SATURDAY, February 20, 2010—Bruce Venzke

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless/freestyle puzzle

This puppy's a little more rigorous than most Saturday L.A. Times crosswords. While the six 15-letter answers are casual and familiar, there are shorter answers tucked in there that are less familiar. And there are also some tough clues to give your brain more of a workout.

The long answers:
  • 14A. [Dating option] (DINNER AND A MOVIE). Much more popular than the "breakfast and a movie" option.
  • 17A. [Thank-you trinket, e.g.] (INEXPENSIVE GIFT). I'm not sure whether this one rises to the level of crossword-worthy fill. Is it more of a discrete concept than random adjective + suitable noun?
  • 24A. ["My mind isn't made up yet"] ("I CAN'T SAY FOR SURE"). I can't say for sure, but this might be the first time I've seen this crossword answer.
  • Hey, hey, hey! 44A. ["You've got a lot of nerve!"] ("WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?").
  • 57A. [Retaliatory steps] (COUNTERMEASURES). There aren't a ton of good 15-letter words out there. This one's decent.
  • 61A. [Ups and downs of one's youth?] (TEETER-TOTTERING). Now, when I was a kid, you rode the teeter-totter but I don't think we verbed it. "Seesawing" sounds more verby to me, but the dictionary does have "teeter-totter" as a verb.

Shorter stuff worthy of note:
  • 36A. [Hindu fire god] (AGNI). I seldom remember this one because the name sounds more Norse than Hindu/Vedic to me.
  • 43A. [French cathedral city] (METZ). This one is sometimes forgettable because METZ sounds German. Another sneaky French town is Dunkirk, which sounds English or Scottish to me.
  • 64A. [Capital on Upolu Island] (APIA). That's the capital of Samoa, population 32,000.
  • 1D. [Jack Kerouac's first wife] (EDIE). Huh? I'm not sure why one would be expected to know this. Does he write about her by name?
  • 4D. [Michael Hutchence's band] (INXS). Time for a music video featuring a song that was a hit when I was in high school.

  • 10D. [Old Venetian magistrate] (DOGE). A worthy candidate for a future Crosswordese 101.
  • 12D. [It's "too short for chess": Henry J. Byron] (LIFE). I like the way Henry J. Byron thinks.
  • 13D. [Neighbor of an Estonian] (LETT). Old-fashioned name for a Latvian. Also a ripe Crosswordese 101 candidate.
  • 15D. [Solar year/lunar year differential] (EPACT). Say what? Never heard the word. For a primer on lunar years, click that Wikipedia link. A lunar year is about 354 days, while a solar year is about 365 days. The EPACT comes into play when calculating Easter's schedule, apparently.
  • 25D. [Signaler in a box] (COACH). Which sport stores the COACH in a box?
  • 38D. [Rock-throwing protesters] (STONERS). Heh. Here's a non-rock-throwing stoner:

  • 53D. [___ Mountains, which separate the Rhine and the Rhone] (JURA). Whoa. Not common in the crosswordese department. You'll never guess when most of this mountain range's rocks were laid down. Go ahead, guess. The Jurassic period! Which was named after the JURA Mountains! Who knew? They're on the French/Swiss border.
  • 55D. [Caesarean opening] (VENI). As in the opening word of Caesar's famous "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came, I saw, I conquered"). Not the name for the hole in the womb sliced open by an OB doing a C-section.

Crosswordese 101: The 34A clue, [Oka River city], includes a crosswordese river we've discussed, the OKA. That city is OREL. It's in Russia, it's south of Moscow, and Turgenev was born there. But you may know it better as the first name of baseball great OREL Hershiser. He pitched, won the Cy Young Award, and was World Series MVP in 1988. He has since moved on to being an ESPN sportscaster.

Everything Else — 1A: Spoiled sci-fi race (ELOI); 5A: Engage in a high-tech scam (PHISH); 10A: High-tech mogul Michael (DELL); 14A: Dating option (DINNER AND A MOVIE); 17A: Thank-you trinket, e.g. (INEXPENSIVE GIFT); 18A: Arachnid's hatching pouch (EGG SAC); 19A: Hole in your shoe? (EYELET); 20A: Lemon-colored quartz (CITRINE); 24A: "My mind isn't made up yet" (I CAN'T SAY FOR SURE); 32A: Ill-advised move (NO-NO); 33A: German-born surrealist (ERNST); 34A: Oka River city (OREL); 35A: Stretched out (LAIN); 36A: Hindu fire god (AGNI); 37A: Peak (ACME); 38A: Perfect Sleeper maker (SERTA); 43A: French cathedral city (METZ); 44A: "You've got a lot of nerve!" (WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA); 47A: Extra (TO SPARE); 48A: Like chinchillas (ANDEAN); 52A: It may accompany a new experience (DEJA-VU); 57A: Retaliatory steps (COUNTER MEASURES); 61A: Ups and downs of one's youth? (TEETER-TOTTERING); 62A: What's more (ALSO); 63A: Have a feeling (SENSE); 64A: Capital on Upolu Island (APIA); 1D: Jack Kerouac's first wife (EDIE); 2D: Ding-a-__ (LING); 3D: Universal donor's type, briefly (O NEG); 4D: Michael Hutchence's band (INXS); 5D: Exact (PRECISE); 6D: River to the Yangtze (HAN); 7D: Former green card agcy. (INS); 8D: Reagan mil. program (SDI); 9D: One living in poverty (HAVE NOT); 10D: Old Venetian magistrate (DOGE); 11D: Dark (EVIL); 12D: It's "too short for chess": Henry J. Byron (LIFE); 13D: Neighbor of an Estonian (LETT); 15D: Solar year/lunar year differential (EPACT); 16D: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" director Nicholas (MEYER); 21D: Sea dog (TAR); 22D: Rembrandt van __ (RYN); 23D: They may happen (IFS); 24D: Oft-maligned kin (IN-LAW); 25D: Signaler in a box (COACH); 26D: Jung's inner self (ANIMA); 27D: The Muses, e.g. (NONET); 28D: "Likewise" (SO AM I); 29D: Pressed (URGED); 30D: Income, in Cannes (RENTE); 31D: The "her" in Broadway's "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" (ELIZA); 38D: Rock-throwing protesters (STONERS); 39D: Words of doubt (EHS); 40D: Good name (REP); 41D: Abbr. for an unknown 42-Down (TBA); 42D: When something is on (AIR DATE); 45D: Express (STATE); 46D: Honkers (GEESE); 48D: Washington Nationals manager Manny (ACTA); 49D: December song (NOEL); 50D: Member's payment (DUES); 51D: Prefix with -zoic (ENTO); 53D: __ Mountains, which separate the Rhine and the Rhone (JURA); 54D: "What __!": "I've been had!" (A RIP); 55D: Caesarean opening (VENI); 56D: Links-governing org. (USGA); 58D: Numbered hwy. (RTE.); 59D: Calendar col. (MON); 60D: X-files subjects, for short (ETS).


Anonymous said...

@Rex In your commentary the answer to 12D [It's too short for chess": Henry J. Byron] is LIFE not chess.

Anonymous said...

Coach in a box: the sports are baseball (3rd and 1st base coaching boxes) and basketball (the part of the sideline the coach is able to walk up and down without being T'ed up for being out of. [No penalty for thinking outside it though.]

Anonymous said...

There is a mistake in the clue for 48D. Manny Acta was named the Manager of the Cleveland Indians on October 25th, 2009.

Tinbeni said...

A feeling of DEJA VU, Sat.LAT and I am in the weeds. Tough puzzle.

Learning moments (there were many)
So, yes the east side came very slowly.

Though the crosses got her, is EDIE Kerouac's first wife really well known?

COACH, Signaler in a box was clever. The 3rd Base coach signals the batter. It's Spring Training all over the place here. Warmer weather will soon follow.

But if you are going to have a clue re:Manager of the Wash. Nats. how about it NOT being the guy who was fired mid-season last year.
I realize there is a lead time for publication of these puzzles, but Manny ACTA was fired last July by the Nats. Now he is the Cleveland Indians Mgr.
ED: Rich Norris that could have been corrected easily.

The good part was I had ELOI and APIA without thinking.
Struggled with the Caesarean opening, VENI.
Kept thinking C-Section. Knew I had no idea what that could be. Great clue.

@Orange - Good luck in the ACPT. Hope you win it.
Nice clips.

Parsan said...

@Anon--We all make mistakes. It is Orange, not Rex. Are you all 3 Anons? Why not get a name?

These Saturday puzzles are getting harder, which is good. The 15 letter answers were fun but easier to get than some of the short ones. Favorites, I CAN'T SAY FOR SURE and WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA.

Remembered EDIE (3 wives, all died young), METZ (Uncle there with the 101st AB in WW 2), APIA, ERNST, ELOI, INXS, and DELL. Baseball box = COACH.

Had to look up or they fell into place EPACT, JURA, and MEYER. Had VENI in but didn't get it until I reread the clue. Cool!

The DODGes Palace is worth the trip to Venice.

Do people say "What A RIP!"? TO SPARE seemed strange when spare alone is extra.

Thank you Orange and BV. Good luck all you puzzlers!

shrub5 said...

Had several blanks remaining when I finished this bad boy...or it finished me. So I googled for OREL, AGNI, JURA, APIA and METZ.

Liked all the long acrosses, each of which were not easy to get with the exception of DINNER AND A MOVIE. I had WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL for awhile before correcting to BIG IDEA (which fits the clue better). Had RIOTERS before STONERS.

@Orange: thanks for the write-up which was both entertaining and informative. I'd be dead meat if this puzzle showed up in a tournament!!

Tinbeni said...

The Anons don't need to get a name.
They need to get a LIFE!

"What A RIP" is probably what a STONER would say if the dobie was any good.

I googled EDIE Kerouac-Parker, her relationship, marriage & annulment with Jack happened before I was born.
Jack Kerouac died Oct. 1969 in my home town, St.Petersburg, when I was a senior in High School. That's when I read 'On the Road' which lead me to think for myself.
(There comes a time when every kid must develop their own ideas that don't necessarily parrot their parents.)

I was dead meat through a whole pot of coffee.
Get up early, pull out the puzzle ... get creamed!
Still it was more fun than an easy Monday.

My preference of the Caesarean quote is:
VINI, Vidi, Veggie
"I came, I saw, I had a salad!"

Even better:
VINI, Vidi, Vat69
"I came, I saw, I had a Scotch!"

Mark said...

I liked DINNERANDAMOVIE,ICANTSAYFORSURE and WHATSTHEBIGIDEA. My favorite clue was "Hole in your shoe?". A trouble spot was the crossing of RENTE and OREL.

lit.doc said...

Took just over half an hour, but I got through it. More than I can say about the Saturday NYT, but hey.

Getting better with crosswordese, but rivers of, rivers to, cities of, cities on, etc. still give me fits, like OREL. Me too what @Orange said about METZ. And having seen LETT once before didn't help a bit. Luckily, I didn't even see AGNI or RYN.

Near-total ignorance of baseball served me well on this one, as I hadn't heard about Manny ACTA's firing/hiring. Hadn't even heard of *him*.

@Tinbeni, "take a bong rip" is still common usage. I hear. This being a Mainstream Media Puzzle, though, they'd never give a nod to STONERS. The real problem with A RIP is that they left off OFF.

It was totally news to me that the INS no longer exists. What, they got sent back to Europe?

VENI came instantly. As in "Veni, vidi, fugi" ("...I fled"). Wish someday I could find out what the Latin is for "I shopped a little".

Wow, they've apparently unearthed a "Pacidyno"! Another missing link no longer missing.

JIMMIE said...

This cw was hard for me, but I was able to finish it by crosses. Did not know ACTA, had to look uo AGNI. But NONET for the combined voices of the nine Muses, wow, what a clever clue!

Sfingi said...

@Shrub5 - if you have blanks, you're not done! It took me about all day to do it, between drooling naps and walks to the fast foods, and a Google when about to give up. I accomplished so much yesterday I allowed myself.

Anyway, didn't know EDIE (as a 1st wife) OREL, APIA, ACTA, METZ, JURA (as far as location or even Googling), MEYER, USGA (how many GAs are there? Don't answer, I don't care.), RENTA, ENTO, LIFE (not as in "get a.." but as in too short for chess), ANDEAN (where those cuties live).

What WAS left? WHATSTHEBIGIDEA, which is what my father use to say (and that loud) when we were about to get in trouble.
Had forgotten: ANIMA, AGNI, INXS, VENI.

Had AsaP before ARIP. I don't say that.

I did like the phrases, but was put in mind how much cleverer yesterday's was.

I wondered what Mr. Venzke was going to do with "Rijn." Probably change the "ij" to Y. Also, Latvians often don't like LETT just Italians don't like Dagos, and Poles don't like Polaks(though S. used it in his intro to Hamlet).

Wouldn't be interesting if Rex, Orange or PuzzleGirl signed their commentary with ANONYMOUS - GUESS.

shrub5 said...

@Sfingi: By "done", I meant done as far as my own brain power would take me!! I did fill in all the blanks after googling. I think I could figure out which of the 3 bloggers it was if submitted anonymously. They seem to have distinctive writing styles....but it would be fun to put it to the test!

lit.doc said...

@Sfingi, that's a heck of an idea re RP, Orange, and PG signing Anon. @Anyone who knows those folks IRW, suggest it to them, ok? Maybe make it a contest for a week or two. I'm guessing many of us would guess pretty well. Rex is the most curmudgeonly of the three (but in a good-hearted, well-informed sort of way, naturally), PG's prose style is pretty distinctive, and Orange holds the middle ground.

Rube said...

New words of interest to me were EPACT, AGNI, ENTOzoic, JURA, RENTE, and LETT. Words I didn't like for various reasons were APIA, ARIP, and STONERS. Words I don't want to see again in crosswords, (but probably will), EDIE Kerouac, OREL river, ACTA, and HAN river.

Still, with only one pink, it's a good puzzle... hard, but good.

badspelller said...

Edie Kerouac Parker actually had written a book about her times with
the Beats. It's worse that Kerouac's own books,
if that is possible. Somebody should
just go back through Kerouac's books and
substitute the original names. That would eliminate one of the big annoyances. I also wish Burroughs would have kept writing in the realistic vein of "Junky".

Not too thrilled with the big clues. Not enough trickery involved and I like when they
relate to each other. Maybe I will remember metz the next time I run
across it but I've already forgotten the mountain range and the river.

Jan said...

As soon as I had the second and third letter for 14A I confidently wrote "wininganddining". Oops. At least I had "and" right.

Sfingi said...

@Shrub5 - I hope you know I'm teasing, since it literally took me all day. Besides sleeping and eating, and one load of wash, I got nothing else done to that point.

I did just go to the Home, which is a mad tea party on weekends since they have 2 patients who should be "upstairs," but there are no empty beds. And they're always short of aides on weekends. 3 for 40. On Friday besides DINNER, we go to the room with the roommate, close the door and watch Lawrence Welk since the only MOVIE is a western (a.k.a. OATER). As best I can figure, the list of things that NYS is big on doesn't include some things that we would like.

*David* said...

I shoulda had this one but had WHATSTHEBIGDEAL which flummoxed me in that corner, Googled the Hindu fire god and that corner fell. Still had a couple sloppy mistakes when I checked the answers, oh well, very close to completing with no mistakes. A nice 40 minutes to finish this one.