SATURDAY, Sep. 6, 2008 - Barry C. Silk (Improvisatory composition / Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. / Ancient Negev dweller)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Well this is interesting. When I test-solved this puzzle, I had an error. I had TOCCATO / ORIS rather than TOCCATA / ARIS. The published version of the puzzle, however, makes that error almost impossible to make. The TOCCATA clue was untouched (51A: Improvisatory composition), but the ARIS clue went from 52D: "Pro _____ et focis" to today's other- end- of- the- difficulty- spectrum 52D: Onassis and others. I squawked (or QUACKED - 34A: Sounded like a bufflehead) at the original ARIS clue, somebody else probably did too, and the clue got changed. You're welcome.

My biggest struggle in solving this puzzle was the NW, where I confidently / cockily wrote in KICK for 5D: Aptly named Philadelphia indoor soccer team (Kixx). You have to admit KICK is more apt. Apt! This gave me INDECER for 17A: Librarian, at times, which I convinced myself was right because, well ... there are INDECES, so why not an INDECER. It's Saturday, and really, INDECER doesn't even rate on the list of "Weird @#$# I have seen in a Saturday NYT Puzzle." That final "K" in KICK was the real thorn, as it gave me KRAY--B where X-RAY LAB needed to be (20A: Where inside info is revealed?). That double-X in KIXX is about the dumbest double-letter I've seen. I guess KICK was too prosaic, and KIX, obviously, taken. That double-X is reminding me of the double-T at the end of RATT, a short-lived but oddly memorable 80s rock band that, if there is any justice in the world, surely played during halftime of the KIXX's (ouch) inaugural home opener. Even if you hate 80s music, you will love this video. It stars ... someone you know (I'm talking to you, old people!). Everything you need to know about 80s hard rock, every cliche in the book, you can see/hear in this music video.

And trolling for bands named "KIXX" (no luck) I found this:

and this

There is an 80's rock band called KIX-S, but I can't find anything by them, so instead I offer you the next best 80s thing: Saigon Kick singing "Love is on the Way" (this low-rent video is hilariously cheeseball, esp. everything the lead singer does with his face / hands, but I Love the way they sing "Baby" - you have to wait for it, sadly; it's in the chorus)

KIXX is not the only interesting double-letter combo in the puzzle. There's the double-A in both QUAALUDE (34D: It's a downer) and SANTA ANA (12D: Orange County seat), and the wacky double-O in OOCYTE (41D: An egg develops from it) ... which neatly intersects OVI- (41A: Egg head?) ... and at the head! Nice. A not-so-nice intersection: HOME ICE (15A: Place for a skating edge) and ICERS (6D: Some players in penalty boxes). I guess their thematic relationship gets them off the intersecting-ICEs hook. Somewhat.

With the addition of the new ARIS clue, there were a sizeable number of flat-out gimmes today, including 26A: One of the Coreys on "The Two Coreys" (Haim) - if you knew who RATT was (above), then you know who Coreys HAIM and FELDMAN are, guaranteed. Also, frequent crossword dweller Counselor TROI shows her head once again (51D: Counselor on "Star Trek: T.N.G."). Speaking of "dweller," we get two kinds today: SWEDES are 45D: Dwellers on Lake Vanern and the EDOMITE is a 60A: Ancient Negev dweller. The only other awkward "-er" word in the clues is in 10D: Threshold adjoiner (jamb), but that one's so easy that it's hard to get too bothered at its OddJobbiness.


  • 1A: Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. (Whiz Kid) - is this a show of some kind? Lots of great letters in the answer.
  • 16A: Fox's cousin (Arapaho) - did not know the Fox were a tribe
  • 18A: They come out in the spring (Geminis) - "come out" as in ... "out" of the birth canal? Babies are beautiful and all, but I'm eating breakfast here.
  • 23A: "The King and I" film director (Lang) - no idea. Fritz? Nope, Walter. DARN IT (33A: "Phooey!")
  • 39A: Name in cosmetics since 1931 (Almay) - got this off the "A" despite never having used (to my knowledge) an ALMAY product in my life.
  • 40A: Luxury Hyundai sedan (Azera) - commit it to memory. I did, and man, it really helped today.
58A: Home to Hitsville U.S.A. (Detroit) - ah yes, some Motown will get the taste of RATT out of my mouth:

  • 4D: One of a jazz duo? (zee) - done. This clue is done. Officially done. Played out. I've seen it half a dozen times in different puzzles in the past six months, and it's no longer anything close to clever. Put it on ICE for a few years. Thank you.
  • 8D: Losing pitcher in the 1956 World Series perfect game (Maglie) - I know you wanna keep the clues short, but you could have given the perfect game pitcher a Little credit. The clue makes it seem like the game just ... happened. His name is Don Larsen, btw.
  • 42A: Plays a trump card (ruffs) - no idea. I'm not ... cardy.
  • 53A: Suffix in linguistics (eme) - yes, many of you wanted ESE, I'm sure, but the original clue, [Linguistic suffix], despite appearing nearly identical, actually would have made you want ESE even more. Something about changing "linguistic" from adjectival to nominative form makes the specificity of the science more pronounced. Words like "grapheme" and "phoneme" and "morpheme" are common in linguistics.
  • 32D: Daughter of Loki (Hel) - H, E, single hockey stick!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. "DESERTS" is spelled correctly. Yes. Yes it is. Please stop emailing me about this alleged "error." Thank you.


Barbara 9:06 AM  

Having trouble with the southeast corner...plays a trump card ? and stir up...must have something wrong.

Barbara 9:09 AM  

nevermind. i had "ese" instead of "eme" which i would never have guessed.

jannieb 9:13 AM  

Solved this counter-clockwise. Nailed the NW and worked south from there. Hit a wall at the Mason-Dixon line until I sussed out cut-rate and Qatar. The rest finally fell into place.

As I was solving this I was thinking we had a double or triple pangram here - and it came very close.

@Barbara, "ruff" is a term used in playing bridge. When you are out of the suit being led you can ruff with a trump and win the trick if yours is the highest trump card played.

evil doug 9:40 AM  

If "icers" is meant to be slang for hockey players in general---a term with which I'm unfamiliar in that usage, but then again I haven't been much of a fan since goon play replaced the skill of Howe and Mikita---then they would indeed be "some players in penalty boxes".

But if "icers" refers to players who commit icing---clear their zone by dumping the puck too far down the rink---they don't get sent to the penalty box for that; it's simply a face-off in the offender's own zone.

So I'm either not thrilled with the lazy vagueness of the clue, or it's a blatant mistake. I'll presume the former.


Orange 9:41 AM  

Rex, you should read the comments to your own blog. Then you would have known that the Fox were a tribe (usually linked to the Sac or Sauk)—right here.

"Is this a show of some kind?" Good gravy, Rex! The Westinghouse/Intel awards are from the annual smartypants science competition for high-schoolers. WHIZ KID is merely a descriptive term. Too bad it's not a TV show, because it would kick ass if promising young scientists got even a tenth of the attention given to adults who are not smarter than gifted fifth graders.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

This was my worst showing in months. Absolutely had nothing going for me except a few gimmes like Yosemite and Up Early and Haim. And I always figured that "just deserts" was "desserts." Live and learn. For "librarian" I first tried "Shusher" and then "Refiler" which worked nicely with "I'm full." Oh well. The Farmer's Market is calling.

Chuck Wessell 9:49 AM  

Wanted to post about "icers", but Doug has hit that nail on the head. Hesitated in the NW since I was sure "ice" wouldn't cross another "ice". The Robbie Van Winkle Honorary corner.

imsdave1 10:00 AM  

Lucky to have my father and sister here today, or never would have solved this without the dreaded google. Evil Doug and Chuck: ICERS is horrible, regardless of Mr. Silks intent (penatly or player). Definitely more of a challenging for me.

Off to the CT shore for what was supposed to be my nieces wedding at the gorgeous Harkness Memorial - Unfortunately, we're supposed to be getting 4 to 6 inches of rain today.

Good day all.

ArtLvr 10:00 AM  

I especially like Rex's comment about GEMIMIS that come out in the spring, tra la. There wasn't any other first letter that fit, but it was weird.

I knew the Latin tag "DUM Spiro, Spero" = While I breathe, I hope... So I started there and was very pleased to zip along through the entire lower half like a charm, and then the NE too. OOCYTE was a gimme, so clever -- but then I hit a wall.

In the NW, I had DERANGED, XRAYLAB and LANG and no good way from there into the corner. At 1D I wanted "Spools" for [Reels] and at 3D had "I'm fine" rather than IMDONE, thus could not see RKO, etc. Major let-down after such a jolly start! It all hangs together beautifully, though.

A REAL tour de force! Bravissimo, Barry...


dk 10:08 AM  

re: ICERS -- agreeing with @evil doug two days in a row.

Had to come here for Arapaho but @orange is right I shudda, cudda.

I spelled QATAR qutar.. sigh.

Good one Barry.

Wade 10:08 AM  

Yeah, the Foxes were tight with the Sacs. At least they used to be, back when I was in fourth grade and read up on that stuff.

I didn't finish this puzzle, and I recuse myself in spirit from any commentary on it, as the bottom middle bit had a bunch of stuff I just didn't know and never would have figured out or guessed with any kind of satisfaction or confidence. ALMAY, OOCYTE, TOCCATA, TROI . . . . Vague bells ringing, maybe, maybe, on the first two, but . . . . No, I got nothing.

chefbea1 10:08 AM  

we had Yosemite=Mt. Dana yesterday
Half dome's home=Yosemite today
what do we call that?

I thought it was just desserts also

Lots of Q,X,W,Y,Z's in the puzzle. all in all a good saturday puzzle - but I did have to google of course

UltraViolet 10:17 AM  

Loved the H-E-single hockey stick commentary! Do only Canadians get this reference? Being one myself, it was immediately obvious.

This was my first attempt at solving a Saturday puzzle, so I was a bit intimidated, but happily I managed to fill about 2/3 of the grid before checking in here.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Just wanted to point out an apparent error in 5d cluing. In ice hockey "icing" is not a penalized infraction, it simply stops play. The "icer", a never-used term, does not go the penalty box. This added to the difficulty of the already difficult NW.

Barry 10:29 AM  

As I mentioned last night on Orange's blog, my original clue for 6-Down, ICERS. was "Bakery gizmos." Having had NHL season tickets many years ago, I'm quite familiar with the rules of ice hockey and agree that this clue is misleading. Will must have changed it because the original clue was deemed too easy for a Saturday puzzle.

According to Will, that clue apparently slipped by many test solvers without being caught!

A couple of years ago, I remember attending the premier showing of "WordPlay" in the Washington DC area and Will Shortz had a Q&A session with the audience afterwards. Someone asked him how many errors occur in puzzles. Will answered that there's approximately a dozen errors that somehow slip past the quality controls that are in place during the course of a year. I guess this is one of those, unfortunately. It is amazing though that over the course of a year, considering the thousands of clues that get published, only a very tiny percentage of them are inaccurate.

Barry Silk

Ulrich 10:30 AM  

I'm very proud for being able to do this w/o googling and inspite of various unknowns. Missed the earlier FOX comment, had DARNED for far too long, had to accept OOCYTE b/c nothing would fit, didn't know the Half Dome, refused ICERS for a while (for the reasons stated above) etc etc--but still, I did it, in fits and starts, though.

My biggest complaint: GEMINIS--can you form a plural of a plural?

evil doug 10:40 AM  


I think it'd be nice if Will would make a courtesy call to his puzzle-builders if he decides to make substantive changes to his/her clues. Who better to be the final gatekeeper for potential errors?

Thanks for the shout-out at 59-across. But why not just clue it "Doug"?

The REal Evil One

Wade 10:45 AM  

Hey, Barry! Mornin'!

Oh. It's the constructor.

Badir 10:56 AM  

Rex's ALMAY gimme off the first A was my WTF?! I put in "ALCAY". :( And, Rex, I do remember Ratt, and I remember that song and video from my youth, but I have No Idea who either Corey Haim or Corey Feldman is. So there. Not guaranteed!

Speaking of guaranteed, I used to teach at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where the winters are cold and long. Everyone's all bundled up for most of the spring semester, but the last couple of weeks, the shorts and sun dresses always come out. So when I was looking at 18A: "They come out in the spring" and saw ---INIS, I confidently put in BIKINIS. :)

The puzzle's a pangram!

Badir 11:01 AM  

@Ulrich, you mean like "peoples"? :)

jae 11:06 AM  

Nice challenging Sat. Had to stare at this a while before anything caught on. Fortunately I don't know enough about hockey to know that icing is not a penalty box offense (boring sport for me as its really hard to follow the puck).

I also tried SPOOLS and had CLUCKED briefly.

Needed my bride for ALMAY and the double CC in TOCCATA.

Corrected a long held misconception with DESERTS.

PhillySolver 11:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Stater 11:13 AM  

Hey, Rex, gotcha in a rare error. AFAIK, ain't no such thing as INDECES; the plural of "index" is "indices." INDECES does get 91,000 hits on Google, though ("indices" gets 49 million).

It doesn't surprise me a bit that the clue for ICERS was, shall we say, induced error, a different kettle of fish altogether.

PhillySolver 11:13 AM  

I gave ICERS a pass because I thought it might refer to something other than a multiline pass. On Orange's blog, I see there are other explanations as to why ICERS may be plausible. I did seriously question GEMINIS though. The constellation GEMINI (The Twins) actually comes over the horizon in the Winter and is on the decline in the Spring, at least here in NA. As Ulrich points out, the constellation already refers to a plural, so how can two constellations emerge in the Spring? Then it hit me. People born in the Spring (come out) are born under the sign GEMINI and that plural works for me. Welcome to all of you Geminis.

Great puzzle both as written and as edited. Thank you Barry.

Hobbyist 11:18 AM  

One quibble from me. I hate the new use of done to mean finished. I'm done is not as bad as I'm done eating but it sticks in my craw all the same.

Cheryl 11:21 AM  

I finished at 3 am EDT. I had drunk a bunch of coffee to stay up late with my husband the night owl, who then fell asleep.
I had a dictionary lookup and an atlas check, which I have convinced myself is better than Googling (which I usually resort to on Saturday).

It was my first AZERA exposure, which I had to get from crosses, so I will be sure to follow Rex's advice and commit it to memory.

I was filled with righteous indignation over ICERS, which I am over now for the obvious reason. Overall, an enjoyable and satisfying solve.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  


A Gemini, in astrology, designates a person born sometime between late May and most of June. I know lots of "Geminis".


chefbea1 11:32 AM  

Rex - meant to say earlier that I loved the video with Uncle Miltie......what do you mean old people!!!!

Rex Parker 11:35 AM  


You are of course right about INDICES, but sadly you missed being the first to rub my face in the error (though you were first to do so publicly!).

GEMINIS is just fine. "We're both CAPRICORNS." Completely in the language.


joho 11:40 AM  

Being a Gemini I object to "in the spring." To me June starts off the summer. I suppose late May qualifies but the clue should have said "late spring" or "early summer." Just a small quibble.

I really loved this puzzle. I got through it without Google but looked up some words to check to be sure they are indeed words. Never heard the term RUFFS. I also had to check TOCCATA. Loved QUACKED because I once gave my ex-husband a buffleheaded duck from Orvis. I called him my "darling, buffleheaded husband" with the gift, thus a divorce ensued.

Thanks to you, Barry, for a wonderful Saturday morning workout. And also, thanks for revealing the truth behind ICERS. I liked your clue better.

Rex Parker 11:43 AM  

PS @hobbyist, what are you on about? "New?"

Circa 1300, from the OED:

a1300 Cursor Mundi. 20319 (Cott.) Mi ioi es don euerilk dele ("My joy is done - i.e. over, finished, kaput - every bit")

Twangster 11:49 AM  

Well I was able to get 98% of it without cheating. With so many Zs I put in "AVEZ raison" instead of avec, then guessed it must be OOZYTE. Not being a Star Trek watcher I then had _OZZATA going across and didn't know what to do with that. Also didn't know the Latin or or the cosmetics name so I had AL_AY and DU_ crossing.

Norm 11:50 AM  

Tough puzzle (for me, at least) but very enjoyable. Stuff I didn't know was (eventually) inferrable. Wish I hadn't second-guessed myself and given up on CLIMAXED so quickly, and I really wanted OUT LATE for UP EARLY.

Orange 12:34 PM  

Rex, thanks for the 700-year-old OED citation—I wasn't yet done laughing from reading hobbyist's comment when I reached your rebuttal. Hardcore usage prescriptivism amuses me more and more these days.

Doc John 12:34 PM  

Pretty good Saturday outing for me today. Almost wish it had been harder because I'm stuck in the NC mountains with nothing to do on this blustery day.

Nice to see TSE as something other than half a fly.

Did anyone else think it was weird that TROI crossed the "troi" in DETROIT?

Initially spelled TOCCATA "tocatta" and so it was a while before I CLIMAXED. I always wondered what was the toccata and what was the fugue (in D minor).

OK, on to find something else to do around here...

Ulrich 12:39 PM  

Re. gemini: I rest my case.

I accept, as several have pointed out, that gemini is a sign, and it is common to form an English plural by adding an s to the Latin name. But note that it would not work if the signs were referred to by their English names--the sign would be "twins" and people born under it would be "twins", not "twinses"--it would be the same situation as in German BTW, where all signs are referred to by their German names, and that may have led to my initial complaint.

Patso 12:39 PM  

icers do not go to the penalty box

john in nc 12:43 PM  

I really liked that RATT song the first time I heard it -- when it was called Panama and was by Van Halen. Seriously, those songs came out at roughly the same time, and I can barely tell them apart -- same song structure and harmonic rhythm, and the melody for the chorus is very very similar. KIXX is my new favorite band. I hope their tour comes to my home town.

Puzzle was great. Kept wanting something with SCI or FAIR in 1a, but the answer was more rewarding than that. FOMENT is a Great word. OOCYTE is a fantastic word. Got HAIM and QUASI and then paused because the double AA looked wrong. But no! Great puzzle!

Bill from NJ 12:55 PM  

I knew from Orange that Barry Silk was very Scrabbly and my first entry, KIXX, verified it, being from the Philadelphia area.

I raced through the North and had all of it at the QUACKED/CUTRATE line in a relatively short period of time.

I have fond memories of Sal MAGLIE as my father and I listened to Don Larsen's perfect game on Armed Forces Radio at 4 in the morning when we were stationed in Japan. My dad was a big Brooklyn fan and was gloating over the mismatch between "Sal the Barber" and the journeyman Don Larsen. I, as a 7 year old kid and reader of the book Big Time Baseball 1955 was a fan of Mickey Mantle and the Yanks.

The South didn't go as well, particularly in the Oklahoma region as I had GAMYTE at 41D. When I finally pieced to gether TOCATTA, I was at a loss at what to do at 41D.

I approached the end of the puzzle by way of changing ESE to EME, getting me FOMENT and changing the spelling of QUAALUDE from double UUs to double AAs and closing down the SW.

I decided that DESERTS was probably going to work as my last entry. Never heard of OOCYTE but it was inferable from the crosses

Doc John 12:58 PM  

Oh yeah, I loved seeing QUAALUDE in the puzzle! Great puzzle word- has it been in there many times before?

Wade 12:59 PM  

I bet if you iced a cake during a game you'd go to the penalty box. So let's just all agree to disagree.

I'm a Gemini (June 6) and every spring I put on my bikini and entertain the boys down at the local firehouse, so I fell into that trap too.

One-S "just deserts" is easy to remember if you keep in mind that "just deserts" is getting what you "deserve." I assume they're from the same root but haven't looked it up because I've spent most of my 41 lazy years relying on assumptions with only occasional challenges and by then I usually have an excuse cooked up.

HudsonHawk 1:09 PM  

Mr. Silk, very nice puzzle other than the well-covered ICERS issue. I appreciate the explanation. 4X, 2Q, 2Z. Me likey.

No googling, but I did pull out the dictionary and looked up "bufflehead". Helped tremendously.

I love it when commenters don't read the previous comments.

@chuck wessell, the Ice, Ice Baby reference cracked me up. N(ICE).

archaeoprof 1:11 PM  

IMDONE and KIXX did me in. Is indoor soccer like arena football? I mean, do they have crazy rules? Like, you can use your hands?

Really good, fun Saturday puzzle, with clever cluing overall, I thought. Thanks, Barry.

jeff in chicago 1:35 PM  

Excellent puzzle, Barry. As with most Saturdays, I had more Googles than I would like to admit, but it was still a fun ride.

Not so much with Rex and his awful '80s hair band videos. A sad time in music, IMO. The Smokey clip I listened to twice. Love the Motown.

The SW fell first for me. DETROIT was a gimme and UNZIPPED a good guess. Adding UNVEIL gave me QUAALUDE and the rest came relatively easy. Then lots of staring. WHIRLS and LANG came next and the NW crept through. Like jae, I didn't know enough about hockey to see any problem, though I was surprised to see ICE twice.

Favorites were WHIZKID, QUACKED, DERANGED and EVILONE. LPS came easy, but no indication of an acronym?

Totally agree with Orange's comments about WHIZKID. Too bad the networks cater to DUM people!

acme 1:42 PM  

Fun, T-O-U-G-H...


Opposite of smooth as Silk (for me) Barry!

The double/triple pangram part was super helpful bec I had made so many initial errors.

Finally realizing there might be lots of QXJZ, I guessed KIXX (love that name!) and changed most of my more blatant mistakes:


What a mess!

Scrabble-ness helped me eventually get XRAY LAB, QATAR and QUIZKID
(ooops, WHIZKID)

(actually didn't understand the ZEE clue till I came here! I had BOP and even AFTER I got ZEE, I didn't get it...maybe ZEE was referring somehow to ZZ Top...Oy!)

Had to google YOSEMITE and then the entire NE fell, but this is the messiest puzzle I've ever done, I think my ONLY correct word initially was ARIS.
So, yes, Rex, thank you!

acme 1:51 PM  


Bec of our discussion on the se7en deadly sins, I had SLOTH instead of SNAIL!


When we start our own cable empire,
WHIZKIDS can follow Rex's VHI-esque puzzle-video show (Please please please let me name it?)

When I wrote for this Dictionary-like show called "Wordplay" in the 80's,
(not be confused with some movie I hear is out)
Corey Feldman (who was still a teenager) was one of the celebrity panel members and totally drugged and ruined all our jokes and we had to do like 80 takes while the poor contestants were wondering what was happening.
Worst... guest... ever.

(Best one? Oddly, the dad from the "Eight is Enough" show!)

Joon 2:04 PM  

i loved this puzzle, despite the ICERS problem already mentioned. lots of really good stuff. i can forgive the occasional odd job (INDEXER), partial (AREAL), or plural name (ARIS) in such a lovely grid. oddly, i would have preferred the other ARIS clue, even though i wouldn't have known it at all.

somebody asked, so here it is: QUAALUDE makes its NYT debut today. so did KIXX, XRAYLAB, CLIMAXED, the aforementioned INDEXER, and some surprising things like HONKAT, HURRYUP, IMDONE, MAJESTY, NOKIA (!?), UPEARLY, and WHIRLS. i am positively shocked that NOKIA, a short word with three vowels, hasn't been in the grid before.

my downfall was the DUM/ALMAY crossing. i'll commit ALMAY to memory, but i'd never seen it before, and my latin isn't good enough to know DUM. the only way i could have gotten it is with a requiem clue (dum veneris judicare seculum per ignem... i don't know what that means, exactly, but i sang it, so i remember it).

bill from fl 2:06 PM  

From the Xerox web site:

"Xerox as a trademark is properly used only as a brand name to identify the company's products and services. The Xerox trademark should always be used as a proper adjective followed by the generic name of the product: e.g., Xerox printer. The Xerox trademark should never be used as a verb. The trade name Xerox is an abbreviation for the company's full legal name: Xerox Corporation.

XEROX is a registered trademark of Xerox Corporation."

All of this, of course, is to prevent the word from becoming a generic term and losing its trademark status. Maybe Will should include the TM symbol in the grid.

joho 2:42 PM  

@joon: so interesting about all the new words in the puzzle today. I knew I'd never seen QUAALUDE before, but had no idea about the others you mentioned. Makes me admire even more Barry's ability to innovate and therefore entertain.

fergus 2:49 PM  

On the way here, with a sullen, squeamish feeling with my INDECER, and KRAY LAB (big old supercomputer to find the inner secrets?), I discovered that my internet connection had faltered. During the restart the double XX magically appeared, and now I come to visit much more cheerfully.

Not the least surprised about the hockey business, though, and feel sorry for Mr. Silk to have that blemish on his otherwise splendid puzzle.

Did anyone else have any thoughts about SEDUCER for the Librarian Clue? Isn't that some kind of a cliche?

I also had MERE and then LITE for the Insubstantial Clue.

Oddly enough, last year I helped some Biology students fill in their Genetics and Reproduction crossword puzzle, which just happened to include OOCYTE. Remembering this, I was free to get on with my POEMS.

foodie 2:57 PM  

Today it felt like me and my dumb twin had decided to split the puzzle. I got the bottom half and aced it, and my dumb twin got nowhere in the top. She guessed JAMB and IMDONE right off and she was done at that point. Needed to cheat... oh well.

I loved the eggy part of the puzzle, the ova-oocyte corner. But here's the weird thing about the top-- I knew exactly what the Westinghouse Award is-- my son was a finalist over a decade ago. I just could not conjure up WHIZKID. I guess it's because I don't think of them as such. But actually, those who win this award have amazing odds of developing into fantastic scientists, getting the National Medal of Science, or the Nobel Prize. So, Rex, your lovely and talented daughter who bought herself a compass, could participate some day. And the secret: it's not about regurgitating knowledge- You do your own original project. So, for those of you who hate science as taught in books, please trust me on two things: a) your kid is a natural born scientist. We just kill it during the educational process and b) asking your own questions is a wonderful adventure, whereas learning it the wrong way can resemble reading the phone book.

Sorry for the long post. Does it count that I've been silent for over a day?

@acme: You wrote for Wordplay! I loved that show. I hope you write your biography some day.

Howard B 3:03 PM  

Yeah, this was another fun, Scrabbly puzzle all the way. Unfortunately, this time around that ICER error caused my whole top-left section to unravel, as I'm a bit of an avid hockey fan, and I kept discounting that 'I' because the best possibility with that letter, 'ICERS', didn't quite fit the clue, so I kept erasing what turned out to be correct answers in the applet. Oh well, win some, you lose some. We're all entitled to a let a few goals in every so often.

Wade 3:08 PM  

Foodie, Woody Allen already wrote Andrea's biography. It's called "Zelig."

mac 3:33 PM  

This one was medium to challenging to me, although the only word I looked up was Arapaho, everything else I just kept on plugging away at (that sounds as bad as "I'm done plugging away"):-).

I was pretty happy with myself for getting icers via an actual hockey word I remembered, icing, but of course I have no idea how they get punished. @Barry, the original clue, bakery gizmos, wouldn't have passed the test because there is no such thing. An icer is a human being, maybe wielding an off-set spatula or a knife. We may have to double check with Chef Bea.

I learned a lot of new words and names today: Arapaho, Kixx, Azera, Oocyte, Haim (the only Corey I know cuts our lawn), Troi, ruffs
and toccata. I also had a few mistakes I didn't want to correct, such as bikinis at 18A, at 33D I started out with "per", then "cum" before I got "dum" DARN IT, "uni" and "tri" before "epi" at 11D. It's a good thing my Pantel Twist Erase has such a long eraser.

I loved a lot of the words, and it's great to find out that they are original. I spent a fun time on this one, and as usual the write-up and comments greatly added to my enjoyment.

mac 3:46 PM  

Just checked (I know, should have done so before) but Calphalon sells a double-edged spatula that they call an icer.

alanrichard 4:01 PM  

I'm sitting with my standard poodle, Willie, and practically done with the puzzle - but this penalty thing is just holding me up. Then I said, "Will, icing is not a penalty". He replied RUFF and I acknowleged Roughing, Slashing, Tripping are all penalties but not icing.
My other delays were spelling Haim as Hiam and Deserts as Desserts but other than that, this went pretty quickly.
And, I remember when Sal Maglie pitched and somewhere in my house I have a Sal Maglie card. I remember him pitching for the Giants.

The Asian Badger 4:05 PM  

I knew Kixx somehow and Xraymachine but got killed in the rest of the puzzle. I've been on a good run lately but today's just murdered me. Might have been the hangover...who knows?

Thanks to Barry Silk for his comments on the puzzle. Always interesting to get the perspective of the creator of a puzzle.

chefbea1 4:15 PM  

@mac - what a great tool - that Icer. Think I need one

Judgesully 4:58 PM  

Gadzooks! Milton Berle! I think he preferred and looked better in drag than any other garb! The nastiest clue of the bunch was "Notorious company." Unless you are a true aficionado of old Hitchcock movies, this would be almost impossible. The entire country west of the Mississippi was no fun at all.

Michael 6:11 PM  

Despite all sorts of seemingly-hard fill, I went through this faster than usual for a Saturday. I was helped by looking for Qs and Zs and Xes. Even though I know well the Westinghouse/Intel contest, I had "quiz kid" for a while because of my fixation on high-scoring scrabble letters.

new to me -- bufflehead, almay, azera, toccata, edomite, kixx, troi, oocyte.

I knew something didn't seem right with "icers" but hockey is one sport I know little about.

miriam b 7:22 PM  

Lots of sports references, all gettable via crosses.

My son is one of those GEMINIS.

A guy I knew in high school was a Westinghouse winner. This now (ahem) mature WHIZKID is an eminent astronomer at CalTech. Thanks, Mr. Silk. Nice Saturday fare.

fergus 7:24 PM  


Perhaps even sillier than plural GEMINIS is a singular fellow I met, a purveyor of herbal products in Washington Square Park, who went by the name Gemini. I asked him whether it wasn't a bit odd to be without his twin, but he seemed a bit nonplussed.

fikink 7:28 PM  

I wish we could lose weight by thinking, cuz this one had me going all day. But I can report success finally and no googling! Thank you Mr. Silk.
You'd think QUAAYLUDE would have been a looper for me, but wives of small-town pharmacists must be as Caesar's wife. Sheesh!
Thanks for RATT (and quit calling us old, you whipper-snapper!)
As for Volltreffer, we sent up 99 luftballoons in your name. Viva la...

So I wanted NOG as the answer to "egg head?"
@badir, I so wanted BIKINIS, too.
@phillysolver, I had the same reasoning re: GEMINIS and the night sky.
@john in nc - I, too, love the word FOMENT, or perhaps all of you had already guessed that.
@acme, I had SLOTH for the longest time, too, because of yesterday's comments. (I thought the GEMINI were aligned again. Hey, and I waited on the dad from Eight is Enough in a bookstore in St. Louis in the '80s.)
First had SHELVER for librarian. You can tell I've worked in very small libraries. Anybody remember that film where the shelvers skated the NYC library? If so, may I know the name?
And ICERS are routinely distributed to pharmacy students for compounding purposes (most of which have found their way into my kitchen drawer).

jannieb 7:54 PM  

The father on "Eight Is Enough" was Dick Van Patten, in case anyone cares.

Ulrich 8:58 PM  

@fergus: Having had Latin for 9 years is a decidedly mixed blessing: It's no fun to cringe every time "data" or "gemini" is used as a singular. I know, I know, it's perfectly acceptable, but it's hard to get rid of instincts that were developed over a decade and at a very impressible age.

@fikink: I love your dropping German words, even if they leave me a bit non-plussed:-)

fergus 9:16 PM  

How about phenomena as a singular? The media is a lost cause, I reckon since it seems too pedantic to fuss about.

I remain impressed with how non-native English speakers adopt the language so well, yet there are always some instances of idioms that don't turn out so well. I cite a German guy from last night's dinner party who worried about throwing the kid out with the bathtub, and a former German colleague who asked for ballpoint figures. (I'm not picking on Germans, Ulrich; this is actually a veiled compliment.)

Anyone can make these minor errors, of course, but I find extra amusement when they're stated in a slightly foreign accent.

Rex Parker 9:19 PM  

Puzzle. Puzzle. Or nothing.


foodie 9:29 PM  

well, reading this blog has cost me over $30 today. Mr. Silk's tidbit about the original clue for icer, followed by Mac's information about the existence of an icer by Calphalon sent me looking for one. I found an "icer", an all purpose "turner" and a "cookie spatula" all made by Calphalon, and realized I desperately needed each of them. Now I am eagerly awaiting their arrival. I will remember you all as I use them, and especially that an icer is NOT a penalty in hockey. Never has a cooking gizmo had so many associations...

fergus 9:35 PM  

RP, I know I require constraint at times, but this was still a thread on 18A -- GEMINIS. Over and out. FF

fikink 9:45 PM  

Besides learning the correct spelling of just DESERTS today, I also learned that biceps is singular, thus the answer was FLEXOR, not flexors, which I fought for a long time.

kevin der 11:35 PM  

got 1-across instantly, since many of my college mates were westinghouse and/or intel finalists and winners.

but i had a lot of trouble finishing. could not get anywhere with the NE corner or with part of the SW due to QUAALUDE and having STEEL instead of STERN in 27-Across. ended up passing my patience threshold and just looked up a few answers to finish.

Crosscan 1:56 AM  

Late , late but I'm back home. Did this one in the airport. Wanted to scream out ICERS!!! but screaming at the airport not a great idea.

I got the TOCCATA/OOCYTE crossing wrong - guessed an L. nobody else seems to be bothered by that crossing so it is a personal NATICK I guess.

Rest has been said by others.

chefbea1 7:08 AM  

@foodie let me know how the icer is when you receive it. I think I need one also

Ellie 9:35 AM  

Wow. That is the worst song I have ever heard. Or seen. No wonder I blocked out the 80s. Yeesh.

PlanD 2:58 PM  

There's another, less obvious cluing issue than the icing infraction:
Not all ducks quack.
is a duck, but the sounds it makes are only described as "quacking" by those who have never actually heard one.
Now, this is a quack.

fikink 4:19 PM  

PLAND: Great videos, amazing pond, and edifying sounds. Thanks!

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