10.09.2010

S A T U R D A Y   October 9, 2010
James Sajdak

Theme: None


Whoa! I had all kindsa trouble with this puzzle ... but that's a good thing! This one felt like a real workout to me. I had the most trouble up in the northwest corner, so let's talk about that first.

Thank God for ELLA and DR. J — they were the only two that came easily to me up there. Other than that, I was just chipping away letter by letter. SKYJACK was the most troublesome entry for me. Why is there a question mark on that clue? Usually, a question mark means that the clue is an idiom but needs to be taken literally. The way I think about it when I'm solving is: "Okay, what's my first impression of this phrase? Well, that's not what they're getting at today. Which word in the clue do I need to look at from a different angle to get where I need to go?" But my first impression of 17A: Take a plane? was, um ... commandeering an airplane. But that can't be right! The word "plane" must be referring to the tool called a planer, or to the geometric meaning of the word. But that J is just screaming out for the word to end in JACK! But HIJACK doesn't fit! As you can tell from my representation of my thought process at the time, I was a mess.

So I lightly penciled in JACK and with the lightly penciled in S at the end of 1A, plus the last three letters of the word, I was able to see ST. KITTS. Then RICE fell into place and IN ORBIT, and EBAN. I thought the answer for 3D: Pluralis majestatis would end in the letters AE becaue it sounded all Latiny to me and I know sometimes Latin words are pluralized with AE. If I had only heard of TOWN WITHOUT PITY (27A: It lost to "Moon River" for a Best Song Oscar) everything would have gone a lot smoother. Alas, no such luck. I had the WITHOUT PITY part, but couldn't figure out the first word. That W was the last letter I entered into the grid. I'm gonna say that W stands for WICKED. ROYAL WE? That's awesome. Wicked awesome.

Bullets:
  • 1A: Avid ones keep Life Lists (BIRDERS). The PuzzleParents are now BIRDERS, since they started spending half the year in Costa Rica. I don't know if they keep Life Lists though.
  • 19A: Mom and pop financing gp. (SBA). Small Business Administration.
  • 20A: Roger who coached eight NHL teams (NEILSON). I had no chance on this one. Got it totally through crosses. Well, crosses and an educated guess. I had also never heard of 10D: 1984 Swedish speed skating medalist SVEN Gustafson, but SVEN sounded like the right name.
  • 23A: Collaborator with a Count and a Duke (ELLA). Ella Fitzgerald has collaborated with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Cute clue.
  • 26A: Peak in Thessaly (OSSA). I don't know where Thessaly is, so I tried ALPE first. Late in the week, sometimes you just have to flat-out guess and hope it leads to something.
  • 35A: Dr. Ray Langston's TV team (CSI). Another educated guess. I don't watch the show(s) but it came to mind anyway.
  • 39A: Puget Sound port (TACOMA). I always have to consciously think about how to spell TACOMA, Washington, because there's a TAKOMA Park, Maryland nearby. (Hi, Vega!)
  • 42A: 1964 Record of the Year Grammy winner, with "The" (GIRL FROM IPANEMA). This one brings back nice memories for me. When I lived in New York back in the mid-80s, I partnered up with a young woman who had (and still has) an unbelievable voice (I played piano). We'd do covers at open mic nights in dive bars around the city and this was one of our songs. Good times.
  • 45A: Sub. for omitted names (ET AL.). I actually tried NMIS here first, which is something I learned from crosswords (it stands for No Middle Initial).
  • 47A: Library Card Sign-up mo. (SEPT.). Guessed on this one too. I mean, it's when school starts so I think it makes sense!
  • 49A: French lover? (AMATEUR). I don't know what this means.
  • 59A: Not told (UNAWARE). This was another part-of-speech trip-up for me. No wait, not part of speech ... I'm not sure how to explain it grammatically, but I thought the answer would be a word describing the information that wasn't told, not the person who the information wasn't told ro. (Not a part-of-speech issue because both of those words would be adjectives. Yeah, I still got it.)
  • 4D: Court physician? (DR. J). DR. J is the nickname of Julius Erving, former pro basketball player (who played on a basketball court — get it?).
  • 12D: Golfer's 2-wood (BRASSIE). I'm sure all you golfers got this one right off. I don't recall hearing this term before.
  • 24D: Colonial mound (ANTHILL). Because ants live in a colony.
  • 28D: "A Room of One's Own" author (WOOLF). Gimme gimme gimme! Woo-hoo! (finally)
  • 38D: Some Iberian inns (POSADAS).
  • 40D: Mongoose family member (MEERKAT). Reference to MEERKATs always remind me of Life of Pi. It was MEERKATs on that island, wasn't it?
  • 41D: Antique oil holder (AMPHORA). Whatever you say.
  • 42D: Magazine whose debut issue featured a cover photo of Cindy Crawford dressed as Washington (GEORGE). I vaguely remember this magazine. I believe it came out in the mid-90s and was started up by ... JFK Jr.? Can that be right? Let me look it up. ... Yep, JFK Jr. and 1995.
  • 43D: Comb breaker, perhaps (MAT). Does this mean MATted hair breaks a comb? That's the only way I can make sense of it. And why isn't this a wrestling clue??
  • 57D: USN rank (CWO). CWO? WTF? Oh, Chief Warrant Officer. Learn something new Every. Damn. Day.
Crosswordese 101: Eric UTNE was co-founder, with Nina Rothschild, of the Utne Reader, a magazine that is, according to its website, a digest "of independent ideas and alternative culture. Not right, not left, but forward thinking." The word/name/title is typically clued just like today, 51D: Big name in alternative press.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 53A: Frat letter (RHO).
  • 9D: River through Aragon (EBRO).
  • 11D: Hammett's Spade, e.g. (TEC).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 8A: Weapons restriction of a sort (TEST BAN); 15A: Circling (IN ORBIT); 16A: Coin's "heads" (OBVERSE); 18A: Formed before delivery, as concrete (PRECAST); 22A: Taste (SIP); 25A: Dance genre (TAP); 32A: View from Jackson Hole (TETONS); 33A: Safe portfolio investments (T-NOTES); 34A: Ad-committee link (HOC); 36A: Come to a head (BOIL UP); 46A: Hammett's Spade (SAM); 48A: Like some painkillers, briefly (OTC); 53A: Frat letter (RHO); 54A: Told (RELATED); 56A: Easily attached (STICK-ON); 58A: Island north of Trinidad (GRENADA); 60A: Sect linked to the Dead Sea Scrolls (ESSENES); 61A: Jai alai balls (PELOTAS); 1D: "Bullitt" co-star (BISSET); 2D: Therapy aid (INK BLOT); 5D: "Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes" author (EBAN); 6D: Potatoes alternative (RICE); 7D: Nevis neighbor (ST. KITTS); 8D: Leadership position (TOP SPOT); 9D: River through Aragon (EBRO); 11D: Hammett's Spade, e.g. (TEC); 13D: Rink stats (ASSISTS); 14D: Working capital? (NET PAY); 21D: __-di-dah (LAH); 26D: Sunroof and CD changer, e.g. (OPTIONS); 29D: Arouse, as wrath (INCUR); 30D: Open without a corkscrew (UNCAP); 31D: 1900 Puccini premiere (TOSCA); 36D: Pink Gin ingredient (BITTERS); 37D: Sources of ambiguous answers (ORACLES); 39D: "Pencils down" (TIME'S UP); 44D: Makes up (for) (ATONES); 49D: __ end (AT AN); 50D: Early Iranian (MEDE); 51D: Big name in alternative press (UTNE); 52D: Shiraz spending money (RIAL); 55D: Suffix with oct- (ANE).

25 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Far too easy for a Saturday puzzle. Took me a while to solve, but I needed no ASSISTS. It seems that if you know the two 15-letter songs and fill that in, then the crosses just start plopping in.
James Sajdak always constructs very entertaining and challenging puzzles and this was one of his better ones. Lots of challenging six and seven letter stacks, great clues, and fresh fill makes this a “10” with me.

I agree with you, Puzzlegirl, the NW corner also was the hardest for me.

I too kept thinking that the "Take a plane" clue (17A)was a misdirection referring to the woodworker's planer, but nope, it truly was an airplane.

Some of my favorites:

Two great great songs!
Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz: “The GIRL FROM IPANEMA” sung in Portugese and English… soooo smooooth!
TOWN WITHOUT PITY - Brian Setzer, Stray Cats rendition.

Terrific fill words---
ESSENES, PELOTAS, POSADAS, ROYAL WE, AMPHORA, MEERKAT, TOSCA, and UTNE.

Also, I love those archaic golf terms, like niblick (wedge), mashie (5-iron), BRASSIE (2-wood), and spoon (3-wood). Can you think of any others that I missed? Like, what was a putter called?

And of course, I like BIRDERS, because I am one, but I am one of those rare birds who DOES NOT KEEP A LIFE LIST! That’s just plain OCD and I have enough of that in my life with my Route 66 passion.

I could have used Tinbeni for 36D “Pink gin ingredient”… what the…?

Speaking of our financial wiz, Tinbeni, what do you think of the clue for 33A TNOTES, being called “Safe portfolio investments”? Given the outlook for inflation, interest rates, the US economy and the US dollar, I’d say that T-NOTES are amongst the least attractive investments on earth.

Okay, TIMES UP and I need my first SIP of coffee.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Puzzlegirl
It was so interesting to read about your thought processes that went into solving this puzzle. It seems that my logic and guesses were very similar to yours.

I'm just glad whenever I can solve a Saturday puzzle within an hour... just plodding along without resorting to Google or dictionaries.

badrog said...

Totally agree with you, PG, that it was troublesome, but in a good way. Altho our specific problems seem to have been quite different.

First erasure: in error, 19A. SBA, because I couldn't come up with a verifying cross.
Last erasure: 2D, when I woke up and changed INKspOT to INKBLOT, which also brought SBA back to life.

Both 15-letter-ers came to me from their tail ends. 27A, when 26D told me it ended in -PITY, not -cITY. And 62A, when Astrud, Joao and Stan whispered to me that it was -IPANEMA, not -PANaMA.

Enjoyed seeing Spade clued in 2 slightly different ways, with very different 3-letter answers. Wonder if TEC is still used anywhere besides CWs.

Thought 49A was a great, though definitely fuzzy, clue (hence the "?", which to me has always implied simply "You're gonna have to work for this one"): AMAT- from Latin 101 "he/she/it loves", and -TEUR for the French-ish suffix.

61A, PELOTAS is one of those words that when I see it, I know what it means, but when I need it (for a CW, almost always), I can't come up with it.

3D, ROYALWE served as a good reminder that when I see a weird letter combination like -LW_, immediately think more-than-one-word!

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, I was more on your wavelenght than Sajdak's. Thank you for (another) EXCELLENT write-up.

@JNH
Don't look at me for the answer to 'Pink Gin ingredient,' BITTERS was all crosses and it doesn't sound like something I'd ever consume.

For 37D Sources of ambiguous answers, ORACLES,
I wanted to put in "This puzzle" but it wouldn't fit.

PELOTAS, a gimmie, I was a Jai Alai fan until they closed the Tampa Fronton.

MEERKAT brought a grin, I love that show.

Mini-theme, Caribbean Islands with ST.KITTS and GRENADA.

MEDE we had Wednesday.

If you asked me who was an American speed skating medalist in 2010 I wouldn't remember, so that 1984 Swedish guy SVEN was also all crosses.

Anonymous said...

I too had trouble with the NW. The songs were gimmes. A good work out for a Saturday morning. And thanks to Dick Francis I knew the Tetons (Us geography not my strong point being an alien).

Go Phillies and Rangers!

Doug P said...

Hip Hip Jorge!

Fun Saturday puzzle today. The clue for ELLA was a favorite. It's hard to come up with tough, interesting clues for first names that don't include last names. The DR J clue was great too. For some reason, I started with (Dr.) DRE, even though it didn't make much sense. I figured he might be involved in a lot of lawsuits or something.

ddbmc said...

Enjoyed this puzzle immensely, even though it pummeled me! NE and SE corners-BRASSIE held me back, along with AMPHORA.

Kept thinking Ali McGraw was in BULLITT w/ Steve McQueen, but that was THE GETAWAY.

Knew BITTERS from dad and mom's cocktail hours!

@PG, have to agree, many of your stumbling blocks were mine! (and then I had a few more)

Roger NEILSON has summer youth hockey camps in Canada, so sort of a gimme. Just couldn't remember if his name ended with: ON, IN or EN. Had PENALTY instead of ASSISTS at first. You can tell where my kid spends some time! Mini skating theme today, too! :) Stretchin' it would be NETPAY (When you get a goal..lol)

Beautiful sunny weekend in the North East. My mood will be IN ORBIT.

Very nice puzzle, Mr. Sajdak. Thanks!

Sfingi said...

Very difficult and Googly for me.
This is the sports idiot's thought process:

First, sports - 6 of 'em. I Googled right up front for BRASSIE, NEILSON, SVEN, PELOTAS.
I actually got ASSISTS. Then, it was "who is Dr. J?"
Jai Alai used to be on CWs a lot more often.
Hubster and Baby Sister tried to guess SVEN - Olaf? Eric? Lief? What could it be?

The next area I don't know anything about was the Carribean. Googled GRANADA and STKITTS. I figured the Pink Gin ingredient was Angostura BITTERS, but Googled anyway. What I know about Angustura BITTERS is as a red colored medicine.

I also Googled for CSI, which I never watched, and BISSET and EBAN.
BISSET could have been Vaughn, early on.

I regretted that I Googled THE GIRLFROMIOANEMA, as I would have got it from crosses. But who knows from years?

TOWNWITHOUTPITY was a whiny song sung in a whiny voice. Glad it didn't win.

Mini-theme: SAM Spade.

Are there still Savings Banks? ("Save your dimes, and watch your dollars grow.")

Wanted lAP before TAP for type of dance.

Last to go - BIRDERS.

hazel said...

i did this puzzle very late last night, using a new app on my iPad (mentioned by Amy on her blog) and it absolutely rocks!! I kind of remember the app's awesomeness more than the puzzle, which is not to say the puzzle was bad. I liked GIRLFROMIPANEMA, but not TOWNWITHOUTPITY. Liked BIRDERS and PELOTAS, and remembered the recent MEDE - though I'm sure I will forget it the next time I see it (unless its within a week's time).

Stayed in a couple of POSADAS in Portugal when we were on a cycling trip, and I must say they were totally awesome. Highly recommend.

Also just looked up amateur - related to our old friends amo, amas, and amat - and originally meant "lover of." which totally makes sense - if you're an amateur [FILL IN THE BLANK], it must mean you love [FILL IN THE BLANK].

Good day!

p.s. @Anon 7:56 - I was wondering where Phillies fans came from. Now I know they're ALIENS!! ;-}

howardlwatson said...

Amen to the Northwest corner. Still don't understand Royal We

CrazyCatLady said...

This was a work out for me as well. I had trouble in the NE with EBRO, SVEN, BRASSIE and ASSISTS. I had LARS before SVEN. Had to google for those PELOTAS - so now I know fronton, PELOTAS and cesta all from CWS. I liked BIRDERS, IN ORBIT and SKYJACK all stacked up there in the NW. I also remembered MEDE from last week. There's a great inn in Santa Fe called La POSADA. Here's a little "Meerkat Manor" to enjoy.

Meerkat Manor

Thanks PG for your super write up!

C said...

NW corner did me in as well. SKYJACK would not emerge from my brain. I knew it had to do with -JACK but couldn't get SKY to form into my consciousness. I blame the Giant's for throwing away a 2-0 series lead last night.

My story and I am sticking to it ...

Sfingi said...

@HowardWatson - ROYAL WE. The King/Queen refers to him/herself as WE. "We accept your ---" and no one else is in the room. Some people talk that way as a joke.

Jet City Gambler said...

"We are not amused"

Golf club nicknames (this is not a "set of clubs", because there are more than 14 of them):

Driver [1 wood]
Brassie [2 wood]
Spoon [3 wood]
Baffy [4 wood]
Cleek [5 wood]
Driving Iron [1 iron]
Mid Iron [2 iron]
Mid Mashie [3 iron]
Jigger [4 iron]
Mashie Iron [4 iron]
Mashie [5 iron]
Spade Mashie [6 iron]
Mashie Niblick [7 iron]
Pitching Niblick [8 iron]
Niblick [9 iron]
Wedge [10 iron]

Anonymous said...

Excellent knowledge of archaic golf club terms! NW corner was tough because "ROYALWE" is far from expected. Reading 11 down before 46 across gave me "ARMS BAN", and put me in a stuper for a while. Fluffy for a Saturday, but tickles the brain cells enough to be fun!

Anonymous said...

"Sven" Isn't that skaters name "Tomas"?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely INANE defs. in this one. A REAL waste of time. Hamett's Spade=TEC??????????????????
Come on!

Vega said...

Greetings from Takoma Park! Actually, I'm in Philly this weekend GO PHILS! Agree this was hard-in-a-good-way, but alas, Failed on the AMPHORe/PELOTeS crossing. :-(

I love the elegance of "pencils down" for "time's up." Just gotta love elegant clues.

"Take a plane?" worked for me. Like, "hm, not pilot, or fly, or choose Delta...oh, literally, *take* a plane! Ha!"

Rube said...

This puzzle was a very enjoyable diversion this morning on the lanai. I'm on @ChefWen's isle for a couple of weeks, but not hearing from her on this blog, assume that she's not here.

Bitters is a key ingredient in a Manhattan. There was a crisis amongst us Manhattan drinkers last year when Angostura stopped producing for some unclear reason. All is back to normal now. FYI, Angostura bitters is made in Trinidad, is used as a digestif in some parts of the world, and is used as a seasoning for those who are on low sodium diets.

I think UTNE was in a recent xword puzz, but I had to get it totally from crosses.

Learning the etymology of AMATEUR, the Latin for ROYAL WE, and the meaning of POSADAS are why I love xwords.

p.s. @Anon1:31PM, TEC is as much crosswordese as adit and ewer... learn to live with it.

Tom said...

As usual, a big DNF, ....Like almost all Saturdays. Are birders any different than say, whale watchers, that keep track of life cycles? Ne and nw corners stumped me, I don't Google for answers, just give up and come here!! Possible mini theme....George /Tacoma Washington? Wish my local fishwrap (detroit news/free press) had the Sunday LAT puzzle, alas it only contains the nyt and Boston globe puzzles, both a week late. Sux. .....fyi, halftime in Ann arbor, 17-10, MSU leading. ...cmon big blue.......see y'all Monday : -)

mac said...

Fun puzzle, more or less followed PG's path. I needed the crosses for "birders", that was a new term for me, as was brassie.

@Doug P.: Hip hip Jorge alright! Go Yankees! Also, husband proposed to me at a posada in Portugal. Also thought the Ella clue was superb

Now, for far too long I have thought that Utne was about this funny language where you put something in front and the end sounds the same with every word? Help?

@Rube: hope you locate ChefWen. Clark says she is a great hostess and cook!

CrazyCatLady said...

@mac I think you are thinking of "Pig Latin." Think amSCray for scram. Mac would be acMay. Puzzle would be uzzlePay. There's also Ithig. Puzzle would be PithigUZ pithigLE. These are silly languages that American children used to teach each other in elementary school. I think it was to be able to converse without parents understanding what they were saying. There was another one called Ob. I remember actually writing notes in Ithig and Ob. Now kids can text so these will become "ancient languages." I like to think I was fluent in 4 languages by the time I was 12 :>)

mac said...

Thank you, CCL!
In our family it was the other way around: our parents spoke English when they didn't want us to understand.... That come to a halt when I was about 13.

Eric said...

The South fell pretty easily; the North gave me trouble.

Neither song title was a gimme, but I recognized both given enough crosses. (I was a bit of a fan of Gene Pitney, who did TOWN WITHOUT PITY, for a while; that was in the early 70s, the first time nostalgia for the 50s and early 60s came around. As for GIRL FROM IPANEMA, well, it's a classic. What more can one say -- except to offer a link to the Wikipedia page for Helô Pinheiro, the eponymous girl in question.

I interpreted the literal "Take a plane" as "fly": "When I went to Florida for my vacation, I took a plane". So for me, "?"ing the "abscond with" interpretation made perfect sense. (It still took me many crosses to get it though.)

Googled: BISSET, ROYAL WE, BRASSIE.

Here's an entertaining rant about why golf-club names can't really be matched up with modern numbers. I dunno -- I don't play golf, and didn't even know clubs ever had names -- but it kinda makes sense.

Got NEILS_N from crosses and a guess; had no way to decide between "E" and "O" for that last vowel; but figured that "O" was more likely as the last letter of a Spanish word EBR_. Why do I know Aragon is in Spain? 'Cause that's where Catherine of Aragon was from. (That'd be Henry VIII's first wife, the one he founded the Anglican Church in order to get a divorce from, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. I think Catherine got the better deal :-/ Of course I can't mention poor Anne without also linking to Stanley Holloway's With Her 'ead Tucked Underneath Her Arm.)

BRASSIE and PELOTAS were, for me, "how the $@(!# do you expect me to know that" kind of words, and DR. J. was just "gimme a break!". But then, ESSENES was a gimme, so I guess it takes all kinds :-)

T-NOTES and OPTIONS make an amusing investing cross. (I'd never heard the former term, only "T-bills". Is the latter a Canadianism, or are they actually different things?)

I had ETNA for OSSA at first -- well, it's a four-letter Mediterranean mountain! -- till I remembered that Thessaly is in Greece. Got OSSA entirely from crosses.

And I had BOOMERS for BIRDERS; "life list" didn't sound familiar, but I subconsciously figured it was some new-agey list of lifetime accomplishments -- basically, the flip side of one's bucket list. Which, for birders, I guess it kind of is :-)

"Colonial mound", "Weapons restriction of a sort", and "Collaborator with a Count and a Duke" were great clues! (I knew right off what the last of those was looking for, just not who; had to get the specific famous-jazz-person from crosses. I kept wondering if there was a jazz Earl.)

@PG: AMPHORAE were those large, two-handled ceramic jugs that were used as shipping containers for olive oil, wine, etc. in ancient times.

OK, I know this won't mean anything to 99.9% of the people here, but Maverick MEERKAT (aka the next release of Ubuntu Linux) comes out tomorrow. Sweet coincidence! Anyway, MEERKATs are cute. Not good as pets though, apparently.

HUTCH said...

An Amateur is a lover who doesn't know what oral sex is.