Red wear for Speedy Gonzales / SAT 2-5-11 / Sack starter / Ohio town where there's happiness/ Band self-titled 1982 album #1 nine weeks

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Allan DWAN (29A: Allan who directed "Sands of Iwo Jima") —

Allan Dwan (April 3, 1885 – December 28, 1981) was a pioneering Canadian-born American motion picture director, producer and screenwriter. [...] After making a series of westerns and comedies, Dwan directed fellow Canadian Mary Pickford in several very successful movies as well as her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, notably in the acclaimed 1922 Robin Hood. // Following the introduction of the talkies, in 1937 he directed child-star Shirley Temple in Heidi and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm the following year. // Over his long and successful career spanning over 50 years, he directed over 400 motion pictures, many of them highly acclaimed, such as the 1949 box office smash, Sands of Iwo Jima. He directed his last movie in 1961. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty much an exemplar of Saturday puzzleness. Right over the plate. Saturday in every way. A very typical and pretty good Saturday puzzle. What to say, what to say? I realized today that I think in Saturday—I mean, my crossword brain is most comfortable in Saturday mode. It's not that I think Saturdays are easier than other days. The vast majority of the time, they aren't. It's that my solver brain assumes every clue is a Saturday clue, that around every bend will be some off-kilter, punning, misdirective godknowswhatkindof clue waiting to knock me on my ass. I'm a fast solver, but pure speed — short sprints in open (Monday/Tuesday) space — will never be my strong suit. Give me some resistance, and I feel like I'm at my best. If you look back over the past, I don't know, year, maybe more, I think you'll see that the puzzles I found most vexatious (!) were not Saturdays. They were probably Thursdays and Fridays, more often than not. Puzzles that try to find a middle-ground, difficulty-wise, are horribly unpredictable, and while I might take one apart quickly, it's just as likely I'll get on the wrong side of its few tough parts and end up flailing. But on Saturday, I know I'm getting a tiger, and I'm ready. And happy. It might take me longer than any other day of the week, but it rarely rattles my confidence.

No Wow Factor with today's grid, though a couple strong answers do stand out: DREAMSVILLE (24D: Ohio town where "there's a happiness" in an old Glenn Miller song), which I love despite never having heard of it, and CEMENT SHOES (9D: Things that may be word by someone sleeping with the fishes), which is today's crown jewel, as far as I'm concerned. Biggest WTF moment for me was DWAN—a moment made even WTFier when I found out he *wasn't* Japanese [I realize there's nothing particularly Japanese about DWAN, but between the "Iwo Jima" in the clue and that never-seen-it-in-English-before amalgamation of letters, my brain jumped the Pacific ... I realize that the closest name analogue I have, Michelle KWAN, is Chinese, not Japanese, but, well, KWAN is also the name of hip-hop band from Finland so who can say, really?]. I have frowny faces next to YER (6D: Saw attachment) and KNAP (63A: Sack starter), half-words I don't care for. Then there's the ugly safety net in the far SE where ESSES crosses ASSES (52D: Zebra kin). Makes it a bit easier to fill those open corners when you put in that kind of padding. But everything else looks pretty good.

I had a Very bad start on this one. Went STEADED to ELSE to EL SOL (!?) — wrong wrong wrong. Should've been SPELLED to EENY to YACHT. Speedy Gonzales's ASCOT (28D: Red wear for Speedy Gonzales) got me headed in the right direction, as did my sense that 31A: Corn-filled state probably had to end with -NESS (HOKEYNESS). Knowing Agnes MOOREHEAD helped a lot (42A: Actress who played Endora on TV's "Bewitched"), as did knowing SHAQ was an L.S.U. alum (41D: Nickname for a noted L.S.U. grad). Got GLISSANDOS off just the "L." What!? It's true (58A: Dramatic piano effects). Surreal to see me flex some musical muscle, but whoomp there it is. Ended up in the NW, which I found toughest, though looking at it now, I'm not exactly sure why.

  • 34A: Mineral in the form of quartz or flint (SILEX) — barely know this word, and then only from xwords. Just needed that terminal "X" to knock SILEX off.
  • 36A: South-central U.S. city named for a woman in English Literature (ENID) — I thought ENID was named for the first postmaster's daughter or something like that. Man, what city was that? Someone out there must have done the crossword with the clue I'm talking about ... help me out.
  • 57A: Band whose self-titled 1982 album was #1 for nine weeks (ASIA) — I'm just the right age for this one. 1982 is probably the most important year in the history of my musical consciousness, in that it's the first year I had one (of my own — before that, my tastes derived almost completely from my parents, who thankfully didn't have terrible taste)

  • 33D: Korean-made sedan since 2001 (KIA OPTIMA) — not many answers are going to give you the letter string "IAO" (OK, there's CIAO, but not much else).
  • 55D: Alcopop brand (ZIMA) — do people really drink that? I'd sooner eat at Applebee's.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Acings 12:10 AM  

Alcopop? Once something gets a name like that why, for the love of anything that might be holy, don't they just quit making it?

Sargent Dick York 12:15 AM  

Most towns were named after postmaster's daughters, seems like, or at least named by postmasters. I never understood why postmasters had so much town-naming clout, or, for that matter, how they even got the opportunity to name a town. What kind of town hires a postmaster before it has a name? Did postmasters just go around looking for unnamed towns, set up a post office and start collecting mail that got sent to "?" and then spring the name on all the townfolk one day? "Hey, by the way, know where y'all live? I'll give you a hint: you're all familiar with my homely daughter with the stupid name."

I put in TOTO for the 1982 album. Felt right smug about it, too.

Clark 12:39 AM  

This one went down pretty smoothly. Except my prom goers were wearing UrDOS -- oh those kids today. That meant that my barbers were shaving NArES. I guess that should have struck me as strange.

syndy 12:40 AM  

I thought it was a little easier than some sats,although I did start with a CRISPSALAD -cement shoes tore open a wide swath! Iwas almost done before I got the TEA of DRESSES ;IS tea a cocktail now? If you're going to call the damn thing a tea dress go drink tea!Also i only think of silex as coffee pots.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

I finished and came here expecting Rex to tell me how easy this was for a Saturday but to my surprise he gives it a Medium. Unlike yesterday I finished before bedtime and my cold was under control. Also unlike yesterday I invited one of my friends, Mr. Check, to join me, mainly to wrap up the SW. So my puzzle has these 5 strange looking triangles, which sort of adds to the aesthetics IMO. My favorite answer, of course, is HOKEYNESS, a state I frequently visit no matter which direction I am driving. I don’t remember Allan DWAN but now I know who to blame for John Wayne getting shot while lighting up a cigarette. Thank you Mark for giving me that piece of trivia....

andrea crispy michaels 2:43 AM  

I think I'd have to rate this easy-ish as I finished in less than 20 minutes which for me for a Saturday is a speed record...
Oh wait! I don't rate puzzles! ;)

Love CEMENTSHOES! They go smashingly well with TEADRESSES at all the mafia cocktail functions I attend

KEEPSTEP feels incomplete somehow.

I would not have had a toehold without Agnes MOOREHEAD. And one didn't need to know from LSU to get SHAQ...just needed -UIZ.

Worked at the company that named is Russian for snow or something. I remember thinking that was way cool @ 1993. Everything was getting X names, and yet, they went with a Z!

In Scrabble, lots of African currencies are legit and they are sometimes named for the country itself (ZAIRE, LEONE, etc)

Hey! What's with The Old Sod appearing twice in this week's puzzles, much less twice anywhere?!

Off to DREAMSVILLE. Will still be chuckling, @Clark! Maybe at Pakistani proms they wear UrDOS?

Captcha: TEDER (TADA in the Bronx?)

jae 2:57 AM  

Medium for me too. Got stuck in SW for a while but the rest was pretty smooth. SMACK/KNAP was a tad tricky and TUGAT was elusive.

@Rex - you nicely articulated my feelings about Fri./Sat. versus the rest of the week.

jae 3:18 AM  

Meant to add I liked this one a lot. It had me at CRISPYTACO and CEMENTSHOES.

Don Byas 3:32 AM  

Would you rather drink ZIMA or the new Walgreens beer–seen on Colbert–BIG FLATS 1901?

Glenn (Alton) Miller finds his way into another Saturday puzzle. He disappeared with some AIRCREWMEN over the English Channel during WWII. His glissandi were never heard again.

RIP UP, SCROLLED UP, UPDOS – Is there an UP limit?

I skip M-W 4:16 AM  

Bad week for me, as I because I thought the word had to be Beaux, not Beaus, especially since it was near LSU.
so Xa___ didn't seem like a noted alum of anywhere. in retrospect the thing that operations are performed in had to be math quiz, but I was thinking math suit, almost convinced it was another kind of suit. Never heard of band Asia, and I'm sorry I have now. I guess I've seen Zima in stores, but still have no idea what alcopop is. And why does X = smack, even though I figured out it had to be?

I skip M-W 4:19 AM  

btw @rex, it's Dreamsville, not Dreamville, though I realize you hae it right in the puzzle. presumably related to Zanesville, OH. pretty good puzzle except for SW

Evgeny 4:55 AM  

Wow, stopped reading the write-up to come here and write this: Mr. Parker, please tell me that the "Japanese" bit was a joke! Or else, This is my WTF moment of the day: WTF is Japanese about the name DWAN???

Glimmerglass 8:05 AM  

Nice, typical Saturday. Definitely not easy, but doable.Typical Saturday cluing: A = B = C. Any other day A or C would be clued B. Today, a piehole, which is slang for a mouth, is the clue for TRAP (ditto); X, which can be a symbol for Kiss, is the clue for SMACK, which is slang for a kiss. Remembered that Endora was a well-known screen actress, but took several crosses to dredge up MOOREHEAD. Loved CEMENT SHOES. In my (ancient) day, girls wore TEA DRESSES (mid-length, often with bare shoulders) to a tea dance (a late afternoon dance), but not to tea parties (something else entirely, usually women only). The attire was fine for cocktail parties, too.

Bob Bishopric 8:06 AM  

I also don't get why X = smack. Anyone?

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

DNF here. Got stuck on "I Won" for 18A and "Keep Pace" for 20A. That led me to an oh-so-clever "No Way Jose" for 12D, and I was toast.

Glimmerglass - thanks for the explanation on "Smack." I got it from crosses, but had no idea where it came from.

ArtLvr 9:07 AM  
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hazel 9:09 AM  

ZIMA zucks. I've never actually had one, but I read that on a bathroom wall, and never bothered trying.

This puzzle was not for me. The cluing seemed uneven, borderline sketchily inaccurate. Starting with SILEX, which is not a mineral. Quartz is a mineral and flint can be a type of quartz, but doesn't have to be. SILEX is a material of some sort, apparently containing silicates, but it is not a mineral. So there.

Did not like HOKEYNESS. Too hokey.

ArtLvr 9:13 AM  

I can't believe I aced the whole thing! I found it a very tough nut to crack, especially HOKEYNESS.

SMACK to me was part of signing a note wIth XXX and OOO, thus was a kiss. That corner was the last part to fall, though I'd started with KNAP!


p.s. I see Glimmerglass beat me to the Smack!

Unknown 9:21 AM  

I was surprised how fast I glided through this one, especially after running into a few snags in the south that looked about to ruin my morning. Maybe it's as Rex said; you attune yourself to Saturday, expecting certain kinds of answers, and that paves the way to glory.

Nothing like first-hand experience to jump-start things. I've been to St. Tropez, and the place doesn't evoke the anything if not the sight of one outsize yacht after another. And I've stubbed more than a finger or two trying to play a smooth glissando (58A), never quite attaining the mastery of, say, Chico Marx. Talk about dramatic effect: his was the ne plus ultra of the technique (okay, one of Friday's clues has rubbed off on me).

Never herd of UPDOS (50D), hate TV trivia, and didn't get "X" for SMACK (thanks, Glimmerglass), but managed to navigate around those hazards thanks to some nicely conceived cross-words.

Minor peeve: I've heard of getting steamed over something, but don't believe you can "steam" someone in the sense of provoking them. Even Merriam-Webster's Ninth Collegiate acknowledges use of the word in this sense only as an intransitive verb, as in their example "...steaming over the insult he had received."

ArtLvr 9:24 AM  
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jackj 9:25 AM  

The "Postman's daughter" clue was in the 12/20/10 Times puzzle by Donna Hoke but, it didn't clue ENID, it stood for ADA.

Matthew G. 9:33 AM  

Loved it. Just pure solving joy.

I would have had a MUCH better time if not for the NW. I tried both MIDSHIPMEN and ABLE SEAMEN before eventually seeing AIRCREWMAN. And yes, I know that an Able Seaman is a merchant marine rank, not a naval rank, but I put that to one side in my frustration that MIDSHIPMAN (which was my first grid entry and gave me correct crosses at several places) wasn't working. What's even more frustrating is that I naturally thought of Elvis on the Memphis clue, but (a) figured that was too obvious for a Saturday clue; and (b) was determined to keep MIDSHIPMEN for too long. Grr.

I also filled TACO in almost immediately (and it worked with the crosses on my wrong entry below), but took forever to figure out the kind of taco in question.

But outside the NW, this was pretty much the smoothest sailing I've ever had on a Saturday. Loved HOKEYNESS and CEMENT SHOES, and was happy with myself for throwing those down with few crosses. Knew MOOREHEAD, but didn't know where SHAQ played college ball, so that cost some time in the SW.

Finished with one wrong square: GLISSANDiS/LEiNE.

ArtLvr 9:39 AM  

@ Sargent Dick York -- As I understand it, most towns in the midwest usually grew up around a single drop-off spot along the rivers or trails as the West opened up, unless a fort was involved. Even St Louis started with one person's name, as I recall, so the Post came first to one isolated settler and the Postmaster was there before the town!


NYGray 9:39 AM  

Pretty good Saturday puzzle for me as well, finished in under 30 minutes - great way to start a snowy weekend! And like several others, I got stuck in the SW, mainly because I had "snap" instead of "knap" and was feeling pretty darn clever (as in a quarterback has to SNAP the ball before he can get SACKed - hey, it's Super Bowl weekend!). Oh, well. But all in all, pretty smooth all the way through.

joho 9:45 AM  

I was surprised at all the UPS: RIPUP, SCROLLEDUP, UPDOS and my wrong answer, KEEPiTuP before KEEPSTEP.

Only other write overs were TUGin before TUGAT and SMACs before SMACK. I was thinking the quarterback sNAPS before he gets sacked. I have football on the brain, "Go Pack!"

Like @Rex did not like YER and found the NW the thorniest. But this was still much easier for me than either Wednesday or Thursday.

joho 9:47 AM  

@NYGray ... funny how we had the same thought and posted it at the same time!

Adam 9:52 AM  

I had JOKEYNESS. I had the Y as an I, then I looked at it again, and said, "No, it's a Y! Okay, all better."

And left it at that. I thought it looked a little weird, but I thought, "Okay, alternative spelling, but I prefer JOKINESS. Isn't there a book of the bible that can be abbreviated JEB?

Sailed through the rest, having been a Bewitched-loving, MTV-consuming, piano-playing child of the 70's and 80's. Go, skill set!

David L 10:28 AM  

After my struggles yesterday this was a breeze (for a Saturday...). I was thrown off by the Endora clue because I thought the answer had to be a first name -- but I guess witches only have one name, like certain singers.

I knew ENID off the bat, only because it (she) has been in other crosswords. Isn't the connection to some Tennyson poem?

MATHQUIZ is cutely clued, and a nice letter combo.

mmorgan 10:40 AM  

Much to enjoy and appreciate here, in terms of construction, freshness, and solving experience. Got hung up in the SW and reluctantly HTG to get the KIA model at 33D. Did Not expect COMS to be plural (61A) -- though I thought it just might be -- and I actually don't think I knew that KNAPSACK begins with a K! (Oh, thank you, Urban Dictionary....)

Really, a delightful and impressive puzzle.

mmespeer 10:50 AM  

Well, I left my first comment yesterday about "fusses" and now that I'm in...Today is a kind of anniversary. I started doing the NYT puzzle about a year ago. I can now most of the time complete M-T-W without help, but by TH, I allow myself to resort to the "Check" function when stumped. I feel proud when I don't have to go to "Reveal" and today I feel very proud...53 minutes, only "Check", no "Reveal".

Lindsay 10:58 AM  

A little soft for a Saturday, but liked it, especially CEMENT SHOES. Last night I had the Celtics (SHAQ!) game on the radio, which means suffering through endless iterations of an abrasive KIA OPTIMA ad featuring a faux coach yelling at Toyotas and Nissans and blowing his whistle.

Anyway, started with the sports-related gimmes in the SW and worked more or less counter-clockwise before curling back into the middle. Glenn Miller is not on my playlist. And the clue for 37A brought to mind the old jingle about "Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan" thus obscuring the fact that we were looking for a boat not a fleshtone.

***winut = fan of talk radio

No BS 11:18 AM  

From "":

There has long been several versions of how Enid got its name, but clearly the most recognized and plausible theory was that Enid was named by M. A. Low who was a vice-president and general counsel for Rock Island. In the early 1930s, George Rainey, who was one of the preeminent historians on the Cherokee Strip, in researching his book on the Cherokee Strip traced down several versions on how Enid got its name. He came to the clear conclusion that it was Low who named the station as an alternative to the its initial name Skelton Station. Low knew that no town would ever want the name Skeleton. He had been reading Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King on the trip railroad trip from Kansas. Enid was a prominent character in Tennyson's book. She was the second most fair lady of the realm, second only to Guinevere. He thought that would make a great name for the new town. (per Gary L. Brown, historian)


Norm 11:23 AM  

@ Clark: Since the hip boots are UGGS (or are they passe already), it seems perfectly reasonable that your prom-goers could have URDOS and your barbers would have been the old-style type who trimmed nostril hairs, since NARES are the nasal passages.

Two Ponies 11:25 AM  

Just right for a Saturday.
I was off base for a bit in several places. My crunchy food started as a celery something.
My cocktail attire was red dresses.
Keep step was keep at it or keep it up. That would have been one more "up" in the grid.
Bible clues are lost on me so, like @ Adam, I left the variation spelling of jokeyness stand.
While I was noodling around in the NE I entertained myself with the notion that "cry with a swelled chest" could be D-Cup!
Fun solve, thanks Mark.

Unknown 11:27 AM  

Well, I just have to post that this is the first Saturday puzzle that I've solved:
In one setting (20 mins!)
With no help. (Okay, Wife confirmed "Moorehead" when I asked her).
Was expecting to see this one ranked easy. A very good start to the day.

Noam IAO Elkies 11:37 AM  

Liao [as in Dynasty]
miaou [and even miaoued!]
Deng Xiaoping [as in today's Chinese Empire]
Olympia oyster [Northwestern kvetcher?]
justitia omnibus [DC motto; 15 letters!]

Glory be to the computer, and to the wordlist, and to grep, ... EUOUAE.


quilter1 11:42 AM  

Solved this in a sweep from SE to NW where I wanted aircorpsmen for far too long. But finished OK. Liked CEMENTSHOES and HOKEYNESS. Wanted crescendi at first before GLISSANDI.
Drake vs. Creighton today. As an alum of both I'll just wear blue and white and keep my mouth shut.

archaeoprof 11:45 AM  

Lotsa love for this puzzle here too.

Agree with Rex's comments about Saturdays. Don't keep times, but I savor the challenge of a good Saturday ... like this one.

Just back from a visit to Rhodes College in Memphis, so PRESLEY was a gimme.

@Jeff: congratulations! Put it on the fridge at home!

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Excuse me, Speedy Gonzales wore an ASCOT?! Now that's a WTF.

foodie 11:54 AM  

Rex, it was so interesting to read how you feel about Saturdays! So much of this is about mindset, expectations.

I think a certain amount of uncertainty, or surprise, is key to enjoyment. But the type of uncertainty differs. It can be about the nature of the theme (e.g. M-W) or the possibility of a rebus (Thur) or the cluing trickiness (Fri-Saturday). We probably each have different windows where the level of uncertainty is optimal and focuses us rather than making the puzzle too easy or too stressful. It was fun to see how a real pro thinks about one end of the spectrum.

Puzzle was a very solid, enjoyable Saturday. GLISSANDOS was my first entry and opened that whole corner for me. One remarkable feature of the cluing was the linking of people and geography- ENID, PRESLEY, SHAQ were all clued in that way...

Unknown 11:54 AM  

I did this in two sessions - one last night when it looked impossible, and then this morning when of course everything was easier, and the clues were fun.

I did get hung up on having a boulevard in Memphis named after WC Handy.

Things on shoulders - great clue. 'Ha! I've got it! What is the plural of alae? It's alae? Never mind!

Here is my nitpick for today. The name of the book of the Bible after the Gospels is The Acts of the Apostles. It is often referred to as Acts. The clue should have indicated it was the shortened version of the name.

Here endeth the nitpick.

Unknown 11:57 AM  

PS @Clark - promgoers wearing URDOs made me burst out laughing, thank you!

retired_chemist 12:06 PM  

Liked the puzzle but DID NOT like some of the cluing.

@Hazel is absolutely correct about SILEX. It is not a mineral. The mineral is called either silica or quartz. The word finds it way into NYT crosswords about once every six years, and all the previous cluing is fine. Not this one. Also didn't like HOKEYNESS, but at least I could wend my way through the dictionary and learn that both HOKEY and CORNY mean mawkishly sentimental. Neither has that as the usual definition in my book, but, hey, that's Saturday.

TIRE clued as JADE also sucks IMO. JADED => TIRED, OK. But try to substitute JADE for TIRE as a verb in a sentence, Transitive: "These pedantic discussions of clues JADE me." Intransitive: "I JADE. I grow weary." Nope.

AIRCREWMEN, however parsed, is IMO awkward.

The center was the most fun - i.e., fair cluing with ways to screw up and then fix it. Also has ELSE 2 23D, which led me to EGRET @ 37A (hey, St. Tropez is a beach and an EGRET is a wading bird), which led me to the red APRON that Speedy Gonzales wore for some time in my puzzle.

Had the -VILLE of 24D and tied to fit a real place in, but neither ZANESVILLE nor STEUBENVILLE fit and I was fresh out of Ohio -VILLEs. Never heard of DREAMSVILLE, but it was a fine answer. That guess, plus LEER AT, finally fixed the center for me.

56A was NEW DRESSES, based on TUG ON @ 48D. KEEP UP ON @ 20A was another writeover.

Thanks, Mr. Diehl. Despite the several things I didn't like, it was an overall good Saturday IMO.

WesIsland 12:33 PM  

Nitpick for me: 64 across clue was "Cocktail attire," not "Cocktail party attire," so I kept thinking of tiny umbrellas or olives/lemons, etc.

OldCarFudd 12:40 PM  

Smooth, enjoyable, and fairly easy for a Saturday.

Postmasters had a lot of naming influence all over the English-speaking world. Back when it was just a remote telegraph station, Alice Springs, Australia was named for the wife of the postmaster-general of South Australia.

foodie 1:12 PM  

To the old timers-- in Rex-Years that is--

I wanted to mention that I've heard from Bill from NJ. As you know he has health struggles, but he reads this blog regularly, and said he really enjoyed our discussion about fusses-ETRE yesterday. He asked me to pass on his love to you all!

And speaking of old Rex-friends, I also wanted to say hello to Edith B.

joho 1:26 PM  

Hey, @foodie, I'm with you saying hi to to Edith B. and Bill from NJ ... best of luck to both of you!

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Usually, I'll assume I'm getting a tiger for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. With bigger teeth on Saturdays. Thursday is my fave puzzle style, on average. Weirdo themes with an olio of clues.

Great SatPuz and great introspective write-up. Thanx.

Danny 1:50 PM  

@mmeapeers: Congratulations!

@Glimmerglass: Many thanks for the explanations of SMACK and TEA DRESSES--the former, in particular, was driving me crazy, not least because it caused me to finish with a error (I, too, felt extremely clever as I filled in sNAP for that cross).

@NYGray: exactly!

Like Rex, not sure why but I somehow got glissando from just one letter--maybe something to do with the Saturday wavelength, a sentiment with which I completely agree. I may not always nail a Saturday, but it's very rare for me not to enjoy it. And finally, cement shoes = amazing!

hazel 2:01 PM  

And furthermore, As Anon 11:46 alluded to - Speedy Gonzales does not wear an ascot, defined as "a cravat with wide square ends, usually secured with an ornamental stud", but rather he wears a freaking bandanna!!

Oh well. More importantly, here's a LIVESTRONG shoutout to @NJ Bill and @EdithB, whose comments I miss mightily. @NJBill - pitchers and catchers report in 2 weeks!!

archaeoprof 2:06 PM  

@Foodie: your description of each day's puzzles fits perfectly. I'd only add that on Sunday, I hope the theme answers will make me smile.

@Bill from NJ: good to hear from you (indirectly)!

@Christelb_Devlin: yes, the formal name is "The Acts of the Apostles," but no one ever says that. The answer ACTS is, as they say, "in the language."

Alan 2:09 PM  

Having heard Mark lecture a week ago on the rules of crossword construction and how they are broken, I expected more naughty clues. But only the UPpity repetition defied convention.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

55D: Alcopop brand (ZIMA) — do people really drink that?

Apparently not. They stopped selling here in 2008.

Jade 2:14 PM  

I'll have you know I am a TART, or at least I was one in R_C's puzzle for a while. Better answer than TIRE IMO.

fergus 2:25 PM  

I got the Bible to produce a new book, ESAU, in order to make KEEP UP ON work, though if I read the Clue properly I should have seen that there would be an extra preposition.

BLACK DRESS also wanted to stick around until I was ALMOST DONE. And CEMENT BOOTS seemed more likely as I patiently waited for Endora to reveal herself. Odd having only the last name to go with a first name Clue.

fergus 3:43 PM  

Also thinking football, my Sack starter was a RUSH, since I had SASH for 54D, that Door fixture.

And that leads me to state my highest criterion of praise for a NYT-style puzzle: it's the range of possibilities that one could throw in, and for example, just for Door fixture. SASH, JAMB, LOCK, etc., and then the curious question of channeling Jim Morrison, but leather pants cannot be compressed into four letters.

(My captcha is packless, but that's wrong, I'm with Aaron Rodgers to score a 28-23 win on Sunday.)

SethG 4:00 PM  

I assumed the book was Jebediah.

Note to Shortz: SSR clues stopped being tricky years ago. You might as well just say "Fill in SSR here". You do still get me with some of the ATM clues, but I'm catching up.

lit.doc 4:04 PM  

My only criterion for rating a Saturday puzzle “Easy” is whether I was able to finish it. Which I did, a very rare outcome. In under 40 minutes. Zounds. A really enjoyable solving experience, expecially after having my ass handed to me by yesterday’s puzzle.

Hand up for finishing in NW. Had a really hard time getting past “Potential offices” = STORE ROOMS. Public schools do this a lot. Seriously. And ironic, as I’m sitting here in a spare room that I’ve converted into an office.

Only cavil was Speedy Gonzales wearing a freaking ASCOT. Seriously? Stereotype check: that’s a bandana, fer crissake.

@retired_chemist, thanks for confirming my suspicions about SILEX.

r.alphbunker 4:17 PM  

Gimmes (no crosses needed): ATMS, NTH, SRS, XED, SHAQ, SOD, SSR
Freebies (all crosses): DWAN, SILEX, TIRE, KNAP, HEB, LEONE, ASSES
Evolution of answers (lower case letters are wrong):
KEEPupon --> KEEPevEn --> KEEPSTEP
AbbA --> ASIA

monkistan 4:17 PM  

I struggled more than usual today. I just did not want to put some answers in. hated putting Presley down. it seemed too on-the-nose.

no matter how many puzzles she is in, I always forget Agnes moorehead.

Zima gave me a chuckle. reminded me of high school. though did not know what alcopop was.

looking forward to 6pm when I can get tomorrow's.

Doc John 4:27 PM  

DWAN- the name of Jessica Lange's character in the 1976 King Kong. Speaking of which- just the other day a 20-something called that version "the original". He kept asking who played that character in "the original" and would not accept Fay Wray as an answer. Ah, youth.

Tin Ear 4:42 PM  

Apparently I am much in the minority, both in Rexville and on Google, in wanting to say that the "in the language" expression is "cement overshoes" (13,900 hits), not "cement shoes" (53,800 hits). Must be my tin ear.

mitchs 4:45 PM  

@Rex: your description of the mental prep for the puzzles on various days rang true. I liked the characterisation of your commentary by one of the commenters as "introspective". That may sum up, as well as any one word, the appeal of this blog.

This was Saturday easy for me. Certainly one of my fastest

michael 5:03 PM  

I was going to complain about "jokeyness"...

aleph1=c? 5:15 PM  

@tin ear: I've always heard it as overshoes as well. There's something commendable about letting the poor guy keep his regular shoes on under the cement.

Got GLISSANDOS with no letters whatsoever. Ties a record!

PuzzleNut 5:21 PM  

What Rex said about Saturdays, although I thought this one was definitely on the easy side. Filled in several answers lightly, waiting for crosses to confirm, but everything was right today. That in itself is highly unusual in my solving universe.
SHAQ, CEMENTSHOES and MOOREHEAD gave me the toeholds I needed. Only answer that was completely unknow was DWAN. Agree that SILEX doesn't sound like an actual mineral - sounds more like a brand name for a kitchen counter. A quick Google search, however, verifies that it is a form of ground stone, usually silica. I now see I was thinking of Procter-Silex, a company that makes kitchen appliances.

quilter1 5:29 PM  

Is my face red! I misread my schedule and we played U of Northern Iowa today. Creighton is on Tuesday. But it was a great game, very close to the very end and we won.

retired_chemist 5:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 5:35 PM  

@ PuzzleNut - the mineral itself is the silica. Yes, SILEX is ground silica, but is not properly called the mineral except in the 20 Questions sense, i.e. it is neither animal nor vegetable.

quilter1 5:39 PM  

@SethG: although there is a Jebediah in the bible, there is no book of Jeb. Sorry he didn't make the cut.\\

sherchge:what the drunk utilities clerk added

Relatively Speaking 6:01 PM  

@Tin Ear

Overshoes may beat shoes 4 to 1, but one has to consider 13k hits substantial too.

Then again, I consider "Google Hits" more of a curiosity than an authority.


PuzzleNut 6:03 PM  

Seems like a small distinction, but I will bow to your expertise based on your many other knowedgable comments.
I suppose that by the same token Reynolds aluminum foil is not a metal, per se, but that it is made of a metal.
I do agree wholeheartedly that the clue is clunky in any event.

syndy 6:31 PM  

Name your metals-Iron,silver,tin,reynolds,--Many things are made from minerals but I wouldn't clue my powdered make-up as a mineral! Also hand up fpr cement overshoes!and GOOGLE god bless it is THE non-official source. GONSA-female journalism

hazel 7:08 PM  

@lit doc - and what are your thoughts on ZIMA and HOKEYNESS? ;-)

Tin Ear 7:18 PM  

@Relatively Speaking - Respectfully, you may wish to re-examine your 6:01 PM comment. In my post, I had said that I favored the minority use "overshoes" which scored 13k on Google, over "shoes", which scored 53k.

But I also consider the Google count a curiosity, as the sites referred to under either heading often used the alternate wording.

Relatively Speaking 7:35 PM  

@Tin Ear

Sorry, read you backwards, my bad.

But my point is still, based on google counts (FWIW), both may be considered "in the language".

Unfortunately, there is a whole industry that manipulates google "hits" and rankings, for hire.


Fat Tony 8:48 PM  

@Mr. Einstine Speakin, 7:35 PM - There's some families, if youse know what I mean, who's spent a bunch of loot on shiftin that Google count from overshoes to just old shoes, and if youse was thinkin of musclin in on that, youse could wind up wearin a pair youself.

I skip M-W 9:25 PM  

RE silex, before proctor joined with silex, wasn't it a brand of glass coffee maker, and presumably the glass was called silex?

sanfranman59 11:24 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 5:46, 6:54, 0.84, 1%, Easy
Tue 8:00, 8:57, 0.89, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 14:47, 11:46, 1.26, 94%, Challenging
Thu 28:24, 19:06, 1.49, 97%, Challenging
Fri 25:36, 26:16, 0.97, 46%, Medium
Sat 28:26, 30:29, 0.93, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:07, 3:41, 0.85, 1%, Easy
Tue 4:14, 4:35, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:32, 5:48, 1.30, 95%, Challenging
Thu 14:29, 9:12, 1.58, 97%, Challenging
Fri 12:36, 12:53, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Sat 15:06, 17:20, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 1:35 AM  

Describing Speedy Gonzales's neckwear as an ASCOT is like saying Grasshopper came from the Karate Kid movies...

TH Money 3:11 PM  

The puzzle is a pangram too, minus J. Which makes me wish the answers were JOKEYNESS and JEB.... So close...

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Pianos aren't the only instruments that play glissandos. Clarinet at the beginning of "Rhapsody In Blue," anyone?

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