Lady Liberty garb / SAT 9-18-10 / Relaciones Espirituales writer / Bygone medical ventilator / Defunct ministry initials / Board game grande dame

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: STOLA (31D: Lady Liberty garb) —

The stola was the traditional garment of Roman women, corresponding to the toga that was worn by men. // Originally, women wore togas as well, but after the second century BC, the toga was worn exclusively by men, and women were expected to wear the stola. At that point in time, it was considered disgraceful for a woman to wear a toga; wearing the male garment was associated with prostitution. (wikipedia)

• • •

This grid is beautiful, though haters of so-called "pop culture" will undoubtedly get their panties (or briefs, to be fair) in a bunch over much of it (particularly the NE — my favorite part). It's smooth and fresh and contemporary and exactly the kind of puzzle a (relative) kid should be making. Not a genuine obscurity or groaner to be seen in this grid. A real pleasure to solve, and easily the most professional puzzle I've seen this week (and it's been a decent week).

How do I know the Spanish word for "cows"?? (8D: Spanish cows=>VACAS). That moment of certainty may have been the strangest moment of the solve. I started out somewhat slowly in the NW; after putting in ELLA (15A: "___ at Duke's Place" (1965 jazz album)) and ILLS (2D: Distresses), I actually took them out in favor of BUGS for 2D and AGUA for 17A: ___ de Caña (FLOR). Then went with SUCH A DEAL at 19A: "That's a great price!" ("SWEET DEAL!"). But once I got into the NE, all my problems evaporated and it was smooth, fast sailing from there on out. Huge gimmes for me at 5A: Founding member of Public Enemy known for wearing large clocks around his neck (FLAVOR FLAV) and 16A: 2007 satirical best-seller subtitled "And So Can You!" ("I AM AMERICA") — the latter is a Stephen Colbert book (so excited to go to his "March to Keep Fear Alive" on the Mall in D.C. October 30) ...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive

Rare that I get such long (and neighboring) gimmes on a Saturday. Throw in SPICE GIRLS (18A: First British group since the Beatles to have two albums in the U.S. top 10 at the same time) and then cross all of it with FIST BUMP (5D: Alternative to a shake) *and* LAP DANCES (6D: Bachelor party entertainment)!?!?! That's crazy. Crazy good. It's like the puzzle was made by someone living in America sometime after 1985. Amazing. SW corner isn't bad either. Something about LALA on top of a Lady GAGA song amuses me. From Public Enemy and Stephen Colbert up top to "The Simpsons" and the board game Clue down below, this one was right up my alley — but leaving my personal predilections aside, I still think the freshness and smoothness of this grid are amazing. Had a couple hesitations after I got rolling (STOLE or STOLA? ?AOH / ?IBS), but ended up faster than yesterday. I expect that this puzzle will reveal a generational rift. It happens. Today, I'm on the happy side of it.

Maybe I should find a fault or two. Well, SWEET DEAL doesn't sound terribly solid as a stand-alone colloquial phrase (though I buy that it is, to some), and having OLDE (55D: Adjective for a coach house inn, maybe) and OLDER (from GET OLDER39D: Age) in the grid isn't ideal, I suppose. SANTAS (46A: Hatted bell ringers) and YMCAS (33A: Bldgs. with community courts) are slightly odd plurals. But none of this really matters to me today. Too much good stuff.

["Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps!"]

  • 25A: Bygone medical ventilator (IRON LUNG) — you can see one near the beginning of "Where Danger Lives" (film noir in which Robert Mitchum plays a physician):

  • 36A: Area worth the most bonus troops in the game Risk (ASIA) — not too hard to figure out. Never played this game, which is too bad, as it seems to come up a lot in crosswords. I did play Clue, however, so MRS. PEACOCK was a cinch (29D: Board game grande dame).
  • 38A: Literary captain who says "It's better to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad one" (PELEG) — from "Moby-Dick"; man, some of these clues today are Long.
  • 45A: Defunct ministry initials (PTL) — The Bakkers! Mmmm, 80s TV preacher scandals. Delicious.
  • 48A: "Relaciones Espirituales" writer (ST. TERESA) — debating whether this was TERESA or TERESE, as I'd heard of a STOLE, but not a STOLA.
  • 50A: Fish also called Jerusalem haddock (OPAH) — fish pun theme — answer 1: OPAH WINFREY. You're welcome.
  • 64A: Oread in love with her own voice (ECHO) — Oreads are mountain nymphs. Clue leaves out another important love of hers: Narcissus.
  • 3D: What some plays are shown in (SLOW MOTION) — I watched Calvin Johnson's phantom touchdown in SLOW MOTION over and over last weekend. Still trying to process how you can have complete possession of a ball, come down with both feet, both knees, and ass inbounds, and still not get credited with the touchdown. I read the (stupid) rule. Player falling to the ground has to maintain possession throughout the fall. I'm telling you, the "fall" is Over at the time he "loses" the ball. Man. Man oh man. OK, moving on.

  • 20D: "For Better or for Worse" matriarch (ELLY) — so this strip just ... started over? I don't quite understand.
  • 37D: Variety of zither (AUTOHARP) — I think I thought an AUTOHARP was a harmonica, but I guess that's a blues harp.
  • 58D: Nelson's catchphrase on "The Simpsons" ("HA ha") — I use this All The Time. Emphasis on the first "HA."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Bill from NJ 12:50 AM  


SUCHADEAL at 19A - Perhaps Andrea and I are rubbing off on you!

syndy 12:53 AM  

saturday puzzle not coming up on puzzle site anybody else?

syndy 1:05 AM  

wordplay blog page has link to puzzle

ArtLvr 1:39 AM  

Yes, it was quite a good puzzle and my panties are not in a bunch much. Had Hanse for the league at 52A before IONIA,, and Chess Queen before MRS PEACOCK at 29D. Why is the latter grande dame?
(Note: Escoffier invented the Peche Melba and Melba Toast in the 1890s, both dishes named for strident soprano Nellie MELBA, très grande dame.)

Settled down and got serious with the IRON LUNG and AUTOHARP. Saw the slight flaw with OLDE and GET OLDER, plus SANER crossing SENTIENCE both relating to the same Latin root. (Mens sana in corpore sano,, etc.) STOLA was sneaky but a hoot!

I'm bound to say my fave of the Brown week was Joey's elegant Thursday coup with the CELLO of Mstislav Rostropovich, but I ECHO Rex: Natan's has a lot to recommend it!


andrea careen michaels 1:48 AM  

@Bill from NJ
On Yom Kippur no less!
(No wonder I put in JewsHARP!)

This was great...but DNF :(
I couldn't get past Imout for IPASS, so I had Ohio instead of ASIA!!!
What do I know from RISK!?!

That upper right hand corner was fabulous...tho I thought it was FLAVA FLAV. Wouldn't that be better?
As a namer, I gotta go with FLAVA FLAV...

Totally agree with Rex about how fresh and young and lovely it is to have a puzzle with FISTBUMP, LAPDANCES, BAD ROMANCE and IAMAERICA!

I'm embarrassed I've never heard of PELEG, was he a PE(g)LEG?
And I don't get Run for it = SEAT.

my first answer was TANT pis...what do you make of that, mon AMI?

Weird that GALAS and HALAS but a letter apart could not be more different! Reason #286 to like this puzzle.

And for some reason, my favorite answer (besides BADROMANCE) is LATELUNCH.

What a great week! I feel the future of crosswords is in good hands, fo' sho".

Clark 1:51 AM  

This was a fun puzzle, though I did not get the OPAH/HALAS cross.

"Run for it" = SEAT. Somebody tell me how to think about this kind of (nonsubstitutable) clue. Does it always involve an 'it'? As in "______ [it] is something you run for"?

I don't know anything about football, but I gotta say he was still falling when he lost the ball.

ArtLvr 2:06 AM  

p.s 8D Spanish cows, VACAS, relate to Vaccination (also from Latin), since the first such medical treatment was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner for smallpox by attenuation of the disease through cows, further refined by Louis Pasteur...

It has recently been demonstrated that vaccines have no causal link to autism -- the research paper frightening many parents was retracted and the proponent of that false alarm removed from his position.


ArtLvr 2:18 AM  

p.p.s. At general election time, you run for a SEAT in House, Senate, or Assembly for example!

Hi to Bill in NJ!


r.alphbunker 3:25 AM  

Stola? When I saw RP's solution I initially thought that he had made a mistake! Do they have stola parties at Brown sororities?

Needed google to get rid of "frittato" which forced the replacement of "or so" with "as to" and lead to the completion of the NE.

Frittata and omelet pass the breakfast test but does lapdance?

It was a good week.

CoffeeLvr 4:43 AM  

Well, once again, I know I should not start the puzzle at night. Look what time it is (3:30 am Central.) So much for catching the Early Bird specials today. Of course, it was good I was awake when dog got sick . . . twice.

Because AcrossLite was not bringing up the puzz, I tried doing it against the clock. It kept telling me my solution was incorrect. Turns out it was STOLe and ST. TERESe.

This is my best Saturday performance to date, so Rex is right, the puzzle is easy, mostly because there were hardly any Naticks, if any. So much I didn't know, but sussed out from the crosses. So, once again, I learned a great deal this morning. No Googles, but I did go look at contact lens solution bottles (helped), and my bottle of Jamaican rum (no help).

Mini game theme - Risk, Clue, SKAT, poker POT.

I was stuck on SEmiotics for SENTIENCE for a long, long time.

glimmerglass 8:11 AM  

Captain Peleg is a very minor character in Moby Dick. He's one of the owners of the Pequod (along with Bildad, I think). He's out of the book as soon as the Pequod leaves Nantucket (very early). I taught Moby Dick for years, so it was a gimme for me.

Smitty 8:24 AM  

Really wanted CHA for "Fo'Sho'"

Perhaps this puzzle was easier for those who didnt put IBEAM for STRUT and QUEEG for PELEG and then stare at the crosses 4ever.

Nice puzzle

Warren Howie Hughes 9:14 AM  

"I Haddoch right here in my hand, then I touched it and it had turned to sand!"
And the LAST shall be first...Way to go Brown, no wonder your UMBER one!
(From the Natanic verses)

David L 9:25 AM  

Tried WHATADEAL and SUCHADEAL before settling on the right answer -- otherwise pretty straightforward except for SEAT. I agree with Clark that the clue ought to have a question mark at the end, if I understand the rules correctly.

If 18A is really true, it's a little embarrassing for those of us of British origin -- I was thinking Stones, the Who, Moody Blues, some respectable outfit like that...

CaseAce 9:27 AM  

Somethings amiss over at WordPlay, was an hour late posting last night and this morning the moderator has apparently overslept...too much to drink is my guess?

Capt. Bildad 9:30 AM  

Moby Dick , chap 16

Oh! he ain't Captain Bildad; no, and he ain't Captain Peleg; he's Ahab, boy; and Ahab of old, thou knowest, was a crowned king!"

"And a very vile one. When that wicked king was slain, the dogs, did they not lick his blood?"

"Come hither to me- hither, hither," said Peleg, with a significance in his eye that almost startled me. "Look ye, lad; never say that on board the Pequod. Never say it anywhere. Captain Ahab did not name himself .'Twas a foolish, ignorant whim of his crazy, widowed mother, who died when he was only a twelvemonth old. And yet the old squaw Tistig, at Gayhead, said that the name would somehow prove prophetic. And, perhaps, other fools like her may tell thee the same. I wish to warn thee. It's a lie. I know Captain Ahab well; I've sailed with him as mate years ago; know what he is- a good man- not a pious, good man, like Bildad, but a swearing good man- something like me- only there's a good deal more of him. Aye, aye, I know that he was never very jolly; and I know that on the passage home he was a little out of his mind for a spell; but it was the sharp shooting pains in his bleeding stump that brought that about, as any one might see. I know, too, that ever since he lost his leg last voyage by that accursed whale, he's been a kind of moody- desperate moody, and savage sometimes; but that will all pass off. And once for all, let me tell thee and assure thee, young man, it's better to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad one. So good-bye to thee- and wrong not Captain Ahab, because he happens to have a wicked name. Besides, my boy, he has a wife- not three voyages wedded- a sweet, resigned girl. Think of that; by that sweet girl that old man had a child: hold ye then there can be any utter, hopeless harm in Ahab? No, no, my lad; stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his humanities!"

Bob Kerfuffle 9:31 AM  

Total fail for me in the far NW. Even after getting DISC/K and CAREEN, had no idea of 1 D, and had IRKS instead of ILLS for 2D, Distresses. Also didn't know 15 A or 17 A!

Had STOLA initially, but when I looked at the clue for STTERESA, I says to myself, That's in a Foreign Language, so it must be STTERESE. Now I notice that the language appears to be Spanish, not French, so TERESA makes sense.

Very Good puzzle, but no way I would have finished correctly.

chaos1 9:37 AM  

Great puzzle, but I had STTERESE, so finished with one error.

Funny to see BADROMANCE as an answer, since I had posted a link to the video earlier in the week.

Pretty tough puzzle for someone weak in pop culture, but I managed to get through the NE with crosses. SPICEGIRLS eventually showed itself, but FLAVORFLAV was a WTF? for me. Had to change 10D from OCT to GAL, and finally REG. Doped out VACAS from the Brazilian Vaquerio, and laughed to see the old DAP at 5D.

Still upset at missing the A in STOLA, but I'll be over it by noon.

Great job by all the guys and gals at Brown this week, but Thursday was my favorite.

Deer Tick 9:40 AM  

Oh, good. PETE ROSE didn't write Relaciones Spirituales. Sometimes it's a relief to find one is wrong.

Anonymous IV 9:44 AM  

Feh. Yes, the grid is "professionally" constructed, and of course WS would put Natan last in Brown Week. But the whole NE is full of Lady CaCa de Vaca. Even people born after 1985 in America don't all spend their time in CaCa Land (cf. 59-Across). Especially, one would hope, the rare ones who have the opportunity to take Ivy League classes and the time and talent to become expert constructors. Young is one thing, puerile another. Let's hope NL's just going through a phase.

Oh yes - thanx to Rex for the Colbert clip, and to ArtLvr for the Vaca/vaccine reminder. Still waiting for retchem's wisdom on NaOH and soap (53 and 61 across).

The Hag 9:45 AM  

A fun and easy solve for me as well. I do feel that those who will inevitably dislike it have a valid point. Even if you are not a rap/pop music hater, I think that having four 10-letter answers that are easily googled names/titles is less than stellar construction. Especially when three of them are right on top of one another. The cluing for those four was also not very inspired. I would have liked to see something more like "Book of Truthiness" or "Mrs. Beckham's exes". But I suppose that it was to make it easy for those unfamiliar with the names?

Still - there were so many other things to like about the puzzle that overall, I really enjoyed it But despite my fondness for pop culture (if not the Spice Girls, specifically) I would have enjoyed it even more with fewer gimmees.

Sparky 9:49 AM  

Started last night. Too much coffee, couldn't sleep. Printed out from Times site where, sure enough, you had to go to Wordplay to find a link. Finally slept and finished this a.m. Thought about cockroach for 56A but didn't enter it. That didn't even pass the late supper test. Didn't trust myself with TERESA and hung on to STOLe so wrong there. Googled 29D. I knew it had to be Clue but could only think of Miss Scarlet and Col. Mustard. Rex, you are the third entry in Google list answers. Interesting week, nice variety. Good job Brown students. Rah, Rah, Rah.

dk 10:05 AM  

Greetings vaqueros, rap master twisted knickers ryhmin for dk.

Pick up that pen
Pick up that pen
Gotsta luv this puz,
Wrappin up the five,
What it duz.
Showing solvin always be alive.


All the young dudes carry the news.

Another **** (4 Star) offering from the brownies.

Off to Ben and Jerry's to get a chocolate FISTBUMP.

HAHA my first DISC was a 45: Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild

Beadola 10:17 AM  

Happy, happy, joy, joy. Fastest Saturday ever, but with one wrong letter. Thanks for the WOTD - will not forget stola. From one of the older folks, who loved it to pieces.

joho 10:26 AM  

Oh, I loved this puzzle! Will definitely saved the Last for best.

It was fresh and fun and I finished with a big smile on my face and while shouting HAHA!

Brown week was a blast.

SethG 10:37 AM  

My fastest solve since Wednesday, and would have been my fastest ever Saturday by far. Except...STOLE. There's apparently a St Therese and a St Teresa. What's a Jew to do?

Andrea, I guessed tres before tant, but that didn't last long. That NE is maybe the smoothest quadrant I can remember. Fantastic!

Rex, and ACHILLES' EEL? It's been done. I'm not proud to have remembered that.

Seemed to me he was not still falling when he lost the ball, he was pushing himself up. The official who saw it all from 8 yards away with a perfect angle thought the same thing. It's a bad rule, and no one knows how to apply it. And now they have three tough games in a row...

submariner 10:42 AM  

Not so easy if you don't know anything about pop culture. Killed the NE for me. Finally triumphed on crosses and Wikipedia on Public Enemy.

Later lucked out on the Lady Gaga song - again on crosses.

Don't resonate with cluing for "seat". That was like cluing "win" with "go for it".

Frances 10:44 AM  

IRON LUNG was my very first entry. I would bet that, thanks to much fine work by many fine scientists, not more than a handful of today's solvers have ever even seen an iron lung. Some things are better off extinct!

On a more trivial note: MELBA sauce isn't just sugary; it has to have raspberries.

PuzzleNut 10:55 AM  

My pop culture knowledge is pretty weak, but this was still probably my fastest Saturday ever. Started in the bottom and just kept going. Add me to the STTERESE and STOLE camp, so one error. Seems like that answer COULD be correct, but I defer to Rex's expertise.
My only writeover was LATEgUest for LATELUNCH, but it didn't slow me down much.

Kurt 11:03 AM  

I'm with @jojo. I also loved the puzzle. It was right in my strike zone. "Fresh and fun" are exactly right.

The Brown Week puzzles were great. Congratulations to all of the constructors.

Now if Cleveland can just win tomorrow, it will be a true "Browns Week"

Tobias Duncan 11:04 AM  

What a wonderful Saturday morning !
Loved the puzzle, loved the review, loved the links especially Colbert!
Did not get the puzzle til this morning for some reason.

Something seems very wrong with SEAT

@ArtLvr thanks for bringing up the vaccine debacle, we really need to get the word out on this.
I have to brag that my peeps in the skeptical community were on to this from the get-go. It just set of too many alarm bells out our collective baloney detection kit.

Rex Parker 11:16 AM  

[Run for it] => SEAT

This is an example of an established clue type, where a familiar expression with "It" in it is the clue, and the answer is something (usually unexpected, outside context of the expression) that "It" might be, literally. I've seen [Beat it] for DRUM, [Step on it] for SOLE or GAS PEDAL, etc.

[Run for it] might go better with OFFICE, but it works fine here too.


archaeoprof 11:19 AM  

Yes, a bit easy for Saturday, but marvelous all the same.

The only possible way to improve this puzzle would be (of course) to add a reference to country music.

@Bill in NJ: nice to hear from you again!

Rex Parker 11:20 AM  

P.S. Bill from NJ, in the house! So great to see your name, buddy.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Any puzzle with IPASS and HALAS is a winner for a Bears fan who rides the Illinois Tollway. This was the first puzzle this week I thoroughly enjoyed, probably more of a commentary on me than Brown. Despite agreeing with almost everything RP says, I take issue with two comments/non-comments. I like IRON LUNG over STOLA as the word of the day, as it is a grim reminder of the recent past and a relic of a dreaded illness that has all but disappeared. I also wish RP had commented on The Third Man, which is a classic period piece with nothing but marvelous zither music in the background and had posted the clip at the end of the Ferris wheel ride where Orson Welles compares Evil (Medieval Italy) and Good (Switzerland), with Evil producing the Renaissance and Good producing the cuckoo clock. Nothing evil about this puzzle; all good….

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Jon Stuart will be on the mall too. I hope all of those younger than I will support Colbert and Stuart and this cause.

Mel Ott 12:19 PM  

What I liked: some really nice cluing for some fresh stuff like FIST BUMP; and some old stuff like PUTTS, POT, SALAMI, OPAH.

What I didn't like: the pop culture stack in the NE. Didn't mind the Ladt Gaga thing in the SW as much because at least it wasn't stacked with two other pop culture 10's.

I don't think it's simply generational. I would object to a stack of historical or sports names (which I'm really good at) because I want my crossword puzzles to be mostly about words (which may be generational in itself).

Which leads me to an appraisal of this week's Brown puzzles. Generally good. Some real creative cluing. The offerings were very well-constructed. A tad heavy on proper names and brand names, especialy later in the week. Thank you, students. It made for an interesting week.

Masked and Ux5 Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Don't know that my pants bunched up much, but *not* an easy solve for me. Could have inhaled a whole crateload of cinnamon rolls, and still not finished this one. Nice crossword construction, tho. Know a lot about 50's rockabilly and doowop (so loved 45 = DISC lead-in), but not so much about FLAVORFLAV and SPICEGIRLS. Thumbs up on account of LAPDANCES, in any case.

I guess some would call my SatPuz performance a DNF. Had to look stuff up. I call it "research". Figure Last and Shortzmeister had to do some "research", too, to dream up these nasty clues. So fair's fair, in my book!

Hi-Yo, LAPDANCES, away . . .

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

That's Jon Stewart, not Jon Stuart. I would stop "lurking" as an anonymous reader if I could figure out how one deletes one's own comments, how to make an avatar and all that.

Jus' Sayin' 1:09 PM  

As one who "goes commando", I don't know what I've got in a bunch, but I do.

Doc John 1:29 PM  

Nice, fun, easy birthday puzzle- thanks, Natan! And Happy Birthday to Deb, too. She's not crazy enough to jump off of a building like I am but I'm sure she'll have a great day anyway.
(Wow, I'm going to jump off of a building on Yom Kippur. Better make doubly sure those harnesses are tight!)
On to the puzzle. Lots of fun fill. Wow, the puzzle is sure getting racy. I mean, LAP DANCE? OK, I am in Vegas so I'll let that slide.
Speaking of Yom Kippur, I also had "such a deal". That got straightened out easily enough, though. Did anyone else have "super slo-mo" instead of SLOW MOTION?
Finally, I do think that IRON LUNGs are still in use. I read an article about the few people that still need them a few months ago. Pretty interesting, actually.

Dick Swart 1:47 PM  

Even though I'm definitely on the wrong side of any generational gap, I find it refreshing to see answers that are in current history rather than those that were around in the twenties when the crossword came into vogue.

Even at 76, I know some answers only from my parents' conversations.

It is fun to see Lucia and Georgie pouring over the xword at home in Tilling in the '20's-'30's EF Benson novels!

jae 1:49 PM  

Easy for me too as the NE was pretty much a gimmie. I too had TRES at first as well as LATEGUEST and GETALONG for age. Delightful puzzle! My only regret was changing the A in TERESA to an E. Rats!!

dls 1:49 PM  

My fastest Saturday by around 3 minutes, except, like others, STOLE/STTERESE....

mac 1:50 PM  

Great puzzle! Had to get quite a few answers from all the crosses (FlavorFlam), but my only real problem was 43 across, because I had put in a "lapdancer". When I see Chicago and sports in one sentence I automatically think "Ditka", but when I had ?alas I wondered if it would be Lalas, the soccer player. Especially liked stepsister, late lunch and their clues. Smooth solve for me.

Good work from Brown this week!

@Deer Tick: LOL

Hi, Bill!

hazel 1:58 PM  

Hi @Jersey Bill!!

Great puzzle. Not a lot of flat out gimmes for me, but pleasantly sussable. Very pleasantly [sussable]. Great clues all around.

My kayak is named the Pequod, but I'd forgotten old Peleg.

nanpilla 2:02 PM  

@doc john - happy bday to us! Good luck with that jump - a 5 mile hike in the mountains was good enough for me this morning up at Mohonk.
We all have to GET OLDER, but we don't have to act it....

Also thought this was a great puzzle, but had ST TERESE too.

@Bill from NJ - so good to have you back!

chefbea 2:17 PM  

Easy for a Sat. but still DNF.

Glad you are back Bill and I too miss foodie

Alan 2:40 PM  

The crosses in northeast were easy enough to justify the popscurity. Didn't anyone else make the wet bar SAND and the (blue) chips fall down DOW?

Jenny 3:37 PM  

Count me (born 1975) with those who found this unusually fast for a Saturday.

I try to read only clues that intersect an answer I've already filled in (though I usually have to give up at some point, late in the week), and I started this one by choking at 1A, putting in FLAVORFLAV and then filling in 5-14 down inclusive without needing to read another Across clue. (As it turned out, I did have one error in LAPDANCEr.) I never did anything like that on Saturday before. So I found this enjoyable, but also a bit of a letdown difficulty-wise. I'll be interested to see what sanfranman discovers about solvers as a whole.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

GREATDEAL - SMARTDEAL - SUCHADEAL - WHATADEAL - ANEWDEAL, AFAIRDEAL, ANEWFRONTIER - whatever, TAGP is the most annoying commercial ever made (Don Draper made me say that)....

jesser 3:58 PM  

My only writeover was the one that got many others. It STOLe my puzzle perfection from me.

Unlike Rex, I was embarrassed when I realized I did NOT know the Spanish word for cows. Which is all the more astonishing because, at 51, there's very little reason for me to have somehow known FALORFLAV and SPICE GIRLS, but they popped right out of my brain.

Biggest slowdown was wanting STOny at 41A and being unable to make any of the little downs in that area make any sense. This Jerusalem haddock was of no help in that area either. When I finally started thinking of other ways to finish STO__ is when the Aha Moment came. But the last letter in the grid was the H in HALAS, and it was a total effing guess. NAOH also was obtained entirely through crosses as neither the clue nor the answer is in my lexicon.

Like yesterday's, I thought this one was fun to do and just snarly enough in a few places to give it that late-week cred that we all love to hate.

Can't hardly wait to see what Sunday brings!

Stindges! (She and TERESe used to hang out together at the bar and cook up miracles.) -- jesser

Dashiell 4:09 PM  

Liked this one a lot, despite the unnecessary preponderance of pop culture (even though that helped me finish to can't really complain). By far the easiest Saturday I've seen in a long while, maybe ever. I would have finished in personal record time if it hadn't been for 29D throwing me off for ages. Weirdly, I thought of Clue early on but for some reason thought it was miss peacock instead of MRS. At the end, I had the 45A, 61A, and 66A crosses blank and beat my head against the wall for a while before realizing my mistake. Other than that, pretty much a breeze. 5A, 16A, 18A, 48A, 56A, 59A, 63A, 65A, and 6D, 11D, 37D, 39D (i.e. most of the longest clues) were gimmes either immediately or after only one or two quick crosses were determined.

I wanted "what a deal" instead of SWEET_DEAL and was thinking of milkshake like beverages for a while for 5D but realized my mistakes quickly enough. I also had to guess (correctly, luckily) for the last letter of 51A/first of 51D. Never heard of either of those. Felt a little lame for how long it took me to get 64A since it seems really obvious in retrospect, ditto for 25A.

Overall I thought this was really well constructed though. Some of the clues (36A, 33A, 41A for ex) felt like they belonged in the first half of the week, definitely not Saturday material. Others though (in particular 4D, 30D) were really great. Maybe I had so much fun with this one b/c, with the one aforementioned exception, it was easy and made me feel smart for getting through a Saturday so quickly. Either way, a pleasure.

Ulrich 4:27 PM  

I spent as much time completing the small NW rectangle (with sweet deal and slow motion in place, no less!!) as with the rest of the puzzle--sometimes I just hate myself for being so slow. Proud, tho, for having deduced the Spanish cow from French "vache" and the no. of letters required.

Here again is Bernini's St. Teresa of Avila for those who need a memory aid.

@anonymous at 12:25: The trick is to set up a google account and profile (if you wish to also have an avatar). Then log in and post under this account. This will display your chosen name in blue, your avatar, and allow you to delete your comments.

Dashiell 4:44 PM  

I got VACAS the same way. Big fan of the Mort Aux Vaches music series so the cognate is one of the few words in both my very limited French and Spanish repertoire

mac 5:11 PM  

Happy birthday, Nanpilla and DocJohn!

@Ulrich and Dashiell, I figured vacas via vaches, also.

michael Chibnik 5:21 PM  

I found this medium rather than easy, but I'm not in what seems to be the target age range. But all gettable -- even "opah" which was new to me And I knew "I am America" and "Spice Girls" but had to figure out "flavor flav."

This has nothing to do with age, but I was slowed by difficulty getting "sweet deal" trying (as did another commenter) "what a deal" and "such a deal" before finally seeing "slow motion."

FoodFixers 5:54 PM  

What a let down. I was tearing through the puzzle today and couldn't figure out why. I usually pick it up the paper at some point on Saturday (I'm a Saturday only guy) and work on it in dribs and drabs, sometimes working on it a little in the evening and then even into the next morning. So I'm not a crossword hero by any stretch. But I finish, and I've often learned quite a bit by the end. However, this was so easy as to be ridiculous.

In the middle of the puzzle, I couldn't figure it out. I was just writing stuff down without really thinking. Every answer was exactly as I thought it should be. Little misdirection, lots of easy pop culture and literature. Then I looked at the solver.

You know that line in the Princess Bride when Inigo Montoya realizes that the Man in Black, too, is not left-handed? I felt like the Dread Pirate Roberts/Man in Black/Welsey at that moment. Just feeling kind of bad for Inigo because he tried so hard, but it was just too easy.

That's why I feel so bad about the experience. One minute, I'm schooling this puzzle (talking smack to it "oh, you think you so bad!", showing my sufferin' wife how much @ss I was kicking, really doing some heavy self-back patting) then the next, I have my ego shattered as I realize that I was essentially in a UFC match with a child.

Now I know where the term "like taking candy from a baby" comes from. I just feel dirty now.

sanfranman59 6:45 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 6:04, 6:57, 0.87, 6%, Easy
Tue 8:38, 8:53, 0.97, 49%, Medium
Wed 11:15, 11:41, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Thu 17:03, 19:13, 0.89, 35%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:41, 26:33, 0.82, 15%, Easy
Sat 24:51, 30:54, 0.80, 8%, Easy
Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:42, 0.91, 11%, Easy
Tue 4:37, 4:35, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Wed 6:06, 5:46, 1.06, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:43, 9:13, 0.84, 30%, Easy-Medium
Fri 10:03, 12:56, 0.78, 17%, Easy
Sat 13:18, 17:41, 0.75, 9%, Easy

This ended up with the 5th fastest median solve time for both groups of the 59 Saturday puzzles in my spreadsheet. Since I'm able solve less than half of Saturday puzzles without cheating, I knew this one would be in the Easy range.

edith b 7:17 PM  

I am a fan of any puzzle that has FLAVORFLAV and IRONLUNG in it. As a retired school teacher and having a 13 year old granddaughter,I was exposed to a lot of Pop Culture so this puzzle was right up my alley.

I enjoyed this puzzle a great deal, a sort of anti-Maleska endeavor by Natan Last.

fergus 8:08 PM  

A quick fill of the grid, but I left in such a howler: SENESENCE, which is not only spelled incorrectly, but is hardly a Topic in artificial intelligence. Worked well with column neighbor, though!

Raising the topic: has there ever been a puzzle where ENTRIES form the Clues for other ENTRIES?

joho 8:10 PM  

Hey, Bill from NJ and edith b ... so good to see you!

fergus 8:11 PM  

SENSE-DATA could have been a good answer for 34D, I thought initially. Bertrand Russell would have been pleased.

Clark 12:07 AM  

@Rex -- Thanks for the lesson on how IT clues work.

Ben 4:37 PM  

7:07 = by far the fastest Saturday of my life


Nice one, Natan.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I had misplaced this puzzle, so even later than usual syndication date solve for me. There's a lot of talent demonstrated here in grid and clues alike. however, I must take issue with the graphic LAPDANCES. I'm no prude, I don't mind seeing the euphemistic GOGODANCERS (not graphic) or NAKED,eg. LAPDANCES, however, involve through-the-clothing sexual contact, which seems beneath NYT standards. I don't think a pass should be given because "It's Brown week." or "I really want to run this one." What next, DOGGIESTYLE or FELTHERUP?
Ironic to see STTERESA in the same grid. Thanks @Ulrich for the image.

-Kevin in Texas

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