10.17.2009

SATURDAY, October 17, 2009—Barry Silk



THEME: No theme today—This is a themeless Saturday puzzle or, if you will, a "freestyle" crossword

If you read the comments on the Friday post, you heard the good news—the powers that be agree that the late-week puzzles needn't be as easy as the early-week ones, so beginning in a few weeks, the Friday and Saturday puzzles will offer a more rigorous challenge. Not all the way back up to their 2008 levels, but hey, part way is better than nothing.

This Saturday's crossword, however, lands at about a Tuesday NYT level. There's plenty of juicy stuff in it, though, so we've got a lot to cover. First up is a term I don't know at all, but that is probably familiar to geologists: QUAKE LAKE, or 15A: Basin that can result from a seismic landslide. It's related to the broader category of landslide dams, apparently, and there's a Quake Lake in Montana and a quake lake in Sichuan, China, that formed after the 2008 earthquake. Did you folks know this term?

Favorite answers? Right here:
  • 1A: Spears on the table (ASPARAGUS). My first thought was BRITNEY. I don't care for asparagus, so I certainly do not have any recipes for it. I do, however, enjoy the science of asparagus.
  • It's a Woodstock criss-cross party! JANIS and JIMI are 10A: Joplin at Woodstock and 10D: Hendrix at Woodstock.
  • Nobody gets excited by PETER I or OTTO I in the fill. But LOUIS XIV looks awesome there, doesn't he? (20A: European ruler for 72 years). Speaking of Louis, have you seen this clip of comedian Louis CK on Conan O'Brien's show? It's hilarious.



  • 39A: It creates an adjustable loop (SLIP KNOT). Yeah, you don't often see a PKN smack dab in the middle of an answer.
  • When I was a teenage existentialist, I was 11D: Blown away (AWESTRUCK) by 12D: 1944 Sartre play (NO EXIT).
  • 21D: Ship in 1898 news (U.S.S. MAINE), I like multi-word entries and those with unexpected letter combos. SSM looks wrong but it's right.
  • 23D: Lunchbox alternative (PAPER BAG). I don't like this answer so much as the way it evokes the idiom "can't punch his way out of a paper bag." Though I never use "punch"—how about "She can't solve her way out of a paper bag"?


Now we'll wind things up with our daily tutorial.

Crosswordese 101: I'm sure that many of you learned this word in the course of childhood piano lessons—and could in fact play an étude in your sleep—but I lacked that exposure. I learned ÉTUDE (58D: Musical exercise) from crosswords, so from my perspective it is crosswordese of the highest order. It's French for "study," n'est ce pas? Other key words you may see in ÉTUDE clues include practice piece, Chopin piece, and piano piece. Here's pianist Andre Watts playing Chopin's "Revolutionary Étude" on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. How often do our musical clips conclude with a hug? Not often enough, my friends. Not often enough.



Everything Else — 16A: Uncooperative words (I WON'T); 17A: Without equal (UNRIVALED); 18A: 1980s attorney general (MEESE); 19A: "Macbeth" (1962) Emmy winner Maurice (EVANS); 22A: "I claim that!" ("DIBS!"); 23A: Metal-beating hammer parts (PEENS); 25A: It ebbs and flows (TIDE); 26A: GI show gp. (USO); 27A: Cotton Bowl site (DALLAS); 28A: AAA suggestions (RTES.); 29A: Give way (COLLAPSE); 31A: Spartans' sch. (MSU); 33A: Apprentice (TRAINEE); 34A: Home Depot kitchen department array (FAUCETS); 38A: Remote (FAR); 40A: It may be cracked by a spy (CODE); 43A: Essayist Francis et al. (BACONS); 45A: Movie set VIP (DIR.); 46A: "Concord Sonata" composer (IVES); 47A: In __: seething (A RAGE); 48A: Notes after fa (SOLA); 49A: Alter, perhaps by using unethical techniques (REJIGGER); 51A: Tehran language (FARSI); 52A: Nuts (CRAZY); 53A: When business is slow (OFF-SEASON); 56A: Iron-rich meat (LIVER); 57A: Everly Brothers hit that begins "I bless the day I found you" (LET IT BE ME); 58A: Musical exercise (ETUDE); 59A: Spoke to (ADDRESSED); 1D: Water conduit (AQUEDUCT); 2D: Driver's glare blocker (SUN VISOR); 3D: Certain conic section, in math (PARABOLA); 4D: 1935 Pulitzer-winning playwright Zoe (AKINS); 5D: Speeds (up) (REVS); 6D: Miss. neighbor (ALA.); 7D: Milk purchase: Abbr. (GAL); 8D: Guitar relative: Var. (UKELELE); 9D: Spiritual Arizona resort (SEDONA); 13D: Where most stay when it rains (INSIDE); 14D: Martin and Allen (STEVES); 24D: Other than that (ELSE); 27D: Comic Carvey (DANA); 30D: Like wax museum figures (LIFE-SIZED); 32D: Has dinner (SUPS); 34D: Beat with a stick (FLOG); 35D: Signs on the back (ENDORSES); 36D: Arduous (TOILSOME); 37D: Tense, as relations (STRAINED); 39D: Gobbled (down) (SCARFED); 40D: Oater wagon formation (CIRCLE); 41D: Past the pain of breaking up, say (OVER IT); 42D: "Been there, done that" feeling (DÉJÀ VU); 44D: Biological ring of color (AREOLA); 48D: Swedish autos (SAABS); 50D: "Did __ and gimble in the wabe": "Jabberwocky" (GYRE); 51D: Fancy party (FETE); 54D: Florist letters (FTD); 55D: Churchill's title (SIR).

48 comments:

imsdave said...

Thanks for those clips - priceless! I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Watts in 1971, and was astonished by the sensitivity he brought to his instrument.

QUAKELAKE was new to me also and I loved the 'J' Woodstock crossing.

Let the great methyl mercaptan/asparagine debate begin!

Great writeup.

Happy Saturday all.

imsdave said...

Oh, I forgot. SOLA? Not in my neighborhood.

Sfingi said...

@imsdave - I also didn't know quakelake and wonder if sol and la are combined into sola. I figure Barry Silk knows what he's quizing about

I had thought of putting 32D SUPS in immediately, but my mother's voice in my head kept telling me dinner is NOT supper. (She also knew they difference between bring and take, but frankly I think it goes back to the inferior/superior words like du/Sie and you/Thou.)

This puzzle was exactly right for me. A dozen long words, a few intellectual, a few pop, but all doable. In a year, I may feel different.

Parsan said...

@Orange--Thanks for the wonderful Watts ETUDE! Just right for a cool autumn Saturday morning. One might say Mr. Rogers was UNRIVELED in presenting musicians (classical, jazz, country), dance (ballet and modern), and visual artists to pre-schoolers. His program certainly was unique, when most TV programming for children is loud and commercials laden. Ridiculed by some adults, his sincere openness appealed to small children. A true story: When my son was very small he started screaming in the night but had stopped by the time I got to his room. He said a monster had come in but Mr. Rogers arrived and told him to leave, so he did! I good man who left us too soon.

To continue the cooking classes, put fresh ASPARAGUS in a single layer in a greased shallow pan, sprinkle with evoo, s/p, and pecorino-romano cheese.
Bake in a toaster over (or regular over) at 400 degrees until crisp-tender. As I used to say to my children, "Just one bite. Maybe you'll like it".

SOLA? REJIGGER was new to me. Can't get LET IT BE ME out of my head.

Easier than yesterday but very enjoyable. Good write-up Orange!

cationic said...

SOLA: Do, re, mi, fa, so, la? I thought it was sol, not so.

Anonymous said...

Tight little puzzle.
OK, didn't know quakelake or evans or ives but the crosses provided the guidance ... got stuck briefly at the DeJaVu because I had the liver, knew the etude but the "vu" threw me for a few moments.
But upon completion and checking this blog I was surprised I had aced it.
Great extra's in a nice write-up, though for most of us this probably rated a Thursday.

Orange said...

As in the Sound of Music "Do-Re-Mi" lyrics, so is OK in lieu of sol, and many dictionary entries for sol say "also so."

kskelly43 said...

Quakelake isn't "earth-shaking", but it fits. Novelty in filler choices is good companion to toilsome ones.

kskelly43 said...

"So" be it, if not "La" di da.

Parsan said...

Oops!!! The crossword blog that gave some cooking tips was the NYT's one that Rex does. If you want to see the "interesting" cake he made for his wife's birthday look at yesterdays blog. God bless him! Several people gave him advice on his "problem". Sorry about that, but the ASPARAGUS recipe is really good!

shrub5 said...

This one put up a bit of a fight so, for me, more difficult than earlier in the week. I misspelled AQUaDUCT, did not know EVANS or AKINS so the NW corner was a problem -- had to google both names and then realized the spelling error. So many great answers and clues today...especially liked SCARFED!

@Orange: thanks for the videos. LOL'd at the technology appreciation rant. It's true how much we take for granted every day. And the ETUDE! I always find it amazing that someone can play such a difficult piece and with no sheet music! That area of my brain got left on the cutting room floor.

FAUCETS came to me right away as just yesterday I was in Home Depot looking at them -- too many choices.

crazycatlady said...

I'm back from my trip to beach. I've been doing the puzzles after dinner and enjoying reading the blog. This puzzle was a nice one to get back into my routine. Loved ASPARAGUS, SCARFED, DEJAVU and LIFESIZED even though I kept trying to enter LIFELIKE. I also liked JIMI and JANIS. @Parsan I agree with you on your asparagus recipe. Roasting is the only way to go, drizzled with olive oil with a healthy dose of freshly grated Pecorino or Parmasan Reggiano. Way better than steaming.

Parsan said...

@crazycatlady--Right on! Sometimes I add balsamic vinegar to the recipe.

crazycatlady said...

@Parsan - yum! Also try a little grated lemon zest. OK I'm ready for ASPARAGUS tonight.
@Orange - the technology rant was very funny. My husband enjoyed it as well.

Djinn said...

@Orange: Always a pleasure reading your angle on the puzzles! Today's clips brought a smile. Thanks.

In addition to the clever clues, this CW has a sound tract. At least, seven musical allusions by my count.

shrub5 said...

@Orange: A new avatar! Devilish little chunk of crossword grid leaning on a pencil pitchfork. It's you!

Anonymous said...

The Louis CK video blew me away ... I feel like I'm stuck in the '60s sometimes ... and the gizmo's we take for granted were not always there, though at times I almost wish it were the way it was before ... Louis CK nailed it ... Hey, were flying !!!

At first I thought of skewers before asparagus came to light, only later after checking here did Britney enter the realm of possibiities. Probably an age thing.

Jigger / rejigger aren't they the same thing?

And any puzzle with Woodstock reference's is a PLUS to me.

Great way to start a Saturday over a cup of coffee.

Sfingi said...

It was somewhere in the 2000 year old man tapes that Mel Brooks told Carl Reiner that in his 2000 yrs., the asparagus thing was the most amazing phenomena he ever encountered.

bluebell said...

Britney's not much on my mind, but apparently food is, as asparagus leapt immediately onto the page. Wish I had been as lucky with Evans and Akins, neither of whom I knew. I also misspelled aquaduct, thus compounding my problems.

Thank you for the Mr. Rogers clip, both for the music and for a reminder of what a gentle role model he was.

tinbeni said...

Great to here the late week puzzles are going to be a bit more of an erudite exercise. Looking forward to a little bit more difficulty in a few weeks.

Testy puzzle today ... it is answers like quakelake that throw me off a bit. Is it a real word?

Great clips ... nice write-up.

tinbeni said...

Great to here the late week puzzles are going to be a bit more of an erudite exercise. Looking forward to a little bit more difficulty in a few weeks.

Testy puzzle today ... it is answers like quakelake that throw me off a bit. Is it a real word?

Great clips ... nice write-up.

hazel said...

I think "Spears under the table" would be the clue for Britney.

Liked this puzzle just fine - and agree with Anon 8:18 that this was more like an olden days Wed - Thur puzzle for me.

Quakelake is a real word and also a place. I'd never heard it before either, though. Wiki informs me that Quake Lake is in southwestern Montana. It was created after an earthquake struck in 1959, which killed 28 people. Its 150 feet deep and six miles long.

Charles Bogle said...

agree w sfingi, shrub5, crazycatlady, tenbi--puzzle was just right for me on this day. Fill was lively and different as was the grid. Liked: SCARFED, UNRIVALED...had not heard of QUAKELAKE and upper NW quad was last to come together. Personally proud no googling or other outside sources!

Anonymous said...

Love the clips ... A sincere THANK YOU to Orange, Rex & Puzzlegirl for these write-ups.

Great insite into crosswordese, and a nice place to see if I got the puzzle correct and why I may have missed a word or two.

Parsan said...

@crazycatlady--Son in above anecdote UofR. U2?

chefbea said...

Good puzzle. And add me to the group of asparagus roasters. So good and very crunchy. And good with hollandaise sauce drizzled over them. As we all know , hollandaise is like a simple version of Bearnaise sauce!!!

Parsan said...

@chefbea--Yum!! Good connection to the puzzle in the NYT yesterday.

doc moreau said...

Damn. So this is how it goes. The Orange,Rex,and PuzzleGirl spring-boards are more enjoyable than the puzzles themselves. Constructors remain stalwart, editors remain sophomoric.

Orange said...

@Charles Bogle: Let's not tar Rich Norris with the "sophomoric" label. He's a consummate professional and has a gift for Saturday-NYT level clues and fill. He wouldn't be making the puzzles easier if the people who sign his paychecks weren't requiring it.

PuzzleGirl said...

From now on I'm going to shout "I claim that!" instead of "Dibs!"

anon anon said...

parsan*thanx for the ny times fri. blog referral*hysterical comments by Rex*loved the cake!

crazycatlady said...

@ Parsan. Yep I went to U of R. My dad went too. He's in the U of R Athletic Hall of Fame I transferred out after two years due to being a weather wimp. It is, however, a wonderful institution. I love the story about your son. My favorite Mr. Rogers story was when I left my kids with my parents for a few hours. I came home and both kids were sound asleep on the sofa and my dad was in his recliner happily watching Mr. R.

Parsan said...

@crazycatlady--Son on the football team until he broke his ankle. What sport did your dad play that got him into the Hall of Fame?

curious said...

@orange/ charles bogle - doc moreau?

Beth said...

I just did this puzzle with my mom and noticed that UKELELE was spelled wrong (should be UKULELE). I know this because I learned to play that cheeriest of instruments just down the street from Quake collectibles at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square, Chicago.

Anonymous said...

@Beth: UKELELE is an acceptable variant of UKULELE. It was clued as a variant, and is not "spelled wrong."

mac said...

It's late in London, but I just wanted to add that I also liked this Barry Silk puzzle. When the quake lake showed up, I thought it was going to be "funny twisty new expression" puzzle, then found it was a real term! Fun write-up!

Sorry all of you roasters, I prefer my asperagus steamed al dente, then reheated with a little sweet butter.

mac said...

@Orange: I miss the slice....

Oops, I meant asparagus, of course.

crazycatlady said...

@Parsan - so sorry about your son's ankle. That's a bummer. My dad played football, basketball and ran track. He was on a full academic scholarship and he also was a DKE.

Orange said...

@Beth: Yay! Someone recognized the Quake storefront!

chefbea said...

Puzzle husband and I just came back from dinner. I had a nut encrusted salmon with asparagus. He had a steak served with bearnaise sauce which he doesn't care for. So I drizzled the bearnais sauce over my asparagus. Is there a name for this birthday girl???
Combining two dinners with answers from two different puzzles from two different papers.

Parsan said...

@crazycatlady--son also a DKE. Small world!

Charles Bogle said...

@Orange--I'm a victim of mistaken identity! Have said nothing derogatory about Rich Norris!

packleader said...

I am so glad that we will have at least partial restoration of previous levels of challenge. I am not accomplished as a puzzle solver, though I had come to find the LAT offerings lacking in boldness compared to former out-of-the-box adventures. Some cruciverbalists even enjoy sharing the more demanding puzzles with a group of like-minded friends. That is no fun if the puzzle is predictably easy.

Orange said...

Whoops, sorry, Boglemeister! I was replying to doc moreau.

Bohica said...

@Orange: OMG that Conan clip was LOL funny! And also spot on, the generations after the baby-boomers have no idea. "This TV show is sooo boring, it's in black and white. I remember to this day our first color Tv, it was in 1966. Seeing "The Wonderful World of Disney" in "Living Color" was the highlight of my week! We had 4 channels in San Francisco at the time and I never wanted for anything more. We now have over 200channels on cable (in HD no less) and my daughter constantly says "I'm bored, there's nothing on TV"!

Attention spans in the USA are now measured in nano-seconds. And that is a big reason for our slipping as a world power. We want results right now, failing that we go on to the next thing without resolving the first, therefore nothing ever gets done.

If our parents thought that way we'd all be speaking German or Japanese!

Now that that rant is out of the way, liked todays freelance! Loved seeing Barry Silk's name in the byline (he's my second favorite LAT constructor). Can you beat a Naddor/Silk weekend in the LAT? I think not.

I know that it's probably too late to share my thoughts with the masses, but had to sound off. Very busy day today, didn't get to the puzzle until well after 8 (PST).

Nice write-up! Glad to hear they'll be ramping up in the weeks to come :-)

Bohica said...

P.S. We have a "quake lake" here in Washington. It's Spirit Lake at the base of Mount St. Helens. Although it was a lake before the explosion, the lahar and downed trees increased its size six fold. Harry Trumans "Spirit Lake Lodge" now lies 60 feet below the lakes surface. The 86 year old man refused to leave and died in the eruption. It is now a protected fisherie (permit only, catch and release) but I've heard stories of 3+ foot long rainbow trout weighing 24 pounds being pulled from the lake. I think that shows how nature's plan works. It was a catsrophe for humankind, but nature flourished. The Elk and Blacktail Deer are also said to be of enormous size.

cheezguyty said...

I absolutely LOVED this puzzle and thought it was a step in the right direction in terms of difficulty. There were 24 words with 7+ letters! My favorite entries are Louis XIV, slipknot, off season, aqueduct, life-sized, USS Maine, and awestruck. I was absolutely shocked to discover that this puzzle had every letter of the alphabet besides H. It's a shame the author couldn't squeeze it in somewhere, as I am a huge fan of pangrams.

It's amazing how many of the posters solve these puzzles and whine about them being too easy, yet complain about some word they've never heard of. Suggesting that quake lake is a made-up term is quite ignorant. It is also very disappointing to see so many spelling errors in the comments. It is not that hard to run a spell check or proofread what you typed. That, combined with several suggestions that words in the puzzle were misspelled, really makes me wonder if the puzzles are still too difficult for most people.