SATURDAY, June 13, 2009—Brad Wilber

THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases.

This puzzle felt like an easy Friday NYT puzzle—it fell about 20% faster than last Saturday's L.A. Times crossword. There are some great answers and some not so great ones. We'll touch on those after today's tutorial.

Crosswordese 101: Ooh, I'm torn. EMOTE (15A: Not act well) is a solid contender, but when it comes to crossword stalwarts, you can't beat a three-letter answer that's two thirds vowels. No, not IMO, AIR, ARE, or ETA—today's featured old-school answer is REO (9D: Hupmobile contemporary). What is a Hupmobile? Nobody knows. But REO was a car company founded by Randolph Eli Olds, whose previous company became Oldsmobile. That Wikipedia link tells me the car was always pronounced like "rio" and not "R.E.O." Does it matter what the most common clues for the word are? Really, no. If the clue smacks of early automobiles and the answer has three letters, you're looking for REO. They made cars from 1905 to 1936, and continued making trucks until the '70s. Their famous truck model was the REO Speed Wagon. Ah, that takes me back:

I think my sister's cellphone ringtone is an REO Speedwagon song. I'm not sure if it's this one or a different song, but this one's a particular favorite for rhyming "I don't believe it" with "not for a meeeen-it."

How about some more clues and answers?
  • 16A: A Ripped poser is a MALE MODEL. I was going to illustrate this one with a photo, but soon into the Google image search, my eyeballs had exploded from exposure to too many sculpted abs.
  • 18A: To Work on galleys is to PROOFREAD. Yup. Been there, done that.
  • 29A: The word DEGLOSS is included. It means Roughen before repainting, apparently. Deglossing also happens, I believe, when someone with a fresh coat of lip gloss wipes her (or his!) mouth. This is one of those lifeless words that nobody likes to run into in a crossword. The D crosses 21D: RED SONJA ("She-devil with a sword" of comics) and the O is in 26D: DOS EQUIS (Mexican beer with XX on its label), though, and I love those answers.
  • You wanted 37A: Whistler's output to be an OIL painting of the artist's mother, didn't you? I did. But it's AIR, that stuff you blow out when you whistle.
  • You don't see a ton of Q words that aren't QU words. 43A: Sponsor of the Socceroos is the Aussie airline QANTAS. I found its missing U—two of them, in fact—in the next Across answer, JUJITSU (45A: Art developed by ancient samurai). Words with two J's are always welcome in my crossword.
  • 48A: 1962 Lancaster title role is BIRDMAN, which also is the name of a rapper I hadn't heard of.
  • RETRO-CHIC (56A: Dated but popular) is a terrific, fresh answer.
  • I don't know that the clue for 1D: MEDIA BIAS, Slant in columns, is quite right. The right wing talks about a "liberal bias" in the media, in the news sections and not the opinion columns. Isn't a "slant in columns" merely the columnist's opinion and not MEDIA BIAS?
  • There are plenty of things that could fit the clue 2D: Auto feature, but many of those would be boring crossword fill. AM/FM RADIO with its MFMR consonant pile-up is good fill. Are you old enough to remember when cheaper cars had only an AM radio, no FM?
  • What's this? The 14D: "Murphy Brown" house painter was spelled ELDIN and not Eldon? That just seems wrong.
  • You know what I think of when I think of OPIUM dens? (32D: Kind of den.) The Men at Work lyric, "Lying in a den in Bombay / With a slack jaw and not much to say."

  • 34D: Burger cooked like a grilled cheese is the PATTY MELT. Never had it, never will.
  • 35D: Foundation protector (DRAIN TILE). "Listen, honey, after you finish DEGLOSSing the paint in the kitchen, you should really go down and take a look at the DRAIN TILEs."
  • 36D: Guinea pigs (TEST CASES). These are figurative guinea pigs, not literal ones. Good clue/answer combo.
  • 44D: "Stillmatic" rapper (NAS). Rex just bought Nas's Illmatic, which came out in '94; Stillmatic was released in '01.
  • 45D: Red Sox outfielder since 2007 (J.D. DREW). That's the sort of answer I usually like, one with a Scrabbly letter like J, a person's full name, and a crazy pile-up of consonants. But I've never heard of J.D. DREW. Rex is a big Red Sox fan, so he will be aghast at that.
  • 48D: Foot specialists? with a question mark aren't podiatrists or pedicurists. They're BARDS, a.k.a. poets, a.k.a. people who write with meter, as in metrical feet like iambs.
Everything Else — 1A: Clublike weapons (MACES); 6A: Vague (IMPRECISE); 17A: Key of Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" (D FLAT); 19A: E-mail qualifier (IMO); 20A: Jane's "Klute" role (BREE); 22A: Martini & Rossi product (ASTI); 23A: Placed just so (ARRAYED); 25A: Waldenbooks rival (B. DALTON); 28A: Journalist Walters, casually (BABS); 31A: They're often baked (IDAHOS); 33A: Absorbed (LOST); 34A: Salem summer hrs. (PDT); 38A: More gracious (POLITER); 40A: "All bets __ off" (ARE); 41A: Help-wanted request (SOS); 42A: Not shut out of (IN ON); Squabbling (AT IT); 51A: Fake it, in a way (LIPSYNC); 53A: Mil. school (ACAD); 54A: Addams family nickname (TISH); 55A: 1959 hit with the lyric "Fight the fare increase!" (MTA); 60A: "When __ detected, a thousand are suspected": Thomas Paine (ONE IS); 62A: Separate (DISENGAGE); 63A: Cotillion honoree (BELLE); 64A: They may be studded (SNOW TIRES); 65A: Bass-baritone Simon (ESTES); 3D: Test pattern display (COLOR BARS); 4D: Cockpit approx. (ETA); 5D: Save for later use (SET BY); 6D: Obstruct (IMPEDE); 7D: Colt carrier (MARE); 8D: Oslo Accords gp. (PLO); 10D: Band with the 1991 #1 hit "Unbelievable" (EMF); 11D: Lipstick shades (CORALS); 12D: Explanatory phrase (ID EST); 13D: Defunct defense gp. (SEATO); 24D: Guitar wood (ASH); 25D: Reputation stain (BLOT); 27D: Stars in the Forum? (ASTRA); 30D: Inkling (GLINT); 39D: Filet mignon cut (LOIN); 46D: Driving errors (SLICES); 49D: Trap in the chalet (ICE IN); 50D: "Midnight Cowboy" role (RATSO); 52D: Commitment __: modern type with cold feet (PHOBE); 54D: Buster Brown's dog (TIGE); 57D: Windsor home: Abbr. (ONT.); 58D: Special effects technique, briefly (CGI); 59D: Laugh syllable (HAR); 61D: Video game letters (NES).


Ruth said...

Aww, c'mon, Orange--no ripped-abs male model? Here's a chance to strike a blow for "more female-friendly crossword fill" in a MUCH more interesting way than talking about needlework! And you can make your gay male audience happy at the same time! Grump, grump--guess I'll just have to go look up my own!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, c'mon, don't be lazy! :o)

Joon said...

never heard of RED SONJA, but JD DREW made my day. he's a wildly unpopular player for various reasons, but i like him even though i'm not really a red sox fan. also, i just love that his real name is david john drew (sic). he hit a crucial home run in philly last night, and the fans there especially revile him dating back to the 1997 draft. so that was fun.

sweet puzzle! so many great answers (MEDIA BIAS, AM/FM RADIO, J.D. DREW, DOS EQUIS, RETRO-CHIC, JUJITSU, MALE MODEL, QANTAS), and only one (RED SONJA) that had me totally scratching my head. okay, two (ELDIN). still, great puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

Not aware that DREW is widely reviled. I am a Red Sox fan. Obviously I don't care about anything that he did in the N.L., which is the inferior league.

This was my favorite themeless puzzle in recent memory. I'm not sure why DEGLOSS and DRAIN TILE are bad. They are real, and gettable via crosses. And RED SONJA! Let's just say I have a thing for her. She is literally staring at me as I type this. A great, great puzzle, IMHO. ELDIN is how you spell his name. The actor who played him died of apparent drug O.D. in 2004.

Again, LOVE this puzzle.



Well, I needed a little GOOGLE-ASSIST, but I did get through this toughie.

Ripped poser = MALEMODEL. What does "ripped" have to do with males? Never heard of this term.
It must have some gay implication.

Foot specialist? = BARD. Come on, that's a really bad one!
For Whistler's output I tried ART and MOM, thinking of the artist.

Hey, QANTAS is a good one to remember when you're playing Scrabble and you get stuck with the Q and no U. Any other Q words like that? Anyone? Anyone?
Salem summer hours = PDT (34A) threw me, because Illinois has a Salem (CDT) and Massachusetts does too (EDT).

PATTYMELT (34D) is what I get every time I see my friend, Patty.

"Work on galleys" (18A) could have something to do with a ship's kitchen, so right away I was thinking of GRUB or MESS or COOK... then my old high school Print Shop words kicked in. The galley press was a simple press used to test out your type- setting. OMG, that's soooo ancient. I had to laugh the other day when a youngster asked me what I meant by a "typewriter"

Charlie said...

@Johnsneverhome: Qantas apparently is exclusively a proper noun. It's not listed in the OSPD and won't stand up to a challenge.

Consulting my OSPD3, a few "U-less" Q words are: Qat (a shrub), Qanat (a system of underground tunnels and wells in the Middle East), Qindar (Albanian unit of money), Qiviut (musk-ox wool), and Qoph (a Hebrew letter). I also see that Qabala (which I'm guessing is an alternative spelling for the practice of mystical Judaism...) has been added to OSPD4.

Also, "ripped" is colloquial for "lean and muscular" -- not many MALE MODELs out there who don't fit that description.

A nice Saturday offering. With the exception of DRAIN TILE, SW and SE fell pretty easily for me. I was never much of a Murphy Brown fan and I originally went with ELDON which stuck me with VINO for the the Martini & Rossi product. Eventually cleaned that up when ID EST and SEATO fell into place.

Anonymous said...

Lynda RN said
I would love some "ripped" male model to oogle today. Puzzle was hard but fun for me. Mom was helping on the phone and we did finally have to ask for help. She has been watching the Red Sox all week long and couldn't come up with JDDrew as she was looking for only one name. All my family who are big Bosox fans were of no help, so BOO to them.
Would you actually use POLITER in a sentence or would you say MORE POLITE?
Have a great Saturday and see you Monday as we do not get a Sunday paper here is St. Thomas.

Lynda RN

Charles Bogle said...


I am definitely not ready for prime-time

Had to abandon w a little more than half done

Some day...

Karen from the Cape said...

Here's another Massachusetts resident who doesn't follow the Red Sox. But the Revolution is playing soccer tonight, so go Shalrie!

Who is Simon Estes?

I saw REO Speedwagon play a concert in the 90s, after a minor league baseball game. Pretty far down the ladder for concerts.

Orange said...

@Karen: I saw REO Speedwagon at the Chicago Ridge Fest, a local summer festival in a suburb of no particular distinction. Also in the '90s. I think Simon Estes is an opera star.

@Charles: You'll get there!

@Lynda: Just Google "male model" and you will find plenty to ogle! It is POLITER to ogle people online than in person—and yes, I'd use "more polite" too.

@Charlie, @JOHN: The most useful Q word in Scrabble has got to be QI (and its plural, QIS). That's how I play most of my Q tiles in Lexulous (Scrabble knockoff on Facebook).


David Letterman should be POLITER with his jokes about politicians' children. That sentence just doesn't sound right. Shouldn't that be "more polite?"

Charlie said...


ah, yes, QI/QIS, two new additions in OPSD4 that I overlooked. QADI/QADIS are also new.

Wow, almost 3200 words added from v3 to v4. I would invest in a copy if I played more often these days.

mac said...

Pretty tough puzzle, but as usual, since I do it online, I missed a couple of words, such as drain tile, because I go downs first, then acrosses, then fill in. I still find it a very different experience from the paper one.

Here's Nas again! Did you read in the news he is splitting up with his partner?

Lots of new words for me, like Patty melt, drain tiles, EldIn and Red Sonja. So you like redheads, Rex?

Great name for that team from Australia, Socceroos!

Congratulations, Karen, now you need an Avatar. A broom? No, no, not for flying, but for curling.

Wayne said...

I used to look at a puzzle and immediately start with something that caught my eye. My new system is to look over the whole puzzle first and get a "feel" for it. Well, when I did that today, I knew that there would be some major use of Google and Wiki. I was right, but I did get most of the long answers with just a few letters so I felt good about that.

@Orange: I know what you mean about the male models - it's overwhelming how many are on the web. But, feel free to put one up now and then. Guy candy is good for the soul!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain "ID EST" for Explanatory phrase? I bet it's something totally obvious, but I'm totally missing it :(


PuzzleGirl said...

I'm late today. Super busy day. Liked the puzzle. Knew J.D. Drew and believe I've heard tell of some reviling directed at him.

Anon 9:00: Ya know when you see the abbreviation "i.e."? That stands for ID EST, which is Latin for "that is."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Puzzle Girl!! :)

Philadelphia fans HATE J.D. Drew ... he wasted away an entire year in an obscure independent minor league in order to avoid having to sign with the Phillies, the worst team in the National League that year. He is booed loudly still in Philly, even though Philly won the World Series last year. Philly is one tough sports town!

Joon said...

to be fair, he didn't hold out just to avoid playing for the phillies. he held out because they wouldn't shell out the multimillions that his advisor (scott boras) was demanding for his services.