SATURDAY, Aug. 9, 2008 - Mark Diehl (SIBYL'S FORTE / Nation once called Ile de France / CHIROMANCER CLIENT, E.G.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Started out super-easy. TIM ALLEN was a complete gimme, and I had my first five or six answers instantly:

  1. TIM ALLEN (21D: Voice of Buzz Lightyear, in "Toy Story")
  2. NEON (44A: Element of Times Square)
  3. OMANI (45D: Gulf state resident)
  4. NANCE (46D: "Eraserhead" star Jack)
  5. STER (51D: Team follower?), which confirmed
  6. AMAS (50A: Latin 101 verb)

After that, a bit more success ... and then things got rather Saturdayish. I think this puzzle was slightly easier than yesterday's, but not by much. Enjoyability factor, however = somewhat lower today. Why? Well, KNEESIES, for one (14D: Under-the-table action). I see that someone somewhere thinks this is a valid word, but yikes and good god. If the weird word RICK (11A: Heap of hay) hadn't come to me out of the blue, I don't know whether KNEESIES would ever have come to me. Weirdly, I was grateful to have a YOTP*-type answer at 28A: Year in the reign of Macbeth, in Scottish history (MLI), because it gave me the "I" in KNEESIES. KNEESIES (I really want to stop typing that word) is made uglier by its proximity to CONSULTER (13D: Chiromancer client, e.g.), an uglier word than which it would be hard to find. Chiromancer client? How about ANY @#$#$ING CLIENT?

Then there's SCOTCHED (40A: Nixed), the real back-breaker of the puzzle. First, no one uses that word. Second, SCRAPPED and SCUTTLED, both far more in-the-language, both fit into 40A very, very easily. Boo and hiss.

Admittedly, I was slow on the uptake, doing the puzzle (as I was) on the couch in front of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. NBC's coverage was painful, as the announcers couldn't decide / had no feel for what was interesting / relevant / funny. There was some bad banter. There were half-hearted attempts to be timely, politically relevant, objective. Maybe if I'd been looking at the screen more, it would have all made more sense ... or I would have been mesmerized enough not to notice the banality. Anyway, I think I inflicted a higher level of difficulty upon myself just by having the TV on. I had the final four letters of all three long Acrosses in the SE, and could get NONE of them ... or rather, I got one of them, but didn't trust it enough to put it in. The one I got ... was the least obvious: PRESCIENCE (56A: Sibyl's forte). I can't believe I stared at ------RIER and Didn't Get ROSEY GRIER (58A: One of the 1960s Rams' Fearsome Foursome), given that he's the one member of the "Four Horseman" I *do* know. I was thinking "HARRIER... CARRIER?" and the -LANT at the end of 53A: Chocolate source ends up being the embarrassingly obvious COCOA PLANT. I had 80% of the word PLANT in place and was still looking for fancy, long, polysyllabic words. How long do I get to blame jetlag. Did I mention that we also have the puppy back in our house now? Still haven't fully decompressed from the trip. This waking up at 2am to let puppy out is for the birds. That said, she's amazing and sleeps perfectly in her crate and gush gush gush. Puppy!


  • 17A: Setting for a 1979 horror film (Amityville) - big gimme. I was 10 when this came out, and even kids who didn't see the movie knew what "Amityville" was. I should say that I was (and am) totally afraid of horror films - though today's horror films, despite being way way more graphic, are way way less frightening to me than the average late 70s fare, the mere commercials for which could keep me up nights. I still remember Jack Nicholson limping through the snow with the ax ...
  • 22A: Spring's opposite (neap) - well that took forever...
  • 26A: Spot for a rock band's logo (bass drum) - the video I featured yesterday had a logo-covered BASS DRUM, coincidentally
  • 31A: Not touching (separate) - so easy. Yet I was Kwite Sertain about SET APART...
  • 38A: "Luck and Pluck" author (Alger) - as in Horatio; stories of "pluck"-y young lads who make their way in the world through hard work and ingenuity. And "luck," I guess. Never read him.
  • 39A: Military asst. (ADC) - to this puzzle's credit, this is the only answer I actually had to look up when it was all over. Stands for "aide-de-camp."
  • 47A: _____ Hunt, Tom Cruise's character in "Mission: Impossible" films (Ethan) - easy ... once I read the question right (I was trying to think of a co-star: "Helen ...?")
  • 24A: Nation once called Ile de France (Mauritius) - I got this easily despite having no idea what or where it is. Considered MAURITANIA (whatever that is), but it didn't fit.
  • 52A: P. Diddy's first name (Sean) - SEAN "Puffy" Combs. A flat-out gimme. I LOOOOOOVE that this answer doesn't start with a "P"
  • 3D: Like Dolly or her clones (ovine) - It's Saturday: you should have stopped at "Dolly." Too easy.

  • 8D: Parts of some portfolios, informally (no-loads) - I think I first heard this term from Anna Kornikova, in some ad for a financial company, back when she was famous, back before Maria Sharapova made her extinct (the latter being a hot Russian who actually wins tournaments).
  • 25D: Indonesian capital (rupiah) - wow, that's some rough spelling right there. I couldn't decide if this was plural ... I know what RUPEES are, but ... this is where having SCOTCHED would have helped.
  • 30D: Tea drinker of fiction (March Hare) - just popped out at me with a few crosses in place. Definitely an "AHA" moment.
  • 34D: Part of Western Sahara (Rio de Oro) - mother of PEARL this killed me. Well, SCOTCHED killed me. If anything, RIO DE ORO saved me, even though it was a guess, because "O" was the only plausible candidate, in the end, for the space between "I" and "D," considering I was staring at this: RI-DE-R-.
  • 43D: Etoile's element (danse) - only in retrospect did I remember that an "├ętoile" is a star ballerina.
  • 49D: Like cobwebs (lacy) - though I am proud that I guessed this pretty early, it's about the last word I would use to describe cobwebs. Makes them sound purty.
  • 54D: Metal mold, as from a blast furnace (pig) - as in PIG iron, I guess. Now *that's* Saturday-level cluing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld



Joon 12:41 AM  

agreed on easier (for me, almost twice as fast), and agreed on less fun, relative to yesterday. but yesterday was both very hard and very fun. i still liked this puzzle. in fact, i liked both KNEESIES and SCOTCHED. (not so much CONSULTER.) admittedly SCOTCHED was the last word i completed in the grid.

acme 4:19 AM  

Well, I had FOOTSIES and never let go of that so never got consulter, knowing not what a chiromancer is...couldn't even parse it.

Started off rough as TOM HANKS/TIMALLEN have same amount of letters. As do DRUMSKIN/BASSDRUM and CACAO/COCOA. as does MADHATTER/ does DOTDOTDOT/DITDITDIT/DAHDAHDAH.

(I also had TARS for crew members instead of OARS).

It made me feel like I could create a completely different puzzle but with all the same clues!

Shockingly for me as a total non-sportsgal, I got ROSEYGRIER off the -IER not bec of football per se but bec he used to be on game shows in the '70s and knit...
I remember that making a big impression on me as a teenager/budding feminist/gender role-behavior questioner.
Big black football player knitting.
(Clear as day in my mind 30+ years later)

Immediately got Aide-de-Camp but thought you could never actually abbrev that to ADC, could you?
I decided no.

I've often heard the expression plans being scotched, perhaps this is a regional thing? (Minnesotans, pls chime in)

SO, this was a weird puzzle that even when I got the right answers they felt wrong ...

On the positive side, loved the answer FROGPRINCE!

acme 4:24 AM  

May I add one more comment?
Sean John seems like a ridiculous, (or at least redundant) name to me, as Sean is Irish for "John".

Whenever I see the logo "Sean John" I cringe, it seems ignorant somehow.
And don't get me started on Diddy.

imsdave1 5:22 AM  

I had a few small bumps, wanted set apart like Rex, fumbled around with unanimous for inanimate, had adj for adc. For the most part, this was an easy for me, quicker then Thursday. That's disappointing, as I like to sweat it out on Saturday mornings, worrying if I'll make my 7:03 tee time.

Hope you all saw the opening ceremony last night. It was fabulous.

Barry 7:17 AM  

Morning, folks!

Gotta agree that this one was easier than yesterday's puzzle. I did end up having to Google twice, but once was just to confirm my spelling on MAURITIUS and the other was to confirm that RUPIAH was a real word.

I was actually surprised at the number of gimmes there were for me. I knew ETHAN Hunt, SEAN Combs ("P. Diddy's first name), Horatio ALGER, ROSEY GRIER, Jack NANCE, TIM ALLEN, and even ADC, right off the bat (although I removed ADC and put it back a few times). In most cases, the cluing was almost too straightforward.

I originally put CHOCOHOLIC for 1A ("One looking for a kiss") and THUS IT IS for 36A ("Voila!"). I also put CACAO PLANT instead of COCOA PLANT, which messed me up for awhile.

I didn't know RICK or RUPIAH (as mentioned earlier), but was able to get them via the crosses. On the other hand, I was proud to have remembered RIO DE ORO from a previous puzzle, which helped immensely, and I somehow managed to pulled SCOTCHED out of thin air. I'm not sure how I knew what it meant, but it just came to me.

So, overall, a good puzzle. Definitely a bit challenging (especially with words like MAURITIUS and RUPIAH), but a surprising amount of softballs and the cluing was pretty straightforward as well. I'm not sure I'd really call this worthy of a Saturday, and if it weren't for MAURITIUS and RUPIAH (and perhaps RICKS), I'd even say it would make a nice Tuesday or Wednesday effort.

Ah well, I guess we all deserved a break after yesterday's puzzle, eh?

jannieb 8:17 AM  

I had the opposite experience in the NE (last section to fall for me) - figured out kneesies and just dropped in "rick" and prayed. (RICK is today's WTF!!!)

Like Dave, I guessed at ADC, but never have seen it used that way, although given the military, why not?

Loved Frog Prince - best clue/answer in the grid.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

FROG PRINCE was fabulous and that section went quickly. Kept wanting Mad Hatter but knew SEAN was right. KNEESIES was brutal. I think I saw the Olympic team from MAURITIUS walk in last night--one of those teams with only one or two members. Did anyone see the team with the hideous pink and white dresses for the women? They looked like technicolor dalmations from a distance.

PhillySolver 9:48 AM  

Me, I am happier today so I will just say it was a very nice and Saturday appropriate puzzle. I had the footsies/Kneesies misstep, but I do prefer footsies. Off to a busy Saturday and to enjoy the beautiful weather here in Philly today.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

The Latin 101 verb is AMARE (to love). AMAS translates to YOU LOVE. The clue seems a bit off.

Crosscan 9:50 AM  

I did this one in pen (I know, don't start), and my final version is a sight to behold. The NW is neat with no scribbles. The SE has a few corrections. The NE is an illegible mess. Second day in a row I got killed in the NE.

Despite that, I actually enjoyed this one better than yesterday. Some nice answer like FROG PRINCE, DAH DAH DAH, RUG DEALER.
T_M_ _ _ _ _ in Toy Story = Tom Hanks right? Nope, TIM ALLEN.

I loved getting FOOTSIES but that stalled the rest. RICK? Heap of Hay? Come on. Had SAIL for VANE on the A.

Bring on Sunday. I need an easy one.

joho 10:10 AM  

The NE corner brought me to my KNEESIES. That "IES" makes me cringe. It didn't help that I started with "Tom Hanks," wouldn't let go of "stem" which became "vane" and had no clue about Mauritius. Even so, this puzzle was easier than yesterday and, I agree with crosscan, I'm looking forward to a romp in the park on Sunday.

kjones 10:29 AM  

For me this puzzle was significantly more difficult than yesterday's. There were way too many crossing words that were hopeless for me.


I was stuck on the gulf of Mexico for "Gulf state resident", and wouldn't let go of "cacao plant", rather than cocoa, leading to "starchs" (which, I know, isn't a word) for plate appearances and "thrash" for cull (I guess I was thinking thresh, which is no better, really)... both of which went nicely with "scuttled" for "nixed"...

SCOTCHED!? I should have SCOTCHED my attempts at this puzzle an hour earlier than I did.


I guess I'm just happy that I owned the northwest and southwest.

ArtLvr 10:36 AM  

Back to late-night solving, I found it went smoothly with only a few pauses -- with FROG PRINCE my first entry... and yes, the cluing today seemed much clearer than yesterday. GETS A BITE and SHED A TEAR hardly took a thought, luckily, and DAHDAHDAH was amusing.

Tiny pause in the NE as "sail" wasn't quite right for [often winded part], but VANE appeared there fast due to RIVET, then RICK and KNEESIES got me the end of MAURITIUS. I felt that even the shortest fill -- PLY, ADC, CPR and MLI -- were not too crosswordy: three out of four good ones!

Favorite words: SKETCH crossing SCOTCHED, with SMIRK and SHATTER crossing MARCH HARE, and PIG crossing PRESCIENCE. A few more animals besides OVINE, FROG, HARE, PIG BASS (from BASS DRUM), SHAD (in SHADES OF) and ANT (in COCOA PLANT) would have been cute, but INANIMATE quashed my subtheme hunt...


fikink 11:02 AM  

@acme, it MUST be a regional thing cuz I got scotched right off, too. Also played puzzle similarly: Had MAD HATTER and (foolishly, I know) TOM HANKS, too, for a while. There must be something in the Midwest air.


Bill from NJ 11:24 AM  

It is amazing to me that I know so much about Horatio Alger but have never read any of his books. I wonder if it is a function of crossword people that we seem to know a lot about things we know nothing about.

As is my wont on Saturdays, I went "looking for the gimmes" and found several BASSDRUM ETHAN AMITYVILLE ALGER NEON SEAN NANCE STER REVS and made some educated guesses REMAN OVINE TENSE.

I found I had a toehold in both the SE and the NW and started in the SE with OMANI and *****PLANT and PIG and developed ROSEYGRIER from that. I had seen LACY just recently in a puzzle that saved from the CACAO trap and the SE fell.

RUGDEALER seemed to stand out and I got DILUTES from just the U. Saw TIMALLEN at this point (I'm surprised I missed it in my first pass). I filled in RUP when I finally parsed 25D correctly but had no idea what the last letter should be.

I pulled MAURITIUS completely out of the blue but I knew it was right. Probably from some sophomore French history course. This gave me IDIOMS and CULTURED and broke open the NW as FROGPRINCE fell and gave me most of that section, NOLOADS being the last to fall.

By this time I had been working steadily for about 30 minutes. I stared at Southern California and tried to figure out if the the morse code O was DOT or DAH but didn't get any help from the puzzle and I went to bed, turning this into a Two Day Extravaganza for the first time in a while.

Good morning.

I first things I saw were GETSABITE and DANSE which helped me not one damn bit with the Morse code O but SHEDATEAR did and I filled in DAHDAHDAH at last which gave me CHOOSE and what I thought would be CHANCES at 37D but I quickly gave up that idea because of the HC combination at 40A.

I'm not sure why I saw NEAP as Springs Opposite but I thought it might have had something to do with the tides and I thought I would find out when I came here but Rex gave me no help. Anyone? I got PARTISAN out of the deal and that allowed me to stop overthinking "Voila!" and HEREITIS got me the SMIRK/SKETCH cross and I got the fictional tea drinker at last and I was able to finally get the all the West and SW.

That left only the devilish NE left. I stared at a lot of white space for a long time. I took a chance on the YOTP being the early 1500s as that seemed to be the only way the clue could work with 3 letters. Even when I got INANIMATE, I was left with no help for the heap of hay, the under-the -table action or the chiro-whatever. I finally squeezed out INON VANE RIVET and pulled RICK from somewhere and I got KNEESIES, and at long last (WTF!!) CONSULTER.

It took every single letter of CONSULTER to get this clue because, as Rex said, it could have been ANYBODY's client.

To me, this puzzle was not as difficult as yesterdays but it took me twice as long . Gofigure.

evil doug 11:28 AM  

Yesterday took me four hours, today about two. On both occasions I took about an hour break midstream to watch Seinfeld and Leave it to Beaver reruns. When I finally returned to my task and successfully (Friday) or nearly so (today) finished, I felt like my buck and a quarter was money well spent.

I confess to these non-competitive times for only one purpose: To urge those among you who yield too quickly to Google or your spouse for assistance to instead take a siesta and come back for another stab, solo.

Friday's puzzle, in particular, seemed hopeless. I was missing Virginia, Delaware, much of New York and a large chunk of northern Maine, and nothing I did seemed to matter. But after my respite new ideas came to fruition. I admit to taking as many as three days to finish some of the toughest puzzles.

You can always concede later. I sometimes do, too. But more often than not a little break in the action provides as least a little more success.

For the timed talent out there: Are you allowed to pause your stopwatches and take breaks? Or once the meter is running, must you keep it rolling to your conclusion?

Evil Doug
Slow, OH

ps: The picture? Me in a 757. 33,000 feet. LAX to Cincinnati. Just posing. Probably.

Norm 11:30 AM  

Wanted POOLPLAYER for "one looking for a kiss" but had to give on that quickly, since REMAN/OVINE were obvious and quickly gave me AMITYVILLE and FROGPRINCE. Stuck for the longest time in the NE, but the SE fell quickly (RUGDEALER and OMANI gave me all three long answers)and let me recover for a decent time (for me at least). Fun puzzle. Loved DAHDAHDAH and thought "plate appearances" was a great clue for STANCES.

Judgesully 11:41 AM  

Agreed that the puzzle was medium except for the NE....really, what's with kneesies or consulter. Mr. Diehl must have come to that section last and had a plane to catch! Loved stances for plate appearances, but the person who got frog prince right off the bat is out of my league.

foodie 12:21 PM  

Another midwesterner who thinks SCOTCHED was easy and had MAD HATTER, which was helpful in spite of being wrong.

The last letter, which I never filled, was the F in the extreme southwest (SHADESOF and FREE). I just could not make it out. Felt really stupid when I came here. For Etoile, I kept thinking of Place de L'Etoile, and wanted something to do with avenues or streets... And how about SEANCES for plate appearances? Only only letter off, but thinking of SCOTCHED helped that. And IDIOTS are seldom taking literally, no? I did change that quickly as well. In general, the puzzle had the right mix of challenge and reward to feel good for a Saturday.

Rex, re the Olympics broadcast, I thought the little boy who saved two others in the earthquake was the best part. And what struck me as funniest: the cute Chinese kids wearing Greek costumes to sing the Olympics anthem! The guy who lit the torch, that was wild.

How long can you blame time change: At least for a week, probably longer. There is a whole symphony of genes and proteins that need to reset themselves based on light, eating and activity, and do it gradually.

Margaret 12:27 PM  

It's so curious to me how there are times you can be completely on the constructor's wavelength. That's how it was for me on this puzzle. For the first time ever on a Saturday, I was able to start in the NW and work my way through. Normally, my first pass at a Saturday puzzle looks like the South Pacific -- a vast ocean of white boxes with only a few scattered islands of answers filled in.

My first thought for 1A was a fairy tale and when Sleeping Beauty wouldn't fit, FROG PRINCE was the next choice. When I started working the downs, I knew it was right.

Maybe it was a confidence thing, 'cause after that, I was able to just keep moving forward. Only once did I come to a screeching halt. But when I saw -RIER at the end of a football clue (which I had basically skimmed over because there was no way I'd know it), I realized that, indeed, I did know ROSEY GRIER.

I got totally suckered -- yet again -- by the"[Fill-in-the-country] capital" clue. When will I remember that capital = currency??? A fun puzzle for me overall.

Margaret 12:32 PM  

BTW, Rex, I have read that it takes one day per time zone to acclimate -- so you've got a good week or more of justified excuses!

Doug 12:41 PM  

Och, my confident SHEEP instead of OVINE clobbered the NW, even after I googled "horror" and saw AMITYVILLE must have been right. Vote: How many of you had DOTDOTDOT?

ROSEYGRIER set the stage for many a fine athlete-turned-"actor". Vote: Is Doug being serious or facetious? As you would expect, there is a list: with some doozies like Brian Bosworth. Wiki says he's a top real estate agent in Malibu, graduated a year early from Oklahoma with a business degree, and is not as much of a dumbass as I thought.

Which athlete acted first: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Rosey Grier? IMDB says...Rosey was in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in 1965 and Kareem was in Mannix in 1971.

fikink 12:51 PM  

@doug, DAHDAHDAH was a "looper" for me as I recalled helping my brother learn Morse Code and instead of spelling out "May Day!" he would run around going, "DITDITDIT-DAHDAHDAH-DITDITDIT." Nice memory!
p.s. "looper" derives from playing Trivial Pursuit and having the question, "Where does the Chicago subway run," - or some such thing. As we were all from Chicago, easy questions became known as "loopers."
(just has to share that)

Liz 1:34 PM  

For me this was harder than yesterday but I finished without an error or a Google. I did a lot of erasing. As in Friday's puzzle I got the NE and SE first and had the most trouble with the NW. Rick was easy for a country girl.

jae 1:52 PM  

Medium for me too. The South went pretty smoothly but the NW was blank for quite a while. I was looking for BASH or FETE or ??? for 1d and so was getting no traction. I finally remembered OVINE and with the G in GETS... sitting next to it FROGPRINCE was revealed and the whole section fell. Other missteps included TARS for OARS, DELETES for DILUTES, and _ _ BOND for 8d. I also didn't like this one as much as yesterday's. CONSULTER and KNEESIES are in part to blame as well as the MAURITIUS/RUPIAH crossing which borders on NATICK. (Rex, MAURITANIA is in Africa, I checked as I had the same thought).

jubjub 1:52 PM  

For me, parts of this puzzle were super-easy, parts required much googling. I started off really strong by making two useful mistakes: thinking Jaws came out in 1979 and was set in AMITYVILLE instead of AMITY Island. I also got FROGPRINCE immediately.

I struggled where Rex struggled, SCOTCHED (wanted SCrubbED, SCraTCHED, ...), MAURITIUS (wanted MAURITania), RIODEORO (had no clue), also had setapart, which gave me pigdealer instead of RUGDEALER :).

I also figured it should be more than just COCOAPLANT and had CACAOPLANT for a while. While you're thinking about the source of chocolate, feel free to be influenced by my "Stop Chocolate Slavery" website:
about the use of child slavery in harvesting cocoa.

bill from fl 1:55 PM  

I agree it was medium, but I can't believe I ended with RAGDEALER and DILATES. They make no sense at all as answers to those clues. Sheesh.

crackup 2:01 PM  

Doesn't everyone do the puzzles in ink?
Olympic commentary was horrid, reminds me of so much TV sports commentary, the need to fill the air with words no matter how irrelevant.
Today's puzzle was easier than yesterdays, though the NE got me....kneesies and rick????

joho 2:04 PM  

@norm: you were thinking pool while I wanted the answer to have something to do with Bocce ball. Frog Prince turns out to be a wonderful answer though and easy to get.

km.edgerton 2:12 PM  

If Rex had been paying more attention during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, he might have known where Mauritania and Mauritius are because the inane announcers told us. As it was, I knew where MAUTITIUS, was but looked it up on my handy dandy world-map placemat to confirm the spelling. The NE was also the last to fall for me; I had a lot of trouble with CONSULTER, as well, since I was looking for something more side-showy once my OED told me a chiromancer was a palm reader. Two other things that slowed me down were not getting the correct spelling on ROSEY GRIER (I made it ROSIE at first) and wanting RUG WEAVER instead of RUG DEALER. SCOTCHED was familiar to me though I am an Alaskan girl, not from the mid-west at all. All-in-all, I was pretty proud of myself since I finished without any help from my friend Google, though I did resort to the old-school dictionary and atlas resources.

andrea carla michaels 2:31 PM  

finally looked it up:
chiromancer: palmreader/fortuneteller

(I thought something with the back/spine bec of chiropracter (?))

love your interpretation of POOLPLAYER! Maybe that could be a Mon/Tues puzzle:

all defined as "One looking for a kiss"
(altho as they are "10s" we need one more!)

HudsonHawk 3:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
HudsonHawk 3:07 PM  

I liked this puzzle, all in all.

@ jae, Mauritius is also an African country, although it is an island in the Indian Ocean (not too far from Reunion). The French now call it Ile de Maurice. Mauritania is on the continent, so the Ile part of the clue should get you off the mainland. Hard to get to from the States, but I highly recommend both Mauritius and Reunion. Stunningly beautiful.

The member of the Fearsome Foursome I can never remember is Lamar Lundy. Hope that doesn't show up in a puzzle. The other three are pretty memorable for me: Rosey Grier, Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen.

Ashish 3:24 PM  

Wow, this took me a long time to solve, as most Saturdays do. I was impressed with the wonderful 64-word grid.

[Aside, from a construction viewpoint, it is darned difficult when you start whittling down from the maximum 72 words for a themeless. You can probably go down to 68, or even 66, but 64 is way too hard without introducing too many obscurities!]

And the most impressive feat? The the entire stack of six ten-letter words in the NW and SE is brand new (never seen before in puzzles, I think)!

So, 64-worder themeless, no obscurities, and a stack of six new ten-letter words. Wow!


alanrichard 3:25 PM  

My younger daughter, Laurie, sat next to me as I was about to start the puzzle and said, I know that - its Tim Allen". After that I was on my own. It seems like my older daughter had a place in this puzzle with one across - except her boyfriends didn't have the royal lineage.
I too had set apart and scrubbed and scuttled initially, which slowed me down in solving this puzzle. The entire west waas easy for me but compensating for my misdirections made the east more difficult.
This was challenging and I watched the Olympics while i was working on it.

Teresa 3:27 PM  

@Andrea, Loved the idea for the puzzle. Not as clever, but Sweetheart fits, too.

fergus 3:27 PM  

Up in the Northeast I was lightly sketching in almost random letters and, surprise, I'm done! RIVET and VANE confirming everything else. For Transfix I was BESET.

A botanist friend has a huge CACAO PLANT in his living room. I imagine he would have an objection to COCOA if he had the good sense to be a puzzler, but I simply welcomed its Saturdayness.

MAURITIUS took a long while since I was stuck in Gaul. There's still a central region called L'Ile de France, isn't there? That and Etoile, since I was thinking Arc de Triomphe, not ballet as Rex informs us of its derivation, remind me that foreign language knowledge is not always that helpful. Mais voici VOILA.

Sybil, the Chiromancer, the FROG PRINCE and the MARCH HARE form some hint of a theme, or maybe that's just because I saw a white rabbit bounding by?

Teresa 3:32 PM  

...And how about GRIMREAPER for Andrea's puzzle? (Does it pass the breakfast test?)

Doc John 3:56 PM  

A fitting end to an off week. Had "rink" and "MII" and "non-suiter" seemed OK- well, not great but OK- so that's where I left it. If I'd stuck with it a little longer, maybe, just maybe I would have come up with CONSULTER. @ Rex, using "chiromancer" was just a Saturday way of throwing people (like me) off the track.

For [Sybil] I had ----change and was trying like heck to find a four-letter word for personality. At least that gave me the C in LACY and N in OMANI.

Other mis-fills: loyal fan, cocoa beans, gala (for FLAP), fall (for NEAP).

Wrote in and took out several times: HERE IT IS, SKETCH.

Once I got a few crosses, MAURITIUS was an almost-gimme. I actually flew on Air Mauritius once. @ jae (I think it was) I think all the countries of the world are out of Natick range.

Glad everyone else had the same reaction to KNEESIES that I had. Footsie, maybe, but kneesies?

Onward to Monday! (Although maybe now that I'm printing them out from across lite I'll do Sunday's puzzle.)

Doc John 4:04 PM  

Oh yeah, about the disappointing Olympic commentary: We watched the ceremony with some friends who had spent some time in China and they gave a running commentary on all the things that were being glossed over. Most egregious was that part where all the "regular" kids were dressed in the culturally diverse costumes. Trouble was, there was no ethnic diversity at all and all those "regular" kids were actually children of high-ranking party officials.

Also interesting was the display of and allusions to the different religions when in actuality religion is belittled and practically banned in China.

Stepping away from that, though, the ceremony was magnificent and my favorite part was the boxes that rose and fell as if by computer controlled hydraulics and then come to find out there were real people inside. (The roll-out LED screen was pretty darn amazing, too.)

Michael 4:12 PM  

I found this easy for a Saturday -- did it while half-watching the Olympics and sporadically talking to two people. Some Saturdays I sit by myself in a quiet room and am stupfyingly slow.

chefbea1 4:13 PM  

Sorry I've been absent for a few days. Been busy making lotsa soup with pasta!!!
Actually were were re-doing the room which houses my mac so had to turn it off and couldnt hook it back up til the polyurathane dried on the new hard wood floor. Looks great. And I will now go back and read what I have missed since Thursday

Crosscan 4:16 PM  

@andrea: how about BOY ON A DATE?

jae 4:34 PM  

@hudson -- thanks for the clarification. My dictionary only lists it as a former British crown colony.

@doc john -- Yeah, I know but still...

@andrea: I briefly thought about BRIDEGROOM for 1a (it went with BASH).

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

Thought it was going to be an easy Saturday since I live in Amityville
(movie totally ruined the town for a long time & such a hoax to boot!)

Then I came upon Mauritius which took me forever to get but still in all, an earlier solve than usual.

markus 6:51 PM  

Yes, all puzzles should be done in ink on their specified date and not the night before on cyberspace... but that's just me and I assume this postion ALL the time, so, much love to you 'cheaters' out there and MORE love to you 'purists'

How could you NOT have loved the opening ceremonies last night? Brilliant! I love the Olympics... but I still fear China...

fergus 7:17 PM  

I like the way SMIRK was Clued today. (Are those brackets?) When it was connected with a Smarmy smile fairly recently, I had issues about which side of the ego either of them fell. I raised the issue of what Smarmy really means with a fellow pettifogger, so I would be curious to know whether anyone in this community has an assured and definitive understanding of the term? Since my spelling and usage are spread across the USA, England and Canada, some outlying Dictionary words are seemingly susceptible to multiple and contradictory interpretation.

joho 7:59 PM  

A smirk is a confident, overbearing "smile" that exudes "I am right and you are an idiot ... a peon ... be dismissed."

A smarmy smile is disingenuous and reeks of wanting something from you ... swarminess can never be trusted and should be avoided at all costs.

fergus 8:26 PM  

Thanks, Joho.

That confirms my view of Smarminess as a sort of kiss-ass, inveigling, pusillanimous, kowtowing, servile approach -- which would never be delivered with a SMIRK. The Clue/ANSWER pairing irked me when it appeared last week, so I now feel vindicated in such a small way.

green mantis 8:53 PM  

That's how I feel about smarmy too. Carnies are smarmy. Teenagers smirk.

1. Damn you, scuttle.
2. Why did so many of us think Tom Hanks? I really really thought I "knew" it was him. Weird. Neon made him impossible, but it hurt.

green mantis 9:11 PM  

Whoa Bernie Mac just died. That sucks.

fergus 9:19 PM  

I don't like seeing 1957 as the first part of an obituary, but apparently Bernie Mac was serially afflicted, even if his death was sudden.

Ms. Mantis, are we still on for a jaunt to Alameda on September 13th?

acme 2:59 AM  

@green mantis
Mystery solved, Tom Hanks was also a voice in the same movie but he played Woody, not Buzz!
now answer Fergus. I'll be there too!

R 8:41 PM  

Agree with your comment about 3D--should have just been "Like Dolly"--but for a different reason. Dolly the sheep was a clone but no clones were made from Dolly. Dolly was bred with a ram twice during her lifetime and gave birth to four lambs, none of which were clones. The clue makes no more sense than "Like Rex Parker and his clones." It's a mistake.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Arrgh! Clicking on the blog to check Friday's puzzle (late - we went to a dog show, I found Saturday's puzzle blog already up and could not avoid seeing 1A "FROG PRINCE." hard to forget but I more or less did, until I got to the end in the NW. Then it came back to me with a flourish. I has AXIOMS for 7D instead of IDIOMS, and FR_G PRANCE didn't make a h**l of a lot of sense. The correct answer burst from my subconscious. I said NO-NO-NO I do NOT want to solve it this way. But there we are.

boardbtr 1:02 AM  

Five weeks later. Totally bombed out on the SW. Really didn't like the cocoa plant. My understanding is that cocoa comes from the cacao plant. Also wasn't too fond of shatter for blown apart. My dictionary relates shatter to dropping. Scatter seems to better define "blowing apart". I doubt than anyone much cares now, but dotdotdot couldn't possibly fit because that is Morse for "S", not "O".

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP