02.05 Sat

S A T U R D A Y February 5, 2011
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson

Theme: None

Wow. Tough puzzle today. I'm not going to whine about it being too easy, that's for sure. I did end up finishing it on my own with no mistakes, but I sure did have a lot of missteps along the way. The hardest one to figure out was probably when I had JOINER where MOONIE was supposed to go (7D: Unificationist). For some reason my brain only saw "unify" and not "Unification." With that J in place, I figured 7-Across must be JURORS. They reflect … on the … evidence … right? what? No, it doesn't really make any sense, but it did at the time! MOONIE eventually came to me, except I misspelled it MOONEY at first so that also caused a few problems. I'm not going to beat myself up too much about that section though because … um, MUSERS? That's a pretty bad entry (7A: They reflect). I do love DON VITO CORLEONE and EDWARD G. ROBINSON stacked up like that though (13A: Role for which its actor refused an Oscar / 16A: Actor who said "Some people have youth, some have beautyóI have menace"). So maybe MUSERS was worth it? I don't know. What do you think?

The southeast was the last section to fall for me. I had THE GEICO in place and could only come up with the gecko -- I couldn't remember what that other ad campaign was all about. Oh yeah, the CAVEMEN (45A: Offended parties in a long-running series of [TV ADS]). I don't recall too much about those CAVEMEN (I mean, really! do people watch commercials any more??), but here's a caveman I kinda like:

HAVE AN AHA MOMENT (48A: Experience sudden inspiration) took a while to show itself too. I was pretty sure [33D: Seder bread] was MATZOH and I thought [31D: Mrs. Norris in the "Harry Potter" books, e.g.] might be a HOUSE-ELF instead of a HOUSE CAT, so I was looking at HAVEANAHL for quite a while. And even when the correct phrase finally became clear I have to say I don't really think of an AHA MOMENT as inspiration so much as clarification. But maybe that's just me.

Other missteps for included ERA for EON (19A: Proterozoic, for one), THX for PLS (36A: Brief memo nicety), LOBE for TIRE (4D: Spot for studs), ETA for ETD (5D: Terminal abbr.), and THO for E'EN (10D: Yet, to Yeats).

Other than the long acrosses, highlights of the grid for me included:
  • 6D: Reward for rolling over (DOG TREAT). Although I kinda wanted it to be "doggie treat," right?
  • 12D: Less likely to mix (SNOOTIER). This word always makes me think of the Sneetches.
  • 15D: Near-decades (ENNEADS). ENNEA- is a prefix meaning nine.
Couple more things:
  • 28A: Gardener's soil hauler (TIP CART). I don't believe I've ever heard of this.
  • 32A: Albéniz piano work (IBERIA). Whatever you say!
  • 35A: Court official's call (FAULT). Tennis court.
  • 42A: Top 10 hit from U2's "Achtung Baby" album (ONE).

  • [Yes, I know this isn't the U2 song.]

  • 21D: Messing with a script? (DEBRA). She played Grace on "Will & Grace." She was also in an early "Seinfeld" episode. I want to say she was "Mulva" but I think that was the actress on "Frasier." Messing was the one who … did something else. (It's getting late, folks.)
  • 30D: Political blog feature, often (PET PEEVE). I don't understand this clue at all. Maybe it's because I like political blogs and think they're awesome. Do other (normal?) people think they're just a place for people to rant about their PET PEEVES?
  • 35D: Donnybrook (FRACAS). I sometimes confuse "donnybrook" with "boondoggle." Both awesome words, by the way. As is FRACAS.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Bumpy, in a way (RUTTED); 17A: General at Cold Harbor (MEADE); 18A: Latish alarm setting (TEN A.M.); 20A: Family title word (OURS); 21A: Pool feature (DRAIN); 22A: Have no use for, and then some (HATE); 23A: Use a tap, perhaps (SPY).
  • 24A: "We need to talk" ("SEE ME"); 25A: Rage (MANIA); 26A: On the defensive (AT BAY); 27A: Put on guard (WARNED); 31A: Impedes (HAMPERS); 33A: Magazine with a "Best Places to Live" feature (MONEY); 34A: Gauge (METER); 39A: Gym set (REPS); 40A: Speciously highbrow (ARTSY); 41A: Send sprawling (TRIP); 43A: Equine facial marking (BLAZE); 44A: "Take __!" (A HIKE); 49A: Investigates, with "into" (DELVES); 50A: Airfield fixtures (TOWERS); 1D: Didn't stay where it should, as a skirt (RODE UP); 2D: Not on the ball (UNWARY); 3D: Show stoppers (TV ADS); 8D: __ sprawl (URBAN); 9D: Hardly odds-on (SLIM); 11D: Sitcom about the Conners (ROSEANNE); 13D: Out-of-the-box models (DEMOS); 14D: Like Twinkies filling (CREAMY); 22D: Hideous hybrid of myth (HARPY); 24D: It may be winding (STAIR); 25D: "American Buffalo" playwright (MAMET); 26D: Range units (ACRES); 27D: Without vigor (WANLY); 28D: "Lie to Me" star (TIM ROTH); 29D: Patsy's protest (I BEEN HAD); 36D: Novice's text (PRIMER); 37D: Compares (LIKENS); 38D: Wiped out (SPENT); 40D: 1955 Dior innovation (A-LINE); 41D: __ park (THEME); 43D: Theodore, to Wally (BEAV); 44D: Swear (AVOW); 46D: Coiffure holder (GEL); 47D: Te-__: Mexican cigar brand (AMO).

    gespenst said...

    I had a lot of the same misteps, plus rEleE instead of MEADE based on the two Es.
    First go round I had only a couple answers, but managed to slog through and fill the bottom 2/3. The top 1/3 was tougher and I did google.
    I liked all the long phrases.

    Anonymous said...

    Thx Puzzlegirl. Wouldn't finish w/o your site. The authors use a lexicon I do not understand. Thinking about canceling my subscription to the paper, since the puzzle is about the only thing I find useful in the Saturday edition.

    Pete said...

    @Anon 7:40 - While I hesitate to drive anyone away from real live newspapers, but you can get the puzzles on-line. Go to www.cruciverb.com (register for free), and from there you can download AcrossLite ( under 'Resources' / 'Software' in the left column ), and download the LA Times puzzle from there.

    I'm supposed know all the critters from Harry Potter?
    I'm supposed to forgive IBEENHAD? Wait, let me rephrase that. I supposed to forgive IBEENHAD?

    The actress on Frasier was the virgin on Seinfeld. Debra wasn't Mulva. I'm beginning to believe Mulva was really just CGI.

    Avg Joe said...

    This was an intimidating puzzle! Even just looking at the grid put me on guard. Thanks for the workout, Doug.

    It took forever to find a toehold. Started by filling in several "S"'s where obvious plurals crossed. MONEY was the first full fill to fall, and even then on about the 3rd pass. Next was SPY. I knew that 13A was Brando, but kept confusing the movie with "Last Tango.." I don't know if I've ever seen an answer that included first and last names as well as a title. MOONIES was obvious after getting half the crosses, but not til then. On 31D I had house, but couldn't get Frau out of my head for some stupid reason. Not being familiar with the Potter characters didn't help. Last to fall was IBERIA. Then I had to take a nap to recover :-)

    ddbmc said...

    @PG, I had a lot of the same missteps. ENNEADS, I didn't know off the top of my head, but once it fell into place with the crosses, I knew I'd come across it before.

    Was particularly ticked at myself for not immediately getting GENERAL, AT COLD HARBOR-MEADE, as last weekend I walked by his family home, just off Rittenhouse Sq. in Philly!

    I lived in DC when the MOONIES came to prominence. Scarily, two sisters I'd known in my childhood, were "brainwashed" into the movement. I believe one of them was "rescued." Weird religion, but fascinating to read about, in retrospect. I believe "The Washington Times" is a newspaper owned by Sun Myung Moon. Came into being after the Washington Star went bankrupt.

    Liked the puzzle layout, crisp and clean. Nice long stacks of words, really no crosswordese (or Roman numerals!) Learned TIPCART, IBERIA, knew Mrs. Norris was a cat, but kept thinking she was Hermione's cat (Crookshanks).

    Thanks for the Phil Hartman clip. Miss his comedy! Noticed that the 'CLYDE BAXTER" in the clip, looks remarkably like the HOUSE ELF!
    Thanks Doug and Brad, for a good Saturday workout! As always, tip of the hat (rather than the cart) to our PG.

    sjok said...

    I couldn't even get started with this puzzle. Way to arcane and obtuse for me. "PLS" - please! Also, way to many movie/tv items - especially who said what stuff. I have trouble with rage = mania which are really not very close as true synonoms but I guess in verancular they can be. Oh yes, almost all geological periods re called era's. The author must have looked hard to find one that was sometimes called an eon or aeon.

    Anonymous said...

    I always thought it was 'I've been had'. I not so sure now!!

    C said...

    Wow. Good puzzle, finishable but put up a good fight. M
    Kudos to mister Psi-Wilber and mister Omicron-Peterson. I ended the puzzle by filling in the AHA portion of the inspiration clue. I liked that.

    Sidnee said...

    Mulva was Doloris.

    Fowler said...

    My first dnf in a long time. Very difficult. My first answer was MAMET, and that was it for a long, long time.
    My second was in the NW: RELEE (R.E. LEE, because LOBE made sense to me too). I changed that general to GRANT and never thought of MEADE. (Maybe they only allowed five letter generals to fight at Cold Harbor, where generals SMITH and GREGG also saw action!)
    All in all, the bane for me was that too many plausible answers fit the available spaces, and my patience ran out when my third or fourth answers failed to yield crosses.

    hazel said...

    I went to highschool with Mulva/Dolores. Her real name is Sue Walters. She was kind of snooty, but in a spunky way - so not as snooty as a sneetch.

    More importantly, great puzzle. Was quite a toughie for me, and very satisfying. I like the gecko, but really hate the cavemen - though I loved seeing them in the grid. Maybe they'll get locked in there.


    Couldn't see my front door so I spent a good time this morning plowing out snow, then I sat down to relax doing this puzzle. Relax? Hah! I struggled with the NE corned (snowed again, NPI), but like Puzzlegirl, I got through it with 100% correct. I'd rather take all day solving a puzzle, coming back to it several times, getting it correct, than just throwing in words in a hurry. Sometimes just simmering on a puzzle results in that AHA MOMENT. I have to admit, at first I had the plural of MATZOS and that resulted in HAVE A NASA MOMENT... could also be plausible.

    I loved doing those 15-letter entries, especially DON VITO CORLEONE (despite the Brando jerk) and THE GEICO CAVEMEN (cuz I can relate to them). Watch for those great TV ADS tomorrow during SuperBowl.

    New WOTD: MAMET and HARPY. Thank God for Wikipedia!

    Mrs. Norris (HOUSECAT) was a gimme for me because I read all the Harry Potter books... yes, a 73 year old man reads them without shame. Just call me "ARTSY".

    Kudos to Brad for putting together a nice challenging puzzle.

    And all hail to Rupert Murdoch for launching the first IPod newspaper today.... the wave of the future is here.


    I don't think there's any cream in those CREAMY filled Twinkies. What's their shelf life now?
    An EON!


    Oh, I didn't notice the byline had Doug Peterson's name in there too. Sorry Doug...Kudos to you also!

    Shelley Parker Chandler said...

    I stumbled across your blog while trying to help my mother with her puzzle. I don't do the puzzles myself, but try to help her after she is stuck. After about 30 minutes of missteps and wrong answers, with a few correct ones, I found you. We were able to put the puzzle to bed within a few minutes. Thank you!

    Greene said...

    I guess Mrs. Norris could be considered a HOUSECAT if one considers a boarding school contained within an enchanted castle to be a HOUSE. I tried to put in FILCH'S CAT and when that wouldn't fit I went with BLACK CAT. Finally just left the CAT part in place and let the crosses do the rest.

    Excellent Saturday puzzle. Really liked seeing the two baddies DON VITO CORLEONE and EDWARD G ROBINSON together in the grid.

    Anonymous said...

    First thing the idiots who composed this puzzle should do is learn English grammar!! "I been had"? Come on now.

    Dave in Bend, OR said...

    Loved the movie stacking with Robinson and Don Vito. I've heard of but never seen an example of a Harpy so wikied it - Y I K E S! hideous is right! My PET PEEVE is that it SHOULD be I('VE) BEEN HAD.....Just curious, since I am receiving the syndicated LAT in real time but also get the NYT in a 5 week delay (both via my local paper)....I'm all dressed up but nowhere to go when trying to comment on the NYT in Rex's blog..Is there a chance that any of you are in the same time warp and are up to some commentary on today's and/or future(syndicated) NYT? For instance I find it kind of funny that there was GOONEYS (which I didn't like btw) in the NYT and a MOONIES in the LAT....coincidence? I think not ;-D.....On another note I thought it VERY difficult (of course I had FORDBRONCO where ISUSZURODEO should go - "One time Chevy Blazer Competitor" ouch....AnyHOO just throwing it out there that maybe some "syndies" might want to yap about the NYT as well....GO PACKERS!!!

    Anonymous said...

    I am fed up with stupid the misuse of English language and blatant overuse of pop cultured blather in these inane puzzles. Where can I find a daily puzzle that tests your use of the English language ??????????????????? Perhaps the editors should go back to school??

    PuzzleGirl said...

    A few thoughts:

    1. "I BEEN HAD" is absolutely grammatically incorrect and there's no doubt that the constructors and the editor know that. So the next question you might want to ask is not "How could they make such a stupid mistake?" but "What are they trying to get across here?" To me it evokes a hard-boiled crime novel. I mean, the patsy was probably had by a "dame," right? The entry has been used at least three times in the New York Times puzzle clued as "Dupe's shout," "Gull's cry," and "Victim's holler." To my mind, "dupe," "gull," and today's "patsy" all reinforce my interpretation of this phrase.

    2. Jane Leeves, who played Daphne on "Frasier" was not Mulva/Dolores on "Seinfeld." I could have sworn she was. But she (Jane Leeves) played Marla in several "Seinfeld" episodes. As hazel said, Mulva/Dolores was played by Susan Walters.

    3. @JNH: Wait. Rupert Murdoch comes up with another way to make a ton of money and somehow that's "the wave of the future"? I'm pretty sure you stay stuff like that specifically to irritate me.

    4. @Shelley: So glad you found the blog and I hope you continue to join us!

    5. @Dave in Bend: Rex has mentioned many times that the bulk of his readership is actually made up of syndicated solvers. If you post a comment over there, even though it's five weeks later, there's a pretty good chance someone is going to see it and you might actually start a conversation. And Rex's place really is the "proper" place for that conversation to happen. :-)

    6. @ Anonymous 5:46: I want you to know that I've considered deleting your comments in the past, but at this point I find them really comical. For crying out loud, go find yourself a book of Maleska puzzles. The LAT is not going to change any time soon and it obviously does nothing but get you riled up.

    Greg said...

    No doubt the puzzle was well constructed. It is difficult to construct normal puzzles (trust me, I make them), but this one was a tough grid.

    That said, the clues were way too hard. I solved it on LA Times's website, using the "Normal" function (where wrong letters show up red instead of black) and still had trouble.

    "I been had"--terrible. Furthermore, words like "Iberia", "One," "Blaze," "Tire," "Eon," and "Een" were terrible clues IMO. The vocab. was difficult as it were, so it was tough to cross check any clue. There needs to be a certain number of "gimmes", even on a Saturday puzzle. I guess you can blame the editor for that.

    Dave in Bend, OR said...

    Thanks for the feedback and I have made a few comments in the past as a syndie on Rex's page although I end up feeling like the red-headed stepchild...yawn.... "so yesterday" ;-D....Plus it feels a bit odd to be commenting on a page that people are mid-celebration of New Years Eve while I am sitting here on Super Bowl Eve. On top of that I pestered Rex about a year ago whilst having some techie issues regarding his new site construction (almost entirely user mistakes on my part). As such, I am a bit intimidated by the "44th Greatest Solver in the Universe". Not so much intimidated by him but I did end up coming off as a bit of a knucklehead. It was just a thought and I'll try again in the future. Maybe you are right that using this format for NYT syndies might confuse the matter since the LAT is your milieu after all. Thanks again for the input and keep up the good work!

    Vega said...

    So late that I question whether anyone will see this, but anyway, three comments:

    1. Yes, without a doubt, DONVITOCORLEONE and EDWARDGROBINSON made MUSERS (ick) worth it. That said, it is undeniable: they do reflect.

    2. I love IBEENHAD. So evocative and perfect, IMO.

    3. I too paused after HAVEANAHAMOMENT to reflect on whether that = sudden inspiration. I think not, on balance.

    Four comments. 4. Scarily difficult but very enjoyable!

    Doug P said...

    @Vega - I saw your comment. Thanks!

    MPPuzzler said...

    I started this one very late today, and it was a bear. But I did finish it, without error. I made almost all of the same missteps noted. Didn't like MUSERS, absolutely hated IBEENHAD.


    Yeah, I just love to ruffle your feathers, but what I'm most impressed about with the Murdock thing is this---
    He's innovative and I like his entrepreneurial ideas.
    NOT his politics or his greed.
    Sometimes we have to look beyond our prejudices to see the goodness in people.
    As a conservationist, I say, "Let's start using more electronic media and move away from cutting down trees for putting a bunch of newspaper (tome) on my door step."
    For this, I admire this man.

    Jan said...

    Loved this puzzle but had the same difficulties. Finished without Googling but it took all night (started in the evening and put in a word or two each time I woke up - sleep really helps!) Biggest problem was 1A - I stubbornly held onto RIBBED until the bitter end.

    I love "I been had" - it reminds me of some great gangster films.

    PS hi to Dave in Bend - I'm in Sunriver!

    shrub5 said...

    Difficult but enjoyable puzzle for me. Ended up googling once to get TIMROTH and that allowed me to finish it up. Quite messy in some areas. I had SOLITARY then SNOBBISH, before SNOOTIER. In fact that whole NE area has many writeovers. HYDRA at first before HARPY, ERA before EON, etc. My winding thing was a SNAKE before I came up with STAIR.

    Re IBEENHAD, that's the "patsy's" poor grammar, not the puzzle constructors'.

    Thanks DP and BW !!