SATURDAY, Nov. 29, 2008 - Barry C. Silk (Defier of Stalin / "Oedipe" opera composer, 1936 / The sculptures "Cloud Shepherd" and "Coquille Crystals")

Friday, November 28, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Whew. Solid Saturday. Right over the plate. Reasonably smooth, reasonably tough, a flashy answer or two, and even a snazzy construction feat - right in the heart of the puzzle, a SELDOM SEEN (63A: Rare) Z-square formed by the intersections of DIZZY (37A: Swimming) and RAZZ (40A: Heckle) with PIZZA (29D: Kind of oven) and OZZY (34D: "The Osbournes" dad). OZZY was one of a big handful of gimmes in today's puzzles: two more proper nouns in EDY (43D: Last name in ice cream) and NIC (49A: Actor Cage, informally), the oddly easy ROO (21A: Bush jumper, informally), the gut-level guess, DECO (18A: Like the Empire State Building), and the came-to-me-instantly AM I TO BLAME? (25D: Question that may be answered "No, you're not responsible"). I suppose that last one could have been DID I DO THAT? Thankfully, that didn't occur to me.

This puzzle had the typical handful of people I'd never (or barely) heard of. I know I've seen GRISSOM in my puzzle before, but that didn't help today - needed most of the crosses to get it (41D: Second American to fly in space). This AYER guy is totally unknown to me (44A: Philosopher who promoted logical positivism). AYERS, everyone's heard of now. AYER, not so much. And GREER (41A: 20-Across in the Hall of Fame) - 20A: Net rival (Sixer)??? I know Rosey GRIER, but Hal GREER was before my time. His Wikipedia entry contains this curious claim: "Hal Greer is recognized as the only African-American athlete enshrined in a major sports hall of fame from West Virginia." I had heard of TITO (35A: Defier of Stalin), of course, but that doesn't mean his name came to me instantly. A cross or two was enough to do the trick. And I know ARP pretty well, but I am not familiar with the names of either of the sculptures (or ARPS) in question today (11A: The sculptures "Cloud Shepherd" and "Coquille Crystals").

The toughest part of the puzzle for me was the SE, perhaps because that triad of parallel proper nouns (ENESCO, GRISSOM, CHIOS) were all initially unknown to me, which left the whole middle of that section barren. I think that after I guessed the -ER in AYER, I guessed ENESCO from the EN- (45D: "Oedipe" opera composer), but that still left things very sparse down there. It wasn't until I entertained the very sad ICEL (53D: Place to find fjord explorers: Abbr.) that the section finally broke. Seriously, I was saved by ICEL, which is funny for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that I once rewrote an entire section of a puzzle in order to get rid of ICEL. Got ICEL after ruling out SWED and NORW and NZLD as possible abbreviations. CHIOS has an evil ring to it (50D: Greek island in the Aegean).

SW was no piece of cake either. Knowing the Elvis song would have helped - 31A: Elvis's "_____ of Blues" ("A Mess"). As it was, I had to work my way into that section from the east, which was Not easy, especially considering I had DROP for DREG (37D: Small remnant), which meant that neither GOATEE (42A: The devil is often depicted with one) nor ABRIDGE (47A: Cut down) came very quickly. Realizing that no word was likely to end -DPE, I took out the -OP in DROP, got AM I TO BLAME from no crosses, then got ABRIDGE and started to hammer away at things from there. I love the clue on MADAGASCAR (24D: "The eighth continent," to ecologists). Insular cultures evolve in Crazy ways, so I'm sure MADAGASCAR is a biologist's delight. It is also my daughter's delight, when translated into animated film form.

More left-overs:

  • 1A: Sole deciding issue (litmus test) - great answer. Unusual, and very in-the-language (comes up most often, in my experience, around Supreme Court appointees).
  • 15A: The United States, for one (ocean liner) - don't like this clue. Especially didn't like it when I thought the answer was OCEAN LINED.
  • 22A: It might drip from a crack (sarcasm) - clever, but the words "drip" and "crack" are grossing me out, so I can't get too excited.
  • 30A: Was vagarious (roamed) - put this answer in right away, but then worried that I might have misremembered my word roots. VAGabond. VAGrant. I was hoping that was the kind of VAG in question (!).
  • 36A: Shooter's equipment (dice) - much cooler than the answer I wanted: LENS.

  • 46A: Many members of prestigious faculties: Abbr. (Drs.) - uh ... and not-so-prestigious ones too, believe me. Most faculties these days are loaded with Drs. It's hard to get on a faculty without one.
  • 52A: What takes a pit crew down? (mine shaft) - doesn't the elevator technically take them down the shaft? Or one of those tram dealies? You enter the MINE SHAFT through the adit, which is a word I want desperately to make a comeback.
  • 5D: Remove from the lotus position (uncross) - just a great (perfect, in fact) clue.
  • 55D: Au fait (able) - er, uh, um, what? This is English?
  • 57D: Arctic _____ (tern) - surprise bird! Always a great way to end a puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Noam D. Elkies 11:55 PM  

Didn't we have a midweek puzzle full of Z squares not many moons ago?

Curiously the original (chemical) 1A:LITMUS TEST is also red vs. blue (acid/base).


PuzzleGirl 12:19 AM  

This is not the first time I've said it, and I'm sure it won't be the last: Thank God for Ozzy. I would have given up on this puzzle very early on if he hadn't appeared.

andrea carla michaels 3:18 AM  

Went smoothly, and I enjoyed it (compared to, say, yesterday) but I still hate entries like ICEL.

Didn't know ENESCO, luckily never saw it! Similar to Ionesco but obviously some composer...

Also didn't know MASER. Tried LASER for a while, two sort of interesting science-y things crossing LITMUSTEST and MASER.

Trying to piece together AMITOBLAME (I had the ME at the end) all I could think of was that
"Someone at this table will betray me" Jesus joke. "Is it I, your grace?" (Perhaps someone can find it on YouTube or something)

Also had DROP and tried many many things before I got CANE painfully one letter at a time!

I think of Chios being spelled Xios. But I guess it's all Greek to me.
(Tho when I lived there, the Greeks say "It's all Chinese to me" which makes more sense)

For some reason I can't put my finger on REEXAMINED was my favorite answer.

And SethG, time to trot out the Jackson Five/Yugoslavian dictators Venn diagram!!!!!!!!!

treedweller 4:03 AM  

I tried Scan(dinavia? anyone?) before getting ICEL and wanted either drib or drab for DREG (well, not wanted, but expected and tried to make work). Otherwise, I was pretty steadily working around the puzzle. Not a great time, but a complete Sat. with no googling. I still count that a significant victory (this makes three or five, I guess). I would have never made it on paper, since I never expected AMITOBLAME to hold up and wouldn't have written it in unless I was desperate.

JannieB 8:05 AM  

This was a pleasure to look at and great fun to solve. I thought it pretty easy - anything under 15 minutes on a Saturday is easy to me. Had 3/4 done in less than 10, then slowly slogged through the SW for way too long. I had the center of that section done (ATTN, Goatee, Abridge) and just kept staring.

Special kudos for the cluing which was imaginative, had some great misdirection, and sorry, but I loved the "drip from a crack". That was genius.

Sam. 9:21 AM  

Just under an hour, no cheating / googling = not too hard for me and therefore it didn't ruin my Saturday. Immensely helped by the EZ "z" center.

JoefromMtVernon 9:25 AM  

Much more satisfying puzzle than yesterday...I don't mind spending 32 minutes on a well constructed puzzle that's challenging and yet not impossible.

Lots of misdirection. I had "Did I do that", "Beer Bottle", "Tall" (for deco), Crete (for Chaos), and, "Knick" with "Ewing". I can't say that the NJ Nets really have any rivals besides the Knicks.

Loved sarcasm; thought the gimme of the day was OZZY; guessed at AYER/Enesco cross (thought Enesco made figurines like Precious Moments.

Teaching Envi-Sci for 4 years, I never heard Madagascar was a so-called "eighth continent."


bill from fl 9:25 AM  

Very fun, although some answers I thought were gimmees turned out to be wrong and slowed me down--IDOL instead of ICON, CORFU instead of CHIOS and LENS instead of DICE. I also thought the eight continent might be the OCEAN FLOOR--I don't know why Madagascar, of all islands, is thought of as a continent.

Greene 9:41 AM  

I'd say this puzzle was just right for Saturday. A thing of beauty in its symmetry, lots of wide open space in the grid, central square of Zs, clever fill, minimal abbreviations, and only a few groaners in the cluing. This actually sounds very much like the kind of puzzle Mac described yesterday that most of us seem to like. I know I loved it.

Loving, of course, is never easy and this puzzle was plenty hard. I'm always amazed at people who can solve with speed (JannieB my hat is off to you) and not because I'm one of those "Oh, one must savor the puzzle" types. I'm just slow and steady. Not going to win any races, but I'm gradually learning to get these beasts done. The speed will hopefully come later after I've done these things for 10 years or so.

I got ENESCO immediately (never heard of the opera, but it sounded like something he'd write), but spelled it ENESCU (more Hungarian, no?). Got ACCESSIBLE right away too, but spelled it ACCESSABLE. This created the lovely Greek island of CHAOS at 50D. This must be a real place; I know it's true because I work there every day. Wanted WINECOOLER for 61A, but that's just wrong. Knew 53D was some abbreciation for Iceland and went with ICLD. That looks terrible, but no more so than ICEL.

And so it went for 90+ minutes. I even blanked on ARIA for 28D. I had the A, but "William Tell" makes me think of apples (well, apples and The Lone Ranger). I'm with Puzzlegirl. Thank God for OZZY Osbourne. Hmm...I never actually thought I would have cause to say that.

misterarthur 10:00 AM  

Thought 1A was (for Sole deciding issue) was "sink or swim". (Too punny,I guess), and thought 24D was Antartctica. As for "Grissom", I always thought John Glenn was the second American in space - Alan Shepherd was the first American in space (though it was sub-orbital), then Glenn (first to orbit) making Grissom 3d. Nit-picky, I guess. I, too am unfamiliar with Ayre (except for Ayre's rock in Australia). Otherwise, an enjoyable sparring match with the empty squares this morning.

joho 10:07 AM  

Well, I didn't like this puzzle so much because of the many mistakes I made which, in the end, made me feel stupid.

@treedweller: I had SCAN at first, I did figure out ICEL but didn't like it.

@Greene: I also had both ENESCU and ACCESSABLE.

Other mistakes were inon for ONTO,
idol for ICON, beer bottle for BEER COOLER, Crete for CHIOS, romped for ROAMED, sensation for SENTIMENT .. oh, the list goes on and on. I also couldn't get away from the pit crew having to do with a car race. So, all in all, as I already stated, this Saturday left me feeling numb and dumb.

Alex 10:27 AM  

SCAN (much more sane) instead of ICEL. DRAB instead of DREG. DID I DO THAT (Urkelisms are apparently in my wheelhouse) instead of AM I TO BLAME. FOCI instead of LOCI. SENSATION instead of SENTIMENT. ENESCU instead of ENESCO. IDOL for ICON.

Eventually I worked out a couple of those missteps, but overall they stymied me.

Greene 10:58 AM  

Retraction: George Enescu was a Romanian composer, not Hungarian as I stated. Sorry for the gaffe. I principally know Enescu from his two Romanian Rhapsody compositions. Unfortunately, I had the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody on the brain from a puzzle I did yesterday.

Apparently, Enescu is his given name, but he is known as Georges Enesco in France where he lived and taught after the Soviet occupation of Romania.

As has been pointed out earlier, Enesco is a company known for the sales of giftware, including the Precious Moments figurines.

Desca 11:07 AM  

Google tells me that ecologists consider the massive amounts of man-made plastic and garbage in the Pacific Ocean "the 8th continent". Apparently there are great masses/concentrations of the stuff that they track.

Maybe "biologists" would have been a better cluing, the biodiversity of Madagascar really is a wonder.

Norm 11:13 AM  

This one kicked my butt for the longest time. Got the NW (OCEANLINER) and SE (SELDOMSEEN) with little difficulty, but it took me ages to get started in the NE and finally work my way down. Wanted WATERMELON for the fruit, and OUTERSPACE for the eight continent. Agree with Desca that "biologists" might have been better cluing for MADAGASCAR, since, yes, I think most ecologists would opt for the North Pacific Gyre (which I couldn't make fit) as the eighth. Nive puzzle though. Loved the cluing for SARCASM.

Wade 11:39 AM  

I got defeated in the SW quadrant because I couldn't crack any of the four down answers. I thought RAINFOREST would be the eighth continent, and when that didn't work, I was looking for some kind of ocean thing. This puzzle was one of those four-in-one or maybe five-in-one puzzles; getting one section didn't help much in the others. I had to work this one from the center outward, which is kind of claustrophobic. Lots of missteps--DROP for DREG, WOOZY for DIZZY.

I remembered Gus Grissom from "The Right Stuff" but didn't remember he was the second American in space.

TITO was the name of the 1990 Mazda pickup I drove for thirteen years before selling it to some Mexican pickup exporters for $900 the month after my son was born. I have a picture of the buyers, one of them holding my son, while standing beside Tito at the curb in front of the house we lived in then. Tito ranks only behind Blueford the Wonder Truck on the all-time-greats list in my vehicle hall of fame. It was a sad day when I watched those guys drive him away. I hope he's still down there somewhere, semi-retired in some pasture outside some little village, surrounded by goats.

Ulrich 11:50 AM  

I found it hard, but doable w/o outside help. Like others, I loved some of the cluing encountered along the way, and I knew that scrabblers would go gaga over the 4 zees. And yes, the pattern of black squares is pretty--could be in a quilt.

There is also a geological argument for considering Madagascar a continent: It sits on its own continental shelf, which is a prime criterion for being considered a continent. But since it's relatively small, that criterion is often overlooked in Madagascar's case.

edith b 1:11 PM  

My first answer was ABDICATOR which gave me all three short acrosses in the far NE. My guess of SIXER for the Net rival led to the downfall of this quadrent.

It was at this point that I realized what I was up against as I saw there was no access to the rest of the puzzle and I saw I was going to have to solve each quadrent separately.

GRISSOM was the only entry from the NE into the SE and fortunately it was a neon for me as were NIC and EMCEE. I got ACESSIBLE from just the S which saved me from the Crete trap but I bogged down in this section but I was able to move into Flyover Country through OZZY which begat PIZZA and RAZZ which begat DREG and allowed me into the SW.

At this point, I was at the 90 minute mark, with the East Coast and the Midlands (as Bill from NJ calls the middle) filled in and not much else. The only entries into the rest of the puzzle I had were *****GE at 47 Across and the terminal E at 42Across into the SW and a terminal S at 9Down into the NW.

In a curious way, I enjoy this closed-off type of puzzle. I'm not sure of the nomenclature one uses to describe it but I like the attention one has to give to this style, quadrent by quadrent, almost answer by answer. Mac, you seem prescient to me with your Comment from yesterday about the Nature of Puzzling.

As I moved into the SW I tried ATTN and the only three-letter ice cream I know is EDY which gave me a double E at 42Across and I guessed GOATEE and things started to happen. I got ABRIDGE and then MADAGASCAR and, like dominoes, the SW started to fall. I spent at least 30 minutes staring at a lot of white space before I managed a breakthrough but I still had the Great NorthWest that was wide open (with no way in) and a good bit of the SE still left to do.

I plugged IDOL in for elvis, eg and tried LOCI at 1Down and, lo and behold, LITMUSTEST swam into view. It's surprising how often an error can produce positive results because the I at 19Across allowed me get INTERPRET and correct my error to ICON and, suddenly, this quadrent was doable and CONSCIENCE broke this area wide open.

By this time, it was 2 in the morning and I was bleary-eyed. I started way too late for a Saturday puzzle and this one turned into an Overnighter.

I finally got away from NASCAR and realized that "down" was the operative word at 52Across and, along with "pit", defined this clue and I had an AHA! moment and saw MINESHAFT. This jogged my rudimemtary French enough to produce ABLE for au fait and FLEE and, finally, TERN got me to the solution.

This puzzle was actually five mini-puzzles, all difficult.
Free association was what was needed more than specific information and I got most of the proper nouns by way of crosses rather than as neons.

This one took me a considerable amount of time and I was tempted to give up at various times but I didn't. I took EvilDoug's advise that forging on was what was important and if it took a couple of days and you deemed the puzzle to be of some worth, than so be it. So , thank you, Evil Doug - when you are not trying to pick a fight, your opinions have value, at least to this solver.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

SE was the easiest once I corrected Crete which I thought was too easy & twas right.
needed some googling for some
but a good Saturday IMO.

fergus 1:20 PM  

I was unwilling to bite on the gimmes, even hesitant to enter OZZY and EMCEE. Though my first entry was SARCASM that NE was the last quadrant to fall, maybe because I wanted to put in something SNOW___ for the wintery Clue. Being stuck on Monica SELES and tennis didn't help much either. Made A MESS of the SW since I had NASTY for Vile crossing with SENSATION and then maybe some alternative spelling for SENTIENT. The AMEN sealed the deal on AM I TO BLAME, and had to settle on SLIMY, though I didn't like it as much as NASTY.

The stack of ACCESSIBLE BEER COOLER SELDOM SEEN conjures up an interesting scene, and I like the echo of CONSCIENCE with AM I TO BLAME? A really excellent puzzle that kept me entranced for close to a full hour, which I think is just about perfect for a Saturday morning.

Tyler 2:00 PM  

Friday's groaner of a puzzle made today's all the more smart.

I thought of that Pacific flotsam pile too. The clue was close to being great, but when three different things could go there (ANTARCTICA?)...

I'm an art critic and I missed the ARPS.

chefbea 2:00 PM  

A very challenging puzzle for me. Had to google a lot. Loved all the z's. Had accessable at first and knew that was the wrong spelling with able crossing able.

jae 2:06 PM  

Yes, a fine puzzle. I had many of the same missteps. Started out with FOCI which had me thinking FINAL...? for 1a. I too had IDOL, LASER and tried ETTE for ENNE. I fixed NW fairly quickly but had to stare at SW for a while to finish. I had a re-right (thanks for the term joho) there with ATTN.

@Greene & joho -- Marginal spelling skills and lack of Greek island knowledge had me debating between CHAOS and CHIOS. I finally had to ask my bride how to spell ACCESSIBLE. Fortunately, her spelling skills are beyond reproach.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Very nice puzzle, but only took 2/3 the time of a typical Saturday. Maybe because Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! was a clip show this week.

Like Fergus, I put in SARCASM as my first fill. But, oh dear, until I came here I hadn't noticed the four Zs in the center!

Bob Kerfuffle

Alan 2:10 PM  

Did this puzzle with out goggling. Easy puzzle but I made a careless error by spelling accessible with an a instead of an i. My spelling is horrible because I never learned phonics in elementary school.

joho 2:33 PM  

@jae: You are welcome. Somehow re-right seems to capture that moment and I'm happy you like it.

Michael 2:41 PM  

Count me in with the slow, but steady group. A fine Saturday puzzle at just the right level with fair, but non-obvious clues.

I knew that Edward the VIII had abdicated but somehow the word abdicator didn't come to me until late. I don't much like "man" for "phew" even though I understand it. I'd be happier with "oh man". I thought the best clue-answer combo was it might drip from a crack -- sarcasm.

mac 2:42 PM  

What a wonderful puzzle! @Greene, you are right, I got exactly what I asked for yesterday! Funny post from you today.

I usually start in the NW corner and confidently filled in "only option", not to get any further there until the very end. The whole East Coast came steadily, with fun discoveries. Good thing I didn't know how Rosey spells his last name, the double e didn't bother me at all. I also thought apples, archers, arrows for Tell, but the aria filled itself in. It's good to see the cane instead of the ubiquitous bra(s). I had triton for the devil, and camp for the tent on safari. Crete and Corfu for Chios, and went back and forth between idol and icon.

I worked on the NW longer than any other area, and I think I it was when I thought of "uncross" that the rest fell into place.

The arctic tern was a gimme: when we were on our honeymoon (in Hannover, New Hampshire, I've never been so cold in my life), we saw an old college friend of my husbands, who had flown in from California because there had been a sighting of an Arctic tern.

I think Wade is right, the four almost separate pieces make this into 4 tough Saturday puzzlets. My favorite clue: Period of prayer?, 60A. If I were a constructor I would probably have more fun thinking up the clues afterward. No wonder Andrea is good at naming and clueing (chicken/egg?).

Shamik 3:03 PM  

Brilliant puzzle that put my time in the medium-challenging sphere compared, of course, only to my own times. Solved NW, SW, NE and the nefarious SE.

A very few gimmes:
LOCI...see...nothing over 5 letters!

Mis-steps galore:

...and wanted a whole bunch of other stuff that just plain didn't fit.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant!

Michael 3:20 PM  

@mac Hal Greer(basketball), not Rosie Grier (football)

Chip Hilton 3:39 PM  

Yes! A Saturday puzzle I could solve! Not without some angst, but a fun go.

I shared your love of the SARCASM clue. Brilliant.
CHAOS worked for me. I happily misspelled ACCESSIBLE to get there.

I remember Hal Greer quite well. Great little guard who took a jump shot for his free throws. Of course, back then, the Sixers rivals were the Celtics. The Nets weren't even in the NBA back then.

fikink 3:54 PM  

@tree, I had DRIB, too, after getting the D R.
@misterarthur, Shepherd first and Glenn, second - that is exactly the way I remembered it. Did Grissom do a blastoff and back down test flight in between that wasn't much covered. I'm going to have to look that up!
@edith, like you, ABDICATOR got me rolling and I must have been on Barry's wavelength, because it all flowed pretty smoothly for me.
Rex, love the embedding of Paranoia after discussing the clue for AMITOBLAME ;-)
now, if for Dave and Greene and me, you would have inserted a rendition of "Luck Be a Lady Tonight" (Guys and Dolls), we would be whistling the rest of the day!

fikink 4:06 PM  

that's Alan Shepard...
and yes, Grissom was the one who, in The Right Stuff,
"screwed the pooch."

edith b 4:27 PM  

This puzzle was actually five mini-puzzles, all difficult.

Actually, the Flyover Country section (where all the Zs lived) wasn't difficult at all.

But the 4 main quadrents surely were!

nanpilla 4:43 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Finished in only 30 minutes, which is fantastic for me. I do like the four separate quadrants. Although, when you finish one, you expect to get some kind of traction, then realize you have to start all over again. SE was last to fall. Loved the clues for sarcasm and amen. My first fill was UNCROSS. LOVED IT!

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

I was struggling with the eighth continent - I was thinking Galapagos and it wouldn't fit - when my kids ran by playing with their cheap little McDonald's Happy Meals toys. Guess which movie is the Happy Meal theme is this week.... I have never before found any value in their addiction to McDonald's, but this was a classic Aha! moment.

fergus 5:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 5:19 PM  

The UNCROSS entry reminded me of an English parlour game where scissors are passed from person to person, while specifying during the passing whether the action is either Crossed or Uncrossed. One Xmastime, my cousin's husband remained the last person baffled by the rule of the game, and exploded with such a paroxysm of profane invective that his in-laws might have disowned him were it not for the amusing spectacle of a rather haughty Cambridge Ph.D. being fooled by a child's game, and his eight year-old niece sympathetically cluing him in.

mac 6:30 PM  

@Michael: thank you for the explanation, but I don't know too much about football or basketball, and just knowing the name Rosey (he who does needlepoint) helped me accept the wrong spelling of the last name....

foodie 7:18 PM  

For a while, I was so unsure about entire regions of the puzzle, that I felt I was constructing rather than solving. Still, I thought it was a wonderful challenge. I really liked the NW region because I had no gimmes, it seemed impossible, but then it revealed itself in one big gift. My favorite, which opened it for me: "Angel on one's shoulder".

The accessible/accessable error is very interesting to me. In my mind, they sound slightly different, which is why I make fewer spelling errors but have an accent. Still, I have never figured out if there's a rule that dictates when you put an IBLE vs ABLE at the end of a noun to make it an adjective...Is there one?

Rex, I'm totally with you about the prestigious faculties clue (46A). It really threw me. I was looking for memberships in the National Academies or something...

Doc John 7:22 PM  

I also found this puzzle to be accessable and chaotic. Wish I'd written it out; I would have seen that it was misspelled. Drat- it's been too long since I've done a late-week puzzle perfectly. :(

I am also in agreement on the SARCASM clue. It made me smile.

I'm also not thrilled about the MINE SHAFT clue but I guess "Popular gay bar name" wouldn't pass the breakfast test. ;) ICEL didn't thrill me, either, but I guess for a puzzle like this, I'll settle for one forced fill.

The M in MASER stands for microwave.

Lastly, when are we going to see GRISSOM clued with a CSI reference?

SethG 7:29 PM  


Laker was actually SIXER, but those starts in all areas made this not so bad. And I'd have maybe had a (personally) fast time except that my parents' burglar alarm went off at 1:30am and then again 10 minutes later. Not great when you start the puzzle at 1:25...

Does anyone else spell CONSCIENCE by consciously thinking through its scientific ending?

None of this really adds to our conversation, but I had to post for andrea carla michaels. Here you go, sweetie!

JannieB 7:30 PM  

@Fergus - The scisssors game may have originiated in England, but it was a favorite on this side of the ocean as well. I played it often both as a child and an adult!

foodie 7:30 PM  

@Wade, I loved reading about your Tito truck! We had a VW camper van that I had named Wanda, and we got married in the darn thing! After we had our wedding ceremony, we realized that the pastor was licensed in Louisiana and our wedding venue was across the state line in Mississippi. So, we got into the van with pastor and witnesses, crossed the state line and pulled up near the bank of the Pearl River. We popped the top on the VW, stood inside and said our vows again!

Boy, was it hard to sell Wanda. When we moved from California to Michigan, we realized you could freeze to death in it. To this day, when I see one of these campers, I have a little palpitation...

Sorry Rex, this is totally unrelated to the puzzle, except via Tito and Wade...

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

I kept wanting AMIATFAULT for AMITOBLAME, SENSATION for SENTIMENT, SCHIRRA and SHEPARD for GRISSOM (ty, Tom Wolfe), LENS and FILM for SNAP, KNICK for SIXER, a variety of things for 11-down (EPONYMOUS, ABDICATED, ABDICATEE, ABDICATER, and for some reason FRENCHMAN), and I kept trying to fit TRIDENT into 42-across.

I got a few words right off the bat, but at some point I convinced myself that TERN and AMEN were wrong. (I hate it when that happens).

Not bad for my first no-help Saturday, I think.

Doc John: "Entomologist or astronaut," "Virgil or Gilbert," perhaps?

Ulrich 7:46 PM  

@foodie: It all goes back to Latin origins. The rule is relatively simple if the word derives from a Latin verb (usually via a Latin adjective derived from that verb, but let's not go there): If the Latin verb ends in "are", the adjective ends in "able" ("acceptable" derives from Latin "acceptare), whereas if the Latin verb ends in "ere" or "ire", the adjective ends in "ible" ("legible" derives from "legere"). The rule is a little less obvious if the adjective does not obviously derive from a Latin verb, but even in these cases, knowing a bit of Latin helps you make good guesses.

fikink 8:16 PM  

HA! Mr. Fikink "courted" me in a beatup VW bus which gave my dad fits, because the bus had a sign on the back of it that read, "Don't laugh, your daughter could be inside."
and yes, Seth, that is always the way I remember how to spell CONSCIENCE...there's great irony in that.

fergus 8:33 PM  

Slenderer was the comparative adjective I gave to the lovely ocean scientist who used to be my neighbor, (past perfect tense), when we crossed paths at a convenience store after shared crashing waves at Seabright beach. You can imagine she liked the compliment.

edith b 10:01 PM  


Oh my, I suppose the difference in our generations is I still think about courting without the quotation marks.

kathy d. 2:05 AM  

This puzzle was a lot of fun and I did not have to google a thing, just kept plugging along until I got it.

This blog is so enjoyable to read after a long day.

Foodie's comments made me nostalgic for my youth and the adventures therein, especially taking my parents' car when they were in Europe, and driving to Chicago in 1968 to join in the protests at the DNC. Ah, youth!

Kathy D.

green mantis 4:03 AM  

Hi back from holiday coma! Yes to sarcasm, as usual. My favorite clue. L.A. is absurd and wonderful in equal parts, and I annoyed them all with stories of my wonderful crossword family.

Talking to non-crossword people always makes me feel big; they like it in theory but can do no more than that and so I spend precious minutes being the pretend-smartest person in the room.

If I had my wish we would all have a ridiculously long table and have these conversations over it. With pie. (And beets, fine.)

mac 8:24 AM  

@green mantis:
We should be able to arrange that, in Brooklyn, next Feb/March!


Enescu should have included the notation (alt spelling). This really baffled me for a while.


Also, I should note the rather strange juxtaposition. When Hal Greer was a great Sixer, the Sixers' main rival were the Celtics, not the Nets. The Nets didn't even exist until the ABA came into being. To this day, I would never call the Nets a Sixer rival. (I'm from Philly. What can I say? The Knicks (maybe); the Celtics definitely. I eventually got this clue (both), but much head scratching was necessary.

Robert 12:34 PM  

Believe that the composer of "Oedipe" was ENESCU, not ENESCO. Most Romanian surnames end it the letter "u". Perhaps ENESCO is a variant spelling. So there.
Robert King

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