SATURDAY, July 10, 2010 — Doug Peterson

Theme: None

I haven't been able to finish this puzzle yet. Instead of giving up just so I can post to the blog, I'm going to put it aside and come back to it Saturday morning. So the write-up will be a little late today, but I really want to try to finish this thing. (I hope you all are having as much trouble as I am. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)

Later ....

Doug pinged me last night after I had been struggling with this monster for over an hour and I had to inform him that I was not on speaking terms with him at the moment. In fact, I'm seriously re-evaluating his Fake Crossword Boyfriend status as a result of this puzzle. Here we are in happier days:

He looks so mild-mannered, right? He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Even-tempered, down-to-earth, great sense of humor … That he is capable of creating a puzzle so devious, so cruel, so impossible!! Wait. I know he's capable of impenetrable beasts — he's a frequent contributor to Newsday's infamous(ly difficult) "Saturday Stumper." But this is the L.A. Times, son!

Alright, alright. I know I've been complaining about the L.A. Times not being hard enough for months, so I guess I should be happy. Also, when I look at the complete grid, I see where I really should have been able to finish it. But I was frustrated, I'll tell you that. On really tough puzzles that I honestly don't think I'll be able to finish, I sometimes Google one or two answers that I think will help break the puzzle open. Today, those two answers were TWO-SEATER (19A: Certain Sopwith Scout) and OLD NORTH CHURCH (39A: Purported source of Revere's historic signal). Sopwith Scout is complete gibberish to me and I thought with that answer in the grid, the northwest corner would fall. For the other, I had CHURCH in place and was pretty sure about *ORTH, but that was as far as I could get. (I did have Plymouth Church in there a couple times before I Googled it — that seems like an awfully good guess!)

I actually had RHOS (4D: Frat letters) and IN A HOLE (15A: Hard up) in place at one time, but couldn't get anything else to work so tore them out to start over. For COCOA (25A: After-school request) I wanted oreos or snack. For TIC TAC (1D: "Get a bang out of life" mint) I tried Mentos. I tried union, scabs, wages and rates for PLEAS (6D: They may be affected by bargaining). I was a mess is what I'm saying. In case you didn't get that yet.

And even if I had cracked the northwest, the southeast would have made this puzzle a DNF. I do not know the word ADIPOSE (58A: Fatty). I may have been able to come up with ALDEN at some point (48D: Mayflower Compact signer), but I was so beaten and bloodied I'm sure I would have stuck with my guess of Allen. The DETEST / AME cross would have gotten me too (44D: Not fancy in the least / 49A: Soul on the Seine). A French word that looks like it should be a French word we see in puzzles all the time crossing an entry with a super tricky clue (Fancy is a verb!" [headdesk]) — I give up! No mas!

And here's where the cruelty really factors in: I knew ANDRONICUS (10D: Shakespeare title name) and, even more importantly O'NEIL (45D: Negro Leagues legend Buck). I was able to drag a Shakespeare character and a Negro League ballplayer to the surface! Those are kinda tough — "I can do this!" … But no. The exhileration left me with nothing but despair and self-hatred.

There is beauty in this puzzle. ZONK OUT, BALLOON ANIMALS, ANAPEST (another one I knew!) (16A: Crash / 33A: Twisted party decorations / 62A: Three-syllable foot). But the loveliness of those answers is dim and unreachable from where I sit right now, in a space thick with dark and oppressive shame.

I will recover from this. I have to believe that. [sob!]

Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 28A: Tar Heel State campus (ELON).
  • 42A: Gulf of Finland feeder (NEVA).
  • 4D: Frat letters (RHOS).
  • 8D: Energy boss (CZAR).
  • 55D: For one (A POP).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Vamp attachments (T-STRAPS); 8A: They may follow shots (CHASERS); 17A: Crown (CORONET); 18A: Things in the back (ADDENDA); 21A: Aid for a large-group photo (RISER); 22A: Invoice abbr. (AMT.); 23A: Rolls in a nursery (SOD); 24A: "Naked Pictures of Famous People" author Stewart (JON); 30A: Eliot's Old Deuteronomy, e.g. (CAT); 37A: Volunteer, often (FIREMAN); 38A: "If you can find a better car, buy it" speaker (IACOCCA); 41A: Check alternatives (X'ES); 43A: Popped up, in baseball lingo (SKIED); 45A: Leftover (ODD); 46A: Union Sq., e.g. (STA.); 50A: Listed, to sailors (LEANT); 53A: Not finished yet (STILL AT IT); 56A: Dip (in) (IMMERSE); 59A: "The Time Machine" actress (1960) (MIMIEUX); 60A: Finally turns (to) (RESORTS); 61A: Influential second-century astronomer (PTOLEMY); 2D: Treaded transport (SNOWMOBILE); 3D: Justice and Temperance, e.g. (TAROT CARDS); 5D: Excellent (A-ONE); 7D: Small scrap (SET-TO); 9D: Mortar trough (HOD); 11D: Yarn unit (SKEIN); 12D: Seemingly forever (EONS); 13D: Like some awakenings (RUDE); 14D: Have the lead (STAR); 20D: Third-day creation (EDEN); 24D: Fish story notable (JONAH); 26D: Author Robert __ Butler (OLEN); 27D: Source of some sundae toppings (ALMOND TREE); 29D: Of the flock (LAIC); 30D: Prepared with tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs (CACCIATORE); 31D: Philosophers' stone seekers (ALCHEMISTS); 32D: Airport screening org. (TSA); 34D: Did galley work (OARED); 35D: Being broadcast (ON TV); 36D: Alien who reported to Orson (MORK); 37D: Site for aspiring idols (FOX); 40D: Dost own (HAST); 47D: Bridal accessory (TIARA); 50D: Worn out (LIMP); 51D: Shoot out (EMIT); 52D: Battle rounds (AMMO); 53D: Steamy, in a way (SEXY); 54D: Co-star with Courteney and Jennifer (LISA); 55D: For one (A POP); 57D: Dim __ (SUM).


David L said...

Well, I finished eventually, but the NW was a long struggle. No idea what TSTRAPS are (also don't know what meaning of VAMP is intended here. Don't know why LEANT means listed to sailors, as opposed to anyone else. CZAR for energy boss is weirdly specific - Washington is full of czars for this, that, and the other these days. And I was going to object to HOD, since in my book the HOD carries the bricks while the mortar goes on a hawk, but wiki claims that hods can carry mortar too. I think that only shows that masons these days are not adhering to traditional linguistic standards....

Joon said...

there, there.

David L said...

c'mon, where's the fun in finishing a tricky crossword if you can't gripe about it afterwards?

CrazyCatLady said...

Similar experience to PG with a big fat DNF. Googled a lot. MIMIEUX! Even if I knew who was in " The Time Machine" in 1960, I didn't know how to spell it. Did know ALDEN, ADIPOSE and OLD NORTH CHURCH. ALMOND TREE for source of some sundae toppings?! Oy Veh! And if the puzzle wasn't challenging enough, I misread 11D as Yam Unit. I was trying to fit in spud or root. When I finally got SKEIN through the crosses, I realized my error D'oh. And I'm a knitter. Thanks Doug P for giving my brain a good rattling this morning!

Victoria said...

So I was looking for clues to help me get some of the trickier answers, and came across your blog, which has the whole solution! :-D I'll be back, I think my paper delays by a day, and it'll be interesting to see how we approach the solution...

Van55 said...

Struggled in the NW, but otherwise finished OK. Still, one of the tougher LAT entries this year.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and have been, with its encouragement and information, working on crossword puzzles for about a year and a half. Today I finally feel that I'm making progress; I actually finished today's puzzle in an hour and a half with a couple of spelling checks. I can't believe it! Thanks for holding my hand for so long. Keep up the good work and great sense of humor.

Rube said...

Got the NE & SW without too much trouble. Even got ALCHEMISTS off the A, and CACCIATORE, (although had to use crosses to get all the Cs). But the NW & SE got me. Had to Google, so DNF.

Started, (proudly), with thevirtues for Justice and Temperance. Hey, it fit. Had phis for frat letters. I mean, isn't phi the first letter of fraternal, in Greek? No joy. Had cherryTREE for sundae topping source. Kept wanting to fit Snoopy into that Sopwith slot. Sigh.

Did know ANDRONICUS at least. Really gruesome play. First saw it at Shakespeare in the Park umpteen years ago.

Well, must get after those weeds before the soccer game.

Eric said...

Totally impuzzible!

After over an hour, and Googling pretty much everything Googlable, I still had to kick into show-me-my-mistakes mode. So DNF.

@PG: Only last Monday, you had a picture of Snoopy flying his Sopwith Camel! I really wanted this one to be *doghouse* or something, but wrong plane type :-( Actually, I'd have thought a beagle would prefer the Scout, seeing as its nickname was "Pup" :-)

The Peanuts reference told me Sopwith was an aircraft manufacturer, but that didn't help. Neither did Googling it -- I was only able to track down references to the two-seat Scout after I'd got the answer by other means, and so knew what I was looking for.

"Worn out" -> LIMP seems, er, limp to me.

Favourite clue: "Dost own" -> HAST. Early-modern translation of a crossword cliche. Far more puzzlespeakish than cluing it with Shakespeare, the Bible, or "formerly". Like it like it like it!

Speaking of the Bible, worse than limp -- i.e. flat-out wrong -- is "Third-day creation" -> EDEN. Give me a break! Third day is land, seas, and vegetation. Nothing about a garden. In fact, there is nothing in the entire first creation narrative (Genesis 1) to suggest that the creation being described is other than planet-wide.

The first mention of Eden, or of a "garden" at all, or indeed, of any specific place, is in Genesis 2:8 -- after the sixth day, after the day of rest, several verses into the second creation narrative, and after that narrative's version of the creation of man. Indeed, the KJV and most other English translations I checked explicitly put Eden after man. Even the few exceptions are non-committal; none even hints at pushing Eden all the way back to Day 3. Anybody here fluent in Hebrew? I'd like to know what it says in (as close as we have to) the original!

Wikipedia says a HOD is a "three-sided box", not a "trough". Anyone have a reference for the latter, or is this another error? (Not that a correct clue would have helped me any, but still...)

A few gimmes: PTOLEMY, ALCHEMISTS, SUM, and CAT. Alas, they didn't make up for all the (double-plus-ungood) grief.

A few *aha!* moments: DETEST (yeah, I finally clued in, given enough crosses), ZONK OUT and CHASERS in the NE (likewise). For "Crown" I knew in my gut that it had to be CORONsomething, but was dead set on CORONate, which didn't fit. "Kind Hearts and CORONETs" -- classic Alec Guinness movie that I don't believe I've ever seen.

Major head-bonk moment: TAROT CARDS. What came up in Google was the Four Cardinal Virtues, but I should know enough about Tarot not to have needed to Google it in the first place. Filling in "virtues", in expectation of getting the first bit via crosses, sure didn't help me any!

Overall, the mostly long words, obscurity, slang, and misdirection defeated me. All of those things are fine and good and fun in moderation, but they just weren't moderate enough, in today's puzzle, to be much fun for my poor brain.

All I can say is, if even PG DNF'ed it, I don't feel quite so stupid this morning.

@CCL: Re. "Yam unit" [sic], I sympathize. In the font that the web-app uses for clues, "rn" and "m" look very similar. Messes me up all the time.

Eric said...

Obligatory YouTube clip. Only tangentially related to the actual puzzle, but oh well...

Doug P. said...

Sorry, PG! Please don't throw me over for one of those punk teen-age constructors!

The seed for this one was OLD NORTH CHURCH, but I have to say that PLYMOUTH CHURCH sounds even more plausible.

24D JONAH makes me wish that the "Jonah Hex" movie had done better, because JONAHHEX is an awesome entry. Unfortunately only about 17 people saw it, including me.

Anonymous said...

A real toughie, no question, and a DNF for me until taking hints from you. Had CORIOLANUS (a full Shakespearean name) instead of ANDRONICUS (a partial) for the longest time until ADDENDA made me change everything. Had ORT instead of ODD, and so on. The toughest in at least three years.

Kathleen said...

Hard for me too, hysterical comments!

freerangebob said...

GO Hawks!

Greene said...

Puzzle Girl: We had opposite solving experiences with this puzzle and the Saturday NYT. I almost ripped my hair out with the NYT, but this one went down quite handily.

Since I've been reading your blogging for so long, I know for a fact you are a much better solver than I. I think I just got lucky today and happened to know stuff that Doug used. I must say though, you had me completely terrified of this puzzle with your comments at Rexville last night.

I appreciate the honesty, candor, humor, and warmth of your commentaries and I sincerely hope you never tire of writing this blog.

JIMMIE said...

@Eric: The creation of EDEN on the third day is a toughie. There are two separate creation accounts in Genesis, one in chapter 1 by the Priests, the other in chapter 2 by the Yahwists, and Eden does not show up until Chapter 2, as you noted, and there it does not say which day. So Bible scholars figure that Eden must have been created along with the trees and vegatation. Furthermore, when 1:13 says "there was evening, and there was morning - the third day" it means that thats what had happened on the third day. Otherwise, when we get to 1:31, nothing happened on the sixth day. So I think that while technically Doug is right, this clue is mind boggling to all but an OT scholar, and even to many of them.

Tinbeni said...

At least you got a CAT "shout-out!"

I'm with you and EDEN being a "Third-day creation" for the same reason you so eloquently stated.
"Hey, Doug were you getting that conclusion just because that was the day God made veggies?"

At 36D my newspaper print copy looked like:
"Allen who reported to Orson" and I kept thinking "Orson who?" "Orson Wells?"
Then as I entered my "THIRD mug of coffee timelimit"
I saw it was "ALIEN" and that got me MORK (the damn Orkian!).

In the SW I just refused to give up on 57d DIM__ being WIT. (and this dimwit can be ornery!)

I've lived practically all my life in Florida.
COCOA for an "After school reguest" is nowhere in the cob-webs. I'm with @PG, Oreos!!!
This applies also to the "Treaded transport" being a SNOWMOBILE. Never snow-bound so mine was an Automobile with great tires!
This worked great for MY Vamp who was wearing "Tassels." (You can figure out where!)

OLD NORTH CHURCH was my first fill. I know my Paul Revere history. Own some of his silver items.

HOD & SKEIN I learned here.

Fave was the RUDE awakenings. (probably that point when I realized this was going to be a Saturday DNF).

I DETEST the ALMOND TREE for the "Source of sundae toppings."

PuzzleGirl: You get my "Toast" tonight at sunset for an excellent write-up.
Your ersatz crossword boyfriend deserves A POP, and I'm not talking Avatar.

Eric said...

@JIMMIE: Reordering things a bit:

There are two separate creation accounts in Genesis, one in chapter 1 by the Priests, the other in chapter 2 by the Yahwists, and Eden does not show up until Chapter 2, as you noted, and there it does not say which day.

To be sure. In fact, the Yahwist account doesn't talk about days at all, and it puts things in rather a different sequence than does the Priestly one.

For those unfamiliar with all this, what Jimmie and I are on about is the documentary hypothesis for the origiin of the Torah/Pentateuch. To greatly oversimplify, it holds that those five books, as we now have them, were edited together from four earlier sources, which are at times mutually inconsistent. From oldest to newest, these sources are known as: Yahwist (in German, "Jahwist", hence J for short), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D), and Priestly (P). The documentary hypothisis has fallen on somewhat hard times, I now read, but the newer theories maintain the same broad outline -- multiple sources woven together to produce the Torah in its current form. That not all of their inconsistencies were ironed out might be unsatisfying to the modern reader, but presumably served the (presumably political) purposes of the Redactors (R) who did the weaving.

[...] when 1:13 says "there was evening, and there was morning - the third day" it means that thats what had happened on the third day. Otherwise, when we get to 1:31, nothing happened on the sixth day.

Indeed. Recall also that even now, for religious purposes the Jewish day starts at sundown.

So Bible scholars figure that Eden must have been created along with the trees and vegatation.

Well only, I presume, those scholars who feel the need to simultaneously believe both contradictory versions. As an atheist, I don't feel so constrained :-) I'm happy to accept that the P and J stories conflict.

So I think that while technically Doug is right

Given the above, I feel that this is rather overstating the case. But then, given that some scholars feel that way, when I said it's "flat-out wrong", so was I. I was letting my atheist bias show.

Unfortunately, the clue is no less mind-boggling for all that.

CrazyCatLady said...

@PG I like the picture of you and Doug. Is that in Santa Monica?
@Tinbeni Yep. I'm always glad to see a TS Eliot CAT. I grew up in PA and I never had COCOA after school either, nor did my children. Most "requested" snack was chocolate chip cookies and milk. Your comment, in toto, was hilarious.

Eric said...

@Tinbeni: I read "alien" correctly, and was still stuck on the Orson Welles track. "Huh? I don't remember a defector subplot in 'War of the Worlds'! Must be some other SF movie of Welles's that I haven't heard of."

No, no, please no more *oreos* ... or *olios*. I'm *glad* it was COCOA instead.

Sfingi said...

Let's put if this way. I got most of the bottom half.
My first words in were CAT, ROD and RUDE, but since I had Bard Of Avon instead of ANDRONICUS, Snoopy where SEATER is, and actually Googled and got MenTos (!) instead of TICTAC (both are barfy), I was dead in the whole North. Wanted some kind of "cycle" for the treads.

I should have got RISER, CORONET and OLDNORTHCHURCH. I went to Concord to see the ride one Patriot's Day. I was expecting a story source of cousin Longfellow's poem.

I can't even think COCOA today. Still miserably humid.

I would never in my life get EDEN, Googled OLEN.

But I did get CACCIATORE, ALCHEMISTS and the entire botton 5 lines.
So, I'm still only half-fast.

Well, it's time to carb-up for the Boiler Maker. I'm not running it. They'd have to roll me the whole 15K, but I'm taking Hubster,who's doing the 5k.

@Eric@Jimmie - VERY interesting. This is why I read the blog.

@Tinbeni - what do you have? Not a porringer? Are you a descendant? Lord, he had 16 kids. Actually his wives did. And he was a from Huguenots, for those who care.

I've had problems posting pictures from my Toshiba, (and the HP and Toshiba don't communicate) so check out Grant Wood's Midnight Ride and John Singleton Copley' portrait of Revere.

Captcha - squaliti - squalid quality?

Anonymous said...

If a crossword puzzle this size takes any more than 45 minutes (an average bus/subway commute) it's a waste of time as is a puzzle that you need a computer to solve. I have more important things to do with the precious time the Good Lord gives me than trying to figure out the vagaries of the twisted logic of the jerks who construct these shrines to arcane info. That's why this blog is cool - look at it - copy it -then read the stupid definitions. Try it -it's lots of fun and takes loads less time.


OMG...You're right, Puzzlegirl, this one was indeed cruel. I didn't finish till Sunday morning, BUT I DID FINISH! And without any help, even from computer searches or dictionaries.
Yesterday I chose to ZONK OUT after a big day outside. So I just used the "sleep-on-it" technique... woke up and voile the words just came to me. Key words like Yvette MIMIEUX, ANDRONICUS, ALMOND TREE, CACCIATORE, OLD NORTH CHURCH, ALCHEMISTS, and TSTRAPS. Once I got those key words, then the rest of the words just plopped in place.

Oiy! Two very hard puzzles on a Sunday morning is too much! I think now I'll just IMMERSE myself in something light, like Tolstoys's "War and Peace" or Plato's "Republic".


Enjoyed your Biblical diatribe.

The HOD as pictured here is indeed a three-sided carrier for mortar, but it is also trough-shaped, so Doug's clue is perfectly acceptable.


@Doug Peterson
I am putting this on the top of my Best-for-2010 list.
Nice job!!!!
Encore please.

Eric said...

@JNH: Contrats!

Re HOD: Yup, you're right. Put "mortar", which is somewhat fluid, together with "trough", for which I think "evestrough", and I was picturing something like a cement truck's chute. An animal-feed trough (which your hod picture does indeed resemble) never entered my mind. What can I say, I'm a city boy :-) Thanks for putting me straight.

gespenst said...

A challenge to be sure, but I worked on it on and off all day and am thankful to say I finished.

I forget now who said it, but I had the same "crown" issue ... knew it was CORON+something, but CORONa wasn't long enough ... eventually got the -ET. The Sopwith Scout was one of those flashes ... I'd say of brilliance, but "sheer luck" is more like it.

South was definitely easier than North - that NW corner was the last to fall, though in the SW I had a little trouble w/ 50D & 50A.

I think my favorite clue was 23A - rolls in a nursery ... having a baby, I had my mind on the wrong nursery and was thinking along the lines of FAT ;) but then as we were driving, we passed the correct type of nursery and SOD popped into my head.

I didn't google today, either - just kept plodding away, and as I said, all day I was "STILL AT IT"!!