SATURDAY, Jan. 20, 2007 - Harvey Estes

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Solving time: something close to an hour

THEME: Lots of crap I've never heard of or "Saved by Suffixes" or none

[updated 1:35 pm]

Not much to say about this one. Felt like the hardest Saturday I'd ever done, but times at the applet suggest otherwise, so who knows. Solved it just before going to sleep - not optimal conditions (warm horizontality). Today I'm going to start with some brief notes on the overall solving experience and then write ONLY about those entries I had Never heard of, which, as you'll see, should give me a healthy-sized entry.

The first thing I entered into the grid was 3D: American painter of sports scenes (Neiman) - nope, wait, the FIRST thing I entered was LOCATION at 20A: Chat room info, but that was immediately negated by the more solid NEIMAN, which had its "A" where LOCATION had its "I". After NEIMAN (which I wasn't even terribly sure of), not much happened for a few minutes as I scanned the Northern clues and Nothing Happened. The only reason I got a toehold on this puzzle - the ONLY reason - was that I inferred suffixes / endings on a few answers, which then allowed me to get one of their major crosses. 8D: Most vile (slimiest) did not come to me right away, but its -EST ending did; same thing with 10D: Producing bullets? (sweating) - couldn't see the full answer for a long time, but wrote that -ING in there. Between -EST and -ING, and then the -S that I wrote in at the end of 7D: Supplements (enlarges), I had --ST-G- for 32A: Put on again, and thus RESTAGE was the first word I put in the grid with anything like certainty. Fifteen minutes later ... the NE quadrant was done. I've done whole Saturday puzzles in fifteen minutes before. So we'll start our world of word mystery in the great NE (where it is currently cold and snowing, by the way).

6D: Radial alternative (bias tire)

To my credit, I managed to infer the TIRE part. But not being especially ... uh, handy, or automotive, or traditionally "masculine," I would not have written BIAS in a million years. Never Heard Of It. Had SNOW there at one point. That was the best I could do. Other words up there that seem weird / odd / wrong / from outer space: 21A: Mournful (triste) - yes, if you're in France, or possibly Canada. When (the #$#@) did this become an English word? - and then there was 19D: Otto's preceder (Sette); SETTE is like the Billy Baldwin of the SET brothers: SET-TO is in the Pantheon (he's the Alec). Then there are SET I (a recent entry) and SETA (a recent entry). I feel as if there is a fifth SET- brother, but as with the names of the rest of the Baldwin brothers, I can't remember it. [Just remembered it - it's SETT, uuuugggggh]

37D: Brazilian beach resort (Olinda)

Nope, never heard of it. Luckily for me, this word appeared in the easiest quadrant of the puzzle, so it didn't really give me trouble. What did give me trouble, at least when I tried to submit my grid to check my answers, was the fact that I apparently did not know how to spell PALOMINO (44A: Trigger, e.g.). My invented spelling of PALAMINO resulted in a crossing, MALDER, that I figured was just another of those words I'd never heard of, the kind one often finds in a Saturday puzzle. Turns out that MALDER really really wanted to be MOLDER (38D: Crumble), and while I could not properly have defined MOLDER (I'd have told you it had something to do with MOLD), it has the virtue of being (unlike MALDER) a word I'd heard of. MALDER makes me think of two great fake food-names from TV sitcoms of the past, oh, 15 years. Name them! (both start with "M")

28D: Water (Adam's Ale)

I would officially like to tell this puzzle to go to hell. Take a few letters out of ADAM'S ALE and it looks like it wants to be a word you know, but it's not quite up to the task. Stared at -DAMSA-E for a long time thinking ... it's not CASCADE ... what is it?" Actually, I had the "L" there in ALE but took it out thinking MAYBE it was wrong - turns out ILIAL (49A: Of a pelvic bone) was one of the few words I had right off the bat, though a. I wasn't sure about it, and b. when I first put it in the grid, it was ILIAC, and I won't even go into how badly that marred my ability to see ERNIE ELS at 31D: The Big Easy - I was convinced the answer had to do with New Orleans ("What other 'Big Easy' is there!?"),
and then the "C" in ILIAC gave me an ending of -ECS and I thought "dear god this is some crazy Cajun crap that I'll never get in a million years." Back to ADAM and his alleged ALE. No, on second thought, no more. Too angry-making. Last square to fall down here in the SW was the "P" intersection of 26A: Part of a pound (piaster) [yeah, a LEBANESE pound you m@#$#@fu##$ers! What am I, a numismatist!?] and 26D: U.N. beachhead during the Korean War (Pusan) [Oh "M*A*S*H," where were you when I needed you?!]. I invented a spelling of SELASSIE (29D: Part of an Ethiopian emperor's title), which turned out to be 7/8 correct! (I started the word SAL...)

I want to give a shout out to myself for getting PAS DE (47A: Deux or trois lead-in) immediately, while having very little idea what the phrases actually mean, beyond being dance-related. I also want to stop, briefly, to admire the odd stacking of STALIN (35A: Political leader from Georgia) on ARMANI (43A: Name in high fashion) on NESSIE (45A: Nickname in tabloids) - for this last one, I was looking at JESSIE, JACKO, and BENNIFER before I ever considered NESSIE. NESSIE makes me think of Scotland. Cue requisite picture of Willie:

12D: Woman in a "Paint Your Wagon" song (Elisa)

Not just a woman in the musical (which I've never seen), but a woman in a song in the musical. COME ON! I feel as if I should have gotten this, however, considering the fabulous musical parody "The Simpsons" did of "Paint Your Wagon" many years back (from "All Singing, All Dancing," a Western musical starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, which Homer rents instead of renting "Waiting to Exhale" (Marge's choice) or "Emma" (Lisa's)).

Gonna paint our wagon
Gonna paint it good
We ain't braggin'
We're gonna coat that wood!

Gonna paint your wagon
Gonna paint it fine
Gonna use oil-based paint
'Cause the wood is pine (PonderOOOOOOSa Pine!)
Nothing about ELISA in there, so it remained / remains unknown to me.

Had SEOUL for KABUL (11D: World captial on a river of the same name) for a while, and the "O" in SEOUL gave me the nearly plausible OLDTIMER for 17A: Pooh-bah (big-timer), which then gave the (wrong) "D," which gave me the lame but desperate BIDES for 13D: Shows no signs of abating (rages). OLDTIMER made thematic sense up there in the NW, where it was the OLD-TIMER's comedy hour, with ALAN KING (15A: He said "Marriage is nature's way of keeping us from fighting with strangers") intersecting 4D: Half of an old comedy duo (Anne Meara). Yes, it was a thorny time in the great NW. It's very inky, my actual puzzle. The entirety of USERNAME (20A) (where I originally had LOCATION, as I mention above) and LEGREST (5D: Deck chair part) (where I originally had [something]-SLAT and then ARMREST) - both those answers, which intersect, form solid perpindicular ink smears on my puzzle. Something similar happened in the NE, where the wrong SNOWTIRE gave me a wrong "N" that gave me the wrong NIECE for 14A: One lost through divorce (in-law). That's the benefit / horror of doing the puzzle on paper - you leave a very visible trail of your ridiculous missteps.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I would like to register my official disapproval of the spelling of LASAGNES (22A: Potluck panfuls). I prefer the Americanized plural LASAGNAS. I'm sure Garfield would agree.

PPS Just got a Comment from a solver working today's syndicated (i.e. 6-weeks-ago) crossword, and he/she said that in his/her paper, the genius clue of 17A: Write seperately, say (misspell) had been "corrected," so that it read Write separately, say, which renders the answer meaningless - wrong, in fact. A proofreading tragedy if there ever was one.


Sandy 2:01 PM  

Well, there's mocklate, from Friends. I can't think of the other fake food, but I *am* supposed to be focusing on other things right now. So, back to my lesson plan...

Rex Parker 2:35 PM  

Sandy, good one. Yes, that's one.

The other is more drink than food. And it's from an animated show I tend to mention ... a lot.


Anonymous 3:06 PM  


You'll be happy to know I too entered PALAMINO and MALDER - the A just seemed more believable.


Anonymous 4:02 PM  

I happened upon your blog a couple of months ago when I desperately wanted to finish a Sunday NYT puzzle, but was stumped on an obscure name. Ever since, I have returned a couple of times a week for a fun dose of entertainment, not only from your blog, but your regular commentators. I'm more of a sandlot ballplayer in puzzle world while I think of you and your friends as the pro players. Highly entertaining. Thanks for terrific insight into the world of words. You are king! Keep it up.
Jackie, Plano TX

Rex Parker 4:55 PM  

The fact that you and I think alike, DQ, is no longer shocking to me. Weird wavelength thing. Who can say why?

Jackie! So *you're* my Plano reader. Cool. I love that you think I am a "pro." Many of the commentators here are real pros, whereas I fake it, but thanks for the compliment anyway. Glad you like the site. Drop by anytime.


PS the answer to the "what does MALDER remind me of" question, in addition to the aforementioned MOCKLATE (from "Friends") is MALK (from "The Simpsons" episode "The PTA Disbands"):

Bart: Ouch! My bones are so brittle. But I always drink plenty of...[looks down at carton he's holding] ... "Malk"? (The carton of malk reads that it now contains "Vitamin R!")

Linda G 4:56 PM  

This was just plain murder! I managed to get the NE corner without too much difficulty (I just bought new tires so was fresh on the terminology). A couple of things in the NW, and I was able to finish it up. Sorry to be disagreeable, Rex, but my preference is lasagne -- and I'm Italian, so I win. Like you, PAS DE was a gimme -- from another old Dan Fogelberg song. Me and you dance a pas de deux forever. Nice sentiment, horrible grammar. In SE I had nothing but ROODS and ENTER, but it was enough to get going. Couldn't have finished it without your help, though. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your fan forever...

Rex Parker 5:33 PM  


What is it with you and Dan Fogelberg?

About LASAGNA/E/ES ... isn't the "E" ending plural all on its own, without the "S"? You're Italian, so you tell me. I will say that Google likes LASAGNES more than it likes LASAGNAS, so that must mean ... something.

I was suprised, or am surprised, when I look at this puzzle now, because it should have been way easier. Many of the longer answers came early, with little effort: PREDATORSS, AT PRESENT, ODOMETER - If I'd spelled LASANGES "right" I would have seen ANNE MEARA way earlier. As it was, I was trying to think of ways names that ended in AA_A and not getting very far.


shaunms 5:42 PM  

Don't be fooled -- despite his admirable modesty and genuine humility (well, in some things) Rex is the real deal. I spent many a morning at the coffeeshop with RP and the NYT back in the day, and even then I was impressed with how he could solve anyone under the table. (Or some other, better, metaphor.)

Linda G 6:01 PM  

I can't help that the NYT clues are all about Dan Fogelberg lyrics or that I remember all the words to his songs. I can also quote the Beatles, Elton John, and several others.

Anyway, The Italian Cookbook (1970), handed down to me by my mother, defines LASAGNE as "a broad, flat noodle about 1 1/2 inches wide, which is the chief component of a casserole dish containing ground meat, cheeses and tomato sauce."

For the record, I don't think that lasagne has to have meat, but I was quoting. The point here is that the traditional Italian spelling ends in an E. The book doesn't specify anything about making it plural, and I don't think there actually is one (i.e., I made two pans of lasagne, NOT I made two lasagnes.) But I must say that I have a box of American Beauty lasagnA in my pantry for the next time I make lasagnE.

For whatever any of that is worth.

Wendy 7:14 PM  

Apparently in the film version of Paint Your Wagon, Clint Eastwood sings I Still See Elisa, and none too well, either, according to reports. So there you are. Who knew you could create eyelets with stilettos? Not me. So many wacko things ... I had SNOW tires too. Who/what is a nessie? The nickname of the Loch Ness monster? Oh brother. Bring on Sunday.

Howard B 7:39 PM  

I won't ramble too badly - I'll just say that this Saturday Times was a tough puzzle, with a gooey swirl of nasty for added flavor.

Just to be consistently off-topic: I've never cared much for my name. After these Simpsons references, I'm now sold on changing my name to something a bit more common and less awkward-sounding. How about "Bort"? At least then I could find personalized souvenirs.

Donald 5:35 AM  

This puzzle was essentially four small puzzles (NE, NW, SE, SW) barely connected in the center to qualify as a full puzzle -- that's why it was such a pisser -- no quarter was of help to another, finish one and you started all over in the next. My most unfavorite grid! To boot, except for PIASTER and SELASSIE (both Egyptian in origin -- and that a stretch) nothing related to anything else, except perhaps Harvey ESTES inSiSTEncE in inserting his last name's letters in as many answers as possible, give or take a few -- sette, bests, triste, at present, piaster, restage, stiletto, bias tire, takestea -- pure hubris!

Rex Parker 8:53 AM  

I accused Senor Estes of as much last week (or whenever his last puzzle was) - he had Simon ESTES in that puzzle. Next: a puzzle with only the letters "E," "S," and "T."

And I would like to say that I agree: Least Favorite Grid design. But that's what (some) Saturdays are for.


C zar 1:04 PM  

I'm late to the party, posting on Sunday morning, which gives one an idea of how long this one took. Several terms that bubbled up from somewhere deep deep down there. ROOD clearly from a class in early English literature (an investment that finally paid off 20 yrs later), but no idea where PIASTER or PAS DE deux came from. Guess I shouldn't have turned off "Paint Your Wagon" the other night on cable, or would have come up with ELISA sooner.

As always, thanks Rex for you insights.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Hi Rex,
New to your site, it's great - thanks for your help.

Question: 14Jan06 NYT Puzzle - I get mine through the Kitchener Waterloo Record in Ontario Canada. Mine was titled Sandwich Man by Elizabeth C. Gorski. Yours was called Sounds of Old by Harvey Estes. Yet they are the same puzzle. Any ideas how that happens?

Rex Parker 1:30 PM  

Yeah, if you look at the Jan. 14 puzzle, in the Comments section, you will see that you are not alone. Things get screwed up in syndication sometimes - it's a local (newspaper-specific) problem, it seems. Another famous screw-up occurred when a deliberately misspelled clue [Write seperately, say], was "corrected" to read [Write separately, say] - thereby rendering the answer, MISSPELL, absolutely nonsensical.

Local papers aren't always careful, it seems.


kb 11:48 AM  

I get my NYT puzzle in the Chicago-Sun Times, and I guess you guys are lucky, I NEVER get a title to a puzzle (which sometimes would help alot!!) Why is that?

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