Nancy Drew's aunt / SAT 9-8-12 / Cameo voicer Weird Al's I Lost on Jeopardy / Family name in 1869 romance / Character inspired by Fu Manchu / Little Thief's people / Texcoco denizen / Cincinnati baseballer of old / University of Delaware athletes

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: none

Word of the Day: RED LEG (45D: Cincinnati baseballer of old) —
Twice in the 1950s (the McCarthy era), the Reds, fearing that their traditional club nickname would associate them with the threat ofCommunism, officially changed the name of the team to the Cincinnati Redlegs.[1] From 1956 to 1960, the club's logo was altered to remove the term "REDS" from the inside of the "wishbone C" symbol. The "REDS" reappeared on the 1961 uniforms, but the point of the Cwas removed, leaving a smooth, non-wishbone curve. The traditional home-uniform logo was restored in 1967. (wikipedia)
• • •

I can tell you right now that people are going to (have to) google the hell out of this puzzle. Tons and tons of proper nouns with oblique or oddly phrased clues—this tends to drive people to the search engine. Not gonna have much luck googling, say, [Timon of Athens, e.g.] or [Spelled], but [Coin introduced by Louis IX] or [Home of Rugby League's Rhinos] will probably yield results immediately. I was intimidated by the puzzle as soon as I saw it. First, it's Saturday, so ... always hard. Then, it has a lot of white space and big corners. But neither of those things would be that remarkable (or intimidating) if it weren't for the name on the puzzle: Byron Walden has made some of the toughest puzzles I've ever done, including the most infamous Puzzle 5 (at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament) of the past decade, if not the history of the whole damned tournament. It's not a good idea to psych yourself out—the puzzle actually ended up being much more pliable than I anticipated, and though there were a few moments of "uh ... what next?" terror, I never got stalled for too long.

Started and ended in the NW, where I got my first answers (OMOO, AMORES, and GOTCHA), but then got stymied by what ended up being GABY, TONG, HERMIT, BONERS, and YOGA MAT. NE was my first big success. Just getting TERI and OPEN allowed me to put all the long Across answers down quickly, if not immediately. The problem with this grid shape, though, is that it does not allow you to take your success-momentum very far—teeny tiny connections between the quadrants make it very hard to move between them with any sense of confidence. Did that whole damned NW, and what did that give me? Just a "P" to get me into the middle of the grid. Not much help. Knew it should be PRE- or POST- something. So—stuck.


Despite the impressive smoothness of the grid overall, there weren't a lot of answers that excited me. I expected a few more Wows, and while there were some great answers like YOGA MAT (4D: Roll in a locker) and MIDWIVES (20D: Labor group) and VICE COPS (39A: People who need to find a john?), there was a lot of just OK stuff like EX-SENATORS and RYE SEEDS and TENNESSEAN and OMELETTE—all of it solid, but none of it scintillating. I'm sure I'm putting the bar too high here because of the caliber of constructor I'm dealing with. This is some high-quality craftsmanship, for sure, and I definitely enjoyed the workout.

Bullets:
  • 18A: Black piecrust component (OREO COOKIE) — piece of cake. Or pie, whatever. COOKIE feels redundant here, but it's technically valid.
  • 19A: Conditioner's cousin (CREAM RINSE) — for someone who has never used such a thing (and would have little need of it now), I got this very easily. It's a nice, if non-flashy answer.
  • 21A: Mockingbird prey (BEES) — that's one way to hide BEES from me. Luckily, the crosses were all a cinch.
  • 24A: President who won 97.6% of the vote in 2007 (ASSAD) — I thought CHAVEZ at first, but his percentages are actually much lower. I think only Saddam Hussein had numbers this high.
  • 25A: Cameo voicer on Weird Al Yankovic's "I Lost on Jeopardy"(PARDO) — I love this clue. First two answers that popped into my head were Vanna WHITE and Pat SAJAK ... clearly I had a different game show parody in my head.


  • 50A: Pursuit of Pan (ECHO) — uh ... what? OMG I just got this. How embarrassing. Of course. Pan is a god, and he pursues the nymph ECHO in one version of her myth. She spurns him. He doesn't take it well. The result is pretty gruesome.
  • 55A: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doo-wop group from Baltimore (THE ORIOLES) — no idea, but the "Baltimore" part helped me get it very quickly (the NE and SW portions were *by far* the easiest parts of this puzzle).
  • 2D: Title shared by works of Ovid and D. H. Lawrence (AMORES) — don't know Lawrence that well, but know Ovid, so no problem. 
  • 11D: Tantalus' daughter (NIOBE) — more mythology; never saw this clue—just saw a blank square at NIO-E and knew what it had to be.
  • 9D: Relative of a carp (DACE) — wow, back-to-back DACE days. What are the odds?
  • 28D: Character inspired by Fu Manchu (DR. NO) — I don't think I've seen the movie / read the book, so this wasn't easy ... until I got a letter or two; then I could guess it.
  • 44D: Nancy Drew's aunt (ELOISE) — I knew this without really knowing it. The name flashed into my head instantly, but I didn't trust it at all. And then it turned out to be right. Odd. 
  • 48D: Family name in an 1869 romance (DOONE) — as with ELOISE, doing crosswords helped a lot here. Had no idea, but with a few crosses I could guess it. Still have no idea who / what Lorna DOONE is (besides a brand of cookies).
  • 51D: Knights' Square site (PISA) — no idea. If the long answers can be taken down, then the short answers are almost an afterthought.
  • 26D: Texcoco denizen (AZTEC) — Had the "A"; not sure what else it was gonna be with that clue. So much of this solving game is a matter of feel, intuition, pattern recognition, and inference. I'm sure a solid body of general knowledge helps, but nothing helps like solving experience.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

79 comments:

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Me: 1D _O____. GONZO? Nah, too short. GONZOIC? - Too Long. GONZIC? Just right!

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

You know what's the difference between a YOGAMAT and a plain old 3'x6' piece of foam rubber? $25

What do you call a blue YOGAMAT? A periwincle YOGAMAT.


These weren't worth captchell

jae 12:18 AM  

Medium-tough for me too, again.  And again some wrong paths.  I was sure GABY had two Bs (and google mostly agrees), but Bree and Edie wouldn't work so I spent a while trying to remember lesser housewives (is Housewives and MIDWIVES legit?).  Then there was the  many to rafT to HOST progression.  Plus SortoUt for SPLITUP and Darcy for DOONE.

I'm with Rex, I really like this type of Sat.  Solid and a good workout with some zip...VICECOPS, GOTCHA (hello Sarah), BLUEHENS (I had no idea), BONERS (this meant something else in the 7th grade)... Very very nice Byron!

syndy 1:16 AM  

I have to cry "natick" on the REDLEG/PEGS cross peglegs yes but not a sport geek so I had no clue! OREOcrumbs slowed me ,OMELET stymied me but little by little step by step this sweet baby fell! Loved TENNESSEANS and EXSENATORS you sneaky little soandso! thanks Byron!

Richard 2:06 AM  

The right side of the puzzle went quickly for me. I, also, got TERI, OPEN, and OTOS right away in the NE which allowed me to get the three long acrosses quickly.

In the SE, I got REDLEGS and PEGS right away, which helped a lot.

The NW was tough for me, even after getting CREAMRINSE quickly. Sure wish I knew anything about "Desperate Housewives." Although I see nothing wrong with it, note that "wives" is used in both a clue and an answer.

After getting ??EEZERS in the middle, I thought of frEEZERS. Do they have freezers in crime labs.

I also thought of BESTMAN as the answer for "second." I did not think it would fit, but I like the answer better than INSTANT.

chefwen 3:15 AM  

I had so much more fun with yesterday's puzzle. This one just made me frustrated. Started off O.K. with OREO COOKIE which is my base for my Mango Cheesecake, which by the way is "to die for". Things went downhill from there. Husband, as usual, wouldn't let me give up. The two of us chipped away it and we got her done, more his doing as mine. He likes the theme-less ones and I like circles, drawing on my puzzle, and all the gimmicks. Opposites attract.

Anonymous 5:33 AM  

I solved the puzzle but backed into TONG. I still don't get it. "Take one's lumps"? Huh?

Mary Rose Goldberg 5:44 AM  

And please explain 49D...Smee and others...Bosns? Don't get it. Something I should Google? Wasn't he Capt Hook's pirate pal? Or is it a kind of knife? Isn't that snick and sNee?

Tough fill but fun.

Nickyboy 7:30 AM  

This one was a bitch! Some of the clues were so bizarrely phrased. "Take one's lumps?" is TONG, as in sugar tongs. But is that really a verb? Meh.
And will someone please explain these to me?: Partner of Connecticut and Vermont (Oriental), Quarter (billet), and Measure of Thanks (mil). As in "thanks a mil, bro!"? yeesh!

dk 7:34 AM  

Wifes. That is a word,? Please say yes. Stop laughing at me.

The above BONER and not getting POSTPAID for far to long afford me one hour to ponder how slow I am.

But no googles.

Off to France today. Ahhh old Europe and another round of I told you so from my amiees.

Gotta pack.

*** (3 twinkly things) thanks Byron

DESievers 8:00 AM  

Yikes! The SW was THE sore spot for me. Got OMELETTE and RICE CHEX right off, but Orioles and Doone and BlueHens and Tennesseean and TheOrioles and Pisa -- oy, very painful. Was I the only one?

Milford 8:09 AM  

@Nickyboy - think Monopoly for ORIENTAL avenue.

Challenging for sure, for the two reasons Rex mentioned: proper names galore and the grid design. It was like having to solve 5 mini-Saturday puzzles. I completed the NE and middle sections, but victory was short-lived each time as it gave virtually no help to the other sections!

Is a FRITTATA really a type of omelette? I think of these as different preparations. @chefs - any opinions?

Overall, another good workout Saturday.

Milford 8:20 AM  

Ok, it's early. Make that question, is a frittata really a type of OMELETTE? :)

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

I have never seen conditioner referred to as a "cream rinse." Since it is not made from cream, it is commonly called "creme rinse."

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Thought I was going to have to google for a while but managed to keep plodding away and solve it.

At one point, had ___NESSEA_ for 58-A and thought it was something like GO ONES SEAT.

Also thought 4D might somehow be YOPLAIT.
--Twangster

Z 8:59 AM  

@Mary Rose - You might want to try "bosun" or "boatswain" when you google "bosn." All the same thing.

And to be all "technically valid" you don't make the crust with the cookie, you make the crust with the crumbs that you turn the cookies into.

ECU was my first word (after checking sou). EDICT to AZTEC (after checking olmEC) led to the middle being done first. SE then SW then NE then NW, mini puzzles all.

Speaking of 7th grade, we've got VICE COPS searching for johns right by "Ones taking off?" We've got GABY in her SKORT giving Timon the HERMIT BONERS. Meanwhile Pan pursues Echo. Afterwards, MIDWIVES have to choose between TONGs and TWEEZERS in an INSTANT. I just hope that no one KEPT A DIARY.

loren muse smith 9:16 AM  

“Bree” for GABY, “Hannah” (Gruen) for ELOISE, and “ripen” for REACT were my faux holds.

@jae – I had “sort out” before SPLIT UP, too.

@anon 8:47 – I resisted CREAM, thinking “crème” for a long time.

@Z - thanks for pointing out TONGs, TWEEZERS, and MIDWIVES connection!

I agree – this was five mini puzzles; all my hard work and success everywhere else didn’t help a bit in the NW, but I almost finished this toughie! Not knowing GOTCHA journalism, GABY, TONG (right, @anon 5:33am and Nickyboy- that’s a verb?) and that “faux pas” could be a plural prevented total success. I feel supremely satisfied, though, that I came so close.

Just when I think I can spell OMELETTE. . .By the way, RICE CHEX or OMELETTE for breakfast? I’ll have the latter with RYE toast and real butter, not OLEO. I’ve never even seen the word OLEO in a grocery store, but I’ve never actually looked.

And aren’t we all becoming quite the DACE experts?

My grandfather played for the SENATORS and THE ORIOLES and PEGged his share of baseballs.

Leave it to an accomplished constructor to have OREO, OLEO, ENID, OTOS, and OMOO in a grid that never-the-less delivers in a big way.

Thanks, Byron – I enjoyed the struggle a lot!

Glimmerglass 9:20 AM  

Super hard for me! One of my all-time best Saturday puzzles (for fun, not time -- it took me two hours). I don't Google (it's okay with me if others do -- I'm not competing with anyone but myself). So the NW almost killed me. I don't watch DH, and so the only name i knew is Bree (could it be Brey to go with YOGA MAT and erroRs?). Guessed OMOO but then tried BOoboo. I've never used TONG as a verb. Didn't immediately remember Timon was a HERMIT (read that play for first and last time more than 50 years ago). I finally saw that I could correct OTOe to OTOS and try CREAM RINSE (never used the stuff, but I watch TV ads). That saved me. The rest of the puzzle was almost as tough. Thanks, BW, you sneaky SOB.

jackj 9:23 AM  

Doing one Byron Walden puzzle is difficult, at best, but doing five of them by virtue of a construction that has five groupings with slim connections, is the very definition of cruel and unusual.

KEPTADIARY went in without any doubt and the upper right corner quickly filled but with the grid’s limited connectors there was no further advance and it meant haphazard clue shopping around the puzzle to help the cause.

Fortunately, after determining one entry in each of the grid’s groupings others seemed to follow as with ORB, for example, that triggered OMELETTE, ECU and RICECHEX and ultimately provided the PHOTO tie-in for entry into another grouping in the lower right and so it went, fighting for every letter.

“Housewives”, MIDWIVES, VICECOPS, YOGAMATS, SKORT(s), what a lively collection from Byron! (It almost seemed like we had fallen down a rabbit hole and landed in an Onion puzzle).

If those weren’t enough to excite the solver we also got the very clever, best of show “Partner of Connecticut and Vermont” that was just a Monopoly clue for ORIENTAL and adding to the fun, BOSNS and BILLET, ECHO and ELOISE were all good and sufficient to allow one to forgive DACE and REN.

Byron’s Saturday puzzles are like eating Scotch Bonnet chili peppers with a heat rating of 200,000 Scoville units; the pain is excruciating but the pleasure is exquisite.
26

JC66 10:04 AM  

@Rex

Their signature song may help you remember the ORIOLES.

joho 10:12 AM  

Two fantastic puzzles in a row! This one much more of a struggle than yesterday's -- as it should be -- but equally as satisfying in the end. Or, I'd say even more fun to finish as it was more difficult.

I so wanted GOnzo for GOTCHA but loved GOTCHA when I GOT it!

I thought the school team was the BLUEHogS at first. Loved that the BLUEHENS crossed the TENNESSEAN.

Lovely puzzle, Byron, thank you!

Oh, and because DACE showed up for the second day in a row I've decided that it's on purpose, not by chance. Will?

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Measure of thanks? Mil?

One Syl Guy 10:35 AM  

Thanks a mil(lion)

Carola 10:38 AM  
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Carola 10:42 AM  

I finished but along the way found a HOST of ways to go wrong (had yellow journalism, booboo, Mayan for Aztec, thought Timon might have been a dEspoT) or be dense (couldn't believe DACE two days in a row so didn't write it in, couldn't think of ASSAD until I had 4 of the 5 letters, couldn't see what RICEC_ _ _ or Baltimore's THE OR_ _ _ E_ were for an embarassingly long time)

Going along with ATE: How about a cooking show episode involving PENNE, HENS, RICE CHEX, RYE, CREAM, PESCI (nod to PISA), OLEO and an OMELETTE. Lorna DOONE and OREO COOKIEs for dessert along with INSTANT coffee.

I wonder if anybody else heard this old jingle for Old Spice when they wrote in BOS'N.

@Z - Love your racy story.

Thanks, Byron Waldo, for the workout!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:47 AM  
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Bob Kerfuffle 10:49 AM  

For me, today, totally impossible. I got the NE, but as others have observed, this was of no help in solving the rest of the puzzle. I had a smattering of answers, some right, some wrong, across the rest of the grid, then allowed myself a few Googles, but at that point I had lost interest, DNF.

On another day, perhaps, if my brain were functioning, I would really have liked this one.

Cheerio 11:00 AM  

I loved this puzzle for similar reasons to yesterday's. The fact that you could puzzle your way through it made it seem a little easier than an average Saturday. But in a really good way. Thanks!

quilter1 11:06 AM  

Got it all but the NW. I had OMOO and YOGA MAT, CREAM RINSE and ASSAD, but I don't know any of the housewives and while I now understand TONG it just never would have come to me. I liked the clues for SKORT and MIDWIVES. Great, fun Saturday. Now off to my new quilt project.

joho 11:17 AM  

Blogger's been acting up again, this is a test.

Norm 11:25 AM  

Answers that I know or think I know: A frittata is a egg-based dish akin to or a type of an OMELETTE. You use "tongs" to take lumps of sugar from a bowl; I've not seen it as a verb before, but I guess it's legitimate. ORIENTAL goes with the other two on a Monopoly board. BILLET is what the British army used to do -- to quarter or house soldiers in private homes -- and was one of the grievances that led to the American Revolution.

Tobias Duncan 11:36 AM  

Ended up with REDLEe and PEes , my second guess was REDLEa and PEas.

Bill from FL 11:52 AM  

Weirdly, this puzzle had 2 answers in common with today's lizineNewsday puzzle, constructed by Lars Doubleday. They were clued completely differently, of course, but what are the odds?

Bill from FL 11:55 AM  

That should be "Newsday puzzle," of course.

Lindsay 12:13 PM  

Several months ago VICE COPS found some johns in a semi-local zumba studio. Possible YOGA MAT tie-in?

I fell into the CREme, then CREem RINSE trap. Thought you needed dairy products to use the word CREAM.

Also 27D REdye instead of REACT. Symptomatic of working too many crosswords given that REdye is ultra-lame. Also 54D Toot for TEAR.

Very much helped by thinking that General Mills might make a cake mix if "cake" had 5 letters, which got me the X for EX-SENATORS. That could have been clued via baseball too.

mac 12:16 PM  

@dk: trois etoiles? Have a great trip!

In my book a fritata is an omelette. I prepare them exactly the same way.

Wonderful puzzle, with especially great clues. I agree with Loren, only a master can use mundaine words and still create a really good puzzle.

The O in tong was my last letter.
I did find the Anne Frank clue a little creepy, considering what she went through. Maybe use Samuel Pepys next time. Those poor Delaware athletes, Blue Hens!

jae 12:18 PM  

@Lindsay -- I forgot to include REdye in my list of wrong paths.

Mel Ott 12:29 PM  

I thought RICE CHEX was a Ralston-Purina product. Were they bought out by General Mills? Many years ago I had a fellowship from the Danforth Foundation, which was Ralston Purina - RICE CHEX - Dog Chow money.

REDLEGS isn't just a sports clue/answer. It had a lot to do with the anti-communist hysteria of the 50's.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 12:37 PM  

No Google research necessary. Worked puz with the mighty PuzEatingSpouse. No sweat. What I don't know, she always gets. She circled both VICECOPS and FAKENAME, tho. Think she thought they were BIEGEPAINT (or TALLTREE?) cousins.

Odds of 2-days in a row of DACE? Approximately 1 in 700,000, evidently. But... odds of getting *any* same word 2-days in a row is only about 1 in 20. So, maybe it was just DACE's turn. So, no need to carp about it.

SatPuz always fave day for clues and fillins. Where else do you get to see a BLUEHEN/REDLEG matchup? [Spead: BLUEHENS by 1 run]

M and A addendumb 12:43 PM  

P.S. "Spead" = M&Anese for spread. What are the odds of M&A having a typo? Discuss.

jberg 1:14 PM  

If we see DACE again tomorrow, we'll know it's Will's doing. Editors gotta have fun, too, I guess.

This one took me forever, and even then I had to guess -- incorrectly, it turned out - at the PARDO/PESCI cross. I liked sARDO and PESCI, and went with the S, so finished with one error.

The long solving time was mainly caused by that frittata - first I thought you must flip them OvErEasy; then maybe they were oven- made (but that didn't work at all), then maybe Pan was pursued by the suffice ACHE and it was a OnE-LayEr concoction. Finally I realized that the Rhinos really could only be from LEEDS (only other possibilities were Perth and Reed U., and both were ruled out by MIDWIVES) and it all fell into place.

I had a little trouble thinking 51 A must be laser-something, too, but that didn't last as long. And I never would have got the NW without my wife, who knew CREAM RINSE (and insisted the A was right) right away.

I didn't know any of the proper nouns, but they were all gettable except for the one I guessed wrong.

BigSteve46 1:43 PM  

I imagine that most of us xword addicts, particularly we of a certain age, have developed any number of personal eccentricities in our solving approaches. One of mine is that I deliberately ignore and refuse to learn or care about who is the constructor of these puzzles. I like to think that they all come from God. (As a confirmed agnostic,of sorts, the thought of the Supreme Being spending his - infinite - time this way comforts me.)

Anyway, this keeps me from being intimidated - or encouraged - by looking in the upper left hand corner and thinking, "uh-oh" its a
Byron Walden, I'm in trouble; or "whoopee!" its a Harry Vederci: happy days are here again!

I think of this because I found this puzzle4 on the easy side for a Saturday - and I am no whiz kid solver. If the identity of the constructor had intimidated me, I am sure I would have had much more trouble!

JohnV 1:56 PM  

From the Norwalk Best Buy (new PC for non-puz wife) What @BobKerfuffle said. NE okay; s'bout it. No joy in JohnV ville

Sandy K 2:07 PM  

Took me forever to solve this one...the O in TONG was the last one to go in for me too.

This was a GOTCHA puzzle- almost got me. Struggled on most words, except DACE!

I'm exhausted, Mr. Walden...crushed like an OREOCOOKIE!

Sparky 2:20 PM  

Filled in three of the five parts. Stumbled in NW and center. Liked EXSENATORS and TENNESSEAN, too, once I got it.

Had PESCI, erased him, put in Candy with CuomO for 25a. Checked my Maltin. There are five actors in Home Alone with five letter names.

Went astray with tyrant for Timon; Bree; ripen; ___tape in the locker; and also ran for second.

Enjoyed working on the parts I finished then just decided to stop. Thank you @Milford. Have a good weekend.

Ed C 2:21 PM  
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Ed C 2:22 PM  

Anyone else have an issue with BILLET being clued by "Quarter"? Shouldn't it be "Quarters" with an S?

Has anyone ever stayed in a quarter?

Lewis 2:35 PM  

"And to be all "technically valid" you don't make the crust with the cookie, you make the crust with the crumbs that you turn the cookies into."

A critical component of gazpacho soup is tomatoes, never mind that they've been chopped.

Milford 2:36 PM  

@Sparky - you're welcome, but what did I do?

Jenny 2:53 PM  

@Ed C: Try reading them both as verbs.

Mary Rose Goldberg 2:55 PM  

@Z....Whew, thanks.

Ed C 3:21 PM  

@ Jenny - Damn! You're right.

Sue McC 3:22 PM  

I liked this one. It was a good challenge, but no googling necessary.

Best part: PARDO & CREAMRINSE. I couldn't tell you the last time I said, heard or used CREAMRINSE, but gosh dang it I popped it right in there. Though having read through the comments the CREAM vs creme discussion has merit.

Worst part: the back to back DACEs.

And Anonymous@12:15 AM must never use a YOGAMAT. Finding the one that is right for you (right thickness, foot feel, texture, doesn't slip, etc) can be tough and, when I do find it, I happily hand over my $25.

Z 3:45 PM  

@Lewis - I have diced, chopped, stewed, fresh, sliced, and probably a few other varieties of tomatoes in the house at the moment. I've never made gazpacho but I'm quite confident that if I used tomatoes instead of chopped tomatoes the result would be very different. That's the difference between being "valid" and "technically" (or is that "anally?") valid.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, I started with OREO Crumbs. Not that this would have any influence whatsoever ever on my opinion.

Z 3:49 PM  

Two for Two on captchas today. Watch - five tries for this final comment.

////

jackj 4:33 PM  

mac@12:16PM said (in part):

"Those poor Delaware athletes, Blue Hens!"

They're getting off easy, UC Santa Cruz athletes are called "Banana Slugs.

(By student choice though).

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

OK, got it, with Google help (but only when I had guessed the words in question). My big beef: "tong" as a verb? Give me a break.

chefwen 5:20 PM  

@Milford - Quoting from the Food Lover's Companion. frittata (frih-TAH-tuh. An Italian omelet that usually has the ingredients mixed with the eggs rather that being folded inside, as with a French omelet. It can be flipped or the top can be finished under a broiling unit. An omelet is cooked quickly over moderately high heat and after folding, has a flat-sided half-oval shape. A frittata is firmer because it's cooked very slowly over low heat, and round because it isn't folded.

Milford 5:40 PM  

@chef wen - thanks for the distinction. I guess I should think of "omelette" as a more generic term, with regional differences. Maybe all frittatas are omelettes, but not all omelettes are frittatas?

Personally, in my kitchen, an omelette = quick prep for one person. A frittata = a lengthier process, served cut into wedges for a crowd.

But I can certainly accept the clue as written, especially for a Saturday!

michael 5:50 PM  

I'm not with the crowd today. Found this easier than the average Saturday and finished without major problems. But it helped to get Redlegs and Oriental right off which might have been harder for a younger solver. I liked orioles over senators.

Sparky 6:21 PM  

@Milford. You were the first to explain the Monpoly board and Oriental.

I'm starting Sunday now.

Sir Hillary 6:53 PM  

Great puzzle - everything you want in a Saturday. I loved the long answers -- TENNESSEAN, EXSENATORS, KEPTADIARY, FAKENAME, VICECOPS especially. I had a few gimme footholds with CREAMRINSE, ORIENTAL, BLUEHENS and REDLEG, but still it was tough. I PUTIN the Russian president at 24A, which hurt. Even after I got ASSAD off the D, the NW remained elusive. Finally had to Google the book with the Tahiti chapter, and the corner finally fell into place.

So, a one-Google finish today -- no shame in that! Thanks Byron for a superb puzzle.

nebraska doug 8:08 PM  

Humbling. This puzzle crushed me. The most blank space in a DNF in months, couldn't get traction anywhere. Horrible failure.

syndy 8:17 PM  

The thing is is that tomatos don't have a yummie cream(creme) filling that would certainly not congeal properly in the gaspacho! my black crust does not have any cream in it as it would if I used the whole cookies!ergo crumbs! I frequently roll food items in bread crumbs -rolling them in bread would be different!

Dirigonzo 8:36 PM  

Some days you feel like a nut, some days the puzzle kicks your butt - today it was the latter for me. Had the center nicely filled in but the rest of the grid remained largely white. Clearly I am not yet ready for prime time.

@Lindsay - I suspect there is much we do not yet know about that story about the zumba studio - stay tuned for more indictments.

Lewis 8:52 PM  

@syndy and @z:
Sorry to be coming in so late -- just got back to my computer. I understand your point, and you are right, technically, and I was wrong.

I was being a-technical. I believe the clue was something like "a critical component of black crust is...". If someone asked the chef what was in that crust and the chef replied "Oreos", everyone would understand. Just as when the chef says that there are tomatoes in his gazpacho, rather than, say, tomato slices.

Now my question is: are constructors obliged to be so technical in their clues?

Z 9:20 PM  

@Lewis - No.

Tincup2 10:17 PM  

Is it just me or have we been treated to more than the usual amount of proper noun fatre recently - especially Fri-Sat? Ugh! I loose focus much faster when there's so much trivia. Language-based fill keeps me absorbed but today's style puzzle feels less of a challenge than a trivia quiz:(

sanfranman59 11:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:12, 6:48, 0.91, 15%, Easy
Tue 9:38, 8:57, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 13:15, 11:48, 1.12, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Thu no data
Fri 25:02, 24:35, 1.02, 55%, Medium
Sat 31:07, 29:20, 1.06, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:46, 4:39, 1.24, 97%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 167 Tuesdays)
Wed 7:41, 5:55, 1.30, 96%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 164 Wednesdays)
Thu no data
Fri 13:49, 12:12, 1.13, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 19:48, 16:37, 1.19, 85%, Challenging

OISK 1:01 AM  

I know it's a Saturday, but it took me until Sunday to solve it. Got it all, no Googling, but can't say I liked it much. Clues for "mil" and "Leeds" too contrived for me. I would have preferred "Losers to Chelsea in their first FA Cup win." (well, technically Leeds United, but did ANYONE actually know that Leeds has a Rugby League team called the Rhinos??)

"People who need to find a john" for "Vice cops" was also too "cute" to please me. There is a car called a Skort??

amores creme midwives 2:10 AM  

@Byron
YELLOW (Journalism) was the first of 128 mistakes I made and DNF by a long shot. FInally gave up and came here :(
Such a shame too after a wonderful day with at the one day Oakland tournament...50 folks, Jordan Chodorow won again, and one Eric (Maddy) and the new Mr. 3 guy, Doug Peterson, after a tie breaking puzzle with Jonathan Berman.

We honored Manny Nosowsky who showed up. Full applause, constructors lunch and lovely toast by his Wiki writer, Michael Blake.

Back to puzzle, had to google every sports ref, there were many. Alas, even had to google ELOISE, so I can't cry total sexism for once.

I have to go with CREme. I only got the NW corner on my own.

Mad that I didn't guess ORIOLES given the Baltimore clue, another sports clue hidden as a doowop one!

It occurs to me, you could have clued the entire puzzle with just sports clues.

OK, @Byron, GOTCHA should have been the last word, not the first!
Love you anyway.

Ted 4:07 PM  

This one got steadily easier as I went along. Only anser that I failed to get was "Tennessean." That's such a crossword staple, I should know by now that it always means volunteer. Lots of clever stuff like "Gotcha" and "Skort" and "Midwives" and "Yoga Mat" and "Vice Cops" and "Tong" (wow!) and "Exsenator." (I was stalled for a while, thinking Bill was an ex-gov -- forgot about Hillary.) Who knew that Mockingbirds eat Bees? Hey guys -- you should know that even Putin or Chavez would not claim 97.6%. BTW, does anyone else have trouble remembering whether the book is OMOO or OMEE?

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

My crossword puzzle partner and I can't make sense of how "spelled" turns out to be "stood in for."

EMT 6:16 PM  

Man, I'm getting tired of doing CPR on this guy. Maybe you could SPELL me for a while!

Spacecraft 1:35 PM  

A straight "challenging" for me; no medium about it. Took me at least two hours. I "wedged" in with good ol' Ernie ELS, Mr. Sweet Swing himself. The first of the three gray properties, ORIENTAL, followed. Further NE progress stalled, though I did mentally pencil in KEPTADIARY. Seems obvious, but the idea of "kept" kept me from inking it in for a while. Thank Providence she did NOT, in the end, keep it--ot it would have been lost to the world.

On to the center, where the two P-boys at 25 got me going. Back to the NE, where I decided to ink in 16a. OPEN, OTOe...STOODINFOR and the rest. _____RINeE? No, must be RINSE. First w/o. MIDWIVES left me ____MRINSE. What could it be but CREAM? Yet still, the NW wouldn't open up. I'm astounded that both OFL and ACM didn't have more trouble here. Next the SE fell from the REDLEG PEGS (originally, they were the very first major league team: The Cicninnati Red Stockings). The SE was tougher, as I tried soU at first (only other w/o). Thought the Delaware team was Mudhens, but then: no, that's Toledo; thank you, Cpl. Klinger!) So why was I thinking hens? BINGO! BLUE, and ORB, and then the aha! of TENNESSEANS went in. The GM offering took much more brow-furrowing before the CHEX-ending of RICE would occur. Of course, EXSENATORS--as in Hill, not Bill.

Now back to the NW, the last bastion. I so wanted to do this without any lookups but was despairing. Not a fan of DH, I did know there was a Bree, but that's about it. Didn't know Ovid, and if it's not Lady C or her lover, I don't know any more Lawrence. Book, with a 4-letter title. Nada. What was Timon, ending in...IT? Bandit? The landslide prexy sure looked like ASSAD, but what in tarnation was a "roll in a locker?" I must have stared at this for 15-20 minutes: ___A_AT, before YOGAMAT occurred. I filled the rest in mostly on guesses; wow, really? Take one's lumps=TONG? Yo, dude, TONG me a couple of cubes there, wouldja? TONG you very much.

Success! No. Triumph! Fist pump! Take that, you dirty rat!

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

@Dir 8:36 You are not alone. Whew! A real stinker this time, for me. I got everything except the NW corner. gotcha, tong, yogamat, hermit just wouldn't appear. When a constructor uses an almost "inside" term like "Gotcha Jounalism" I do believe he is being too darn cute and obfuscatory. No thanks today to Mr. Walden. Ron Diego, The Mad

DMGrandma 3:30 PM  

Got what Rex called the easy parts, the NE and the SW, but my puzzle has a noticeable, mostly white, diagonal from the NW to the SE. As someone noted,there was a lot of trivia and not much wordsmithing. GABY, PARDO, REDLEGS,...I don't mind using a dictionary or Google when I don't know what a word means, but to look up a stack of trivia, no thanks. One touch of serendipity, got DRNO as the WSJ just ran a big feature on FuManchu.

Think I'll go makes cup often and tong some lumps into it!

DMG 3:34 PM  

That's a cup of tea- dang spell check!

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Take lumps of sugar with your tongs

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