SATURDAY, July 18, 2009—Doug Peterson

THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle with some cool fill

My goodness, does the upper left corner of this puzzle ever stink. I'm surprised some pungent garlic or garbage dump phrases didn't find their way in, amid HOG HEAVEN (1A: Blissful state, slangily) and an ONION DOME (15A: Russian Orthodox church feature). Pee-yoo! Nothing else made me hold my nose, though. And much of it had a pleasant aroma—figuratively speaking.

Up first, today's tutorial:

Crosswordese 101: NESS doesn't usually get a clue like 9D: Headland. The straight-up little-n ness is a noun meaning "a headland or promontory," so if either of those clues show up, picture The Untouchables' Eliot Ness or the Loch Ness monster hanging out on a promontory in order to remember this humble little word. What's a promontory? That's "a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water; a headland." Capone nemesis and Legendary loch are more typical clues, but every so often, the editors and constructors are in a promontory mood.

Favorite answers and clues: We've got 14 long answers of 8 to 15 letters apiece, and many of them rock. So do some of the short answers.
  • 18A. Bullock's "Miss Congeniality" costar is Benjamin BRATT. He was hot in Law & Order, though his character's main purpose was not to be eye candy for me. No, he was there to be the foil for Lennie Briscoe's wry one-liners. Lennie, the guy in the YouTube freeze frame below, is my all-time favorite L&O character (and he was played by Jerry Orbach, the father of my 7/5 NYT crossword co-constructor, Tony Orbach). You see BRATT in the very first frame of this video:

  • 35A: Control tower concerns (TRAFFIC PATTERNS). A solid 15.
  • 46A: Coconut's place (GROVE). Isn't that a Van Halen cover song?
  • 60A: Surfing equipment? (DSL MODEMS). I guessed this one off the S at the end of 8-Down.
  • 2D: Handling the task (ON IT). This looks like a horrible little two-word answer, but I like it. "Who's blogging the puzzle today?" "I'm ON IT."
  • 8D: Antarctic denizens (EMPEROR PENGUINS). Who doesn't love penguins? Except for the evil penguin in the Wallace and Gromit short, The Wrong Trousers. Jeeze, that penguin creeps me out.
  • 10D: First "America's Funniest Home Videos" host (BOB SAGET). I don't know any family with kids that doesn't love this show—but with Tom Bergeron as host. Bob Saget stinks worse than hogs and onions.
  • 12D: Critical 1942-43 battle site (STALINGRAD). Wow, that takes nerve, doesn't it? Josef Stalin ascended to power in the Soviet Union in 1922, and within three years he had renamed Tsaritsyn after himself. "Orangeburg." "Reynaldo City." "Amystadt."
  • 25D: Jotting medium (SCRAP PAPER). You know what else fits this clue and the first three letters? SCRATCH PAD. Anyone else start out with that wrong answer? No? Just me?
  • 26D: Dean Martin classic (THAT'S AMORE). "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore..." Aw, I want to hear that song now:

  • 49D: Kind of fax (JUNK). Not wild about the clue—because "junk" is not a "kind of fax." A "junk fax" is a "kind of fax." But JUNK is a great word that's been with us since the Middle English days.
  • 50D: Sudoku feature (GRID). I don't mind wasting some time with sudoku, but that newer Ken-ken/Calcu-doku puzzle just doesn't captivate me.

Everything Else — 10A: Tack together (BASTE); 16A: Habitually (OFTEN); 17A: They're usually not on itineraries (SIDETRIPS); 19A: French hagiological abbr. (STE.); 20A: Events on a card (RACES); 21A: Jam highlights (SOLOS); 22A: Doctor finder (PAGER); 23A: Yacht site (BASIN); 24A: Fuji setting (F-STOP); 27A: Master: Abbr. (ORIG.); 29A: FDR program (NRA); 31A: Steadily fading sound (ECHO); 32A: French police detective unit (SURETE); 34A: Elongated fish (GAR); 38A: Dig into (EAT); 39A: Fictional Queen (ELLERY); 40A: Vacación destination (LAGO); 41A: MLB rally killers (DPS); 42A: Logician Turing (ALAN); 43A: Not recent (OLDEN); 44A: Fencer's defense (PARRY); 49A: Jazz pianist Ahmad __ (JAMAL); 50A: Handbook, e.g. (GUIDE); 51A: Ft. Worth campus (TCU); 54A: Winning, barely (UP ONE); 55A: A paddlewheel may propel one (RIVERBOAT); 57A: Drips (NERDS); 58A: Like sound frequencies above 20 kHz or so, to humans (INAUDIBLE); 59A: Beatnik of '50s-'60s TV (KREBS); 1D: Eric Cartwright's nickname on "Bonanza" (HOSS); 3D: French Nobelist André (GIDE); 4D: Row starter (HOE); 5D: Rope in (ENTRAP); 6D: "Kind of __": 1967 hit (A DRAG); 7D: Music school major (VOICE); 11D: Puffy styles (AFROS); 13D: It's part of the Rockies (TETON RANGE); 14D: Treebeard's kin (ENTS); 22D: Vanishing word (POOF); 23D: Wee (BITTY); 24D: Honored with a party (FETED); 28D: Bottom (REAR); 30D: Illicit ignition (ARSON); 32D: Lacking gravity (SILLY); 33D: First to win 100 NCAA team championships (UCLA); 36D: Unflinching (FEARLESS); 37D: Magazine with the column "Ask E. Jean" (ELLE); 43D: Go too far (OVERDO); 45D: Soul predecessor (R AND B); 47D: Romantic triangle figure (RIVAL); 48D: Recital hall (ODEUM); 51D: Soliloquy opener (TO BE); 52D: 0 on the Beaufort scale (CALM); 53D: Chief Ouray's people (UTES); 56D: Opposite of ask (BID).


Anonymous said...

enjoyable puzzle. just enough challenge to make it interesting.

John said...

(Raise Hand) I had SCRATCHPAD also and it drove me nuts for a while!

KREBS also was a problem because I spelled it with a C. And somehow I couldn't bring myself to write it in!

Allin All, a very enjoyable solve.

Rex Parker said...

"[...] If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee."

That is your Donne for the Day.

This was the toughest LAT puzzle I've done in a long while. That is not a bad thing.


Rex Parker said...

P.S. SURETE??? Not even a mention?

Eric said...

Ness eluded me even after I knew all the crosses were correct. Thanks Orange for the Loch and Eliott references to remember by. Missed it even though I watched the Scottish Open from Loch Ness last week.
Agree with Rex; Surete doesn't rank a mention.
This was a good challenging puzzle for me although nothing close to today's NYT as I started really well as soon as I realized Empire Penguins did not fit and that the answer was Emperor.
Thanks for the quote Rex. I'm all Donne - Over and out.

Eric said...

PS. Punctuation issue. Should have been: Surete?
PPS. As PG says, these blogs are an incredible chore to get out every day and on time. Please support PG, Orange and Rex with commentary to let them know that the effort is appreciated. I'm sure even just a short thank you to increase the traffic even if you have no insightful commentary on the puzzle would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

This was easier than Friday's puzzle.

America's Funniest videos? Bob Saget, ugh, bile rising.

It's Tom Bergeron all the way.

All the others, way cool!

Anonymous said...

more difficult than other LA Saturday's, imho. That's not a bad thing, though. :o)

imsdave said...

Anonomi - come out of the closet and join the party! Very solid Doug P. puzzle today. I wish ACME were here so she could name this phenonmenon. Got an email yesterday from our soon to be here exchange student, explaining that she is afraid of birds (except pinginns - sic). I had EMPER and the answer was right there, thinking of her note. 10 minutes and a very enjoyable solve.

Kudos to Mr. Peterson.

Anonymous said...

Cool bit of trivia about Jerry Orbach being Tony's dad. I never even thought about the connection. Lenny was my favorite L & O character as well, and is definitely missed. What a great actor !

Unfortunately, the writeup was the most enjoyable part of my Saturday LAT solving experience. I was excited when I saw Doug was the constructor, but I found it was rather ho-hum. Very easy for a Saturday too, so maybe that was part of the reason why this puzzle didn't do much for me. Oh well it happens.

gjelizabeth said...

Yep, had SCRAtchPad and a terrible time in the lower left corner. Can someone explain why ORIG is an abbreviation for Master (27A)? I got the letters from crosses but can't understand the connection.
@ Eric: I have a blog-ignorant question. How does "increasing traffic" to a blog work and how does it matter?

Orange said...

If a site doesn't have ad revenue, then higher traffic serves only to boost the egos of the bloggers. But what would be better than writing a comment if you really don't have anything to add (though how often does one really have nothing to say?) is sending other people to the site, people who might never know about the site unless you tip them off. If you know people who do this crossword, let them know there's a place to hang out and talk about it.

And of course, bloggers seldom tire of hearing how clever they are! All three of us here do like attention.

Elizabeth, the original recording of a song is called the master.

Anyone who finds this puzzle to be too easy should take a gander at what Doug Peterson can do when he wants to be tough. Go here to solve online or print out the July 18 PDF of Doug's Newsday "Saturday Stumper." It took me more than three times as long as his L.A. Times puzzle!

PuzzleGirl said...

Oh man! I wondered why I couldn't get that SW corner to fall. I wasn't even looking for an alternative to SCRATCH PAD.

I have a document on my computer that contains my favorite Lennie Briscoe lines. Because I'm just that much of a nerd. Here's a fave: "Ya know, Mike, if I didn't already know you don't have kids, I'd know you don't have kids."

Probably the hardest I've ever laughed in my life was when I saw Bob Saget in "The Aristocrats." Absolutely filthy. Absolutely hilarious.

Orange, I can't believe that Saturday Stumper took you 3x as long as the LAT. His Saturday Stumpers generally take me months. And, sadly, I'm not kidding. Sigh.

shrub5 said...

@Orange: Thanks for the Dean Martin video. And, I've always been curious about "pasta fazool" in the next line after pizza pie. Can chefbea, chefwen, foodie, anyone? shed light on this dish?

@gjelizabeth: I took the 27A) Master clue to mean the ORIGinal piece of paper that copies were made from. I guess I was thinking from a secretarial viewpoint rather than a musical viewpoint ala Orange!

I whipped through this puzzle fairly quickly but stumbled about in the SE corner by thinking the Beaufort scale had to do with the hotness of chile peppers, so I put MILD. With _MU for Ft. Worth campus, I semi-confidently entered SMU. Close, but...wrong. The chile hotness scale is Scoville and SMU's main campus is in Dallas. Adding more mess to this corner, I had LOVER before correcting it to RIVAL for the romantic triangle figure.

I enjoyed many of the clues esp Winning, barely for UPONE and MLB rally killer for DPS (took me a minute to realize double plays). Steadily fading sound is a neat clue for ECHO.

My last comment is re 57A) Drips = NERDS. I've seen this word come up in several puzzles and with the school bullying problem, I just wish it would go away.

Anonymous said...

When... a... slimy green eel
Wraps you from head to heel
That's a moray...

Anonymous said...

Heck, I first had sketchbook and emperialpenguin, and thought the Beaufort was the hardness scale and put down talc. Maybe it was those Irish Manhattens ...

Anyway, you guys are great. And Dino was a welcome sight.

embien said...

SCRATCH PAD? Yeah, I did that. I also did STEAM BOAT where RIVER BOAT belonged, BOUTS instead of RACES, EEL instead of GAR, ISLA instead of LAGO (which made the crossing magazine become TIME). Oh. My. Doug Peterson pressing all my wrong buttons!

"Pasta Fazool" in the song is the New York/New Jersey bastardization of Pasta Fagiole. There are a bunch of others, like "Mootzarell" instead of "Mahtsarella". American Italian, I guess. Wasn't this discussed last time "pasta fazool" came up in a NY Times puzzle?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Overall cluing is spot-on: economical and fair. I can't remember the last time I didn't say "get real" at least once or twice in solving.

I got ELLERY from the crosses, and was nearly done before I realized it wasn't Queen Ellery of Zqork, but the other one.

shrub5 said...

@anonymous @ 11:20am LOL !!! Love it!

I agree with @imsdave re anonymous folks. Go to Blogger and get yourself an identity. Most of the time y'all have great stuff to add to the conversation. You can selectively choose to use anonymous when "necessary."

PurpleGuy said...

I'm also raising my hand for SCRATCHPAD.
I also thought "gravity" was referring to the scientific term.Hence, SILLY and SURETE were the
last to fall.
Thank you Orange for a fabulous write up. I always enjoy coming here to compare my feelings with others.Don't always comment, but now I will at
least give you, Rex and Puzzle Girl a hand for doing such a great job.
Please keep it up !

Caddie said...

I don't really have anything to say, but I wanted to note how clever the bloggers are. :)
Seriously, with the diluted difficulty of the LAT puzzles these days, the write-ups are always my favorite part. I didn't find this much harder than what the typical LAT Saturday has become. In fact, I was blitzing through it (by my standards) except for the NE corner, where I wanted the Rockies clue to be something-Grande. Also, with my keen grasp of popular culture, I thought that Saget guy's first name was Pat.

Joon said...

the bloggers really are very clever, all of them.

i had SCRATCH PAD, sho' nuff, but DPS set me straight, and THAT'S AMORE came through right away, but it still took me about a minute and a half to work out the SW corner, by far my slowest part of this puzzle. not loving the JUNK clue at all. a JUNK is a kind of boat. and ... KREBS? the only KREBS i know is the scientist who discovered the citric acid cycle. 1950s-60s TV? you might as well leave the clue blank. {Drips} for NERDS feels like an even more dated clue, if that's even possible. finally had to guess RANDB to crack it, which only happened after i stopped trying to think of words that formed an expression with "soul."

my only other cluing complaint is that A DRAG is a perfectly good (better than that, actually) standalone crossword entry, and seeing it clued as a partial was, frankly, A DRAG for me.

still, an enjoyable puzzle with some very good stuff. i had no idea that BOB SAGET had been replaced on AFHV. he wasn't funny at all, so that's probably for the best.

mac said...

This was a good LAT Saturday, and a very good write-up! I think we have had the Ellery/Queen connection another time in the last couple of weeks.

Amazing to hear about Jerry Orbach and Tony Orbach's connection when just yesterday I was told about a taxi-related program that Tony and son were involved with!

@Rex: Yes, no man is an island!
It's amazing how Donne's lines are so pleasing to the ear, no matter how many times you hear them.

Gary Lowe said...

Test. I've got 2 "anon" posts when I didn't mean to. It's prolly me, but I thought I'd check.

Denise said...

Scratch pad!

Saw a Broadway play today -- it is RARE when the actor has not appeared in "Law & Order." Loved seeing the old gang.

When duplicates were made from mimeo, the original was the master -- and for xeroxing, ditto.

Thanks for Dino.

Sfingi said...

Embien (my exact cohort) is correct on fagiole (bean).
Fazool is of the Southern accents - the Napolitan' to be exact. Most Ital-Ams are from Southern poverty. Don't trust anyone who says they're Italian royalty. Why would they leave?
Pasta fagiole is made with cannellini beans and dittalini pasta (a shape) only. Rachel Ray knows. She's part Sicilian.

The Hans Krebs cycle is the reason why one doesn't lose weight by eating only one type of food. Maynard Krebs was a poor excuse for a beatnik (precursor of hippie)created by tv.

Saw Jerry Orbach in the '60s in a summer theater in Massena NY in the Fantasticks. I didn't like it because of the Rape Song upset me.

I won't tell a living soul how long it took me to do this xword.

housemouse said...

This puzzle is OK if you have access to Google. Does the Tribune company have some sort of financial interest in Google? Otherwise, why so much obscure (and unimportant) trivia? How about testing vocabulary instead of one's ability to Google trivia?

Gary Lowe said...

Here, here! I'm in for the well-known and meaningful trivia as well! I have a quadrant where STARSKY crosses HUTCH and HUGGYBEAR, can't get a sniff.

I wonder if its the REEELERS = "Memo heading to congers" that's holding it up ...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I put "scratchpad" as my first answer to 25 down, knowing I had to be right on the money but then realized I was in trouble with "Krebs" in 59 across. I still like "scratchpad' better, probably because I associate jotting with pads, not paper.

Soozy said...

I too put down Scratchpad.

And a comment on the Surete clue, which should actually be Surété--I live in Paris, and have read that word a million times on police uniforms, but only managed to fill in the clue based on the crosses. I speak fluent French and have never heard anybody refer to the police here using that term. Kind of a stretch, I feel.

As a newbie I also want to say thanks to the bloggers; I can't wait to have my crossword speed improve with all your fun tips and anecdotes!