Saturday, August 2, 2008



I got owned.

Speaking for all the dilettantes out there, all of us who’ve made it this far in life by knowing just enough to be able to sound like we know vastly more than we actually do, those of us who think we can fake it so far and get by on charm for the rest, those of us who can talk convincingly about books we’ve never read and films we’ve never seen and leave the impression that we’ve plumbed that author’s or director’s oeuvre, those of us who pretend we know what oeuvre means . . . people, this puzzle has come to collect.

I finished it! I did. Just short of an hour, and it was a non-stop session. But I ask you, at what cost, sir? At what cost?

Almost every single clue had its way with me. I verbed; it nouned. I past-tensed; it adjectified. I pluraled; it said, HA! Looking at the wrong word, fool!

And Ms. Tracey is one of those constructors with a diabolical talent for being able to stack up compound or compound-like words such that even if you get part of the word there might as well be another row of black squares separating that part from the rest of the puzzle, for all the good it does you.

But enough of this. Let us descend.


First pass I didn’t commit to much. I filled in the plurals, took a shot at some past tense stuff (most of which wound up biting me on the butt), I think I put in VOW (22A: Bad thing to break); SETH (23A: Member of the first family), because I saw by glancing at the Down clues that 1D was likely a plural (and a real American plural, by God, with an S, not one of those fake foreign fake plurals that end in A or I), which knocked Adam, Abel and that rascal Cain out of the running, leaving only Seth, the cousin Oliver of the Biblical Bunch, to fit the squares; PLO (51A: West Bank grp.) because we just had it yesterday; IBEAM (29D: Structural support); then hit pay dirt with the three down clues in the far SE corner. I also put in SOUND for 16A (It comes in waves), which was wrong, but I quickly corrected it to CRIME when I figured out 13D was NETWT (It doesn’t include the packaging: Abbr.

Then I sat. I sat for a long time looking at _ _ _ _ METER and _ _ _ _ TETRA, wondering what sort of eight-sided thing the Army commonly affixes to its tanks (57: Common addition to tanks – NEONTETRA), wondering what sort of meter measures something you once did in five letters.

And it just went on like that. For a long, long, long time.

For a long. Long. Long. Long. Time.

The last letter I entered in the puzzle was the B in ARB/ABAFT at 10D (Trading specialist, briefly) and 18A (Fore’s opposite), respectively. I don’t understand those two answers. I don’t understand anything anymore. I’m frightened. I just want my wife to come back.

Things in this Puzzle That Made Me Sad

  • 1A: Prussia annexed it in 1802 (ESSEN) – Right away you know what you’re in for, if you have any sense. Clues with Prussia in them make me think of spiky helmets and elaborate facial hair. (I myself have been described as Kaiseresque.)

  • 6A: Means of execution for favored criminals in antiquity (ASP) – Gee. Thanks. I guess. (Said the favored criminal in antiquity.)

  • 14A: Beak (SCHNOZZLE) – Got this (finally) with the Z from ZSA ZSA GABOR (15D: She opined “Macho does not mean mucho”). I think I’ve got a talent for instinctively knowing how many letters are in a word, not that it’s much use for anything. So if somebody said, “Quick! Parabolic!” I’d say immediately, “Nine.” Schnozzle is one of those words I couldn’t do that with. It takes up a lot more letters than it sounds like it does. I’d be like the evil guy manning the toll-bridge in The Holy Grail when he’s asked about swallows.

  • 17A: Condition (PROVISION) – This is typical of the puzzle. Until it shows up in a crossword, you’re probably not aware that the word “condition” has so many disparate meanings. I was thinking physical fitness.

  • 19A: Senatorial support (YEA) – Verily, I thought this was more along the lines of what Jesus said, not senators. (I had YAY, AYE, YES, et al.)

  • 20A: It comes between Shaban and Shawwal (RAMADAN) – I’d have nailed this if the clue had been, “The only Arabic month you know (you insipid little dilettante with all your English-majory pretensions and your bumper-stickers espousing all the correct positions on the proper causes and those prominently displayed jazz CD’s that you never listen to because you really don’t like jazz at all.)”

  • 27A: No-votes? (ABSTENTIONS) – I had ABSTAININGS. I really did. That’s what this puzzle did to me.

  • 30A: Promised one (MESSIAH) – Another head-fake that threw me off the whole puzzle. I was thinking of somebody who got promised something, which I thought would end in EE.

  • 43A: Sending out signals (ONAIR) – Got this one pretty early. Felt pretty good. Didn’t do squat for me.

  • 44A: Many a blog post (RANT) – Ahem.

  • 48A: It contains a dash (CAR) – Mean. She’s just mean.

  • 54A/56A: It tells you how much you’ve 56 across (ALTIMETER / RISEN) – Know what I was thinking? I didn’t put it in but I was thinking it. CLUMB. I was thinking an altimeter measured how far I’d clumb. This puzzle took something more from me than merely my pride. It made me consider “clumb” as a word.

  • 59A: ___ Robbins, co-lyricist of the #1 “Rocky” theme song “Gonna Fly Now” (AYN) – We’ve had generations of crossword constructors come and go, and they didn’t have much that united them, but I think one part of their unspoken moral code that has remained unchanged throughout the generations is that AYN always belongs to Ms. Rand. We don’t go outside the Fountainhead/Atlas-Shrugged/Who-is-John-Gault perimeter for this answer. Apparently Ms. Tracey doesn’t think this rule applies to her. She’s gonna fly now with the co-lyricist of a song that has three words. It took more than one person to write a song with three words, and somehow one of those people is crossword-worthy. (I know, one of you cruciverbalist folk is gonna come pour water on my joke by pointing out how many times since 1942 AYN has been clued in a way that doesn’t involve Ayn Rand. Why do I have to be limited to the facts all the time?)

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11D: I could say something about each of those entries, and all of the others. The pain each caused me was unique. But what more does this puzzle want from me?

  • 13D: Creator of Mr. Fielding and Prof. Godbole (E.M. FORSTER) – Is that what you want? For me to admit that I’ve never read E.M. Forster? Okay, I’ve never read E.M. Forster. Not in the way that he is supposed to be read, anyway. Not with reverence and eyebrows appreciatively cocked. I read The Razor’s Edge but didn’t really pay any attention to it because the hero’s name is Larry (I think), and it’s just hard to accord tragic significance to somebody named Larry, especially when he was played in a movie by Bill Murray. [Note from Seth at 3:30 a.m.: "Razor's Edge was Maugham, right?" Indeed it was, my friend. Indeed it was. I'm pretty sure there was somebody named Larry in A Passage to India, too.] I read “The Machine Stops” only a few months ago, because I was going through some books and found an anthology called Classic Short Modern Novels or something like that, and it had the Forster novella in it and, like always, I felt guilty and fraudulent because I hadn’t surrendered up my soul in reverence to E-freaking-M-Forster, the thinking man’s Henry James, so I left it in the toilet for occasional perusal. It’s about this lady who lives in a pod because it’s the future and people live in pods now. Her son is grown and also lives in a pod but he doesn’t like it because it’s a COMMENT ON THE HUMAN SPIRIT. The lady thinks the pod is fine because everything anybody needs is provided for by “the machine,” which is a SYMBOL. I forgot what happened. My wife was yelling at me to get out of the toilet.

  • 21D: Ride for 007 (ASTON MARTIN) – I don’t think of 007 when I think of Aston Martins. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entire James Bond movie, come to think of it.) I think of these two fat twin brothers who were sons of the owner of the local auto-parts store where I worked one summer in high school. One’s name was Prentice; I don’t remember what the other one’s name was. They were identical fat twins, probably in their twenties or thirties, and didn’t work or anything, but they each had Aston Martins (lots of money in small town auto parts stores, I guess), and one of the twins made me wash his car one day instead of stocking the new supply of auto parts. Man, I hated those guys. It was either an Aston Martin or an Alfa Romeo. I don’t know anything about cars.

  • 31D: Tough to crack (ENIGMATIC) – See, all these clues and answers look perfectly fine now, but you gotta understand what it was like. You had to have been there, staring at _ _ _ GMATIC and being able think only of PRAGMATIC, and not even knowing if the G was right. It was horrible, man.

  • 39D: Co-star of “Friends” and “Friends With Money” (ANISTON) – I watched Friends. I’m admitting that. I wouldn’t have before I did this puzzle. I watched Friends and could not think of any of the actors’ names. Lisa Kudrow was the only one I finally summoned. This puzzle did that to me. All that “staving off Alzheimer’s” stuff is shot to hell by this puzzle.

    It’s late. I could go on. (I know, that’s the problem, I know.) This has been a blast, helping man the blog with Seth and Angela for the past few weeks. I’m heading to Scotland in a few days and will probably be scarce for awhile. Seth and PG will take over until Rex returns, Thursday or thereabouts. So long for now.



jae 5:07 AM  

Hello there! Its late and of course I'm still up. Wade, all I can say is brilliant, your best yet! Are you sure you quit drinking?

Excellent puzzle!!! Great cluing for the frequent ESSEN, ASP, ANNO, and AYN. I knew I liked this one when about a quarter of the way into it I had that feeling of panic that I sometimes get when it seems I might not be able to finish without assistance. A good puzzle will do that for me and will also let me finish. My major hang up was EKE instead of EEK (yes, I'm a tad dyslexic), so it took longer than it should have to get SKOSH and NEONTETRA. Other missteps were AMOROUS and a desire to put in SCHNOZOLA (which doesn't really fit when you spell it correctly).

Wade-- ARB is short for arbitrager (I think) and ABAFT is another way of saying AFT aboard ship.

male chicken 5:14 AM  

the commentary had me rolling on the floor. Thank you for lifting the gloom that descended after i failed dismally on this. I immediately got ASTON MARTIN (yippee, both bond and python in recent days, that's what i'm talking about) and NLERS (see how i'm coming on?) and ABSTENTIONS. Then it all went downhill. Despite knowing the FORSTER one i had it ending in a "u" for some reason. I struggled on, eventually decided to google and found, thank god, that wade had come to save me. I've done, i've clumb into bed and am watching Friends reruns and eating tomato flavour crisps. I don't think i will be moving soon.

SethG 5:20 AM  

To be fair, I should note that I read The Razor's Edge last year, and I couldn't have named a thing that EM wrote.

I spent at least a few minutes while solving the puzzle trying unsuccessfully to think of the author, or even the name, of that book they made into an okay Renee Zellweger movie with a truly awful sequel, surely the source for Mr Fielding. Yes, Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding.

Ended with the bottom center--DAILEY wasn't so hard to guess off the DAILxx, that clinched NEON instead of IRON TETRA (fantail? Is that a plant?), and then stared for a while at the cross between some plant I've never heard of and some song co-writer I've never heard of.

A former teammate of mine is named Schmelzle, with a similar hidden extra letter or two. And we had a Nalezny, too, who we sometimes called Nozzle. It's possible we made some schnozzle or related jokes,

Rex Parker 6:04 AM  

Wade, I'm way ahead of you on the "Friends" confession front. I may even have said, on this blog, repeatedly, that I much preferred it to "Seinfeld."

VOW could have been LAW.

DAILEY was, as Seth describes, an educated guess. LANTANA and AYN were simply prayers.

AZIMUTH! I remember reeling the first time I learned that word (from a crossword puzzle). I now love the word.

ASTON ... ASTIN ... ASTON ... ASTIN ... I had ASTIN and never questioned it until I noticed that GIBLETS seemed an odd answer for [Some crystal].

I'm in Auckland. It's awesome. I haven't even been out yet, and it's awesome. Massive, international, surrounded by water and (inactive) volcanoes.

BIOTA remains a terrible word, but I'm proud to say that it was the First Answer that came to mind for that clue. Crosswords have done this to my brain.

RANT I got instantly. Duh.

Only real Gimmes in this puzzle were ESPYS, NOIR, ABAFT, RANT, REO, ANISTON, IBEAM, EEK ... whoa, what was the clue for AMBS??? I don't even remember. All in all, a tough KT puzzle. Very enjoyable.

Tomorrow = wife's exboyfriend (no joke ... he even shares my name, ugh) and wife's aunt whom she hasn't seen in 30 years. A rollercoaster of emotions, no doubt. In other news, my "lose the 20 lbs. you just gained you fat idiot" diet started this morning and went well until a pile (and I mean, literally, a PILE!) of fish and chips was placed on the center of the table at dinnertime. What was I to do? If I hadn't skipped lunch (we were on the road ... much drama, about which, more later), I might not have eaten my weight in light brown fried stuff. O well. Tomorrow is another day.

On the upside, I bought a morepork today (well, a stuffed animal version), and it has little pipe cleaner feet that will enable me to make it perch atop my computer screen at home. I am somewhat obsessed with the morepork. And the TUI, which has a wider range of vocal sounds than any bird I've ever heard. It's Freaky. OK, this comment is way too long.


Barry 7:25 AM  

Morning, all!

Definitely a toughie, although I did manage to suss out most of it unassisted. I finally had to resort to Google at the very end to figure out DAILEY. At the time, I had LANTA__ for 38D and __N for 59A and just couldn't go on. 59A could have been RON or BEN or a bunch of other names, and 38D could have been LANTARQ for all I knew. I'd call a Natick violation for the intersection of DAILEY and AYN, except that everybody else seems to have guessed it...

Can I just mention my two biggest pet peeves about "challenging" puzzles? I think these fall under Rex's category of "trying too hard". One is tortured abbreviations that nobody actually uses in real life. Yeah, I'm sure that somebody actually uses ARB for arbitrator and AMB for ambassador, but they still bug me.

The other one is what I call self-referential puzzle clues. Basically, two clues that refer to each other without any other hint as to what they're about. For example, 54A ("It tells you how much you've 56-Across") and 56A ("See 54-Across"). FOUL! I wouldn't mind 54A if 56A had a normal clue. As it was, the ONLY way to get these two answers is to solve at least one of them solely via the crosses.

Other than that, though, I thought this was a really great puzzle. I initially had XRAY instead of NOIR for 5D, which gave me ESSEX for 1A until I found myself thinking, "What was Prussia doing annexing part of England?" I got AZIMUTH, MAVEN, ESPYS, ASTIN MARTIN and ABAFT right off the bat, which made me feel pretty smart, and ZSA ZSA GABOR fell pretty quickly once I got the initial ZS.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

I think arb is short for arbitrageur, one who commits arbitrage.

Barry 7:36 AM  

I think arb is short for arbitrageur, one who commits arbitrage.

Gah. That's even worse. An obscure abbreviation for an obscure word. Double gah.

And in other news, I just noticed that I completely missed 48A, having filled it in via the crosses. What the heck does CAR have to do with "It contains a dash"? Anyone?

pinky 8:34 AM  


Dash as in Dashboard.

Tried BUSH for SETH at first.

Started easy, then got hung up in NW and NE

What's a MOREPORK?

Orange 8:38 AM  

Barry, arb is probably not obscure if you're in finance. My husband used to work for a place called The Arb Group or something like that. Arbitrage means "The simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from a difference in the price. This usually takes place on different exchanges or marketplaces. Also known as a 'riskless profit.'" And a CAR has a dashboard.

Wade! Loved the post. I hope you are less frightened with the morning light, you poor thing. Thanks for pointing out the lunacy of "Gonna Fly Now" having more than one person writing the three words! That went over my head last night.

Crosscan 9:03 AM  

Ah, Wade. You've clumb so far. Great writeup.

I told my NEON TETRAs that they have made the New York Times Crossword. They were quite excited. Well, it was feeding time but I'm sure it was my news. They say hi.

LANTANA/AYN was a Name That Vowel crossing.

Tried several spellings of SCHNOZZLE. Don't you hate when you know the answer but can't get it to fit?

I'm an accountant so ARB was no problem.

IN A FOG was just mocking my performance today.

SKOSH? Isn't a bar order after you've had too many? Another SKOSH, beertendererererer...Or maybe it is the sound of NEON TETRAs saying hi.

I think every puzzle this week was on the right day for a change.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Wade--that was hysterical. Truly. For some reason, I got MESSIAH and ENIGMATIC right off the bat and the whole bottom half fell quickly. But the top...and to go with Wade's confessional theme of never having read E.M. Forster, I must confess that I've never seen a Felini movie. Whew...glad I got that off my chest. Off to the Farmer's Market now.

jannieb 9:06 AM  

@Wade - we're going to miss your commentary. Hope you have a great time in Scotland. This latest entry will no doubt keep me laughing until your next post. What fun!

Loved this puzzle - am in awe of anyone who can work Zsa Zsa Gabor into a construction; loved that there is more than one Ayn; so wanted schnozola to work. Last to fill for me was the Dakotas, and needed my own PuzzleHusband's help with Asimuth - i just couldn't get it from the recesses of my brain to the keyboard.

Just so much good fill here - neon tetra (great misdirection, especially on the heels of yesterday's military subtext); dander reaction/achoo; and I'm always tripped up with car names (legend/acura, e.g.). I got the Aston Martin, no problem.

And I agree with Barry about the self-referential clues. But they appear with great frequency so I guess it's too late to cry foul.

Very very nice puzzle, Ms. Tracey.

Barry 9:10 AM  


I'd say D'OH! except that I've never heard the dashboard referred to as a "dash" before. NEVER. Yeah, I know. I live on my own little planet. What can I say?


Guess which field I'm not in? ^_^


I was absolutely convinced 14A was SCHNOZOLA at first. I mean, what else could it possibly be? I was bitterly disappointed to eventually realize it had to be SCHNOZZLE instead.

male chicken 9:19 AM  

Ah! DANDER is dandruff! Thanks jannieb - I was wondering about that. I only use dander in 'it gets my dander up'. Do you say that across the pond? Never occurred to me it came from dandruff, and getting agitated because of the stuff swirling around you. Some part of my brain believed a dander was not actually visible but was part of the body, kind of like a daemon, but red, angry and ... um ... stands up when you get in a rage. I think I should stop now.

bill from fl 9:29 AM  

I thought I was off to a good start with ESPYS, but then entered POSTULATE for 17A, which threw me off for a long time. I finally got going with ACURA, ASTON MARTIN, and LANTANA, the last of which my wife gave me, even though she didn't think lantana is an herb. The north came very slowly. This one was a workout, but with some great surprises as compensation for the effort.

Judgesully 9:39 AM  

I do not believe that Zsa Zsa Gabor ever uttered a sentence of mor than three words.

Ulrich 9:39 AM  

I cannot remember any Saturday puzzle where 1A was a gimme--so, this was a first. And I didn't know this factoid about the fair city (hear the irony in my voice?)of Essen from German history class, but from American xword puzzles! I bet there are more Americans who know the significance of that date than there are inhabitants of said city who know this.

Which brings me to a pet peeve": ESSEN (verb) means "to eat" and ESSEN (noun) means "meal"--so, a much more sensible clue for that letter combination would be "lunch for Ulrich" or "what Ulrich does at lunchtime". I've said it once, and I'm saying it again. Is anybody listening? Apparently not.

Anyway, after this running start I moved smoothly left and down w/o ever breaking a sweat, in total sync with the constructor (stopped briefly trying to figure out the place for Numbers, but I was already in a religious mind-set, and that fell soon, too), and then I came to screeching, complete stop in the Mississippi delta region, where the crossing of two pairs of unknowns created a 2x2 area that remained blank and stared at me tauntingly--needed the end of an unknown herb and the end of an unknown name, or the beginning of another name or of something that goes into some tank (gas? fish? military?). Turned finally to the resident puzzlewife, who gave me the herb and the actor, which gave e "neon" for the beginning of the addition, which in turn limited the possibilities to a fish tank. Still, EMS, EMA and EMT all seemed viable abbreviations for the rescue team, and finally I had to google to find the fish in question.

Thanks a bunch, Ms Tracey! Never mind, this was a really great Saturmday puzzle.

Ulrich 9:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 9:42 AM  

Forgot to compliment wade on all of his commentaries--we'll miss you. Hope you find more sheep to herd in Scotland than in Texas!

PuzzleGirl 9:45 AM  

This puzzle Kicked. My. Ass. I put in RAMADAN as a Pure Guess with No Crosses. Man! was I proud of myself! So proud, in fact, that I just went ahead and put in STATEMENT and SAVED for 56A and 54A thinking that I obviously had special powers.

And then ... it all fell apart.

I gave up at around 40 minutes and started trying to figure out all my mistakes. Who the hell is Emsar Sulu? Yep. That's what I ended up with. EMSAR SULU. That's because I had AMAST for ABAFT, LAW for VOW, GIBBOUS for GOBLETS (giving me the inexplicable BOBSTER for BOLSTER), NESTLE for NESTEA and AMAROUS for AMATORY. (AMATORY? Is that how CBers talk about romantic encounters?) And once I finally got all that straightened out, I still had to figure out LANTANA.

Enough of my trials and tribulations. Thank you, Wade, for the awesome write-up. You rock. Your "Gonna Fly Now" rant reminded me of a Sports Night episode (yep, for some people it's Monte Python, the Simpsons, or Seinfeld -- for me it's Sports Night). A new lawyer in the legal department calls Dan to her office to let him know that the station has been fined $2500 because he sang "Happy Birthday" to Casey on the air. Apparently, the rights to the song belong to the estate of Mildred and Patty Hill. When Isaac, the big boss, hears about it, his reaction is: "It took two people to write that song?" (Thereafter, Dan obviously limits his on-air crooning to songs in the public domain.)

Okay, enough out of me. Great puzzle!

fpbear 10:17 AM  

Finished it without aid, but I too spent around an hour. Can't explain why pattern recognition works so well some days and so poorly others.

@orange I was about to provide clarification to the arb issue when you nailed it with the classical/literal definition. However my 13 years in 2 Wall Street trading rooms never provided a reason that risk arbitrage should be called arbitrage. It's really just buy low/sell high at different times. Esoterica and confusion, thy name is finance.

HudsonHawk 10:23 AM  

Very good puzzle. Count me among those that had schnozola and amorous filled in. My only other misstep was wanting moon tetra (is that a fish? It would appear so from a cursory googling) rather than neon tetra. But Dailoy and lantama just didn't work for me...

Yes, Arb is a common finance term. Every big brokerage house has an Arb Desk, (sometimes called a Risk Arb Desk). Plus it's pretty common crosswordese.

wendy 10:23 AM  

male chicken: DANDER isn't dandruff; it's the particles in pet hair and skin that some people are allergic to. There's actually a cat breed called Rex that some consider hypoallergenic and dander-free but there's no agreement on the truth of that claim.

I did the lower righthand corner of this and that's all, plus ANISTON. Big whoop. Perhaps it was a sign of how grim I expected the experience to be that I was hoping for the following answers:

Nausea - it may come in waves
Page - senatorial support
Wind - bad thing to break

Just one of those would have made the whole thing worth it!

joho 10:32 AM  

This was a great Saturday workout. It's comforting to come here and see that I made some of the very same mistakes as others: Law for VOW, Schnozola for SCHNOZZLE ad Giblets for GOBLETS. We just had HONKER in the puzzle, I wonder what the next nose joke will be. I finished without Google which makes for a rewarding Saturday morning.

@Wade: your write ups are hilarious. Don't forget to write from Scotland.

@Everybody here: your comments, as always, are noteworthy and entertaining

@Karen M. Tracey: Fantastic puzzle!

male chicken 10:51 AM  

@wendy thank you. Put flakes of beasts down as yet another topic area that i am weak in.

PhillySolver 10:53 AM  

Some in my family did not understand why I start my morning reading this blog. I have read them Wade's write up and now I am asked, "Did Wade do the blog this morning." PG, you and Wade are a great match and I love your humor. I created my own misdirections and a few are so bizarre that I will not share them and simply note when I read others stumbles I can truly say, "There, but for the grace of the puzzle gods..." I certainly thought of Ulrich on the NW stack and wonder how much relation there is to Modern German from these Yiddish phrases we encounter, e.g. schnozzle. Seth, I will name my next garage band, Iron Tetra because it is a great image.

wendy 10:56 AM  

Wade, btw, to vindicate your RANT, according to JimH's database, AYN has been used 42 times since 1994 and not once - until today - has it referred to anyone other than Ms. Rand.

Twangster 11:07 AM  

All that and it's still just "medium" challenging?

Bill from NJ 11:18 AM  

Wade, I like the way you write - you seem to be a natural-born story teller or should I say Yarn Spinner. Great job.

Isn't it about time to declare a moratorium on NLER and ALER? I have seen enough to them to last me a lifetime.

And Barry, those kinds of clues you hate - the self-referential double plays? They have been a staple in crosswords forever. I hate them too but there you are. When I see See54A at 56A, I fully expect to see See 56A at 54A. If I see anything but that I consider it a mitzvah.

I got to the heart of this puzzle through a mistake. I had SCHOLZOLA at 14A which gave me ZSAZSAGABOR. For the first time in a long time, I got IA/ID at the start and ESSEN/ESPYS got me most of the NW and led me into t he NE where ABAFt crossing EMFORSTER led to VOW BERT and, since I am a Fellini fan, allowed me to get VIAVENTETO.

I had most of the North right out of the box (except for the answers around my mistake) and moved down the East Coast and made an educated guess at 007's ride ASTONMARTIN and got NLERS TORAH PLO.. EEK gave me SKOSH, which is being seen quite a bit recently and even prompted a RANT or two.

Once I saw ALTIMETER and sussed out NEONTETRA I was able to sweep through the Lower Midlands and the SE and unto the West Coast where I saw MESSIAH which gave me AZIMUTH which helped me clear up my problem in the NW. ABSTENSIONS was the last filled in and the puzzle fell inside of a half-hour.

Zsa Zsa was so Karen Tracey and my courage is always BOLSTERed when I see her name.

Margaret 11:31 AM  

This was a 2-Google puzzle for me but, after reading the posts, I don't feel so bad! Like most, I had AMOROUS, NESTLE, SCHNOZOLA (I'll be thinking of Jimmy Durante all day!). I held on to TIRADES (for Rages) for way too long which prevented me from putting in DIGITAL, which I wanted. I also had BETH (Little Women) for BERT (is that Bert and Ernie??)

It was a fine puzzle but it didn't give me quite enough pay off for the sweat invested. I'd like at least one good, chuckle-out-loud from of a puzzle of this difficulty. OK, ZSAZSA was masterful and CAR was cute but the only thing that really made me snort coffee through my schnozzle was the commentary (and posts.) Kudos to Wade and bloggers.

Ulrich 11:39 AM  

@phillysolver (wonder how much relation there is to Modern German from these Yiddish phrases we encounter, e.g. schnozzle): At a guess, I'd say that in over 50% of the cases, I recognize the German equivalent/origin right away (plotz, nosh, zaftig, dreck...). However, that's not the case with schnozzle; it reminds me somewhat of Schnauze, the German word for the mouth of many animals, but that sounds a little far-fetched.

alanrichard 11:55 AM  

Every Saturday I take my mom to the beauty parlor and take The Times puzzle and the brain bashers hard & very hard sudokus while I wait in the car. Its usually 1/2 hour wait. Today I did the Times first and both sudokus. I thougt this was a very easy Saturday puzzle. I got Abstentations rignt away and just built off that. The only glitch I had was esseX and Xray which I corrected almost immediately.

Wade 12:19 PM  

Twangster, fair question. I was set to give it a straight-up Challenging rating until somebody (Orange) said the puzzle took her only 18 seconds longer than Friday's. Granted, Orange is a crossword freak of nature, and, as PuzzleGirl pointed out recently, eighteen seconds in Orange World is equivalent to seven dog years, or something like that. As a point of comparison, though, Friday's puzzle took me about 13 minutes (very fast in my world) and Saturday's took 56 minutes (not so fast but I've done a lot worse, and I did in fact finish the puzzle.) Anyway, none of that stuff is remotely scientific. If I were re-rating it, I probably would in fact call it Challenging. (I wouldn't give it the Hard/Difficult rating, which, in my world, is still for puzzles I can't finish.)

It's a real piece of work, though, that puzzle. KT really earned her $75 or whatever they're paying these days at the Times.

kjones 12:26 PM  

Great post!

miriam b 12:34 PM  

Good, tough, ingenious puzzle. This was a solid workout. Once I got AMATORY fixed after trying amorous and amative, I felt empowered.

So we have a mini theme of sorts: MESSIAH, RAMADAN, TORAH, SETH

Ulrich, ah feel yer pain.

BTW, let me treat you to a wonderful and possibly obscure Yiddishism. When an action or remedy is perceived as futile, one might say, "Es vet hilfen vie a toten bankes." In other words, it's as much help as cupping glaases would be to a corpse. The word bankes is a Russian-derived word for cupping glasses, but the rest of the phrase is certainly related to the German.

My mother, who was Jewish but rarely spoke Yiddish, uttered this phrase upon seeing a really homely woman who was dressed to the nines. She said this to her sister, knowing that I (a little kid at the time) would have no idea that she had uncharacteristically made a disparaging remark. Seeing my aunt's amused reaction, I just had to have a translation.

I loved Wade's writeup at least as much as I did the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Arbitrage came into vogue in the greed is good 80s. The most common example was the spread between the trading price of a takeover target and the expected ultimate price that the target's stock would sell for. Ivan Boesky, profiled in the fabulous James Stewart book, Den of Thieves, was the past master of this art due in no small part to the fact that he unlawfully obtained inside information. I once did a transaction with a young lawyer with one of the NYC megafirms who was a brilliant mathematician who got caught up in one of the insider trading scams and was ultimately disbarred. He was actually mentioned in the Stewart book as perhaps the saddest example of someone doing something truly out of character and paying a steep price.

Steve M

Michael 12:47 PM  

i contend that the AYN-DAILEY cross violates the NATICK principle of having two obscure proper nouns cross, especially at a place where several other answers might have made sense (ANN robbins and dan DAILEN, ARN robbins and dan DAILER). otherwise, great puzzle and great write-up.

foodie 12:59 PM  

Picture this: I am alone at home in the heartland, puzzlehusband off on his Harley in parts unknown, daughter on the West Coast, son on the East Coast. I feel like a total and complete idiot after trying my hand at this puzzle, which I finished only by partnering with Google. Not a good way to start the weekend! And then, I read Wade's part about clumb, and I am roaring with laughter, literally with tears streaming down my face. I hope the neighbors did not hear and think I have gone insane.

Which is possible, because this puzzle really messed with my mind... It took forever to figure out Ramadan, for God's sake, and I come from Damascus (best thing about Ramadan is the great meals you get at the end of the fast!). I had a whole bunch of answers scattered all over (ANISTON, ABSTENTIONS, ARTISTE, APTTO) but was totally unsure about them because I could not figure out the crosses... Like Wade, this baby put me in place... But it was worth it, just to read the great commentary.

Michael 1:02 PM  

ha. i just noticed that in the print edition (i get the impression that most of you folks work online) the title of today's bridge column, which shares a page with the xword, is "When the Clock is Ticking, Try to Remember Ayn Rand." guess i should have unfolded the page when going through my ann/arn/ayn confusion.

Heidi Clumb 1:11 PM  

Karen, great puzzle. Wade, best write-up yet. Thank you both.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

RE: EM Forster mementos:

• A "Passage to India" freshman English 1952.

• Dr Godbole worst role for the great Alec Guiness - sounds like Peter Sellers on a Goons episode.

• The Bloomsbury Group - women in love with men in love with their husbands

Shamik 1:33 PM  

@jae: I also had AMOROUS and wanted SCHNOZOLA or just plain SCHNOZZZZ. Never heard it called a schnozzle.

Also had HAS for SAY, FORGOT for INAFOG, and FLOWN for RISEN

@alanrichard: I agree with you. For a Saturday, I found this one fairly easy and finished in 15:34. And that's a couple of minutes faster than yesterday's puzzle. I guess it has more to do with which arcane knowledge each of us has in her/his head.

Back early from the backpacking adventure. Got lost and when it got late yesterday, I just camped there for the night and came out the way I'd gone in. 6 hours up, 2 hours down. Elevation kicked me to pieces.

Finally, WHY "House at Pooh Corner" and "Rocky Top?"

FYI: Rocky Top is a mountain and not a town. One night they had karaoke in Aguila, AZ (pop. 2000 at the time) and they sang "Rocky Top." I bet I was the only person in there who'd been on Rocky Top.

Wade 1:46 PM  

"Rocky Top" because of the theme from "Rocky." (And because Bobby Osborne, the singer-mandolin player, is number three behind George Jones and Levon Helm on the list of people I wish I could sing like.)

Messina because that's what I first thought of when I saw the clue "Messiah." As an added bonus, Kenny Loggins looks like Jesus. Extra added bonus: Messina's red sweater vest. I didn't know "House at Pooh Corner" was a Kenny Loggins song until I ran across that video. I heard it from one of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band incarnations. It's one of those asinine songs you sort of like in spite of its asininity but not really.

Jane Doh 1:49 PM  

A touch of the old-age home today, with Dan DAILEY, SCHNOZZLE, ZSA ZSA, VIA VENETO ("La Dolce Vita"), E.M. FORSTER, LANTANA.

DAILEY crossing AYN = not fair

Loved the clues for BIOTA, ASP, CRIME, and TORAH.

Cool word = SKOSH

Awesome review by Wade!


alanrichard 1:51 PM  

Usually as the week progresses, the clues get more obscure. This puzzle had quite a few easy long ones that the obscure clues became obvious. Abstentions enabled me to realize a bio prefix for That's life. It also gave me Aston Martin, which I would love to buy except I already have an expensive gas guzzler. I figured that Rages began with HAS and that gave me Seth which gave me Espys, Scree and Shoat.
I could see where this would be a challenging puzzle, but sometimes you just get something and everything just falls into place. This puzzle was certainly not ENIGMATIC, even though there was a cross with In A Fog. Its good to see that PLO and Torah are amenable partners in the SE and that PLO made a repeat performance. Torah, Seth and Messiah are todays biblical trio.
I vaguely remember Zsa Zsa in a movie "Queen of Outer Space" although I watched her late sister Eva in Green Acres for years, and I still remember the Green Acres Theme Song, along with all the other shows I watched as a kid.
I also got Dan Dailey right away. I know he can fit in the now famous Natick Princile but if you watch enough TCM all the old movies and movie stars are a piece of cake!!!

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Does an altimeter really measure how far you've risen? I'm pretty sure it measures how far above sea level you are. If your plane takes off in, say, Denver, you'll start at some few thousand feet, but you haven't actually risen at all.

km.edgerton 1:59 PM  

New poster here, but I've been following the blog for awhile. I try to solve the puzzle over breakfast every morning, but sometimes have to leave it for awhile. Did today's in about an hour, with interruptions for getting the kids up and moving. I also had trouble with amorous/amatory and thought "messiah" was going to be too obvious, so avoided it too long. Also, I knew "Aston Maritn," just not how to spell it, so had trouble with "goblets." I did look up "lantana" in the dictionary, but didn't need any other help, so was pretty proud of myself. Loved Wade's write up. I laughed out loud over "clumb." I have a hypoallergenic cat (not a Rex), she produces less of the allergenic protein in her saliva, thereby making her dander less sneeze producing.

Leon 2:01 PM  

Fine Saturday puzzle Karen M. Tracey.

Wild write-up Wade.

I too also thought of Jimmy Durante and put Schnozola for 14 across. My later Google searches confirm it was spelled Schnozzola. IMDB does list his alternate name as Jimmy "schnozzle" Durante. What a schemozzle !

His version of As time Goes By is one of the best.

brandsinger 2:24 PM  

Nicely done. But talk about pretense: "(I had YAY, AYE, YES, et al.)" Try the common "etc."

brandsinger 2:24 PM  

Nicely done. But talk about pretense: "(I had YAY, AYE, YES, et al.)" Try the common "etc."

andrea carla michaels 2:31 PM  

Fabulous puzzle, hysterical write up tho I admit I thought I was reading Rex the whole time! I In attributed how long it took to his jetlag or something, altho I weighed in at 43 minutes with no excuse!

Even tho I've only seen, like, two episodes of "Friends", I'm embarrassed to say that the first thing I got was ANISTON bec I had been intrigued that both her TV show and one of her movies had the word "Friends" in it...

Altho I am SO not a fan of hers...

During the whole Jenn vs Angelina "crisis" I instinctively sided with Angelina, even tho she is crazy as a loon, she has done much to highlight the plight of children around the world, whereas Jennifer as highlighted, um, what? Her hair?

In 1976, went to see my (then) idol AYN Rand my freshman year in college. She was speaking over at BU and "We the Living" had had a huge impact on me. (When impact was still just a noun!)

But she turned out to be this tiny, tiny Russian lady with a very thick accent who went on a rant against the Feminist Movement (she was by definition against all collective movements) and my love for her ended...right there. At 16. :(

I think the first puzzle I ever tried to make for Will involved SCHNOZZOLA, PAYOLA, SAVONAROLA (whose name I now can't even remember how to spell)...

Along with the AMOROUS/AMATORY, LAW/VOW trap, I'd like to add my own missteps of AXE/ASP and MAGUS/MAVEN

It's neat that CAR is above UTURN, but i didn't understand the dash clue till I came here...and I had ALTIMETER and got the ALTI stem, but still couldn't figure out what it measured!

And bec I read RAGES as a noun I tried to make HISSY FITS into some sort of rebus!

Karen 2:39 PM  

Rex, I love you, but you need to have guest bloggers more often. Your write-up was a hoot, Wade. I particularly liked the 1-11D section.

My last mistake, I had AXE for the execution tool, leaving me with XEBANE for the lead in some play I'd never heard of. What was I thinking?

jae 2:41 PM  

@andrea -- I too stared at 24d trying to figure out how to work HISSYFITS into that restricted space and also briefly (ok, not really briefly) tried to work in AXE (the X just wouldn't go).

Doug 2:50 PM  

@andrea cm: I knew it wasn't RP from the get-go as no English professor would dare use the passive voice ("I was owned") and would opt for "This puzzle owned me." In any case, let me say "I been ass-kicked."

Am off to butt whip the People magazine grid and restore my sense of MACHO.

andrea carla michaels 2:53 PM  

Yes, even tho I thought AXE a bit odd for a "Favored" criminal, I have a Swedish friend whose family had originally been part of the German royal class.
Clas Von S. explained to me that when his family was stripped of their bygone privileges (when annexed by Prussia?!) they were allowed to retain but one:
if push came to shove, his grandmother could be beheaded by sword instead of hung!

Michael H 2:54 PM  

Thanks. Your rioutously funny confession of a dilletante broken by today's puzzle nearly made up for my encountr with the puzzle itself.

Orange 2:54 PM  

Ulrich: [Lunch for Ulrich] would work, but [What Ulrich does at lunchtime] wouldn't match verb tenses with ESSEN. That clue would need ESST, and I would be fine with seeing that in the grid, too. But the millions of crossword solvers who don't know German would be kaputt.

fergus 3:07 PM  

Sort of the opposite of Wade today in the solving predicament, though my ultimate result was more ignominious. Buzzed through most of it, but had one big whopper: I thought the Macho quote had to be from Dr. Ruth, whose surname I didn't have the faintest recollection of, or if she even let on to having one. So, I was content to have her be Dr. RUTH SAGABOR, making the Dwellers HOPIS, instead of ZUNIS. Then the other stuff, AZIMUTH, RAMADAN, etc. dropped in, and I couldn't let go of the quoter having a four letter first name, or some combination like Z. TAZ or T. CAZ. Having also been obstinate about keeping the the Posted item an ENC, and not the more obvious ENV, I toyed endlessly with the Condition Clue and left the nonsense at PROCITION. Yeah, that's the state you find yourself in when you've accepted that the kindly officer is going to write you a ticket. That's Officer ZTAZ SAGABOR, of Eastern European ancestry, who eases worries concerning matters of size. Then came here find Wade's piece de resistance.

And in the end, I was the Hare and Wade the Tortoise, and I hang my head in moral shame.

mac 3:21 PM  

Just lost a long, brilliantly formulated comment. I'll never be able to do it again....

This was a tough one, just the way I like them on a Saturday. I did it all at the hairdresser's, no googles and reference books available, good thing that it was a longish session. In the end I had only one letter wrong, the Y in Ayn / Dailey. I only knew one Ayn until today.

I had aye/yea, Bush/Seth, act/say, and, having started in the deep South, got Bette Midler just on the r (don't you think she could have said that?). I had to get azimuth and Sloane on crosses and faith, and thought radon (56A)
might be involved with the ....meter.

I plant Lantana every spring, in a pink/orange combination, to attract the hummingbirds.

@Ulrich, I should have read your report on the German XWP capitol more carefully, but I thought the annexation involved a state, not a city.
When you say resident puzzlewife, do you mean you are hiding another spouse, like your colleague Rem Koolhaas, who has a wife in Holland and a (common law) wife in England?

@miriamb: when I was a Barnes & Noble to pick up the Michelle Richmond book (which was prominently displayed in the new releases section) I noticed a little book you might be interested in: Lara Vapnyar's "Broccoli" (picture) and other tales of Food and Love. Check it out!

Last but not least, thank you Wade for a great, funny and honest write-up. Save travels.

Crosscan 3:26 PM  

The Sagabor Syndrome - refusal to delete a phony proper name due to plausible crossings.

miriam b 3:31 PM  

@mac: I've read some of Lara Vapnyar's stories in The New Yorker. They're wonderful. My birthday's comimg - hmmm.

ArtLvr 3:34 PM  

Solving the puzzle in the wee hours works well for me at the time, no googles and so on -- but then I tend to sleep half the next day! I must rethink. Thanks to Karen for a very good one, and ditto to Wade for his hilarious take on the experience...

In retrospect, there were lots of great moments: the CAR having the "dash", GOBLETS emerging for "some crystal" instead of "Steuben", and ESSEN being the target of the Prussian aggression in 1802. Note that the Prussian target by 1870 was France, with the dreadful winter Siege of Paris killing thousands by freezing to death and as many more dead through starvation. After their surrender, the French also got the added insult of being required to pay heavy "war reparations" -- so historians need only look back a few decades to realize why the Germans were similarly penalized in 1919, one cause cited for WW2!

I was more taken with the religious sub-theme here, though. Wow! Something for everyone: RAMADAN, TORAH, MESSIAH... plus lots of room for the undecided: IN A FOG, PENDING and APT TO... Outcomes may be a firm VOW, recanting U-TURN, despairing in depths of NOIR, or loss of wits in HAS FITS.

I'm just pleased that AYN was not clued referring to Ms. Rand, to whom I took a profound dislike when hosting her and her entourage during a symposium years ago at Yale. I'll spare you the details except to say I felt sorry for her lame husband, who'd have been abandoned on a hillside according to her professed survival-of-the-fittest credo. I did ask her directly if she really believed in such extreme measures, and she said "Certainly"!


wendy 3:48 PM  

artlvr: have you ever seen the made-for-tv-movie The Passion of Ayn Rand? I actually enjoyed it despite the heavy-handedness of her depiction as a world-class creep. Peter Fonda played the lame husband quite convincingly (Helen Mirren was Ayn). Julie Delpy and Eric Stolz played her hangers-on and were also outstanding.

joho 4:01 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: Jennifer Aniston is America's best Friend... how dare you? That was harsh!

Michelle 4:16 PM  

Great post, Wade. I'm impressed at how many parts of speech you transformed into verbs in your intro.

Mac, thanks for picking up NO ONE YOU KNOW. Always nice to know it's prominently displayed, so I don't have to send my lackeys in to stack it on top of Jhumpa Lahiri's new book.

And you plant Lantana every spring! That shows both an eye for beauty and tremendous organizational skills.

Jane Doh 4:16 PM  

@ joho re @ andrea -- hmm, yes, that does seem rather harsh.

We discussed our Minnesota connections, perhaps we should discuss our community service/volunteerism for the betterment of humanity next?


Blanche 4:23 PM  

@andrea and jae: Glad to know I'm not the only one--for awhile I was sure (well, not really sure, not in this puzzle) that 24d was HISSIES.

ArtLvr 4:25 PM  

@ Wendy -- I didn't know about the TV special about Ayn Rand, but maybe one day it will come around again -- Many thanks for mentioning it! I do like the work of Helen Mirrin and would love to see her portrayal of the "world-class creep" as you put it so well. The toadying retinue was a shock in itself -- no other symposium participants, big names all, showed up with hangers-on..


Fussy 4:28 PM  

Foodie--picking up from yesterday--"In his comments and blogs he comes across as a sweetheart who likes to sound like a bad boy." That's exactly what Wade is! There couldn't be anyone sweeter in the world. And he plays a mean banjo. There was a time when drove a truck with a rifle in the back--which could possibly qualify him as a bad boy--but that was a long time ago. Plus, did you know Wade writes his own songs?

I'm looking for Mr Elkies. Wade said I could ask him a math question. What's an everyday example of the double torus? And I'd also like to know if Mr. Elkies thinks someone will prove the Goldbach Conjecture (strong) anytime in the next century.

green mantis 4:29 PM  

I made the same initial mistakes as others did, but I didn't, on balance, think this puzzle was particularly difficult for a Saturday. This is the hardest day of the week, and I almost want an extra inch between my solving skill and successful completion of the puzzle, just so there's always room to grow.

That said, I really liked this one, and neon tetras are delicious.

Regarding the Ayn/Dailey cross, I wouldn't quite put it in the Natick column (why did we need a new name for this? I thought it was an Asok's Beak...) because Dailey seems far and away more plausible than Dailen, and we know Ayn is a name. Whatever.

And about Jennifer Aniston: while Angelina has been highly visible in the do-gooder department, Aniston has been doing a lot of work in the current campaign for human rights in Burma. Worth checking out for those interested in the persistent, embarrassing injustice of the Aung San Suu Kyi situation.

Ulrich 4:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wendy 4:37 PM  

artlvr: one more thing on this AYN business and then will cease & desist - that program is out on dvd and also available via netflix if you have the service. Well worth watching.

mac 4:38 PM  

@fussy: that was me talking about Wade. But, you're right, I'm a foodie as well....
What's the food like in Alaska?

Ulrich 4:49 PM  

@orange: You're right, of course. I sometimes make the mistake of taking a clue for a question and the answer, well, as the answer. Essen, the verb, is highly irregular, though--the 3rd person singular would be ißt--totally unsuited for a puzzle.

@artlvr: Pile it on against the Prussians--I won't contradict you. We Rhinelanders always felt occupied by the Prussians, not part of Prussia. One good thing came out of it, though: They saw to it that Cologne Cathedral got completed. This explains why the approach by train is flanked by 4 statues of Prussian monarchs on horseback.

@mac: I misspoke. I meant to refer to my wife who shares a residence with me (this wasn't always the case--long story). As to Rem: I can't really consider him a colleague--I think only a superstar can be a colleague of a superstar.

ArtLvr 5:03 PM  

@ Wendy -- I've been meaning to sign up with Netflix! Now you've given me added incentive to get to it, especially since we are now in about the 13th day of deluge with heavy rainstorms out of the last 15 days! (Oh, woe.) Many thanks again!


p.s. Mac -- I hope your lantanas are surviving? Bon Voyage again, and Wade too.

p.p.s. Ulrich -- Not to worry,please: I wouldn't have laid Prussian brutality of old at your door, or anta... !

mac 5:06 PM  

@ulrich: didn't mean to pry, it just struck me as funny. As for the superstar: you may have had more buildings built than he! Most of his work is on paper. I am looking forward to seeing the new building in Beijing in October, that looks quite amazing.

I'm going to unplug my laptop now to pack it for the trip. Hope to read the blog and comments in the hotels and on the boat. I should have wished Wade "safe" travels.

Joon 5:08 PM  

ulrich, i don't think the german word for "eat" is fair game for a crossword puzzle. why would an educated american know that? even spanish (the foreign language most widely spoken here, and therefore given the most leeway in the puzzle) for "eat"--i don't know what that is, and i've never seen it in a puzzle. the french word manger is different because it gives us the common english word manger; although MANGER has never been clued as french for "eat" either. i think "to eat" just isn't as common as e.g. "to be" or "to go" or "to have" or "the" or "my name is" or numbers less than ten, which are the kinds of things that are fair foreign expressions for american xwords.

place names, on the other hand, are inherently fair, since educated americans can be expected to know some non-US geography. that's my two cents.

of course, by an extension of the same reasoning, we should definitely not have AYN clue via robbins instead of rand. people know who AYN rand is; literally, did anybody here know AYN robbins? i'm as happy as the next guy to see less of ms rand in the puzzle, but that doesn't mean it's okay to clue incredibly obscure people like co-lyricists of three-word songs.

Wade 5:44 PM  

Artlvr, see Tobias Wolff's novel "The Old School" for a similar situation starring Ayn Rand. It's fictional, but I think it's based on the author's experience meeting Rand at a New England boarding school.

ArtLvr 6:35 PM  

Thanks, Wade: I'll ask fot it at our local library. It's too bad Ms Rand didn't stop with fiction herself!

I understand this is an Elvis anniversary too?


Bill from NJ 6:53 PM  

andrea CM-

I, too, met Ayn Rand about 30 years ago at a symposium on her works and she came across as an overbearing creep. Anyone I know who experienced her has roughly the same opinion. I had a friend who referred to fallen idols as having Tin Feet but that's a story for another day.


When I lost a carefully reasoned comment for the third time, I finally decided to do something about it and now if I intend to write more than couple of paragraphs on a puzzle, I open Notepad and cut and paste when I am finished. No more lost stuff.

mellocat 6:58 PM  

Hilarious writeup! I have to take the blame for digging up an AYN other than Rand. I didn't think about the fact that the song has less than a dozen words, just that practically everyone knows it (at least the music) and it might be interesting to put a (one of 3, it turns out) creative name to it. Many of the other diabolical clues you have to thank W.S. for. Thanks for the writeup & comments!

Orange 7:31 PM  

Actually, the song has no fewer than 13 different words:

Trying hard now
it's so hard now
trying hard now

Getting strong now
won't be long now
getting strong now

Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly...

So that's, you know, a good four words per writer.

(Thanks to PhillySolver for posting the lyrics at my blog.)

jae 8:21 PM  

@joon -- I'm pretty sure ESSEN has been used in the "eat" form in the Times crossword, although that doesn't make it right. FYI COMER is espanol for "to eat," and I did not know AYN Robbins but did vaguely remember DAILEY after I got a couple of letters.

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

Wade.........great commentary, I had a very similar experience with this puzzle......your comment on "staving off Alzheimer's" was hysterical.


Kim 9:32 PM  

Make of it what you will: The headline on the Bridge column above the puzzle in the print version is: "When the Clock Is Ticking, Try to Remember Ayn Rand"

foodie 10:01 PM  

Ayn Rand's ability to capture the devotion of young women when they first encounter her is pretty remarkable. I remember reading the Fountainhead a million years ago when I was in Beirut and thinking I saw the light. Then years later, my daughter read her and had the same reaction (she probably did not know how I had responded when I was her age or she may have never told me...). One eventually outgrows her, and obviously those who have met her sound less than enchanted. But, even though I felt her appeal, it's a mystery. May be she resonates with young women just as they are figuring out how to be strong... And may be that is why she disappoints in person-- her point of view did not mature beyond that stage...

andrea carla michaels 11:01 PM  

@ joho, jae, Green mantis
mea culpa, didn't know Ms Aniston was such a secret, self-effacing saint!
But harsh? Damn, I thought it was one of the funnier things I've ever spontaneously written...alas.

ESSEN as the German verb "to eat" might be fairly fair game for a NY TImes puzzle esp to jews who had elderly relatives who would say in Yiddish "ESSEN mein kind" at any family get together...
Ah, Aunt Rose...I miss you!
and they would point out that that is where the word DELICAT-ESSEN is from...
But I'm having a deja-ulrich about this, so perhaps it's been discussed.

Plus, "to eat" is one of the first verbs one learns when travelling... unless you want to be from hunger.

Ulrich 11:06 PM  

@foodie et al.: If you read the Tobias Wolff book wade recommends (thanks for reminding me, old dog!), you'll see that she has the ability to attract young men, too. I for myself have never read her--I saw the Fountainhead, and the sight of Gary Cooper designing a skyscraper alone in his attic (do I rememeber this correctly?) was so utterly ludicrous (and I mean utterly) that I never felt compelled to read the book. Now, the book may have a more realistic description of the large team that is needed to do such a job--but then again I doubt it: wouldn't this smell too much of a collective?

mac 12:10 AM  

@andreacarla: my father had an old stein (ceramic bear cup with a pewter lid) that had a verse on it in old Dutch, which loosely translates as:

People learn to drink first,
Much later take to eating.
Thus will they, clever as they are,
never forget their drinking.

For the Dutch reader:

Het drinken leert de mens(ch) het eerst
Veel later pas het eten
Dies zal de mens, van rappen geest
Het drinken niet vergeten.

mac 12:14 AM  

Of course this is a beer cup.....
(reminder to self: Preview! Though the last time I did that the whole comment disappeared)/

jae 2:26 AM  

@andrea -- I'm pretty neutral on Jennifer Aniston although I thought she did a good job in "The Good Girl."

Good night all -- Enjoy your vacation Wade.

ClueLass 2:08 PM  

Wade, I am pretty sure, living in the mountains as I do, that you can't "Clumb" but I am almost positive that you can "Rised"! LOL

That was a fantastic commentary (how many times have you read that now?) for my introduction to your Posts.

I am not new to the Blog but this is my first time commenting. I am amazed at all of you and your vast knowledge of all things great and small. And REALLY amazed at what you will admit to in the course of your puzzling!

When I hear that people have finished Saturday’s puzzle I am always floored. I truly thought that it was never meant to be solved unless you went to area 51 and stole the answer key! So when I hear that people have solved it in an hour I begin to wonder if I am not approaching the puzzle in the right way. After all, Saturday morning begins with a quick run to get my giant latte and back to the bedroom and getting comfy. I am surrounded by my Webster’s set and NYT Book of Knowledge; the laptop is fired up and already on a Google search page; my cell phone and land line are ready and prepped with speed dials for my smart friends and I have not one but two, totally filled mechanical pencils ready to jot in the answers. I mean what more could you ask for? Well I will tell you….The Answers!!! Even with help it didn’t help.

I spent hours doing nothing but working on the puzzle and I can tell you that I really wanted 007 to drive a Lamborghini( hey it fit – what does a blonde know about cars)! I even got the “Aniston” though it is not from watching “Friends” but it was the only name I could remember. Went on to get the “car”, “rant”, “apt to” and “skosh”. This is where my vast knowledge pool ended. Next was the call the Buffalo to check in with the real puzzlers. I asked for answers – they asked if I wanted hints. Not I didn’t want hints; it has been two hours now and I want answers! And so it went. Filled in Zsa Zsa and all the other names that he always has stuck in his head and still I couldn’t come up with the rest. An hour you say…….hmmmm. Are we working with the same time increments?

It was still not done when I started Sunday’s or even finished Sunday’s for that matter. That is when I went to check my “Rex Parker” blog. After reading Wade I felt better but still couldn’t comprehend why my puzzle had huge gaping holes in it. Didn’t Prussia annex Egypt? LOL

My big THANKS to Rex for mucho enjoyable reading for the last year and a new “Thanks” to Wade and Puzzle girl for my two new reads. I will never get anything done now with all this blog reading! All of you are sooo smart and kinda funny too. Your commenters are not bad either.

Okay, I am gushing now so I will stop. Have a good week!

As always,
A Clueless Clue Lass in New Mexico

PS What the heck is an “NLER” ?

Crosscan 2:35 PM  

Don't give up ClueLass I couldn't do Saturdays a few years ago. Practice!

NLER is National LeaguER as in baseball. Look for ALER american as well.

ClueLass 2:52 PM  

Learn something new every week! Thanks CrossCan!

ClueLass 2:52 PM  

Learn something new every week! Thanks CrossCan!

Doc John 3:49 PM  

Great write-up and comments, too!
I did get LANTANA because, having grown up in Miami and taken frequent trips to Orlando on the Florida Turnpike, one of the exits is for (all together now) Lantana, FL. Only later did I find out it was some sort of plant (apparently an herb). That said, I also guessed R instead of Y but if I had checked the down again I would have gone with the Y- DAILEY just makes more sense.

It was the NE and eastern seaboard that killed me. When I finally rethought see and changed it to SAY (re-re-re entering my initial fill of NESTEA), figured out AMATORY and the rest finally fell. The R in ARB was my last fill. Just watched "A Passage to India" the other night for the first time (and on blu-ray, to boot)- what a great film that was!

Nebraska Doug 5:40 PM  

Finally! Took me two days, but I finished it - made one mistake though, had "ARN" for "AYN" - NE corner was the last to drop, tough, but fun puzzle.

Yancy 3:58 PM  

A great write-up for a great puzzle.

Just planted citrus blend lantana for Fall. (nice)
Did not know it to be a herb or look like "ham and eggs."

Finally got maven for guru at the very end.

One blog post not considered a "rant."

Palm Springs Pete 4:43 PM  

Great write-up Wade. Good, challenging puzzle today. Had ASTON MARTIN, RANT, PLO, ESPYS, and NLERS as my gimmes.
That gave me the SE and with ANISTON falling helped fill the entire eastern seaboard.
Had CAB instead of CAR cuz I wanted some kinda -----BUSH.
Wanted IN A ROW for 'Spaced' and had HOPIS instead of ZUNIS and was wondering if BETH ST WEBOR was a person. HAH. Once the FOG lifted I got ZSA ZSA and the NW fell.
Finally finished at the 45 minute mark when I convinced myself AXE was wrong for 6A.
Great cluing today. My only gripe is WTF is an AMATORY. I'll have to add that to my 'Dictionary of Obscure and Archaic Words'.

WWPierre 5:01 PM  

Jae said:

"I knew I liked this one when about a quarter of the way into it I had that feeling of panic that I sometimes get when it seems I might not be able to finish without assistance. A good puzzle will do that for me and will also let me finish."


It was an enjoyable slog for me, taking an hour or so. (3 cups)

I would have finished sooner if I hadn't confidently filled in HAS A COW for 24d. (Rages)

I can't believe no-one else fell into that trap.

Thank you KMT, When I see your name on a puzzle I know it will be the experience Jae so aptly describes.

Me Again 5:05 PM  

WOW!!!!!we are into 3 figures of comments now.

Me Again 5:07 PM  

Oh yeah, Wade made me laugh out loud again. Huzzah!!!

Calady 7:40 PM  

A lot depends on your age-for me the first fill, aside from an "s" or two, was Dailey-a total gimme. But then I stumbled through many of the traps you all experienced. When I finish a puzzle like this, I silently award myself a gold star!

Alvin Lee 11:35 AM  

Ladies & gentlemen, Six Weeks After!!!

Did this in one sitting, without Googling, and without guessing, so I'm a little surprised at the huffing & puffing it caused many of the solvers above. Of course I didn't get every answer right off the bat, but:
- do enough puzzles & things you don't really know you know just come to you (LANTANA, SCHNOZZLE, SCREE, AZIMUTH);
- do enough puzzles & the constructor's tricks (misdirection, or figuring which meaning of a word is intended, or knowing where a compound answer is called for) are fairly easily seen through (NLERS, PROVISION, HASFITS, INAFOG).

To me, a good puzzle is one that really makes me work & isn't necessarily finished in 1 sitting, a puzzle from which I can take personal satisfaction in a tough job well done; this one did not strain me very much, and so the satisfaction was more along the lines of, "Ms. Tracey didn't get me THIS time!" Not to say it wasn't an enjoyable use of my time...

A couple of specific comments: wouldn't give too much credit to Tracey for "working in" ZSAZSAGABOR - as a sometime constructor I'd guess that she decided to use the name first & then did the fill off of it. Also, it's unbelievable that ASTONMARTIN could be such a stumper - anyone "of a certain age" would remember that the gimmick-laden car from that very early OO7 flick was renowned at the time. Thus it was a gimme, and a helpful one at that.

mellocat 2:52 PM  

Alvin Lee, you are quite right. ZSAZSAGABOR was the first entry placed in this grid.

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