East River novelist 1946 / SAT 11-20-10 / Fess Parker's TV co-star / Blue old Kerosene brand / Three of these make O / Group 1968 album Time Peace #1

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none


Word of the Day: NAT Holman (39A: Basketball Hall-of-Famer Holman) —

Nat Holman (October 19, 1896 in New York, NY – February 12, 1995 in Bronx, New York) was one of the early pro basketball players and one of the game's most important innovators. // Known for his exceptional ball-handling and his accurate shooting, Holman was a star player at New York University and an important part of the Original Celtics (no relation to the Boston Celtics). Also a gifted passer and excellent floor leader, Holman has been a prototype to later playmakers. Although he played pro basketball until 1930, he took over the head coaching position at the City College of New York in 1920. Known as Mr. Basketball, Holman guided CCNY to the so-called grand slam of college basketball, winning both the NCAA and NIT titles in 1950, a feat that has never been achieved since. Holman compiled a 421-190 record in 37 seasons at CCNY, retiring in 1960. In his later years, he lived and died at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. // Holman also founded Camp Scatico in 1921 and ran the camp until he sold it to his niece and her husband in 1964. (wikipedia)

• • •

A tough little number (that's "number," not "number"—get that straight; 27D: Number in a pack?=>ICE), but still half as tough, for me, as yesterday's was (I realize I was an outlier yesterday; I'm just sayin'). The grid cops a seriously swastikish pose (i.e. it looks swastika-like), but then so do a lot of grids, at least vaguely. It happens. It's coincidental. Please, no conspiracy-theory letters. Today, the toughness came more through names than devilish cluing, which is not my favorite way to come by toughness. Loads of names. Many of them long (i.e. full—ALAN ARKIN (1D: Oscar-winning actor with the autobiography "Halfway Through the Door"), NATHAN HALE (58A: Hero whose statue appears in front of Chicago's Tribune Tower), ED AMES (7D: Fess Parker's TV co-star), SAM THE SHAM (20A: Pharaoh's head?), and, of course, '60s hipster DAD BLASTED). My main complaint here is that names from the same universes were crammed into the same spaces in the grid. Relatively obscure sports names almost side-by-side in the NW (NAT and KEENAN30A: Coach Mike of the 1994 Stanley Cup-winning Rangers). Less obscure but still not ragingly phamous '60s music names in the NE (SAM THE SHAM and THE RASCALS—>5A: Group whose 1968 album "Time Peace" was #1), which are in turn crossed by a '60s TV name! (ED AMES). Soviet women somewhere in the middle (RAISA and BONNER—>41A: Yelena ___, Soviet dissident and wife of Andrei Sakharov). 20th-century authors nearly on top of one another (ASCH!!! (encore!)—>9D: "East River" novelist, 1946, and ELIOT—>29D: "The Sacred Wood" writer). Proper nouns just seemed oddly paired.



The difficulty level felt oddly uneven, too. Clue on RAISA was Monday level (26D: Mrs. Gorbachev). Clue on CAL was Tuesday level at most (31A: ___ Poly, school nickname), as was clue on PSAS (52D: Free TV spots, for short) and EENY (53D: Start of a children's rhyme). But these were thrown in among much more vague and hard-to-get stuff. Not sure what kind of floor is made of ASPHALT TILE (42A: Flooring option). Garage floor? Hmm, looks like it's a pretty ordinary household tile. We have wood floors. And I've only ever lived with carpet, wood, or linoleum floors. That I can recall. That ASPHALT part took a while for me to get. Never heard of SEED PEARLS either (50A: Tiny, valuable beads). Do you use them to seed ... something? Something like a PEARL? Or is it just that they are seed-sized and valuable in their own right? Looks like it's just a size thing. I had no idea the CESTA attached to the wrist. I always thought it was gripped with the hand (47D: Item of sports equipment worn on the wrist). I remember ALLELE (44D: One may be dominant) from crosswords of a BYGONE ERA (2D: Time past) (that era being fairly recent, actually). It's a word I will forever associate with "foodie" (frequent commenter on my site; also, a neuroscientist—I'd never heard of the word; it was a gimme for her. Somehow she let me know this without making me feel like an idiot). Without a doubt, my favorite part of this puzzle is the DAD-BLASTED (28D: No-good) / GLASSY-EYED (60A: Expressionless) nexus. Otherwise, just a solid workout, with no real sour patches. Lots of black squares, though, for a Saturday (35). Word count is low, but lots of black space is carved out to make that happen, so there are an oddly high number of 3-4-letter words along with the long stacks that dominate the grid.



Bullets:
  • 18A: Subject of 1987 Congressional hearings (IRAN-CONTRA) — "IRAN-CONTRA" doesn't feel like a "subject"; more like a moniker for the hearings themselves. I was thinking yesterday, when I didn't know BEBE Rebozo, that something from my era that I would've known just from being alive then was OLLIE NORTH ... only that's a bad comparison because OLLIE NORTH is actually historically important, and BEBE is just some guy who happened to be Nixon's friend. I still don't get why he was news.
  • 21A: Bibliophile's suffix (-ANA) — a flat-out gimme. That clue, that answer, now and forever into the future. Know it.
  • 4D: ___ Blue (old kerosene brand) (ESSO) — not a gimme, exactly, though once I got just one of those "S"s, I wrote in ESSO immediately. It's old, it's fuel, it's four letters in a crossword, it's ESSO. Speaking of fuel, had UCLA for USMA (57A: Classic football rival of Notre Dame: Abbr.) at first and so wondered why I hadn't heard of the part of the car called the something-PULPS (it's FUEL PUMPS, 33D: Tank-to-carburetor conduits).
  • 6D: African capital of 1.5+ million (HARARE) — Capital of Zimbabwe. Been in a recent puzzle, I think.
  • 32D: Highly seismic area off the Greek coast (IONIAN SEA) — AEGEAN SEA fits, but I have no idea about its relative seismicness.
  • 51D: Three of these make on O (DAHS) — Aargh! Good clue. Morse code!!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

84 comments:

nanpilla 12:18 AM  

I always thought it was DAG BLASTED, live and learn something every day.

This one was very challenging for me - glad to have finished it unscathed, but it wasn't pretty. It's a good thing I don't do these in pen. Having RhoDIUM before IRIDIUM slowed things in the NW, which was the hardest for me to crack. Never heard of NAT or KEENAN, so no help there.

Loved the clue for ABLE.

chefwen 1:04 AM  

I always thought it was DAG BLAST IT, must be a regional thing.

I came soooo close but fell apart in the south west (that seems to be my spot) had sku where UPC belonged, spelled HURRAY about four different ways before getting that right, had stoney EYED firmly in place, so you can see my dilemma. Said dagnabit, or something to that effect and came here. The rest of the puzzle was real purdy!

As Scarlet would say "tomorrow is another day".

foodie 1:14 AM  

Rex, that was wild! ALLELE was my first guess in the entire puzzle, I put it down and wondered whether it represents "special knowledge" for many people. Then, I read your commentary and found myself in it, associated with ALLELE, along with a wonderful compliment. You made my day/night! Thank you!

I too wondered about ASPHALT TILE,and loved GLASSY EYED. The puzzle, as noted by Rex was chock full of proper names, but what saved the day for me were expressions like IT'S A SECRET, HAD A SHOT AT (it started as HAD A cHance), BYGONE ERA and STREET ART that helped anchor each of the corners.

So cool that NAT Holman lived to be 99!

I skip M-W 2:38 AM  

I didn't find this easy, but managed to finish in just under an hour. Somehow came up with Nat Holman, though not a sports fan then realized rhodium could be iridium, which broke open SW.
@Rex, you keep wondering about Bebe Rebozo. I recall vaguely that during Watergate, Nixon hid out for awhile with Rebozo, and the press camped nearby, Rebozo, appearing to say Nixon was unavailable. That's how he became notorious, if memory serves.

jae 3:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 3:57 AM  

This was slightly tougher than yesterday's for me but still on the easy side for a Sat. My main problem was, like chefwen, spelling HURRAY about three different ways. I also had REPO briefly in SE. DADBLASTED was slow to come but not in a stop and stare kinda way.

@napilla & chefwen -- I always thought it was DAG NABBIT (sp?) from that side kick on Roy Rogers. You know, the guy with the jeep NellyBell.

Rex nailed my experience with ESSO.

I wanted USC for the Notre Dame rival but Army will do just fine.

Oh, and BTW I really liked this one. Much better than yesterday's.

andrea capcarla michaels 5:02 AM  

I HAD A SHOT AT doing the puzzle without googling, but the NW stood 3/4 empty.
Had THat IS NUTS...and no clue about THERASCALS/SAMTHESHAM...
and ASCH! (Fool me once, shame on me, Fool me TWICE in ONE week, and shame on me...twice!)
(Sorry for the "Objurgation"!)

(All this, despite EDAMES being the first thing I put in...)

I don't get 22A Mayo Setting: Abbr.
IRE
Mayo as in Spanish for May? Something on a BLT? And what is IRE an "abbr" for?
And REPR, why is that allowed? Ever?
I've also seen INSTR or something for "Instrument". May I "abbr" Australia: AUSTR? ick.

Oops, am I still objurgating???

Last thing I put in: 14D Forever ____. Forever 21? Forever Young? Forever My Girl? Forever after? (which is what I put in)
Forever STAMP was a big letdown, despite having a whole page of them in my wallet as I type this.

On the non-objurgating side, nice aha with CAP-Able and DAHS!!!

Plus I couldn't construct two sets of four stacks of ten and two three stacks of 9 in a million years. So, hip hip HOORAY/HURRAH/HURRAY for Joe DiPietro)

n.b. SF/East Bay folks:
Will Shortz will be at Zellerbach Hall Berkeley 7pm THIS Sunday night. Tix are pricey ($20-$36)
but lots of us will be there (Manny Nosowsky, Tyler Hinman, Byron Walden, Jeremy Horwitz, Kevin Der, Jennifer Nutt) Pls seek me out to say hi.

ttv 5:32 AM  

In my whole life, I never solve a puzzle like this in the newspapers..

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

County MAYO is in IREland

Smitty 8:17 AM  

DNF
Between a head cold and the difficulty of today's puzzle, I got crabby and gave up. BUT - I thought SAM THE SHAM was brilliant!

(put me on the Dag Blasted list)

glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

Medium Saturday for me. I have no idea why I remembered Sam the Sham (I'm sure I never listed to the Pharaohs) -- it's amazing what junk is stored in the attic of my mind. I quibble a little bit with FUEL PUMPS. A pump isn't a conduit. I had "fuel lines" for a while, which slowed me down, but the old crosswordese TNUT got me connected. Loved the clue for ABLE. DADBLASTED (or dagblasted) doesn't mean "bad." It means *&%@#*^% when the children are around.

mitchs 9:05 AM  

ALLELE was brand new to me...had to guess at the first L but got lucky.

My sticking point was the SW, where I decided that HOORAY was just too perfect to tamper with.

Agree with the Med/Challenging.

Leslie 9:19 AM  

@Smitty: Me, too! I just loved the shout-out to SAM THE SHAM and the Pharaohs. My favorite answer.

Otherwise my solving experience was like Nanpilla's. Yes, I finished, but wow, this was quite the Saturday slog for me. Not knowing sports figures, any but the most obvious elements from the periodic table, and any but the most obvious NYC neighborhoods, I plowed ever so slowly through this one.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Nitpick: The clue should have been Pharaohs' head, not Pharaoh's. Sam was head of the Pharaohs (plural), not Pharaoh.

Ben 9:35 AM  

Mysteries of the universe:

Was born in 1971 but knew EDAMES and SAMTHESHAM right away;

Have spent entire life besides college in Chicago, didn't know about NATHAN HALE statue in front of Tribune Tower.

Good tough puzzle, thanks Joe DiPietro.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

I enjoyed yesterday's puzzle, today's left me cold. That Nathan Hale has a statue in Chicago is interesting in an odd way. Arkin's book and the Rascals discography not so much. I know that there's a lot of stuff of that sort that I do not know. And don't really care about. That would be okay -- puzzles ought not be limited to what we know -- but the puzzle wasn't clever enough to hold my interest.

Christogan 9:50 AM  

I have the same birthday as Nathan Hale. Also Stephen Foster, Dana Carvey, Thomas Mann and Bjorn Borg, which is why I solved this puzzle with a wooden racket. I liked the puzzle very much. The NW was toughest because of the could-be-SOHO/BORO/NOHO thing and because I was looking for a compound word with "cap-" (note the hyphen that was quoted in the clue), of which I could think of nothing but cap-lock, maybe, or cap-rock. There is no hyphen in the word "CAPABLE." Had ACE instead of ICE, which is a brilliantly misdirected clue I fall for 100% of the time. I got BYGONE ERA off of only the ONE. I was also very proud to thrown down LA RAM immediately. I don't know what a Forever Stamp is.

joho 9:53 AM  

@Rex, I, too, remembered @Foodie's educational offering on ALLELE way back when ... it stuck! Very helpful today.

DNF. Too much to do and I wasn't enamored with what I did get ... everything but the NW. Did anybody mind THISISNUTS/ TNUT? Maybe I'm just NUTty that way.

I do agree with @andrea capcarla that Joe DiPietro is more than capABLE at seriously difficult construction. Kudos to Joe!

I'll be incommunicado until sometime Monday ... I wish everybody a happy weekend!!

dk 9:53 AM  

Dag nab it (a cue for DADBLASTED when next to Fess ShoutouttoRex Parker) was a favorite saying of Amos McCoy. That and other BYGONEERA trivia saved my bacon. I mean who could forget the controversy around dropping Young from THERASCALS.

Warning ASPHALTTILE is often confused with Asbestos tile and your contractor will not rip it up.

CAL Poly was a gimme for those of us educated in LARAM territory.

SAMTHESHAM was my LOL and I thank the BSA for DAHS.

*** 3 Stars) Well done.

Off to the slopes.

Lindsay 10:02 AM  

As I have said before, this blog brings out my confessional side. So days like yesterday, when there are no solving sins to confess, I refrain from posting, then DAD BLASTED disaster days like this-here, I run right over to spill my guts.

Bottom half of the grid went down fine, with a minor write over at 48A, where I originally had ULe for the diminutive suffix.

Then I tried to break into the NE with Ollie North, which crossed nicely with the tap on my sink, or so I thought. Eventually got that corner squared away, but only because of crossword arcana rattling around in my head: Harare, Ed Ames, Asch, and At the Zoo, which screwed me up badly a month or two ago. Not exactly a feeling of accomplishment. More a feeling like I spend too much time with Will Shortz.

But that's not the confession. The confession is that I had three (THREE!) errors in the 1D sector. Alan Arden crossing Mike Deenan, for example. And how is "share of responsibility" END? I wracked my brain trying to decide whether the answer was "ess" or "enn" finally splitting the difference with "ens". Obviously my brain was fried at that point or I would have remembered and/or noticed that responsibility only has on "n".

Three screw ups. Count'em. Three. This is why I post under a pseudonym.

Lindsay 10:07 AM  

And, AND, solved (attempted to solve?) with Neil Diamond's "FOREVER in Blue Jeans" rattling around my cranium.

Bleh.

SethG 10:08 AM  

Definitely easier than yesterday's. And I'm even a '73, which I guess makes me just one year too late to know ED AMES. (But right on time for Super Bowl XIV--my parents were there, I had to watch from home. Go Steelers!) I'd heard of KEENAN, not sure about NAT, and I know Bjorn Borg's birthday.

My that's a lot of mid-'60s music in the NE. No idea what DAD BLASTED is, or any of the other variations. Had to guess on the B, which I stuck with even though BONNER doesn't really sound Russian.

For the shoe tap, all I could think of until just now was Maxwell Smart.

old school solver 10:09 AM  

This one fell right off the bone like good ribs for me. Being a lifelong pop musician, the NE box had three pop music clues and I was ready to rock and roll. Also, being somewhat of a sports fan, Nat Holman and Mike Keenan were easy scores. So once again, these puzzles come down to whether you are lucky to have the right domain-specific knowledge for the clues.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Another lively, solvable, fun home run from Cakey!

Loved the multi-word phrases, especially THISISNUTS, (which finally evolved when I abandoned first pass guess, YOUARENUTS).

PuzzleNut 10:16 AM  

Good, tough Saturday for me. Finished without errors, despite numerous times I was ready to throw in the towel.
I'm a pen and paper guy, but I had a lot answers filled in lightly on this one, almost all that were changed out before I finished. Many of the same misdirects as others, but I now see it could have been even worse (my first guess at HURRAY was correct, which helped tremendously in the SW). The whole south fell pretty smoothly, but the north was wicked. Knew that linoleum tiles are actually made from asphalt, which helped a little. Held on to SIX (# in a pack) for way too long. NE was slowed by James ARNESS/EDAMES, HIES/CONS and HRE/EMP. Had the same HARARE recollection as others and guessed at HADASHOTAT. That fixed EDAMES and the IRANCONTRA jumped out. Had a big smile at SAMTHESHAM and STAMP.
Same ESSO experience as REX et al, AGTS was a gimme, but the rest was brutal. Started going through the alphabet for 1A and was very fortunate that it started with an A. Great clue!!
A few answers that I wasn't sure of at the end, but the crosses confirmed everything and I was pretty confident that I prevailed. And to top it off, Rex rates it Medium-Challenging. Great start to the weekend.

JC66 10:24 AM  

Medium-Challenging for me, too. I had many of the same problems as others and couldn't see IRE for Mayo, even after running the alphabet with I_E in place.

Whenever EDAMES appears in the puzzle, I usually post the clip of his *hatchet job* from the Carson show. Today, however, I just can't resist SAMTHESHAM.

No BS 10:27 AM  

I love a puzzle like this one that looks impossible early on and gradually leads to a Happy Pencil (about an hour--medium Sat. for me). I was very glad for the little answers (3 and 4 letter) or I might never have gotten traction. Little Xword tricks (like starting with "THE...S") for a pop group were required and helped. Then getting unknown (but recognizable) proper names from a few crosses, Wheel of
Fortune style. Finally, getting some new worthwhile knowledge via Rex and the commenters. (Not a bad name for a rock group, itself, BTW). Great design IMO.

So, @Lindsay, Joe and Will take care of their ends, and we solvers take care of ours.

ArtLvr 10:42 AM  

@Lindsay, "holding up your END" is taking your share of responsibiliity... Tough to see, but some other constructor will probably use it again, like ICE as numbing agent!

I got all but the NE, and I'd like to think it was because of the Pharoahs' misplaced apostrophe, but that answer was never going to occur to me! SAM THE SHAM? and THE RASCALS on top? No. I wanted Oath for RANT for Objugation, Amber or After for the Forever follower, didn't come up with STAMP, even tried Eur for European, not EMP. The Tap locale eluded me too. Pfui.

The rest was great -- I even had HAD A SHOT AT and IRAN CONTRA written in at different times, but not both at the same time. HURRAY anyway for Joe DiPietro for a worthy Saturday offering, which I thought I'd nailed with ALLELE and the rest. I just shouldn't have tried to finish in the wee hours!

∑;)

fikink 10:42 AM  

Yiiiiiiiii...learned a lot from this DNF. Always, always consider the pronunciation of words! Although I ended op filling in ICE, I didn't understand it until you told me, @Rex. Why I come.

Agree about the groupings and crosses of proper names. The puzzle does not seem to play fair or win clean, imo, @Joe.

@foodie, due to your presence in my life, I, too, wrote in ALLELE with confidence. It is so strange having my head in your world of late!

"Objurgation" sounds too much like "purgation" to me. Perhaps taking someone to task is a form of purging. My dictionary says it is based on "jurgium" (strife). Anyone?

Isn't there a Danielle Steele-type book called Forever Amber?

Seems I called somebody SAM THE SHAM in my youth, but I cannot remember who. hmmm, memories, hmmm, "wanna hear me rap?"

@Anon 9:30 - good eye!

Must have walked past NATHAN, too, @Ben, but it didn't register.

That's quite a gene pool there, @Christogan.

@dk, BSA taught me DAHS, too. Dit-dit-dit dah-dah-dah dit-dit-dit. Hello, Sailor.

Eternally yours 10:46 AM  

@Christogan

Forever STAMPS are USPS stamps you buy at the current 1st class rate and are good (for 1st class postage) no matter how much the rates go up (i.e forever).

Can I interest anyone in some 1 and 2 cent stamps I have left over?

P>G>

ArtLvr 10:54 AM  

Objurgation, that is...

∑;(

birnfam 10:55 AM  

Never heard of the Pharaohs or Sam the Sham, never heard anyone in NJ or NYC use the term dad-blasted, and had no idea Time Peace was by the Rascals. Made this one kind of frustrating...too dependent on specific cultural knowledge for my taste.

On the other hand, maybe my brain took an off-day today...got ice from the cross but didn't understand the number in a pack thing until Rex explained it!

Lindsay 10:59 AM  

Thank you @No BS & @ArtLvr. I wasn't seeing that at all.

Aleman 11:20 AM  

I was a teen when Wooly Bully (1965 - never knew they were a Tex-Mex band) and Time Peace The Rascals' Greatest Hits (1968) were being played.

Went to Woodstock the next summer, good time to be a teen. Never thought it would help with a Saturday Crossword.

David L 11:34 AM  

Almost gave up, having got 3/4 done with a total white space in the NE. But then tried IRANCONTRA, got lucky guesses with LARAM and ATTHE (Zoo? Huh? Whatever...) and then I was off to the races, in a snail-like manner.

Agree with someone above that 'conduit' for FUELPUMPS seems flat-out wrong -- the pump is what pushes the fuel through the conduits, aka the FUELLINES...

Too many proper names for my liking -- NAT KEENAN not being anyone I know. But guessable, I guess, eventually.

quilter1 12:02 PM  

Hand up for ace and fuel lines. Also wanted Forever Amber, an old bodice buster from, I think, the 40's. It was considered very racy at the time and taboo for teenage girls because of sex scenes. It was made a movie starring Linda Darnell about the time I was born and Linda became the most popular girls' name of 1946. All us Linda's are about the same age. So boring STAMP was a disappointment. Otherwise a challenging and enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Rex never heard of asphalt tile and I never heard of Sam the Sham, so that makes us even, which is the only way we're even on this one because today is too nice for me to spend a gazillion hours indoors trying to creep into the minds of Mssrs. DiPietro and Shortz....

Mel Ott 12:33 PM  

Finished this one despite staring GLASSY-EYED at SAMTHESHAM, STAMP, & ALLELE. They had to fit but didn't understand any of them.

Lot of nice long stuff: BYGONE ERA, LET HAVE IT, IT'S A SECRET, HAD A SHOT AT, STREET ART, and the aforementioned GLASSY-EYED.

Learned a new word: objurgation = RANT. That is always a good thing. It's kind of an ugly word, but appropriately so, I think.

Agree with @Glimmerglass et al. re the cluing for FUEL PUMPS. Also thought the cluing was off for 28D. Doesn't the hyphen in No-good make it a noun?

JaxInL.A. 12:36 PM  

Completely sank in the SW. Got the Russian women and ASPHALTTILE, IRANCONTRA and IONEANSEA, so I thought I HAD A SHOT.
But...
--Number in a pack HAD to be aCE
--No good--> bADBLoodED (ugly, but we've seen worse)
--FUELlines could not possibly be wrong
--HuzzAh (watched Pirates of the Caribbean last night), HooRAh, HooRAY what else is there?

I love Alan Arkin, didn't know he wrote a book. Crap at 60's pop unless hubby is nearby. Know nothing about sports save what I've learnt from xwords.
Soooo...
DNF or really even come close despite much aid from Dr. Google.

JaxInL.A. 12:51 PM  

Loved the shout-out to @foodie!

If anyone wants to look up the exchange Rex refers to, it's from 8/30/2008. He's got a fabulous memory if that short comment stuck this long. Wow.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Axist: one who believes that its possible to name evil nations.

Two Ponies 1:08 PM  

I always read @ foodie's comments but I must have been absent from class that day.
My NE was an inky blotchy mess. Could not let go of HRE (Holy Roman Emperor) for simply Emp.
I am so embarrassed to not have seen Sam and the Rascals sooner.
At The Zoo? Guess I need to look that one up.
It has been a nice tough week in Crossworld. Too bad I could not shout Hooray (or hurray? Sorry, that just looks so wrong) and had to yell Dag Nabbit!

Shamik 1:18 PM  

Foodie is a star!

Nothing medium for me about this challenging puzzle. I was just happy to complete it accurately and it ate up 44 minutes of what are becoming very long days sitting around with my foot in the air.

Only gimmes were the SW, RAISA, EDAMES and TURF. The rest was like working on a chain gang, using a pick-axe on rocks. But when it was finished....oh, the satisfaction.

ASPHALTTILE? Really? On the floor? I'll have to go google that.

ANY news on Sparky's lung surgery?

Paul and Art 1:20 PM  

At the Zoo.

Clark 1:23 PM  

I'm with @glimmerglass on the fuel pump. Calling it a conduit is like calling a living room a corridor. But I'm just objurgating because I'm cranky after two DNFs in two days! I'll get SAM THE SHAM next time.

Beadola 1:25 PM  

Had ICU for Mayo setting - wanted it to be the Mayo Clinic. Had "Ola" for diminutive suffix due to misspelling of hurray above seed pearls and was delighted with "my" puzzle! All got straightened out in the end. Loved the clue for Sam the Sham.

foodie 1:37 PM  

Aw, you guys --@Joho, Fikink, JaxInLA, Shamik-- you're making me blush... But thank you!!!

@TwoPonies, to be fair, the ALLELE class was team taught on that day :) And thank you @JaxInLA for locating it.

As you can see, it was a bit of back and forth about the way ALLELE was clued for that puzzle and at least two of us, @rsl and yours truly, found it suboptimal. It was @rsl who provided a good definition of the term. So he deserves the credit for the useful information that stuck in your superior minds. It really is most impressive that Rex and some of you remembered it.

It's good to know that when some of us get involved in discussing a nuance, it might actually be of some use! I appreciated yesterday's discussion about OBOLI/OBOLOI/OBOLS and hope that it will stick!

(BTW, I think the ALLELE clue today is excellent).

Bassetwrangler 1:37 PM  

Having never heard of County Mayo my first guess was BLT. I've also always seen it spelled "hooray" and not "hurray". Finally, gas gets to a carburetor through a conduit called a fuel line. A fuel pump is not really a conduit. I solved it, but agree that there were too many gimmes.

D_Blackwell 1:45 PM  

Big-time DNF. I got the S and SE third and that's it. I would never-ever have gotten much further. This seems a lot more like a Peter Gordon level crossword. Deliberate?

Van55 1:51 PM  

Shortz must have made this humble Van55 week. For the third day in a row I found much of the fill simply beyond the margins of my knowledge base, and I DNF. That sucks. But then there are weeks that even Saturday seems easy for me, so I guess they even out.

22 proper nouns, which doesn't seem excessive for a Saturday puzzle.

Looking forward to a relaxing, solveable Sunday.

nate 1:55 PM  

Doing the puzzle in ink is OK
if you use White-Out

Tobias Duncan 2:22 PM  

Got about 2/3rds through this one and was about to resort to google but decided to print out what I had and take it to the tiny coffee shop on the Taos plaza that I love so dearly.I solved the remaining 1/3rd with the assistance of: a writer, a poet, two fine artists, an art dealer,a waitress, an actor,a retired Los Alamos scientist, and two lovely and brilliant baristas.
We had soooo much fun ! I just love my little town!

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Dad, Blasted sounds like the title of the movie made about my childhood.

treedweller 4:36 PM  

It was before my time, but wouldn't a member of SAM's Pharaohs be a pharaoh? And wouldn't that make SAM any given Pharaoh's head? Just sayin.

I did this in under an hour with two googles (ALANARKIN and EDAMES), which is still close enough to a success for me on Saturdays. Especially after the drubbing I took yesterday.

For no particular reason, I was listening to ATTHEZOO just a couple of days ago and even posted a line from it as facebook status. I still took it out several times trying to get through that section. I really wanted 'niner/HRE up there for a long time.

I've heard of ASPHALTTILE, but by the time I was looking for the front end I had committed to a surrey as following two hips, and, damn it, I wasn't going to let some unknown spelling variant shake me in my conviction, so I spent a lot of time speculating on what type of salt I wanted.

I'd tell my favorite answer but ITSASECRET.

fikink 4:42 PM  

@Bassetwrangler - I had BLT, too, for a while! ;)

sanfranman59 6:09 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 8:19, 6:57, 1.20, 99%, Challenging
Tue 8:37, 8:57, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 10:41, 11:39, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 24:53, 19:03, 1.31, 93%, Challenging
Fri 25:22, 26:17, 0.97, 43%, Medium
Sat 31:14, 30:41, 1.02, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:42, 1.16, 95%, Challenging
Tue 4:22, 4:36, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 5:41, 5:44, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Thu 13:14, 9:11, 1.44, 96%, Challenging
Fri 11:52, 12:49, 0.93, 40%, Medium
Sat 17:56, 17:31, 1.02, 65%, Medium-Challenging

DADBLASTED? Seriously? Clued as "No-good"? Really?

Stan 6:14 PM  

I am so psyched that I finished this! After weeks of DNFs on Th-F-S. Knowing the 60s references in the NE didn't hurt, but the area still took some work. Sam the Sham was the key -- what wonderful music, and we didn't know it was Tex-Mex at the time, just great AM-radio pop.

My last letter was the I in ICE. How many times can I be fooled by "number"?

alan 6:34 PM  

Can someone please explain number in a pack = ice.

chefwen 6:40 PM  

@Rex - It's like they don't even see you!

krj2 8:04 PM  

Knowing neither Sam the Sham nor Ed Ames, I aced everything but two squares of the NE. I strenuously object to cluing IRE as an abbreviation for Ireland (22A: "Mayo setting"). Unfair! On Irish cars (and those of many Irish-Americans), those oval country stickers read IRL.

Mark 8:05 PM  

The clue "platinum-group element" is incorrect for the answer "iridium." Iridium is NOT in the same group as platinum. Groups run vertically on the periodic table. Periods run horizontally. Nickel and palladium are Group 10 elements along with platinum.

foodie 8:06 PM  

@ Alan, number is NOT num ber, but "nummer" as in make insensitive or numb. So ice can help make a painful area numb.

Nighthawk 8:25 PM  

@alan When I started this CW, I think my brain went numb. As I moved down the list of clues, it went number.

Not sure I really had a shot at finishing. Now, where's the ICE?

PlantieBea 8:43 PM  

Liked this one much, even though the DADBLASTED element IRIDIUM turned out to be in the Cobalt and Rhodium group. I held the FUEL LINES for a long while but the APE costume helped me out of my bind. Thanks Joe DiPietro for the Saturday fun.

Tobias Duncan 8:51 PM  

they change the way groups in the periodic table are organized every once in a while,makes for confusion.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

Okay, I'm back and numb from my vodka and still don't get number in a pack is ice, so not only am I numb but I'm also dumb. Okay, again, why, Foodie, can't number in a pack be number in a six pack, like what I used to drink during one Chicago sweltering summer while studying for the bar exam to get to sleep afterward because we had no air conditioning....

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

Seed pearls are little beads you put into oysters to make bigger kind of farmed pearls.

I skip M-W 9:32 PM  

@Mark, from Wikipedia:
"The platinum group metals (abbreviated as the PGMs; alternatively, the platinoids, platidises, platinum group or platinum metals) sometimes collectively refers to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table. These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block (groups 8, 9, and 10, periods 5 and 6).

"The six platinum group metals are ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties, and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits."

This is a confusing part of the periodic table because of overlap between outer and inner electron shells.

Mark 10:32 PM  

@I skip M-W
If you are going to refer to the platinum group, it correctly can only mean the group 10 elements. The elements that you mentioned are typically referred to as the late transition metals. I don't mean to get on my high horse here, by my research group and I study the chemistry of these elements (specifically Ni and Pd) and I teach graduate organometallic chemistry. Wikipedia does not have it quite right, and possibly refers to some ridiculously antiquated jargon that was used for these late transition metals. I have never heard a chemist EVER suggest that iridium is in the platinum group.

Commodities Broker 10:36 PM  

@Mark - There's more to life than chemistry. The platinum group is also referenced in commodities, as this citation from the USGA points out, as precisely the set of metals I skip M-W referenced.

fikink 10:49 PM  

JEEEEEEEEZ, you guys!

Mark 10:51 PM  

@ Commodities Broker
I agree, there is more to life than chemistry. I certainly was not arguing that. I was simply making an argument about the correctness of the clue and the usage of "platinum group" outside of the chemical context. Certainly, if the NYT crossword aims to be scientifically accurate (which I'm pretty sure it does), it shouldn't have a clue that contradicts what is taught in undergraduate and graduate level chemistry classes. Will Shortz always boasts about his accuracy in this regard. The clue really tripped me up, and I have received 2 phone calls from fellow scientists regarding this clue. I forgive you Will :-)

Victor 11:35 PM  

I loved today’s puzzle, JP, if you’re reading. But I cannot but wonder how you snuck in so many people and things from BYGONE ERAS and did not get called, uh, “of a certain age” in this blog's comments?

Nanpilla and chefwen: You could be thinking about DAG BUMSTEAD.

Smitty: It’s better to be crabby than that other word that was used yesterday, though not by you, of course.

Mark: There is more to life than chemistry (there is symmetry, basketry and dentistry, to name three other -try's), but without chemistry, where would we be?

Since this is the only blog wherein I have recently encountered a geezer-thread, let me pitch at a pet peeve of mine: Brent Musberger of ABC/ESPN, has a penchant for calling college football players "youngsters,"
Which, to me, reeks of geezerliness. Please contact ESPN and tell them to tell him to stop.

Vic

Anonymous 11:50 PM  

Anyone notice that ND played Army today. Must be a coincidence, no?

Fifi 6:41 AM  

Am I the only one who noticed that it is "Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs"? Pharoahs is plural. The clue is Pharoah's, singular.

I skip M-W 7:05 AM  

@Mark, Your remarks display an odd type of ignorance. The clue mentions nothing about chemistry. As a physicist, among other things, I happened to be familiar with the term "platinum group" even though I thought of rhodium before iridium.

Why should what is taught in chemistry classes be a requirement for the correctness of every clue that happens to use words familiar to chemists but not in exactly that way?

In college I once took a chemistry class and was amazed at how dumb the chemists seemed. I thought I had outgrown that youthful prejudice, but maybe I should think again.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@Vic, BM went to my alma mater but DNF, so what would you expect? Besides, BM is not a geezer, he's a Methuselah. Now go back to your movie diredting....

Mark 2:13 PM  

@I skip M-W said, Wow, way to make it personal! I simply explained why I thought the clue was incorrect. You don't need to buy my explanation. Obviously the confusion comes with the use of the word "group" which means something very specific when referring to the periodic table. If "group" is going to be used to mean "one of an assemblage," then technically helium is in the platinum group since they are both on the periodic table. You are clearly a jackass who cannot engage in a discussion maturely, but others on this site might be interested in hearing this viewpoint.

FoodFixer 2:08 AM  

To this scientific pissing match, I'll add my half a cent. As an erstwhile geologist, I have always referred to the Platinum Group Elements (PGEs) as the elements listed by the physicist due to the fact that these elements occur alloyed with one another (or with iron). You'll find this in much of the geologic literature concerning places like the Stillwater Complex in Montana.

I write with some trepidation that the resident chemist will handle me roughly and accuse me of drinking during college and not taking more rigorous chemistry classes. My answer would be only that I have taken many geochemistry classes dealing specifically with ore deposits but, alas, I probably fit in a bit more drinking than the average Chem major.

Mark 12:58 PM  

I am willing to concede that the term "platinum group elements" is used more informally in other disciplines and can take on a broader definition. Though such usage is certainly conducive to confusion and (as FoodFixer said) an ensuing scientific pissing match.

Randy Chong 3:24 PM  

syndicate land here...
In the SW corner, it was a DNF because I had BEST for "like some friends" which fit perfectly with CRIB for "gang land" I am happy when I even finish Thurs - Sat, even though I have used every reference book (dictionary, atlas, thesaurus) in the house (and yes, even a bit of Google).

Randy Chong 3:25 PM  

Great -- I don't even know my SW from my SE!

San Diego Bob 5:33 PM  

Asphalt tile was a post war (WWII) replacement for linoleum. It was one of many inventions scientists drummed up in the 50s to use all of the newly found oil that was being pumped out of the ground. The advantage of asphalt tile was that the pattern ran completely througn the tile (about an eighth of an inch thick) whereas the pattern on linoleum was only on the surface and eventually wore off at heavily traveled areas leaving a big black spot. The drawback to asphalt tile was that it was very brittle and would crack if there was any movement in the base over which it was laid. If you dropped an asphalt tile (9" x 9") it would shatter like a 78 record! Asphalt tile was soon replaced with "rubber tile" with (you guessed it) a rubber base and was therefore flexible and wouldn't crack or break.

Marc 5:53 PM  

This was an easy one for me, perhaps because so many answers were slanted towards my age group (i.e., Sam the Sham, a Simon and Garfunkel song, the album by the Young Rascals, etc.).

As for Bebe Rebozo, featured in yesterday's puzzle, the Wikipedia article has almost no information. Here's a link with the details:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKrebozo.htm

Short version: Rebozo was a close friend of President Nixon's, since before Nixon was Vice President. Rebozo had connections to organized crime figures and was also a figure in the Watergate scandal.

His connection with Nixon was what made him famous, especially when anti-Nixon feeling was its zenith. Plus, with a name like "Bebe Rebozo," he was ideal for media prime-time.

Another Nixon friend with questionable financial dealings was Robert Vesco. Perhaps he'll turn up in a puzzle soon...

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I too am a little nitpicker from a BYGONEERA of THE RASCALS and am not happy PHAROAH'S HEAD was not PHAROAHS' HEAD!!! Some time ago(forgot constructor) got me with "number". Clue was "NUMBER OF PATIENTS" which drove me nuts until I got "Anesthesia". I swore it would not get me again. Low and behold....

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