SATURDAY, August 8, 2009—Gail Grabowski

THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle

Hello! I'm back! This is the first L.A. Times crossword I've done all week, and I got home too late last night to blog it. Sorry if you're an early bird and you've been waiting this morning.

Crosswordese 101: AGORA is a classic five-letter crosswordese entry. Three vowels alternating with consonants? That's crosswordese gold! It's an old Greek word for a "public open space used for assemblies and markets." Today it's clued as a View from the Acropolis (49A). I do wield some crosswordese words in my daily conversation, but this one's not one of them. I'm tempted, though, to call Chicago's Daley Plaza an AGORA.

Here are my favorite answers and clues:
  • 1A: Village People classic (MACHO MAN). I think I've posted this video before but hey, it's worth another look:

  • 15A: Latin-American pastry (EMPANADA). I've never had one.
  • 16A: Simple life? (AMOEBA). What's simpler than a single-celled organism? Real Simple magazine should feature amoebae more often.
  • 23A: Focus group? (CAMERA CREW). Great answer, but the clue didn't do it for me.
  • 36A: Washington address (MISTER PRESIDENT). Hey! I was just in Washington, but I didn't bring a birthday present for Pres. Obama. I didn't even sing for him.

  • 59A: "Freestyle" performer, perhaps (RAPPER). I wonder how many solvers thought this clue was about swimming.
  • 12D: Figures out (GETS WISE TO). Good verb phrase. Are you getting wise to the crossword because you read this blog regularly?
  • 33D: Half an incomparable mixture (APPLES). The other half is oranges, and we Oranges hate to be compared to apples. It mustn't be done.
  • 58D: Bug-loving org. (NSA). As in the National Security Agency. Hey, don't miss the International Spy Museum next time you visit D.C. Fun for kids and adults alike.

Some of the other answers in this puzzle were on the dry side, the sort of words that are legitimate crossword fill but that people don't much use. For example: UNSET (22A: Up in the air), NOTER (41A: One with a pad, perhaps), RUER (37D: Hand wringer), DYE VAT (45D: Textile factory fixture), TRA LA (48D: Lilting refrain), and the awkward plural ERS (56D: Sounds from the stumped). For that last one, I'd have clued it with reference to emergency rooms, because we do talk about those in the plural, more so than things like "um" and "er."

PuzzleGirl will take care of you tomorrow, and I'll be back Monday when Rex is traveling.

Everything Else — 1A: Village People classic (MACHO MAN); 9A: Locale of a Stephen King residence (BANGOR); 15A: Latin-American pastry (EMPANADA); 16A: Simple life? (AMOEBA); 17A: Visited overnight (STAYED AT); 18A: One might excite a gambler (HOT TIP); 19A: Hinny's mother (ASS); 20A: Site of Europe's Parkpop festival, with "The" (HAGUE); 22A: Up in the air (UNSET); 23A: Focus group? (CAMERA CREW); 25A: Apollo's nymph (DAPHNE); 28A: Reminiscing word (AGO); 29A: Not localized (WIDE); 32A: Beginning of a response to "Eh?" (I SAID); 33A: Stand for (ALLOW); 35A: It's often blocked on beaches (SUN); 36A: Washington address (MISTER PRESIDENT); 39A: Seasonal hrs. (EDT); 40A: Takes in (DUPES); 41A: One with a pad, perhaps (NOTER); 42A: They may be rough (SEAS); 44A: 1994 U.S. Open champ (ELS); 45A: Kick out (DEPOSE); 46A: Movie nerd, e.g. (STEREOTYPE); 49A: View from the Acropolis (AGORA); 51A: Less ambiguous (SURER); 52A: "We don't know yet," on skeds (TBA); 55A: Carnival ride? (CRUISE); 57A: Starving (RAVENOUS); 59A: "Freestyle" performer, perhaps (RAPPER); 60A: Some required reading (CLASSICS); 61A: Pacers and Rangers (EDSELS); 62A: Reacts to being 57-Across (EATS A LOT); 1D: Formation with walls (MESA); 2D: Balances, e.g.: Abbr. (AMTS.); 3D: Bk. reviewers? (CPAS); 4D: It's cut and dried (HAY); 5D: Like a diving catch (ONE-HANDED); 6D: Title for Dickens's Defarge (MADAME); 7D: Byword (ADAGE); 8D: Timber, for one (NATURAL RESOURCE); 9D: Cross word (BAH); 10D: Illicit affair (AMOUR); 11D: Unsurprising (NOT NEW); 12D: Figures out (GETS WISE TO); 13D: Award for "Hot L Baltimore" (OBIE); 14D: Engaged, in a way (RAPT); 21D: Some U.S. Open scores (EAGLES); 23D: Receipt (CHIT); 24D: __ Bay, largest Oregon Coast city (COOS); 25D: Symbols of thinness (DIMES); 26D: Where all kidding occurs? (ASIDE); 27D: Some Campbell's creations (PASTA SOUPS); 30D: Kara Kum features (DUNES); 31D: Between, in Brest (ENTRE); 33D: Half an incomparable mixture (APPLES); 34D: Gallo gadget (WINE PRESS); 37D: Hand wringer (RUER); 38D: Knucklehead (DOPE); 43D: ATM card feature (STRIPE); 45D: Textile factory fixture (DYE VAT); 47D: Means of support (EASEL); 48D: Lilting refrain (TRA-LA); 49D: Parcel unit (ACRE); 50D: Scholarship drive donor (GRAD); 52D: One of Churchill's four offerings (TOIL); 53D: Osso __ (BUCO); 54D: Short staffer? (ASST.); 56D: Sounds from the stumped (ERS); 58D: Bug-loving org. (NSA).


Anonymous said...

The SW corner was a killer for me, even after getting PASTASOUPS and CRUISE. Also thought swimmer or skater instead of RAPPER (didn't know they could be "freestyle"), and thinking sports teams hung me up on EDSELS. Liked RAVENOUS followed by EATSALOT. Question - Is 10d "illicit affair" AMOUR? My guess, probably not. Glad to see you comments ORANGE!

Karen from the Cape said...

SW got me too. I had freestyle skater, then jumper (ie a ski jumper) which was closer. Plus I had alum instead of grad.

shrub5 said...

I thought this puzzle was entertaining --many exclamations of aha! or woo-hoo! as I plugged along. In addition to the fun factor, I am pleased to report no googling or errors.

Some things were slow to fall e.g., STEREOTYPE. I even had STEREO____ and couldn't see it. I was focused on the "movie" part of the clue and didn't see the forest for the tree(s).

Like @Orange, I got a kick out of AMOEBA and the incomparable APPLES. And I liked the clues for ASIDE and ONEHANDED (on this one, I was thinking of, say, abalone as a diving catch.)

I hesitated at 53D) Osso ____ because I have always seen it spelled BUCCO. I wondered if there was another "bone" dish starting with Osso, but the crosses eventually yielded BUCO.

I had CAMERAclub before CREW, aloft before UNSET, dolt before DOPE and atit (i.e., at it ☺) before RAPT.

Props to Gail G and, as always, to Orange for providing a pleasant diversion this Sat AM.

gjelizabeth said...

This was a stumper from start to finish. I had only a handful of entries when my gentleman friend came in to the breakfast room and turned on the radio. I can do the puzzles through Weds. with background voices but late week puzzles need quiet so I retreated to the computer room and started googling. It still took a hammer and a chisel and I'd have used a WINEPRESS and DYEVAT if I had them. I finished the puzzle here and there was much today to learn. Googling is fun if I actually read the Wikipedia articles. I learn stuff I would otherwise never know and today I saw a really cool picture of a sparkling white and aqua Edsel. By the way, Orange, if you've ever eaten a Cornish Pasty or any other kind of meat-turnover you've essentially eaten an empanada.

Anonymous said...

Just okay for a Saturday as there have been much better LAT ones as of late. No real AHA moments and some pretty bland fill and cluing. A decent puzzle, but it left me wanting more.

PurpleGuy said...

Like @Karen from the Cape, I also had ALUM in the SW corner, so that was a complete roadblock for me. Had to come here for the answers. First time ever had to do that.
Can't say I really cared for the puzzle. It didn't entertain me in any way.

Good writeup, Orange. Glad you're back !

Sfingi said...

The beauty of not knowing sports - I knew 59A rapper!

Found the 2-word expressions very difficult.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you posted that clip of Marilyn Monroe. She was used. She deserved better.

PuzzleGirl said...

Fun puzzle today and it's great to have Orange back!! Even though I can't believe she's never had an EMPANADA.

Oh, and swimming or skating for "freestyle"? Um, I was thinking wrestling. (of course)

Foolton said...

edsels!? wtf?

Anonymous said...

Today's puzzle was extremely difficult for me. I couldn't get going and even googling wasn't helping. Perhaps it was the lack of a theme.
I also got hung up on rapper, thinking only of freestyle swims. I still do not understand edsels, and unset.

Anonymous said...

Ford Edsel it's a make of car.

Before a done deal is made, it's unset.

I most enjoyed the clue, book reviewer/CPA.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, ORANGE! I am learning so much from this blog. I enjoy the LA puzzles a lot.

I love seeing Marilyn Monroe -- she was a dear and special celebrity.

I do recommend that you try an empanada! I was hoping for Dulce La Leche!!

Jan said...

Had a hard time getting started and the SW corner was awful! I had alum instead of grad, NFLers instead of Edsels, kept thinking parcel unit had something to do with a package... but eventually finished the whole thing without Googling - proud of myself but it sure took a lot of thinking!

Still don't understand "cruise"for "Carnival ride"??

Anonymous said...

Jan, Carnival is a cruise line promoted by Kathy Lee Gifford.


This one was a doozy !
NE was impossible for me, and I had to finally look at the answers... when I'm forced to do this I feel defeated, but today is Sunday and things are looking up with today's puzzles.

I too had CAMERACLUB instead of CAMERACREW.

The word-of-the-day for me was 30d DUNES for "Kara Kum features".
Had to look that up on Wikipedia.
I love to learn about strange places on this planet.

I agree with PG, it's one thing to learn about useful words, but it's quite another thing when there are words that are never used in the English Language, like NOTER or RUER. These are only found in crosword puzzles and are "lazy" fill words that constructors use. I know they are often necessary to make a puzzle work, but they sure don't enhance our vocabulary. An outstanding puzzle is one which uses very few of these. IMO, this puzzle didn't make the grade.

Anonymous said...

A ho-hum puzzle, nothing really sparkled for me in this one. I just wondered about 17A, with the answer "stayed at." Why would this visit be only overnight? Why not two nights? Or three? Perhaps I'm an inconsiderate houseguest and overstay my welcomes?