Having no aisles in architecture - SATURDAY, Mar. 28, 2009 - J Krozel (Big catch of 2003 / Title apiarist of a 1997 film / Grosbeak relatives)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy/Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: APTERAL -


1 (esp. of a classical temple) not having columns at the sides
2 (of a church) having no aisles
(C19: from Greek apteros wingless; see apterous)

(Collins English Dictionary - my Webster's 3rd International does not have that second def.)

Despite having an abundance of words and phrases I was not familiar with, this puzzle felt pretty breezy. As I've said before, puzzles with many 15-letter answers tend to look daunting but be far easier to unlock than those that keep you in the 5-10-letter range - too long to be easy or common, too short to open up huge chunks of the puzzle. I had an error at the end, but in a place where I just can't feel that bad. I had PONTO / ERLO instead of the correct PONTE / ERLE (18A: Common sight in Venezia + 5D: "Phineas Finn" character Barrington). Admittedly, ERLO is a stupid-sounding name choice, but PONTO VECCHIO sounded right to my ears, and I figured this ERLO guy was just someone with a ridiculous name from some story I've never heard of. Don't know what "Phineas Finn" is and never heard the name Barrington ERLE. ERLE Stanley Gardner, yes. This guy, hell no. Crossing an Italian final vowel ... eh. Whatever. I'd complain, but I just liked the puzzle too much to let a stupid little vowel diminish my pleasure.

I liked the puzzle primarily because, as with last week's, it felt good like a late-week puzzle should. It required thought, but I made steady progress, and even the nutso stuff was ultimately gettable through fair crosses with spot-on clues. At first, I thought I was going to have to complain slightly about the puzzle's being too easy, because I strolled around the east side of the grid and the puzzle never laid a hand on me. I scored at will. Put down MER (28A: La _____ Caspienne) and then SUSANN (34A: "Valley of the Dolls" novelist) and then VEGAN / NOPE (11D: One on a strict diet + 24A: Casual rejection) with absolutely no problem. Then, with no crosses, I put down BISCOTTI at 36A: Crunchy cafe treats ... and it was right? Too good to be true. Those long Downs in the east fell quickly and before I knew it I was halfway done with a Krozel Saturday and I had nary a scratch on me.

Then I crossed the BE MINE line (36D: Words from the heart?), and things slowed down somewhat. The W and NW were the slowest, and last, to fall. Up top, I threw SCARLET TANAGERS (17A: Grosbeak relatives) across the grid - smiling all the way, as that is a bird I learned from xwords, and very recently at that. I was less sure about the INTERNAL part of INTERNAL REVENUE (seemed too obvious) (15A: Estate taxes, e.g.), so I waited on the crosses to confirm that. Downstairs, ON ONE'S PLATE was obvious, but I figured it could be LOTS or ALOT in the first position, so I waited (50A: Tons of work to do). Also waited on the PLEASURE part of PLEASURE CRUISES (53A: Carnival offerings). Then it was just a matter of getting those long western Downs to drop.

STAND ON ONE'S TOES came pretty easily (3D: Try to get a better view, say), but UNCONDITIONALLY (2D: Without reservations), despite being a pretty obvious answer, was occluded by an entry about which I was dead certain, and dead wrong: I had IBO for EDO at 25A: Nigerian native or language. And, I'll have you know, my answer was a correct answer - just not for this grid. Defintion of IGBO (also IBO):
  1. A member of a people inhabiting southeast Nigeria.
  2. The Benue-Congo language of the Igbo. (answers.com)
As for EDO - please read the following:

The Bini (also known as the Edo or Benin) are an ethnic group in Nigeria. They are the descendents of the people who founded the Benin Empire, which was located in south/mid-western Nigeria. The Bini speak Edo language, one of many languages in Nigeria. (answers.com)

EDO is common in crosswords as the former name of Tokyo under the Tokugawa Shogunate, 1603-1868. But EDO got the ERLE treatment today - a reasonably familiar word given a powerfully obscurifying clue. It happens. Anyway, IBO meant that I was UNC--B... where UNCONDITIONALLY was supposed to go. Eventually, I did the reasonable thing and accepted my lack of expertise on things Nigerian. I let IBO go, and magically, the grid righted itself. I ended up finishing the puzzle at the heart of one of the crosswordesiest words in the puzzle: ERG (30D: Dyne-centimeter). That section, with the very unknown APTERAL (22D: Having no aisles, in architecture), and the only barely familiar SINGER (35A: _____ Building, company headquarters erected in 1908 in New York City, at the time the tallest building in the world), had me walking rather than sprinting toward the finish line. The clue on SINGER probably shouldn't have "erected" in it, given the presence of ERECT elsewhere in the grid - at SIT ERECT (34D: Be no slouch in class?). But I doubt anyone noticed or cared.


  • 1A: Big catch of 2003 (Hussein) - Figured it probably wasn't a fish. And ELIAN was four years earlier. And didn't fit.
  • 20A: It's north of the Dodecanese Islands (Samos) - I had SAMOA for a few seconds.
  • 42A: Looped vase handle (ansa) - hi-end crosswordese. I can spell "hi-end" that way today, and today only, because HI-SPEED (1D: Like many Net connections) has given me license. Man, that answer threw me. "Is the Internet Hispanic?"
  • 45A: Title apiarist of a 1997 film (Ulee) - wow, this puzzle has a Lot of crosswordese. I guess good cluing and a lively grid can make the tedium of common fill virtually disappear. Cool.
  • 48A: French shooting match (tir) - new to me, though I remember "tirer" meaning (among other things) "to shoot, as a gun," so this answer must be related.
  • 49A: Cager who starred in "Kazaam" (O'Neal) - he's a double-threat, name-wise - SHAQ is another grid favorite.
  • 55A: Intrepid palace employees (tasters) - just saw a skit featuring a royal taster on the newish TV show "Important Things, with Demetri Martin," which I think helped me get this answer fast. I can't find that clip, so here's ... a clip:

Important Things with Demetri MartinWed 10:30pm / 9:30c
Brains - Jokes About Brains
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

  • 6D: Serpent's tail? (-ine) - ah, a suffix. I had TEE.
  • 8D: Five-time winner of the Copa do Mundo (Brasil) - super-easy if you just translate the phrase to "World Cup"
  • 10D: Prizes for video production (AVAs) - Hmm, I know the VMAs. But not these.
  • 27D: Object of Cavaradossi's affection (Tosca) - never seen it, never heard it, don't know what it's about, and even though it shows up pretty often, I never have a problem. It's always one of my first opera-related guesses.
  • 40D: Southern snappers, briefly (gators) - piece of cake.
  • 43D: Old tombstone abbr. meaning "at the age of" (aetat) - wow, freaky. Here we go: "abbreviation of aetatis, abbreviation of anno aetatis suae, 'in the year of his or her age'; aged"; so, in case you missed that, AETAT is an abbreviation of an abbrevition, and you Do Not see that every day.
  • 51D: O.T. book (Num.) - I had NEH at first
  • 52D: Title of respect in 8-Down: Abbr. (Sra.) - the "of respect" part threw me. It's just a title, short for SENHORA, right? I guess it's more "respectful" than other things one might call a woman, but still, wouldn't [Title in 8-Down: Abbr.] have worked just as well?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Saturday LA Times solvers: check out Orange's write-up at "L.A. Crossword Confidential"


Jeffrey 12:25 AM  

Another good Krozel puzzle. I got ANSA/AETAT wrong - I suspect I'm the first of many - but that's such a silly cross that I can't get mad at it.

retired_chemist 12:29 AM  

Same error as Rex - PONTO/ERLO. And I knew PONTE VECCHIO. :-(

Is ANSA (42A) related to ANSER (goose)?

I thought the 15 letter answers were easier that I usually find them.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Argh. At first I thought I was totally screwed on this one, then I thought I could get it, then I realized I really was totally screwed.

Among my many problems was thinking 2-down would end in TOTALLY, which made me think the 1908 building started with ST. something. Also would have bet my life 25-across was IBO. From there on it was Google and just looking at the solution.

I find myself wondering whether Christina Applegate solved this without cheating.

Megan P 8:05 AM  

I found the puzzle easy too, though intimidating (& elegant) looking at first glance. Also confidently plunked down IBO, which I think appeared this week in a different puzzle.

And though I know and love PHINEAS FINN (Trollope!), I had to figure out the Erle guy through crosses.

imsdave 8:10 AM  

I did the IBO thing too. The second to the last letter for me was E in the PONTE/ERLE cross, an absolute guess.

It's a good thing I double check my work before calling the puzzle complete (a new technique based on my ACPT experience). I couldn't buy EETAT as the abbr., stared at a while and then corrected to AETAT (as bizarre as that looked).

Nice fun Saturday, even with the two Naticky letters.

joho 8:18 AM  

This was the first Saturday day puzzle I did Friday night ... a practice I might have to keep doing as it was much easier than most Saturdays I've done. I loved the puzzle as I do most Joe Krozel efforts. My only complaint was 37D: Having no spleen. I think somebody would say he/she is without ire or anger, not IRELESS of angerless. Sounds weird to me.
Other than that it was a lot of fun.

JannieB 8:32 AM  

My nominee for Name of the Week -- ALOIS!! Never heard of it before, and twice this week, there he was. Who knew??

This was a great Saturday puzzle - awesome grid, some really great cluing, and totally gettable fill. Nice.

Parshutr 8:36 AM  

2 daze in a row, not a prayer 4 me.
My inner Scarlett says, "Tomorrow...is another day!"

chefbea 8:42 AM  

difficult today but a bit easier than yesterday.

I really don't like biscotti. Too crunchy. That is because they are twice baked (that is the translation of biscotti)

Do you think the dinette has the dinette set won on the Price is Right??

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

I thought for sure that 50A ended with UP LATE so I didn't see PLATE for a while. I devoured Jacqueline Susann books in college. Very naughty for the time. (At least for me!)

PlantieBea 8:50 AM  

A fine puzzle, except for YET AT/ANSY instead of AETAT/ANSA. I knew it didn't look right, but even corrected it still doesn't.

Perhaps constructors will advance to the SUMMER TANEGER--another beautiful grosbeak relative.

Thanks for the spot on write-up RP, and a good puzzle, J KROZEL.

Leon 8:59 AM  

Thanks Mr. Krozel, it was a pleasure.

The SCARLET TANAGER is known as the
"flame of spring" and a "robin with a sore throat."

I still remember their call.

Unknown 8:59 AM  

Chefbea, agree on the difficulty and the biscotti and it is nice to see imsdave is back.
The grid has only nineteen black squares making it one of the fewest in the the history of the NYT. Living history, BRavo! My last fill was the A guess at ANSA. I forgot SUSANN had two Ns. Internal Revenue work for me today.

HudsonHawk 9:06 AM  

Interesting puzzle, JK (in a good way). I also had SAMOA briefly, which is pretty silly, given that I have a bottle of SAMOS, a Greek DESSERT wine, in my fridge.

IRELESS took me a bit, as I was thinking anatomically about spleens and also trying to decide whether BISCOTTI was plural or there was another vowel that should be the last letter.

My hang-up with 2D was trying to stretch WHOLEHEARTEDLY by an extra letter. I couldn't let it go.

PONTE was no problem, but ANSA/AETAT? Ugh.

ArtLvr 9:15 AM  

i had the same Ibo hangup, so thanks to Rex for the definition! It took a while to sort out, but the rest went smoothly... My last fill was the S for ACS and BRASIL.

ONE showed up a lot -- STAND ON ONE'S TOES, A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE, ONE MOMENT PLEASE, and O'NEAL... Also, the clue for PLEASURE CRUISES was tricky, using the Carnival corporate name where one was thinking fun fair.

@ retired chemist -- Ansa is Latin for "handle" and Anser is Latin for "goose", not related. I love the English adjective "anserine" which we don't see as often as ovine, bovine, equine, etc. The AETAT made me think of the other Latin inscription seen on older art -- FECIT, which was used after an artist's signature and means "made it" or "did it" (people sometimes think it's the last name!)

@ chefbea -- I agree on BISCOTTI, since I find them too hard on the teeth dry, and too soggy when dunked!


Frieda 9:48 AM  

As for twangster, I thought I had a chance...but not so much. IBO, for example, as mentioned. Wanted AXES for ENDS, RECESSES for DINETTES, thought the Net clue might be [...]AIR.

@Art Lvr: thanks for anserine!

Glad to pick up a few new words, and for a crash-and-burn Saturday, it was still a PLEASURECRUISE, GATORS notwithstanding.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:51 AM  

Very nice puzzle, worked my way through it steadily though slowly. Only hang-up no one else mentioned seems to be 39 A, Herbal brew, where I really wanted to put MINTTEA instead of the correct SAGETEA.

bigredanalyst 9:56 AM  

I would rate the puzzle "easy" for a Saturday; I thought yesterday's was tougher.

Having fallen for the IBO trap before I left it blank until I got the crosses.

Agree with most of Rex's comments, the E came before the W.

Loved the "Carnival offerings" clue because it elegantly sent me down the wrong path without being a stretch.

My only complaint (and it's a minor one) is that I've never seen "hi-speed" used referring to Internet connections. I follow the industry closely as an analyst and it is always referred to as "high-speed" Internet connections, aka broadband.

evil doug 10:03 AM  

"aetat" ate-at me. No chance on that/ansa. Took a stab at o instead of a; looks just as bad either way....

Similar enough puzzle to yesterday, but I like to look back at the whole grid and ask: Are there a lot of compelling/intriguing answers---stuff that evokes fun memories or images---today? Yesterday I said yes; this puzzle, not so much.

Natalie Wood is fun to think about. "Be mine" on conversation hearts is cute. But the rest of it seems kind of pedestrian.


retired_chemist 10:21 AM  

@ ArtLvr - and yet I wonder if the shape of an ANSA was reminiscent to the Romans of the curve of a goose's neck. Ansa and Anser both come from Latin, right?

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Although I seem to have fallen in and out of most of the mistakes everyone else did (Ibo was immediate), my last glitch was testers instead of tasters. Re-reading the clue for Sra left me wondering until I checked with Rex. Enjoyed the puzzle and actually finished it. Makes for a good start to the weekend.

Kurt 10:30 AM  

I'm sharing the boat with Evil, Crosscan, and PlantieBea today. ANSA/AETAT cooked my anser. I thought it might be one of those "ankh" kinda words and tried a "t". Oh well.

Great puzzle. Great write-up. Thanks Dr. Krozel & Dr. Parker.

mac 10:44 AM  

It's an art to dunk your biscotti just enough, in a latte at the right temperature...

As usual with Joe Krozel's puzzles, I had a lot of fun, plus this may have been my fastest Saturday ever. The words are fine and the clues mostly great. I never thought of Tories as reactionaries, more as conservatives. And how about "phr" for a sentence part? I was looking for adv, adj, art etc.

I like sage and I like herbal tea, but I've never tried sage tea.

I'm terrible at acronyms and abbreviations, so was glad eoe came through crosses.

I'm happy to have learned a few new words today. Beats a bimbo eruption any day.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Profiting from time spent browsing in old churchyards, I knew AETAT. instantly. Since 8A was obviously going to end in "-ED", I was pretty confident about EUROPEAN THEATER and saw the eastern half of the grid falling right into place with SUSANN, ULEE and BISCOTTI. Alas, overconfidence tripped me up on the southern 15s, since I expected the "Carnival offerings" to be some sort of -RIDES and the "Tons of work" to end up with something like "I'm already LATE." Eventually it all worked itself out, UNCONDITIONALLY, even though I wasted a lot of effort trying to provide those studios in 29A with some sort of CINE- equipment.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:45 AM  

@retired_chemist - According to my Webster's Third New International Dictionary, ansa goes back, ultimately, to the Old Prussian (first time I've seen that cited!) ansis, meaning kettle hook, while anser goes back ultimately to the Sanskrit hamsa, meaning goose.

Norm 11:07 AM  

This one ate me up. The long answers just wouldn't come for the longest time. The downs in particular were hard. My brain just wasn't working in that direction this morning. Thought BRAVOED and IRELESS were pretty clunky words, although they were among the easier ones for me. Let's hear it for TIR though. A classic bit of crossword-ese.

Rex Parker 11:33 AM  

I have never seen TIR in a puzzle. Not in recent memory, anyway. If it is crosswordese, it must be Maleskan. There is exactly one attestation in the cruciverb database - from a Stan Newman puzzle from 9 years ago.


fikink 11:47 AM  

Easy, breezy Cover Girl.
Really enjoyed the cluing but two "ON ONE'S" in the same grid sent me on detours to avoid it. Is there not a rule against such repetition?
I agree with joho re: IRELESS.
Looking forward to the grossbeaks' arrival, I was pleased to see SCARLET TANAGER.
@Leon, thanks for the call.
@hudsonhawk, I like WHOLEHEARTEDLY - Never thought of it.
Also like MINT TEA, sounds tastier than SAGE TEA.

Two Ponies 11:56 AM  

Perfect Saturday fare.
I had a couple of stray vowel errors but hopefully I'll remember next time but if I don't see TIR for 9 years I doubt I will.
Loved the misdirection of Carnival.
I took one of their cruises and it was far from a pleasure.

slypett 11:59 AM  

It was obvious IBO couldn't be the answer, beacuse the I at 25 was impossible. Believe me, I, too, wanted it to be IBO.

I lost at ANSA/AETAT.

Byron 12:01 PM  

TIR is prime Maleska era fill. I didn't know AETAT, but remembered AET, which I suppose is a different abbreviation, or maybe a different conjugation, which helped a lot. Otherwise, pretty smooth fill for such an insanely white grid.

Doug 12:14 PM  

Thought there was a call out to REX (REN) at 9D "TV Dog" which left me with SCARLETTTAXIGERS. It's Saturday, and I'm not an ornithologist, I thought this was a fine answer! I then thought "Hey, with INTERNALREVENUE" and it being April, it's an IRS theme! So that had looking in all the wrong directions...

Got most, but not all and don't know what to expect tomorrow as it's been a wacky week for consistency.

Doug 12:20 PM  

Anyone else have MIR instead of MAO for Red Giant? This is a great clue/answer combo, and in only three words total. Reminds me of the Hemingway story re: accepting a bet that he couldn't write a novel in six words or less. He won with:

'For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.'

retired_chemist 12:20 PM  

@XMAN - Absent a lot of correct fill, the I in IBO (which I like many of us began with and desperately wanted to keep) formed the basis for my hypothesis that 1D ended in -IC, i.e. 1D was an adjective I just hadn't thought of yet. Even DINETTES at 29A just meant that it was an -ID adjective. Holding on to IBO by using that logic slowed me down.

alanrichard 12:30 PM  

I built off Oneal in the SE and got one moment please and European Theater. This was alot easier than yesterday bimbo eruption. Hussein was an "Oh Yeah"; I knew it wasn't the loch ness monster because he/she is currently retired and living in an assisted living center int e Everglades.
I really liked this puzzle and would applaude with shouts. If I ever take a pleasure cruise to Samos, as opposed to Samoa, I'll be sure to check that the boat has plenty of biscotti at the all you can eat buffets. Hopefully there will be some sage tea to go with the dry desserts.
There's alot of interesting cross references here. Pleasure cruises and sea maps; desserts & Biscotti, Spill it, sage tea & tasters; Oneal and stand on ones toes; Dinettes and alot on ones plate. The only one that seems to be hanging alone is Hussein!!!

mccoll 12:36 PM  

This was going to be a triumph. A Saturday with a full grid, no help and no errors, would make my day. Oops! When I checked with Rex's grid, I had IRKLESS instead of IRELESS. I hadn't seen the film ULEE and ULEK didn't seem impossible, so.... Either "word" would win an ugly prize.
The fifteens made this one pretty easy for me. Thank Heavens for birding and World War history. The only hang-up was in the south. I had "pleasure palaces" for a while and then realized what Carnival actually referred to. Great clue.("In Zanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree."
Thanks, Mr Krozel.

SethG 12:53 PM  

Thanks @Megan P for telling me that Phineas Finn is Trollope, though I still don't know what that means. Whatever. You all had ERLO? I had ERLI, assuming PONTI was plural. After I had PUNTS for a while.

And IBO (then EBO, which is an acceptable variation, @XMAN), and fuggedabout the xETAT.

My last letter was the S in OPUS, and I'm still not sure how that works. Isn't the OPUS the work itself, and not the ID? And the ID is an 'opus number', right? Does this mean that XII could be clued as 'Pope ID' because Pius XII was a pope? Whatever, it couldn't be JESTER 'cause 34D wasn't gonna end in a J. At first I thought it might, cause I've never been too clear on what 'intrepid' means...

And I had trouble with SYSTEMS, 'cause I expected them to end in -atory's. For some reason this puzzle made me feel all nitpicky.

Brasil will host in 2014.

edith b 1:07 PM  

I ran across ANSA, in a Sunday puzzle no less, several months ago and made it a point to commit it to memory. Good thing. As usual, I was intimidated by the interlocking 15s but,as usual, they made the puzzle easier as I got the Norhtern pair first, then down the East Coast, then down the West Coast and those coastal 15s gave me all of Fly-over country.

I had to piece together both of the Southern 15s but I had a hard time parsing 53A and needed most of the crosses to finally break it. OPUS and UNLIT did it for me.

I always enjoy Joe Krozol's stuff and I ran across some old friends like Barrington Erle and Jackie Susann, truly an odd couple.

Doc John 1:29 PM  

I was all happy to have finished a Saturday in only 20 minutes until I came here and realized it was SUSANN, not Suzann. When, oh when, will I learn to check the crosses- of course it was TOSCA, not Tozca! At least I got the ERLE (huge guess) and ANSA ones right (although I did have penne for PONTE for some time). ANSA shows up a lot in anatomy when things loop down so that was almost a gimme except I initially wrote in anza because out here we have the beautiful Anza-Borrego state park. Good thing, too, because otherwise I never would have gotten AETAT. When I saw that clue I just hoped that after getting a couple crosses it might jar something from my memory. Nope, never seen it.

My biggest niggle is that digestion and circulation are processes, not systems. Digestive and circulatory would be more fitting in this case (although that would certainly make it an easier clue).

retired_chemist 1:31 PM  

ANSA appeared in another puzzle today also. Never heard it before and now twice in a day.

fergus 1:48 PM  

This was a pretty breezy puzzle. Very little doubt or confusion anywhere -- unlike a more typical Saturday where there are quite a few legitimate guesses all over the place.

LAMES also belongs in the group of Clunkers. Line ENDS seem worthy of a Segment quibble.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Doc John -- Digestive system and circulatory system are both extremely common phrases.

jae 1:58 PM  

Yep. Easy-Medium with the ANSA error (I've seen it with both an E and and an A and flipped a coin a put in the E). I also needed some spelling help from my bride e.g. TANAGER with an A vs. I and HUSSEIN with and E vs. A. A good puzzle, but I'm kinda with Evil on this one, nothing really stands out.

retired_chemist 1:58 PM  

@ fergus - I took ENDS to mean the football positions. What's a Segment quibble?

Glitch 2:20 PM  

@Seth G:

Opus: A catalogue numbering designating a published work in chronological relationship to a composer’s other compositions

Think Peter, Pope I


But Digestion System and Circulation System are not.


fergus 2:40 PM  

I was just saying that only a line segment actually has ends. With the football reference my quibble is rescinded.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

TIR has appeared four times in the NY Times since 1987:

Th NYT 94 French shooting match
1 Th NYT 89 Rifle range at Saint-Cyr
1 Th NYT 88 Shooting match, French style
1 Th NYT 87 Shooting match, in Sedan

Unknown 3:06 PM  

What I found odd about this puzzle was how most of the clues and answers were so pedestrian, and yet the two most obscure things (to me) in the puzzle - ANSA and AETAT - were made to cross! I'd never heard of either of those.

Also, all the 15s were such simple, straightforwardly clued phrases, and then... SCARLET TANAGERS??? I'd never even heard of a grosbeak. I ended up with (what I thought was) SCARLETTA NIGERS - some sort of latin name for an african bird?

Anne 3:45 PM  

Actually this was not too bad for me even though I had to come here to finish up the NW. I have a cut off time which I think is reasonable and then that's it - to the blog I go.

I finished the east and south with no mistakes - slowly of course - but when I hit what I later found out to be Singer and apteral, I could not close the deal.

All in all, I'm pleased with Friday and Saturday this week.

Greene 4:33 PM  

I really like these Krozel puzzles with the multiple 15 letter answers. When I first started doing crosswords, I thought such puzzles were extremely daunting, but now I understand why Rex says these long answers actually make solving a bit easier. The construction aspect still amazes me, but I tore through almost all these long answers in very short order which, of course, blew the puzzle wide open.

I struggled with the ANSA/AETAT crossing. I think I can remember ANSA for the future, but know I will never remember AETAT. It just looks like a random collection of letters. Christina Applegate probably got this one.

Finished this in about 42 minutes. I am slowly starting to get the hang of this!

foodie 5:08 PM  

I'm surprised that all you erudite folks are unaware of the fact that people who have a big mouth and tattle on others are called "Grosbeaks". Therefore highly placed Grosbeaks who get caught spilling the company beans are your well-known SCARLET MANAGERS.


LTCOL intersecting with ACs, and ALOIS in the neighborhood did not help me sort out this little uncertainty...

Otherwise, easy and fun! Is this near the minimum black squares we've seen?

@mac, I totally agree with you about the art of dunking a BISCOTTI. I like it because it doesn't feel as fatty to me as say a cookie, and doesn't leave junk in my drink. And dunking is good for the soul.

foodie 6:23 PM  

@Seth G, Anthony Trollope is the author of Phinneas Finn, and a 19th century English author known to be extremely prolific. I've read books by his less well-known descendant, Joanna Trollope, and wondered how their names relate to the word describing a disreputable woman.

The only Phineas I'm really familiar with is Phineas Gage, a 19th century railroad construction worker who survived an accident with a iron rod going through his frontal cortex. The description of the changes in his personality and behavior following the accident was one of the earliest hints about the role of our frontal cortex in controlling decisions and emotions.

Noam D. Elkies 6:28 PM  

Only 19 black squares! That's just one over the record (according to Wikipedia, whose Crossword page attributes the record of 18 to Kevin Der, 22 August 2008). --NDE

xyz 7:17 PM  

@Artlover et.al

Orthopedic/Anatomic trivia

PES ANSERINUS (Anser, Anserine)is the conjoined tendon of hamstrings attached to the lower inner part of the knee. Goose Foot and that's what it looks like, sort of con/divergent and webbed.

Now no one will ever forget.

michael 8:00 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot. It had the characteristics of a good Saturday -- looked impossible at first, but then turned out to be quite doable. I was one for two on guesses -- got ponte-erle, missed ansa-aetat. Odd to find these in an otherwise accessible puzzle with easy and helpful fifteen letter answers such as "stand on one's toes" and "one moment please" and (easy for me) "scarlet tanager" and "a lot on one's plate."

SethG 8:15 PM  

@foodie, Gage I knew. From Dehaene, maybe? Maybe Gladwell?

Don't forget Phineases Fogg and Barnum!

edith b 9:03 PM  

I've been doing puzzles for more than 30 years and, like Rex, I don't remember seeing TIR before although Anonymous 3:04 cited 3 examples of it appearing in the past. The word eluded me completely.

What I liked best about 17A: Grosbeak relatives is that it appeared to take the form {descriptive word} + {some bird}. As the crosses developed I had ***RLE**AN*G**S> I reached into my memory bank labeled BIRDS and came out with TANAGER and coupled it with the descriptive word SCARLET.

Clear as mud, eh. This is why I do crossword puzzles.

foodie 9:54 PM  

@Seth G, yeah, it figures you'd know Phineas Gage through Dehaene, given his interest in math and cognition.

Not sure if it's Phineas or Phileas Fogg. I've seen both and haven't read the book... Didn't know what the P stood for in P.T. Barnum. Being a good showman, no wonder he went with the initials.

Liked the pasta recipe on your blog! I shall try it.

SethG 10:27 PM  

I refer, of course, to the 1923 movie. Jules Verne called him Phileas. Did I already mention I'm an idiot?

I had dinner with some Finns tonight, and I'm way way way off-topicer than usual. Ta!

davidb 11:31 PM  

My one and only known Phineas is the character from John Knowles' A Seaparte Peace. Though it's been nearly 3 decades since I had to read it in 9th grade English, the character has found a permanent niche in my memory. As far as I can recall his last name was not identified, but he was often referred to as Finny, so "Phineas Finn" doubly brought him to mind.

Sailed pretty smoothly through this one except for that one letter A, which has been derided so much today, that it has become the Scarlet Letter of the puzzle keeping company with that similarly-hued TANAGER.

Bill from NJ 12:05 AM  

My reading habits are, indeed, odd as I get just as much pleasure reading Anthony Trollope as I do in reading Jacqueline Susann - just of a different sort.

My father always said I was filling my head with useless information but it does come in handy solving crossword puzzles! My Dad considered the Pallisar novels superior to the "Hollywood drivel" that Jacqueline Susann put out. I don't.

mac 12:09 AM  

@davidb: I loved that book, but I cannot remember the Finny character.

+wordphan 3:40 AM  

Sage tea? Wanted spice but way wrong, but drinkable.
This was a not too difficult puzzle I made difficult by over-thinking. I learn so much on so many levels. For one, just relax and enjoy!

thebubbreport 1:31 PM  

Leave it to ICE-T to lead me to the theme answer. Strangest thing, I was looking at Eiffel Tower pictures last night and thinking about "Devil in the White City" (Eiffel/Ferris Wheel World's Fairs related) on the way home from the coffee shop where I picked up my paper, yet it took me forever to figure out the theme!

SIDE NOTE: For those who haven't read it yet, "Devil in the White City" is unbelievably well-researched and really interesting. I went to architecture school and never knew a tenth of the things he wrote out about the Columbian Exposition and how it came to be!

liquid el lay 2:37 PM  

Unable to finish.

I gave up and read the blog this morning. Then I completed the puzzle using blue instead of black ink. It's suprising how much was, after all, done, for such a poor showing. That's the way it seems to work for me- you're nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, then suddenly its closing up and you're finished.

But not this time. Not even close.

I had big problems in the west.

Hwy 1, below pt conception was devoid of SEAMAPS, nor did I break into HISPEED along the upper coastal road. Hwy 101 was not UNCONDITIONALLY filled, either. Nor did I get a TOE hold on I-5. And no PLEASURECRUISES going east on I-10.

Sort of like SEAWARS, SEAMAPS was weird but cool. Scripps e-mag ran an article with SEA MAP in the title. Can't complain about that.

On the blog: I liked the picture of the bird, and the bird song.

william e emba 5:45 PM  

You all remember I gave you the list of famous ALOIS's earlier this week? Including the Pope!

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