LA Times Crossword 7 Sep 19, Saturday

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Constructed by: Erik Agard
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 10m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Peak of early 2000s cinema : BROKEBACK

“Brokeback Mountain” is a 2005 movie about the romantic and sexual relationship between two cowboys, played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Matt Damon was asked to play one of the leads but declined. Damon gave the excuse, “I did a gay movie (The Talented Mr. Ripley), then a cowboy movie (All the Pretty Horses). I can’t follow it up with a gay-cowboy movie!”

10 Martin Sheen’s first name at birth : RAMON

Martin Sheen is the stage name of actor Ramón Estévez. Despite all of his great performances, Sheen has never even been nominated for an Academy Award. Isn’t that something? I thought he was outstanding in his starring role in television’s “The West Wing”.

15 Doesn’t honor : RENEGES ON

To renege on something is to back out of it. It’s a verb commonly used in card games like bridge and whist. A renege is when a player doesn’t follow suit, even though there may be a card of the suit led in his/her hand.

18 Actor Max von __ : SYDOW

Max von Sydow is a Swedish actor who is noted for his appearances in movies filmed in several European languages. He has appeared in movie with dialogs in English, Norwegian, Danish and Spanish.

22 Rank aboard the Enterprise: Abbr. : ENS

Ensign (ens.)

The USS Enterprise is a starship in the “Star Trek” universe (pun!). There have been several generations of starship with the name Enterprise, starting with the vessel numbered NCC-1701, which appeared in the original TV series. My favorite “Star Trek” series is “Next Generation”, which features USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

23 Turbine blade : ROTOR

A turbine is a machine uses the flow of a fluid (sometimes air) to create rotational work. Simple examples of turbines are windmills and waterwheels.

25 Moved, as a movie camera : DOLLIED

A dolly is a small platform on rollers, especially on a movie set. Apparently, it is so called because it’s supposed to look like a doll. No, it doesn’t. I don’t believe it …

27 “Claws” star __ Nash : NIECY

Niecy Nash is a comedian and actress who played Deputy Raineesha Williams in the comedy show “Reno 911!” Nash is one of the celebrities to have participated in the reality competition “Dancing with the Stars”, taking fifth place in the tenth season.

“Claws” is a comedy-drama show that first aired in 2017. It’s all about a group of five manicurists who branch out into organized crime.

40 British boxer Khan : AMIR

Amir Khan is an English boxer who is a former light-welterweight world champion. Prior to turning professional, Khan won a silver medal for boxing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He was only 17 years old at the time.

41 Album info : LINER NOTES

These days, the term “liner notes” is used for the informational booklet which comes with a music CD. The original liner notes (also “sleeve notes”) were the informational text printed on the inner sleeve (“liner”) of a 12-inch vinyl record.

43 Talking points? : ROSTRA

A rostrum (plural “rostra”) is an elevated platform, particularly one for public speaking. The original rostrum was the platform used by public speakers in the Forum of ancient Rome.

45 Role for which Liam got an Oscar nod : OSKAR

Irish actor Liam Neeson got his big break when he played Oskar Schindler in the Spielberg epic, “Schindler’s List”. Neeson was in the news some years ago when he lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, in a tragic skiing accident in 2009.

52 IPA, say : ALE

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

53 About 5, for coffee : PH LEVEL

As we all recall from chemistry class, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything less than 7 is an acid, and anything above 7 is a base.

57 Humanities degs. : BAS

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The academic studies of human culture are collectively called the humanities. Subjects included in the humanities are languages, literature, philosophy, religion and music.

58 Enjoy a season in a day, perhaps? : BINGE

I’m a big fan of binge-watching, the practice of watching perhaps two or three (even four!) episodes of a show in a row. My wife and I will often deliberately avoid watching a recommended show live, and instead wait until the whole series has been released on DVD or online. I’m not a big fan of “tune in next week …”

62 Run onstage? : EMCEE

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

65 Duty for the bereaved : ESTATE TAX

To be bereaved (also “bereft”) is to have suffered the loss of a loved one.

Down

1 Patch plant : BRIAR

“Briar” is a generic name describing several plants that have thorns or prickles, including the rose. Famously, Br’er Rabbit lives in a briar patch.

4 Pabst dispenser : KEG

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

6 __ noire : BETE

“Bête noire” translates from French as “black beast”, and is used in English to describe something or someone that is disliked.

7 Gobi locale : ASIA

The large desert in Asia called the Gobi lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

9 Apt eye rhyme for “bread” : KNEAD

An eye rhyme is a similarity in spelling between two words that look like they should rhyme, but are actually pronounced differently. So, for example, wood “looks like” food, but the words sound quite different. Eye rhymes are sometimes found in older poems. Because the pronunciation of words has changed over time, an intended rhyme may not exist today.

11 2019 Emmy nominee Adams : AMY

Amy Adams is an American actress, although she was actually born in Vicenza, Italy while her father was a US serviceman stationed on an Italian base. My favorite Amy Adams film so far is the outstanding “Julie & Julia” in which she acted alongside Meryl Streep. I highly recommend this truly delightful movie.

13 Polar environmental concern : OZONE HOLE

The polar vortices are two persistent cyclones that are found over the Earth’s poles, one over the Arctic and one over the Antarctic. It is within the southern polar vortex that we now have a hole in the ozone layer, but there is also a depletion of ozone taking place in the northern polar vortex.

26 Looney Tunes surname : LEGHORN

Foghorn Leghorn is a lovable rooster who appears in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons from the forties through the sixties. Foghorn’s marvelous voice was provided by the great Mel Blanc. The rooster’s demeanor was drawn directly from a character called Senator Beauregard Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician who appeared regularly on radio’s “The Fred Allen Show”.

29 Contents of some 20-Across : CHAI
(20A Holders of leaves : TEA BAGS)

Chai is a drink made from spiced black tea, honey and milk, with “chai” being the Hindi word for “tea”. We often called tea “a cup of char” growing up in Ireland, with “char” being our slang word for tea, derived from “chai”.

34 “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very __ is an act of rebellion”: Camus (attributed) : EXISTENCE

Albert Camus was a French author, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Sadly, Camus died in a car accident just two years after he received the prize, at only 46 years of age.

44 Sri Lankan currency : RUPEES

The rupee is a unit of currency used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. The term “rupee” comes from the Sanskrit word “rupya”, which once meant “stamped, impressed” and then “coin”.

The island nation of Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India. The name “Sri Lanka” translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.

47 Send to cloud nine : ELATE

I don’t think that anyone is really certain of the etymology of the term “on cloud nine” meaning “elated”, but I do like the following explanation. The 1896 “International Cloud-Atlas” was a long-standing reference used to define cloud shapes that was based on a classification created by amateur meteorologist Luke Howard some decades earlier. The biggest and fluffiest of all cloud shapes (and most comfortable-looking to lie on) is cumulonimbus. And you guessed it, of the ten cloud shapes defined in the atlas, cumulonimbus was cloud nine …

49 WWII sub : U-BOAT

The term “U-boat” comes from the German word “Unterseeboot” (undersea boat). U-boats were primarily used in WWII to enforce a blockade against enemy commercial shipping, with a main objective being to cut off the supplies being transported to Britain from the British colonies and the US. The epic fight for control of the supply routes became known as the Battle of the Atlantic.

51 Cape Ann’s county : ESSEX

There are five counties named Essex in the US:

  • Essex County, Massachusetts
  • Essex County, New Jersey
  • Essex County, New York
  • Essex County, Vermont
  • Essex County, Virginia
  • Cape Ann is located 30 miles north of Boston and is on the northernmost edge of Massachusetts Bay. The Cape was first mapped by the explorer John Smith. Early in his adventurous life Smith had been captured and enslaved by the Ottoman Empire. His “owner” in his days of slavery was a woman called Tragabigzanda, and apparently the slave and owner fell in love. Smith originally called Cape Tragabigzanda in her memory, but King Charles I changed the name to Cape Ann in honor of his own mother, Anne of Denmark.

    55 Rapper Lil Uzi __ : VERT

    “Lil Uzi Vert” is the stage name of rapper Symere Woods from Philadelphia.

    56 Singer Franklin, Aretha’s elder sister : ERMA

    Erma Franklin was an R&B and gospel singer. She was the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Erma toured with Aretha for a while, and even recorded backup vocals on her sister’s big hit “Respect”.

    59 Opal, for one : GEM

    The largest opal ever found, and the most valuable, is the Olympic Australis. It was discovered in South Australia in 1956. That same year, the Summer Olympics were being held in Melbourne so the newly discovered stone was given the name “Olympic Australis”.

    61 Suffix with salt : -INE

    F. L. Sommer & Company of St. Joseph, Missouri starting making wafer thin soda crackers in 1876. The crackers were later marketed as Saltines, due to the baking salt that was a key ingredient. The company subsequently lost trademark protection of the term “saltine”.

    Complete List of Clues/Answers

    Across

    1 Peak of early 2000s cinema : BROKEBACK
    10 Martin Sheen’s first name at birth : RAMON
    15 Doesn’t honor : RENEGES ON
    16 Blow away : AMAZE
    17 “Let’s rock and roll!” : IT’S GO TIME!
    18 Actor Max von __ : SYDOW
    19 Verb that sounds like a letter : ARE
    20 Holders of leaves : TEA BAGS
    22 Rank aboard the Enterprise: Abbr. : ENS
    23 Turbine blade : ROTOR
    25 Moved, as a movie camera : DOLLIED
    27 “Claws” star __ Nash : NIECY
    31 Get choppers : TEETHE
    32 One up, barely : SLEEPYHEAD
    36 Oozy substances : GOOS
    37 Prefix for “six” : HEXA-
    38 Class with no struggles : EASY A
    39 Unwieldy thing : HULK
    40 British boxer Khan : AMIR
    41 Album info : LINER NOTES
    43 Talking points? : ROSTRA
    45 Role for which Liam got an Oscar nod : OSKAR
    46 Show ardor : ENTHUSE
    48 Occupied : IN USE
    52 IPA, say : ALE
    53 About 5, for coffee : PH LEVEL
    57 Humanities degs. : BAS
    58 Enjoy a season in a day, perhaps? : BINGE
    60 Therapy subjects : AVERSIONS
    62 Run onstage? : EMCEE
    63 Wrap up : TERMINATE
    64 Judges : DEEMS
    65 Duty for the bereaved : ESTATE TAX

    Down

    1 Patch plant : BRIAR
    2 Nostalgi-cool? : RETRO
    3 Beginning : ONSET
    4 Pabst dispenser : KEG
    5 Journey with strokes? : EGO TRIP
    6 __ noire : BETE
    7 Gobi locale : ASIA
    8 Search high and low : COMB
    9 Apt eye rhyme for “bread” : KNEAD
    10 Fight in the sticks : RASSLE
    11 2019 Emmy nominee Adams : AMY
    12 Escaped : MADE IT OUT
    13 Polar environmental concern : OZONE HOLE
    14 Paper departments : NEWSDESKS
    21 Approached nightfall : GOT DARK
    24 In the world : ON EARTH
    26 Looney Tunes surname : LEGHORN
    28 Metaphorical margin of victory : EYELASH
    29 Contents of some 20-Across : CHAI
    30 Having only two answers : YES/NO
    32 Fight over covers, perhaps? : SHARE A BED
    33 Citrusy flavor : LEMON-LIME
    34 “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very __ is an act of rebellion”: Camus (attributed) : EXISTENCE
    35 Votes for : AYES
    42 Succeeds to the max : NAILS IT
    44 Sri Lankan currency : RUPEES
    47 Send to cloud nine : ELATE
    49 WWII sub : U-BOAT
    50 Gift list addressee : SANTA
    51 Cape Ann’s county : ESSEX
    54 Nights before : EVES
    55 Rapper Lil Uzi __ : VERT
    56 Singer Franklin, Aretha’s elder sister : ERMA
    59 Opal, for one : GEM
    61 Suffix with salt : -INE

    40 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 7 Sep 19, Saturday”

    1. We enjoyed the comment yesterday about the proposed company name which abbreviated to VD. Reminded us about when we worked for BLS and had to do a QA observation on a colleague setting up a report for a wage/benefit survey. By way of background: STD used to stand for short-term disability coverage. But, and this is a large but, by that time it’d been co-opted to stand for sexually-transmitted disease. Anyhoo, this colleague, unaware of this development, asked his female respondent if she had STD. Her response: “I beg your pardon?”

    2. LAT: About a half hour with no errors. Didn’t know quite a few but managed them with letters from the ones I did know, i. e., typical crossword solving. Mediocre in difficulty.

      1. It is a style of ale. It is named that because the Brits would send ale to India and brewed it with extra hops as that was thought to fortify it for the long sea voyage.

        1. And I may be wrong, but I thought it stands for India Pale Ale (in which case, isn’t having one of the letters in an initialization clue standing for the full answer considered bad form on the part of the crossword constructor/editor?)

    3. 0 errors/many erasures. There were several entries I weren’t sure were on target, but all my guesses hit the mark.
      18A: von Sydow’s portrayal of Christ is, I think, the very worst acting in motion picture history. A talking statue.
      19A: Could have been pee, see, or even tee.
      1D: Remember when many people had briar patches in their back yards? They attract finches and cardinals. I had one where I rented once, but the landlord took it out.
      4D: When my dad worked for Miller Brewing, Pabst was verboten in our household. I found his Miller credit union passbook several years ago. It had a balance of $2.00, after he withdrew $.25. In those days, brewery workers could enjoy as much product as they wished during shift. I’ll drink to that! Ah, the good old days.
      34A: Finished “The Plague” by Camus most recently. Am now on pg. 227 of a Henry James. At this point, we still don’t know who the protagonist is. You think I’m kidding?! What us James fans have to put up with to read great conversations. “The Plague” was OK. Kinda grim, naturally.

    4. LAT: 14:16, no errors. WSJ: 25:31, no errors. Newsday’s “Saturday Stumper”: 2:56:46 (elapsed wall-clock time, including necessary walk-away time, during which I did other things), no errors; another Erik Agard puzzle (and one in which he pulled out all the stops 😜).

      (Beware … rant ahead!) The people who invented the acronym (initialism?) DNF should be ashamed of themselves. The word “finish” had (and still has) a perfectly serviceable dictionary definition. Sixty-odd years ago, when I began doing crossword puzzles, I finished them using dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, penny dreadfuls, and help from my parents, friends, passing strangers, extraterrestrials … whatever/whoever was available. Now, I seldom rely on anything but my own aging gray cells to finish them. If I do anything else and I report my results here, I say what I did. If (and this almost never happens) I leave a square unfilled in a puzzle, I then say that I did not finish it, because that’s the truth (and my rant is now finished … 😜).

      1. As a beginner, I finish all the puzzles I start; but at times I have to look up a name I’m unfamiliar with. What do you call that?

        Thanks, Dave.

        1. You finished the puzzle with help (as is, perhaps, to be expected of a beginner).

          IM(PNS)HO: Doing a crossword puzzle involves filling each of a number of squares in a (usually) rectangular grid with a letter. If you fill them all in, you finished the puzzle. If you haven’t filled all the squares in, you haven’t finished the puzzle.

          In part, my objection to “DNF” is based precisely on the fact that we have to have this perennial discussion about what, in fact, it actually means. There isn’t universal agreement about it. When somebody I don’t know uses it, I don’t know what they mean by it. So … it’s useless (except, perhaps, in the context of a crossword contest, which, I hope, this blog is not).

          1. Unfortunately, this is a microcosm of a lot of society. When you throw an achievement standard out the window, ultimately it turns into a situation much like you see in sports. You participated so you get a trophy. You’re a winner! Ultimately, while there’s a fun aspect to doing something, achieving something is more of a high, especially when you can get better at doing something. The problem is that you take any kind of that joy away from people when you reduce it to “well at least you showed up”. This fudging of the definition of “finished” to “filling in the grid at all” ultimately accomplishes this for crosswords. While I don’t belittle anyone for the place they are in doing crosswords or anything else, it does bother me if they don’t at least *want* to get better. If working to get better (and taking joy in getting better) at something is ultimately made meaningless, one might as well not bother doing it at all.

            1. I agree that achievement standards are very important and should not be tossed out the window. I take some pride in being able to do crosswords as well as I do in the way that I do them. But: According to the dictionary, “to finish” means “to bring (a task or activity) to an end”. That definition says nothing about the means by which one finishes. If the acronym were “DNFWH”, I would have no quarrel with it; as it is, it is “DNF” itself that attempts to fudge the definition of the verb “finish” in a nonsensical way (as demonstrated by the phrases that people use when they try to say what it means).

            2. @Dave
              If it’s the meaning of DNF (or specifically “finish”) that’s a concern, it really surprises me, as I can’t say I find any confusion in other uses.

              If you say “I started the Boston Marathon”, big whoop. Anyone can start a race. If you say “I finished the Boston Marathon”, most people are going to think you ran the complete proscribed course of 26.2 miles and got to the finish line in a reasonable amount of time. Finishing the race is more worthy than starting it. The problem we run into here is that no one is going to say you “finished the Boston Marathon” if you sneak off at the second mile, mess around for enough time to make it plausible, and then get transported to the 25th mile so you can sneak back into the race at the 25th mile and run it the rest of the way so people believe you finished. They’re going to say (rightly) that you cheated by getting help to cover the distance. (*) (Hopefully you see where this is headed.)

              (* – this is why a lot of races have checkpoints, watchers at various distances recording runner numbers, and other methods to track the runners to make sure that they do indeed actually “finish” the race.)

            3. A marathon is not like a crossword puzzle. Here’s a more apt comparison: The sentence, “I finished planting those 100 trees.” That declaration says nothing whatsoever about how I planted the trees. Maybe I did it with my own two hands or maybe I used a backhoe; I might even have contracted with someone else to do the work. In any case, the person to whom I’m speaking can look for himself to see whether or not each tree is in its appointed spot; if so, the job is done, it’s finished. If there’s a space missing a tree, that’s a DNF.

      2. This seems to come up rather frequently. DNF is not so much that the puzzle wasn’t finished. (I go through all grids I do and “finish” them whether I can or not to try to learn, as much on my own power as possible – as I would suggest others do here to get better. As long as references and such are last resorts and not first resorts, you get better doing it.) The question is whether *you* finished them or not – or whether you got assistance.

        Personally I don’t mind what people do, as long as they’re honest about what they do. I’m not saying so much that it happens here, but I’m aware of people who will say they did the puzzle or they finished it when they really didn’t because they had assistance. Whoever invented the acronym basically is just recognizing that. I think most people simply would like it if others were honest, especially if they hold themselves to honesty too.

        1. Consider: “DNF is not so much that the puzzle wasn’t finished.” => “DID NOT FINISH is not so much that the puzzle wasn’t finished.” I can only imagine what old Mrs. Smiley (my high school English teacher) would have said about the logical content of that sentence! (And what it says about the acronym … 😜.)

          I do agree with most of your second paragraph, and it really brings up a larger issue: How can we compare ourselves to others on the blog when we can’t be sure what rules they set for themselves, what sources they are working from, and what tools they are using?

          Perhaps we should have everyone fill out a questionnaire: First, is there someone we can contact who will vouch for your honesty? Do you solve the puzzle on paper? Using a pencil or a pen? Do you have normal eyesight? Do you write as fast as you can or is legibility a goal? If you solve online, what device do you use? And what app do you use on that device? Does the device have an actual keyboard or a virtual keyboard? If the former, what is your rated typing speed? If the latter, are you proficient in using your thumbs or are you forced to type with one finger?

          The above is only a start at creating such a questionnaire; I’m sure that, even when all the pertinent issues have been thought of and resolved, I could flesh it out and keep it under three pages … 😜.

          But I have yard work that didn’t get done Thursday while I was playing hooky in the mountains … 😜

          1. >How can we compare ourselves to others on the blog

            You don’t. Then it becomes a crossword contest – and like you said, I hope it isn’t. Personally I don’t care that much that I beat anybody (sans the crossword evalutions I’ve entered in conjunction with contests – that’s where I really compare myself to others – I’ll find out about the latest one in one week), and usually compare times simply to gauge how difficult the grid was – if everyone else struggled like I did then it probably was the grid as much as it was me having an off-day.

            I’m happy to see all the accomplishments at any level on here – simply people getting better. I’m literally as pleased to see anyone do what they do on here as I take in what I do, no matter what the level. As long as people are honest about their efforts and are trying…

            1. Well, I agree with most of this, but I would contend (human nature being what it is) that most people take at least some interest in seeing how well they stack up against others.

      3. That’s kind of semantic…. if you left a puzzle square unfilled by mistake (i.e., you *thought* you finished the grid, and discovered your error while checking the solution) that would, to my eyes constitute a “mistake”, just as if you had put the wrong letter in a square. I’d self-report that I finished, but with at least two errors). I report DNF for a puzzle I cannot even complete, usually because SEVERAL squares are unfilled. If it comes down to ONE, I’ll take a guess and see if I get lucky, or if I get 2 errors.

    5. Dave K: So happy to read that you thought “he pulled out all the stops” on the Newsday. I thought the Sat. Stumper was very, very hard today.
      I got better at doing crosswords by walking away and coming back, and still do it sometimes. I think our brains work on the puzzles in the background when we are doing something else.

      1. Thanks! I find Agard’s puzzles extremely elegant, but seeing his name on a puzzle gives me more than a twinge of fear (😜). Today’s Newsday puzzle was a bear! And I could not agree more with your take on the value of walking away to give the subconscious time to do its thing.

        Curiously, I just used the same trick to get Friday’s WSJ meta: I was distracted by a bunch of red herrings (that I’m pretty sure were intentionally buried in the puzzle) but, after a day away from it, I instantly saw past them to the one thing I really needed to see to get it.

    6. I didn’t think I was able to finish this but finally pulled it off. Could not figure out 53A’s clue “about 5, for coffee.” Answer: “P H level,” give me a break! Really a tough clue, but now it seems quite clever on Agard’s part.

      So glad that football has started. I’m almost burned out from baseball. This will be a nice break until World Series starts.

    7. 24:42. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of Erik Agard’s preferred crossword topics and my personal areas of expertise, you would see two almost completely separated circles. I was surprised I finished this one. It’s not as gruesome as some of his NYT Saturday puzzles have been.

      Very surprised that “saltine” is just a generic word now. I assume “band-aid” and “kleenex” are still trademarked?

      Went I first started college in Texas, I remember everyone referring to a “coke” as any soda. “What kind of coke do you want?” Fortunately that never stuck as far as I can tell. As an aside, whenever I hear anyone refer to it as “pop”, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I almost stopped dating a girl once because she always used that word – even asking for a “rum and pop” at a bar. Ugh.

      Best –

    8. 17:18, no errors. Not as “tragically hip” as most Agard grids, it nonetheless had its share of annoyingly-worded clues, full of “affected difficulty”.

      1. I think “manufactured difficulty” tends to be a benchmark for crosswords, especially the harder they get. English words get used in ways that aren’t English, to the point that it’s a totally different language. While Agard (for once!) kept that to a minimum on this one, I can’t say the same for the Croce or the Newsday I mentioned above – both chock full of highly questionable or dubious clues and answers. I need 2 + 2 to always be 4, not 3, 5 or 6.

        1. I’ve seen puzzles that are exquisitely difficult, but it’s because they use words that are out of my ken, or relatively obscure. They don’t have to “trick you” or “mislead you” to generate their difficulty; nor do they have to stoop to using the most obscure, out-of-use spelling of a word. That’s *my* benchmark.

    9. Jeff, I had the caddie concession when I worked at the Country Club
      in my home town. My mom would make sandwiches and we would
      sell them for a quarter and split the proceeds. Also chips, moon pies
      and RC Cola. Those last two were a favorite and the caddies would
      call the RC “soda water”. Different strokes.

      My lawyer son-in-law came over to work on the puzzle with me
      and we got it. About 95 – 5 contribution between him and me, but
      100 is a 100, no matter how you look at it and what you call it.

      I still contend that looking up words in the dictionary is not cheating
      and should not contribute to a DNF, (possibly unless only one definition
      is given), whether you get the rest or not. If you don’t get the rest, it is
      a moot point. Looking in Google for specified puzzle clues is another
      story, in my judgement. Just the way I look at it; my old dictionary is
      certainly a learning tool for me and helps no end.

    10. The commentary today is the most stimulating and interesting I’ve ever seen on Bill’s excellent blog. Downright fun. My several cents’ worth:
      * I’m not a timer. I love words; I literally made my living by knowing and using them, correctly and creatively. I solve crosswords for the challenge and sheer fun of it. I don’t understand why some folks compete with the clock (and themselves, and one another) by timing their solves, but that’s just me. If it adds to your enjoyment and satisfaction, then … have a good time😉!
      * My understanding is that DNF means either that “I left some squares blank because I didn’t know the answer and couldn’t suss it out” or “I completed the puzzle, but couldn’t have without asking someone, checking a reference volume, or Googling.” (IMO, a solver acknowledging that he or she had to have help in order to finish the puzzle is honorable. Only pretending that one didn’t would be “cheating.”)
      * I was delighted, as always, to see Agard’s byline. Truly an elite constructor, he never disappoints me.

      1. @Joe … I agree with all of this, with the reservation that your interpretation of DNF is not universally accepted (which was/is part of my criticism of it).

        I time myself mostly because Bill does it and because I’m concerned about what I have been told is my rather-larger-than-average odds of developing dementia in old age (which is to say … now 😳). So far, I seem to have most of my marbles … 😜.

        1. Yup! When it comes to formulating a universally accepted definition, I definitely DNF😋.
          I’ve never heard a bad reason for timing. It just doesn’t add to the experience, for me.
          (BTW, I’ve always enjoyed your comments on the puzzle!)

    11. My $0.02 about all this: I just say what I do. Whatever label people want to attach to it has less than no significance to me. The only reason Bill puts that information and labels it the way he does is for clarity. That’s simply his way of saying what he did – i.e. his rules for himself.

      I finished unaided, I finished with 2 look-ups, I did not finish on my own, I did not finish because I got bored with this puzzle (I think I stole that one from Glenn lol). Who cares what label(s) you want to attach to all of that?

      Will Shortz says it all the time, and I happen to agree – It’s your puzzle. Do what you want with it.

      Now – can’t we move on to something more important – like which chaser I’m going to have with my tequila tonight?? Personally I prefer my own version of a sangrita (not sangria) – 5 oz of Spicy V8, 2 oz of OJ, 2 oz of lime juice, and 5 or 6 splashes of Worcestershire sauce. It’s magnificent after a shot of good tequila to clean your palette…..and get ready for the next one.

    12. Fairly easy Saturday and an Agard to boot. Took me 23:47 on line with no errors, and for once no peeks as well. I was only vaguely familiar with Amy and not at all with Niecy, and it turns out they are both a tiny 5’4″.

      Since Foghorn Leghorn is one of my favorite characters, I finally looked up Beauregard Claghorn, who was a fictional character played by Kenny Delmar. Funny line from an appearance on the Fred Allen show: “I’m a Southerner…When I’m in NY, I’ll never go to the Yankee Stadium…I won’t go see the Giants unless a southpaw is pitch’n…and I refuse to see the Dodgers unless Dixie Walker is play’n…”

      More at: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=Senator+Beauregard+Claghorn

      So I finished without errors but the last letter “N” from Niecy was several guesses until I got the chime. I’m still calling it no errors though 🙂

      @Jeff – I don’t know, that’s sounds pretty complicated. I would just go for a nice clean pilsner beer like my favorite Bitburger. Your Sangrita, with the high salt content of the V8, and potentially more salt consumed with the tequila, could lead to high blood pressure.

      I hope all you people in Alabama escaped damage from hurricane Dorian.

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