SATURDAY, Jan. 17, 2009 - B Wilber (Artist's tone-blending technique used in "Mona Lisa" / 6/23/75 cover of Sports Illustrated / Trunk protuberance)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Richard Nixon (or, none)

Word of the Day: SFUMATO - The blurring or softening of sharp outlines in painting by subtle and gradual blending of one tone into another. []

This felt dead on for a Saturday, maybe a little easier than average, and certainly easier than yesterday's puzzle. I had no alcohol in my system this time, so maybe that has something to do with it. Typical slow start in the NW, followed by a tentative toe-hold in the NE, followed by a steady march counter-clockwise around the grid, ending at the intersection of SFUMATO (1D: Artist's tone-blending technique, used in the "Mona Lisa") and MEG (19A: 2004 U.S. Women's Open winner Mallon). That "M" was a guess - SFUMATO just sounded so much more plausible than SFUPATO. SFUMATO and its Italian counterpart TORTONI (13D: Dessert garnished with crumbled macaroons) were the only two answers (besdies MEG, I guess) that I found truly baffling, and both could be inferred pretty easily (TORTONI moreso than SFUMATO). Though I could not retrieve it today, I'm sure I've seen PEYO before (10D: One-named Belgian cartoonist who created Smurfs). I am too old to have watched the Smurfs cartoon, but I do like comics and follow at least one Belgian comics blogger. Belgium and France have a thriving comics industry; as in Japan, comics have been adult reading there for years and years. My most recent contact with the Smurfs (!) occurred when I visited a website where an artist had laid out his plans to develop a "Smurf War" graphic novel (or possibly animated movie). The artwork he did was SenSational. Let's see if I can find it... Ha, here we go. What do you know? I finally used the "Bookmarks" function of my browser effectively.

Lots of Nixoniana today, with two actors from two Nixon-related movies: JOAN ALLEN from "Nixon" (59A: Player of Pat Nixon in "Nixon") and RIP TORN from "Blind Ambition" (38A: Player of Richard Nixon in "Blind Ambition"), a 1979 television "docu-drama" I'm too young to have seen (well, I could have seen it, but I doubt that, at 10 years old, I would have been very interested). Nixon was of course a WESTERNER (64A: 34-Across sporter) who was born in Yorba Linda and went to Whittier College. I don't know if he ever wore a BOLO TIE (34A: Range accessory). Somehow, I doubt it.

Lots of stuff that I learned from crosswords, including OOCYTE (21A: Future egg). That's possibly the fanciest occasionally repeating word that I've learned from crosswords. Sadly for me and my fancy education, I learned who ATTLEE was from crosswords (52A: Landslide election winner of 1945). Same thing with ERITREA (39D: Its flag features an olive branch inside a wreath), which shows up surprisingly often in puzzles. The crosswordy KNAR (5D: Trunk protuberance) was possibly the first word I put in the grid, though it went in first as GNAR, which is also a (cross) word; KNAR was followed by RIEL, which I was able to guess because of crossword experience (20A: 100 sen), and PELE (51A: Legendary athlete on the 6/23/75 cover of Sports Illustrated) and IPOD (55A: Player in a docking station) were likewise no-brainers. At four letters A POP (22A: Pricing words), there weren't many other options. Gimmes for me included SNAPE (63A: Head of Hogwarts School's Slytherin House) - who goes nicely with SNIPE HUNT (29A: Futile search) - "D.O.A." (40D: 1950 film that opens with a man reporting his own murder), and E. LEE (54D: Part of a noted reb's signature), though I briefly contemplated DANL here, if only because it's signature-related and I learned it (from crosswords) recently.


  • 17A: Vents (unleashes) - very difficult to see at first, as I had SSA at 9D: Certain card issuer: Abbr. (SSS), and so had ---EASHEA. Thought it was either Latin or something to do with the Mets' former stadium
  • 47A: Whence some spaniels and terriers (Tibet) - I went through dog breed books quite a bit back before I had dogs, and I remember these guys pretty well.
  • 48A: N.C.A.A. rival of Vassar (RPI) - I'm still not used to Vassar's being a co-ed school. RPI stands for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It's in Troy, just outside Albany.
  • 61A: Word after Vanilla or Chocolate, at Dunkin' Donuts (Kreme) - mmm, kommercial.
  • 14D: Only Mouseketeer personally chosen by Walt Disney (Annette) - that's ... I'm torn between "interesting" and "creepy"

  • 31D: Buzz generator on Wall Street (tip) - I really don't want to think about that Street right now, thanks.
  • 44D: Wallace _____, Pulitzer winner for "Angle of Repose" (Stegner) - had STEVENS, then changed it.

Here's a Wallace Stevens poem for your Saturday:

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Doug 1:59 AM  

I've finished 2 Saturday puzzles in the last 2 years, and got about 90% of this one. So I was pretty happy. I think I'm definitely on a roll after getting Friday as well (tongue firmly in cheek.) I'm going skiing (with my SKIPASS) at Whistler Sat & Sun so hopefully I have some energy to do the big Sunday grid on Sat evening--I may have my best cruciverballing week ever.

No comment on the puzzle as I'm happy to just get through most of it. BLEACHERS not SNACKBARS and ASIS not APOP had the NW in a snarl. Luckily I know my art and SFUMATO was a gimmee. Didn't know PEYO and OOCYTE, and YEARN for "pant" doesn't feel right, so the NE was also splotchy.

I memorized Africa for kicks so ERITREA needed just a few crosses before falling. The mining scene in Zoolander is a hoot--Nice LAMPs on Ben Stiller, Jon Voight and Vince Vaughn.

alanrichard 7:44 AM  

SFUMATO - ha ha; now I finally realized the benefit of my daughter getting a ride to Carnegie Mellon for art. I have to call her, or text her, that all the art terms I hear from her finally paid off.
This was much easier than Friday, at least I knew alot and got the rest contexturally. I remember watching the Mouseketeers and ANNETTE as a kid and I also remember Blind Ambition with Rip Torn, who I also remember from the Gary Shandling show.
I remember when I was talking to a young employee of mine about Mickey Mantle and he asked me if I ever saw Babe Ruth play - I said sure, I saw him on the same videos you did! Of course Mantle and Ruth have nothing to do with the puzzle - but the point is if you live long enough - you remember quite a bit that contributes to finishing the puzzle.
I believe the acquisition of useless information eventually comes in handy if you do enough crossword puzzles.

SethG 8:37 AM  

ASHE won Wimbledon in '75, so I had that first. The date seemed a little early for the cover (turns out it was actually the week of 6/23/75), but not enough of a red flag. Finally changed it when I remembered OBERLIN--entered that off just the 'r', and AMHERST and RPI with no crosses.

I'm in an extremely WESTERN hotel right now. In the west. I finally remembered KNAR, and kommercial was the closest we got to a foreign language today!

nanpilla 8:59 AM  

You say sfumato, I say sfupato.
Never heard of it, or Meg (Peg) Mallon, so I just had to guess, and of course I guessed the wrong one! Didn't help that I had WORN OUT crossing HOT SHOT (for ALL GONE and ONE SPOT)and BLEACHERS for SNACKBARS. Once I got out the eraser and started the NW all over again, I was finally able to finish what was otherwise a pretty smooth puzzle. It helped that my niece went to Hampshire College, or I don't know if I would have gotten out of there alive.
Overall, much easier than Friday, although I had one wrong letter today and none on Friday.

Jeffrey 9:02 AM  

Beaten by the God of Mistaken Parsing (Wills Hortz?)

I had JOANAL_EN and tried to determine who this JOANA with only one N was, so the missing letter had to be a vowel, right?

At least I didn't think 41D was SKIP ASS.

Cros Scan

Leon 9:22 AM  

Great Puzzle Mr.Wilber.

Thanks RP for the poem. I also put in Stevens. Salem's Lot by Stephen King introduced me to the Poem.

Orange points out in her site that MEG MALLON was born in NATICK. MEG intersects with SFUMATO. No violation here, just weird that the original violation. happened to cross N.C. Wyeth.

R.I.P. Andrew.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@ crosscan - 41D was SOME LEG for a while, then the anatomical reference DID make me think first of SKIP ASS when I got it from the crosses.

Very hard for me. I didn't know most of the proper names. Some googling, truth be told ... :-(

janie 10:16 AM  

also went to STEVENS before STEGNER -- but sometimes, even having wrong letters can help trigger the right ones. was having trouble dredging up JOANALLEN, but once i got her, was able to get... STEGNER.

nice saturday puzzle!


fmcgmccllc 10:23 AM  

First time ever finish for a Saturday, with one mistake but finished. I have been looking for Tortoni for years. Everyone says their grandma used to make it and no one learned how or wrote down a recipe.

Greene 10:34 AM  

I was fortunate today in that I knew almost all the proper names in the puzzle: was able to throw down the likes of RIP TORN, JOAN ALLEN and Severus SNAPE without any crosses at all (raise your hand if you knew SNAPE's true colors right from the start).

So I'm thinking "This must be the easiest Saturday ever." But no, sadly no. For every RIP TORN there is a SFUMATO (I've heard this word before, but for the life of me I don't know where) and for every JOAN ALLEN there is a BOLO TIE (I know what this is for heavens sake, but could I think of it?).

So I CREAKED my way through with only the ocassional DIRTY LOOK at the grid. Every time I fall for one of those "letter clues" (in this case 4D CEE) I just want to scream. How many times am I going to miss this before I wise up?

I was proud that even though I know nothing of sports, I was able to get PELE without any crosses. Of course, SIR ELTON was pretty BASIC. My last letter in the grid was the I in ERITREA. As far as the 48A clue was concerned, it could have been any vowel at all. Thinking that the rival school was probably some kind of Institute, I went with the I. Even so, I can never seem to spell ERITREA correctly (I've seen it in a puzzle or two before, couldn't spell it then either).

I really enjoyed this excellent puzzle which kept me busy last night and then again this morning. Funny how all those items I couldn't get last night seem to fall this morning after a little shut eye.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

MEG was a gimme for some unknown reason. SKIPASS killed me, kept wanting SKIN to fit. Had YUAN for way too long instead of RIEL. Also had AGGRESIVE instead of ASSERTIVE. Easier than usual Saturday, but still had to Google. :(

Parshutr 10:47 AM  

Under 7 minutes, started with MEG (of course). Got SKIPASS totally from crosses, thought wtf? Skip ass? DUH
My gimmes...ERITREA, WESTERNER, PELE, UNLEASHES, TIBET, SFUMATO (wife is a Major Artist).
So, EZ for me.

Orange 10:54 AM  

There are some Eritrean families at my kid's school. There's also a kid whose family is IBO (a Nigerian people), and the mom was surprised that I'd heard of the Ibo...and I learned it from crosswords, of course.

@Doug, have you done the Countries of Africa map quiz?

Looking at the solving times on the NYT applet, I'd call this puzzle medium/challenging on the Saturday scale, maybe leaning more towards the challenging end. If you had a harder time than Rex did, comfort yourself in knowing that some top ACPT solvers had to muscle through this one too.

fiddleneck 10:58 AM  

Another poet said "Oh, easy for Leonardo." But was Leonardo up on his pop culture?

Unknown 11:01 AM  

One tough puzzle for me, but it certainly expanded my least for a few hours.

Can't wait for ArtLvr to clear the SFUMATO air.

PlantieBea 11:05 AM  

I started this puzzle while watching Gonzo and finished this AM over tea and waffles. Although I was tempted to cheat with google, especially when I wanted Hampshire to be some place in HADLEY, I stuck with it and voila`, it worked. Stegner was a gimme since "Crossing to Safety" is one of my favorite novels. Had BLEACHERS which evolved to NACHOBAR before getting the SNACK BAR in place. One error was OACYTE for OOCYTE since I thought I remembered PEYA instead of PEYO. I also tried GOOSEHUNT for a while.

A fine puzzle--especially since I could solve it on my own.

chefbea 11:06 AM  

Hard puzzle. Had to google a lot. I also wanted bleachers and as is

Have never made tortoni but I do make great macaroons that you can crumble on top.

Still bitter cold here. Brrr

Rex - thanks so much for the Mousketeers. Loved it. I'll be singing the song all day

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Love "sfumato", the word and the technique.

Don't get how "Spell" becomes RELIEVE..

And I really dislike how "Glare" (DIRTY LOOK) somehow becomes a threatening stick-up (OR ELSE).

I mean, really? "Or else" often accompanies a glare? Bit of a stretch there.

evil doug 11:32 AM  

What to flash when you need a ride? "Some leg". Old school. Claudette Colbert or something. Saved by "dirty look".

Not as many scratch-outs as yesterday (that's right, pen on newsprint). But in the end, still one error. "Cato" yesterday. Today: "Oozyte"---so proud of remembering the double-ought from high school biology, but should have cross-checked the "Alez" thing....


xyz 11:32 AM  

Haha - as a golfer and golf writer, Meg was my first solved clue, it's all relative isn't it? Annette and Elton were next. Sfumato? Good one!

Brand new (01.16.09) to this blog, maybe I'll solve my first Saturday puzzle on my own one day now.

Love it, my College freshman, word nut daughter is finally just starting cross puzzles.

HudsonHawk 11:32 AM  

The old golf/music fandom pays off again, as MEG and SIR ELTON were the first things in my grid. For those that don't know of Ms. Mallon, the cluing could have been even tougher without "2004" or "Women's". As for Candle in the Wind, I wish Elton and Bernie had just left it alone. Loved the original, the Diana tribute...not so much.

This was a "medium" for me. I kept looking at 34A as a different kind of "range" (driving, shooting, kitchen), even as the clue for 64A was telling me otherwise. I also had SPINY for 28D briefly, but that was an easy fix.

Rex, I filled in ANNETTE quickly. I would go with "creepy" over "interesting".

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

this puzzle was impossible for me. i hate all of u. all i got was elton pasta and annette before googling. screw all of you conceited old farts!

edith b 11:52 AM  

Like everybody else the NW gave me fits even though SFUMATO was a neon and my first entry as I spent part of my junior year in France and, standing in front of the "Mona Lisa", listened to a lecture on the subject of SFUMATO.

My real problem was in Ohio as I had IMPOSE at 31D and PRISM (which I knew was wrong) at 34A which prevented me from getting IA. A sort of crescendo effect.

I started in the SE and gradually crept Northward to the TINAS SNIPEHUNT line - I realy liked that answer - and my knowledge of movies held me good stead today.

As a film noir buff, DOA was a neon for me but provided little help in the context of the puzzle.

I remember OOCYTE from last year but, boy, it sure was a long time in coming!. I finally got it by way of the back door, getting OPPOSE first, then CRISP, then BASIC which allowed me to parse *****BARS correctly and on to a solve.

I always have trouble with Brad Wilber and never seem to be on his wave length. It took every single cross to get CREAKED, for instance, and it really should not have been that hard.

chefbea 11:56 AM  

@anonymous 11:49... That was uncalled for!!!

@Redanman welcome. We love to have new bloggers. Its so much fun. And don't pay any attention to Anonymous 11:49

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

I had SFUMA_O and had no idea which consonant to pick...G,L,T,N,M,R...I guessed the T then googled to find out who she is.

Very tough puzzle for me with my proud entry of BLEACHERS off the bat taking a very long time to correct.

Shamik 12:04 PM  

Agree with those crying NATICK for MEG/SFUMATO. PEG/SFUPATO felt good to me.

@chefbea: When will those macaroons be ready????? : )

The whole east side fell fairly quickly...the west was a slog. Called this one a medium-challenging.

BLEACHERS for SNACKBARS (right off the bat)
SKYPASS for watching pilots and flight attendants breeze through security
and the aforementioned SFUPATO/PEG

Still...better than yesterday.

Ulrich 12:12 PM  

BLEACHERS in the NW and STEVENS in the SE also held me up for a long time (with others mentioned by Shamik et al. for good measure). But after they were erased, I was able to finish on my own, especially when SFUMATO floated up from the farthest recesses of my brain and opened up the NW, finally. Overall, it seemed to be a classic Saturday puzzle, with lots of ambiguous clues, as is only fair (even though "unleash" seems too strong for "vent").

@greene: can you see my raised hand or is your vision blocked by your spam filter:-)

Jon 12:15 PM  

My first Saturday completion! So, then, my first comment post:

One wrong letter: The PEYO/OOCYTE cross was a complete mystery to me, and, honestly, the double O was probably the last option I would have considered. Ah well. Live and learn. Especially if you do crosswords. Thank you, Will Shortz, for all the bizarrely voweled words you've brought into my life. My new imaginary friend Eero thanks you too.

Other thoughts: I too initially had BLEACHERS, but all those times I spent visiting my buddy in his bizarre ski-chalet-esque dorm at Hampshire helped correct that wrong answer quickly. I loved BOLO TIE, but I hate the actual item. Whenever I see a politician wearing one, he instantly loses credibility with me; it seems like such a transparent attempt at superficial rebelliousness and hipness and man-of-the-people authenticity, like a male high school teacher with a ponytail trying to rock the "I'm a cool teacher" scam. I I also originally had CREME instead of KREME, figuring Krispy Kreme had some sort of copyright. Apparently not.

Anyway, I just started puzzling this past summer, and have become a daily devotee, both of the NY Times puzzle and of this blog. Thanks, Rex et al., for all the edification and entertainment.

Jon 12:17 PM  

Oh, also, I highly recommend STEGNER's novel Crossing To Safety, one of the sweetest love stories I've ever read.

foodie 12:20 PM  

For me, this was like two different puzzles. The whole eastern seaboard was easy, as I started with OOCYTE and built around it. Other gimmes were AMHERST, ELTON, ANNETTE, OBERLIN...

But SFUMATO crossing MEG was classic Kenosha for me. I had other brain blips, like POLOTIE (I figured the Brits had invented the equivalent of an Ascot for Polo)...

@ Anon who asked: Don't get how "Spell" becomes RELIEVE.. I think if you are on some sort of call or duty, I can say: I will spell you for a while... i.e. I can give you a break. Don't know where it comes from.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

This puzzle started out great for me. Gimmes were ELTON, OOCYTE, TINAS, RIG, SNAPE, CREME, REELIN, SSS, ANNETTE, IPOD, POT, and ELEE. That is a damn good start for me as Saturday is the only day I have never finished w/o a Google. Then I hit the wall and after putting in a couple more letters, I cheated.

I am a bit disturbed that Evil Doug and I were on the same wave length regarding some leg. :) I also wanted bite me for OR ELSE. I also had rabbit for PASSAT.

Overall, I thought this was harder than yesterday's. Yesterday I got further before I Googled and the Googles helped me get many more answers. Odd.


Greene 12:30 PM  

@Evil Doug: I had the exact same thought when I saw the "what to flash when you need a lift?" clue. Instant image of Claudette Colbert hitching with her shapely gams in It Happened One Night. One wonders if the Breen office would have put the kabosh on that scene (or the whole movie for that matter) if given the opportunity. This was one of the last films made before the MPAA actually began to enforce the Production Code in 1934. Good thing this one snuck by; it is the very essence of screwball comedy.

As for Miss Colbert, I'd give her a lift anytime.

Evil Greene

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

I thought this one was hard--had to google.

Knew Stegner, since I've read the first third of Angle of Repose about 5 times.

All I remember about 1975 Sports Illustrated was the cover photo of Tony Conigliaro after he got whacked in the face with a fast ball. I was a little girl at the time so that memory stayed with me.

PS I'm not the whiny 11:49 Anonymous.

Kurisu 12:37 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who put BLEACHERS in at first for 1A.

The NYT Saturdays are essentially beyond my current ability; even googling every googleable answer I usually can't do them, so I was pretty happy to immediately "get" 1A, until I looked up AMHERST and found out I was wrong.

ArtLvr 12:52 PM  

Oh dear, Philly, I didn't have SFUMATO right away, though like EdithB I even spent part of my junior year in Paris and lived right across the street from the Louvre. I CREAKED through the lower half of the puzzle, but had only spots of the top filled... mind elsewhere, I guess.

I wanted "gamete", though I should have been able to correct it to OOCYTE... Met Elton John and Tim Rice at the opening of their Aida in Chicago, so that was cool. Was sure Hampshire College was in Northampton MA, no fit there, failed to tumble to the CEE for 4D rather than "neo" despite question mark, etc. Grumble, grumble...

But hey, the art market is looking up a bit! And who didn't get a lift from the fabulous rescue of all those people on the plane downed in the Hudson River? On to the Inauguration (via TV only).


joho 1:59 PM  

This was walk in the park compared to yesterday. It would have been perfect except for one mistake. I guessed the "M" at the SFUMATO/MEG crossing, but had written in ALLdONE for spent. Had I gone back over this section I think I would have gotten the "G" in MEG.

I hoping tomorrow's puzzle has a fascinating theme.

mac 2:19 PM  

What an enjoyable Saturday puzzle, just the right degree of difficulty to make you feel smart, then a few hard spots to put you in your place again. I too felt so proud to immediately think of bleachers.... I also had gnar, SSA, goose hunt, lighter instead of bolo tie, and Che for cee (good one, right?). I love Stegner's "Angle of Repose", so why did I call him Stegman?

@Retired_Chemist: LOL for "some leg".

@FMCGMCCLLC (next time I will call you F): I tried to look up Tortoni in some of my Italian bible-like cook books, including The Silver Spoon and there is no sign of a recipe. Try to google it on "Epicurious", I often use it to find recipes for certain ingredients. This may be an American-Italian dessert that Marcella Hazan has never heard of.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:25 PM  

I really liked this puzzle; just the right degree of difficulty, or maybe a little less. I found that I could only put in a scattering of answers at first, then drew a blank. So I applied the Rex-approved Stare-Master approach, just looking idly for a while, and then completed the whole puzzle, no write-overs, pen on newsprint, fairly quickly. (For me, that means I still had part of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" left.)

I was required to wear a tie in the eighth grade (this was before the Beatles came to America - OK, it was 1958), so I chose to wear a bolo tie. One consequence is that to this day I have never learned to tie a Windsor knot correctly!

fergus 2:27 PM  

I have to confess that I have never really understood the Emperor of Ice Cream. All the other top-drawer Stevens poems feel really clear, if somewhat abstracted.

Yeah, kinda dreary and insufficiently vexing for a Saturday. Figured I probably had left in a mistake with YEARN, but no. I wonder which definition number RELIEVE falls under for Spell? Resisting GOOSE HUNT took a lot of restraint, and really on a lark (pardon) I threw in SNIPE, recalling Levin's ineptitude. TIBET and SATIN were surprisingly correct as well.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

48D uses the school name of Vassar but the answer is RPI initials. I thought there was supposed to be consistencies between clues and answers. NCAA doesn't seem to justify the abbreviation. Can anyone help me out here with an explanation?

Thanks pj

Doc John 2:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 2:38 PM  

This one was definitely easier than yesterday's, even though I finished with 2 errors today: had Red for MEG. Hey, "all done" somewhat fits the clue, too. Wish I had run the alphabet for SFUMATO, though. I probably would have gotten the G. Sfurato didn't look too wrong, to me, unfortunately. Oh well, live and learn.

Just finished yesterday's, too. Still can't believe nobody mentioned the Voldemort/YOU KNOW WHO connection.

imsdave 2:45 PM  

@anonymous 2:34 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) seems to point to the abbreviation enough for me.

Super puzzle - 25 minutes, excellent for me on a Saturday.

OOCYTE will be etched in my mind forever after it's last appearance. It felt great dropping that in with just the "Y".

@Greene - Dumbledore didn't make many mistakes, so that was obvious to me in book one.

fergus 2:47 PM  

Anyone else sense a minor violation without even an implied hyphen for the Governor or mayor follower? This is about as petty as one could get, but still ...

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

I thought this was definitely harder than Friday's. I got it eventually without googling, but it took quite a while.

I never heard of SFUMATO (I'm much better on scientific words like OOCYTE rather than art terms).

SO while I had xxxxxBARS at 1A, SNACK just didn't seem like the missing part.

And having KNOT instead of KNAR and HOTSHOT rather than ONESPOT at 32A made the NW the last to fall.

The SW was next hardest for me since I had 61A as CREME rather than KREME. Which made 37D extraordinarily difficult (how many words end double C??).

Speaking of C's, 4D was NEO for too long.

The E came together pretty quickly although I have never heard of PEYO -- but I knew about double O's in egg-related words.

All in all a very satisfying puzzle for me that I'd rate as "challenging."

Had I been less of a art know-nothing (making the NW easier) I'd call it a "medium."

jae 3:49 PM  

Yep, easier than yesterday for me too. Tried IVIES for 27a and had NASTYLOOK at first but the rest went pretty smoothly with two exceptions. Like fergus I was surprised when SATIN worked and I needed a little help from family to get the OO in OOCYTE. I know I've seen it before but couldn't remember. MEG and STEGNER, on the other hand, were gimmes. I've read both Angle and Crossing and I sorta follow women's golf.

fmcgmccllc 4:04 PM  

Mac, thanks, F is fine. Learned a new word I hope never to find in the puzzle for tortoni-stracciatella, tortoni cake. Snipehunt was a gimme, don't know why but everyone in Michigan knows there are no snipes. Common ruse like telling the newbie to file a magnet. Just fun for very bored people.

fikink 4:13 PM  

This puzzle just proves how, at times, fast solves are the result of a fortuitous intersection in our lives: I have been attempting to construct a puzzle of art terms which contains SFUMATO. Hence, it was my first fill. I am glad Rex made it the Word of the Day.
The double-O in OOCYTE came from the depths as with Ulrich's sfumato, college zoology, I think, to become my last fill - the O in PEYO, of whom I had no clue...well, I guess I had a clue, but couldn't act on it ;-)
Rex, thanks for the Emperor of Ice Cream - looked that up one day when someone (Chris Matthews, I think) mentioned it during the primaries. I have forgotten what the context was - might have been Obama's speech on race.

Glitch 4:21 PM  

@Anon 2:34 (pg)

Adding to imsdave, it's actualy N.C.A.A. in the clue --- more than enough for me.

Also, as an RPI grad, I'm allowed to say the team might have a better record had Vassar NOT admitted men ;-)


fergus 4:23 PM  

Fun Africa quiz, on Orange's recommendation.

Sierra Leone stumped me, which is annoying Xword-wise. (OK, those islands of Sao Tome did too.) It would have been a better quiz if you had to identify the country on the map, and not merely name it.

Judgesully 4:30 PM  

Fairly easy Sat. puzzle made all the more interesting by the Mickey Mouse Club video--what memories! Uncle Walt was kind of creepy, but I'm glad he took it upon himself to add Annette. She was every 10 year old boy's first true fantasy girl!Still have to sing the jingle to spell encyclopedia! Thanks for the trip down future Alzheimer's Lane.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Dr. John and I were on the same misguided wavelength today. Red could be a nickname and all done seemed feasible. But no.
Put in bleachers right away but thought it seemed to easy and obvious so post haste out it went. I'm still grinning over the query yesterday re why robin would have been fighting Toto. LOL.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

It's hard to believe some think today's puzzle was easier than yesterday. I finished half of it before resorting to Rex's answers. I could not let go of bleachers and asis in the nw and spent so much time there I was demoralized. But on the positive side, thanks to the positive comments yesterday about having fun and not worrying about anything else. When I first started doing crosswords, I would spend hours with various dictionaries, and now I feel as if I am starting again by doing Friday and Saturday. If this sounds down, I don't mean it to be, I am determined to do these puzzles and blog because I really do enjoy it. And also, Frank Langella is wonderful as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon. His nose even seemed to get longer as the movie progressed.

garycee 5:16 PM  

@rex.......better it was old "uncle" walt than roy

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

was delighted to see STEGNER (one of my favorite authors ever, RIP) but otherwise hated this puzzle. hit all my weak points (actors/actresses/names of obscure cartoonists). so it goes.

mac 5:33 PM  

@F: It's funny how under the recipe for stracciatella tortoni is a link for: "How I lost 42 pounds in 2 months....".

@judgesully: are you related to the best pilot in the land?

I'm going back to read the poem.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

This was one for which taking a break made all the difference. Before leaving the house, I had hit the wall with half the grid still empty; on my return I completed the whole thing without Googling and with only one error. Reason for leaving the house: to see Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon.

PlantieBea 6:00 PM  

If tortoni tastes anything like stracciatella gelato, it is worth making:

Good Italian gelato rules the ice cream world!

chefbea 6:07 PM  

@plantiebea boy does that sound good. too cold to make it now but will make it after we thaw out

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

I am another person who thinks that this was easier than Friday's. I got this slowly and steadily. But it is a good thing that I knew Meg Mallon (which I think is really obscure) because I never would have gotten sfumato otherwise. And even though it had to be right, I googled sfumato to see if it really was a word.

My favorite answers were snipe hunt and bolo tie.

I had yearn/peyo but never heard of peyo and wasn't entirely sure of yearn as the answer for pant (though I understand it).

Anonymous 4:45 AM  

Had to google some. Thought parts of it were easier than Friday's but got stuck in the NW and a few other places.

A few well-placed googles like for sfumato, Meg, Peyo were needed.

Enjoyed it. And always enjoy the blog. Somehow everyone finds so much more to say about the puzzle than the puzzle does itself.

Kathy D.

allan 1:27 PM  

I have just recently started to try the Saturday puzzles, and this one made me remember why I don't do them. We mortals just don't stand a chance. Even with googling, I could not finish (or complete) this one. I mean it is Sunday afternoon, and I finally gave in and said I'm done.

I could go on and on with my problems with this fill but here are just a few: 24a crisp (how far do we go in the definition of bracing to get there?).

34a bolo tie (just seems redundant)

But the worst of all is 54d elee (come on!) That is just one of the worst examples of crossword fill ever.

Sorry to be so whiny.

Marybeth 11:40 PM  

Damn. I always get all your deficiencies first and can't get the stuff you find easy. Tortoni is my favorite dessert and Stegner is a famous personality from my alma mater. Those two were easy. The rest was terrible.

Michael5000 12:00 AM  

"KNAR" really blows as a crossword word, in the sense that it isn't really a word, in the sense of being a combination of letters than you can find in a fairly comprensive dictionary (or at least in MY fairly comprehensive dictionaries). Makes it hard to finish the puzzle when 5-down is essentially unknowable.

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