#1 spoken-word hit of 1964 / SAT 12-28-13 / Jonathan's wife in Dracula / Vino de Spanish wine designation / Castle of Hungarian tourist draw / 1975 hit song about tramps like us / Phoenix suburb larger than Midwest city it's named for

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Constructor: Frederick J. Healy

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "RINGO" (7D: #1 spoken-word hit of 1964) —
"Ringo" was a hit single for the Canadian-born actor, Lorne Greene, in 1964.
The song's actual sung lyrics are limited to the title word alone, performed by an unidentified male chorus. Throughout the rest of the performance, Greene talks about the legendary gunfighter. His words tell the story, in a first-person account, of a Western lawman and his relationship with a notorious gunfighter, Ringo, presumably based on the outlaw Johnny Ringo. It has been pointed out that the song does not fit the known historical facts of the life of Johnny Ringo. However, this did not damage the song's popularity, as it shot to the top of the US Billboard charts on December 5, 1964. It also peaked at #1 on the "Easy Listening" chart, where it remained at the top for six weeks. The single also peaked at number twenty-one on Hot Country Singles chart.[2] In Canada, it hit #1 on the RPM top singles chart on December 7. The song was written by Don Robertson and Hal Blair.
The 'B' side of the disc contained a vocal version of the theme song of Greene's TV showBonanza, with lyrics that were never used on TV (See Bonanza article for more on that song). (wikipedia)
• • •

Mixed bag today. Some lovely stuff, like the long Downs in the NE and a few other stray longer answers, but then a lot of suboptimal GUNK. Old school crosswordese  (SSA SSR SRTA UIES etc) and foreign fragments (PAGO MOLTO etc.) and DESE and DANL just run too thick throughout this thing. Cluing seemed off in a bunch of places too. Floppy disks are PASSÉ? "PASSÉ" is "no longer fashionable," and floppy disks have nothing to do with fashion. People don't use them any more because they have been superseded by better technology, and modern machines simply don't run them. When does a bully say "ANYONE ELSE?"? After he beats one person up and then turns to the crowd of onlookers? This feels like a cartoonish depiction of a 1940s bully. Also, seems like it could easily be said by a victim of bullying who just pummeled the hell out of one of his abusers. Maybe the phrase rang truer, bully-wise, in days OF OLD. A lot of this puzzle felt slightly OF OLD. Bert LAHR! William INGE! "RINGO"! "RINGO" was Not on my radar. I do like that "RINGO" crosses GUNSLINGER, since the word "GUNSLINGERs" appears in the song's first line.

JUMBO FRIES is not a thing, so that was terrible. LARGE FRIES, a thing. JUMBO SHRIMP, a thing. JUMBO FRIES, not. Also, a side is only "gut-busting" if the portion is large and you eat all of it. In the art of challenging cluing, there's an occasionally fine line between clever and nonsensical. Consider [It's not drawn due to gravity] for SMILEY FACE. I hated this at first. Then I got it—and by "it," I mean "the meaning of 'gravity' in this context." You draw a SMILEY FACE due to levity, not gravity. Gotcha. Hard, but in the end, fitting.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 7:28 AM  

I like this type of construction where the areas are connected by more than one answer. I started in the SE and wound my way back to the NW. Other puzzles can feel like four mini-grids connected by rope bridges.

John Child 8:03 AM  

I loved the answers RIPSNORTER , JUST PEACHY, and SUGARCOATED. Deliciously twisted clues like "It may be said wearing a toga" (Et tu Brute fits...) and "Verbal alternative to a head slap" added crunch. Just right fior Saturday.,

Loren Muse Smith 8:15 AM  

Wow. 8:15am and only two comments. Hope you all are sleeping in and enjoying being ON LEAVE (and not "glowing," as I entertained first.)

I didn't recognize Mr. Healy's name, so I didn't know if I should just wave the white flag early or treat it like a Peterson or Berry and know I could finish. I decided to give it a shot, and I wrestled this MOLTO toughie to the ground! Saturday Stumper, LA Times. . . ANYONE ELSE? Here I come.

I had "and who else" in the sense of "you and what army?" but I get ANYONE ELSE and can hear a bully say that. I can hear Rex' victim-gone-postal say it better, though.

Other missteps:

"dopey me" SILLY ME
"peak" PACT
"ripe" MILD
"when" ONCE. Loved, loved, loved that clue.
"Ondine" for ODETTE. No idea where *that* came from.
"no problemo" JUST PEACHY. That was when "el nino" or "la nina" was that wind.
"Asta" (but he wasn't a cartoon, was he?), which gave me the ridiculous. . .
"party arty" LET'S PARTY. I convinced myself I could hear drunk guys chanting "Party arty arty."

I resisted OF OLD until the bitter end because that feels like an adjective to me whereas the clue is an adverb. I can't come up with a sentence with "anciently," but is it really interchangeable with OF OLD?

anciently-established laws - modifies established, so it's an adverb
laws OF OLD - modifies laws, so it's an adjective

I'm boring you with this only because I almost didn't finish because I couldn't believe it was OF OLD.

SMILEY FACE right above SENTIMENTS is terrific.

I tell you what – there's nothing like watching dogs live their lives on a farm. For sure, they were BORN TO RUN. Rat Poison Tucker's itchy coat and other troubles have just disappeared. RUNning must be some kind of panacea for dogs.

Why do we add that D when we change "refrigerator" to FRIDGE? To make sure the G is soft? But we have beige, prestige, vestige. . .. Can someone find out and get back to me?

My sneezes are NOSE RIPSNORTERS, which I hate. My daughter's sneezes are SUGAR-COATED RIPSNORTERS – violent on the inside but dainty and ladylike on the outside. I've always admired her for that.

All in all - great fun and an epic fight. Loved all the long downs. And my birthstone is GARNET, so there's that. Good one, Frederick!

MetaRex 8:18 AM  

My project of quantitatively evaluating puzzes, v. 3.0, is here...the new change in method is to evaluate each word in a puzz as having a positive, negative, or neutral charge...it's applied to today's and yesterday's puzzes.

Non-quantitative impressions: SRTA/UIES/GPAS didn't stall and irritate me today the way STUF/TAI/FIERI did yesterday, but nothing today was as nice as the DJANGO UNCHAINED/CALVIN AND HOBBES crossing yesterday.

jberg 8:38 AM  

Tough but fair. I haven't actually ordered food in a McD's for about 20 years (I do get coffee there on long drives), so I have no idea if they have JUMBO FRIES probably after that movie they have minimized their descriptors, unlike, say, Starbuck's, which has gone the opposite way. But it certainly SOUNDS like it should be gut-busting, and of course it was lovely sitting above ONION RINGS.

My hardest part was getting EvokE before EDUCE, combined with misspelling MOhAVE.

Is "Dem Bones" (or is it Dry Bones?) really a spiritual? That doesn't seem right.

I'm guessing the low number of comments is because Rex posted late; I'll have to come back later and see what everyone else thought.

I don't usually mention the CAPTCHA, but today the fuzzy numbers actually are 42.

AliasZ 8:43 AM  

This was a snake of a puzzle with the NW and SE sections connected to the center swatch only via rope ladders. I prefer a more open grid with multiple paths into these isolated corners. Compare this grid to Brad Wilber's Saturday Stumper to see what I mean.

I thought the fill was rather MILD. I was thinking, switching the last words of 30 & 36A would have ginned it up a bit: BORN TO PARTY [Like Kim Kardashian, for one] and LET'S RUN! [Yell after a prank].

There were some nice long entries of which the two in the NE: the SUGARCOATED RIPSNORTER humdingers, were quite charming, but at the cost of SRTAS, UIES (ueys?) and GPAS piled atop each other. I expected more zip there. SSA, SSR -- these could be SSE, SSN, SSS, SST, SSW and anything in between. Vino de PAGO is rather obscure, this wine classification was introduced by the Spanish parliament only in 2003. But half of the Samoan capital would have been too easy for a Sat.

I agree with Rex, too much GUNK took ATOLL on this puzzle.

Jim Walker 8:49 AM  

One of the best Saturday puzzles of the year. I love puzzles that refuse to be googled to the ground. Great clues for ATNO, SMILEYFACE, and AMEN. Never heard of JUMBOFRIES but it is plausible and even the words busted my gut so okay.

Had trouble with SSA. Does anyone actually have an SS "card" anymore? I haven't seen mine since the Nixon administration.


jburgs 9:03 AM  

This MOLTO toughie wrestled me to the ground today.

The NW went very smoothly as did the SW but the whole East side was a disaster due to having rtes for UIES and assuming the Portuguese would not be the same as spanish at 11A. At 40D assumed it would be cramin or shoein rather than PILEIN. I solve on paper. I had to go back to the Online version to use the check and reveal functions to finally get everything. Would have loved to be able to suss out RIPSNORTER on my own.

An example of a head slap moment. When I got back into solving crosswords I got tired of sharpening pencils. My boys had left many mechanical pencils at home and so I began using them.I had never used mechanical pencils before.
I then bought myself a nice Comfortmate ULTRA which I used regularly. It came with extra erasers and leads. On the day the lead ran out I unscrewed the silver portion at the nib end of the thing and then depressing the top end inserted the lead into the bottom. It took me three leads to accomplish as they kept breaking. I checked the package that the pen had come in (had kept it as the extra leads and erasers were in the bubble pack) for what I might be doing wrong but it had no instructions as to reloading.
Anyway, I kept this up for at least a couple of years. Whenever I replaced the leads I would curse, but actually got better and the odd time got one inserted the first time. My son was home from school at Thanksgiving. I happened to have to replace the lead while he was near and complained to him about how poorly these pencils were engineered and all the problems I was having getting these damn leads in and asked him how he could sat and the trouble. He didn't say anything. He took the pencil from me, popped off the eraser and dropped in the lead. Talk about a head slapping moment I had had no idea.

dk 9:24 AM  

Burt LAHR in waiting for Godot -- who knew?

*** (3 Stars)

jburgs, may i suggest a "harder" lead as used in drafting. You can also get a cool sharpenner. If Ulrich shows up he can give you more detail. I shudder to think of how you get ink in fountain pens.

Off to Velvet, java shop par excellance here in NOLA. Just call me Pendergast.

Carola 9:35 AM  

When I finished, I felt like LET'S PARTY! I loved this puzzle - RIPSNORTER, JUST PEACHY, GUNSLINGER, SUGAR-COATED. I found it really tough to get into the NW and SE corners but lots of fun to figure it all out.

I liked JUMBO FRIES and ONION RINGS crossing FRIDGE, which you could raid if you were still hungry. Also liked the FIATS and their UIES. Overall, this puzzle seemed exhuberant and happy - appropriately the DRYS and bullies with their ANYONE ELSE are pushed to the bottom.

Do-overs: For the pregnant women, I went by my own experience and wrote in what immediately came to mind: OverduE. Also, BORN TO wiN, bill before UNUM, and aurorE before ODETTE.

Thank you, Frederick Healy - this one definitely left me with a SMILEY FACE.

joho 9:37 AM  

How can a puzzle with a JUSTPEACHY, SUGARCOATED RIPSNORTER in it not slap a SMILEYFACE on your mug? This one made me want to shout, "LETSPARTY!" ANYONEELSE?"

SILLYME if I did not see all the bad in this. I focused on the bouncy phrases and the image of a TRAY loaded with two orders of extra cheesy JUMBOFRIES and crispy ONIONRINGS.

Thank you, Frederick J. Healy!

Otterring 9:40 AM  

Anyone else put in littlewhite instead of SUGARCOATED? That was my first entry, and I was so impressed with myself that I got a long Saturday answer right off the bat. But then I couldn't get anything to work in the NE and quickly realized that I'm not as clever as I thought.

At the end of the day (10:45 PM to be exact), I cleanly finished the puzzle in under an hour, which for me made it a pretty easy Saturday.

Sasha 10:05 AM  

ONLEAVE for "like many pregnant women" was a surprise, since most women I've known have worked pretty close to or up to their due date, and then taken leave after giving birth. I always confuse convex and concave, so I almost put concave in there for a bit.

Zwhatever 10:26 AM  

We had Split Pea and Okra Fritters last night. Yum.

@LMS - Why doesn't refrigerator have a D in it? It is less pronounced than in FRIDGE, but still there. They both sound more like 'edge," than 'beige."

Easier for me than yesterday, especially in the west. MOLTO presto is a new phrase for me, combined with puNY before TINY made that area tough.

A little surprised to see SSR in a Saturday, it really seems like an early-week weeject. SSA isn't much better save it appears less frequently. All in all a fun tussle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

Agree with apparent consensus: Fine, Medium Saturday.

As I went along, I was composing in my mind a comment along the lines of: Should we consult @Tita re: 11A, "Portr. title" and @mac re: 19A, "It means little in the Lowlands"? But then I said 38D, SILLY ME! The clue for 19A is Scottish, the seldom-seen Lowlands in contrast to the Highlands, not the Low Country (Netherlands) as I had first thought.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

I was looking for something like funny bone for "Gut-busting side" and something like humorlessness" for its "Alternative," so the NW was the last to fall. Almost as hard was the SE. (I was thinking of some sort of bath that couldn't be drawn due to gravity.) rACElEadERS for PACESETTERS threw me off for a while in the middle. So I had a hard time in several places. But I did finish. Gimmes like SRTA, GPAS, GUNK, GARNET, SMA, LAHR, DAD, WISE, BARAK, SSA and FRIDGE
helped a lot.

Mohair Sam 10:52 AM  

MOLTO bene Saturday. Played medium here, and we enjoyed. Cluing was clever - although I have to agree with Rex on two points: Bell bottoms may be PASSE, but not floppy disks. And if someone starts a "ban the UIE" petition I will sign it.

No problem with ANYONEELSE. I picture the punk in "A Christmas Story" glaring at the onlookers after whupping his latest victim.

Unlike Rex we liked the LAHR clue, nice change from Cowardly Lion references. And if you know the play, he is a likely candidate for the role.

Sandy K 10:53 AM  

I agree with the SENTIMENTS of others who enjoyed this puzzle.

Faves were JUMBO FRIES, ONION RINGS, SUGAR-COATED, WISE-must be the potato chips...

Only GUNK I minded was UIES.

Thought the puz was JUST PEACHY. Left me with a SMILEY FACE. = )

Norm 10:59 AM  

@Ottering. Yep. I was so disappointed when I had to take it out.

Unknown 11:00 AM  

What I was really hoping was that some one could explain Port. title/SRTA to me. I'm lost on that one, though I expect a SILLY ME moment eventually.

jae 11:06 AM  
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Unknown 11:07 AM  

Chorister here. After about 20 undecipherable captchas, I finally got my comment to post. And now I am Unknown? How disappointing.

As long as I'm back, I have to agree with some one else about the maternity leave thing. I, myself, went on leave while pregnant to I could go on bed rest for 11 1/2 weeks (not that I was counting,) but I hope that was the exception & not the case for "many."

jae 11:08 AM  
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lawprof 11:08 AM  

There's a scene in The Avengers movie where The Incredible Hulk grabs the villain Loki by the scruff of the neck and repeatedly whips him onto the ground like a wet dishrag. Call me Loki today.

jae 11:09 AM  

I too am with the consensus on this one.  A delightful easy-medium Sat.!  Put a SMILEY FACE on it!  I took me too long to come up with MOJAVE and we are currently in the middle of a MILD Santa Anna.  It was over 80 degrees when I got off the golf course around noon yesterday.  Part of the problem is that unlike LA our winds come off the Anza Borrego. 

Also JarS before JOGS, rteS before UIES, wannA for SORTA, and DEMs before DESE.

WOEs: MENA (as clued) and EGER (add an I and you've got an Alp).

@mette -- Yes, I remember that puzzle well.  Rex had a link to it on his blog page for a while captioned "The Wrath of Klahn".

Lotsa good stuff.  A fine piece of work Mr. Healy!

Tita 11:27 AM  

What @John Child said...
Doing this with puzzle spouse while sitting by his side in the hospital... His usual answer to
"How you doing?" Is "Just peachy!"
He is slightly less than that, but one more night and he should be dating that again...

We had to do one letter reveal to finish... The "n" have is UNUM, and the rest of the NE finally feel. Liked the clue for UNUM, btw.

@lms... my aunt prided herself on her SUGARCOATED sneezes. My husband refuses, explaining that he would blow his brains out if he tried that.

@jberg...I hope you didn't actually *answer* 42! We SORTA made a PACT to not be Google's unpaid towel boys and girls!

@jim walker...puz-spouse read that clue as Selective Service Administration... As in draft card.

Unknown 11:41 AM  

Every reflex pulled in the wrong direction today.

1D "taps" for slight pushes
"desert" for Santa Ana source crossing with "dada" for a baby's cry
"buda" for the Hungarian castle.
"cent" for one at a US mint
"showing" for pregnancy, since nearly all pregnant women are actually NOT ONLEAVE until the last week or so, but ALL new moms are. Horrible clue there.

The was a 30% complete hour-long DNF and the hardest Saturday in 6 months. Yes, it takes time and effort and the wracking of brains to be this wrong.

No anchor anywhere. It killed me. I hated it. Ok, I don't hate it. I hate something else.

Loren Muse Smith 11:42 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 11:44 AM  

@Z – yeah! We add the D to make sure it's the affricate /dʒ/ as in JUMBO and not the fricative, /ʒ/, as in TUNESIAN. So do you say garage with the /dʒ/ or the /ʒ/? How 'bout liege?

@Tita - I've actually heard that SUGAR-COATED sneezes can be dangerous.

@jburgs – I have a good friend who, when filling her Krups coffee maker, constantly fumbles around the kitchen for some make-shift vessel to hold the water to pour into the Krups reservoir, all the while the empty carafe sits there, ignored.

When I was at the club, they gave me a work phone – a Blackberry Torch. I had this phone in my possession all day – hours - every now and then trying to pry it open to see if, indeed, there could be a concealed keyboard and I wouldn't have to learn to touch-screen type. Nope. I could not pry it open and was resigned to learn to use a touch screen. When I got home, my son saw it and said, "Cool! A Torch!" And he effortlessly slid the top part up with his thumb to reveal the keypad. I repeat, I had fiddled with this phone for hours.

And I won't elaborate on the remarkable contortionism I exercised in getting under the kitchen sink (after removing the sponges, Raid, oven cleaner, two-gallon vat of food-grade flea killer, rubber gloves, fire extinguisher, Pine Sol, and Cascade) to unscrew the built-in soap thingy to add dish detergent to this reservoir connected to. the. pump. that. lifted. out. from. the. top.

I'm with @dk - I want to see a youtube of @jburgs refilling a fountain pen!

mac 11:45 AM  

I enjoyed this one, but did not finish because of "rip snorter". Why did I not know that word??
Jumbo fries and onion rings did not occur to me, and I thought the Spanish wine was vino de pais. I did get gunslinger, on leave, Inge and SSR, but simply gave up too fast.

@BobK: I made it even more complicated. I thought Louisiana had Lowlands, and the answer might be "peu"!

Unknown 11:45 AM  
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GILL I. 11:46 AM  

I wasn't sure how to categorize this puzzle but finally decided on "cute." Yes, this was a cute puzzle. Mr. Healy is the constructor who gave us BOOTEE....!
@Loren I too had a bunch of write-overs. I so wanted RIP roaring and LETS boogY. Eventually it all worked itself out
Hey @jae: PIERCE!
I learned something new today because I never heard of Vino de PAGO. It sort of translates to "wine of pay" which doesn't make sense. I'll have to Google that.
For some reason I wanted ASHE to be the author for "My son is a splendid driver" and Lent was my devotional period. I guess that would be UNPC.
Thanks for the SMILE on my FACE FJH.

Tita 11:47 AM  
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Tita 11:49 AM  

@Unkown aka Chorister, @Bob K...
I resisted SRTA for Port. title...
Back when I was one, I never was called that.
I was called "Menina" - young girl...
To my delight, I was still called that well into my 30's and even 40's, I think!

I must consult with my Mom and others - to see if it is in fact in use.
I wonder if it is more a Brazilian thing - given their proximity to so many Spanish-speaking countries, and their openness to other languages.

As far as I know, -ita is not a Portuguesse diminutive - it is -inha (or inho).
One of the things I love about the language is that we have both the dimunitive and the opposite (@lms - what is the linguistic term for that?)
Garrafa is bottle - garrafinha is a tiny bottle, garrafão is a jug.
The Italians do that too.

Google Translate 11:50 AM  

Google Translate claims that "senhorita" is Portuguese for "miss."

Bill from FL 11:56 AM  

It would have been medium, but I foolishly entered UNPG instead of UNPC, which led me to EMERGE instead of PIERCE, and utterly blocked the SE for a long time. I even had DETERGENTS instead of SENTIMENTS, until I noticed that "joy" was not capitalized in the clue. Finally seeing UNPC (duh) allowed me to "break through."

John V 11:57 AM  

Always happy to finish a Saturday with no mistakes. Hand up for thinking the grid connectivity was a touch weak, adding to the challenge, almost like two puzzles.

NE last to fall, SRTA UIES two abbreviations stacked made that hard.

mathguy 12:05 PM  

My method of doing the puzzle is to go through every clue and fill in the gimmes and then build off the letters in the grid. In this one I didn't find a single gimme. In trying again, I got ATOLL and SILLYME off that and then the SE sector. I thought that it was a real challenge and felt good about being able to solve it without Googling.

mathguy 12:06 PM  

My method of doing the puzzle is to go through every clue and fill in the gimmes and then build off the letters in the grid. In this one I didn't find a single gimme. In trying again, I got ATOLL and SILLYME off that and then the SE sector. I thought that it was a real challenge and felt good about being able to solve it without Googling.

Loren Muse Smith 12:07 PM  
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Loren Muse Smith 12:09 PM  

@Tita – I have no idea if there's a word for the phenomenon of opposing suffixes like that. How interesting.

As far as I can tell, aside from my go-to megaly, English doesn't really have a common suffix that means "bigger" to be the opposite of, say, -let:


We do, on the other hand have a prefix that renders the noun larger: bigass

"I’m going to an inlet on vacation – gimme one of DESE bigassbooks."

quilter1 12:09 PM  

Slept late, took my time and finished after watching Rachel Maddow from last night, a summary of the best of the Best New Thing features of 2013. San Francisco's Batkid was my favorite. Husband's 70th birthday today.

I really liked almost everything about this puzzle. I hope Fred has more in store.

Benko 12:12 PM  

Like @Tita, I thought SRTA was only a Spanish title, not , and resisted it. Like @Rex, I have never heard the phrase JUMBOFRIES and resisted that too.
I have to say that I agree more with @Rex than the consensus today. I found a lot of the clues/entries in this one forced.
@LMS: I think you could just as easily say "established OF OLD", changing to use to an adverb.

Benko 12:14 PM  

"Portuguese" was deleted from my last comment, accidentally.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Backed into ATNO but not sure what the connection is to the clue. Any explanation?

Glimmerglass 12:30 PM  

@jburg. My 9th grade science teacher banned mechanical pencils, which he called "neversharps." Good Saturday puzzle. I had help from a friend visiting from Budapest, who supplied castle ERGA (she said BudA) would also fit.

Numinous 12:39 PM  

I wanted loNe raNGER for GUNSLINGER. I thought that was a wonderfully current answer.

@jim walker: My SS card is in my wallet where it has been since 1965. They told me not to lose it!

SRTA and UIES were the last to fall off figuring out TEASE. I was kinda wanting SRhA and I'm still waiting for my GPS to say, "Hang a UIE in one hundred feet." Oddly enough, my lovely wife got that message from her GPS, worded correctly, just yesterday on her way home from the airport. Daughter, arriving home after a year of school in Australia, insisted on going left when Mom wanted to go right. Guess who was correct.

@Ottering: littlewhite occurred to me first too but didn't risk it. Other first thoughts that later proved correct after crosses: SMA, EDGER, PASSE, LAHR, EDUCE, BARAK, PACT, ATOLL. My DAD was a scoutmaster.

Thanks FJH for a pleasant hour and thanks to Rex's bloggers for another pleasant hour spent on a bleak Saturday.

Unknown 1:00 PM  

Thanks for the help on Srta. My mind went to Portland and never came round to Portuguese.

@annonymous 12:30 ATNO is atomic number.
The Unknown Chorister

Norm 1:02 PM  

@ mathguy: I follow pretty much the same approach, although I'll stop and try to expand from a gimme once I'm sure of it. Today, EDUCE was the first entry I was sure about (due to the ODIE cross) and then WISE, MEWL, and LETSPARTY (confirmed by crosswordese BARI) got me going. Had to reboot with the same process a couple of time before I could join the sectors. Nice puzzle.

Zwhatever 1:09 PM  

I forgot to mention that I did the Klahn puzzle referenced by @mette yesterday. I had to look up MINA yesterday, but not this morning. As far as I can recall, these are the only two times I've seen the character's name anywhere.

@LMS - garage is subtly closer to edge than liege when I say them. Djumbo Unchained is the new Disney feature, I hear.



r.alphbunker 1:19 PM  

I wanted tiTA for {Port. title} :-)

M and A Of Old 1:22 PM  

@lms: Must-viewing for U and rat-poison-dog: "Tucker & Dale vs Evil". Was part of yesternite's schlockfest. Harlarious.

Six U-IES. Our fave grub, here at the BAR-I Ranch. Not anyway near enough weejects today to choose from; more GUNKSLINGIN', pullease. SMA and BOS were just not desperate enough to go to town on their own. BARE. MILD. SUGARCOATED.

fave intersection... RINGO/ONIONRINGS.


Anonymous 1:28 PM  

This one left me MEWLing.

beatrice 1:44 PM  



I believe ATNO stands for 'atomic number', a somewhat common bit of crossword go-to filler. There is no element (I think - I'm not a scientist! but I did check the periodic table) identified by either the letter A or the letter E.

Tita 1:54 PM  

Well, here goes - as the resident Titled Portuguese (thanks @r.alph!), let me chime in after my exhaustive research:

My mom says she has NEVER heard the term. And she ougtha know, having been quite the "menina" in her day.

My preferred online Portuguese-only dictionary defines it as a Brasilian usage.
My deadtree Portuguese dictionary says the same.
Interestingly, its first definition is 'a woman of short stature' - so I will from now on have to TEASE my 4'11" mom that she is in fact a SRTA.!

So, as I had dEDUCED, the clue/answer is (of course), correct - in Brasil.
"The Queen's Portuguese" is being overtaken by its former colony's version. Sound familiar?

And to our resident linguist, a bit of googling brought me to "Augmentative"!

3 and out, though I do feel enTITLEd to jump back in if I have anything else WISE to add to teh SRTA discussion.


(aagh - a conspiracy - my # is 42 now too!)

Steve J 2:08 PM  

Lots of good long stuff, but I'm not sure the volume of ugly short stuff was a fair exchange. Especially in the north. The NW's strong acrosses come at the expense of six dodgy or just plain bad downs, and the NE's strong downs require trading them off for two abbreviations (at least they're common ones) and UIES. Those examples, plus scattered stuff like UNPC, took some of the shine off the sparkly long fill.

Also agreed that the cluing often felt off, but there were also some gems in there (agreed on the brilliance of the gravity clue for SMILEY FACE).

In the end, his one was a mixed bag. Lots of good stuff at the expense of lots of unpleasant stuff. Balanced out pretty much in the middle.

beatrice 2:14 PM  

@ Anonymous 12:30 I apologize for duplicating what others had already written re:ATNO - for some reason those posts did not show up here until after I had posted.

@jberg (hope this isn't another dupe!)- in case you haven't looked this up by now, but might be interested - I checked on Dry Bones (or Dem Bones, or Dem Dry Bones!). According to Wiki, it is a spiritual, although not a 'traditional' one. Rather, it was written by James Weldon Johnson, also known for "God's Trombones.'

beatrice 2:15 PM  

@ Anonymous 12:30 I apologize for duplicating what others had already written re:ATNO - for some reason those posts did not show up here until after I had posted.

@jberg (hope this isn't another dupe!)- in case you haven't looked this up by now, but might be interested - I checked on Dry Bones (or Dem Bones, or Dem Dry Bones!). According to Wiki, it is a spiritual, although not a 'traditional' one. Rather, it was written by James Weldon Johnson, also known for "God's Trombones.'

Unknown 2:29 PM  

I have frozen Jumbo Fries in my freezer as we speak. Since, apparently, "it's not a thing" and no-one here has heard of them, I think it may say something more about me than anything else. ;-). But, it made the NW corner fairly easy for me. And hungry.

But, I may be misremembering, but I remember clamoring for Jumbo Fries from Nathan's on every trip to Coney Island when I was a kid.

fiddleneck 2:40 PM  

@loren muse smith: I think fridge is short for the brand name Fridgidaire.

Unknown 2:50 PM  

@fiddleneck - except that it's Frigidaire, not Fridgidaire, so he same problem exists that @loren brought up.

miriam b 2:51 PM  


Mette 2:54 PM  

Claret for GARNET, bawl before MEWL and Begin for BARAK. Had to Google INGE to finish. (Misdirection indeed.) Thank you Rex for explaining that gravity thing. Just loved RIPSNORTER.

Unknown 3:19 PM  


Lewis 4:29 PM  

A mixed bag. Lovely long answers but a lot of grid gruel. Many excellent clues. Overall a very satisfying solve, however, and I liked it. JUMBO FRIES gets lots of Google hits.

Has anyone ever in their life said the word "anciently"?

Anna 5:21 PM  

According to Merriam-Webster, passe' means "outmoded; behind the times." No mention of "fashionable."

Really liked this puzzle

sanfranman59 7:16 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:54, 6:13, 0.95, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:14, 8:12, 1.13, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:16, 9:56, 1.13, 80%, Challenging
Thu 16:16, 17:56, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium
Fri 24:00, 19:47, 1.21, 85%, Challenging
Sat 23:39, 27:12, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:49, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:36, 5:09, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:15, 5:58, 1.22, 90%, Challenging
Thu 9:25, 10:24, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium
Fri 15:29, 11:32, 1.34, 90%, Challenging
Sat 14:25, 17:36, 0.82, 18%, Easy

Dirigonzo 7:16 PM  

What @joho said word for word, AMEN.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

i liked mathguy's comment. always like a Friday and Saturday that I can finish without Google even if it takes a while. Have contributed to Rex's blog, but never commented before. Am getting tired of his bitchiness about NY Times puzzles and seemingly anything he's never heard of. This one was fun. period.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

i liked mathguy's comment. always like a Friday and Saturday that I can finish without Google even if it takes a while. Have contributed to Rex's blog, but never commented before. Am getting tired of his bitchiness about NY Times puzzles and seemingly anything he's never heard of. This one was fun. period.

LaneB 8:09 PM  

Came close to finishing but was unable to decipher the horrible cluing in the SE corne.
ATNO [what is that?] crossing with UNPC [finally got Maher's Politically Incorrect reference] coupled with the ME in SILLYME led to DNF re the Bully's Question, ANYONEELSE? You've got to be kidding Mr. Healy.

Still, not bad for a Saturday, though I surfe did need some google help confirming answers PAGO, LAHR, ASSETand EGER.

Remain mildly ticked off re SMA [?], DANL and SSA.
Sore loser that I am.

David 8:24 PM  

Do GPSs really suggest "UIES"?

Considering that people will follow literally any direction their GPS gives them, that's pretty scary.

Dirigonzo 9:38 PM  

@David - my GPS helpfully suggests, "Turn around when possible" so I don't think UIES is too much of a stretch.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

Couldn't finish the NW because ANSEL ADAMS just had to be right for 17A ("Shotting Star"), because it led to three crosses (2D, 4D, and 5D) that also had to be right -- CENT (One at the U.S. mint"), CLE ("A.L. East sports team"), and ON LEAVE (which actually was right).

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Sugar coated lies? nonsense. You sugarcoat the truth.

spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Oh em gee, I actually FINISHED the thing! When I first scanned the clue list, I could find not one single gimme. Anywhere. And I am a Twain fan, but could I think of that stupid frog's NAME? Not the first three times. But then I tried DAD, and the D touched off DAN(')L. This was not a shopehorn; more like a machete. I had to go through and hack away at the jungle of obscurities. Medium? No way. 100% challenging, even if I DID get it.

By golly, I may actually have a few gray cells still workin!' I thus enjoy the solve of tough nuts like this, , despite brutal cluing and iffy fill (I absolutely abhor UIES, and neighbors SRTA and GPAS aren't too pretty either. The payoff had better be great for these acrosses--and it was. Though I agree that the truth, not lies, is most commonly SUGARCOATED. RIPSNORTER is...well, one.

I love that NOSE intersects with the Bill Maher-clued UNPC. There goes a schnozz that would put Durante to shame. (Not Maher--he HAS no shame!)

Writeovers: Tor before BOS, rACElEadERS before PACESETTERS.

And now, on the eve of SBXLVIII, I hate to say it to a couple of known Syndiland Seahawk fans, but tomorrow's gonna be a long day. They have no 12th man now, when they most need one. The rings will have to wait.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

First two answers were little white and wanna fight. I thought they were such great answers it was hard to let them go. Born to run knocked out the former and silly me knocked out the latter. Success in a shorter Saturday time. Good puzzle.

DMG 3:06 PM  

My experience was much like @spacecraft's, except I didn't get it all. Couldn't figure out what kind of FRIES were on order, and my shooting star was a "ballplayer", clearly wrong when UNUM turned "ball" to "bull", but I didn't enough of the crosses to work it out. O I guess no SMILEYFACE on my efforts.

rain forest 4:42 PM  

I can't believe @Sanfranman's stats on this. This was tough for me, particularly the SW, where OFOLD was my last entry.

I don't know if JUMBOFRIES is "a thing", but it just sounds right to me. As a Canadian, I was quietly proud to see RINGO in there (gimme for me).

@Spacecraft - hmm. I just can't see Denver winning this one. Just a stray thought. When the SB turns 50, will it really be Super Bowl L? Looks funny to me.

Go Hawks.

Solving in Seattle 6:28 PM  

This was one tough RIPSNORTER for me. Had to do a lot of EDUCEing.

Just me, but I thought some of the clueing was deliberately cutesy misleading, like the clue "Pride and joy. How is that synonymous with SENTIMENTS?

And I agree with Rex about floppy disks being defined as PASSE. When I wrote that in I said to myself - naw.

puRE before BARE. rtES before UIES. My navigator says in his British accent "If possible, make a U turn." M&A would love it.

@Z, can't stand okra. My grandmother, who was from Texas, boiled all vegetables until they were a like jelly. Okra is really bad as green mush.

@Spacy, never underestimate the lung power of ten thousand 12th mans (men). Go Hawks!

My boat is fours over nines.

Anonymous 5:38 AM  

@Sasha - think of walking alongside an embankment and seeing an entrance to a cave. When you look in, it's concave!

Greg 9:58 PM  

Okay, this is a much-belated rant, and no one will ever read this, but here goes catharsis anyway. This is the 2nd Frederick J Healy puzzle I've attempted from the NYT archives, and it will be my last. Why? Because his puzzles feel more like trivia night at the pub than working a crossword. IMHO, a crossWORD puzzle should be an exercise in vocabulary and wordplay. Not "which arcane historical figures do you know". The NW of this puzzle is exhibit A. A full 5/10 of the crosses are proper/foreign terms. Of course JUMBOFRIES and ONIONRINGS are utterly pedestrian once you see them filled in, but how are you supposed to get to them? I will, I suppose, grant UNUM. But MINA, BOS (1 out of 5 possible AL East teams), RINGO, INGE and EGER? Are you serious?

If I DNF a tough puzzle, I want it to be because I didn't know the 4th Webster's definition of a word, or because I just didn't think long and hard enough about all the permutations of the cluing. I want to slap my head afterwords, and wish that I'd stared at the clue longer. In other words, I want to feel that I COULD have solved it, if only I'd thought about it longer.

In Mr Healy's puzzles, it wouldn't matter HOW long I stare at the grid, I am never going to come up with MINA or EGER, etc. After his elaborate 15-stacker on 03/21/15 kicked my butt, I wanted to try another of his puzzles to see if I could do better, but I didn't, and now I see why. If you have a Jeopardy-champ-like trivia knowledge of authors, Nobel Prize winners and poet-laureates, then his grids are for you. But please don't call them crossWORD puzzles. They are proper-name trivia quizzes masquerading as word puzzles.

Unknown 12:09 AM  

What you do, Gregory, is keep some Patrick Berry puzzles on hand -- if you buy his book you get a ton of them -- and if you experience a particularly irritating puzzle, turn to one of those to alleviate the pain.

Rant solved! :-)

Greg 11:08 PM  

Lol. Thanks, Everett. I"ll do that! :)

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