08.20 Sat

August 20, 2011
Doug Peterson

Theme: None — Cuz, ya know, it's Saturday

So yesterday was really not my favorite day so far. First, I dropped the PuzzleKids off at camp and went to work. Then I figured out how to get my van home from the shop even though PuzzleHusband is out of town. So far so good, right? Yeah. At the end of the day, I grab the kids and race home to meet the landlord who's coming over to fix the air conditioning. Poor PuzzleSon is kind of staggering around — he didn't sleep well because he has swimmer's ear and it hurts. I make some small talk with the landlord and finally get him out of here so I can address PuzzleDaughter's lice issue. We're a couple minutes into applying the lice shampoo aaaand … the power goes out. Did I mention that I haven't made dinner yet and it's almost 8:00? So, yeah, not the best day really. The power did eventually come back on in the middle of the night, but I had given up and gone to bed. Oh, and I"m supposed to leave this morning at 8:00 to shuttle the kids to the PuzzleParents with whom they're going to spend the next couple of weeks. (I guess that's a good news. Did I just say that out loud?) All that to say that I don't have much time this morning. And I just spent a bunch of it whining. Hey, that's how I roll. (P.S. Sorry if your head is itching now.)

Super hard puzzle this morning, right? I ended up with a DNF because I've never heard of TANGANYIKA (12D: It merged with Zanzibar in 1964). I guessed an E where that second N was supposed to go. If I had run the alphabet I might have figured out that N worked with the cross and was a better choice, but I just didn't have time.

Not too much other stuff that I just flat-out didn't know:

  • 15A: Muse of sacred music (POLYHYMNIA). Although after it's in it looks kinda appropriate.
  • 53A: __ Bacon: "East of Eden" character (ABRA). Who knew?
  • 46D: Wedding announcement (BANNS). I have no idea what this means.
There was a lot that was fun to SUSS out (20A: Puzzle (out)):
  • 17A: Does a bit of informal polling (ASKS AROUND). Awesome colloquial phrase with a great clue.
  • 21A: Model born Lesley Hornby (TWIGGY). I didn't know her name, but the TW gave it away.
  • 33A: Texas Rangers CEO (NOLAN RYAN). When I saw "Rangers," I immediately thought "hockey" and knew there was no way I would know this answer. With a couple crosses in place, I realized we were talking about baseball. Whew!
  • 36A: Story writer/poet Grace who studied with Auden (PALEY). Story writer? That makes her seem kinda lightweight (which she's not).
  • 38A: Honey Ryder and Xenia Onatopp, e.g. (BOND GIRLS). Those Bond Girls have the stupidest names.
  • 26D: Dow 30 company (EXXON MOBIL). Got the two Xs in place pretty early, so this one basically wrote itself in.
Wish I could hang out longer, but we need to get this show on the road. I know there's a ton of stuff to talk about today. Have fun in the comments!

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Everything 1A: They're dirty pool (CHEAP SHOTS); 11A: WNBA positions (CTRS.); 15A: Muse of sacred music (POLYHYMNIA); 16A: Brest milk (LAIT); 17A: Does a bit of informal polling (ASKS AROUND); 18A: Paquin of "True Blood" (ANNA); 19A: Note (SEE); 20A: Puzzle (out) (SUSS); 21A: Model born Lesley Hornby (TWIGGY); 23A: Equinox mo. (SEP.); 24A: Accepted (NORMAL); 25A: "GoodFellas" Oscar winner (PESCI); 28A: Reckon, in the boonies (S'POSE); 30A: OR abbr. (NEG.); 32A: One who's done stretches? (EX-CON); 33A: Texas Rangers CEO (NOLAN RYAN); 35A: Leap on blades (AXEL); 36A: Story writer/poet Grace who studied with Auden (PALEY); 37A: Classic Leontyne Price role (AIDA); 38A: Honey Ryder and Xenia Onatopp, e.g. (BOND GIRLS); 40A: Out of line (ASKEW); 41A: Inseparable (ONE); 42A: Some rectangular bars (OLEOS); 43A: Feinting spells? (SPARS); 44A: Ore.'s highest point (MT. HOOD); 46A: Broker's advice (BUY); 47A: Any regular on "The View" (COHOST); 48A: Numbers for closers (ERAS); 50A: Cone head? (SNO-); 53A: __ Bacon: "East of Eden" character (ABRA); 54A: Got at (INSINUATED); 57A: Structure on piles (PIER); 58A: "When pigs fly!" ("NOT ON A DARE!"); 59A: More than asked (PLED); 60A: Safari sights (GRASSLANDS); 1D: They're no. experts (CPA'S); 2D: It may wind up around the house (HOSE); 3D: Paul's "The Prize" co-star (ELKE); 4D: Bard's interjections (AYS); 5D: Introduce by degrees (PHASE IN); 6D: Stack sweetener (SYRUP); 7D: GP gps. (HMO'S); 8D: Weight (ONUS); 9D: Can across the pond (TIN); 10D: "I'm afraid the news is not good ..." ("SAD TO SAY …"); 11D: One may be filed (CLAIM); 12D: It merged with Zanzibar in 1964 (TANGANYIKA); 13D: Gangbuster's target (RING LEADER); 14D: Inn time (STAY); 22D: Singer of complex songs (WREN); 23D: Baste (SCOLD); 24D: Phrase of emphasis (NO LESS); 25D: R&B singer Bryson (PEABO); 26D: Dow 30 company (EXXON MOBIL); 27D: When, in Act Two of "Macbeth," the Porter knocks at the gate (SCENE THREE); 28D: Caught (SNARED); 29D: Taquería meat (POLLO); 31D: Irritates, with "at" (GNAWS); 34D: Far from mellifluous (RASPY); 36D: At the helm of (PILOTING); 39D: Nursery sounds (GOOS); 40D: Like much business? (AS USUAL); 45D: Put away (HOARD); 46D: Wedding announcement (BANNS); 47D: Stupefyin' Jones creator (CAPP); 48D: First-year Spanish verb (ESTÁ); 49D: Mexican waterways (RIOS); 50D: Persian for "place of" (STAN); 51D: One needing social work? (NERD); 52D: Confucius's "Book of __" (ODES); 55D: Bergen's home: Abbr. (NOR.); 56D: Org. working on bridges (ADA).


Anonymous said...

Somewhere as a kid I heard Tanganyika. I finished but it was a guess for cApp and Abra. (I've heard of lots of Capps so that's why)

I have no idea what Banns is -- I got that on the cross fills. And Not on a dare was the last of the bigger ones for me.

All in all, I liked this one. A nice mix of stuff I knew, stuff I could guess with some certainty (Twiggy) and stuff I had to sweat.


Keith Fowler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith Fowler said...

I used to have postal stamps (the kind they sold in cheap packets to kids to start us in philately) from TANGANYIKA.
BANNS are what had to be published in England before a marriage could legitimately take place. I don't know the origin of the word, but you find it in Shakespeare.
The SE corner was hardest for me but everything got filled in eventually.
I'd say this was 50/50, with half of it easy, and half needing to be worked out with overwriting.

Anonymous said...

At one time it was the custom to read the BANNS 3 times during Church services in the weeks before the wedding, to give folks an opportunity to protest should there be any reason why the wedding should not proceed.

CP said...

@Keith Fowler. Had those stamps packets too (Harris&Co. from Boston, Ma. I believe?), also there is Lake TANGANYIKA which is one of the largest lakes in the world.
Oh so close to finishing, got stuck in very SE corner. Persian for place of??? Confucius's book of ?? and had a brain freeze on SNO cone. Aargh&Darn!
BANNS? new to me.
I still liked the puzzle alot, the stacks, filler, etc...I really admire all the constructors for their hard work and creativity. Thank you!! Learn something new all the time.

Anonymous said...

Banns of marriage are still announced today in some Catholic church bulletins. Now they serve as announcements and maybe reminders!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, PG--you're heroic to give us this much at all, after the day you had yesterday. So go ahead and whine all you want. You get nothing but good wishes and support from us.


CrazyCat said...

@PG sorry about your trying day. Head lice are challenge. Especially in the dark.

In a hurry to get out of here for the weekend. Thought the puzzle was tough, but thank goodness for NOLAN RYAN. That was probably the only sports clue that's ever been a gimme for me. He was my son's hero way back when we lived in Dallas for a while. We still have a signed baseball that cost me an arm and a leg. Otherwise there was a lot of guessing on my part and a bunch of erasures. Finally sort of finished with a couple of Gs.

Have a great weekend!

CoffeeLvr said...

Thanks, Doug, for a great puzzle. Loved seeing INSINUATED in the grid, especially stacked with NOTONADARE.

There was a Sporcle quiz recently that had the names of BONDGIRLS, so I knew that right away.

And I am still grinning at seeing SUSS out in the grid!!! I use that all the time, and will accept it as a personal tribute.

I finally had to change the skill setting in the LAT site's software to complete the puzzle; almost typed "finish", but no, this was a DNF. I had CaromSHOTS, but once I found out that was wrong I was able to SUSS out the great, great POLYHYMNIA. I also saw some red letters over in TANGANYIKA, but my biggest problem in that area is that when I saw Texas in the sports CEO clue, all I could think of was Mark Cuban. I could not get that out of my head, even though I never keyed him in. Right state, wrong role, wrong sport.

MT HOOD brings back memories of driving through Oregon with a three year old who kept saying "There's Mountain Hood!" He was completely underwhelmed when we went up to the visitors center.

@PG, by now you will have dropped off the kids, the AC is presumably repaired, and you have the van back. Wishing you some well deserved R & R this weekend. Enjoy. Maybe you will even have a little time to yourself after work before Puzzle Husband gets back!

imsdave said...

Doug - you made my day. 8 minutes for a DP Saturday? And that was with staring at BANNS for a while.

Thanks bud, I owe you one.

CarolC said...

Doug P, I loved the puzzle even though I had to Google like crazy to finish it. Agree with CoffeeLvr that INSINUATED was great. Also loved NERD as one needing social work. Looking back on it, I SPOSE I should have been able to SUSS out the puzzle without help, as POLYHYMNIA looks obvious is retrospect, but even though I knew TWIGGY and BANNS, no way I could have gotten TANGANYIKA! Good puzzle, good solid fill, no puns, just the right amount of sports, loved it.

@PG hope today is better! You deserve a little "me" time!

Anonymous said...

I think being from New Orleans really helped on this one. We have streets named for all the muses and Polyhymnia crosses St. Charles Ave. not far from a church where they used to actually "post the banns" on the church door! Long, long ago. . .

Doug P said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. The first time I ran into BANNS was in high school Spanish class. We had to learn the Spanish word for "banns," but none of us knew what the heck "banns" meant in English. Even the teacher seemed baffled. The picture in the book was of a piece of paper on the door of a church, and that wasn't much help.

As for POLYHYMNIA, I thought it was about time she made it into a puzzle. Her sister ERATO's been in hundreds of grids. (Hat tip to Gareth, who made the same observation over at Amy's blog.)

C said...

Nice, challenging puzzle today. Guessed at NEG over EEG and was rewarded with a finish. Thanks to@KO for the puzzle (he also goes by @DP)

Palamedes said...

OK, so what's an OLEO 42a?

Anonymous said...

I figured "oleo" was a rectangular stick of margarine, since an "oreo" is decidedly round.


Tom said...

I was surprised by the number of DNF admissions on this blog today. I found the puzzle relatively easy and fun to solve for a Saturday, even though I didn't know a lot of the answers (BANNS, PALEY, POLYHYMNIA, SUSS, and ABRA, for example). I guess I was just in the zone today, and it all kinda fell together for me.

However, if imsdave is "insinuating" (sorry) that he finished the puzzle in eight minutes, I don't believe it. I don't think you could type it in that fast, even if you knew all the answers ahead of time.

KJGooster said...

Another solid effort, Doug.

MT HOOD is beautiful today. We may actually hit 90 degrees today in PDX for the first time in 2011. Summer was very late to arrive here this year.

Lake TANGANYIKA is well-known among aquarists, as it contains over 250 species of colorful freshwater cichlids. The spelling always trips me up, though.

@Tom: I have no problem believing @imsdave, as this was just under 10 minutes for me. My personal best for a Monday is just over 3 min, and the real pros are much faster. In fact, here's a video of American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion Dan Feyer solving a Monday LAT crossword in 1:14 using the Across Lite interface: Dan Feyer Speed-Solves the LA Times Crossword

shrub5 said...

Totally fun yet challenging puzzle! With persistence, I was able to finish all but a portion of the NW without help. G'd for POLYHYMNIA and ELKE. Was stuck in this area due to having put SOL for note (do, re, mi, fa, sol...) instead of SEE.

For a while I had S'PECT instead of S'POSE for the boonies-speak. Oh, and nice to have the WNBA mentioned for the basketball position!

Lucky for me that the crosses filled in two names for which I was (not literally) clueless: ABRA and PALEY.

Doug, thanks for this very entertaining puzzle. And to both PG and Doug, continuing props for your informative and humorous blogging.

Sfingi said...

TANGANYIKA and BANNS are definitely oldster stuff. Anon835 describes. No one does it anymore. It's in old novels.

11 Googles and DNF.

I can't get my mind around SUSS, since, with umlaut, it means sweet.
I guess it's from suspect?

Tom said...

Thanks, KJGooster, for the link of Feyer solving a Mon. LAT puzzle. It was mind-blowing to watch, not to mention humbling. He's clearly not bothering to read all the clues before filling in the answers. It was like watching someone put together a piece of Ikea furniture without really reading the directions. Feyer is a whiz on the keyboard/mouse, too.

Obviously I've got my work cut out for me.

imsdave said...

@Tom - I don't type them in, always pencil (and eraser) on paper. And trust me, that was ridiculously fast for me for a DougP puzzle. But when you get the first 3 downs right off the bat, know all the muses (except Melpomene, that I just looked up) and somehow remember how to spell TANGANYIKA, a puzzle like this can go very quickly.

Other puzzles, not so much. Todays NYT, for example, which I finished in 26 minutes at the Lollapuzoola tourney a few weeks ago, took me 30, even having done it already.

I only posted the time to let Doug know he did not abuse me (for a change).

@KJGooster - thanks for having my back on this one.

Anoa Bob said...

Yes!!! I knew that memorizing the nine Muses would pay off one day! Dropped in POLYHYMNIA (15A) and did a little victory dance. (No one was watching.)

PG, just reading your itinerary gave me a contact exhaustion. Yikes.

I've had swimmer's ear off and on over the years. (You can get it taking a shower too.) A doctor told me about a simple self cure/preventive that I use regularly with great success. He said to mix a 50/50 solution of rubbing alcohol and vinegar and then use an eye dropper to put some drops in the ear canal. The alcohol dries out the canal and the vinegar changes the pH and both these make the canal less hospitable to the fungus that causes the malady. If there's any skin irritation in the canal, there will be a little sting when the drops go in, but it's minor and more than worth it for the relief that follows.

Anonymous said...

All Right, all ready, I finally get BANNS - but I'm still in a cloud over SUSS! Thanks for the reference to NOLAN RYAN - one of the true gentlemen of baseball in the modern era!

Noah W said...

Here's the definition of SUSS. Maybe the constructor looked it up in the dictionary.

Surprise said...

I've been reading this blog and comments for over a year now, but never had enough nerve to reply (figured you were all smarter than me). But -- today's comments pushed me over! Banns (of marriage) are not just in ancient novels! I was married in 1957, in Catholic Church, in Minnesota and banns were published 3 times in the church bulletin. It does go back to ancient times, but is still in use in many diocese.

Anonymous said...

@Surprise - See, you're smart enough! Maybe smarter than most of us. :) Hope to hear from you again soon.

Anonymous said...

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya back in the late 60's made Tanganyika easy. Nolan Ryan was a no-brainer for this big baseball fan. Pretty easy for a Saturday puzzle. Fun, too.

*David* said...

I had a couple of tough spots but overall a smooth puzzle. I should have been able to put TANGANYIKA right in but was unsure of spelling. POLYHYMNIA was completely an unknown to me so needed every cross for that. Fortunately my general knowledge made this puzzle easier with EXXON MOBIL, BOND GIRLS, MT HOOD, and NOLAN RYAN going in with minimal, if any, crosses.

mathcapt said...

KG: Speaking of cichlids: They grow quite large in open water. My son was living near a village in northern Tanzania on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. He called us up one morning and confessed to having eaten a "thousand dollar" fish.

Surprise said...

David, I felt polyhymnia was a made up word, but as I am a classical musician, organ and piano, and in church, I figured once I got pol-,I thought of polyphonic (JSBach) for sacred and some version of "hymn" for the remainder. But I have to admit, after 70 yrs. of music training I never heard the word either...