Surly TV bartender / SAT 5-29-10 / Classic 1978 punk song / Powder used in lasers / Creator bronze en songe / Actress Mary musician Midge

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none


Word of the Day: Midge URE (25D: Actress Mary and musician Midge=>URES) —

James "Midge" Ure, OBE (born 10 October 1953) is a Scottish guitarist, singer, keyboard player, and songwriter. He enjoyed particular success in the 1970s and 1980s in bands including Slik, Thin Lizzy, The Rich Kids, Visage, and most notably as frontman of Ultravox. Ure co-wrote and produced the charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. He twice received an Ivor Novello Award with Geldof for co-writing "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Ure acts as trustee for the charity, and serves as ambassador for Save The Children. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of Jim, the diminutive form of his real name. (wikipedia) [I picked him because there are two awesome crossword words in this description — OBE! and IVOR! If URE were more famous (here) he'd be in the crossword sooo much more often]


• • •

Easy and excellent. I solved this at a leisurely pace, on the computer, mostly with one hand (I was drinking tea!) and still came in at close to the fastest-Saturday pace I set last week. It helps to know Caleb. And like Caleb. And think a lot like Caleb, despite being (ugh) old enough to be his father. Still a junior, folks, still a !@$^ing junior. In high school. Especially loved the 10-stacks. Clean, crisp, real phrases/names. Despite being a devoted "Simpsons" fan, I apparently don't know how to spell SZYSLAK yet, because I went from excited for the gimme to annoyed at my spelling incompetence, quickly (1A: Surly TV bartender). Downs eventually sorted things out. MOE's name is one of at least four *complete* names in the grid — see also AYN RAND (28A: Author who wrote "Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today"), AVA GARDNER (61A: "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" co-star), and P. DIDDY (20A: "Bad Boy for Life" performer at the 2004 Super Bowl). My only real hesitation in solving came near the EZEK (26A: Dan. preceder) / KIN (27D: Branches of some trees) crossing (couldn't figure out what "Dan." was an abbrev. for, though the [Branches] clue ended in an "S," etc.). But the fantastic punk anthem "I WANNA BE SEDATED" took care of that mess, and I was off and running again (36A: Classic 1978 punk song). Though THORO was about the ickiest thing in the grid, especially next to the none-too-attractive (however legit) DISTAL (45D: Situated away from the point of origin). Otherwise, AS GOOD AS it gets (37D: Virtually). Left me BUG-EYED (43A: Agog). Etc. etc. etc.


Had to think a bit in the NE, where I had a moment's trepidation about even getting into that little corner. Problem was at 13D: Outback relative, which I assumed was referring to the Subaru model. Or the steakhouse. Brain searching for 4-wheel-drive non-SUV equivalents ... nothing. Instead, took REWIND (11D: Go back to the start, in a way) up into that corner, then threw WILD (18A: Like some pitches) across and finally picked up VELDT! So ... *literal* Outback. Not the Subaru. Not the steakhouse. OK. Way to trick me by being non-tricky, Saturday.


["Reap the WILD Wind"]

Bullets:
  • 32A: Reggae artist ___ -Mouse (EEK-A) — strangely, a gimme for me. I couldn't pick him out of a line-up, but once you hear that name, you don't forget it.


  • 42A: Alcove-hiding hanging (ARRAS) — question: if you had a toughish proper noun in a puzzle, and you wanted to make sure it was crossed "fairly," could ARRAS be one of the crosses? I mean, could ARRAS be one of those words that you assume the good majority of solvers will be familiar with? Why do I ask? Uh ... no reason.
  • 46A: Camposanto Monumentale locale (PISA) — wrote in PERU quickly and early.


  • 52A: 1950s-'60s left fielder selected for nine All-Star Games (MIÑOSO) — The non-mouse, male MINNIE.
  • 5D: "2001" characters (ZEROS) — I completely forget these folks (Oh ... the ZEROS in the number "2001"? ... OK). Movie's as old as I am. I should rewatch it.
  • 6D: Powder used in lasers (YTTRIA) — without serious crossword experience, I'm dead in the water on YTTRIA. As it was, no problem.
  • 23D: 1976 Emmy winner for "Evening at Symphony" (OZAWA) — a crossword favorite. Up there, conductor-wise, with SOLTI and the 15-letter ARTURO TOSCANINI. I figured this was a conductor, so I just waited around for a cross or two.
  • 33D: First of three to be put out (STRIKE ONE) — not sure I like "put out" here. Not really baseball language. Maybe someone's holding "out" his/her hand and counting another person's bad behavior/mistakes.
  • 39D: Creator of the bronze "En Songe" (ARP) — saw the "A," wrote in ARP, moved on. Never seen or heard of "En Songe" ... in case you thought you actually had to "know things" to solve a Saturday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

85 comments:

tom 8:15 AM  

The EEK-A/URES crossing was a complete Natick for me. I put down an L, figuring ELKA could be a name, and URL might be a name (even if it's not a woman's name; maybe URL is the feminized version of EARL?). Guess I was wrong. I imagine I wasn't the only one. But I probably was.

Leslie 8:25 AM  

I imagine I wasn't the only one. But I probably was.

No, Tom, you weren't the only one! I threw down Uris, thinking Caleb had come up with some fresh new Urises instead of just Leon, and didn't even look again at 32A. BTW, I adore the name EEK A Mouse. Love it.

I had another Natick at 1A and 6D, since I didn't know YTTRIA (and won't know it again next time it appears, either). Doesn't matter--I loved that whole answer stack, especially BASKET CASE.

For some reason it made me laugh to see I WANNA BE SEDATED spread across the middle like that.

Just a happy-making puzzle all around, even if I did finish with two big ol' errors.

David 8:38 AM  

Two errors in this one in the places already cited. Wrote ATTRIA and URYS so my guesses at least were different. These seem to be the rough spots generally. Otherwise the puzzle was definitely gettable.

imsdave 8:43 AM  

Easy? Congrats. Not so much here. Isn't it enough that I've had to memorize all of those "Simpson's" first names? EEKA was inferable (thank goodness, as URE meant nothing to me. I finally gave up and cheated as we're having our Memorial Day picnic today with much scurrying around still to do. Not very successful as it turns out. I tried to translate spring but it didn't help much with the crosses:

מעיין

joecab 8:57 AM  

I agree: easiest Saturday that I can remember. By my second trip through the grid (yeah I'm one of those Acrosses then Downs people as long as I'm not at a tournament) I had 5 out of the seven longest entries already in. (Well except for using a Z instead of that second S in Moe's surname.)

I dunno about most solvers, but ARRAS got burned into my head as permanent crosswordese long ago.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Not so easy for us older folk. Weird, totally unknown references as far as I am concerned.

I think the 2001 character referenced the zeroes in the number 2001, not anything that appeared in the movie.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Not easy at all. We screwed up USENET (PSINET) and JIVES (JOKES) and still thought we had it right. We take some solace in having figured out the ZEROS reference, which actually was easy.

Rex Parker 9:08 AM  

It's good to have solace when you Fail.

joho 9:46 AM  

Super Saturday puzzle! I savored filling in each and every square even though I failed with an "e" at the "Y" in MOESZYSLAK and also spelled it DaNADA to get USaNET which sounded real enough to me.

I was humming IWANNABESEDATED for most of the solve which just added to the fun.

BUGEYED, BASKETCASE and BMOVIE contriButed to making this more of a Blast.

Just a Q short of a pangram, too.

Thank you, Caleb!!!

dk 9:54 AM  

I was just thinking the other day that an ARRAS would be a nice...

BASKETCASE is a common diagnosis (see DSM 0) so I got that along with EEKA and RESHOE.

And, Prince could have been right for 20A, but wasn't.

I would of liked 11A clued as Neocon responsible for the current recession or king of the 63As.

I like the mini Saturday at the movies theme.

Wrote a paper once for a Philosophy class on AYNRAND and Objectivism as a reaction to something to do with Kant. I can imagine my professor humming IWANNABESEDATED as he read it.

I think 16A should be axed but... I guess if I want a puzzle my way I'll just have to construct it myself.

** (2 Stars) Hung over from a night of AFTERTASTE evaluation, playing and losing at rummy.

d(singular 63A)k

Eric Berlin 10:00 AM  

I found this to be a Saturday of average difficulty, but I had one moment of glory: Throwing in I WANNA BE SEDATED just on the crossing I.

dls 10:02 AM  

Great puzzle. Too much to hope for OH BONDAGE UP YOURS at 36A, I guess!

retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

Medium-challenging here. Not particularly geezer-friendly.

The YTTRIA clue I did not like. The implication is that yttrium oxide powder is part of a laser. In fact it is used only as a synthetic precursor to the large single crystal (commonly YAG - yttrium aluminum garnet) which is actually the laser component. YTTRIA powder would be useless in a laser. Unless the constructor/editor know something I (who spent >20 years working with YAG lasers) do not know about this.

The cluing is analogous to cluing CARBON as substance used in automobiles. Hey, you make steel using carbon and then use steel in cars.....

Other than that one problem, I enjoyed this puzzle even though many of the pop culture answers were only available to me by getting enough crosses to recognize or guess at the answer. Did not know SZYSLAK, EEKA, or IWBS (36A). Vaguely knew URES, needed a LOT of crosses to get P DIDDY because I did not know the song (?) in the clue, and got screwed up in the SW with MANTLE instead of MINOSO. [Chorus of "You idiot, ol' #7 was a center fielder!" may be heard in the distance.]

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Oh where to start? This was not an easy puzzle but doable. Now for the WTF's Buzz Aldrin did not go to MIT he went to West Point. 21D shows no clue of being a foreign word. 34D let up I don't believe is the same as stop or cease could have been clued a little more accurately. Clever with the 4 full names. Golfballman

Norm 10:35 AM  

Aldrin got his doctorate from MIT. Fun puzzle, although too many Naticks for this old brain.

ArtLvr 10:40 AM  

I saw Caleb's name up top and shuddered with trepidation -- TV bartender, surly or not? But at least there were a few clues for old-timers, like AVA GARDNER and the ARRAS. I even vaguely remember MINOSO after guessing at AVIV. (I don't recall the Minoso being pronounced with Ñ ?)

I think the 38D "Old Martin bomber" was made by Martin Marietta, long since merged into Lockheed. Tricky! And as friend @retired_chemist noted elsewhere, the 6D "Powder used in lasers" is basically wrong.

In sum, I managed to finish with only two googles: I WANNA BE SEDATED and P DIDDY. Not too bad, considering my total blank on pop items. As for sports, WIDE looked brilliant for 18A "Like some pitches", until it turned into WILD.

So yes, Caleb is wildly good, and I'm BUG-EYED.

∑;(

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

JB
Difficult and annoying. Yttria???
Too many names in a puzzle feel like a lack of creativity to me, but then I don't make them just try to solve them.

Smitty 10:42 AM  

Not only not easy - not doable for me. Don't watch TV, don't collect baseball cards, don't work with YAG lasers.
SORELOSERS was totally gettable though!

newspaperguy 10:43 AM  

Aldrin got his Masters degree at MIT.

mitchs 10:44 AM  

@DK: I also didn't like YTTRIA - but for the more general reason that I've never heard of it. Much less Moe's last name. Natick!

Was confident about PRINCE until DENADA had to be right.

Certainly more of a challenge for us oldsters, but mostly fair and a lot of fun.

retired_chemist 10:45 AM  

Had a fond hope that 43A might be PUG-EYED (see avatar), but then what would a P MOVIE be and why would people act terribly in one?

hexioni - six-sided pasta?

Frances 10:47 AM  

At 22D, I put those daredevils into ZERO G, off the R in RATIO and felt very smart about it. Needless to say, this wiped California clear off the grid, especially for one unfamiliar with classic Punk songs, Reggae artists or surly bartenders (TV or otherwise!). Professor Google to the rescue, I regret to confess.

Timbo 10:49 AM  

So I'm semi-new here - where did the term "Natick" come from (I know, Mass.)? Fun although I also stumbled on USaNET and the YTTRIA/MOESY... cross, to which I mildly object. Otherwise an excellent puzzle.

chefbea 10:51 AM  

too tough!! Googled a bit and then gave up and came here

Going down town to an art show. I'm adorned in red, white, and blue.

Will make my red, white and bleu cole slaw later

Tinbeni 10:52 AM  

Listened to the clip
I WANNA BE SEDATED.
Completely forgetable to me though POT a couple of lines up seemed right.

MOE's last name, not a clue, since I don't watch the show.
Liked the mini, or should I say Minnie, baseball theme of MINOSO, WILD and STRIKE ONE.

YTTRIA was the learning moment, ARRAS from a prior one.

captcha: doper, goes with the POT!

jesser 10:56 AM  

Dang. I thought I got this one til I came here to find out that JapES was most assuredly not correct at 47D. Poot. And yes, I fell into the aTTRIA trap, too.

Those errors aside, this was just big fun. I don't think you'll find many SORE LOSERS in the comments section today.

A friend once made me a mix tape that was the wildest mix ever. I WANNA BE SEDATED was on there, and I can't even type in the title without getting all Cheshire Cat about it.

I'll be off the radar for a few days. I may try to do the Across Lite versions, but no promises. I think I'd rather wait and print 'em all out when I get home, and keep 'em in reserve for when I am waiting for meetings to start or my number to be called at the deli. I have days to use or lose before June 30, so I'm going to load up the Infiniti (the road-trip vehicle, because Jeeps are Not Good for that function) and inflict myself on friends. I'll take the back roads and scenic routes in an effort to show the candy-ass car some of the magic of the Land of Enchantment.

Peace and love to Rex and the Rexites!

Rente! (what I hope never to pay in a trailer park) -- jesser

Martin 11:09 AM  

@retired_chemist,
I think you have a classic case of being too close to the clue and therefore objecting to a non-technical editing choice.

We use shorthand like "coltan [an ore] is used in cell phones" when discussing civil wars in Africa, for instance, because it's obvious that the ore has to be refined to make something [niobium and tantalum] useful for making components [capacitors] for cell phones. The few of us who care how the cell phones depend on the ore probably already know; most people are merely interested that somehow cell phones promote war in Africa.

On a trip to Stockholm once, I made a bit of a pilgrimage to Ytterby, the site of the quarry that led to the discoveries of yttrium, ytterbium, holmium, scandium, gadolinium, erbium and thulium. Not much there considering it's rare earth holy ground.

JC66 11:17 AM  

I'm in the *old fogie* camp and as much as Rex was on Caleb's wave length, I was off by more. I tore thru the SE, thanks to AVA GARDNER, but the rest was a slog with numerous googles thrown in. Not a fun solve for me.

Stan 11:29 AM  

DNF (Southwest corner). But enjoyed the longer stacks (esp. figuring out BASKET CASE, DOOR TO DOOR and ESTATE TAX).

Started strong with Midge Ure, Eek-A-Mouse and the Ramones song. Maybe Caleb's parents (or grandparents) have a record collection similar to mine.

Do three strikes make an Eze K?

David L 11:30 AM  

Definitely not easy for me -- DNF, in fact. I had CRISIS at 43D (people act badly in it), which fit with TURNON at 47A (eagerly criticize, as in, David turned on the constructor of this crossword with an angry glare). MINOSO and AVIV are WTFs for me, so I had to abandon the SW in disarray, becoming a SORELOSER in the process.

Oh, and I had HEROS for ZEROS, for no very good reason except maybe it had something to do with 9/11...

URES and IWANNABESEDATED were gimmes for me, but those were my only high spots.

hazel 11:37 AM  

For me, this was the quintessential Saturday puzzle, which by my definition includes

(1) an imaginative grid (SORELOSERS, BASKETCASE, BMOVIE, BUGEYED) w/ a killer center (IWANNABESEDATED),
(2) lots of stuff I don’t know, but can infer with a few toeholds (EEKA, AYNRAND, AVIV, PDIDDY), and
(3) a couple of infuriating crosses (FICTIONAL BARTENDER + IMPROBABLE POWDER & OBSCURE PERSON + OBSCURE PERSON).

When these elements are out of balance (XWORDASQAATSI), I get irritated, and resort to googling just to get it over with. A puzzle like this deserves respect, though. So, although it took a few attempts before the bouncer (who lives inside the NYT Against the Clock site) would let me in, in I got. Now I can go for a bike ride.

Awesome puzzle, Caleb. Glad you’re a baseball fan.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

So I'm semi-new here - where did the term "Natick" come from (I know, Mass.)?

Rex used to include links to "important posts" from past puzzle, and one of those was called "The Natick Principal." I see the links are gone now, however. And so...

A year or so ago there was a NYT puzzle where NCWYETH crossed NATICK at the initial N. The first was clued with reference to an obscure painting, and the second was clued with reference to a mile marker along the route of the Boston Marathon. In other words, both answers were obscure (to the vast majority of solvers), neither clue was particularly helpful, and the letter where they crossed could have really been just about any consonant.

Rex coined the term "Natick Principal" to indicate as guiding principal that crossword constructors should all abide by. Basically, it means you should never cross two words that the majority of solvers won't know and that aren't inferable from the clues, especially when the crossing letter could be any random letter.

And if Rex hadn't removed the links, I wouldn't have had to type all that, thank you very much.

redhed 11:45 AM  

My first post here, altho I visit every day. Traditionally, I think, one's alma mater is where one receives one's first college degree. So for Kofi Annan, I wanted to enter Macalester College, because that is my honeybunches' a.m. as well. I did finish the puzzle today, even tho I had google more than once (actually lost count!) so the fact that I finished at ALL confirms that this is, indeed, easy for a Saturday. Enjoyed it, and even more so when I read the mini bio of the creator.

BigSteve46 11:53 AM  

The eternal problem with pop culture clues: if you know it, its a gimme; if you don't you're "chingado." I was able to muddle through this puzzle with great effort - but enough already with the Simpsons'detritus!

retired_chemist 12:06 PM  

@ Martin - I take your point, but my real issue is with the context of the word used. "Used in making" is different from "used in" IMO. I would have had the same objection to your example.

I know, I have inveighed here previously against expecting too much precision in cluing, but too little is sometimes displeasing too. Would it have been too much to expect the editor to edit the clue to "powder used in making lasers?"

archaeoprof 12:10 PM  

Fun puzzle.

I'm going to spend all day laughing about the crossing of AYNRAND with NEEDY...

Jamie 12:13 PM  

Oh man- had _ _ _ P _ A K E for 10d. at the end and was seriously thinking "Lock of hair, maybe" could be "BP uptake" !

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Had MUSIAL for awhile at 52A before correcting to MINOSO. The 1950s -'60s clue was even more of a problem for Stan the Man, who had some great years in the 1940's. Minoso had what the ballplayers call a cup of coffee in the majors in the 1940's. Then in the 1970's and again in 1980 the White Sox played Minoso briefly when he was in his fifties. The point was to make a big splash about Minnie being a five-decade player, an unfortunate exploitation of a great baseball player, which made the clue a tad problematical for me. Nevertheless his productive years were certainly the years cited, so I would say the clue is fair.

Two Ponies 12:40 PM  

This was mostly a fun and imaginative puzzle but I have never heard of usenet or arras. I also thought the reggae name might have been some strange take-off on Mickey. Other than those sticky places it was lots of fun.
Beautiful weather this weekend here in Vegas. We're off to the lake with a gigantic cooler of beer, wood for a fire, and weenies to roast.

Doris 1:05 PM  

Have always thought that Hamlet alone is an education in itself. Learned ARRAS early in the game, since that is what the Dane stabs through to kill Polonius inadvertently, thinking he's the King.

Clark 1:16 PM  

Big ol' DNF for me. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I was definitely not listening to punk in 1978. The video was hysterical, even if the song itself is pretty forgettable. Sounds like good jumping up and down music though.

babslesley 1:23 PM  

Easy??!!?? This took me eons and DNF. But, hey, great puzzle anyway.

chaos1 1:30 PM  

Rex,Rex,Rex! C'mon Buddy, Gimme A Break!

O.K. I've only been coming to this blog for a month or so. I started out at Wordplay last year, but I've been doing puzzles for forty years.

That being said, there's no way this puzzle can withstand the broad scrutiny of cruciverbalists and EMERGE unscathed, rated EASY. With all due respect, I'm not attaching any credence to your rating system anymore. Lol. Is seems way too subjective to be fair, and relies too heavily on your knowledge base and those of your age group.

Let me start by saying that I finished the puzzle correctly, but it took me an hour. Yes, I even got YTTRIA, because I've been burned by that word before. However, I was flagellating my hippocampus way to long, and the Y was my last fill letter.

When I saw that Caleb was the constructor, I almost opted out right away, but I decided to give it a cursory perusal. I suspected it was going to be filled with Pop
Culture Google type trivia, and I never Google to solve. I'm used to B.E.Q. puzzles, so I knew what to expect.

O.K., here's where I eat the crow. Caleb, excellent job! I'm amazed that someone your age, was able to achieve a nice workable balance between the under/over forty age barrier. Perhaps a nod to Will is due in that regard ? Even so, I still think that the puzzle gave the advantage to the under 40 crowd because of the following examples:

1A, ( I've seen the show maybe twice? Still, it was almost a gimme, but the last name is brutal) , 20A (wanted Prince for too long), 32A (laughed like hell, but had no idea), 36A (again no clue, but WANNA looked and sounded perfect for the last 5 letters I was missing), 25D (no clue, but nice write-up by Rex).

These clues were countered nicely for the over 40 crowd by the following:

52A (Brutal clue. You not only have to be over 50, you have to be a huge baseball fan.) Gotta love the tie-in with 32A though !

61A (Tough, but 57 & 53D are gimme's, so with the "VA" you can guess AVA, and the time frame narrows down the possibilities a lot.)

Clues in the toss up category were 28A, (even though I wasn't sure, I actually pulled it from the "Y" in 7D) and all ages should be familiar with this lady.

Bottom line, even though I think the under 40 crowd had the edge, Caleb made sure that the crosses made the puzzle fair for all. The only possible exception was the cross at 1A-6D. You either know that or eat your DNF.

Still think EASY was way off. I would have rated this medium/challenging. I think B.E.Q. would have rated it Medium. Hope my input was deemed valid?

syndy 1:48 PM  

The quanta of solace is not strained but falls like rain on the poor heads of us oldsters who had to fight to the death for this one--certainly caleb had no mercy(don"t look for it from rex.)ended with all the afore mentioned misspellings.I agree a rexicon would be a welcome addition to the blog

Guildenstern 1:57 PM  

LORD POLONIUS:
At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:
Be you and I behind an arras then;
Mark the encounter: if he love her not
And be not from his reason fall'n thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.

joho 1:58 PM  

Hey, @jesser ... have fun!

Welcome @redhead ... glad to hear your voice.

@Clark ... I think forgettable is the last way I'd describe IWANNABE SEDATED! Maybe the music but, for sure, not the title. I don't know, it just brings back some great memories for me. Oh, wait, Caleb wasn't even born in 1978!

Leslie 2:15 PM  

@Hazel, in re "XWORDASQAATSI" (Crossword Out of Balance):

Love this word. I'm adopting this word so wholeheartedly that I'm planning on going upstairs and building it its own bedroom.

Lurker0 2:23 PM  

@Anon at 11:43 AM:

Thanks for explaining Naticks to the newbies. (@Rex -- can you put those useful back-references back?) But...

I guess it's bad form to criticize a blog entry for its spelling, but ...

For cruciverbalists, mixing up principLE and principAL is well-nigh unforgivable. From long, sad experience as an editor, I've given up on expecting "it's" and "its" to come out right (vide supra), but...

In principLE, this is one of my principAL objections to relying on spellcheck. For homonyms, basic literacy is needed to write right. Grrr!

Lurking Larry

hazel 2:25 PM  

@Leslie - put on some Philip Glass while you're working!!

son of dad 3:01 PM  

I agree with others about the EEKA/URES Natick. Never heard of any of the referenced beings in those clues and didn't really care that I got the crossing wrong.

Although I don't know a damn thing about lasers, I'll echo retired_chemist's point and add that the Times puzzle often plays fast and loose with the details in scientific clues. The only field I can evaluate well is biology, and there have been numerous instances where a clue relating to bio has been subtly off (forgivable, but still shouldn't happen) or incorrect (unforgivable). This is kind of a pet issue for me.

PuzzleNut 3:08 PM  

I thought this was a pretty typical Saturday, definitely not on the easy side.
A number of spots that I finally decided must be correct, even though I didn't know the clues/answers.
My downfall was JIVES/AVIV. Actually had AVIV for a while, but no idea on M?NOSO and had dUMPON. Thought JapES might be right, but ApIV looked terrible. Finally changed to JIbES which I often get confused with GIBES and I was lost. Got YTTRIA after going through the whole alphabet (tho I was tempted to just stop with A). Kind of remembered YTTRIA as some element from chemistry, but had know idea what it had to do with lasers.
The ZEROS cross was my other mistake. Thought it was spelled ZEROES like HEROES (another logical answer). Only word I could think of was AEROS and that seemed plausible. Obviously am not a Simpsons viewer.

redhed 3:32 PM  

@Joho: thanks for the welcome! glad I finally said hello.

chefbea 3:52 PM  

@redhed welcome!! And of course I like your name!!!!!

fergus 4:03 PM  

Cover lots of ground had to be PAVE, right, but not this Saturday. ABED was better than ICED for Stricken. Then I even thought that PAWING could sort of be going back to the start. And I probably didn't want to locate AYN RAND. So, Caleb, your 'easy' puzzle outfoxed me.

---

(nicatic is such a good random word it ought to enter the language -- or smokers anyway.)

Seek and ye shall find (Natick) 4:17 PM  

@Anon 11:43, @syndi, et al

Check the FAQ's at the top of Rex's home page.

(You read then on every new site, don't you??)

chefwen 4:28 PM  

This was one tough puzzle for me, Googled my ass off and still a big DNF in this camp. I think I will bypass any further Saturday puzzles with the rascally Caleb's name on top. Yup, I was a very SORE LOSER.

Doc John 4:48 PM  

As Rex always says, one man's WTF is another's gimme. In this case it was URES. Mary Ure was in my favorite movie of all time, Where Eagles Dare. I've seen it or parts of it at least fifty times.

As mentioned earlier, anyone who's read Hamlet knows ARRAS so it's more than fair game for this crowd.

Finally, did we ever find out for what Dan. is an abbreviation? And, for that matter, what EZEK is? (Seeing as how that Z and the I in JIVES were my two mistakes. "jUves" kind of works for [Kids], too, you know!)

Leslie 4:53 PM  

Psst, Doc--Daniel and Ezekiel.

Doc John 5:02 PM  

@ Leslie- thank you!

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

For cruciverbalists, mixing up principLE and principAL is well-nigh unforgivable. From long, sad experience as an editor, I've given up on expecting "it's" and "its" to come out right (vide supra), but...

Yeah, well, now you know why I post anonymously...

Personally, it's the lose/loose confusion that drives me up a wall, but to each his own.

Sarah 5:54 PM  

Lots of late 20th century popcult stuff here that were gimmes for me: Midge URE (saw Ultravox at the Hammersmith Palais years ago), EEK-A-MOUSE (I saw him perform in Brixton in the early 1980s -- fantastic!),MOE SYZLAK (got MOE immediately, but couldn't remember the order of the letters in the last name), Ramones, etc. My total lack of baseball knowledge was once again a liability and made me want to hide behind an ARRAS.

First of three to be put out initially yielded "little pig," which I thought was a terrific answer until it messed up everything else. It's that baseball thing -- I never ever think of it as a possibility.

Commandant Lassard 5:54 PM  

nobody else filled in I WANNA BE YOUR DOG? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJIqnXTqg8I) fits the cluing and the space. both great songs.

also YTRRIA/SZYSLAK is absolutely Natick. i've watched hundreds, maybe thousands of Simpsons and Moe's last name, much less the spelling of it, is completely foreign to me. i had the additional failing of never having worked with any laser powders, though i suppose i'm probably in the minority there.

Sarah 5:56 PM  

Oh, and YTTRIA? Please.

PIX 6:17 PM  

@ retired_chemist: I fully agree with your objection to 6D: "powder used in lasers". I didn't know there was any "powder" in a laser...and I didn't know it, because there is no powder used in lasers. There is a consistent pattern in these puzzles where science clues are not held to the same standard of precision as other clues are...because most of the people who make/edit/blog these puzzles do not have a science background. Thank you for pointing out (with laser precision) the latest example.

Greene 6:17 PM  

Terrific puzzle. If Caleb can produce work of this quality as a high school junior, then God help us all in 10 years when he's got some life experience under his belt. I can't imagine how difficult the puzzles might be then.

I've been watching The Simpsons for 20 years and I still can't spell Moe's last name. It's a frustrating feeling when 1A is a gimmie (of sorts) in a Saturday puzzle, but you're held back by spelling errors. I had the same feeling yesterday when I misspelled PIRANHA in another, considerably easier puzzle. There should be a name for that, I mean other than idiot. Andrea?

I know nothing of rap, and yet I got PDIDDY pretty easily. Seeing his name in the grid reminds me of the wonderful David Yazbek song "Great Big Stuff" which gently pokes fun at the celebrity culture of acquisition even as it skewers whites who allophilically emulate African American mannerisms and slang:

"Chillin'in the city,
Sittin' pretty in the Caddy
With P. Daddy or Puff Diddy
...or whatever!"

Incidentally, isn't he just DIDDY these days? Or is it Sean John? I can't keep up.

I did see Mr. Combs in his Broadway debut in the 2004 production of A Raisin in the Sun. What he may have lacked in acting experience he compensated for in terms of star power. It was extremely brave of him to appear before the New York critics, especially when he didn't need to. He also brought in a large audience of young people to see a classic play, people who had probably never seen a play before. For that he has my respect and admiration.

sanfranman59 6:47 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:05, 6:55, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:14, 8:50, 0.82, 10%, Easy
Wed 10:01, 11:49, 0.85, 13%, Easy
Thu 16:40, 19:20, 0.86, 17%, Easy
Fri 26:44, 26:22, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Sat 32:05, 30:42, 1.05, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:41, 1.06, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:43, 4:30, 0.83, 12%, Easy
Wed 5:10, 5:48, 0.89, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:35, 9:15, 0.82, 12%, Easy
Fri 12:12, 12:43, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Sat 17:41, 17:31, 1.01, 59%, Medium

I was happy to see that this one didn't rate as Easy by the numbers, because it certainly wasn't for me. Some day, I'm going to have to break down and memorize all of the Simpsons names. Moe I knew ... SZYSLAK, not ... which made the crossing with YTTRIA a Natick experience for me. As I type this, I only just now understand EXED. And not being familiar at all with PDIDDY's work nor either of the URES all adds up to a DNF for me in the north. Alas, another humbling Saturday experience ... and this one served up by a teenager.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Buzz Aldrin did not go to MIT (48 across). He turned down a scholarship there to attend West Point

jae 7:26 PM  

Add me to those with SZYSLAK spelling problems. Fortunately, I'd seen YTTRIA before (BEQ maybe?) otherwise I'd have likely guessed wrong on that square. Only other problems were BTWO at first and JOKES (which MINOSA fixed).

I too found this on the easy side of medium. I guess, even though I'm over 60, I haven't stopped being fascinated with pop culture, which definitely helps with xwords . An excellent/lively/fun Sat. Thanks Caleb!

michael 7:27 PM  

Average Saturday for me -- amazed that Caleb is a high school junior. What I am once again struck by is how my experience is mirrored by some others -- the problem with the ytrria-moeszyslak cross, keeping Prince too long, Musial {grumbling) before Minoso, and (never corrected) jibes instead of jives.

One thing I liked about this puzzle was that I could get answers by crosses (i.e. few Naticks) -- notably I wannabesedated and moeszyslak (except for the Y).

Yes but 7:27 PM  

@Anon 7:03p

Since you don't appear to have read the earlier posts (a common anon problem):

Buzz Aldrin:

EDUCATION: Graduated from Montclair High School, Montclair, New Jersey; received a bachelor of science degree in 1951 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating third in his class; and a doctorate of science in Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. His thesis was "Guidance for Manned Orbital Rendezvous." Aldrin has honorary degrees from six colleges and universities.

You should have know it from the Kofi Annan ref.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

@sanfranman I think the "all solvers" group is still comprised of people more xword savvy then the average newspaper consumer (that's right, SORE LOSER in the house!). Total DNF after 1 hour, particular trouble with 26D "Dan. Preceder", "Dan." could be short for any word that starts with those letters since it's not a common abbreviation for anything. And VELDT sounds more like a Yiddish side dish than whatever it really is (I still don't know what it is even with the clue and answer).

I did like this puzzle a lot, but not easy for me by any stretch...

joho 8:01 PM  

@Rex ... will you make the call? You coined the term Natick ... isn't the cross with the "Y" at MOESZYSLAK & YTTRIA truly a prime example of your defintion?

Oscar 8:09 PM  

How about opening a dictionary to, I don't know, learn something? A veldt is an African grassland. I know it from an amazing short story by Ray Bradbury called "The Veldt" about a futuristic hologram room.

To me, the amazing thing about crosswords is the wide range of subject matter covered. Older solvers can learn about things after WWII and younger solvers can learn about things before the Wii.

As for this puzzle, I had JAPES for JIVES and thought there were too many "I" phrases, but that doesn't change the fact that Caleb Madison is a wunderkind.

mac 8:48 PM  

I was beat to a pulp by this puzzle.

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

Hey, I know I'm late, but here is proof that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. I knew Tish-a-bov was Jewish arbor day and thought it HAD to do with spring. Aviv - abov ...poo

Martin 10:06 PM  

Tisha b'av (the Ninth of Av) is day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. You're thinking of Tu Bishvat (the Fifteenth of Shevat).

Stan 11:49 PM  

@Sarah: You saw Ultravox at the Hammersmith Palais? Eek-a-Mouse in Brixton? I am truly impressed...

fergus 12:24 AM  

Does the Hammersmith Palais still exist? Seemed like it was ready for the wrecking ball in 1979, when last I was there. Brixton, too, though I've been there more recently.

shrub5 2:11 AM  

Started the puzzle early this AM and finished about half of it. Could get nowhere on the rest and since I had a couple other things to do today, I left it for this evening after the basketball game (sniff). I finally completed it -- spent a total of about an hour and needed googles for the SEDATED song, MINOSO, SZYSLAK and P.DIDDY. I was jazzed each time I got one of the 10's (except MOE). I knew EEKAmouse from a previous puzz. Loved the clues for KIN and ROAR.

Can someone please explain THORO for "utter, briefly"? I think my brain is fried at this point...

Caleb, this is excellent work -- a grab bag of subjects with something for everybody!

sanfranman59 2:22 AM  

@shrub5 ... THORO is short for thorough ... outright ... absolute ... utter. Not my favorite clue in this puzzles, but Saturday-worthy.

shrub5 2:40 AM  

@sanfranman59:
Oh, I SEE!
I apologize for my THORO denseness. I couldn't get beyond utter as in speak.
Thanks!

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

Loved the puzzle, Did not Finish (half a dozen squares in the SE corner--considered "PDIDDY" but kept "PRINCE")
--but...I'm sure I'm missing something completely obvious since nobody else has commented on it, but I STILL can't make out what SKED means!

Anonymous 5:57 AM  

(I meant "NE" corner, obviously)

Oscar 8:07 AM  

SKED is short for "schedule."

Michael 3:22 PM  

I surely don't know the dates of my punk anthems well enough- I had to cross out "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" AND "I WANNA BE YOUR DOG" before coming up with "I WANNA BE SEDATED." Did those foul anyone else up?

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