Fashion designer Posen / SAT 1-8-11 / Hamlet composer / 1981 best seller set in Castle Rock, Me. / Film composer Brion / Suffix with railway

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none


Word of the Day: KOSCIUSZKO (9D: Highest mountain in Australia) —

Mount Kosciuszko is a mountain located in the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park. With a height of 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level, it is the highest mountain in Australia (not including its external territories). It was named by the Polish explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of the Polish-Lithuanian national hero and hero of the American Revolutionary War General Tadeusz Kościuszko, because of its perceived resemblance to the Kościuszko Mound in Krakow. // The name of the mountain was previously spelt "Mount Kosciusko", an Anglicisation, but the spelling "Mount Kosciuszko" was officially adopted in 1997 by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. [...] Various measurements of the peak originally called Kosciuszko showed it to be slightly lower than its neighbour, Mount Townsend. The names of the mountains were swapped by the New South Wales Lands Department, so that Mount Kosciuszko remains the name of the highest peak of Australia, and Mount Townsend ranks as second. [!?!?!?] (wikipedia)

• • •

So this is why I don't normally solve first thing in the morning. This took me longer than any puzzle has taken me in years (excluding a Newsday Saturday Stumper, which every once in a while I don't even bother trying to finish). Names. Just ... names. Dead in the water on the Polish Aussie mountain. I know baseball and don't remember JOSE JIMENEZ very well at all (remembered it vaguely, though, so could piece it together when the time came) (12D: He pitched a no-hitter in 1999). SHAN? No. JON? No. ZAC? No. I mean, you've got ALFIE over MILO over EBAN in the west (thankfully I'd at least heard of all those). A lot of names, is what I'm saying (23A: It lost to "Born Free" for Best Song of 1966). ROSALYN? No. (40D: Calvin's baby sitter in "Calvin and Hobbes") Had ROZALYN and then ZEE for [Jazz piece?]—that was the mistake that kept the center mostly empty til the bitter end. In the end, looking back, this is definitely a tough puzzle, but if I'd simply remembered the Major composer LISZT (37A: "Hamlet" composer) as a possibility for --S-T (me: "BISET? HOLST? No, that's not right"), I could have had a much more normal time.

Major objection to R.E.M. not being clued as an abbr. (2D: Post-retirement occurrence). It was the first answer I thought of, but I discarded it because of the non-abbr. cluing. If ELO is an abbr. (signified by "grp." in its clue, 45A: "Rocakaria!" grp.), then (non-band) R.E.M. sure as hell is.

Other danger of solving a Saturday first thing in the morning. No time for write-up. Straight to bullets.

Bullets:
  • 10A: 1981 best seller set in Castle Rock, Me. (CUJO) — King's "On Writing" was the first book I read this new year (Great stuff) so this came easily. One of the few things that did (see also IRE, UTE, A LEG, MEME, WHA / ITCHY, MAT, ELO, YALIE (though I wavered on it a lot), EMO (22A: Dashboard Confessional's genre) ... I know that looks like a lot, but they are all small and well spread out.
  • 14A: Midwest city in the middle of the I-70/I-71/I-75 triangle (XENIA, OHIO) — a favorite 9-letter answer of late-week constructors (or at least one I've seen before—see also ALAN ADALE, only moreso: 60A: 1902 Kentucky Derby winner that was named after a fictional character). Had RIAL for LIRA, but that "I" was enough to get me OHIO, and then I just guessed XENIA because "X" is a Roman numeral.
  • 19A: Operculum (LID) — Oh, come on. No fan of the deliberately obtuse clue.
  • 27A: Grammy-nominated film composer Brion (JON) — Google wants to know "Did you mean ... BRIAN?" I wish.
  • 35A: Golfe setting (MER) — I guess Golfe (whatever that is) is on a sea somewhere. Huh.
  • 52A: With 36-Across, school gathering equipment (TRAWL / NETS) — remedial cluing trick that fooled me for a shamefully long time.
  • 62A: RadioShack stock (TAPE DECKS) — What year is it!?!? I had the "A" and "S" and plunked down BATTERIES.


  • 10D: Virtuosic improvisation (CADENZA) — sounds like a piece of furniture to me, but I was able to guess it anyway.
  • 23D: Its first word is "Congress" (AMENDMENT I) — doubted this one, as I've never heard it referred to this way, but figured it had to be right (what with that terminal "I").
  • 21D: Place for a hanging piece (HOLSTER) — to show you how slow my brain was this morning—after considering art, I immediately thought of gun. I even imagined the gun hanging from someone's hip. . . nothing. Considered GUN RACK. Ugh.
  • 47D: Measure associated with Leyden jars (FARAD) — If you say so. I think I had FERMI in here at one point.
  • 29A: ___ buckle (eye surgery procedure) (SCLERAL) — Should have gotten this off the "SC-"—didn't. Needed LISZT to see CLIMAXES AT (30D: Doesn't get any higher than) to get SAX to get SCLERAL. Or SCLERAL to get SAX, I forget now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS do you know about Patrick Berry's puzzle website, A-Frame Puzzles? You should. He's the best crossword constructor in the business. I almost never bother with non-crossword puzzles, but his Rows Gardens are a ton of (tough) fun. There are six of them available free from his website. Have at them! (oh, and if you are an aspiring crossword constructor, you should definitely read his "Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies," but we'll talk about that some other time).

88 comments:

imsdave 8:56 AM  

Thanks for the challenging rating - took me almost 40 minutes. The names were important anchors to my solve. 4 letter book set in Maine? Gimme. ALFIE was a drop kick because of the date - usually clued as 1966 title role for Caine, or something like that. Knowing that, MILO, and EBAN got me ZILLIONS finally opening up the NW. Had to put it down for a breather after staring at the blank middle section for way too long (I also got hungry, as the puzzle reminded me of a donut at that point). Finally had the aha moment on SCHULZ and finished.

Enjoyed it.

Nick 9:05 AM  

"Golfe" is the French word for "Gulf"

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

poppycock.

JC66 9:10 AM  

The good news: I remembered to start the timer.

The bad news: I remembered to start the timer.

Enough said!!!

mmorgan 9:34 AM  

HTG, HTG...

Had PINT for UNIT at 41A, CARED for FAZED at 47A, BEDS for BETA at 38A...and lots of blank squares. (How on earth could I possibly have forgotten who won the 1902 Kentucky Derby???)

I get that Golfe is Gulf and Mer is Sea but I still don't understand the clue/answer. Not all Gulfs are in Seas -- or are they?

Liked SCHULZ, MEME, REM, BUMARIDE and the Zs.

fikink 9:38 AM  

"On Writing" is on its way to me from Amazon based on your recent recommendation of same, Rex. Looking forward to it (that, and "Stoner" - which has nothing to do with druggies).

Not real CRAZY about "over" as a clue for ONE MORE TIME, as, to my mind, that sense of the word "over" is dependent on the verb phrase. A more accurate clue would be the independent "again" - or could we just put a question mark in the clue?

Learned the name of Australia's highest mountain today. I would drop it in conversation over drinks tonight were I able to change the subject from last night's blowing snow to the warmer breezes in Oz.

@Anon, 9:09 - POPPYCOCK was my first fill. Then tried, sadly, COCKNBULL. Once my CRAZY TALK abated, got down to finishing the puzzle.

@JC66 = LOL! I don't even try the timer.

Glitch 9:57 AM  

@mmorgan

You are correct, not all "gulfs" are in a sea, sometimes they are in oceans, but that's it ;-)

___

REM [sleep] is pronounced REM while ELO (group) is pronounced ee-el-oh. From there, see any of the previous discussions of abbr. and "[NYT] style".

.../Glitch

Smitty 10:03 AM  

Whew - Rex rated it Challenging.
Why did I try Billions or Millions but not Zillions? Crazy Talk was a big letdown after all the work it took to get there.

Guessed my way through on all but Mount Kosci..whatever....

Another hand up for PINT, RIAL, and another hanging "piece" interp = bad toupee.

I thought pitching a no-hitter made you a good pitcher...I don't get the reference to Bill Dana.

Anyone else think Eye surgery buckle didn't pass the breakfast test?

donkos 10:04 AM  

This puzzle was just xenic - the result of crossing obscure geographical references.

7thecow 10:14 AM  

HTG
Started with LIRE, ERGS, GALLOWS. Could only go up from there. Next tried SEINE NETS, MAT, ELO, NAM. This is just being stuck in the depths and going sideways. Things started to open up after I got out my "Essential Calvin and Hobbes". Finished with the T in LISZT, a big d'oh for HOLSTER.
Definitely a Saturday puZZle.

poc 10:34 AM  

I agree about the toughness. Way too many hard-to-guess proper names (there should be an upper limit of say 2 per puzzle). Furthermore, I question the clueing of SATIRIZED. I has SATIRIcal since that fits "Swiftly written" but the given answer doesn't (try to use it in a believable sentence).

r.alphbunker 10:40 AM  

This puzzle was a workout. Put in a word, erased it, put it a word erased it. This wore me out. Almost completed it without machine assistance. At the end I had BiTA and JIMiNEZ but too tired to see the obvious BETA until the machine told me the "i" was wrong. The machine also reject mILLIONS and bILLIONS. Once it accepted ZILLIONS, CRAZY TALK fell into place and I was done. The resulting ANA was a mystery to me until Google revealed that railwayana is actually a word that refers to artifacts of currently or formerly operating railways.

In spite of the disappointing finish there were moments of triumph where I erased words that seemed to be gimmes, e.g., Internet CAFE, because none of the crosses worked. If I can get less attached to answers that seem to be absolutely right I would be a better solver.

mitchs 10:43 AM  

The most epicest fail in recent memory. The middle and NE were pretty much blank.

Sometimes I hit reveal after giving up too soon and wind up chastising myself for lack of patience.

This one went more like:

(reveal) Oh really? Never heard of it.
(reveal) WTF?
(reveal) No, seriously, WTF?

So this was a case where giving up was timed just about right.

BUT. Enjoyed it anyway.

Rex Parker 10:57 AM  

@Glitch,

I don't see your logic.

Acronyms and intialisms are both abbrevs.

For example, ASCAP is pronounced ASCAP, and yet *always* an abbrev. in xword clues.

But for some reason Will wavers on REM, sometimes adding [for short] to the clue, sometimes not.

rp

mitchs 11:00 AM  

@POC: Thought the same thing.

Glimmerglass 11:03 AM  

For me, this was the hardest NYT puzzle in a long time. I might well have given up, but made some very lucky guesses, so I can't really take much credit for finishing it. The middle held out the longest. Never heard of the Aussie mountain (though I had heard of the Polish hero of the American revolution (but couldn't have spelled him), so the name, when I finally filled it in, looked almost reasonable. Didn't know SCHULTZ or LISZT, but at least I knew one is an artist and the other a composer. SCLERAL was pretty much a guess, too, based on some dim memory of an eye part. For a long time I had "lap top pcs" instead of TAPEDECKS. There were other problems, but after almost 3 hrs, I was surprised to be right.

chaos1 11:07 AM  

I'm 100% with Rex on this one. With all due deference to Will Nediger, this puzzle was borderline Tim Croce. I love tough puzzles, and I do Fireballs, BEQ's, and yes, the Saturday Stumper at Newsday. While I appreciate a challenge, I do difficult puzzles for enjoyment. I can find plenty of other things to aggravate me first thing in the morning, if I really want to.

I gave this puzzle about six minutes. Knew 1D started with C. Threw in REM immediately at 2D and YALIE at 5D. After that, I figured 1A started with CRAZY, so I threw in ZILLIONS at 4D. That was it. I scanned all the rest of the clues, and had two more entrees. SUV and TAP. One of those was wrong.

At that point, I could see the handwriting on the wall. I weighted the aggravation factor against the enjoyment factor and just said, " Screw It! ".

In retrospect, after seeing the solve, I probably could have done the puzzle, or at least most of it. That's if I would have been willing to put in the time. The cluing was really nasty in several instances, and bordered on being wrong or blatantly unfair. ALANADALE at 60A is just way too obscure. I'm a big horse racing fan. I could tell you who won the first Kentucky Derby, or the first filly to win, but can anyone know all 135 ? There's enough potential Naticks in the corner to ruin any argument about the clue being totally solvable through crosses.

If you're going to construct a puzzle that will force the vast majority of solvers to Google, then, IMHO, you're defeating the purpose of the puzzle. It's O.K. to learn things in the course of solving, but it should be secondary to the enjoyment of the exercise.

Once again, this is only my opinion, but I almost never pass on solving a very difficult puzzle. I refuse to Google, so I like a fighting chance.

ArtLvr 11:18 AM  

I think I mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating -- the book "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution" by the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Alex Storozynski was the high point of my summer reading two years ago! This Polish visionary was also an engineer who was key to our success in the Revolutionary War, first in upstate NY and designing the fortifications at West Point etc. and later in the South...

He had been caught and imprisoned by Catherine the Great for leading a peasant revolt in Russia, but sent off in style on her death by her son. The fur stole given him by the new Tsar was later regifted to his great friend Thomas Jefferson, and is seen around Jefferson's neck in one of his famous portraits. He also left a legacy to Jefferson which the latter was to use to compensate for freeing his slaves at his own demise, but as we know, Jefferson reneged. Amazing, fantastic, gripping true tale of a fabled freedom fighter way ahead of his time, which I highly recommend!

Oh yes, I enjoyed the puzzle today too, super fun though it was indeed challenging. SchuIz the cartoonist clued as Woodstock artist was totally hysterical. I didn't think I'd finish but it came out FINE after all. Many thanks, Will Nediger.

∑;)

Shamik 11:18 AM  

I must be having divine guidance today because this turned in a Saturday easy-medium at 16:29. A lot of names, yes. And a lot of hokey-pokey...put a word in, take the word out, put a word in:

POPPYCOCK for CRAZYTALK
MENDOCINO (don't ask) for XENIA, OHIO
SATIRICAL for SATIRIZED
(blank)JOHNSON for JOSEJIMENEZ
and a spelling error for KOSCIUSZKO

TAPEDECKS? Really? Seems I only go to Radio Shack any more for a cable of some sort. I know they just stopped making the Walkman but does Radio Shack still carry tape decks?

I liked the puzzle. Felt like it was going to be hard, so relaxed into it without rushing and drank my coffee. This is one solving method as opposed to holding my breath and hoping my fingers can go as fast as possible and finish apace. So am I feeling a wee bit smug for feeling it was easier than the masses feel? Ok. I guess I am a bit. (hanging head with false humility while doing happy dance inside)

Shamik 11:20 AM  

@ArtLovr: Wow! You know I'd always kind of wondered why that fur collar on Thom. Jeff. Interesting story.

Norm 11:23 AM  

Not fun -- although I did smile at "Woodstock artist" after scratching my brain to try to remember all the musicians. But "Highest mountain in Australia"? Unfair. I love a good workout, but that struck me as extreme.

Martin 11:38 AM  

To rehash the abbreviation "rule," the ONLY thing that qualifies as an abbreviation, and will always be signaled, is a word that is never pronounced as written. It doesn't matter if you spell it out ("SOS") or say it as a word ("NASDAQ"), if you don't add letters when speaking that aren't there in writing ("Thu." as "Thursday"), it's not properly an abbreviation.

Rex is corrrect that these other things (SOS and NASDAQ), sometimes distinguished as initialisms and acronyms, are signalled at Will's will. They tend to be on Monday more than Saturday. I assume the lack of the signal on the REM clue was to avoid spoiling the misdirection. In any case, except for words (usually written with a period) that don't include all the letters you normally pronounce, the rule is that there is no rule. /Glitch is correct in that I've said all this before.

jae 11:52 AM  

DNF for me. It's been years since I've had to cheat to finish. My downfall was RETINAL. After going nowhere in the center for a looong time I HTG for RETINAL Buckle and it was confirmed so I was doomed. I finally googled "eye surgery buckle" and SCLERAL came up. I also needed help to see SCHULTZ. Oh, and hands up for SATIRICAL. Tough puzzle!!

David L 11:52 AM  

Gave up after 30 mins and googled for KOSC-WTF, and still finished with errors. Had DATA for BETA, figured the name must be JIMENEZ, but couldn't straighten that mess out. Also, had LIS crossing with square TOES (not an expression I've heard of, and had no idea about OPERCULUM).

I cleverly guessed who the Woodstock artist was, but then couldn't spell him -- I know from bitter experience he's not SCHULTZ, the way he oughtta be, so I put in SHULTZ instead and didn't see my way around that for a long time.

I started with SATIRICAL for Swiftly written. I don't see how SATIRIZED parses as an answer.

I'm impressed by anyone who finished this without external assistance...

mac 11:57 AM  

This was more than challenging to me, it beat me to a pulp.
Tons of names I didn't know. Corneal smack in the middle to really mess me up. I like the clues for Schulz, itchy, trawl nets and..... no that was it.

Poppycock, and, very telling, "do'h" for aha.

Signed up for the Brooklyn tournament yesterday, but now I'm worried.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Hated it.

joho 12:06 PM  

Oh, I was so glad to see this rated challenging! This was harder than climbing that, speaking of CRAZYTALK, mountain, KOSCIUSZKO!

My answer for 2D was "death." I must have woken up on the dark side of the bed.

Loved the misdirection of "Woodstock artist."

I also had SATIREcal for a while but knew it had to be ELK ... so made the change.

NW was the last to fall for me when I finally saw XENIAOHIO ... which was ridiculous because I knew those roads were in Ohio, I just kept looking for a one word city. That was my AHA moment.

Very difficult, I can't believe I finished it.

TimJim 12:34 PM  

Middle of my paper puzzle looked like a Rorschach test. Yes, a lotta names but gettable with crosses (and a couple of informed guesses). Woodstock artist? NASTY! Loved it! Good Saturday workout.

Matthew G. 12:36 PM  

Jiminy Christmas, that was hard. Goes down as a DNF because I had to use the Check Answers button a few times to confirm some guesses, and even with that it took an eternity.

The left side filled in pretty quickly after I put down AMENDMENT I with no crosses. As a lawyer who deals with a fair amount of Constitutional law, I see amendments cited in the form "Amendment [Roman Numeral]" in case citations on a fairly regular basis, but I knew that answer would probably lead to justifiable grumbling from non-lawyers.

I also threw down SATIRICAL, quickly corrected to SATIRIZED, with no crosses, and was pretty pleased with myself. But that was pretty much the end to my strong start. Got through the SW and SE in decent Saturday time and then started to hit a bit of a wall. Had PINT instead of UNIT and was sure I was right, so that slowed me down _hugely_. Other wrong guesses that impeded my progress included UNSEX instead of DESEX and IRKED instead of FAZED.

There were plenty of things to like here. But oh, those proper names. Brutal.

Two Ponies 12:39 PM  

Growing up in Indiana helped for once. There is a county there named for the Polish guy. That doesn't mean I can spell it but I got close enough with the helpful crosses.
I believe the correct way to say it is Ko-shooz-ko but the wacky Hoosiers say Kahz-ee-oz-ko.
This was very hard with the misdirected Peanuts clue the last light bulb to come on.
My brain does sort of ache from all the heavy lifting.
Bill Dana is the only Jimenez I know. I couldn't believe it was right!
Secret word - dinessol, what I almost was.

SethG 12:41 PM  

The Times referred to ELO just this week as ELO. Not E.L.O., not Electric Light Orchestra. It's just the crossword that doesn't ever use it that way.

I finished the SW in a minute. The rest, I gave up. Couldn't get rid of SATIRICAL, and -IZED makes no sense to me. Tried LEXINGTON for the highways, didn't care enough to try to unpack it. (Railwayana?). And didn't know the pitcher. Aside from the names, much of the cluing just seemed bizarre, and certainly not on my wavelength.

jae 12:43 PM  

...and I even spelled SCHULZ wrong in my post. Maybe next Sat.?

Sparky 12:43 PM  

My first and only entry for a long time was MILO. Chipped away and filled in most of the left side, not the top. SATIRIcal for me, too. Had CUJO, EXONERATED, DESEX, and IRE, that's it. Threw in the towel. Time for lunch. Have a good weekend.

syndy 12:47 PM  

no happy pencil!but please don't tell me there are cheat buttons on across-lite I don't want to know!!! Milo was my first and only answer at first pass-most of second pass was wrong!holy crap!closest unsex for desex dyan for eban .Amendment i really? really?

Dough 12:49 PM  

I loved it. It's snowing here now and this was perfect. Yes, extremely hard. I too had "ZEE" for a long time and had avoided trying to spell Kosciuszko. That gave me Liszt and the center fell. Jose Jimenez, sheesh. I feel bad for Bill Dana — losing out to a baseball pitcher. I'm okay with REM — M-W defines it as a word, not an abbreviation. Like snafu is a word and fubar is a word and posh is a word, etc. The Woodstock ref had me thinking music. Anyway, hard as it was, it's nice to have a real challenge once in a while.

Two Ponies 12:56 PM  

I had to do some post-solve research on railwayana. Evidently it refers to collecting of railroad signs, name plates, posters, etc. Who knew?
I did see some cool stuff if you are into antiques.

archaeoprof 1:02 PM  

Grew up in Cincinnati, and lived for awhile in Indiana, so XENIA and KOSCIUSZKO weren't too hard. Like @Two Ponies, I remember that special Hoosier pronunciation.

But the rest of this puzzle was challenging, indeed.

Tried "My Way" before ALFIE.

Glitch 1:06 PM  

@Rex,

Agree ASCAP always hinted, but NATO and NASA not always.

R.E.M. as the band - 37x - always as a band or grp. or other hint (including BMI and B.M.I.), which is interesting as "R.E.M." is their "proper" name.

As to my logic [for not objecting on a Sat]:

Referring to Sleep:
REM as abbr. 10 -- w/70% early week
REM not hinted 18 -- w/16% early week

Thus, no "abbr." late week seems the norm.

Plus what @Martin said.

.../Glitch

mitchs 1:18 PM  

Anyone have a good usage of SATARIZED as clued? It's got me stumped...

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Today is the 76th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley and to celebrate I totaled 30 black checkmarks on my Across Lite puzzle. What was Will thinking? The answers were as elusive as all those Elvis sightings?

There were words I did not know (CADENZA, e.g., which sounds more like that table behind my desk). There were words I never want to know (MEME, e.g.). There were words I knew but too hesitant to write (CUJO and SCHULZ, e.g.). And there were words I knew and couldn’t believe they were right (AMENDMENT I – Always referred to as the First Amendment, and BUM A RIDE – The U did not fit with the P I initially had for PINT instead of UNIT for transfusion amount).

When XENIA OHIO is the easy one, where does one go from there? There were so many AHA moments in this grid that I started laughing – AHAHAHAHA.

LIBERAL ARTS is always nice to see. I used to think that was my college but now realize it means that all the arty ones are Liberal. FLAT STOMACH is simply depressing.

Stacking SATIRIZED over ALAN ADALE over TAPED DECKS is awesome.

JOSE JIMENEZ was a pitcher? I thought he was Bill Dana.

Don’t know why Bugs is found in BETA. Thought Bugs was a bunny.

Last, but far from least, is EXONERATED. Kept thinking what do I say when my batteries need charging. Guess I don’t have that defense attorney mentality.

Now to go listen to some music by The King and later watch some playoff football....

Go Bears

R. McGeddon 1:37 PM  

I was 100% sure that Verdi wrote a "Hamlet," and boy did I suffer for it.

phat phred 1:38 PM  

Who the hell calls an SUV a ute? What the hell kind of store sells tape decks in 2011?

I also didn't like the clue for satirized. Without any other context, Swiftly written = satirical. Swiftly wrote = satirized.

Glitch 1:46 PM  

@mitchs

"Swiftly written" could be "in the manner of J. Swift":

"The writer [in the manner of Swift] satirized the politician's proposal".

.../Glitch (3/3 for the day)

Ben 1:52 PM  

Tough. But that is what I want in a Saturday puzzle. (It was not unfair.)

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@Phat Phred, in the context of past participles, "written" syncs up with "satirized."

SethG 1:55 PM  

Glitch, didn't you just change parts of speech there? "The proposal was Swiftly written" may mean "The proposal was in the manner of J. Swift", but how does that equate with "The proposal was satirized"?

R. McGeddon 1:59 PM  

I also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to fit "Microsoft products" into four squares.

I skip M-W 2:45 PM  

I got satirized without much trouble — partly because Farad was a gimme for me — makes sense perhaps if an intransitive verb; the question mark allows such ambiguity, I think.
did the puzzle late on Fri night, a mistake. ended up googling for 9D and 37A, as @R. McGeddon thought Verdi did opera, but open to more composers, never thought of Liszt. Put SSR for red state, then, with m_n_ z for end of 12 D happily put carlos munoz, as name rang some bell, but decided that was politician. That made red state "hue" ; finally remembered Cujo; dislike horror, don't read King.
When finally fake finished (w/ google) v. disappointed not to see Rex's comments.

OldCarFudd 3:28 PM  

This drove me nuts. I knew the name of the Aussie mountain, but didn't know how to spell it. Both my Webster's Second Unabridged and my World Almanac spelled it without the Z which, of course, wouldn't fit. I eventually resorted to Google, where I found the Wikipedia citation Rex quoted.

I managed to get everything else sorted except the east-noetheast, since I'd never heard of Jose Jimenez. M<y wife knew Jon Brion, and then everything fell.

Never heard of Internet Meme. What is it? And why do I want to know?

OISK 3:32 PM  

A DNF for me, second in the past two months. I used to sometimes go a year without a DNF. But the clues that beat me were not those mentioned by most others. I knew Kosciuszko and farad, in fact got the left two thirds pretty quickly. Once I had the z, Liszt was a gimmee. Upper right - impossible. I still do not know what emo means, I had expurgated instead of exonerated, which worked with '"rap" instead of emo. (to be fair, I think I have seen emo in other puzzles) I never heard of meme, and do not understand the answer "beta." Never heard of Jon Brion either.

Since I had expurgated, I filled in "SSR" for red state. With that many wrong answers, I had no shot. But I don't enjoy puzzles like this one either. When I look up the solution and still do not understand a handful of the clues, there is no joy in Mudville.

@saintpeg 3:33 PM  

Had CAROLYN as the babysitter at 40D, and crossed it with CLICHE for "same old story". A nasty oops.

foodie 3:38 PM  

For the longest time, I am had ZAC (Posen), misspelled as ZAK, and that's it... Then got the NW by some miracle. The rest was... painful at best.

I always love to see REM in the puzzles (I agree, Rex, the abbreviation should be hinted at). Not only because I know the man who discovered the phenomenon at Stanford, but also because my son participated in REM studies as an infant. He was in the first cohort of normal babies whose sleep architecture was studied. And I have the baby T-shirt to prove it!

Thankfully, my kids have forgiven me for enrolling them in biomedical studies whenever possible (including on the day of their birth- measuring endorphins in cord blood).

This was back when RadioShack stocked TAPEDECKS...

Clark 3:47 PM  

I died all over the place on this one. But I did get ZAC Posen. I worked for his mom my first summer job of law school. He was just a kid then, but because of that job I notice his name in the news.

And I got ALAN A DALE with only a few crosses, not believing that it could be right. That name has stuck with me since singing a so entitled choral piece way back in high school. We must have had to memorize it; it resurfaces frequently as something I find myself singing.

I had no idea LISZT wrote a hamlet! I will have to check it out.

This puzzle was fun but too hard for me.

Van55 3:50 PM  

From the RRN to the end, I didn't like this puzzle. I found it borderline unfair due the the plethora of relatively little-known proper nouns. Plus, the cluing was far too misdirectional for my taste.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

@Rex - I can't lose any sleep over REM, but maybe Will wavers with "for short" depending on whether it is a Monday or a Saturday. But of all the challenges today, quibling over REM really underscores your frustration. This is good. Lets you know how the peasants feel....

JaxInL.A. 3:59 PM  

Do you think it is possible to make EVERY mistake noted by everyone here? I could swear that I did. Even after liberal reference to Dr. G, could not get UTE or ATONE.

Satisfy = ATONE seemed off to me, so much so that I saw it and firmly rejected it until I came here and saw that it was the correct answer. Needless to say, DNF.

I was thinking it might be fun to go to the L.A. crossword tournament in May mentioned here several days ago, but after such a complete blow out as today, it feels silly to think I could do it. Tomorrow is another day...

Can't wait for Monday so I can feel smart again.

Doug 4:15 PM  

I bottled up my wine last night and tried to do Saturday in the middle of the inaugural bottle. Think that helped to keep me from screaming.

STILLS not SCHULZ kept the center open, so DNF for me. Just had a talk with an Irish friend about the Gaelic "e" e.g. my last name Brown becomes Browne. So was trying hard to find an Irish golfe word.

HATE to Google and was relieved to see the number of readers who had to resort to the net, and who also DNF!

Ulrich 4:15 PM  

Late to the show--just to mention how much I loved "Porte des lilas". Here's the great Georges Brassens singing the theme song.

JaxInL.A. 4:20 PM  

In answer to a couple of questions:

BETA versions of software are the test versions used to find problems (bugs) that the programmer wants to fix before full public release. Thus @R.McGeddon's 1:59 comment which made me snort my tea.

The word MEME comes from a 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, by a British scientist looking at how cultures transmit information (both genetic and conceptual). A MEME, If I have it right, is a concept common in a culture.

According to Wikipedia: "In its most basic form, an Internet meme is simply an idea that is propagated through the Web. This idea may take the form of a hyperlink, video, website, hashtag, or even just a word or phrase. This meme may spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, news sources, and other web-based services."

Lindsay 4:42 PM  

Worked on this intermittently from breakfast until now (dusk). Alan-a-dale went in without any crosses, but it was straight downhill thereafter. Never heard of Jose Jimenez. Never knew Schulz spelled his name wrong. Couldn't get "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" out of my head, and even after surmising Stephen King was likely to be the author of the correct answer, needed all the crosses for Cujo. Plus all the errors others have mentioned.

But finished at last. Long last.

mitchs 4:48 PM  

Sorry Rex et al for the fourth post, but it seems to me that SethG's comment is definitive on the SATIRIZED hub-bub. I pinkie swear I won't bring this up again.

Hobbyist 5:18 PM  

I finished and liked it and loved all of the hard scrabble letters.

Martin 5:24 PM  

mitchs,

Anon 1:53 had the definitive nail for the nit.

"He had satirized since his youth."
"He had 'written Swiftly' since his youth."

andrea kosciuscko michaels 5:26 PM  

Took me an hour to finish around midnight and my biggest frustration was there was no Rex to read/commiserate about it...and by morning it's harder to care :)

Loved all the Zs, Xs, Ks, Js
(No Q nor V pangram-dismissers will be happy to note) as they really helped me get a toehold.
Noted all the names and started off with CUJO, SCHULZ, ZAC and even a guess that the baseball pitcher might be a GonzalEZ or RamirEZ or some such.

(That's why I also tried BIzeT before LISZT, and Zee before SAX so it don't always work!)

Xs and Zs are usually the only reason I'm able to solve these when I don't know the exact names. Plug in a Z or a word with an X, et voila!

(The left side of the grid is strangely devoid of them, so
@MattG, add me to the list of non-lawyer grumblers that took great pause at putting in AMENDMENT I (Already don't like that number/letter thing, bec I is not really One is it? Oh wait, I guess Roman numeral-wise it is.

Actually messed up big time at word 1D by putting in M...Luckily
MUMBOJUMBO wouldn't fit or I would have been royally screwed)

My last letter was I in ION, but I thought there was a small possibility that the + sign could be W for WON. And since the Mt could have been KOSCwUSCKO for all I knew.

@fikink
Aw, wish I had known, I have two copies of "On Writing" ready to be lent, re=gifted, sold...as you can see, it never helped me!
(Oh wait, mine is "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, is that the one you are referring to?)

I still use a double TAPEDECK! (It was a parting gift when I lost on Jeopardy! in 1989...it was cutting edge then!) I actually dub cassettes bec I'm so last century!

My favorite answer was ZAC! Learned his name while watching "America's Next Top Model" and then he cropped up on "The Hills" 1am reruns (which I watch while I solve sometimes).
Cannot tell you how happy I am to have two of my biggest guilty pleasures accidentally pay off to solve a Saturday NY Times puzzle!!!

ArtLvr 5:28 PM  

So devastating, the massacre in Tuscon today... Several killed, including Federal Judge John M Roll, but the first one to be shot (from behind) was the Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survives surgery as of now. It's terribly ironic that she was given the FIRST AMENDMENT to read at the swearing in of the current Representatives just a few days ago, and was truly diligent in giving her constituents time and opportunity to express their opinions! She was much admired and I hope she'll recover... Heartbreaking news for all of us.

∑;(

Martin 5:38 PM  

An odd coda to today's tragedy: the alleged gunman posing with a giant crossword. There is enough material already available (some youtube postings, for example) that point to mental illness as the most likely trigger. It would be a small consolation, at least, if he were not a political fanatic.

Don Byas 5:59 PM  

Loved this puzzle. The MILO SHULZ IRE row went down without any crosses. 50% longer than my usual Saturday time. My goal of finishing all my NYT Saturday puzzles in less than an hour didn't last long!
I had a lot of this done in 45 minutes but I held on to too many wrong answers: SATIRIcal, code instead of BETA, and Coma for CUJO and JON, don, ron, lon confusion.

Two Ponies 6:06 PM  

@ Lindsay, I thought I was the only person who knew "The Beans of Egypt, Maine." I loved that book. Fortunately I also used to read a lot of King so when the clue says Maine I think of him first.

fikink 6:17 PM  

@Andrea "Swift" Michaels, thanks for thinking of me. Rex has been writing about Stephen King's book on FB, too.

To all, the best example of an Internet meme to my mind is Rickrolling. Hilarious!

Now off to find out about today's fresh hell. Sounds gruesome. @Artlvr, thanks for the head's up.

Moonchild 6:18 PM  

Crap, I could not get Woodstock the concert out of my head. Then I was thinking the scleral answer was something starting with an *O*
as in ocular. That center mess was my Waterloo. I also was never sure if it was Class A, Class 1, or Classy. With musical terms you just can't tell. Oh well, close but no Havana.

ArtLvr 6:31 PM  

p.s. I know, it's spelled Tucson. One of those spellings I can't keep straight!

∑;(

Dona Byas 6:39 PM  

oops.... SCHULZ
I realize this not the forum, but in response to the above
@Martin,
Whatever the gunman's mental state it's no consolation that FOX, BECK, RUSH etc. stoke the fears and paranoia of the ignorant while politicians call for "2nd Amendment remedies" and question Obama's legitimacy and citizenship. Mental illness always exists but the trigger is more likely the prevalence of ridiculously powerful firearms and the mainstreaming of apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric.

michael 6:41 PM  

extremely hard, finished only with the help of google. I'm a big baseball fan, but didn't know jose jimenez, 1902 Kentucky Derby winner? I eventually more or less got the Australian mountain, but couldn't spell it.

Obscurity is one thing -- after all, what's obscure to some is easy for others. But I have to object to tape deck... Makes me want to go to the nearest Radio Shack and see if they're still for sale.

Martin 7:01 PM  

michael,

You have to go to RadioShack.com. (The clue didn't say anything about stores.)

Sparky Schulz 7:26 PM  

Jeepers, people. There is nothing wrong with the way I spell my name. It's German: needs a C in the middle of S-H, but T before Z would be superfluous. Ask Ulrich - he'll tell you.

Sparky 9:07 PM  

@Ulrich. Thanks for the song.

PurpleGuy 11:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RumPudge 12:58 AM  

Surprised to find both UTE and MEME in a dictionary during my post-puzzle scrub. JaxInL.A.'s explanation of meme was spot on (it s/l "meem" apparently - I was thinking it'd sound like the French word for "same") and UTE is slang for "utility vehicle". I'm not clued into add-ons like "briefly" yet, so was thinking UCK, a fragment of "truck". Just one of a zillion wrong turns!

Mark B 1:17 AM  

Does anyone know why a "Suffix with railway" is ANA? Or did I get that wrong?

Anonymous 4:43 AM  

@markB'go to comments at 10:40am and 12:56pm, or google railwayana

Late to the Party 12:22 AM  

Got frustrated with 1999 no-hitter. Googled. Check ESPN's list of no-hitters:
http://espn.go.com/mlb/history/nohitters

This is the world wide leader in sports. No love for Jose Jimenez... unless you click on the year 1999... which I didn't notice you could do. Ended up googling for *minor* league pitchers and got more frustrated.

Loved SCHULZ and XENIAOHIO. Fwiw, I lived a few miles from Xenia on that infamous day in 1973. I was only 5 and still remember vividly the scary skies that day.

KOSCIUSZKO never gets any love... not by alpinists seeking the 7 summits, nor by cruxiverbalists. But I loved it. :-)

Jainesy 11:36 PM  

Mind-numbingly difficult. Just got done, on an airplane home, and it's Tuesday for cripesakes. But I am pleased to say got it 100% organic - no look ups.

Jose Jimenez? Who cares. Pitching a no-hitter and doing nothing else does not qualify for a puzzle entry. I'm a gigantic baseball fan and I never heard of this guy. In general agree w ACME et al - too many names.

Jainesy 12:39 PM  

Well, now my 80-year old mom, who is blind and on dialysis, tells me she did this puzzle in less than an hour. Go figure.

Waxy in Montreal 3:46 PM  

Even on a Saturday, if you clue a pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1999, the answer should really be DAVID CONE whose no-no was a perfect game and is someone well-known to baseball fans. Moreover, Cone's feat - for the Yankees against my Expos - was all the more remarkable because Don Larsen of 1956 World Series perfect game fame had thrown out the first pitch that day at Yankee Stadium. And if your answer is JOSÉJIMINEZ, then surely the clue should reference the great Bill Dana, not some obscure pitcher who happened to throw a no-hitter no one recalls. (End of rant.)

Marc 5:44 PM  

Yes, this one was really tough. I got CUJO right away, LIRA, and NAM. After that I got nowhere for a long time and DNF.

I like the basic idea of SATIRIZED as "swiftly written?" although I agree with the previous poster who thought it should have been SATIRICAL. Of course I had SCRIBBLED and SCRAWLED before finally getting the idea.

I also liked the Woodstock artist clue. Very sneaky.

I like a hard puzzle, but I have to say that this one was so full of obscure knowledge that I didn't really have a fighting chance. If you don't know it, you don't know it, and if the cross is another trivia answer, you have no recourse but to Google it or give up.

Ideally you should not be able to Google your way out of a good puzzle; it should be based as much as possible on word meanings rather than bits of trivia. However, that's part of how puzzles are built these days.

Gambolin' Man 6:07 PM  

I'm with ya all the way on this one, Rex. . .this puzzle had some pretty obscure stuff, and obfuscating cluing! But, really, crazy talk was easy once you realized (and it's more obvious than you would suspect)it was zillions instead of illions with a b or an m . . .same easy quotient solving with Xenia owing to the X placement of an early century numeral. Them there's some crossed words, indeed.

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

Oh, the worst for me forever.

JZ 2:32 AM  

I'm another SATIRICAL victim here, which rather flummoxed me in the SE.

As for Jose Jimenez -- his 1999 no-hitter came as a rookie (I believe) against the great Randy Johnson. He had something of a serviceable career after that (eventually becoming a closer) but nothing like that game. I wouldn't say he's any more or less relevant than JJ Putz, who was an across answer in the NE a few years back.

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