Tasseographer's bit / SAT 12-3-11 / Other Side of Oz autobiographer / East End abode / County NE of El Paso

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Constructor: David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Mission Santa INÉS (55D: California's Mission Santa ___) —
Mission Santa Inés (sometimes spelled Santa Ynez) was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís, who had succeeded Father Fermín Lasuén as President of the California mission chain. The Mission site was chosen as a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purísima Concepción, and was designed to relieve overcrowding at those two missions and to serve the Indians living east of the Coast Range. Despite its name, the Mission is located at 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, California. (wikipedia)
• • •
Well, this was solid, but ... there were no great seed answers and only two high-value Scrabble tiles in the whole thing; which is to say, it wasn't very Quarfooty. When your own name is more visually interesting than every word in your grid, that's not the greatest sign. I breezed through this, helped along by having owned at least one pair of Timberlands in my life—[something] BOOTS was my first guess, and SNOW seemed the most likely lead-in. I also know very well that the UC Irvine athletes are ANTEATERS (63A: UC Irvine athletes). I grew up attending Fresno State basketball games, and UC Irvine was at that point in our conference (the bygone PCAA conference), and so we played the ANTEATERS a lot. UC Santa Cruz is the BANANA SLUGS, by the way. My stepbrother went there. I don't think they have a Div. I basketball team. SNOWBOOTS and ANTEATERS gave me enough purchase to dismantle their respective corners, and everything else was ust very easy to piece together.

I figure that being a constant solver helped me with at least a half dozen words, most notably OTERO (6D: County NE of El Paso) and MUONS (words I would never have encountered were it not for crosswords). Other stuff that came easy through force of habit was ALEROS, DEANE, NCO, SNEE, REUP, ELAL and 'OME (26A: East End abode). Strangely, the one significant hang-up I had in the puzzle was a result of a tiny answer (also the puzzle's weakest answer): -OTE (61D: Taxonomic suffix). I had -ITE. This kept SORE LOSER hidden for an embarrassingly long time. I think I had SO-ELISER and thought "???" But I figured it out. Only other real WTF answer was JUD (50A: "Pore ___ Is Daid" ("Oklahoma!" song)). Had the "J" but that helped just about not at all. JOE? JIM? I figured it would be something close to gibberish, otherwise why go this backwoods idiomatic route in the cluing. The "D" (from RED ROSE40D: Aid when going to court), was probably the last letter I wrote into the grid. Did this one on paper, for a change—a skill I'm going to have to improve on if I want to have any hope of doing better than 31st at next year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which you can now register for. Details here.

  • 17A: Grammy-winning pianist born in the U.S.S.R. (EMANUEL AX) — needed a bunch of crosses, but eventually figured it out. I have a few CDs on which he plays. That's one hell of a last name. 

  • 38A: Saqqara attractions (PYRAMIDS) — now there's a crossword answer for you: SAQQARA (featuring the rarely, i.e. never, seen double-Q)
  • 3D: Song that ends "Protégera nos foyers et nos droits" ("O CANADA") — which, roughly translated, means "protect our foyers and our rights"; it's all about preventing home invasions, that song.
  • 7D: Group that sang the 1962 hit "The Wah Watusi," with "the" (ORLONS) — how did I know this??? I got it off the "O"; I think it must be the Rolling Stone rock & roll trivia magazine that's sitting in our bathroom right now. I remember staring at some question that asked me to guess which of a set of groups *wasn't* a real '60s singing group, and I feel like the ORLONS was on the list.
  • 8D: Tasseographer's bit (TEA LEAF) — thought maybe this had something to do with tessellation, but no.
  • 12D: 2000 terrorist target (USS COLE) — I'm a bit surprised this clue is in here. NYT tends to steer clear of downers like terrorism (and disease, many body parts, etc.). I think it's a perfectly good clue. 
  • 39D: Company sold in 2006 for $1.65 billion—21 months after it was founded (YOUTUBE) — I love their work. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


r.alphbunker 12:33 AM  

Major arexia today. This puzzle beat me up.

Write overs
41D SlurpeE-->SNOCONE
47A peNS-->VANS
62A Eliot-->EBbEt-->EBSEN
51D Hopes-->HASNT
29A SidE-->SAVE
19A guN-->PEN

I counted 18 Googleable clues. That is 26% of the clues.



Thank you for giving us so much to Google!

DRIVEHOME could be:
a. what an O does to a man on base
b. what a designated driver does to a sot
c. what someone making a point does

chefwen 12:36 AM  

I DARE SAY my Uncle Google got a little bit of a workout, PD JAMES, EMANUEL AX and MUONS. I guess that puts me into the DNF category, but it was fun after I was able to nooge my way in. My embarrassingly long time was RED ROSE, couldn't get "Court of Law" out of my brain. Ah well!

Thank you Mr. Quarfoot.

retired_chemist 12:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:39 AM  

Not easy here. A lot wasn't in my wheelhouse, or even close.

Timberlands leads to some kind of BOOTS? Took a while, especially since I had SAD for 4D. EMANUEL AX? Nope.... ORLONS? Nope..... Knew USS COLE, ALEROS, JERI Ryan, JUD (Fry), Silas DEANE, and (somehow) P. D. JAMES and ONEIDA, but even with those it was a slog. Also had PIONS before MUONS.

A fun slog though. Thanks, Mr. Quarfoot.

syndy 1:14 AM  

Did not GOOGLE but did not find this easy,I rated it as a fun challenge. I had the BOOTS right away but guessed WORK-SNOW never occured.I put in MUONS right away and then took it back out when no crosses fell.Santa YNEZ messed me up too. ECOLE came and went a few times as well.EBSEN finally cleared the debris away.It gave me YOUTUBE=PYRAMIDS and I was off again.I like CACAOTREE,YESPLEASE .I DARE SAY the HERONS gave me the most trouble-I started with EGRETS went to CRANES tried GREBES. did not care for SEEST or ATRIA

jae 1:21 AM  

Most of this was on the easy side for me but I got severely hung up in SW. @chefwen - I was in a law court for way too long also. Had GODADDY for a while, ran through Garland's offspring for the OZ book, and just generally floundered until MUONS, SEEST, and PDJAMES emerged.

Hollywood TV update: From yesterday, KAL Penn is currently doing an arc as Robin's boyfriend on How I Met Your Mother and today's JERI Ryan is (sometime constructor) Dana Delany's boss on Body of Proof.

Quick Claude 1:28 AM  

Easy?! Bite me, Parker.

walia 2:02 AM  

Novel Drug Delivery System (NDDS): Development of nanotechnology-based, sustained release and targeted delivery formulations with NDDS to reduce adverse drug reactions and side-effects in the therapeutic areas of oncology, NSAID, neuro science, arthritic disorders, stress and lifestyle related diseases, immuno chemistry, infectious diseases and wound healing.

Urniary tract infection treatment

foodie 2:11 AM  

Rex, you're too good...

Quick & Dirty Index is 9 which puts it at Medium-Challenging.

There were whole stretches that moved apace... but, in some ways, the lack of scrabbliness made it harder. I just kept getting E's, Rs and Ss and getting nowhere with that. The J in JERI and the X in AX were not easy for me to come by.

I always resist putting an answer when the clue is in the same word family as the response: Afraid and FEAR seem too close to have one clue the other?

Off to Hawaii bright and early! But alas, it's a conference, and I will actually work.

I skip M-W 2:27 AM  

Damn, I found its easy, for me, but hoped it was challenging. Had initial trouble with NW; had __ shoes before boots, cacao bean before tree, ashkenasi before emanuel ax, but Ne, and then SE were easy, got YouTube and so muons though could have been pions or kaons w/o the u from YouTube. Almost all elementary particles are unstable, and there are hundreds, starting with neutrons. Jud was another gimme in that section. The cast album from Oklahoma was the first LP I ever owned. Knew Banana Slugs, but not Anteaters. Plenty of herons can be seen by Lake Merrit in Oakland, a haunt of mine.
Considering that google practically appeared in the puzzle, please hold off on googling, folks. Much more fun ot get it by hard work.

atria cacao muons 5:07 AM  

Did this with new roommate while trying to demonstrate how hard Saturdays were but it flew by once he told me ANTEATERS and USS COLE and that O may refer to Oriole.

DRIVE HOME ocurred right away but can you do that? Shouldn't have it had to be DRIVE home the point, or something?
Can i really just have a clue for DRIVE be "___ home"!?

Also surprised to see the self-referential NYTIMES.

I too was looking for more Scrabbly letters, but i felt happyish with TIPJAR and SEXLIVES ( tho we originally had EXWIIVES, neither of us noticing we had two i's in WIIVES'.. So it was lucky that SEX was so similar to EX.

MAybe the Scrabblyness was to be found in clues with words like Saqqara...my proudest moment was piecing that together from -----iDS.

Had sort of fun explaining what a TROLL was, very girlie, thanks!

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I don't do crosswords constantly (just the Friday/Saturday NYTimes). This one kicked my butt--finished less than half. I think it would only be easy if you know more than your fair share of xwordese.

burgundy 8:43 AM  

I, too, was bothered by the crosswordese appropriateness of clue 33-across "Unafraid" and answer "Fearless."

retired_chemist 8:43 AM  

O is Oriole? D'oh! I thought it was the surname of a Japanese first baseman, Sadaharu Oh, in an alternate transliteration. Never played in the US, ac. to Wikipedia, so not an ALER.

David L 8:44 AM  

Easyish except for SW -- if you happened to know ANTEATERS, that opened it up, but I didn't. I had SLUMP for SLEEP, didn't know OTE (and still don't understand it -- example, anyone?), so had to google for the aforementioned athletes.

SethG 8:51 AM  

If you ask that he finds words more visually interesting than Quarfoot, you're maybe setting a bar that DQ and (Rolf Hamburger) will never be able to meet.

None easy, but it was the (actual) SW that really kicked my ass. Having DROVE home didn't help, and I confused my Children's books and was sure it was RUSHDIE. My proudest moment was TIP JAR with no crosses, but cluing that with trickery is almost the new black.

With xxLONS in place, I thought of the NYLONS before the ORLONS. Who knew there were so many synthetic polymer band names?

Glimmerglass 9:10 AM  

Easy -- if ANTEATERS, ORLONS, and OTERO are gimmes. If not, not. What are we east coasters to do? I needed every cross but the final T to get ANTEATERS, and even then I was doubtful. Banana Slugs? Go Team! Slime it to 'em! This puzzle did yield, but with a lot of work. "Medium" for me. The whole SW quadrant was very hard. After I guessed the first three letters of PYRAMIDS, PD JAMES (never heard of this book) gave me several crosses. I'd had "aurae" for "brights spots," which led to "hests" for "wants" (?). RED ROSE, BTW, has a nice Saturday cluing. SNOCONE and SNOWBOOTS in the same puzzle.

joho 9:26 AM  

When I at first SEEST Quarfoot I expected a huge struggle ahead. But, no! This was super easy except for the thorny SW where I spent most of my time. Like @SethG, I had DRoVE which made PYRAMIDS hard to SEEST. I also had HASto before HASNT. MUONS saved me and I vaguely remember that Buddy EBSEN was in "The Wizard of Oz" at one point.

Like @Glimmerglass I thought it was odd having both SNOWBOOTS and SNOCONE in the same puzzle.

Thank you, David Quarfoot, hope to SEEST you again soon!

joho 9:27 AM  

Oh, @Foodie ... safe travels to paradise!

Mike and Dwayne 9:31 AM  

I just happened to do a puzzle from the archives this week (11/15/02) that had "et seqq" as an answer. So QQ is certainly rare but not "never seen". :-)

Golfballman 9:50 AM  

Somebody, anybody some help please. I've been to Radio Shack and other places but I can't find a four A battery. This is the 2nd time in 10 days I've seen this clue but they don't seem to exist. If that is true wtf are they in the puzzles?

jackj 9:51 AM  

I usually don't comment on Rex's write-ups and I won't obsess over today's, other than to note that what gets mentioned, ORLONS, PYRAMIDS, say, vs. what doesn't merit even a nod, SEXLIVES, TIPJAR, say, is fascinating. And, then, having ALEROS and ALER in the same puzzle, (even connecting to each other through the letter A), is totally ignored? Different strokes, I guess.

Nice to see that grande dame of literature, PDJAMES in the puzzle as a reminder that she is still writing her intelligent mysteries, while being within a whisper of 90 years old.

Even being 110% confident that the "Unstable particles" were MUONS, the crossing entry of REDROSE had me rethinking the answer to "Aid when going to court" might be REDRESS, until the light went on and Mr. Quarfoot's cleverness got a tip of the chapeau.

(Did anyone think that 13 down would ever be anything but NYTIMES?)

Thanks to DQ, who gives us a winning themeless, as ever.

mac 9:54 AM  

Not easy for me, the last (and unfinished) area the SW. No muons and Ebsen in my vocabulary, and I wanted astra for atria.

Surprised about the "snow" before the Timberland boots. I also started with cacaobean. Did get pyramids and USS Cole without crosses.

Is "I dare say" really "It seems to me"?

I guess I'm a sore loser....

Raúl 10:00 AM  

South Street was always my fave Orlons song:

Where do all the hippies meet?
South Street, South Street.
Where the dancin' is elite.
South Street, South Street.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

@David L - as in "eukaryote" perhaps? -A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Eukaryotes may more formally be referred to as the taxon Eukarya or Eukaryota. (Wikipedia)

evil doug 10:05 AM  

All my woes originated along the top horizontal border.

Got the "oo" in 1A, and tried to create some kinda "woods" out of it. Eventually grasped the second Timberland option, but had to work out of "boat shoes" into the winter variety.

Stuck with "divorces" for tabloid topics for too long. I was convinced that v would be a good way to finish some unknown russki's name (boris badunov?). Interesting that an 'x' would replace that other unlikely word ending.

And worst of all: I was sure "cow" was "taunt". I rolled through the alphabet on numerous squares for 10D, but never believed the first 't' in taunt needed that test. I ended up convincing myself that "telta" were some kind of blue fish.

Yep, that means that the only mistake I ended up with was, ironically, the damn airline I worked for:


Fly Telta

hazel 10:10 AM  

nice nice puzzle. Had a few early major missteps CABANA for TIPJAR and MYSPACE for YOUTUBE whch kept the east pretty pristine for a while. @mac's CACAOBEAN didn't help either.

Still, bleak to forked in under 45, which is easy-medium for me *for a Saturday*

Going to see YoYoMa in January at the lovely Hodgson Hall. Don't think EMMANUELAX will be with him.

@evil - thats pretty funny! And I WOULD rather fly Telta than Delta!! (now that you're retired of course.)

Lindsay 10:13 AM  

Can't believe it's after 10am and no one has mentioned that USS COLE has a whole lot of letters in common with a body part that probably wouldn't appear in an NYTIMES puzzle. Confusing.

Not too fond of the EBSEN/SEEST corner, but note that yesterday's chemical-that-wasn't is back today with a friend (INES).

Have a good weekend.

Z 10:14 AM  

@Glimmerglass - my thought exactly, a very west coast bias that made this tough for me.

@Golfballman - AAAA batteries do exist, slightly shorter and thinner than AAA batteries. I've never had a hard time finding them, though I haven't needed to look since the boys' toys have become iToys and video games.

preon - an unstable worker particle

retired_chemist 10:17 AM  

@ GBM - I googled. AAAA (Quad A) batteries at least appear to be on the Radio Shack website inter alia. I'm guessing this is a very low volume item that doesn't make it to retail store shelves.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

PDJAMES was my first entry. I had Joe for JUD too long and stayed in the court of law as a result. But finished with appreciation of the good clues and misdirection and fresh answers.

evil doug 10:19 AM  


When they say 'source of some blues', there's no question that Delta Air Lines is right there with THE Delta.

Even with free passes, the thought of riding on Delta makes me so blue that I haven't been on an airplane in three years....

Kurt 10:28 AM  

@evil doug

TELTA What a hoot! I had the same solving experience as you, although I kept trying to get WORKBOOTS into 1A and SEX SCENES into 9D.

Eventually it all got sorted, and while I, too, had TAUNTED/TELTA for quite a while, I finally switched out the T for the D.

I used to be Delta's twenty-third best customer in the world. When I quit traveling I think that I had something like 5 million frequent flyer miles. And I'm sure I never knowingly took a Telta flight. At least not when I was sober.

FearlessK 10:38 AM  

Hung up on misdirections all over the place: e.g. wanted TREELOTS for SNOWBOOTS (i know, wrong number of letters, but the heart wants what it wants...), REDRESS (I too got stuck in a court of law instead of a place of wooing)

oddly CACAOTREE, USSCOLE, ONEIDA, JERI, ALER, PYRAMIDS, MUONS, ALEROS were gimmes, and good thing, or I would have gotten NOwhere with this puzzle

googled way too much even for a Saturday: PDJAMES, ANTEATERS, EMANUELAX, TEALEAF

No surprise, loved 33A: FEARLESS

hazel 10:39 AM  

@evil - double the hoot!

@kurt - good grief! 23 rd best customer in the world! I can't begin to imagine how much time you've spent in the Crown Room!

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

My downfall in this one was stubbornly insisting on "SEATTLE" at 12D (2000 terrorist target), off the "LE" at the end; as in, the Millennium plot where they stopped those guys at the Canadian border. Technically I guess that was a 1999 plot.

JC66 10:56 AM  

@Glimmerglass said it all. Not easy here (which ain't a bad thing).

Barry Gordy 10:58 AM  

Man, am I happy to finally see The ORLONS get some cred in a puzzle. They were another black R&B group whose work was covered, some would say confiscated, to much greater commercial, if lesser artistic success, by white combos, in this case The Pale Polyesters.

Now if they could just get their royalties.

fikink 11:05 AM  

Crazy Saturday morning solving, with some things like SEXLIVES jumping out at me as if I could see the palimpsest beneath. EERIE! But from these "revelations" I managed to open up all four quadrants and finish. The X immediately gave me EMMANUEALAX, while divining DOER gave me the D after the P for PDJAMES and opened up the SW.

Like ACME, I was surprised at the self-referential NYTIMES, @jackj. Dumb Debbie!

I'm still not used to HASNT without the apostrophe.

r.alphbunker 11:08 AM  

A gooclue is a clue that can be googled and its answer is found on a site other than someone's crossword blog. A clue that names a book and wants the author is a gooclue. "O, for example" is not a gooclue.

Consider the following food analogy (with apologies to foodie) A puzzle with too many gooclues is like a pizza with too many anchovies!

foodie 11:09 AM  

You guys are freaking me out... I'm sending this from a DELTA/tELTA airline seat, using their in flight wireless (I have commented on this blog from planes, trains and automobiles). I hope it will not be a source of the blues today...

@Joho, thank you! I hope to sneak in some fun, somehow...

@ Acme, interesting sounding roommate! And Atria Cacao Muons might be your best name yet!

Anoa Bob 11:09 AM  

The University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs even have a mascot:

@Rex's write-up: "NYT tends to steer clear of downers like terrorism (and disease, many body parts, etc.)." Wasn't there a recent puzzle with a center 15-across entry referring to the 1978 mass suicide/homicide in Jonestown, Guyana? Something about Kool-Aid drinkers?

Norm 11:26 AM  

Most of the contractors I know have trucks rather than vans (although plumbers and electricians tend toward the latter), and, being a Californian, I think of Timberlands as boat shoes rather than snow boots, but it was an okay puzzle all in all. Not in my easy category, even by Saturday standards, but not all that difficult. Almost two different puzzles: the right half was a snap, but the left put up a bit of a fight.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Of course, Rex, we all know that the pic of Judd Nelson is not appropriate since he has two Ds in his name. Judd is from Maine and his father is a prominent lawyer there and one of the nicest people on the planet with a home on the coast that looks like state park property.

fruitypants 11:39 AM  

Blurgh, entire western section, blurgh.

Had SETLIVES, even though Emanuel At clearly made no sense and I've met Emanuel Ax- how could I not see this?!?

I also had a small piece of dirt on my computer screen that looked like an apostrophe in the clue "Biblical spots" which caused me to read it as "Biblical's pots" (whatever that means). All in all a pretty fun puzzle that made me realize I am not firing on all cylinders today...

Fan of the O's 11:40 AM  

@r.alphbunker - "The O's" is a well known (in some circles) nickname for the Baltimore Orioles. One Oriole, an O, is then known as an ALER.

Some would argue that a clue's susceptibility to Googling, i.e. looking up facts, isn't the hallmark of a good clue but of a bad one, at least late in the week.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Good idea on saqqara, combine it with muu-muu, vacuum, etc.!

evil doug 12:07 PM  

Funniest comment of the day:

"Also surprised to see the self-referential NYTIMES."

Yeah, imagine that, ACME! The use of self-referential names in the puzzle, ACME! Never seen that before, ACME! Hee, hee, ACME! You gotta be kidding, ACME! You're a real card, ACME!


Two Ponies 12:17 PM  

Oh so close but just could not seest seest. Part of the problem was "has no" instead of "hasnt". Darn.
I did enjoy the solve. Thanks DQ.

Wood 12:21 PM  

Hi everyone -- I'm new here. Recently became a daily NYT solver since I have an iPad with a nice xword app. Only recently started to be able to do Saturdays without help... I guess I finally absorbed enough crosswordese. Yes, this took me an hour, but I did it without Google!!

Never heard of a tasseographer, but guessed TEA LEAF early on because I knew that "tasse" means teacup in German. Teacup writer? Tea leaf reader! I suspected shoes right away on 1A, but SNOW BOOTS took a while.

SW and NE were the hardest. I knew PDJAMES and YOUTUBE right off the bat; knew JUD but thought it had two D's (I was in "Oklahoma!" in 9th grade.) RED ROSE came much later even with a number of crosses (thought if it wasn't a court of law, maybe it was basketball or tennis??). Had EBBET before EBSEN... I knew it was one of those guys... LAHR... who else???

USS COLE and TASTERS came early, but NE gave me a tough time because I didn't believe AAAA. TACIT finally broke it open. Never heard of ANTEATERS, but it filled itself in after a while.

Mainly, yay, I finished!! I enjoy the blog and everyone's comments.

Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

ANTEATERS and BANANA SLUGS are two of the great sports nicknames of all time. Right up there with the THUNDERING HERD of Marshall U. and , in minor league baseball, the Savannah SAND GNATS.

Challenging puzzle for me, but I enjoyed the challenge.

Rob C 12:39 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Interesting point about kool-aid drinkers. It did appear in an Oct. puzzle clued as "unquestioning adherents". I suppose it's an example of a word which entered the language with a very negative connotation, but has evolved into a more generic term. I wonder how many people now say kool-aid drinker without any thought or knowledge as to its origin? Especially those under 40 or so yrs old.

archaeoprof 12:42 PM  

Not easy for me either, but kept at it and it eventually fell.

When she was little, my daughter saw an ad for a concert by EMANUEL AX and Yo-yo Ma, and mispronounced it, "Ax yo mama."

r.alphbunker 12:43 PM  

@Fan of the O's
"Some would argue that a clue's susceptibility to Googling, i.e. looking up facts, isn't the hallmark of a good clue but of a bad one"

That was the point I was trying to make. I don't like anchovies. I bet if the tagging of clues were crowdsourced you would find that somebody like Patrick Berry has never created a puzzle that is 25% gooclued.

@evil doug
"Fly Telta" should become part of the argot of Rexville. For instance, I flew Telta on 39D. I am a computer geek. Why shouldn't YO give me YOUTUBE?

Pete 12:54 PM  

@Evil Doug - You remember when you said DK's demi-flirting with Acme was getting tired and off-putting? You do? Well, you may want to consider your constant picking on Andrea for having put ACME in a puzzle along those same lines. At least DK's comments were good-spiritied.

davko 1:10 PM  

I wouldn't exactly call this one easy but very satisfying, once solved. Some inventive cluing here -- especially "Aid when going to court" for ROSE (40D) and "One of a familiar septet" for EUROPE (42A). I must have tried almost all of the Seven Dwarfs before catching on to that one.

Compliments on the inclusion of EMANUEL AX (7A), a fresh entry combination paying homage to a great virtuoso and bearing a colorful letter combination.

For all the times I've driven through the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara, it came as a revelation to learn that the mission with that namesake had a variable spelling -- one that I've never seen.

A mild objection concerns 43D: is OPEN SEA really a locale?

mitchs 1:11 PM  

Not easy for me, at least in the NE. Wanted LATIMES, foolishly.

@Pete: If Evil and Andrea have established anything on this blog, it's that they both have great sense of humor.

Tita 1:16 PM  

How META of the NYTIMES today...

@Rex - the clue for JUD is in fact the title of the song - it's not just cluing...

Knew SAQQARA from business dealings with a sw startup by that name founded by 2 Egyptians.

Natick for me with St. James and Ebsen - had totally forgotten about the 1st Tin Man episode - don't think if Buddy Ebsen as an author.

ANTEATERS????? Seriously?

Fave clue - Tasseographer's bit...
@Wood - it's also "cup" in French..., which made TEALEAF pop out as soon as I got _EAF.

This puzzle was very challenging for me, but I slogged through, with 2 venue changes, and was vrey happy to need only one gooclue...for EBSEN!

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

@#31: "Easy?!?!?!" Nah. You Cannot be serious. This thing put up more fight than the budgie last time we tried to give it a bath. You know you only encourage the Shortzmeister to make 'em harder, don't yah? Argggh. Snort.

first thing M&A got: ORLONS
last thing M&A got: That hellhole corner with JUD, INES, and EBSEN (and that shamefully elusive REDROSE clue) dancin' around in it.

P.S. Some maskless Anonymous dude from yesterday evidently asked me to explain some comment I made back in October. Sure: it was me, bein' goofy. If that don't get it, it probably weren't worth understandin', anyhoo.

Karen M. 2:03 PM  

@Tita: You stole my "meta" comment. How self-referential of me to mention it (huh?)

Liked the puzzle. I finished it, which is unusual for a Saturday. So I agree with Rex - on the Easy side.

Happy rainy Saturday!

Shamik 2:14 PM  

@ Wood: Welcome to the conversation!

Turned out to be an easy-medium Saturday at 16:02. Couldn't remember if JUD was JEB or JOD or JED or whatever. Love seeing PDJAMES in the puzzle....one of the best mystery writers of all time.

But I felt especially blessed to have heard an interview with Todd Rundgren on NPR this week and he mentioned the Orlons and they played
"The Wah Watusi!" Made that one a gimme!

Lewis 2:16 PM  

@wood -- welcome to Rexville, a stimulating group from all over in every sense...

My hardest part was different from everyone else's, it was the NE. Had to work very hard there.

I did Google about three answers. Our wheelhouses are all so different. JUD stymied Rex, it was the easiest answer for me.

OldCarFudd 2:19 PM  

I ended up with exactly the same error as twopoies, for the same reason.

JUD and O CANADA were gimmes. When I spent two years in Canada as a child I learned O Canada in both English and French. I can still sing the French version from memory, but not the English version - and I'm an anglophone! Go figure. And you can't get to the English by translating the French, because the messages of the two versions are totally different.

RED ROSE - great cluing!

Cheerio 2:21 PM  

Why are otero and alero so common in x-words? Is it the alternating vowel / consonant patterns, the letters in them, or also something more?

Masked and Anonymous Comes Clean 2:24 PM  

Oh, OK... @maskless curious anonymous dude who asked about my goofy October comment: see end of yesterday's comments.

Noam D. Elkies 2:37 PM  

The ET_SEQQ that Mike & Dwayne ran across turns out to be one of only two QQ's in xwordinfo's recollection (and appropriately in a BEQ puzzle). The other is a theme entry QQQQ = cues. I remember a Sunday puzzle years ago whose theme was "every letter doubled", and indeed the grid included REDD_FOXX, KHAYYAM, etc., but I don't remember what the QQ word, and it evidently predates the xwordinfo database.

Nice to see 17A:EMANUEL_AX's debut (he hasn't even been used to clue EMANUEL in its 13 prior appearances here); thanx, Rex, for the Ma-Ax clip.

As for 3D:O_CANADA, or rather Ô_CANADA which is what is clued — the French version is remarkably different form the English text, where one would never find lines as militant and sectarian as "As is thy arm ready to wield the sword, / So also is it ready to carry the cross" [sic].

On to Sunday,

Masked and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 2:56 PM  

@All solvers of yesterday's puz: "Mogambo" (1-D) is on Turner Classic Movies in a few minutes.

Thought of you wonderful folks immediately. (#31 included.) Hope it tops "Courage of Lassie" (on now).

jberg 3:47 PM  

I really struggled with this one, because I had openERS crossed with leton at 13D/21A, confirming each other and making me think I must be wrong about the year of the attack on the USS COLE. And even if I had caught on that an O was an Oriole, I would have thought ALER meant that they, like some Red Sox, sat around the clubhouse drinking beer during games.

I got ANTEATERS from the crosses, but had to look up saqqara and tasseography. Also finished with an error, HAS No/SEESo - the latter didn't make sense, but I just gave up at that point.

Do ANTEATER fans wiggle their tongues at the other side? Chant "Suck them up, anteaters?" - the name has such potential! (I guess "lick 'em" is more appropriate.")

The clue for 13D, "Popular news site . . ." should have added "before the paywall."

jackj 3:58 PM  

Mel Ott@12:23-

Speaking of great sport nicknames, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) nickname for their Ice Hockey team is the "Nads" which, of course means their fans lustily cheer "Go Nads!" at their games.

mac 4:15 PM  

@davko: I tried out the seven seas...

@Wood: welcome. You seem to have picked up the lingo already!

Sparky 4:32 PM  

@M&A. You have made my day. I'm laughing picturing you wrasslin' that budgie.

And now for something completely different. Crazy week where everything expected turned out as not expected. Which I should have expected. By the time I got to the blog everything had been said so I would slink away.

Oh, the puzzle. Finished the right half, very little on the left. Had JeD, Allen (Peter) so didn't get PDJAMES. Like @MAC CACAObean and Timberlands are worn all year around here. Not SNOWBOOTs. Didn't know JERI Ryan in Boston Public. I remember her being 7 of 9. Not many people can wear a leotard like that.

Have a good trip @foodie. Welcome @Wood. On to Sunday.

fergus 4:39 PM  

SW corner was toughest, even though I guessed that court was going to be a verb. I still don't see any uniformity on when a ? should be part of the Clue.

A couple of weeks ago spent a lovely stromy day at Mission San Juan Bautista, where they had a series of panels laid out describing the history of each of the Missions. So I got stuck with a Y and and Z.

But not AAAAA 4:45 PM  


The AAAA battery (usually read as quadruple-A) is 42.5 mm long and 8.3 mm in diameter. The alkaline cell weighs around 6.5 g and producing 1.5 V. This battery is also classified as LR8D425 (IEC) [1] and 25A (ANSI/NEDA).

Oddly enough, if you google AAAA Batteries, Radio Shack is the first return.

Your problem may be in believing Radio Shaft's (sic) salesme ... er ... associates.


fergus 4:45 PM  

Did Friday's earlier at the same sitting on my front porch, which is now sunny due to the wild wind blowing off the leaves from my persitent gingko tree. Nothing brilliant in either puzzle, yet adequate engagement with my favored mental escape mechanism.

fergus 5:02 PM  

Also, it was interesting to see Evil Doug ruminate rather than pontificate. Not that I was doubting his sympathetic nature ... .

Sort of doubting whether there are any ANTEATERS around the UC Irvine campus. We have plenty of Banana Slugs here in Santa Cruz, yet I don't begrudge -- I never saw a golden bear at Berkeley, except some gaudy apparition in Lower Sproul.

meta4 5:11 PM  

I had my Timberlands on this morning, hiking with the dog –best hiking boots I’ve owned. I fell into most of the traps that previous posters mentioned, and ended up not moving from redress in the court to the REDROSE that would have given me the prize in the SW. I’m a west coaster, but too far north to benefit from the gimmes. I’m also ashamed to say as a Canadian, that I did not recognize the line from O Canada on the first go-round.

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

OTERO has become routine crosswordese, but as clued in this puzzle, it is of some interest that the clue "County NE of El Paso" is referring to Otero county in New Mexico, which is entirely to the West of Texas, except for the little prong of TX that is El Paso's home.

chefwen 6:31 PM  

@foodie - For a fun time check out the Side Street Inn on Kapahulu Avenue. It's called "the gathering" spot for a lot of the local chefs. Husband and I spent a week there one night. Food is good too.

@archaeoprof - Almost sprayed my screen with Lipton diet green tea when I read Ax yo mama.

JenCT 6:34 PM  

@archeoprof: LOL "Ax yo mama"

Took almost a whole week off from doing puzzles; just too busy.

Found this one hard; YOUTUBE took an embarassingly long time to get.

Same for PINCERS; I was thinking PINcushion, PINcase, PINwhat???

On to Sunday.

michael 7:22 PM  

This was not easy for me. Had to google southwest.

An average Saturday, perhaps a bit on the hard side.

ksquare 8:41 PM  

@joho 9:26 and all others who thought they saw Buddy Ebsen in The Wizard of Oz. Ebsen was originally cast to play the Tin Woodman in the movie but was found to be allergic to the metallic makeup. He was replaced by Jack Haley, along with Bert Lahr as the Lion and Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow. I've never seen his book.


Dirigonzo 9:26 PM  

Solved this (well, almost) while wearing my Timberland boatshOes and that was good enough to give me the ORLONS and I was off and running. Until I hit the SW corner where it all came to a screeching halt because I had SEEth for the Biblical spot and never let it go. Still, I'm glad when I can *almost* finish a Saturday puz, even an "easy" one.

Tita 12:34 AM  

@Karen - I was pretty surprised no one had beaten me to the META punch...

@Noam - very interesting re: Ô_CANADA! I need to research the two versions now. I wonder if other multiple-official-language countries like Switzerland and Belgium have similar different translations...

@r.alph - Malapop there with PEN(s)...

@Masked...I noticed MOGAMBO too...
Perhaps we need to coin a word for the happy coincidence of an obscure answer just appearing out of thin air, saving one from having to cheat by googling...
"Shamik hapchanced to hear about the ORLONS on NPR today."

acme 2:19 AM  

There already IS a word...

AAAAA: Alcohol Anonymous for Drunk Drivers?

Tayvl 8:56 AM  

If you want to see what a AAAA battery looks like, break open a nine-volt battery. There are six AAAAs inside...

Tita 9:18 AM  

@acme - but it doesn't convey that small moment of elation combined with that feeling of victory... ;)

@Tayvl...really? I'd go do so, but 9-volts are too expensive!!

Larry I in L.A. 3:21 PM  

Easy? Easy?! EASY?!?! As a Left Coast paper solver, I usually just lurk here because I'm several hours behind the crowd, but I was flabbergasted when I saw Rex's difficulty rating. Appears that I'm a long way from ready to enter the ACPT...

If anybody is still reading the 12/3 comments, you may notice that I posted this on SUNDAY. That's right, I had to sleep on this one before finishing, after becoming thoroughly bogged down in the due north. Had SNOW-, CACAO-, EMAN- and then...nothing.

I hate Googling, especially for an answer. (On very rare occasions, I will Google to confirm an answer so I can move on with confidence.) After staring at those 20-odd empty squares for close to an hour, however, I broke down and looked up "tasseography", figuring it was less a gimme than the proper names required to solve 17A, 24A, 6D and 7D. Sadly, with FEARLESS at the bottom, 8D was obviously TEALEAF, so I felt like a cheater.

That answer got me to change SidE to SAVE, but I was still nearly Naticked by completing 7D as ORiONS. When EMANU-IAX demanded EL instead of -I, I was mercifully finished.

As a sports/entertainment fan, ANTEATERS and JERI were my first fills, but I must admit that I've never been more bamboozled by a sports-related clue than I was by "O, e.g." Also, tried days of the week and Snow White's dwarfs (dwarves?) for 42A, but figured I was on the wrong track trying to make 45D begin with Y.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

"easy" puzzle kicked my AX.

Conquered the East with relative ease but the West was not won.

CACAObean left me with _ E _ _ _ S for the Wah Watusi group. I entered DELFIS and couldn't get beyond that. Nice to know that even if I had known who EMANUEL AX was, that L wasn't going to put me on course.

In SW I had PYRAMIDS, DOER, YOUTUBE and HASto. And a bunch of blank squares. Couldn't see SEEST even though I considered SEETH for a good long time. Thought about RACQUET for court help; nice third level clue there (a wed wose. How womantic.)

I don't raise the white flag often but it was flying high today. I think @Quick Claude put it best.

On positive note, I don't think I'll ever get tripped up by ECOLE again, as this was its third occurrence this week for me (including back to back days in the LA times puzzle).

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

I drink Red Rose Tea so liked the tea leaves at the top and red rose at the bottom.

Red Valerian 2:25 PM  

Well, I'm all pleased with myself for getting it all with no googling, no nuthin.' This is rare enough for a Saturday to make me smile.

Started with EASYA. Got EMANUELAX off the X, which also made me smile. Took ages to get SEEST as I initially had SEEzT. Like others, wasn't fussed on FEARLESS being the answer for "unafraid." Know JERI Ryan only because of crosswords.

At first, I thought 42A ("one of a familiar septet") would be a day of the week. Briefly considered sUnday, but wisely waited for crosses.

Loved the clue for ELAL. And the Telta nonsense above.

@Anonymous 2:22pm--thanks for pointing that out!

Red Valerian 2:27 PM  

Oops. Make that @Anonymous 2:18pm.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

Spacecraft with a big headache here. Oh, I finished all right, with a Googleplex of Googles. Well, not that many; that's more than the number of atoms in the universe. But it felt like a lot. It didn't help that I had POOR--instead of SORELOSER, and FAN, which certainly speaks "cooler" to me louder than PEN does. I tell ya, these late-week clues are a TROLL to figure out! Take "jail," then make two totally unrelated slangwords for it, then clue one with the other. Can you get more mean-spiritedly obtuse than that? Sure! How about "Timberlands" as a forgodsake BRAND NAME? "Biblical spot" for SEEST? Uh-oh, I feel one coming on. A loud one...

C'MON, MAN!!!!

Oh wait, the best (worst) for last, doubly so as it crosses ALEROS: ALER! And clued, no less, as "O, e.g.!" I thought we were done with those. I thought all constructors were forever banned from NLER/ALER,on pain of flogging and caning. But to clue it with a single letter yet (yeah, I get it, "Orioles" are often referred to as O's--but REALLY!) is way beyond what is already beyond the pale.
Looked at the completed grid and saw TOAT at 22a. "Just so." Headscratch. Oh, oh, it's not "TO AT," it's "TO A T(ee)." Yuck! And AAAA: quadruple yuck! All this is proof once again that these end-week people DO NOT WANT their puzzles to be solved. Then I wonder why they publish them?

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