SATURDAY, November 7, 2009—Bob Peoples

THEME: No theme today—This is a themeless Saturday puzzle, a.k.a. "freestyle" crossword

If you've been fairly consistent with your Saturday solving experiences lately, you might have struggled a bit more with this one. It's maybe 30% harder than last week's. Still not as tough as a themeless NYT crossword, but more challenging than the last couple months' Saturday LATs have been.

Last week I told you I prefer grids with four quadrants of stacked long answers. I tend to enjoy the puzzles packed with 7s a bit less, as you get more plain words and less in the way of lively phrases, names, and conversational language. This puzzle mostly left me cold, though I enjoyed the retro '90s oomph of 42D: EUROPOP clued as Ace of Base genre. A few of the answers crossing it are just insane, though:
  • 41A: Tiny white ovum (ANT EGG). Uh, ick.
  • 48A: Iberian river (DOURO). Okay, I have been paying attention to our Crosswordese Rivers of Europe my whole life, and this one? Is not ringing a bell.
  • 52A: Noilly __: vermouth brand (PRAT). Pratfall, yes. Noilly Prat? Not ringing a bell.
Other unusual inclusions:
  • 15A: Bridge bid, briefly (THREE NO). Three? No. What? I've seen ONENO as desperation fill in other crosswords, but now THREENO is taking up even more space. Is this totally legit bridge-speak or desperation fill?
  • 17A: Old Meccan governors (SHARIFS). If you're in my generation, you know SHARIF from The Clash's "Rock the Casbah" perhaps even more than via Omar Sharif. Omar would know THREE NO, wouldn't he?

  • 32A: Shrub with clusters of blue flowers (HYSSOP). A much prettier word than anything that sounds like "hiccup" has a right to be.
  • 4D: Three times, in Rx's (TER). Meh. Doctors never write this on a prescription. They'll write tid, short for ter in die, Latin for "three times a day." But they're just not going to spell out TER.
Okay, edjumication time!

Crosswordese 101: At a recent American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, a lot of people got stung by not knowing AMIS, which is clued today as 11D: "The Rachel Papers" novelist Martin but can also be Martin's dad Kingsley AMIS, the novelist who wrote Lucky Jim, as well as the French plural meaning "friends." Martin's other books include Time's Arrow, London Fields, and Money. French-skewing clues have included French friends; Porthos and Athos, e.g.; Pierre's pals; Brest buddies; and any other alliterative equivalent for "French friends."

And now, for the juicy stuff:
  • 1A: Treat for tired dogs? (FOOT RUB). Ooh, yes. I will take two, please.
  • 2D: Candy bar with an exclamation point in its name (OH HENRY!). Anyone see these over Halloween? I didn't.
  • 3D: Fruits used in making Grand Marnier (ORANGES). Oh, hello! We are here, we Oranges.
  • 21D: "I wouldn't do that just yet" ("NOT SO FAST")/37D: "For sure!" ("OF COURSE!"). Ah, yes, the puzzle is talking to us. Always fun.
I'll be back Wednesday. PuzzleGirl's got your back on the Sunday puzzles, both the syndicated one edited by Rich Norris and the Calendar puzzle by alternating constructors, Sylvia Bursztyn and Merl Reagle.

Everything Else — 1A: Treat for tired dogs? (FOOT RUB); 8A: Snake oil, so it's said (PANACEA); 15A: Bridge bid, briefly (THREE NO); 16A: Fauna (ANIMALS); 17A: Old Meccan governors (SHARIFS); 18A: Swift specialties (SATIRES); 19A: Gents (MEN); 20A: "Real breakfast 24/7" restaurant chain (DENNY'S); 22A: Ventura County's __ Valley (SIMI); 23A: Actress Swenson (INGA); 25A: God of Spain (DIOS); 26A: More than just ask (BEG); 27A: Head lock (TRESS); 29A: "__ boy!" (ATTA); 31A: City on the Rhine (BONN); 32A: Shrub with clusters of blue flowers (HYSSOP); 34A: Betrayals (SELLOUTS); 36A: Hotel amenity for business travelers (IN-ROOM FAX); 38A: Delete (CROSS OFF); 41A: Tiny white ovum (ANT EGG); 45A: Musical set in Manhattan's East Village (RENT); 46A: Armstrong singing style (SCAT); 48A: Iberian river (DOURO); 49A: Stock suffix (-ADE); 50A: Agcy. that conducts workplace inspections (OSHA); 52A: Noilly __: vermouth brand (PRAT); 53A: Defect (FLAW); 55A: Private pupils (TUTEES); 57A: Artist who funded Manhattan's Strawberry Fields memorial (ONO); 58A: Reminder file (TICKLER); 60A: Ale seller (BREW PUB); 62A: Menu courses (ENTREES); 63A: Ventilation source (AIRHOLE); 64A: Can't stand (DESPISE); 65A: Did over on a Selectric, say (RETYPED); 1D: Ark. city that began as a military post (FT. SMITH); 2D: Candy bar with an exclamation point in its name (OH HENRY!); 3D: Fruits used in making Grand Marnier (ORANGES); 4D: Three times, in Rx's (TER); 5D: Senate Majority Leader Harry (REID); 6D: Ravenous, probably (UNFED); 7D: Sarajevo's region (BOSNIA); 8D: Lineup announcement medium, briefly (PA SYSTEM); 9D: Santa __: West Coast winds (ANAS); 10D: Trivial point (NIT); 11D: "The Rachel Papers" novelist Martin (AMIS); 12D: Arctic deer (CARIBOU); 13D: Nitrogen or oxygen (ELEMENT); 14D: Transfers, as legal rights (ASSIGNS); 21D: "I wouldn't do that just yet" ("NOT SO FAST"); 24D: Fielder's stat (ASSIST); 28D: Boys, to men (SONS); 30D: Italian sports car, briefly (ALFA); 31D: Old-fashioned proof of purchase (BOX TOP); 33D: Aces (PROS); 35D: Crow's nest sighting (LAND); 37D: "For sure!" ("OF COURSE!"); 38D: Skillfully made (CRAFTED); 39D: Deletion indicator (RED LINE); 40D: Plays without intermissions (ONE-ACTS); 42D: Ace of Base genre (EUROPOP); 43D: Bit of grit (GRANULE); 44D: Retire, but not permanently (GO TO BED); 47D: Legal profession (THE BAR); 51D: Raptor's home (AERIE); 54D: Cincinnati sitcom station (WKRP); 55D: Tiger's pocketful (TEES); 56D: Miro Foundation architect (SERT); 59D: Gift for an island visitor (LEI); 61D: Reason (WHY).


mac said...

Nice start of the day with this puzzle. Brest is popular, but yesterday's clue was the best.

I loved the clue for the footrub. Sharifs were new but gettable, and I also hadn't heard the term tickler, cute. The Douro appeared from the recesses of my thorough Dutch geography teachings. Bridge is Arabic to me, so oneno or twono or threeno will always have to come through crosses.

And look at that pretty grid!

imsdave said...

Great writeup. I liked it a little more than you, probably because I did it in the middle of the NYT and it was a nice breather.

THREENO is very legitimate, as it is a game bid in bridge (I love the gambling type for you aficionados).

Off to enjoy the end of golf season here in sunny CT.

ddbmc said...

@This was definitely a tad tougher than previous Saturdays. Ended up starting in the SW quadrant and moving up.

32 A-(INROOMFAX)Is an amenity more for the business traveler, than the casual one.

For "defect" I put "flee" until my tragic "flaw" became apparent, though I didn't "redline" or "cross off," I merely erased(not a pen girl, yet!)

Joe Strummer of "The Clash" is a personality I discovered only after his demise! Had known his work with the aforementioned group, but really started to delve into his bio when the very off beat show, "John from Cincinatti," utilized Joe Strummer and the Mescalero's "Johnny Appleseed" song at the intro. Strummer was Punk Rocker and a very socially aware guy, fighting for causes he believed in. He was born in Ankara, Turkey, as John Graham Mellor. His father was a British Foreign Diplomat and he lived all over the world. Music became his refuge. He died of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition at age 50.

Joe Strummer Johnny Appleseed
Happy travels, @Orange. Thanks for the writeup.

shrub5 said...

This puzzle was a nice challenge and I liked its level of difficulty. Managed to complete it but needed one stop at google. The trouble occurred in the SE area where the only thing I had for a long while was ONO. I put BREWERY before BREWPUB, had AIRsomething. I thought about ANT EGG, but couldn't believe that could be right. Didn't know the DOURO river or the ACE OF BASE. I finally looked up the vermouth brand Noilly PRAT and then was able to finish up this gnarly corner.

The HYSSOP shrub was new to me; I fear I won't know it next time either. I remembered this blog's tip from a while back for "---- boy" suggesting that one put -T-A and let the crosses help you decide between ITSA or ATTA.

There were some noteworthy clues / answers worth mentioning, especially PA SYSTEM, NOT SO FAST, BOX TOP and ELEMENT. And a big LOL for Head lock = TRESS.

Many thanks to Bob Peoples for giving us a fun puzzle today and to Orange for her always helpful write-ups.


A good, well-CRAFTED puzzle, because it's tough and that's what we want for a Saturday, but to me it wasn't all that fun.
No clever theme, few clever clues, and I, like Orange, do not like short stacks (except for breakfast at DENNYS).

I nearly vomited when I saw the clue for (8d) PASYSTEM (Lineup announcement medium, briefly).
Come on, Bob, you can do better than that!

Having said that, now let me say what I liked:
TRESS = "Head lock"
GOTOBED = Retire, but not permanently".
TEES = "Tiger's pocketful" (should have been CASH).

Never heard of SERT (Miro Foundation architect), DOURO (Iberian river), and Noilly PRAT (Vermouth brand). So learning a few good CWP words is always a good thing.

Thought the cross of REDLINE with CROSSOFF for deletes was pretty good.

Overheard in a 5th grade classroom: "What's a typewriter?"
Omigosh, I used an IBM Selectric for nearly 40 years... can you still buy these?

I think the proper way to spell "Old Meccan magistrates" is SHERIFS (17a), but oh well, that's a NIT (10d).

I wanted to put in AMOS Martin instead of AMIS (11d). Glad that Orange featured that in today's CW101.

It's a Beautiful Life for me,the Swedish JohnsNeverHome, and I really like Ace of Base (almost as much as ABBA).
So here's a good link:

backbiter said...

Nice way to start a Saturday. 20A: Dennys! YES! 47D closes at 3:00 a.m. where I live. Dennys is the next logical stop. Boo on 21D. "Wouldn't" is the contraction of "would not", so "not" should not shouldn't wouldn't couldn't be in the answer. I shan't think on't no longer.

Tinbeni said...

Threeno equals '3 No Trump' and to me this was the best clue of the week. At first thinking 'one club' or 'two club' then remembered us bridge players abbr. also, LOL.

Tickler (file) reminded me of the days before computers, PDA's etc.
and I thought anyone under 40 would have 'no clue' as to what these were.

I use to work in Sarajevo, the BOSNIA 'a' gave me ATTA (boy) & kept me from entering "it's a' (boy). I've seen this many times before in Xwords and whichever I enter first, it ends up being the other.

Tress for Head Lock another good one, thought it was a wrestling hold.

To many other great cluing's to mention.

A good puzzle. Finally a worthy Saturday LAT challenge.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Good that the difficulty of the late-week puzzles is moving in the right direction (for readers of this blog anyway...I see some folks over on Crossword Corner complaining this was too hard). Finished in decent time, but had mistakes at the BOXTOP/DOURO/PRAT crossings, as BOXTAG/DAURO/GRAT ended up looking plausible enough. Oh well.

This comment has been removed by the author.

HYSSOP flowers are a gorgeous shade of blue, almost unreal looking. It's in the mint family and it's not real common in the U.S.... more European. I tried unsuccessfully to grow it in my gardens.
Hyssop oil is often used to treat respiratory problems. Hippocrates already recommended hyssop to treat bronchitis. Today, hyssop is used in a lot of medications for treating nasal congestion and mild irritations of the respiratory tract.
So, Orange, don't be so hard on this lovely (and useful) plant. It may have helped you through your recent malady.

Orange, isn't there also a Spanish River called DUERO?

Anonymous said...

Duero River in Spain and the Douro River in Spain are the same river.

Flows from Spain to the coast through Portugal. Spelling difference is probably due to the two different languages.

Rex Parker said...

THREENO is pretty bad as long fill goes. Never mind if it's legitimate (it is).

The FT SMITH / HYSSOP crossing and then the ANT EGG / DOURO / PRAT stack gave me some grief, but not too much. Definitely tougher than most late-week LATs we've been getting lately. I enjoyed the extra work.


Carol said...

When you play Bridge, THREENO is a very common way to bid "three no trump."

Tried for the longest time to figure out what a PASYSTEM was. PASY STEM? Oh, PA SYSTEM - yikes!

Liked CARIBOU,TICKLER (file), TUTEES and TRESS (cute clue.

Used TICKLER files often when working. No more! Retirement is great!

Liked the difficulty level much more this week. Actually had to Google a couple answers! Yes! Learning new words - HYSSOP, EUROPOP,DOURO.

Sfingi said...

Words I just did not know:
DOURO, forgot Iberia is also Portugal; Had D'OIRO, of Spain.
TER, Mine writes 3x.
EUROPOP actually, I didn't know Ace of Base.

Had to ask my husband (a.k.a, Snorehead) about: ASSIST. He added that Ma & Pa Kettle went to a general store run by Harry REID (sp?) ("has what you need"). Also, he called his OHHENRY his William Sydney Porter bar.

There were two other bars with exclamations Look! and Reggie!

Old fashioned proof of purchase (BOXTOP) was "Your Word"!

I didn't like Sant Ana pluralized, sick of OSHA, but did like FOOTRUB, NIT.

@ddbmc - the flee/FLAW thing is cute.
@John - thanx for the Hyssop info.
@Tinbeni - Thanx for info on Bridge. Utica is now 10% Bosnian - They're already top of the class, stuccoing (there's a new crossword)every building in Utica, holding political office, saving church buildings by changing them into mosques, and committing crimes (favorites - soliciting and DWI). The last one is the true level of complete citizenship.

Tinbeni said...

The weather in Utica probably reminds them of home.

I'm from Florida so Sarajevo (and Zagreb, Croatia) were quite a change for me (Ex-Pat 2 yr stint). Bosnia is approx. 40% Christian, 40% Muslim 20% Eastern Orthodox (the Serbs) and to them, they'll kill you over it.

As an American I was always treated nicely and it was safe, for me. Aaaah, the power of a US Passport. But the Muslim's love to drink when they leave home.

Religious Freedom here in the USA is one (of the many) things that makes our nation the greatest place to live.

Djinn said...

Like others, I too, enjoyed this CW. The references to typewriter, box tops, snake oil and tickler files lent an old-timey feel that I appreciated.

Thanks to Orange for the tutoring and Bob Peoples, a constructor who is new to me. Along with Carol and Tinbeni, I say that THREE NO is perfectly legit. Likewise, public address system is commonly called a P A.

The SE quadrant was my last to fill. I only got SERT from the crosses.

bluebell said...

I liked "Swift specialties," though I waited for crosses to choose between sausage and satire. Of course I should have seen that there wasn't room for plural sausages. Didn't know Hyssop had blue flowers. Wanted the hotel room amenity to be some word for internet access. But at least this puzzle didn't annihilate me as the NYT one did.

jazz said...

Today was a little harder as RP said, but I attributed the difficulty to (IMVHO) lame fill and/or lame clues.


CROSSOFF really isn't delete, in the sense that the crossed-off item is still there, it's just, um, crossed off. But nothing better comes to mind, so.

ENTREES aren't truly menu courses. They're selections for the main course. And there were lots of what I considered pretty weak 3- and 4-letter fills, too many for a no-theme Saturday.

Some clues were nice, as noted by other posters: "Head lock" (TRESS), "Retire, but not permanently" (GOTOBED), "Boys, to men" (SONS), "Treat for tired dogs" (FOOTRUB) were all clever and appreciated!

I like the direction the LAT puzzle is going...just about at the pace that I'm improving, so is the daily puzzle. Thanks, RP and Bob Peoples (and ed.)

wilsch said...

I liked this puzzle. You can now see the LAT puzzle ramping up in difficulty from Mon. - Sat. like it used to. Saturday's is still, for me, doable.

Bohica said...

I started off with FOOTRUB and OHHENRY and was off to the races. I thought that I'd come here and find everyone complaining how easy this puzzle was for a Saturday. Boy, was I wrong? Maybe this one was just in my wheelhouse. Got CRAFTED, GRANULE and GOTOBED without even checking the crosses. Only words that gave me trouble were DOURO and HYSSOP, got them entirely from crosses.

JIMMIE said...

The puzzle was significantly harder for me, but I was aided by my experience of reading the booze bottles that seem to come and go, so I knew Grand Marnier used orange peels and Noilly Prat goes in a Manhatten.

Orange, you got your name in this one, and in the possessive.

Van55 said...

Some toughish terrain today. Enjoyed it.

For some odd reason I remember the advertisement slogan "Don't stir without Noilly-Prat." I think my parents once bought a bottle of it instead of Martini & Rossi. It's a dry vermouth.


I too stared at PASY STEM for the longest time because the clue was very cryptic, to say the least. Finally after quite a time I saw PA SYSYEM, duh, and then I deciphered that horrible clue.

I want to say AMEN! to your statement about the U.S. and our religious liberty. I'm a volunteer tutor for EWS, an organization to help out newcomers to the U.S., teaching ESL, American History & Government so they can pass their citizenship exams. I had a refugee family from Kosovo (my TUTEES) who told me their life story over there... I cried! They were persecuted by the Serbs because of their religious beliefs. Their farm was destroyed and taken, their home was burned, and everyone in the family was murdered except them, because they hid out underground for close to a month until the Americans rescued them. The U.S. had provided asylum for them. They are hard workers and are eking out a living now, struggling, but so so happy that they can become Americans AND KEEP THEIR BELIEFS! I went to their swearing in ceremony... they passed the very tough exam... I cried! This was one of the highlights of my life! Us Americans, who were born here, sure take our freedoms for granted until we hear stories like that.
I thank God every day for growing up as an American and being able to sleep unafraid!

Margaret said...

I'm not getting the reason for the Larry Sanders picture -- is it an illustration of friends? Would I get it if I'd watched the show? Or am I just being a dope?

Tinbeni said...

@JNH Thank you for your comment.

When I worked over there (2005-06)I was offered a position in Pristina, Kosovo to extend my stint for another 2 years.

So I went and checked it out. Pristina probably was a beautuful city before the war. But it was late 2006 and I came back to the USA. Never enjoyed being in a war zone.

When I was in the Adriatic Region the people of the former Yogoslavia, now 6 emerging countries, were wonderful, very family oriented, polite almost to a fault, very hard working, they just wanted what we have always had here in the States.

In other parts of Europe, when it was found out I was from America, I was sometimes (not always) treated with contempt for being an American. But in Eastern Europe (with the exception of the Serbs, at that time) they love America and American's.

We are truly blessed that our forefather's came here and we can sleep at night, with different opinions & religion etc., safely.

I hope you keep up, and applaud, your volunteer endeavor's with EWS.

chefwen said...

This was a hell of a lot more fun than the NYT puzzle which chewed me up, spit me out, and then stomped on me. I think I may have finished 1/4 of it before I threw in the towel.

Of course, for a third straight day my first fill was wrong, put in massage instead of FOOTRUB and kept it there for far too long. Had CROSSout before CROSSOFF. But those were my only two goofs that were easily fixed. Loved TICKLER and I really loved my old IBM Selectric, wish I still had one, just for fun.

Orange said...

Margaret: "Hey, Now" Hank Kingsley, Jeffrey Tambor's sidekick character, to go with Kingsley AMIS. He's funnier than Ben Kingsley!

JIMMIE said...

@van55. Noilly Prat also makes a sweet red vermouth, quite good for Manhattans.

GLowe said...

mmmmm Manhattans. A dimming but favorite memory of days of yore, when drinking brown liquor was OK.

Coincidentally, I sang karoke 'New York state of mind' last nite at the local. Got a lot of feedback - all good - and most people said they'd never heard it before?

Sfingi said...

@Van55 - I remember the Noilly-Prat magazine ad as being contiguous with "As long as you're up, get me a Grants." Whatever that is.

So, is there a French tickler file?

@Tinbieni - I'd love to hear more on Bosnia. Our immediate neighbors are Muslim Bosnians with three kids. They once cooked a goat in the back yard, which the Lebanese used to do 50 yrs ago. The only other thing different they do is leave their shoes outside. When Karadjic was arrested they went back home for a few weeks, and I put the 2 together as not a coincidence. Anyway, they're in the right town, since we have all sorts of ethnics.
My brother-in-law, a.k.a. the Troll, went to Medjugorje with his mother years ago. She walked on her knees while he went into town to cop some weed. He had some lovely photos of the area.

Margaret said...

Thanks, Orange! I'm sure Jeffrey Tambor is DEFINITELY funnier than Sir Ben Kingsley, without ever having watched the Larry Sanders Show. ;-)

*David* said...

Just got to the puzzle, much better! This is right where I want my Thursday and sometimes Friday puzzle to be. See it's all about me and what I need Rich, I know you read this.

Lots of great fill that I didn't know DOURO, TUTEES, THREENO, and TER. Some of the fill was a bit icky but I'll take it with the difficulty but ANT EGG, oh never mind.

HUTCH said...

wife scrubbed my comment.no great loss.However,to reiterate, do not put noilly prat in a martini unless you are a republican and drink gin martinis!

Anonymous said...

The hooker ordered a .... wait for it...
A screaming orgasm

Anonymous said...

PA systems are often used in small venues such as school auditoriums, churches,
and small bars. PA systems with a larger number of speakers are widely used in
institutional and commercial buildings, to read announcements or declare states
of emergency. The simplest PA systems consist of a microphone, a
modestly-powered mixer amplifier and one or more loudspeakers.
There are four Types of PA System:
Small Systems, Telephone paging system,PA over IP,Long line PA.