Motor oil letters / SAT 9-1-12 / Big name in taco kits / 1980s Cosby co-star / Ricky Martin's springboard to fame / Gondoliers girl / Victors of 1879 Battle of Isandlwana

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AYR (8D: Robert Burns's birth county) —
Ayr (Scottish GaelicInbhir Àir: Mouth of the River Ayr) is a town and port situated on the Firth of Clyde in south-west Scotland. With a population of around 46,000, Ayr is the largest settlement in Ayrshire, of which it is thecounty town, and has held royal burgh status since 1205. Ayr is the administrative centre of the South Ayrshire council area, which is the unitarylocal authority. (wikipedia)
• • •

Played on the slow side for me, but then again I solved it while "watching" "Swimming to Cambodia" (1987), so ... when I adjust for distraction, my time is pretty normal. This grid is fine. Not very exciting, but mostly quite smooth. The one exception is that SW quadrant, which is noticeably uglier than the rest of the grid: ON THE, SAE (50A: Motor oil letters), ALMAPASATIASENNA (though you have to love the "PEACE OUT" / "LATER, MAN" crossing). I liked the NW the best, by far. The center is also pretty nice. Clues seemed quite tough, but it *is* Saturday, so that fact is probably not that noteworthy. Honestly, not much to say here. It's a decent Saturday puzzle.

Where was the trouble? Well, anywhere there were answers foreign or esoteric, I floundered a bit. Misread the clue for AYR, and so scrambled through my geography rolodex in search of what possible *country* he could've been born in. NORway? It's relatively close to Scotland. SYRia? Seemed unlikely. Eventually reread the clue and figured it out. TESSA = random opera woman's name (25A: "The Gondoliers" girl). Never like those.  Thought ED KOCH (24D: Subject of the musical "Mayor") was ALIOTO. Didn't know Lake TANA—that second "A" was the last letter in the grid (46A: Lake from which he Blue Nile begins). Had DETER at 51A: Avoid for an awfully long time. Convinced myself that AVEEDO and ELECTEE could be right. Never bothered to think that DETER simply isn't a synonym for [Avoid]. Somehow, the ORANG came to my rescue. An unlikely rescue, as I started out cursing the idea that I should know some random Malay word, then thought, "you know, it's probably not random..." I had CEE and CAT down there already, and when I imagined ORANG sliding in there (because I had the "R" and had seen ORANG in puzzles many times before), it really looked good next to CEE (61D: Mercury's core?) and CAT. Plausible, you know? So after a stall of some undetermined length, I moved forward and the SE corner, and thus the whole puzzle, went down from there.

  • 11A: Co. now known as Ally Financial (GMAC) — totally fair clue / answer, but about as exciting as I generally found this puzzle. If I never see ONEO and CAT as cross-referenced answers again, it will have been a good life.
  • 19A: Vision, in Vichy (VUE) — also, a Saturn model
  • 53A: Scientist for whom an element is named (NOBEL) — I spent a good deal of time imagining / hoping that there was a Dr. BORON somewhere in the Science universe.
  • 3D: Big name in taco kits (ORTEGA) — I just like the phrase "taco kit" for how preposterous and unappetizing it is. 
  • 2D: Ricky Martin's springboard to fame (MENUDO) — a boy band with revolving members (specifically, you revolve out of the group after puberty, I think). After "LA VIDA LOCA" wouldn't fit here, I remembered MENUDO.
  • 10D: Victors of the 1879 Battle of Isandlwana (ZULUS) — no idea. "ZU" made it obvious.
  • 12D: Dancer known for her execution (MATA HARI) — brain kept yelling "Martha Graham" at me.
  • 22D: 1980s Cosby co-star (RASHAD) — this was my first guess (kind of a gimme), but I wonder how lucky other people were here. RASHAD / TESSA seems a potentially rough cross.
  • 14D: Air-breathing swimmer (CETACEAN) — took a while. I was looking for more common names of animals within this order of mammals (whales, dolphins, etc.).
  • 63D: Symbol of rebellion on many T-shirts (CHE) — Ah, "symbol," metaphorically. OK. I was imagining that anarchy "A" (you know, an actual symbol).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:14 AM  
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jae 12:17 AM  

Medium for me too.  My take is pretty much the same as Rex's.   NW easy and the rest medium tough.  That said, I had a "you got me" DNF.  I knew neither the playwright  nor the swimmer and went with an I.  If I had followed the Evan heuristic I would have been OK as RABE (see broccoli) I have encountered before.   Actually, if I'd thought about it I would have remembered that CETA means something like "legs," so maybe this was a DOH DNF after all.  Fortunately,  I've seen ALBEDO or that cross with the lake could have gone awry. 

I liked this one.  Solid Sat. with a little zip...PEACEOUT, LATERMAN,  ALLOVER...

Richard 12:58 AM  

I found it challenging, particularly the NE. I was unable to correctly parse AB INITIO (after having ABIN quite quickly) for the longest time and I had a complete brain lock with CETACEAN. I needed almost every cross to get both of these.

I also was thrown off for awhile in the SW with the "BRO" part of the "see ya, bro" clue. The two-part response here seems to be mostly a 60s phrase. I was in college in the 60s and I sure do not remember ever hearing or using "Bro" so I was looking for answers from a later time.

I love a puzzle that includes a reference to Thelonius Monk so NEEDNT was my first answer in the SE. My daughter and son-in-law could not decide whether to use "Thelonius" or "Coltrane" for their son's middle name. They went with the latter although I wish they had gone with the former.

Apostate Cee Murals 1:07 AM  

ALLOVERthEplace also fits...but ALLOVERCREATION not only right but more colorful.

Had OCAT where ONEO should be...confusing because ONTHE was below ROAD.
Ugly on several levels.

My main challenge/ enjoyment was making my own wrong-to-right ladder: Sneeze to SnIVEL To SHIVER.

Lots of chances to mis parse...AB ROAD, AL BEDO, HIC.
PDA had the best definition and
SMOOTHJAZZ is quite a fabulous 1A .

Deb 1:36 AM  

The puzzle. Hmph. I'm pleading distraction for my big, fat DNF. My producer/composer/musician son, who cut his teeth on SMOOTH JAZZ (though he'd deny it through those same clenched teeth and eagerly opt for a little Thelonius Monk over Kenny G today), and to whom I read from RLS's A Child's Garden of Verses, is getting hitched next weekend and we will be driving ALL OVER CREATION manana to L.A., which is not NEAR AT HAND to Colorado by any means, and I was in quite a state of TORPOR after running around getting the oil changed and doing laundry and packing and all the stuff I did NOT DO till the last minute, and add to that that I've got the SHIVERs from a horrible sunburn on my buttox and, weirdly, the backs of my heels (I've never used a tanning bed before - I had no idea they were so intense!; perhaps it has something to do with the ALBEDO?) and you can imagine I wasn't giving this puzzle the attention it required.

Oh, well, it's just a puzzle and I'm in a EUPHORIC state of happiness for my son and excited to raise a glass and say HERE'S TO YOU to their ABINITIO (okay, that's a stretch) amidst lots of PDAs and HICs next Saturday . So, PEACE OUT and LATER, BRO (the even-with-a-dozen-googled-words DNF Natick).

@Richard - They made the right choice. If the kid doesn't turn out to be a Jazz fan, he'll never forgive them for "Thelonius," but the name Coltrane is sexy. (Not that I'm trying to sexualize your (presumably) infant grandson.)

chefwen 3:05 AM  

@Andrea - Similar minds. Had Sneeze and ALL OVER the place also. After what seemed like forever I was finally able to piece together the NW. Me to he "did Ricky Martin ever do a song call MENUDO? He to me "why would anybody do a song about stomach lining"? I'll have to listen to it, maybe it's about a hangover cure.

Filled the rest in with fits and starts, but had to go and have a chat with my favorite Uncle Google to finish up AB INITIO and ECTACEAN. Tough one for me.

How many of us put in St. Paul for 21A, I figured that was too easy for a Saturday, but hey, it fit for a little while.

chefwen 3:06 AM  

Smack an ED after call. Doh!

retired_chemist 3:39 AM  

Hand up for ST PAUL and ALL OVER THE PLACE. They stayed too long and that hurt me. As did LONGORIA @ 38D. TSE @ 20A fixed (RLS) by HTML @ 6D. FERMI @ 53A - I think of Alfred Nobel more as an inventor, but the clue is fair. 36D was REVS and HETS before I got the crosses

Lake TANA - WTF. "PEACE OUT" - never heard that in my life.

Some things in my wheelhouse saved me from a serious DNF. AB INITIO, CETACEAN, RASHAD, ALBEDO (after a while trying to remember), APOSTATE, and a lucky guess at AVEENO.

Good Saturday workout - nothing unfair, only a few answers that were really easy. Thanks, Mr. Croce.

The Bard 7:40 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene II

LUCIANUS: Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;
Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magic and dire property,
On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears]

HAMLET: He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

OPHELIA: The king rises.

HAMLET: What, frighted with false fire!

QUEEN GERTRUDE: How fares my lord?

LORD POLONIUS: Give o'er the play.

KING CLAUDIUS: Give me some light: away!

All: Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO]

Dan 8:13 AM  

What is SAE? I had EtNA for ENNA so I was just doomed there trying to come up with a letter that could finish Mr. LEN _OLIT's name...

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers

Glimmerglass 8:30 AM  

@Dan: SAE is the rating for the weight of motor oil (SAE 40, 10W, etc.). Don't know what the letters stand for. This was a hard puzzle for me, but wonderful fun. Not only were there some obscure facts which needed many crosses to get to even an intelligent guess, but there was also a lot of Saturday misdirection. "Light fare" is not food. INTRAMURALS are not even interscholastic games, let alone league games. The "cold" is not a social attitude. The "dancer" is not remembered as a dancer, and the "execution" was the penalty, not a skill. "Makeup" isn't the cosmetic, and the "switcher" is usually a person who leaves a religion, not a party. Other clues required a different kind of double-think (CEE, CHE, ABROAD). Loved 52D, It wasn't until I had ORxxG, that I realized the ape must have "man" in its name.

jackj 9:11 AM  

As it’s sung in the Andean folk song “El Condor PASA”, “I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail. Yes I would”, that is unless being a sparrow means buying into a really cheap clue, ”Places where talk is cheep”, forcing us into embarrassing NESTS.

But, Tim has a host of make goods to ease the angst, triggering a rush of EUPHORIA with the likes of his central entry, ALLOVERCREATION and the cleverness of the pancake makeup clue which is looking for latkes not AVEENO, (which is put to use elsewhere) and POTATO it is.

There were a SPATE of partials and cross-referenced entries, notably the oft ELECTED EDKOCH, ONEO CAT, ONTHE ROAD(ROAD ON THE) and the two biggies from our hip dudes, “PEACEOUT, Bro”; “Sure, LATERMAN”. None of these were overly knotty entries but the act of separating/cross-referencing always adds confusion that toughens up the solving, (while irritating the solver).

A joy for me was finding CETACEAN, which is a reminder of a big time summer business on the Massachusetts coast where Whale Watch boats, staffed with leviathan experts, take excited tourists a few miles out to sea to watch pods of enormous humpback whales frolic as they pursue their daily fill of krill.

All told, a nice workout from Saturday specialist Tim Croce.

I wonder if he’d ever try his hand at a Monday?

Tim C. 9:19 AM  

jackj -- I do have a Monday and three Tuesdays that have been accepted and awaiting publishing. I am anxious to see them in print.

dk 9:30 AM  

All the peace stuff so I had VEE (as in peace sign) for CHE.

Of course I had St. Paul where I will be tomorrow working myself into a TORPOR as I dine on all things on a stick. Perhaps they have mood on a stick.

I thought myself so smart when I penned in all over the place. Alas and alack.

Anymore postings by Rex where he eludes to the fact that he solves in record time with the preverbal one hand tied behind his back… and he will be swimming to Corning in cement sneakers.

💺💺💺 (3 empty seats) Talk to the chair Croce! Classic Saturday. Thank you.

Putting on Sonny Rollins "Way Out West."

Sir Hillary 9:43 AM  

When I was a young management consultant (no Mitt jokes, please) I was invited by my client to present my findings on their business (which was undergoing a wrenching transition) to over 1,000 employees at their annual conference at the Greenbriar. I prepared a slide show materials and a speech, rehearsed over and over with a teleprompter and felt totally prepared, despite never having spoken in front of a crowd this size. There were other speakers on the docket as well, but I was not aware of the overall program when the speaker before me took the stage. Turns out that he was the "inspirational" part of the agenda, a double leg amputee who had recently become the first person to climb Mt. Everest with his condition. When he left the podium, there was not a dry eye in the house, including mine. Then I took the stage and delivered a really good talk. No one cared anymore.

I wonder if that's what it's like to follow a puzzle like the one that was delivered on Friday.

TC has given us a beauty here, yet all I could think of as I solved was PB's masterpiece from yesterday. Totally unfair, but there you have it.

This was an excellent Saturday workout. LENAOLIN and PASA were gimmes that led to quick work in the SW, but the rest was a struggle. I knew the middle 15 was ALLOVER something, but what...THEPLACE? THEWORLD? Ah, CREATION...thank you, 8-times ELECTED EDKOCH. That led to the NE, then the NW and...finally!...the SE. Sounds simple when I write it like that, but it was tough.

Other thoughts:
-- Second Saturday running with ZZ in the 1A entry. I'm sure many would argue that SMOOTHJAZZ is indeed a BUZZKILL.
-- Looking at it again, that NW corner is really nifty.
-- Agree the PEACEOUT/LATERMAN cross is awesome.
-- Latin American rebel leader theme with CHE and (Daniel) ORTEGA.
-- Did not know what a CETACEAN was (wanted PORPOISE) nor ABINITIO, so learned new things, which is just what I hope for on Saturday.
-- Don't like NOTDO. At all.
-- What is ONEO CAT? Maybe I am biased because I have never heard of it, but why not just do KAL (Penn)/OLEO instead of linking a partial to CAT?

Good stuff, all in all.

Zwhatever 9:58 AM  

Hand up for St Paul. Tried Curie for my scientist. Tried STP for my motor oil letters. Ad primIO AB INITIO. Couldn't remember if Queen Sonja was Hawaiian or South American, tried Oahu and Hilo. Had -SLO before the light switch flipped up. I tried ElPaso taco kits ON THE ROAD made me erase it. For whatever reason, my mind totally blanked on -----HJAZZ. All in all a fun solve.


joho 10:08 AM  

My solve was eerily similar to @Rex's first remembering "La Vida Loca" before recalling MENUDO and lastly filling in the "A" in TANA.

Favorite AHA moment by far was finally getting CETACEAN after saying in my head over and over, "Gotta be a whale, right?"

SMOOTHJAZZ was a great way to start the puZZle.

I've never heard of SAE as a motor oil just a fraternity.


Loren Muse Smith 10:12 AM  

@Deb - good luck with the wedding!

@Sir Hillary – I, too, was concerned for the constructor to follow yesterday’s beaut. I think this was a great choice. Fine puzzle.

“Screen name” before ACCESS CODE
“We raise our” before HERE’S TO YOU
“Short stack” before SMOOTH JAZZ
“Stp” before SAE
“Spurt” before SPATE
“Stupor” before TORPOR

Rex- I, too, imagined a Dr. Boron out there but finally sussed out NOBEL. (Sharing the grid with OSLO. Cool.)


After a valiant struggle, I went from a big fat mess to a respectable dnf in the NE. Well, I had a wrong letter in the southwest – “paso” instead of PASA. I guess that’s a verb and not an adjective?

So I go around all day yesterday singing (badly) “I am, I said. . .” to today “I’d rather be hammer than a nail. . .” Tomorrow will it be “the night they drove old Dixie down. . .?”

Thanks, Tim. Nice JOUST.

Hot type 10:26 AM  

Lived in Urbana for a few years in college, worked in the mailroom at The Courier/Morning Courier (which was shut down in '79). Is the cafe still in the old newspaper building?

Seems to me that the tense is wrong in the answer for 67A, given the clue.

jae 10:39 AM  

Ok, now that I've had the time to look it up, Cetus means "large sea animal." Apparently I was thinking of setae which are bristle like parts of organisms. So my DNF was completely based on ignorance. You would think that in all those visits to aquariums from Mystic to Monterrey something would have stuck. I guess not.

Saba 10:44 AM  

@Hot type - What city is the twin city of Urbana?

JFC 10:54 AM  

@Rex - A decent blog for a Saturday....


Hot type 11:09 AM  

@Saba -

Champaign. Shampoo Banana. The DI, Papa Del's and Garcia's. Unless I'm missing the setup to a joke.....

Heading a few miles south of there in a little more than a week, chasing steam locomotive.

Carole Shmurak 11:10 AM  

Champaign is the twin city of Urbana. University of Illinois is located in Urbana-Champaign.

jae 11:11 AM  

@Saba -- Locally known as Chambana (at least when I was in grad school there) home of the fightin' Illini.

Carola 11:12 AM  

I prevailed in the one-on-one combat with the puzzle, but at the finish I felt like a marathoner who needed to be attended to with electrolytes and a space blanket. I made the same mistakes others have mentioned: sneeze, stp, st. paul, el paso, etna.... My wrong guess for the scientist was fermi. I think I did as much erasing as writing.

Also agree with others that there's much to like. Nice contrast of the large CETACEAN with the WEE RUNT.

@Deb -
Love your story, and congratulations to your son!

@Sir Hillary -
You put so well how I felt about doing this puzzle compared to yesterday's!

GILL I. 11:12 AM  

I'm in the challenging DNF group. SPATE/POTATO was a no VUE. I got just about everything else though and was feeling just like TIAS ORTEGA so yay me for a Sat.
Congrats Deb...also you might try some AVEENO on the buttox and if that doesn't work, try a raw POTATO.

Norm 11:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 11:14 AM  

I believe SAE is Society of Automotive Engineers, which I think issues standards for various weights of motor oil so that you know what you're getting. The NW was the hardest for me, even though my family comes from AYR and I still have cousins there. That and SHIVER were all I had for the longest time but a guess (albeit wrong) at "give HER the play" (I was thinking either mom or Ophelia) gave me two of the right letters and eventual success. A nice puzzle.

david kulko 11:24 AM  

medium for me too. i got traction with needn't, mata hari, lena olin, ed koch, and shiver. one thing that sort of slowed me down was that my dear father-in-law had the temerity to attack the puzzle first, entering all over "the place" (creation) and "over one" (oneo cat). other than that i had "ad" for "ab" which screwed me out of rabe. never heard of albedo. i have met his sister, lee.

Two Ponies 11:29 AM  

Sometimes you save the whales.
Sometimes the whales save you.

jberg 11:33 AM  

Finished with errors - didn't know LENA OLIN, so I guessed that the Mormons might have a book of AmMA, and I couldn't remember SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers, isn't it?), so I figured there must be an actor, or maybe a writer, named LEN sOmIT. (Oh yeah, also figured maybe EtNA was a commune as well as a volcano. Should have known ENNA, we've had it before).

I didn't know Isandlwana either, but that ...ndlwa... had to be in South Africa, which gave boers or ZULUS as the only possibilities, and only one of those started with a Z. That, in turn, meant that the twin city had to be URBANA, as in Champaign-Urbana.

But Nobel? Mainly an industrialist - fortunately, I had the L, ruling out Curie and Fermi, and MendEL was too long, so I went with it anyway.

Looking back on it, there were a lot of neat things in this puzzle - but with all the names, it felt miserable at the time. Still, that's Saturday!

Mel Ott 11:44 AM  

Challenging for me. I had CaTACEAN/RABa and TANA/ALBEDO woud have been a total guess but I neglected to go back and fill in space 49 at the end.

I agree with @Glimmerglass about INTRAMURAL. A completely differnt group of people play conference or out of conference games. It's like saying aardvarks are diffferent from oranges. A fairer, albeit easier clue would be "unlike Varsity games".

Anonymous 12:02 PM  


Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Is there a tense problem with "GETS USED TO" for IS NO LONGER FAZED BY?

Merle 12:15 PM  

Absolutely maddening and challenging puzzle. Had to resort to Google too often! Ah, the things we know and the things we don't know. Thx, Bard, for quoting the Bard as usual. A welcome break from prose responses. Ayr was a gimme -- someone should quote a little Robbie Burns, I think -- "the rank is but the guinea stamp, the man's the gold for all that." Got Rabe, but -- misspelled his name as Raab, and that sure slowed down the NE. Stuff I wouldn't know -- Poppin' Lemonade (don't want to know!!!), Queen Sonja, Alma as a Book of Mormon (but sure is a more interesting clue than the usual suspects for Alma -- although I bet it is on its way to becoming a usual suspect), Lake Tana as origin of the Blue Nile (Ethiopia, okay, but Lake Tana? -- now I know), Ortega for taco kits -- what kind of yuck is a taco kit? Too much obscure stuff, not enough fun to suss out stuff. But, guys, when you get to the Sunday puzzle, which I get with my Saturday newspaper subscription delivery, it's a walk in the park....

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

@anonymous 12:15

No tense problem as I see it,eg

Rex GETS USED TO panagrams

syndy 12:31 PM  

Is PEACEOUT a regional thing?a complete and utter blank that made the SW twice as hard as the rest of the puzzle.everthing else but fair! STPAUL was a shoe in until nosed out by CETACEAN.AB INITIO was inferable.MATAHARI opened up so many possibilities,but that sw corner?I had **ACEOUT-nothing;then *EACEOUT still not better;so PEACEOUT =What??

quilter1 12:32 PM  

Challenging for me. DNF, but I'm a little under the weather today and woke up feeling stupid. Maybe I'll be smarter tomorrow. POTATO totally got me--great misdirect. Good write up and great comments today.

OK, I'm stupid today, but I'm on my third try at the captcha--disgusting!

Sandy K 12:43 PM  

This was not SMOOTHJAZZ for me- more like extremely challenging!
Took me a loooooooong time to finish and I wrote in veeeeery lightly! Was shocked to see that my guesses were right on SAE? ABINITIO? TANA? ALBEDO? HIC??

Can't help thinking would PB have clued 15A as 'the first three words to the chorus of Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson' ??

Norm 1:29 PM  

@ Sandy K: PB would not, since the first word was either "well" or "and" so 15A are, I believe, the second/third/fourth words, which doesn't make for a very elegant clue. ;)

Hot type 1:38 PM  

@anonymous 12:30 -

Standing by my original post, and agreeing with @anonymous 12:15, re: tense on 67A.

Something that has happened - GOT USED TO - results in current condition - is unfazed by.

Davis 1:41 PM  

I was feeling good about this puzzle, and was nearly done in a great Saturday time for me until I hit the SW corner. I didn't know LENA OLIN, and I had LATER PAL instead of MAN. Since the crosses were no help (didn't know ENNA or ALMA), I had to Google Lena, which was disappointing. And then it took me about 5 minutes to find my MAN/PAL switcheroo, since it at least seemed plausible that the crosses were ALPA and ENLA. And even though my brother is an automotive engineer, I somehow didn't get SAE.

Some other problems along the way -- my first entry was POSTSEASON instead of INTRAMURAL. I like my answer better -- I agree with @Glimmerglass and @Mel Ott about the badness of the clue for that one. Also going to have to agree on the tense problem for GETS USED TO: "is no longer fazed by" indicates that one *already* GOT USED TO something; GETS USED TO means you're still in the process of doing so.

John V 1:43 PM  

Any Saturday completed with no errors is a good Saturday for me. NE played the toughest by far. ZULUS broke it open, once I got URBANA -- which had been STPAUL for a very long time.

Otherwise, all the snags @Rex said. Good puz and thanks, Tim!

John V 1:44 PM  

Make that NW played toughest.

Davis 1:44 PM  

Oh, and I can chalk up a couple of answers to my long history of wasting time playing video games: I knew CETACEAN from playing Sim Earth as a kid; I recognized Isandlwana as a ZULU locale from playing pretty much every iteration of Civilization over the years. Always good to know I took something away from those experiences.

jackj 1:46 PM  


Good to learn; waiting with poised pen.

retired_chemist 1:47 PM  

Wanted STP for the motor oil because I couldn't remember SAE. Remembered it instantly once it was revealed by crosses.

Sandy K 1:52 PM  


When you're right, you're right!
PB is a perfectionist, and I was hoping you wouldn't notice ;)

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

@Hot type

I do see your point, but what about eg

A spoiled child GETS USED TO lots of attention.
A spoiled child IS NO LONGER FAZED BY lots of attention. ??

I don't know. I'm asking.

hazel 2:29 PM  

The highlight for me was getting CETACEAN, having just learned/read that word last night in a story in Edith Pearlman's wondrous short story collection Binocular Vision.

Otherwise, there was a whole lot of too-diabolical-for-me crossing lots-of-crap-i-don't-know, as is the case for me sometimes on Saturday.

I'll be interested to see those early week puzzles!!

Acme 2:32 PM  

Usually you'd be able to tell that "we raise our..." might be wrong because it's a long partial that when you step back and look at the grid can not stand alone.
If "glasses" was in the puzzle (eg "With 43A, the start of a toast") then it would be ok.

That's the only reason he got away with ONTHE in the grid, which as I said, does not look good, esp since the ROAD is above it, not below.

It's also the same reason I was confused as to whether I should write in ONEO CAT as opposed to ONE OCAT.
I think that's why many constructors try and avoid too many partials or annoying cross references, but I suspect there is a part of Tim Croce (whom I don't know) who actually delights in this kind of thing, which is a turn off to me as a solver.
( I'm sure some anon will now take that as an opportunity to dredge up a past puzzle where I've done that exact thing... But I'm just trying to illuminate why it's not often done and what "the rules" tend to be, on the chance that helps with either your solving/constructing.)

And again, I've never made a Saturday in my life. Sometimes Patrick Berry inspires me to try, but usually I'm not tempted as it's a totally different bear.

It may be interesting to note that you get paid the same whether it's a Monday or a Saturday puzzle!
I don't honestly know which gets more those who can tackle a Saturday NY Times puzzle is a tiny percentage...yet many Saturday folks don't bother with early week puzzles.
On the other hand, thousands ONLY do Monday and Tuesdays, or thru half of Wednesday , if I'm to extrapolate from folks I've interacted with.
But it's still hard to measure because Monday solvers, including many newbies would probably not be solving on line, so harder to count.
(On the other hand, perhaps students who are being introduced to the puzzle are only doing it on line, so there can be an easier way to count later.)
Or Sanfranman59 could figure it out...and yet, again, the stats might be skewed or meaningless if early week solvers are either the kind to whom it would never occur to speed solve and post on line... or the exact late week expert solvers who ONLY do early week for speed practice.

It also seems like some commenters today still had trouble, as I had initially, parsing Hi-C the drink.
(HIC being the sound you make afterward if it's been laced with alcohol or you chugged it too fast!)

Others seem unfamiliar with PEACEOUT, which again strikes me as one of those phrases that I'd only heard on MTV wannabe shows years ago...and that by the time it hits the NY Times it's already fallen into disuse, except perhaps ironically...or by an older white guy misguidedly going for hipness a year or two or three too late.
We've got lots of those here in San Francisco!
For half a second I thought @thebard was going to cite it in a quote!

How I wish I were in St Paul with @dk watching others eat things on a stick!!!
Plus Semisonic is playing the MN State Fair this weekend!!! (The drummer, Jake Slichter, is from Champaign-Urbana which is how i avoided the St Paul trap, tho until this second googling, ii thought it was Champagne-Urbana)
Happy Labor Day Weekend all!

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

I've been thinking that there's a tense problem with GETS USED TO. However, if Rex GETS USED TO Pangrams was the headline for a news story, the first line of the story might well be Rex IS NO LONGER FAZED BY pangrams.

Lewis 3:23 PM  

Whew. Absolutely had to Google too much. Puzzles like this keep me humble. Really liked the clues for POTATO and PDA...

ksquare 3:36 PM  

Just to set the record straight, Ed Koch was not elected eight times as mayor. He served three four-year terms as mayor and before that was a congressman.

Nick 3:48 PM  

If a third of your fill is random trivia, shouldn't you just start over?

mac 4:56 PM  

@Nick: we like random trivia.

Medium-challenging to me, mainly because of the SW. SAE and ONTHE did me in, with the help of stupor.

I like Loren's format, so here were some of my write-overs:

short order for smooth jazz
stupor for torpor
St. Paul for Urbana
Boers for Zulus
sneeze - snivel - shiver

Mata Hari was a gimme, but I did think of Isadora Duncan. Not an execution, though, but more of a dancer.

A real Saturday puzzle, thanks Tim C!

Al Rodbell 5:18 PM  

A plug for a different type of Xword pleasure, done by a small group, two to four perhaps. It's up to four after our Friday walking group, each of us with a different range of knowledge.

We struggle, we brainstorm, one's error becomes another's trigger for the correct word. We are all each other's heroes when we ultimately look at the completed grid.

That mutual high five when we succeed is a delight, as we go over our venture in playful symbiosis

miriam b 6:32 PM  

I am not a robot, though I'e found it impossible of late to prove this. I'm going to try again now, as I don't want to miss the opportunity of thanking Mr. Croce for a terrific puzzle. The MATAHARI clue gave me the giggles. Schadenfreude, I suppose.

Sparky 6:54 PM  

DNF--a few blanks on the right hand side. The frustrating thing is I had ATIT, URBANA and REB but erased chunks of them to clear my vision. Thought of NOBEL as an industrialist. Had RaaB before RABE. Looked him and LENA OLIN up in my Maltin book.

Yesterday, CUNYTV had a show on Beniamino Gigli. Beautiful voice. Have a good long weekend.

michael 7:27 PM  

I got this slowly, but finally was able to finish. Couldn't get Urbana until the very end even though I drove through there and stayed for a night with friends two weeks ago.

The captchas are almost as hard as the Saturday puzzle...

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Thanks to @Acme for parsing HI-C!
Had I not read your comment, I'd still be thinking that there's a weird brand out there named HIC!

Dirigonzo 8:21 PM  

In the end there was just too much I didn't know so I wound up with a few blank squares when I finally quit after my self-imposed two hour/two bourbon limit. But I had fun in my failure and I learned some things, and that still defines a good puzzle for me.

@Deb - congratulations on your son's impending nuptials. My older son was recently married but he eloped to Germany for a civil ceremony, though he promises a formal celebration of the marriage next Spring with friends and family in attendance - I guess I'd better get a passport. Happily for me, my tan is well established so I will not have to contend with sun-burned buttocks (or heels) when I go.

mac 8:47 PM  

@Deb: congratulations! Enjoy that event.

Anonymous 11:17 PM  

The Battle of Isandlwana was followed immediately by the Battle of Rorke's Drift, where a ridiculously outnumbered British garrison successfully held off repeated attacks by victorious ZULUS fresh from Isandlwana. Rorke's Drift was dramatized in the film "Zulu", while Isandlwana itself gets a gruesome, comic treatment in "Monty Python's Meaning of Life".

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Ayrshire is the county, Ayr is the town.

DMGrandma 3:04 PM  

Like @Hazel I found this one to be a crossing of the diabolical with the unknown. Strangely, after two days of solving all but the SE, that was the only part of today's poser I completed on my own! Everywhere else showed my ignorance of everything from PEACEOUT to RABE. Often skip Sunday's, they seem to come from a different planet, so looking forward to Monday to help me realize I'm not a robot. Speaking of which, why does Captcha ask us to "type the two words"?? I only see one word. 2 condutdoAs I understand it, that other thing is called a number. See you Monday.

DMG 3:09 PM  

Wow. Somehow the Captcha word(a?) inserted themselves into my comment about the Captcha! How weird is that?!

Spacecraft 7:55 PM  

Well, apparently I AM a robot, because I finished this one very early in the day--for me--and was the first Syndi-blogger.


Where it went I haven't the foggiest, but in a nutshell, This one was almost as much fun as yesterday's. Near-Naticked in the NE, I knew it had to be either AB- or AD-INITIO. RABE or RADE? Wait, my Latin prefixes (thank you, Miss Lippi!)! AB means from. In the SW, a true triple-Nat. Didn't know the acrosses at 50, 59 OR 66. So I had LEN somebody (someone said this was a GIMME???) I wound up putting in the A, L and N on pure guesswork. I was right! Go figure. LENAOLIN. Sounds like something you put on your kitchen floor.

@anon 11:17: Footnote to "ZULU!" filmed about Rorke's (Roarke's?) Drift: This was the film debut of one Michael Caine, who made a remarkable transformation from spoiled aristocrat who wouldn't soil his hanky to uber-courageous soldier fighting for his life. The picture was, IMO, vastly underrated; luckily, Michael was not.

Dirigonzo 8:47 PM  

My apologies to those who went to my blog yesterday looking for the link to the "empty seat" monologue delivered by Clint Eastwood at the RNC convention. If you are still interested you can view "The Daily Show" coverage here":

It's well worth watching.

Dirigonzo 9:57 PM  

@DMG - it was doing the (syndicated) Sunday puzzle that got me hooked on the NYT Crosswords and brought me to this blog. I hope you'll reconsider skipping the Sunday puz because they are (usually) a lot of fun and well worth the extra time it takes to fill in the expanded grid. If you can tackle a Saturday puzzle, then Sunday should be a piece of cake!

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