SATURDAY, Apr. 5, 2008 - Rich Norris (ANCIENT DENIZEN ALONG THE CASPIAN)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Meeting up in Ithaca in a few hours, so this will be somewhat brief.

I tore through this puzzle at first - the NE corner may be the fastest Saturday corner I've ever experienced - and then I hit snags in about three different places, but none of them lasted very long. I ended up with a stupid error - and this is why you should read All the clues, Across and Down, especially on a Saturday: I was wondering (briefly) why SMILES was plural when the clue indicated a singular: 1D: Joke indicator. I had SDS at 26A and never even looked at the clue for 26A: Meas. of progress, at times because SDS is a perfectly good xword answer, e.g. [Radical '60s student group]. And so ... puzzle incorrect. I discovered the error pretty easily, thank god. Answers are SMILEY and YDS.

This puzzle began with me surmising that perhaps THE GAME was the answer to 36A: Singer whose 2002 song "Foolish" was #1 for 10 weeks (Ashanti). But the first Down cross I checked was the surprisingly easy 37D: Saves, e.g. (stat), and that single "S" jogged my 21st century music memory enough for me to recall (with no great joy) the name of ASHANTI. Back to STAT for a second: this puzzle seemed loaded with easy and (crosswordeasy) answers:

  • ARIA - 16A: Da capo _____ (Baroque piece)
  • OCALA - 54A: Central Florida Community College site
  • OTOE - 50A: Nebraska City's county
  • YIP - 47A: Pound sound

I was going to add SDS, but, well, you know. All the Acrosses (and the one short Down) in the SW corner are very basic 4-letter words:

  • DANE - 60A: Rosencrantz or Gildenstern
  • MATE - 55A: The other shoe, e.g.
  • ACID - 58A: Mordant
  • MEDE - 52D: Ancient denizen along the Caspian [It Returns!]

SCUM (51A: Cleaning target) was at least colorful and interesting. Anyway, I'm surprised at how much this puzzle relied on simple small answers. PDAS, GPAS, ELLS, etc.

After ASHANTI, the NE simply fell. That terminal "I" in ASHANTI made WATER SKI (14D: It's hard to do barefoot) a total gimme, and the corner fell from there. From there I floated down into the SE, with no hesitation until I reached the very far end of that corner. I had SEP where SPR was supposed to go (44A: When Arbor Day is observed: Abbr.), and while that may seem a small error, when your Down crosses are the absurd-looking POLLEE (45D: Question answerer) and READDS (46D: Checks, as checks), those two wrong letters make a huge difference. Because of the unexpected letter combos in those two answers, I assumed one of my long Acrosses was wrong. So I flailed for a little bit before the simplest of moves (changing SEP to SPR) fixed everything.

The next major snag - which was driving me crazy - was 27D: The Blue Demons of the N.C.A.A.'s Big East. I thought "Yes, gimme!" And then ... couldn't think of a school. Duke is the Blue Devils. Wake Forest is the Demon Deacons. I thought "... Drexel?" I had the final "L" and could think of nothing. This was humiliating to me, as I watch a lot of ESPN and have known the names of the major conference teams in NCAA basketball for well over a quarter century. Unh. Eventually I got the "D" and then the "P" from STRAP IN (33A: Get ready to take off) and there was DEPAUL. SW went down from there, and quickly. Actually, I told this story in the wrong order. I wrestled with the NW first, and then ended in the SW.

The NW (closer to the N, actually) was by far the roughest part of the puzzle for me, primarily because of parallel long science/math answers: TRIVALENT (7D: Like some chromium and arsenic) and RADIXES (8D: Base numbers, in math), the latter of which is horribly grating to me, as it looks like terrible Latin - I would have pluralized RADIX (root) as RADICES. But that's just me. Got the "X" only because I bothered to change THE LAW to TAX LAW (23A: Certain code). And I was done.

Quickly:

  • 17A: Band with the 1982 platinum album "The Number of the Beast" (Iron Maiden) - this was Killing me,a s 1982 is Right Over the Plate for me. I had no idea IRON MAIDEN ever had a platinum album. Wow.
  • 28A: River past the ruins of Nineveh (Tigris) - didn't know this, but had the -GR-, so what else was it going to be?
  • 30A: Martin Luther's crime (heresy) - plus defacement of Church property, I think.
  • 38A: Runway topper (tiara) - I associate "runway" more with models than pageant contestants, but I haven't watched a beauty pageant since 1979, so what do I know?
  • 39A: Cakes often made with ground nuts (torte) - good example of how this puzzle went: I braced myself for something esoteric and got something basic.
  • 56A: Bean product? (brain child) - the only Across in the SE that gave me any trouble. I had BRAIN and wanted BRAIN ... CHART?
  • 59A: 10th-century exile from Iceland (Eric the Red) - great long answer. Super easy, since I already had ERI-.
  • 61A: Upsetting types (dark horses) - another great answer. Dark Horse is also a publisher of (usually) high quality comics.
  • 2D: Bygone New York daily, with "the" (Herald) - wanted WORLD, but it didn't fit.
  • 5D: Rolaids alternative (Tums) - again, super super easy. Nearly every English-speaking person in America should have been able to get this instantly.
  • 6D: "An' singin there, an' dancin here, / Wi' great and _____": Burns ("sma") - ironically, not a very SMA clue.
  • 9D: Experiencing drunkenness (areel) - I like that the xword has so many different ways to refer to drunks and their various sensations (SOTS, TOSSPOTS, LIT, DTS, etc.)
  • 23D: Inner tubes, e.g. (tori) - thank you, Mr. Nestler (best friend, mathematician)
  • 30D: "Pal Joey" lyricist (Hart) - I wanted O'HARA, who wrote the story.
  • 34D: Two-part lake connected by the Strait of Tiquina (Titicaca) - again, piece o' cake, once you get a cross or two (if not sooner).
  • 35D: 1996 Emmy-winning role for Alan Rickman (Rasputin) - had no idea, but crosses made it obvious.

Gotta run.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

78 comments:

wade 8:50 AM  

Iron freakin' Maiden. Iron freakin' Maiden. How could I not get Iron freakin' Maiden?

I blew this puzzle big time. All I got on the first pass was ODOULS, HERESY and (unconfidently, since it's a mountain lake and I wouldn't think of a strait as being inland) TITICACA. Forty minutes in I had most of the bottom half (except for four or five squares that I couldn't make sense of, thanks to the incorrect SEP and the ricidulous looking READDS.)

Got a few more in the NW after that, but no IRONMAIDEN, and nothing else broke. I gave up at an hour and went on a Googlefest, and we all know that when you Google a crossword whose key answer you should know, baby Jesus cries. First up for googling was Iron freaking Maiden, who I didn't listen to because I was afraid it would make me do dope. I listened to Willie Nelson instead. Irony there. My soul died a little with that first google and I just went ape%$!t. Got ASHANTI, DOLE, LAR, ARIA all through Googling. Got TIGRIS (where DANUBE was for a long time) through Googling. When I give up, I give up big.

And didn't Arbor Day used to be in August anyway? When did they move Arbor Day? It was all August had going for it and they took it away?

curler 8:50 AM  

I had a great time in the lower half of the puzzle, then slowed down for a lot of the top half, despite about half of the gimmes Rex mentioned.
Favorite clue was not a good drawing; I kept trying to fit sketch or doodle in there.
I've never heard of DePaul, and didn't know Secy Dole; I tried calling him LOLA for a while.
TITICACA is a wonderful sounding name.
I've been to OCHO Rios, and climbed up the waterfall there--not as impressive as it sounds, but a neat idea.

jannieb 8:57 AM  

Morning all! This was fun if not as challenging as Thur and Fri. I nailed the NW first so I knew I was going to finish. Odouls, Tums and areel went right in. That gave me what I needed for the long crosses and I was feeling good. Tried mown and nape in the NE, then drew a blank. Headed south and just had a great time in the SE. The long crosses were clever and the odd combinations on the coast looked weird but were easy fills with a little thought. Last for me was the NE - fixed mown, then put spunk back in and it fell. When Saturday takes less than 30 min. I'm in a real good mood!

jannieb 8:58 AM  

PS - Wade, I don't think Arbor Day was ever assigned a specific date or month. I've seen it on calendars in the fall, the spring, whenever. Until Hallmark starts selling cards for it, I guess it can be most any time!!!

imsdave 9:06 AM  

I had a lot of trouble getting traction in the NW. Then the NE. Finally got it going in the SE with YARDSTICK and TERRA giving me all three of the long accrosses. Wrapped around back to the NW, with an embarassing stumble on DEPAUL (I'm a big UConn fan). Stalled again, cleaned up the NE and finally remembered the NY Herald. Medium/challenging for me, but then again, I'm no Rex.

Orange 9:09 AM  

Curler: Secretary Dole wasn't a him—Elizabeth Dole.

Rex, you couldn't remember DEPAUL despite being an NCAA basketball fan? I couldn't remember it despite my dad's two favorite teams being the Chicago Bears and the Blue Demons, from his alma mater; despite driving through the DePaul campus every couple of months.

Orange 9:15 AM  

While national Arbor Day is in late April, each state has its own Arbor Day, and not always in spring. Hawaii, South Carolina, and Florida cover Nov., Dec., and Jan., with some other Southern states in Feb. Maine, North Dakota, and Vermont are so godforsakenly far north, they wait 'til May. (Dates are based on the best tree-planting times.)

wade 9:24 AM  

Thanks for the Arbor Day info, Orange. No idea where I got it in my head that it was in August (we don't really observe it in Texas, hating trees like we do). I remember having some sort of Peanuts-themed thing about Arbor Day when I was a kid--a poster or coloring book or something--and that's all I heard about Arbor Day for a long time. Somewhere back there a teacher or somebody pointed out to me that every month has a "holiday" in it and that August's was Arbor Day. Teachers lie.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

I did not find this puzzle easy at all. I thought this was "f*** you" puzzle: I'm going to show you how smart I am and how dumb you are. This had too much c*** I'd never heard of. Even for a Saturday, this one annoyed me. Obviously.

billnutt 9:39 AM  

Part of me is a little ashamed to not recall IRONMAIDEN right way - but another part of me is quite glad, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

Initially had ARF for YIP, which made the SW mondo difficult. Even though I had HART from the git-go, it took forever to get TIARA.

I assumed Arbor Day started in APR, so I was wondering what was up with ATAIRS as riser.

All in all, a fun Saturday puzzle - which isn't the oxymoron that it could be.

bill from fl 10:08 AM  

I stared at this one for long enough to get that sinking feeling that I would never get a foothold. The big break was HERESY, which gave me YARDSTICK, and then the whole SE. (Oddly, I didn't know that CFCC is in Ocala, even though I live about 30 miles from there.) From the SE, I went counterclockwise. I thought the "Burns overnight?" referred to Robert Burns, so that one took me a while.

I was glad to see TITICACA, because my running partner was just telling me about visiting the amazing floating islands on that lake.

johnson 10:13 AM  

Finished at the one hour mark...very happy, then came here.

STRAPON for STRAPIN...oh well.

Liked the clue "fountain requests" was looking for floats, sodas, frappes...didn't come to WISHES for a while.

Hard to get waterski while I had the misspelling "Ashante"

I found this puzzle to be medium/challenging but fun and worth the effort in the end.

Thanks RN, and thanks always Rex.

Ulrich 10:14 AM  

Difficult for me, too. Solved it clockwise starting in the NW with increasing difficulties that culminated in the SW, spilling into the center (after I finally parsed "readds")--too much special knowledge required or too many options (Dane, role, part?) for other answers there. Had to google twice (Dole, for which I kicked myself, and DePaul) and then everything fell like dominoes, directly or through crosses. Basically, what I have come to expect from a Saturday.

Joaneee 10:14 AM  

I BS'ed my way through this puzzle - Titicaca? good crossword lake; Iron Maiden - why not? Radixes and trivalent - sounds scientific; Ocala, Tigris... etc. etc. All the BS turned out to fit. Got Waterski last because there are quite a lot of things that are hard to do barefoot. First thought was "wear shoes".

John Reid 10:34 AM  

To add to the Arbor Day discussion - I wasn't at all happy when I finished the bottom right corner with my SPR answer and was thinking it must be wrong. After all, who's ever heard of September being abbriviated as SPR? It wasn't until I read Rex's blog that I realized it wasn't SePtembeR at all... of course it was SPRing! :) Duh.

I got IRONMAIDEN very early on, luckily. I think I had the M from TUMS and anchored it on that. One of my roommates in the early 90s had some of their stuff. I was never a huge fan, but always thought their album art was cool! Bruce Dickinson sure had a hell of a voice too.

Liked this puzzle a lot. I don't know what the general consensus will be regarding the difficulty, but I found this one quite a bit easier that yesterday's offering by David Quarfoot. Easier even than the Thursday rebus now that I think about it! Took me about 21 minutes of puzzling goodness to crack it.

ArtLvr 10:36 AM  

I had "toe dance" first for a thing hard to do barefoot, but it didn't fit with TIGRIS.... And thought "brainstorm" for BRAINCHILD a short while. Lots of unknown stuff: ASHANTI?

I did much googling to finish. Liked the SHORT STRAW and DARK HORSES and RINDS clues, but why not "a medieval torture device" for IRON MAIDEN? Too pop-pish, not so much fun... Different YARRDSTICKs for different folks.

∑;(

Bill from NJ 10:41 AM  

Curiously enough, I started in the Midlands with HERESY SPUNK ASHANTI.
I got TIARA and STAT for no good reason. This broke the puzzle in half and the NE and SW fell for me relatively quickly - about 20 minutes.

The SE fell through crosses which left the vast expanse of the NE.

I whittled away at it with ODOULS TUMS AREEL which broke open IRONMAIDEN and I pieced together TRIVALENT and the puzzle fell.

Altogether an enjoyable Saturday experience in about 45 minutes.

SethG 10:41 AM  

Lots of the same issues others had. Also kinda ashamed and proud to not get IRONMAIDEN right away. (There was a guy at the coffee shop yesterday wearing a Def Leppard jacket, but I didn't put that in either.) DEPAUL just joined the Big East in 2005 (only 15 years after I stopped following Big East basketball), so I don't feel too bad about waiting on that. My immediate thought for Rosencrantz/Guildenstern was DEAD, but I wrote in DANE anyway.

I had the bottom and most of the NW done after about 15 minutes, and absolutely nothing in the NE. Took me almost 10 minutes to finish that, then another 5 or so to get 1A. I made a tense error like your SMILES with my WINDS, and couldn't parse at all even though I was thinking "draw" in the correct sense. (Trying to work with TALMUD didn't help...)

My last answer was RADIXES. RADIXES? I'm about as mathy as a non-mathematician can get (I read Mr. Nestler long before I read Mr. Parker), and I've never heard of a RADIX. Ever.

jls 10:53 AM  

*last* to go for me was the ne which, once i got a told-hold, simply dropped. but gettin' that toe-hold was a *serious* struggle.

still -- all's well that ends well!

;-)

janie

Frances 11:09 AM  

The Tennessee area gave me trouble, and still does, even after seeing the answers. Being technologically a bit retarded, I never even considered PDAs for Modern Info Holders. I remained stuck on PDFS, which I do use, but that gave me (the obviously incorrect) STFT for 37D. However, when 43A becomes PDAS, the answer to 37D becomes STAT. Since the clue ("saves,eg") is either a verb in the third-person-singular present tense or a plural noun, STAT as any noun or verb form seems incorrect to me. Can someone enlighten me?

jannieb 11:12 AM  

Saves in baseball refers to relief pitchers protecting a winning game - it is yet another statistic they keep track of. It's also used in hockey to rank goalees by how many pucks they keep from scoring.

Judgesully 11:15 AM  

Agree with your "easy-medium" designation, but there were a few slightly strange choices that held me up for a while; viz., Arbor Day observation--I had "apr" as I think it tis in April, but that left "connecting flight" as "atairs?" Also, had "melt" as the answer for "fade" for the longest time, leaving me with "samn" in the NE. In the SW, I wanted "burns overnight" to be "stays lit," but that led to all kinds of mischief until I decided that R&G had to be related to the "melancholy Dane." Nice Saturday puzzle which left me feeling quasi-omnipotent for the second week in a row---a record!

Ulrich 11:16 AM  

@frances: Saves (plural noun) is a stat(istic) collected for goalies in various team sports featuring goalies, like hockey or soccer.

This reminds me of a great graffito I once read in a men's room: "Jesus saves", to which someone had added: "And Gretzky scores on the rebound".

Judgesully 11:19 AM  

It is interesting as I read these entries that Midwesterners seem to know a lot more about life back East than vice-versa.

Leon 11:25 AM  

OTOE OCALA OCHO OCHER -- OUCH !

I thought the puzzle was WELL DONE and not MEDIUM RARE.

Thanks to DQ's onelook.com tip yesterday I found that there are only 44 words that begin with OCH. The best being OCHLOPHOBIA - fear of crowds.

arnie 11:35 AM  

Arbor day originated in Nebraska City (Otoe county)... Clever!

John Reid 12:02 PM  

For those of you who enjoy tough weekend puzzles, you will probably find today's Newsday puzzle fun. It is by Anna Stiga and is quite challenging!

Another recent one that deserves a mention is yesterday's NY Sun puzzle. If you are anything like me, when you open the puzzle in Across Lite and first see the grid your jaw will drop; it looks like a crazy white pinwheel - almost no black squares. Your next thought will be 'This can't be serious'... [Incidentally, I noticed that there is no name given in the byline for this one - perhaps nobody was willing to own up to it?] At any rate, I found it to be quite amusing and a lot of fun, and hope you concur.

Have fun!

Doug 12:13 PM  

The whole week, starting with Wed, just kicked my cold, clueless, Canadian ass. I hope Sunday's gives me some pleasure!

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

The NE defeated me. "ASHANTI" means nothing to me even now. I had to google "LAR" Lubovitch and Da capo "ARIA" to break it open, and even then "WATERSKI" eluded me for some time. (I wanted "TAPDANCE" at first.) The other 3 quadrants were no picnic, either, but at least I didn't have to cheat -- only spend an inordinate amount of time staring blankly at the clues.

I, too, have never heard of a RADIX, and chose the X only because of "TAXLAW," where the "W" finally gave me "WISHES" after I exhausted every kind of "MALT," "SHAKE," etc. I could think of.

I fell into the "ATAIRS" traps with several other posters and never figured it out. And I had "ODOUAS," since "ODOULS" means equally little to me, and had convinced myself that an "ELA" was some kind of Latin for "wing."

I filled in "TORI" with crosses and didn't even snap until I got here to the meaning of "plural torus." I was stuck on the concept of an anatomical internal tube of some kind.

Can't BELIEVE I had a hard time with "HART," the ur-lyricist.

ronathan 1:04 PM  

Got stuck in the SW b/c I had FATE for 55A (The other shoe, e.g.). I was thinking along the lines of "when the other shoe drops". Thus, I had trouble getting 33D. The fact that I also had DEAD for 60A instead of DANE made that corner a little frustrating.

Also guilty of the ATAIRS trap. So you are all not alone.

I also didn't get 23D (TORI) either, because I also was not thinking about the plural of torus. I actually had TIRE for awhile (inner tube), but that would have led to STRAPEN and DILE, which were obviously wrong.

Overall, a few snags but that bad for a Saturday. I did it as I was waking up on a lazy Saturday morning, while having coffee, so I am not ashamed that it took me about 1.5 hrs.

Cheers,
Ronathan :-)

dbg 1:06 PM  

@john reid--totally agree with comments on Newsday's puzzle. I start every Sat. morning with Newsday's puzzle as my warm-up for the NYT, but more and more find that the Stumper is the harder puzzle.
Have to disagree on yesterday's NY Sun. I found it infuriating and just not fun. I know the answers were supposed to be clever but I just found many of them dopey. But maybe it's just sour grapes as it is one of the rare puzzles that just did me in. Got the bottom third and then just threw in the towel.

Eli Barrieau 1:09 PM  

Couldn't finish the Colorado area, but everything else fell in about fifteen minutes, so I'll count it as a victory.

I know that the second puzzles aren't discussed here, but I would like to congratulate Paula Gamache for a nice diagramless. There aren't enough good diagramless as far as I concerned.

PhillySolver 1:13 PM  

It is clean up day in PhiladelIphia so we have been out picking up all the stuff that blows into our fair state. Mostly it seems to be Democratic campaign materials.

I thought the puzzle was sufficiently hard for a Sataruday and when I finished last night, Jim revealed I had in error in the April/Spring area. I should have checked because STAIRS is a much saner answer, but I KNEW Arbor Day was in April in Nebraska City (a long story).

Now, some chemistry whiz can explain TRIVALENT to me. I had High School Chemistry and thought I knew what valence refers to and I thought Element 33 (Arsenic) has a valence of 5, and Element 24 (Chromium) has a valence of six, so what gives? Bivalent means two or more so, there must be quadvalence and so on up to the elements with a valence of seven.

BTW, I am very happy we do not need to know much Chemistry here because it makes my head swim.

joe 1:18 PM  

As Senor Wences said,

"For you easy, for me difficult."

wade 1:45 PM  

I'm with Senor Wences, who rawks, by the way (unlike Glenn Frey.) Anytime somebody mentions Senor Wences I'm reminded of a very funny (if memory serves) movie from the eighties called "Tin Men," about ultra-competitive aluminum siding salesmen in the 1950s. In once scene the characters are in a diner discussing the best rackets to be in, how to hit it big, and the Danny Devito character gives kudos to the guy who does Senor Wences. "No overhead. Just a hand. That's all the guy needs. Just a hand."

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

Fun, clever puzzle. I appreciated the Nebraska City/Arbor Day nod. But I completely reject the term RADIXES! I was very proud of myself for coming up with RADICES, where I first had "radical" and PAC-law (financial transparency rules for political action committees?) and PORI (I was bit doubtful on this but eventually decided the word sounded anatomical and tubeish....) Win some, lose some. Hey, did anyone else get stuck by the false gimme "etc" for NTH? I had DARK "clouds" until near the bitter end! Maybe Mr. Norris did this on purpose? Like inserting a dead-end trail in a puzzle maze?

Being an avid birder, TITICACA was today's highlight for me (someday I'll get there....), especially just on the heels (spurs?) of the glorious QUETZAL!

Rock Rabbit

jae 1:53 PM  

When I finished this last night I was sure it was wrong. The center and SE were the last to fall and I was unsure of my spellings of RASPUTIN and TITICACA and had never heard of TORI or RADIXES. SE went quickly as did NW once I got SMILEY. NE took a while as OILPAINT and SAWN did not come easily. As it turns out I did have an error in SW with FATE for MATE. STAYSFAD looked wrong but I convinced myself it had something to with fads lasting for a while. While there were a lot of short gimmies this seemed harder to me than yesterday's DQ.

Rikki 2:01 PM  

Saturdays usually do me in, so I have to love Rich Norris for giving me one I could finish without a google (my puzzle yardstick). I followed in Rex's footsteps with the fastest NW ever, though the rest slowed me down to my usual Saturday pace (most of the morning). Read runway topper as runaway topper, so tiara didn't come as quickly as it should have and was vexed by radixes until tax law became evident. Never parsed readd until I got here and still don't know tori, but I'll take it. Loved many of the long answers (shortstraw, brainchild, darkhorses, mediumrare, waterski, etc.).

@Ulrich, loved the Jesus saves, but...

@Billnut...yes I feel the same way about Ironmaiden. Have been listening to Django & Grappelli, the Rosenberg Trio, Bireli Lagrene, and the Hot Club of SF while doing the puzzle and the contrast...well...you know. Have you (this for all) discovered Pandora.com? Great way to listen to music genres.

I was raised in Massachusettes where Arbor Day is the last Friday in Apr, but it was only a short leap from A to S when stairs became the obvious connecting flight.

Now I have to backtrack to Thursday and Friday puzzles to see if I can pull off a perfect week.

Happy Saturday!

jae 2:11 PM  

BTW my rational for FATE was exactly the same as ronathans plus it seemed like a Sat. level clue/answer.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Thanks, John Reid, for figuring out that SPR meant
spring, and not some bizarre abbreviation for September. I was sure I remembered Arbor Day in southern Ohio was in fall (they always sent us home from school with scraggly 18" tall tree sprouts to plant).

Barb in Chicago

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

P.S. to John Reid -- Do you live in Connecticut with my one-time college roommate or are you another John Reid?

Barb in Chicago

chefbea1 3:08 PM  

found today's puzzle very hard. Seemed to take forever. and I still dont understand 23 down why are inner tubes=tori?? Think I'll go make a torte

Rex Parker 3:09 PM  

Yes, I highly recommend the Newsday Saturday Stumper, which is frequently harder than the NYT Saturday. I don't think it's consistently as good, but it is very good practice for those wanting to increase their ability to endure puzzle brutality (particularly of the vague/enigmatic clue variety). Today's clues include [Pro], [Forced], [Couples], [Round], [Flights], [Pliable], [Having], [Quaff] ... some other, more specific and vibrant stuff too, but a lot of "One word ... good luck, buddy." Again, very good practice.

rp

chefbea1 3:23 PM  

how can I get the new york sun puzzle on line? Dont feel like driving to Portchester to buy the paper

John Reid 3:52 PM  

@Barb in Chicago - I live in the suburbs of Buffalo NY, and as far as I know I have no relations in CT. I'm led to believe that I have a pretty common name though. My father grew up in Australia and his father emigrated there from Scotland about the time of the first world war.

@chefbea1 (and anyone else interested in finding other online puzzles) - You can find a link to the NY Sun puzzle on the "Ephraim's Crossword Puzzle Pointers" website, which Rex has conveniently posted a link to on his page. You'll find it over in the right hand column, a few fields down from the top (on my browser today it's more or less directly to the right of the picture of the Joker). Once you get there you will find links to many of the online puzzles that are free to solve each day. [Most of them require you to download the Across Lite program, which is also free.]

I'm sometimes concerned that some of my posts - like this one - are a little off-topic, but we have to spread the crossword love! All good puzzles deserve to be seen and solved!

chefbea1 3:59 PM  

@john Reid - thanks for the info. I downloaded across lite but really dont know what i'm doing. I'll get one of my daughters to help me

ronathan 4:23 PM  

@phillysolver

Chromium is one the transition elements (the long section in the middle of the periodic table). These elements tend to be "large" in that they have heavy nuclei and lots of electrons. As a result of something called orbital hybridization, most of these metals can exist as one, two, or several different states of valency (in a nutshell, the metals can fill their electron orbitals in different ways depending on what they are chemically bonded too, resulting in different "valencies"). Chromium, for example, is sometimes found as a trivalent, quadravalent, or (as you mentioned) hexavalent atom.

Arsenic, being a metalloid, has some of the properties of non-metals like sulfur and carbon, and some of the properties of "regular" metals, including multivalency.

Cheers,
Ronathan :-)

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

Ronathan and JAE, I was right there with you with "FATE" on "the other shoe," and tried "STAYS FED" for a while, thinking it had to do with a fire that is fed logs so it burns all night. That conflicted with "ACID," but I'm still not so happy with that as a synonym for "mordant," anyway. It took me a long time to stumble on "MATE" and "STAYS MAD."

I love "DEAD" for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and might have gotten stuck on it if I hadn't considered "DANE" first.

Chefbea1: a torus is a name for a shape like a doughnut or an inner tube, and tori is the plural.

Jim in Chicago 4:56 PM  

Not only did Arbor Day originate in Nebraska City there is also some connection with Eric the Red. I think we have a mini-theme going here.

Doc John 5:03 PM  

Right after I wrote in ODOULS I thought, "darn it, it could have been Sharp's, too!" Good thing O'Doul's was correct. Hey, I just realized it, my Saturday grid is pristine! In pen! Not bad for the sick guy!

My greatest groan today is that for [20A. Thai relative] I thought of VIET but then dismissed it only to finally come back to it after filling in TRIVALENT.

Fave clue: [Hard to do barefoot]=WATERSKI. This one was a gimme for me but brought back memories of smacking into the water at >30mph. (Back when I was a young, foolish Miamian.)

Overall, a fun puzzle, nicely challenging.

@ puzzlegirl: I didn't comment until late last night so I doubt anyone saw it. I do agree with your assessment of the "accidental" clue.

Finally a couple of fun quotes evoked by today's puzzle:

Sally Brown (or was it Peppermint Patty?) standing before the class: "Arbor Day is when all the ships come sailing into the 'arbor..." I can still see all the animated "HA HA HA"s from the class floating around her head.

Lou Grant to Mary Richards: "You've got SPUNK! I hate spunk!"

Orange 5:14 PM  

Bill from Florida: Which direction from Ocala are you? My in-laws are near Inverness.

John Reid: The Sun's Wacky Weekend Warrior (published on a Friday near April Fools' Day) is always by Trip Payne. If you like the format, try the "Something Different" puzzles at Trip's website.

Michael 5:19 PM  

I zoomed through bottom half of the puzzle and thought this was going to be one of the easiest Saturdays ever, but then was a lot slower in the north. My very last letter was the x in taxlaw/radixes. I was a math major long ago and teach baby statistics, but have never heard the word "radixes." Like others, I kept trying "radices" until the word "tax" entered my groggy mind.

green mantis 5:34 PM  

I'm starting to appreciate the role of growing confidence in my solving experience. Today I pulled the "valent" part for the chromium clue out of a vague recollection of Erin Brockovich, and knew it was right. I think in the past I would have just assumed I was out of my depth, even with a movie reference inkling, and never gotten a foothold.

I also trust my random vibes more: I put "short straw" right into the blank grid, because it felt right. I guess my point is that a little well-placed faith in one's abilities makes a difference.

dk 5:41 PM  

Lucky Alan Rickman he gets to be Rasputin and Severus Snape.

Was stumped by TAXLAW, wanted outlaw, thought RADIXES had a c not an X and to compound my math block (brain chill, perhaps) I did not get TORI.

Moved quickly through the rest via a series of ahas.

Spent a long time on sown (as in wild oats) vs. SAWN.

SPR vs. apr was....

As always love the comments.

andrea carla michaels 5:58 PM  

Stupidly started last night at 1 am, and took me forever as I was determined not to ggogle, damnit! (and I was watching "AMerica's Next Top Model" I had taped earlier in the week, one of my many many many guilty pleasures to offset doing a Saturday NY Times puzzle!)

Finally all came together, but fell down the STAIR/ATAIR like others...and refused to put smiley at first bec I thought a puzzle couldn't have both YDS and YARDSTICK...has anyone else mentioned this?
Also was convinced ASHANTI was ASHFORD of ASHFORD and Simpson
(SOlid as a rock!)whom I just saw in NY in this wildly not-meant-to-be-but-was camp show at the St Regis.

Bill D 6:01 PM  

Like janeee I blasted through this one on BS and crosswordese. Old NY paper? - HERALD it is; TITICACA - clue sounds Spanish-y and it fits, so in it goes; Icelandic guy? - ERIC THE RED, in he goes; Florida city? - OCALA; Nebraska place? OTOE; Flight? = STAIRS; YIP, ODOULS, WENT AT; RE-ADDS - in they go!

I worked the south out first, then plugged through the NW until TAXLAW finally opened up the NNE. Also originally had TOE DANCE for WATERSKI, but finally figured it's difficult to waterski, but impossible to toe dance, barefoot! Wracked my brain to come up with Rob Halford's band (Judas Priest, at last) only to realize it wouldn't fit in IRON MAIDEN's slot. (They went platinum? Really?) At least I'd heard of them, as opposed to ASHANTI...

Good week for me after a two-week layoff. Still can't get Across Lite to accept my correct puzzles - any ideas?

andrea carla michaels 6:14 PM  

all day today I can't stop thinking of all the things that is hard to do barefoot. (COALWALK anyone?) Esp since I had TAPDANCE in that corner for longer than I should have!

fergus 6:22 PM  

One helluva puzzle; my brainchildren got lost somewhere, and took forever to find themselves, among the DARK HORSES, who overcame the SHORT STRAW.

My crime, also, is HERESY, but I'm still contemplating SEDITION.

John Reid 6:37 PM  

@bill d - The Across Lite versions of the NY Times puzzles are 'locked', which means that you have to type in a code number in order to have access to the solutions. That 4 digit code isn't published until the following day, so you won't be able to see the smiling pencil until then!

This is just my understanding of it; someone else may be able to elaborate and/or clarify.

@orange - Thanks for the link to Trip Payne's puzzles. I'm sure I will enjoy them! The NY Sun puzzle yesterday really had me cracking up a few times.

Bill from NJ 7:02 PM  

@green mantis-
Re: trivalent

That is exactly how I approached this answer. Somewhere in my heat oppressed brain there is a vague equivalence between "chemistry" and "valence" which I went with.

Sometimes you just have to go on instinct to see how it all comes out and this is why I like crossword puzzles so much - I just never know how much I know and why.

I'm sorry if this doesn't make much sense.

bill from fl 8:41 PM  

Orange: I'm in Gainesville, due north of Ocala. Inverness is about the same distance from Ocala, but south.

Howard B 8:58 PM  

Late to the game as usual.

For those not familiar with the Newsday Saturday puzzle, they are pretty tough. However, the toughest of even these stumpers are by Stan Newman himself, aka 'Anna Stiga' and 'S.N.'. When you see one of those bylines, you know you're likely in for an extra-rough ride.

mac 9:12 PM  

I'm with Senor Wences.... I didn't have good instincts about trivalent, wanted alae instead of ells, stays lit, fate, brainstorm, etc. and had never heard of Ashanti. Thank goodness my son could help me with Iron Maiden (these are guys!!) and DePaul. I love short straw and dark horses.

@artlover, hope you are still awake, want to recommend two more mystery writers: Sarah Caudwell and Margery Allingham (very, very old).

PuzzleGirl 10:37 PM  

I'm late on today's puzzle because, well, it just took me a long time. I couldn't finish without Googling, but at least I finished WITH Googling (hate it when I can't even do THAT).

@john reid: I thought I was going to hate yesterday's Sun puzzle when I read the Notepad, but I ended up really liking it.

@andrea: Ashford & Simpson? Wow! They must be, like, a hundred years old. Did they do "Get Up and Do Something'"? I love that song.

miriam b 10:50 PM  

DESTIJL and HERESY and TRIVALENT and RADIXES and ERICTHERED and JETE ans LAR and ALLENDE, among others, jumped right out at me, enabling me to get the pop and sports references via crosses, inference, or dumb luck. A good mix of clues covering a wide range of interests. This is what a puzzle shouold be all about.

I have never before seen VIET; assumed that these folks are called Vietnamese. But it fit.

Jamie 10:53 PM  

Not too bad, overall. I had "MANLAW" (you know, like in the beer commercials!) for 23A until the very end.

Joon 11:04 PM  

RADIX isn't a word i knew from studying math. i believe the first time i saw it was in a computer science context. the radix sort is the one where you sort numbers based on each digit (or strings based on each letter) at a time.

i thought this puzzle wasn't that tough for a saturday, but add my name to the list of people who were kicking themselves at needing a bunch of crosses for IRONMAIDEN. i also wanted TAPDANCE (but it never went into the grid because i was 100% sure of TIGRIS). DEPAUL, on the other hand, was a gimme.

some very strange repetition of key words in the grid/clues: YDS/YARDSTICK, ERICTHERED/[A little red]; MEDIUMRARE/[Medium in a tube]. surprising stuff. it didn't bug me but i know it will bug others.

i don't try the newsday saturday stumper every week (i don't have a printer, so i rarely do puzzles that aren't in across lite), but today i did and boy was it tough. i did eventually finish though.

mac 11:17 PM  

Meriam, where did you try to squeeze in jete, Destijl and Allende? I just can't figure this out.

mac 11:18 PM  

Of course I mean Miriam b.

miriam b 11:44 PM  

mac, I am SOOO embarrassed. I did both the Saturday and Sunday puzzles this evening, and of course in some instances I was inadverently making referemce to the Sunday puzzle. Yes, TRIVALENT, LAR, HERESY, RADIXES, AMD ERICTHERED appeared in the Saturday puzzle. As to the other words, I hope you and everyone else will forget that I mentioned them. I am so sorry to have made this gaffe, and I don't wonder that you were confused! I wish I know how to delete that particular message for the good of the blog.

green mantis 12:24 AM  

Yeah that makes perfect sense Bill. There are the "things you only know because of crosswords," as Rex often mentions, and there are the things you know but only know you know when given the chance to know them by crosswords. Heh, it's late.

Bender 1:00 PM  

Had much the same experience as others. 17A was the first clue that fell and was a gimme because I'm a huge metal fan, and Maiden rules! Kept trying to jam Talmud into 23A and kept trying to go with Brainchild for 56A until it became obvious that none of the crosses would fit.
Overall, a fun puzzle and for me more in the medium to difficult range, but again, I'm not Rex.

bender 1:04 PM  

Oops. Meant to say "Brightidea" for 56A. Maybe too much metal.

embien 5:14 PM  

TAPDANCE in the NE (with crosses ARIA and HEAD), then STAYS LIT in the SW (I heat my house with a woodstove, and that's what we hope the stove will do in the winter). Made for a tough solve for me.

As a former math major, it was always RADICES, never RADIXES, in my younger days. I also wanted ORDS (for Ordinals) instead of GPAS (clue was "Ranking nos."). This would have made for a nice symmetry, to have both base numbers and ordinals in the puzzle.

ODOULS was my first answer--a given since I tried to fit it in place of ADAMS ALE in the Friday puzzle.

The TORI are tubes in the inner ear, I believe.

penny 5:58 PM  

Am I the only Canadian who has problems with American geography/sports etc.? I did transplant from the UK 36 years ago, but still get totally stuck on county names, college sports.
Penj

Yancy 6:53 PM  

Tori is a mathematical term and examples are the surface of an inner tube or doughnut.

Bob 4:24 AM  

@Joannie's "wear shoes": When I was in the Peace Corps many moons ago, a Volunteer buddy had a unique approach to community development: he'd throw open the door to his house each morning and yell, so he claimed, "Wear shoes!" Which, of course, most folks in the countryside did not.

@Rikki - Thanks very much for the Pandora Radio tip. I've registered and as a test, I made Alabama 3 - the group that did the wonderful, "Woke up this Morning," intro to the "Sopranos" - my radio station. Pandora took me to a cut from A3's "La Peste," then to Alison Krauss and Union Station, then to Paul Simon, then to Nine Horses, back to A3, etc. An interesting trip. I'll try Django, the greatest jazz guitarist ever, next time.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

38A: Runway topper (tiara)

I was thinking of an airport runway.

asphalt

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