SATURDAY, May 9, 2009 — Bruce Venzke

THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases. This time, there are two "triple-stacks"—sets of three 15-letter answers stacked together

Crosswordese 101: 15D: WWII arena is ETO, or the European theater of operations. Guess who was in charge of the ETO for the USA? That's right: Another three-letter abbreviation, DDE, or Dwight D. Eisenhower. Can you guess the initials of the candidate who lost the presidency to DDE twice? That's AES, or Adlai E. Stevenson. These are all solidly established crosswordese.

You know those mashups, where someone takes two artists' songs and somehow merges the two entities into once? Somebody ought to combine ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) and BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive) into ETO.

Among the more difficult stuff to grapple with:
  • There are two song titles in one triple-stack. 16A: Song that's acted out is a specific tune, "I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT," while 17A: Song also known as "Cowboy's Lament" is "STREETS OF LAREDO."
  • 19A: Shadow (UMBRA). This is mostly an astronomy term.
  • 48A: Decimal meas. (CEN). I don't know what this is short for. A centimeter is abbreviated as cm.
  • 61A: Vague putoff (AT SOME OTHER TIME). I don't much care for this answer. "Vague putoff" means a vague remark aimed at putting someone off. Have you ever said to someone, "At some other time"? I'd say that "Some other time" is the vague putoff.
  • 62A: Post under a hood (BATTERY TERMINAL).
  • 5D: Stickpin kin (TIE TAC). Also spelled tie tack. It's usually TIE TAC in crosswords.
  • 10D: NYC hospital since 1858 (STLUKES). With the crossings, gettable. Without the crossings? Ouch.
  • 34D: Dynasty after the Qin (HAN). From oldest to newest, we have the following: Xia, Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Wei, Shu, Wu, Jin, Southern and Northern, Sui, Tang, Liao, Song, Xia, Jin again, Yuan, Ming, and Xing, in case you were wondering.
Oranges's favorite clue: 29D: Where standing is ill-advised (CANOE). Yes. Don't do that. Sit your butt down in that canoe. Raise your hand if your first impulse was POKER because the answer might fit BLACKJACK but that's longer than five letters. Anyone? No? Just me. Okay, then.

I'm heading out of town for Mother's Day weekend, so PuzzleGirl will be minding the store and tackling the Sunday puzzle. I'll be back on call next Wednesday, but will see you in the comments before then.

Everything Else — 1A: Makes some progress (GETSTOFIRSTBASE); 18A: Took care of (SAWTO); 20A: Gig component (AMP); 22A: Turner of music (IKE); 23A: Groovy toy? (SLOTCAR); 27A: Knocks off (DEDUCTS); 32A: Record for later (TIVO); 33A: Radar purchases? (NEHIS); 35A: "Humboldt's Gift" author Bellow (SAUL); 36A: Skip (OMIT); 37A: Eastern philosophy (TAO); 38A: "Young Frankenstein" lab assistant (INGA); 39A: Drawn things (LOTS); 40A: Monopoly deed sextet (RENTS); 42A: Corner (NOOK); 43A: Agents of biochemical change (ENZYMES); 45A: Contemporary of Lucille (IMOGENE); 47A: Me. summer setting (EDT); 49A: Got to (IRKED); 52A: Lassie was rarely seen on one (LEASH); 56A: Responded in kind, in a way (COUNTERATTACKED); 1D: Grunts (GIS); 2D: Lifesavers, for short (EMTS); 3D: Plantation near Twelve Oaks (TARA); 4D: Plethora (SLEW); 6D: Place to put your dogs up? (OTTOMAN); 7D: NBA scores (FTS); 8D: 1969 Peace Prize-winning agcy. (ILO); 9D: Ring leader? (REF); 11D: Joined (with) (TEAMED); 12D: Comeback, perhaps (BARB); 13D: One who's often not himself? (APER); 14D: Scotch partner (SODA); 21D: Course admission requirement, perhaps (PRETEST); 22D: Dumb (IDIOTIC); 23D: Ripped off (STOLE); 24D: Dancer José (LIMON); 25D: Short-lived '90s Disney president (OVITZ); 26D: Hotsy-__ (TOTSY); 28D: Exploiting (USING); 30D: "You don't __ Superman's cape": Jim Croce lyric (TUGON); 31D: Quench (SLAKE); 40D: Venison source (REDDEER); 41D: Place of refinement? (SMELTER); 44D: Lover's message (MEETME); 46D: Bandit feature? (ONEARM); 49D: Greek vowel (IOTA); 50D: Sign of disuse (RUST); 51D: Boater's unit (KNOT); 53D: When Romeo spots Juliet (ACTI); 54D: Large organ (SKIN); 55D: Blood: Pref. (HEMA); 56D: Semi-attached compartment? (CAB); 57D: 2003 A.L. Cy Young Award winner Halladay (ROY); 58D: NYSE ticker symbol changed to "T" in 1930 (ATT); 59D: Everyday article (THE); 60D: V.P. Biden's state (DEL).


Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

Is there a technical term for this kind of extra grid symmetry? As for 34D, both Qin & HAN dynasties their capital set up in my home town Xi'An, where the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum is based.

Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

Oops, "...both Qin & HAN dynasties had their capital set up..."

Rex Parker said...

Grid has two kinds of mirror symmetry, and 180-degree rotational symmetry.

Set a new Saturday speed record on this one. 1, 2, and 3-Down were all instant gimmes, and when you get the first three letters of your long Acrosses that easily ... well, you're off to a good start.

Had FGS for FTS, somehow, FINALLY, remembered ILO, got ST LUKE'S w/ just the "STL" in place, and even guessed APER straight off. The NYT puzzle took me 3x as long to do.

Love the clue on ONE ARM.

I would love to see the clue for GETS TO THIRD BASE (that's a nice 15-letter answer).

Off to enjoy what looks like a gorgeous Saturday ... and then start in on the pile of grading that awaits me.


eileen said...

Would someone mind explaining to me how ONEARM is a bandit's feature. I swear, I am such a concrete thinker when solving the puzzles.

Rex Parker said...

Slot machines are often called "one-armed bandits."

In that they have one arm (the lever) and they take your money.


Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

Solid stuff. Always feel like the triple stacks are easy as the crossings are the first to go. This one fell in the middle first then the bottom then the top. Favorite entry is AT SOME OTHER TIME.


A fairly easy Saturday crossword despite the six intimidating longies. Rex is right, you get the first three down gimmes and off you go. I thought 33A NEHIS for Radar purchases was quite clever, but you have to be an old M.A.S.H. fan to get that one. Why in almost all crosswords do they use APER? I can't ever remember me, or anyone, using that word in casual conversation.
Here's two generational things:
58D ATT (was T in 1930).
32A TIVO (some of us think of TAPE for recording devices). Sometimes it helps to be old and sometimes it hurts... pop culture... ughh !

gjelizabeth said...

Took me 1 hour and 8 minutes but I got it all without Google and feel quite pleased with myself. Rex and Johnsneverhome may have found 1D a gimme but "Grunts" equals GIS wasn't a natural for me. I first had to try every impossible combination of gutteral letters suggestive of grunting. The shoe finally dropped after I got it from the crosses. Loved "Radar purchases" and wanted AISLE for "Where standing is ill-advised". I'm doing the puzzle today on it's home turf, in an actual copy of the LA TIMES, while visiting my Mom in Altadena for Mother's Day. I notice that the TIMES lists the editors as well as the puzzle constructor. I usually do this puzzle in the San Jose MERCURY NEWS, which does list the constructor, but not the editor. Am I using the right term (constructor) for the person who creates the puzzle? What do the editors do besides pick the puzzles? Thanks to ALL of you, bloggers, constructors, editors, and fellow solvers!


A few days ago someone referred to their "nap". Here's a great tool for completing a crossword successfully. Take a short nap. When you awaken, there seems to be a sudden burst of adrenaline, or something, the brain is hyper-stimulated. You suddenly are able to solve all the stumpers. Try it... I don't understand the physiology, but I use this technique all the time and it does work.

hazel said...

Today's puzzle to me is a perfect example of the difference between the LAT and NYT puzzle vibe. With the arguable exception of STREETS OF LAREDO, the "triple stacks" have nothing to do with specific niches of knowledge. They're common phrases, vaguely but cleverly clued, that don't require a huge percentage of the crosses to work them out. Also, it seems like LAT puzzles have more common nouns, less proper nouns than a typical NYT. Is this true? Anyone? Anyone?

Anyway, I'm not saying one's better than the other - I really like both puzzles. But because of the whole general language/specific knowledge emphasis, I wind up with totally different solving experiences. Is this hypothesis BS?

Love TAO at dead center. Go Braves!

chefbea said...

Fun easy puzzle. I agree 1,2,and 3 down were gimmes. My one mistake was putting tea cup instead of pot and that slowed me down a bit. I drink scotch and water, not soda.

I'll say happy mother's day today since I probably wont be around tomorrow.

Norm said...

@hazel: definitely with you agree that LAT has fewer proper nouns -- and less musical of this year/movie of that year/obscure person c*** (my opinion) -- than NYT. also tends to have fewer misdirection clues (the which i love), so very different solving experiences, but both a valued part of daily life.

Unknown said...

This was a nice relief after a brutal (for me) NYT. As a baseball guy, I was able to get 1A fairly easily with a couple of crosses. Mostly got the long ones off of shorter crosses and good guesses. Don't time myself on Friday or Saturday- just getting them done is enough- but this was probably my quickest Saturday.

mac said...

Yes, this was a relief for me as well. What's this little teapot song from? It rings a little tiny bell, but I can't place it.

Streets of Laredo is one of the songs my husband sang to our son when he was a baby. The other one was "Aunt Rodie".

Another question: who are Lucille and Imogene? Another one I got without really knowing what it was about, with just an m and an e in place.

Ruth said...

Lucille Ball--surely you know her, from "I Love Lucy" and all those Desi-Desilu-Arnaz in the puzzles. and Imogene Coca, a comedienne/actress of the same vintage, not quite as famous but in a lot of stuff (one of her last things was National Lampoon's Vacation, where she was, as always, hilarious).

ThermometerMan said...

Centigrade - CEN (?)

chefbea said...


I'm a little teapot short and stout
here is my handle , here is my spout... when I get....
Just ,,,, and pour me out. I forget some of the words

Greene said...

It's always a pleasure to come back to the LAT after being kicked around by the NYT puzzle. I actually worked this puzzle about halfway through my NYT marathon today (just to remind myself that I can actually solve puzzles correctly).

I love that I am no longer intimidated by the triple stacks which are so common in Friday and Saturday puzzles. These things used to scare the pants off me, but I welcome them now. Rex and Orange have repeatedly talked about how they make the puzzle easier to solve and how right they are. I even nailed STREETS OR LAREDO early on, but I think I've seen that in a NYT puzzle before.

@MAC and RUTH: Don't forget Imogene Coca as 2nd banana to Sid Caesar on "Your Show of Shows" where she was equally hilarious. I remember seeing her on Broadway back in the 1970s in this extremely funny musical called On The Twentieth Century where she played a religious zealot trying to convince the entire world to Repent! She was, as they say, quite a hoot.

Anonymous said...

on 48 across in Sat puzzle "cen" is for century whick is ten years

barboid said...

@ chefbea: Here it is--used to do this with my kids when they were small:

I'm a little teapot short and stout
Here is my handle and here is my spout
When I get all steamed up hear me shout
Tip me over and pour me out!