Takes Stock?

Randolph Ross presents a capital puzzle on a celebratory day.

Comments: 172

  1. Nice misdirection. So many candidates for the weekly top 5 from Lewis of Asheville.

  2. @Brian Agreed. Maybe even enough for a special Top 5 “adult” clues list, beginning with “Call on a hot line?”/PHONE SEX.

  3. Our constructor wrote: "As a solver I love themeless puzzles with wide open spaces and lots of uncommon entries." I say: "Amen!" (Fans of black squares will be complaining, though.)

  4. Fun solve. KEESHAN was a struggle, because I couldn't remember Captain Kangaroo's name other than it started with K and had SH in it somewhere. SPASMS before SEISMS, anyone?

  5. Puzzle had a definite sex, drugs and Captain Kangaroo sub-theme. And, as Brian pointed out, it was loaded with some great clues, as well as some very pleasing fill (LEVERETS, TORTOLA, SIT SHIVA, etc., etc.). I’m not sure why it wasn’t Jeff Chen’s POW! I can’t remember a better Saturday so far this year.

  6. @Puzzlemucker Jeff is really big on solver experience - as all constructors should be. I think this clip from the review says why it wasn't a POW: "No doubt, there are many of the usual compromises in this stunt themeless — overreliance on common letters (ASSESSESS, RAILED AT, etc.), odd forms (CHANTER, INHERED), oddballs (PELAGE, PARLOUR, LEVERETS) "

  7. @Steve Faiella I read him after I wrote that. Unlike Jeff, I liked LEVERETS and PELAGE, a lot, and the amount of white space (hi @Lewis) and cluing (hi @nearly everyone) in this puzzle were A LEVEL. But I guess when I have my own crossword blog (with Jim Horne, of course) and have constructed oodles of amazing puzzles, I can give out my own POW!s.

  8. . . . and as Caitlin noted, the puzzle’s fill was in the 99.6th percentile of all puzzles for “Freshness,” per Xwordinfo’s rating scale. That puts it in xwordinfo’s “Freshness Factor Hall of Fame.” I was going to say that Jeff owes Randy a make-up call, but then it occurred to me that MAKE UP CALL would be a good themer for a theme of sports phrases that have alternative meanings (“Telephonic attempt to patch things up”). Has not yet appeared as an entry, per Xwordinfo. Feel free to use!

  9. A weird solve for me--very little on the first pass through the Acrosses, then a lot of fill with the first pass through the Downs--at least in the top half! But still not much in the south. After a couple of passes I had the top half completely filled in and the south was still very empty. Changing CORRAL to SALOON (and A-LEVEL to O-LEVEL) helped me remember the word LEVERETS, so that got me into the southwest. The southeast was the toughest, as all I could think of for "taking stock" was "rustling" which didn't work in any way. But once that thought was in my head, I couldn't think of any other option. Mr B looked over my shoulder (I had just helped him finish the 5-weeks-ago-syndication-puzzle) and gave me LADLES (he does think about food more than I do) and we were golden.

  10. Again, and with tongue in cheek, I raise the question of diacritics. The Hispanophiles always complain when the tilde is absent...yesterday a few Alemannians complained about the absence of the umlaut. Today we have a violation for the Francophones. Égoïste may, for typographic reasons, forgo the accent on the first letter - but must have the trema / diaeresis on the i, to keep it from becoming "egg-wasst." I don't object to any of the puzzle's conventions - I merely ask for equal time for indignation on behalf of languages other than Spanish, año por año. __ I have a feeling that this puzzle will generate more than one very creative followup post here... __ I listened to the podcast that Deb did (link in the Friday puzle posts), and recommend it very much. Great to hear her voice, and to hear her thoughts.

  11. @David Connell My pet peeve is hyperforeignisms. Diacritics are often added where they don't belong. Habañera - Yet no one says Havaña Enseñada - It means shown or taught. Ensenada - The town in Baja. It means cove. Empañada - diapered Empanada - an edible turnover. Latté - The acute accent doesn't exist in Italian.

  12. @David Connell To be fair, the issue with the tilde in Spanish isn’t so much the diacritic mark being or not being there... it is that in Spanish the ñ is considered its own letter (complete with its own, albeit short, section in the dictionary; very few words begin with that letter). So referring to a word without the tilde would be the same as using an n in place of say an m (where you’ve essentially left out a whole second part of the character, the second “hump” that turns an n into an m). This issue becomes most apparent in the term that is frequently involved in this “tilde dropping,” which gets us Spanish-speakers giggling: saying “ano” (anus) instead of ”año” (year). But even in Spanish (and indeed French), diacritic marks over vowels are merely there to indicate stressed syllables (Spanish) or how the vowel is to be pronounced (French). But strictly speaking, they are still considered the same vowel. Essentially, if the crossword was entirely in Spanish (for a Spanish-speaking audience), no one cry foul if crosses that take place at a vowel don’t share the same accent mark. They WOULD, however, expect n to cross with n and ñ with ñ. All that being said, as wrong as it is to spell something without the ñ, the most it gets out of me is a giggle whenever the resulting word actually means something else. But for the purposes of a puzzle (and an English-based one at that), I’m not going to report it to the authorities of the Real Academia Española. 😂

  13. @Raf - ah, but the trema does change the vowel sound in French, from a diphthong to a diaeresis. "oi" and "oï" in French are just as distinct from one another as "n" and "ñ" in Spanish - perhaps more distinct, since "n" and "ñ" belong to the same rhythmic sphere, while "oi" and "oï" are quite different in terms of accent, rhythm and tone. voir - to see /'vwar/ from Latin vidēre o(u)ïr (Old French) - to hear /u'ir/ from Latin audīre

  14. I remember Bob KEESHAN -- Buffalo Bob Smith of the Howdy Doody Show! One TV in the PARLOUR and One Channel (or Three if you were lucky)!

  15. @judy d Should have said I remember Bob KEESHAN and Buffalo Bob Smith!

  16. @judy d Three if you hit the TV just right.

  17. @judy d Captain Kangaroo. With Mr. Greenjeans and Bunny Rabbit.

  18. Actually giggled out loud at PHONE SEX and THE SMURFS!

  19. My solving pattern went generally left to right in the NW and NE, then back and forth for the bottom half. CHRISSIE and RED SEA were my first gimmes, which led to THREADS and SEISMS and filling the quadrant, although I was a bit thrown by HASHEESH as I'd not seen that spelling, at least recently. Had a few unknowns in all the quadrants, but the crossings were fair and along with some judicious guesses I managed to get it filled in, only to get that "oops…" message. So after a review, I realized I had a mistake in the tense I used, corrected it and got the gold star.

  20. Is HASHEESH correct? I have only ever seen it HASHISH

  21. @Dylan It's an accepted alternative spelling, although some of the dictionaries online don't recognize it (Merriam-Webster, for one).

  22. Got my Valentine in the NYT xword today! CHRISSIE Hynde. I’ve been a fan for decades and was thrilled when she put on her first stateside show in years at MassMoca last summer. She’s still a force to behold on the stage. The Pretenders are on the road again this year to my delight, I’ll be front and center at Saratoga Springs ♥️♥️

  23. @Susan We saw Chrissie about 10 years ago with JP Jones, who was then her much younger Welsh boyfriend, and their band, The Fairground Boys. Not sure if they’re still together but they made some great music together, including “If You Let Me” (SPAC is a great place to see a concert!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toq7cNCC1KE

  24. Hard to beat this clue: had a major "part" in the Bible for RED SEA

  25. @coloradoz Samson also had a major part until he didn't.

  26. Looked tough but solved easily.

  27. Wow! Fresh, crunchy, quite a worthy challenge. The upper quadrants got clear pretty quickly, but after filling SOLD OUT for 52A, and the natrick of 51A/42D (I avoid perfume counters, so knowing French didn’t help), the bottom half was a bit trying. Five minutes slower than average, which is fine.

  28. This was my 100th in a row, and my favorite of recent (and even not so recent) memory. Well done!

  29. Had to look up INHERED after solving. While solving, I thought there was probably a rebus in INHEREnt

  30. I'm gonna claim a Saturday in less than an hour even though I had to go pretty much through all the letters to sort a natick at 13D/18A. So I'm chuffed.

  31. I worked from the top down and painted myself into the SW corner. I was so sure that food that's cured was SALMON and it hung me up until I figured out SALAMI. With that, I brought it home in 32:10, 10 minutes under my Saturday average, and ran the streak to 37, four shy of me personal best. I, too, am chuffed.

  32. Loved the clues for REDSEA, TANLINES, and LADLES to name a few. I was not familiar with the word INHERE, so I learned a good word. The northwest section was the toughest for me. Had trouble remembering Capt K’s last name though I remembered his show very well. Not sure how I knew the word LEVERET. It was hidden in the deep recesses of my mind and emerged unexpectedly. Funny how the memory works. Good puzzle.

  33. A feat of construction, touche! Tough but satisfying solve, thanks! NW was indeed the hardest, Chrissie all alone for the longest time.

  34. Totally impossible without Caitlin. People nowadays know about things like the Pretenders and CHRISSIE I suppose. A TE on the end would never have suggested EGOISTE. I had PHONES but no idea what the two blanks might be, partly because I don't quite know REMAX. I was able to figure out enough of the puzzle by myself to have fun, but I would never have been able to finish.

  35. "People nowadays know about things like the Pretenders and CHRISSIE I suppose." Bart, Nowadays? The Pretenders got started in 1978.

  36. SPELLING BEE 26 words, 118 points, 1 pangram.

  37. @Kevin Davis Clues coming up as soon as I write them. I was stuck today with 2 words to go before I had to resort to the Shunn grid. 1 word was slang, the other a shortening of another word on list.

  38. @Kevin Davis 1 NON- prefix, 4 UN-prefixes, 2 of words already on list. Several compound words (C). Obscure word clues: Giver of blood or money Raining buckets, pangram (C) Die in the water Slang for “haven’t a clue,” or shoulder shrug Covfefe [sic], or opposite of a Bee entry (C) Grammar: person, place, or thing Small lake Lewd material Lewd film £, or weight, or to hammer Grammar: refers to subject (C) Put forward an idea (contains £) Repeating musical form Shaped like an O Common herbicide, or gather together (C) Summary, or tired, or neglected (C) Japanese noodles Reverse an action (C) Lost, expressed as an opposite (C) Not frayed, or never donned adj. (C) A hose off its reel or a dead watch adj. (C) Atop, preposition Frayed, or previously donned adj. Injure, or a ticking watch adj.

  39. @Kevin Davis words: 26 score: 118 pangrams: 1 bingo: no Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 Tot D 1 3 - - 1 5 N 2 - - 1 - 3 P 2 2 - 1 1 6 R - 2 - 2 - 4 U 3 1 1 1 - 6 W 1 1 - - - 2 Tot 9 9 1 5 2 26 First 2 frequency: DO x 3 DR x 1 DU x 1 NO x 3 PO x 4 PR x 2 RO x 3 RU x 1 UD x 1 UN x 4 UP x 1 WO x 2 No real obscurities today.

  40. I always like being rewarded for solving every day by a prior day's puzzle providing the entry, usually in a previous clue. Today's example is SELENE, used in Friday's clue for LUNA.

  41. @EllenKCMO I enjoyed employing that recently unearthed (from the recesses of my mind) fact, too!

  42. Pretty perfect puzzle today. Can't see that ancient city's name ever again without thinking "What IS ALEPPO?" That poor guy.

  43. @Ann To me, that was one of the defining moments of the election. Not knowing what ALEPPO was may have been OK 20 years ago, but in 2016 it was unbelievable that a candidate for POTUS was so unaware... and the results speak for themselves.

  44. @Ann of late, I've become allergic to the word 'perfect'....

  45. @Ann and @Steve I too felt terribly sorry for the candidate in question, but I really don't believe that it was a lack of awareness so much as mis-parsing the question, (something we crossword solvers should relate to). I think that he interpreted the question to be referring to a "leppo", and his mind went on to wonder what on earth a "leppo" could be. Of course the media pounced and he came off looking rather clueless. If the place in question had not started with "a", I truly believe that there would have been no story.

  46. Thank you Randolph Ross for so many terrific puzzles! This was a supremely satisfying Saturday--my favorite kind wherein I waved the white flag after several journeys through the clues, but then a tiny light dawned here and there and suddenly a massive conflagration! So many delightful misdirects. Loved it.

  47. Look at all that white! My solve in each corner went basically as follows: Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm WORD hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm WORD hmmm SPLAT! Those "hmmm"s, by the way, took a fair amount of time. Felt as though I had to SUCK DRY my brain, but doing so brought PELAGE, LEVERETS, EGOISTE, EOCENE, and KEESHAN. A big help was knowing RR's penchant for wordplay, and thus I was extra suspicious of every word in the clues, consequently sussing fairly quickly (with bursts of mirth) those for RED SEA, LADLES, STEED, and ERASES. So much fun and satisfaction all around, and talk about yin/yang opposite poles: the cross of FREE LOVE and THE SMURFS. I think we can just about fit the whole world between those two. Thank you for a wracking rollicking rich experience, Randolph!

  48. @Lewis Your comment gave me a big smile as it described perfectly how I felt when I was doing this puzzle.

  49. @David Connell -- And now I have!

  50. I loved this puzzle. It was crunchy in the best possible way - fun to know words like LEVERETS, wrestle with INHERE when inherent was so close but no rebus in sight, and learn new words like PELAGE, which I expected to know but didn't. The clues were punny but fair and, all around, it was a delightful puzzle. In fact, the last several weeks have been a lot of fun and restored the joy I've found in doing the NYT crossword. For the last year or more I've found too many of the the answers require completing some inane blank or random thought outside common usage. It's a pleasure to enjoy a mix of great clues and elegant and precise words.

  51. I wonder if anyone else suffers from the same malady of not trusting your gut. On many Friday or Saturday puzzles I will instantly grok an obtuse clue but ignore it on the assumption I can't possibly be right. Today it was 20A TANLINES. It took most of the crosses before I finally plugged it in. I loved the new-to-me words INHERED and PELAGE and thought LADLED was particularly clever. Early one I sussed that 21A was the product I tried in a hookah pipe in Cairo but the spelling tripped me up as I only knew of hashish and I couldn't make it fit. The ee of HASHEESH were the last entries.

  52. @Keta Hodgson Totally with you on trying to find the right level of gut-trusting. I actually penciled in SUNBURNS on the first pass and then congratulated myself that I had been in the ballpark after the crossings revealed it would be TANLINES instead.

  53. @Keta Hodgson My personal experience was that when I began, I wouldn't put in any words unless I was almost certain that they were correct. As I began to solve more and more, I got more comfortable "penciling in" some possible answers early on. You'll reach your own comfort level as you solve more, and you'll be surprised at how many initial guesses turn out to be correct!

  54. The joy of a relatively quick Saturday solve is quickly followed by sadness that it’s over. Or is that just me??

  55. Shireen, I share that feeling. (Which is the same reason I rarely pick up a highly recommended book that's too slender.)

  56. Wow - quite a workout. Did anybody else want FREEHUEY for 44a? Anyway - very little on first pass. Had CHRISSIE and a few other things. Looked up 3 things and then sat and stared at the crosses I had over and over again until something dawned on me. And... eventually I had everything filled in except the SE. Looks possibly doable after the fact, but PELAGE and HEL were complete unknowns and other things just weren't dawning on me. Still an enjoyable solve. I'm going to use 38a and the clue for 4d as an excuse to link this old favorite . I know I've linked it before - hopefully not too recently. Go hang a SALAMI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUQDzj6R3p4 ..

  57. Rich, I was trying to remember those t-shirts but luckily the name Huey didn’t come to me.

  58. "Did anybody else want FREEHUEY for 44a?" Rich, For some reason, the word "Catchphrase..." suggested to me more of a concept descriptor than a shout or slogan, so no Huey for the grid. (We had more than one Huey in those days.)

  59. Not my cup of tea.

  60. NW corner gave us a little headache...we’re a bit young for Captain Kangaroo and the only Bob from kid’s TV in our lifetime was Bob the Builder!

  61. @AshleyJake I'm more the Captain Kangaroo generation, and I was counting to see if BUILDER fit before I landed on the right name!

  62. Glad we weren’t the only ones!

  63. Take the newly-acquired word pelage and put it into context: pile (as of a carpet) depilatory pellet (original meaning: a hairball) pillage (as in, scalping, shudder) all are descendants of Latin pilus, hair.

  64. Interesting callback to the ‘60s with a combo of “sex, drugs and rock and roll” plus Captain Kangaroo. How old is the constructor I wonder?

  65. G L, Randolph Ross has had crosswords in The Times since 1991, so he's not a teenager...

  66. So close to finishing a Saturday without any look ups, but got down to the crossing of PELAGE and EGOISTE and had no idea what went in the last empty square where the G belonged. Oh well, fun and challenging puzzle and that was the only one that got me hopelessly stuck. Already looking forward to Sunday, my favorite day of the week.

  67. @Rob that was also my trouble spot.

  68. In that corner, I was flummoxed by convincing myself that EGOÏSTE was DESIRÉE, making for some very peculiar solves until I swallowed ATE A TON. Great puzzle, R Ross!

  69. I loved this puzzle enough to comment (for the first time ever). No tricks, just Very clever with some clues easy enough to start each quadrant but then difficult enough to make you stay. Great Job! Congratulations!

  70. Sex, drugs but no rock and roll lamented Tom lustily. Guessed at PELAGE, proving that part of the above does not kill brain cells. Puzzle brings to mind a song done by Ginger Baker’s Air Force: It wasn’t dirty like she told me. On to the Hattiesburg Mardi Gras parade. Laissez bon temps rouler!

  71. @dk If Chrissie Hynde isn’t rock and roll no one is.

  72. @vaer I guessed wrong. Thought it would be “Back on the Chain Gang.” ;-). Hope Ohioans drive on the left of the road this year.

  73. As Lewis said, all that white, quite daunting. It did help to take breaks and look with fresh eyes at the tricky clues, which did make this more fun than usual for a Saturday. STEED was the easiest; isn’t that 3 times in the last week or less? I am very glad that I don’t worry about streaks.

  74. STEED was the easiest; isn’t that 3 times in the last week or less? suejean, I also had the feeling STEED had been here recently, but xword.info has its last appearances -- once in a clue, once as an answer -- in December. Time flies?

  75. @Barry Ancona We had STEEDS last Saturday.

  76. JayTee, Thanks!

  77. Which Bob? Some younger solvers (and parents/grandparents of recent vintage) looked for BUILDER. Older boomers (and older-than-boomers) like me may have looked first for BUFFALO (aired 1947-1960) before updating to KEESHAN (aired 1955-1984).

  78. @Barry Ancona Hands up for BUFFALO.

  79. @Fidelio Buffalo Bob was my dad’s Little League coach.

  80. @Kate I actually sat in the Peanut Gallery once (ca. 1948) and thus got to meet Buffalo Bob Smith and possibly also Bob KEESHAN (one of several Clarabelles) in person.

  81. Not just the RED SEA, but also my lips parted in a big smile at the great clue, "It had a major part in the Bible." Bravo! Loved seeing CHRISSIE Hynde. She is so cool. Thank you, Randolph Ross ... you rock!

  82. @Chungclan TY! I did not know that. The Pretenders used to play in NYC when I lived there and I never missed seeing them.

  83. LOVED this puzzle for being clever, clean, and engaging. Especially loved that the only sports reference was within my reach! And, of course, that Captain Kangaroo, my childhood friend, and the Smurfs, my kids' childhood friends, made an appearance. Good feelings all around.

  84. Such a cute picture. Lots of great stuff in here, but I would have preferred a bit more pushback, it all seemed to just fall into place. Was hoping for the Chanel scent Cristalle (too many letters) which along with No 19 is my favourite. Ridiculously expensive of course.

  85. It doesn't fit but my first thought was FREE Tibet. You can see more Free Tibet bumper stickers in Boulder in one day than you will see almost any place else in a year

  86. @coloradoz - visit New Haven sometime...

  87. @coloradoz Fun fact: in the late 50s, the CIA trained Tibetan freedom fighters at Camp Hale, Colorado. A small group of these fighters were able to smuggle the Dalai Lama across the border into India, just eluding the approaching ChiCom troops. (I'll be skiing at Vail in two weeks.)

  88. @Grant Interesting story. I have visited the remains of Camp Hale, home of the 10th Mountain Division. Vail founded by members of the 10th.

  89. A terrific puzzle with (mercifully) few proper names or references but very challenging anyway. I spent as much time in the SE as I spent in all other sections combined and my grid is full of erasures. But I corrected everything in time: TAKE ONE to HAVE ONE (34D); TEND TO to HEAD UP (34A); and SNIPED AT to RAILED AT (30D). These errors all fit together beautifully, but what didn't was what I wound up with at 43A, the "test for British students": ALEKEP. (!) So back to the drawing board. Then in the SE was my absolute conviction that the units in a horse race were EIGHTHS. (Something about the eighth pole, I suppose. Don't ask). That "G" at the bottom of 36D, the "had plateful after plateful" clue, led me to believe that the answer had to be WAS A PIG or WAS A HOG. Again, don't ask. Finally, there was SPASMS before SEISMS for the "bad vibrations". That one, thanks to UNHEATED, I corrected immediately. Many erasures, a good challenge, and a lot of fun.

  90. Pot before TEA and HIVAIDS before OPIOIDS-wrong century. Got stuck at a certain point and gave in to the temptation to look up the term for Young hares. That was enough to get me through the rest. Quite a few words I was unfamiliar with, including ACTA. Tough for me, but satisfying to get to the end.

  91. Such beautiful, precise language in this puzzle—and I love that the constructor calls out INHERED as so-so, since the first E in that word was my last square to fall. I was a Captain Kangaroo kid, and I had a feeling that’s who we were looking for, but I didn’t know the actor’s name. My favorite aha moment was SITSHIVA; with the A at the end, I was perplexed for quite a while but ultimately delighted by the moment of discovery. Most importantly, I just completed my first Saturday with my own gray matter my only resource!

  92. Well, well. I SAT SHIVA, and since 15A is a new word/definition for me, that wrong letter persisted. The other crossing (21A and 5D--a new word and an alternative spelling) left me with a second incorrect letter, though I sorta guessed it, (meaning I wasn't sure and just lucked out.) Fail! Actually, I also cry "Foul!" because of the 3 and 4 Down entries. That was the only corner that I thought SUCKed the fun out of the puzzle. The rest seemed fresh and creative. I am not too down-hearted, though: I finished the Saturday Stumper in about 20 minutes! Unheard of--that puzzle is more difficult than the Saturday NYT offering!--and a big feather in my cap... The big news of the day--it's Not Raining! Unfortunately, the slow-moving disaster affecting the area (rivers not cresting until Sunday, plus more rain forecast) is setting records and breaking hearts. (Hope you're safe, dk!)

  93. Good puzzle. Didn’t know if they are “O Levels” or “A Levels”. Also thought the race unit was an “eighth”. “Free love” and “phone sex” in the same puzzle?

  94. @Paladin Yes, I believe that phone sex is neither "free" nor "love".

  95. Andrew, of course that may depend on whom it is between (or in the case of a conference call, among).

  96. @polymath Good point!

  97. My nomination for the most perplexing comment of today's blog? @Lewis talking about the cross of FREE LOVE and THE SMURFS and saying: "I think we could fit just about the whole world between those two." We could? I wouldn't recognize THE SMURFS if I fell over them, much less know what their approach to FREE LOVE is. Should I assume they're against it? They're strict moralists? Blue churchgoers? (I only know they're "blue" because of the puzzle.) Please explain, Lewis. Thanks so much!

  98. @Nancy -- I'm sorry to have been so confusing! Smurfs: the picture of innocence (as I remember from my daughter's obsession with them). Free love: the total opposite. They strike me as SO far apart that the whole word could be fit in the space between them.

  99. @Lewis -- Actually, @Z sent me a SMURFS link on the Other Blog. I watched it and thought: BINGO! Innocence!!! I responded to him on the Other Blog just now. Thanks for responding so quickly and for confirming my correct response, Lewis.

  100. @Lewis Free love in its purest form strikes me as innocent as The Smurfs --- they both embody a playful joy. Many things, however, spoiled free love --- drug abuse, disease transmission, unwanted pregnancies, and date rape. Reality is often uglier than fantasy.

  101. "Sold out" and "ate a lot" and "tortuga" --> or NOT! I didn't know about "Tea" and I did know Chrissie Hynde and A Levels. Very fun Saturday.

  102. @Sophia Leahy "Living out your fantasy, sleeping late and smoking TEA." (Lyric from Mama Kin, by Aerosmith.)

  103. "Saturday is the 78th anniversary of the Times puzzle." If the puzzle were any older, it could run for president.

  104. @John Farmer Well said. I think we need a constitutional amendment fixing an upper age (70) on presidential eligibility. (And if you win the office at 70 you cannot run for a 2nd term because you'll be 74.) Just think how different the current race would be without the dotage --- no Trump, Sanders, Biden, or Bloomberg --- I could live with that.

  105. I don't mind so much that Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg are running. Your cutoff would also exclude Elizabeth Warren, who becomes 71 in June. People are living longer, healthier lives than they used to, as well as (in some cases!) becoming wiser as they age.

  106. @Tony S To me it's not age, it's mental acuity and stamina. There are too many vital people we would count out of several professions based solely on age. Conversely youth isn't any guarantee of ability to lead or make good decisions.

  107. Now that was fun! Got slowed down at 37D in the SE, first by a "WarthoG," then by a "WILDhog," and finally by a "WILDdog," until at last a WILDPIG came rampaging through.

  108. I was *so* stuck on this puzzle last night -- the NW in particular a barren wasteland of white, the rest of the puzzle in no great shape either -- that I started thinking there's a rebus lurking somewhere. But then in the morning, while lamenting the fact that TWEEDS wouldn't fit in 17A, I saw that its initial T would lead to SIT ... which would lead to SHIVA ... which meant that VEINY, which seemed dodgy, might actually be right ... and then, and then ... I started to feel like the Kansas City Chiefs in that unbelievable playoff game when they were behind *24* points but on the cusp of destroying the opposition. While the analogy gets a tad wobbly at this point -- I have nothing but the *best* of feelings towards Mr. Ross -- I do confess that I did a victory dance at the end, and don't regret it for a moment :-)

  109. Lots of delightful words in this one: SELENE, and PELAGE are two of my favorites. INHERED and SEISMS not so much. Had ATELOTS before ATEATON and ELEVENPM before ELEVENTH Chanel had a great commercial for EGOISTE pour homme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBd19R_5ysE But even better was CHRISSIE Hynde and UB40 collaborating on "I got you, babe." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aP4GaAruws Happy day after Singles Awareness Day!

  110. @Puzzledog You triggered a treasured memory from the early 2000s is a fundraiser for the organization I worked for. It honored Bono. The entertainment was REM and Cher. She sang "....Babe" for the first time ever without Sonny. There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

  111. @Keta Hodgson - I haven't seen that, but will probably seek it out, but here is the memory you dredged up... My former assistant passed away, and a grandchild of hers who used to join her at the piano in duets played at her memorial service. First he played the bit of Mozart as a solo, which made a nice musical interlude. But then...he began to play what was clearly one half of a piano duet arrangement of the same piece...minus his grandmother at the primo position....I can't remember anything touching me more than hearing a duet without the duettist.

  112. @David Connell I'm touched just hearing that story. The Cher/REM concert was a high-end fundraiser that I only got to attend because I helped with some of the planning. That help didn't get me a VIP pass, only one of the cheap seats. I just checked YouTube and there isn't a bootlegged video.

  113. My first Saturday puzzle solved without help ... unless messages like “you’re close!” counts as help. I have to laugh at myself for trying FREEBIRD, TOWLINES, and SEQUINS before FREELOVE, TANLINES, and HATPINS, but at least I’m not an EGOISTE!

  114. Very pleasant solve that looked hard but ended up not really slowing me down a lot. Exhaust didn't jibe with Keeshan, so Bob won, especially since he fit with seisms. The SW began with emerita, have one, no seats, and the erroneous eleven I thought was the British exam. Blue prints looked like a pun for porn so was left open, but the SE almost solved itself. Remax led to phone sex which led to the rest of the NE, and then the SW wasn't so hard after all and to my surprise the NW didn't resist much after that. Lovely profusion of motley entries and next to zero pop trivia. Am a big fan of Randolph Ross's puzzles. In fact here are some of his favorites: https://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/me/ . Looking forward to more of same (and let's bring back his Saturday-hard themed Sunday puzzles now and then, as in the good old days!).

  115. Eleven is a plausible guess for the British exam. For years they gave a test called "eleven plus" to decide what sort of secondary education a kid would be admitted to. Talk about high-stakes testing. Google it; quite a story.

  116. Margaret, thanks. I think I heard that that exam determined much of the future course of students' lives. This may be related to the influence of psychometrician Cyril Burt's falsified data.

  117. @polymath As I've never heard it any other way, I was under the impression that the 43A exam is plural. So chalk it up to a TIL that A LEVEL is a single subject test.

  118. Seeing all that open space in the grid put me in a happy place --- I expected a tough solve but only the NW corner slowed me down --- I had both tremor and shakes before SEISMS and td's before YDS. Overall, I found this a bit too easy for Saturday but an admirable crossword nonetheless.



  121. @Andrew Finally got it with your help, but if it’s the same L-H (7) I just got it by guessing. Can’t say I’ve ever seen it written or heard it used in conversation.

  122. @Lou I have a 16 that’s different. F-R 10 R-H 6. My first word is a bi politically relevant.

  123. The entire NW was the most problematic for me. Didn't know the Pretenders, let alone any member. If I didn't admit to having to look that up, I would be a Pretender myself. My final correction was TORTOrA and SErENE. I must have been thinking of the Columbus Blue Jackets' coach John Tortorella. BUILDER before KEESHAN. One was from my childhood, the other from my son's. Alternate clue for 9D: "Calls for child support?" Alternate clue for 52A: "Children's snack?" Yesterday TENTH. Today ELEVENTH. Anyone else detecting a trend?

  124. Didn’t we just have ninth?

  125. @suejean You're right! NINTH, TENTH, ELEVENTH on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth!

  126. Good eye!!! Just wait!

  127. Started with SUCK OUT instead of SUCK DRY, crossing with TDS instead of YDS. And I was so sure that Captain Kangaroo (watched that show as a kid) was Bob KEESHAM. I also had CURRENTS before RIPTIDES, and, as did others, had O LEVELS before A LEVELS. Wasn't that a Harry Potter thing? (Ordinary Wizarding Levels, or OWLs.) TIL that INHERED is actually a word...had to Google it after the solve, just to be sure it wasn't a typo.

  128. I made some good guesses, but clearly all those who thought this was an easy Saturday have a wheelhouse very different from mine. I couldn’t get a foothold anywhere until I researched hares to find LEVERET, which helped me fill that quadrant. I had to peek at Caitlin’s column for some hints to my many blank areas. I always enjoy the puzzle, even when it’s tough for me, and I got some new words from this one, including LEVERET and PELAGE (and thank you David Connell for giving us a good way to remember that one.) Looking back, I wish I had plugged away at all the phrases a little longer before resorting to help. But I have places to go and things to do. Tonight we have tickets to see Paula Poundstone 😃. Nevada City is a small town but we get such wonderful live entertainment here, for which I’m very grateful!

  129. @Shari Coats - Jealous! Paula Poundstone cracks! me! up! on "Wait, wait"...have a good time tonight.

  130. Caitlin was looking for a misdirect for 4D, and this GenXer can provide one. I had McGrath in there quicker than a LEVERET, and with great certainty, to boot. "This'll be so easy today!" I thought, willfully ignoring the ominous CM hanging out in the middle of 1A. Needless to say, that quadrant took a while.

  131. Whoa! Way out of my wheelhouse, but I learned a few new words including PELAGE and LEVERETS.

  132. Leveret house at Harvard has l'il rabbits on their ties.

  133. I am a new solver and have been getting better, but I had to pull a reveal on this one about half-way through, my worst ever. I was just drawing a blank and getting nowhere. I generally like solving regular words and expressions, with albeit more cryptic clues. However, to up my game, I realize I need to get better at proper names and trivia - more sports terms, more drinks, more mythology, more bible, more history and more attention to entertainment artists. Got to fill this noggin!

  134. @Sarah I hear you. But before you study the Greek and Roman gods ad nauseam on Wikipedia, let me share that I started getting better when I finally “got” the crossword way of expression such as TODOLIST and ELEVENTH, replacing 2 word clues. Sure, SELENE & EOCENE would be nice to just know, but we can get there from here!! Having said that I often “check puzzle/word/square” on Saturday if I’m feeling unsure & want to check my math! This week I got through Friday without it. Finally.

  135. @Sarah you may already do this: just filling in the "S"s for plural clues gives you a toehold. For example, for 33D, ending the plural clues for 36A, 41A, 49A, and 53A with an S would give you _SS_ _S_S, which is not a long step to ASSESSES for "Judges." It's a starting point on all that white space. :)

  136. “Hasheesh”? Sheesh! What have you been smoking? Even Google chokes on that one. “Did you mean: hashish”

  137. John, Google frequently chokes. Try online dictionaries (enter "word" "definition") and you'll find HASHEESH listed in some as a variant. If you're in ALEPPO, just say it (unless you can write Arabic).

  138. @John Ranta Words (and names) from the Arabic language often have variations in spelling when translated to English.

  139. Petaltown, Or we fall into a tamale trap. ALEPPO is a nice English word. The French say ALEP. The Arabic is closer to HALAB.

  140. What a great Saturday. Scary looking white quadrants. Gimmes were EOCENE (actually the only epoch I knew that fits), SUEDES, VEINY, ESTERS, A LEVEL, LENGTHS, CHRISSIE. Then STEED, because that was meant to be a toehold, then TAPIR, ELEVENTH, TSPS. Then it was a struggle to piece together the rest. Got EGOISTE when it was just ____ST_ - the commercial that Caitlin linked to was very memorable and was the one that came to mind. The NW quadrant gave me the hardest time - HASHEESH? INHERED? SIT SHIVA (is that what happens when you are positioned next to UNHEATED)? Had INE (Clementine, nectarine, tangerine) before ADE. INDUCES before ENTICES. SERENE before SELENE because...temporary lunacy. TASK LIST before TODO LIST. SUCK OUT before SUCK DRY and TDS before YDS. Much like everyone else - liked those clues so much - for RED SEA, of course - what a groaner. ERASES, PHONE SEX, AWOLS, LADLES. Expected that blue print wasn't referring to blueprint, but PHONE SEX primed the thinking and was thinking something SMUTTY. Then realized it was actually quite innocently THE SMURFS. PELAGE and LEVERETS are words I'd seen a few times but didn't remember the meanings for. I'm sure it will be the same next time I see them again.

  141. My bodybuilders' arms had a hard time going from BULGY to VEINY, and my CLOTHES weren't as cool duds as THREADS. SHEESH, HASHISH and the usual trouble with naming names (CHRISSIE/ KEESHAN wha'? who?) created NW problems IN HERE, but the RED_SEA and SAT_SHIVA finally broke open the corner. Once again, saved by that old-time religion. Do not recall anything about an EGOISTE campaign, but love that Chanel 'sank' millions into it. Enjoyed the Gallic passionistas in the commercial, best part perhaps its being reminiscent of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Sock it to me, Coco!! Aside from considering all the TAN LINES, PHONE SEX and FREE LOVE that have noted, I'll have to consult an Atlas to see how far I SUCKed DRY TORTUGA off the map. Mostly, I loved the lively leverage of ALEVEL LEVIES LEVERETS. There's just something adorbs about those little bun rabbits. Mr Randolph Ross (or Ross Randolph), this was a most satisfying solve, no matter which way you look at it. It was chock full of delightful NOSE ATS, and I have absolutely no CAVE ATS. Thank you. Blue prints, purple rain

  142. @Leapfinger - holy cow - thank you! all day I was bugged by a tic of memory and that was it - all the doors opening for the final jokes on Laugh-In! Yes. that was it. You socked it to me.

  143. My bodybuilders' arms had a hard time going from BULGY to VEINY, and my CLOTHES weren't as cool duds as THREADS. SHEESH, HASHISH and the usual trouble with naming names (CHRISSIE/ KEESHAN wha'? who?) created NW problems IN HERE, but the RED_SEA and SAT_SHIVA finally broke open the corner. Once again, saved by that old-time religion. Do not recall anything about an EGOISTE campaign, but love that Chanel 'sank' millions into it. Enjoyed the Gallic passionistas in the commercial, best part perhaps its being reminiscent of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Sock it to me, Coco!! cont'd

  144. DavidC, glad that I could help your tic talk. I was remembering the NixoN appearance and the casual finesse of his "Sock it to me?" Still don't know why any part of these earned 6 hours of detention, but thanks to the Parole Board for intervening. [waltzes off in a mist of Chanel Sank] Just Seine...

  145. @Leapfinger - I'se amused that your reply to my reply appeared under your other one. What? Either way - I definitely had Nixon's cameo in mind when I posted, so, again, we seem to sympaticate.

  146. NSFW

  147. Woo-hoo! This was the first Saturday puzzle I've been able to solve with no help whatsoever, since trying weekly going back to last spring. This was the final day of the week I'd not solved without any help, though I've still only solved a handful of Fridays and Sundays that way. I didn't get this puzzle on the first try; I had to crunch through the alphabet in the crossing square for two Natick answers I had no awareness of, EGOISTE and PELAGE, to hear the happy song. I will take it and work towards the next hurdle of solving a Saturday on the first try. Somebody frustrated who had recently started trying late-week puzzles asked here on Thursday or Friday: Does it ever get better? Yes but patience is key. It's best to celebrate small victories like this with baby steps along the way. Wednesdays that used to seem very hard no longer do to me.

  148. Can someone explain ACTA for official proceedings? Is this supposed to mean Act A? I still don’t get it. I got a mere few of clues on my own. I gladly accepted the handouts from this column, especially the constructor’s notes.

  149. @Barry Ancona I learned a new word after 55 years. Thanks.

  150. @Kevin Davis Many (especially older) scientific journals have Acta in the title: e.g., Acta Mathematica or Helvetica Chimica Acta - probably from a time when scientists had more Latin than they do now. So HCA was the proceedings of the Swiss Chemical Society. Use of Latin lent some gravitas to the journal.

  151. This one was so far out of my wheelhouse that I was practically on a unicycle!

  152. Good Saturday, Randolph Ross. Went through all the Across clues with very little to show for it, then bit by bit, the letters all fell into place.

  153. Wow! A lot of no-knows: INHERED, DRAMEDY, ACTA, SELENE, EOCENE, LEVERETS, EMERITA (specifically the A), WILDPIG (as clued), HEL, and PELAGE. CHRISSIE and KEESHAN (but not TEA?) were gimmes (gives away my age), as was TORTOLA (been there), ALEVEL (from all the Brit shows we watch), and SITSHIVA (although I'm a goy). Great clues for AWOL, PHONESEX, and LADLES! ADE, HASHEESH??

  154. @Ron DRAMEDY is a bit awkward, but think about what happens if you do it the other way around. You get a Comma.

  155. @RiA ... and you don't want to step on the Comma toes. DRAMEDY just sounds too much like you let the AIR out of a Dromedary.

  156. Well, I won't pretend that Fur = PELAGE didn't confuse me, when I knew with fair certainty that PELAGic means 'of the open/ upper sea'. Had to etymonize my way to finding the Latin pilus [hair] led to one, and the Greek pelagikos/pelagos [open sea] led to the other. Not sure what happens if you want the 'fur or hair of a mammal' to change from a noun into a descriptor. Probably best to hunt for a different word, eh wot?

  157. Hasheesh? I believe the correct spelling for what fills a pipe is Hashish. Nice puzzle. Though that misspelling made the whole NW corner solve kinda irritating, for me.

  158. @cmcmx - just the facts (from google ngram viewer): https://tinyurl.com/srcsjm6 (hasheesh was a clear preference just before the Civil War - about even in Reconstruction period - steady loser after that, though always present - hashish for some reason spikes in the 1970s...)

  159. Thank you @ David Cornell. Understood, and I appreciate the comment. But I dunno. I’m all for tricky variant spellings which are commonly known.. and I still think hashISH is so widely accepted as correct that EESH is rendered far too rare (& long ago) to be considered a valid variant. Unless maybe it’s clued as ‘rare & long ago’ :-) From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, 5th edition, 2011: Hasheesh Noun (uncountable) (rare) Alternative spelling of hashish.

  160. Did anyone else of a certain age have BUFFALO before KEESHAN? (Apologies if this has already been remarked upon. I haven't read all 240+ comments.)

  161. @Roger I enjoyed that until it became an ear worm ...... so glad I scrolled down further this morning & watched puzzlemaker’s video of “I got you Babe” w CHRISSIE Hynde.... a new ear worm but more cheerful!

  162. bodybuilders' arms had a hard time going from BULGY to VEINY, and my CLOTHES weren't as cool duds as THREADS. SHEESH, HASHISH and the usual trouble with naming names (CHRISSIE/ KEESHAN wha'? who?) created NW problems IN HERE, but the RED_SEA and SAT_SHIVA finally broke open the corner. Once again, saved by that old-time religion. Do not recall anything about an EGOISTE campaign, but love that Chanel 'sank' millions into it. Enjoyed the Gallic passionistas in the commercial, best part perhaps its being reminiscent of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Sock it to me, Coco!! Aside from considering all the TAN LINES, PHONE SEX and FREE LOVE that have noted, I'll have to consult an Atlas to see how far I S**Ked DRY TORTUGA off the map. Mostly, I loved the lively leverage of ALEVEL LEVIES LEVERETS. There's just something adorbs about those little bun rabbits. Mr Randolph Ross (or Ross Randolph), this was a most satisfying solve, no matter which way you look at it. It was chock full of delightful NOSE ATS, and I have absolutely no CAVE ATS. Thank you. Blue prints, purple rain

  163. My bodybuilders' arms had a hard time going from BULGY to VEINY, and my CLOTHES weren't as cool duds as THREADS. SHEESH, HASHISH and the usual trouble with naming names (CHRISSIE/ KEESHAN wha'? who?) created NW problems IN HERE, but the RED_SEA and SAT_SHIVA finally broke open the corner. Once again, saved by that old-time religion. Do not recall anything about an EGOISTE campaign, but love that Chanel 'sank' millions into it. Enjoyed the Gallic passionistas in the commercial, best part perhaps its being reminiscent of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Sock it to me, Coco!! cont'd

  164. I don’t usually LOVE a Saturday but I can FREEly admit to LOVing this one. I’m the generation to appreciate that clue. Added a couple of new words to my vocabulary & had a LOL moment at PHONE SEX, & like others have said that took me to other expectations of ‘blue’ so I was tickled at SMURF. Here’s my fave kid joke: What do you see when a SMURF pulls down their pants? A: a blue moon!

  165. One of my favorite puzzles of all time. Thanks to the creator and editor for such a neuroplastic blast.