Specialty oven / SAT 3-5-11 / Channel between mainland England Isle Wight / Transient madness Horace / Rue Morgue murderer / Two bridges India

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: The SOLENT (15A: Channel between mainland England and the Isle of Wight, with "the") —

The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. // The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually. It is sheltered by the Isle of Wight and has a very complex tidal pattern, which has greatly benefited Southampton's success as a port. Portsmouth lies on its shores. Spithead, an area off Gilkicker Point near Gosport, is known as the place where the Royal Navy is traditionally reviewed by the monarch of the day. (wikipedia)

• • •

Did this in about half the time of yesterday's puzzle. It had a few tough parts, but behaved more like a Friday than a Saturday for me. Noteworthy parts of this puzzle include CLEAR AS MUD (best answer) (4D: Poorly explained), EAT FRESH (itself fresh) (52A: Subway line), and the fully-named APIA, SAMOA (APIA is an important crossword word in its own right — I learned it from crosswords, in fact — but I don't think I've seen it long-form like this) (44A: Capital served by Faleolo International Airport). Toughest part of the grid for me, by far, was the NE. Tried and failed to get into it early on (approaching from the west). Ended up finishing the puzzle by hemming in that section (approaching from the south) and forcing the tough answers to give up their secrets. Thorniest answer was MOILS (9D: Churns), which I had as the much more sensible ROILS. But I could Not get a Yankee to fit into RA---; ran the alphabet on that third letter and came up empty. Only after I accepted the non-solidity of the "R" did I (finally) see Roger MARIS (9A: Yankee star who batted left and threw right). Had never heard of the SOLENT, so that didn't help matters. Wanted "The SOLLES," but later realized that was due to my awareness of the existence of the Oregon city named "The DALLES." Weird, I know, but that's how my brain fired. Love the MINCing FOP, BORNE by the MORN to a state of, let's say, WRATH (46A: "A transient madness," per Horace).

Did not love (and did not understand, and do not understand) the clue on LEHR (5D: Specialty oven), which is apparently an oven for annealing glass. Also, never heard anyone say KNEEHOLE before (16A: Place to stretch one's legs). Oh, crud, it's not a clothing term: it's the space under a desk ... for your knees. I don't think of that as a place to "stretch," but OK. ONYM is horrid, but it's about the only thing in the grid that is (34D: Word: Suffix). Beyond that, not much else to say. A fine Saturday effort.

  • 18A: It has two bridges in India (SITAR) — first thing in the grid, after I'd placed the terminal "S" on what ended up being ARKS (1D: They're open on Saturdays).
  • 33A: Figure in the high 60s (D PLUS) — want to like this clue, but the phrasing is just a tad off, to my ear. A D PLUS *represents* a score "in the high 60s," but is not itself "in the high 60s."
  • 7D: Real-life opera composer who's a title character in a Rimsky-Korsakov opera (SALIERI) — had the "SA-" so this wasn't tough, though I was slightly tentative when writing it in with nothing else to confirm it.

  • 10D: "Valentine's Day" co-star, 2010 (ALBA) — as in Jessica, whom I know *only* from "Sin City"
  • 36D: Senator supporter (OTTAWAN) — great clue. I had ATTACHE at first (?!). The Senators are, of course, Ottawa's pro hockey team.
  • 26D: Area where Dali, Monet, Picasso and van Gogh all painted (MONTMARTRE) — got this off the "-TR-" at the tail end. Figured it had to be something French.
  • 38D: Rue Morgue murderer (ORANG) — that's a revelation that's pretty hard to forget.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


lit.doc 5:08 AM  

DNF. Limped through to the end, working out as much as I could between Check All moments, but still had to buy a bunch o’ letters. Saturdays are often a bit disheartening, but always good training exercises.

High-quality “you had to be there” moment: slammed in LEARY at 33A. Filed new-to-me LEHR with OAST and KILN. Had TRYSTS before CRYPTS, USUALLY before AS A RULE, and YDS before ETA. And TIBIAE is just ugly. And SOLENT? Sure, why not. WTF, it’s Saturday.

Joe 7:27 AM  

Finished! I don't get to say that every Saturday. And I certainly didn't get to say that yesterday. But can someone please explain ARKS for me?

Dan 7:30 AM  

I put LEARY for "figure in the high 60s" too. Much better than the real answer. :-) But 25D had to be STES, so it didn't last long.

T-No-Money 7:38 AM  

@Dan, I second your request for an explanation of ARKS.

Rex Parker 7:44 AM  

Torah ark

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

The Torah is kept in the ark in a synagogue. Services are held on Saturdays - the ark is opened to take out the Torah.

Leslie 8:07 AM  

Wow--thanks for the ARK explanation. I had that "Okay, I got it, but I don't get it" reaction, too.

The SW was my toughest area. ODOMETERS and MMES finally helped me open that up, but it took a long time.

I thought the most interesting-looking fill was TIBIAE, though I agree with Rex that CLEAR AS MUD and EAT FRESH were the most entertaining.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

9 across should, of course, have been a real Yankee: Berra

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

DNA TESTS crossing A-TEST was a disappointment in an otherwise good Sat puzz.


Nancy in PA 8:55 AM  

SE was the hardest for me, as I slapped in The Riviera and then Rive Gauche before MONTMARTRE.And once I got CSINY I was sure 54A was the name of an actor I didn't know, and could not believe it began with DN. Oh, well, still just like yesterday: one hour, no mistakes, no Googles. Fine puzzle.

Vega 9:14 AM  

Yeah about DNATESTS crossing ATEST. And absolutely, "high 60s" screamed Leary.

Moils isn't a word in my universe (well, it is now), so, oh well. I should have gotten MARIS. Even I know there's no Yankee named Raris (or Ragis, because for a long time I thought perhaps to "buttress" could mean to "gain force"). I console myself with the fact that I finished yesterday's more easily than most others here seemed to have. Because Rex's "easy-medium" sure is not a consolation.

mitchs 9:23 AM  

Challenging for this guy. Moil? Ottawan? Ark? It was a looong solve. Thanks for the clip from Amadeus - I believe he won the Oscar for that role - and it could have been awarded for those few minutes.

No BS 9:26 AM  

Suppose you have to be an actual on-site New Yorker to see "Eat Fresh" That provincial limitation made SE opaque I'm afraid. I'm an arexic DNF because I couldn't follow "DN", which I had, into the forensically obvious "A". Oh well, humility.

joho 9:34 AM  

This was so much easier than yesterday for me. Thank you, Randolph Ross, for a most satisfying Saturday.

As others, my favorite clue and answer was EATFRESH. Also loved DNATESTS when I saw that wasn't an actor.

joho 9:35 AM  

Oh, and my WOTD was MOILS. If I hadn't known MARIS that would have been a Natick.

No BS 9:50 AM  

Oh...That Subway! Here I'm thinking this is a new NY subway ad campaign everyone knows about but me. Cancel previous post.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:57 AM  


Surprised Rex left it to comments to complain about ATEST/DNATESTS (but the latter was clever!)

Remember a loong discussion of KNEEHOLE a while back!

The Bard 9:58 AM  

King Henry V > Act IV, scene I

PISTOL: Qui va la?

KING HENRY V: A friend.

PISTOL: Discuss unto me; art thou officer?
Or art thou base, common and popular?

KING HENRY V: I am a gentleman of a company.

PISTOL: Trail'st thou the puissant pike?

KING HENRY V: Even so. What are you?

PISTOL: As good a gentleman as the emperor.

KING HENRY V: Then you are a better than the king.

PISTOL: The king's a bawcock, and a heart of gold,
A lad of life, an imp of fame;
Of parents good,
of fist most valiant.
I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heart-string
I love the lovely bully. What is thy name?

KING HENRY V: Harry le Roy.

PISTOL: Le Roy! a Cornish name: art thou of Cornish crew?

KING HENRY V: No, I am a Welshman.

PISTOL: Know'st thou Fluellen?


PISTOL: Tell him, I'll knock his leek about his pate
Upon Saint Davy's day.

KING HENRY V: Do not you wear your dagger in your cap that day,
lest he knock that about yours.

PISTOL: Art thou his friend?

KING HENRY V: And his kinsman too.

PISTOL: The figo for thee, then!

KING HENRY V: I thank you: God be with you!

PISTOL: My name is Pistol call'd.

OldCarFudd 10:03 AM  

Solent was my first entry; I guess I read too many books about sailing in England. On the other hand, I had -lier- for the opera composer and tossed in Moliere. I enjoyed this puzzle - lots of misdirection that resulted in aha! moments.

jackj 10:11 AM  

Some nice fill; OTTAWAN, CLEARASMUD, ARKS and ODOMETERS to name just a few.

But, the real fun came in dealing with the extreme lower right area. I couldn’t back away from Horace’s “transient madness” being ANGER rather than the ultimate WRATH. HAHS, for “Lots of laughs”, I was sure, was RIOT.

Compounding the situation, “Subway line”, based on their recent tv ads was thought to be FOOTLONG, which one can see made for a horrible, albeit temporary, mishmash.

The real question came from thinking that Will would never let the word (A)TESTS be an answer in 43 down, while crossing it with (DNA)TESTS, again, in 54 across. Perhaps there was a hint of this new editorial attitude when yesterday’s puzzle allowed the phrase ON ONES to be used in two separate answers, within one row of each other, in 55 across and 57 across.

Some interesting compromises by the master editor.

Lindsay 10:20 AM  

Last summer BP CEO Tony Hayward went to Cowes Week while the Deepwater Horizon was gushing. So The Solent has been in the news.

Otherwise, not much to say: first answer in September MORN, last in MELANITES (my WOTD).

GenJoneser 10:23 AM  

A sitar has two bridges whether it is in India or not. Too misleading (for me) but I guess it is Saturday!

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I've been reading this blog for a year or so and am embarrassed to ask: why is there always one word shaded in?

David L 10:39 AM  

For me, only a little easier than yesterday (about 3 minutes easier, to be precise), mainly because the SE remained blank for a long time. Had RIOT and then HOOT (after I got WRATH) for HAHS. LEHR and ARKS were mysterious until I came here. A good Saturday puzzle -- needed lots of guesswork on my part, but in the end everything was inferrable, one way or another.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

SOLENT green is peple.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

For non-synagogue goers think Raiders of the Lost Ark.

DNA TESTS are Northwestern's final exams....

BigSteve46 11:17 AM  

Good question, Anon: why, in the printing of the completed puzzle, is one answer always shaded in?

Already Answered man 11:23 AM  

Click on FAQ at the top of the page.

jae 11:41 AM  

Medium for me with SE being the toughest section. Yes for ATTACHE and I really wanted SELAWARD for 54a. LEHR was the exception to my rule that "if it looks wrong it probably is." Solid Sat.!

Stan 12:00 PM  

Happy pencil eluded us -- but it was worth it to learn there wasn't really a world capital named 'Apiasamoo'.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Talk about grade inflation. Back in my day, a grade in the high 60's was a D-, max.

SethG 12:11 PM  

And I got SALIERI from the -ERI. And MONTMARTRE from the xxxxMAxxxx--thanks, Amelie!

I guessed xxxSTRING first, then took _forever_ to realize it was one word and not a type of string. Hay string? Hat? Ham? How could it be ham? Uh, oh... I'll excuse my not remembering BIER, again, but hamstring, not so much.

Two Ponies 12:42 PM  

Much easier today than yesterday.
Still tough enough that I had to walk away and come back later.
I finished the puzzle but in my own way. My NE corner has a ball player named Ramis crossing Main Force and Roils. Worked for me! Ha!

r.alphbunker 12:54 PM  

Here is a graphical analysis of how I did this week on the NYT puzzles:
My week

mitchs 1:55 PM  

A pretty coincidental misdirection in the Saturday Stumper...

chefwen 3:06 PM  

CLEAR AS MUD was my first fill, Dear Old Dad used to say that to me while I was trying to explain why I did what I did. Sigh!

Finished with a few holes remaining in the SE, so a DNF for me. I also did the oast/kiln before LEHR.

I have never, ever, called anyone SWEET PEA and I didn't connect Subway to the sandwich place. How come their sandwiches NEVER end up looking like they do in their ads. I say rip off.

capcha - oventsol, another specialty oven for ???

Sparky 3:22 PM  

DNF. Had Mid and South West, that's about it. Knew Rue Morgue murderer was an ape but the NG did not suggest ORANG to me. Had ARTCLASS and took out the ART. I just had to put it aside and come here. Too late in the day.

On the plus side, registered for ACPT, non competitor. Girls just wanna have fun. I am really looking forward to it and to meeting Rexites like the ones mentioned yesterday.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Would have been a little easier if Across Lite hadn't made churns look so much like chums.....I got the answer from crosses but couldn't figure out why it was right.

Matthew G. 3:54 PM  

So frustrating. Had all but a couple answers filled in _ages_ before my record Saturday time but Could Not Finish. I have never, ever heard of a KNEE HOLE. Nor MOILS. Nor the SOLENT. Nor the STEN GUN (I tried STUN GUN).

So, after tearing through the puzzle in what for me would have been a Thursday-like time, I finished with three incorrect squares, all in the top three rows of the grid. Ugh. I take full responsibility for not knowing SOLENT/MOILS, so I'd have been imperfect anyway, but KNEEHOLE, really?

Everything below that row was beautiful, by the way, and totally on my wavelength. A great solve gone sour at the end.

I skip M-W 4:35 PM  

I'm stretching my legs in the kneehole under my computer. took me too long though finished correctly. Eluded me that Van Gogh painted anywhere in Paris. @GenJoneser, agree sitar has two bridges everywhere. Also not fond of the two tests. I've always assigned letter grades on a curve, and hardly ever a D plus; wouldn't know it was high 60's, but got D from crosses. Never heard of Alba, except Duke and Duchess of. For Senator supporter I tried something like "old DC-er" but didn't fit. Had to guess the Subway ad. I think I once read "Murder in the Rue Morgue," but managed to forget the killer. Orangs are far too nice.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

I had some modest successes in some recent Fridays and Saturdays and even finished a few. So I started thinking I was getting better.
Today's puzzle as well as yesterday's puzzle gave me a harsh dose of reality and brought me back to earth. It is very disheartening that even with google I could not get any foothold.
And then to see Rex and some commenters rate this one as easy-medium.
Ah well! Maybe I will stick with my Sunday-Thursday schedule and leave Fridays and Saturdays to the pros.

mac 4:51 PM  

Got the whole thing without help, but it took a while. Nice puzzle!

Created trouble for myself by reading "chums" instead of "churns" (in the dead tree version), writing Ottowan with that second o, and generally making very good use of my twist-erase.

I stared at 27A for ages, had the string but though it would be some sort of ring, hoist ring? Had visions of oxen with rings in their noses...

@jae: Sela Ward is on tv again? She'll be showing up in puzzles even more.

Vega 5:24 PM  

Anon@4:43, don't stop! I started doing crosswords in...mid-2008, I think? And until maybe a month ago, I went into a panic (you think I kid) every Thursday evening knowing I'd be flattened by the next two days. Then, seemingly overnight, I now finish (almost 100% of all) Fridays and Saturdays, no problem. It's like that moment when you ride your bike and not only don't fall but know that you *got* it and won't ever fall again. Magic.

...That said, I could not exaggerate how helpful crossword blogs are.

Glitch 6:26 PM  

@Anon 4:43p

I second @Vega --- you have to try every day.

Early on, (and I have 40 years on Vega), I always made it a point to "fill in the grid", even if I took the answers from the answer grid. Adding the act of writing to reading helps one retain the information.

On bad days, I still do.

I often wonder how (or if) the "day skippers" ever move on to add another day.


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 8:26, 6:55, 1.22, 99%, Challenging
Tue 8:05, 8:56, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:40, 11:44, 0.82, 13%, Easy
Thu 20:20, 19:08, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 33:21, 26:15, 1.27, 91%, Challenging
Sat 34:18, 30:37, 1.12, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:20, 3:41, 1.17, 98%, Challenging
Tue 4:20, 4:35, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Wed 4:52, 5:47, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 9:42, 9:13, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 16:40, 12:53, 1.29, 91%, Challenging
Sat 19:16, 17:25, 1.11, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Nighthawk 7:03 PM  

@Vega and @Glitch - thanks for the encouragement. I'm usually a Sun -> Thurs solver, but have been poking around on Fri and Sat lately, just to see what would happen. I've been surprised lately that they seem only just beyond reach now, rather than, when I started about a year ago, totally impossible for me.

One day... .

michael 7:11 PM  

Like yesterday, my knowledge of Canadiana helped. Stared at this blankly for a while and then remembered the Ottawa Senators. Then things went quickly until the NE. Wrote in roils and thought too hard about five-letter Yankees. Wrote in Rolfe (as in Red Rolfe), but thought that even for Saturday this was too obscure (aside from knowing nothing about Red Rolfe's handedness). Finally remembered that moils was a word and finished,

Zardoz 8:22 PM  


Do you get any comments on the older puzzles from the One-a-Day calendar? Did see one last year. Today's is at Sep. 8, 2007.

The original Time Traveller.

fergus 2:01 AM  

Defeated in the SE with EATERIES being the Subway line, and being unable to accept the crossing of the TESTS

nebraska doug 6:09 PM  

Medium for me. Felt good to finish this one after the Friday puzzle, which was a DNF. Couldn't get traction anywhere.

Badir 12:58 PM  

According to Sanfranman, I see that this is the first time ever I would have been in the top 50! Yay me!

Leah 2:34 PM  

DNF. I just knew the TV series featuring DNA tests had to be Maury.

Marc 5:45 PM  

Glad to see I'm not the only one who went for LEARY as "figure in the high 60s." That slowed me up for a while.

I'd never heard "MOILS" before, and was stuck there for a moment. I wasn't sure about SOLENT, and I thought it had to be ROILS... but it had to be MARIS, also. I couldn't persuade myself that the Yankees had another player named RARIS ...

Waxy in Montreal 1:43 PM  

Listened to far too many Yankee games on the radio as a kid featuring the dulcet tones of Phil Rizzuto so originally crossed the erroneous ROILS with RAJAH, the way he pronounced MARIS' first name. Also, had a personal nattick for SAILEDAT & ASKS - don't ask why.

Minor misdirection beef: How is APIA SAMOA a capital? Isn't it just APIA? Otherwise a great Saturday puzzle, even if I'm finishing on Sunday. Blame the Masters (and not the PGA).

LongBeachLee 3:39 PM  

ETA is not a stat(istic). The ETA is a single number. A stat is a property of a set of numbers. Funny, my word verification is "unavg", a fitting clue for ETA.

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