9.12.2009

SATURDAY, September 12, 2009—Don Gagliardo



THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle

Wow, this was among the easiest themeless puzzles I've ever done. It took me about as long as a Wednesday crossword that's on the easy side (three minutes flat, which is not what I expect on Saturday), so that's saying something.

Now, if you were feeling proud of yourself because you had to fight through this puzzle, please don't feel that your accomplishment is diminished just because someone who has a collection of crossword tournament trophies calls it an easy crossword. Every puzzle you complete makes you one skosh better at doing crosswords—and you can still tell people "Oh, yes, the Saturday crossword is the week's hardest"—usually that's true—"and I do love to work it."

I worked an advance copy of the puzzle in Across Lite, and there's an error in the solution that I hope will have been fixed by the time the puzzle is published and made available online. My puzzle file wants a D where 5A: Snake with a puff variety meets 9D: ACLU concerns, and those are a puff ADDER and rights, abbreviated as RTS. There is no "puff added" (though that phrase should appear on packages of cotton candy), and the ACLU does not customarily concern itself with delirium tremens.

Crosswordese 101: Some crosswordese words are made by tacking on a prefix (like RE-) or suffix (-ER) to form a word that can legitimately be called a word by dictionary standards, or pluralizing something that nobody needs a plural for. Such words often don't get free-standing entries in the dictionary, but pretty much any verb can get the -ER treatment. Today we have a RUER. This is clued as 16A: One with regrets, but have you ever described someone as a RUER? Of course not. But just because it's not a word you'd ever use doesn't mean you can expect not to see it in a crossword. These words are probably more common in themeless puzzles (here, RUER facilitates the sandwiching of three eight-letter words) or in a puzzle with an unusual theme density. So be on the lookout for unfamiliar RE- and -ER sorts of words, because you never know when they'll strike.

There is little to be gained by complaining about such fill, but we do it anyway in the hope that it will make constructors work a little bit harder to try to root out such fill. (Would it have been better to cross Leopold AUER and Maz BAER, or use RUER crossing BRER? Generally, crossing unfamiliar names with other names is frowned on. I like the eights that RUER crosses, so I won't kvetch about its inclusion today. But a roll-your-own word used where something better could be substituted? Meh.)

My favorite fake example of what I call a "roll-your-own word" is REAMUSERS. Can you re-amuse someone after amusing them? (Nobody uses "re-amuse.") Is a comedians an amuser? (Hardly anyone uses "amuser.") Could multiple people who make you laugh over and over be REAMUSERS? Sure. I want to put that in a joke crossword some day.

Highlights:
  • 14A: Become equitable in the long run (AVERAGE OUT). Not the zippiest phrase in the language, but it's colloquial and reflects English the way we speak it.
  • 26A: Show featuring agents 86 and 99 (GET SMART). I never, ever saw the TV show, and I've only seen a portion of the Steve Carell movie. Did I miss much? I know about the shoe phone.
  • 32A: "See?!" ("WHAT DID I TELL YOU?!"). Now, that's awesome. I love it when the puzzle speaks to me in exclamations.
  • 54A: 2002 film for which Adrien Brody won a Best Actor Oscar (THE PIANIST). And then he inappropriately smooched Oscar presenter Halle Berry, who did not give up her bodily autonomy just because he thinks she's swell. (Hmph!) I always hear that movie title as "The Penis." Anyone else have that problem? No? Just me?
  • 7D: "Sound familiar?" ("DOES IT RING A BELL?"). I kinda feel like "Does that ring a bell?" is a bit more natural-sounding. The it question puts me in mind of the "Will It Blend?" videos. Have you seen these? They're captivating, and there are dozens of them.



  • 13D: H.G. Wells's island researcher (DR. MOREAU). Didn't South Park have a Marlon Brando/Dr. Moreau character with a bunch of mutant animal combos?
  • 27D: Sargent portrait of a mysterious Frenchwoman (MADAME X). Even if you don't know the painting in question, you really can't complain about fine arts content in a Saturday crossword. The Saturday puzzle should challenge, entertain, and expand our knowledge base.

Everything Else — 1A: Absorbed (RAPT); 10A: Shakespeare's Avon calling? (BARD); 17A: Remote measuring devices (TELEMETERS); 18A: Cheese coated in red paraffin (EDAM); 19A: China's Zhou __ (ENLAI); 20A: That, in Madrid (ESO); 21A: Museum in Madrid (PRADO); 22A: "Tea for Two" for two, e.g. (DUET); 23A: Country singer Yearwood (TRISHA); 25A: Geometric fig. (CIR.); 28A: Web search tool (ENGINE); 30A: Lumberjack, at times (AXER); 31A: 1980s-'90s Buick sports car (REATTA); 37A: 1993-2001 White House maiden name (RODHAM); 38A: Symbol on a staff (NOTE); 39A: Like most piano technician services (IN-HOME); 40A: Football setting (GRIDIRON); 45A: Peg under a dimpled ball (TEE); 46A: Legal term that's French for "on a bench" (EN BANC); 48A: Sushi wrapper (NORI); 49A: Chelmsford's county (ESSEX); 51A: Blood typing letters (ABO); 52A: Photons' family, in physics (BOSON); 53A: Elec. supplier (UTIL.); 56A: Ruse (PLOY); 57A: Used car dealer's spiel, say (SALES PITCH); 58A: Dict. offerings (SYNS.); 59A: Clay bakers (KILNS); 60A: Southwestern art colony town (TAOS); 1D: OK for kids, filmwise (RATED G); 2D: Michigan in Chicago, e.g. (AVENUE); 3D: Bit of buckshot (PELLET); 4D: Dog training aids (TREATS); 5D: Time of your life (AGE); 6D: Checked (DETERRED); 8D: Continental currency (EUROS); 10D: Rabbit or Bear's title (BRER); 11D: Gall (AUDACITY); 12D: Interpret by inference (READ INTO); 15D: "__ losing it?" (AM I); 21D: Like some den walls (PANELED); 23D: Cabbies in Canterbury (TAXIMEN); 24D: One seriously straying from the flock? (HERETIC); 29D: Guy's partner (GAL); 32D: Newspaper accounts (WRITEUPS); 33D: With no deception (HONESTLY); 34D: Bonding (ADHESION); 35D: Even if, informally (THO); 36D: Like gift wrap on Christmas morning (TORN OPEN); 41D: Like con artists' shills, e.g. (IN ON IT); 42D: Bilingual Muppet (ROSITA); 43D: Pitcher Jesse, who had the most career appearances (OROSCO); 44D: Final innings (NINTHS); 47D: Mideast religion that preaches equality (BAHAI); 50D: Bridge expert Culbertson et al. (ELYS); 52D: "Southern" relig. (BAP.); 54D: "For shame!" ("TSK!"); 55D: Unit of Time: Abbr. (ISS.).

31 comments:

Gareth Bain said...

I read today's blog twice. I can now say that "REAMUSES" totally reamused me!

What a beautiful grid! Silk's NYT tops it, but they're both gorgeous. The anchoring 15's cross and are both spoken-language phrases which is awesome!

No ace solver, but this is easier than a Saturday should be for me. Did it in 7:53 but was actually faster, the puzzle still wants ADDED not ADDER. I'm sure Don Gagliardo didn't make it this easy, and I'm sure it wasn't Rich Norris's idea either... suspect he's being pressured by outside influences, possibly the Illuminati! Only part that was at all tough was the bottom-right! Last week's was also really easy, 6:31 was a fastest LAT Saturday, but I didn't feel like it really counted...

Gespenst said...

Reading your blog, I was thinking that there are a few email forwards that keep getting forwarded to me, and every so often there's one which "reamuses" me ;)

I did this one pretty quickly for a Saturday, so yeah, it couldn't have been that hard ;) I didn't need to look anything up, nor google anything, 'tho' I should have: I had PLOT instead of PLOY which gave me ELTS instead of ELYS, but since I didn't know Culbertson, it didn't bother me too much ('tho' I was wondering how many people named "Elt" there really could be, lol!)

I actually did this one in pencil, not my usual, but only b/c that's what I had handy. Turns out I could have used pen anyhow ;) w/ only a couple false starts.

Even though it was easy, it helped my confidence, which isn't a bad thing :)

shrub5 said...

This is my first encounter with a BOSON (52A). Don't think they had them thingys wen I took fisics...

I looked up ENBANC: (wiki) En banc refers to the hearing of a legal case where all the judges of a court will hear the case rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases or those considered of unusual significance. Some appellate courts, such as the US Supreme Court and the highest courts of most states, do not sit in panels, but hear substantially all of their cases en banc.

@Orange: Yeah, I, too, often hear the P-word for pianist -- that's why I like to say "piano player" instead. ☺

Overall, I enjoyed working this puzzle but I'd like the level of difficulty up a notch or two on a Saturday. I guess it leaves me with some extra time to do...something.

florida grandma said...

I agree it was an easy puzzle for Saturday. I loved working it; loads of fun. Had trouble with
55D--what unit of time is an ISS?
Also wanted LIGHT for 52A but soon knew that wasn't going to work.
Now I have time to work in my puzzle book recommended here!

PARSAN said...

Easiest LAT Sat. puzzle I have ever done. I have seen MADAME X at MOMA and had Picasso's Madame Z on the wall in my college dorm room. ADDERS, RTS clued properly in my paper. It seems ESSEX is about the only English county used in cw puzzles. Never heard of a REATTA but my daughter had a friend who was a BAHAI. Why is TAXIMEN clued that way? Bohica, I say this puzzle is really jake!

Carol said...

@Florida Grandma - Unit of Time - Time being capitalized is the clue. Time Magazine unit is issue or ISS abbreviated.

ddbmc said...

I had a "Devil Wears Prada" moment for 21a.Museum in Madrid, until Dr. Moreau appeared. Top half of puzzle went quickly but as a newbie, got boggled in the lower quadrants. Agree with @Orange and Shrubb5 on the pianist word. Lot of that kind of talk this week!(choad/Hoad?)Boson was not in my purview, but came as a cross. Put "leg" for peg under dimpled ball and lol'd at myself, at second look! Thanks, @Orange, for your medical jargon-delirium tremens! (now I know what to call my 20-something son's state on Sunday mornings!)They fail to reamuse me. Oh, college boys!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

A real jake puzzle for me... generally easy except SE was ugh!
Had to look up OROSCO and BOSON.

Orange, the word AXER is another example of this crazy add-an-ER thing.

This puzzle gets a B+ from me because of the humor and cool words like ENBANC and BOSON.

Loved the "tea for Two" for two DUET... fits in well with Friday's puzzle. Also liked the "Shakespeare's Avon calling" (10a) BARD. Cute clues!

Thanks, shrub5, for the explanation of ENBANC. That's going to be John's word-of-the-day, although I'll find it hard to fit it into my everyday vocab.

I still don't get ISS as a unit of time.

I knew that 13d was DRMOREAU, but I sure would like to know more about this. And, who the heck was MADAMEX?

I think a good puzzle is one that leaves you with wonderment and an inquisitive mind, however, I've been accused of having a Crossword-mind... knowing a tiny bit about everything... a "Reader's Digest" mentality.

Looks like a beautiful day in the neighborhood today... enjoy your weekend, puzzlers!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Don Gagliardo, you are a puzzle construction maestro!!!
Thank you for an enjoyable Sat. morn.

Anonymous said...

A very easy Saturday puzzle unfortunately, though it had a nice looking grid and some lively/interesting fill. Better suited for a Wednesday/Thursday where I think people might have appreciated it more.

PARSAN said...

@JOHNS--As Carol wrote above, unit of Time(magazine), an issue(iss). MADAME X is a beautiful painting owned by the Met. Mus. of Art with an interesting history. Sargent painted Madame Gautreau(an American beauty married to a Frenchman) and the painting was shown in the French Salon of 1886(?). Hard to imagine but the French thought it salacious; an uproar over her dress and pose. The painting originally had her gown strap falling off of her shoulder but seen now at MOMA it has been painted back on. Her reputation was ruined and Sargent moved to England. All very reminiscent of Oscar Wilde"s "Lady Windemere's Fan", where the rigid rules of society could destroy guilty and innocent alike. The painting is beautiful! Look it up.

Dan said...

Don G. notes that he submitted the same clue for both 15s - that would have been fun, but I don't know what that clue could be!

Also, Rich Norris notes (ibid.) that today's changed-letter snafu -- and the LOOIE error on Thursday -- were the result of late editing requests from TMS. Gee, I'm glad that there's a Tribune honcho who apparently knows more about crosswords than Rich...
...though I can sort of understand the order to remove DTS, for fear of offending recovering addicts.

Burner10 said...

This is the first Saturday puzzle I have ever completed.
I know its not Wednesday because I'm going to go out in the garden instead of to work.

PARSAN said...

@Dan and other cw wizards -- Dan, I watched you solve the puzzle on You Tube in under 2 minutes and to you and others I would like to ask--where is the satisfaction? Is it in trying to beat a previous time? Practicing for tournaments? I can zip through the cw puzzle in my local paper but it really isn't fun because there is no challenge. What keeps all of you doing it when you have become experts? I'm rather new to this and I am just curious.

choirwriter said...

It was nice for a relative newbie to be able to smugly complete a Saturday puzzle! I got held up a little in the SE corner (not a big Sesame Street watcher), but it eventually came together. My only write-overs were HEATHEN for HERETIC (24d) and DEFS for SYNS ((58a), so not bad!

This was just challenging enough to keep me engaged but not enraged!

choiwriter said...

Off topic - I just signed up with blogspot and wanted to see what happens now...

choiwriter said...

Hmm... how do I get my picture icon on here?

Guin said...

Not much of a challenge today, but still some clever clues.
Re clue 4D - Malone, my puz buddy dog, was raised to be a guide dog. Treats are NOT used as a training aid for guide dogs, only positive reinforcement of desired behaviors. Malone has a heart valve problem, so he didn't finish GD school and stayed with me instead. He does get an occassional treat now.

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JIMMIE said...

I thought that it was rather quarky that they spun the electron into a boson.

Fun puzzle for me, who never Googles, but uses the 1957 unabridged Webster, a map book, and Maltin's Movie Guide as my backup resources, with a rare peek at my 1974 Enc. Brit. 1974. Obviously, I occasionally have a lacuna in the CW. Finishing in less than 20 mins. is a bummer.

imsdave said...

@anonymous 11:29 (get a name so we can talk to you!). It is not arrogance when one has the talent. Our host today is one of the top cruciverbalists on the planet - she has the right and the credentials to post any way she wants to.

That said (and it shouldn't have to be), this was a pleasant diversion on a rainy Saturday morning, and that's good enough for me. Pleased to see Dan's comment, as it seemed like a drop kick to me to clue the two fifteens the same way (props to Mr. Gagliardo).

@anonymous 11:45 - I used to rely on my American Heritage dictionary, Blockbuster's movie book, and my atlas to do the puzzles. Google came later. Do whatever you need to do to enjoy the puzzles. I'll bet you move away from the "helping hands" as you continue to solve.

Bohica said...

Glad to see most everyone is Jake with the puzzle as I was too. Sure it was easy but it was also very cleverly clued. Now I have time to hit the book store!

Liked Orosco next to ninths. Didn't like Axer, I'm from the Great Northwest and we call them axemen out thisa way.

Orange you did miss something with Get Smart (the TV show, not the movie). It was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry two of Americas true comedic genuises! Don Adams starred as agent 86. It was too far ahead of its time for its own good.

chefbea said...

Was a pretty easy puzzle.

I loved Get Smart - wish we could see reruns

@Jimmie I too have Maltin's movie guide. I use google also

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

I really liked watching "Get Smart"...would you believe...? I always thought Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) was a hottie. I wonder where she is today.

Sfingi said...

54A PIANIST needs 3 syllables, but don't get me started on the young'uns pronunciations. Also, in the clue for 1D the word "filmwise" is questionable. Can one couple anything with -wise? Does it mean one is wise about film, or "in a sort of film way"?

What would Uncle Reamuse say?

@Bohica - Axemen could be misunderstood in the sort of pianist way, or pianistwise.

@Johnsneverhome and adding to @Parsan - Madame X,an elegant shapely woman painted in a shoulderless black gown against her ivory skin, was one Virginie Adegno Gautreau. Sargent was a prolific American Impressionis portrait painter whose works are all over NYC and Boston.Henry James' novels could be illustrated Sargentwise.

Crossing 40A GRIDIRON with 44D NINTHS was just unfair to those who aren't sportswise (or those who aren't, sportswise).

chefbea said...

@johnsneverhome Just looked up Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. Barbara is 77 and lives in New york. Don Died in 2005 at the age of 82.

So there you have it

mac said...

Very good and very fun, also very easy! At this hour, that's all I'm asking for.

Madame X is a wonderful painting, the story about her, which came out a couple of years ago, a lot of fun to read.

Bohica said...

The Get Smart Complete DVD set is available on line for around $100, depending on where you shop. All five seasons, hundreds of episodes.

Wayne said...

Orange: I know what you mean about pianist. It is easily pronounced as penist (and it is funny, at least to me). This is what can happen when we take a word from the Romance languages and say it with an accent on the first syllable (of course, it is only natural for us to do so). In Spanish and French it carries the accent on the third syllables:
pi-an-NIST-a & pi-an-NIST, respectively.

shrub5 said...

@choirwriter:
To get a picture icon (avatar) to show, go back to blogger.com and get onto your "Dashboard" page. Click on "Edit Profile." Scroll down to the "Photograph" section. There is a field to enter a photo or clip art URL from one you have on your computer desktop or in a file folder on your computer. If you need more help, send me an e-mail and we'll try to figure it out.

choiwriter said...

@shrub5: Thanks! You are wonderful to take the time to teach me. I appreciate it!