Nov 13, 2020 · 182 comments
Wesley (California)
Mare’s nest? Is that a regionalism? Because I have never once heard it.
Mona (CA)
Sizzling flagship answers and delightful all around, not to mention nice and easy...EXCEPT for the southwest corner! I feel like easy Spanish, French and German are fair game but I'm not sure what level you learn the word for "stick." Cross it with a proper name and it's a bit of a stick-y spot I could have done without. Especially given how beautiful the rest of the puzzle was. GPS UNIT a bit questionable but not a deal breaker.
Mark G (Manhattan)
It's surprising how many of these pretentiously clever comments have been NO HELP. *Not* the easiest Saturday imho. I clearly have a loooong way to go in undercovering the esoteric bliss that so many seem to find. All in due time, it seems.... So many of today's clues served only to ALIENATE me into retreating into SOLITUDE. If only there were more to PEEK AT to understand the erudite and supercilious fill that MAY confound so many. A WRATHful solve that only made my ego SAG for the UMPTEENth time.
Alex (San Francisco)
Really fun Saturday puzzle with great clues and lovely fill. Fell into the medusA trap, obvious as it was, but getting SASHAY fixed that. MNEMONIC DEVICES is a great spanner, and nice to see some love for Monty Python and ERIC IDLE. I don't understand 23D but it seems to be the standout clue/answer today so I'm sure it's very clever. "Lane hugger?" Was my favorite of the day. Agard puzzles never fail to deliver great clue sets.
Acmcs (Edina, MN)
@Alex The river Avon flows through Bath, England.
artlife (back in the garden again)
ahahaha! ~ 23 down, "bath water"
Regina (Hudson Valley, NY)
The Vertex puzzle today may be my all-time favorite. Kudos to the team!
Tamara (Telluride, CO)
My sweet brother, now deceased, enjoyed making up doggerel. It got to the point where I would ask him how his dog, Gerel, was doing. TIL that dog was actually part of the etymology!
hepcat8 (jive5)
Can someone please tell me what and how "My Violent Evil Monster Just Scared Us Nuts" is a mnemonic device for? The initial letters spell out MVEMJSUN, which doesn't lead to anything for me.
ging (New York, NY)
@hepcat8 The planets, as Caitlin noted in her column.
Tim (Longmeadow)
The planets
hepcat8 (jive5)
@Tim Thank you, ging and Tim. I was too dense to realize that "Poor Pluto" in Caitlin's comment referred to the planet (and not, for example, to the Greek god or Popeye's dog). Now I see that both her mnemonic and the clue's are to remember the order of planets from the sun. Duh!
Shari Coats (Nevada City, CA)
Coming to the party late. I loved this puzzle, so thanks Emily Carroll and Erik Agard for a terrific collaboration. I didn't find it as easy as some of the community did, but I never got too frustrated either. Just kept plugging away, and getting up to walk around every so often. (bad lower back issues) I got a solid start with MNEMONIC DEVICES and a few other (pretty) sure bets like NEIN, SAG, ERIC IDLE, LEVIS, EDIE, AVON, ROBE. When I saw 27A, I did think of Lois Lane, but for some reason immediately rejected it as the context. Maybe because (as someone else already pointed out) Superman was the one who actually hugged Lois, not Clark KENT. But I doubt if I thought it out that carefully. Anyway, it was a great clue, among many great clues and misdirections. Another favorite clue was the one for AVON. The meaning of GEISHA was a TIL, as was the use of ON GOD, and where it comes from. (Thanks @Barry Ancona)
Gail Sherman (NY)
Clark Kent has hugged Lois Lane in many a comic, and both animated and live action films.
Golfsan (Denver Co)
Help....formats for Spelling Bee and Letterbox have changed on IPad. Was playing on wsjpuzzles connection. App doesn’t let me play letterbox or Vertex
Ron (Austin, TX)
I chuckled at the crossing of UPWARD and PALO (ALTO). 😊 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
samsabug (chillisquaque)
How do you get ATONE? ATONE in order to make up, or A TONE as in cosmetic makeup the thirdway?
Forough (California)
@samsabug “atone” as in, to make up for something bad you did. I think it should be written as “make up” rather than “makeup” though.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
samsabug and Forough, A question mark in a clue that isn't a question warns of wordplay in the clue. In that context, "Do makeup?" was correctly crafted and crafty. (Nothing for which to ATONE)
samsabug (chillisquaque)
My first comment was intended to say or a third way. One which I was delaying mentioning. "Do", as a musical note is (made up of) A TONE. A note in the musical scale.
Bart (Mexico City)
That Ogden Nash quote is an absolute delight. Easyish Saturday w a rly fun fill. Nothing quite like nailing sticky situation and so it’s come to this from the top down
Janet (Toronto, ON)
I had to cave and go to the look up to find PALO. I didn't understand what a PALO stick was (I'd entered POLO) and Google then informed me that it's Spanish for "stick". So I have now learned that, in a clue, Sp. means Spanish, and not Specific!
Doug (Seattle)
@Janet Palo verde (green stick) is a common, green-barked tree in the Southwestern deserts.
Tony S (Washington, DC)
Easiest Saturday in quite some time for me. Regarding MNEMONIC DEVICES --- I say use whatever works --- I've been around long enough to question proclamations based on one or two studies --- I still remember the cranial nerves based on a mnemonic that I'm sure would be censored by the NY Times; the one taught me when I attempted to learn guitar --- Eat All Day, Get Big Easy --- (E, A, D, G, B, E are the string pitches in standard tuning) has also stuck with me.
John (Central NJ, Sometimes Maine)
@Tony S I learned Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie. Wish I had heard yours instead.
Dr W (New York NY)
Delayed quibble re 27A: I think she hugged him, not the other way around. So I would have had "huggee" in the clue.
Bob (CT)
@Dr W hugs def went both ways in Superman2
Dr W (New York NY)
Easiest Saturday I've seen so far. And any puzzle with 49A and 50D has my vote. Kudos.
Bill Rosser (Tennessee)
Does anyone else not understand ON GOD as the answer to "I swear?"
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
Never before today.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Bill, People have been not understanding it here ... and people have been explaining it here ... since last night. Please scroll down to read any number of threads.
Julie Brown (Florida)
@Bill Rosser I've never heard of "on God" for "I swear" and I used to swear people in (in court) for a living
Chatte Cannelle (California)
Very clever and tricky, tricky puzzle. I really appreciate the quality of the clues - not one throwaway, easy clue, at least to me, anyway. KENT was the best one. ATHENA/Medusa really tripped me up. Like Caitlin, SASHAY, was a favorite entry for me too. RuPaul has the best sashay in the music video, Supermodel. Sashay, shante.
retired, with cat (Milwaukee)
@Chatte Cannelle I put in Medusa too, but worried that it was very obvious for a Saturday, and confidently erased it when I committed to YEASTY/ SASHAY.
Olivia (Maine)
I have to comment today because it's my first time solving a Saturday without consulting the Wordplay column first! The trickiest part for me was the NE corner--I had HOLIDAY before HOLY DAY, TRICKY SITUATION before STICKY SITUATION, and then MEDUSA instead of ATHENA. Finally got there, though :)
Mark G (Manhattan)
Dear @Olivia - I believe the convention is only to use capital letters for correct clues. Incorrect items are best left lowercase and in a single 'quote' so as not to confuse readers.
Jack Aubert (Falls Church)
LETTER BOXED: YESTERDAY (FRIDAY) Letter Boxers' Posting Conventions for Reference Andrew Ottawa F - S(6), S -Y(9) Signs of displeasure and consistency. Recent events elicited F - S and have one questioning someone’s S - Y. @3:20 EST FROWNS - STABILITY JRu London F-S (6) / S-Y (9) Sad faces in an unchanging environment @? FROWNS - STABILITY Susan D Cedar Park, TX I got the same solution F-S (6) / S-Y (9) @3:28 EST. FROWNS - STABILITY Jack Aubert Falls Church 5h ago B - S(6), S - Y(7) The nobility is quick to react @5:00 EST BARONS - SWIFTLY ITReader MA B - S(7), S - R(6) Mudfishes do not resemble a peg or pin. @ 05:20 EST BOWFINS - SAFETY ITReader MA Also: R - S(8), S - Y(6) In the sky are bands of seven colors, while the clouds weep gently. @ 5:20 EST RAINBOWS - SOFTLY Queenie Connecticut Ditto F - S (6), S - Y (9) pouts & permanence @ 8:45 EST: FROWNS - STABILITY OFFICIAL SOLUTION BARONS - SWIFTLY
ITReader (MA)
@Jack Aubert My first solution was BOWFINS STYLAR (SAFETY would not work with F and A on the same side of the box - and no E in the set!)
Jack Aubert (Falls Church)
@ITReader Thanks for the correction. Sometimes i have a hard time figuring these out. And I didn't have the box application itself available to run the letters. I have not been able to save the code in such a way that I can run it locally. Once I figured out BOWFINS I guessed -- obviously wrongly at SAFETY. I am actually trying to write something in C that will run through a complete dictionary and weed out -- or rather weed in -- all possible words. I used to be able to write C code but am having a lot of trouble. I may start over with Java. If you want to discuss, email me as [email protected]
ITReader (MA)
@Jack Aubert Thanks Jack! Me being slightly obsessive (!), I take a screenshot of my completed answers as I do them - this way I can refer to the screenshot(s) when posting on here & dreaming up hints. Because I keep screenshots for a few weeks, I have access to the historical box setups. Sympathies on your C troubles - I gave up coding years ago and am not about to take it up again!
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
The top half came fairly easily. The bottom lay bare until Caitlin told me MNEMONIC whats (I had toyed with "sayings"). I should have had a good start in the SW, but when I came to 57A, 君が代, I apparently had a huge one of those brain things that probably wouldn't get past the emus and couldn't fit ANTHEM into six spaces. Got unknown ERICIDLE and NEWMONEY from Caitlin and in way under two hours I had reached the "Keep trying" stage. This morning I tried another vowel in Eliot's MoRNER and found out what Palos Verdes means for the first time!
D. Patrick Ryan (Okotoks, AB)
Did anybody actually get “Lane hugger” except with the crossing solutions?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
Probably not. But it was still an amusing clue.
Jonathan Leal (Bklyn)
As an old comic aficionado it was my first guess!
Jeff Walberg (Mount Vernon, Iowa)
Just needed the “K”
RAH (New York)
The NE corner was the last to fill. MEDUSA before ATHENA. Couldn't decide between TRICKY and STICKY SITUATION.
Mark G (Manhattan)
As mentioned to Olivia above, it definitely helps to only use all caps for correct clues and other variants. Some solvers scan through looking for the all caps to trigger clues to help fill in tough areas.
Laszlo (Jackson Heights)
Snazzy puzzle. However, in my mind it is a lot easier to memorize the order of the planets than a contorted mnemonic device. What was the mnemonic before Pluto was downgraded? Perhaps "Many Voracious Ewoks Munched Juicy Steaks Until Noon Passed." Is it a coincidence having triple voting today (51A and 2 & 6D)?
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Laszlo The voting is all RIGGed anyway.
Randall Clark (houston, tx)
@Laszlo I was taught Mary's Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights Pining.
Motowner (Morristown)
In Jersey, I grew up with this one, and still have it implanted: Many Veterans Earn Money Just Selling Us New Products.
Frances (Western Mass)
Easy but nice. 芸者も君が代も楽勝。
Captain Quahog (Planet Earth)
@Frances タンドリーが好きだった
Mark G (Manhattan)
Jennifer (Manhattan)
The column admonition that scientists take a dim view of mnemonic devices took me right back to the look of utter disdain from my freshman music theory professor when I pointed out that—rather than memorizing their intervalic content— the ancient modes could be remembered by the phrase, “Don’t Play Lousy Music At Interlochen.” Yet here they are, retrievable after all these years: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Ionian.
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Jennifer Maybe the professor’s reaction was because you omitted Locrian?
Carol (SE Florida)
I matched a personal best on the puzzle, so I figured the construction was on the kindly side. This increased the fun of it for me. My favorite ERIC IDLE segment on Monty Python is the skit about the Richard III ward in London's "Hospital for Over-Actors," which treats ranting Richards shouting "A HORSE, A HORSE, MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE!!" Turning to a calm Eric Idle, the doctor (Graham Chapman) introduces a success story: "This chap came to us straight from the Chichester Festival; we operated just in time, and now he's almost normal." Nearly cured, Eric then says the same line with smug composure.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
Anyone else get all hung up in the NE because MEDUSA fit so perfectly? SHIMMY down the aisle? I put in SAG at once and took it out twice, only to circle back time and time again....When I finally tumbled to Clark KENT, thngs improved right away. Other than that corner, the solve was smooth, quick, and seamless.... except I did try BETTE Davis before GEENA (again.)
D. Patrick Ryan (Okotoks, AB)
@Mean Old Lady MEDUSA here, completely hung me up.
Rin Fillmore (MA)
I doubled the error: GORGON first, then MEDUSA, then only due to crosses, ATHENA.
Phil P (Austin, TX)
I’ll have Leonard Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag” in my head for days! I guess there are worse things “So it’s come to this, That’s right it’s come to this, And wasn’t it a long way down? Wasn’t it a strange way down?“
Al in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
@Phil P Any comment that quotes Leonard Cohen gets a reco from me.
S. Ann (Austin, TX)
Lovely Saturday puzzle! Small nit though...shouldn't the clue for 60D read something like "Forensic science subj." since the answer is an abbreviation? My first thought was DNA, which is correct, but I initially dismissed it since the clue did not suggest an abbreviated answer.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
S. Ann, Acronyms are words. I trust you would not expect RADAR to be clued as an abbreviation. It's been a while since I spoke or read DNA's "spelled-out" name.
Ethan (Midwest)
@S. Ann If I'm not mistake, that convention is used for the early-week, easier puzzles.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Ethan, In my solving experience, it's not a day of the week thing: acronyms never require "abbr." or a hint in the clue; abbreviations always do. YSEMV
Novice (Frederick, MD)
Lovely puzzle, although I had to use Google a few times to get unstuck! I still don't understand 52A for "High Dungeon." Anyone mind explaining? Thank you!
Bill (Detroit)
@Novice "Dudgeon"--different word.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
Did spellcheck change “dudgeon” to “dungeon”? The clue uses the former.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Re: "High Dungeon" Couldn't squeeze TOWER OF LONDON into 52A. (Oh, I see. Never mind!)
archaeoprof (Danville, KY)
Yes, perhaps a little on the easy side for Saturday, but still interesting and fun. Only in puzzle world can UPWARD be down.
coloradoz (Colorado)
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
@ Colorados You may well be right. For instance, the delightful ‘Bath water’ was probably easier for me than for a non-Brit. (It occurs to me that one could mangle the pronunciation as ‘Bard water’, and still have a viable clue). One could also add the Silas Marner clue/answer to the English references. Conversely, I know you’re joking re ‘Kent’, given the clueing, but I’m not sure why ‘so it’s come to this’ makes your list.
coloradoz (Colorado)
@Rupert Raynor The two answers combined into one phrase
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
@ Coloradoz Ok, I’ll stipulate that it has indeed come to this, and Brexit is indeed (still) a sticky situation. One might even say that Boris is up (award-winning Canadian TV comedy show) without a paddle. However, I humbly suggest that such situations are hardly unique to the UK at present. Indeed, one could even argue that there are one or two sticky situations still making headlines in the good ole US currently. Wouldn’t you say?
Nancy (NYC)
Yes, but what if you can't remember the MNEMONIC DEVICE? Or if you can remember the MNEMONIC DEVICE, but can't remember what it refers to? Or, if like me, you've never been taught the MNEMONIC DEVICE and haven't the foggiest idea what it refers to? I guess you come here and find out. Which I will as soon as I finish writing this. This was fun. Filled with delightful stuff like UMPTEEN and SASHAY and LIAISING and DOGGEREL and ROBOT ARM and STICKY SITUATION. And the clues were so interesting. Loved the WARS quote (22A); loved discovering what GEISHA means (well, I guess there are many different kinds of arts, right?); was interested to find out that ATHENA was associated with snakes (I thought it was MEDUSA). And I learned the Japanese ANTHEM, though I've already forgotten it. As Saturdays go, I found it pretty easy, but I'm not complaining. Junk-free, proper name-free, fairly clued and very lively. Nice collaboration.
ad absurdum (Chicago)
"On God", for those who don't know, is how Bostonians say en garde. Fun cluing and a nice varied assortment of entries. Erik Agard = Jeopardy host?
maestro (southern jersey)
@ad absurdum When I lived in Boston we would refer to the local grocery store as the Starp and Sharp. Because if you say that in a Boston accent...
Al in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
@ad absurdum I'd guess that Erik would be a little too edgy for that role.
Kate (Massachusetts)
I had a feeling commenters would say that they found this easier than usual, thereby bursting my momentary feeling of smugness. Rather than ALIENATion though, I’m enjoying being part of the cool kids’ club for once. Perfect start to my Saturday morning!
Amy (Jersey City)
Did I wake up more ASTUTE than when I went to sleep? That was a surprisingly easy Saturday. Unless, in my pandemic SOLITUDE I’ve lost track of day and date. Thank you Emily and Eric!
Actmath prof (Ohio)
Great puzzle! I learned Many Very Eager Men Jump South Under New Pajamas, which is perhaps a little racy to teach children.
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Actmath prof Sounds like a STICKY SITUATION.
I finally got around to Googling Erik Agard. Jiminy Cricket! He's 26 years old. He doesn't have a Wikipedia page. Can I be the only one who's ever looked? He's a star in the admittedly small universe of crossword celebrities. Someone should rectify the situation. He deserves at least a STUB.
Dr W (New York NY)
@LD If you think that's young, check this out: David Steinberg (crossword editor) - Wikipedia
Bill (Detroit)
9A, 1D, 32D: some of may have had a (sub-)cultural advantage in this puzzle (Ah, those halcyon days of Youth!) but a stupid spelling error kept me from the Happy Music, and probably a new PB, until I cleared the puzzle and reentered it in toto. 8D--an ungainly phrase which i have never heard--brought to mind yesterday's kerfuffle over the Tetragrammaton. When I was in high school, we had a devout Jewish English teacher--a rarity in our WASPy suburb--who, whenever she would write the name of the Almighty in pen or on a chalkboard, would write "G.d"--to my mind, a respectful and admirable habit which I have since picked up (as some of you may have noticed.)
Bill (Detroit)
@Bill "some of us . . ." my mistyping is not limited to the grid. (Am I the only one who finds typing in the comment boxes on this site unpredictable?) Also, Miss Herschberger was a Jewish teacher of English, not a teacher of Jewish English. To be prefectly clear.
Ann (Baltimore)
Well-done! Rather STICKY. My SITUATION was, I fell asleep with the puzzle open (nothing to do with the puzzle, just exhaustion). When I finished, finally solving the SW, my time had COME TO THIS: 5:21:17. Good thing i don't care about my stats! This was one of those puzzles that make me feel smarter than I really am.
Jennifer (Manhattan)
@Ann The puzzle gods will redact such an anomalous time if you ask. I had 56 hours on one.
Dave C (Massachusetts)
Wow, this was fun! Liaising is just a crazy vowelfest. Props for getting my main man Eric Idle in there. I wonder if doggerel could be a relative of caterwaul? The version of the planets for me was My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Yummy! Any puzzle that has Indian and Japanese food is my friend!
dlr (Springfield, IL)
@Dave C ... and if you want to omit the 9th planet, she can serve you Nachos.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
I learned it, back when Pizza was a planet, as “. . . My Very Energetic Mother . . . ,” which goes well with “Nine Pizzas.’
Carol (SE Florida)
@Dave C I think it was in _Have Space Suit Will Travel_, one of his books for younger readers, that Robert A Heinlein suggested this solar/planetary mnemonic: "Mother Ventured to Make a Jelly Sandwich under No Protest." "A" was for Asteroid Belt, I think. ( I've always liked Pluto, partly due to its heavy use as an alien watching-post in pulp sf, so refuse to give up on it entirely. It's a thing way out there, anyhow.)
Megan (Baltimore)
Lots of fun clueing on this one, but I call shenanigans on 8D. Who says "On God"? I'm sure it's a phrase somewhere, but I've never heard it and it slowed me down because I had 'BYGOD' until I could see it couldn't be that at all.
Taylor Parrott (Greenville, SC)
I teach high school and all the teens say ONGOD! I was excited to see this one in today’s puzzle.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Megan, If you aren't hearing it in high school, scroll down for a link to hear it in a Kanye West song. It is heard. (Not my ANTHEM)
Jeff Walberg (Mount Vernon, Iowa)
Same here. The NW corner took me several attempts because of that and liaising
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
SO IT'S COME TO THIS: Dumb as can be, but some major star power. As in Star Wars as in Star Trek. May the force be with you. Live long and prosper.
John Dietsch (West Palm Beach)
@Steve L Wish we call could make it so!
SPB (Virginia)
A fun fast follow-up to Friday's festivities! The first to fill in for me was SASHAY (which I'm sure proper GEISHAs do not do), so I was off to a wonderful start. I'm still chuckling over my favorite clues for short fill, like "Bath water?" for AVON, "Getting close, perhaps?" for WARM, "It might be hair-raising" for GEL, "Do makeup?" for ATONE, and my favorite, "Lane hugger" for KENT! The long phrases of SO IT'S COME TO THIS and STICKY SITUATION were wonderful parallels, both in location and theme, and I loved the crossing of SOLITUDE and its downside NO HELP (although perhaps the nearby ROBOT ARM would be permissible assistance). This circular solve had me finishing in the NW, where I was slowed down by GETS INTO before GOES INTO, OH GOD before ON GOD, thinking "polish" before "Polish", and by TROJAN for "Achilles, for example" (before I realized I had assigned him to the wrong team). Loved the quote at 22A - I'll be trying to keep that in mind as I watch the political news of the day. Thank you, Emily and Erik, for a puzzle that delighted on every level!
Jeff Walberg (Mount Vernon, Iowa)
I made a lot of the same missteps, plus a few more in the NW corner. Otherwise it was a quickie for me
Rich in Atlanta (Clarkston, Georgia)
With suejean on this one - not at all easy for me (and not a complete success), but still a terrific puzzle and a very enjoyable solve. Highlight for me was filling in KENT from the clue. Oh, and as best I recall my mother served us New Potatoes. It would probably be noodles now. Going to way off topic, but vaguely related to some clues and answers. Two things I learned for the first time in the past week: First - inspired by ANTHEM over WRATH - I never realized that the Battle Hymn of the Republic was (intentionally) composed using the tune of John Brown's Body. Surprised I never noticed that before. And the other one was something I learned from one of my sons (whose name appears in the puzzle, though in the plural). Take any planet in the solar system. At any given point in time what other planet is most likely to be nearest to it? Well... the answer to that for every planet is... Mercury. Think about it. Lastly, now that Pluto has become a dwarf planet, perhaps we should change it's name to a different cartoon character. Not sure how many there are, but we could start with Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sneezy....
suejean (HARROGATE)
@Rich in Atlanta , I was chuffed that I got KENT quite quickly as well.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Rich in Atlanta - CGP Grey did a short video about Mercury’s special status:
suejean (HARROGATE)
A bit depressing to read that this puzzle was so easy it could have been a Wednesday or even Tuesday puzzle, but I can definitely say that I found it the most enjoyable Saturday puzzle I can remember doing. I loved the long entries, and enjoyed all the fun clues already mentioned especially the clue for AVON, reminding me of a lovey holiday spent in Bath many years ago. I also thought the quote at 22A was quite thought provoking. Congratulations on the Saturday puzzle, Emily, and please do some more.
Jim (Nc)
Thought I was on track for a PB, but then spent 40 minutes getting unstuck in the NW. Had to replace NON with OUI, ART with ERA, and never heard of ON GOD.
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
I have a tendency to misread the admirable Mr Agard’s name as ‘Asgard’. Of course, having the first name Erik does nothing to dispel the Norse vibe. As such, it was good to see ‘Odin’ centre-stage. Perhaps he could adopt this as his nom-de-plume?
Doug (Tokyo)
SPELLING BEE GRID O A C E L T Y WORDS: 58, POINTS: 248, PANGRAMS: 1 (1 Perfect) First character frequency: A x 7 C x 23 L x 11 O x 6 T x 11 Word length frequency: 4L: 22 5L: 14 6L: 10 7L: 8 8L: 3 9L: 1 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 9 Σ A: 2 3 - 1 1 - 7 C: 10 5 4 2 1 1 23 L: 3 3 2 3 - - 11 O: 2 2 2 - - - 6 T: 5 1 2 2 1 - 11 Σ: 22 14 10 8 3 1 58 Two letter list: AC-1 AL-5 AT-1 CA-2 CE-1 CL-3 CO-17 LO-11 OA-1 OC-3 OL-1 OO-1 TA-2 TE-1 TO-8
Doug (Tokyo)
I miss C8 each and every time. GN4L@177/28
Cooofnj (New Jersey)
@Doug Thanks! Got my L4 nemesis but struggled on the spelling of CO9. Finally got it. For want of an L a QB was almost lost.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Doug Thanks! A-C HINTS Superfan Earmark Ration Metallurgist’s concoction Salve Like Charlie Parker’s sax Snorkeling site Cadbury bean Caribbean stew (yup, that one) Ma’s plaything? Zoological cavity (a Bee favorite) Devonshire cream feature Sicken with sweetness What two stars might do Welsh export once Dolly’s had many colors Part of white script on a red can Hot stuff on a cold night Other part of white script on a red can Arrange the sheets? Gather up Gem socket (not a French woman’s name) Place side by side (1 more letter than you might think) Stallion to-be Warm’s flipside (and its adverb) “Get off my lawn” shouter Pigeon pad With wily shyness Wile E.
Andrew (Ottawa)
LETTER BOXED V - S(8), S - M(9) Shaky relationship. @3:20 EST
Susan Higgins (NY)
@Andrew Also B-S 7 S-C 8 Accolades, ovoid lens
ITReader (MA)
@Andrew A - E(8), E - S(9) Set up bans @ 09:35 EST
Queenie (Connecticut)
@Andrew M - S (8), S - E (8) A tiny organism wanders aimlessly (10:45 AM EST) (The second word (S - E), from Scotland, Ireland, & northern England is a new one to me--fun!)
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
Wow, that was quick - seemed more like Tues/Wed difficulty. Like many others, that’s an all-time Saturday PB for me. Very little clumsy fill, and barely a natick to be found, other than the L crossing of ‘palo’ and ‘Platte’. A shame to see Diana Rigg clued for a fairly minor part in GofT, rather than something more substantial from her amazing body of work across TV, film and classical theatre. As for 59A, who can forget Sir Robin, the ‘not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot’? Notwithstanding the success of Spamalot, I never feel Eric Idle gets quite the level of recognition he should as a near-genius comic lyricist.
WMY (London, UK)
Terrific. IPSE DIXIT reminded me of the clue for ERNIE (Famed Orange Troublemaker) for some reason...
Rajeev (Reno)
A gem of a puzzle, thank you! My eraser got worn down. Enough alternative answers to give one pause, and lots to learn. And +1 for no cable networks! Like many others, a fan of KENT, and enjoyed seeing DOGGEREL appear.
Anita (NYC)
Lane hugger? KENT Clue of the Year?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Anita, I don't know about "of the year," but if it doesn't make Top Five of the Week, I'd expect calls for a recount. (PEEKAT grandchild)
Margaret (Brooklyn)
@Anita Didn't anyone else, when reading this clue, think "yeah, in his dreams"? I thought Lois pined for Superman, and had no use for poor Clark.
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Margaret Maybe that explains the question mark?
JH (Toronto, ON)
HOLIDAY - HOLYDAY NAP - NIP (Personally, I NAP when I want to chill.) Polish, say - EUROPEAN was cute. Lane hugger/(hogger) - Not a car, but (Clark) KENT, which I figured out right away, but made me groan like I do when I hear a bad pun. My Violet Evil Monster Just Scared Us Nuts is a much better way to remember the order of the planets than trying to pronounce the first letters “MMMVEM-JAY-SUNP” like Screech did on Saved By The Bell. Oh yeah, there’s also the matter of Pluto, before it was demoted to dwarf planet status.
Jack McCullough (Montpelier, Vermont)
@JH You may NAP when you want to chill, but this morning you may find there's a NIP in the air.
lioncitysolver (singapore)
Thoroughly fun... lane hugger was exquisite
Mike (Munster)
When I misplace my maple syrup, it's a sticky situation. (But if I find it, I'll live sappily ever after.)
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
MNEMONIC PHRASES came quickly — and left almost as quickly when I found myself in a STICKY SITUATION. Fun puzzle. Today I learned the etymology of GEISHA. (Except that according to the dictionaries I looked at, it’s more like “art person.”)
Alan Young (Thailand)
“ON GOD”? Has anyone ever heard this? Or even read it? (Citation, please) Otherwise, quite a cuddly lovable little Friday puzzle.
Heather (New Orleans)
@Alan Young I don’t know if it’s a thing younger people would be more familiar with, and/or a more common AAVE phrase but it is a phrase I have heard a lot and had no trouble with in the puzzle. Not made up. :)
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
I’ve never heard it.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Alan, I gather you haven't followed Kanye West in his religious period (if you followed him at all). "On God" is a cut from his 2019 album: (This is not my ANTHEM)
David S (DC)
As some others have said, I was on the right wavelength for this one - a Saturday personal best by almost 3 minutes, and faster than Thursday and Friday of this week. And no need for even the smallest cheat, or to set aside a corner to finish the next morning. Still an interesting puzzle. It was a relief this week to have a Saturday puzzle that didn't almost defeat me.
Peter Jackel (British Columbia)
I tuned in tonight to ask the classical music fans if "continuo" should have been accepted as a word on today's Spelling Bee. It is a common enough usage, isn't it? I remember it from 1964, 1965,1966, 1967 Nonesuch, and other, records of Baroque music. Music that I listened to in Wallace House, part of Sir Daniel Wilson Residence of University College in the University of Toronto. Our proud House motto - "Semper Ubi, Sub Ubi". A golden era of music for me. So much classical music, Palestrina, Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and so many more and so many pianists and violinists and cellists and conductors and orchestras. Dylan, Cohen, Joni, and so many more. The Stones, the Beatles, the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, Jimi, Jefferson Airplane and so, so many more. And so much more than music. Does anyone remember the Firesign Theatre?
Alan Young (Thailand)
@Peter Jackel, I was also perturbed by the exclusion of CONTINUO; also, MONTUNO, an equally-essential structural concept in Cuban music. A few weeks ago, it was BANDONEON that was blanked. Why is this particular puzzle dictionary so ignorant about music?
Andrew (Louisville)
@Peter Jackel "It's a tropical paradise!"
Laurence of Bessarabia (Santa Monica)
@Peter Jackel plenty of bozos still on this bus! phil proctor and friends of ft can be found on social media sites.
Andrew (Louisville)
My fastest ever Saturday and quicker than W T and F this week. The only answer I had to scrub was BETTE for 50D but then a tiny sliver of memory from her obit told me that Diana RIGG had been in GoT which I never saw. I've loved her since The Avengers and she was the definitive Mrs Danvers in Rebecca. I laughed at the Lane hugger clue. Good one. But apart from the odd gem, this puzzle would not have been out of place on a Wednesday.
Sophia Leahy (Cambria, CA)
Lane Hugger! My favorite clue in a bracing, fast, yet not easy puzzle. Well done!
slammy (washington, dc)
Fun and fast for me.
David Connell (Weston CT)
(Definitely not on this puzzle’s wavelength. I’ll take all y’all’s word on this’n.) Sad to see Diana Rigg clued to GoT rather than Mrs Peel. OK Boomer, I spose. Sic transit etc etc
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@David Connell The cool youngsters think that the Avengers is a comic-book franchise.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Steve, Youngsters know The Avengers is a comic book franchise. Cool youngsters also know Mrs. Peel. (You geezers get off my lawn!)
Cheryl (At Home, Like Everyone Else)
@David Connell The most memorable role I ever saw her in was as Regan in Laurence Olivier's King Lear. Even in an all-star cast she was astonishing.
Mark Abe (Los Angeles)
Loved it, even if "Lane hugger?" was one of the last for me to appreciate.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
Possibly my fastest Saturday—I have one of the spurious times as met fastest—but this one went very quickly. I managed to decipher almost all the clues correctly for once, and only had a couple of temporary fills I had to rewrite. There were only a couple of places I had to depend on crosses, so for me this felt like a midweek puzzle (and I appreciate it!). Congrats on the cycle, Emily; and kudos to you and Erik for the puzzle.
Christine (Oconomowoc)
@JayTee Same here. My gimme was MNEMONIC DEVICES, and I was able to build quickly from there. I appreciate a relatively easy Saturday puzzle!
Jennifer (Colorado Springs)
@Christine - just had to pop in a reply to say we lived in Oconomowoc until last summer :) I'd love to see that name in a crossword someday.
Christine (Oconomowoc)
Hey Jennifer! Great idea. The 5 O’s.
Mr. Sandler (Arlington, MA)
After about a month of attempting the daily puzzle, this is my first time finishing a Saturday unassisted.
Mark Abe (Los Angeles)
@Mr. Sandler Congratulations!
Mike (Munster)
Congratulations!! May many more solves be ahead. 😊
Mr Mark (California)
The three long entries were easy, which made the whole puzzle easier than it would otherwise have been. Some really fun clues, especially Lois and Clark.
ReidD (Bethesda, MD)
Enjoyably clued and easily solved with the Downs - not only a PB for Saturday but faster than the last three days this week. I’ve never heard anyone say “On God” though.
Cha (Vail, Colorado)
@ReidD On God?
ReidD (Bethesda, MD)
Brennan (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
@ReidD Came here to find out where it is in usage. "God's truth," & "swear to God" are terms I'm familiar with but 'hand to heart' I've never heard it before.
Margaret (Maine)
If seeking an ANTHEM or some DOGGEREL for our times, try ERIC IDLE with the Galaxy Song:
Daniel Lemke (Houston, TX)
I loved this puzzle, I enjoyed the great moments of discovery. Selection bias: early commenters claim a puzzle is too easy; late commenters are frustrated by difficulty.
Shari Coats (Nevada City, CA)
@Daniel Lemke And then some of us just slept very late. I'm still trying to figure out how to set the alarm on my iPhone since the last software update!
Steve (Colorado)
My only problem was entering pNEMONIC because I was thinking pneumatic. But WARM solved that issue.
Kathy (NC)
Well, that went a lot faster than I expected. Limerick before DOGGEREL and HOLiDAY held me up for a bit in the SE. Had to go check on Athena and snakes, I associate her with owls.
Chaz Aich (Endwell, NY)
I had the same problem with ATHENA. I bought a little owl figurine as a souvenir of my trip to Athens. I don’t think the gift shops even offered snake-themed knick knacks.
John (NYJ)
Saying she’s associated with snakes is a bit of a stretch. There’s one at her feet in the Parthenon statue of her and she sends them to eat up poor Laocoön and the boys in the learned epic of Vergil, but that’s about it.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
John, You may want to consult an oracle... (See also Medusa)
Puzzlemucker (NY)
Erik is never idle. Lots of bouncy clues, smart grid spanners, Emily has now hit for the cycle, this is Erik’s 800th POW!, and I finished 17 hours and 28 minutes faster than my average Agard Saturday time. ATHENA:
Alexis (Australia)
PBs on both Friday and Saturday for me this week! Enjoyable solve though, it felt like I was on the constuctors' wavelength. Lots of nice little redirects that nonetheless fell straight away, like the clues for ATONE and DANDER. As a chronic sufferer, I felt seen by the latter :D Now off to finish my coffee, as it has for once outlasted the Sat puzzle...
george heibel (new jersey)
15 min under average. such a blast
polymath (British Columbia)
(This column is mislabelPed as Nov. 12 and listed out of order on the Wordplay page, and also not reachable from the Premium Crosswords page as usual.) Sorry to sound like a broken record, but this Saturday puzzle was like a very easy Friday puzzle and presented no resistance at all. Except I foolishly entered "wroth" instead of "wrath" and was then blind to the putative "Plotte" River for the longest time. All the more embarrassing since I spend over a week in North Platte, Nebraska through early November. It was fun while it lasted.
polymath (British Columbia)
I was surprised to have the Japanese word for "anthem" clued as something solvers needed to translate. Bad idea.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@polymath - it’s the title / opening line of the Japanese national (imperial) anthem, not the word for anthem. Still understandably annoying for non-Japanese-speaking types, I’m sure. Kimigayo is the oldest national anthem in the world, btw. Over a thousand years.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@ Polymath, I’m not sure I understand your objection. As I learned today, “Kimigayo” is the title of the Japanese national anthem, and is usually translated as “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign.”
Liz B (Durham, NC)
Similar (for me) to the Friday puzzle--it looked daunting at first, and I had very little after a first pass through the Acrosses, but I was able to fill in a lot with the Downs and it didn't take long from there. Getting MNEMONIC DEVICES immediately helped a lot! I tried MEDUSA before ATHENA, since I had nothing else going on in that corner, so that ended up being the last section to fall. SAG and SASHAY helped me get there. It was fun, but over with too quickly!
Susan D (Cedar Park, TX)
@Liz B Hand up for MEDUSA! That kept me stuck for way too long. I loved MNEMONIC DEVICES -- clever and fun.
Sascha (Vancouver)
Tried Medusa AND Gorgon before I got Athena from the crosses.
suejean (HARROGATE)
@Sascha , hand up for Medusa and Gorgon as well. (Too)
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
As for the puzzle, one of the fastest Saturdays ever for me. Only 10 seconds slower than my all-time Saturday personal best. If only I hadn't stop to look for the nut I thought I dropped onto the floor...
LarryF (NYC Area)
It was absolutely my fastest Saturday ever, 18 minutes. SO ITS COME TO THIS was my first fill; it just came to me. And clearly Every Good Boy Deserves Favor. I’ll leave the MNEMONIC DEVICE for the electronic parts color code out as this is a family publication. L
Andrew (Louisville)
@LarryF Yes please don't. They are mostly offensive on several counts.
Julie (NYC)
My father was an electronics engineer, and a gentleman. What naughty mnemonics were there? Found Quite a nest of racism, sexism and cultural hegemony, well into our era apparently.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Quick Saturday. Fun but over too soon (and no, I'm not a speed solver). Hope everyone finds the column and comments. See you in the morning.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
The link from the puzzle hub is not working, and on the Wordplay main page, the column is listed before the Fri. one.
Caitlin (New York)
Link is fixed! Thanks. Order of the posts may straighten itself out... My fault, I changed the url by mistake!