Dapper Dan's doodad — SATURDAY, Jan. 2 2010 — Spinachlike potherb / Oxide used television tubes / Sigmoid architectural feature

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Constructor: Robert H. Wolfe

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: YTTRIA (43A: Oxide used in television tubes)Yttrium oxide is Y2O3. It is an air-stable, white solid substance. Yttrium oxide is used as a common starting material for both materials science as well as inorganic compounds


I'll take the beating I got yesterday over this dull slab of mostly 1-pt Scrabble tiles any day. Any Day. There were some great / tough clues here and there, but the fill!? Has no one learned the lesson of word count. Unless you are Patrick Berry, do NOT go under 60 words. Best to not even go close. You're just going to end up with a horde of -ER words (9 today, including a whopping FIVE in the SW alone) and a bunch of plurals (look at virtually every bottom-right square — where two answers terminat — to see what I mean). Found this one remarkably easy at first, and then suitably Saturdayish later on. RAISA (1A: Early 1990s first lady's first name)/ RESTAFF (1D: Fill positions differently) went in instantly, and the only thing that kept the NW interesting after that was a. the fact that I had FARADS where FERMIS was supposed to go (22A: Units in nuclear physics), and b. the fact that the STIPES (16A: Mushroom supporters) / SEPTIMES (4D: Defensive fencing positions in which the top of the blade is pointed at the opponent's knee) crossing was harrowing. Had no idea what went there, until I ran the alphabet and vaguely remembered STIPES. Why the long clue on SEPTIMES when none of that extra info helps with inferring the answer at all?

Followed YES MAN (26A: Rubber stamp) out of Puzzle 1 and down into Puzzle 2 (the SW). Threw down ATTAINER (27D: Goal getter) off just the initial "A" and ON RUNNERS (25D: How most sleds are mounted) off just the first "N." Slowed down in this section only by PROSED (39D: Wrote an essay, say) (!? ugsome word). I had PENNED, duh. Clue on ACER (44D: One not allowing a volley) is one of the worst I've ever seen. You never, ever, ever volley a serve, and an ACE is, by definition, a serve. So ... Clue Fail, to the extreme. ASSESS is the most dreadful of all crossword crutch words — typically lined up, as it is here, to provide the final letter for a large bank of words. Yuck.

OGEE (25A: Sigmoid architectural feature), a gimme, got me GASBAG (15D: One full of hot air), which helped me begin to get traction in the NE. This quadrant was by far the toughest for me. GAS BAG and GONE INTO (15A: Chosen as a career) were the only things up there for a bit. Many false starts until I locked in TEMPLE (8D: Congregation location) and things started to come together. Had INDUCTEE for ENLISTEE (7D: New face on base). Also had STAGES for STARES (11D: They're often drawn on the street). Not sure I get STARES. Why "the street?" What are you wearing that you are drawing STARES? Oh, best mistake of the NE — thought Dapper Dan was wearing a DICKEY (it's actually a TIE PIN, so I was in the correct general sartorial area at least — 9D: Dapper Dan's doodad).

Couldn't get REEFER at first (28A: One getting hit on?), off just the RE-, so had to jump into the utterly blank SE to try to finish off the puzzle. Wrote in SONES with a kind of crossword reflex that god knows I didn't have a few years ago (35A: Acoustic measures). From there, I went SEATERS (36D: Those who put you in your place?) -> SITTER (49A: Parents' hiree) (side note: really? You're gonna cross these?). Wanted ORACH at 47A: Spinachlike potherb, but it didn't fit. Only today is apparently "add-an-E" day, so ... ORACHE! Why not? Last letter in the grid was the "Y" in TYROS (41D: Pros' opposites) / YTTRIA. I've seen TYROS spelled TIROS before, so ... I had to think about it. Ended up going with the more customary spelling. Good move, that.


  • 21A: A conductor may have it memorized (bus line) — really good clue. I could think only of a music conductor. "Doesn't (s)he *always* have the score 'memorized?'" Thought there might be something in music called the BAS LINE. It's French!
  • 33A: Skipping syllables (tras) — That's the problem with skipping: So many TRAS (?). Do people skip any more, and if so, do they actually say "TRA la la?" Just checking.
  • 42A: Kings Henry I and Stephen (Normans) — I'm a medievalist and this somehow wasn't a gimme. Stupid PROSED!
  • 5D: Arterial problem: Var. (aneurism) — could've used a "Var." at ORACHE, though dictionary tells me that "ORACH/E" is an either / or situation. My crossword experience has been all ORACH.
  • 14D: Eleanor who wrote "The Hundred Dresses" (Estes) — don't know you, but ESTES is the surname equivalent of ASSESS, fill-wise.
  • 31D: Dramatic break (entr'acte) — like this. Hardly ever see the full thing in crosswords. Usually just the horrid ENTR
  • 38D: Swank's co-star in "The Next Karate Kid" (Morita) — a gimme, but one whose spelling I question because (once again) I had PENNED instead of PROSED. PROSED!!!! (shakes fist at sky)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


George NYC 12:52 AM  

This puzzle lost me when I realized ACER was correct answer. Per Rex, it's just wrong. Wanted USHERS for SEATERS but didn't fit. I don't think I have ever been sat by a seater...I'm just sayin'

George NYC 12:57 AM  

PS: I object to BUSLINES. We're not in England

treedweller 1:35 AM  

The thing about volley is, people often say they watched a long volley when they mean rally. But it's so common I have to wonder if it's not vaguely acceptable--especially in this world of "if it's out there, it's good, damn the dictionary." I don't like it, but I'm not convinced it's wrong. Which is just so wrong, since a year ago I'd be digging my trench right now to fight this war, and probably would have been very PETTISH about it. I don't know if I've learned to accept new rules, learned to accept new definitions, or gotten so battered this week that I no longer know what I know.

I did finish this one, but with a mistake at TiRO/iTTRIA. I found the mistake without cheating, so that counts as success this week in my book. Someone mixed up Friday and Saturday, though (or, as was suggested yesterday, WS just made it harder for the holiday).

I resisted SEATERS a long time. When I got PROSED and ENTERERS, I decided it was just that kind of puzzle and put it in.

I'm still amazed to see comments like "Wrote in SONES with a kind of crossword reflex." I know Rex does more puzzles than me, but I've done a lot, and SONES does not come reflexively. Nor does ORACH(E). But I keep trying.

lit.doc 1:37 AM  

I award myself a 0+ for getting SW as far N as YESMAN and OGEE. Googling. Geez. And most of the other answers I "got" conflicted with other answers that I "got".

In NW, only got ESSENE and IS THAT SO, which conflicted with YES MAN. In NE, got ANNOYED instead of PETTISH, and got METALLIC which conflicted with GASBAG. In SE, got SONES, SITTER, CHESS, and SEATERS, but also got ANTIS instead of TYROS.

Rex's critique was both comforting and educational. The only legit grievance I've got with the puzzle is that dreadful TOOTLE, which would chap the derriere of any flutist I've ever known.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

Can't wait for Sunday, it has to be easier that the last couple of days.
I did better than yesterday but still got only 3/4's finished before I called it quits. The upper half "done me in".

I feel so smart Sunday through Thursday, but a total idiot on Friday and Saturday. Ah me!

At least with help from the computer guy in the house I was able to get the famous movie star as my avatar. The famous TOBY.

Rex, you still must me on MST to post so early.

George NYC 2:21 AM  

I'm sorry, but VOLLEY and RALLY aren't even close in meaning. I'm sure some will argue that an ACE prevents a VOLLEY on that particular point of a tennis game because the ACE ends the action. But that's like cluing STRIKEOUT with "action that prevents an error." A strikeout prevents all sorts of things, as does an ACE.

andrea tut tut michaels 3:39 AM  

bizarrely i had the same blank squares in the NW that I had yesterday (as I gave up not getting the P in STIPES and FLUES remained PLUGS.)

Agree with Rex on almost everything, in particular putting in a final-S initially in more than 10 places...

Not crazy about a puzzle that the first words I enter are GASBAG nad TRAS...

Once I googled ESTES and MORITA was able to do another 90% of the puzzle.

The NE and SE I got all by my lonesome, with PEEVISH begrudgingly becoming PETTISH and SLITHERY finally slipped into SLIPPERY. And hand up (with a pen in it) for PENNED before PROSED (ick!)

Never heard of ORACHE, with or without an E. I've heard of MACHE, does that count?

And you know what's worse? Not ONE word in this inspires a memory, a moment of synchronicity, an excruciating name-dropping anecdote from my past...nothing!

ArtLvr 4:55 AM  

Hi Rex and everyone -- On the road all yesterday, so I was glad to see Rex back and puzzle up now or I wouldn't be sure what day it is now! But I got this right without a google.

New Year's eve was a multigenerational festival of games, including ping-pong -- so I saw an ACER as one not allowing a volley in table tennis...

Otherwise I had some minor hitches already mentioned, but knew STIPES, ORACHE, NORMANS, TYROS and even YTTRIA at first go in those areas.

Funniest was my trying TSK TSK and then TCH TCH before getting ASTUTELY going, TUT TUT!

Liked best: BUS LINE conductor (though Albany has been economizing by cutting routes of the neediest outliers and nobody has these down yet), plus CHESS where openings are often studied. Also POLLUTERS "They're not green" -- but I'd have preferred as the clue for TYROS an opposite: "They are green".

The STARES drawn on the street brought to mind the ugsome wolf-whistles of last week, after I gave up finding any variation of carriages. My guess is that Wolfe had something different, but Will wanted to stir that up again? Heh. Happy New Year...


imsdave 7:06 AM  

Despite practicing my prosing so that I could be a good enterer today, I was not an attainer of success. Mr. Wolfe (you old Naticker you), got me on the mushroom supporter/fencing cross. I went with STINE.

Ruth 8:05 AM  

I went with STILE. Why not? SELTIMES looked semi logical.
Love ArtLvr's revised clue for TYRO.

JannieB 8:14 AM  

Yesterday's workout was fun, this was just a slog. The SW corner fell first and I could "hear" Rex's comments with each entry. Really - enterers? Tried diarists first. And I opined before I prosed. Does one who is peckish become pettish, or just ugsome?

The P in stipe was my last fill. Meh!

mac 9:03 AM  

Totally agree with Rex - as I was filling in the enterers and the seaters I knew he wouldn't like it. I couldn't remember stipes, but figured the fencing term might be a seventh position or something of the sort. Yttria looks odd starting with y and double t, but I convinced myself tyro was right.

I did this one in a fraction of the time it took to do yesterday's, but that is not a good thing!

Some good words, though, such as astutely, septimes, aneurism and esoteric. Agree that the clue for "acer" was simply wrong. I'll be living on orache for a couple of weeks....

Sartorial is a beautiful word with a pedestrian meaning.

K1P2 9:25 AM  

SW and NE were relatively easy for me and then I floundered.

Yes, Rex, people do still skip. Kids love to skip, especially in school where they are told to Walk, don't Run. Skipping is the perfect in between! As for their "tra la lalling" probably not so they can keep skipping without being caught...

Tinbeni 9:29 AM  

ER, ER,ER ... time to hit the REEFER.

ORACHE - WTF, final ER moment
YTTRIA - entered via crosses (was sure of TYROS), figured it was my learning moment, now I can forgetaboutit.
NORMANS got me PROSED but I kept thinking, penned.
But the groans at some of the little stuff: TRAS, ACER ...
ESTES I knew, must be from other CW's

1st ever Sat.NYT. A SLIPPERY slope but I finished.

dk 9:34 AM  

Mushrooms, REEFER -- TUTTUT.

Mr. Wolfe, yesterday was a tough act to follow. I like the hard fill as I learn something, Although unlike Rex I never remember it. I see the Saturday puzzle as an ESOTERIC exercise (e.g., YTTRIA), avoiding some of the disappointment expressed above.

I fenced in college (insert poser WASP comment here) and SEPTIMES is firing no neurons (must have the same problem as Andrea). I also played tennis (see earlier insert) and agree with George NYC.


An essay is prose so I guess if you have written one you have PROSED. Not an ANEURISM but, it may be an IMPETUS for one. Sister in law is a flutist so I can wait to share TOOTLE with her. Her goat is easy to get and TOOTLE should do it. And, I wish we ushered in the New Year rather than using TYROS as SEATERS.

** (2 Stars)

joho 9:45 AM  

@Rex's write-up is right on. I finished this with no mistakes unlike yesterday, but didn't enjoy it even half as much.

PROSED? Really? I had to look it up to be sure it was a real word. Unfortunately it is.

I had church before TEMPLE for too long, but since both were HOLY, the "Y" there got me to SLIPPERY and that corner fell. I had spurious at first and also inducTEE.

@imsdave ... funny post but shows us too vividly how awful some of the answers were.

By far the worst thing about this puzzle was that it had nothing in it to prompt @andrea to share some of her name-dropping anecdotes! I can't get enough of those!

I give this puzzle a triple ER rating. By the way, that's not good.

Robert Middleton 9:48 AM  

bus line
1. the route of a bus or buses.
2. a company that owns and operates buses.

Ralph's daily bus run (Bus No. 2969 & No. 247) took him along Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

MC. What Kind of work do you do, Mr. Kramden?

Ralph. I'm a brus diver.

MC. A brus diver??

Ralph. Yeah. I brive a dus.

MC. Qh, you drive a bus!

Ralph. That's what I said, I'm a dus briver!

cstallwo 9:49 AM  

YTTRIA -- I believe I have gotten a postcard from that country. At first, I entered YTTRIC, as "yttrium" is an actual element but "ittrium" does not exist. YTTRIC is actually a chemical name. A chemist may be better able to say, but I don't believe "yttria oxide" exists, although "yttric oxide" definitely does. Fortunately I could see that SECTERS would not be people putting me in my place, but rather SEATERS might do so.

Guess I'll go have a spinach(e) salad now so I don't get pettish from hunger.

JC66 10:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
foodie 10:09 AM  

I got stuck with MORPHINE in lieu of ATROPINE for a looong time. The --R--INE are shared and the clue really fits, so getting rid of it was quite hard.

I had a hard time believing that an Oxide (YTTRIA) will end in A-- but then most oxides end with... "oxide" or some derivative, e.g. "pentoxide". Anyhow, I kept getting rid of SEATERS because of that. I finished in the end, but felt as Rex and Andrea did: not very evocative : <

retired_chemist 10:15 AM  

@ cstallwo - YTTRIA is a common name for the oxide. Many oxides (ever take milk of magnesia?) are named analogously. Had me for a moment because I was looking for *IUM oxide also.

What everybody said about the 4 separate puzzles, the paucity of memorable fill, the ERs, and the plurals.

On a personal note, this is exactly the kind of puzzle I would have given up early on a year ago. I used to need the 3 and 4 letter answers to get me started on anything over 6 letters. This one was not easy, but it was doable. Had nearly all white space until I got to the the SW, where MORITA and ON RUNNERS let me fill it in quickly. SITTER, CHESS, and ENTR'ACTE ditto for the SW.

OGEE was a gimme, and then BUS FARE (later BUS LINE) gave a toehold in the NE. 18A was TSK TSK, TCH TCH, and finally TUT TUT. Went through the 1990s US first ladies before enough crosses (2) were in place RAISA. 1D was RESTOCK or RESTACK until the end, when the F's fixed it. Confession: STIPES was a very dim memory and after I filled it in I checked a dictionary to be sure.

ON balance, despite its faults, I liked this puzzle. I will however forgo the WOLFE whistle.

dk 10:16 AM  

"Dull slab of a puzzle." A critique I understand: woo woo!

-15 on the sunny side of the house, -23 on the ski hill, I think I will stay in and savor the oatmeal.

JC66 10:16 AM  


I usually find your posts so much more enjoyable when you dislike a puzzle. Today was one of those days.

I'm one who confuses volley with rally, so that wasn't a problem for me; nor was BUSLINE. Could be wrong, but don't restaurants like Red Lobster and IHOP have SEATERS?

There was a Dapper Dan doll that was popular when my kids were growing up, so I unsderstand your wanting DICKEY first.

Also, hand up for TSKTSK and INDUCTEE.

And like you refrained from actually saying PROSED just sucks.

ArtLvr 10:17 AM  

@ andrea tut tut michaels -- a memory-jogger for you, with TOOTLE of the flute, from Bing Crosby's 1945 album "My Favorite Irish Songs"...

Oh me name is McNamara
I'm the leader of the band
Although we're small in number
We're the finest in the land
We play at wakes and weddings
And every country ball
And when we play at funerals
We play the best of all
Oh the drums go bang and the cymbals clang
And the horns they blaze away
McCarthy pumps the old bassoon, while
Doyle the pipes will play
Oh! Hennessey Tennessey tootles the flute,
And the music is something grand
Oh! A credit to old Ireland, boys, is
McNamara's band.

If you google the rest, you'll see that the singer is supposedly the only Swede in McNamara's Band!


xyz 10:17 AM  

My B.S. was in Chemistry, so not a "real chemist" but YTTRIA is kinda ugly, I should have been able to guess this one, but no. I'm hardly a skilled puzzler, but this puzzle was even to me a fairly soulless exercise in difficulty for its own sake. Fooled with LEADDI as Pb is a real problem with why TV tubes need recycling. My "skill" if you can call it that gave me only about 6 or 7 answers. haha

Lots of hot air clues/refrencing and today maybe it's just a coincidence.

We'll see in a couple of months whether or not I retain anything from today ...

My hat's off to those that can solve a puzzle like this one, it's a long way off for me yet.

Still plugging

chefbea 10:18 AM  

Easier than yesterday but I agree - too many er's

I seem to remember a poem or song from my youth..."while someone tootled the flute" I will look it up and report back.

chefbea 10:20 AM  

@Andrea thanks. Now I will be singing that ditty all day

Smitty 10:21 AM  

Where do I start? Nowhere.

Without a firm foothold anywhere in the grid, this was a slippery slope for me.

Even Uncle Google couldn't save me today.

Leslie 10:21 AM  

Had to laugh when contrasting Rex's solving experience to mine. Time after time, he came up with, and had to reject, really good answers that Never Entered My Mind.

I like "penned" way better than PROSED, "inductee" more than ENLISTEE, and "farads" more than FERMIS. But I slogged my way toward the correct answers simply because the "better, but wrong" answers didn't even occur to me!

Also, I'm impressed that Rex just threw down RAISA and RESTAFF quickly. The NW section was the last to come to me.

So--I got the whole thing without googling, and I always count that as a victory on the weekend, but yowch. Hard puzzle!

Someone please explain to me why ANEURISM is a "variant/variation." Isn't that how it's always spelled?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:25 AM  

What everybody said.

Took me 75 minutes; was hoping for more than a Medium, but I should know better.

Did a lot of thinking before writing, so I finished correctly (guessing at the "P" in STIPES), with just two write-overs: INDUCTEE/ENLISTEE and INERTIA/IMPETUS.

retired_chemist 10:34 AM  

@ Leslie et al. -

Had the same thought, but my dictionary says ANEURYSM is the preferred spelling.

a FARAD is a unit of capacitance, definitely not a nuclear concept. Capacitors store macroscopic charge, e.g. the condenser you may call the starter on a fluorescent light (if you have some old ones as we do). A FERMI is a unit of length, 10^^(-15) meters,putatively approximately the diameter of a proton. Not sure how Mr. Heisenberg lets you measure that one...

Isabella de Pesto 10:46 AM  

In my neighborhood a BUS DRIVER memorizes his BUS ROUTE. Never heard of a Bus Conductor memorizing a bus line.

But that's just me.

I love cooking with a great variety of fresh herbs but admit I had never heard of ORACHE.

I'm feeling a bit PETTISH about this puzzle, which I did not RELISH, but did manage to finish.

nanpilla 10:46 AM  

Good to be home, and be able to print a puzzle out for solving, rather than having to buy the paper. I do WAY too much erasing, and the newspaper can hardly hold up! The SE was my last to fall, and it took as long as the rest of the puzzle. I held onto au pair for SITTER too long, even tho I couldn't think of a single thing to end in A for the oopposite of pros. Of course, I didn't think the chemical ending was going to end in A, and it did, so who's to know? Kept trying to come up with an adverb for way to walk(as I'm sure was intended) - you get the picture. I did finish with no errors, but it took nearly an hour. This one actually took me longer than yesterday's. Go figure.
Oh, and I used to play the flute in high school, and TOOTLE was about as good as I ever got.

Meg 10:50 AM  

Usually a wrong entry will become evident in time, but IS THAT SO just stayed and stayed, making the NW impossible.

It seemed like the cluing was deliberately hard (OK, it's Saturday), but not very imaginative. No happy aha moments.

I really didn't like the YESMAN clue. He's a rubber stamp? I've never heard it used that way.

Bus conductor? Seriously?

OK, Enough complaining. Andrea, I'm sure you have a funny story about mushrooms or maybe reefer?

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I didn't hate this as much as many of you, probably because I was able to solve it (with the exception of one wrong letter, the P). It always astounds me when I get totally annihilated on Friday and feel like a dummy and can then solve Saturday with no googles ... seems like this happens as often as not.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Yipes, STIPES! You won't believe what the short version of the OED has to say about "stipe":

a) "...supports the pileus of a basidiomycetous fungus;" b) "the petiole of a fern blade;" c)"...the part joining the lamina to the holdfast."

Should we be looking for PILEUS, PETIOLE, and HOLDFAST in upcoming puzzles?

Greene 10:55 AM  

I don't think I ever realized how badly I need those three and four letter words to get me started on a Saturday. Well that or an arcane theatre clue. No such luck today and yikes did I place wrong answer after wrong answer.

I got RAISA easily enough, so I confidently wrote in ATHEROMA (yes, I know that is not a Var.). I took that out when I tried TSK TSK for TUT TUT and so it went. Blind guess after blind guess.

@Foodie: I had BELADONA for 44A which is not even remotely spelled correctly. Then I too went with MORPHINE, which just seemed wrong. Finally got ATROPINE off EMPIRE. Ugh.

I got 3/4 of this beast done before going to bed last night and saved the SE for this morning. I felt strongly about TYROS, but couldn't let go of YTRIUM. I know, I'm not winning any spelling awards here today, but having a solid YT to start the word blinded me to the error. Finally pulled out my misspelling when I got the delightful ENTR'ACTE. Grudgingly put in SEATERS and I was done. Thank God for the crosses or I would have never gotten YTTRIA.

Not to resurrect the whole DISK/DISC debate, but I gotta say ANEURISM looks weird to me. I looked it up and it appears to be legit, but I can never remember seeing it that way before. I suppose FERMYS would be all sorts of wrong (okay...yes, I had that for a while, but I did take it out...eventually).

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Did not like this puzzle. Too many words I have never heard of let alone use. I gave up but husband (Golfballman) persevered and finished it - good for him. Flowerlady9

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

I have never, ever seen a conductor on a bus. Yttrium oxide per Rex's explanation, so how do you get yttria? How about a French clue for 31 D!! 1A could have been one of many,how about a foreigner clue. Overall I would say this puzzle stunk, No aha's or gee that's clever. Hard, hard but no fun at all. Golfballman

retired_chemist 11:16 AM  

@ Anon/GB man - YTTRIA explained in my earlier post.

miguel 11:26 AM  

I am very happy to read that all six of the PhDs in Chemistry here completed the SE and both physicist fencers got the NE, but disappointed that more Alkaloid experts did not speak up about the SW and how few architects have stopped by to comment on the anchoring clue in the NE. Finally, I am suspicious that Mr. Wolfe is not really a true Chemist, alkaloid loving, fencing architect, but probably has a converted his encyclopedia into a huge crossword word list. I got all of the blanks filled in and I can say without fear of contridiction that my answers are much more elegant than those in the completed Rex grid.

mccoll 11:38 AM  

Sheeeesh! I coasted through the whole west coast in about 30 minutes and then the bloody thing went totally sideways.I finally ground out the SE before blowing a tire completely. Had to come here for the GASBAG hint to finish it.
I must say that YTTRIA and STIPES are on the tip of my tongue most mornings. Really! If PROSED is a word it shouldn't be. So there.
Looking forward to Sunday, I remain etc.etc....

Stan 11:39 AM  

Paddled out, found an easy corner to ride in (SW), and gave up. Now sitting on the beach, happily watching the pros.

An alkaloid expert 11:40 AM  

@ Miguel - I'm not really, but I do know that ATROPINE is the alkaloid in the belladonna extract the eye doctor dilates your eyes with that does the job. MORPHINE has no such properties; it's "just" a major CNS depressant - i.e., pain reliever inter alia.

I think your post mainly wanted to point out that there was a good lot of arcana in this puzzle. I agree. But with the exceptions of STIPES and FERMIS crossing SEPTIMES, I don't see any that require specialized knowledge in both the across and the down.

slypett 11:41 AM  

My experience was that the South fell like a bad soufflé, but the North was as cold and dark as Arctic night. I did so badly on this one that I dasn't call it poor.

Leslie 11:50 AM  

I got all of the blanks filled in and I can say without fear of contradiction that my answers are much more elegant than those in the completed Rex grid.

HA! Love this.

Forgot my other question: I got OGEE because it's crosswordese, and I get that it's an architectural fillip, but I thought the sigmoid was an anatomical feature. Isn't it? One of the facial bones, yes? So what else is also a sigmoid?

PlantieBea 11:55 AM  

Took forever, but I finally got this one; no errors, no cheating. The whole left side fell relatively quickly but I had to rework all of the right a bunch of times. Chemistry, cooking, and plant/fungi knowledge saved the day, but I'm with most of you and Rex on some of the ugly fill. Biggest TUT TUTs go to TOOTLE and PROSED. Kind of funky clueing for IN TUNE, STARES, TRAS (??), and REEFER(!!). New words or words I cannot remember--SONES and ORACHE. I thought for sure I'd ended with errors, but not this time.

Stan 11:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:04 PM  

If, in writing an essay, you've PROSED, does that mean when you write a sonnet you've POETRIED?

Apparently not. The OED has PROSE as a verb going back to 1450. The opposite is "to rhyme."

Parshutr 12:08 PM  

Ugsome in the extreme. And @treedweller, a rally is a rally, volley is a volley.
Just because so many people say "I could care less" when they mean "I could NOT care less" doesn't mean that in the world of crossword, using volley instead of rally is an e r r o r
Gave up on this one after five frustrating minutes; just too much mundanity [ok, I made up that word, but still...] for this old phart.

Rex Parker 12:10 PM  

MUNDANITY is a very real word.

Rex Parker 12:10 PM  

Or at least semi-real.

edith b 12:14 PM  

I learned about the vagaries of low word count puzzles from Rex thru this sight, something I never had considered before I came here.

I worked up the NW in pretty short order, making a good guess at ASTUTELY crossing ESSENE which got me away from American First Ladies and produced RAISA and presented me with the rusty SEPTIMES that I learned from a college boyfriend who was a fencer back in the old days and endlessly lectured me about the eight defensive postures when I actually went to several intramural fencing matches in which he participated. Perhaps the women of this group remember such boyfriends.

I spent the longest time in the South which seemed to me a combination of the simple and the arcane that had to be pieced together pretty much a syllable at a time.

This thing was full of what Rex described once as oddjobs which are simple words on their surface but require a good deal of concenration to deal with and strip a good deal of fun out of the process. I hope I don't see another one quite like this anytime soon.

foodie 12:29 PM  

@ An alkaloid expert: Not to add to Miguel's ammunition (and his post WAS hilarious), but morphine does not just work on the CNS. It also works in other parts of the body, e.g. on the gut, reducing contractions or spasms, hence some of its GI effects. Indeed, the way endorphins were first isolated was by using the gut as the assay. I'm showing great restraint in not telling that story : )

imsdave 12:49 PM  

Rex will probably yell at me for this, but I'll risk it.

If I needed a word, anti-rhyme
I'd have searched for a word more sublime
But I find the word prosed
To be quite discomposed
And I felt that it's not worth one dime

Sorry all

Dough 12:56 PM  

This was an ugsome joyless slog.
No harder than the usual Saturday, but I agree with all the disagreeables here. Four almost disconnected puzzles. The rule normally is that any section connects to another with at least TWO BOXES. This puzzle has two locations with single points of connection. Oh, and why do all these kinds of puzzles always seem to contain the word ESSENE? Mind you, I'm quite fond of the Essenes. I mean, of all the eschatological groups of the 2nd century, they are most likely my very best favorites. But how about some challenging letters in there occasionally?

chefbea 12:59 PM  

my two favorite words of the day



Two Ponies 1:01 PM  

Crossing a biblical reference with a fencing term kept this one just out of reach. Did I need an entire paragraph that gave me no hints at all? No.
@ edith b, Not only do I remember boyfriends like that I still have one! Different sport but that's not the point.

Deborah 1:13 PM  

Gone into = strange locution.
Pros' abbrev, tyros not. Annoying.
Rubber stamp a person? Rubber stamper?
Would have preferred "thing" to "one" getting hit on.
Isn't a repast a quotidian meal and not a feast?
Off-putting and, to my mind, inaccurate cluing.

fergus 1:14 PM  

Well, I had SPURIOUS for Untrustowrthy, which may concur with the Rex assessment.

Schizo puzzle for me: lower half spotless, upper a scrawled mess. I even went PECKISH before the Ts asserted themselves.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Leslie said...

... I thought the sigmoid was an anatomical feature. Isn't it? One of the facial bones, yes? So what else is also a sigmoid?


Another anatomical feature -- sigmoid colon. It's long past breakfast, isn't it?

Anonimous (var.) 1:30 PM  

Sigmoid = S-shaped, or as the Wikipage puts it "resembling the lower-case Greek letter sigma (ς)." Curiously there's nothing there about architecture or bones, and I wonder how one draws a ":" so it's shaped like a ς...


joho 1:42 PM  

@Anon. 12:04 ... or when you've written an ode you've ODED. Definitely worse than PROSED because you're dead.

I'm thinking when a puzzle has this many ERS it should be given the Raucous Rooster Award.

I'm sure there's a better descriptor for Rooster ... somebody?

@Chefwen ... I forgot to say before Toby is adorable!

Jane AMH 1:45 PM  

Totally agree with Deborah.
Boo hiss.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Shamik 1:50 PM  

Late in posting, so not even going to read the blog. Yes, solved the puzzle correctly. Medium? No way. My longest time for a correctly solved Saturday. Ever.

3/4 fell slowly and then the NW was like breaking rocks with a nailfile.

YESMAN? Really?

I'm going outside which I should have done hours ago. Sheesh. Yup, I'm having a few cross words.

Frances in NYC 2:00 PM  

I think acer/volley can also refer to volleyball as well as ping pong.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

I found a use for the word "ugsome" when I failed miserably at this puzzle. I wish I had some atropine, morphine, codeine or anything. Guess I'll just get more caffeine...

Bob Kerfuffle 2:39 PM  

@Deborah -

In calling a REPAST "a quotidian meal" (lovely description!) you are in agreement with all the dictionary definitions I have seen. But the only time I have used the word, or heard it used by contemporary people, is in the expression "funeral repast", i.e., a meal served (or hosted) by the family of the deceased to those who have just been at a burial or cremation.

Is this a regional matter, or a class matter, or am I simply alone in this?

fergus 3:02 PM  

I balked at REPAST as well, but I find an Obsolete intransitive verb definition: to eat or feast. Will's crew always seem to have some back-up on this front.

retired_chemist 3:15 PM  

@ foodie - tell the story, privately if it's too long. You may have guessed I am An Alkaloid Expert (not!).

Jeffrey 3:16 PM  

I plan to use more semi-real words this year.

I ungoogled the puzzle. (Completed it sans aid.)

archaeoprof 3:28 PM  

The cluing for this puzzle came from someplace I've never visited.

One summer I drove a bus for the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). South side. Learned more on that bus than I ever learned in school.

fikink 3:42 PM  

First fill was REEFER and ENTRACTE - why, I do not know not.
Maybe that's what we used to do entr'acte.

Too much effort for little gratification.

@Bob Kerfuffle, I agree. Your comment recalled for me the perplexed look of an Entertainment reporter who was told by a Michael Jackson family member that his funeral would be followed by a repast. She didn't know where to look.

mac 3:52 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, @fikink:
I have never heard about a connection between repast and funeral. To me it's a slightly affected way of talking about a formal dinner or feast. I asked my husband, an almost lifelong Nutmegger, and he had not either.

chefwen 4:06 PM  

@joho - Thanks, he's sweet too.

Raucous is the perfect word for the rooster, they're all over this freakin island and they don't stop after sun-up, they are raucous all day long and into the night. Aaargh!

lit.doc 4:09 PM  

"Please Don't Shoot the Piano Player. He's Doing the Best He Can." [disclaimer]

While working on Newsday's Saturday Stumper, had a thought re helping first-yearlings like myself get up to speed without being discouraged away (yeah, I know, that's not a v. intr. but, hey, after the last couple of days, I'm ready to make up my own damn usages). It is this:

Dear Mr. Shortz,

In the interest of maintaining a robust and growing crossword community, would you please consider modifying your Across Lite configuration so that the neophytes out here would have a middle ground--a learning space between fail and google--in which we could resort to Check while still not having access to Reveal?



jae 4:51 PM  

I ungoogled it too but still (like pretty much everyone else) didn't like it. The mass of ERs in SW was a real turn off. Plus, I made it harder for myself by misreading the clue for 1a as "Early 1900s" and wasted a lot of time trying to remember Wilson's or TR's wife. It was only when RAISA began to emerge that I rechecked the clue. So, a fair amount of time spent just to be PETTISH/PECKISH/PEEVISH.

Ben 5:44 PM  


Ben 5:46 PM  

@LitDoc, that feature is in fact in Across Lite. In my version, in the Solution dropdown menu, there are both Check and Reveal. This presumes you have the four-digit code to unscramble the puzzle.

OldCarFudd 5:49 PM  

@jae - I, too, misread the !A clue and wondered why Edith (Wilson) was doing nothing for me. Agree with all the comments about the ugsomeness (I LOVE that word!) of prosed and seater and some of the others. I solved the puzzle without googling, but didn't enjoy much of it.

foodie 6:14 PM  

@RC, someday if we meet, I'll tell you my endorphin/opiate story. It's not a funny story, although it had its moments. But it's one of the great stories of scientific discovery (it starts with chemistry) and I was lucky enough to be around at the time. I tell it to grad students (in a course), it takes me over an hour and I don't see any eyes glazing over.

@dk, I hope it's not delving too deeply into your psyche, but I'm wondering about your new avatar : )

SueRohr 6:15 PM  

Once again I'm one of the last to post but this time I couldn't even finish. Yesterday was fun. Today was not. I'm way behind on my reading because I'm spending too much time beating myself up with these @#* puzzles. What you all said. Wanted opined, ushers, church, and tsk tsk. Not fun.

andrea on runners michaels 6:57 PM  

I should have just come here late in the day to begin with! Sloggy puzzle = great comments!!!

Blame @artlvr, not me!

If you want mushroom/reefer stories/flashbacks, deep insights, etc. you'll have to go to @dk, @fikink, @darkman, et al...I've never even tried a cigarette!

(Thus, I have no excuse for my ramblings, forgetfulness, insistence on storytelling... unless I've had an aneury/ism. But how would I even know?
I DO know the puzzle gave me an orache, but that can probably be cleared up with a little soap and talc.

@edith, @twoponies
No college boy WASPy memories for me! Love hearing your stories tho and @archaeoprof driving a bus! Who knew?!!

And altho I've grown to love @dk, my beaux were as far from WASPy as could be... non-English speaking, moody careless artists...not a fencer in the bunch, unless you count the Bulgarian Nikolai who probably traded in stolen goods!

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

I need a Riddle ASAP! i know this sounds extreamly werid but i need a riddle. Dont ask why just give me something!! thanks!

[url=http://www.thedaytheearthstoodstill.org/]the day the earth stood still[/url]

Jeffrey 7:09 PM  

Wow. We finally know where Nikolai was from.

Riddlenut.com 7:17 PM  

@Anonymous 7:02 PM - This blog really isn't the place, but are 802 riddles enough?

babslesley 7:37 PM  


Rube 7:47 PM  

Egregious overuse of ERs, (except for REEFER which needs the ER).

I'll bet all of you got the ridiculous gimme ACER despite the inaccurate clue, so why the grousing.

Personally I don't like SONES. I saw it in a XW here(?) a few months back and didn't like it then either. It is not an accepted unit in the SI system; too objective, and is very seldom used.

@chefwen: A rooster went off at about 6AM outside my bedroom window a few days ago. He seemed about 6 inches from my ears. Raucous was not the word I used to describe him.
Another day in paradise, eh?

JC66 8:07 PM  

I love this blog.

fikink 8:33 PM  



retired_chemist 8:49 PM  

@ JC66 and @fikink -

back atcha. And the participants too.

jae 9:10 PM  

@OldCarFudd -- Nice to know I wasn't alone.

mac 10:26 PM  

@joho: how about the Raucous Rambler? No need to get the hapless fowl involved.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:20 AM  

My final observation on "funeral repast". -- I see in one of my local weekly newspapers (published in Lyndhurst, NJ) that there is on the obituary page a n advertising section headed "Repast Luncheon". Must be hard times; previously there had been four or five advertisers, but in this particular issue there is only one, who asks, "Allow Us to Serve Your REPAST LUNCH".

Unknown 3:10 PM  

Wait. In tennis, don't we call the action of hitting the ball back and forth over the net a "volley?" In the clue, the volley is prevented because the server aced. Makes sense to me.

Also, in the SE I refused for the longest time to erase "ANCHORS" at 36D (Those who put you in your place). Grr.

Anonymous 1:35 AM  

The acer/volley dispute is interesting.

I remember another puzzle discussed here where many people insisted the clue was just plain wrong, assuming it was referring to golf. But if it was referring to frisbee golf, it was a perfectly good clue.

Similarly, most people are assuming that the volley clue refers to tennis, but there are many other sports that can have volleys and aces. (Badminton?)

And even if it is referring to tennis, why assume that everyone playing, including the "non-acers," are good servers and/or professionals? A weak, slow serve can be returned without the ball hitting the ground, and such a return is a volley.

KJGooster 3:11 AM  

Jumping in real late here, but...

@Don W: In tennis the term "volley" means a shot where the ball is struck without allowing it to bounce first. A serve, by definition, has to bounce before being struck by the returner.

But as others have noted, since the clue isn't tennis-specific one could argue it's valid if referring to volleyball where the ball isn't allowed to hit the floor. Still a bad clue, though, IMHO.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP