Red giant in Cetus / SAT 8-13-11 / Yardbirds hit of 1965 / Unlike aristos / Ki legendary founder of Korea / Sci-fi writer Frederik

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MIRA (60D: Red giant in Cetus) —

Mira [...] also known as Omicron Ceti (ο Ceti, ο Cet), is a red giant star estimated 200-400 light years away in the constellation Cetus. Mira is a binary star, consisting of the red giant Mira A along with Mira B. Mira A is also an oscillating variable star and was the first non-supernova variable star discovered, with the possible exception of Algol. Apart from the unusual Eta Carinae, Mira is the brightest periodic variable in the sky that is not visible to the naked eye for part of its cycle. Its distance is uncertain; pre-Hipparcos estimates centered around 220 light-years, while Hipparcos data suggests a distance of 418 light-years, albeit with a margin of error of ~14%. (wikipedia)
• • •

A solid Saturday outing, and a solid minute faster than yesterday's puzzle. What was most remarkable today was how much prior solving (i.e. lots and lots of solving experience) helped today. I mean, it probably helps every day, but today there were some answers that I remember specifically learning from crosswords. After a quick start (OGEE to NEIGH (15A: Trigger-happy sound?) to WHARF, almost instantly), I had a tiny bit of trouble bringing down the first set of long Downs. I had ANACONDA, and so tried out the short crosses, since I had all of their first letters in place. I looked at 26A: Unlike aristos and tried to think of a word for "poor" or "working class" or "common" ... then remembered the nutty four-letter word I'd seen a handful of times in late-week puzzles past: NON-U. Plugged it in and it worked. Had a similar experience at A.M.E. (32A: Letters in some church names)—African Methodist Episcopal, utterly unknown to me until I ran into it (or it me) in a some old crossword. Had some good luck too. Guessed "I'M A MAN" off just the first "I" and the second "A" (24D: Yardbirds hit of 1965); happened to know POHL (58A: Sci-fi writer Frederik); wrote in NOM for 56A: Jacques Cousteau, e.g. without much hesitation. That last one was damn lucky, as that SE corner was the only corner I was in danger of really struggling over (of course I should've guessed EIDER off the damn first "E," but for whatever reason it did not come at first). NOM + A-ONE got me JOAN BAEZ, which was a real corner-opener. Last letter was probably one of the "A"s in SAAB, which I first had as STAT (34D: 9-5, e.g.).

Grid is solid, with very little in the way of forced or wobbly or obscure fill. Grid is also highly forgettable, with the clue on "GET A ROOM!" being, by far, the most original and lively feature (2D: Order to curtail public bussing). TOO TIRED TO THINK is somehow not very exciting. The clue is more vivid than the answer, I think (7D: Mind-numbingly exhausted). I've never heard of Godzilla creator Tomoyuki TANAKA, which is weird since I'm almost certain I recently put the original "Godzilla" movie in my Netflix queue. But TANAKA is the only thing in the grid I'd never heard of before. Oh, I don't know that particular TSE (30A: Ki ___ (legendary founder of Korea)), but that little answer pretty much filled itself in, so no biggie.

  • 28A: Allspice and clove's family (MYRTLE) — why aren't ladies named "MYRTLE" any more? It seems the last MYRTLE of note (American actress MYRTLE Vail) died in 1978.
  • 38A: Allowing peeking, perhaps (AJAR) — I like this voyeuristically inclined clue. Other suggestive fill includes COMES ONTO, GET A ROOM, AT IT AGAIN, INTO IT, and ERECT.
  • 61A: Fifth in a series of seven old comedy films ("ROAD TO RIO") — though it might be something Thin Man-esque. . .

  • 63A: Her temple was adorned with cows' horns (DIANA) — wanted it to be HERA, who is often described as "cow-eyed," but no. Once I had EIDER, DIANA was pretty easy to figure out.
  • 13D: Its logo features two eighth notes (iTUNES) — I'm very familiar, though lately the logo I've been staring at most days is the Spotify logo. I don't know what it's supposed to represent.
  • 50D: They call their native language "te reo" (MAORIS) — I had almost all this filled in before I saw the clue, which is too bad, as I think I could've got this one. Have a lot of experience with said language from various NZ cryptic crosswords (which I used to solve with my (Kiwi) wife).
  • 58D: Like tailgated drivers, often (POKY) — had SLOW at first. POKY is much nicer.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


syndy 12:20 AM  

I agree that the clues were more exotic than the answers but that made them fun to sus out.I wanted HATHOR for my cow goddess but that obviously didn't fit!I note that like myself ReX's last word was SAAB!? I put it in because IN-AAB but I don't understand it! Thumbs up for original Godzilla poor Tokyo takes a beating but its fascinating to see how different it wasfrom the American version.

GILL I. 12:40 AM  

I alway enjoy Tim Croce and this was one terrific puzzle
I needed help with MYRTLE? SAAB, and MIRA. I guess NONU means non union?
JOAN BAEZ and I AM A MAN have appeared before so I managed to pull that out somehow.
I got 50D right away. The "te" gave it away for me. Kiri Te Kanawa is not only gorgeous but she has a voice that makes me purr.
I'm and old timey movie buff so ROAD TO RIO popped in with just the R and O.
Gracias Mr. Croce for an enjoyable evening.

Jo 12:49 AM  

I, too, would like an explanation of the NON-U thing. If anything, I would think that aristos would be non-union themselves. has it as short for "non-Upper class" and a Britishism, but it's not one I've run into among British friends. Bleah. Generally decent puzzle, but ... yeah, a DNF for me.

jae 12:51 AM  

Nice Sat. and definitely easier than yesterday's, although NE was again the toughest corner for me. GODNO and NOTONE were hard to see. Plus, didn't know DONEN or TSE. And Rex is right about solving experience, NON-U made sense this time.

chefwen 2:51 AM  

A nice change for me after my thrashing on Thursday and a DNF on Friday. Thought the west coast was easier than the east. It took two of us again, but that's O.K., it's our recreation at wine time on the weekend. Surprised that my husband did not get OENOLOGY at 37D as he is the wine snob of the family.

Super, fun, Saturday puzzle, why, because I was able to finish and I will be AT IT AGAIN tomorrow.

Thanks Rex for the write-up and Tim Croce for the puzzle.

I skip M-W 4:33 AM  

A MItford, Nancy I think , coined the word non-u back in the 1950's to mean non-upper class. She was talking about language differences between u and non-u, and laughing at the aristos as much as anything. (well, I just gooogled her and it turns out she only popularized the distinction.
Wikipedia has a list. U people say (or then said) Looking glass, Spectacles, and mad for what non-u said mirror, glasses and mental. Etc.
I had not any for Zip, so DNF.

anaconda cater michaels 5:34 AM  

Well, I skirted the NONU issue by putting in eSSo, thinking Red Giant might be a nickname I didn't know for the gas station.
My guess would be NON University educated?
Folks from Ork must be lower class.

My only writeover was WALK-oNS, as in TV roles.

Didn't we just have GETAROOM, ANACONDA and DONEN?

NIT/Boy question...was Muhammed Ali still Cassius Clay when he took on LISTON?
And @Sandy, isn't MAORI already plural?

Tried to fit Sha Na Na in for JOANBAEZ.
I had the ---N-AE- and figured no name had an AE in it, when the light went on!

Lots of initial right answers, but couldn't make them fit (Nay for NEIGH, La Brea TAR PITs, for simply TAR PIT, but couldn't figure out how to put the La Brea part in!
, so abandoned that guess for a while)
Thank god that City was in the clues, so I could change CITY to TELE and off to the races...THAT'S why there shouldn't be the same word in the clues as in the grid.

Anyway, by the time I finished with my inevitable one word wrong, I was AGLOW but TOO TIRED TO THINK. Plus it's 2:30am.
Gotta quit starting the puzzle after midnight!

imsdave 6:03 AM  

Anyone else try Pete ROSE for red giant clue?

Steve Winwood 8:31 AM  

I got to keep my image
While suspended from a throne
That looks out upon a kingdom
Full of people all unknown
Who imagine I’m not human
And my heart is made of stone
I never had no problems
And my toilet’s trimmed with chrome

I’m a man
Yes I am
And I can’t help
But love you so.
I’m a man
Yes I am
And I can’t help
But love you so.

mitchs 8:43 AM  

imsdave: hand up from this Cincinnatian.

johnranta 8:54 AM  

Not sure I agree this was an easy one, at least the upper left corner. Dots for city representatives? Hated that one. I also have never heard of nonu. Stuck with cover instead of cater, and ogre instead of ogee, for the longest time. Made that already annoying corner more painful. jr

Rex Parker 8:58 AM  

I loved the clue on DOTS.

jackj 9:41 AM  

It isn't normal to complain that a Times Saturday puzzle was too solver-friendly but, with clues making it fairly easy to successfully guess at answers like ROADTORIO, LIKEAKING, ANACONDA, NEIGH, et al. and then, after putting RAZES into the mix which, from getting the Z, immediately signaled JOANBAEZ, the entire nether regions were too quickly filled.

One answer seemed strangely out of place, (though appropriate to the clue), namely GODNO and there were at least two gems, NINO for "New Mexican, e.g." and "Clay target" giving us LISTON.

Bottom line, still a fun puzzle, even though it wasn't the expected toughie.

David L 9:48 AM  

Non-U is British from a bygone era, but so am I so I didn't have trouble with it.

OK, @johnranta hated the DOTS clue, @RP loved it -- but me, I just don't understand it. Anyone care to explain?

Rookie 10:08 AM  

I don't get the DOTS clue/answer either. For me, DOT
is the Department of Transportation or The Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Help, please!

Tptsteve 10:10 AM  

@DavidL- think of a map.

Smitty 10:16 AM  

@imsdave I tried to make CZAR and TSAR work but Pete ROSE is a much cooler answer.

Today I discovered BOB DYLAN and JOAN BAEZ have the same number of letters.

JenCT 10:34 AM  

Loved the clues for OTOE, MSDOS, REDMEAT.

Got SAAB easily; my friend had one.

Took a while, but I finally finished.

Agree w/@Rex that the puzzle had some racy overtones!

Eric from NC 10:35 AM  

Got the dots clue but lost on Saab. Was the 9-5 a Saab model?

JenCT 10:36 AM  

@Eric: yes

JC66 10:37 AM  


Yeah, but I don't think Dylan was at Woodstock.

Lindsay 10:38 AM  

@imsdave --- yes. Consequently USSR was the last light bulb to go on for me.

Seemed like a proper name pile-up while I was solving (DONEN over TSE?) but the completed grid doesn't look so bad. Not great, but not terrible either.

RandyPHL 10:54 AM  

The multiplicity of AM/FM clues was fun ... but I don't understand 57A "Am or Fm stat" = ATNO??? Any help?

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Wouldn't POKY go under the 'suggestive clues' bullet?

And I think Diana was 'ox-eyed' (meaning having large, dark, calm eyes) rather than cow-eyed.

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

I don't know if it's a good thing or not but I wasn't fooled a bit by the tricky or "?" clues like Baby beef, New Mexican, main, or Jacques.
Only had trouble seeing Not One and Non-U.
@ Steve Winwood, Thanks for the lyrics. I always wondered what you were saying. Never would have guessed you were singing about your fancy loo.

Rex Parker 11:18 AM  

Re: "Cow-eyed" Hera — I looked it up beforehand to make sure I was right. "Ox-eyed" is also, it seems, correct. Matter of translation conventions, I guess.


Mel Ott 11:31 AM  

Three separate puzzles because of yet another restricted grid. I found the NW easy (despite NONU), NE to SW medium, and SE challenging.

Like @Rex I went for TSE at 30A because of previous experience with crosswordy Chinese (I guess) names and phrases. But for all I know about Korean language and history it could have been TSY. And NINO could be NINA and NOT ONE could be NOT ANY. Natick.

600 11:44 AM  

I had a hard, hard time with this puzzle and took a long, long time on it, but hey, I finished, so I loved it.

I loved DOTS for City representatives even though it was probably the biggest stumbling block in the NW for me, well except for Red Giant, once. Hands up for ROSE, TSAR, and CZAR before USSR. (I told you it was a rough one for me!) Even though I know I've seen it and looked it up before, NON-U was also unavailable to me this morning. I guess it's clear by now that the NW was the last to fall!

My favorite clue of all, probably because of the recent use of AM and FM as radio at 49A and 51A, was 57A, AM or FM stat. What a great piece of misdirection! ATNO was a lovely surprise, and it took me a while to see why it was right!

Z 11:55 AM  

Stared at the SE until finally AJAR clicked, giving me Joan Baez and opening the whole section up.

Off to NC for a week.

Merle Molofsky 12:01 PM  

Non-U is Brit-speak for non-upper class.

A Drover 12:01 PM  

@Rex, @Anon 11:04 - I don't know which is technically correct, but cow-eyed has got to be better, as cows are exclusively female, and an ox is either a castrated male or a beast of burden of either sex.

Likening Hera to a cow has got to be better than to a castrated male beast of burden.

Lindsay 12:06 PM  

Not to split hairs, but the czar wasn't Red.

Rex Parker 12:07 PM  

I'll never be your castrated male beast of burden.

Matthew G. 12:09 PM  

Very easy for a Saturday -- my second-best time. Would have been even better if not for one early big mistake -- thought that the answer to {Red giant, once} was ROSE (as in Pete) and considered myself all too clever for guessing it, and the S was correct. Took me a long time to figure out it was USSR.

archaeoprof 12:09 PM  

Hard work for me this morning. SW was toughest, but finally fell into place with REDMEATS.

Two writeovers: cover/CATER and roots/RAZES.

A Drover 12:11 PM  

@Rex - That's what I said before I got married. Alas, I was a foolish lad.

Moonchild 12:13 PM  

I was expecting Diana to be an Egyptian goddess.
Misread bussing for busking at first so that slowed me down for a small time. Besides non-u being Brit-speak isn't bussing also British slang?
Then I was thinking of Ape Man instead of I'm a Man. Kinks perhaps. Anyway, it is a hilarious satirical song.
Loved the racy tone today.

Raul 12:29 PM  

If you correctly remembered which act followed each other at Woodstock, you probably weren't there.

David 12:33 PM  

I echo 600's first sentences - I loved this puzzle, but I found it very much Challenging today. Took forever to get any toeholds, and nothing ever moved fast, but somehow I finished.

Wanted COVER for CATER, which hid 2D and 3D forever, really pissing me off b/c I was off to such a "good" start with ANACONDA and NEIGH as gimmes. Had PETALS for PEARLS (rose petals??) for a while, causing me to write in INONIT over INTOIT, but then staring at what ended up as ROADTORIO I finally figured out ATNO, and finished.

The key was taking a chance on ATITAGAIN with no crosses, which then made the NE the easiest part of the puzzle. Without that, I would've had a big old DNF today.

dk 12:45 PM  

Thanks for the Soggy Bottoms clip. Mine is almost dry after swimming with the fishes yesterday.

*** (3 stars) on the road to LAX

Masked and Anonymeeces 12:45 PM  

@Andrea darlin'... Yup. Still Clay when (as the challenger) he fought Liston for the title. Listened to that bout on my homemade crystal radio set. Only other way was go to a movie theater to see the fight closed-circuit, as I recall. Liston swung at him so hard, he dislocated his shoulder, when he hit nothin'.

Masked and Anonymous II 12:58 PM  

P.S. Really superb cluing today. Felt like I had my watch swiped at least a dozen times. Thumbs up.

Fave clue: Trigger-happy sound? [Got it instantly, off ???G?, just like old #31)

Lewis 1:23 PM  

I listened to Clay/Liston too on my a.m. radio; I ran through the house in astonished glee.

@Raul -- very funny, I laughed out loud.

I needed Uncle Google today, but had a lot of great aha moments too...

shrub5 1:24 PM  

Hand raised for being a DOTS clue lover. Like @andrea anaconda, I had walk-ONS, which made Clay target LOSTON. ?LOST ON? Just didn't get it until I came here and realized the error. D'oh.

@rex: now I have "Beast of Burden" earworm with "castrated male" squeezed into the lyric. thank you...
You can add the alternatively spaced A TIT AGAIN to your list. How about AGLOW? Hopefully not GOD NO.

This puzzle was challenging for me. I became impatient at my pitiful lack of progress so googled a few things (POHL, TSE, IMAMAN.) Then was able to get going and actually finished but with the one error in LISTON.

@imsdave: no

@Masked: Surprised you liked the puzzle with its low U count, one of which was NON-U.

Cheerio 1:41 PM  

Shouldn't a new Mexican be a bebe.?

ksquare 1:42 PM  

First had (Gene) KELLY for (Stanley) DONEN. Also needed lots of help (from blog) to finish. So I'm not as good as I sometimes think I am, but do the puzzle daily to stimulate what's left in my brain and get enjoyment from that.

jae 1:44 PM  

@Cheerio -- That was my first thought.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

non-u is non-university from a time when only the upper class went to Oxford and Cambridge

pretty obsolete now

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 1:51 PM  

@shrub5: Har. Actually, I like most NYT puzs. That's why I often feel compelled to come here and (sometimes) give snarkopotamus31 the business. Those (precious and rare) U's are like glorious, gorgeous gooey icing on an already tasty cake. Some incredibly wise commentarian once dubbed 'em the Rodney Dangerfield of vowels.

Now that U mention it, NON-U is kinda revolting, philosophically speakin'. Being hell and gone from "aristo", and getting it all from crosses anyhoo, I fleetingly read that fill as NO-NU. Gotta pay more attention to detail; otherwise, that's how these weirdo congressmen and governors and anti-U entries sneak by us normally sane box-markers.

600 2:30 PM  

@Lindsay--Good point. Of course the czar wasn't red--but that just shows how desperate I was. I also tried "nova," and I'm pretty sure that's absolutely wrong in the life history of stars.

@Raul--Big laugh. Thanks.

@imsdave--Actually, yes. As several of us have said.

quilter1 2:33 PM  

Took me awhile with distractions and DNF, but enjoyed it anyway.

I got TANAKA because awhile back NPR had a story about the creation of Godzilla and their trials with the costume. It weighed a ton, was very hot and the actor couldn't wear it for more than about twenty minutes at a time. It was improved over time.

evil doug 2:50 PM  

Huh. I see your little "comment fast" has ended. I made it two years. Wuss.

The Joe DiMaggio of Comment Fasting

George NYC 3:32 PM  

To me, the Spotify logo suggests Wi-Fi, similar to the symbols on laptops and smart phones. But different, because it's Euro and has to be different....

Shamik 4:20 PM  

Easy-medium here, too. Thought the answers fairly fresh with the exception of OGEE, ATSEA and AONE. Nice Saturday puzzle...done on a Saturday. Aaahhhhh.

ems 4:22 PM  

As much as I like the name Myrtle, it always reminds me of the flighty character in Gatsby and for that reason I couldn't possibly bestow it on a child!

joho 5:12 PM  


joho 5:27 PM  

Whoops, didn't mean to post that!

I've been having a ton of trouble with Google today and was unable to leave a comment earlier.

I found this very difficult and failed at NONU/USSR. I kept wanting the Red giant to be either seed or staR. Didn't know NONU and DOTS got me.

joho 5:29 PM  

Also I really wanted Ice Age for TAR PIT.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Finished fairly quickly, still don't know what DOTS refers to, since all I could think of was dots on a map, but that's just a silly stretch, so would one of you folks who loved the clue explain it, por favor?

just chillin' 6:23 PM  

You're right. Cities are often represented by dots on a map. The answer would have been difficult to come up with without the crosses.

I skip M-W 6:27 PM  

@Anonymous 1:46 Not so. The u refers to upper class, not university. See my earlier post. The types of vocabulary that differentiated u and non-u would have been learned long before university age.

jazzmanchgo 8:35 PM  

What's an "ATNO" and what does it have to do with AM or FM radio?

And I thought "nits" were baby lice, not baby cows/steers/beeves.

Any explanations?

jazzmanchgo 8:37 PM  

p.s. I've never heard of an "Aristo," either. Somehow I thought it must be a male "Arista," which didn't help at all.

jazzmanchgo 9:35 PM  

Sheesh, sorry about all these posts --I hope it's not considered poor etiquette, but . . . How was Jacques Cousteau a "NOM"? What's a "NOM" anyway????

George NYC 9:38 PM  

French for "name"

shrub5 9:38 PM  

ATNO = atomic number for the elements americium (Am) or fermium (Fm). The indication that this clue is referring to elements is that only the first letter is capitalized. AM and FM in radio = both letters are caps. Tricky clue especially with the other clues referring to radio.

nits = little criticisms, as in nitpick. Baby beef? is a tricky way of saying "little gripe." The question mark indicates trickiness / misdirection.

Aristo = informal term for aristocrat. Puzzle answer seems to be up for discussion - see previous posts.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:51 PM  

. . . and even a (partial) shout-out to our own Sparky.

600 9:54 PM  

@shrub5--WOW!! I posted hours ago how much I loved ATNO and the misdirection, but had no clue about the "indication that this clue is referring to elements is that only the first letter is capitalized." Double WOW. I certainly didn't notice that! I'm so glad you were still around to tell jazzmanchgo that so I could learn it too!

Robin Williams 9:55 PM  

@anaconda c m - Love ya, kid, but you know it's "Na-Nu Na-Nu" , right?

acme 2:12 AM  

um, yes. so much for email humor. I guess no-nu is good-nu. Nu?

SEO Company 1:37 AM  

It's new for me. In my life I am playing any puzzle. First time i am doing that. It's like so hard for me. Can you give me some instruction for this.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

In my dead tree syndicated version 57a read "AM or FM stat"

Anonymous 4:25 PM  

Well, all you easy-medium geniuses out there, the ol' Spacecraft found this one a major slog. Needed tons of Google help, and even then, had writeovers, and the square at 27, which could only be U for USSR, right? But across? NONU?? That can't be right, I thought. There must be some mistake, because that doesn't make a lick of sense. But since I couldn't find any alternative, I shrugged and left it in. NONU. Who NU? Anyway, wanted COVER for "take care of the spread," a sports-book standby and I thought obviously right. But no. And then there's REDMEATS. Duck and emu, surely the very first things YOU think of for red meats, right? I think this guy is trying a little too hard for obscurity. This puzzle fought me all the way, and now I'm 7-down.

Deb 5:05 PM  

@Anonymous 4:25 - Twas a slog for me, too. But I expect that on a Saturday. There was some synchronicity for me in the southeast with IMBUE, because it's a word I have sitting in my Words With Friends (Scrabble on FB, basically) rack and, along with sublime, it's one of my favorite words (I came *this* close to using it as my business name). My rack also includes the letters to spell BAuD (which I tried in place of BAND), and I actually placed POKY on another board I played last night.

But here's an illustration of just how badly I fare on a Saturday puzzle: After reading *every* clue in the @#$!$! puzzle, I had _NS (like acme, I figured it could be oNS as well as INS). TWO letters, folks. TWO! And then I had to resort to Google. Sigh.

Red Valerian 5:41 PM  

Well, I had fun. Finished (as in put letters in every white square) without googling but did not finish, since I, like @I skip M-W and others, ended with NOTaNy at 14D. I can see how TSE looks more likely than TSy (and, of course, it's right, too), but I don't feel too bad. I expected Rex to rate the puzzle simply easy, so I guess things are looking up. (Though I don't see sanfranman with the stats.)

Had sTIllatIt for ATITAGAIN, resulting in the only writeover. My toehold was POHL, and I loved GODNO. Struggled with the "aristos" clue, and, being a vegetarian, don't associate animals (cow-eyed or not) with food. But it was a fair clue. They all were, and I liked the misdirects. Oh, and TOOTIREDTOTHINK.

@Deb--please use all those words in a sentence. That is, all of them in a single sentence :-)

Captcha=cycati... a high-end Italian bicycle

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

I thought "new Mexicans" should have had a question mark.

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