMES was a gimme. DW and I stopped in there for breakfast on one of our many road trip vacations. The pancakes were especially delicious but they wouldn’t give DW the recipe . Closely guarded family secret they said.
A bit of a slow start on the puzzle , so I went around counter clockwise and SLUGged on to get er done.
GYMRAT filled in via perps . Had not heard guns for biceps too often before.
Happy Easter. Joy comes in the morning!

Big Easy said...

Beverly Hills Cop (one of the shows). The two cars in front were a Rolls Royce and 1980 Mercedes 450SEL- (I had one of those for my company car- same color, trim, & wheels)

The NW was an extreme 'hunt & PECK' to FIR for Ryan's very challenging puzzle. 1D was the last fill- PIT CREWS. ECO HORROR- what the hell is that supposed to mean? Never heard the term or of the movie. KISS, CAMEL RIDER, RIDE UP, I'M IN, & STOOP wouldn't work and I finally managed to fill PECK, I CAN, CAMEL RACER, ROLL UP & KNEEL. It didn't help that I had no idea where skateboarding started- SOCAL was also from perps.

TAPAS, ELKHART, & OCHO- WAG for all three
CHANG- unknown
ROSE SLUG- unknown
Had to change CALL to DIAL A RIDE

DIAN- my wife's name that was misspelled on her birth certificate. Even her parents didn't notice it until I noticed it when we got our marriage license.

oc4beach said...

I did face a DNF today starting with the KISS to the Armageddons of END TIMES. I just couldn't get any traction today. I did enjoy HG's tour that 'splained it all, though.

I had to replace the front calipers, brake shoes and one ROTOR on DW's Jeep Wrangler this week because the left front brake was stuck on due to a hydraulic problem. It warped the ROTOR and the dealership said you had to replace the brakes in pairs. Big $$$$$s.

I goofed on the beer. I had BLATZ before PABST. I also wanted ILLNESSES or EMERGENCIES, instead of URGENTCARE, but they didn't fit. MODE was right, but I had MADE.

Oh well, so much for Saturday. On to the Sunday puzzle that I will do in pencil and eraser because I get the Sunday Washington Post at the supermarket. It's my only chance to do the puzzle the old fashioned way each week.

Have a great day everyone.

staili said...

I thought this was much harder than the average Saturday puzzle. I eventually FIR but it took a very long time.

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Doozy of a puzzle today but finally cobbled it together correctly. Wanted 'oscar stage' for the longest time but PUNCTURED steered me to OUTER SPACE. Also wasted white gunk on 'go broke' before GO BATTY finally hove into view. The SW was last to fill in. Favorite clue was for PIT CREWS. Thanks Ryan for the mind-bending challenge, and just the right placement of leads to draw me to the finish line. BZ.
ELKHART - Granddaughter goes to Notre Dame at South Bend; nearby.
ROTORS are inside the stators in AC generators.
CHEEP - Once when I was a wee lad, the BROODer stove in the BROODer house crapped out when 200 chicks were 5 days old on a -20º F day in March. My Mom and Dad gathered the chicks all up and kept them in our kitchen for several hours until the heat was restored.
RET'D - - I'm both USN RETD and NYS RETD so I feel very lucky. (No state income tax on the preceding.)

Happy Easter everyone. Son and DIL coming tomorrow for dinner; eating out at a favorite restaurant. All vaccinated for COVID so we feel secure.

Lucina said...


Thank you, Ryan and Gary! This puzzle was even more thrilling than usual Knowing I had a tiny, minuscule contribution. There is so much to like in it!

I especially liked the crossing of PAELLAPAN/TAPAS. Yum! Yum! OCHO was a good one, too.

I only vaguely recall taking a ferry to the Isle of CAPRI but vividly remember the great shops there.

At some time I must have driven through ELKHART, IN, because it seems so familiar. And I don't know what to think about immediately knowing PABST as one of my first fill.

Scottsdale seems to have discontinued DIALARIDE as I no longer see the dedicated van but we do have trolleys that ply the streets and are free to ride. They stop at many hotels for the convenience of tourists.

PUNCTURE/POP was another amusing crossing along with BOO.

Today is the 18th birthday of granddaughter #2 and to celebrate she opted to go to GOAT YOGA. I will NOT be joining them but we shall celebrate tomorrow. Her first goal ASAP is to register to vote. I'm so proud of her for that.

This was really fun, not only the solve but Gary's excellent expo!

Have a pleasant day, everyone! I'm agog about tomorrow!

AnonymousPVX said...

I agree, this had a Silkiesque feel.

Lots of fill that could be a couple of things.

Not that many write-overs as the grid was a sea of white for a while.

KISS/BUSS/PECK (geez again, that’s 2 this week), ONIT/ICAN, STOOP/KNEEL, ERROR/GENIE, BAR/DEN.

This was a toughie for sure.

Have a great Eastermholiday.

Stay safe.

AnonymousPVX said...

Easter Holiday.

NaomiZ said...

Quite a masterpiece of construction today. All of the long, stacked entries and clues made perfect sense, but none were obvious. I do appreciate being able to FIR when the first pass seems completely hopeless! A satisfying Saturday. Thank you, Ryan, Rich, and Gary!

Wilbur Charles said...

Untrustworthy dinosaur...RENEGEDON 🦕

RayO, un chef d'oeuvre

sasses said...

A lava lake is forming from the magma of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Jayce said...

I totally ECHO what NaomiZ said. And, as Irish Miss said, "Thanks, Ryan, for a truly enjoyable challenge".

I needed to look up a number of things, though, such as Harry Potter's love interest. Because of KNEEL, KISS changed to KICK (as on a butt cheek) which then changed to PECK. Never heard of ECOHORROR or ROSE SLUG and it took many perps to fill those answers.

I did a lot of head scratching but ended up feeling A TON of satisfaction when I finished it, as well as high admiration of its construction, fresh fill, and challenging clues.

Good wishes to you all.

Java Mama said...

Good afternoon everyone! Boy, this one knocked me down AND stole my lunch money! After a good half-hour of effort with only a handful of fills, I said “Uncle” and turned on red letters, only to discover that half of those fills were wrong. Left red letters on and limped to a finish. Thanks for the insight into your process, Ryan, and thanks to Gary for a thorough expo that made me feel a little better about my struggles.

Hand up for filling KISS at 1A. I wanted to STOOP to talk to the tyke at 4D. My Milwaukee draft was a generic LAGER before perps made PABST evident. Gary, I loved the side-by-side comparison of VanGoh’s ARLES painting with the present-day photo. Favorite clue/answer was “One may get rubbed out” = GENIE.

It’s shaping up to be a lovely Easter weekend here – high 60’s and sunny. Enjoy the day all!

Ol' Man Keith said...

A real toughie today. Doable, I'm sure, but I cheated at lest 5 times, curiosity outpacing my reserves of P+P.
Still, I appreciate Mr. McCarty's fine work.
I am particularly grateful that his concern for "stacks" led to an abundance of diagonals*, incidentally rewarding my own obsession with anagrams!

Among the easy fills today, I was delighted to see TAPAS--in the very same week when I penned a poem on our Jumble site about my time, decades ago, in the TAPAS bars of Madrid's Plaza Major.
¡Qué casualidad!
I swear, if you hang around the Corner long enough, everything will pass before your eyes.
Ah, a veritable plethora of diagonals today! --A full house, plus one; three to each side!
I invite others to find anagrams in any of the six lodes. It is merely laziness that leads me to choose the main diagonal on the near side to come up with my anagram (13 of 15 letters) of the day.
I spot a phrase referring to the companion to the guy who, in a well-known fable, lurks under the bridge.
This is the little-known pal, or sidekick, introduced here as the

(T: "Gimme a penny, an' I'll let you pass."
TC: "Nah, Give ME a ha'penny, an' I let you go half way, OR you can run twice as fast!")

Crownvic89 said...

What is a “perp”?

Spitzboov said...

Crownvic89 - - Perps, short for Perpendiculars, refer to the crossing answers that help you fill in letters of the word you don't know or you are not sure of.

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

Thanks Ryan for the puzzle to take on my errands. Also thanks for the back-story; those are nice 10-stacks.

Thanks HG for the expo and "poor-man's Red Letters" giving me some extra-play.

I started the puzzle at the hair-cut place* and musta looked real smart as I inked the NW [kiss? CAMEL RACER? PECK! KNEEL! puLL UP...] & NE (N. of GRASP, anyway) quickly (<10min).
Most of SE fell just as fast.
I thought I was going to get an easy FIR!
Good thing no one saw me try to fill the SW; PAUL sat alone with a nonImpressive display... [see: DNFIW]

Overall, I had a better than average (for me) Saturday solve.

Milwaukee draft pick was not a Brewer, Buck, nor... what's WI team starts with an 'R' [see: DNFIW]?

WO: MakE -> MaDE, puLL up -> ROLL UP
DNFIW: ELK Head, PaRee(?) instead of ARLES, PANOramas (Hi WC!).
Fav: GENIE's clue was fun

Love the DR, OMK.

D-O / Ray-O: I read 'Activity cube' and thought of these. I kept wanting ADhD.

Lucina - Good on her registering to vote! Youngest had a tracker of all her friends' birthdays to 'ping' them when they hit 18; this was right before last election.

Eldest has arrived safely and said, "Let's get Indian, there's no good Indian in Norman."
So, that's what's for dinner. //I do love me some curry.

Cheers, -T
*two weeks after 1st Moderna -- I should be ~70% covered :-)
Actually, even though there's no longer a 'mask-mandate' in TX, most businesses have added masks to their 'No shirt; No shoes' policy - including hair-cut place

Lucina said...

Welcome! And do make yourself at home. What you do about looking up or not is your own concern. It's not a competition and no one will check up on you. Puzzling is a self-administered, self-checking activity. It's all for enjoyment! The abbreviations are listed on the home page.

Shankers said...

DW and I just returned home from three days away to celebrate our 54th which was on April Fool's day. I sat down with this puzzle while watching the Houston/Baylor game at the same time. Didn't think it would come together, but it did after many, many changes for a very satisfying FIR. Time to give my aching brain a rest and move on to the Gonzaga/UCLA game just about to start. A blowout victory for Gonzaga for sure.

Malodorous Manatee said...

Very busy day so comments will be brief. Very good puzzle. Hahtoolah-esque graphics, Gary (i.e. gold standard)! Kids and grand kids left for home today. We'll follow in a couple of days. It has been a great couple of weeks in the mountains and I have been able to get (most of) my work done, too. . . . I guess we're almost all telecommuters now.

CanadianEh! said...

Super Saturday. Thanks for the fun, Ryan and HuskerG.
This was a workout, but I persevered and FIRed. But oh the inkblots!!!

Did anyone get PECK on the first try. Makes me think of Sharon, Lois & Bram with their "I Love You, a Bushel and a PECK". Do you Americans remember them??

I should just use WR-OS (What Ray-O Said). Cluck before CHEEP, entered S for plural at 13D, Pull up to ROLL UP.
I also had Paris before ARLES and Elkhorn before ELKHART.
I wanted Image for 24A "Perception". GRASP is a stretch for me. Perhaps "grasp of a subject" fits.

I smiled at AUDIOTAPED and ECHOLOCATE clues with sound and soundly.
I noted stars in the clue for OUTER SPACE and STAR in 5A, but the meaning is different, and thus they would be deemed CW acceptable.
I loved the misdirection at 36D "Much less=LET ALONE". I was thinking of yesterday's Two FER one!

Good night all.

Wilbur Charles said...

On Android go to "Web Version" and home page will have"olio" on the right where all abbreviations are explained.

It's rare for a Saturday not to start out as a sea of white, DNF staring me in the face and finally, box by box an unaided FIR results.

I think I had the entire week FIR.

So, onto 4/4-4/10. I had one advantage; I have the weeks worth as an insert(as -T explained) and solved Saturday on Thursday at leisure.

-T, I noticed PAUL Allen was hanging fruit - I just couldn't come up with that name. My ability to RECALL things I know has diminished. Thus peeps, thus the need for solids*


*100% certainty which I can build off of - there was at best, one NYC

Wilbur Charles said...

Btw, I caught the last two minutes of OT. Miracle buzzer beater was a heave IMO. I'm referring to UCLA vs Gonzaga, of course

My guy I pointed out a week ago, Johnny Juzang was terrific throughout the tournament for UCLA. He tied it up before the "heave"

Anonymous T said...

Nothing puzzlepropos:
This eve the Girls introduced DW & me to BBC's The Goes Wrong Show (Amazon Prime or tubi(? - never heard of it either but it was 'free' on Xfinity)).
It's funny. It's like Monty Python meets panto-theatre.

It's the same troupe [Wiki] that did The Play that Goes Wrong [9:54].

Cheers, -T