Cosmonaut Makarov / SAT 5-22-10 / Exobiologist's query / Young Republican 1980s sitcom / Player of logical crew member / Puffed product since 1937

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Max BROD (24A: Kafka confidant Max) —

Max Brot (Hebrew: מקס ברוד) (May 27, 1884 – December 20, 1968) was a German language Czech-Jewish, later Israeli, author, composer, and journalist, known for his close friendship with Franz Kafka. // Max Brod was born in Prague, then part of the province of Bohemia in Austria-Hungary, now the capital of the Czech Republic. Although he was a prolific writer in his own right, he is most famous as a friend, biographer, and literary executor of Franz Kafka. (wikipedia)

• • •

Wow. Followed up my fastest Friday of the year with my (by far) fastest Saturday of the year. Possibly my fastest Saturday ever (I tend to time these less often than the other days, so I don't really know). 8:23. Started writing in the NW and never stopped. And I wasn't racing. Just deliberately moving through the grid. Solved it with utter continuity (using crosses the whole way) and never hit a significant snag. My only issue was with the "B" in BROD. I had to wait to see what the cross was, as it was clued via another clue (24D: 31-Across alternative). And then, I knew it would be BUS before I actually knew the answer to 31A: One in line at a station (CAB). I had CAR, but that did nothing for me at 27D: Negev native, e.g. (SAR...?), so I waited on the word I knew I knew, but couldn't recall. Didn't take long for SABRA to spring to mind (it's a name I learned from xwords). Only other bump in the road was entering TREMOR for (what turned out to be) STUPOR at 32A: Result of a great shock. Everything else came very easily.

This may be the first time ever that my Saturday time was faster than my Thursday time. 1A: Body measurement did nothing for me, but 15A: Throw off was obviously (to my brain) EMIT. I just read the clue with my Saturday goggles on (i.e. shaking off the obvious, apparent clue meaning and doing some lateral thinking). Then I simply knew MILA (17A: Actress Kunis of "That '70s Show") — she also does the voice of Meg on "Family Guy." With EMIT and MILA stacked neatly atop one another, I destroyed that NW corner: STAGGER (4D: Make zigzag) and MEMO PAD (1D: Place for notes) went straight in, OLEG (19A: Cosmonaut Makarov) went across, and there we were. ATTENDING and DEBRIEFS (28A: Questions about a flight, say) went easily across, giving me great access to both the NE (via FREE GIFT) *and* the SW (via NIMOY26D: Player of a logical crew member). I followed FREE GIFT (6D: Product recipient's surprise) to AGENT (23A: Gig getter, often) to AWNING (8D: Shade provider), etc. The only hold-up up there was 16A: Exobiologist's query ("ARE WE ALONE?"). I clearly did not know what an "exobiologist" was. I figured it was someone who studied exoskeletons. "ARE WE ... NOT MEN? ... ARE WE ROACHES?" (see 24A). Eventually JO MARCH (12D: Literary tomboy) et al in the far NE made the query clear.

Getting into the south = absolutely no problem with the big, fat, long gimme 29D: Ailurophile sitting there. I tried CAT LOVER and it wouldn't fit, but I knew that that's what "Ailurophile" literally means, so I just thought of another phrase: CAT PERSON. But that answer just stuck down into a bunch of empty space, so I decamped for NIMOY country. Put in the aforementioned bad answer, TREMOR, but because ENID was a gimme (43A: "Idylls of the King" woman), I was able to see TIN FOIL as the answer for 33D: Cheap hat material and erased TREMOR accordingly. ALEX (P.) KEATON is as familiar a pop culture figure as any that lives in my brain, so my only problem there was taking out the (to my mind necessary) "P" (54A: Young Republican of a 1980s sitcom). From there I pretty much rode the KEATON momentum like a wave over that little black bar in the SE, finally crashing down with a flourish in the (easily handled) SE, with the second "E" in TRESTLE being my last letter (40D: Sawhorse, e.g.).

All in all, I liked it. I don't trust my judgment much today, though. People almost always love the puzzles that they defeat handily, especially late in the week. Will worried out loud yesterday about having to follow Patrick Berry's beauty from yesterday, but I don't think this compares poorly at all. That was meant to sound like a compliment. To be a compliment. Honestly, I liked it.

  • 27A: Capital near Potosí (SUCRE) — well, I know SUCRE is in Bolivia, but I have no idea what/where "Potosí" is...
  • 47A: "Touché!" elicitor (ZINGER) — this is how I decided between CONK and ZONK at 47D: Fall into a 32-Across, with "out"
  • 55A: ___ Caovilla, maker of high-end women's shoes (RENÉ) — as far as I'm concerned, this guy is from Potosí, i.e. way off my radar. Thankfully, I needed to know his name not at all. Never saw this clue.
  • 5D: One putting a tale in the air? (BALLADEER) — only just now occurred to me that "air" here means "song." I figured "in the air" referred to the fact that his voice was audible, i.e. sound waves "in the air."

  • 32D: Bands appearing after split-ups? (SPECTRA) — I assume this has something to do with prisms or other things that refract light. Thank god for ALEX KEATON, who helped me see that this ended in "A," not "S."
  • 34D: Ascii alternative (UNICODE) — took one look at this and though "Oh, crud ..." Sounded techy. Ended up being at least vaguely familiar. Gettable, anyway.
  • 39D: Andy Warhol subject (SOUP CAN) — actually wrote in SODA CAN (!?!?!) before immediately changing it, while repeatedly calling myself an idiot.
  • 50D: Puffed product since 1937 (KIX) — again, I owe ALEX KEATON a debt of gratitude. I knew loving / identifying with that guy would come in handy some day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jae 12:26 AM  

Easy for me also. With pop culture gimmies like MILA, ALEXKEATON, NIMOY, LEANN... and SOUPCAN this one opened up nicely. My only small hiccup was debating ZONK vs. CONK and going with CONK at first. I liked this one too. A nice trio of end of the week puzzles (I believe I'm on the record as liking Thurs.)!

Cathyat40 1:04 AM  

I finished the puzzle correctly, but it took me an hour and fifteen minutes.

I was sure that 36A was meatloaf, but no. I'm a vegetarian, what do I know?

I've never heard of a SUNPARLOR; sunporch, sunroom are more familiar.

captcha: atthi - a shout out to my cell phone provider

Clark 1:29 AM  

I am always a happy man when a Saturday puzzle falls into place like it did tonight. Getting B FLAT MAJOR right off sure helped. The letteral SILENT_, oh, B! was the last fill in the top half. (I actually had the B from the cross but didn't believe it -- until it dawned on me.) ALEX KEATON popped out of nowhere (bringing KIX along) to get the bottom started. Semi-puzzle partner had Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians filling the living room as I did the puzzle, which helped ease the way for the Glass CONCERTO.

@Rex and gang, thanks for getting me to this point of actually being able to do these darn puzzles!

chefwen 3:04 AM  

If I live to be 150 I don't think I will ever call a Saturday puzzle easy, but this one was doable. Of course, POT ROAST and SOUP CAN were my first two fills, cooking is always on the brain. Not allowed to make pot roast or soup out of a can as the husband's mother was not a stellar cook and that's about all he had growing up.

Learned a new word in ailurophile, I've been one my whole life and didn't even know it, how could that be?

I also had tremor in before STUPOR and car before CAB.

Looking forward to a big Sunday!

Reader 3:48 AM  

Wallace Stegner's couple in _Angle of Repose_ spend some time in Potosi' (a possible position for the mining engineer husband, which does not pan out.) Alas, no mention of what cities are nearby.

syndy 3:48 AM  

harder work for me but got it in the end via tremor-conk-car-at 49a started "licked*** " any way the whole thing shouted JESSER didn't it? the sangria mountain catperson in a blue allmale revue doing a ballad in b flat major

imsdave 7:15 AM  

Definitely on the easy side, but not quite so much as our host. I fumbled around a bit more, and with _FLATMAJOR crossing _ALLA... in place, guessed that the key must be C (you know, CALL A something). Finished, and thankfully rechecked the grid before declaring victory.

O Bambi, Bambi! Wherefore art thou Bambi?

That would have been one ugly fail.

LGW 7:49 AM  

This was well made and well clued--nothing ludicrous, and not too much that was completely obvious. I got the whole top half without a pause, then spent a few minutes hung up on the bottom because of errors: "BEEF STEW" at 36A, crossing TOPLESS at 38D, since I don't know what a "Sabra" is, and would have taken "Sun porch" or even "Solarium" (if they fit) over SUN PARLOR. Never heard of ALEX KEATON, and thus took a couple of experimental crosses to realize that SPECTRA wasn't going to end in "s"--PINEY might well have been "LIMEY"...

Bottom line: 12:05 is still a pretty easy Saturday. My one beef here is that "ZONK", a marginally real word in my book, has been in the SW two days in a row!

Ben 7:51 AM  

Good puzzle, Will Nediger.


Had the hard-to-justify DAGGER before ZINGER.

Check out MILA Kunis in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."

What is with the two downward ZONKs in more or less the same spot this week after no ZONKs (that I can remember, anyway) in the last two years?

I'll buy "Easy." 12:10 for me is fast for a Saturday, and respectable in light of Rex's 8:23.

Ben 7:55 AM  

@Chefwen, the difficulty ratings are RELATIVE difficulty ratings. I.e., Rex is not calling it "Easy in general", but "Easy relative to other Saturday puzzles." To most people this puzzle would be seen as quite challenging, which a Saturday puzzle should, and a relative difficulty rating of "Easy" does not dispute that.

Tinbeni 8:22 AM  

Avatar leads to STUPOR then
STAGGER, before I ZONK (out).

My first pass through the grid and it was over half filled. Obviously I was in new territory.
A doable Saturday NYT.

Nice to see that Little Women, JO MARCH ONE MORE time.

@Cathyat40: SUN PARLOR, I think this is more of an old Southern term.

@Ben: I agree with you. For me this was a Medium Plus. But I finished, which is only about half the time for Saturdays.

Leslie 8:43 AM  

Ben, it's always good to get that reminder. I never pay attention to Rex's (or anyone else's) finishing time, anyway, as speed is a secondary--maybe tertiary or lower!--concern to me. Plus, I've got that OCD, super-deliberative solving style; I NEVER write in an answer without at least one confirming cross. My solving is "Think, think, think, huge bustle of fill, think some more . . ." So I'd stink at the tournament level, much as I love doing the puzzles themselves.

Early mental errors: POTROAST didn't even occur to me at first, as I was determined to think of chuck as a grade of beef you'd grind. So what do you make with ground chuck? I wanted "potlatch," not knowing what that was but thinking it was an occasion where you might bring a hot dish involving ground beef. What a convoluted thought process, right?

And with Andy Warhol, I couldn't get my mind past the very specific "Campbell's" to the generic SOUP CAN, so I wanted "Coke can." He did do Coke cans, didn't he? Or am I imagining that? Anyway, I was way overthinking the SE corner.

I loved DIRGE and "passing notes;" liked the clue for TACT at 51A; enjoyed seeing TRESTLE, since that STL consonant group is a nice rich one for a puzzle answer.

I don't care how many times I'm introduced to ENID, I never remember her.

dk 8:51 AM  

Starting out with lectern for 1D did not help. Knowing LEANNRIMES (Grammy at age 13 for BLUE (45A) as I recall), SANDIA (great hike up to the Tramway Station in ABQ NM) and POTROAST did help.

Had to kill a few gray cells to remember ALEXKEATON. He was a favorite of one of my sisters. I watched the show two or three times and saw the same episode each time.

As Rex wrote I had a few "that can't be rights" that were: PINEY for one.

Who knew ZONK would be the word of the week?

Had to Google/Bling AREWEALONE as even with the crosses.....

Typical Saturday (a compliment) *** (3 Stars)

Secret word: fathippi - big boomer butt (my soon to be deceased stepson wants me to put in dk)

PJ 8:52 AM  

Country singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry won New Artist Grammy in 1968, nearly 30 years before LeAnn Rimes.

SethG 9:03 AM  

Yeah, Alex is ALEX P, and I really don't understand the FREE GIFT clue.

Relatively easy except the SE for me. Started with BEEF STEW. Changed it, but I didn't know the CAT thing so I guessed CAR person. And I was really slow to give that up for some reason, and I had no idea about the SUN PAxxxx. So for a long time the only thing I could think of was PORRIDGE, and that there must be a meaty kind I didn't know about. And I had nothing below that. _Finally_ got rid of the R, put in the should-have-been-obvious POT ROAST, and limped on home.

At this rate I'm never gonna catch Ben...

Wade 9:12 AM  

PJ, you are unassailably correct. At least I can't find any way to assail you. Maybe there's some weasely way to justify the clue, like "Ode to Billie Joe" making the pop charts, but Bobbie Gentry, a Mississippi girl who wrote one of the strangest and coolest songs of the past fifty years (or whatever), was at least as country as Leann Rimes.

I thought sure "Touche elicitor" would be "Bon mot" and felt so continentally cool for figuring that out on the first pass that I went to a cafe and smoked a pack of Gauloises on my way to strike about the oppressive 35-hour work week. Then I got zinged. Still agree that it was preternaturally easy. Points deducted for no P in ALEX KEATON and the random-ass phrase RIDING INTO (also for the redundancy of FREE GIFT) but kudos for CAT PERSON and PUNGENT.

Unknown 9:15 AM  

Ah...ALEX KEATON...the days when young Republicans were merely amusing.

Leslie 9:17 AM  

>I thought sure "Touche elicitor" would be "Bon mot" and felt so continentally cool for figuring that out on the first pass that I went to a cafe and smoked a pack of Gauloises on my way to strike about the oppressive 35-hour work week.

HA!! Wade, same here, but not nearly as well-described!

JayWalker 9:19 AM  

I too "breezed" thru this one - but I must tell this on myself. "Exobiologist" also suggested a skeleton guy to me and since I had the "one" at the end, I assumed it was "bone" which I then confidently filled in. Later, when I finally got "are we," I forgot to go back and proof. Ergo? My answer for 16A was "Are we a bone?" I'm still giggling at myself. I AM now an official bonehead!

foodie 9:20 AM  

yeah, BEEF STEW, MEAT LOAF, POT ROAST are all 8-mers, I discovered.

And "Ailurophile" was a puzzler. For a while I thought of "Ail" as being the root-- Garlic Lover? Boy, was that far off!

Michael J. Fox, whose middle initial is as important as the P in Alex P. Keaton, is truly an amazing person. I keep track of his advocacy and research foundation for neurological disorders. It's extremely effective and thoughtful. Talk about grace under fire.

I loved this puzzle. Very smooth and lovely construction.

PuzzleNut 10:01 AM  

Had trouble with this one - more than most Saturday's. SW was particularly trying (trauma and tremOR before STUPOR, foamY and lImEY before PINEY, barCODE and UpcCODE before UNICODE). TINFOIL just didn't seem right (kept on trying to remember the cheap Russian hat that George Costanza bought from Kramer's friend). Messed up CAr and JOMARsH and that doomed me on the SABRA SUCRE cross.
Overall, a good Saturday puzzle, but I'm slipping if it really rates easy.

Tinbeni 10:06 AM  

After seeing some of the earlier comments today I guess I was lucky.

I just popped that POT ROAST in the oven at 350 degrees. Never even thinking it could be anything else.

Same with the SOUP CAN, CAB, KIX, ZONK, ALEX KEATON, without the P, which I only worry about after ONE MORE beer.

Even CAT PERSON was a gimmie, after the DANCE, since this is how I describe myself. Plus I hate walking my gal-pal's dogs. I guess I like animals that are as lazy as I am.

ArtLvr 10:29 AM  

Cheers for Will -- well done! None of Rex's gimmes related to mine: CAT PERSON and KIX. Also, the notable thing about BROD as Kafka's executor was that he disobeyed instructions to destroy all Kafka's unpublished work, which otherwise would have been lost!

Yes, it was funny to see ZONK again, but it helped me change Trauma to STUPOR. I worked the lower half last night, appreciating cluing such as Passing notes for DIRGE and Nose-wrinkling for PUNGENT, but had to put off finishing the rest until this morning.

I also enjoyed following up on the genesis of Schumann’s Spring Symphony, which related to his honeymoon. The father of the bride had tried to prevent the marriage but got no satisfaction in court, and one can only hope he mellowed as eight children ensued. This first symphony of his was a great success, and cleverly included echoes of a lost one by Schubert which Schumann himself had discovered in Vienna only a year earlier! Odd twists of fate...

@ foodie, your tribute to Michael J Fox is well put!


David L 10:50 AM  

Aaaaargh! Congratulated myself for sailing through a Saturday puzzle, then discovered I had KIC and ALECKEATON. In mitigation, I didn't grow up in this country, don't watch much TV, and don't eat breakfast cereals. Yes, freakish, I know.

Also, AMI for 'Guy's buddy' is a bit iffy. Is Guy supposed to a generic French name? Could be US/UK/Aussie/Kiwi etc too.... Romanian too, for all I know.

Martin 11:38 AM  

Assail the Grammy people. Bobby Gentry's awards are in "Pop" and "General," not "Country" and "General" like Leann Rimes.

mitchs 11:52 AM  

I had SUCKEDUPTO for WAY too long. Been doing too many BEQ's no doubt.

archaeoprof 11:56 AM  

And I thought ChefBea and I were the only ones around here who cared about country music...

Not really easy for me, but medium. Mental block against JOMARCH. With two daughters, I had to read the book, see the play, and the movie. Ugh.

Kerry 12:09 PM  

Yeah, breezy one, but...

I was relying on Rex to explain to me what PED is, as in "One may look both ways, briefly".

Pedal, pediatrician, pedant, pederast, Poison Emitting Diode..? Totally drawing a blank here!

edith b 12:11 PM  

I always enjoy a puzzle when I am able to stumble across the correct interpretation to a common word like GLASS and verify it with a cross: ALEXKEATON/CONCERTO which allowed me to work northward towards the Midlands and the MET CAB line. Two crosses NIMOY SABRA helped me creep ever northward toward a handfull of neons which led me to the breakthrough at BFLATMAJOR.

I was able to maintain a steady pace and with the help of a repeat answer JOMARCH solved this one easily enough.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

You're not the only ones who care about country music, just the only ones who talk about it when it's not in the puzzle.

Martin 12:17 PM  

I got the image of a pederast in a Chester the Molester raincoat on a PED XING sign. Will this go away?

syndy 12:27 PM  

@kerry-PEDestrians should look both ways before the cross the SANDIA mountains

HudsonHawk 12:32 PM  

@kerry: PED, in sports lingo these days, is Performance Enhancing Drug. But it refers to PEDestrians here, as syndy and Martin have pointed out.

Agree that it's a bit redundant, but I often hear "FREE GIFT with purchase".

jesser 12:33 PM  

Well, like everyone, I was gliding through this one until (cue Jaws music) I got to 27D where I wanted (for some reason) a zeBRA to live. Not knowing BROD or JO MARCH made that corner into a mess, and I had to come here for the head-slapping SABRA reveal that helped everything else surface. So I did it, but I cheated. Fail.

Still, as Syndy mentioned (thank you, Syndy!) this felt very much like a shout out to me. It would have been better if the ORGAN Mountains (which we call the ORGANS) had been the answer for 42D, but the SANDIAs are beautiful, as well. And yes, I'd be happy to saddle up and RIDE INTO an ALL MALE revue featuring several DEBRIEFS (ha!) on the way to a tribute to the many characters played by ALEX (P) KEATON. He's a hero for his present-day work, and he was a Major Hottie back in the day.

Today is a big day. I'm officiating a wedding/commitment ceremony for two dear friends at the historic Alameda House in central Las Cruces. Such a thing was nigh unimaginable 20 years ago, and today we can do it right out on the lawn at the corner of two busy streets without much worry at all. I just hope Fred Phelps doesn't show up, or I'll have to kick his hating ass all the way back to Kansas. I realize this makes me a hypocritical hater, but man it would feel good to throw down on that shitheel and leave him in a STUPOR. Rant mode: Off.

Happy weekend, Rexites. Love y'all.

Obill! (In really bad nightmares, what I say to O'Reilly right before he tries to kiss me) -- jesser

P.S. @ Archaeoprof: ChefBea is not your only country music ally in here, although I was surprised the other day when you mentioned Garth Brooks, who I characterize as Pure Pop. I like him, but he ain't Merle.

Rex Parker 12:40 PM  

@Martin, you're wrong today. Since when do the Grammys determine the kind of artist that you are? Hundreds of country singers have never been nominated for Grammys, but presumably they are country singers nonetheless. Clue simply says [First country singer...]. Not my area of expertise, but Ms. Gentry appears to be a "country singer." Whether she happened to be nominated in the "Country" category that year or not seems a complete irrelevance (given the current cluing). If wikipedia isn't lying, she "was also named the Academy of Country Music's Best New Female Vocalist" the same year she won her Best New Artist Grammy.

Nancy in PA 12:40 PM  

Am I the only one who wrote in "fencer" at "touche elicitor"? That is, in point of fact, where "touche" comes from.

Also wrote in "Marilyn" before SOUP CAN.

Liked the yet-another clue for ELAL.

Martin 1:01 PM  


Wrong? Moi? What'd I say?

The Recording Academy is arguably wrong. But they made the decision that Gentry's genre was Pop, possibly because of all the play on Top 40 stations. Not that dueling wikipedia is a very interesting sport, but the clue comes from the LeAnn Rimes article.

BTW, the year that Gentry got best female Pop vocalist, Tammy Wynette got best female Country vocalist. I bet Tammy would agree with the clue.

Kerry 1:02 PM  

Oh, PEDestrian. I'm officially an idiot. I was so busy contemplating alternate meanings for "look both ways", that I forgot the most pedestrian possibility.

Maybe it's because I was raised in the big city, so it was drilled into me that a pedestrian *must* look both ways, no "may" about it.

I'd rephrase "may look both ways, briefly" as "must briefly look both ways" -- then it's a no-brainer. (Perfect for someone like me, who has no brain).

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Me and my sweetie sat on the couch and sussed this thing out casually while sippin' joe. Between the 2 of us, we can usually get on top of a SatPuz without lookups. Always get a charge out of her sayin' "Oh, **that** kind of ___" for all the misdirectin' clues like 44-D.

SW was last and most stubborn, but finally got it, even tho ALEXKEATON was all new to me. Wife (with computer background) had EBCIDIC for a long time where UNICODE ended up. I chipped in TREMOR off EBCIDIC, and we were off to the races in the wrong direction, for a bit.

Thumbs up. Four U's.

mac 1:12 PM  

Probably my fastest Saturday puzzle, and it is a beauty!

Had a few write-overs, though: tremor for stupor, and because of the tremor, sink (hole?) for zonk.

@JayWalker: I went with the bone, as well.... That clue and answer are my favorite of the puzzle.

I consider myself a shoe lover (what's the scientific term for that) but I've not heard of Rene
Caovilla. Have to check it out.

Now I'm going car shopping!

Bill from NJ 1:14 PM  


I, too, keep track of Michael J Fox, the good work that he does and his grace under pressure.

My mother suffers from Parkinson's and, as I have corresponded with foodie in the past, I also have neuological problems and she has helped me with information.

syndy 1:16 PM  

@nancy in pa -had fencer then lunger-was trying how to work epee-ist; er whatever. secret word achrin my bitter heart

SethG 1:23 PM  

You're ignoring the difference between [First singer to win the Best New Artist and Best Country Vocal Performance Grammies] and [First country singer...]. Quincy Jones won Grammies for R&B, Jazz, and Pop performances. Calling him a rap star because he also won one for Best Rap Performance would just be wrong. Similarly, Elvis Presley won 3 Gospel Grammies. You might not call him a country singer, but he's in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The clue specified a country singer, it didn't specify a Grammy classified as Country.

archaeoprof 1:26 PM  

@jesser: I agree. Garth Brooks wasn't a country singer. He just played one on stage.

I'll go on hoping for a country music theme puzzle someday...

chefbea 1:46 PM  

found the puzzle a bit difficult. Had to come here to finish. Had beef stew at first then quickly changed to potroast cuz of the pungent smell.

@leslie I think Warhol did coke bottles. Met him back in the 60's when pop art was emerging. Also knew Phil Glass and attended some of his concerts.

Ben 1:59 PM  

@SethG, see how much better I am first thing in the morning? I only got 5 hours of sleep but it made all the difference.

Then I was lucky enough to play three epic sets of doubles at my new tennis club. We needed 9 set points to win the first set but gutted out a 7-5, 7-5, 4-6 day. It was high-octane tennis and, best of all, nobody tore an ACL.

joho 2:35 PM  

Took me three sittings but I finished with no errors and enjoyed immensely.

With ORBITER in I had 42A ending in RoOm which didn't help that section. Loved the cluing for ELAL and DIRGE, as others did.

@Foodie, I agree with about Michael J. Fox. What an inspiration. Did you know he changed his real middle initial, an "A" to "J" ... well, for obvious reasons. Very cool guy.

@archaeoprof ... why not create your own?

Wonderful Saturday puzzle, Will Nediger ... thank you!

Joho March

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

I can see the Sandia mountains from my house!

archaeoprof 3:11 PM  

@joho: if you promise not to tell anyone, I've been thinking about it. Next year I'll be teaching a course on crosswords, and wouldn't that be the perfect time to try?!

3 and out!

smkymtnbio 3:59 PM  

I had kinger and konk :( worked for me lol

Hmm 4:02 PM  

Not obvious to me... was there already a Michael A. Fox in the Screen Actors Guild? Did he not want to be named "a fox"? It worked for Vivica A. Fox.

joho 4:20 PM  

@Hmm ... he didn't want to be called "a fox."

@archaeoprof ... OK, I won't breathe a word. But we'll all be looking forward to your country western creation!

hazel 5:22 PM  

Koyaanisqatsi made quite an impact on me when I experienced as an impressionable teen. Saw it again a few years ago, and the music and cinematography are still awesome and the message is even more relevant 20+ yrs later.

Was not a swift solve for me last night. Brain out of balance.

Steve J 5:39 PM  

I never expect to finish a Saturday (at least not without looking up the filled-in grid to get an answer or two to spark some crosses), and today was no exception. But I can see easy (for a Saturday), since I was able to fill in more than I usually do before resorting to googling and then peeking at the solved grid.

I was definitely helped by MILA Kunis and ALEXKEATON coming into place quickly. Although, ALEXKEATON (sans P) is just a poor answer. It would be like having ALFREDNEWMAN as an answer. They're both names where the middle initial is indispensable to their identity.

I did think there was lots of good (and fair) misdirection today. I liked the clues for BALLADEERS, LEAVENS. I had some missteps with LAPAZ instead of SUCRE, MEATLOAF instead of POTROAST (chuck generally being the best choice for ground beef, since leaner cuts do not hold well together) and ALLNUDE for ALLMALE. (What's risqué about an all-male revue? All-nude is definitely risqué. To be honest, all-male seems risqué only if one's homophobic.)

The one exception to the good/fair misdirection trend is the much-discussed 18A. SethG has explained perfectly why the way it was clued is simply incorrect. It says nothing about Grammy classification, just the first country singer to win that award. @Martin, would you use the same sort of reasoning if the clue had been first woman to win that award, since the Grammys didn't classify them as belonging in the female music category?

Steve J 5:43 PM  

@SethG: Forgot to add, about FREEGIFT. Think about infomercials, Ron Popeil, etc.: "If you order now, we'll include this free gift!"

Not only is the phrase "free gift" redundant, as others noted, it's not really accurate in the clue's context. You only get the gift if you buy something in this clue's case, in which case the gift isn't really free. But it's in common enough usage that it's legit, in all its technically incorrect glory.

Wade 6:07 PM  

The fact that we're having the argument at all about 18A demonstrates the problem with the clue: it is subjectively stated and not (as Seth's contrasting example shows) objectively stated. We can argue all day about who's country and who's not (well, except about Tammy Wynette), which is the problem. We can't argue about whether the Grammy people determined that Bobbie Gentry was pop and not country. But the clue's phrasing doesn't signal it that way.

sanfranman59 6:27 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:39, 6:55, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Tue 8:17, 8:52, 0.93, 35%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:33, 11:52, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Thu 19:58, 19:23, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 22:09, 26:21, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Sat 27:28, 30:40, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:41, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 4:15, 4:31, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:28, 5:49, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 10:06, 9:17, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 10:58, 12:44, 0.86, 16%, Easy
Sat 14:43, 17:30, 0.84, 14%, Easy

fikink 6:32 PM  

@foodie, thanks for the Michael J Fox reminder. He is certainly one who inspires. Got me outa my BLUE funk today.

Hand up for MEATLOAF, the word not the singer.

My biggest hang-up was overthinking Andy Warhol and keeping SOSPADS for too long... and then to find out afterward, when looking for an image, they were BRILLO soap pads! Andy would have been very amused at my product displacement!

@archaeoprof, that wasn't a mental block, it was repression!

This was a fine puzzle, Will.

SethG 8:00 PM  

Steve J, I understand what the FREE GIFT is, I just don't quite get how [Product recipient's surprise] works for that. If Ron Popeil throws in the free gift because you acted now, it's not a surprise. I'm sure you can imagine a scenario where you didn't know you'd be getting the gift, but I think my misunderstanding stems from the horribly loosey-goosey phrase "product recipient". I'm just not sure what that would be. It's not an incorrect clue, it's just phrased yuckily.

The sum total of my knowledge of country music is that A is a good country key. I learned that from Donald "Duck" Dunn.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

Hand up for Marilyn before soup can (it's my name). Got my ACPT at home results today. Did very well for maiden voyage, but HUGE reminder to review entire grid before putting writing implement down.

Glitch 8:45 PM  

From the official guideline of the Grammy Award for Best New Artist:

[Awarded] For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.

(BTW Wiki adds that this is not necessarily the first album released by an artist)

"Ode to Billy Jo" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in August 1967 and placed #4 in the year-end chart. It did not appear top of any country list that year.

I find it hard to reconcile a pop song establishing the *public identity* of a country singer.

OTOH Rimes's debut album, Blue, reached Number 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and was certified "multi-platinum" in sales...

BTW @Rex: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences award their Grammys regardless of what the Academy of Country Music might think.


Rex Parker 8:59 PM  

Completely specious reasoning. Clue says "country singer." She was that, clearly, verifiably, publicly, in 1968. She was a country singer and she won Best New Artist. There is no mention in the clue of "per the fine print on the Grammy guidelines." Also, it is a "Best" award, and therefore has nothing directly to do with "charting" anywhere, anytime. You are citing extraneous, irrelevant info. But I suspect you know that.

Further, the album was a #1 country album and the song "Ode to Billy Joe" hit #17 on the country charts, in 1967. Where are you getting your stats? I'm looking here. Bring better info next time.

Martin 9:14 PM  

Blame the internets.

Glitch 9:25 PM  


From the same souce as yours (wiki):

LeAnn Rimes is the youngest person to win a Grammy, and the first country singer to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

My other "stats" from other wiki pages, and altho her album may have made #1, the single only made #17, I probably should have been clearer.

I'll buy your wiki's if you'll buy mine ;)


Glitch 9:28 PM  




Steve J 10:20 PM  

So we're left with supporting evidence for the correctness of 18A being "It's on the internet, so it must be true" and the unassailable veracity of Wikipedia. Oy.

@SethG: I see your point now. I'm trying to think of when it would be a surprise. Maybe to a 3-year-old having Cracker Jack for the first time.

mac 10:23 PM  

@Steve J: I agree that "free gift" is redundant, but we do see and hear it a lot. With cosmetics it is different, there's the all-important "gift with purchase". I haven't bought a lipstick in ages.

Rex Parker 11:38 PM  

I can get my chart info from somewhere besides wikipedia. Good luck finding any source that says Bobbie Gentry isn't a country artist.

To recap: Bobbie Gentry, 1967— #1 Country album *that year*. High-charting country single *that year*. Best New Artist Grammy *that year*. These are all facts, not matters of opinion.

Product description of a Bobbie Gentry album at amazon:

"Bobbie Gentry was the first country singer to win the Best New Artist Grammy Award."

That's something, but not very authoritative. But maybe you'll buy this:

Billboard Magazine, Jan. 6, 2007: "At 14, Rimes was the youngest Grammy winner in history when she took home the best new artist trophy in 1997, making her the first country singer to earn the title [wait for it...] since Bobbie Gentry 30 years earlier."

Clue writer did what you're doing, and took RIMES's wiki page at face value. Mistake.

I accept your concession.

Zeke 11:45 PM  

If we're trusting Wiki as authoratiative, and gleaning random facts from that, Bobbie Gentry must also have been black, as she had the #5 Black Album of 1967. And you all know what happened on the bridge.

andrea zonk michaels 12:08 AM  

@v. 9:15 am
Ha!!! :)

Too late to the party...
so will just say way easier for me than Fri, where I had to leave half of the bottom half blank!
Like one of those Chippendale dancers who are wearing an apron and turn around and they are naked from the waist down...

andrea p. michaels 12:10 AM  

ooops, IS wearing, and HE is naked.
Can't do no grammar tonight

captcha: dehag
which I won't take personally

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