1781 Mozart premiere / SAT 3-31-12 / Knighted diamond magnate Oppenheimer / Hugo-winning 1994 memoir / Cityhopper carrier / Demographic lauded in 1965 song / Beano alternative / Temple of Vesta locale

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: "IDOMENEO" (2D: 1781 Mozart premiere) —
Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante (Italian for Idomeneo,[1] King of Crete, or, Ilia and Idamante; usually referred to simply as Idomeneo, K. 366) is an Italian language opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. Mozart and Varesco were commissioned in 1780 by Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria for a court carnival. He probably chose the subject, though it might have been Mozart. (wikipedia)
• • •

Best themeless I've done in a long time. Telling (I think) that it's a 72-worder (the maximum). Crisp and entertaining, with almost no pips or seeds or stones or anything to make you gag or crack a crown. Interlocking 15s are beautiful. Longer answers in the corners do their jobs, solidly, handsomely. Words are words, names are names. And all the mediocre fill is short and somewhat obscured among the array of black squares toward the center of the grid. My favorite part is probably the symmetrical musical face-off right in the middle of the grid: MONKEES vs. THE CARS! (Victory goes to THE CARS by TKO, in case you're wondering). My second favorite part of the grid was "I, ASIMOV," mainly because I guessed (and I mean Guessed) it off just the "I" in TIME (20A: It's often shown with hands). Woo hoo! Worst parts (for me, personally, as a solver) were "IDOMENEO" (not a title I know; really want it to be "I, DOMENEO") and ERNEST Oppenheimer (not up on my diamond magnates, I guess) (13D: Knighted diamond magnate Oppenheimer). But those are probably names I should know, esp. "IDOMENEO"; thus the problem is with my brain, not the puzzle. Best clue: 43A: It's often in the spotlight (XENON).

  • 16A: Singer with a black V-shaped collar (MEADOWLARK) — First thought, for reasons I don't understand at all: BOBBY VALLI (who, it turns out, is the brother of Frankie)
  • 17A: Food product for the eco-conscious (DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA) — I want to call this clue "killer," but that seems inappropriate. Fantastic, contemporary, in-the-language phrase. THAT is what you should build themeless grids around.
  • 19A: "That man" in "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" (EMILE) — didn't know this, but still got it easily from crosses. My main question: a. is that really how you spell "OUTA"? and b. why have I not seen that in puzzles? (not that I want to)
  • 33A: Seize, old-style (REAVE) — usually not that excited by "old-style" answers, but I like this one because it intersects another "old-style" answer, reminding us of that old adage: "Never let 'em REAVE your SNEE" (23D: Old dagger).
  • 53A: Ray with lines (LIOTTA) — saw right through this, got it off the "L." This "...with lines"-type clue is almost always an actor. 
  • 60A: Features of some Amerindian embroidery (PORCUPINE QUILLS) — got this off the "QUILLS," which, when I put it that way, is not that impressive-sounding an accomplishment. Beautiful answer.
  • 66A: Brand name used by Jersey Standard (ESSO) — off the "E," confirmed only by the fact that the next two crosses were plurals. 
  • 46A: Language that gave us "catamaran" (TAMIL) — first thought: FARSI.
  • 3D: Demographic lauded in a 1965 song ("CALIFORNIA GIRLS") — another wonderful, genuinely funny clue. "Demographic" = aptly inapt. 

  • 8D: Wheels from the Netherlands (EDAMS) — "What are some Dutch cars?" he wondered, stupidly.
  • 29D: Beano alternative (GAS-X) — that's a nice little four-letter answer. Surprised I don't see it more often.
  • 37D: Cityhopper carrier (KLM) — dang, the Dutch are all over this thing, what with their cheeses and their planes and their porcupines and ...  
  • 46D: Temple of Vesta locale (TIVOLI) — another one I didn't know. Good thing about all the stuff I didn't know was that it was surrounded by stuff I did. Crosswords!    
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


The Bard 7:46 AM  

Hamlet, Act III, scene I

LORD POLONIUS: Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves.


Read on this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,--
'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.

All's Well That Ends Well > Act IV, scene V

LAFEU: Whether dost thou profess thyself, a knave or a fool?

Clown: A fool, sir, at a woman's service, and a knave at a man's.

LAFEU: Your distinction?

Clown: I would cozen the man of his wife and do his service.

LAFEU: So you were a knave at his service, indeed.

Clown: And I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.

LAFEU: I will subscribe for thee, thou art both knave and fool.

Clown: At your service.

King Henry VI, part II > Act V, scene I

KING HENRY VI: Canst thou dispense with heaven for such an oath?

SALISBURY: It is great sin to swear unto a sin,
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath.
Who can be bound by any solemn vow
To do a murderous deed, to rob a man,
To force a spotless virgin's chastity,
To reave the orphan of his patrimony,
To wring the widow from her custom'd right,
And have no other reason for this wrong
But that he was bound by a solemn oath?

QUEEN MARGARET: A subtle traitor needs no sophister.

Z 8:02 AM  

@The Bard - such filth, "I would give his wife my bauble to do her service." Naughty, naughty, and I haven't finished my breakfast, yet.

I didn't remember COZEN is a word, and ZINfandel is not a wine I buy, so I finished with an error. I tried COvEN/vIN, having no idea how COvEN fit the clue. Turns out it doesn't.

A very musical puzzle with the MONKEES and THE CARS and MEADOWLARKs singing Mozart while ILLUMINATED in the XENON spotlights. THE CARS clue was especially easy for me since "My Best Friends Girl" was playing in my car yesterday.

My only real hang up (aside from my wrong letter) was that REt and FEEd kept me from seeing SWEARS TO. Finally decided to try all the S- possibilities and finished.

A fine Saturday solve, although not as chewy as we usually see.

clarkke8 8:06 AM  

25D killed me. I'd never seen the word COZEN before, and I wanted 35A to be vIN. COvEN didn't make any sense for "trick", but I refused to give up on vIN for the longest time.

Glimmerglass 8:09 AM  

Who are you, and what have you done with Rex Parker?

Z 8:13 AM  

Since I finished sooner than usual I decided to catch up on the later posts from yesterday. What do I find?
A @&$#&*@&*#^@*&^ ROBOT POSTED AT 3:50 a.m.

It's good to know that the new captchas are working.

evil doug 8:13 AM  

Michael is on the money. Everything I've griped about the last couple days is corrected here: Vivid words with texture and imagery; the opportunity to learn something (mica, Tamil, Tivoli, porcupine quills) instead of simply letting muscle memory write in old and tired commoners; and some clever twists and turns with balls/feet and bank statement/no fees. We see Esso a lot; now we know its source. I can hum 'Gonna Wash That Man', but never knew it was Emile.

Not a big fan of the Monkees nor The Cars, but the Beach Boys? Oh, yes. I guess they've managed to make up---they're reuniting for a 50th anniversary tour.

Ended an alphabet run early: Went with dumped in instead of lumped in. Tamid sounded as good as Tamil. No idea where that language originated. Wikipedia says "Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent"---at that point my hair started hurting, so I still don't really know, and now I don't care either. With Catamaran I wanted something Hawaiian....

Lovely start to my day.


Doris 8:25 AM  

The Bard omitted the usage of COZEN that came to my mind first. As usual, Shakespeare is an education in himself and is particularly helpful for crosswords, something he may not have been aware of at the time:

HAMLET, Act III, scene iv

...What devil was ’t
That thus hath COZENED you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush?

Also like HOODMAN-BLIND, though it's probably not really Xword material.

Cathelou 8:56 AM  

When I saw the four-letter word at 29D (Beano alternative) I thought of the alternative to *taking* Beano. Snickered like an eleven-year-old at the prospect of that particular f-word slipping in before returning to middle-age reason & moving on.

Lovely Saturday.

jberg 8:58 AM  

Great puzzle, though more medium than easy for me. I had cab before AIN, sePt before TYPE, and wanted "saLutE" for the toast - though that last wasn't wasted, as the U somehow gave me PORCUPINE QUILLS, even though it was in the wrong place. Also REt before REW.

Rex is right - all the 15s are terrific answers, and the center acrosses - not just music, but lost girls. How can you beat that.

@Evil - thought you'd remember the TAMIL tigers, guerrilla group that devastated Sri Lanka for 15-20 years.

My main challenge was GAS-X, because here in Massachusetts "Beano" was long what churches called their weekly Bingo games (somehow that made them legal), before the state lottery wiped them out. So I was looking for another simple gambling game.

Nice to have ESSO back, he's been away for a few days.

Tita 9:14 AM  

How can I NOT love a Saturday that I finished before bed, & that Rex rated more than Really Easy?
As Rex said, great clues...and redirects were elegant/funny.

My favorite? 64A...In Portugal, feet have breasts too...The breast of your foot is what anglophones unimaginatively call the instep.

@Doris - Hoodman-blind is akin to hoodwink, which was in the puzzle recently, wink having originally meant both eyes closed tightly, or blind...

BTW - have to mention how much I loved 1A yesterday - 'Pet subject - ADOPTION'...hooray for rescue pets!

jackj 9:15 AM  

When we get a puzzle as hairy as this Scott Atkinson creation it means I have to play “small-ball” so, I fill in everything that seems like a good fit, (which usually isn’t much), then I circle the grid, putting in an “s” say, where there is thought to be a plural or an “ER” or “EST”, etc., which gives a little bit more to work with in trying to complete a monster like this.

AMI, LENT, EDAMS, NGO, SNEE, QED, ESSO were some of the first “good fit” entries, along with a smattering of the “s”, “er” and “est” possibilities and then, other bits came through slowly but sufficient to draw out the two vertical 15’s, CALIFORNIAGIRLS and, my favorite in the puzzle, CAUTIONARY TALES.

It was still arduous slow going, (everyone knows Sir ERNEST Oppenheimer, right?) but thank goodness for crosses and being able to finally forget about ID’ing a Johnny Cash wannabe as the black collared singer. (Too bad Scott didn’t clue old Harlem Globetrotter, MEADOWLARK Lemon).

Finally wrapped it up by erasing one of my expected “plurals” at the end of 64 across and accepted that “They have balls” meant FEET and FEES wasn’t really an Atkinsonian placeholder for lawyers, (especially since it had already been used in 9 down).

This was a puzzle that will satisfy everyone who thinks a Saturday is deficient if it doesn’t draw blood.

Thanks, Scott!

Dan 9:17 AM  

I think this is the second time I've gotten stuck for a while by writing "cabLE" instead of "EMILE"... Gotta get my South Pacific male leads straight...

Loren Muse Smith 9:25 AM  

I’m stunned that Rex called this an “easy medium,” and that everyone else found it so easy. À mon AVIS, it was the hardest Saturday I’ve done in a while.

So many false starts and erasures, I can’t even begin. Had “cab” first for KLM and then for ZIN. “Inuit” for TAMIL, “oldie” for RELIC. . .One big fat DNF that I blame on myself because it's a terrific puzzle.

I wanted le nez on a "visage," not on a TETE.

Loved the cluing for ILL, TAW, and FEET.

@ Cathelou -Yep – my inner 14 year old from a couple of days ago briefly entertained that snicker-inducing four letter “f” word instead of GASX. When we were little, if Mom caught us using it, we had to stand up and say it in front of everyone 15 times. (@Dad – am I remembering that right?) The part of me that regularly buys things online at a site called so immature.com will cheer the day that word appears in a NYT puzzle.

burgundy 9:26 AM  

Beach Boys vs. Cars = Victory to the Beach Boys by a TKO (if you're wondering)...

seeing them with Brian Wilson in Chicago in May

MountainManZach 9:26 AM  

I was stymied for a while when I plunked in cORmoraNtQUILLS. Seemed reasonable, albeit unwieldy.

Tobias Duncan 9:29 AM  

Living a mile or so from a reservation I can tell you that no one ever calls themselves an Amerindian(wow that made it past spellcheck!).

I will take The Monkeys over THECARS any day of the week.I wrote a tribute song a few years ago with some friends called "Everybody's Mother Loves Neil Diamond" that included the line"hey hey , he even wrote for the Monkeys"

This MEADOWLARK seems to be a huge nobody. Can anyone vouch for him? I am assuming its Don Julian who does not even have a photo on his scanty wikipedia page.

Thanks for all the support/advice/sympathy/ and links both funny and sappy( I am a sucker for those) yesterday.
I still have a Weimaraner to help assuage the pain.He has no idea why is getting so much attention.

evil doug 9:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
orangeblossomspecial 9:35 AM  

Couldn't get the NE corner because I inserted granolA early and couldn't get rid of it.

There's another song embedded in the puzzle. Mel Blanc recorded "I taut I TAW a puddy tat" (48A) in the 1940s.

evil doug 9:41 AM  

If you love us so much, how come you can't spell our name?

The Monkees (except Davy Jones)

Tobias Duncan 9:48 AM  

Rex totally got me with that Valli pic.I actually believed there was a little known crooner called the MEADOWLARK.I am going back to bed.
I should admit that I did a bit of drinking last night with the guys...

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

A little learning is a dangerous thing . . . or at least, a little almost learning . . . Working off the "I" from MICA, I confidently threw in IDEOMENO at 2 D. Took a while to get to IDOMENEO.

Confining my write-overs to a single column, below that, working off the OLI, I tried to put TRIPOLI at 46 D, until I ran out of space and had to change to TIVOLI (which I have visited once, but didn't remember the Temple of Vesta.)

JayWalker 9:58 AM  

Am I the only one who wonders where Mr. Atkinson got "I, Asimov" as a 1994 Hugo winner? My Google definition shows 1995 as the year this memoir won the award. I had to look this one up because so much of this puzzle - well - puzzled me. "Easy-Medium"??? Not by count!!

Tita 10:02 AM  

Also think "I Asimov" is about as great a title as is "Lou's on First".

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Got GIRLS first, and after checking the "demographic" clue, first thought of FAT BOTTOM.

Right idea, wrong decade.

Jim 10:25 AM  

Everything boxed in by 23 and 25 down and above MONKEES and THECARS went through so many permutations, it took half my time easily.

Ended up boiling the east-side problem down to being willing to accept COZEN, which I did...on the western half of this box, I was much less fortunate.

Oh, right, and I had tENOr rather than XENON and was completely willing to accept it.

REFER_ troubled me for so long, and even after I cheated to get it, it still didn't make sense. I couldn't read it as anything but an imperative, as in "Hands Off!" even though I know it wasn't clued that way. Damn my feeble brain!

And NGO / REAVE / GASX / SNEE were not going to come together on their own if the rest wasn't absolutely solid.

Too bad. Good puzzle, good fun.

Comes Up A Lot 10:27 AM  


Most "annual" awards are presented in the year following the "win" as they have to wait until after December to be sure something better doesn't come up.

Thus the "best of 1994's" were awarded in '95.

This comes up a lot.

AnnieD 10:27 AM  

I got a great birthday present today...a saturday puzz with just the right amount of crunchiness. Thanks Mr. Atkinson!

Started in the middle and worked my way around with the NE corner to fall last as I didn't read 17A well enough and had DOLPHINSAFENETS for the longest time...once that was straightened out, it came together better.

Also struggled with IASIMOV as I thought it was I As In -- and had NSEC instead of MSEC at 24A.

I would rate this one a medium for a Saturday...nothing easy about it.

@Orangeblossom, thanks for the Mel Blanc link.

I'm just a small bird in a gilded cage
Tweety's my name and I don't know my age.
I don't have no worries and that is that
'Cause I'm safe in here from that old putty tat.

David 10:38 AM  

Super puzzle, a Medium for me. As with a lot of grid-spanners, I got the 2nd words before the 1st (TUNA, QUILLS, TALES, GIRLS), and in every case except GIRLS it required many crosses before grabbing the final answers. CALIFORNIA GIRLS came right away and was a terrific answer to a terrific clue.

Had a triple (double?) writeover down in the SW - STAG>>SMUT>>SCUM.

quilter1 10:45 AM  

PORCUPINE QUILLS was my first entry as I have a birch bark box embellished with quills. Enjoyed this one very much and, as I usually dawdle on Saturday mornings, was surprised to finish before 10 am.

GILL I. 10:47 AM  

what a nice, classy puzzle. Give me this type of Sat. puzzle every Sat.
I had to work hard for the answers and needed some help. I too couldn't get IASIMOV and REAVE didn't make sense. Also had Johnny Cash before the MEADOWLARK popped in.
I don't remember seeing IDOMENEO in a crossword before. This was Mozart's real first opera "seria" performed in Munich. By the way, he was all of 25 years old when this premiered.
Seemed strange to have the MONKEES, THE CARS and my least favorite Beach Boys all under the same roof.
TAMIL, LIOTTA, CLAIR, TIVOLI, such really nice words. Then right dab in the middle we have GAS X.
Merci, Scott Atkinson; great, great puzzle.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Forgot for what Hugos are awarded, and ended paper solve with I AS I MOP for 7D. Seemed as likely as anything.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Neat that 29D:GAS-X crosses 43A:XENON, though if you're passing xenon gas you must be doing something rather exotic...


mac 11:09 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, what a fun solve this morning.

No googles or outside help, but I did think there was a mallard involved at 16A, and my toast was the "milque" kind. I know the city hoppers, but I was surprised KLM would be clued that way here. And, once again, most of the many, many kinds of Dutch cheese are wheels, just not Edam! They are formed into spheres/balls.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I'm assuming GAS-X today is in response to the LITER of gas yesterday. But GAS-X would have been more effective if it had been given first.

Today is one of those days when I can see how easy the puzzle is by reading this blog. Because it sure didn't seem that way while doing it....


Sir Hillary 11:24 AM  

I found this one quite tough, especially at the top. This was an overall excellent Saturday -- a vigorous workout. I hurt myself in two places. First, I put in TENOR at 43A, despite my skepticism that it would ever be clued as "it" rather than as "him". That set me back for quite a while. Second, after getting the first two letters of 7D, I dropped in IACOCCA. This one was more easily correctible because TIME was gimme at 20A, but I foundered for a bit.

Superb product from Mr. Atkinson.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Yet another example of how orthogonal this blog's difficulty assessments are to my own. I was all, "hey, cool, Idomeneo!" and then took forever to finish the rest.

Bassetwrangler 11:42 AM  

First had Bangles for Monkees and The Cure for the The Cars. All I really could remember about The Cars is Ric Ocasek's wife Paulina Porizkova.

Luther Billis 11:44 AM  

The song was written by Oscar and Hammerstein in response to Mary Martin's request. She had starred on broadway for years and "had never washed her hair on stage" and said she wanted to give it a try.

I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
And send him on his way.

I'm gonna wave that man right outa my arms,

Nellie and Girls:
I'm gonna wave that man right outa my arms,
I'm gonna wave that man right outa my arms,
And send him on his way.

Don't try to patch it up

Tear it up, tear it up!

Wash him out, dry him out,

Push him out, fly him out,

Cancel him and let him go!

Yea, sister!

I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair,
And send him on his way.

If a man don't understand you,
If you fly on separate beams,
Waste no time, make a change,
Ride that man right off your range.
Rub him out of the roll call
And drum him out of your dreams.

Oho! If you laugh at different comics,
If you root for different teams,
Waste no time, weep no more,
Show him what the door is for.
Rub him out of the roll call
And drum him out of your dreams.

You can't light a fire when the woods are wet,


You can't make a butterfly strong,

Hmm, hmm!

You can't fix an egg when it ain't quite good,

And you can't fix a man when he's wrong!

You can't put back a petal when it falls from a flower,
Or sweeten up a fellow when he starts turnin' sour

Oh no! Oh no!

Nellie and Girls:
If his eyes get dull and fishy,
When you look for glints and gleams,
Waste no time,
Make a switch,
Drop him in the nearest ditch!
Rub him out of the roll call,
And drum him out of your dreams
Oho! Oho!

I went to wash that man right outa my hair,
I went to wash that man right outa my hair,
I went to wash that man right outa my hair,
And sent him on his way.

She went to wash that man right outa my hair,
She went to wash that man right outa my hair,
She went to wash that man right outa my hair,

Nellie and Girls:
And send him on his way!

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Too tough for me. Googled a bit and still couldn't finish. Now that I see all the answers..a great puzzle. Didn't we just have quills??

Mel Ott 11:52 AM  

I loved this puzzle. All of the 15's were just great, as were most of the 8's and 10's.

Not an easy puzzle for me because of some oddballs like IDOMENEO, but a thoroughly pleasant solving experience.

I think TAMIL is an important language in Sri Lanka and on parts of the Indian subcontinent. The TAMIL Tigers are an important insurgent group. (No, they are not a soccer team.)

Here's a pic of MEADOWLARK: http://product.images.fansedge.com/76-02/76-02912-F.jpg

jae 12:03 PM  

Great puzzle!! Felt about perfect for a Sat., so medium for me. The 15s were all winners. Plus lots of additional zippy stuff...IASIMOV, SOHOT, MONKEES, ALIENRACES, LUMPIN...

I did what @jackj did with the S at 64a so it took a while to get SWEARSTO. CAGIRLS, on the other hand, was a gimme with just the L in place.

Needed every cross for IDOMENEO.

MONKEES over THECARS for me. Hard to top Daydream Believer. Although, THECARS were one of the better groups from the "lost decade (plus)."

Brooklyn College girl 12:14 PM  

My thoughts exactly! Chuckle!

Liked this puzzle- thought it was harder than Rex did. Did anyone have TUMS before GAS-X??

JaxInL.A. 12:31 PM  

The straightforward nature of many clues today actually tripped me up. I'm so used to thinking sideways that, for example, "Put in the spotlight" was much too obvious a clue for ILLUMINATED.

And much of the cluing was really hard. DNF, even with loads of help.

My Natick? SO HOT crossing HIC, which I could not parse into Hi-C to save my soul. Still, an excellent puzzle.

Happy Birthday, @AnnieD!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

"South Pacific" was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

Lindsay 12:52 PM  

THE CARS were big when I was in high school. Can't stand them, but that didn't stop me from plunking them in first.


Like @jberg, I thought Beano involved gambling. Couldn't imagine a game ending in "sx" so I figured there must an obscure (to me) gas other than XENON that might be in the spotlight. Took a while to see I was barking up the wrong tree and that the proper tree was something I'd never heard of.

LB 1:04 PM  

Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II

WesIsland 1:11 PM  

In the "had no idea category for me,"

Although the name came from Tamil, the modern CATAMARAN came from the South Pacific. English visitors applied the Tamil name catamaran to the swift, stable sail and paddle boats made out of two widely separated logs and used by Polynesian natives to get from one island to another.


joho 1:26 PM  

Fantastic Saturday thanks to Scott Atkinson.

PORCUPINEQUILLS is pure poetry.

If only every Saturday could be this perfect!

Dick Swart 1:42 PM  

RE: Dutch car.

The DAF 600 with continuous variable transmission thru a belt system. DAF stands for
(Van) Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek based in Eindhoven, NL.

Still make trucks as a unit of PACCAR, Bellvue WA, 3rd largest manufacturer of trucks in the world. Brands include top-o-the line PeterBilt and Kenworth. None of that cab-over stuff for
heavy duty US truckers!

Renee from Tucson 2:09 PM  

Any puzzle with a meadowlark in it is okay by me -- I grew up hearing them in the fields around Portland.

I, too, agree with Rex: Pure pleasure.

Lewis 2:18 PM  

@rex -- GREAT writeup. I especially liked "Never let 'em reave your snee"!

@glimmerglass -- made me laugh!

@cathelou -- me too

My favorite clue was for XENON; I also greatly liked the clue for MART. I needed to Google a few times for this enjoyable, satisfying and solid puzzle.

davko 2:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
davko 2:24 PM  

Couldn't agree more on this puzzle's colorful subject matter and elegant form.

Suspected an opera right away at 2D, and knowing something about W.A.M., knew it had to be IDOMENEO because all his other titles are too long!

Fun misdirect when rushing ahead with CAB at 35A, leading to a perfect-fitting (if not awkward) CANTERBURY TALES for 12D. It was only when I saw DOLPHINSAFETUNA coming through at 17A that I had to back up.

Commendable work, Mr. Atkinson; I look forward to seeing more of your handicraft.

PAJane 2:31 PM  

Amen! Challenging but Fun Fun Fun (I too vote for the Beach Boys; Kokomo would be a good puzzle word). Loved MEADOWLARK and PORCUPINE QUILLS. HIC eluded me till the end, finally got it with crosses; I still didn't parse it until reading the comments here. Also had a rough time with "Hands off" but finally got the other meaning - REFERS. Thanks, Mr. Atkinson.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Thought I was really clever spotting ANTHROPOMORPHIC for 12D until nothing else fit. Great Saturday -- doable but took a while.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

My husband's native tongue is Tamil. He was born in South India. I see this clue in crossword books and it always tickles me to know it!

KRMunson 3:19 PM  

Meadowlark got me twice - once in the puzzle and once with @Rex's picture, I am SO gullible :-(

syndy 3:33 PM  

thanks to S ATkinson for a smart,funny ,elegant offering!but can this be called a themeless? dolphins monkees and porcupines oh my !

GILL I. 3:46 PM  

@davko: The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Figaro, Cozzi Fan Tutte, to name a few. All under 15!..:)

mac 4:02 PM  

@Dick Swart: didn't Volvo buy the DAF, and the US military the transmission system many years ago?

The DAF used to be the only automatic car in Holland, mostly used by older drivers and invalids. There was a separate drivers' licence for it, which wouldn't allow a holder to drive a stick shift before an additional exam.

To this day all my cars have been stick shift, of course.;-)

AnnieD 4:28 PM  

Thanks Jax!

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Does anyone ever use the word 'hard' to describe one of these? I was nearly cozened into being unable to finish, but after a refreshing visit to my granddaughter's dance class and a happy family restaurant lunch, I returned to reave the diem and happily finished. Perhaps delicious mussels are brain food? It did not help that I put in dolphin-free tuna for awhile. I guess that makes no sense but it took forever to fix. Very enjoyable. I like the hard (at least to me) puzzles :)

Tita 5:05 PM  

@AnnieD - Happy happy birthday!

AnnieD 5:21 PM  

Thanks Tita, it's been a great day!

Loren Muse Smith 5:30 PM  

@ joho - I agree on PORCUPINEQUILL.

@Annie D - many happy returns!

@ anon 3:02 - can you speak any Tamil? Those Dravidian languages are tough, tough, tough.

AnnieD 5:48 PM  

Thank you Loren. I hope this is just one of many more yet to come!

sanfranman59 6:20 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 7:39, 6:50, 1.12, 92%, Challenging
Tue 11:15, 8:52, 1.27, 97%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 145 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:09, 11:50, 0.86, 20%, Easy
Thu 26:29, 18:58, 1.40, 96%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 144 Thursdays)
Fri 20:20, 25:02, 0.81, 19%, Easy
Sat 27:34, 29:38, 0.93, 35%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:03, 3:40, 1.10, 89%, Challenging
Tue 5:19, 4:35, 1.16, 90%, Challenging
Wed 5:15, 5:52, 0.89, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:00, 9:18, 1.61, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 144 Thursdays)
Fri 10:11, 12:23, 0.82, 23%, Easy-Medium
Sat 13:21, 16:50, 0.79, 14%, Easy

Sue McC 6:32 PM  

Very fun, but tougher than medium for me. Love how the 4 long answers intersect. I tend to prefer no themers so this was a pleasure!

foodie 6:43 PM  

Weird week-- Challenging early on, Easy later on... Will's scale needs a little fine tuning.

PORCUPINE always reminds me of The
Peculiar Purple Pieman of PORCUPINE Peak... "You better not try to spoil HIS special day!" That's from the original Strawberry Shortcake series, for the uninitiated amongst you. My daughter loved that stuff, and it has used up brain space that I will never recover to store up new info, like COZEN and REAVE...

Loved the puzzle!

Dirigonzo 7:18 PM  

Surprisingly, my first pass through the clues gave me many of the long answers, including three of the four 15s. Then I had to go back and do battle with the short fill where there was much I did not know; it took a while for ILL to replace Icy which gave me RELIC and the puzzle. To quote Rex: "Good thing about all the stuff I didn't know was that it was surrounded by stuff I did. Crosswords!" (Terrific write-up, by the way.)

@AnnieD - Happy birthday and many happy returns!

@Tita - Feet have breasts? Who knew? They have balls, too - isn't there a name for that?

Theoda3rd 7:32 PM  

Was looking for Dutch autos also...fun puzzle

Rudy Shankar 8:37 PM  


apart from "catamaran" which in Tamil means " cut tree" this language has contributed "mulligatawny" literally hot pepper water, "serendipity" from "seren" and " deep" or island to the south which is now present day Sri Lanka. The recently ended civil war between the Tamils and the majority Sinhalas brought a welcome end to the bloodshed. And of course other words include "pariah" -- literally outcast-- And that tasty snack "poppadum".

AnnieD 9:25 PM  

Thanks Diriginzo, happy start to a happy year!

Was always glad I wasn't an April fools baby...I'd have never lived it down!

michael 9:44 PM  

Mostly easy (and enjoyable) for a Saturday, but I had a few blank squares in the middle (missed cozen and zin and xenon).

Still a relief after a ken-ken that for some reason I just can't get.

fergus 9:52 PM  

Dolphin-free messed me up, and so did I AS IN ?? (by habit writing in NSEC for any short period of time), but otherwise a pretty smooth Saturday solve. And by that I mean a half-hour trance, sitting in the sun, perplexed by most Clues until piecing together a crossing or two.

I remember driving around the Continent as a child, noticing 3-wheeled DAFS, and oddly that was the most poignant element of this puzzle.

mac 10:16 PM  

@Fergus: DAF never had a three-wheeler, you must be thinking of some of the British Morgans or something like that. They looked very unstable on the roads!

fergus 1:34 AM  

Is my poignancy upset by your correction? Just a little bit. There was some Belgian or Dutch car of that ilk, but since I recall so many other wonderful vehicles, both naff and stupendeous from the early 1960s, my erring memory won't leave me distraught tonight.

fergus 1:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
khan 8:19 AM  

Informatics Advanced World collects and shares highly scalable Informatics Data and organizes it for good interpretation, simple and understandable presentation so that any one can easily analyze and spread such Information.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

For all those commentors who wrote this was "easy" or "medium" I pose to you the question: Are you absolutely sincerely unquestionably certain you didn't at least in one instance either google or refer to a reference book?? I refuse to believe that even the creator of this blog can can answer in the affirmative without his or her le nez extending an inch. Signed, Your Conscience.

Red Valerian 1:28 PM  

Still smiling from yesterday's syndi-love-fest. I think we need a syndi-@ED and @Lewis to shake things up!

Liked the puzzle (and the write-up, whoever it was by). DNF because of two errors. For 43A ("it's often in the spotlight"), I had tENOr, which gave me GASt (hey, why not?) and COZEr.

It took a while fork tEEs to become FEET (64A--"they have balls"). I snickered a bit on the journey.

@SIS--there are *three* osprey hanging about. Have seen at most two in the nest (which is not yet very big) at one time, but have seen the third flying fairly close overhead. Not in a threatening way, but I'm not sure how things are going to play out.

@Diri--South Canada, eh? Is there a name for an area that straddles the border? Out here, we have "Cascadia," which (hypothetically, at least) subsumes the south west of BC (not to be confused with where @Tobias is), most of Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Actually, I see the "boundaries" are open to interpretation. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_(independence_movement)>Cascadia (independence movement)</a> Maybe there's a way to draw it so that includes Maine.

Preview still not working....

Red Valerian 1:30 PM  

Let me try that one more time:


Anonymous 1:59 PM  

My third puzzle this morning...It's finally today!

"I AS IN I.P."

Could be.

Pretty smooth sailing other than that. Enjoyed the pop music fest with The MONKEES, THE CARS, The Beach Boys, and the great Kimberley REW

Spacecraft 2:13 PM  

Not easy by my count, as I had to do a little Googling. Gee, Scott, you couldn't find anyone more obscure than ERNEST Oppenheimer? You could have used Ernest Jones; he went to school with me one year. Hm, but I don't think he was of much, um, importance.

My other lookups were IDOMEMEO and TIVOLI--should really have known the latter; no hope of knowing the former.

That it's a well-built puzzle I agree; just think a couple of answers were unreachably obscure. Thanks for the shout-out (twice this week now!) to the late, great Asimov. Loved the originality of parsing HIC into HI-C instead of cluing it as the old drunk's sound.

Lola505 3:04 PM  

I made it through to an error-free finish, but it was by no means easy for me. So many answers I had never heard of, yet managed to fill in with crosses that I surprised myself: IDOMENEO, TAMIL, NGO, dolphinFREEtuna (is what I've always heard), and never heard of Cityhopper -- sounds more like a bus to me (but we never fly KLM).

I was pleased to see MEADOWLARK -- JOHNNYCASH also fit, for awhile.

Okay, I finished, so I should be happy, right? I did not have much fun with this one though.

Yes, weren't we all feelin' the love yesterday, out here in syndiland? :)

DMGrandma 3:12 PM  

Couldn't get a handle on this puzzle, then QED popped up, and everything fell from there! Well, almost everything. Figured Ray L... was an actor, but couldn't come up with his name. Combining this with "tees" where "feet" belonged left me with a messy SE corner. The rest of the potentially unknowns seemed to fall from the crosses, though I must admit not proof reading left me with "nsec.". Come here to find these silly mistakes and enjoy everyone's comes. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

DMGrandma 3:19 PM  

Whoops, everyone's comments!

Joe in syndicated Canada 4:39 PM  

syndication chiming in. 2 clues with "girl", Vesta, Cécile, and an answer with GIRLS. I thought the theme was girls.
great puzzle.

Dirigonzo 8:02 PM  

I did this puzzle 5 weeks ago (it's a long story) but I had to check in to see how my follow syndilanders fared, wish you happy Cinco de Mayo, and remind you of the spectacular full moon that will be rising tonight. We truly have, as Jimmy buffet says, a lot to drink about.

@Red Vealerian and @SiS - there were osprey in the local news here in South Canada (east coast division) when a newly arrived nesting pair chose a megaberth pier as their nesting site. Port officials are worried that the nest will interfere with the coming cruise ship season (big business here on the coast of Maine) and they are considering removing the nest. I'm rooting for the ospreys.

Dirigonzo 8:22 PM  

@Red Valerian (sorry about the earlier misspelling) - to answer your question "is there a name for an area that straddles the border?", how about this from Wikipedia - "Acadia (in the French language Acadie) was a colony of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River.[1] During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southern-most settlements of Acadia.[2]" So I guess I live in Acadia, and I'm proud of it.

Z 9:13 PM  

@Syndi Anonymouse 11:49 - Five weeks in your future you will see much gnashing of teeth and many references in the comments to not solving even with the aid of uncle Google. And yet a few were able to solve sans U.G. and sans error. Sadly, I was not one of the few.

Solving in Seattle 11:15 PM  

This puzzle kicked my butt. Whole NE was a blank. Oh well, I had my good moments this week. Did get CALIFORNIAGIRLS right away but didn't finish.

@Diri, my money is on the ospreys. The Acadians settled Louisiana and morphed to Cajuns.

@Red, pictures of your birds please.

capcha: ledivilc misteyo. Basque for I had too much Cinco de Mayo last night.

Ginger 1:15 AM  

@red V 'I think we need a syndi-@ed...', We have @diri! and I hope that neither of them ever change. Your 3 Ospreys surprise me....please keep us informed. Wonder if one of them might me last years?

Re Cascadia....if the archeologists are correct, we Washingtonians, and the Oregonians, will one day BE Canadians, if we're not swimming first.

The puzzle killed me. Even with Uncle Google's help, i had many empty squares. Made many of the same mistakes that have been mentioned, but was unable to fix them.

Red Valerian 1:57 AM  

@Ginger--my view is that @Dirigonzo is who keeps us all civil and friendly. Seriously. I think we owe him a great deal. He (plus a couple of others) keep the syndi-boat afloat.

I am a great, um , appreciater of @Evil Doug, but I do not think he is the ecumenical presence that @Dirigonzo is. Though he is a lot of fun.

About the osprey, @Ginger and @SIS. I've got a couple of pics of the two who are using the meagre nest. Not of the third. I'll try to figure out how to post.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Edam was a fictional auto in an old Abbott and Costello TV episode. Agree though that the intent was the cheese in this case. The other is way too obscure, except for geeks like me.

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