SATURDAY, Mar. 10, 2007 - Patrick Berry

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Solving time: untimed (average for a Saturday ... maybe 20-25 min.)
THEME: none

This was a solid Saturday puzzle - no weak fill, tough clues. That said, there is nothing sparkly about it. Nothing to make you go 'wow.' Perhaps more gimmes than I'm accustomed to seeing in a Saturday (though that didn't do much to speed up my time). All IN ALL (32A: Total), a good but unmemorable workout. In fact, this morning, I literally could not remember anything about this puzzle.

1A: Real name of a Disney tile character (Simba)

Gimme, right? Well, I thought so. I was so happy to see this clue at 1A and confidently wrote in ... ARIEL. Once I entered the real gimme, ON AIR (14A: Broadcasting), underneath ARIEL, though, it became clear that ARIEL was untenable, so I just abandoned this corner and eventually hacked my way back. Speaking of "hacking," this NW corner was home of a long answer whose clue had me baffled for a good while: 3D: "Big iron," in hacker slang (main frames). Of course the "iron" and "hacker" part had me thinking golf - a word which, by the way, appears in its plural form elsewhere in the grid => 46D: Follows a course (golfs). I had something -DRIVER at one point, thinking the answer was some kind of golf club (I don't play golf - well, except for mini-golf, which rules). What other ridiculous wrong answers did I entertain for a while? Let's see.

35A: Flip alternative (page boy)

This clue generated what may be my favorite wrong answer of all time: GAME BOY. At first I thought "Flip" was a kind of drink you might order at a soda fountain (like where Archie or Richie Cunningham might hang out). Whoops, turns out the drink FLIP is generally alcoholic:

Flip, n.

Def. 3: A mixed drink made with any of various alcoholic beverages and often including beaten eggs.
So maybe Archie and Richie don't drink them, at least not at soda fountains. Once I had the BOY part, though, I thought that "Flip" must be the name of some hand-held gaming device I'd never heard of (one you "flip" open, somehow?) and since GAME BOY fit, and both the crosses in question, GONIARDS and PFENNIMS, seemed vaguely plausible, I thought, "sure, GAME BOY, why not?" I had the grid completed, and it was not until going over it that I stopped, looked at my answer, took a few seconds to reconsider, and then Bam, the right answer presented itself. "Flip" = hairstyle. Seems quite obvious now. I miss GAME BOY as an answer, though. R.I.P. GAME BOY. I hardly knew ye. Oh, and GONIARDS and PFENNIMS ended up being PONIARDS (35D: Narrow-bladed weapons) and PFENNIGS (16D: Divisions of a mark). My excuses for missing these, initially: I thought PONIARDS was spelled POIGNARDS, and I know nothing about pre-Euro German currency besides "mark." One more mistaken entry...

45A: Concern for a hostess (seating)

Easy, easy answer. And yet, when SETTING got into my head, I couldn't get it out, and since it fit so nicely (almost), it did not occur to me to ditch it until very late, when I just couldn't think of an author whose name started LT- for the clue 41D: "Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful" espouser. Eventually I had LTOTZU and I seriously said to myself "... who's Lieutenant OTZU????" But no, LAO TZU, a crossword staple. Ah so (he said, facetiously).

28D: "Strange Magic" band, for short (ELO) 54A: One of the Traveling Wilburys (Lynne)

Any "band" clue in three letters is 95% certain to be ELO. This clue went pretty far down the catalogue to clue it, but ELO is ELO is ELO. What makes ELO's appearance here interesting is the presence of founding member Jeff LYNNE's name in the same grid, here clued via his less well known musical venture, that forgettable amalgam of once and future rock luminaries that called itself The Traveling Wilburys (other members included Roy Orbison and Tom Petty). ELO is not typically Saturday fill (too easy), but when it's spiced up with this kind of intra-puzzle interplay, I like it just fine. While we're on the subject of rock, ladies and gentlemen, The RAMONES (33A: Rock group whose members all assumed the same last name, with "the")! "I'd just like to say this gig sucks!" "Hey, up yours, Springfield!" (sorry, channeling a "Simpsons" episode, again)

Stuff I didn't know

22A: Gene _____, 1932 U.S. and British Open champ (Sarazen) - only SARAZENs I know are "heathen warriors," generally from the Middle East, in medieval romances.
43D: Female bacchanalian (maenad) - should have known it, didn't know it. Not much else to say. Hate having my knowledge of classical mythology fall short, but there it is.
5D: Greek city that remained neutral during the Persian Wars (Argos) - staying in the classical Mediterranean... I know of ARGOS, but I didn't know this factoid.
51D: Birthplace of Herod the Great (Edom) - you know I suck at Biblical geography. I wanted ELOM here - I don't know what ELOM is, if anything, but I do know (now) that the reason I wanted it was because of the ELOI (a great word to know for crossword solving, btw).
12D: Amphilochus, in Greek myth (seer) - again with the damned mythology! Thankfully SEER was totally inferrable.

Final thoughts

There was some clever cluing in this puzzle, most notably 6A: Small drawing? (puff) and 25A: Information for the record (liner notes). I also liked 27D: Laundry that's often food-stained (table linen) a lot, mainly because "laundry" made me think clothing, but also, eventually, in its non-specificity, was the part of the clue that made me think non-clothing. If you follow. The first thing I entered in the grid was the S in SERB (23A: Nikola Tesla, for one), not because I knew it, but because I knew 1D: Pickles (which turned out to be SOUSES) was a plural. This allowed me to get SERB (what else could Tesla be in four letters starting with "S"?) which allowed me easily to get BRONC (24D: Unbroken mount) off the "B". The puzzle opened up slowly from there. I don't think of "Scuzz" and SMUT being synonymous (48D: Scuzz), in that I think I would enjoy some SMUT but not any "Scuzz." UTAHANS is an insane-looking word, but a far better answer than MORMONS for 7D: What many Latter-day Saints are. Had never heard of 19A: Laurel and Hardy film with the line "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" ("Sons of the Desert"), but it joins PYLE (52D: One of Carter's charges, on TV) and MAD DOCTOR (53A: Wild-haired stock character) as one of the grid's few non-musical pop cultural moments. Ooh, wait, there's also EDIE (50D: Warhol actress Sedgwick), which I had as EVIE but whatever, I worked it out. I think there's a newish movie about EDIE Sedgwick. Yes ... that British actress who is / was married to Jude Law and / or is was having an affair with him ... I think she's in it. What's her name? Sierra? Oh who cares, really? Looks like the (great) Velvet Underground song "Femme Fatale" was written about her (EDIE, that is). Tracey Thorn (of Everything But the Girl) does a fabulous cover of this song, which I'm listening to ... right now. "Here she comes / You better watch your step / She's going to break your heart in two / It's true..."

SIENNA! SIENNA Miller!!! That's the actress name I wanted. God, that was killing me. And I was Not going to "cheat" by Googling. Ah, I feel better. Oh, and the movie about EDIE Sedgwick is called Factory Girl. Good day to you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I thought pickles was brines.

I knew the Gene Sarazen clue (who was actually an Italian and real name was EUGENIO SARACENI).

I initially wrote Mad Hatter for 53 across, but once I got sweet potato pie, I knew it had to be wrong.

BTW: sweet potato pie is delish.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I cannot believe I didn't know the Ramones weren't actually brothers - very embarrassing. And I will admit here that I was trying to make JOEY fit as the answer to "one of Carter's charges, on TV," that Carter being Nell and Joey being the orphan character played by Joey (now Joseph) Lawrence on Gimme A Break. Gah.

Don't know much about Laurel and Hardy either, I realize. Looking at their filmography, there are many colorful titles I'd have preferred to see clued. Saps at Sea sounds intriguing, as do Bacon Grabbers, A Chump at Oxford, Should Married Men Go Home?, Putting Pants on Philip and Air Raid Wardens. Recommendations, anyone?

C zar 11:45 AM  

Well, I'm in sync with the group... Wendy, I always thought the RAMONES were real brothers as well. And don't know why, like Rex, I thought PONIARD was POIGNARD or POINARD or something along those lines, I wonder if there's not a foreign version of this word I've seen somewhere? Maybe I remember some actor mispronouncing it, like when doing Much Ado About Nothing:

"She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star." (II,i)

By chance, I was watching "The Prestige" while doing the puzzle, and was working the Tesla clue just as the character was introduced. My wife said, "Oh my, is that David Bowie?" he was actually quite good. I suppose MAD DOCTOR fits this as well.

Rex Parker 1:01 PM  

isabella, it's good to have you back, if only for your dependable All-Things-Italian perspective.

c zar, MAD DOCTOR is a weird phrase to me. MAD SCIENTIST seems far, far more commmon. EVIL GENIUS is nice, too, though doesn't quite fit the crazy hair requirement of the clue.

Wendy: Based on nothing, I recommend "Putting Pants on Philip." And god bless you for referencing "Gimme a Break," unprompted.


Anonymous 3:30 PM  

The fun in this puzzle was not so much in the solving but in the funny (well, to me, anyway) ways I found myself going astray. For 1D: Pickles, I thought BRINES, then MESSES, and didn't agree to SOUSES until absolutely everything else in that corner was unarguable. Sady, this taught me that I should be drinking more martinis. :)

TABLELINEN was a good one - could have been TABLECLOTH or some kind of chef's wear beginning with the letter "t" like...TACO APRONS!!

Has anyone ever heard anyone say, "I must have missed the MEMO"? I have not. I have missed the BOAT, certainly, and I have missed the EXIT, but I have never really heard of missing the MEMO. (Missing the POINT is common, too, but I couldn't make it fit...)

I loved the RAMONES reference, and more so, the EDIE Sedgewick one. Velvet Underground is totally delicious. The song you quoted, Rex, is one of my favorites.

Oh, and one more funny mistake I wanted to make - TIFF for PUFF. I kept TIFF even when TANTRIES and ITAHANS clearly made no sense at all!

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Laurel and Hardy fans would recommend Sons of the Desert, A Chump at Oxford and Saps at Sea.

Rex Parker 3:45 PM  

Ultra- MEMO was a gimme for me, so someone, somewhere, must have said it. It DID sound a bit off somehow, or awkward, but I knew it, so ... so I don't know what.

Lots and lots of people seem to have fallen into BRINES, but my wrong ARIEL kept me from ever making that mistake. I thought [Pickles] was going to be a plural noun meaning "jams" or "sticky situations."


Geographreak 4:09 PM  

I got duds for outfit instead of dude which fits since the down clue is for narrow bladed weapons which I put down as poniards, not poniarde.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Souse is another name for head cheese, a recipe for which can be found at:

It is made with vinegar so pickles and souses seemed somewhat synonymous to me. Then I read ultra Vi's comment about martinis and realized what kind of souses and pickles the constructor had in mind. Sometimes I think I am too naive to keep up.

Fan Onymous

Campesite 5:23 PM  

i wanna be sedated after doing this puzzle. I'm glad Rex reminded me of the ELO/Jeff Lynne connection, for I was thinking on the Wilbury's clue: Patrick, you've got bob DYLAN or tom PETTY as possibilities and you go with jeff LYNNE?! But now I'm ok with it.

Orange 5:41 PM  

Let's say you walk into a meeting at work or meet up with friends and discover that almost everyone's wearing the same color top, or they've got some other similarity in their choice of DUDS. One person—let's call her Olivia—sticks out because she doesn't match. "We're all wearing turtleneck sweaters today, Olivia. Didn't you get the memo?"

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

Thanks for the explanation, Amy.

I plead ignorance due to never having worked in an office, though I suppose the phrase could just as well be uttered at an orchestra rehearsal...

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

SWL here. This puzzle moved along OK for me until SE. There I hit the dreaded cross of two absolute unknowns, female baccah and the Wilbury's. I knew about Petty and Dylan but did not know Lynne. I had obsess and table linen but couldn't get anything else. I too thought of Give Me a Break or ER's John Carter but nothing fit. You have to go back aways to get to Sgt. Carter and Gomer. Any way after much staring I googled Wilburys (second time I've done it since I swore off) and SE fell into place. I vaguely remeber Laurel and Hardy getting killed at the end of Sons?

Rex Parker 9:34 PM  

LOTS of searches for the "Female bacchanalian" clue today, so you weren't alone, clearly.


Anonymous 1:23 AM  

Thanks Rex, nice to know. BTW the epitome of the MADDOCTOR for me is Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. Also, I did not like souses. Take a noun, put an "s" on it and make it a verb only found in crosswords. But, it is a Saturday puzzle!

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

Sunday noon and the smugness quotient is well below zero. Too many cups of both tea in the mornings, and coffee in the afternoon to count.

Too many trips to Google too. (then I arrive here only to find that Googling is a synonym for cheating) Cruel, Rex, very cruel.

The straw that broke the camel's back was that I had spelled LINEN with 2 "I"s giving me FLIES instead of FLEAS aaarrrgghhhh!

If you had a party for the denizens of Greek Mythology, would OREADS, NEREIDS and DRIADS become MAENADS if they drank too much wine?

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Oh yeah, the biggest red herring for me was BRONCO for "Unbroken mount" which convinced me it was a rebus puzzle. Ah well......

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