SATURDAY, August 29, 2009— Michael Wiesenberg

THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle

Kind of a weird-looking grid, isn't it? Having a bunch of discrete chunks of puzzle just barely connected to one another is typically a recipe for solver frustration, but this time, the clues are for those long Across answers are easy enough that you probably didn't have that tough a time moving from zone to zone. This one took me only a few seconds longer than the Friday puzzle, and I thought that was rather Wednesdayish. One great thing about easier Saturday puzzles is that they provide lovely encouragement to those who struggle with themeless puzzles. See? They're not always so formidable.

Crosswordese 101: We'll kick it old school today with a piece of crosswordese that seldom appears these days but has been a gimme for me for decades. You'll see it again at some point, I'm sure, and you won't be thrilled with it, but you'll be glad to be able to fill it in quickly if you plant it in your head today. The word is RETS, or 37D: Soaks, as flax. Let's say you have some flax and you want to make it into linen. I reckon you'll need to RET it, or soak it in water to soften and separate the fibers. Another insane old textile-related crosswordese verb is TAT, which has to do with making lace; we see that much less often now that TAT = short for "tattoo."

  • 16A: Small program with a browser interface (JAVA APPLET). I love me a good JAVA APPLET, like the New York Times' proprietary crossword applet. I generally loathe the Flash interface, though, so I don't do the L.A. Times crossword on the paper's website; instead, I go to Cruciverb.com and fetch the Across Lite version.
  • 18A: Long-distance messages? (SMOKE SIGNALS). Smoke Signals is also the title of a movie written by Sherman Alexie. Alexie (who likes crosswords!) has a young adult novel out called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It's a terrific read—I'm saving it for my son when he's a few years older.
  • 25A: 1876 Twain hero (TOM SAWYER). Geddy Lee!

  • 40A: Ice cream flavor (PISTACHIO). Me, I don't care for pistachios, but my husband and son like 'em.
  • 46A: When Ovid's "Ars Amatoria" is believed to have been published isn't a dreaded Roman numeral clue after all. Surprise! It's ONE B.C. (Your Roman numeral R.D.A. for the day is provided instead by 3D: XXXI x V (CLV).
  • 48A: Home of the NBA's Thunder (OKLAHOMA CITY). How many much bigger cities lack an NBA team and take the existence of the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics) as a personal affront? (Yes, I do believe that cities can take things personally. Don't you?) Speaking of Oklahoma, I'm pretty sure Rex knows this song the way I do—from the Sharper Image scene in When Harry Met Sally.

  • 54A: Might achieve clues the four-word phrase HAS A SHOT AT. It looks goofy in the grid. HA! SASH O' TAT.
  • I wish 59A: THIRTY-NINE had been clued as Jack Benny's forever age rather than 78 half. I suspect the clue was meant to mislead us into thinking of old 78 rpm records with A and B sides, but it ends up being a flat arithmetic problem of no import.
  • 57D: Hot spot? is a spot of TEA.
No, I never heard of 28D: Czech composer Josef (SUK) either. I went to college with Tom and Mike Suk, though. They aren't Czech.

Everything Else — 1A: Largest oceanic dolphin (ORCA); 5A: "__ consummation devoutly to be wish'd": Hamlet ('TIS A); 9A: Hi-tech battler (BOT); 12A: Wood finishing tool (BELT SANDER); 15A: Brooklyn, say, briefly (BORO); 17A: Surrealist Tanguy (YVES); 20A: Prepare for storage, as a carpet (ROLL UP); 23A: Barry who played Lt. Gerard on TV's "The Fugitive" (MORSE); 24A: "Rumor has it ..." ("I HEAR..."); 29A: Health insurance giant (CIGNA); 30A: Incredulous dying words (ET TU); 31A: It might involve a proxy fight (HOSTILE TAKEOVER); 38A: On (ATOP); 39A: Memory principle (MNEME); 45A: Minor, legally (PETIT); 47A: Notable show biz sisters (GABORS); 53A: Landing (PIER); 58A: Letter-bottom abbr. (ENCS); 60A: "Silent Spring" subj. (DDT); 61A: River to the Seine (OISE); 62A: Singer born Eithne Patricia NÌ Bhraon·in (ENYA); 1D: Part of a prepositional phr. (OBJ.); 2D: "The Crying Game" actor (REA); 4D: Obliquely (AT A SLANT); 5D: About 1/3 of Maine's I-95, e.g. (TNPK.); 6D: Hanging out, say (IDLE); 7D: Spies (SEES); 8D: Drawing intro (ART I); 9D: Flaubert heroine (BOVARY); 10D: Words implying consequences (OR ELSE); 11D: One pitching (TOSSER); 13D: Japanese warrior (SAMURAI); 14D: For one (A POP); 15D: Yet (BY NOW); 19D: Early ABC show, for short (GMA); 20D: Sumptuous (RICH); 21D: First state admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory (OHIO); 22D: Longevity (LEGS); 25D: Saw things? (TEETH); 26D: Emperor who deposed Pope John XII (OTTO I); 27D: Mindanao peak: Abbr. (MT. APO); 28D: Czech composer Josef (SUK); 32D: Europe's __ de Genéve (LAC); 33D: Vicarious feeling (EMPATHY); 34D: Singly (ONE BY ONE); 35D: Nix (VETO); 36D: Qatar dignitary (EMIR); 40D: Exhausted (POOPED); 41D: How many Colonial debts were paid (IN KIND); 42D: Choose (SELECT); 43D: Slope contraptions (T-BARS); 44D: Bavarian beef? (ACH); 47D: Nub (GIST); 49D: "__ Be Back With You": Steve Forbert song (OH TO); 50D: Half a fish (MAHI); 51D: Just like that (AS IS); 52D: Supervision (CARE); 55D: Woodsman's makeup (TIN); 56D: At least one (ANY).


John said...

Had to do the puzzle at the LAT website AGAIN today becuase CRUCIVERB isnt responding once more. What's up?

Orange said...

@John, it's up now. Kevin McCann notified the Cruciverb-L list that:

There have been some issues with some of the cruciverb networking hardware which has caused the site to be unavailable several times throughout the week. I'm replacing the hardware tonight. There will be some downtime, but no more so than there has been lately.

Those who have been affected this week, thanks for your patience.

shrub5 said...

Tons o' fun on this puzzle but I would rate it as moderately tough. I started last night but was POOPED so finished the thing up this morning. Zero googles but unfortunately two errors. I had ASIN instead of ASIS (I didn't know the OISE river) and I put MNEMO instead of MNEME. The "Finding Nemo" DVD has been played about a million times around here so I guess that's why MNEMO sounded OK to me.

OKLAHOMACITY (NBA's Thunder) was a gimme. I love to watch superstar-in-the-making Kevin Durant.

ACH (Bavarian beef?) was a LOL! And I thought LEGS was a great answer for "Longevity." Likewise ARTI for "Drawing intro" and TEETH for "Saw things?" were so clever.

There are lots of PISTACHIO farms around here in central CA. I guessed that answer from just the O.

Thanks Michael W. for a well-crafted and entertaining puzzle. @Orange: wonderful write-up as always.

PARSAN said...

Orange, I found this puzzle to be harder than you did but I am new at this. I groan when we have tech. clues [16a} because I am one step above computer illiteracy. There were a number of two word, three word answers. My favorite ONE BY ONE. Thanks for the OKLAHOMA video, a wonderful movie with singable songs and creative cinematography. How does 41d "How many----" have the answer IN KIND?

Rex Parker said...

This puzzle SUKs. Just kidding. I liked it fine. PETIT held me up the longest, as I figured "minor" meant "person under 18."

I was singing "North Dakota" to the tune of "Oklahoma" last weekend as a tribute to PG and ... was it Patrick Blindauer? Someone else from N.D. It's a great song, as it can be adapted to accommodate many other words. "Sarasota," "Sammy Sosa," "My Sharona," etc.



Well we asked for tougher puzzles and we sure got one today.
Lots of esoteric things, like the Hamlet quote, Flaubert's heroine, Ovid's publishing date, Yves Tanguy, Josef Suk, Mindanao peak etc.

If it weren't for these long phrase gimmes, I'd never have gotten this puzzle done:

I thought the Hamlet quote was "Is SUCH consumption devoutly to be wished", so the TISA really threw me.

Disliked TNPK (5d), APOP (4d) and ARTI (8d).

MNEME (39a) "memory principle" is a good word ford crosswordese 101.

puzzler said...

IN KIND: payment in goods or services as opposed to money.

Example: The veterinarian treated Robert's dog and Robert painted the vet's office. Robert paid the vet in kind.

Anonymous said...

I thought the puzzle did SUK actually. Boring fill/cluing and very easy for a Saturday as well.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Oklahoma City is the 31st largest city in the US and there are 30 teams in the NBA.

PARSAN said...

@puzzler -- Thanks! I know what IN KIND means, I was reading it wrong. I took "How many---" to be amount, as in none, 50%, etc. Really stupid!!!

Greene said...

Ah, the good old LAT. Every time the NYT puzzle kicks me around, I've got you to turn to. This was a fun, neat puzzle and just the right difficulty to make for a leisurely solve.

"Oklahoma" may just be the most parodied song in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon. Mel Brooks had an "Oh, Nebraska" sequence in The Producers which was cut in favor of the Funny Boy musical version of Hamlet. There's the immortal When Harry Met Sally sequence that Orange refers to. The recent Broadway show Curtains had the "Kansas Forever" homage. My daughter loves to remind me of a spoof called "North Dakota" from the cartoon Fairly Oddparents. The most shocking, however, is the "Uncle F**ka" sequence from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut which channels the song right at the very end (and hilariously so). It's pretty profane, so I won't post the link, but you know, it's on You Tube.

Van55 said...

Evert tune a puzzle builder resorts to Roman numeral arithmetic, I am going to give him an F grade.

Van55 said...

Evert tune - Every time. Sheesh!

JN said...

My husband proudly gave me Oklahoma City. I turn to him for sports answers. Java Applet came to me because the puzzles are online on an Applet. I had never heard that phrase before trying to download the puzzles. Even with the help of OK City I had the most trouble with the SW corner. I kept trying to think of a flavor with chip in it. I finally googled Ovid and figured out the one bc. I also had landing as a tier.

Overall, I am proud to have only had one google on a Saturday. The blogs have helped me stay the course and keep working until I get it.

Karen from the Cape said...

I enjoyed the Smoke Signals movie a lot. It had good music; the bit that stands out for me still is them sitting in the bus singing 'John Wayne's Teeth' Good indie film from an outsider's view.

JaJaJoe said...

"Surrey..." was the song I sang with my first-grade class in our school's mid'40s Christmas stage pageant; yet didn't know/recall until the illustrative-video via Orange in this blog that it's from the 1931 theatre musical Oklahoma!

Joon said...

van55, that's a very nuanced grading system.

Sfingi said...

I'm with @Parsan today. Don't know what an applet is (Applets and Cotlets? - yum) and I was a programmer in the 60s (punch cards and brush readers) and the 80s (COBOL, FORTRAN)!
Never heard of 28D Suk, 49D Forbert, 27D Mt.Apo or 23A Morse. I took 5 years of German and couldn't get past Kuh for beef (either as meat or argument), so, I don't even get 44D Ach. Tried to make 8D tnpk into toll.

On the other hand, 62A Enya and 39A mneme have passed this way before as previously new. Many typicals - MahiMahi swimming by with Orca down the 51A Oise. 25A Tom Sawyer, Madame 9D Bovary and 13D Samurai (warrior) climbing out of their books. Knew Oklahoma City w/o sports because it simply half appeared. I like numbers, even Roman numbs, since they indicate how long people can hold on to something that doesn't serve. And only rabbits and NYers live in 15A boro.

Thank you for my favorite modern tv cartoon the Fairly Odd Parents - ooh that green hair. Another song - The Yellow Rose of Texas, can be sung to many things.

Anonymous said...

A fairly frustrating puzzle for me and I have been doing puzzles for years. Didn't know Java Applet, I do my puzzle from the paper and only go on line for answers and this blog. I really enjoyed Sfingi's write up, he missed some of the same things I did.

Carol said...

Shrub5 - I also live in Central California and got pistachio right away. The University of Calif., Fresno is near us and grows these wonderful nuts and sells them in their student-run farm market. These are not your ordinary red-colored pistachios sold in the little bags in the grocery store. They are not dyed, but roasted & salted and taste fabulous!

Had a few problems with the puzzle today, but not as many as on a regular Saturday. I'm disappointed that they seem to be less challenging and that I'm not just getting better at doing them! Bummer.

Thanks for the write-up Orange. Great as always.

Jan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan said...

Our favorite "Oklahoma" is Trevor Nunn's '99 version with Hugh Jackman - absolutely charming!

Here's Jackman singing "Surrey": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K-xRvLga40

Highly recommended!

Bohica said...

Sorry for the late post, football season you know.

I'm from Seattle (13th largest market in the counry) and to lose our Sonics to OKC tore my heart out! All that I know of Oklahoma comes from the Grapes of Wrath. Depression, dust bowls and moving west for a better life. Boy, How I wish that I lived in "tornado alley"!

I'm sure there are plenty of nice folks there, and I don't begrudge them a team, I just wish it were someone elses.

We don't blame you citizens of OKC. This is purely the fault of Seattle city officials who refused to help Howard Shultz (former Sonic's owner and current CEO of Starbucks) to come to an accord on a new arena deal.

So, if you're tired of Starbucks popping up on every corner in your towns, and tired of their "burned bean" roasting techniques - try Tully's, or any other brand for that matter! Put an end to suburban sprawl, starting with Starbucks!

Oh, there was a puzzle, huh?

More of a Thursday/Friday level IMHO, but enjoyable non the less. Liked the OKLAHOMACITY/HASASHOTAT over under. But to be honest, the Thunder doesn't have a chance in hell surviving in OKC.

Not a shot!