SATURDAY, Jun. 9, 2007 - Karen M. Tracey

Friday, June 8, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

The first correct answer I got in this puzzle was EGGHEADS (4D: Einsteins), which amuses me. Seems somehow revealing. I got it off of 25A: AIDA, which was wrong. I figured out it was wrong because of the second correct answer I got in this puzzle: CATES (22A: "Princess Caraboo" star). This answer also amuses me, deeply, because it reminds me of trolling the video store in the mid-90s with my friends Shaun and Steve. We watched so many movies back then, to the point that we got very indiscriminate - after watching the filmed- as- a- musical- but- re-edited- to- a- non-musical train wreck called "I'll Do Anything" (starring Nick NOLTE - 40A: Best Actor nominee for "Affliction," 1998) we even coined a slogan for this indiscriminateness: "I'll Rent Anything." Anyway, back to CATES - I can see the front cover of this video cassette (that's what we watched back then) vividly in my mind's eye because it featured CATES (Mrs. Kevin Kline) in a tight-fitting, breast-enhancing princess gown - one which prompted Shaun (if I remember correctly) to redub the movie "Princess Caraboobs." This is one of the few times you will find me reliving my twenties with something like fondness.

So not AIDA but ELSA (25A: Opera heroine with the aria "Einsam in truben Tagen"), which I guessed after AIDA failed and I recalled ELSA being an opera answer I didn't know many months ago. Wagner, I think. And the NW fell in short order from there. One answer up there surprised me a bit: I never sang in any kind of group anywhere ever, so I didn't know (or never really thought about the fact) that GLEE CLUB was traditionally for men (1A: Extracurricular activity traditionally for men).


  • 26A: Singer Stubbs of the Four Tops (Levi) - had the "V" and entered DAVE, and off of that "D" I entered the next mistake:
  • 26D: Newswoman Logan (Lara) - I had DARA; weird how a total guess / wrong answer, built off another wrong answer, ended up being 75% correct.
  • 10D: He wrote "There was an old man of Thermopylae / Who never did anything properly..." (Lear) - god I love that clue; sadly I had NASH for a while.
  • 14D: Pirates' domain (open seas) - I had SEAS and entered HIGH SEAS. This answer goes nicely with 43A: Captain of Stubb and Flask (Ahab) and 39D: Brother and husband of Tethys (Oceanus), which is an answer I pulled from godknowswhere. I figured if we're talking husband-brothers, then we are talking some primal, early, originary gods. Guessed it off the CEA. Other classical mythology answer I dredged up from some dank part of my brain: 29D: Princess loved by Heracles (Iole) - but only after I had the -OLE, so maybe not the biggest accomplishment.
  • 20A: Confident affirmation ("I sure can") - in a ridiculous fit of optimism, I entered I CAN DO IT off of just the initial "I".
  • 48A: Split (fled) - I had FLEE; easy mistake.

Mystery answers:

  • 9A: Measure of reflected light (albedo) - today's entry in the Science Blindness sweepstakes ... well, there are two. This one, and 46D: German astronomer who was the first to measure the distance to a star (Bessel). Thought BESSEL was a vacuum cleaner. Turns out that's BISSEL.
  • 11D: River craft (bateau) - when did this jump languages?
  • 28A: Valium, generically (diazepam) - yikes ... and yet ... I feel as if I've seen it before, possibly (and I know this sounds nuts) in a crossword somewhere.
  • 37A: Tognazzi of "La Cage aux Folles" (Ugo) - Just a huge "?" for me.
  • 45D: Hindu drink of immortality (Amrita) - AMRITA stands parallel to BESSEL, so I'm damned lucky I knew all the crosses. I'm also damned lucky I knew an AMRITA in high school, making the answer somehow plausible in my mind. I haven't seen or thought of her in 20 years, but I'd like the thank AMRITA Desai for the assist on this one.

The SW would have remained a complete mystery, I'm convinced, if it hadn't been for the ubiquitous Mr. NOLTE, who was a gimme. His "N" let me know that 32D: Colt handler began with GUN and it didn't take long to figure out the answer must be GUNSMITH. Took me forever to remember what "bovarism" meant (I was thinking something to do with cows...), but my college French Lit course kicked in and I managed to get EGOMANIA (33D: Extreme bovarism) off of just the E-O beginning.

It's late and I must now read myself to sleep.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jlsnyc 9:29 AM  

enjoyed this puzzle a lot -- mainly because: i didn't have to google nuthin' -- even tho, like you, there were several words/names that were brand new.

ditto "nash" as the first thought for the poet. of course lear is the limerick "go-to" guy -- but that was a very nash-like (i.e., totally charming) rhyme.

and glee club. i went to an all-girls public high and then to a women's college (which is now co-ed). schedule was too dense in h.s. to sing in glee club, but did sing all four years of college (great music, and, uh, way to meet guys...). so it never occurred to me that glee club was/is "traditionally" an extracurricular activity for men. sounds like this may have started as a brit thing. will have to check this out.



Wendy 10:37 AM  

Juxtapositions of note today: HATERS (again) intersecting TOLERANT and TWINGE intersecting TINGED. Had a good chuckle over my prolonged attempts to figure out which U.S. president had claimed to be a voodoo priest until I had enough letters to see that I needed to change geography for the answer ;)

For 'complex component' I wanted the answer to be Vitamin B when I had nothing crossing there ... I bizarrely knew ALBEDO because of work I do for a client that makes white reflective roofing material or that would've been a major obscurity.

INANER? C'mon, that's not a word. Also had High SEAS for a time.

FYI for future: the generic names of tranquilizers all end in PAM or ZAM. Don't ask why I know this.

Best Scrabbly word - JEZEBELS.

rock rabbit 10:42 AM  

Your hilarious story about PRINCESS CARABOOBS caused a coffee spit-take at my breakfast table this morning! Luckily, only my cat witnessed it.....

My absolute favorite clue in recent memory... SHAMELESS HUSSIES!

DEV 11:08 AM  

Only discovered your site recently and like to check if you/others stumbled in the same spots and rejected the same non-words (inaner).
Very surprised to see you pick Aida (Italian) when 25A is in German.... big hint.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I liked paramount of today and yesterday's answer of paramounts. I had to google Oceanus and thesinger "Levi." Pretty hard I thought.

Linda G 11:24 AM  

Delightful puzzle. Although I struggled somewhat, I think I fared better than with Karen's recent NYT offerings. I do better without multiple pop culture references. Give me the oldies.

Some excellent words today...foxglove, Diazepam, Jezebels, twinge, Oceanus and egomania among my favorites. Especially liked the cleverness of cluing for mute and neurosis.

Also feel into the high seas trap. Good thing I can swim!

Harleypeyton 11:49 AM  

Smew, not Smee. Smew, now Smee. Boy did that hold me up for a while.

Orange 12:16 PM  

Wendy, there's also a -LAM drug that didn't make it into Thursday's rebus puzzle—Xanax's generic name is alprazolam. (Shazam!) Not sure if anti-anxiety agents qualify as tranqs, though...

Ron 12:17 PM  

Wow, I had to google alot of stuff today, but maybe it was because there was a PC nearby .... I've seen the duck clue (SMEW) before, had OKEANOS for OCEANUS thanks to Google and that kept me off base in the SE corner for awhile.
Rex, do you get these puzzles the night before? Every time I log in to see your comments you are saying you need to go to bed, get some sleep... maybe in NY the paper comes the night before? not here in Dallas, have to wait for the Starbucks to open on the corner..... But I did get inspired today to go and buy the Eric Idle book, looks fun !
cheers !

mellocat 1:09 PM  

Ron, you're not alone in googling. When I checked on Google trends a few hous ago 12 of the top 25 searches were clearly from today's NYT clues. An additional 4 came from the LAT and 7 more (based on the "related search" info) seemd to come from perhaps two other puzzles I haven't done, leaving 2 of the top 25 that didn't appear to be puzzle-related.

Thanks to whoever mentioned Google trends here a while ago! I find what it shows fascinating. How did crossword solvers manage before Google? Has its availability resulted in more people being willing to give crosswords a try? I wonder if the trends for other days of the week are a skewed towards crosswords as Saturday...

Anyway thanks for the comments. I didn't know Glee Club was traditionally male either (I was in it in high school, but that was an all-female school so if there was going to be one, it had to be female). Agree inaner is not much of a word, but sometimes it's only stuff like that that can be made to fit. Maybe someday I'll be able to finish a puzzle without at least a couple of entries that make me grimace, but I don't believe I've managed it yet.

Kitty 1:24 PM  

I usually enjoy the Saturday puzzles, but the plethora (which would be a good crossword answer) of REALLY strained clues put me off. If my life had depended on it, I never would have come up with "glee club" as an activity traditionally for men, and I, too, balked at "less likely to fly" for inaner. I was trying to think of a six letter phobia....

About all I could get right out of the box were "Audie" (I'm dating myself)for the Murphy actor, "Ahab," who is, of course, the stock captain of any four letter captain clue, "Auel" for the author, "tolerant" for accepting and everybody's no-brainer, Nolte.

With that many filled in I'm usually able to complete the puzzle. The fact that I couldn't come CLOSE to completing it is a commentary on either my lack of brain power or the obscurity of some of the clues -- Or some combination thereof....

kratsman 1:28 PM  

Didn't think "inaner" was a word either, but Mr. Shortz has dictionary justification (if not practical usage):

Main Entry: 1 inane
Pronunciation: i-'nAn
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): inan·er; -est

Thought this puzz was a notch or two above medium difficulty. The 1st letter of BATEAU coulda been half a dozen other letters as far as I was concerned.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Smee was Hook's henchman. Definitely not a duck.

Wendy 1:36 PM  

Oh fie, I meant alprazoLAM but my mind was picturing alpraloZAM. Thanks for the correction Amy. Don't listen to me, anybody, I'm not a pharmacist but I play one on TV. But that would have been a great rebus answer, 'tis true.

Ron, Rex is getting the puzzle the night before, as many of us do, off of the New York Times web site. The next day's puzzle is available at 10 pm M-F and I think at 6 pm Sat-Sun. I get the paper on Sunday only but have resorted to not waiting until the morning anymore , that's how hooked I've become.

Karen 3:23 PM  

For completeness sake, chlordiazepoxide and clorazepate are in the same category of tranquilizers (benzodiazepines, or BZDs. Now that's an acronym I'd like to see in the crossword.) Nice to have the mini-medical theme, with foxglove and diazepam for pharmaceuticals, and neurosis and egomania for psychiatry (and diazepam fits that group too.)

Fergus 5:52 PM  

8D BELIEVE is a great Saturday answer for Hold. On 57A I shoved in ULTIMATE even though Paramount didn't quite sit right as a clue. JEZEBELS finally clicked (knowing that 42A surely couldn't be BIOL on Saturday?) but was she really so shameless? Plus, the GUNSMITH clue was a bit off as well. I did like SUFFERS for Withstands, however, on 35A.

Fergus 5:59 PM  

And was Emma Bovary really such an egomaniac? Jezebel was more of one, I would have thought.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

I was very disappointed to see a Sikh drink misclued as a Hindu drink (45D). It took me forever to get that answer (AMRITA) since the clue was inaccurate. (The Hindu divine drink is SOMA, which is also sometimes a crossword answer.)

Rex Parker 7:07 PM  

My cursory searches suggest you are wrong about AMRITA:

You should realize that the clues are checked and rechecked and are rarely flat-out incorrect.

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

Yes, I already realize that clues are checked and rechecked and are rarely wrong. That's why I was so surprised.

Simply saying Sikh instead of Hindu would have been a much better way to phrase the clue, in my opinion, regardless of whether it's secondarily a Hindu drink. SOMA is the primary divine drink of the Hindus and AMRITA is the primary one of the Sikhs. All three of the people I know that teach these subjects at the college or graduate level would have instantly gotten the clue if it was keyed as Sikh and would have been very confused as to why SOMA didn't fit if they read the clue as written.

But then, I agree with some of the above comments that a number of today's clues were oddly or poorly phrased so I guess it's in keeping with the general attitude of the puzzle.

Rex Parker 7:27 PM  

I see your point. And yet the clue was not, as you said, "inaccurate." You didn't like it. You thought another answer was More correct. And maybe it was. These things happen.

Kitt 8:05 PM  

I'm a bit surprised that more folks didn't find this puzzle to be difficult. It was a bear for me. My first go round all I had for sure was "reshoe" and "lea" -- I really had trouble getting any traction with the puzzle. The NW I got but the rest was really rough. It turned out I was googling too much and just wasn't makin' it.... hmmm well I am still steadily improving on Sat puzzles -- just not this one.

Mellocat's quote

"Thanks to whoever mentioned Google trends here a while ago! I find what it shows fascinating. How did crossword solvers manage before Google? Has its availability resulted in more people being willing to give crosswords a try? I wonder if the trends for other days of the week are a skewed towards crosswords as Saturday..."

MC -- I think this is an interesting topic re: google and how it may have changed crossword solving and crossword construction. Good point there. Might be an interesting book or article.....In the ole days if I needed some help pull out the dictionary or an official crossword dictionary.

Anyway, I think this could be a good discussion among the folks that post here and others as well.

Kitt 8:14 PM  

Ron: Wendy gave you great advice -- to sign up for the internet NYT service. There is a charge for it but not much (if you consider you get a crossword every day plus access to the puzzle archives).

Several years ago I had the Sunday NYT delivered to me....just to do the puzzle. Funny thing often it would be delivered on Sat late at night or in the early Sunday am hours....often I would stay awake to hear the paper hit my door and then stay up to do it. -- I've since gotten better restraint. And can wait for the puzzle : )

But now that I can get them online I can do them pretty much whenever I want....I like the flexibility.

Wendy 8:37 PM  

Also, Ron and others, if you are an actual subscriber to the paper, even just the one day like I am, the online service is FREE! They used to charge us for it but in March they decided to show us how much they valued us, I guess, and refunded the money.

frances 9:41 PM  

This was a red-letter week for me: didn't have to resort to Google at all. would somebody please explain how to access google Trends--it sounds fascinating.

Has anyone ever seen or heard of a smew outside of a crossword puzzle?

jlsnyc 9:57 PM  

frances -- you'll have to cut and paste, but...



Kitt 11:00 PM  

Or Frances -- you can just go to the google main page and type "google trends" in it. It will then bring up a page where you can click on "google trends."

It is pretty neat to see what kind of info people are looking for.

Kitt 11:06 PM  

PS Wendy that was cool to know about the NYT subscription. Sure wasn't aware of that.

I'm going to bed and purposefully not looking at Rex's Sunday commentary since I haven't started the puzzle yet.


Fergus 11:45 PM  

As our blogman Rex said there is a vast pool of obscure knowledge readily available.

Fergus 11:55 PM  

... and any resort to Google cheapens everything. I allow an atlas or dictionary check just to make sure.

Jim 10:33 PM  

I will never resort to Google until I have done my best and decided and finally declared that the time is up and I CANNOT solve the puzzle.
I don't consider that I've "solved" the puzzle if I need the on-line oracle to help me with it. It's me alone or nothing.
THEN, I'll go to Google to check my answers and to learn some more obscure facts for the next time.


That Lara Logan is one hot British bird! She can read the news for me anytime! Everytime I hear her voice I melt! British girls drive me nuts!

katya 11:50 AM  

Rex, I wonder who painted the Bovary cover pix?
Looks like a loose Degas or Corot style but not fine enough for either. I first thought the author line read "Gustave Courbet." I could believe HE painted it (very fleshy).

Thanks, whoever, for the tip about signing up for just the puzzle. That would be great fun for a 6WL (in San Diego, no less).

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

6WL :::::

I guess I'm getting inaner and inaner. I found this very difficult. After first pass, all I had was LEVI (Stubbs of the Four Tops). Wasn't even sure about NOLTE and AHAB, but inked them in lightly. Then somehow MARIPOSA popped into mind (having spent many a wonderful civilized-camping trip in the tent-cabins at Tuolumne Meadows, 2000 feet above the valley in Yosemite), and the SW started to fall. Struggled with LOREAL, as I do with many brand names and manufacturers.

Rather than Google at an extremely sticky point, I often go straight to RPDTNYTCP. I've had to train myself to look at just the one answer I want, but found it doable.

WWPierre 4:59 PM  

I am feeling pretty stupid right now. Before the first cup of tea was cold, I had all four corners, but there was this vast wasteland in the middle.

This turned out to be the fault of two red herrings: 23a, "set" = JELL, I had GELL, and 48a, "split = FLED, I had FORK. Giving me TYRANUS for OCEANUS.

Another couple of cups, and I decided to google "Tethys". Suddenly it all fell together. I finished up quickly, and glanced down at the dock where my 26' Chesapeake Bay Sharpie is tied up. Her name?.......JEZEBEL.

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