French actress Saint-Cyr / SAT 3-26-11 / Constellation next to Pavo / Creature revered by Mayans / Quarry boss of cartoons / Film villain sings Daisy

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: QUETZAL (42D: Creature revered by the Mayans) —

Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family (Trogonidae). They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico (marginally also in adjacent U.S. states). They are fairly large (all over 32 cm or 13 inches), slightly bigger than other trogon species. Trogons have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, and a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females' plumage is brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (e.g. frogs), and can, despite the bright plumage, be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats. (wikipedia)
• • •

Too lazy to get off the couch, go upstairs, print out puzzle, and solve it on paper, so I just grabbed my laptop and solved while lying on the couch, with college basketball blaring nearby and with various bedtime preparations happening around me. Even with the distractions, and the utter lack of speed urgency on my part, I still finished in just a shade over 9—fast for me, for a Saturday, and wicked fast for me for a Brad Wilber Saturday. If only I'd remembered stupid CHÈVRE more quickly (1A: Goat cheese), I'd have been even faster. Very little resistance today. Biggest issues—figuring out what [Gone con] was after ("oh ... a con who has gone ... gotcha") (ESCAPEE); trying to remember which HENRY I was after (IV) (2D: John of Gaunt's son); convincing myself QUETZAL could stand on its own, without COATL; getting to HOGTIE from HOBBLE (65A: Render helpless) ... and that's pretty much it. Really like this grid—lots of Scrabbly letters and interesting words/phrases, not a lot of dreck. You can keep your stunt grids with the stacked 15s and big white spaces and what not. I'll take a modest-looking 70-72-word grid with tough clues and bouncy, in-the-language, original fill (BYE WEEK!) (45D: Idle stretch for an N.F.L. team) any day.

There were a few things I just didn't know—RENEE Saint-Cyr, for instance (36D: French actress Saint-Cyr). I know Lili St. Cyr (grrr...), but not RENEE. Knew QUEEN MAB and HESIOD, but their clues didn't make them easy to pick up (42A: She "gallops o'er a courtier's nose," in Shakespeare + 15A: Ancient "Works and Days" poet). Know SHREK, of course, but not as a musical (13D: 2009 Best Musical nominee). No idea that ARA was next to Pavo, but constellation in three letters = ARA until I'm shown otherwise. Prince HAL was the son of HENRY IV, but today the clue on HAL is much more modern and creepy (32A: Film villain who sings "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do!"). The "Daisy" scene in "2001" is amazingly sad, almost touching. I've never thought of HAL as a proper "villain." I sort of like him.

  • 23A: Cagney's employer (NYPD) — I'm assuming this is the Cagney of "Cagney & Lacey," a show any disco-era kid (or 80s teenager) (or X'ER) would have at least a passing familiarity with.
  • 38A: First man featured on the cover of the U.S. edition of Vogue (GERE) — apparently it's "Mildly Obscure Clues for Richard GERE" week at the NYT (see 46A, yesterday)
  • 49A: Biden's successor on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (KERRY) — that clue, like KERRY, makes me want to sleep.
  • 64A: So-called "wand of heaven" (ALOE VERA) — anyone so-calling it that has never been anywhere around me. Luckily, this answer was easy to pick up from crosses.
  • 8D: They may evoke tristesse (ADIEUX)GERE twice in two days, not that weird. ADIEUX *and* GERE twice in two days, a little weird.
  • 26D: Brave protector (TEPEE) — I can see how this clue might have been misleading, but I had all the Es in place before I ever saw the clue.
  • 43D: Quarry boss of cartoons (MRS. LATE) — really mean lady. Also, kind of a night owl.
  • 56D: Beatle George studied under him (RAVI) — Shankar. "Beatle George" sounds really weird. Like Beetlejuice meets Curious George.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Clark humphrey 12:14 AM  

Not mrs. Late but Mr. Slate, from The Flintstones.

syndy 12:27 AM  

He knows-just screwing with us! Know my HENRYS and BYEWEEK got me QUEEN MAB had a little trouble in southwest but knew the big bucket was a big earth mover just had to dredge up the name.But Kabuki still stumps me.GERE ADIEUX and wasn,t SCHMALTZ involved too?tres weird

chefwen 12:28 AM  

@Clark Humphrey - You really have to shine around more often to appreciate Our Leader's humor. It's pretty dry and I love it.

Can't comment on the puzzle cuz I DNF, muscle relaxers kicking in turns the brain to mush (damn back) Got about half way through before I threw in the towel. Maybe tomorrow.

syndy 12:30 AM  

okay so it was schlock not schmaltz same diff!

The Bard 12:44 AM  

Romeo and Juliet > Act I, scene IV

ROMEO: I dream'd a dream to-night.

MERCUTIO: And so did I.

ROMEO: Well, what was yours?

MERCUTIO: That dreamers often lie.

ROMEO: In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.

MERCUTIO: O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders' legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O'er ladies ' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as a' lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she--

ROMEO: Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Thou talk'st of nothing.

MERCUTIO: True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

jae 1:59 AM  

Like yesterday, easy-med. for me.

I believe Ranger is also a Ford TRUCK which is what I had at first for TBIRD.

I guess no and noh are the same?

Apparently DRAKE is not in NJ.


Fine Sat. Enjoyed it.

Jeff510 2:21 AM  

Mr. Slate of the Flintstones

aleph1=c? 2:22 AM  

I always thought it was YENTa. Even did Fiddler in HS.

andrea chevre michaels 2:32 AM  

DNF the whole SE corner :(
HOGTIE HObble(d) me, and as I had POlish for POMADE and lbo for MGR, i suspected STREAK but never figured it out.

Does POMADE even exist still? I would think that is a barbershop thing, which I associate with my grandpa, but maybe I'm just being bitter.

I wouldn't know BYEWEEK if I had slept with an entire football team...

And, I KNEW MR. SLATE in my heart of hearts, but since I conflate the Flinstones with the Jetsons, I couldn't get past Mr. Rockwell of Spacely Sprockets, or something like that.
MR SLATE also mitigates the fancy-schmancy-ness of QUEENMAB crossing ARCADIA. But I never got that far.

With 5Ks, 3Xs, 4Vs AND a QZ in one word, ya gotta forgive an ESCAPEE here, a TEPEE there.

I caught sight of Brad Wilber at the ACPT and inexplicably didn't introduce myself... Ms Monday meets Mr. Saturday...a missed photo op!

I skip M-W 4:17 AM  

I could hardly believe this was a Saturday, the answers came so fast, from chevre right on. Didn't recall Edsel Ranger, but what with chevre & Hesiod (whose main work was "Works and Days") somehow seemed obvious, and knew TBird right away. The Q from Queen Mab made Quetzal a gimme, etc. Never heard of Mr. Slate, and No spelled w/o h took a moment to connect to Kabuki, but what else would it be? Never watch football, but know of "off weeks" which soon I saw must be byes.

I think this was my fastest Saturday ever! Fun, but almost too good to be true Saturday.

imsdave 7:07 AM  

Just saw Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" about a month ago. Wish it had been clued that way to give us a Broadway trifecta rather than the EXACTA of YENTE and SHREK.

Without a doubt, my fastest Friday/Saturday pairing ever - even solving on the computer, which is usually much slower than paper for me.

nanpilla 8:11 AM  

Faastest. Saturday. Ever!!

Put in CHEVRE and CHIANTI, and never really slowed down from there. I just seemed to be in the groove.

A real double E theme going on here:


felt like I was looking for a Gaffney meta....

(And two of them end in PEE)

The Great Gazoo 8:44 AM  

I always had trouble differentiating the following : Mr. Slate (Nate) ,Mr. Spacely (Cosmo) ,and Mr. Peebles(?.)

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Can anyone explain kabuki clue?

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

For a while I had YENTL, which seemed like a stretch for Bea Arthur, and I couldn't figure out why I had never heard the French word ADILUX.

mmorgan 8:59 AM  

Some great stuff here - really liked "No relative" (39A), though I usually see it spelled Noh. (Does that help, @Anon 8:49?) Also liked INCAPS (17A) and ESCAPEE (3D). Expected the "Broadway role for Bea Arthur" (20A) to be her character from Mame, whose name I couldn't recall (Vera Charles -- doesn't fit anyway).

@andrea chevre: the SE was a roadblock for me too, though I did have STREAK (nice clue!!). I was pretty sure that QUEEN ann was wrong (42A) but didn't know MAB and just couldn't remember MR SLATE (43D). (Is Mab related to Queen Maeve? Gotta look that up...)

I also never thought of HAL as a "villain." Agree with Rex on ALOE VERA. Didn't make yesterday's mistake with ADIEUX (because I had the X first -- take that!).

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

If, in the below, "to be divergent, to deviate," is the source of the "no relative" clue, this is REALLY obscure. Am I missing something?

1899, from Japanese, popular theater (as opposed to shadow puppet-plays or lyrical Noh dramas), lit. "art of song and dance," from ka "song" + bu "dance" + ki "art." Alternative etymology (in Webster's) is from nominal form of kabuku "to be divergent, to deviate," from early opinion of this form of drama. Since c.1650, all parts are played by males.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

"Noh (能 Nō?), or Nogaku (能楽 Nōgaku?) - derived from the Japanese word for 'skill' or 'talent' - is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. . . . It would later influence other dramatic forms such as KABUKI and Butoh." ----Wikipedia, caps added.

Dropping the h does make it tricky.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Thanks, fellow Anonymous. This was threatening to spoil my day! Still pretty dang obscure though.

Tommyboy 9:05 AM  

Anonymous: The kabuki clue is that "no" (more frequently spelled "noh") is, like kabuki, a Japanese theater genre.

Smitty 9:17 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Lots of nice cluing and I loved EXACTAS, QUEEN MAB, MR. SLATE and Diane ARBUS.

SCHMALTZ appeared in the same spot as SLEAZE did yesterday (when I tried to use it) although I don't think goo is the best cloo.

I could hear the slow, low robot voice singing "Daisy" right away, but couldn't place it until the end. i LOVED that clue.

Medium Easy for Sat. but still outlasted a giant mug of coffee.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:23 AM  

Nice puzz, Brad. We really needed the shout-out at 18 A to the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire!

I always thought it was a "by week." I guess I was wrong.

Two write-overs: Really silly, had MR STONE before MR SLATE; also, QUETZEL before QUETZAL.

CaseAce 9:28 AM  

Rex, I can see where you might have an attraction for Hal the robot from "A Space Odyssey 2001" especially if you actually look as you appear in your futuristic pic on your blog page?

joho 9:35 AM  

@Rex, what I thought was more than a coincidence was ADIEUX, GERE and GENXER, all three, two days in a row.

There is so much to love in this puzzle, nothing SCHMALTZy about it. All fresh and fun. I enjoyed my bite of CHEVRE with a sip of CHIANTI. Wonderful words appeared everywhere: QUEENMAB, FIRETRAP, KABUKI, PIKER, QUETZAL, HOGTIE and PIRANHA. I also loved the pairing of the car opposites, EDSEL and TBIRD.

I applaud whoever wrote the clue for STREAK, be it Brad or Will.

What a wonderful way to start the day!

quilter1 10:06 AM  

Any puzzle that starts out with CHEVRE crossing CHIANTI is OK in my book. What a great collection of clues and answers. I enjoyed the misdirection of no/kabuki, STREAK, and so much more. I did check my spelling of QUETZAL, thinking the a might be o.

@Jae, no Drake is not in NJ, but right here in Des Moines, IA. My alma mater twice, also my mom's, uncle's, aunt's and grandfather's, who also taught at Drake, as did I. I kind of bleed blue and white. Go Bulldogs. I chuckled at the rhyming DREW U.

The snow is gone, the daffodils are up and the pink quilt top will be finished today. As soon as the quilting's done I'll share a photo.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

This was an almost ideal puzzle for me. It took me a long time to finish, but I did - and when I went back over it, the only answer that was totally unfamiliar was ARA, and I couldn't really complain about any of the cluing (maybe the h-less Noh). A very satisfying workout.

@nanpilla: you can add Amanda PEET to your list of double-e answers.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Since when is a ranger for one an edsel? Somebody please explain. Is there a person called Edsel Ranger, or Ranger Edsel. Thanx

chefbea 10:28 AM  

Too tough for me. DNF. did not like Kabuki. I think pomade is a word of the past.

Blackbird 10:29 AM  

No relative is a lousy clue for the answer "Kabuki". The correct English rendition of the Japanese drama form is "Noh", not "No".

Mr. Slate -- even if you don't know the cartoon -- I didn't know the character -- quarry is a pretty good tip-off for slate.

hazel 10:42 AM  

@Blackbird - you should check out the first comment over at Wordplay by Martin. From that, it appears the correct translation is No, and Noh is only used in crosswords!!

I loved this puzzle, mostly for the multiple AHA factor, but also because I could complete it. Yesterday was just a big fat disaster for me (like my NCAA bracket), and therefore frustrating, but this one was just fantastic fun. I think MRSLATE was my first fill - I had just seen it in a recent BEQ. Childhood cartoon clues always make me smile!!!

nanpilla 10:43 AM  

@anonymous 10:10 - good catch!

That makes 10! I have no idea if this is unusual, but it happened to be something that caught my eye.

PuzzleNut 10:55 AM  

Congrats to all the folks who found this Easy. I was on a whole different wavelength and struggled throughout, much more than most Saturdays. Finally finished, but made a mess of upper middle. I can NEVER remember how to spell LIEUT and had to infer all the vowels from crosses. Since the skin cream in my puzzle was NuVEA, and the E had to go with FIFTEEN, that left an I for ADILIX/YENTL, which made slightly more sense than ADIAIX/YENTA. Oh well, there were a lot of other areas that I did get correct, so I'm calling it a moral victory.
Tough clue for KABUKI (NO vs. NOH). Was trying to fit a character from The Office in 7A, but fortunately nothing fit. Popped in MRS LATE without any crosses as I had recently seen it in another puzzle (probably the BEQ that @hazel mentioned). Also threw down BACKHOE figuring that it would never stand, but thankfully it did. Took a while to demote my CEO to MGR, but once I did, the SE fell pretty easily.

OldCarFudd 10:56 AM  

Anon 10:14 - There's a comma in the clue. Ranger, for one means Ranger, for example. Just as there are/were several versions of the Ford (LTD, Crown Victoria, Taurus, Model T), there were several versions of the Edsel. Ranger was one, Corsair was another.

Fun, well-clued yet startlingly easy Saturday puzzle. Other than one wrong letter that I should have caught, I did this in ink with no writeovers. Chevre and chianti were gimmes, and I just rolled on from there.

jackj 10:57 AM  

What a perfect, lively, stimulating puzzle from Brad Wilber!

One thing about this puzzle, the best clues and answers are in the across entries, giving us the likes of FIRETRAP, IVEEATEN, KABUKI, DIETS and STREAK while the downs only have two comparatively weak contenders for "best of puzzle", namely, ESCAPEE and BYEWEEK.

Do the downs get short shrift because the constructor is protecting the delightful across entries? Not a complaint, only a question.

With ADIEUX appearing for the second day in a row one wonders if ADIEUX is the new PEE.

Thanks Brad for another gem!

matt 11:48 AM  

I had to memorize the Queen Mab speech in 10th grade English. This is the first time it has ever come in handy!

mac 11:51 AM  

Rex had me going with Mrs. Late; didn't remember the little guy.

Great, great puzzle! The NW, especially the chevre and chianti answers, fell unusually fast, the rest was an easy/medium Saturday pace.

Somehow was thinking prep school for the Madison, NJ place, so the U after Drew came slowly.

Pomade is still used a lot in hairdressers', it's just called balm, butter or wax. Just saw a lot of products like it at Whole Foods.

Mel Ott 11:58 AM  

Finally finished in the NE by going to school on yesterday's ADIEUX & GENXER. Fool me once...

I know there's an H somewhere in PIRANHA, but I can never remember exactly where it goes.

Nice puzzle.

SethG 12:06 PM  

Wow did I want News Corp for the WNBA clue.

DIETS was my first answer. GERE was a gimme yesterday, and my first guess for today's clue. I love how I can be fully confident of something like ADIEUX without understanding the clue at all.

Easy for a Wilber, but still not easy for me. Nice.

Mel Ott 12:09 PM  


Off the top of my head without looking anything up, so maybe not precise, but here goes.

The Yiddish word for a nag or gossip is YENTA.

The matchmaker in Fiddler is named YENTE.

The Streisand character (masquerading as a boy from the shtetl, I think) is named YENTL.

To further confuse matters, I think the first two are homophones.

Someone with a better grasp of Yiddish language and lore may be able to correct me.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

My fastest Saturday solve i'm sure, or at least in a long time. And fast means enjoyable! On paper over fried eggs and bacon at my local loud and busy diner as usual.

I always check fearless leader in hopes that one day I'll fly through one he rates Challenging..

Anoa Bob 12:33 PM  

First thought for 42D "Creature revered by the Mayans" was jaguar but obviously that wasn't right. Crossings quickly pointed to QUETZAL (kate SAHL) which is also Guatemala's national bird and their unit of currency. (Lots of Mayan ruins in Guatemala, Tikal being my favorite.)

Thought "No relation" was hitting below the obi, as it were. Vowel sounds in Japanese can have a single beat or a double beat (short and crisp or more drawn out). When Romanized, the double beat is usually indicated with either a double vowel---Torii gate for example---or with a horizontal bar across the top of the vowel. The correct Romanization of the Japanese word for Kabuki would have a horizontal bar across the top of the "o" in "No". Since this isn't always possible to do, the "Noh" form is an alternative to indicate the elongated "oh" sound. I think one could argue that using the plain "No" crosses the line from tricky misdirection to being incorrect.

mmorgan 12:46 PM  

@Anoa Bob: You may be correct, and I'm not an expert, but a cursory web-glance suggests that "no" is commonly used in English (which of course doesn't mean it's correct).

I thought it was a yummy clue. And remember, there's no theater like noh theater.

Arundel 12:49 PM  

Like @PuzzleNut, I was definitely not on the right wavelength. I had backhoe and Queen Mab, quetzel (spelled wrong) and bye week, chevre and chianti, idee fixe and adiux, and I was still in the weeds. I was fully Naticked on the Jersey school and the astronomical references - hadn't the faintest what that was about until I ran the alphabet and found Mr. Happy Pencil way down at the end.

I usually like Saturdays, but sometimes the windshield, sometimes the bug...

archaeoprof 1:12 PM  

Not easy for me, but well worth the effort.

Thanks, Brad Wilber!

lodsf 1:13 PM  

Aside from the puzzle….@Rex, nice to see the numerical upgrade to your ‘….Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver…” modifier.

JenCT 1:19 PM  

SCHMALTZ is the chicken fat I keep in the freezer for making matzoh ball soup...mmmm.

@Rex - LOL Mrs. Late

mitchs 1:26 PM  

I read the first comment and pictured Rex rubbing his palms together and imitating Mr. Burns: "Egggsellent!"

David 1:30 PM  

hated the No clue for KABUKI, just don't see no as an alternative for noh, which slowed me up for a while with feeling so confident with MISER for PIKER. Was lucky to have BACKHOE hit me out of the blue, which completed the SW, gave me TBIRD, and then the rest of the NW. The NW seemed easiest for most, yet fell last for me, mainly b/c I utterly brain-locked CHEVRE for a long time. As with most of the late-week puzzles, cruised through the SE and NE, struggled a bit with the SW and NW.

ElaineBaeza 1:31 PM  

Did anyone but my husband know that HAL actually stood for IBM? One letter off H-I, A-B, L-M. How did I miss that useless bit of trivia.

Elaine in New Mexico

Watson 1:44 PM  

@Elaine in New Mexico -

According to Wikipedia, "As the central character of the "Jupiter Mission" segment of the film, HAL was shown by Kubrick to have as much intelligence as human beings, possibly more, while sharing their same "emotional potentialities". Kubrick agreed with computer theorists who believed that highly intelligent computers that can learn by experience will inevitably develop emotions such as fear, love, hate, and envy. Such a machine, he said, would eventually manifest human mental disorders as well, such as a nervous breakdown—as HAL did in the film.[31]

Clarke noted that, contrary to popular rumor, it was a complete coincidence that each of the letters of HAL's name immediately preceded those of IBM in the alphabet.[32] The meaning of HAL has been given both as "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer" and as "Heuristic ALgorithmic computer". The former appears in Clarke's novel of 2001 and the latter in his sequel novel 2010. In computer science, a heuristic is a programmable procedure not necessarily based on fixed rules producing a well-informed guess often using trial-and-error."

Of course, Clark, as a human being, may have been lying!

pizzatheorem 1:52 PM  

First Saturday solve for me! Well, I had one error with QUEENMAE and EYEWEEK but still. No major snags anywhere, though I plodded at my usual pace finishing in a blazing fast 61 minutes. Unusual for me, I knew most of the names in this one. Knew RAVI, KERRY, PEET, GERE, ARBUS. No silent-era actresses here thankfully. Got stuck after finishing the north cleanly but getting QUETZAL without the Q blew everything open.

Rex, I believe LEO is another three-lettered constellation.

ksquare 2:14 PM  

@Smitty 9:17 I agree that GOO is not a good CLOO for SCHMALTZ. Actually it is rendered CHICKEN FAT, a leading killer of people who don't eat TREF.
My spell-checker says that is an incorrect spelling, which someone noted yesterday should be TRAIF (or TRAFE), as it is pronounced.

Bemused... 3:13 PM  

Does this puzzle set an (undocumented) record for proper nouns combined with non-English words?

1A French noun
15A Greek name
16A French phrase
19A Latin name
20A Yiddish name
23A Name (initialism)
32A Name (may be initialism)
37A Name (initialism)
38A Name
39A Japanese noun
42A Name
43A Initialism (not clued as such)
47A Name
49A Name
60A Yiddish noun
1D Italian (region name)
2D Name
6D Name
8D French noun (non-"s" plural)
10D Name
11D Initialism (not clued as such)
21D Name
22D Name
29D Name
31D Name
34D Name
36D Name
43D Name
44D Name (place)
54D Name

What surprises me is the consensus that this puzzle is easy -- perhaps as a consequence of having so little old-fashioned English in it?


JaxInL.A. 3:13 PM  

Rex, thanks for pointing out that PG had finally posted a really wonderful ACPT write-up. What fun to see the tournament through her eyes.

@acme, I love your Mr. Saturday and Ms. Monday observation. Next year, maybe? Could we have a low-cost 7-day calendar (instead of those costly 12 month things), with pix for typical day-of-the-week constructors? Cheesecake optional, perhaps?

I got off to a roaring start with CHEVRE and CHIANTI, and the NW and SE fell fast. Ultimately, though, I had to fight for Every. Single. Letter in the NE and SW. Not withstanding assertions at Wordplay, I studied Asian theatre fairly extensively at UCLA and we always spelled it Noh, with an H. Has it changed since the 80s?

If the puzzle had clued WNBA as our L.A. Sparks, it wouldn't have taken me so many crosses to get it. Women's basketball is fun enough to engage even this non-sports fan. And Sparks tix cost less than a movie. Check them out when the season starts in May!

I enjoyed this puzzle very much even though "wand of heaven" and that obscure Ms. St. Cyr defeated me. Once I googled for them, though, I was able to fill in the rest of the puzzle. I can still finish a Saturday unaided only rarely. But I can feel it coming, eventually, partly thanks to you all.

And thanks, Mr. Wilbur, for a fun solve (except for that missing H).

michael 5:07 PM  

Got it, but not quickly. Don't know what I could do to increase me speed except do a lot more crossword puzzles (which I don't intend to do).

To get in here, the letter combination I had to enter was "retripe," which really ought to be a word. I'll avoid the temptation to make a political remark.

Stan 5:27 PM  

This was vexatious, but definitely enjoyable. Densely packed answers from all over the socio-cultural map.

As for 39A, I prefer the more traditional spelling, as in "Noh, Noh, Nanette."

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

I've often heard that in Japan, sometimes "yes" means "no." Today I learned that sometimes "no" means "noh." So confusing!

sanfranman59 6:02 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 6:30, 6:55, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:50, 8:55, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Wed 13:09, 11:45, 1.12, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:25, 19:09, 0.86, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 29:19, 26:17, 1.12, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 26:50, 30:37, 0.88, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:29, 3:41, 0.94, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:32, 4:34, 0.99, 52%, Medium
Wed 6:26, 5:47, 1.11, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:19, 9:14, 0.79, 22%, Easy-Medium
Fri 13:50, 12:55, 1.07, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 14:15, 17:26, 0.82, 14%, Easy

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

I wonder where Mr Pompous Parker got MRS LATE from?

chefwen 6:22 PM  

@Anon 6:03 - It was a JOKE!!!!!

jberg 6:26 PM  

Fairly easy for me - the Hesiod/chianti cross was a gimme, although I balked at chevre for a moment -- "chevre"="goat," but I guess that's what you call the cheese in English. (So we should call cow's milk cheese "boeuf!). I was held up a bit by miser instead of piker, and didn't see right away that a Time unit was an article, so I was trying various cycles to fit the -cle ending.

I too, thought noh should be no -- but thinking about it more, I don't think one can say it's wrong, since it's just a phonetic representation of a sound that is really written in Chinese characters (aka kanji). Lame, but not really wrong. (The same issue with the spelling of Yente and Tref, I guess).

Much more oddly, since I took a course in Milton decades ago, it took me some time to remember that "Areopagitica" was not a poem, so I was wracking my brain for obscure verse forms beginning with T (actually, L, since I guessed that the unfamiliar Amanda must be Peel), until I got it from the crosses.

Pretty satisfying puzzle, in any case.

quilter1 6:39 PM  

@Watson & Elaine in New Mexico, check out Donna Andrews new mystery series featuring a sensient computer as the protagonist. The first one is You Have Murder.

Lindsay 7:19 PM  

Happy to see so timely a puzzle as I spent the afternoon in Arundel (shout-out!) reading a LEMON LAW disclosure before driving home in my new RANGER. How disappointing to learn that the Ranger isn't a modEL, but an EDSEL.

Also slowed down by McSLATE, who kept old friend KERRY from view.

Willburg Will 7:34 PM  

Like others, a very fast Saturday. Did most of it on the subway on the way to a conference where I was personing a book table with a colleague named...Quetzal! I showed it to her and she devilishly texted a friend who is a Saturday solver.

Question: Seeing ADIEUX two days in a row made me wonder: Whatever happened to the one-time practice of having one puzzle answer (differently clued) carried over from one day to the next? Has that tradition gone out of style in the NYT?

Jainesy 8:07 PM  

Easy, though solid and well-constructed. Extra points always for multiple Q's, Z's, X,s.

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

Back in the day, Mrs Late was quite a common occurance. Take any old miss, have her be a little 'late', and whamo, you've got a Mrs.

Greg C 8:21 PM  

Rembering where the 'h' is in piranha is easy if you remember that Portuguese adds an 'h' after an 'n' instead of putting a tilde over it, the way you do in Spanish. And piranhas, coming from the Amazon, have a Portuguese (Brazilian) name. Bom dia, senhor.

tonegalli 9:07 PM  

No relative? Oh come on! Seriously? Seriously? Can you GET any more obscure?

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

No relative? for me it was "not kin" for a while....

brandsinger 3:11 PM  

HAL murdered one of the good guys. That's what "film villains" do.

william e emba 5:51 PM  

Better MRS LATE than never:

I started with HESIOD crossing HENRY IV. I admit, I had to squeeze the brain a bit to recall Hesiod's name. I find Rex's comment about "Works and Days" being an obscure way to clue him somewhat odd. After all, there's perhaps two ways to clue Hesiod, both equally classical. I'm surprised Rex couldn't quite remember which HENRY was John of Gaunt's son. If you can't remember from history, you can remember from Shakespeare.

On the other hand, I got CHEVRE entirely from the crosses. And I originally had I VOTE YES for the food order response.

The only other rough point was having mIsER instead of PIKER for the tightwad.

I recall usually seeing Nō, with the macron, in academic writing. The complaints are off-base.

I was a kid when 2001 came out. I saw it with my mother and my sister while we were vacationing in Atlantic City. The theater was partly filled, perhaps 20 or 40 people all together. My family enjoyed the movie immensely. I suspect, though, the other attendees did not. Why? Because when it came to the scene with HAL and his going-mind and then he started singing Daisy, Daisy, well, we three cracked up laughing. Good hearty laughs. Nobody else made a peep.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

Rex: "Knew HESIOD, but its clue didn't make it easy to pick up (15A: Ancient "Works and Days" poet)".

You : "I find Rex's comment about "Works and Days" being an obscure way to clue him somewhat odd".


william e emba 11:55 AM  

Let me try this again.

HESIOD is way down there when it comes to classical education. Homer gets all the early Greek poetry fame, so much so that the NYT will clue him sometimes based on reference to the contents of his work. Something like poet of the "wine-dark sea", say.

No matter what, Hesiod is obscure. He shouldn't be, but he is. Anyway, there are only two complete works to his name, "Works and Days" and "Theogony", and they are both pretty much unheard of to the non-specialist.

Simply put, there is no clue that makes most of us go, "aha! Hesiod, easy-peasy". Either you know him or you don't. In other words, I can't imagine what clue Rex is thinking that could make the answer Hesiod "easy to pick up". If all possible clues are obscure, then carping on the one that happened to be in the puzzle makes no sense.

In my case, I was thinking and thinking and thinking, visualizing my Loeb Classical Library volume of his works (volume 1 only, in fact) and blanking out, irritated at myself--thirty years is no excuse when it comes to the guy's name. Then I looked at the downs, wrote in HENRY IV (and yes, I short-circuited my sometimes hazy memory of English history by remembering Shakespeare), at which point HESIOD popped into my head instantly. No doubt the H-E-start of the one inspired the other.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Rex wrote one half of a sentence about HESIOD. You've gone on for a page. You have an interesting definition of carping.

william e emba 12:57 PM  

I went on for a page because you asked for clarification of my original one-sentence response. Sheesh.

Waxy in Montreal 12:00 AM  

Should be a new category "EASY-HARD" coined for this puzzle in my opinion. Why? Because this was way too simple for a Saturday - until not being familiar with KABUKI or DREWU made it a DNF. Also took far too long for HOBBLE to mutate into HOGTIE.

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