09.17 Sat

September 17, 2011
Tom Heilman

Theme: Nothing! It's themeless! Welcome to Saturday!

Despite the continuous stream of mathematics homework coming my way, it's never Neville here again while PG is away for the weekend. Big ups to Gareth for taking the reins yesterday; hopefully I'll do as nice a job as he did.

Where did you break into this puzzle? I started on the left hand side with the 4D. Long-odds bet (TRIFECTA) which led me down to 25A: Othello game piece (DISC). It wasn't long before I got the star of this puzzle: 36A. Beyond unethical (MORALLY BANKRUPT).

Seems to go against the (ETHOS) clued by 46A: Underlying values, doesn't it? 27D: Settings for "Junkyard Wars" had to be (SCRAPHEAPS), since SCRAPYARDS had overlap with the clue. Slowly I was able to make my way to the right hand side of the puzzle, eventually remembering what the word (JINGOISTIC) means. (IRON AGE) made the NE corner come more easily, since 16A: When forging started was rather straightforward. Eventually I was able to complete this puzzle, but it felt like more of a trial than the usually Saturday puzzle. That wasn't a bad thing - there's nothing really objectionable in this fill - just a tough construction to break!

  • 52A: Akkadian king who conquered Mesopotamia (SARGON). This seems like it's part of that classic series "Fiction with Thomas Heilman" - but apparently this is a real person. He's busted to the right.  
  • 28A: Corpulent (FAT) is right above 31A. Make fit (CRAM IN). I'm reminded of the hubbub a few years back with airlines requiring larger customers to purchase two seats. Seems like that money is now being used to provide WiFi on flights! 
  • 12D: Classroom response, at times (LAME EXCUSE). I love this entry, but not this clue. If I had to pick a thing that's lame, I'd say, "A student's excuse." It's completely in the language and has an X, which endears me too it much more than usual. But this clue made me want something like "Yes, teacher," which is an actual response from the whole classroom. It technically works, but I'm not a fan.
  • 18A: Discarded storage technology (BETAMAX) - not my first hunch of Zip disk. Not sure how mainstream those were, but at my elementary school, they talked about them like you could fit the entire world into those 100 megabytes. Frankly, the Betamax predates me.
  • 29A: Unfavorably influence (JINX) - you owe me a soda! You cannot speak until you buy me a coke. Those are the rules of Jinx, and they are unflinchingly rigid.
  • 1A: Make even in a way (JUSTIFY). Look at that - I've managed to justify the text in this bullet point! See? Flush on both the left and the right. Technology allows us so many options. I think that's the meaning that Tom's going for in this clue.
  • 23D: She played Elle a mermaid in "Kill Bill" "Splash (DARYL). That's what it would've taken me to get so much as near to the correct solution.
  • 8A: Key rings? (JANGLES). Cutest clue I've seen in a while across all outlets. Those would be the noises made when you shake your keys!
  • 22A: Moving experience? (EXODUS) is a close second to JANGLES as far as awesome entries go.
  • 58A: "Olly olly oxen free!" - (IT'S SAFE). I wanted something more hide & seek related, but this is quite clever. Nice to know that it is safe - I never saw the ending of Marathon Man.
  • At least Mrs. Robinson isn't trying to seduce him?
  • 14D. Times of prayer in the Fivine Office. (SEXTS). Who wants to take responsibility and let Rich Norris know that isn't what sexts means.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up
  • 2D: Fonda role (ULEE)
  • 57D: "___ tu cle maahiary": Verdi lyrics. (ERI). The what?
  • Like I said, most of it is nice - not much crosswordese here!
Thanks for letting be play the puzzle with you today! Until next time, follow PG on the Twitter!

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Anonymous said...

Wow. This puzzle DESTROYED me. First DNF since I started a few months ago. And it wasn't close. Practically a blank page.

- Dean

mac said...

Nice meaty Saturday puzzle! I also paused at sexts, Rich does need to be told.

Morally bankrup, jingoistic and jangles are very good.

Thanks, Neville!

Gene said...

A rare DNF! Humiliating! No fun here.

ddbmc said...

Worked doggedly and had to hit the Google for "Elle" and Akkadian King reference. Today was a cheater's completion for me. Spelled "JINGOISTIC" with a "G" to start with. Must have been thinking "GRINGO," (Lord knows why!), but once I came back through, saw "GINX" was all kinds of wrong. PLOY was last entry, as SW corner gave me fits, I must conFESS!

Anoa Bob said...

Nice, scrabbly offering to GNAW ON. A real J-fest with JUSTIFY a JINGOISTIC JINX, among others.

Great centerpiece in MORALLY BANKRUPT. Could have been clued "Total absence of 46A" (ETHOS).

I'll FESS up that I confidently plopped in "Noose" for 49D "Neck line", thinking gallows humor there. Turns out to be LASSO, which is a bit of a stretch, but I guess that's a subtle continuation of the gallows humor PLOY.

Peter said...

Well, it was tough, like it's supposed to be. I missed a couple spots in the NE. I was flummoxed by SEXTS. Would never have guessed that was right. Also had LATE EXCUSE instead of LAME EXCUSE because BETAMAX just wouldn't come to me with that X of SEXTS? on the end. I agree. A sext is on your phone. Even the thought of a priest connected to that word creeps me out.

And how is AREA a "Code word?" Keys jingle to me, they don't JANGLE... so you see how that corner got messed up.

Anyway, I liked the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Sects refers to prayers at the sixth hour (noon).

Peter said...

OK, I think Matins and Vespers are fair game, but not the other ones -- they are too obscure. And it's sexts, not sects I think you meant to write.

Just figured out AREA code (also someting on a phone). Still not a big fan of that clue, though.

Misty said...

Started off pretty confidently in the NW corner and then got stuck until I hit Fess Parker down-a-ways. Had to cheat in the end, but got a big break with "morally bankrupt." Guess I've been following the news lately, so that one just fell right into place.
So, happy Saturday, everybody!

Keith Fowler said...

A craven DNF. I wanted so much to complete it, but lacked the will to carry on after I managed JINGOISTIC and then stole a peek. When I saw MORALLY BANKRUPT where I had only managed DERAILED THE TRAIN, I knew it was time to fold my tent.

Rojo said...

Man, I pounded my head on the desk quite a few times, but kept plugging away and finally managed a no-google finish. Very proud of myself! Had tOtALLY BANKRUPT for the longest time, that didn't help. and all SAFE instead of IT'S SAFE. Also, ENA is kind of crosswordese, I think, but it's crosswordeses I always forget.

CoffeeLvr said...

@Neville, if you insist here is a virtual Coke so I may speak. (Except I forgot how to imbed it.)http://www.google.com/imgres?q=coke+bottle&hl=en&sa=X&biw=888&bih=640&tbm=isch&tbnid=MkS8N6pBpm-DXM:&imgrefurl=http://marcellyna.wordpress

CoffeeLvr said...

First, my confession: I had to cheat a bit, so DNF.

This is a very aggressive puzzle, don't you think? Along with the spine of MORALLYBANKRUPT, we have ALARMED, REGIMES, PLOY, EMPIRES, SARGON the conqueror, JINGOISTIC & WON. ETHOS & ITSSAFE simply are not enough to JUSTIFY a balance. Although DEO and "times of prayer" might swing the scale.

I think this is a great Saturday puzzle, lots to like and very little crappy fill.

Anonymous said...

This puzzle just flat out SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

CP said...

This one brought me to my knees. A big DNF. Humbling!

Keith said...

I did not like today's puzzle AT ALL. I got IRON AGE immediately and SARGON pretty fast, so I'm not dumb, but I didn't get JANGLES for "key rings" until I came here. I still don't get it. "Key rings"??? And since when does "Psych!" mean NOT? And to whom? A lot of the other definitions are really, really stretched beyond the breaking point, IMO.

A challenging puzzle is fun. An incomprehensible one is not.

Anonymous said...

Here's another DNF - been doing puzzles for 40 + years and the FIRST time I ever DNF two weeks in a row (only can do them on weekends). Editors: count up the DNF's - is the Times in the business of making puzzles too hard to solve??? Then why make puzzles at all. Come on - be real!

Rojo said...

@Keith Keys can jangle in your pocket, which is also ringing, in a way. They're both sounds at least, although perhaps I'd agree that keys don't really "ring."

"Psych!" and "Not!" I have less of problem with, and even found a bit clever.

Me: "Hey man, I feel like giving away free money today, would you like a hundred bucks?"

You: "Heck yeah!"

Me: "Psych!" or "Not!" (in both cases meaning the equivalent of "In your dreams!" and both about equally obnoxious).

Paul said...

I finished, but wrong in the NE corner, which is rare for me. But come on. Keys jingle, they don't jangle. Betamax was never a storage format, as any computer user understands the term. A round seed is a pit or a pip. And sexts ... well, okay, it's a legit term, but one that only the most devout could possibly know as part of the Divine Office. I knew nones was one of the hours, so on that model I guessed septs. If you Google "sexts", you have to go to the bottom of the third page of hits before you find the first reference to the liturgical sense.

So I call shenanigans on this puzzle, and give it a big thumbs down.

Hoyt said...

I also hated this puzzle. Too many clues did not fit the answers. My top complaint was the clue for SCRAPHEAPS and I actually got that answer. There are scrapheaps on the show but it certainly is not set on one.