Noted elephant designer / SAT 4-30-11 / Summer of Love prelude / "Grace Before Meat" pen name / Chef Ducasse / Toward der Orient

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Constructor: Frederick J. Healy

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: None — It's Saturday, duh.

Word of the Day: EM'LY (66A: Mr. Peggotty's "little" niece) —

Emily (Little Em'ly) – A niece of Mr. Peggotty. She is a childhood friend of David Copperfield, who loves her in his childhood days. She leaves her cousin and fiancé, Ham, for Steerforth, but returns after Steerforth deserts her. She emigrates to Australia with Mr. Peggotty after being rescued from a London brothel. (Wikipedia)
• • •

Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here, filling in for Mr. Parker while he's off gallivanting around California. And honestly, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. We just moved into a new house last weekend and I'm living out of boxes. I mean, basically scrounging for clothes every morning. It's pathetic. Still trying to take care of a few last-minute things at the old place (anyone need a huge blue filing cabinet that has to be hauled up a flight of stairs to get out of the house?) and haven't really been sleeping well because, ya know, it's just weird being someplace different. But Rex asked me to fill in and what am I going to say? No? Wait, what? I could have said no? Oh man. Sure wish I had thought of that.

As you might know, my biggest fear when I sub for Rex late in the week is that I won't be able to finish the puzzle. I've gotten a lot better at puzzles since I started solving obsessively diligently a couple years ago, but it's definitely not a given that I can finish a Saturday New York Times puzzle. I'm finishing them a lot more often than I used to, but I'm not at 100% yet, that's for sure. Fortunately, I managed to crank this one out and didn't have all that much heartburn along the way.

The biggest trouble spot for me was in the South Texas area where it was hard for me to let go of HAVE IT DOWN where HAVE IT MADE was supposed to go. And wasn't there a presidential dog named Checkers? So you can see where that D was a problem for me. Add to that the vaguely clued crossing answers at 56D and 62A (ODDS and ENDS), and I thought I was gonna be toast. It all fell together eventually though so here I am with my head held high feeling like maybe I do know a little bit about this here puzzle business.

Oh wait! Before we get to the puzzle! Did you all see the Royal Wedding yesterday?! Yeah, me neither. Here we go ….

  • 14A: Hazzard County deputy (ENOS). First answer in the grid. No crosses. Not sure if I should really be bragging about that.
  • 17A: A cowboy may have a big one (BELT BUCKLE). Heh.
  • 24A: "True, alas" ("AFRAID SO"). I'm going to start saying "True, alas" from now on.
  • 48A: Western master (ZANE GREY). I can never remember if he spells his last name with an E or an A. Is it true that one way of spelling GRAY/GREY is a British spelling and the other is American? Even if that's true, is there any possible way I'll be able to remember which is which? (Answer: no.)
  • 50A: Inn's end (DANUBE). So the Inn is a river — a tributary to the Danube. Who knew?
  • 55A: Poor (NOT SO HOT). I like to see this kind of colloquial phrase in my puzzles.
  • 65A: Noted elephant designer (NAST). Please tell me you were as confused as I was about this one. I'm all, "Elephant designer? What could that even mean?"
  • 9D: Wrangler (BUCKAROO).
  • 11D: Dragon puppet (OLLIE). It's been a long time since I've thought about Kukla, Fran and Ollie. And I'm not sure I ever knew OLLIE was a dragon.
  • 18D: "Desperate Housewives" role (BREE). I've never watched "Desperate Housewives" but I did know the show has (had?) a character named BREE. Of course, when I first entered it into the grid I spelled it BRIE and it didn't even occur to me that I was assuming she had been named after cheese.
  • 25D: Brit's "guv" (DAD). I did not know this. I thought Brit's "guv" was … "guv."
  • 31D: "Grace Before Meat" pen name (ELIA). One indication that it's the end of the week? The clues for crosswordese is ratcheted up a notch.
  • 38D: Singer Barry (LEN). I didn't think I knew this guy, but I do recognize this song.

See you back here tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter]


syndy 12:09 AM  

EASY!! kicked my butt allover the place!! so much I didn't know-so little to work with, If i had done this on dead trees I would have been in rags-that said fun puzzle but are you allowed to cross beltbuckle with buckaroo??Odds and ends was just plain mean!UMM isn't 61 across LIEUT?

jae 12:16 AM  

I also had this at easy-medium with a tad more Med. than easy. Definitely tougher than anything we've had over the last couple of weeks as evidenced by several missteps, e.g. AERIE for LEDGE, and FORGETIT for IDOUBTIT. Pretty solid Sat. with some nice stuff...MELODRAMA, BUCKAROO..NOTSOHOT.

@PG -- you have a typo in your grid at 61 across.

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Didn't like.

ONE I is maybe the worst partial I've ever seen. Maybe it's part of a quote, but it looks pretty ugly in a grid.

Not a fan of QUILL as clued, not a fan of LIKED as clued, not a fan of ROOD at all. Too many question mark clues in the top half.

I don't understand MEN or NAST, either.

truenorth 1:05 AM  

Even Will nods! There's a major error in today's puzzle: Alan Cumming is NOT a "sir." He received an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List, but not a knighthood.

Clark 1:50 AM  

I thought of Innsbruck when I saw "Inn's end", but I already had ___UBE. So I went with INN-ERTUBE. Which caused me no end of trouble down in the SW. I even know where the Inn goes, having spent some time in the Engadine where the Inn (En) makes its start.

Not my day.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

Said to my husband "it's going to be rated easy, bec. I finished" Yeah me! Did it in a reasonable amount of time which doesn't happen too often on a Saturday. One or two Googles for proper names but that was all. Last fill was MEN (which I still don't get) and NAST (which I do.)

jae 2:27 AM  

Re: MEN -- Checkers are playing pieces which can be refered to as MEN....e.g. chessMEN...

Hope this helps

Adam 3:08 AM  

Thanks @jae. Brain wasn't going there! It makes sense now.

chefwen 3:10 AM  

Why does Google want to call me Adam, I am confused.

Don Byas 4:08 AM  

mnemonic for "e" in Zane Grey – wEstErn :: zanE grEy

NW and SE put up a fight. Things looked pretty bleak at first, but it was a satisfying medium-tough puzzle.

Hope I see USEE no more. BEST and LIKED didn't need to be clued together. "Best liked" feels clumsy. Try saying it 10x's fast.

Loved [Save] ASIDE FROM; Read with intelligence [SPY STORY];[Soap ingredient?] MELODRAMA. Anyone else try AERIE instead of LEDGE?

andrea carla melodrama 4:09 AM  

I used to think my thoughts = Rex, but today they equaled PG!
(Except the ENOS thing, almost every thought she had was my experience exactly!!!!)

Had to solve on line bec there is no printer here at my friend Amy's little guesthouse. Freaky.
(solving on line, not not having a printer.)

I'm here for the tourney tomorrow and also my grandmother's 99th bday, tho she doesn't know that.
she doesn't know that it's her 99th, not she doesn't know I'm here.

OK, I'm making no sense tonight.
But I did enjoy the puzzle, tho it took me over an hour, while I watched the recap of the wedding... I cheated in that I watched what "Washington Week in Review" thought of it and Dave's "Top Ten" about it.

When one solves on line, you really do forget your writeovers... like I had RANCHERO before BUCKAROO but you'd never know to look at the grid!

Like PG I had HAVEITdown/dog so that was the last mess to be straightened out. Then Mr. Happy Pencil appeared completely unexpectedly!
Normally I just stop, cry "Tada!" to no one in particular and find out my one square error the next day courtesy of this blog.
I think I keep writing "courtesy" bec i keep seeing folks "curtsy" to the Queen. Those words must be related...anyone?

Nice little SW literary corner with ZANEGREY, DIMENOVEL and SPYSTORY.
Didn't OVERWHELM, but was definitely a GOODIE!

Also MELODRAMA needs another L to me or a W or something. I guess MELLOWDRAMA would be one shot in Southern California?

I skip M-W 5:16 AM  

I finished with happy pencil, but along the way made same mistakes as PG, but had no idea about Enos until I got it from crosses. fooled by "Chopping center?" to have pees for awhile, dojo came from crosses.
My first firm answer was Alice's, went in and out on rood, NRA (AFT made more sense)
didn't think Inn was river until Danube had almost emerged, but I'm pretty sure I've seen the Inn
never read or saw David Copperfield.
Wanted have it be down and dog, not made and men but did suspect weird elephant designer had to be Nast, though since I collect elephants (not real ones), kept trying to think of name of British guy who has done lots of them. I don't think Nast (the 19th c. cartoonist) designed elephants; he just drew them to represent Republicans — a slur on elephants, really.

All in all a pretty good puzzle

Yes, Yes, Yvette 5:51 AM  

"Not so hot?"
"Afraid so."
"So be it."
"But it's a pangram!"
"Well, Zane Grey crossing DIMENOVEL is rather nice."
"We were so naive!"
"But it defiinitely wasn't easy."
"No, but Puzzlegirl is sort of a genius, doncha know."
"I doubt it,"

I skip M-W 6:03 AM  

@Yes, yes, Yvette, Is it a pangram?
I doubt it, because I can't find the x

The Bard 6:56 AM  

The Winter's Tale > Act V, scene I

PAULINA: O Hermione,
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what's seen now! Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so, but your writing now
Is colder than that theme, 'She had not been,
Nor was not to be equall'd;'--thus your verse
Flow'd with her beauty once: 'tis shrewdly ebb'd,
To say you have seen a better.

Gentleman: Pardon, madam:
The one I have almost forgot,--your pardon,--
The other, when she has obtain'd your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else, make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.

PAULINA: How! not women?

Gentleman: Women will love her, that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.

johnranta 7:04 AM  

Hated this one. Especially "steamroller" a noun, being the clue for "overwhelm", a verb. The proper clue, in my mind, should be "steamroll".

And I still don't like Nast being the elephant designer. I understand that he came up with the GOP elephant. But the use of designer is not so much clever as it is misleading.

I love it when I get to the end of a tough puzzle and feel grudging appreciation for clever clues. In this case, I was exasperated with a couple of clues that seemed wrong. Oh well...

Oscar 7:22 AM  

Thought the left side was easy but the right was a royal biatch. Had BULLDOZER for [Steamroller] and even justified it by putting OZZY where DEVO should be. D'oh!

As for the clue being the right part of speech, let's check the dictionary, shall we?
also steam·roll (-rl) KEY steam·roll·ered, also steam·rolled steam·roll·er·ing, steam·roll·ing steam·roll·ers, steam·rolls
VERB: tr.
1. To smooth or level (a road) with a steamroller.
2. To overwhelm or suppress ruthlessly; crush.

News to me, too. Live and learn.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I'm didn't care at all for "Steamrolled" for OVERWHELM. "Steamroll" would have been perfectly fine. But - you can always count on the dictionary to find usages that people don't use, e.g., "to steamroller the competition". Unnecessarily archaic I thought.

I thought, also, that this was a decent crossword wrecked by second-rate clues chosen simply to make it harder.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Thomas Nast was a 19th century cartoonist; he came up with elephant and donkey for Republicans and Democrats

Brian 9:10 AM  

Dictionary support for a clue that feels awkward does not make it feel less awkward.

Just because the dictionary says that "steamroller" can act as a verb does not make it cute, fun, clever or anything else.

I think I'll present a puzzle at some point where every clue uses the LAST acceptable definition from the dictionary. Will that be "hard" or just "dumb"?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:30 AM  

My one write-over was at 14 A, where I had OTIS before ENOS!

@Clark - LOL re: INN ERTUBE !!!

jackj 9:44 AM  

A trip to XwordInfo shows that Frederick Healy went from Kindergarten to a PhD in one fell swoop.

His first Times puzzle in 2004 was an interesting Monday puzzle but his six subsequent Times crosswords have all been Fridays and Saturdays, 3 of each.

I can only conclude that he is a realist who didn't want to compete with the likes of ACME for Monday majordomo.

Lots of big entries to like but also some lesser lights which also shine, QUILL and BILL; ODDS and ENDS and that fondly remembered, one-tooth dragon, OLLIE.

mac 9:58 AM  

Thanks PG, you must get up really early!

Nice puzzle, where I had to roam around a bit and put it down for a while, but got the whole thing done in decent time. I got slowed down by "pees", and I tried to create a pangram by having "excists" at 23A.

Didn't we have Nast clued with a donkey just a few weeks ago? Made it a little easier with a cross, but I thought Babar, and then Ittorio, an artist from Uruguay who uses elephants as a symbol for the sad memories of his country.

@Clark: thanks for the LOL re innertube!

Good luck at the tournament today, everybody!

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Brian - I really want to hate on the clue for OVERWHELM. I actually had it in the grid and it felt so odd that I changed it and took a rare, complete, correct Saturday and derailed it. Noooooo!

I really felt like ILER was right, and EMLY seemed plausible. And then I wrecked it.

The dictionary support is actually pretty strong. Random House, 2nd cites two usage examples that apply perfectly.

Now that I've had a chance to mull it over some - it was my own fault entirely.

(If only OVERWHEEL didn't seem like it could be something obscure - but that still doesn't excuse thinking IEER could possibly be okay - though you wouldn't think that DAAE could ever be anything either:))

Lindsay 10:20 AM  

Solved this sitting outside in shorts and a t-shirt, which was slightly optimistic, weatherwise.

Writeover at 21A pilE up >> RAKE IN. Considered Earp where ENOS belongs. Grateful for the recent DOJO discussion; otherwise, it could have been ugly up there.

Have a good weekend everyone.

JC66 10:36 AM  

@Don Byas

I liked LIKED BEST better.

joho 10:45 AM  

Looks as if I enjoyed this more than most. I really liked HAVEITMADE, NOTSOHOT, IDOUBTIT, AFRAIDSO and DIMENOVEL.

My cowboy was wearing a big steTsonhat before he put on a BELTBUCKLE.

8 B's and no X.

I thought ODDS/ENDS was a cute cross.

When EMLY is the only thing I learned today, I'd have to say this was an easy Saturday.

PG ... great write-up!

Badir 10:46 AM  

Good job, Puzzle Girl! I can't spell either: I also had "BRIE", and I watch the show!

This didn't cause me too much fretting, though I started with "AERIE" for LEDGE and wanted 17A to start "BOOT". But since I also wanted 7D to be "BOOT", I knew something fishy was up!

captcha: cindles, narrow candles

David 10:49 AM  

the RW letter combo made overwhelm easy, though I don't like the clue either, dictionary backup or no.....SW and NE fell very quickly, the central and south central slowed me. I couldn't get beyond Michael Eisner for the Disney chief for too long, and Zane Grey came pretty late in the game (giving me the needed Z for OVITZ.

Like PuzzleGirl and others, I almost died at HAVE IT MADE. I was 100% sure of DOWN, and with ODDS and ENDS tied to each other I was close to giving up. Getting NOT SO HOT saved me.

quilter1 10:59 AM  

Hand up for Otis before ENOS. Also at 17A Stetson hat which misled me for a time. Proud to pop in I DOUBT IT, ROOD & HAVE IT MADE with no hesitation but somehow could not see aside from despite having most of the adjoining downs and acrosses. Also grateful for the DOJO discussion.
All in all a good Saturday puzzle.
The Drake Relays are happening in Des Moines this weekend and there was a heartrending story today about the team from U of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and how they managed to get here to compete both in spite of and because of the tornado damage. Some lost their homes. The Relays are a focus and a distraction. Wish them well.

David L 11:37 AM  

Medium to hard for me, but I blame that on post-op vicodin and lingering pain.

I'm surprised at the objections to steamroller as a verb -- that's a perfectly natural and colloquial usage for me.

Although I've never watched the Sopranos, I put in ILER without crosses because he's such a crossword fave. On the other hand, I had to get ENOS from crosses, since I've never watched Dukes of Hazzard either. I am woefully uncultured, I know.

And as someone said above, the SIRS clue is just wrong. Surprising error. Would have been a good clue for ONESASIRTHEOTHERISNT, but that would have been tough.

davko 11:38 AM  

I got kicked around pretty good by this one. "Texas" was a disaster for me too as I tried forcing DOG, CUR and even MUT [sic] into 59D, so convinced was I that it just had to be a reference to Nixon's little companion. As it turned out, MEN was pretty clever -- as were a few other other clue/answer combinations. Liked the misdirect on the Inn (50A), but hated the co-dependent "non-clues" of 56D and 62A. DOJO (5A) was a new one on me, and while I got it with crosses, it took some serious post-analysis on Google before I finally understood what it meant.

Ross G-Whiz 11:49 AM  

great job PuzzleGirl! Like you I'm working my way up to Saturday level puzzling (very slooooowly though.)

With all the cowboy references, today's the rootin'est, tootin'est shootin'est hootin'est puzzle around. Time to dust off the boots and go two-steppin'!

PuzzleNut 11:53 AM  

Pretty easy. NW filled in fast and just kind of worked my way across and down this one. That rarely happens on a Saturday.
I found another way to spell BREa and never corrected the A.
My DIMENOVEL started as a DustcOVEr, Otherwise, most of my solving experiences are echoed by PG etal.

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

This puz was so good, it was worth two BUCKs. And a DIMEnovel.

Loved the clues today. Many I understood, only after gettin' almost the entire word filled in. But yet somehow the solve went pretty smooth. How's that work?

Nice scattering of U-know-whats. Thumbs up.

Wavy word of the day: acksmsiv. Didn't he write "I, Rabbit"?

Rex Parker 12:09 PM  

EMLY is barfy, but I liked the puzzle for the most part, and found it pretty avg, difficulty-wise, for Saturday (though I just woke up on the wrong coast, so I'm not sure I was on top of my game).

It's after 9am here and I am ravenous. Talk to you tomorrow, live (maybe) from the Crosswords L.A. tournament. Will try to wrangle (buckaroo!?) Andrea C. Michaels into co-blogging the Monday puzzle with me (Monday puzzle comes out here at 3pm Sunday. Crazy).


Timjim 12:52 PM  

Do not understand "weapon lengthener" for eer. ???

JenCT 1:18 PM  

@Timjim: as in weaponEER.

Didn't quite finish this one; same mistakes already noted.

"A cowboy may have a big one" - c'mon, what was everyone's first guess??? Be honest now...

Gotta remember ZANEGREY.

poc 1:37 PM  

@Truenorth: I also thought SIR Alan Cumming was weird. Theatrical knights are usually a good bit older by the time they get the title. Sure enough, he has an OBE (Order of the B.E., not Officer.) but not a knighthood. I think this is the first time I've seen the NYT in an unequivocal mistake rather than a question of opinion.

joho 2:00 PM  

@Andrea Carla Michaels & @Rex ... wish I could be with you at the tournament. I'm wearing my California (HEART)XWORDS T-shirt in support of everybody there. Report back to us if you can.

andrea kukla michaels 2:16 PM  

Ow! Ow!
(sound of my arm being twisted!)

Yes, of course, to Monday co-blog,
just for the "Emly is barfy" comment alone!

Oh, and I meant to mention I had KUKLA in for OLLIE for a LONG time, bec of the Ks and also KUKLA means "Doll" in Greek and is a term of endearment. And of course I am too young (ahem) to clearly remember the show...
(or too old and have forgotten...same difference, right?)

Matthew G. 2:19 PM  

For the second straight day, the only part of the puzzle that felt like its day of the week to me was the northeast, which took up about 40% of my total solving time for the puzzle. EER gave me pretty much the most trouble I've ever had from a three-letter word -- I've never seen the word "weaponeer" before and it still looks made up even after Googling it. OLLIE the Dragon was also unfamiliar to me. Oddly enough, BUCKAROO and BELT BUCKLE came easy and it was QUILL and QUAVER that gave me the most trouble.

Finished with one error: STYES/ELYA instead of STIES/ELIA. Sincerely believed "sty" was an irregular plural that kept its Y, and had no idea what "Grace Before Meat" was about.

Everything else was a breeze. I got BELUGA from the crosses and thought it couldn't possibly be right because Belugas are whales ... But apparently they're a kind of sturgeon, too.

Educational puzzle, this one.

Lindsay 2:30 PM  

Musketeer, cannoneer, pistoleer .... one needn't take "weapon" quite so literally.

Sparky 4:14 PM  

Almost finished. Except for the little box in South middle. Even had NOTSOHOT and HAVEITMADE, but elephant designer had me off in Barbnum & Bailey land with George Balenchine or Babar. Took a while. Yelled DOJO out loud and thought of Rex and recent discussion. ENOS and ALICE's my first entries. Had Nell before EMLY.

Thanks @trunorth. Like @poc I thought Alan Cumming as a knight sounded wrong.

Nice write up Puzzle Girl. Good luck in the new house.

pjsim 4:29 PM  

Nast was a cartoonist who invented the GOP elephant.

mac 4:47 PM  

Isn't that a good cartoon name, Bill Beltbuckle?

I skip M-W 5:09 PM  

Hands up for Kukla. I think I as too old to pay much attention to this, but after kula jad ot go tried Ollie, and then seemed to remember. Knew it wasn't Fran.

sanfranman59 6:00 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 6:33, 6:53, 0.95, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:29, 8:56, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:05, 11:43, 0.77, 6%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 95 Wednesdays)
Thu 10:21, 19:00, 0.54, 1%, Easy (lowest median solve time of 98 Thursdays ... by far)
Fri 19:05, 26:06, 0.73, 8%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 99 Fridays)
Sat 30:31, 30:29, 1.00, 53%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:40, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:35, 1.07, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:40, 5:46, 0.81, 7%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 95 Wednesdays)
Thu 5:27, 9:10, 0.59, 1%, Easy (also the lowest median solve time of 98 Thursdays ... also by far)
Fri 8:45, 12:50, 0.68, 7%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 98 Fridays)
Sat 16:59, 17:21, 0.98, 46%, Medium

JenCT 7:51 PM  

@Lindsay: good point.


Couldn't shake "WALT" as the answer for "Noted elephant designer," which kept me from seeing both "ODDS" & "ENDS." Also instead of "ZANE..." I had "ZONE..." which had me looking in the direction of trailblazing Western pioneers or something. Did OK for a Saturday otherwise.

jberg 1:36 PM  

DNF - I just couldn't let go of Nixon's "little dog CHECKERS," and so figured the elephant designer must be some famous jewelery maker. I tried KUKLA, too, but the crosses caught that pretty quickly.

tim 5:15 PM  

"NAST" was actually the first thing I thought of for "elephant designer" (I used to be a cartoonist) but I knew it couldn't be right because I also had "DOG" as the answer for "Checkers, e.g." It's very disappointing when your mistaken answer to a clue is much better than the correct one.

KateNY 11:46 PM  

Rarely do I have something to add to all this erudition/intuition, but I can't go away without adding that Oliver J. Dragon was Ollie's full name. No one mentions this, I think.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

From Syndication Land

I'm still flummoxed about how "steamroller" can be "overwhelm". Will someone please write a sentence where the word steamroller can be replaced with the word overwhelm?

bonigreg 2:18 PM  

See post @Anonymous 8:01AM

MS 5:01 PM  

Gorges are glens?

Anonymous 11:52 PM  

What about paperback for "bit of pulp"?

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