SATURDAY, June 20, 2009—Michael Wiesenberg

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

Just like last Saturday's L.A. Times crossword, this puzzle felt like an easy Friday NYT puzzle—and I had a bottle of Stella before I began the puzzle.

The grid is unusual—if it weren't for the black squares in each corner, this puzzle would have triple stacks of 15-letter answers at the top and bottom. Instead, it's got pairs of 15's with single 13's. I love that last Across answer, TEETER-TOTTERS (61A: They have their ups and downs). It's got the most boring letters in the English language, the sort of letters that often populate the bottom row of a crossword, but we don't see too many 13's in themeless puzzles, and TEETER-TOTTERS have that playground nostalgia cachet.

Crosswordese 101: All right, today we've got two solid three-letter crosswordese words with Asian roots, and they're right next to each other. We'll bypass TET (57D: Vietnamese festival) for now and instead take a gander at EDO (58D: Pre-1868 Tokyo). There's a limited number of ways constructors will point you towards EDO. The clue might be something like Shogun's capital, or just a plain ol' Tokyo, formerly. If this one's new to you, make a note of it because it's definitely going to show up again.

Now, who's ready for some more clues and answers?

  • 14A: 1999 Winona Ryder movie (GIRL, INTERRUPTED). Sure, Winona had the lead role but it was Angelina Jolie who went home with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
  • 18A: Word seen between surnames (NÉE). Seldom seen anymore outside of crosswordland. I wanted to give it the Crosswordese 101 treatment but it was already covered a month ago. It's French for the adjective "born," in the feminine. Way retro.
  • 19A: Partners may form one: Abbr. (LLC). That's a limited liability corporation.
  • 27A: Catalog section (FOR HER). Ooh, I do not care for this answer at all. It might work better as a transgressive six-letter partial answer filling in the blank in the condom tag line, "ribbed ___ pleasure."
  • 30A: RED is a Rare sign? as in a sign of rareness in a slab of beef. (Ick.)
  • 34A: JACK FROST (Nose nipper in a Christmas song) is a terrific answer. The clue seems a little boring, but it's worlds better than cluing this name with reference to that dreadful Michael Keaton movie in which a creepy-looking snowman comes to life.
  • 44A: EARN IT probably doesn't quite reach the bar of "stand-alone phrases that are suitable crossword fill," but I like it anyway because the clue sells it: What you've got to do "if you want my love," in a Temptations song. Never heard the song in my life before now, so let's have a listen:

  • 50A: Double drunk crosswordese! They're usually lit clues SOTS, and I never hear anyone use "lit" to mean drunk or call anyone a "sot."
  • 52A: Fuzzy TV E.T. (ALF). I never watched the show, so my knowledge of it comes from crosswords. It's A.L.F. with periods, which isn't apparent from how it shows up in the grid. ALF ate cats. He was from the planet Melmac, not to be confused with a melamine bowl of mac & cheese.
  • 54A: Kind of butter (APPLE). This is a common cluing convention, this "kind of ___" clue. But APPLE is not any kind of butter. Apple butter is a butter of a sort.There are those who would much rather see a straight-up fill-in-the-blank clue or an entirely different cluing direction than have yet another "kind of ___" clue. Among the old NYT crossword forum crowd, these are called "sea anemone" clues, inspired by SEA clued as "Kind of anemone." I'm not sure if the sea anemone example is real or fictional.
  • 60A: Source of much hard wood? is the PETRIFIED FOREST. Of course, it's not wood anymore. It's mineral deposits that have replaced the wood over the ages. Speaking of geological ages, can you guess 1D: the Epoch in which grazing mammals became widespread? Why, it's the MIOCENE, of course, or, as I like to call it, "that less familiar epoch you get through the crossings."
  • 7D: Kabayaki fish is EEL. (Japanese + fish)/3 letters = EEL. Unless, of course, it's AHI tuna.
  • 21D: Tanner of '70s-'80s tennis (ROSCOE). I can't keep him straight in my head because The Dukes of Hazzard's Rosco P. Coltrane occupies the same mental real estate.
  • 22D: ORSK is a City on the Ural. I always start with OMSK, another Russian city that is four times the size of ORSK.
  • 34D: Island in the Sulu Archipelago clues JOLO. Wow. I like geography and I've been doing crosswords for three decades, but I needed every single crossing to figure this one out. I was thinking Indonesia, but it's the Philippines. It's the site of much unrest, both volcanic and political.

Everything Else — 1A: Much sought-after title object, in a 1930 mystery (MALTESE FALCON); 16A: Italian, e.g. (ROMANCE LANGUAGE); 17A: Desktop array (ICONS); 20A: Barcelona "but" (PERO); 21A: Scholarship-granting mil. program (ROTC); 24A: "Got it" (ROGER); 26A: From Pitts. to Boston (ENE); 29A: Toons Pixie and Dixie, e.g. (MICE); 31A: To be, to Brutus (ESSE); 32A: Morphine, for one (OPIATE); 36A: Altogether (IN TOTO); 39A: P&G Pet Care brand (IAMS); 40A: Flesh-blood link (AND); 43A: Biceps toner (CURL); 46A: Poor mark (DEE); 47A: Prufrock's creator (ELIOT); 49A: French friend (AMIE); 51A: Largest airport in OH (CLE); 55A: Masthead listing (ASSOCIATE EDITOR); 1D: Epoch in which grazing mammals became widespread (MIOCENE); 2D: Well-protected, in a way (ARMORED); 3D: Southwestern plain (LLANO); 4D: Metal containers (TINS); 5D: Letter-bottom abbr. (ENC.); 6D: __-Thérèse, Quebec (STE); 8D: Nice location? (FRANCE); 9D: "Rule, Britannia" composer (ARNE); 10D: German semiautomatic (LUGER); 11D: Intel product, briefly (CPU); 12D: Earache (OTALGIA); 13D: Allow to worsen (NEGLECT); 14D: Malcontent (GRIPER); 15D: Fiat (DECREE); 23D: 1991 Grisham novel (THE FIRM); 25D: Bypass (OMIT); 27D: Accomplishment (FEAT); 28D: Rent splitter (ROOMIE); 33D: "Ahem" cousin (PSST); 35D: Indian princess (RANI); 36D: Polar feature (ICE CAP); 37D: Group with no members, in math (NULL SET); 38D: Port of NE Italy (TRIESTE); 40D: Pet shelter visitor, perhaps (ADOPTER); 41D: Red figure (NET LOSS); 42D: Joshua tree habitat (DESERT); 45D: Erle Stanley Gardner pseudonym (A. A. FAIR); 48D: Understood (TACIT); 50D: Cathedral topper (SPIRE); 53D: Magazine that first published "The Old Man and the Sea" (LIFE); 54D: "A line is __ that went for a walk": Klee (A DOT); 56D: Mt. Hood's state (ORE); 59D: New newt (EFT).


Rex Parker said...

JOLO, MIOCENE, whoa. Very gettable from crosses, though.

As for FOR HER: Booooooo! And ORSK!? There's an OMSK, right? I was staring at FOMHER for a while (and still finished well under 8).


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this puzzle. I thought all of the clues and answers were fair game. Yes, I hear people say the words "lit" and "sot." I have also seen catalogues with sections "For Her" and "For Him."

It was easy, but Rex mentioned yesterday that the LA puzzle seems to be keeping an easier level than the NYT. I do it after the NYT as kind of a treat after the mental gymnastics I go through to get the NYT done.

John said...

15 minutes for a Saturday,instead of the usual 45 mins or so. Those whiners from TMS have dumbed down the solving experience!

Anonymous said...

LIT is an old and commonly used term (perhaps more often in the south) for someone high or drunk, as in "He was really lit last night!" SOT is also heard occasionly, but more often found in printed material. APPLE BUTTER, a fruit spread, jam, dating from our colonial history is still made and sold today. It's delicious, you should try it! Great clue. To be unfamiliar with the useage of these ordinary words must be because of where you grew up.

Sfingi said...

This was easy for a crone like I. No Star Wars refs or young athletes, stars, etc.

gjelizabeth said...

I was charmed by the 54D Klee quote: "A line is a DOT that went for a walk." Now I need to hunt down a child so that I can casually throw it into the conversation.


A very easy puzzle for a Saturday... and Orange you made the apres very enjoyable. How nice to hear something from the Temptations on an early Saturday morning.
I love this saying--- (54D) "A line is DOT that went for a walk."
I didn't know Paul Klee was so funny.
Another chuckle for me... RED(30a)for Rare Sign?
I just returned from the Petrified Forest in Arizona... WOW! So, 60a came to me quite easily. If you've never been to the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest, by all means, put that on your "bucket list."
I kept trying to force INTACT into 36a instead of INTOTO (Altogether).
The hardest words were JOLO (34d), ORSK (22d) [which I tried over and over to make OMSK], and EEL (7d) [never heard of a Kabayaki fish].
I thought using AND (40a) for flesh-blood link was pretty lame, but all-in-all, Michael Wiesenberg did a great job with this "stack" puzzle.
Thanks, ORANGE, for making a beautiful Saturday morning even more pleasant.

Joon said...

anonymous 7:19, orange isn't unfamiliar with apple butter. she's just pointing out (rightly) that "apple" isn't a kind of butter. it's a kind of fruit. apple butter is a kind of butter.

JOLO was pretty whoa, as was PERO. luckily i knew MIOCENE (once i had the M). and i actually liked FOR HER (though orange's clue would have been funnier, not that we'll ever see that clue in a newspaper puzzle in a million zillion years). overall, very nice puzzle. the triple-stacks are pulled off with a minimum of concomitant crappy fill.

Crockett1947 said...

If one does genealogy research, NEE is commonly found in obituaries to indicate maiden names. It's a bonus to see it, actually.

Gary Lowe said...

Apple Butter is a kind of fruit preserve, according to wiki. So not only is "apple" not a kind of "butter", "apple butter" is not a kind of "butter" - any more than "road" is a kind of "apple", or "road apple" is a kind of apple.

Charlie said...

Easy Saturday offering indeed. I suspected MALTESE FALCON right off the bat and easily confirmed with crosses and it flowed pretty easily from there.

I too fell into the Omsk sinkhole. ORSK -- who knew?

@Orange, lol "ribbed FOR HER pleasure." That's a clue I'd definitely expect in The Onion. LAT? No.

Charles Bogle said...

@orange, thank you for the crosswordese 101...very helpful-

i"m w @gjelizabeth and @johnsneverhome in appreciating very much the Klee quote. And w @Rex on: JOLO?

Fortunately, I knew the later John Huston movie was a remake, and I got the Ryder movie. So the top half came in fairly decent order

Struggled more w the lower half, almost calling out for some OPIATE aid...finally cracked things open w NETLOSS (like rare sign?, very cleverly-clued)

LLC threw me off a bit. Mostly, "partners" form LLPs. I'll spare you all the legal ESE niceties!

Happy Father's Day to all (except FOR HER--boooo to that answer)

mac said...

Nice, nice puzzle to restore my confidence after the drubbing at the NYT this morning, and Orange, you are in great form!

Alf eats cats? How awful.

If you have a Dutch foodstore in your area, try their apple butter (appelstroop). It's dark and very, very tart, delicious! There are some great mailorder companies around, one of them "A Taste of Holland" in Norwalk, CT.

I am/have an LLC all by myself.

JaJaJoe said...

Not topping Orange's "ribbing" nor GLowe's "road apples" ruminations, at one point for 27A Catalog section I had FATHER. Then -- seeing that as "FAT/HER" -- thought it a plausible "stretch" for well-endowed women.-/

Oh well, tomorrow this father's lead dot will have went on a walk on another puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Lit was used in Chicago in the late 60s, early 70s to mean intoxicated. The only place I ever hear it anymore is actually in the NYT puzzles, as Wil is of that era and frequently clues it. Rex would have had it from there.

PuzzleGirl said...

Raising hand for OMSK. No energy to say any more. Used it all on the NYT today. I'm whooped.

Wayne said...

@Orange - Loved your "for her" pleasure. The constructor deserved that for having used "For Her" as part of a catalog. They may have used those headings in the 50's but it sounds very dated to me.

I got Maltese Falcon instantly and that surprised even me. Maybe I'm getting better at this. Hope so.

I had a funny thing happen to me once regarding apple butter. A friend of mine knew that I was allergic to dairy products so when I bought some apple butter he said, "I don't think you can have that, it's got butter in it!"

Anonymous said...

too easy

Michael Wiesenberg said...

ALF is an acronym: Alien Life Form.