02.19 Sat

S A T U R D A Y February 19, 2011
Bruce Venzke

Theme: None

I'm having a really hard time focusing on the blog tonight, but I feel like I have a lot to say about this puzzle, so I'm going to do the best I can. Overall, I would have to say I liked this puzzle. It felt kind of uneven to me — really hard spots right next to super super easy spots, some awesome 15-letter entries and some really really bad shorter stuff …. Let me just get this out of the way and then we'll move on to the good stuff. Ed SNEED has no business being in a puzzle. I'm sorry, but he just doesn't. I mean, look at that clue! [33D: Ed __, runner-up in the first Masters sudden death playoff.] I might have — might have — cut some slack here if the man had actually won the first Masters sudden death playoff but no. He was the runner-up. You know what that means, right? He lost. Do you want to know who he lost to? Cuz that guy I bet you've heard of: Fuzzy Zoeller. I'm sure that Ed SNEED is a very nice man and I congratulate him for all his success, but I'm not budging from this position. He has no business in being in the puzzle. Said PuzzleGirl.

And it's not that I'm one of those people who thinks anything I hven't heard of myself personally must be obscure. There were several other entries in today's puzzle that I didn't know but that I would classify as perfect legitimate. For example:

  • 27A: Velvet's older sister in "National Velvet" (EDWINA).
  • 29D: Peter's "Easy Rider" role (WYATT).
Oh, and it's also not that I have something against difficult golf clues. I don't mind [59D: Golfer IAN Woosnam] at all. I didn't know his first name right off the top of my head, but I know that he's a current golfer who has had some success over the last couple of decades.

Okay, one last thing. I promise this will be my last gripe about the puzzle. ASSY.?!?!? I'm sorry, but put that next to 53D: Butt end (ASH) and it looks like we have a mini-theme going here that's completely inappropriate.

Good stuff? Yes! There's good stuff!:
  • 1A: Set off, as an alarm (TRIPPED). I like this clue because it tricked me. "Set" is one of those verbs that can be both present and past tense and in crossword clues I always read it as present tense and then can't figure out why the answer has so many letters.
  • 15A: TV host's segue (BE BACK IN A MINUTE). This is a little clunky but I think it's just because of the clue. The answer itself is pretty good.
  • 17A: Sources of track reports (STARTERS' PISTOLS). Again, very tricky! I was thinking more along the lines of the Daily Racing Form. But in this case "report" refers to the sound a gun makes.
  • 20A: Egyptian fertility deity (ISIS). I had to laugh at myself here. I had both Ss in place and saw the word "Egypt" in the clue so I immediately entered ASPS without even thinking about it.
  • 34A: Lonely guy in old 60-Down [ads] (MAYTAG REPAIRMAN). I had the REPAIRMAN part but couldn't remember what company he worked for. I'm all, "Whirlpool? Amana? …." Anyway, I love this entry.
  • 58A: Creed foe, with "The" (ITALIAN STALLION). And I love this entry even more! Got it with absolutely no crosses in place.
  • 63A: Maneuver through a tight opening (THREAD THE NEEDLE). Funny, I was sewing patches on PuzzleDaughter's Girl Scout sash yesterday and thinking to myself about how I've never been much of a seamstress, but that these days the most frustrating part is threading the needle.
  • 10D: As far as the eye can see: Abbr. (VIS.). VISibility? Yikes.
  • 16D: Secretive org. (NSA). I tried CIA here first.
  • 25D: Very little money (PEANUTS). This is an excellent, excellent clue.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 8A: Elko native (NEVADAN).
  • 52A: Defense gp. formed in Bogotá (OAS).
  • 6D: Just make, with "out" (EKE).
  • 9D: Former Radiohead label (EMI).
  • 55D: Musical with the song "Radames' Letter" (AIDA).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 18A: Certain border, to a philatelist (PERF); 19A: Menlo Park wizard, initially (TAE); 21A: It might be req. for some new furniture (ASSY.); 24A: Eject (SPEW); 30A: Sends, in a way (EMAILS); 38A: Author Levin (IRA); 39A: Kind of blouse (PEASANT); 40A: Shade (HUE); 41A: Fighting words (LET'S STEP OUTSIDE); 44A: Impressive property (ESTATE); 45A: Filled in (TEMPED); 46A: Travel about (ROAM); 48A: Fed. inspection group (USDA); 49A: Letter on a sweater (ZETA); 52A: Defense gp. formed in Bogotá (OAS); 54A: Shortfall (LACK); 64A: High-powered (INTENSE); 65A: Lower (DEGRADE); 1D: Medicinal amt. (TBSP.); 2D: Anatomical network (RETE); 3D: Support beam (I-BAR); 4D: Layered dessert (PARFAIT); 5D: Election night fig. (PCT.); 6D: Just make, with "out" (EKE); 7D: Bad way to play (DIRTY); 8D: Collars can hide them (NAPES); 9D: Former Radiohead label (EMI); 11D: Dovelike (ANTIWAR); 12D: Batman and Robin et al. (DUOS); 13D: King of the Huns, in Norse myth (ATLI); 14D: Loch seen from Urquhart Castle (NESS); 22D: Shapes up (SNAPS TO); 23D: Smart-sounding brew (SAGE TEA); 26D: Gave off (EMITTED); 27D: '60s boxing champ Griffith (EMILE); 28D: Braves (DARES); 31D: "You dig?" response (I'M HIP); 32D: Cum __ (LAUDE); 35D: "The Facts of Life" actress (RAE); 36D: Debatable "ability" (ESP); 37D: Kung __ chicken (PAO); 42D: Illinois-based food giant (SARA LEE); 43D: Compressed (SMALLER); 47D: __ Cristo: fried sandwich (MONTE); 48D: Peruvian pronoun (USTED); 49D: Rigatoni relative (ZITI); 50D: Race: Pref. (ETHN-); 51D: Sharp (TART); 55D: Musical with the song "Radames' Letter" (AIDA); 56D: Under 20, to most (COLD); 57D: Joint for guitarists? (KNEE); 60D: Some pitches (ADS); 61D: Chemical suffix (-ANE); 62D: It may be pulled (LEG).


imsdave said...

Hard to rate this one - loved the good stuff, detested the bad.

I can make the SNEED clue much more palatable for you PG. Winner of the 1974 Greater Milwaulkee Open. That helps, right?

Still working on a better clue for ASSY.

Anonymous said...

Normally I Google before asking questions on the blog, but what the hell is ASSY supposed to be an abreviation for?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it. You need to rent an ASSYrian to help you move the furniture. Yup, that makes sense. 'Cause you know, those ASSYrians are furniture moving phenoms.

v-man said...

I enjoyed most of the long clues and actually got maytag repairman and italian stallion without any of the crosses. I thought assy was wrong for sure but the only wrong entry i had was i had dis instead of vis for 10 down thinking distance would be the abbreviation. Despite the one incorrect entry I thought this was an easier Saturday puzzle than usual.

Avg Joe said...

I found this puzzle a lot more challenging than most, apparently, but enjoyed it quite a bit. And am willing to give SNEED a pass even though I agree with the logic that his 15 minutes of fame passed a long time ago. A solid B+, maybe even an A-.

There was a good article in our local paper this morning about the impact that being bilingual may have in delaying the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms. HERE is the Yahoo version, and I believe it to be the same as what I read locally. It also mentions that other activities such as crossword solving can be helpful. From what I've gathered, most of the participants here go through this daily ritual primarily for that reason. One could argue that being a competent solver is akin to being multi-lingual. Or not:-)

SethG said...

Some assy required. It means assembly, and you're totally excused for not wanting to google "assy". That whole EDWINA section was yucky.

I say "be back in a minute"; I can't picture a tv host saying it. Unless she's not on tv at the time, in which case it's probably not a segue.

There's no excuse for SNEED; it's so easy to change. But they should totally include being puzzle-worthy among the prizes they announce when they give the winners their sportcoats!

Orange said...

SNEED only flies if it's a Chicago-only puzzle and it's clued in reference to Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed. (Who is a woman.)

There may not be dictionary support for this meaning of "assy," but it's the main way I use it: "like more pungent cheeses." Friend of mine introduced me to the word, and she likes eating the assy cheeses. I am firmly in the non-assy cheese camp. My assy-cheese friend, by the way? Had a cat named EDWINA.


This puzzle required some assembly (ASSY) just like the furniture I just bought, however it was a quick solve for me. Got it done in less than 40 minutes which is darn good for a Saturday-level.
I liked the cluing... Bruce did a super job, especially on those great 15-letter entries.

I enjoyed Puzzlegirl's writeup (as usual), but just didn't understand her goofy rant about Ed SNEED.

The only entry that I was unfamiliar with was EDWINA. I guess I never watched the movie "National Velvet"... my loss!

I didn't like all those cheap abbreviations, like: PCT, VIS, and of course, ASSY.

WOTD: RETE "anatomical network". I had to write over AXON.

Best clue: "Joint for guitarists" (KNEE)

Reminded to go sew on a bunch of popped buttons (or go on a diet), but my VIS. is not good enough to THREAD THE NEEDLE. Someone gave me a little needle threader gizmo that works pretty good. Maybe I should just go buy one of those Buttoneer thingies.

Have a great weekend y'all !

Anonymous said...

I managed to finish this one but I did think it was a bit "assy" ..... Butt pun intended.

Anonymous said...

Assy, really? Had to check the comments to figure what that meant, even tho I figured it out in the puzzle.

Sfingi said...

HTG 9x, including 3 sports.
Long answers easier than short.

I have one of those needle threaders made of a diamond shaped soft wire. Sometimes they are given away. Sometimes they are included in sewing kits.

Also - remembering Maytag - Mad Magazine July 1963, #80, had a wonderful spoof - a family from the Hollers is standing around an old Maytag wringer washer, stating, "After 33 years, our Maytag is a-workin' still." I'm estopped from copying it, but that's what I call a good pun.

Sfingi said...

O darn - pun intended. Let me try that picture again.

Larry Sittig said...

I say "Rant on!" about the very respected but not puzzle-worthy Mr. SNEED. Took me several googles to find that the first playoff was in 1935 but the first sudden-death in 1979, then a couple more to find who _didn't_ win it.

Not too happy about an opera (AIDA) being called a musical.

I too was misdirected by the ambiguity of "Set off, as an alarm" and thought myself quite clever to fill in TRIggEr. That of course put me off course for quite a while.

Good thing I was on the computer, if I had done this puzzle in ink it would have been a real mess. Like SMAshEd for "Compressed" and teen for "Under 20, to most" and keen for "Sharp" and of course, the proper Anglo-Saxon Synonym for "Butt end" (acronym intended).

Hiram said...

@Larry - AIDA is a musical too.

Sfingi said...

@Larry - I had the same experience. We should have a word for multi-Google clues.

After an almost meltdown of the snowpack and inches thick icepack, it is now high winds and fluffy snow in Upstate NY. I'll have to shovel out before I can go to the Home today.

John Wolfenden said...

A quicker solve than most Saturdays for me, but not easy by any stretch. RETE and PEASANT blouse were words of the day.

My biggest obstacle was in the NW, where I had TRIGGER for TRIPPED and GATEAU for PARFAIT.

I found "Under 20, to most" for COLD to be an arbitrary clue that was trying to mislead you into thinking of a person in a clunky way.

Nice to see a Radiohead reference on the day after their much-anticipated new album dropped. I've downloaded it but haven't listened to it yet. One of the best bands working IMHO.

As a daily tea drinker I've had lavender tea, lychee tea, ginseng tea, and jasmine tea but not SAGE tea. I guess I've been missing out.

The clue for STARTER PISTOLS is nothing short of brilliant.

Rex Parker said...

*Everything* SethG said.


Larry Sittig said...

@Hiram, thanks, didn't know about that. I guess I have to admit that the song title directs us to the musical, not the opera.

My quick lesson on Celsius temps is this: Temps below ten are freezing to cold, in the 'teens are from cold to cool; in the 20s, from cool to warm, the 30s, from warm to hot, in the 40s (I lived in Andalusia, southern Spain), stay out of the sun.

Based on early crosses I thought track reports must have to do with the noise of PISTOnS.

Anonymous said...

@Larry Sittig Aida is a beautiful opera with a reasonably OK opera plot, operas not being known for their clever plots, but rather for their music. Elton John took Aida's plot and dropped the music, apparently thinking he was a better composer than Verdi! He should have followed the example of Oscar Hammerstein who kept Carmen's music and updated the plot and language to create Carmen Jones.

Mokus said...

@John Wolfenenden: I started with "trigger" too. John, I enjoyed your letter in yesterday's LAT op/ed section.

On balance I enjoyed the puzzle today. Mostly smiles but a few sneers for the reasons already covered. Fun comments above.

Rube said...

Llike Larry S had SMAshEd and teen in the SE. Got rid of teen easily but Figuring out SMALLER took me over night. Never saw the movie so was trying to figure out what the ITALIANS were doing fighting with the Nicene Creed. Made no sense. Had to wipe out the whole corner and start over with just NEEDLE and AIDA.

I too questioned AIDA, but the clue inferred that it was not the opera and Google confirmed.

The last time I saw SARALEE in a puzzle it was clued using the Illinois town in which they were located. Really tough.

Couldn't believe the coincidence on Radiohead. There is an article about his latest CD/MP3s on the front page of the NYT Arts section. Never heard of him before.

Had no trouble with ASSY, but thought ZETA clued as "letter on a sweater" was really random. (Unless there's something kinky about Zeta that I don't know.)

Great 15s, making a great puzzle. DNG but took too long.

C said...

Assy is a new one for me. I prefer @orange's definition and usage than the puzzles. My parents making me watch Easy Rider has finally paid off for me in today's puzzle.

Jet City Gambler said...

Do you get SNEED if you're stabbed by an old-time dagger?

The thing is, there's a very famous golf SNEAD already. Why not change it to SNEER and TEMPER (which is better than TEMPED anyway)?

John Wolfenden said...

Thanks, Mokus. Glad to hear that someone actually still reads the print edition of the Times. I liked that the lead letter on that topic was from someone who'd lived through the Depression and could vouch for how much the New Deal had helped people.

In defense of ASSY, it is a fairly standard abbreviation that I've seen many times ("some assy. rqd.") The true clunkers are the abbreviations that just aren't used and are being forced by the crossword designer. This to me was not one of those.

Avg Joe said...

Speaking of Easy Rider, I had no recollection of any name for Fonda's character other than Captain America. Seems that Wyatt and Billy were named for Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. Who knew?

Cue the Ballad

sherri said...

I don't get 56 down, under 20 to most, the answer is cold. What does it mean?

Anonymous said...

@sherri - Think about temperatures that are under 20 degrees. Brrrr!

KJGooster said...

@sherri: Under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, presumably.

CrazyCatLady said...

For the most part I liked the puzzle today. Just did it late this afternoon. I thought ASSY and VIS were just ASS-ISH. Also couldn't remember Peter Fonda as anything but Captain America in "Easy Rider." Hand up for SMASHED and TEEN. I just wrote in SNEAD for SNEED. I guess I have to go back and read yesterday's OP ED page. Usually I do. Yesterday I skimmed since I was in a rush.

CrazyCatLady said...

Avg Joe Thanks for "The Ballad of Easy Rider."

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the above. Assy made no sense to me. But I just wanted to mention that vis was easy since it does not stand for visibility but VISTA.

mac said...

Nice puzzle.
@PuzzleGirl: sorry, Zoeller wouldn't have made a difference to me. Now Snead I have heard of (in CW puzzles).
I wanted iter where I needed rete, thought of hickies hiding under collars, and needed lots of crosses for the Italian Stallian.

@AvgJoe: you're making me feel good about being bi or more lingual.

mac said...

Stallion, of course...

huglusin: Jesser would have a ball with this one.