6.19.2009

FRIDAY, Jun. 19, 2009 — Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke




THEME: Quotation puzzle: "I NEVER HATED A MAN (17A) / ENOUGH TO GIVE HIM (41A) / HIS DIAMONDS BACK (64A)" — ZSA ZSA Gabor (72A: Speaker of the quote, familiarly)

Well, these puzzles are certainly being retooled for the syndication crowd, who are apparently demanding easier puzzles. The quality of the puzzles remain quite sound, but the difficulty level has plummeted. I don't think this is a bad thing — there is a place in the world for good, solid puzzles that most everyone (who likes puzzles) can do. I just have to get used to going through a Friday puzzle in Tuesday time, I guess. A quotation puzzle in particular should have given me at least a bit of a struggle (especially as I'd never heard the quotation before), but there were really only a couple of bumpy spots on this road. The ease with which I cut through this one probably has a lot to do with solving puzzles all the time, as certain words have become gimmes for me that maybe aren't gimmes for everyone. This is especially true of the short proper nouns, like Mort SAHL, Sebastian COE, Don Juan's mom INEZ, EZIO Pinza, James AGEE, etc. These folks are all old friends.


Word of the Day: AGAR (12D: Bio lab gel) — often clued as a "thickening agent" (its role in many food products), this word can be found growing like a weed throughout the crossword grids of North America. Change the "G" to an "L" and you get a "banned orchard spray." Reverse the final two letters and you get the site of the Taj Mahal.

I love the Buck Rogers futuristic quality of the puzzle, with SPACE AGE (10D: Period that started with Sputnik) crossing PHASER (30A: "Star Trek" weapon) crossing UPLINKS (27D: Earth-to-satellite connections) — very nice little outer space subtheme there. The two places in the puzzle that gave me a little trouble were the center and the far south. In the center, the trouble was almost entirely the result of ACETAL (37A: Alcohol-based solvent), which I didn't know and which looks like a bunch of other ACET-y words I've seen before. In the south, I misspelled INEZ as INES and had FEN for SEA (67D: Wet expanse). This left me with the speaker of the quotation being ZSASSN! (adding to the outer space feel of the puzzle). In the end, very easy to fix.

What else?:

  • 1A: Tolkien's Legolas, e.g. (ELF) — 3-ltr words in the Tolkienverse are ORC or ENT. Except when they are ELF.
  • 23A: 1519 Yucatan arrival (CORTEZ) — had the first three letters in place, so no problem; otherwise I might have struggled a bit. CORTEZ game me the "Z" in ZACHARY (25D: Millard's predecessor), which otherwise would not have come to me easily.
  • 55D: Bluegrass great Lester (FLATT) — my dad can play some bluegrass banjo, so I've known who FLATT & Scruggs are for years...


Enjoy your weekend.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker, Puzzle Girl, and Orange on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Tolkien's Legolas, e.g. (ELF); 4A: Agree (CONCUR); 10A: Striker's bane (SCAB); 14A: Nothing (NIL); 15A: How some exams are taken (ORALLY); 16A: __ stick (POGO); 17A: Start of a quote (I NEVER HATED A MAN); 20A: Shivering fit (AGUE); 21A: State until 1991: Abbr. (SSR); 22A: Part of a woodlands stash (ACORN); 23A: 1519 Yucat·n arrival (CORTEZ); 26A: Remote function (PAUSE); 28A: "Rubáiyát" poet (OMAR); 30A: "Star Trek" weapon (PHASER); 34A: Apple pie go-with? (MOM); 37A: Alcohol-based solvent (ACETAL); 40A: Palestinian city (GAZA); 41A: Quote, part 2 (ENOUGH TO GIVE HIM); 44A: Ooze (SEEP); 45A: Arrival (ADVENT); 46A: Chop off (LOP); 47A: Plane site (HANGAR); 49A: Barely made, with "out" (EKED); 51A: Rolls partner (ROYCE); 54A: Messy scenarios (SNAFUS); 58A: Go furtively (SNEAK); 61A: Band from the East? (OBI); 63A: Radius neighbor (ULNA); 64A: End of the quote (HIS DIAMONDS BACK); 68A: Mont Blanc, par exemple (ALPE); 69A: Takeout order? (DELETE); 70A: __ Bo (TAE); 71A: Make (one's way) (WEND); 72A: Speaker of the quote, familiarly (ZSA ZSA); 73A: Scout units: Abbr. (TPS.); 1D: Pioneering computer (ENIAC); 2D: Shop talk (LINGO); 3D: Lilas or tulipe (FLEUR); 4D: Miler Sebastian (COE); 5D: Boston Garden legend (ORR); 6D: Slangy denials (NAHS); 7D: Necklace fastener (CLASP); 8D: Violet lead-in (ULTRA); 9D: Manhattan liquor (RYE); 10D: Period that started with Sputnik (SPACE AGE); 11D: How, in Jerez (COMO); 12D: Bio lab gel (AGAR); 13D: Former European capital (BONN); 18D: Put the kibosh on (VETO); 19D: Recipe bit (DASH); 24D: Salon or Slate, briefly (E-MAG); 25D: Millard's predecessor (ZACHARY); 27D: Earth-to-satellite connections (UPLINKS); 29D: Like many Ariz. residents (RETD.); 31D: Satirical Mort (SAHL); 32D: He played Emile in "South Pacific" (EZIO); 33D: Wheelchair access (RAMP); 34D: Strainer material (MESH); 35D: __ Day: dietary supplement brand (ONE A); 36D: Maker of ShowHouse faucets (MOEN); 38D: "Mazel __!" (TOV); 39D: "The African Queen" co-screenwriter (AGEE); 42D: Went for more memory, say (UPGRADED); 43D: Dodge Viper engine (V-TEN); 48D: 2004 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Isao (AOKI); 50D: Slap on (DAUB); 52D: Occurs (to) (COMES); 53D: Virus named for an African river (EBOLA); 55D: Bluegrass great Lester (FLATT); 56D: Open, in a way (UNCAP); 57D: "For goodness __!" (SAKES); 58D: "Arms and the Man" playwright (SHAW); 59D: Shade of green (NILE); 60D: What many jocks watch (ESPN); 62D: Don Juan's mother (INEZ); 65D: Cooper's tool (ADZ); 66D: Consequence of getting bombed too often? (DTS); 67D: Wet expanse (SEA).

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, very easy but enjoyable!

Charlie said...

As the top third came together, I opted for I NEVER DATED A MAN which yielded NADS for "Slangy denails" which took an embarrasingly long time to correct.

Carol said...

Enjoyed the puzzle - easy for a Friday, but managed to get the quotation though I'd never heard it before.

Thanks for the video clip. Hubby enjoyed that too!

Great write-up. This blog is truly informative.

gjelizabeth said...

Took me way too long to get "Band from the east?" OBI. I even circled the question mark and wrote "pun" next to it in an attempt to crack open my brain, then, suddenly it was there and obvious. This was fun. Also, it's nice to know that Don Juan had a mother.

*David* said...

I never do well on quotation puzzles and this was no exception. Took me longer then it should have.

Gary Lowe said...

EKE EKES EKED, always with OUT. Can you EKE without OUT?
If the answer was EKER, would the clue be "Makes do, with 'outer'".
I like quote puzzles, because the constructor has to painstakingly break the quote down into symmetry. Must be a eureka moment when a decent quote gets chopped up into proper pieces.

eileen said...

I had a lot of trouble with today's puzzle for the same reason it came easy Hopefully, as I continue working the puzzles and visiting this great site they will become more familiar to me.

eileen said...

Sorry about goofing up my post. I meant to say that I had trouble with the puzzle for the same reason that it came easy to Rex-the proper nouns.

Charles Bogle said...

I too had trouble with this puzzle, but fortunately it was limited to the lower mid...like RP had never heard of the quote and Gabor never came to mind. In my opinion there was nothing memorable...except loved DELETE for "takeout order" (I couldn't let go of restaurants and delis). Also, SEA for wet expanse seemed too easy so I couldn't get it--good weekend (too much to hope for dry and sun?) to all. Too bad no Father's Day puzzle today

obertb said...

Somebody check cruciverb.com. I'm sure I've seen this quote in a puzzle before. I don't know how else I would have known it.

Orange said...

@obertb, the quote was also in the 8/31/07 CrosSynergy puzzle. Do you do that puzzle?

EconJohn said...

Eileen, these puzzles once stressed me as nearly impossible, now can zip through. I'm not sure if they are really getting easier, like Orange says, or if my vocab is filling with trivial words (that I rarely use in conversation). Now these puzzles are a stress reliever. I quit caffine and am now addicted to CWPs. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Lynda RN said...

This puzzle was hard for both Mom and me. Put EBOLI instead of EBOLA and came up with ZSAISA and that took awhile to fix. Also learned to put ALPE for 58A. I tried to put in ALPS at first and that screwed up UPDRADE coming down. The middle also held us up with ACETAL and ADVENT. Put MAZEL TAV instead of TOV. But all in all an enjoyable puzzle. I feel I am doing much better at puzzle solving with the help of RP, ORANGE and PUZZLEGIRL. See you all tomorrow for a SNAFU free puzzle.

Happy Father's Day to those LAT bloggers who may be Dads or who act like Dads to their pets.

Mazel Tov - Lynda RN

s said...

No problems with this one, too easy for a Friday. Quote wasn't hard to figure out and then it had to be Zsa Zsa or Mae West. Only problem was with spelling on Acetal (Acetol?, Acetyl?) then the 39D had 'playwright' which meant Odets or Agee even before seeing that there were only 4 spaces down so Agee it was.

Norm said...

They need to ramp up the difficulty level. I get on BART at Civic Center in SF and lately the puzzles hardly make it into the TranBay Tube. The second (even easier) one (used to be called the Daily Commuter) and the Jumble get me to West Oakland but not much past it, and that leaves six stations (and just under 15 minutes) until we pull into North Berkeley.

eileen said...

@EconJohn
Thank you for the words of encouragement as they really made my day! Sometimes, I feel really dumb when I try to tackle the puzzles. I'm sure it will come with time.
You are my new BFF, along with Rex, Orange, and Puzzle girl.

mac said...

I did this puzzle early in the morning online so I have to reread it and Rex's write-up. It was fairfly easy, but somehow I got that diamond early on and thought some baseball character, like maybe Yogi Berra (sp.?) had said it. ZsaZsa makes a lot of sense this time!

Anonymous said...

That was almost absurdly easy for a Friday, although it had some nice fill. Orange and Rex, is there still any hope that LAT is going to return to the previous level of difficulty, or will this be permanently watered down? Well, in any event, your write-ups are always a great read.

-- Quentin

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Very simple puzzle...absolutely no challenge today.

housemouse said...

Enjoyed this one. I get tired of the ones that I have to stay tied to Google to finish, and I enjoyed the return of a quote or quip. My favorite quote from ZsaZsa was (slightly paraphrased because I don't have time to look it up): "The most important thing is love, Dahling. You should marry and marry and marry until you find love."

More puzzles that emphasize vocabulary and place less emphasis on obscure bits of trivia would be greatly appreciated. I can't stay tied to Google all day!