09.24 Sat

September 24, 2011
Gareth Bain

Theme: None, it's Sa…. wait, what? Hey! There's a theme on Saturday! — And it has to do with cookies!

Theme answers:

  • 16A: Common closer (TWIST TIE).
  • 36A: Superficial, uncaring effort (LICK AND A PROMISE).
  • 56A: Carnival game in which a suit is worn (DUNK TANK).
  • 50D: Food associated with the starts of 16-, 36- and 56-Across (OREO).
Anybody else freaked out by seeing a theme on a Saturday? I sure wasn't looking for one. Nice surprise when I got down to the reveal answer. The theme answers didn't give it away at all — they're all interesting phrases we might see in a themeless. Lots of good fill in this one as well. We've got some old-timey language with "IT IS SO" and CANST (17A: "Yea, verily" / 26A: Art able to) along with television references for both the old people among us — RAT PATROL (8D: With "The," 1960s series set in the North African desert during WWII) — and the youngsters — GOSSIP GIRL (10D: TV drama narrated by a teen blogger).

Couple things I didn't know. I've probably seen Pulitzer-winning poet Conrad AIKEN's name before, but it sure didn't come to me. And CAUSERIE totally doesn't look like it should mean [60A: Informal essay], does it? Overall, an enjoyable solve. Let's just get into a few details and then call it a day.

  • 8A: "Superbad" co-screenwriter Seth (ROGEN). I'm including a video here of the song that immediatley came into my head upon reading this clue. I apologize in advance.

  • 39A: "Go ahead" ("FEEL FREE"). Nice colloquial phrase. You know I love those.
  • 46A: Name meaning "gift of Isis" (ISADOR). I tried ISABEL first.
  • 61A: Gifted one? (DONEE). I think people were talking about this yesterday. No, it's not a word people use every day, but I've seen it quite a bit in legal documents.
  • 62A: Spot checker? (VET). As in VETerinarian. As in, what Gareth Bain is studying to be.
  • 3D: "See you next fall!" elicitor (TRIP). HAha! I'm going to explain this one, because I'm sure it confused some people. I have no idea how this started, but I've seen it in practice: a person is walking along and trips over something, the person's "friends" then exclaim, "Have a nice trip! See you next fall!"
  • 19D: Rembrandt van __ (RYN). There's always a debate about how Rembrandt's name is spelled, but I think we all just need to accept the fact that it varies.
  • 31D: Smackeroo (CLAM). Both are slang terms for a dollar.
  • 32D: Hall & Oates's first Top 10 hit (SARA SMILE). And now I'll make up for the video I posted earlier. Pretty sure I've used this one in the past, but it's definitely worth repeating.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Aleutian island (ATTU).
  • 23A: Folkie DiFranco (ANI).
  • 52A: Brewery equipment (OASTS).
  • 14D: Words indicating betrayal (ET TU).
  • 30D: "The Mikado" weapon, briefly (SNEE).
  • 53D: South Seas staple (TARO).
  • 57D: Country that incl. Sharjah (UAE).
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Everything 1A: Aleutian island (ATTU); 5A: Upheaval (ADO); 8A: "Superbad" co-screenwriter Seth (ROGEN); 13A: In a bind? (CORSETED); 15A: Prison break? (PAROLE); 16A: Common closer (TWIST TIE); 17A: "Yea, verily" ("IT IS SO"); 18A: Rash (SPATE); 19A: Calms (REPOSES); 20A: Nuttiness (LUNACY); 23A: Folkie DiFranco (ANI); 24A: Training gear? (BRA); 26A: Art able to (CANST); 28A: Troopers' gps. (PD'S); 31A: Goalpost component (CROSSBAR); 34A: Its state fish is the chinook salmon (OREGON); 36A: Superficial, uncaring effort (LICK AND A PROMISE); 38A: City known for wool (ANKARA); 39A: "Go ahead" ("FEEL FREE"); 40A: Tiny part of a hard drive (MEG); 41A: Pulitzer-winning poet Conrad __ (AIKEN); 43A: Aged (OLD); 44A: Wee hrs. (AM'S); 46A: Name meaning "gift of Isis" (ISADOR); 49A: Verdict readers (FOREMEN); 52A: Brewery equipment (OASTS); 55A: Give holy orders to (ORDAIN); 56A: Carnival game in which a suit is worn (DUNK TANK); 59A: Tease (NEEDLE); 60A: Informal essay (CAUSERIE); 61A: Gifted one? (DONEE); 62A: Spot checker? (VET); 63A: Forming strands (ROPY); 1D: Spiel, e.g. (ACT); 2D: Helps to water-ski (TOWS); 3D: "See you next fall!" elicitor (TRIP); 4D: WWII battlecruiser in the Pacific (USS ALASKA); 5D: Where unison countdowns usually begin (AT TEN); 6D: Agnus __ (DEI); 7D: Lofty lines (ODE); 8D: With "The," 1960s series set in the North African desert during WWII (RAT PATROL); 9D: Hunter killed by Artemis, in some accounts (ORION); 10D: TV drama narrated by a teen blogger (GOSSIP GIRL); 11D: If not (ELSE); 12D: Revivalists (NEOS); 14D: Words indicating betrayal (ET TU); 15D: Trivial Pursuit symbol (PIE); 19D: Rembrandt van __ (RYN); 21D: Phillips, e.g.: Abbr. (ACAD.); 22D: Wine orders (CARAFES); 24D: Tuna preserver (BRINE); 25D: Common Zen temple feature (ROCK GARDEN); 27D: Nursing a grudge (SORE); 29D: Gave two tablets to, say (DOSED); 30D: "The Mikado" weapon, briefly (SNEE); 31D: Smackeroo (CLAM); 32D: Hall & Oates's first Top 10 hit (SARA SMILE); 33D: __ B'rith (B'NAI); 35D: "Howards End" author (E.M. FORSTER); 37D: Transportation secretary under Clinton (PEÑA); 42D: Cousin, for one (KIN); 45D: Gettysburg general (MEADE); 47D: Sweet ring (DONUT); 48D: Cork sources (OAKS); 49D: Attracted to, with "of" (FOND); 50D: Food associated with the starts of 16-, 36- and 56-Across (OREO); 51D: Hydrocarbon suffix (-ENE); 53D: South Seas staple (TARO); 54D: Tonsorial sound (SNIP); 56D: V x XI x XI (DCV); 57D: Country that incl. Sharjah (UAE); 58D: Map feature (KEY).


Anonymous said...

Glad for a theme on Saturday

Sfingi said...

The beginning of the puzzle in my paper had an explanation of yesterday's theme - that one should state the actual number of the answer along with the word of the clue, such as "20 questions." I've never seen such a reference to a previous puzzle.

Anyway, I knew it was OREO when I saw LICK. (Wish this really were a "food.")

For ISIDOR, I parsed the word. I have a sister, Dorothy, who was named that because she was a "gift of God, as we were frequently told. Theodore would mean the same. My name was not Dordiavola. (Creepy note: the previous child died.)

When I was a kid, other kids would actually trip you and ask, "Have a nice trip?" Har-de-har.

Deep and clever puzzle.

Anonymous said...

GB, Very nice offering and theme. Had a little bit of everything. Liked RAT PATROL (great OLD show with Christopher George).
BRA and CORSETED made me feel uplifted.
Nice cross with ATTU and USSALASKA!

Anonymous said...

The last across word ROPY (forming strands)...I have no idea what this means...or is it just a really lame clue? Otherwise a nice challenging Sat morning puzzle...trmoore54

Alexscott said...

I've started trying to do the weekend crosswords in pen, but today was a challenge. I felt like I was guessing on a lot of the answers, but luckily ended up with only a couple small writeovers. Still, I learned a few things. I hadn't heard of the show RAT PATROL. Why didn't they rerun that instead of Hogan's Heroes in the '70s when I was growing up? CAUSERIE is my WOTD. And I've never heard the phrase LICK AND A PROMISE. Is that a regional thing or just one of those quaint sayings from the 1930s? I would have enjoyed the puzzle much more if I knew the phrase, because it is a good puzzle--it's just hard to get that same feeling of satisfaction without that sense of recognition.

Oh, and for the longest time I had lEG instead of MEG for 40A "Tiny part of a hard drive." Maybe it was because the term "hard drive" was split up in my paper, but I just kept reading that as a long driving trip (hence "leg"). Made it much harder to come up with CLAM.

I noticed the explanation of yesterday's puzzle, as well. Makes me think they must have gotten some complaints about the numbers as parts of the clues.

Sfingi said...

The following does not pass the breakfast test:

Ropy is a yucky word, but real. When I see ROPY, I've came to associate it with the excrescence that comes from the eyes when one has conjunctivitis. It's not just rope-like, knots included, but thick and sticky.

Also, that first clue - Aleutian I.
There's no way to get that any way but by crosses, since there are at least 20 4-letter Aleutian I., including the Anglo words such as: baby, bird, buck, cone deer, eddy, fire, gull, plum, salt, whip. Also, the anagrams Akun and Kanu.

Misty said...

Not my day--had a really rough time with this one, especially on the west side. Had "cornered" for "corseted," "spots" for "spate," thought "training gear" must have to do with a tricycle, and thought "smackeroo" had to do with a kiss. And have never heard of "causerie" even though I've written tons of formal and informal essays in my life. Got "oreo" early on and so should have had a much easier time with the theme answers. But I guess Saturdays are supposed to be tough!

C said...

Good puzzle today. I sped through the puzzle without any hitches. Ego builder for me today.

Thanks for the puzzle, Mr. Bain.

Rube said...

Got everything except the NE where I had to Google for the G in ROGEN 'cause didn't know GOSSIP GIRL or ANI. Too much crossing pop stuff.

Know the crosswordesey ATTU from previous xwords. Learned then that it is the westernmost point in the U.S.

After getting OREO and having LICK_ was immediately able to finish TWIST_ and DUNK_, speeding up the solve. A theme!!?? On Saturday!!??

Never heard the TRIP expression... must be an East Coast thing. Like @AlexScott, not having heard of the LICK_ expression also detracted from my enjoyment of the puzzle. Still, I thought it was a good puzzle, just not great like yesterday's. CAUSERIE is also my WOTD.

backbiter said...


Wow! This was tough for me. Loved Feel Free and Dunk Tank. Never heard of Gossip Girl. I had Angora instead of Ankara. Took me a few to straighten that out. Then here comes 50 Down. Mr. Gareth Bain actually made me panic for a minute. I'm thinking, "Am I supposed to be at work now? I'm a no call no show." A quick scan at the top of the newspaper and looking at the DVR assured me that it was indeed Saturday. But I'm not kidding, I really thought I missed a day.



JaxInL.A. said...

I had no idea that ANKARA is known for wool. Apparently the word angora derives from the city's name, and we have all heard of Angora goats and rabbits, right?

Had a malapop when I thought that the chinook salmon was state fish of Alaska (not, though it fits) but the WWII battle crusier turned out to be the USS ALASKA.

I suppose that calms and reposes can be synonyms as nouns, but that sure is an unusual usage.

I'm happy any time I can finish a Saturday without help (husbands who watched 60s shows don't count). Nice puzzle, Mr. Bain.

tutu said...

LOL @backbiter, I thought the same thing when I read 50D. Thanks PG & Mr. Bain

Keith Fowler said...

Got it all except for CLAM. I had CLAP, which admittedly seemed a weak sort of "smackeroo," but I was searching for either a Kiss or a Haymaker. This didn't seem to affect the cross because it gave me PEG instead of MEG, and what layman really understands everything that is "part of a hard drive"?
I was trying for the US PULASKI for a while, but when I Googled, it turned out to be a submarine. And anyway the letters didn't fit with the extra "S".
I grew up with a LICK AND A PROMISE. It's what we did just before a relative dropped in.

shrub5 said...

I remember when I was a kid and came to my mom with something broken or a wardrobe malfunction of sorts -- just as she was walking out the door for work. She would do some quick temporary fix and say she gave it a "LICK AND A PROMISE" and would do a thorough fix when she came home. That doesn't sound like a 'superficial, uncaring effort' but more of a hasty performance of (part of) a task to be completed later.

HTG for GOSSIP GIRL. Didn't know cork tree was an OAK.

mac said...

Excellent puzzle! I malapopped Alaska as well, and had clap for clam for a bit. Nice pairing of corsetted and bra.

Who would have thought the crosswordesy oreo could be used for such a good puzzle.

As usual, Gareth amazes with his knowledge of American slang, idiom and pop culture.

CoffeeLvr said...

Terrific puzzle, a Saturday treat (I love me a theme). Thanks, Gareth.

I just skipped over the theme reveal of OREO until I had more of the longer answers in place. DUNKTANK was easy, then got TWISTTIE once some crosses were in place (great clue, there!) By then OREO was clear with O??O in place. And LICKANDAPROMISE just dropped in with very few crosses. I remember my mother admonishing me to do a good job, not just a lick and a promise, whether it was cleaning something or ironing.

Thank you so much, @PG, for explaining TRIP. The P was my last letter in, as I had to go two thirds through the alphabet to see SPATE. I could only think of someone who was going away for the summer (on a TRIP.)

It really helped to know SARA SMILE, and (finally!) remember RAT PATROL. I don't think I ever watched it; my TV time was limited and I was watching Star Trek and Mission Impossible; my little brother insisted on watching Bonanza. With only one TV, and no VCR/DVR, you really had to make choices.

I did not need to cheat a LICK, except I did pull up the Calculator function to solve 56D before converting it back to Roman numerals. Not up to mental math today.

hazel said...

before i start the NYT sunday, i just want to add my 2 cents on the puzzle's wonderfulness. Echoing @coffee, it was indeed a treat to complete!

great job, gareth!

Steve said...

Can't agree with the plaudits for this one. Obscure cluing, horrible partials, weird trivia, unknown phrases, and what the heck is the (unnecessary) theme?

Boo from me. @Sfingi is probably happy there's no sports today, but there's not much of anything else either.

Two thumbs down - If I had more thumbs, there would be more.

Anonymous said...

MEG for [Tiny part of a hard drive] amused me ... I've been around computers long enough to remember when a one-gig drive seemed unimaginably huge, so even now I have a little trouble thinking of a megabyte as "tiny." Of course, I'm sitting here looking at a two-terabyte external hard drive (that cost less than 4 MB of RAM would've, back in the day), so it probably won't be long before we start seeing GIG clued like that.

@Sfingi, what you say about Aleutian islands is true, but in practice If you just enter ATTU every time you see a clue referencing the Aleutians, you'll be right 75% of the time. A quick glance at the xwordinfo clue database showed only three other words clued as an Aleutian island: ATKA (10 time), ADAK (3 times), and UNALASKA (1 time).

In a fine example of not doing as I say, I entered ATKA first, which slowed me down considerably in the NW. But the thing that really did me in timewise was entering KISS AND A PROMISE at 36-A.

shuckit said...

Great puzzle! I wrote above my copy, "Huh? There's a theme on Sat.?"

Loved the double meaning for 62A: a)the doc who checks your dog, Spot (VET); OR b) the person who checks facts for a writer before publication...i.e. 'vets' it -- i.e. the VET.

bnthrdntht said...

I don't like bad clues... there were only 2 battle cruisers in ww2, the Lexington and Saratoga.