Saturday, July 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: None (or maybe "failure" with the crossing of YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL and MET ONE'S WATERLOO)

Hi, all. Wade here for Rex, who, for those of you who might have been out of the loop lately, is in New Zealand. The backup team is PuzzleGirl, super-nifty gee whiz kid; Seth the boy genius; and me, the wealthy industrialist who bankrolls their crime-solving efforts and lets them drink all the Sunny D they want to in my opulent mansion. PuzzleGirl heads to Costa Rica this weekend, I'm here from Houston today, and Seth will be here tomorrow from Minneapolis to take your nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. (Don't forget your hat, Seth.)

I'm doing this write-up on Friday night because my dad has come down to stay with me a few days during my temporary bachelorhood and help me build an office in the garage. It's hard to get my dad to come to the city--he's afraid he'll get shot--but I've found that if you present him with a project the idea is more palatable to him, so I asked him to come help me build an office. (I have a three-and-a-half car garage but only one and a half cars.) My wife is nervous about the idea, I can tell by her voice, but she's in Scotland and can't do anything to stop us. She had no problem with the idea when I brought it up several months ago--"Yes, dear, sounds nice, dear," that sort of thing--probably thinking it would go the way of my other ideas, like moving to Portland or building a time machine (Seth and I have a plan), little realizing that this idea would fall into the infinitesimal percentage of stuff I say I'm going to do that actually gets done. So what you're reading was actually written last night between about 10 and 3 a.m. [I originally had midnight here, but PuzzleGirl went to bed and left me in the lurch to do my own formatting], with breaks for Chips Ahoy! (That's not me being overly excited about Chips Ahoy!, though I do love them; the exclamation point is part of the product's name, just like Dr Pepper's periodlessness.)

I have mixed feelings about this puzzle. I don't really have a "typical" Saturday solving experience. I might finish one in fifteen minutes, an hour, or in any other time frame or not at all. This one took me about 45 minutes probably, though I stopped the clock at 35:16 with nine blank squares in the NE and got up and had some Chips Ahoy!, the original ones, not the chewy ones or peanut butter ones or ones with M&M's or any of the other gimmicky ones, just your plain goddamned basic Chips Ahoy! we've all been eating since we were old enough to eat cookies and I don't know why people have to keep messing with stuff that works fine the way it's always been, which seemed to clear my head, and when I came back I saw GAINS staring at me (9D: Results of bull markets) in that wonderful, mystical crossword way of things, and quickly polished off the rest of the nine squares and a couple more Chips Ahoy! With milk, of course! [sic]

I started the puzzle with high hopes when it flattered my intelligence with 17A Hero/giant created by Rabelais (GARGANTUA), an answer I knew, probably from crosswords. I thought we were in for another top-notch puzzle like the ones we've had pretty much all week. I thought this puzzle was going to prove I was a genius for a day, which is what crosswords are supposed to do. It didn't. In fact, it sort of seemed to resent that I knew GARGANTUA so effortlessly. Do you ever suspect that a crossword sometimes changes itself out of spite after you've started doing it, that a correct answer you've entered pisses it off so much that it rewrites itself so that your next answer, correct when filled in, is made no longer correct? I'm pretty sure that's what this puzzle did, because after GARGANTUA the next answer I filled in, with great confidence, was TEEN (31D: Selective service registrant). I'm sure that was the right answer when I entered it, but by the time I'd gotten to the downs the puzzle had rewritten itself so that the new correct answer was now MALE, and that's what totally boogered up the NE, and that's why the puzzle, cornered and confused and almost undone by its own malevolence, had to conspire to invent the word GOBOS (9A: Recording studio sound shields), which wasn't a word when I started doing the puzzle but now the dictionaries say really exists.

Still, the puzzle and I wound up on good terms by the end of it. We learned to accept each other's differences and, in the process, I think, learned something about ourselves. I saw grudging respect when I filled in that double A in CANAANITE (56A: Language group including Hebrew). For the double B in BB GUN (1D: Plinking weapon) I was rewarded with a smile. When I got to the end of YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL (8D: Words of consolation), the music swelled, the puzzle looked at me and said quietly, "Wade, well done." Then it shot my dad.

Noteworthy stuff, or at least noted stuff:
  • 16A: "Avoid extinction, say" (ADAPT) – The "say" clue is underrated. I hate the "say" clue, but somehow still it's underrated.
  • 22A: "___ sequence" (DNA) – The fill-in-the-blank clue can bite you in the ass like no other unless it's a title or some other type of unique proper noun. I filled in INA here on my first pass, which was a really stupid guess and only coincidentally one letter off from the actual answer, which proves what I've been saying all along: God despises me.
  • 26: "Some pinball targets" (RAMPS) – We need a name for this irritating type of clue. It reminds me of conversations I used to have with an old girlfriend. "You'll never guess what I saw on my way to work." "You're right, I won't." "I'll give you a hint. They're some pinball targets." "Some pinball targets." "Yes!" "That could be anything. It could be anything a pinball hits." "Tries to hit. I'm not saying anything more!" "It's ridiculous. Just tell me what you saw on your way to work." "I told you! Some pinball targets!" "But it could be anything a pinball hits! Tries to hit, I mean! And I don't even know anything a pinball hits! Tries to hit, I mean!"

  • 35A: Grandson of Noah (MAGOG) – Biblical names are the new Dylan. (Remember when there were kids named Jimmy? I had a friend named Jimmy. So did you.) I don't think anybody named Magog, however, will need to start using his middle initial any time soon.
  • 36A: Suffered defeat (MET ONE'S WATERLOO) – Seth was disgrunteld with this answer; he says it gets only two Google hits, both on a Japanese translation site. Me, I was gruntled. The clue is straight down the middle of the plate, unassailable really, and the phrase is pleasing to me, probably because it makes me think of the first time I heard the word "Waterloo." Stonewall Jackson (the country singer, not the Civil War general who died across the river and through the trees) recorded a semi-novelty song of that title back in the fifties, and my mother had it on a 45 she'd owned since she was a girl. It was my little sister's favorite song when she was about four and I was six. Neither of us knew what it was about; we just liked the word and the tune. My favorite song was "Running Bear" by Sonny James. It was about an Indian boy and girl whose respective tribes are enemies and are separated by a river. Running Bear jumps into the river to swim across to White Dove, and she comes to meet him, and they both drown, but now they'll be together forever "in their happy hunting ground." My mother would play one and then the other, one and then the other, and sometimes she'd play Homer and Jethro singing "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?" which we liked because it had actual dogs barking on the chorus. This was in a rattlesnake- and yellow-jacket-infested old farmhouse we rented at the end of a dirt road near a town called, really, Scotland. There was nothing else to do but stick grasshoppers through their thoraxes on barbed wire fences and watch them try to push themselves off the barb. I did that too. No telling how many grasshoppers I slaughtered as a kid.
  • 1D: Plinking weapon (BB GUN) – It's all fun and games til somebody loses an eye. ("Plinking" though? "Plinking"?)
  • 3D: Five-sided pods (OKRAS) – So they are. I'd never counted. We pronounced it "okry." My grandpa wouldn't eat okra because, he said, it was a gourd. Like that settled it.
  • 15D: Kraft offering in a can (PARMESAN) - At my house we pretty much inhale this stuff. I wonder what it is.
  • 24D: Braking maneuvers for skaters (T-STOPS) - I didn't know this, of course--nobody did. Liar. But I should mention that one of the reasons I'm building an office in my garage is because I just moved my new official office to the Galleria for reasons that make sense except that I HATE WORKING IN THE GALLERIA! I literally work in the mall now. When I go downstairs, there are all the people I don't like, all in one place at the same time. The Galleria is like a little custom-made hell just for ol' Wade. Anyway, there's an ice-rink in the mall, which is why I bring it up.
  • 34D: Trattoria offering (OSSO BUCO) – They eat a lot of this at Artie's on The Sopranos. I still can't spell it right if left to my own devices.
  • 47D: One-stanza poem (HAIKU) – Took me a long time to get this. I'm a cinquain man myself.
  • 52D: "Creator of 1867's 'Grand Caricatura'" (NAST) – "This is sure to spark a revival in interest of our great-great-great-uncle Tom's work!" think the descendants of Thomas Nast. No, kids, it won't. We just need his letters. (Got NASTY in the grid, too: (23A: Foul). I guess if you draw like Nast your caricatures could be described as Nasty.)
  • 55D: "Had an uneventful day" (SAT) – What, nothing happens when you're sitting down? The Easter Bunny begs to differ.

Seth tomorrow, Rex or maybe pot luck on Monday.



jae 4:56 AM  

See Wade, when you stay up late drinking you get to be first. I too tried TEEN as well as "GOT even" and TOEINS for TSTOPS, but mostly chewed through this one in about the same amount of time as you did (oops, also had YOUCANCOUNTONME briefly, must still be channeling abba click here to see what I mean ).

Medium is about right from my point of view and for the record I liked this one. The strange stuff, GOBOS, MAGOG, RANDA was all getable from the crosses.

FYI MAGOG's dad was Japheth.

Nice WATERLOO story!

imsdave1 5:34 AM  

Great write up Wade. You and I are on exactly the same wave length today. GOBOS - at least is wasn't clued as 'cheer for the sox, on scoreboards'.

Off to the golf course. Have a great Saturday all.

SethG 7:11 AM  

GOBOS was a gimme.

Ha, you see I'm kidding. Heck, I've never even heard of Ravelais. Or ANA Whassername. Or ATTAR. Or LIANA. And I do like my OKRAS, but the number of sides to an OKRA never made much of an impression. So yeah, not so great with the NW. Lots more elsewhere that I've never heard of, but that I _was_ able to get from crosses.

At least I caught the Wodehouse reference, and even blogged once about Zadie Smith quoting him incorrectly. "Some way", she said, instead of "far".

I did't know the Sonny James--we learned the Johnny Preston version (of the Big BOPper's song) up north. We didn't plink. We did listen to a skosh of ABBA (and too much Manilow).

I'm a published HAIKUaire, and I played the Pinball Wizard in a camp play when I was 9 or 10--Wade's seen the picture. My dad's friends call him G(R)OBO.

Barry G. 7:40 AM  


Nothing to say, really, except that this puzzle royally kicked my butt. On my first pass through, the only answer I entered with any confidence whatsoever was my beloved PATRIOTS, and toward the end I even started doubting that answer. Just too many obscure proper names and tricky clues for me, I guess.

To my credit, I did eventually finish, but only with significant help from Mister Google.

I feel so dirty...

JannieB 7:57 AM  

Well, I did this one faster than yesterday, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much. The cluing just felt flat. National Champions??? Of What??? Aren't Super Bowl winners considered World Champions??? That took forever.

Typical Saturday solving process - stumbled around looking for traction - Una in the NW, com/aim in Nebraska, teen in the NE (yeah, I know), latitude in the SE. Then nothing for awhile. Then remembering yesterday, tried Bikini top (first thought bra) and nailed the NW. Down the coast, then up the middle and finally ended in the NE again -

Lots of WTF stuff today - Randa, Gobos, Magog, Vickers. But the crosses helped and I finished with no googles.

Wade, thanks for the early morning laughs - great way to start the day!

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

LOL on the write up. Hope your father has recovered from his plinking wounds. This was a great puzzle for me, though the northeast was the last to fall. Took a complete guess on Gargantua to make it all come together. Agree that the Patriots clue was weak. And around here, we say OLE Smokey, so that tripped me up for a while.

PuzzleGirl 8:29 AM  

Nice job on the write-up, Wade. Also, nice job convincing me you needed my help with formatting causing me to stay up until 4am the other night. I won't be making That mistake again!

After my first pass through this puzzle, all I had was MS PACMAN, EFT, BALD EAGLE, and ELOISE (for MARTHA). I first tried to solve this beast watching two episodes of "Entourage." I was so hopelessly behind that I thought I wouldn't finish. But when PuzzleHusband started watching ultimate fighting, forcing me into a quiet room, the rest fell, although not particularly easily.

I didn't fall into the TEEN / MALE trap, but only because ELOISE -- along with OPEN FORUM -- was hosing up that section so badly. I actually had DON'T THAT BEAT ALL in the grid for a while even though those are clearly Not words of consolation.

I think OLD SMOKEY is my favorite answer of the day.

@SethG: Maybe you could explain the Wodehouse reference for those of us who aren't smart enough to get it on our own. (And we also had a lot of Manilow at our house.)

Jeffrey 8:51 AM  

Rough puzzle today. The type that my wife looks at my completed version and says - you should have used a pencil. Started with INA for DNA and also had TEEN for MALE. OPEN FORUM for OPEN FLOOR. OUTER for OUTED. EPEE for SABER [try that trick]. ANA for UNA until another ANA showed up.

Ended with one error at the unknown-to-me crossing of OSSOBUCO/JON. Turns out Jon Vickers is Canadian so I have no excuse. And all you chefs will no doubt start about the OSSOBUCO.

Lots of double letters here - BBGUN, CANAANITE, ATTAR, YAHOO, WATERLOO, CNN, DINNER, OSSOBUCO, ALL, MESSY, FLOOR. If you spill Dinner's Osssobuco on the floor it will get all messy.

Another fine fill-in write up [we still love you Rex, don't get jealous].

alanrichard 8:53 AM  

Interesting write up. Tolstoy should be exhumed to be the next contributor. We have repeat bikini days. Certainly appropriate for this season as 48A insinuates. I wrote win some lose some for 8D initially and paid for it. But I got Bikini Top and the NE quickly. I had no idea what a GOBO is, but its a good thing for contextural analysis. This probably took me about 20-30 minutes. It always amazes me that I have no trouble finishing the Saturday Times and I ALWAYS have a hard time with the Newsday Saturday Stumper. Sometimes I think of the Saturday Stumper as "Meeting Ones Waterloo"!

Bill from NJ 8:58 AM  

Started in a rush, with GARGANTUA breaking open the NW and part of the Midlands. Skipped to the SE with LATITUDE TRUMAN AUX, all being gimmes. Skipped around after that getting several crosses YAHOO/MESSY JON/JAR SABER/RANDA (I'm a big baseball fan}.

The puzzle met its Waterloo at this point as I spread out into the NE with ODD getting me the odd GOBOS. Like everybody else I got MAGOG from the crosses.

The M in the Waterloo answer and the S from STEPS broke open the SW and a truly inspired guess got me ATEDINNER at 33D.

Really enjoyed this puzzle but I had to do a lot of hopskotching around in order to lasso it.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Jannieb: SB champs are indeed world champions. NCAA champs are national champions. This is pretty much true in all sports (pros are world champs, college kids are national champs). It's a terrible clue because it's not only not right, but it specifically refers to something related but different. Took me forever to get, but if it'd been clued correctly it would have been a gimme.

JannieB 10:10 AM  

@Anon 9:11 - thanks!

Ulrich 10:19 AM  

The first thing that struck me was the whirligig figure made by the black squares. A few days ago, I didn't even know what a whirligig was, and now I actually see one in a puzzle! After this, nothing could faze me, even not an initial INA for DNA (yes, me too). Loved the crossing of the loser phrases through the middle--how appropriate for a Saturday puzzle and me. To wit: never figured out the crossing of 53A and 49D--simply forgot to finish the SE in my rush to read another Wade epic--there's definitely another Tolstoy in the making.

PS for all who were interested in/ fascinated by the Erlking a few days ago: I've finished my own prose translation, which is far superior to anything I've found elsewhere. (Skip the long opening ramble if you're impatient.)

Shamik 10:30 AM  

@alanrichard: LOL...Tolstoy...I agree. But then, I should talk.

But, seriously Wade, entertaining write-up. Your dad is wearing the right hat to get shot at, though!

Whew! I thought the puzzle was a stinker, but then finished in my usual Saturday time. The SW fell in easily. But my first answers were 26A GATES and 9D RISES. So much for a boffo start!

Also fell to OPENFORUM and those selective service people are often ONEA. EFT went in. Then came out. Then went in. Then came out and then went in. So did STRATEGO.

Also wondered what snowy song had KEY at the end? Didn't think those tropical keys had snow!

Finally, liked the puzzle, pleased with my average time and no googles.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Aaah! Did you have to bring back memories of Little Running Bear? Now it's going to be running through my head all day. Oh well, about the puzzle, didn't we just have "YOU CAN'T WIN EM ALL" or a very similar long answer in a recent Sunday puzzle? My gimmees were GARGANTUA, SABER, TRUMAN, and OLD SMOKEY, and the long down just jumped out at me. Still took some time to solve with all the new stuff, but agree that you could get them from the crosses. Very enjoyable puzzle.

JC66 10:47 AM  

Wade, enjoyed the write up.

GOBOS + MAGOG made the NE an absolute bear for me.

Otherwise, a fun Saturday.

foodie 10:48 AM  

Wade, I shared with my husband your passage about the puzzle changing itself to punish you. He had this look of immediate recognition and said that, as a scientist, he has the complementary theory: You try to invent something new and no way will it work at first. Impossible. But then you keep at it and the universe changes so that what you're attempting becomes feasible... The universe conspires to accommodate your brilliance! I'd never heard this little philosophy of his and I've known him for decades. Now I'm thinking he's a little crazy. Thanks a lot!

This was the easiest Saturday for me, ever. No googling, hardly any hesitation. My gimme was "Rosa Damscena product", Damascus being my hometown, and ATTAR meaning the essence of roses. I seemed inspired, guessing STRATEGO with barely a hint, WATERLOO from the ending O, MENSA from the ending A, and so on. I liked the fact that DNA sequence and ADAPT for avoid extinction were in one corner, very evolutionary.

Needless to say, I now feel brilliant for a day, and love this so much I will name my next grandchild MAGOG.

foodie 10:56 AM  

PS. @Seth G re "Met one's Waterloo", the thing that makes it rare is the combination of the past tense and the use of "one's". Try "met HIS Waterloo" and you get over 12,000 hits and you can add more with all the variants.. I too am gruntled by it...

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Nice write-up except the relative difficulty should be: Impossible/
Are you kidding?

Steve (who only got the bottom left)

SethG 11:14 AM  

From my blog:
In White Teeth, Zadie Smith quotes P.G. Wodehouse: "...Samad was like Jeeves: if not exactly disgruntled, then some way from being gruntled." Or paraphrased, actually--PGW said "far from being". I know because I wrote that line down in my [travel] journal when I came across it [last] January.
Other Wodehouse lines I liked:

"He did what is known as struggling for utterance."

"Bertram Wooster is a man who knows when and when not to be among those present."

@foodie, As we discussed it last night I confessed that "It's all about the pronoun...but I don't like phrases stated differently than they're used." We talk frequently about whether words or phrases are "in the language", and we (and especially bloggers like Rex and Orange, though I don't mean to put words in their mouths--this is my opinion) bemoan the cases where most uses they find are from dictionary sites. In this case, the only links to the phrase _as it appeared_ were from dictionaries, and foreign ones at that.

Och, maybe I just don't like ONES. One will try to use it as much as one can tomorrow so one feels one's initial blogging effort is less worthy.

PuzzleGirl, stop worrying, one will be fine without you. As long as Andrea Carla Michaels is by my side,

alanrichard 11:21 AM  

I just realized, after reading JIMH, that although I wrote in NAST correctly, I was thinking Conde Nast. Sometimes you just get it right, even when you're clueless. Now I'm almost motivated to have some Osso buco and parmesian - except I'm vegan!!!

mac 11:23 AM  

@wade: great write-up, handsome dad and beautiful kids. Yours?

@jae: if it had been "you can count on me" crossing the Waterloo answer it really would have an Abba theme.

@Ulrich: ditto re the whirligig.

No googles, Friday time, and to me easier than yesterday's puzzle. On the first run-through I had 16A breed, 31D Eloise, and Ole Smokey. I personally think the common daisy is Shasta, but oxeye is more crosswordy. I like sinister, Canaanite, Gargantua and was blown away by yet another bikini! Learned a new word today, plinking.

It's so hot in Connecticut, I wish I were in NZ as well...

Unknown 11:24 AM  

My husband's favorite line from PGW is when he describes a fellow as looking like a parrot that's been dragged through a hedge backwards. Doesn't get much better than that.
Does anybody know what (a) gobos looks like?

Unknown 11:24 AM  

My husband's favorite line from PGW is when he describes a fellow as looking like a parrot that's been dragged through a hedge backwards. Doesn't get much better than that.
Does anybody know what (a) gobos looks like?

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

I think in a Rorschach kind of way, Ulrich's whirligig to me looks like the black-square vortex of death.

Did you ever have one of those times when somehow you completely overlook a clue and then, there it is! After working on this puzzle for 25 minutes, thinking I had gone through all the clues, there was MARTHA. That really helped me finish it up. Though I still have no idea about GOBOS or MAGOG.

I like the SABER/rattle-ing out in Colorado. And symmetry of MS PACMAN with STRATEGO.

Nice fill-in Wade (bad pun intended)! I'm sure you have all of your building permits in place for the garage right? D'oh! At least be sure to put in a CO detector...

I will leave it to the foodies, but do people really use OKRAS in the plural like that? "Tonight I had pulled pork with a side of okras." Really? Maybe this is another quaking ASPENS situation.

As kids we used to sing the OLD SMOKEY variant: "On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed..."

"WATERLOO" reminds me of ABBA, but that thread is SO yesterday...


Pythia 11:29 AM  

Enjoyable write-up, Wade. Must say I'm more a fan of Toll House choc chip cookies than Chips Ahoy, but whichever ones please us, I do endorse their medicinal value.

Not much pizzazz today, but a pleasant solve.

Another puzzle graced with a visit from 4th grade boys -- pinball, arcade game, BBGUNs, STRATEGO, skating, baseball, football. Must be a summer thing.

String BIKINI/BIKINI TOP two days in a row! Must be a summer thing. I always thought tan lines were caused when one OUTED (Exposed) oneself to UV rays. Those boys think differently --it's all about skin.

Was stopped by my world champion Pats being described as national champions. BCS has national champions.

BLOW AWAY was a fun way to start the puzzle. Liked the Italian minitheme -- OSSO BUCO and PARMESAN -- and kind of surprised that they weren't given the same clue. Does anyone use Kraft plastic parmesan in a can? Sacrilege.

OKRAS is an odd plural. "Time to throw the OKRAS into the gumbo pot."

Fave clues were for YARN, ATE DINNER and STASH. Rest of the clues were pretty straight today.

Unknown 11:29 AM  

Wade, that is MR. MAGOG to you. Being a CANAANITE demands respect. I was thinking Richard M Nixon could use a new middle name.
I had all three records you mention and remember the tragic heroine as 'Little White Dove.' Waterloo taught me the stories of Tom Dooley, Napoleon, Adam, so you could say Stonewall Jackson was my version of Sesame Street. I was bothered however, by the doggie in the window of the pet store. Why wouldn't it be for sale? Maybe in that pet store in the Galleria it was there for some SINISTER purpose.

I did solve this one faster than yesterday and enjoyed it more. As noted, the PATRIOT fill was clued in a way I question and I have to wonder why GOBOS was clued as an obscure version of a much better known optical device. Seems the word was unusual enough. I think there were more loser clues than the two long fills including OLDSMOKEY (not the fire fighting bear) where you can lose your true lover ala RUNNING BARE (really, how do you know it was running bear?).

Unknown 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 11:40 AM  

GOBOS are known to most of us as part of a light show. They create visual effects by forcing the light through a patterned aperture. Here is a sample you can both look at as a still or play in quicktime.

And here is a visual of sound GOBOS

Orange 11:47 AM  

What, have you all drunk the NFL's Kool-Aid? The Super Bowl ain't no "world" championship. You can't fail to invite the rest of the world to challenge you and then proclaim yourself the best in the world. The other countries don't play American football. The Super Bowl is nothing more than a national-level championship event.

Dr Pepper is periodless? Yes. There's a Judy Blume book about her. It's called Are You There, God? It's Me, Dr Pepper.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I made silly mistakes starting out which didn't help. I had dig/org where opt/net should be. And since I got the "p" on parmesan first, I filled in suit strap instead of bikini top. I couldn't believe bikini would come up again so soon. I also had oneA instead of male. Finally I changed all my mistakes and finished the puzzle with a feeling of satisfaction.

Wade I really enjoyed your write up except the part about the grasshoppers. In fact, all of you filling in for Rex have done a spectacular job!

Leon 12:04 PM  

Great puzzle Mr. McClary.

Another fine write-up Wade.

15 down threw me off for a while because it no longer comes in a can, try plastic. Kraft

jubjub 12:31 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, as normally I can't do Saturdays. Today the universe must be conniving to make me feel smart too.

@sethg, I also got stuck on the pronoun in METONESWATERLOO. I had your instead of one's, which didn't seem quite right to me, but it was the only reasonable pronoun with four letters.

Had trouble at the cross of UNA and LIANA. Didn't know either. I was hoping that a LIANA was like a cross between a lion and a hyena, or something, like a liger. Alas, it is only a plant.

Anyone know why YARNS are "Lies along the waterfront"? I get that yarns are stories, and therefore lies, maybe, but why along the waterfront?

I kept reading "Eco-friendly commuters" as "Eco-friendly computers", which didn't seem like a thing, but I put in PSDS, which could stand for power-saving devices. Just now I tried to google PEDS to figure out what it stood for ... Doy :).

Liked the long clues: YOUCANTWINEMALL, STRATEGO, OLDSMOKEY. I have bad memories of consistently losing to my younger brother at STRATEGO :).

@wade, Nice job! Loved the grasshopper story. In my lab, the biologists glue fruit flies to pins, show them repetitive movies of our choosing, and observe their resulting behavior. It's science!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

A MUCH better clue to 8D would have been "What NY Giants said to 32-A in 2008?"

Unknown 12:35 PM  

Even though other world teams don't get to contest it, if you said the the World Series Champions were the National champions, you would be wrong as the National champions would be from the other league. The PATRIOTS were likewise form the AFL not the National Football League.

By the end of the Judy Blume book she is Dr. Pepper.

miriam b 1:17 PM  

GOBO, my new word of the day.

Great looking family, Wade. The kids are adorable and your dad is handsome and distinguished - looks like Wilford Brimley on a VERY good day.

And you've outdone yourself with this writeup.

Doug 1:46 PM  

Speaking for the Canadian participants, we like it when clues like Nunavut come up because they're in our chilly sweet spot and make up for US-centric clues about the Civil War and state capitals. So when a skating clue comes up it should be a gimmee. WTF is a T-STOP???? I even googled it and nothing came up.

Hold on, I just googled T-STOP and not T-STOPS and it looks like a rollerblading move in which the skater drags the rear toe. I guess you could do that on ice skates, but it's definitely not common. "Gretzky t-stops and gets around a befuddled Lemieux ...?"

With the hype of Mamma Mia The Movie, is anyone else humming "Waterloo, knowing my fate is to be with you....Waterloo, finally facing my Waterloo..."

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

@jubjub: About “Lies along the waterfront”—I think it refers to fishermen, who hang out along the waterfront and are noted for telling tall tales, or yarns.

Wade, you’re my hero. Way too good at this.


HudsonHawk 2:00 PM  

This one was relatively easy for me, but we all seem to have different sweet spots.

Wade, you had me laughing yet again. Nice work.

@jubjub, I think the reference is that yarns are associated with sailors and/or fish stories.

Also hated, hated, hated the Patriots clue. Would have been much better just as Champions in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

For those that wanted Eloise, I assume you were thinking of Hints from Heloise? Is she cockney?

PuzzleGirl 2:09 PM  

@doug: What's going through my head is more like "Waterloo hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm too. Waterloo. hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm you."

@hudsonhawk: Yes, Heloise. Putting my head down on my desk now.

Unknown 2:16 PM  

The only freebies for me, the other Philly solver and former French major, were PETERNERO and GARGANTUA, but I kept going bit by bit. My reward is seeing the finest clue for EFT in a long time. My worst detour was PARMALAT instead of PARMESAN, which remained until the PATRIOTS showed up. This all seems to be a return to normal, with Fri and Sat taking more than one sitting. Funny how returning to the puzzle brings clarity.

fergus 2:21 PM  

For Took evening courses? I was heading down the STUDIED__ path, before Duh-ing the PATRIOTS. Having just used Flickr the other day, and finding I had to sign in via YAHOO made for good start, along with STRATEGO, which I've been tempted to enter in several grids recently.

I think we've seen PANTAGRUEL in the puzzle, as well, though that was probably a few years ago.

Several lefties I know take mock offense when they hear the word SINISTER.

The more I think about NASTY I realize how versatile the word can be, with each meaning very clear, at least if it's spoken.

mac 2:26 PM  

@sethg: I love those Wodehouse lines, I'm going to dig up one of his books on my shelves. Also have a book-ful of lines by Oscar Wilde, although I recently read that he wasn't the original source for one of them......

Are you nervous yet about tomorrow? You don't really have to have it done by 8 a.m., you know.

Just came back from the farmers' market, bought the first local tomatoes, blueberries, courgettes, crusty bread, basil and those red little roots I don't want to talk about anymore.

abnorma 2:36 PM  

This puzzle was easier than yesterdays once I realized that 62A was "latitude", not "altitude". I couldn't get 8D for a while...then I had the "aha" moment. Overall FUN puzzle.

Bill D 4:17 PM  


I don't know if it was the early hour or what, but Wade's stream-of-consciousness write-up was even more hysterical than his outstanding debut! Brilliant job, old top!

As for the puzzle, it kicked me up one side, over, around, down, under & through. My first pass yielded one whole, entire CNN! Orginally tried to Saturday-up my BIKINI from yesterday with "BRA STRAPS", but was shocked to find BIKINI TOPS back in vogue! Flew in on instruments, winging such as MENSA, OPEN FLOOR, PETER NERO, STRATEGO, & GARANTUA without a clue, only crosses. This is to say nothing of GOBOS, a bogus coinage if I ever heard one. Ultimately I had an "L" at the crossing of ATTAR and RAMPS, leaving ATTAL and LAMPS - yeah, it looked good after staring at this thing for 45 minutes...

Thanks again, Wade - another fun day riding shotgun, er, BB GUN, on your dizzying jaunt through Puzzleworld.

Jeff 4:24 PM  

Joe Randa? Joe Randa?!?! Really? He was a very so-so player, even in his prime. He was a career .284 hitter with 123 HRs, and was only a full-time player for 4 seasons. I got that one without any crosses because I'm a big baseball fan and he was on one of my fantasy baseball teams years ago. But he was so "eh" that he rode the fantasy pine all season. I turned to my wife and said, "Joe Randa is in the puzzle. That seems really unfair." Her retort, "Well, it IS Saturday." Indeed.

I made slow but steady progress on this and finished in a faster-than-normal time. I found it enjoyable, but not overly so.

Michael Chibnik 4:45 PM  

For the most part I thought this was a typical Saturday, challenging, but doable. Three were three answers -- all of which I eventually got -- that struck me as unfair, even if they were gettable by crosses. These were gobos, tstops, and (even though I am a baseball fan and vaguely knew the name) randa.

I knew stratego from long ago, but is this game still played by anyone? Despite being decent at chess, I don't think I ever won a game of stratego as a kid (or for that matter Gettysburg in which I always took the North and managed to reverse history).

Bill from NJ 4:51 PM  

When I looked at the jumble of crosses I had in the middle of the puzzle and saw METONESWATERLOO, I realized that two games that were part of my game-playing background STRATEGO and MSPACMAN occupied both ends of the answer and neatly broke this puzzle's back.

When I re-read my previous post I saw that I had left any mention of the game part out of the post. Which was going to be the main point of what I had to say.

Jeez, I made a mess of my comment and, looking back at it, saw that. I guess I was just proud of the fact that I have been finishing Sauturdays puzzles for a while now and wanted to describe in detail how I did it.

I don't got into much detail when I comment on the early-week puzzles because they are simple enough on their own merits not to require much detail.

But Fridays and Saturdays need detail.

Doc John 4:56 PM  

A typical Saturday for me. I did miss the N in LIANA/UNA, though- I had a T.

Got STRATEGO and MS PAC MAN right away and was happy for that.

NASTY in my household as a slightly different meaning. It means "good", as in that brownie sundae dripping with fudge and whipped cream or that plate of chili cheese fries is NASTY.

Enjoyed your write-up today, Wade.

Michael Chibnik 4:56 PM  

To answer my own question, it seems that lots of people play stratego nowadays

miriam b 5:31 PM  

@mac: Have you ever made beet jam? Great stuff. Too hot even to think of this today (south shore Suffolk County, LI).

Rex Parker 5:38 PM  

Here's another beautiful thing about NZ - in half an hour, it will be 10am, and my Sunday puzzle will be ready for me. So civilized. Sunday puzzle on Sunday morning, fresh out of the oven.

NZ remains lovely, Hobbits aside.

I am now in Lake Hawea (not the lake itself, but the town, named for the lake). I will soon post a picture of the view out the front window. It's ... disgusting. Impossibly beautiful. Picture postcards everwhere you look. This is god's way of making up for the fact that I have to live in a depressed post-industrial cultural sinkhole most days of my life: all of my closest relatives live in the most beautiful places on earth.

This puzzle was hard. 20+ minutes, I think. I was disgruntled at MET ONE'S WATERLOO, mostly because of the icky pronoun. Beyond that, there was GOBOS, and beyond that ... well, I forget.

Fighting off a cold that refuses to develop but also refuses to go away. My recommendation for future NZ visitors: don't do the trip in one fell swoop while seated next to two sick people while downing coffees like they're water while simultaneously failing to drink compensatory water.

I'm back on Monday, probably for M and T and W, at a minimum. Then I may end up going dark for a while, at which point Puzzlegirl or SethG or Drunken Yarn-Spinner McGee will once again pinch hit.

Aroha nui,

Anonymous 5:42 PM  

@ michael

Glad I'm not the only one. I always took the North and always lost to my (older) brother. I think I tended to put my cavalry batteries too far out on the road. Worked in real time; not for me. IMO, Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is one of the best books ever. If you haven't read it, do.

chefbea 5:51 PM  

much easier today than yesterday. Started the puzzle at the beach while trying to cool off with my daughter and 2 grandaughters who are visiting from Italy. Of course I knew osso bucco and would never use parmesan cheese from a can let alone plastic.

never have heard of okras in the plural. You add a handful of okra to the gumbo

@mac enjoy your red roots - roasted of course and with feta cheese

foodie 6:17 PM  

@jubjub: I see you do research on flies! If you look at my so-called blog, I just posted for you a poem I wrote in honor of Seymour Benzer...

@Mac: had similar purchases at our farmer's market, plus gooseberries and salad burnet, which smells GREAT.

@Seth, I agree OKRAS sounds awkward as a plural. I think one would need to add the word "pods" to go from the class of food to individual items. It's interesting that this way of referring to food applies mostly to herbs (sage and thyme, not sages and thymes).

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

With all due respect, Orange, you're wrong on the national vs. world champions nomenclature. National champions has become a phrase that specifically refers to college champions, while world champions refers to the pro league champions. This is true in every major team sport we have in America. You can argue that they're not really world champions because not everyone in the world played (or whatever), but that's not the point.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Loved your write-up, Wade.

Is the "Waterloo" song you're remembering from your childhood something about "My Willie's not returning from the plains of Waterloo"? I had that "Doggie in the Window" 45, too -- I think it was red plastic instead of black.

I thought this was a fine puzzle.

Wendy Laubach
(Lost my Google identity again somehow)

Orange 8:54 PM  

But Chris, it's a Saturday puzzle. The clue can go ahead and use a solid dictionary definition of a word to mislead sports fans who think it couldn't possibly be what it seems.

Philly at 12:53: OMG, spoilers! You ruined the ending! :-)

RodeoToad 9:55 PM  

Haven't had a chance to check in on the comments much today--been buildin' an office, y'know. Yeah, that's a picture of my dad and kids from back around Christmas time. But he dresses like that year round, including today, when it was a thousand degrees with 100 percent humidity (not the coat, but the jeans and long-sleeved shirt and hat and boots.)

Rex, I don't blog drunk anymore. I do not take these responsibilities lightly.

fergus 10:19 PM  

The maker has more than made his mark, with more diligence than most can imagine. Wade, it is a testament to you, and especially to Rex, that the quirks of your personalities shine in the write-up. Same goes for Puzzlegirl. OK, Seth, you're on.

mac 10:38 PM  

Poor Seth is probably already working on the puzzle and the blog and all the bits he wants to link to it.... I wonder if he is going to keep Puzzlegirl (loved her reference to puzzle husband!) up all night!

Rex sounds pretty relaxed vacationing in NZ. I was there once quite a few years ago, and loved it, the friendly people and beautiful sites. Never went to the South Island, will have to go back.

OK, chefbea, I roasted these b's, now I'm putting on the rubber gloves to peel them and store them in the fridge to slice and serve them tomorrow with balsamic vinegar, evoo and maybe a little goat's cheese. We had a wonderful dinner of garlicky shrimp, artichoke hearts and chopped fresh tomatoes with parsley and basil tossed with some "al dente" spaghetti.

fergus 10:46 PM  

So, Rex I'm guessing that puzzle distribution time is zone-invariant? That is what 'one' might expect, but when I read your post it seemed like you got privileged dispensation. It's all sort of confusing, like when I'm happy to receive a call from my cousin in NZ, but not so delighted that it is 4 in the morning in California, and he's surfing time zones in Asia and Europe, but sort of forgetting the quiet time in North America.

Rex Parker 11:53 PM  

I'm a million hours ahead of you N. America people. It's, let's see ... it's late afternoon on Sunday right now. Every time we fly to NZ, we lose a day. And by lose I mean LOSE, completely. In 2002 we took off from LAX on Dec. 24 and landed in Auckland on Dec. 26. Christmas disappeared somewhere over the Pacific.

Wade, I like to imagine that you are drunk, and that that's why you write the way you do (brilliantly). Otherwise I have to contend with the fact that you do this puzzle write-up stuff at least as well as I do, with no performance-enhancing drugs, and my Ego doesn't like that thought. So in my head, you are a drunken coot. Just so you know.


fergus 12:21 AM  


Few, or no other public commentary sites are as refined as what I find here.

jae 4:47 AM  

I started this so I might as well wrap it up. Fine job Wade, and Rex, even though I am a tad tipsy, you still rule!

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Bikinis mentioned two days in a row now.

I was thinking roller skates on the Tstop, but maybe a skateboarding term.

Old Smokey my fav for the day. Hope to remember Noah's grandson for future reference.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Kraft grated parmesan (would you believe I just had to add this word to my Firefox dictionary) is a staple around here. It spices up almost everything. I also make instant garlic bread by sprinkling garlic salt on freshly buttered toast. I know, I know, this reveals a flaw in my character, but nobody is going to read it anyway. :)

I savored this puzzle over two or three sessions, and Wade's blog made me laugh out loud again.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

Wade- Dig up Homer and Jethro's take on "Waterloo." It was the flip side of "Battle of Kookamonga." Thanks for the sassy commentary on this puzzle.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

Wade- Dig up Homer and Jethro's take on "Waterloo." It was the flip side of "Battle of Kookamonga." Thanks for the sassy commentary on this puzzle.

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