SATURDAY, Nov. 24, 2007 - Victor Fleming

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Golfing (or, none)

This felt very easy. I didn't solve it in one unbroken wave, but when I got bogged down (a time or two), I rebooted fairly easily in another portion of the puzzle. The NE was particularly easy - more Thursday than Saturday. But the puzzle was reasonably colorful and entertaining, and, really, did I need to be taxed severely while my brain and other organs are still recovering from the unfamiliar onslaught of turkey? Answer: no.

There is no theme to today's puzzle, but as with yesterday's, the two, long anchor-answers appear to be thematically related - yesterday it was baseball, today, golf:

  • 11D: Display at a golf tournament (leader board)
  • 23D: Open competitors, often (touring pros)

Now TOURING PROS could refer to other sports, most notably tennis, but given the golfiness of its fellow long answer, I'm calling it a golf clue.

A number of gimmes added to the easiness of the puzzle, though in some cases the "gimme" status of a clue may have applied only to me.

  • 17A: 1976-85 sitcom setting (Mel's Diner) - Mmmm, my cultural sweet spot. Got this with just the "N" in place (from another gimme, 7D: 1980s-'90s N.B.A. star Danny (Ainge) - I think that this clue is recycled from the Last time we saw AINGE - a few months ago)
  • 20A: Rd. designer, e.g. (engr.)
  • 34A: Three-time 1990s French Open winner (Seles) - stabbed in the back by an insane Steffi Graf fan during a match in 1993 - she was never the same player after that, despite winning one more Grand Slam - the Australian Open - in 1996. She grunted a lot on court.
  • 47A: Where to find "Rome" (HBO) - easy easy easy; my gateway to the SE
  • 1D: Pitcher who was the 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year (Nomo) - Hideo Nomo. A pitcher in 4 letters, from the 90's? There aren't many. Nomo pitched the last Red Sox no-hitter before Clay Buchholz pitched his earlier this year. Buchholz pitched his no-hitter in his second career start, while Nomo pitched his in his Red Sox debut.
  • 4D: Part of a long and winding road? (ess)
  • 8D: Many a camper, informally (RV'er)
  • 41D: "Ten North Frederick" novelist (O'Hara) - OK, maybe that one is a gimme only for me and a few assorted John O'Hara fans out there.
  • 44A: Fast-food chain known for its floats ("A and W") - God I love root beer floats. "A&W" is the actual corporate name, so ... the "AND" feels a little wrong; and yet it was easy, and floats are tasty, so who cares?
  • 52D: Big Apple-bound luggage tag code (LGA) - like all the above clues, Very easy

Not to say that there wasn't some trouble:

  • 25A: Doesn't belt it out (croons) - this threw me, as the opposite of "belt it out" to me is something like "sings softly" - which is apparently Exactly what "CROONS" means. I thought it was just another word for "sings"; so I balked at CROONS, thinking, "If Bing Crosby was really a 'crooner,' how did anybody ever hear him?"
  • 33A: "Happy Days Are Here Again" composer (Ager)
  • 35A: Israeli opera conductor Daniel (Oren)
  • 38A: _____ Diamond, author of the 1998 Pulitzer-winning book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" (Jared) - seen this book on the shelves of bookstores Many time; never noticed the name. I'd like to thank the puzzle constructors for going the Pulitzer route here and not making me think about the Subway sandwich guy this morning.
  • 46D: Loudness unit (sone) - my high Physics grades from high school / college did not help me here.

Assorted other stuff:

  • 21A: Begin energetically (wade in) - I don't doubt that this is correct, but "wading" is such a non-energetic act that this pairing feels off kilter to me.
  • 29A: Source of political support (power base) - I had PARTY BASE, which seems a more in-the-language phrase for politics, but this is good too.
  • 9D: "_____ out!" ("Yer") - had "GET" at first; YER is much better.
  • 5D: It's usually spun first (side one) - Me, trying to solve this clue: "SIDE ... CAR? SIDE ... ARM?" I was cursing this one until I got it. Brilliant.
  • 43D: Massey of film (Ilona) - memorize her name, as she is on the prowl and likely to return (this is her second appearance in the past couple months).

Happy birthday to my brother-in-law, Tom (and Happy birthday Eve Eve to me),

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Hardest one for me was AANDW. But as a golfer, TOURINGPROS and LEADERBOARDS were ez.
Where did you get that pic of John Daly, the pro who has done the least with the most talent?
I'm waiting for a NOMO-style curveball soon, getting a "Massey of Hollywood" clue for RAYMOND.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

As a volunteer DJ, I'm embarrassed at how long it took me to get SIDE ONE.

Did the clue for ESS really need a question mark?

I liked the cluing for OPOSITIVE (I was sure, at first, that it would involve silt or something related to river banks.)

Given the golf/tennis clues, it took me longer than it should have to get LENTO.

Thank goodness for Ray Bradbury's stories of his youth, or I don't think i"d ever get Lash LARUE.

Two days after Thanksgiving, and I was stumbling over AANDW, because I was after the wrong float. (Plus, I never remember seeing A&W stores as fast-food franchises; I only knew them as a brand to buy in stores.)

CAROLE King is one of the people I would most like to interview because of all the songs she wrote. And I'm glad the adjacent answer was David JANSSEN and not the person-whose-name-I-forget who starred in the recent remake of THE FUGITIVE.

I was sure I'd have to google some of these clues, but it ended up I didn't - which means this MUST have been an easy Saturday! (Although I only guessed with SONE. Can someone explain about how SLRS are shooters?)

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Agreed--it was a fairly mild Saturday effort, but there were some interesting twists. Had "Ferry" instead of "Ainge" for the longest time, but then again I'm a Midwestern boy and those Celtic whiners don't come to mind as readily. Liked the Carole King clue and also the Lash Larue offering, but my fave was "where things may be neatly ordered." Just love the word "neat" as applied to hard liquor.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

I'm marking today as probably my least enjoyable Saturday puzzle this year. Maybe its just me, but the theme seemed to be "Names names & more names that marcie will have to google to get". Other than Lash Larue and Carole King, & Seles with a couple of crosses, the rest were unknown to me in the context.

There were some nice cluings and enjoyable bits, but my overall experience wasn't much fun.

I really felt good about my first fill, Milwaukee (Schlamiel, Schlamazle!) which as we know turned out to be WRONG...hung me up there for a while.

I'm glad Rex and others had a more rewarding experience with this one that I did.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

SLR stands for single lens reflex - a kind of camera- and a camera is a shooter!!
slrs are shooters

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Glad you liked it..For me, it had all the ease and fun of passing a kidney stone....or watching Uncle Victor's Golf and Tennis matches at Grandma's Thanksgiving Bloat in a 90 degree apartment whose windows hadn't been opened since the Eisenhower administration.
No wonder I don't remember sports trivia. I was comatose on the fur coats strewn on Grandma's bed.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Had more trouble with this one than any in the past few weeks!! After much angst, and quite a bit of Googling, I just had the NE left and eventually took a quick peek at Rex's 'clash' which got me going and I finished under my own steam. However, I did get 'aandw' very quickly as there used to be one tucked away here in rural north jersey!!

P.S. What is a carom?

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

a carom is

a shot in billiards in which the cue ball strikes each of two object balls


Anonymous 11:33 AM  


Glance in this clue refers to "bounce off," e.g., a "glancing blow" in boxing, so it's a synonym for carom.

Alex S. 11:40 AM  

Re Monica Seles's grunting. Remember how unusual that was back when she was doing it and the mini controversies that erupted when other players complained that they found it distracting? And now pretty much every female tennis player does it and it is even infecting the men's side.

I put in HBO as a gimme for the "Rome" clue but since that show was canceled after its second season and is no longer on HBO I had a bit of a concern the answer would be DVD.

Danny Ainge was a gimme but I think of him primarily as a Portland whiner not a Boston whiner (I grew up a Trailblazer fan so I didn't consider him a whiner at the time). Looking at his career on Wikipedia I am amazed to see he only spent two seasons in Portland. It seemed much longer.

barrywep 11:43 AM  

I liked the golf sub-theme too.TOURINGPROS screams golf to me. It could theoretically be applied to tennis, but you don't have the same large group that plays every week with a chance to win occasionally (especially when Tiger takes the week off.

Even though the legal clues usually help me with Fleming puzzles, it was nice to see a law-free puzzle from Judge Vic. I guess he must be spending as much time on the links as in the courtroom.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

"Carom" is a term from billiards (sometimes applied in other situations). I'm reading "glance" in the clue to mean a single collision, while a carom requires two collisions.

I'm glad I could explain something about sports here, because in the NW I was totally flummoxed by the baseball and basketball clues. Please, give me opera, knitting, obscure geography: anything but sports!

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Just out of curiosity: has a Victor Fleming puzzle every had an entry having to do with "Wizard of Oz" or "Gone with the Wind"?

wendy 12:03 PM  

COLD SORES??? Really? Omigod. Glad I was not physically at the breakfast table when that one erupted, as it were.

marcie and pinky - right there with you in terms of how enjoyable and/or easy it was. It wasn't. I thought the theme was "words filled with the letter E that, even after googling to get them, didn't open up anything else around them." Or some other INELEGANT phrase. When even googling gets you diddly squat, you know it's a bad day.

LEADER BOARD - they use that terminology on Dancing with the Stars; didn't know it came from the golf world. I didn't get it, in any event.

The longest word that I got on my own was JANSSEN. Hooray for me; I was alive when the old Fugitive was on the air. I feel ... such a sense of accomplishment.

I did get A AND W; there was a free-standing one around the corner from me in my previous city of residence.

I've seen Hamlet eight times and couldn't even get that answer. I kept wanting A NAVE, though it was pretty obvious 23D was not going to end in V.

Looking forward to a Sunday puzzle in which I might SHINE.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  


A few years ago in a Sun puzzle there was this clue:

Director of "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" (who is no relation to the author of this puzzle)

The author and answer were both 13 letters.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

On second thought, the author was probably Vic (for 10 letters) and not Victor.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Ha! Milwaukee! That's a good one! Me, I was steadfast on Boulder, CO and then reluctantly changed it to UC, Boulder. Guess I wanted so badly for the clue to be referring to "Mork and Mindy". Nanoo, nanoo! This, along with FAR out, IGUANAS, MAYDAY (distress call), and ALL THUMBS (clumsy) -- plus the fact that I loathe loathe loathe names -- led me down a long and winding road of puzzle disgruntlement. My assessment: "Ack! Gag me with a chork!"

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Went well except for Oregon portion, where I tried for a long time to be happy with SIDEARM as something that was usually spun (twirled?) first. Was prepared to be righteously annoyed with "usually". All fixed when I finally came up with CROONS.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

It surely wasn't easy for me, given the time consumed; but it wasn't too difficult, as everything seemed to appear after sufficient brain strain. I learned a bunch of names, and enjoyed the puzzle. It takes some guts to put INELEGANT in your puzzle, given the number of puzzle critics ready to claim your effort suffers accordingly.

I started in the middle, with Graff (well, there are two Fs in her first name at least). I should have been tuned into SELES, because when she was dating Paul Allen, and visiting him here on Mercer Island, some of his neighbors set up a Monica-watch for when she went out jogging. Celebrity sighting madness.

I think the WADEIN answer does show a bit of energy -- when I associate it with a bog or a swamp or a messy desk or a sticky problem, rather than a swimming pool or a lake or such.

I was really fooled on the "Common bank deposit?" I should never question a question mark.

Are there still any MUSICHALLS? Seems they've been replace by stadiums and arenas and night clubs and churches and multi-use pavilions. Just haven't heard the term in a long while.

CLASH fell easily as yesterday I heard an amazing duet: Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Beautiful stuff.

Orange 12:50 PM  

JJF, I believe Vic uses his full name in his bylines in deference to his mother. The only "Vic Fleming" byline in Cruciverb is for that first themeless Sun puzzle with VICTOR FLEMING in the grid—the rest of the time it's Victor Fleming. And GK, I don't think Vic includes GWTW references routinely. Often there's an entry or two pertaining to the law and drunk driving (Vic's a judge in traffic court).

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

This was a struggle for me as I had a bad case of "right idea wrong word" in NE. I put SALOONS for 24a and was pleased when the S gave me SPICE for 24d. It took quite a while to undo that. I also had GET for 9d and held onto it for too long. I did not remember AINGE and had trouble seeing MELS.. unitl I got rid of the T in GET, so NW was also slow going. A bit more work than fun but still enjoyable.

BTW, my daily 2 cents worth may be a little less than daily for the next couple of weeks. My niece is defending her Ph. D. thesis at Stanford next week and we will be traveling slowly up the CA coast to be there for the event. She is graduating from Stanford’s new interdisciplinary program in "how to save the world." She is an amazing young woman and we are quite proud of her. We’re taking the lap top but access may be sporadic.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

how about Radio City Music Hall?

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Coincidentally, when I sat down last night to do this puzzle I had just watched Jeopardy! which had a clue asking for the name of the character who caught the one-armed man in the last episode of a long-running tv series. The answer of course was The Fugitive, and Alex remarked, "as played by David Janssen". So what would have been real hard dip into the past became a gimme.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Can someone please spell out SLRS for me? (46A Some shooters, briefly).

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

So sorry but I found this one hard. Had to google Mssrs. Nomo and Ager or never would have finished as thought "necessary" was" manditory."
Am with Rex on the idea of wading in requiring a lot of energy. Better to say plunge or dive in, I think.

Alex S. 2:09 PM  


see the 10:48 a.m. comment by chefbea.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

NE & SW fell easily but the
Begin Energetically should be
Dive in - not wade in IMO.
begin lacadasically would be
Wade in.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

I filled in more of this puzzle on my first pass through than I usually do on a Saturday, so I thought I might actually finish without a google, but it was not to be. I was done in by too many names I did not have at hand: O'Hara, Oren, Jared, Regan, Ilona, and Ager. Graff for Seles and updos for nails confounded me in the middle and I was looking for a Michael Jackson reference for "King of pop." Great to see that it was Carole, as she's always been a favorite. Clam finally came to me (though it wasn't a favorite), giving me Larue and Ager, and a headslap on side one. Reluctantly googling O'Hara and Oren opened up the rest. Had to look at "A nass" too long and then I felt like one.

I'm in agreement on wade in, though I liked it crossing waves. Coincidentally, I'm heading off to surf (energetically)!

Michael Chibnik 2:36 PM  

This was (for a Saturday) exceptionally easy for me, probably because of all sports clues. Jared Diamond was the first clue I got; I think this is a great book (and is about stuff I know a lot about professionally).

my favorite clue-answer combo: bank deposit -- opositive [even though the letters "posit" occur in both)

fergus 2:50 PM  

I recall David JANSSEN plugging Anacin, or some other headache remedy. Almost got to the point of requiring that sort of product due to a couple of errors in the broad SE spread. Fell for AMMO since Shooters could be things that are shot; AMASS for Take in, e.g. was on the wrong track; POWER BLOC instead of BASE; and after rejecting EWR and JFK, dumped in LAG.

Other tangential Golf Clues could be HELP ME after an INELEGANT swing, or more directly GO TO SLEEP, which is what anyone I've persuaded to watch the Masters with me has inevitably done.

What AN ASS, I thought to myself since I was stumbling all over Elsinore with one of Lear's daughters trying to figure out whether it might have been NOSS or NUSS or NISS that Hamlet had bethought himself.

Though JARED's work is highly worthwhile reading, I also gained a a lot of insight from an elementary school historical atlas recently. Running through the developments in metallurgy and the consequent military prowess, it traced the dominant civilizations of ancient history in the same way that Steel does in Diamond's thesis.

I'm in full skeptical concurrence about WADE IN lacking much energy. It's odd that the answer fell right below the Zealous and EAGER pairing.

Deciding on YER for 9D gave me one of those extremely satisfying Crossword moments -- when a letter or two can spill a huge logjam and all the follow-on letters pop right into place as fast as one can write.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Thanks for the nice comments and the feedback. FYI, Orange is right about my byline always being Victor, because that is what my mother called me, and she got me hooked on crosswords. (In joint byline USAT's, it's been V. Fleming and it's been Vic Fleming on a couple of others where either editor erred or my co-constructor submitted it wrong - oh, well ...).

The NY Sun puzzle referred to was a Themeless Thursday and had the answers VICTOR FLEMING and CHAMP AT THE BIT, which I viewed as a mini-theme, because VICTOR and CHAMP are synonyms. The puzzle's byline was "By 4-Down."

Also FYI, the director Victor Fleming also had the nickname Vic.

I'm fascinated by the insight that so many have that my puzzles have more than the normal number of legally related clues. I do not argue with consensus, although I do have a slightly different take on that whole point.


Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Lots of nice red herrings or misleads.
Could not figure out Arrowhead for game sticker for quite some time, but then...ouch!

Linda G 4:34 PM  

thanks, chefbea, for pointing out it, but didn't get it.

rock rabbit, I also had MAYDAY and refused to let it go...until ILONA forced it.

Rex, I've only known one other person who talked about her birthday eve eve...she actually celebrated it. Oops...maybe you do!

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

This definitely seemed easy for a Saturday, one of my fastest ever. (I don't time myself, just know it was much faster than normal.)

I have to put in a plug for "Guns, Germs, and Steel", an excellent book - highly recommended.

Loved the clue for "taverns"

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

chefbea, thanks for the explanation of SLRS. I was thinking "shooters" might have something to do with marbles (as opposed to gunslingers) and wasn't even thinking about cameras. Well, that's a Saturday for you!

leon, you're right about ARROWHEAD. Very cleverly clued, as was TAVERNS.

I got the "r" from MELSDINER and assumed that the answer to 9down was FAR. (What can I say? I'm a child of the '60s.) Took a while before I realized it had to be YER.

barney, I'm with you 100 percent on the Cash/Strummer version of "Redemption Song." The week that it came out on a box set (almost exactly four years ago, now that I think of it), I began my radio show with that song. Immediately after it ended, I got a call from a listener who said, "You just played three hours worth of music."

I digress.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

SLR=Single Lens Reflex, as opposed to rangefinder, or other camera type.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

I stumbled and fell on Lash Larue of whom I had never heard--Ainge and Oren either for that matter. "Larrup" means to beat or thrash and I guessed an alternate spelling was being used.
(And Guns, Germs & Steel is a fascinating and wonderful book--although it is not necessary to read every word of it.)

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Way too many names in this puzzle for my taste but I guess that's what makes it hard. The interesting thing about names is that either you know them right off the bat or you don't know them. That said, I'm always amazed when I can figure out the name either from the cluing or the crosses (today's example: the O in OHARA).
Got LARUE from the crosses but had no idea who he was (or even that it was a literary name) until I came here and read the comments!
Not thrilled about WADE IN, either, but I do think I've seen it used like that, such as "he waded into the melee".
P.S. Not even close to a pristine puzzle today!

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Did no one else think of Fergy as the wife of the Duke of Cornwell?

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

I see why now, Fergie is (was) the Duchess of York/Pork.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

Yes, but Camilla is the Duchess of Cornwell. Too bad Rotweiler won't fit either.

And David Janssen also starred in the '50's as "Richard DIAMOND, Private Detective" which would have crossed brilliantly with Jared DIAMOND up at 38A and D. Wonder if Will Shortz changed the clue on that one?

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