1.29.2011

01.29 Sat

S A T U R D A Y January 29, 2011
Gareth Bain


Theme: None

It was a little difficult for me to concentrate on this puzzle because I solved it right after what might be the last of a really long string of Iowa Hawkeye wrestling victories. Their win against Northwestern tonight brings the Hawks' unbeaten streak to 72 but it's not at all unlikely that they might lose on Sunday to top-ranked Penn State. The suspense is killing me. And I'm sure you'll forgive me for needing almost every cross for LANES (2D: Pins may be at the ends of them) because all I could think was "a wrestling match against a Hawkeye." No chance of getting away from that one. But let's get to the puzzle because I know you didn't come here to read about Iowa wrestling.

I really hope YES THERE IS A GOD was the seed entry for this puzzle because it's an awesome phrase to build a puzzle around. In fact, both of the 14-letter entries in this grid are spectacular:

  • 20A: Ecstatic cry (YES THERE IS A GOD).
  • 45A: Go from 10 to 8, say (DROP A DRESS SIZE).
The two 15s don't really sparkle for me, but it's kinda cool that they're related:
  • 17A: "West Side Story" duet (ONE HAND ONE HEART).
  • 50A: Angel's concern (BROADWAY MUSICAL).
Stuff I just flat-out didn't know:
  • 9A: Russian city to host the 2014 Olympics (SOCHI).
  • 35A: __ Squalor, Count Olaf's girlfriend in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (ESME). I would have gotten this if it had been a Twilight clue.
  • 37A: Billy Dee's "The Empire Strikes Back" role (LANDO).
  • 45D: "The Sopranos" Emmy winner De Matteo (DREA). She also played Joey's sister Gina on "Friends."
  • 48D: 2006 N.L. MVP __ Howard (RYAN). He plays first base for the Phillies.
What else can we talk about?
  • 1A: Edmonton's prov. (ALTA.). Learned this from crosswords. It really seems like there should be a B in there somewhere.
  • 24A: Fish you don't want to be biting (PIRANHAS). Today I learned that I don't really know how to spell PIRANHA. After the PIR, I needed help from the crosses.
  • 31A: One-footer, e.g. (TAP-IN). Golf!
  • 43A: Tab competitor (DIET R.C.). I tried FRESCA here first.
  • 55A: Dustin's "The Graduate" co-star (ANNE). I can never remember that it was ANNE Bancroft who played Mrs. Robinson. I do know the song very well though. In fact, I recall a period of time when PuzzleSister and I were in, oh I don't know, fourth and fifth grade probably? Where she played the song over and over and over again in an apparent plot to drive the rest of the family into madness. But it didn't work!


  • 3D: End-of-day destination for many (THE SUBURBS). I'm so glad that both my job and my home are in THE SUBURBS. On good days my commute is like 12 minutes. Oh and this is another very cool entry.
  • 25D: __ jure: by the law itself (IPSO). Oh good. Another IPSO phrase for me to get confused with Lhasa Apso.
  • 37D: Traditionally, when women were allowed to propose marriage (LEAP DAY). Ya know what? I think it's probably best not to get me started on this particular tradition.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 5A: North __ Sea, Syr Darya River outlet (ARAL).
  • 8D: Anderson of "WKRP in Cincinnati" (LONI).
  • 38D: Windblown soil (LOESS).
  • 44D: Industry overseers (CZARS).
  • 46D: Elephants' predators, in myth (ROCS).
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Everything Else 14A: Sounds of triumph (HAHS); 15A: Move, in real estate (RELO); 16A: Some soli (ARIAS); 21A: Loan guarantor (SURETY); 22A: Whiz (PRO); 23A: Stir vigorously (BEAT); 29A: Attached, in a way (GLUED); 32A: Peke output (YIP); 33A: They fit in locks (OARS); 34A: Deli suffix (-WURST); 36A: Overalls part (BIB); 38A: Glove material (LATEX); 39A: How much radio is broadcast (IN STEREO); 41A: Pharmacist's datum (DOSE); 42A: Had a life (WAS); 51A: Site of a sacred building called the Kaaba (MECCA); 52A: Resort NE of Los Alamos (TAOS); 53A: Swarthy (DARK); 54A: Far from swarthy (PASTY); 56A: Word of consequence (ELSE); 1D: Bridge call? (AHOY); 4D: Hardwood sources (ASH TREES); 5D: CNN Gulf War reporter (ARNETT); 6D: Towel off again (RE-DRY); 7D: Shrub with tubular flowers (ALOE); 9D: Arid (SAHARAN); 10D: Ducks' home (OREGON); 11D: "Bye!" ("CIAO!"); 12D: Like some copies and courts (HARD); 13D: Social end (-IST); 18D: Winning (AHEAD); 19D: Lively wit (ESPRIT); 24D: 1960s-'70s "Jeopardy!" announcer (PARDO); 26D: Riotous (HYSTERICAL); 27D: Parisian lover's word (AIME); 28D: Eyewear, commercially (SPEX); 29D: Home to many Bactrian camels (GOBI); 30D: Rested (LAIN); 31D: Some find it hard to carry (TUNE); 34D: 1955 treaty city (WARSAW); 35D: Manhattan's FDR Drive is on it (EAST SIDE); 40D: With an intermission (TWO-ACT); 41D: Neglect (DISUSE); 43D: Familiar, perhaps (DEMON); 47D: It may be described in gigs (DATA); 49D: Sommer of "The Prize" (ELKE); 50D: Image file letters (BMP).

20 comments:

Mokus said...

It pained me not to remember the name of the West Side Story song. Fifty years ago I memorized most of the soundtrack and still sing some of the songs (when I'm alone). Otherwise it was par for a Saturday, almost a TAPIN.

SethG said...

I know The Suburbs better than West Side Story. This seemed really geographical, which is usually good for me but I wasn't feeling it. Dress size clue is cute, but in reality it'd include articles.

Tough for an LAT.

Sfingi said...

HTG6 - SOCHI - why here? Isn't it too warm? Whoever sells snowmakers,
go after your market now!

Also, ROC, ESME, LANDO, ONE HAND ONE HEART, and OREGON. Bad enough, a sports clue, but Googling produced 100 refs to Anaheim before it produced OREGON.

@PG - thanx for explaining TAPIN - sports again.

Not bad (for me) for a themeless Saturday.

pollux said...

There comes a moment early in the game when a solver gives up. Then in an hour or so, he comes back to the puzzle and -- boom! -- it's almost effortless.
This has happened to me too many times to recount. Am I alone in this?

mac said...

@pollux: every puzzle solving experience is helped by a little walk around the block or at least a little break.

Very good puzzle, toughish but lots of good clues and answers. I hit a personal Natick at Lando/Pardo, never ever heard of them.

Thank you, Gareth and PG!

Anonymous said...

Even though I solved it, I still don't understand what 50A "Angel's concern" has to do with BROADWAY MUSICAL. I found this overall pretty tough, but par for a Saturday. I do miss the themes when a puzzle doesn't have one, though. They definitely make it easier.

JN said...

@ Anonymous: Financial backers of Broadway shows are called Angels.

MPPuzzler said...

I enjoyed this puzzle - just the right amount of difficulty to make it challenging and fun. Lots of false starts though. An angel is someone that financially backs a theatrical production, such as a BROADWAY MUSICAL. Why is going from a 10 to an 8 one dress size. I'll never understand women's clothing.

CrazyCatLady said...

The usual Saturday struggle for me. Had to resort to google couple of times. Started off badly because I wanted a B in ALTA. wanted Anaheim at first for the Ducks home, but OREGON surfaced quickly enough. Didn't know SOCHI, ARNETT, SURETY,LANDO, RYAN, ESME, DREA and BMP. Got most of them through the crosses. ONE HAND ONE HEART was *not* the most memorable duet from "West Side Story." Like @Mokus, I used to know the whole thing by heart. Was confused by the "angel" BROADWAY MUSICAL connection, especially since I was still fixated on Anaheim and those Angels. Thanks for the explanation.
@MP re: dress sizes - They go 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and so on. I've always been disturbed that someone can be a size 0.

Eric said...

Two Googles: West Side Story and SOCHI. Lots of other stuff I didn't know, but got it from crosses. (Googling hint: if you gotta do it, go for the entry that'll give you the most bang for your buck -- the most letters, or else strategic ones, like all-first-letter words along the left or top edge of the grid. That might reduce the nummber of Google searches you end up needing to do.)

Hands up for: FRESCA, mispelling PIRhanAS, not knowing how to shoehorn ANAHEIM into six letters :-)
Another oops: SUEDE gloves instead of LATEX.
Gimmes: LANDO Calrissian, ALTA., MECCA.

ALTA. is indeed the older ABBR. for Alberta; I don't know why, but that's just how it was. The fact that people go skiing in ALTA, Utah used to confuse me: I'd be, like, "Where in Alberta? Banff? Lake Louise?". (The modern, two-letter postal abbreviation is AB. It's that one that I find odd, because it does have a B. I want it to be AL, but of course that's taken.)

Clues I loved: "Familiar, perhaps" for DEMON and "Deli suffix" for WURST. I didn't get either of those till very late in the game, but when they finally clicked, wow! Also the "Swarthy" and "Far from swarthy" pair.

Clues I didn't: "Arid". None of dictionary.com, thefreedictionary.com, or Wikipedia cite SAHARAN with a generic meaning like that; they all restrict it to things actually related to the Sahara (people, languages, etc.).
"Whiz" for PRO. In theory the link between those two words is pretty strong, but in practice, well, I've known some computer whizzes who weren't professionals, and a lot of professionals who were far from being whizzes :-/

Overall, a good, and enjoyable, challenge.

Rube said...

@mac, ditto on the personal Nattick.

My first thought was Eugene for Duck's home. ( That's the city in which the U of Oregon is located.) But, soli changed that.

Had Sprite instead of Fresca. Don't drink any diet stuff, so don't know the difference.

That "One Hand..." duet is not memorable to me... at all.

I thought it was "The Burbs".

No. 2 daughter says they have size 0 dresses in Japan!

Like @PG, thought the 2 15s were great. Fun Saturday level puzzle. DNG, but did check some answers as I went.

backbiter said...

I don't want to sound like a dumb ass, but I have no choice! I don't get 43 down at all. Clue: Familiar, perhaps Ans: Demon

I'm sorry. This is one of the very few times that I have no idea what that means. Somebody, please enlighten me.

As for the rest of the puzzle, EH

Diet RC = lame. If you're going to put RC in a puzzle don't abbreviate it and make sure moon pie is an answer elsewhere in the grid.

Alta, hahs, relo, all garbage. Spex is even more garbage. Drop a dress size is something I'd never say. And I have never heard mrs. backbiter say it either. That's only in Jenny Craig commercials.

But I do love wurst. Brat, knock, etc., you name it.

*clink*

Lemonade714 said...

You can read all about the helpers known as FAMILIARS .

Anonymous said...

Rube, they have size 0 dresses at Macy's, too.

mac said...

@Lemonade: I once had a cat who (I know I said who) wouldn't leave my side/sight/site, and who would jump up so I could catch him in the air, and one of my friends called him my familiar. I am not a witch, and never have been.

backbiter said...

@Lemonade714

Thank you! That was most helpful. I really appreciate the link.

Cheers!

*clink*

mac said...

I have nothing to add to the conversation, but my captcha is : parker

Lemonade714 said...

New Englanders like myself, seem content to credit cats with supernatural or demonic powers. Proably the concept can be traced to Salem

Eric said...

@Lemonade714: Not Salem in particular I don't think, but you have the gist.

According to the ideas of the times, witches could have various animals as familiars -- cats, dogs and birds certainly, but other kinds too; I think there have even been rabbit familiars. Black cats, though, were especially feared. I suppose the thought was that the only time one would cross your path is if some witch had sent it to afflict you. Nowadays, the vague idea that black cats are something to be afraid of has outlived by centuries the reason, and even the memory of the reason, that people once had for believing so.

You have to understand that witches weren't mysterious, unseen creatures like, say, elves (or today's stereotypical people-abducting aliens). Her powers might be mysterious, but the witch herself was the eccentric old woman down the street who didn't like you, or vice versa -- or he was the farmer next door whose land you coveted or the preacher who had crossed you; either way, getting him executed as a witch was a way to get him out of your hair. I'm talking about Thomas Putnam, one of the ringleaders at Salem in 1692.

Puzzle tie-ins: it was a Court of OYER and Terminer that handled the Salem witchcraft cases. As for today's puzzle, I only got IPSO from crosses, but once I had it, I knew it immediately from a line in Arthur Miller's The Crucible (which, long ago, is what got me interested in all this witchcraft stuff): "But witchcraft is ipso facto...an invisible crime..." I just hadn't known that the word could be paired with "jure" as well. So that, plus all this talk of familiars, gives today's puzzle, for me anyway, a bit of a Crucible minitheme. Cool!

Many years ago my sister had a black cat. Quite the character! And like @mac's cat, yes, this little guy was very familiar :-) (It says something sad and disturbing about humans that even in the late 20th Century, she felt it wise to keep him indoors on Halloween night, for his own safety. On a lighter note, the modern Salem is apparently a tourist MECCA for neopagan witches, just as Roswell is for alien-seekers. What would those old Puritans think if they could see it?!? :-) )

Anonymous said...

Absolutely cannot solve these Saturday puzzles lately. Will not use computer to do my thinking. Guess, after fifty years of puzzling, I have to give up since having a broad knowledge of the English language no longer is enough to solve these impossible puzzles. Even my standby Encyclopedias Britannica isn't enough. I give up!!