S A T U R D A Y   November 27, 2010
Victor Fleming

Theme: None

Doug here, filling for PuzzleGirl, who's taking a much-deserved Saturday vacation.

Nice themeless puzzle by Vic "The Gavel" Fleming today. A little easier than recent LA Times Saturday puzzles. Perhaps Rich Norris figured we'd all be recovering from our Thanksgiving food comas today.

Vic started off with a bang at 1-Across: One is in the Guinness Book for its 1728-word vocabulary is the clue for PARAKEET. That is so awesome and so weird. I was thinking it was some kind of ape or gorilla, or maybe a dolphin. How did Guinness verify this record? Did someone sit by the cage for days, recording every word the parakeet squawked? Maybe they just took the bird's word for it.

  • 18A: Like "The Hurt Locker," e.g. (R-RATED). One of PuzzleGirl's crack assistants, SethG, pointed out to me that there's a sort of mini-theme running through the puzzle. You've got this entry, R-RATED, along with 30A: G-STRING (find your own picture), 34A: E STREET, and 47A: I-BAR. Cool.
  • 19A: Iteration opening (I SAID). Part of our "first letters" mini-theme? Probably not. Sort of a tricky clue though. When you iterate, or repeat, something, you might start off with "I said..."
  • 27A: Elbows on the table, say (FAUX PAS). I overthought this one. I figured the "elbows" were referring to MACARONI. I wasn't expecting a completely straightforward clue on Saturday.
  • 6D: Hot time to see Nancy? (ÉTÉ). Nancy's a city in France, and été is French for summer. When I see this word in a puzzle, I pronounce it like "eat." And why does it have two accents? (Note to commenters: I really don't want to know.) I'm glad I took Spanish in high school. Spanish makes sense. One accent mark per word.
  • 9D: Lith., once: (SSR). We've got a little Soviet/Communist mini-theme in this section of the puzzle: SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic), 11D: Source of some Russian copper (URALS), and 14D: RED STATES. (Thanks to SethG for that one too.) I thought about including a Yakov Smirnoff video here, but only for about two seconds.
  • 25D: 1981 Wolfgang Petersen film (DAS BOOT). I've always wanted to see this movie. From Wikipedia: "To make the appearance of the actors as realistic as possible, scenes were filmed in sequence over the course of the year. This ensured natural growth of beards and hair, increasing skin pallor, and signs of strain on the actors, who had, just like real U-boat men, spent many months in a cramped, unhealthy atmosphere." And you thought actors were all a bunch of wimps.
  • 28D: Short ___ (STORY). I like this clue because it reminds me of the "Match Game" bonus round.
  • 32D: Track fixture (TOTE BOARD). During college, I worked summers at different racetracks, so I've seen the inside of many a toteboard. It's not as exciting as it sounds.
  • 52D: Jazz organist Saunders (MERL). For crossword fans, there's only one Merl to remember.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 41A: Drink suffix (ADE).
  • 6D: Hot time to see Nancy? (ETE).
  • 9D: Lith., once (SSR).
  • 54D: Give out (EMIT).
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Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, Wonderful write-up!

OK, as Norm once said: "It's a dod eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear."

Started right out of the box with:
Then my favorite aunt, TIA MARIA came to the rescue and after making enough changes to insure my INK BLOT test FAUX PAS were corrected ... I finally finished.

Moscato d'ASTI was a total guess.
Hey, if I'm going to that Foggy state to catch a STUPOR ... well, I'll stick to Avatar as my END ALL.

A Toast all at Sunset.
jeez, the weather has changed ... it's only getting up to 75 here today.

Cheers !!!

SethG said...

I agree with Doug. And with me.

This was the easiest puzzle for me since Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rex Parker said...

Yeah, PuzzleGirl, *wonderful* write-up. I read every word you write, including your first sentence, and today is no exception...

This puzzle felt very Saturdayish (LAT Saturdayish, that is). The only quadrant that felt very inspired, however, was the NW. Also, very disappointed in clue for G-STRING.


badrog said...

Re 19A,
FOR I = 1 to 4
Aha! "opening" = calls for a prefix
"re-" won't work
"semil-"? probably not
if "iterate" means repeat, would "Let me reiterate" imply the need to say it yet a 3rd time?
finally got it from crosses
(I do know that the above is NOT a legitimate iteration algorithm!)

Re 62A, does anybody know the actual source of that Stanwyck "egotism" quote? Movie script? Interview? Was she perhaps talking about someone she worked with? Herself?

Re SethG on 14D, I've thought many less-than-complimentary things about both Bush-s, but never did I think socialist.

This comment has been removed by the author.

There's a very interesting interview with Victor Fleming posted in the L.A Times Crossword Corner.

Van55 said...

I cannot agree with the statement that RP never says anything nice. He actually does from time to time. But he rarely passes on opportunity to post something snarky.

Judge Fleming humiliated me with a recent NYT offering. This one was much more approachable. It had just the right amount of clever and oblique cluing without being overly abstruse. Enjoyable challenge.

CarolC said...


Thanks for filling in for PG.

PARAKEET was such a strange answer that I looked it up. Here's a quote from Puck, the parakeet with 1,728 words verified by 21 volunteer observers from the Redwood Empire Cage Bird Club in Sonoma County CA (2 were avian veterinarians)in 21 separate sessions: "It's Christmas. That's what's happening. That's what it's all about. I love Pucky. I love everyone." This on Christmas morning 1993. . . See

I learn the strangest things from crosswords.

Rex Parker said...

Failure to read the post is a recurring problem here (among a few constant commenters), and shows phenomenal disrespect for the work Angela does. Actually reading the post should be the (minimum) cost of running your mouth in Comments.

I wish some of you (thousands) of silent readers would comment more. New voices would make this Comments section a much more ... vibrant place.


I agree with Seth, this puzzle felt more Tuesdayish. Far to simple for a Black Friday hangover (or should I say STUPOR).
I actually did this puzzle in ink.

Reading about that PARAKEET's vocabulary gives me an inferiority complex.

Well today John PLOPS on the sofa and reads a good book. Maybe "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. Does anyone have a comment on that STORY?

Think I'll just exit with a nice clip of MERL Saunders (with Jerry Garcia).

Anonymous said...

Taking a cue from Rex, I'll venture out of the shadows and offer my two cents worth. An entertaining puzzle.

Intimidating at first with the triple stacks of eight and nine letter words. However, a couple of "neon" clues (13D. One Parent and 60A. Engineer) got things rolling. Spending time in suburban Wash D.C. helped with the Univ. Of Maryland Terps at 10D.

My only (slight) quibble is with 47A. I am familiar with re-bar and I-beams but today was my first encounter with I-bar.

Overall, a great way to spend a little time on a rainy Saturday AM.

Rube said...

I agree, this was an easy LAT Saturday. Only writeovers were REMAX/REMic, YIKE/YIpE, and SWAT/SlAp.

For us mathematically inclined types, ISAID for "Iteration opening" makes no sense whatsoever. I have to put on my liberal arts hat to accept this. The ENGINEER in me rejects IBAR also, at first. However, I have seen IBARs in a model train store, i.e. miniature I-beams for "building" model bridges, etc., so OK.

Got to remember that pesky IMARET.


Anoa Bob said...

Great write-up Dorothy.

Saw Das Boot twice, the first time in German with subtitles, the second time dubbed in English. The first is more effective IMO. Incredibly intense film. Don't think I could sit through it again. Too wrenching. Too realistic.

Here's a drink if you want to be wide awake and in a good mood for happy hour: Strong coffee, Irish Whiskey, Tia Maria and cream.

Hiram said...

Decent puzzle today. The parakeet clue was fun, but I don't believe most of the stuff in the Guiness Book.

Word to the wise: When you say "Nice write-up!" everyday, it becomes meaningless. Save it for when Puzzle Girl (or whoever) really knocks it out of the park.

Joon said...

weird vibe today.

Rube said...

@doug, I want to thank you for the link to Merl Reagle's site. I did his Thanksgiving puzzle there and found it quite enjoyable... a Wed/Thur-ish NYT level, IMO. It was not exactly scintillating, but it was fun.

Sfingi said...

When Alex the African grey laboratory parrot died, Irene Pepperberg wrote a very moving book, Alex and Me. He was 31 and they were close. There are videos.

There are certainly a lot of organists named Saunders, Russell, James, Williams. But, I guess, only one jazz organist.

It gook me a long time and HDG 4x.
Hurt Locker, BOURNE, and I forget what else. Saw DASBOOT and hated it. Can't stand all male movies.

Don't know what TERP means at all.

KJGooster said...

@Sfingi: It's a sports reference. The University of Maryland Terrapins (Terps) play in College Park, MD. A terrapin, BTW, is a kind of turtle, hence one of their slogans: "Fear the Turtle."

CrazyCatLady said...

Definition of EGOTIST(s) from yesterday's puzzle: Short, bald, insecure blogger with a sinus condition.

Mokus said...

Hello! Where is everyone? Am I too late?

I agree completely with EnoaBob. The 1981 version in German w/sub was much preferable to the later dubbed-English version.

I had --RESTS and put in ARRESTS. Aren't tree-huggers concerned about that too?