S A T U R D A Y   December 4, 2010
Bruce Venzke

Theme: None

I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit. There are definitely a few clunkers in the grid, but there was enough good stuff that I was still mostly happy throughout. I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed with the difficulty level this week. This puzzle was way easier than I like to see on a Saturday. But perhaps at this point that horse is dead and I should stop beating it?

Let's get the clunkers out of the way so we can get to the good stuff:
  • 32A: Protected whale (SEI). Ne-Ever heard of this. SEI is typically clued as the Italian word for "six," but it shows up in the cruciverb.com data base seven times since 1998 and four of those times were in the LAT. So I guess it might be a good idea to give a couple brain cells up to the cause of remembering it. Not too many though.
  • 55A: Seine feeder (AUBE). I'm the first to admit that I'm terrible with my European rivers, but I don't feel bad about not knowing this one.
  • 8D: LPs (RECS). Terrible, terrible abbreviation for RECordS. Just awful.
  • 19D: Tilted type: Abbr. (ITALS.). Disappointed by the gratuitous plural here. "Italics" (even in plural) is abbreviated "ital." Says PuzzleGirl.
  • 10A: Soyuz letters (CCCP). Never heard of Soyuz and assumed it was a place. Turns out it's a Russian space program.
  • 14A: Lakers forward Lamar (ODOM). I always remember that it starts with an O and ends with an M, but I'm never sure about those letters in the middle. I should pay more attention to basketball.
  • 15A: Kentucky college town with an annual Spoonbread Festival (BEREA). Wow, I bet that's an awesome event. (This coming from someone who many years ago mightily enjoyed the Duck Races in Deming, New Mexico.)
  • 16A: Ding Dong relative (HO HO). Ding Dongs and HO HOs are, of course, a type of "food" produced by Hostess Brands.
  • 20A: More important matters (BIGGER FISH TO FRY). No question the best thing in the grid.
  • 22A: Atelier items (EASELS). I learned the word "atelier" when I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in college.
  • 50A: 1890s warning song for sailors (ASLEEP IN THE DEEP). I don't recall ever hearing this phrase, but with enough Es and Ps in place, it was pretty easy to figure it out.
  • 54A: Avon work, say (DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES). Speaking of "ding dong"!
  • 57A: Longtime Balkan leader (TITO).
  • 1D: NestlĂ© peanut snack (GOOBERS). I hope whoever came up with this name was promptly fired.
  • 12D: Commercial tuna (CHARLIE). Very cute. This is the Chicken of the Sea cartoon tuna you might have seen your TV machine.
  • 38D: Penn and others (IVIES). I wasn't thinking University of Pennsylvania at all.

P.S. The guy on the right will be here tomorrow to talk about the Sunday syndicated puzzle, so come on back.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 42A: Bit of rodeo gear (REATA).
  • 44A: Ron who played Tarzan (ELY).
  • 60A: Orwell's alma mater (ETON).
  • 30D: Andean staple (OCA).
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Everything Else — 1A: Big event (GALA); 5A: Acid-tongued (ACERB); 17A: Like versatile antennas (OMNIDIRECTIONAL); 21A: Picking up a prescription, say (ERRAND); 23A: Go green, in a way (REUSE); 24A: PETA concern (FUR); 27A: Karaoke essential (LYRIC); 28A: ID theft item (SSN); 29A: Compound cry of displeasure (BOO HISS); 33A: Jalopy (CRATE); 34A: Primatologist's subject (APE); 37A: Spa fixture (JACUZZI); 39A: Scale notes (FAS); 45A: Memorable WWII gesture (V-SIGN); 47A: Boat ramp site (MARINA); 49A: Saw-toothed formation (SIERRA); 56A: TV exec Arledge (ROONE); 58A: Got the lead out (SPED); 59A: Expressed reproval of (TSKED); 2D: Finds appealing (ADMIRES); 3D: Words signifying commitment (LONG RUN); 4D: Juanita's friends (AMIGAS); 5D: "__ Without Wings": Celtic Thunder song (A BIRD); 6D: "What's My Line?" panelist (CERF); 7D: "... kissed thee __ killed thee": Othello (ERE I); 9D: Soak (BATHE); 10D: Particular (CHOOSY); 11D: Gives (CONFERS); 13D: Study of govt. (POLY-SCI); 18D: Bright star in Cygnus (DENEB); 24D: Compel (FORCE); 25D: Ryder rival (UHAUL); 26D: Like five-diamond hotels (RITZY); 31D: Slangy word before or after "who" (SEZ); 34D: Ill-fated attackers of 1588 and 1589 (ARMADAS); 35D: Meteorological metaphor (PEA SOUP); 36D: Spot for a stud (EARLOBE); 37D: Critic Maslin (JANET); 39D: Like s'more-makers' faces (FIRELIT); 40D: Accept (AGREE TO); 41D: Attaches with a click (SNAPS ON); 43D: Like most stadiums (TIERED); 46D: Calm (SEDATE); 48D: Left on the boat (APORT); 49D: Tear up (SHRED); 51D: Church exchange, perhaps (I DO'S); 52D: Breakfast spot (NOOK); 53D: Muscle quality (TONE).



Now this is my kind of puzzle… no corny theme, no quotations, no cheap words (like Roman numerals or SSTS), no arcane words (like yesterday‘s YANCY), and very little crosswordese (I could only find 4).

Great stacks of seven-letter words blocking out the corners and four nice 15-letter phrases makes this a very solid puzzle.
But why shouldn’t it be? It’s a Venzke masterpiece!
It’s rare that I do a CW that I really have nothing to criticize.

I too try to remember all those European river, but AUBE threw me also.

Thought the clue “Commercial tuna” and CHARLIE was pretty funny.

Enjoyed watching this SEI Whale clip.

Loved seeing BOO HISS.

WOTD: AUBE (“Seine feeder”)

I always want to spell it RIATA instead of the alternate spelling, REATA.

My kids were raised on HOHOs and Ding Dongs. I think I still have some in my cabinet. They, like Twinkies, have an infinite shelf life.

BEREA Kentucky is a delightful college town. I’ve gotten a private tour of the college and was very impressed. The emphasis is on furthering the manual arts & crafts. They have a big log cabin store that sells the works of the students… it pays their tuition. The whole town looks like an arboretum. Micheal Tole, the famous artist, has his studio and gallery there and the Churchill Weavers have their workshop there also. The Boone Tavern Inn (operated by the college) is a delightful place to stay. Furnished with period furniture it’s the only 5-star hotel in the state of Kentucky. I travel to the Smoky Mountains a lot and I always spend one or two days in BEREA. It’s located about 30 miles due south of Lexington Kentucky. I highly recommend it.

Have a wonderful weekend y’all !

v-man said...

I agree with you on a few points: the difficulty level was not on par with typical saturday fare except for the long clues. Also being Italian, i'm aware of sei meaning 6 not a whaleand I've never heard of the cerf answer nor the spelling of reata with an e as opposed to an i. A pretty good puzzle but it usually takes me longer than 20 minutes to complete a Saturday puzzle, not sure if that's a good or bad thing.


Oh Puzzlegirl, I just now got the humor behind your Venn Diagram... took me awhile, but THAT'S very funny!

You just gotta love that Bennett CERF New England accent!

Captcha: MALLICI

It's snowing here and I need to go to the MALL, but afraid it will be ICI

SethG said...


Mixed feelings about BOO HISS, decided it's really good. No mixed feelings about CERF, POLY SCI, JACUZZI, ITALS, the FISH, PEA SOUP, or the cluing on LONG RUN, but I'll let you decide what my feelings were in each case.


Trying to guess what Seth's feelings are about those words he listed.
I'd guess he didn't like Bennett CERF because you're far too young to remember "What's My Line".
POLY SCI stands for Political Science, which is clearly NOT the "Study of Government"...right?
ITALS is the pluralization of an abbreviation... bad bad puzzle fare... ya think?
I have no idea on the JACUZZI, PEA SOUP, or FISH thing.
Or why the clue on LONG RUN was so bad. But then maybe his feeling were positive.
Anyway, it's fun to try and mind-read on a lazy snowy Saturday morning.

Anonymous said...

Goobers was the easiest clue in this one. Goober is an old Southern word for peanut, in this case coated in chocolate.

I'm more annoyed with ARMADAs. The Spanish Armada has been singular ever since I was first taught the subject. It fought a running series of battles in late 1588, early 1589, but there was only one attack fleet. Using two dates to make it seem like two distinct fleets is just lazy.

Doug P said...

Fun puzzle from Bruce today, especially BIGGER FISH TO FRY. I liked the left-right grid symmetry too.

Lamar ODOM is a big name in L.A. because he's a Laker (the only pro team anyone cares about) and is also married to one of the Kardashian spawn. I was trying to think of a mnenomic to help PG remember his name. It anagrams to DOOM, which could sorta describe his marriage.

Rube said...

Had the most trouble with the middle. Had Hertz and "dat" for the slangy word, and didn't know who Maslin is. Finally tore everything out except OCA, saw CRATE and everything else fell into place.

Loved CHARLIE. Had a friend in College who we started calling "Sorry Charlie" after the Tuna. (He didn't mind.)

Last letter was the first "I" in IVIES. Like @pg, was not thinking colleges here.

Did not like TSKED, but can accept ITALS. Good puzzle. Just my level. No pop culture, (except Maslin). (I guess I should know Janet Maslin as she writes for the NYT, but I don't.)

Rex Parker said...

Just over four minutes ... for a *Saturday*!? And that's *with* astruggle to get PEA SOUP (spelled RIATA thusly at first, and didn't know AUBE at all, somehow). Well, I guess the uber-easiness made up for the reaming I got from today's Newsday. Holy mackerel.

Liked BIGGER FISH TO FRY. Didn't think much of the rest (although ASLEEP IN THE DEEP is kind of cool ... never heard of it, but it's interesting).

CrazyCatLady said...

Nothing much to BOO HISS at except, as PG mentioned, RECS and ITALS. Had no idea what Soyez letters meant. Didn't know AUBE and spelled REATA the other way. The only panelist I can remember from "What's My Line" is Arlene Francis. Loved BIGGER FISH TO FRY, PEA SOUP and GOOBERS. I know a cat named GOOBER.
@PG Nice Venn Diagram
@Doug P - Kardashian spawn - what an apt description! Who's the chap you're standing next to in PG's pic? I'm assuming that's you.
Captcha is popin. I guess I'll pop out now.

usna2004 said...

BRUCE, "RECS" has been an abbr for "records" in the Info Tech world for 40 yrs that I am aware... all our master files are made of an n-th number of "records" ALWAYS abbr "RECS". Though these are not of the vinyl variety, they are nevertheless records (RECS).

KJGooster said...

Way too easy.

But the grid looked like a space invader so it's OK.

Doug P said...

@CrazyCatLady -

The big scary guy in the picture is Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. (38D: Penn and others). After their shows, they always come out to mingle with the crowd. Teller even talked to me.

backbiter said...

I kinda felt claustrophic in that middle section. Only four tiny exits to get the hell out of there. AAAHHHH!!! Okay, seriously. I absolutely loathe popcorn. I only buy Goobers and a Coke at cinema. If said cinema doesn't sell Goobers I buy only Coke. Then pour the minis hid in my sock into it. CCCP???? Never heard of it. Charlie was hard to come by. I wanted albacore or Star Kist even tho neither of those answers would fit. Doh! *mini rant* I have no problem with fur or the way abbatoirs are run. They are animals for C's sake. Peta should disband. *mini rant over* I'd rank this as medium puzzle. Rating B


Sfingi said...

HTG for ODOM, DENEB, BEREA, EREI and ARMADA, the last because the year didn't ring a bell, though I knew it was during S. life. Worked out the rest, and never heard of SEI, except as Italian 6. Never heard of AUBE or GOOBERS as a snack, though they squirrels and I eat the real thing.

I Also thought magician and Quaker Penns before IVIES.

Hubster gave me CERF after I asked, "Who's the guy on What's My Line who wrote all those books?"

That spoonbread thing in BEREA sounds neat. Glad it's not pizza frit/funnel cake, but more like cornbread.

Speaking of corn, I prefer corny themes, but I think I did fairly well personal-best-wise for a non-theme Saturday.

And a very fishy puzzle. Though whales are mammals.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Dough P - Wow. I thought he looked vaguely familiar. I saw them way back in the early 80's. I think he's changed a bit since then. Thanks!

JIMMIE said...

Very likeable puzzle for me. Esp liked OMNIDIRECTIONAL. Had ElBE before AUBE even tho I knew better.

Funny Venn, PG!

mac said...

OK puzzle, with the fish and asleep in the deep most outstanding. Not enough bite for a Saturday. For that, try Doug P's NYT puzzle today!

Tinbeni said...

CHARLIE being in the grid was an appropriate "shout-out" to my best friend.
(Thanks Bruce, your check is in the mail, too).

TITO was a gimmie. Of course that changed serene to SEDATE.

Had souse for Soak, but that BIGGER FISH TO FRY took care of that, also.

Otherwise this was an easy and FUN Saturday offering.

Yup, I love GOOBERS (is that a Florida thingy?).
Not so much PEA SOUP. Would rather have Clam Chowder.

But the answer of the day, for me, was FIRE-LIT.
Could almost picture those kids making their S'more's.

Lookin' forward to tonight's SUNSET toast.

John E. said...

I have never spelled it REATTA and googled that spelling with no definitons other than a Buick. Cheap shot.

Sfingi said...

@Jimmie said what I forgot. That OMNIDIRECTIONAL is a nice 15 letter word for CW-dom.

Anonymous said...

It's only a cheap shot if you spell it wrong. Try googling REATA.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Tinbeni said what I forgot. 39D FIRELIT was a delightful answer for the clue, Like s'mores-makers' faces. Much nicer than my initial thought which was smeared with chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Political Science = poli sci, NOT poly sci (which refers to polymer science). There is no excuse for that error.

PuzzleGirl said...

I don't think Rex will mind if I post his #16 most FAQ.

16. The puzzle has an error! I am indignant!

99% of the time, you (the complainer) are wrong. Sometimes the clue is inelegant. Sometimes the clue is stretching the meaning of a certain word. Sometimes the clue is using a word in a way you aren't thinking of or haven't heard of. But flat-out errors are Rare. Very Rare. So reconsider your position.

Rube said...

It's probably too late for ayone to care, but the Charlie Tuna commercials were for Starkist, not Chicken of the Sea.