SATURDAY, May 16, 2009 — Michael Wiesenberg

THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases. This one's grid is notable for having four 7x4 corners, which you don't see too often. The three-letter word count is remarkably low, too—just four of 'em.

Good gravy, this puzzle was easier than I was expecting. One of the quickest themeless Saturday experiences I've had, in fact. Not all the answers were obvious, no, but the crossings coaxed me through any trouble spot.

Crosswordese 101: Today's premier crosswordese answer is 16A: Lou's "La Bamba" costar, ESAI Morales. More recently (2001-04), he played the 15th precinct's boss, Lt. Rodriguez, on NYPD Blue. According to his IMDb page, he was also the voice of Papi on five episodes of Dora the Explorer.

Among the more difficult stuff to grapple with:
  • 10A: Bind (FIX). They're usually verbs, yes, but here they're nouns, as in "I'm in a real bind."
  • 19A: Love and war, to some (ARTS). The art of love, the art of war.
  • 22A: PGA Champions Tour standout Jay (HAAS). Tennis has a Tommy Haas, who's the only Haas I know. Not know personally, mind you.
  • 24A: Shakespeare contemporary George (PEELE). I think I learned this name from other crosswords.
  • 41A: One might keep you from going out (SNORER). I don't know about you, but I never use "going out" to mean "sleep." Maybe "go out like a light," but not the shorter phrase.
  • 45A: California's Highway 1, for one (COAST ROAD). Do Californians call things "coast roads"? I haven't heard that term, but then, I don't live within 500 miles of an ocean.
  • 10D: Lead (BE AHEAD). The "be" in that answer feels misplaced, like it doesn't belong as part of a crossword answer. In the grid, it looks for all the world like BEA HEAD, which would be a fine name for a member of the late Bea Arthur's fan club.
  • 11D: Begin, e.g. (ISRAELI). Ooh, this is my favorite clue. Looks like a verb, but it's a proper noun—Menachem Begin.
  • 45D: Dried cocount meat (COPRA). Not to be confused with Frank Capra or the Copacabana:

What did I like most in this puzzle? This:
  • 20A: Like some dads (STAY-AT-HOME). Terrific, colloquial answer.
  • 28A: Nutritional regimen since the 1970s (ATKINS DIET). See above.
  • 31A: Ich liebe dich : German :: ___ : Spanish (TE AMO). A college classmate of mine made some sweet thing for his girlfriend that included that phrase. I had studied crosswordese more than Spanish, and regular solvers know the amo, amas, amat conjugation of "love"—so I assumed he was writing sweet nothings in Latin. Um, no.
  • 32A: Prince classic (PURPLE RAIN). There are certainly other tunes that fit the clue. If you've seen the movie Purple Rain, you might get a giggle out of this parody:

  • 40D: 2007 A.L. batting champ Magglio (ORDONEZ). He's Venezuelan and I love his name.

That's all for today. PuzzleGirl's got you covered tomorrow and Tuesday, Rex will be here Monday, and I'll be back on Wednesday.

Everything Else — 1A: Journalist Kupcinet et al. (IRVS); 5A: Take by force (WREST); 14A: Word repeated before "Born is the king of Israel" (NOEL); 15A: Games immortal (HOYLE); 17A: Certain something (AURA); 18A: Clinch the deal, slangily (ICE IT); 23A: Blackjack holdings (NINETEENS); 25A: Maryland Air Force base (ANDREWS); 26A: Slanted, in a way (ITALIC); 27A: Pod fillers (PEAS); 37A: Houston MLBer ('STRO); 42A: Ring in a crib (TEETHER); 44A: Like mercenaries (ARMED); 47A: Farm lands (LEAS); 48A: Riviera attraction (MONTE CARLO); 49A: Staffs (MANS); 50A: View from Gibraltar (SPAIN); 51A: Frau's refusal (NEIN); 52A: Prefix meaning "peculiar" (IDIO); 53A: They may be sheepish (GRINS); 54A: Fog (DAZE); 55A: Printer's primary color (CYAN); 56A: Noncom nickname (SARGE); 57A: Canal site (SUEZ); 1D: Quickly (IN A SNAP); 2D: Ordinary (ROUTINE); 3D: Open porch (VERANDA); 4D: TV's Buffy and Faith, e.g. (SLAYERS); 5D: Kayaking challenge (WHITEWATER); 6D: Kodak's home (ROCHESTER); 7D: Keep an __ (EYE ON); 8D: Loses, in a way, with "down" (SLIMS); 9D: Dijon dome? (TÉTE); 12D: Wood of Hollywood (NATALIE); 13D: Analyze (DISSECT); 21D: Consumed (ATE); 24D: Liq. measures (PTS); 26D: By some measure (IN ONE SENSE); 29D: Kipling python (KAA); 30D: Doing, so to speak (IMITATING); 32D: Like much worship music (PSALMIC); 33D: Not prepared (UNREADY); 34D: Nadia Comaneci's homeland (ROMANIA); 35D: Persevere (PRESS ON); 36D: Was on top (LED); 37D: Leaves high and dry (STRANDS); 38D: "Civil Disobedience" author (THOREAU); 39D: Come to understand (REALIZE); 43D: Handy abbr. (ETC.); 46D: Station sign (ON AIR); 48D: In-box contents: Abbr. (MSGS.).


John said...

Ill grant you it was easier than the NYT, still the puzzle had its moments of confusion MARIO for HOYLE, MAIL for MSGS and the like. all in all a fair saturday test. Enjoyable.

Rex Parker said...

MEND for BIND and not knowing PEELE made the NE a little toughish. The rest was pretty smooth sailing. ORDONEZ was a gimme, as was PURPLE RAIN.

COPRA reminds me of COPRO, which is a prefix signifying "excrecment." I love eating coconut but would never call myself COPRAPHAGOUS, for fear of being misunderstood.

Enjoy your breakfasts.


Anonymous said...

Love the quasi cross with SNAP an PEAS.

gjelizabeth said...

Parts of California's Highway 1 are called the "Pacific Coast Highway" and it does closely follow California's entire coast line. It is a beautiful, meandering, and mostly slow drive, much of it two lane roads that seem to date back to the invention of the automobile. As a native Californian I would refer to it as "PCH" if I were in Southern California and "One" up here in Northern California, although I can see myself answering "I took the coast road" to the question of how I got from one place to another.
Loved the Buffy reference.

Greene said...

Lovely, easy Saturday puzzle. Did it in about half the time of the NYT.

@Rex: I would say "gross" to the COPRA/Copro comment, except that I thought the same thing.

Struggled a bit with 11D ISRAELI. I'm getting better at remembering to think of different parts of speech when solving Saturday, but this one escaped me for the longest time. Real AHA moment when it finally revealed itself. Similar problem with 26A ITALIC. Must remember to think outside the box.

Here's a little Natalie Wood. I miss her.

Happy Saturday, all!

Eric said...

Thanks for the write up Orange.
I have to admit I enjoyed the puzzle but did not get TE AMO or ISRAELI until I had all the crosses and then had to wonder what TEAM O meant and waited for your write up to finally get Begin as a proper name.

Carol said...

I'm also from California and would say I took the coastal highway - not road. Psalmic wasn't in either of the 2 dictionaries I consulted. Must have been made up just for the fit!

Joon said...

smooth, easy puzzle. i enjoyed it. PURPLE RAIN, STAY-AT-HOME, ATKINS DIET, WHITEWATER, ORDONEZ, SLAYERS... all good stuff. i liked how SLIMS down led down to ATKINS DIET.

did not like BE AHEAD one bit. it's not a good enough answer for a crossword. this seems like it's come up a bunch of times recently, but i don't think any form of the verb to be should be part of a standalone verb phrase. it's one of patrick berry's rules in his excellent book on constructing.

i also found it off-putting that the clue was [Lead], whereas the answer to [Was on top] was LED. that's the same word, with the exact same meaning, in both a clue and an answer. i think that's a no-no.

rex, i too had MEND for BIND, but the final I of 11d (which i was 100% sure of because of ATKINS DIET) turned the light on for me that begin was ISRAELI.

mac said...

I think I had more problems with this puzzle than I have ever had with a LAT one. Odd (to me) words, like "teether", ice it, mans(?) and things I simply didn't know, like the Blackjack holdings, the printer's primary color, Kupcinet's first name, Magglio, Haas and Stro. Coast road sounds odd, think it should be coastal road.

Loved the Begin clue! Maybe because I got it right away.

JaJaJoe said...

From BLTNever,
AKA The Sweep:

19A Love and war, to some = ARTS,
yet my firsts were SAME and NUTS.-/

John 5:35am: "MARIO for HOYLE"?

'Glad y'all above commented on also
finding many of its constructs fiendish.

Lastly Orange, thanks for often
to comments herein.