SATURDAY Mar.21 2009- R.H. Wolfe (She gave Odysseus magic veil / Minotaur was fed seven of these annually / Blood flow measurers)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ELYSIUM - "a place or condition of ideal happiness" (

ELYSIUM is the Ancient Greek paradise reserved for heroes to whom the gods had granted immortality. Homer described it as a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth, on the banks of the Oceanus River. From the time of Pindar (c. 500 BC) on, Elysium was imagined as a dwelling place for those who had lived a righteous life. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)

puzzle felt decidedly average - and I mean that in a good way. This is what an average Saturday puzzle should feel like. Difficulty-wise, maybe it was very slightly to the easy side, but I still had all the experiences I require of a late-week puzzle. The starts and stops and Ohos and Ahas, the feelings of triumph, followed by despair, the moments of panic and free-fall, missteps, rewrites, face-wrinkling ... and then, finally, a major breakthrough, a metaphorical left cross that absolutely leveled the puzzle. A solid 10+-minute workout that ended with me victorious. That's what I like. If that puzzle can do that on Saturday, I am happy.

I was feeling cocky early on when OHIOAN went straight in the grid (1D: William Howard Taft, by birth), confirmed immediately by OIL (19A: Garage stock) and ANVIL (22A: Ear piece). The "LV" made EVOLVE easy to see (3D: Come about), and the NW went down in short order from there. For some reason I couldn't round the corner at RHEOMETERS (9D: Blood flow measurers). Had the RHEO and could think only of RHEOSTATS? Circulatory systems and electronic circuits both deal with flow (Gr. rheos = stream). Anyway, tried to escape from NW in the other direction and god bless that little corridor. Spiritually, I reside at the intersection of Bibliographic Latin and Reality TV, so IDEM into HAIM was an easy glide for me (23D: Latin word in a quotation book + 34A: Feldman's co-star on "The Two Coreys"). The best work Corey HAIM ever did was in "Lucas," in case you're curious. That was before he became (briefly) famous. Come to think of it, "Lucas" is probably among Charlie Sheen's best work, too. Here - spot the famous people:

[Cheesiest 80s Teen Movie Ending Ever]

So now I'm in the SW and once I put in ULT at 39A: Maximum: Abbr., the corner goes down pretty quickly. Well, it takes some pushing to finish it off. I watch some bad, stupid, useless, even celebrity-oriented TV, but nothing but nothing can make me watch one second of "Dancing With the Stars," so HOUGH (57A: Two-time "Dancing With the Stars" co-winner Julianne) was a mystery. I figured out her name by piecing together DEGUM (49D: Free of sticky stuff). But then I hit another wall at 40D: Turns red, maybe. I wrote in BLUSHES, but RANDALL took that option away (48A: Quarterback Cunningham), and all I could come up with then was FLASHES (like a siren?). So now I'm in trouble - 40% of the puzzle done, but no way into the vast open middle of the grid, and no footholds anywhere else. This is when I get a little panicky - when I'm desperately scouring the grid for Any kind of foothold, any kind of purchase that will allow me to get rolling again.

I went to ILKA (54D: Chase in films), which I felt sure was correct, and off of her I got INK and SEA ... but both long Acrosses stopped right there. Moving on - tried TRI and UNI at 41D: Prefix with lateral (iso-), but that got me nowhere. Moving on - hey, it's that goddess from the Odyssey that I didn't know the last time she appeared! EDA? IDA? UNA? UMA? EMO? O come on! While I was wrestling with my faulty memory, I happened to notice the (aptly clued) adjacent Across, 38A: Minimal progress. I tested STEP, and the "P" gave me the beautiful long REST STOP (14D: It's found between exits), and then ... then I did just that. STOP. Finally let myself imagine "IT" as the last part of 12D: "Don't even bother!" and "FORGET IT" sprang to mind, then ONE-ON-ONE (13D: Kind of defense), and then the floodgates opened. I went from INO (33A: She gave Odysseus a magic veil) in one big, unstoppable loop, up through the NE, crashing down through the middle, straight down the SHARI LEWIS expressway (28D: Kids' entertainer who won 12 Emmys) and then splashing up through SUCRE (44A: Ingredient in chocolat) to finish at the "I" in ISO. Keys: allowing myself to try METERS as the (obvious?) second part of 9D: Blood flow measurers, and 2. nailing the ESTHETES / ART connection with very little in place (31A: They appreciate 59-Down / 59D: It's appreciated by 31-Across).


  • 1A: Washington is just above it ("One Dollar") - if only this clue had continued "... on the One Dollar bill." My only early guess was OREGON.
  • 18A: Some bucks and does (hares) - well I knew these weren't going to be DEERS, but beyond that, I didn't know.
  • 25A: The Minotaur was fed seven of these annually (maidens) - this is SO deceptive. The Minotaur is actually fed boys and girls, seven of each, which is one of the reasons MAIDENS never occurred to me. I wanted so badly to make ATHENIANS fit, because I knew it was right. Knowing too much about a topic can really hurt sometimes.
  • 42A: "A Footnote to History" author's inits. (RLS) - in the realm of author's initials, the vast majority of the time you're going to be dealing with TSE or RLS. Sometimes EAP or even GBS.
  • 43A: State in Elysium (bliss) - the third ancient Greek clue of the puzzle. I was thinking that maybe Elysium had subdivisions that Homer or someone else referred to as "states."
  • 62A: Adjunct to some pens (ink eraser) - where I come from, that's called an "eraser."
  • 2D: Chuck Berry title girl who's repeatedly asked "Is that you?" ("Nadine") - now is the part on Rex Parker when we dance!

  • 4D: Plotters' place (den) - is this what the DEN of thieves is doing? Plotting? I tend to think of criminals having LAIRS.
  • 8D: Bell town in a Longfellow poem (Atri) - Crosswordese 101. Maybe 102. Whatever. You should remember it now if you didn't know it already.
  • 24D: City in Arthur C. Clarke's "The City and the Stars" (Lys) - I wouldn't know.
  • 26D: Squaring-off site (arena) - kind of a cool clue. I was imagine someone making something square, as with a plane, perhaps in a garage. I'm not sure that makes sense, but that's what was happening.
  • 55D: Last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, informally (Cleo) - and here I thought this was going to be something fierce. Nope - it's just Her Aspiness.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


evil doug 8:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 8:35 AM  

Drives me nuts: You describe the puzzle just as I see it, and then you say you get it done in 10 minutes. I enjoyed about an hour with music playing, people chatting, coffee brewing at Starbucks.

I'm betting Randall Cunningham will be elusive for some non-fans and fans alike---it's been a while since he had his big moments. But then again, same for Ilka and Ino....

To me, an eraser works on pencil. To erase ink, that special type of eraser is required.


Rex Parker 8:39 AM  

Your solving time does not drive me nuts.

You are likely right about the eraser. It just looks like an eraser eraser is all.


JannieB 8:43 AM  

Kept trying to feed virgins to the minotaur so that held me up in the NE. Also tried to stretch Orgeon to fit at 1A. And tried another set of initials IAES) in the SW - after all, poor Adlai is mostly remembered in xworld as an also-ran, so the title seemed appropriate. I really liked the cluing and fill in the SE corner.

I agree - a nice, solid Saturday.

evil doug 8:47 AM  

Let me put it this way: While I don't understand the motivation to do so, I still admire and am amazed by those who can routinely unwind these late-week puzzles quickly.


Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Possible theme: "X Marks the Spot" ?

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

The west half of the puzzle went fast for me, starting with OHIOAN right off the bat. Then I got stuck, like RP, on the RHEOwhatever, and had no way of further invading the east except for the children's entertainer, which I knew, and I knew I knew it, and I just couldn't think of her name. I was thinking "Kukla, Fran and Ollie, that woman who played Fran. Fran something. or was Ollie the woman and Fran was a puppet." Then a friend called to talk me out of joining the monkhood and when I returned to the puzzle there was ol' Shari staring back at me. Then it was all over but the cryin', which I'm working on now. Just under 19 minutes, which is pretty fast by my standards, but the puzzle still didn't feel that easy.

Sea otters sound like some bad sumbitches.

ArtLvr 9:14 AM  

My word of the day was AIR TRAIN, a plane that tows a glider! Who knew? Not written in STONE. I also expect some are WELL AWARE of Weber State U in OGDEN? Not me. Good thing that was gettable with crosses... i.e. T'WILL out.

Lilies have been said to be linked to ALOES here before, but mine don't ever flower! I liked the classical ladies, with INO the help to Odysseus being a dear like ENO the female deer. I also dug the DEGUM, the BIGOT, and the CAT, of course.


Anonymous 9:17 AM  

...or better yet for the Theme: "Fool's Gold"
I imagine a treasure hunter starting with ONEDOLLAR and reminding himself to HAVEFAITH. He moves around the grid ALLALONE only to think that ITSNOUSE and he should FORGETIT pausing at a RESTSTOP to fret over the fact that all he can find are SEAOTTERS, INKERASERS, and ANVILs. Until finally, miraculously, he discovers the X in the center of the grid only to realize that the gold coins are in fact WAXEN and there are TEXTS telling him to try somewhere else.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Maybe 10-minutes-plus for you, Rex, but I'm happy just to finish. (Took me a little less than an hour.)

In fact, this may be the first truly taxing Saturday puzzle (by my standards) that I've solved. About half my squares are writeovers.

I wonder when this puzzle was submitted. I can't help but read 35D as a twisted sort of homage to Trip Payne and Francis Heaney, this year's ACPT runners-up.


hazel 9:23 AM  

After reading the writeup, I wondered why I hated the puzzle so much while I was doing it. It sounds so much more fun when Rex describes it (and @Matty too). Me, I just had vast open spaces forever, and finally the staring breakthrough. Originally, the only thing I liked was that X, but I may reconsider.

More importantly, I once saw Charlie Hough in a pre-season game against the Braves down in West Palm. It was towards the end of his career and he weighed about 50 lbs more than he did in that picture. I think he was with the Marlins. I don't remember how he pitched, but I do remember that he hit a triple, which shocked everyone on and off the field - everyone laughing at him wheezing his way around the bases. Then, when he got back to the dugout, he lit up a cigarette, which was just astonishing to me.

Orange 9:35 AM  

@evil doug: What's your motivation for doing the puzzle at your pace? What's that you say? It takes how long it takes, and you're not choosing the solving time, it's emerging naturally? Same here.

Plus, the riches and fame that accrue to top crossword solvers are a draw.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

well, it took 23 minutes for me, and i felt like i was really whipping around that grid. those riches and fame will never be mine, but i do enjoy the wrangle when it's not TOO prolonged.

Leon 9:50 AM  

Thanks Mr. Wolfe.

Thanks RP, listening to NADINE and drinking Irish Coffees, I danced.

I join all who fed Virgins to the Minotaur.

Ohio trails Virginia for states producing the most presidents.

Rex Parker 9:53 AM  


What part of "I still admire and am amazed by those who can routinely unwind these late-week puzzles quickly" did you not understand?

What's that you say? :)


miguel 9:56 AM  

Orange, if Congress finds out how much you top solvers make, they are going to tax it at 95%.
So, why is texting your friends a College Expense? ;)
Elysium Fields was the setting of 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' which is in New Orleans, so I was ready for Louisiana to fit.

edith b 10:16 AM  

I started just like Rex with roughly the same results but got RHEOMETERS which took me into the NE thru MAIDENS. I have said before that too much knowledge is a dangerous thing and Rex confirmed that here as I knew only the rough outlines of the Minotaur story so that MAIDENS made sense to me. I trickled down out of the NE pretty quickly and moved thru Flyover country into the SW and moved eastward from HURRAHED into the SW where I bogged down at WELL***** and INKE*****.

Finally SEAOTTERS produced WAT which broke the back of this one.

I never think of the time it takes to solve puzzles and, like Orange and Evil Doug - an odd couple indeed - time flows organically out of the puzzle.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

I loved this puzzle. I entered RANDALL immediately (I'm a pro football junkie) and then SUCRE then nothing. Just stared at the open grid and thought that it was over for me!

But just staring can work and good things began to happen.

Also fell into the VIRGINS for MAIDENS trap.

And having HARTS for 18A made "kind of defense" look ridiculous as _NTON_E.

The last fill was changing HARTS to HARES (??) and smiling.

A little surprised to read that Rex (and others) only rated this as Medium (vs. Challenging) but I wouldn't argue too long.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Now it all comes clear. Orange, world famous author and editor, called in some major favours to get her influential friends at Google to hire Tyler Hinman and get him out of Chicago so she could be fastest in the Midwest. I couldn't understand the motivation before, but the guidance of all those Law & Order re-runs finally came to bear: follow the money.

chefbea 10:33 AM  

I never time myself. Just have fun doing the puzzles and hope to finnish Friday and Saturday. If I do make mistakes I have my trusty ink eraser!!

Took me forever to get sucre. Didnt realize chocolat was the french spelling. Should't it have had an accent over the A? Ulrich?

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Regarding solving times: I'm getting faster even after 30 years of solving. I did today's in about 12 minutes, and without rushing, eating a Blizzard from Dairy Queen at the same time. I don't get the urge to compete against anyone else's time, because I don't think the main point of solving a crossword is how fast you can do it, but I do understand the satisfaction of improving your own time.
I am absolutely amazed at those who can do a puzzle in two minutes or so (someone commented on a 2:03 yesterday, I believe). No matter what day of the week. I can't do it. I don't think I ever will. I CAN'T READ THE CLUES AND WRITE/TYPE THAT FAST. And I am just thrilled that a few years ago, Saturday puzzles took me hours, maybe several sittings, maybe no finish at all, and now, 12 minutes.

BTW, Rex, Julianne HOUGH was a gimme for me, and I don't watch Dancing with the Stars, either. She has a second career as a country singer, and I was familiar with her as such. Then one day the DJ said she was the girl from Dancing with the Stars, and I was amazed that a 19-year-old (at the time) could have two such distinct and amazing talents, and be gorgeous on top of it all. I love Miss HOUGH.

Kurt 10:46 AM  

I'm with Evil Doug. I admire those who can conquer a Saturday puzzle in ten minutes. But I personally enjoy taking an hour and sort of savoring it. Interruptions are good things. Going for another cup of coffee. Talking to my wife or children or grandchildren. And then coming back to continue the journey.

My journey was almost exactly the same as General Parker described. Although I did know HOUGH - my wife is a fan and I think that it travels from her brain to mine while we're sleeping. That made the SW a whole lot easier.

Enjoy the weekend everybody.

Jeffrey 10:49 AM  

Just keep Tyler out of Canada.

14+ minutes.

There's a romantic comedy hidden in this puzzle.



Or it could EVOLVE a differnet way with SHARI LEWIS, HAIM, ILKA and TRIO. Add RANDALL, NADINE, HOUGH and CLEO and you've got ART.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

dear evil doug,

the quick one solves
the more they can blog

anyhow, thats what i think


Anonymous 10:59 AM  

I keep thinking I could be / should be faster (35 mins today) but I made the same early errors as others (VIRGINS for MAIDENS, HARTS for HARES) I also thought things are written in PROSE not STONE, so the NE was a mess. As well, had the Emmy winner as FREDROGERS and that a sentry who is fully posted is WIDEAWAKE. I need to be more cautious of wrong turns.

mac 11:02 AM  

When I opened the arts section to the puzzle, I spotted a photograph of the, until yesterday, unknown to me Edward James Olmos! What's that called again?

I loved this puzzle, had a very easy time with the upper half, then the SE quadrant fell, after which I needed some staring and stabbing in the SW. Hough and Randall were unknown to me. The ugly "degum" finally opened it up. I fed virgins, had tweed for twill, cacao for sucre and what's a WAT? Thought that might make word of the day.

Like "Her Aspiness"

@chefbea: no accents on chocolat.

Shamik 11:13 AM  

@steve: I'm with you on the philosophy of time and's more a contest with myself and gives me an empirical basis for judging a puzzle's difficulty. The only variable that cannot be accounted for is my own tiredness, alertness, hangover (not often), or brilliance of the day.

Good puzzle, Mr. Wolfe! DEEMing this one a medium at 18:16 while having coffee and a cat that gets up and down onto my lap.

Dancing here to NADINE and laughing at the cheesy ending, wondering which famous person/people I missed.

Always good to see me in the puzzle, even if my last name isn't LEWIS.

First answer entered was CIRCA for ASFOR in the NE which got erased for the definite answer of INSANITY for ONEONONE...even if I followed the money, the lawyer for the defense loves the "I" plea.

SOLID was solidly entered for STERN which also made for more ickiness in the NE. And with BLUSHES and TWEED SOLIDly inputed in the mid-SW, I kept wondering where LEISS was and knew in my gut that BERTRAIN was just off from my one and only glider ride.

As for INKERASERs, useless! They make big mess while not erasing thoroughly. Either use a pencil or just write over your ink answer. It's going to be a mess anyway!

Good Saturday puzzle!

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Thought 62A was very precise in saying "adjunct to SOME pens" -- i.e., those with erasable ink. Never really understood the appeal of them, but they do exist. Nice puzzle. I'm in the middle on the speed thing. I don't try to zoom through but I don't dawdle. Can't type fast enough to hit the upper ranks at Orange's site early in the week, but solve fast enough to be there sometimes on the harder puzzles later. I yam what I yam, toot toot.

jeff in chicago 11:34 AM  

I kinda look at my times since Across Lite starts the clock for me. But on Saturday? No. Usually because I run the clock to 99:99 and then some.

But not today! I finished! Woo hoo! And in 46 minutes! And Rex calls it medium! Every sentence in this paragraph gets an exclamation mark!

Of course I thought OREGON for 1-A, but it clearly didn't fit and my brain instantly went to: "I bet this is about the dollar bill." I pulled a single out of my wallet. There it was. 1-D was a no-brainer as I am an Ohioan as well. The state of presidents! My Chuck Berry knowledge paid off for 2-D and the NW fell faster than any section of a Saturday I've ever done.

Then, like Rex, a lot of ohos and ahas, some great guesses, and knowing things I didn't think I knew. I'm not a sports guy, but RANDALL and ONEONONE came right to me. Working out SHARILEWIS took a while, but was very satisfying.

I liked this puzzle a lot. Now I have some lines to memorize, so I wish you all a grand weekend.

joho 11:53 AM  

@jeff in chicago: like you I was happy to see Rex rated this a medium since I was able to solve all in a decent time for me. I don't count the minutes and don't care how long it takes me to get done as long as I do!

@Orange: about "not choosing the solving time, it's emerging naturally." It seems to me you have to choose to go fast to beat the clock. That's not your natural rhythm, is it?

I really like this puzzle for all the reasons Rex stated. I had the same RHEOSTATS stutter and had SAILORS for MAIDENS for a while. In the end everything got sorted out and I was happy as a SEAOTTER.

HudsonHawk 12:01 PM  

I'm about halfway between Rex and Evil, and had a similar solving experience. The NW was completed quickly, but that dangling RHEO ended my progress.

I wanted FRED ROGERS for 28D, but the crosses weren't going to work there. HAIM opened up the SW. I had DEGOO for a bit, but I could hear Rex in my head bashing such an ugly word. By the way, DEGUM isn't much better.

The deep south was a bit slow, as I wanted ILKA to be ELKE, which kept me from ERIC for way too long. In the NE, my mis-start was ASHCANS, but the MAA opening for 25A just wasn't happening.

To me, ONE ON ONE is a basketball game between two people. The defense is MAN TO MAN, whether in basketball or football.

Bill from NJ 12:03 PM  

When I first started reading Rex"s blog, I was seduced by speed solving. I got all the way down to 3:45 on a Monday before I finally gave it up as ultimately unsatisfying. It made me frantic. And that 3:45? Turned out to be a one time thing - a perfect storm of circumstance. I never got under 5:00 again.

No, I got back to why I did puzzles in the first place - for the pure, bloody hell of it. For love of language. As much as I disliked Mr Maleska's puzzles, he did instill in me a desire to get to the bottom of all kinds of obscurties - none of them related to time. In a curious kind of way, I feel better about knowing what Guido's high note means.


Orange 12:19 PM  

@Opus2: You did it. You cracked the case. Well done. (And you made me laugh, too.)

@Joho: No, it is my natural rhythm. To savor a puzzle for an hour, I would have to deliberately slow down my pace in reading clues and writing in the answers. I could add a few minutes by not racing against the clock, but the slow savor? I don't know how to do that. I'm not trying to be obnoxious (that comes naturally! *rim shot*), but honestly, I look at the clues and the answers tend to follow. How does one make one's memory retrieve things more slowly?

Kurt Vonnegut once said Tyler Hinman was a freak of nature. It's true. The particular bundle of neural wiring that allows souped-up speed-solving is not standard. I appear to have some of that wiring, but I totally missed out on the Sports Skills and Musical Talent packages.

archaeoprof 12:31 PM  

@Bill in NJ: amen, brother.
@Evil: amen, brother.
@Orange: amen, sister.

I died in the SE today, when I put "Esau" in 52A.

Great Saturday puzzle, all 60 minutes of it.

Jeffrey 12:35 PM  

I was always the first to finish an exam at school (whether I did well or not). Was that true of other fast solvers?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

the minotaur ate cretans not athenians

evil doug 12:54 PM  


Natural is good.

But I'm curious: Do those committed to competitively timing the effort lock themselves in their den, put on noise-blocking earphones, ignore the request of a child for a drink, assume the fire alarm is false, delay the need for a restroom visit?

Before you begin, do you scan through the clues and produce some answers in your mind before actually entering letters and starting the clock? If you need to pause, are you able to stop the clock for the duration?

To me, those would be rather artificial ways to improve one's time....

"Plus, the riches and fame that accrue to top crossword solvers are a draw."

...and don't forget the trophies!


Anonymous 1:09 PM  

I hated this puzzle, and all RHW puzzles as a rule. Too much stuff I don't care about. Also, how come esthete isn't tagged with a Var.? I thought aesthete is the proper spelling (indeed, my Firefox spell check agrees with me).

mccoll 1:09 PM  

A lesson in humility! This one took more than an hour and several googles later. (Not to this site mind you.) I knew Nadine (Thank heavens for the blues) Shari Lewis and sea otters or I might not have finished at all.
@Crosscan those look like the names of country songs to me. In fact, It's possible that there is a song with ALL those words in it.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I first had the Minotaur eating Cretans, Cretins, and Cretens (which I knew was wrong, but I didn't want to give up), before realizing rheo- had to end in -meters. SE and center were the toughest regions for me by far!
I love that Saturdays take me an hour. It's the best hour of my day, cat on my lap, food network on, caffeine by my side - perfection.

Rex Parker 1:12 PM  

Anyone with an internet connection can look this @#$# up:

"Minos required that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sent every ninth year (some accounts say every year) to be devoured by the Minotaur."

"The Athenians were forced by Minos to send every year seven young men and seven young women to be fodder of this famous beast."

If you're going to contradict me, at least do a simple Google search first.


Rex Parker 1:13 PM  

Sorry, that comment was intended for the woefully wrong Anonymous 12:40 and no one else.


Two Ponies 1:14 PM  

Good puzzle to savor today.
Lack of TV knowledge made the SW corner a chore. Haim doesn't look like a word or a name to me and I doubt I will remember it.
Everyone seems to be focused on the time issue today. The puzzle is an important part of my day so I like to enjoy it like a good meal. I nibble at it to appreciate it. When my plate is clean, so to speak, I sit back and relax.
Completing the puzzle correctly while having a good time is my only goal.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  


So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes that taught the dumb on high to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly
Have added feathers to the learned's wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and born of thee:
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Well, it took me about 10 minutes just to get the northwest section and it was slog after that. I finally worked myself to the middle and ended with two mistakes, mostly becaues I was tired of the whole thing, which is exactly what happens every Saturday.

Who could believe that blushes would first turn to flashes which would then turn to abashes - all meaning turns red, maybe.

However, I think I am doing really well and I give these Slow Slogging Saturdays much of the credit.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

The Greek 43A:ELYSIUM also appears famously in the first couplet of Schiller's Ode to Joy (a.k.a. Beethoven's Ninth): "Freude, schöner Götterfunken, / Tochter aus Elysium". While we're at it, the Parisian thoroughfare [Avenue des] Champs-Élysées gets its name from the "Elysian fields". So the word is not as obscure as one might think at first...


Anonymous 1:22 PM  

My word for the day is WAT, "A Buddhist temple in Thailand or Cambodia." I'll also have to remember ILKA Chase, and Francois-RENE. The Texas to Mississippi region really killed me today.

I remembered the Minotaur ate people, I just misremembered that they were THEBANS. (I must have confused with Theseus, the Minotaur Slayer.)

We never heard of a RHEOMETER in med school; I wonder if it's an instrument used by pathologists, or just in experimental labs.

I've stopped caring so much about times on Saturday as much as if I'm able to finish them without errors (or googling).

I still have to go back some time and find the origin of ELA. I just found a web page on classic music clues in crosswords that I'll get around to absorbing later this week.

fikink 1:43 PM  

Thank you, Mr. Wolfe. My solving experience was akin to a leisurely game of Scrabble where the cluing allowed me to draw some very usable conclusions and the footpath I went down did not always end in a dropoff.
I knew the sound of Cunningham's first name, but could not come up with it; does that even make sense to anybody?
I knew NADINE, but could only sing "Mabelline" and I swear they are the same song! (Nutcracker, would you care to enlighten me?)
I fought for every letter and won...eventually. Very gratifying.
(I must admit to not understanding the wish to speed-solve, but, then, I am not needing to race off to other obligations so savoring the puzzle is an indulgence.)

jae 2:07 PM  

Medium for me too. I fed VIRGINS, tried COCOA, entered VALVES (off the V in VIRGINS), and for some reason had IDES which made me hesitate putting in HAIM for too long.

I draw the pop culture line at reality TV so I needed all the crosses for HOUGH.

At my age speed is illusive, e.g. I knew I knew the QB but it took a while to come to the surface. That said, if the rest of the puzzle had gone as quickly as NW (I too am a former OHIOAN) I'd have finished it around 10 to 15.

@Orange -- I know some folks at DARPA that would be interested in talking to you (and/or Tyler for that matter), but I suspect that's not your cup of tea (or pint of ale).

Orange 2:07 PM  

@Crosscan: You said "I was always the first to finish an exam at school (whether I did well or not). Was that true of other fast solvers?"

I think so. My son definitely doesn't ace every test and he doesn't speed through his math and essay writing tests—but he whizzes through his third-grade reading tests. He likes to use the extra time to draw pictures of implausible vehicles.

@evil doug:

Re: "Do those committed to competitively timing the effort lock themselves in their den, put on noise-blocking earphones, ignore the request of a child for a drink, assume the fire alarm is false, delay the need for a restroom visit?"—I do plenty of speed-solving with the TV on and people talking, but sometimes I holler-shush them. And I don't at all appreciate having a paper airplane whoosh past my head while engrossed in the NYT applet. Nothing short of a fire or blood will pull me out of the applet since you can't pause its clock, but I'll pause Across Lite if the phone rings or whatever. Oh, and it's easier to focus if you don't have to pee.

E.D. said: "Before you begin, do you scan through the clues and produce some answers in your mind before actually entering letters and starting the clock? If you need to pause, are you able to stop the clock for the duration? Scanning in advance? Never, ever. That would be cheating and the time would not reflect actual cogitation time. If life intervenes during Across Lite solving, I'll pause the timer and not look at the puzzle 'til I come back and turn on the timer.

E.D. wrote: "...and don't forget the trophies!" Exactly! My son was so disappointed last year when I got edged out for 2nd in the Midwest and brought home zero trophies. I have eight ACPT trophies now. I'd like two a year, please.

jae 2:09 PM  

Oh and this was a solid Sat. Not flashy but a very satisfying solve.

Jeffrey 2:19 PM  

Keep Orange out of Canada too. I like my trophy.

Doug 2:27 PM  

"Spiritually, I reside at the intersection of Bibliographic Latin and Reality TV"

I now have the perfect response to Jehovah's Witnesses, and thank you RP for that.

I'm into the puzzles purely for being able to give a medical excuse to my wife for sitting on my ass. "I can't take out the garbage -- I'm preventing Alzheimer's!!!"

joho 2:33 PM  

@Orange ... thanks so much for sharing how you HAVE TO do a puzzle fast. It really is in your nature. That's what I didn't get before. Your brain is wired to speed through the puzzle.

Very interesting ... it definitely explains to me why some posters here want to speed solve and are so concerned with their times. Quite frankly, due to your explanation, this is the first time I got it.

Rex Parker 2:39 PM  


You're welcome. I had no idea that metaphor would have such versatility.


Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Once I realized my place in the natural scheme of things, I changed the way I time the puzzles. Now, regardless of the minutes involved, I only keep track of the seconds. Although this method is as relevant to reality as a reality show, my record is 2 seconds (!) to complete a Saturday, and my self-esteem is off the charts. Highly recommended.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

I actually rate myself by the 2xOrange factor. Less than that, I done good; more than that, eh ...

fergus 4:07 PM  

Being rather fond of fountain pens I felt fairly confident about CARTRIDGE, but after finally remembering SHARI's last name, ideas like INK-DRAWER or INK-SPEWER kept that SE corner in a full mess. Ought to have been WELL AWARE of SEA OTTERS since I saw a bunch of them frolicking about just the other day. INK ERASER is oxymoronic to me, since the choice of ink would imply no intent to erase.

ASHBINS entered reluctantly because I was figuring that might have been Clued by Rubbish.

My time? Worse than any posted, including 99:99

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Betcha can't eat a Marathon Bar quick . . . Orange.

SethG 5:55 PM  

There's a Random House dictionary entry for 'sky train' that says "An airplane towing one or more gliders. Also called air train." I think that the 'train' occurs while the gliders are being towed; I don't think that term refers to the tower alone, though the clue seems to. And this really old article seems to support my interpretation, and I didn't really find any recent references.

I don't actually know anything about this. I hoped to come here today to find that a pilot was the first to comment and had cleared up my confusion--part right, but instead we only get an interesting, topical discussion.

I agree with everything everyone said.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  


I always solve in pencil, so's to be able to erase repeatedly, but a friend of mine--also prone to erasing--solves in ink because ink creates a better contrast with newsprint, and her vision needs all the help it can get.

PlantieBea 6:23 PM  

I am definitely a member of the slow crossword movement :-) Life got in the way today after I completed the top half of the puzzle without too many problems. Road blocks on my path to completion late this afternoon included SLEEVE for the record holder, RAH RAHed for cheered, and not knowing HOUGH, HAIM, and OGDEN. My new word was WAT for the Buddhist monastery.

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

Well I solved this without cheating, or at least I thought I did until I looked at the answers and it turned out my ELEE should have been ERIC and LENE, ELKA and ELEO were all wrong. I guess I thought Robert E. Lee was embarrassed about losing the Civil War or something.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

did anyone already say "Think of Angor Wat"? If not, it might be a way to remember it

PlantieBea 7:58 AM  

Thanks for Angkor Wat. Yes, that may help.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Well, it took me a little over 40 minutes, which makes it medium-easy for me. Three notable difficulties were trying to dredge up SHARI LEWIS's name up (although I had no trouble instantly remembering Soupy Sales and Fred Rogers, both of which fit), trying to remember RANDALL Cunningham's name (I don't do sports, but I am from Philadelphia) and putting ASTIR instead of ASFOR for 10A (About). 60% correct, that last one! And I kept thinking of Minoans or Virgins instead of MAIDENS.

We saw Corey HAIM a few months ago. That probably helped, even though I coudn't remember it.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

I'm with Jojo regarding Orange's post. Great explanation!

My method of judging personal solving time is a bit more arbitrary. If the puzzle is complete and my legs are not totally numb when I exit the loo . . . I did well . . .


Anders Weinstein 5:22 PM  

Some folks think it's impressive to say one does the puzzle in ink. I usually do it in ink, but all that means is that when I make a mistake I have to cross out or overwrite in heavier letters, sometimes several times. My grid today is an unholy mess due to three false starts side by side down the middle: "blushed",
"weave" (for "herringbone") and "Fred Rogers" -- plus "insanity" for "kind of defense". I felt INK ERASER to be a deliberate taunt. (Though as I recall ink erasers never really worked well, they just scraped layers off the paper.)

tom 10:42 PM  

from syndicationville:
With just the L's, I put THEDALLES in 1A. (Based on a childhood spend playing Oregon Trail, I suppose.) EVOLVE and DEN "confirmed" it, unfortunately.

Larry I. in L.A. 4:36 PM  

Like Tae above, I went with RHEOVALVES, which sounded reasonable and fed right into VIRGINS and NAIVE ("impressionable"), all of which I was loath to abandon until I was hopelessly stuck. SHARILEWIS helped me figure out ESTHETES, at which point I knew that ...VALVES had to go. Did the entire NW in about 45 seconds, then apparently was punished for my hubris...

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