SATURDAY, Jun. 16, 2007 - Joe DiPietro

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

This was one of my favorite themeless puzzles of the year, though it was a little bit on the easy side (and remember, when I say that, I mean "... for a Saturday"). Fantastic fill from all over the knowledge map, including good music, good pop fiction, and delicious sushi from the SUSHI BAR (59A: Place to order rolls). Two Q's, Two X's - not super-Scrabbly, but those few high-value letters do a lot of good, interesting work. Neither Q is an initial Q, which makes for some interesting answers. But the grandest accomplishment of this puzzle is its startlingly high number of multiple-word or otherwise compound answers. I count TWENTY-FIVE (I'm counting POOLSIDE - 56A: Where many people may lie - in there, but even if you throw that out, still ... a lot. A Lot.). By the way, a POOLSIDE SUSHI BAR would definitely EXHIBIT B in my Wildest Dream (Exhibit A? Kelly Clarkson performing for me at the private party in honor of my winning the Nobel Prize for Awesomeness).

There's a lot of yearning in the puzzle with the intersecting ACHE FOR (8D: Want in the worst way) and GO AFTER (23A: Follow), plus AIMED AT (39D: Went for) lower down in the grid. I had trouble in exactly one area - the far west. At 38A: Three-star officer: Abbr. (LT. GEN.) I entered US GEN. Didn't know the retrospectively obvious first cross, 31D: Computer exec Michael (Dell), and for no good reason thought that second cross - 32D: It has ports in Port. (NATO) was NASA (!?). Thankfully, 43A: Composer Frederick helped me out: the only composer whose name ended -EWE that I could remember was LOEWE, and that initial LO- helped me work everything else out.

Some fun fill:

  • 17A: Food brand with a sun in its logo (Ortega) - I kept wanting OREIDA
  • 16A: Woman who's just too cool? (ice queen) - reminds me of Jadis, self-styled queen of Narnia
  • 18A: 1978 Stephen King novel made into a miniseries ("The Stand") - remembering this helped me change INNER to OUTER EAR (11D: It contains the auricle) and subsequently solve the whole NE very, very quickly.
  • 22A: [Just like that!] ([snap!]) - very cool, and one of the very first answers I got.
  • 51A: Bologna oils (arte) - clever use of "oils" for "oil paintings"; kept me fooled for many seconds.
  • 55A: Grimalkin (crone) - "Grimalkin" is a great word, but I wrongly thought it meant TROLL. At least I was in the right (fairy tale) universe.
  • 62A: It might ask "What comes next?" (IQ test) - this looks very good in the grid, as does the exceptional Q-cross, CINQ (55D: Roulette play)
  • 23D: The first one gets you going (gear) - wanted BEER
  • 49D: J.D.'s of the future (One L's) - if Scott Turow hadn't written ONE L - a one-time crossword standard - I would never have known this.

Today's puzzle didn't call for too much obscure, esoteric, or otherwise specialized knowledge, but I got tested a bit by:

  • 44A: Turgite or limonite (iron ore) - a very good first guess (I did have some crosses)
  • 46A: Delaware, the _____ State (Diamond) - pretty uppity name. Should be called "Most Overlooked" or "Least Remembered In a Game of 'Name All 50 States'"
  • 54A: Son of Leah (Levi) - I wrote LODI, which, it turns out, is a town in California I remember from hearing it on the local news from time to time during my childhood. Earlier puzzle taught me that they're making wine there now, apparently. Anyway...
  • 24D: It's near Fort Bliss (El Paso) - got this from crosses and crosses alone.
  • 28D: Wicker work ("A Time to Die") - I had the first few letters of this and knew the answer instantly, though I've never read the book and have no idea who this "Wicker" is. [FYI: "A TIME TO DIE" is Tom Wicker's 1975 book about the prison riot at Attica in 1971 - also a novel in the "Star Trek: TNG" series...]

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

29 comments:

Orange 10:45 AM  

You know who has the most startlingly prominent auricles? Mitch Albom. He wears his hair covering the top third of this auricles, and yet the exposed portions are still comparable in size to the average person's ear. I can't hear him on TV because his ears draw all my attention.

And yes, I am that shallow. Thanks for asking!

I don't know about that Delaware trash talking. Isn't it cruel to mock something so horribly insignificant?

Jerome 11:39 AM  

Overall, I thought this was tough for a Saturday, but very enjoyable. I found the NW & SE fairly workable, but the NE & SW gave me a lot of trouble. Didn't know THE STAND, originally had OUTER EAR, and still can't believe WEEST. Not knowing ROUX & TOSH, it took forever to get ARTE & EXHIBIT B.

Also, originally wanted BANANA for FARINA, CAT for RUG and SET for MET. Got ONELS from the crosses (is this short for 1st year law students?).

I was brought up in the NY Metro area, and in elementary school were taught the 48 states starting with Maine, working down through the New England states to NY, NJ, PA,DE & DC. Like the Saul Steinber New Yorker cartoon:

http://www.cartoonbank.com/product_details.asp?mscssid=MUG8CBTJATU68N89PRVBRLJUPUVPBGP3&sitetype=1&affiliate=googlead&did=5&sid=50326&pid=

the rest is mostly a blur.

judgesully 11:46 AM  

Where in the heck did they get"sib" for "brief connection." Totally befuddling! I was thinking BVD or some such.

judgesully 11:49 AM  

By the way, "The Stand" is by far Stephen King's best work. it actually shows some plot development.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I agree with Rex completely for a change.

I hear Kelly C had to cancel her concert tour. maybe we should all chip in and buy that dream performance for Rexy.

Barrywep

BlueStater 12:31 PM  

Hats off to anyone for whom this was "easy." Sheesh. I was totally blocked in the NE and SW corners, not having a pool by which to lie POOLSIDE, not patronizing Japanese restaurants (another taste I have not acquired) so as to make the connection from "rolls" to SUSHIBAR, and being totally out of it on ROUX (whazzat?), not having read any King novels so as to guess -- wrongly -- that it was THE SWAMP. Another one of those puzzles that makes me think the potential audience for Saturday is in the low hundreds, tops. Sigh.

Alex 1:13 PM  

It may be an uppity nickname, but they probably figure since it came from Thomas Jefferson that nobody can knock them for it.

Jim 1:57 PM  

alex, I don't understand what you mean about "uppity nickname ... Jefferson ..." What nickname?

I also don't get "sib." Can anyone interpret?

One-L seems to be Harvard terminology for first-year law student and became popular from Turow's book, as Rex said. I resented that as a law student at another school in the same era -- suddenly because of one book all law students everywhere have to deal with this new pop-culture argot. Kind of like pop-culture crap in the Times puzzle ....

Jim

Alex 2:21 PM  

Jim,

It was in response to this part of Rex's write-up:

46A: Delaware, the _____ State (Diamond) - pretty uppity name. Should be called "Most Overlooked" or "Least Remembered In a Game of 'Name All 50 States'"

Jerome 2:36 PM  

Jim,

SIB = sibling. I hope that helps.

Karen 2:37 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle much more than yesterday's bruiser. Unlike bluestater, this one hit my fund of knowledge fairly well, although it took a few minutes of staring to figure out the ARTE (I kept thinking of fried baloney sandwiches. With mayo.)

SIB is short for sibling, so it is an abbreviated relationship.

jlsnyc 3:01 PM  

for me, this one was **very tough**, taking several separate sit-downs to complete. yikes. but sure loved the finished product!

fave clues/fill: the rex-mentioned "bologna oils/arte" (for too long i was trying "olie"...[WRONG!!!]); and "returning to an old beat/a tempo." not to mention the brilliant "wicker work/a time to die."

;-)

janie

Wendy 3:05 PM  

Rex, so that you know your 'scholarly' columns are of enduring value:

Last night all I could get initially was THE STAND and ENDS, with only the vaguest inklings for a few others. Then I re-read the What Makes a Themeless Puzzle Great and with renewed determination and the WEEST increase in confidence went back at it this morning.

Before long I had managed most of the NE corner on my own. I still had much googling to do, but accomplished more overall using my wits than I would have otherwise. I was especially proud of getting PROVERB from that particular clue.

I enjoyed the "in the language" discourse again, btw. And on that point, WEEST is not!!!!!!

Wendy 3:14 PM  

Oh Jerome, I meant to comment on your mention of Saul Steinberg, hands down my favorite New Yorker cartoonist of all time. One of the most complicated and intriguing artists ever - I so wish I could have met him before he died. I was at a show of his once and was struck dumb to see that he'd drawn a female child in almost exactly the same way I used to draw myself (disturbing and exhilarating at the same time since my drawing was pretty demented). I have his stuff all over the house and even on my refrigerator.

campesite 3:37 PM  

This was a toughie for me as well.
Rex, if you can confirm Kelly Clarkson as your date at the MTV Nobel Prize Awards I'm sure they'll give you the honor in the category of Awesomeness (these things are rigged).

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

I would have thought you stalwart x-worders would have been delighted with "weest" (pronounced Wee-est) = most wee = smallest.
Personally, my favories were 4D - "a tempo" (only seen in classical music programs), 53D - "tosh" very British and the double hit of "exhibit B" and "A to B".

Ron 4:45 PM  

OK how is CINQ a roulette option?
otherwise I liked this puzzle !

Isabella di Pesto 4:46 PM  

I thought Delaware was "The First State."

And I remember Grimalkin from Macbeth when one of the three weird sisters (witches) calls "I come, Grimalkin."

Northwest corner had me stumped for a good while, having initally put in "cats" for Persians, e.g., but I finally remembered Ortega, and out came the cats and in came the rugs.

Fergus 8:52 PM  

Didn't anyone else find 60A ENSILE a bit out there?

Fergus 8:52 PM  

Didn't anyone else find 60A ENSILE a bit out there?

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Ron
"Cinq" is French for "five". Roulette is the French name for the casino game with the wheel and the little ball, and, among others, you can bet on individual numbers coming up, such as "cinq".

Rex Parker 10:12 PM  

I've complained about ENSILE as a word before, so I decided not to repeat myself (for once).

rp

frances 5:46 PM  

Rex--

Thanks for explaining that "A Time to Die" is a work by an author named Wicker. I figured it out from the crosses and a general sense of syntax, but it made absolutely no sense at all. I object to "weest" as a two-syllable superlative; the logical pronunciation is one syllable with a long "e". Also, "ensile" must be what constructors do with their far-out ideas.

BigHat 3:51 PM  

Don't like it, but Commissioned Officers start at O-1s (Ensigns or 2Lts). So below grade one would be the Non-commissioned Officers or NCOs.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

56 Across: WHERE MANY PEOPLE MAY LIE If there were two more letters I'd say Washington would be a good answer!

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

6WL ::::::::

I had major trouble with the SW and SE. I wanted ROUX and had PROVERB but couldn't connect the X and the B (EXHIBIT B), and ATIMETODIE just refused to reveal itself.

Rex, re. LEVI/Lodi, many people know Lodi well as it was made famous by Creedence Clearwater Revival in the song "Lodi" ("Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again"), a very big hit.

PATIO alone would have done it, but combined with POOLSIDE, I couldn't help but go to an old, bad joke:
Q: What's Irish and lays around a swimming pool?
A: Patio Furniture

One other item of note for people like me tagging along six weeks behind: of course it was THESTAND, as I'd already seen Rex's graphic for it while scrolling around June looking for the right date....

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

6WL
I'm in the time warp too, and it seems like cheating when you pick up on clues from posts you aren't looking for. (Remember how Rex reacted to the fellow at ACPT who held his paper up to the light?)
Linda G has a GOTO the syndicated puzzle right up at the top of her sidebar--all others please copy.
My workaround is to go to the search box at the foot of Rex's sidebar and type in the surname of the constructor. This usually leads you to both the puzz and the comments.
TimeTraveller

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Anon 1:45 --

Great idea, thank you.

RonB 3:54 PM  

I once new a drag queen who went by the name Patty O'Furniture.

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