SATURDAY, Aug. 4, 2007 - Byron Walden

Friday, August 3, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Damn! I should have done this at the NYT applet - I finally would have been able to see my name on the top ten list, and for a while too. I solved this in just over 16 minutes, the first third of which was spent staring at almost totally empty space. I managed to get ELICITED (9D: Brought out) with no help, but after that - zip. Just a sad little TAC (19A: Central square, maybe) appended to ELICITED. First trip through all of the Downs on top got me precisely squat - ELICTED and OPP. (10D: NE for SW, e.g.), and that's it. Desperate, I inferred a final "S" from the apparently plural 1D: Galas (big dos) and from that got SNL (25A: _____ Digital Shorts (late-night comic bits). Totally guessed 21A: First word of "Shrek" (Once...), which gave me the double-N necessary to get ETIENNE (2D: Saint-_____-du-Mont, church containing the remains of the patron saint of Paris), and then I finally began to take apart the triple-stack at the top of the puzzle. Also totally guessed I LIE (24A: "Lo, here _____, / Never to rise again": "Hamlet"); but as with the "Shrek" clue, you don't need to know this to get it - you just need to stop and think "If I were this answer, what would I be?" I had I SIT for I LIE, but I worked it out eventually. The key is persistence and patience. In other words, KEEP ON KEEPING ON (60A: Last).

I really wanted 4D: Hardy one? (Ollie) to be TESS, and for completely mysterious reasons I was nearly certain that 20A: 50 Cent cover (do-rag) was "MY WAY." Some rapper I know covered, or at least sampled that song. Maybe Jay-Z. ANYway...

God bless Herr EULER (30A: Discoverer of the law of quadratic reciprocity), who appears in the puzzle for at least the third time this year, and second time in the past couple weeks. He got me a little traction in the "Utah" portion of the puzzle. I was wrong about 27A: Drawing of the heart? (tug) at first - I had EEG, but that mistake got me the "G" which got me GRAPE (28D: Gatorade choice) - always good when mistakes work out.

How is the ITALIAN ALPHABET (16A: Dante characters?) different from the English alphabet. Do they have characters we don't???

I like the great carnie quality of the puzzle, with the fabulous, long, intersecting entries BEARDED LADY (34A: Sideshow staple) and DUNK TANK (35D: Charity carnival feature). While at the carnival, why not enjoy a BURRITO (22D: Chihuahua fare)? Or, if the carnival is in the South, some SOPS (47A: Food eaten with gravy) and OKRAS (49A: Mallow family members).

The puzzle has a little bit of everything - lots of tiny sub-themes, from exotic locales like HANOI and BENIN; to musical answers like THAD Jones (11D: Jazz trumpeter/composer Jones), Ray EBERLE (13D: "Over the Rainbow" vocalist Ray), "THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA" (17A: The "she" in the lyric "And when she passes, I smile"), LEO Arnaud (31D: Olympics theme composer Arnaud), YODELING (36D: Higher calling?), and SUZI Quatro (55D: 1970s rocker Quatro); to baseball answers like FARM CLUB (3D: Place for some prospects) and CIN (57D: N.L. Central team, on scoreboards); to higher education answers like TAS (54A: Some stipend recipients, for short) and AMERICAN STUDIES (56A: Interdisciplinary college major); to sciencey answers like EPSOM / SALTS (38A: With 55-Across, MgSO4.7H2O) and NUCLEUS (23D: Chromosome home). . . whew. When I started that list, I had no idea how long it was going to be.

Most colorful answer, for my money, was NICOTINE LOZENGE (59A: Patch alternative). There were two words I'd never seen before: DEMIT (18A: Relinquish) and HAMAN (8D: Villain in the book of Esther). Got temporarily frustrated by 45A: Capital of New Zealand: Abbr. (dol.) - "It's Wellington, dammit," I thought. Ah yes, the old "'capital' = money" trick. Well played, Mr. Walden. Who would expect such bush league shenanigans from the world's most devilish constructor? Not I. I have no idea what any of the following means: 53D: Co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, 1961 - but TITO is a name and it fit, so there. I wanted MAYDAY Malone, then SAMMIE, for the ultimately anti-climactic NORMIE (41D: Nickname on "Cheers"). Lastly, I learned that I have a STIRRUP in my ear (6D: Place for a stirrup). Gross / cool.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

28 comments:

GK 12:17 AM  

Just the other way round: the Italian alphabet is missing some of our characters. There's no J, K, W, X, or Y.

Tito was the leader of Yugoslavia before dismemberment. I think Egypt's Nasser was another Non-Aligned Movement leader. "Non-aligned" here means staying out of the camps of both Moscow and Washington.

I'm a math prof, and confidently filled in GAUSS as my first entry. Wrong! He did prove the quadratic reciprocity formula four times (as I remember) but apparently EULER discovered it. With GAUSS under PAINTEDLADY, it took a while to straighten things out in the middle.

Orange 12:47 AM  

Have you heard of hamantaschen, the Jewish cookies? Turns out they're named after that biblical villain. They sound a bit like Polish kolacky cookies, which I love. The cream cheese dough, yum. (I must need a bedtime snack.)

Anonymous 3:47 AM  

To GK - Also, I believe the CH and GH (before E and I) are considered "characters" in the Ital alphabet.

My breakthrough for this puzzle was the GIRLFROMIPANEMA answer. I love getting 15 letters at once.

Remembered Britt Reid's first name from my childhood listening to the Green Hornet religiously.

Loved HIGHER CALLING for YODELING.

Looking at the times turned in on the applets, I found it almost impossible to believe anyone could solve this puzzle in under five minutes. I'm kinda proud of my 25 minutes, on paper.

ttommott 4:49 AM  

A plea from a puzzler.

As an American living in France I get the NYT puzzle Mon through Fri in the International Herald Tribune.

Since the paper arrives by mail and there is no mail service on Sundays, the Tribune doesn't have a Sunday edition.

The Sat/Sun edition has the Sunday puzzle. So I'm deprived of the Saturday puzzle, which is my absolute favorite. I find the Sunday puzzle generally not too challenging, just long and tedious - like doing one and a half or two Wednesday puzzles. I've petitioned the Tribune to publish the Saturday puzzle instead of the Sunday puzzle, to no avail

Any way one of you could scan the Sat puzzle and send it to me as an attachment?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous 4:57 AM  

Re 40A - "afternoon ora" - I think the answer is wrong and that it should be "UNO" not "UNA". If you ask "a che ora?", the answer should be "uno" (unless my Italian is worse than I think it is). Any experts out there?

liebestraum 8:56 AM  

Can someone enlighten me on what "AFTERNOON ORA" is?

That was (for me) the one clue that left me clueless.

lieb

shaun 10:09 AM  

The most memorable thing about my time studying the Hebrew language was discovering hamantaschen (being from So.Dak. and attending Smith, my goy-ness was a real obstacle to learning about Jewish bakery until I reached adulthood). It's a mystery how the evil Haman gets something so delicious named after him (or his hat, I think) -- why not Estertaschen? Don't miss the poppy seed variety -- only 7 mos. til Purim!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Got started on Girl from Ipanema, but really wanted Dante characters to be divine comedians or infernal something ... had to settle for italian alphabet. ear, tnotes and haman were easy (Esther is such a great story, it should have been a "cast of thousands" movie!) Great puzzle as it had some tricks, but fell into place -- though not as fast for me as for you all.

Paulo 10:57 AM  

Rex, keep up the bible reading and you will get to Esther. Better yet, skip right to it.

Haman also figures in the Jewish festival of Purim which celebrates Esther's victory. Purim is the one day in the year where drinking is encouraged. In some traditions the idea is to get so drunk you can't tell Mordecai (the good guy of the story) from Haman, or good from evil as it were.

Some researchers claim that Purim is one of the reasons Jewish people have a LOWER rate of alcoholism than average.

Orange 11:01 AM  

ttommott, consider subscribing to the NYT crossword online. You can print the puzzle out or do it online, and the next day's puzzle is released online the evening (Eastern Time) before. $39.95 a year divided by 52 weeks = less than a dollar per delicious Saturday puzzle, plus access to all the rest of the puzzles, including years of archived crosswords. (Years of Saturday puzzles, just waiting for you!)

Lieb, I think "ora" is Italian for "hour" (as in time).

Anonymous 3:47, no, those sub-5:00 times probably aren't legit. Unless you're talking about how fast they typed the answers from the pre-solved puzzle. And that 5:56 time is also from a long-time "applet cheater," trying to look less obvious in his cheating.

ttommott 11:11 AM  

Anonymous - about the una v. uno thing. Italians would say é la una (or é l'una) Kind of a short form of é la una ora. Una modifies la ora which is feminine.

But in the afternoon many would say 13 tredici since throughout most of the world they use the 24 hour clock.

For more on telling time in Italian you should watch this very funny video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4fwJbOA7eA

Wendy 11:35 AM  

I feel proud this morning of my progress in the world of Saturday puzzling, and on a Byron Walden, no less! Initially the only gimme was SUZI, and I even spelled that wrong at first, with a Y. Rather than give way to despair, I tried to think outside of the box, and was thrilled to get BEARDED LADY, DUNK TANK, ODIUM, GRAPE, YODELING, EPSOM SALTS, MONTEGO, BURRITO, BEADS, DEM, YDS and DECRY on my own, before resorting to a google or two.

For the long horizontals, I had little hope, except for the fact that something told me the "she"/lyric clue was from my era. In the back of my mind I could hear it, or at least a soft voice, which turned out to be Astrid Gilberto's, and after walking away for awhile, it popped out! That is one good feeling - to get one of those before having to do research.

Having EKG instead of TUG for a time prevented me from grasping NUCLEUS, but I eventually saw the error of my ways. And though I've seen Hamlet on the stage 8 times, I had I DIE instead of I LIE. I also had Let Go instead of DEMIT!?! which screwed things up for awhile.

I was very pleased at inferring HANOI. Knowing that Sontag travelled widely and that the date was 1968 gave me the courage to put that down with only the N crossing.

All in all, a pleasurable, TOP END experience.

Jerome 11:38 AM  

I first looked at the layout of the grid and when I saw it was a Byron Walden puzzle, went "uh-oh."

But, when the 3rd clue yielded GIRL FROM IPANEMA, I breathed a sigh of relief and almost cruised through the rest, with a few bumps here and there. Great fun!!!

Funny what a little confidence does for one's solving ability. BTW, it still took me twice as long as Rex.

Also thought it should be UNO and I never heard of SOPS. HAMAN's hat was a tricorn; ergo the triangular pastries.

pinky 12:18 PM  

Had OAR for EAR. (stirrups, oarlocks, what's the diff?)

Wade 12:49 PM  

I don't know how long it took me in real time to do this puzzle. I started last night and did the bottom two thirds but had almost nothing to get the three long top clues excepted ELICITED and I__IE. In fact, the whole puzzle pretty much from the bottom up for me. The first clue I got was SUZI, remembering her not for her musical career but because of the deep impression she left on my ten-year-old heart as Fonzie's love interest, Leather Tuscadero, on "Happy Days." I think she was Pinkie Tuscadero's cousin. If memory serves, Pinkie was Fonzie's only true love, but her love of demolition derby racing was stronger; alas, it was not meant to be. Leather was much cuter than Pinkie, and her signature gesture--the slap against the thigh followed by a finger pointed like a pistol--was definitely cooler than Pinkie's "pinky" gesture.

Eugene 12:59 PM  

I see I'm not the only one who got GIRLFROMIPANEMA as my first answer! That got me a lot of 1-15D, which led to 1 and 16A fairly quickly.
The SouthWest was by far the hardest part for me; I had STUDIES, LOZENGE and KEEPINGON long before I got the first part of those answers.
Overall, this went baster than most Saturday puzzles, but nowhere near the times mentioned.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I also liked the first across clue of FIRST and the last across clue of LAST
Trish in OP

jae 1:42 PM  

The reason "ask my wife" is part of my rule space is that she knows stuff like BENIN, ETIENNE, and UNO/A. I immediately got GIRL.., BEARDED.., DUNKTANK, BURRITO, and YODELING. The rest was a bit of a struggle. SW was a problem because I refused to believe NORMIE is a nickname. MAYDAY is a nickname, NORMIE is not! Oddly, HAMAN was sort of a gimme. I saw "For Your Consideration" (by the folks who brought you "Best in Show") a couple of nights ago and a whole scene was dedicated to the Purim feast including a song about Haman.

BTW TITO was the leader of Yugoslavia I believe, and the non-aligned movement was a response to NATO and the WARSAWPACT.

Wendy 2:10 PM  

I too had a problem with NORMIE as a nickname but more because I think it was only used by Cliff Claven, and he would pronounce it Bostonianly as NARMIE!

Fergus 3:30 PM  

Just recently asked someone about Purim and we were soon reading the Book of Esther. The next one, Job, is one of the Biblical All-Stars, as well.

A BURRITO is, according to friends who have traveled widely in Mexico, non-existent there. Seems like it's just an American Southwest adaptation. While I'm not asserting this to be true, I've heard the story a number of times.

Having sailed through most of the puzzle, on the strength of the BEARDED LADY driving a MONTEGO, I crashed in the NE. I wanted 15D to be ERASED for Like some disappearances just because it seemed so perfectly Saturday-ish. Seriously, I was still in a letter juggling trance for half an hour, even after crossing HANOI with IPANEMA, and was even considering a consultation with some outside reference. But took a shower instead, where the ALPHABET kicked everything else into place. And therefore REMAIN untainted by foreign agents, but I would have to admit that the HASSLE did LESSEN my sense of Crossword competence.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Is ORA necessarily Italian? I know it's HEUR in French, which doesn't work, but what about Spanish or Portuguese?

Orange 4:32 PM  

Hey, Fergus. I just went to Google.com.mx, Mexican Google, and searched for burrito. One of the first hits was the Spanish-language Wikipedia entry on "Burrito (comida)." I think "El Burrito es un preparado oriundo del norte de México" means "The burrito is a preparation that originated in the north of Mexico," but I don't read Spanish. The "Historia del burrito" section mentions the state of Chihuahua...but I can't follow much of what it says.

My next book: "How to Conquer Google." I have relatives who ask me to do searches for them. I probably would've made a helluva reference librarian in a different life.

But enough about me. (Ha! As if.)

Fergus 5:00 PM  

I guess it's really just a border phenomenon in Mexico -- specifically Juarez, Chihuahua, and not as heavily laden (con todos los otros ingredientes)there as it is north of the border. Becoming more widespread to the south, though, I understand.

How many dictionaries do you have at home? I carry one around in my pickup truck, which amused one of mi amigas recently. Are you serious about the Google book? Reckon there's enough material ... .

jae 5:03 PM  

Hour in Spanish is hora, might be the same in Portuguese?

karmasartre 5:19 PM  

Most of a repeated Jackie Gleason utterance --

HAMAN(a)

Michael5000 4:38 PM  

The perfect Saturday puzzle. Colorful, one notch easier than usual, and a fun grid construction with a minimum of black.

I initially thought we were screwed, as is right and proper for a Saturday puzzle. Then Mrs. 5000 calmly nailed "Girl from Ipanema, and we were off to the races. Upper 2/3 at breakfast, lower 1/3 at lunch. In this house, that's a triumph.

Dylan 4:43 AM  

I started out better than Rex, but then got really stuck. On my first go-through, I got 19a-22a-25a-27a-32a-34a-37a-39a-44a-55a-6d-9d-10d-23d-28d-32d and 33d. I thought 45a (capital of New Zealand) was AUC (Auckland). The long words at the top and bottom were exceptionally hard this week. I tried to go through every kind of sinner I could think of for 16A (Dante characters) before the ? gave away that it was some kind of runes or alphabet, but still couldn't get the answer without Rex's help.
I thought 48D was "Straps" but had to wait for the "Sops" cross to be sure.
It seems like the Saturday crosswords have been getting harder lately. I used to be able to solve them after a lot of work, but lately I seem to have to google a lot of answers or check with Rex.

WWPierre 12:22 PM  

Checking in from 6 weeks late:

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle today even though it defeated me in California and New England. I had to google "the tallest building in the west" (40d) because "afternoon ora" (40a) did not make any sense. (I was convinced it was a misprint) and I never heard of SOPS as food. I had WOODIE for NORMIE earlier on, and isn't BRETT masculine and BRITT feminine? I actually remember the Green Hornet on radio, but couldn't remember his real name, even though I remember that THE SHADOW was Lamont Cranston.

I am not so ashamed of my failure in New England. The GIRL FROM IPANEMA clue was a giveaway, but I wrote THE GIRL (blank) IPENEMA, which sent me on a wild goose chase looking for a rebus (from) all over the puzzle.

My mis-spelling of IPANEMA gave me THEO instead of THAD, and OORAG for DORAG. Since I do not consider RAP to be real music, (especially in such close proximity to such a latin classic) I didn't feel so bad about this as my botching of the S/W.

Dylan may be right, or senility is creeping up on me; Yesterday,s puzzle still sits in the dining room table about 1/3 done.

Like Michael 5000, I used to do these with my wife of 33 years, (and bride of 3 weeks) Hanne, but she has been bitten by the SODUKU bug, and now I am generally on my own.

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