SATURDAY, Sep. 22, 2007 - Mark Diehl

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Don't know how I managed to do this in around an average time, because looking at it now, there is much that seems insane and unknown to me. Spent a few minutes fumbling around in the NW and getting nothing except SALTS (5D: Smelling things) and REMITS - which was wrong. So I moved on. My first answer in the grid was OWNS UP TO (20A: Admits) - why was that a gimme? Then with just that "N" in place I got NAP TIME (21D: When the kids are out - great clue), and between those two answers, I managed to polish off the NE and center of the puzzle in fairly short order. But had to struggle in every quadrant but the NE.

With -ATORIUMS in place at 33A: Rest stops? I filled in MORATORIUMS. Would not give it up until YOW at 42A: "That hurts!" provided a "Y" that meant 33D: Source of lecithin had to be SOY BEAN, which meant MORATORIUMS was wrong and had to start with an "S." Further problem: I though the word in question was SANITARIUMS, which, it turns out, is an alternate spelling of the correct answer: SANATORIUMS, which looks wronger and wronger the more I look at it. But eventually I gave in to SANATORIUMS, and the SW went down from there.

Notable answers in the SW:

  • 35D: Part of the Tribune Company (Newsday) - pairs nicely with another publication, THE NATION (14A: Weekly since 1865), in the NW
  • 49A: Not broadside (end on) - I know HEAD ON, but not END ON ...
  • 52A: Jaguar maker (Atari) - !?!?!? It's a video game?
  • 54A: Band active from 1995 to 2002 (N*SYNC) - had TONIC here for a few seconds ... no, of course you don't know who TONIC is. It's a stupid answer.
  • 47D: It's hard to walk on (corn) - wouldn't know. I have a bunion, I think, but no CORNs.
  • 46A: One use for anise (biscotto) - the rarely seen singular form of this word. Nice.

Here's what the grid looked like after the SW was completed (I decided today I wanted to freeze-frame the solving experience at about midpoint):


In the SE, the long Acrosses were fairly easy to get, but that upper part of the quadrant was on the verge of remaining vacant until I saw the life preserver that was 36A: Dobby or Winky, in Harry Potter. I performed the voice of Dobby only last night while reading to Sahra, so I'm well aware that Dobby is a House ELF. That answer, mercifully, gave me the first letter to all the long Downs in the SE. The best of those was 38D: Kind of crystals (Folgers), followed closely by the cleverly clued EL NINOS (36D: Current events around Christmas). The "Hamlet" clue / answer is weird; you never refer to scene numbers without also referring to act numbers. You would say Act I, Scene iv, not just SCENE FOUR (53A: When Hamlet first sees a ghost). Besides ELF, my other 3-letter gimme down here was 51D: "The Partridge Family" actress (Dey). Had no clue about the Rialto Bridge, so CANAL took a while (45A: Rialto Bridge sight).

In the NW, with the final "-PY" in place, I finally got 1A: Mad magazine feature (Spy Vs. Spy), which gave me the first letters of all the Downs up there - highly important, given the craziness of the puzzle's first three Downs:

  • 1D: Figure in many jokes (St. Peter) - was looking for PRIEST or RABBI. I don't like jokes and thus don't know many.
  • 2D: Troop group (phalanx) - this took me forever. On further review, I proclaim PHALANX to be one of the very weirdest-looking words in the English language.
  • 3D: Arabs who are not in OPEC (Yemenis) - usually it's the country, not the people, who are in (or out of) OPEC.

My favorite answer up here is PAMELA SUE, the throwback answer that nobody sees coming when they look at a simple-looking clue like 17A: Martin of Hollywood. She played Nancy Drew before going on to play the improbably named Fallon Carrington Colby on "Dynasty." ENIS (25A: 1990s N.F.L. running back Curtis _____) was unknown to me - far more unknown than his NFL counterpart answer in the NE - CBS SPORTS (9D: Home of "The NFL Today").

Other noteworthy clues:

  • 9A: Spherical bacteria (cocci) - here's a non sequitur: I had a T.B. test yesterday (needed for volunteer work I'm doing). Result appears to be negative (no big lump in my arm at injection site).
  • 18A: Quaint contraction (shan't) - My mom is the only person I know who would use this contraction unironically.
  • 26A: _____ Paradise of Kerouac's "On the Road" (Sal) - something else I've never read.
  • 41A: "Pinocchio" character voiced by Mel Blanc (Cleo) - I always forget this fish's name.
  • 10D: Bishop Museum setting (Oahu) - randomest clue! What non-Hawaiian is going to know that?
  • 13D: Cantillates (intones) - well there's a new word for me ... "Cantillates," I mean, not INTONES.
  • 11D: Small sunfish (crappie) - not an appetizing name.
  • 44D: Rounds: Abbr. (rtes) - I don't get it. How are rounds "routes?"
  • 15D: 1995 political book subtitled "Leader of the Second American Revolution" ("Newt") - I can't actually believe a book that pompous-sounding ever saw the light of day.

Finally, a big thank you to Mark Diehl or Will - whoever was responsible for cluing LEE as 28D: The General _____, "The Dukes of Hazzard" auto. Along with PAMELA SUE Martin, and the immortal "SIT ON IT" (26D: "Happy Days" catchphrase), the General LEE formed a kind of trinity of Rex's Early TV-Viewing History.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Happy Birthday to my daughter, now 7.

42 comments:

Rockonchris 6:59 AM  

I got Spy Vs Spy right off the bat which made me laugh. It helped in the NW, but I still struggled throughout the puzzle. By Friday I'm Googling for answers. Even with that I couldn't finish today. The SE just wouldn't come together for me. Oh well, fun anyway. Rock on.

Ted F. 7:32 AM  

The NW came together quickly once I figured SPYVSSPY from PIS, but I had ABSINTHE for 46A and BERM for 48D, which destroyed my ability to finish the thing. (Worse, I had LICORICE for 46A and CHICUBS for 35D and OASIS for 54A for quite a bit.) I got LOINCUT for 37D early from 36A's ELF, but that mistakenly convinced me that 50A must end in PICK.

rick 7:50 AM  

I too got SPYVSSPY right off and for some reason STPETER came right into my head. Those two pretty much gave me the NE.

Also I went for LOINCUT instead of LEAN which made the SE difficult.

OWNSUPTO seems to be heading towards crosswordese.

The NE was the hardest part for me, I kept on trying to make ECOLI fit which would lead to ESPNRADIO for 9D.

Scott 9:19 AM  

You'll be relieved to know that CRAPPIE is pronounced "CRAH-pee." Not that this helps much; it still takes dozens of the bony little bastards to make a meal.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Rex... when a person (mailman, security guard, patrolman etc.) makes the "rounds", they generally follow a "route", no? That's all I can figure. It was one of the last to fall, for me.

My pre-teen must-reading being Mad, spyvsspy came immediately, giving me "platoon" (incorrect) and shooting down "noses" for smelling things. NW stayed stuck with the spies only for a long time.

Only had to google the sprots clues today, which makes it a "no-cheater" in my world of rules :) .

I loved the Mel Blanc clue for some reason. I almost would have guessed he did ALL the voices (he counted over 400 different voices for himself) but I knew Jiminy was done by someone named Cliff (who did a voice in GWTW... ok, too much info.)

Karen 9:38 AM  

SPYVSSSPY looks insane as an eight letter run.

Checking the NEWT book on Amazon (not an autobiography) there are several serious looking tomes, then a cute lizard subtitled 'I can read!'

I thought SATELLITE state was pretty cool and difficult. I had STREP for the longest time in the NE, thrown off by the grape-like descriptions for it.

I agree with the medium Saturday rating.

Rex Parker 9:38 AM  

Yes, I'm sure that "making one's rounds" is the sense in which RTES is being used. Just seems off to me. A little, anyway.

The only answer I wanted for the Mad magazine questions was FOLD-IN or whatever you called those pictures on the last page where if you folded it over in thirds (I'm not explaining it right) you'd create a new, humorous picture. Surely someone knows what I'm talking about.

rp

wendy 10:09 AM  

Man this was a CRAPPIE mess. Major wrong foot in such brilliant answers as:

Flight for CARAFE - much more fun way to drink wine, methinks

LA Times for NEWSDAY - also owned by the Tribune Company

Amaretto for BISCOTTO - never mind that amaretto's flavoring is almond.

In total agreement on the SCENE FOUR weirdness. No one who knows anything about drama would ever say that.

I hate these "so-and-so of Hollywood" clues. Could be a first name, could be a last name. And it's always such a common name that it's a cast of thousands that you must choose from. PAMELA SUE? Oh brother. What a payoff.

An OATER is ... ? Aha. We're talking drive-in movies, not drive-in eateries. Who's seen a western at the drive-in? The time I went to one, in the 80s, I saw Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield. Spent most of that necking with my boyfriend in the back of the pickup (it had a cap on it).

I would have liked it better if the ELF answer had been House Elf. Would have been more elegant.

I did like YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, and was glad to get it.

The appearance of the word "catchphrase" is very intriguing to me. I had never heard this term before in relation to TV shows until I started watching [what I have to recommend to all who love to laugh] Ricky Gervais' series EXTRAS. I see it is in my dictionary.

Jerome 11:10 AM  

I found this puzzle very difficult and, therefore, very satisfying. Initially filled in SPYVSSPY, CENTRALPARK (30A) and LICORICE (46A). And so it went; one step forward, two steps back until done.

Dave 11:43 AM  

Rex-

I too had trouble with 44D, until it occured to me than "rtes" might also be short for "routines," although I'm not sure if this is what was intended.

Tadpod 11:49 AM  

Jaguar maker...the most surprising thing, other than it being a video game, was finding out Ford now makes them...or did I read that wrong. Loved the puzzle, it was great fun.

jae 11:50 AM  

SPYVSSPY was the first thing I filled in followed by PIS and PLATOON. So, this one, while doable, had its share of erasures. I also had AMARETTO, LOINCUT, MORATORIUMS, and tried to fit in COMATOS(S)E for CATATONIC. (Dyslexia allows you to be creative with spelling.) Fortunately, NEWT, SAL, NAPTIME, VNECKS, DEY, SITONIT, LEE, DARING, CARAFE, DUNE, OWNSUPTO, and SAM (of Sam and Dave) were all gimmies, so medium is probably a good call (maybe medium +). Had the same problems with RTES and Jaguar as Rex.

BTW am I imagining patterns or is something going on here. Last week we had back to back ORATORIOS (one singular and the other plural) and this week it's the same thing with INTONES?

Doug 11:57 AM  

Goodness, on Saturdays I rarely get out of my Garanimal PJ's and just leave the puzzle to the older kids, but I actually got half of the puzzle. Got SPYVSSPY right away as I read it 35 years ago as a youngster and then last week as a parent of teen boys that think it's a hip riot.

Are there any oilers starting with Y that are not YEMENIS and sweaters that aren't VNECKS? The NE fell, but needed to Wiki INTONES and OAHU. Got CRAPPIE though, as you can't grow up in Wisconsin and not know this. Speaking of Wisc., ONTAP fell fast and 50-year anniversary of On The Road has been in the podcasts recently. I listened to an hour of Kerouac on NPR/Tom Ashbrook while running a few weeks ago so was well prepped.

Was glad to remember DEY not DAY. Had IKE not SAM, and THECUBS then WRIGLEY instead of NEWSDAY. I like all the anise drinks and tried to make them fit with no luck: PASTIS/RICARD/OUZO/SAMBUCA/ANISETTE/ANISETTO.

Jaguar and ATARI? Had ROVER, couldn't make FORD fit in any way. Am watching the DVD of the latest James Bond and the parkour scene at the beginning reinforced YOUONLYLIVEONCE.

RonB 12:14 PM  

I thought 1A, Spy vs Spy, was a gimme and I was able to get 8D, you only live once, of the Y in spy. Had it finished by midnight, a first for a Saturday puzzle.

Alex 12:14 PM  

I think I had the entire NW corner done within a minute of starting the puzzle. SPY VS SPY was immediate and that Y was enough for YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.

With the NW boxed in the rest fell quickly, even though I haven't a clue on Pamela Sue Martin. Momentary hiccup of PLATOON instead of PHALANX but THE NATION straightened me out.

The NE corner was the big problem. I missed reading the clue the first many scans so when I finally did read it the personal gimme of "Bishop Museum setting" (I used to live on Oahu so the Bishop Estate is very familiar) finally fixed my erroneous FOX SPORTS and the H gave me SHANT which narrowed down the possible network alternatives to just CBS. If it has been CHANT instead of SHANT I wouldn't have been able to finish that corner without a random guess between ABC and NBC Sports.

Forgot the rules of cluing so with the appropriately placed Y entered NEW YORK CITY as the primary location of the New York Marathon.

The Jaguar/Atari pairing was pretty mean. Even among my circle of pretty intense gamers I didn't know anybody who owned of those short-lived consoles. So I was stuck trying to figure out how to expand FORD to five letters or if there was a specialized term for feline semen/ova or something.

wendy 12:18 PM  

Oh btw Rex, according to (who else) wikipedia there is a band called Tonic, self described as "post-grunge" and based in LA. Who knew.

Blue 12:32 PM  

I also wanted FOLDIN for 1A.
I have to agree that "Leader of the Second American Revolution" is an incredibly pompous title for a book, but no more pompous than Newt himself.
BTW, my newsreader picked up an "I Hate Blogger" post by you but when I clicked on it the page was missing. Did you take it down? Do you no longer hate Blogger? Do tell.

hobbyist 12:35 PM  

Very hard but got it with aformentioned traps and pitfalls but how are eye tests providers of peer review?

Rex Parker 12:41 PM  

Well, you "peer" with your eyes, so (and I know it's a stretch) EYE TESTS "review" how you "peer."

rp

PS I still hate Blogger, but it's too long and boring a story to go into...

Michael 1:12 PM  

somebody explain 7-Down--Dicks (PIS) to me? My head must clearly be stuck in the gutter....

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

PIS = Private Investigators

Hobbyist 1:32 PM  

Peer review. Thanks. Very clever.
I had tryptich instead of Spy vs. Spy. Was thinking of those fold ups as well.

Orange 2:00 PM  

BTW, the Cubs will be sold after this season, so the Tribune Co. will no longer be a player outside journalism.

jae 2:03 PM  

Did anyone else expect some sort of abbreviation for 16a BARON?

judgesully 3:15 PM  

One of my fondest memories (at my age you don't have that many you can remember) was standing next to Newt at a urinal at O'Hare Airport. Imagine---if I ever get to pee next to Thomas Jefferson, I'll have both of the great American revolutionaries covered!

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Thanks Rex.

wendy 3:55 PM  

Judge Sully's memory MAY be the most disturbing image that's ever appeared in this blog. If that doesn't inspire Green Mantis in the surreal hallucinations department, I don't know what will!

Michael 4:47 PM  

I'm an non-Hawaiian who knows where the Bishop Museum is.

I got all of this fairly easily except for the SE corner, which stumped me except for el ninos and elf and dune. I should have gotten endurance, which would have cracked the corner.

scene four and rtes strike me as very difficult clues. peer tests was hard, but fair.

kgee 4:49 PM  

jae,
I agree with you--the "Financial V.I.P." clue implies an abbreviated answer. Also, the FOLGERS (38 A Kind of crystals)felt a little cheaty to me.And what about "Old drive-in fare"? I thought they were looking for a kind of snack food, but who eats OATIES (generic Cheerios)at the movies? All in all a good puzzle requiring a bit of DARING and a ton of ENDURANCE.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

Phew! Spent the first half of the day finishing Friday's puzzle and spent the rest of it on this one. (look mom, no googling!)Had everything from ARAPPIE TO ZRAPPIE before finally pulling CRAPPIE out of my PHALANX. Good, quirky puzzle today, though

green mantis 5:38 PM  

I'm not touching that one, Wendy. Creepola. In an attempt to burn the image of Newt's newt forever from my brain, however, let's try this:

Two rat-faced little spies run willy-nilly through the city streets when they collapse in a biscotti-induced paranoid fit, at which point they hallucinate St. Peter telling them to vote Republican in the next election and are shipped off to the sanitorium post haste.

DS 5:43 PM  

One of the pleasures in doing a crossword is remembering words you didn't even know you knew. That happened with "Cantillates" leading to INTONES.

Another pleasure is some of the unique clues and answers - for example, I agree with Rex about the Chrismas time events and EL NINO.

I often end up using Google etc. at the end of the week, and rather than worry about whether or not this is "cheating," I enjoy the searches, because they enlarge my knowledge of the world. In fact, between puzzles that I can answer completely off the top of my head and those that take more work, I will take the harder ones every time.

DS

mac 6:31 PM  

As a person who grew up on the
North Sea, dune was a gimme.
J erome, you have the right attitude. The longer it takes to solve the puzzle, the better! These cwp's bring home to me how many books I still want and need to read, and I read a lot as it is.
Enjoyed this one!
Mac

campesite 7:04 PM  

Loved the long answer down, I'm sure the crossword stallwart, Evel Knievel muttered the phrase a few times. Spy Vs Spy was one of my favorite Mad features, along with the fold-ins and marginal art.
An enjoyable puzzle.

Orange 7:45 PM  

jae and kgee, the exception to the rule about "an abbreviation in a clue signals an abbreviated answer" is when the abbreviation in the clue is something that's usually used in its abbreviated form. We say "V.I.P." far more than "very important person," so there the abbreviated word is just a word, and not a signal about the clue.

rick 10:42 PM  

Someone must be reading this blog. We have had the most appealing NYTCWs in a long time.

jae 11:26 PM  

Thanks Orange!

Badir 12:25 PM  

I spent a long time, but eventually got everything but the NW without googling (except I had EWE TEST (!?) for 55A and LOIN CUT for 37D). Even though I used to read _Mad_ as a kid, I kept wanting the FOLD-IN. In desperation, I entered THIS GUY for 1D! Neven heard of PAMELA SUE or Curtis ENIS. And I wanted ANGORA for 4D.

kgee 2:27 PM  

orange,
Thanks for clearing that V.I.P. thing up. I just think there are better ways to clue BARON. How about "Snoopy's nemesis, in black and white?" or "Borat star's middle name". Huh?

Six Weeks Later 1:09 PM  

Finished my first Saturday puzzle ever today! SPYVSSPY and YOUONLYLIVEONCE were gimmes for me and off I went. WOOHOO!

WWPierre 2:56 PM  

Today's puzzle was a two cupper. I looked up "cantillates" in the dictionary, and checked Google after I had filled in PAMELA SUE.

Otherwise, read jae's comments for a more thorough description of my solving experience. Yes, jae, I was expecting an abbreviation for BARON as well.

I agree with kgee that the clue for FOLGERS should have referred to it's commercial origin.

Jae, if you ever come out to the Wet Coast, look me up. Enter 37700 Second Avenue, Squamish B.C. in Google earth. There are a couple of air photos of my little empire.

jpChris 1:05 PM  

Is it just me showing my age when I remember that 23D (Old drive-in fare) was a "toddy"?

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