Exuberant gesture with splayed fingers - SATURDAY, May 16 2009 - T Hinman + B Walden (Radiodensity indicators / White in fiction Brown in real life)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CATALPA (34A: Tree with heart-shaped leaves) - n.

Any of various, usually deciduous trees of the genus Catalpa, especially C. bignonioides or C. speciosa, native to the United States and having whorled, heart-shaped leaves, showy clusters of white flowers, and long, slender, cylindrical pods. Also called Indian bean.

[Creek katałpa : ka-, head + tałpa, wing (from the shape of its flowers).]

Woo hoo. I *loved* this puzzle. A puzzle that appears to have been written just for me (right in my wheelhouse in so many ways) and yet *still* gave me a Saturday work-out. Actually, this was a tad on the easy side for me, but I have enough perspective to realize that not everyone is going to benefit from an 11-letter gimme the way that I did. Asking me 20A: Sideshow Bob's last name on "The Simpsons" (Terwilliger) is like asking me the capital of Nevada - it's that familiar. I'm not sure I'd ever thought about spelling before, but my first guess was the correct one. I know I'm not alone here - this puzzle is going to break hard (difficulty-wise) not just along generational lines, but along "Simpsons"-fan / non-"Simpsons"-fan lines. One answer of that size is a not inconsiderable thing (though the other 11 in the puzzle - COFFEE BREAK (51A: Work stoppage?) - should have been pretty easy to get for just about anybody). Other name gimmes from which I benefited were CARRERE (39D: "Wayne's World" actress - though I spelled it with a terminal "A" at first) and NED BEATTY (56A: "Deliverance" actor) and JASPER (1D: Traditional March birthstone), the last of which was not clued via "The Simpsons," but could have / should have been.

Tyler Hinman started hyping this puzzle on his Facebook page yesterday, so I was braced for something killer. Then, when I saw he had teamed with Byron Walden, I thought I was in for something fiendishly clever and virtually undoable. So I was a bit surprised when, after a few typical Saturday moments of looking at clues and getting nothing, I saw 4D: Common field trip destination (zoo). That *has* to be ZOO, both because it's the first three-letter answer that comes to mind, and because of the "Z" - I'm betting at that point that these guys are going to revel in hi-value Scrabble letters. While testing out AW, GEE at 6D: "You shouldn't have," JAZZ HANDS sprang into view (1A: Exuberant gesture with splayed fingers). I learned the term from an episode of "Friends" where Joey lies to get into an audition where being a trained dancer is a requirement. He's not a trained dancer. At all. The only part of the whole routine he can get right is "JAZZ HANDS." With 1A in place, things got rolling.

My mystery word of the day was CATALPA (see "Word of the Day"). That was right around where I ultimately finished the puzzle. Because I had never heard of it and the spelling seemed like it could be any combination of alternating consonants and vowels, I very very nearly ended with a hilarious error at 31D: Extra in "Broken Arrow," 1950 (Apache). The only "Broken Arrow" I know is a bad movie from about a decade ago where Christian Slater and John Travolta ... do something involving terrorist or a bomb or something. So the title didn't evoke APACHE for me. I, therefore, guessed AMECHE ... as in legendary mustachioed character actor Don AMECHE. I remember thinking "well that's kind of an obscure way to clue an accomplished actor ... who's going to know what movie he was an extra in?" But then the lady I'd never heard of at 38A: Mrs. Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" really looked like her name wanted to end in "A" - not "E" (what was her name going to be? "GRANDE?") - so I went with "A" which was confirmed by "AMANDA" and then finally got that the "Arrow" part of "Broken Arrow" was supposed to signify OATER - in this case, one with many APACHE.


  • 18A: Something gays and straights have in common? (long A) - after much cogitation, I finally realized that the clue had to be "letteral" - i.e. referring to the words in terms of their structural components (the letters) and not their meanings
  • 26A: Like some gems and old movies (recut) - weirdly couldn't get this quickly even after I had "REC-" ... "RECTO? Is that a thing?"
  • 32A: Longfellow or Millay, by birth (Mainer) - guessed it was a state thing, and thought probably MAINE, but I didn't know what MAINE folk were called. Now I know.
  • 39A: Maker of the first electric compact calculator (Casio) - gimme. I had the "S"
  • 40A: Rtes. with plazas (tpks.) - another useful gimme; always happy when an answer can "gimme" a "K"
  • 55A: Red-haired Disney princess (Ariel) - another gimme. I can't remember whether her get-up allowed you to SEE TO (60A: Handle) her NAVEL (58A: Central point) or not. Probably. Yes.
  • 59A: Something pulled out in church (organ stop) - had ... BOOK at first, but fixed it pretty quickly.
  • 3D: Antiallergy brand (Zyrtec) - there are so many damned drug names out there that I had no idea which one went here. Tried ZANTAC (is that something?). I knew ZANAX was spelled differently. Ugh. I try avoid all medications (almost to a ridiculous degree), so this wasn't a gimme, but I certainly had heard of it.
  • 11D: "My God," in Aramaic (Eloi) - when you absolutely positively can't bear another H.G. Wells clue for this answer...
  • 29D: Baseball player known as Mr. White Sox (Minoso) - MINETA, MINOTO, MR. RMOTO, MENOTTI, MINNIE THE MOOCHER ... this one took many crosses, though the name is vaguely familiar.
  • 33D: "Votre toast," for one (aria) - hardest ARIA clue I've seen in a while. Me: "Those words .... aren't from the same language."
  • 45D: White, in fiction, and Brown, in real life (editor) - dang that is Good. Perry White is the EDITOR of "The Daily Planet" / Tina Brown is former EDITOR of "Vanity Fair" and "The New Yorker," now heading up "The Daily Beast." I love that "Superman" gets picked up again at 53D: Frequent phone booth user (Kent) - nice.
  • 49D: Nick of college football who was twice A.P. Coach of the Year (Saban) - I spelled his name like the polio vaccine guy at first, but still ... easy if you follow college football or just watch ESPN at all.
  • 48D: Item with a pegbox (cello) - had the "C" and CELLO was the first thing I thought. Maybe having a best friend cellist helped. I don't know. Nice that CELLO intersects the equally musical CHORDS (48A: They may be fingered :)

  • 34D: Radiodensity indicators (CAT scans) - the last letter I filled in was the first "S" in this word. This resulted in SHE for 47A: One going steady? I thought about it. Checked the crosses. Thought about it. Checked the crosses. Nothing. I did NOT get it. Yes, SHE might go steady, but so might HE, so ...??? I wrote my fellow xword blogger Orange, asking her what it meant. I then asked Tyler, and as soon as I posted the question, the answer came to me: "STEADY AS SHE GOES ..." A ship = SHE. Damn it. As I said to Tyler, that's ice cold. But fantastic.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. My "Last-Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas" post is here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Retired_Chemist 8:11 AM  

A fine, but challenging, puzzle. I found it especially hard to get started. My first pass through the acrosses got me only about three entries, just one of which survived; MOUE @ 29A. One down, 21D LLAMAS, also survived. This was at the 15 minute point L.

49D SABAN and 53D KENT gave me a toehold, and the Superman connection gave me 45D EDITOR. That fit acceptably with RETYPE @ 46D, which I had as tentative fill. The acrosses in the SE then fell rapidly and I built from there.

Not sure I ever heard MAINER (32A). My college buddy from Maine was called a Maniac. But it was nice to see Orestes (Minnie) MINOSO (29D). Hadn’t thought of him in decades.

1A JAZZ HANDS was unfamiliar and I didn’t know JASPER was a March birthstone. So the NW was somewhat a leap of faith, but it turned out well. Sideshow Bob TERWILLIGER (20A)? Really? I have learned almost all I know of Simpsonian subtleties and obscurities from crosswords. CASIO (39A) made the first compact calculator? Didn’t know that! Good for them.

Congratulations to Messrs. Hinman, Walden, and Shortz on this toughie. The cluing could not have been better for a Saturday. Maybe even über-Saturday.

Pinky 8:33 AM  


Karen 8:35 AM  

I call folks from Maine Insane. (It's a New Englander joke.)

Zantac is a stomach acid medicine. Xanax is an antianxiety medicine. ZYRTEC is the only antihistamine that fits in six letters.

I learned that March has ten (10!) different birthstones: amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, diamond, jade, jasper, opal, ruby, sapphire, or topaz. It seems aquamarine and bloodstone are the most commonly used ones.

Why was TERWILLIGER hiding out in my brain? And funny that Oklahoma and NEBRASKA have the same number of letters. I'm calling this puzzle challenging.

Denise 9:14 AM  

My experience was exactly the opposite of Rex -- I knew AMANDA and CATALPA and APACHE but I know nothing about the Simpsons! It took me about 45 minutes of hard work to get through this one -- I used "google" to find Terwilliger.

I love this kind of puzzle because I like to work at it, and have it revealed. Why did it take me so long to get CATSCANS?

John 9:21 AM  

STEADY AS SHE GOES. Drat!! And I just watched "The Wreck Of the Mary Deare" last night!

Greene 9:24 AM  

Wow, but did I love this puzzle! The first time through the grid I got but three answers, and what a strange combination they were too: AMANDA Wingfield (well, of course, I would know her), but also Robert Underdunk TERWILLINGER (aka Sideshow Bob, my favorite Simpson's character, and quite possibly the best thing Kelsey Grammer ever did -- and I saw him do Macbeth on Broadway) and LONG A (I guess I've finally done enough puzzles to catch onto that kind of clue by now).

The rest came through a slow, steady process of solving with plenty of guessing and pulling stuff in and out. As I neared the finish line about an hour later, I was reminded of the discussion on happiness raised by the ever-thoughtful Foodie the other day, and it hit me: Happiness is fighting your way through a tough Saturday NYT puzzle (by Tyler and Byron no less!) and then coming to Rex's place to find you've got not a single error! Ah, life is good.

@EdithB: Look! No hands!

Oh, and Rex thanks for including Shubert's Arpeggione Sonata which gave me a flashback to my college days when I played the piece incessantly with my friend Lyle, who was one helluva cellist (notice how the piano part is way easier than the cello part).

Greene 9:40 AM  

Oh, I forgot to mention: Votre Toast is from the ever-tuneful opera Carmen. I'll bet everybody knows the tune (which has had endless airplay in popular culture as "music that equals bullfight"), even without knowing the French lyric.

Greene 9:45 AM  

Oops. Dead link. Try Votre Toast.Ah, much better. Three and out.

dk 9:47 AM  

"With faith and understanding our quarrels all will cease; we'll walk the land together and learn to live in peace. On this Broken Arrow, let us find the pathway to friendship and love..."

I can almost hear the hum of the old Philco.

Again, not enough Simpsons haunts me. Not knowing Waynes World caused a problem not solved till I got here. This followed by calling an Aquamarine a JASPER and ALINE as a style of coat.


An OLDE tyme Saturday.

Crosscan 9:49 AM  

I didn't know TERWILLIGER or ZYRTEC. Upper part of puzzle a disaster. The end.

ArtLvr 9:51 AM  

I started with HARD EDGE and HARNESS with its Tack clue tied nicely to today's Preakness along with SUSANS. Then I worked in all directions, chuckling to see LLAMAS again plus APACHE from the LAT puzzle yesterday.

Long ago I played a CELLO, fingered CHORDS on a guitar, even fooled around with an ORGAN STOP or two, and got COFFEE BREAK with only the K in KENT, so I thought "wow, off to the races". But no.

I had to google the start of the simpsons person, big pain, and the NW came together much more slowly... Still, it was a very good workout!

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

I made slow but steady progress but then got stuck with 2/3 done. Had to use the dictionary to find a tree that began with CAT and the atlas to remember there was a state called NEBRASKA. Then the rest fell.

One troublespot early on was having VIPER and VEILS instead of PERIL and PALLS.

ArtLvr 9:56 AM  

p.s. Thanks to Greene for nailing the origin of Votre Toast!

Leon 9:56 AM  

Thanks Mr. Hinman and Mr. Walden, a fine Saturday work-out.

RP - The Schubert video was great.

@Greene - Thanks for the Votre link.

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?")
Mark 15:34

Variant spelling in Howl:
"and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years."

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Rex, you know how you feel about Ally McBeal clues? I'm the same way about Simpson clues--have never seen it, never will. (Not trying to equate their societal relevance, just sayin'.) Also, around here, Nick SABAN is known as Nick SATAN. :)

Chorister 9:58 AM  

Loved it! Just the right level of anxiety after the barely fruitful first pass, having got JAZZHANDS and thinking will it all be this easy? Of course it wasn't.

TERWILLIGER had seeped into my brain somehow, of the maybe half dozen episodes I've seen, I seem to remember something about a boat and this guy?

Now, AMANDA, that took me an awfully long time to get considering in high school I was The World's Greatest Authority On This Play, and had some success in Speech & Debate competitions with one of her speeches.

The tree crossing the flower almost sent me to Googleland, but since it's Saturday and I had the time to squander I just kept on til I got it.

Thanks for the explanation of SHE - because I would never have gotten there on my own. I was having to be content with the lopsided romance.

Must give a shout out to my dad, whose birthday is today and without whose former rockhound hobby JASPER would not have been a gimme.

Dough 9:59 AM  

Overall an excellent Saturday puzzle. Tyler and Byron are killer together. The bottom half came through nicely enough. There was more "know it or don't" trivia than wordplay than I would like. So, my one objection is that Terwilliger business. As I read the clue, I said to myself, "oh great, the Simpsons geekizoids are wallowing in joy." So I slogged through the top part. I had "strong bet" for "safe" (not great, but possible for a Saturday) before seeing the light (Cryptic crossword pun there). Bottom line: a nice start for a Springtime saturday. Now it's time to feed the chickens.

Glitch 10:05 AM  

On the release of the Simpson stamps:

"We are emotionally moved by the Postal Service selecting us rather than making the lazy choice of someone who has benefited society," said "Simpsons" producer James L. Brooks.


Ruth 10:13 AM  

I've watched "The Simpsons" on and off, enough to know about Sideshow Bob but not enough to instantly know his last name. But I got to TER and what other last name is there that starts with TER?
One of my faster Saturdays at about 20 minutes. Ashamed I couldn't remember MINOSO without most of the crosses.
@Twangster--needed an atlas to remember Nebraska?? Well maybe. I only remember it because I spent so many boring hours as a kid in the backseat of a station wagon, riding across Nebraska and praying for it to be over. . .

bill from fl 10:23 AM  

This one hurt. I didn't know TERWILLIGER, JAZZ HANDS, or CATALPA, but struggled through from the SE upwards. (PLATTE gave me NEBRASKA and eventually the NW.) Another self-inflicted wound that slowed me down: I was born in March, but I've never heard that JASPER was its birthstone; for some reason, I thought the answer was GARNET.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Even though I watch the Simpsons religiously, I did not remember Sideshow Bob's last name. I still have the 1959 baseball card for Wayne Terwilliger A gold star, Rex or anyone, if you can name the girl twins that always wear purple and Sideshow Mel's last name.

Tia Carrere, Ned Beatty, and Nick Saban were all gimmes for me, leading to a very easy SE, but the rest of the puzzle was tough.


Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

Definitely a worthy Saturday puzzle; took me almost 40 minutes. But, to echo Rex, when I first looked at the names of the constructors, I feared I wouldn't be able to finish it at all. But I did, with only one write-over, 30 A, had SINKS before SOAKS.

Word I know but didn't think I knew: MOUE.

Why is 52 D, "Dogs", in quotation marks? It would be a perfectly valid clue, with the same answer, without the quotes.

For Rex's eyes only: 39 D, CARRERE, is certainly tricky. Unless you have corrected it, you have it spelled Carerre in your write-up.

Rex Parker 10:40 AM  


"Unless you have corrected it ..." - can't you just Look at the write-up and see that I have? Long before your comment.

As always, my email is right there if you really want to notify me of a correction "for my eyes only." But that wasn't the point, was it? :)


Doug 10:41 AM  

I say we all take goofy ER names today. I'm a VANCOUVERER until further notice.

Was glad to not envision big vials of gross body fluids with today's SERA clue.

I spend a lot of time in Portland, OR so I know the street name link to the Simpsons (Quimby, Flanders, Burnside) so Terwilliger was a gimmee.

treedweller 10:42 AM  

Another Saturday I couldn't finish without google (and still almost an hour) but I was pleased that, for once, my tree knowledge paid off. Usually I run through all the trees I know only to learn about a new one. Today, CATALPA was my third choice, coming quickly after redbud was too short and mulberry too long. I wrote it in hesitantly, but APACHE made it plausible and TAKEFIVE made it probable (a nice cross with COFFEEBREAK, I suppose, but I would have enjoyed a shoutout to Dave Brubeck here--guess that's not Sat. cluing, though).

I'm at around 7 out of ten on the "I love Simpsons" meter, so I knew I knew TERWILLIGER, but it took a google (NEBRASKA) to see it. Trying to make DROWSES into snoozes did not help. My other googles were ELOI (apparently, most times it's "Eli"), MINOSO, LLAMAS, and JASPER. So, like Crosscan, I had a wasteland at the top until I cheated.

Spent too long trying to figure out what type of cans indicate radiodensity (Cross didn't fit).

Norm 11:03 AM  

Ugh. Too many weird proper names and bizarre stuff I'd never heard of. Glad some people liked it. I sure didn't.

Glitch 11:14 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle

Given the discussion of a few days ago, when all the theme questions were in quotes, it seems quotes are the new '?' --- i.e. don't take this literally.



joho 11:17 AM  

I, like others, was apprehensive at seeing Hinman and Walden up at the top. I knew it would be difficult and was hoping not impossible.

Actually, it was challenging and fun! I just kept at and, little by little, got it. I did Google the spelling of Zyrtec, not the answer Zyrtec. I wasn't sure it if started XER or ZER ... of course it was neither. I've never heard of JAZZHANDS but once I had ZZHANDS ... what else could it be? Oh, @Rex, the image of Joey only doing JAZZHANDS during his audition is hilarious! I can see it.

I don't watch the Simpson's and still came up with TERWILLIGER.

This was a very satisfactory Saturday for me ... thanks Tyler and Byron!

Two Ponies 11:26 AM  

Loved it!
Persistence paid off along with experience. Not too long ago it would have taken forever to get "long a" for example.
Sideshow Bob always makes my day.
My word of the day is crias. If it ever shows up as an answer I hope I can remember.

Clark 11:26 AM  

I usually hit a wall on Saturday, and today was no exception. Instead of PALLS/PERIL I had VEILS/VIPER, which kept me from finishing the NE. I tried to rethink both words, but the confirming V had me in its grip. I don't know who Sideshow Bob is, but for some reason TERWILLIGER just came to me out of the blue with only a couple of crosses. Boy, if I could only do that on command! Just walk through life knowing stuff without knowing why. That's a superpower that would rank right up there with invisibility or being able to fly.

Two Ponies 11:33 AM  

I just checked back on yesterdays comments and was pleasantly surprised to find our new friend Xan finally did show up. Very cool.

retired_chemist 11:42 AM  
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retired_chemist 11:45 AM  
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jeff in chicago 11:48 AM  

Got through this with a tiny bit of help. Knew (like Greene) AMANDA right away. Dropped NEDBEATTY right in. TPKS begat TAKEFIVE, which begat COFFEEBREAK, so there were a lot squares filled in the the SW. ARIEL and CARRERE were gimmes. Totally love JAZZHANDS, and right there at 1A.

Had UNCUT for a while, and thought there was an X-rated mini-theme going with my first thoughts for "What gays and straights have in common? and "They may be fingered." (Sorry)

"Straights" is a one-syllable word with nine letters. I know there are longer one-syllable words, but "straights" and "strengths" always jump out at me.

Am I rambling?

archaeoprof 11:48 AM  

I flat-out loved this puzzle. Solving it was one "aha" moment after another. Foodie could have scanned my brain and found the neurons of happiness.

And eventually even I could see that it had to be TERWILLIGER.

XMAN 11:49 AM  

I can't say, "Ughh" (you try that second 'h'), but I can say "Whaaa!" Right from the start I was in trouble and knew it. Hard way to go. Many googles and, at the end, a glance at the solution to get the NE. I can think of better ways to start the day than disappointment at my performance.

I guess it is a great puzzle.

retired_chemist 11:50 AM  

My last square was a change of an X to a C to end ZYRTEC. REXUT just
wasn't going to cut it and I had to play alphabet search, which
fortunately was brief.

Still think SHE @ 47A is acceptably clued as is if interpreted as half a couple. Rex's comment is fine,
but if Occam's
is applied, "half a couple" is IMO the preferable

Susan 11:51 AM  

I had never finished a Saturday before this! And I did it in a time that is better than my usual Friday. Thank goodness for Sideshow Bob Terwilliger.

HudsonHawk 11:52 AM  

I rolled through the South pretty quickly and was feeling pretty confident. Didn't last when I got to the North. Ouch.

Like twangster and Clark, I fell into the VEIL/VIPER pit and had a hard time getting out. I wanted 3D to be CONTAC, but couldn't reconcile the CZ combo. That led to ZANTAC, ZERTEC and finally ZYRTEC. Let's just say that square is barely readable on my newspaper. Like Jeff, I also had UNCUT for awhile but corrected it reasonably quickly.

Susan 11:55 AM  

Oh, drat. I forgot I googled something and therefore didn't really finish. I take it back. What did I google? The Preakness flower, of all things (look at my name). Sigh.

Rex Parker 11:57 AM  

@retired chemist,

You're just wrong on this one. "?" says you're wrong. There's nothing "preferable" about your interpretation. It's a nice coincidence that SHE "works" in your interpretation, but conventions of cluing say "?" indicates wordplay. Your version ... has none.

The clue for SHE refers to a boat. That is that.


retired_chemist 12:00 PM  

@ RP - Appropriate criticism humbly accepted.

fikink 12:16 PM  

Had GARNET for too long before JASPER and went back and forth between PALLS and CASTS before settling on PALLS because the unknown Simpson name was going to remain unknown.
Had NEATNER instead of LEARNER which made the NE my downfall.
Don't know why I knew SABAN, guess I watch more ESPN than I thought I did...osmosis.
I think SHE was masterfully clued, quintessentially my kind of crossword fare.
@Ruth, Nebraska is horribly flat, isn't it?
@foodie, thanks for the "egg scramble" the other night. Now that I have heard of!
@treedweller, I have to go look at our mulberries. Had no idea they had heart-shaped leaves.

fikink 12:19 PM  
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Manoj 1:05 PM  

Can someone explain FEET for "Dogs"?

treedweller 1:12 PM  

@fikink I hope you won't be disappointed--it's actually a bit of a stretch, but mulberry leaves are variable and I have on in the backyard, so it popped to mind.

@Manoj An old complaint after a long walk or all day standing: "Man, are my dogs barking" aka "Man, are my dogs tired."

jae 1:23 PM  

Great puzzle and, with all the pop culture stuff, in my wheelhouse also. First two things I entered were JAZZHANDS and TERWILLIGER. Got slowed down in NE like HudsonHawk, Clark, and twangster, with VIPER/VEIL but RINGTONE set me right. Went through SIGNS and SINKS before getting SOAKS. When I was growing up in north central Ohio my grandmother had a CATALPA tree in her back yard so that was the first thing that came to mind. Fun solve, thanks guys!

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Once again, I shuddered at the Simpson's reference. I guess I just have to keep plowing through these and eventually learn them all. I actually thought I had but this one was new to me and way too long to do anything but cause me trouble. Good workout though although I was totally out of whack with "viper" as "snake in the grass" which threw off the whole NE corner.

Eric 1:36 PM  

Sorry, did not mean to be anonymous with my comment re The Simpsons.

Noam D. Elkies 1:45 PM  

Votre Toast (a.k.a. the Toreador Song) I recognized -- I've even played the accompaniment in public. 1A:JAZZHANDS and 20A:TERWILLIGER, on the other hand...

11D:ELOI was a surprise: last month at the Boston crossword contest Will Shortz opened the floor to questions, and one asked which foreign languages were fair game. Will's list was perhaps surprisingly long, including even Russian (only for "Nyet", though I suppose "Pravda"=truth would be OK). But I'm quite sure Aramaic wasn't there. Still "Eloi" appears in a famous quote from the Christian Bible, so I suppose it's (so to speak) kosher: once a word like "karaoke" or "boondocks" appears in an English text, we're allowed to clue it using its meaning in the source language, even when that language is Japanese or Tagalog respectively.

Yes, thanks for the Arpeggione recording -- except that it ends mid-piece on a dominant 7th chord!...

I'll ELOIgn myself now,

imsdave 1:49 PM  

Beaten to pulp - just - beaten. Oh well, at least we have this:


edith b 2:14 PM  

My mother always referred to an aquamarine as a JASPER - and I laughed behind my hand - and along with ZOO and NEBRASKA brought JAZZHANDS into focus.

Rex, I also reasoned SHE the same way RC did but the ? told me I was wrong, yet it fit. Real quandary. I had to wait until your blog came out this morning to discover The True Meaning.

To those fans of DonDeLillo, his central character in "Ratner's Star" was Billy Terwilliger and for the second time in this puzzle, I got the correct answer from the wrong direction.

I put together the South in short order leaving only the NE left to solve and I had to sleep on that as this was a puzzle that deserved an all out effort. I had CAULS for 10D until the bitter end and TNT at 25A and these two remained until I finally grokked PERIL and ended up with a solve.

I spent more time on this puzzle than any other I ever worked on but it was well worth the time spent.

fergus 2:27 PM  

AMPHORAE broke it all open. Upon seeing that, maybe 25 new letters spilled in the tray and I was all but done. Stuck with BEVEL as the Central point, figuring it might possibly act as a fulcrum, but I sorta knew it was wrong.

Lots of olde-tymey Xword tricks on display today. Those and at least a passing acquaintance with constructors made for a pretty breezy solve, similar in description to Rex's experience.

The INGENUE wearing a MOUE stuck in my mind, but maybe that's because I finally saw "All About Eve" for the first time last night. Great show.

RECUT is the new RECARVE.

fergus 2:37 PM  

... and here's a question about the PLATTE. Since it empties in to the Missouri River, how can it be said have a mouth? Is that the facetious part?

That other flattish river in Argentina definitely has a mouth, a lot wider than a mile.

Glitch 2:57 PM  


From Yahoo answers:

"The mouth of a river is that part of the river where it empties into another body of water, such as another river, lake, bay, ocean, etc."

From the free dictionary:


7. A natural opening, as the part of a stream or river that empties into a larger body of water or the entrance to a harbor, canyon, valley, or cave.


Danny 2:58 PM  

Enjoyed this a lot more than the recent Friday-Saturday ones, but all I really have to say is...

"Make fun of my sandals? That's a paddlin'"

chefbea 2:58 PM  

A really tough puzzle but well worth it. I finally did have to google a few things and then come here.

Thought "she" was half a couple but the ship makes more sense.

Welcome Menoj. I use to work with someone with the same name.

Guess I am a Missourier... I'm Missourier than you :-)

hazel 3:07 PM  

I know PLATTE River as a book - a collection of stories/novellas by Rick Bass that I read some years ago. I don't recall the book having anything to do with anything about NEBRASKA however, so that didn't help me with that clue.

Liked JAZZHANDS alot though I have no idea where I would have ever heard that originally - wasn't ever a Friends watcher. Maybe it just seeped into the culture like Rachel's hair styles.

Certainly harder for me than yesterday's, but I think worth the effort.

jae 4:13 PM  

I think I remember JAZZHANDS from the movie All That Jazz which was directed by and about Bob Fosse.

Ruth 5:27 PM  

It strikes me as a bit sad that we've dissed Nebraska a few times here and no Nebraskan (Nebrasker?) has leapt forward to limn its finer qualities. Doesn't anyone with ties to the Cornhusker State read this blog?

PlantieBea 5:51 PM  

I was whipped by this puzzle; I just couldn't build up the critical mass of answers needed to solve without google where I found TERWILLIGER. I also fell into the VIPER/VEIL trap. Got Catalpa--they grow here--but thought over and over of the Sea Grape and kin. I didn't know ZYRTEC and was stuck with RESET for the gem/move. Oh, and I spelled the French etes with a z. Blah...not much fun for me in the end.

ArtLvr 5:53 PM  

re MAINER and Nebraskans -- in summers we are Michiganders! No, no, there's no separate suffix for the female. Here it is in google "Michigander is a demonym for residents of the U.S. State of Michigan", (distant second choice is Michiganian.) And now we have a new word for xword constructors, "Demonym"!

We also have a Platte River nearby, southwest of Traverse City. It's great for canoe trips to the long sand bar at its mouth into Lake Michigan -- warm swimming on the river side and colder in the big lake, like a natural spa.


chris 6:33 PM  

There was an old commercial for Zyrtec that had a guy in an allergy-inducing field screaming ZYRTEEEEEEC like KHAAAAAAN; it was a really strange commercial. Whenever I read Zyrtec, I hear that guy screaming its name.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

10Across - very weak clue/answer. To use "PERIL" as a definition of "snake in the grass" is a bit of a stretch. A more apt description of such would be a "Judas." The idiom usually refers to an individual, a specific danger or betrayer - not a generalized concept such as "peril."

Vega 8:38 PM  

This one destroyed me. Nothing more to say, really.


Anne 8:41 PM  

I think this is the latest I've ever posted. I went bird watching at Pointe Pelee in Canada today and had a great time as usual. I read the clues this morning before I left but didn't get back to it until almost six. I googled liberally and was able to finish it and I am quite proud of that. I will now go to see what everyone thought about it. I may fall asleep in the process.

fergus 8:51 PM  

I'm still skeptical of a river mouth opening on to another river, but so what.

A Clue, Snake in the grass, answered by PERIL, reminded me of how often commonly used phrases, which are supposed to be universally understood, actually have private meanings that aren't. While a snake in the grass may of course represent peril, it's an expression that I've usually understood for someone who's quite likely to double-cross, a CHEAT for example. Someone lurking in the wings, ready to take advantage.

Since I've become leery of the generally shared meaning of such expressions, I was just wondering whether Snake in the Grass means the same to any of you who are still mulling over the puzzle?

Now, on a beautiful evening with the temperature around 80, I'm set for a stroll down by the San Lorenzo River to where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

fergus 8:56 PM  

Anon @8:30,

We were probably thinking the same (or a similar) thing at the same time, but I got a call while I was typing. Judas is closer than Cheat, for a five-letter offering.

Glitch 9:19 PM  

@fergus & @Anon8:30

For Snake etc. agree PERIL too "loose", & find cheat just wrong, I find Judas (turncoat?) too specific.

If PERIL was the needed answer, would suggest "Pauline's situation" or, for Saturday, "Damsel's distress".


4 of 3 --- night night

Lisa in Kingston 9:28 PM  

@ArtLvr: I'm just thinking about the possibility of a Michigoose, but maybe I should not go there?
Absolutely fantastic puzzle today by two of my favorite constructors, and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to complete it (at 45 minutes, I'm no speeder). Great write-up, Rex, thank you.
I've been outside all day in the garden planting veggies (b--ts! among others), so what you all so eloquently said, I second it!

Anonymous 9:56 PM  


medium?... by your write-up, not even for you.

great puzzle, but very much a challenge.

retired_chemist 10:11 PM  

@ ArtLvr -

My wife calls herself a Michiganian, and recoils ever so slightly at the term Michigander. She (that word again!) considers the former correct and the latter more or less not, though she does recognize its usage. I grew up using the latter, as do you and Google.

FWIW the spell checkers on this blog and in MS Word both flag Michiganian but not Michigander. My life will be simpler if I never tell her....

fikink 10:22 PM  

@fergus, I had CHEAT for Snake in the Grass when I was working off CASTS for shrouds, so I certainly didn't find it "just wrong," as Glitch did (if it is any solace).

chefbea 11:03 PM  

@lisa in kingston Send me some of those home grown b..ts. I'll roast them and send them back.

poc 11:17 PM  

What started of as a challenging and enjoyable puzzle turned out to be a Torquemadan excercise in frustration. I got all of the South fairly quickly, but the North was impossible apart from a few islands. Guess I just wasn't on the right wavelength.

BTW, who says "SOAKS *in*"? I've never seen anything but "SOAKS *up*". I had TAKES (in) for a long time.

mac 11:35 PM  

A beautiful puzzle, at which I had to plug away for quite a while, to get stuck in the NW. Never heard of jazz hands, had "accute" for Sharp (shoutout?) which led to scroll box. Also had vails and viper for a while

I couldn't figure out that aquamarine didn't fit in 1D. According to my books the birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone. I've worked with jasper as well, but, gentlemen, don't be mistaken, the ladies will much prefer a piece of jewelry made with aquamarine!

I've lived in Connecticut for many years, but I have no idea what we should call ourselves. Connecticutters? Connecticutians?
I guess Nutmeggers is the easiest.

michael 11:39 PM  

Very hard for me -- a lot of clues I could never get. Just not my knowledge base. I don't know the Simpsons so was never going to get Terwilliger (a name I know as an obscure baseball player).


ok, I guess the rest were possible for me, but I had to go to google with the puzzle only 2/3 done.

I finally figured out cat scans. Not my day for puzzling (though fine otherwise)

fergus 11:41 PM  

The Cheat is a bit English. Like Keith Talent, the cheat perfume purveyor in a contemporary novel, now twenty years old.

I strode down and encountered confusing tides, and thought about towns in England and France whose rivers are likewise estuarial.

Lisa in Kingston 11:48 PM  

hey chefbea, I love roasted veg-that-shall-not-be-named. I have some pickled VTSNBN, also, that are very charming. On another note, the Platte River was one of my gimmes: I grew up in So. Dak., and Nebr. was a frequent destination due to their more liberal liquor laws...
And Terwilliger is a common Dakota name, so hearing Sideshow Bob's name only once seared it into my memory.

Lisa in Kingston 11:53 PM  

And by common Dakota name, I mean, that there were lots of Terwilligers in my town!

foodie 12:25 AM  

Wow, all these Michiganders/Michiganians I didn't know about! Where's Michigan Pete when you need him?

Oh, the puzzle? What puzzle? Couldn't do no puzzle...

foodie 12:30 AM  

Here's my new yardstick/predictor-- if it takes Orange more than 5 minutes on a weekday, I'm dead.

Howard B 1:03 AM  

Had a lot of fun with this one, despite solving on a tricky unfamiliar laptop... funny thing is, I was a Simpsons fan but haven't watched as much as of late, and completely did not remember TERWILLIGER; that glitch alone made things much tougher, and I was kicking myself afterwards for forgetting it. (Curse you, Sideshow Bob!, and cue angry JAZZ HANDS).
I suspect quite a few people may cry foul over that one, as it's pretty specific knowledge, even for a widely-known cultural touchstone. Ah well. Dust yourselves off and come back strong for the next puzzle.

fergus 2:44 AM  


Who cares about minutes elapsed when it's the quality of time spent? In another sense, I could apply this axiom, but we've been through that with content and not just speed. A proper puzzle requires a hard edge, as we saw today.


andrea catalpa michaels 3:41 AM  

byron + tyler...
now they are both in the same state and I hear this is but one of three already accepted.

NEDBEATTY was my first answer...can't believe that poor man will only be remembered for having to squeal like a pig.
Note to self: be verrrrrrrrrrrrry careful of what roles to accept.

Had to ask boy across hall for TERWILLIGER and he blanked on MINOSO even tho I could give him ---OSO.
Was so excited with getting JAZZHANDS I almost fell off my chair.

acme 3:59 AM  

@Two Ponies
thanks for the heads up about Xan appearing, I usually don't check back as half the time (like tonight) it's already 1 am before I get to post...
so AleXANder wasn't that far off a guess!

Thanks for all the info as usual...
I've learned that I will always learn something really interesting from you! A Votre Toast to you!

fergus 4:20 AM  

,,, in the same state, so regionally divided. I can waltz into the City, parts of Oakland or Berkeley, yet have no clue outside of Palo Alto

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

This was challenging for me, but in a fair way. Only one quibble, combined with a question: does anyone else cringe at "as per"?

william e emba 12:25 PM  

Wooee, great Saturday, I had to overnight it.

AS PER the EDITOR White (in fiction) or Brown (in real-life): I thought that the White was Kathleen White (wife of E.B.), long time fiction editor at The New Yorker), and that the Brown was Helen Gurley Brown (long time editor/publisher of Cosmopolitan)!

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