Champion cyclist Leipheimer / SAT 4-9-11 / Japanese folk music swing feel / Singer/songwriter Vienna / 1979 negotiation / Pied wader / TV angel Munroe

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ONDO (64A: Japanese folk music with a swing feel) —

is a type of Japanese folk music genre. (wikipedia—rest of the write-up is terribly written, with no cited sources, and I can't find anything useful elsewhere on the internet. Most ONDO defs. give it as a place name in Nigeria... there appear to be two main types of ONDO, Goshu and Kawachi; do (non-Japanese) people really know this???)
• • •

I've had better times solving puzzles. This one felt very uneven—super-easy everywhere but the SW, which felt normal, and NE, which was nearly impossible for me. So many strange names I'd just never heard of. EDNA BEST is the one that killed me (26A: "The Man Who Knew Too Much" co-star); I stupidly had ALDERS instead of ALDENS at 10D: "The Courtship of Miles Standish" couple, and so figured I was dealing with ED somebody (not knowing anyone in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" besides Jimmy Stewart ... turns out EDNA BEST was in the earlier, 1934 version, with Peter Lorre ... ??? ... not the '56 Jimmy Stewart remake). ED RABEST? Yeesh. Some cyclist named LEVI? (18A: Champion cyclist Leipheimer) Somebody else named TENG? (40A: Singer/songwriter Vienna ___) And what's up with the clue for WORK? (11A: A bummer for bums) I see now which meaning of "bum" they were going for, but the clue really reads as if I'm supposed to see tramps or vagrants as people who are poor simply because they don't like to WORK. Anyway, that corner was awful. Much of the rest of the puzzle was lovely, though loopy stuff like ONDO and STANE (53D: ___ Street (road from London Bridge to Chichester)) and BONITO (1D: Mackerel family member) I could really have done without. Really unfortunate to have pretty stuff like MRS. ROBINSON (23D: "Here's to you" recipient) and WOLF BLITZER and NO MAN'S LAND (17A: Unclaimed stretch) offset by junky little names and obscurities.

Went BROTHS to THUMP to PEU and was off to the races. Slowed down somewhat by Yet Another actor's name—though luckily this was the most common actor in all of crossworld, so once I picked up enough crosses, he went down. Didn't know that meaning of SCAR (35A: Protruding rock). ONDO schmondo. But I got out of there and over to the SE, which went down like a Wednesday (STANE notwithstaneding). Then there was just the NE, where I spent well over half my solving time. Tried something-PULITZER (?) before realizing "Emmy" meant TV, and finally mentally rolodexing my way to WOLF BLITZER. Had OATH for 16A: Shakespeare's "temple-haunting martlet" is a good one (OMEN). Had OOH for AAH (27D: "That's nice"). If I hadn't serendipitously come up with SALT II (30A: 1979 negotiation), with just the S and L in place, I don't now what I would have done. Wish I'd remembered Madame Defarge, but I just drew a huge blank (decades since I read "A Tale of Two Cities") (14D: Madame Defarge's sinister craft=>KNITTING).

[5D: When "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" aired: Abbr. => MON.]

  • 1A: Network since 1998 (BBC AMERICA) — looks pretty good in the grid. Easy to get once the second B and C were in there.
  • 28A: Seattle sea hawks (OSPREYS) — clever, but not at all tricky.
  • 38A: "War With the Newts" novelist, 1936 (CAPEK) — he of "R.U.R." fame.
  • 58A: "___ Boys" (1886 sequel) ("JO'S") — nice fat gimme. Strangely, I wanted JOS. PULITZER where WOLF BLITZER ended up going.
  • 48D: Highball with white rum (MOJITO) — popular drink. Never heard the word "highball" anywhere around it, but since a "highball" is just a drink with alcohol and a larger portion of non-alcoholic mixer, the label fits.
  • 57D: Supermodel Benitez (ELSA) — nooo idea.
  • 49D: Pied wader (AVOCET) — an important crossword bird.
  • 52D: Apache topper (ROTOR) — the helicopter, not the native American.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:27 AM  

So, if Henry Clay & Cassius Clay can both clue ORATORICAL as one possible class of feat of which they're capable, did Henry have a mean left jab also?

theodolite 12:32 AM  

Gave up on the NE and googled for LEVI and EDNA BEST. Aside from that, not too bad--I think I was even having fun somewhere around MOJITO and GREAT SCOTT.

I've been using the "Crosswords" app (it's just called Crosswords) on iPhone for the last couple weeks, and I'm finally beginning to get the hang of it. The time leaderboard at the end is a nice ego boost, since it's significantly more forgiving than the one on the NYTimes site.

Clark 12:38 AM  

No way I was ever going to get CAPEK/APU. Could not imagine a pre-Simpsons APU.

I love the idea that there is an important crossword bird. A handsome bird it is too: American AVOCET.

syndy 12:41 AM  

STOPPED DEAD in the southwest! just sailed through the rest with no trouble but had Quinevere and Blanchet for 36 and 37 down. I had MRS for a really long time and the penny jammed up but good. I had to kick it a few times before cookoo catchew came into view -so all I can say is GREAT SCOTT!! but my final time was good for a saturday.and I must admit without yesterday I would not have come up with caroline in a zillion years!

Andrew 12:59 AM  

Inferred OMEN and knew LEVI on my first pass through, which combined with TaNG got me WOLFBLITZER right off the bat. OMELETTE fixed my vowel confusion, and the rest of the NE corner fell quickly. Took me a while to work around to the SW, where pecS had me hung up for a while. Lots of good stuff in here, though; GREATSCOTT had me hearkening back to, well, Back to the Future

I skip M-W 1:33 AM  

Funny that NE was easiest for me, but Mme. Defarge is to me such a prevalent part of common wisdom, even though I only got around to reading the book (which I disliked) recently. The image of knitting the names of those to be executed is very strong. Knew Levi off the bat also, perhaps because in CA. Tired Rolf somebody, thought at once of omelette as having ham, and soon had Blitzer. Never noticed clue for Teng (who???) or that "work" was bummer for bums, but there are people who would rather not work.

In SW, breakthrough was Camelot girl, which had to be Caroline. Don't know a highball from a cordial, but had heard of mojito. I think of Great Scot as being spelled with only one terminal t on each word, but why not two at end?

Worked around to mostly blank NW and SE last. but very fast for me, as Thu and Fri were also.

sliver 1:56 AM  

CapeK/Kris, phooey. Otherwise, not too bad...

chefwen 2:12 AM  

@Clark - That AVOCET is indeed a very handsome bird, don't think I have ever seen one.

The puzzle was not the Google free, walk in the park that we had yesterday, but I liked it, mainly because I almost, kinda, sorta, nearly, finished but the northwest had me stymied and I did end up with some white showing.

Didn't help that my first fill was Dicaprio at 37D and crag at 35A, stomps at 22A. Fixing that lot up took a bunch 'o time.

Favorite clue/answer was MRS ROBINSON. Cute!

blockhead 2:32 AM  

Two cases of mistaken actors: DORISDAY for EDNABEST and LEONARDO for ALANALDA (which would not have happened if I'd remembered SEAN Connery was 007.)

davko 2:38 AM  

I was surprised how fast I sailed through it, given how many obscure words were sprinkled throughout the grid. Somehow, the deep recesses of auditory memory -- for which names like Edna Best and quaffs like a mojito had a vaguely familiar ring -- got me through it with nary a mistake. My closest brush with failure came when I overconfidently wrote START I instead of SALT II (30A), nearly shutting me down in the NE. But like Reid and Boehner before me, I came to my senses and got the job done before midnight.

andrea capek monitors 3:37 AM  

@Rex, @davko
May I vicariously enjoy your malapops of JOS Pulitzer/JOS Boys and START1/NONSTARTER as I didn't have any this go round?

I was SO pleased to finish this, sans googling, as it was one of those puzzles that I didn't know what the heck was going on half the time (ELSA, LEVI, CAROLINE, EDNABEST, TENG, ONDO, where Mme Defarge was from, tho it rang a dim bell, yet inch by inch made my way thru!
:) :) :)

It's amazing how many ways there are to be badly beaten (by MPS?)
wHUMPS, stUMPS, stoMPS, staMPS, trUMPS, troMPS, I tried 'em all!

The QUARTZ in the middle helped me change Yao MING to SHAQ...
Lovely Scrabbly-ness (just an X short of a pangram!) helped helped helped.

I'm sure there is some sort of metaphor here, finally trading in pecS/Dicaprio for OILS/ALANALDA.

Clearly the foodies here will love the Matzo ball BROTHS, ham OMELETTE, (with a little SALT too?) ITALIANICE and the MOJITO.

Speaking of highballs... being a cougar (in training) I will imagine the fabulous MRS ROBINSON with one in hand seducing Benjamin.

AAH, muy BONITO..."Here's to you"

jae 3:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 4:03 AM  

Lots to like here. It had me at MRSROBINSON and GREATSCOTT and BBCAMERICA were icing on the cake. And yes to STOMPS and PECS at first. Knowing CAPEK from RUR helped sort out the middle. Excellent Sat.!

jae 4:13 AM  

Oh, and medium works for me, but Rex is right about NE being tough. I mean TENG??? ?.....That said, there was a guy named TANG on Colbert a couple of nights ago.

Gil.I.Pollas 5:03 AM  

Well, I needed some help. So many names I never heard of. Who is Edna Best?
Learned the source of coffee although I thought it came from Indonesia. Loved MOJITO - it could have been clued as a Cuban tourist's favorite drink.
Don't understand 62D AAS?
Also don't quite get ORATORICAL for 15A

The Bard 7:15 AM  

Macbeth:Act I, scene VI

DUNCAN: This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.

BANQUO: This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate.

Henry Clay 8:40 AM  

@ Gil.I.Pollas - I was famed as an orator, back in the day.

Glimmerglass 8:51 AM  

Good Saturday puzzle -- hard but fair. I'm mad at myself that I couldn't spell MOJITO and didn't think of JO'S Boys (LMA sequel). One quibble: an osprey is not properly speaking a hawk, though that's probably what the Seattle footballers had in mind. The only sea hawk is a skua -- a nasty little thief that vomits when threatened. Not a great mascot.

GLR 9:00 AM  

This one put up quite a fight, but managed to avoid the first DNF of the week. In the end, I liked all of the longer answers (except EDNA BEST). Agree with @Rex - a little heavy on the obscure names.

Like @Gil.I.Pollas, I don't understand AAS at 62D.

mitchs 9:15 AM  

@GLR: AA batteries are often used in remotes for electronics.

imsdave 9:16 AM  

@Gil and GLR - many tv remotes use AA cell batteries.

Odd day when I blow the NYT and crush the Stumper. Not being up on my Bengali cinema from the fifties, and not knowing KRIS or CAPEK in this context, I ended up with CANEI as the author.

I guess I should brush up on the novels of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay.

jackj 9:26 AM  

QUARTZ sat with a big grin at this crossword's apogee while EDNABEST, TENG, ONDO and STANE, struggled over which one was "worst in show" at its nadir.

It was fun to learn that APU has a more distinguished presence than just hanging with Homer and that Karel CAPEK has given us more than the ubiquitous R.U.R.

With lots of sparkling fill, Scott Atkinson, (GREATSCOTT), has given us an enjoyable, pleasantly challenging themeless. Thanks.

GLR 9:35 AM  

@imsdave - Ah, that kind of "remote." Thanks!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:42 AM  

Agreed, medium Saturday, for me under an hour, on paper with breakfast.

Finished with no write-overs, after a very slow start. Couple of things I considered but didn't put in: For 43 A, VISION, which would have made 19 A, ARY; and 52 D, Apache topper, BERET, as a hat for an Apache dancer. Lots of possibilities when you are staring at an empty grid!

Word I should have known but didn't, SCAR as a Protruding rock. Word I didn't know, and why should I, ONDO.

joho 10:32 AM  

AHH, I loved seeing JO'S MOJITO!

I got it all but the middle. Should've but could not get CAPEK/KRIS. Even when I tried the "K" in KRIS I didn't see the "P" in CAPEK, which is really stupid because "RUR" is common crosswordese. Darn!

David L 10:39 AM  

Like Anon at the top, I thought of Cassius Clay and got ORATORICAL anyway. The Louisville Lip, you know. But that quadrant was the last to fall. Medium-hard overall for me.

As no one else seems to have asked, I will: why QUARTZ for what a crystal ball gazer sees? Your average 'crystal ball' is just a plain glass globe, unless you all are frequenting more upscale soothsayers and prophetesses than the kind I visit.

quilter1 10:39 AM  

I agree with the medium rating. I really liked MRS ROBINSON clue, as well as QUARTZ clue. Finishing off in the SE I had _T_L_ _NICE and wanted stoli on ice. Wah. But enjoyed this one very much.

Yesterday welcomed our third grandchild, Katherine Louise. Looking forward to skype today.

Gil.I.Pollas 10:45 AM  

@Henry Clay and @imsdave
Thank you. I don't know why I attempt Saturday's at 2:00 a.m.
I think I'll go make an omelette.

Mel Ott 10:55 AM  

Finished H Clay's biography about a month ago, so 15A came quickly with just a couple of crosses.

From my observations OSPREYS are also Connecticut, Long Island, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Block Island sea hawks. I don't particularly associate them with Seattle, but I have no problem with the clue.

Masked and Anonymous Can ID 11:54 AM  

Had to do extensive "research" to conquer this "newt war" puz. Hats off to 31 for getting the whole thing, au naturel.

Also, hats off to 31 for including the Classics Illustrated comic. Haven't seen one of those in many moons. Could never trade a Classics Illustrated for anything. Not even a Little Lotta (or whatever it was).

r.alphbunker 12:10 PM  


False friends:
8D clAim-->ICARE
18A otto-->LEVI
21A busy-->FLIT
48D Maitai-->MOJITO
37D dicapriA-->ALANALDA
6D EvS-->ERS

 1 ***
 2 ***
 3 ******
 4 **
 5 *************
 6 ******
 7 ******
 8 **************
 9 ***********
10 ******

Anoa Bob 12:27 PM  

I thought OSPREYS were eagles. Lived in Japan for two years and never heard of ONDO.

This puzzle roughed me up pretty good; DNF in the NE. Still an enjoyable outing . GREAT job SCOTT.

Masked and Anonymous II 12:44 PM  

BTW dept: Wasn't there another Bond guy between Sean and Roger?!? Wanna say George, but not bettin' the house on it. I guess the 66-A cluer can claim "predecessor" ain't the same as "immediate predecessor", anyhow. But, sheesh!

Just grumpy 'cuz DNF, I guess. Finishing on a sunny note, really liked QUARTZ and MRSROBINSON.

Sparky 12:46 PM  

Had Doris Day. Knew JOS Boys. Had PEU, SUNHAT, SHAQ, which gave me QUARTZ and ITE. Then MOJITO, SEAN, CAROLINE, MONITORS and ARABIC. As for the rest, Sparky BLITZERed. Right out of the pool. Have a good weekend.

George Lazenby 12:52 PM  

@M & U II - I played James Bond once after the initial string of Sean Connery films, but Sean got in one more after me, before Roger Moore's turn.

archaeoprof 1:08 PM  

Unlike most of us, the NW gave me the most trouble. But eventually it fell.

ARABIC coffee with cardemon is very good.

Tall, dark, handsome stranger 1:13 PM  


Once I left the fortune teller's tent, I went over to the gift shop where I gazed at a crystal ball made of quartz.


Gil.I.Pollas 1:21 PM  

By the way, for you MOJITO lovers, Hemingway popularized the drink.
It was his favorite and as the story goes, when he lived in Havana he spent a lot of time at "La Bodeguita del Medio" (The little shop in the middle) - probably picking mint leaves from his teeth.

syndy 1:21 PM  

@DAVIDL yes you are shopping at the wrong crystal ball shops!okay did anyboby not think ALI for just a sec?

Rex Parker 2:15 PM  

And here I thought the "Clay" in question was Cassius...


jberg 2:56 PM  

Hand up for TROMP and STARTI, took me quite a while to fix the first one; got most of the names from crosses, though I knew Capek pretty well as a former sf-fan.

I remember, 50 years ago, reading the memoirs of some kid who took to the road and was told that a hobo was someone who traveled around looking for work, while a bum didn't want to work and lived by mooching. Don't know how general that understanding is, but it helped me get 11A.

Henry Clay never occurred to me (I think of him as the Great Compromiser, but suppose he could give a speech when called on), but oratorical made sense anyway. Cassius/Mohammed Ali was named for the civil war general, who may have been related to Henry, I suppose.

@chefwen, crossword birding is lots of fun -be on the lookout for the RHEA and the EMU. I'm surprised we don't see more of the BEEEATER, with all those vowels!

Nancy in PA 3:22 PM  

I was so happy to see KNITTING in the puzzle I announced it to the family at large. Also felt proud that I got ITALIANICE with only the three I's in place. NONSTARTER, for some odd reason, was the last to fall. On the harder side for me, but no Googles.

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 4:05 PM  

George! Honored to hear from you. Really liked you in "Gettysburg". Thanks for clearing up my Bond succession query. Looks like that 66-A cluer knew exactly what he was doin'. And I didn't; no news flash, there.

Har to the "M & U" reference, II. No U-need-to-know stuff today, tho. Count really needs to get out of the 2-to-5 range, to bother with it.

jim in Chicago 4:21 PM  

I really hoped the answer to "really lousey idea " would be FLEA CIRCUS

Two Ponies 4:48 PM  

I never was able to crack the SW.
I had the A and M in place for 35D and wanted Foam Bras. Wrong kind of body.
I do not recall that Caroline.
I never saw the Aviator.
Ondo, uh uh.
Scar a rock projection?
Mrs. Robinson was cleverly clued. Thanks Simon and Garfunkel.
My Clay feats were pugalistic for a bit.
Bum/work reminded me of an Andy Griffith Show episode where a hobo with a bum leg is befriended by Opie. His bad leg is suddenly healed as he ran out of town upon Andy's offer of a job.

chefwen 5:10 PM  

@Two Ponies - Caroline Kennedy "The Camelot Years"

JenCT 7:16 PM  

DNF for me.

Never drank a MOJITO, but my favorite nail polish is "Paint My Mojitos Red."

On to Sunday.

katzen 7:47 PM  

Oh chefwen - thanks for the Caroline in Camelot! There I was thinking I'd missed some key lady-in-waiting...

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

Need help on 29A. How does one view Erie from this location that is on Lake Huron? Erie something else?

Diogenes 8:42 PM  

@Anonymous, 7:54 PM - Strangely difficult to get a simple list from Google, but it appears that at the least there is a "Presque Isle" in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, and Pennsylvania, the last being the one from which one can see Lake Erie.

Diogenes 8:49 PM  

Also, 24779 Presque Isle (1993 OD2) is a main-belt asteroid discovered on July 23, 1993 by C. S. Shoemaker and D. H. Levy at Palomar.

So I guess if you had a good telescope . . .

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

Thanks, Diogenes. For awhile i thought that Sara Palin perhaps had constructed that clue.

andrea camelot michaels 10:03 PM  

@chefwen, @Katzen
Ohmygod, me too...didn't get that it was CAROLINE Kennedy!!!!!!!
"Camelot" is one of my favorite musicals...and I too thought it was a lady-in-waiting that I didn't know/had forgotten!

The Southdale mall in Minneapolis had a parking lot that had animal signs instead of A, B, C...there was a Tiger lot, a Bear lot...and, of course, a Camel lot!

sanfranman59 10:08 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 6:03, 6:54, 0.88, 8%, Easy
Tue 10:46, 8:57, 1.20, 91%, Challenging
Wed 10:10, 11:44, 0.87, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:51, 19:05, 0.88, 31%, Easy-Medium
Fri 17:08, 26:18, 0.65, 2%, Easy (2nd fastest Friday median solve time)
Sat 28:38, 30:36, 0.94, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:33, 4:36, 1.21, 95%, Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:46, 0.86, 18%, Easy
Thu 8:28, 9:12, 0.92, 44%, Medium
Fri 8:23, 12:57, 0.65, 3%, Easy (2nd fastest Friday median solve time)
Sat 17:25, 17:26, 1.00, 55%, Medium

nebraska doug 11:03 PM  

After two DNFs last Friday and Saturday, it felt great to get both of them this weekend. I'm a huge Hitchcock/old movie fan and I've never heard of Enda Best.

Stan 11:36 PM  

DNF but had fun along the way.

I knew that Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" was a remake of his own earlier film, but Edna Best could have been any 8-letter name. Doris Day is a very smart wrong answer.

I also did not get (until very late in the comments) that Caroline was not a character in Arthurian romance. Maybe a minor character because she was sent away to boarding school? Nice carry-over from yesterday.

Big fan of "Being Human" on BBC America, which is *not* the version remade for the Syfy network. 'Syfy' IMO is one of the worst renaming jobs ever and should be rerenamed ASAP. Maybe Andrea's company could help.

The Greatest 11:49 PM  

@Mr. Parker - As I said before,

"Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name - it means beloved of God - and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me."

So, I'm thinking it was a reference to Henry Clay. Anyone disagree?

Muhammad Ali

brandsinger 11:16 AM  

Nah - couldn't do it.
I had "rope-a-dopes" for Clay's feats, "mugshots" for security array, "Reynolds" for the "Man who knew too much," "flirt" for drop a line, "wilderness" for no man's land, "sweeps" for beats badly... ha ha - not on the same page this time... not even on the same bookshelf.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

I was having a pretty off day and this puzzle stumped me (or rather THUMPed me). The first fill-in? Teng. Love her music and was delighted to meet her on the Cayamo Cruise a couple of years ago. Glad to see she made the NYT crossword puzzle. ;-)

harryle 3:43 PM  

Okay, now how does a TKT get get you in the house?

Deb @ 5:47 PM  

One of my worst Saturdays EVER (and they're usually pretty tough for me). I really disliked this one.

@harryle - "House" in the sense of a theater, as in "he really brought down the house." (That one thumped me, too.)

Waxy in Montreal 5:49 PM  

From syndicity-

@harryle, TKT=Ticket which should get you in.

Really enjoyed this puzzle. The image of Madame Defarge knitting as the guillotine did its bloody work scared the bejeebers out of me as a kid so a fast start there. Only nonstarter was assuming Frank CAPRA had a career in the 1930's as a novelist before moving on to directing which in turn provided TRAL for the turquoise relative and ARIS for the TV "angel" Munroe. Hey - could have been!!

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