S A T U R D A Y   August 14, 2010
Barry C. Silk

Theme: None

Remember how PuzzleGirl was traveling yesterday? That was to finish her Colorado vacation and get to her New York one. It's time for Lollapuzzoola, Ryan and Brian's annual crossword tournament, and all your favorite crossword bloggers (PuzzleGirl, Orange, Rex Parker, Ryan and Brian) will be there. So you're left with a non-favorite, me, SethG.

We got off to a promising start with 1A: Year in Pope Innocent III's reign (MCC). And I ended with 43A: Under the decks (ALOW), which I dislike far more. I'd say (and have said) that everyone should stop using the a- prefix, but no one uses the a- prefix. The one that means "on", or "in"—a- for "not, without" is fine, of course. Aperiodic or asexual yes, but alow and abed, no. Unless you want to start allowing acar or abicycle. Finally, you can say ahunting, but only if "Heigh ho, the dairy-o" follows soon thereafter.

I say promising because no constructor wants to start off that way, so I could only assume it was there to support some fantastic stuff I was about to uncover. That stuff? 1D: Sanskrit for "great soul" (MAHATMA), 2D: Work with hooks (CROCHET), and 3D: Main (CENTRAL). Turns out, fine, but not exactly fantastic.

The best part of the puzzle were the NE and SW stacks of 11s. Six answers, all solid, and with solid crosses. Er, mostly solid. Some were just okay, and 11D: Dull ending? (-ARD) is brutal. Still, I mostly liked the puzzle.

Some stuff linked to other stuff:
  • Space stuff. 18A: Eagle, notably (LUNAR MODULE) crossed 13D: Surpass (ECLIPSE), and 48A: Salyut successor (MIR) was looking on from, well, afar. Let the eagle soar.
  • Ocean stuff. 30A: It covers about 20% of the Earth's surface (ATLANTIC) with the cross-linked 57A: Region of the North 30-Across (SARGASSO SEA). The "It" calls out for a noun, but without a definite article or an "Ocean" ATLANTIC feels like an adjective.
Stuff I've never heard of that I entered immediately:
  • 15A: "Memories __ Made Of This": 1956 chart-topper (ARE).
  • 27A: "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies" author (MEAD).
  • 54A: Toon, familiarly, who debuted in "Devil May Hare" (1954) (TAZ).
Stuff people will have questions about:
  • 12D: Ad follower (NAUSEAM). Latin for "to nauseam".
  • 24A: Bean named for the Italian word for "bean" (FAVA). You know FAVA beans, you just weren't sure that it's from the Italian word for a bean you eat or from the Italian word for head. It's the seed kind, and is unrelated to CAPO.
  • 55A: Error result, often (UNEARNED RUN). It's a baseball thing. If you know it you knew that, and if you didn't you don't care. 32D: Ballpark chorus (BOOS) is also baseball, and 31D: Prudential Center team (NETS) is basketball.
  • 25D: Portmanteau drink (ALCOPOP). It's got some dictionary support, and some Urban Dictionary support, but no one in the beverage industry calls it that. Smirnoff Ice is an ALCOPOP.
  • 47A: Wall St. hedger (ARB). And arbitrageur purchases securities in one market for immediate resale in another in the hope of profiting from the price differential.
  • 45D: Espoo natives (FINNS). Espoo is the second largest city in Finland. I learned that playing ultimate frisbee in western Australia.
  • 53D: Where to see some sleepers: Abbr. (RR'S). The sleepers are sleeper cars. Note that I was completely unbothered by the R being in the same puzzle as 26D: It might be a drag (ROAD RACE).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 58A: German article (DER). I think PuzzleGirl's got a crush. And why shouldn't she?

Everything Else — 4A: Versatile crafts item (PIPE CLEANER); 16A: Decisive stroke (COUP DE GRÂCE); 17A: Sweetie (HON); 19A: Fills in for (ACTS AS); 21A: Much cybercommunication, briefly (IM'S); 22A: One of the fam (SIB); 23A: Beat (THROB); 26A: Default consequence, for short (REPO); 28A: See 51-Down (SALE); 29A: "Find out" ("GO ASK"); 32A: 1970s New York mayor (BEAME); 33A: Dessert shaper (JELLO MOLD); 35A: Have an outstanding loan from (OWE TO); 37A: Lengthen (PROTRACT); 41A: Damage indications (SCARS); 42A: They aren't behind you (FOES); 44A: "Listen!" ("HARK!"); 45A: Swell and dandy (FOPS); 46A: Not a good thing to make in a restaurant (SCENE); 49A: Vehement (FIERCE); 50A: "Mr. Television" (MILTON BERLE); 56A: Threshold (EVE); 4D: Techie training site (PC LAB); 5D: Markers (IOU'S); 6D: "I'd like to study philosophy, but I just Kant," e.g. (PUN); 7D: AQI calculator (EPA); 8D: Windows disk designation (C DRIVE); 9D: Auxiliary proposition (LEMMA); 10D: Strong ones may clash (EGOS); 14D: Adidas subsidiary (REEBOK); 20D: Counterworker? (SODA JERK); 24D: Tank (FAIL); 28D: Battleground of 1944 (ST. LÔ); 29D: Moolah (GELT); 34D: G.I. fare (MRE'S); 35D: Tin whistle relative (OCARINA); 36D: Canary, at times (WARBLER); 38D: Tipped off (ALERTED); 39D: Like band shells (CONCAVE); 40D: Grooming tool (TWEEZER); 41D: Detective, in slang (SHAMUS); 42D: Business issue since 1917 (FORBES); 46D: City S of Florence (SIENA); 48D: New Mexico county or its seat (MORA); 49D: Drawing device (FLUE); 51D: With 28-Across, bargain hunters' mecca (TAG); 52D: Shogun's capital (EDO).


Middletown Bomber said...

Looks like during my vacation my paper changed crossword providers as my paper has wayne robert williams saturday offering which by the way was way to easy for a saturday puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Why is one of the answers always colored?

Van55 said...

A puzzle leading off with a RRN at 1A will never get any love from me. Period.

Add to that an abundance of proper nouns and what to me seem like "off clues" e.g. "They aren't behind you" for FOES and "Bargain hunter's mecca for the icky cross-referenced "SALE TAG" answers, and I really disliked this puzzle.

I expect better from Mr. Silk and almost always get it.

Tinbeni said...

The year of Innocent III reign MCC is a great
example of a lousy Roman Numeral clue.
Getable from the crosses, obscure history reference.

Enjoyed the "mini" space thingy, LUNAR MODULE, ECLIPSE and MIR.

Liked that ROAD RACE crossed REPO.

Had a laugh at FOPS, sweet and dandy.

Then I looked up "portmanteau" (a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings: "smog" is a blend of "smoke and "fog")... well that was the COUP DE GRACE.

Avatar said: "Put down your pen, walk away from this grid! It's one thing to have that JERK with the SODA but this is blasphemy! ALCOPOP is for that TWERP from yesterday!"

So today is a FAIL.

Ed Mechmann said...


backbiter said...

Jeezuz, random Roman numeral right off the bat. I threw the newspaper down in disgust and went out to have breakfast. I solved it when I came back and it was half and half. I liked half and didn't like the other half. Tinbeni is the first person I thought of when I filled in ALCOPOP. I could only imagine his reaction to that crap answer. Milton Berle is my favorite answer because Milton Berle has been a favorite of mine since the time I could walk. Cheers!

CrazyCatLady said...

This was a FAIL for me since I had to google galore. I found many things about this puzzle to be irritating starting with the heinous RN at 1A. Agree with @SethG that ALOW is really low. It seems to me that when you go under the deck on boat you are down BELOW. A SALE RACK may be a Bargain hunters mecca, but a SALE TAG? Really? I looked up LEMMA and still don't get it. I'm thinking maybe they drink ALCHOPOP in MORA, NM? I had TAOS first. Things I liked, JELLO MOLD (great retro food item), FAVA (my fave bean) and SIENA (one of my favorite places).
@Middletown Bomber Is your paper the Philadelphia Inquirer? That happened on Monday. Bummer!

Jet City Gambler said...

I agree that ANOW is terrible, I wonder why Barry/Rich didn't go with AVOW/AVERTED instead...

PurpleGuy said...

This puzzle just sucked.

I'm toasting the sunset early here in Phoenix to get the lousy feeling out of my system.

Cheers to all !!! Especially @Tinbeni.

Anonymous said...

Way too Arcane coupled with essentially non clues Like the large number of possibilities for 1A. A 4 letter county in NM? Shamus for detective - never heard of it before. Somethine derived from sanskrit? A "Sale Tag" is not a place!! How many three letter words are there for a family member? ARB who cares its enough to know they are probably dishonest. Vehement is not really a synonym for Fierce. Hark! who uses this except when singing Christmas carol. 18A - I started with "twounderpar" then got "lunarlander" and then "lunar Module". Is a "chicken hawk" a type of eagle?

Anonymous said...


CrazyCatLady said...

@Anon 2:37 Ah now it makes sense. Thank you. Only thing is TAG SALE is pretty regional. If I told someone on the west coast I was going to a TAG SALE, I don't think they would have any idea what I was talking about. Having lived in NY many years ago, I remember the term.
@Purple Guy I'll join you with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Cin cin!
Oh and about LEMMA I read Orange's blog and she didn't get it either so I don't feel so bad.

Sfingi said...

DNF mostly because of ALCOPOP. No idea for the blended drink.
Had GELd for GELT, Fine for FOPS, and MesS for MRES.

This is a Barry Silk, and usually rough for me. And he looks so sweet and cuddly? No whips, no hookarms, no wrist armor..
I've concluded that when I see his byline, it's going to be a "learning experience."

I didn't know MORA, FINNS, ALOW, REEBOK. Now I do, which is good.
On the other hand, I didn't even know that the sports clues were sports clues. And don't know what they mean.
NETS occurs in crosses.
Let's see, if you have a senior center, and you want to be prudent, set up a team of nets to catch the oldsters if they fall.
Oh, wait, someone told me: the NETS is a team and Prudential is the name of the place they play. Maybe this infor will stick.

Can't really complain, since each clue is reasonable, and having alternatives, but not too many, is smart.

@Crazycat - TAGSALE is not used in these parts. Garage sales are everywhere this weekend. Maybe it's a downstate thing?

@Anon805 - All that means is that's the last one he entered. This question is often asked by newbies, and I've never done the puzzle on-line.

@Anon220 -
1. LUNARMODULE is prety common. Knowing all the names of space things is not so common.
2. HARK is used by S.
3. SHAMUS is oldster lingo, probably from Seamus and Irish name from when cops were often Irish, a hundred years ago. Remember, I actually met someone who fought in the Spanish-American War.

Oh - can I assume ARB is for arbitrator? And I've been told, you don't have to warn solvers about abbreviations on Saturday.

Joon said...

ARB is short for arbitrageur (which you'd know if you'd read the post carefully), but only in the sense that ad is short for advertisement and perk is short for perquisite. the short forms are much, much more commonly used than the long forms, and as such, they are not abbreviations any more but words in their own right.

ALOW is pretty bad. and the AVOW/AVERTED fix is so simple that i'm pretty stunned that barry and rich didn't think of it, because i don't see any reason not to use it. neither AVOW or AVERTED is related to any other word in the grid.

i liked LEMMA, maybe because i've studied some math. one of these days, get seth to tell you the one about zorn's lemma. or actually, don't. anyway, a lemma is like a mini-theorem, used only in the proof of a more important theorem... except in the case of zorn's lemma, which is a big deal in its own right and is therefore misnamed.

TWEEZER, singular? that seems odd to me, like scissor or plier or underpant.

thanks for filling in, seth. i always enjoy your writeups.

Anonymous said...

It seems like a lot of you are complaining because you didn't know some of the stuff in the puzzle.

shrub5 said...

DNF with errors...hummmph.
I could not for the life of me see UNEARNED RUN. Had TOES instead of FOES (they aren't behind you); TOPS instead of FOPS (swell and dandy). RVS seemed OK for where to see some sleepers but alas it was RRS.

The majority of the puzzle I got right, I loved! Great Saturday toughie. And Seth, nice work! Come again.


This puzzle stinks!
Got most of it okay, even MILTON BERLE, but the bottom two words UNEARNED RUN and SARGASSOSEA couldn't be solved with those ugly crosses RRS, FLUE, MORA, FINNS and FORBES. Hated the singular TWEEZER.
I usually like Barry Silk puzzles, but he sure let me down on this one!