SATURDAY, January 30, 2010—Brad Wilber

Looking for the puzzle in Across Lite? Here's a backdoor link to the Cruciverb LAT archive.

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless/freestyle puzzle

This week's Saturdaypalooza was a bit harder than usual, no? Brad Wilber also makes much harder puzzles for the New York Times, and there are those who call him their nemesis. So it's not supposed to be easy—you're supposed to have a little gnashing of teeth before everything comes together.

Brad WilbEr's puzzle reminds me of Friday's NYT crossword by Doug Peterson—roughly the same number (14 here, 16 there) of long entries (8+ letters), tons of sparkle in the featured phrases and words, and some Scrabbliness. The clues were easier overall, this being an L.A. Times puzzle.

By the way, that's Brad WilbEr, with an E, not a U. Lotta people spell it as Wilbur. Anyone have a good mnemonic for remembering that this guy's name has an E? "WE like his puzzles." Or "WE call him our nemesis." These could work for NYT constructor Byron WaldEn (not Waldon), too.

  • 17A: ["Fully loaded" purchase] is a DELUXE MODEL from the car dealer's showroom. I've got my eye on the new four-door Porsche sedan, the Panamera. The turbo model will run you $132K, about 40 or 50 grand more than the base model. Oh, wait. It gets 15 mpg city. Better look into the Ford Fusion Hybrid instead.
  • 25A: [Like "Marley & Me"] clues RATED PG. Neither SCHMALTZY nor SACCHARINE would fit.

  • 27A: ["Heartland" autobiographer] is MORT SAHL. This political humorist's last name shows up far, far more in crossword grids, so it's nice to see the full name. The clue...the clue was no aid to solving. I ventured over to YouTube to find a good Sahl clip to embed here but...I watched two videos and was not remotely entertained. So instead, here's Patton Oswalt. Do not play the video if swear words trouble you because he does cuss a bit. Also? My friend's four-year-old boy is a dead ringer for Patton Oswalt. It's uncanny.

  • 37A: [Footwear ill-suited for stealth] includes clunky, cloppy wooden CLOGS. Now, the rubber-soled Merrell clogs, those are great for sneaking around.
  • 55A: [Castaway's dream come true] is a RESCUE PLANE. Rescue planes have been in the news of late.
  • 2D: ONE B.C. (aka 1 BCE) is the [Last year of its kind]. Calendars are weird, aren't they? They look like neutral dating systems but they carry more weight than that.
  • 6D: Mnemonics! One [Geography-class mnemonic] is HOMES, for the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Chicago's Michigan Avenue crosses the other four Great Lakes street names, running SHEO from north to south. I need a mnemonic to help me remember that it goes Chicago, SHEO, Ohio, Grand, Illinois.
  • 8D: [Drunk's chaser?] is not the beer chaser after a shot, it's the suffix -ARD in drunkard. This is not the suffix in 9D: DIEHARDS, clued as [Hardly fair-weather friends]. Clueing them as [Hardly fair-weather fans] would have suggested the answer more strongly...but would've been easier. And we don't want that, do we?
  • Bing, bang, boom, three in a row. Isn't this a great corner stack? 10D: [Some limo sharers] are PROM DATES. 11D: [Anti-diversity type] is a XENOPHOBE. (My son is a homophonophile.) And who doesn't love a 12D: SNOWGLOBE, that [Popular paperweight]?
  • 28D: [Consequences of one's convictions] are JAIL TERMS. I like the mislead. These are not your philosophical convictions but the ones wherein you get convicted of a crime. (Not you personally, I hope.)
  • 30D: [Upscale Roman shopping street] is VIA VENETO. I don't know a thing about it, but V-V phrases are nice, aren't they? Dang, all I can think of is "va-va-voom" and a gynecological disturbance.
  • And this is one of the zippiest answers. It's not brand-new, no—other constructors have used it. But I still like it. 38D: [Homemade cassette with assorted songs] is a MIX TAPE. I haven't had one since senior year of college. I think people still call 'em mix tapes even though technology has moved past cassettes. No, wait. Do they just call 'em "mixes"? Help me out here.

Crosswordese 101: There's an 31A: Aptly named novelist Charles whose last name is READE. Get it? Read? READE? Har har! I bet no more than 1% of our readers have actually read a READE book. Novel titles you may see in READE clues include The Cloister and the Hearth, Peg Woffington, and Hard Cash. The key is remembering that there is an author with the name READE and that he shows up in crosswords from time to time. You will not be quizzed on his works.

See you folks again on Wednesday.

Everything Else — 1A: Winner of five of six A.L. batting titles from 1983 to 1988 (BOGGS); 6A: Produce unit (HEAD); 10A: Mil. stores (PXS); 13A: Taking undeserved credit, perhaps (ON AN EGO TRIP); 16A: Psychotic TV pooch (REN); 17A: "Fully loaded" purchase (DELUXE MODEL); 18A: "Bed-in for Peace" figure (ONO); 19A: Regress (EBB); 20A: Next (THEN); 21A: Barn loft (HAYMOW); 23A: Fish preparation gadgets (SCALERS); 25A: Like "Marley & Me" (RATED PG); 26A: Place for wallowers (STY); 27A: "Heartland" autobiographer (MORT SAHL); 28A: Joes at a diner (JAVAS); 31A: Aptly named novelist Charles (READE); 32A: As well (TOO); 33A: Perched (ALIT); 34A: Casual pants, briefly (CORDS); 35A: Friday player (WEBB); 36A: "Give __ rest!" (IT A); 37A: Footwear ill-suited for stealth (CLOGS); 38A: Paris's __ d'Orsay (MUS*Eacute;E); 39A: Volcanic crater feature (LAVA LAKE); 41A: Grafton's "__ for Noose" (N IS); 42A: Seismograph stimuli (TREMORS); 43A: Waltz segment (BOXSTEP); 47A: 1844 Verdi premiere (ERNANI); 48A: Act as lookout for, e.g. (ABET); 49A: Serial ending? (-IZE); 50A: Emmy-nominated Charlotte (RAE); 51A: Utility offering (ENERGY AUDIT); 54A: Sch. where Buzz Aldrin got a doctorate (MIT); 55A: Castaway's dream come true (RESCUE PLANE); 56A: __-pitch (SLO); 57A: 16-Across, e.g. (TOON); 58A: Hand net user, perhaps (EELER); 1D: Augurs (BODES); 2D: Last year of its kind (ONE BC); 3D: Nero's successor (GALBA); 4D: Serengeti antelope (GNU); 5D: Some chamber works (SEXTETS); 6D: Geography-class mnemonic (HOMES); 7D: 007's alma mater (ETON); 8D: Drunk's chaser? (-ARD); 9D: Hardly fair-weather friends (DIEHARDS); 10D: Some limo sharers (PROM DATES); 11D: Anti-diversity type (XENOPHOBE); 12D: Popular paperweight (SNOWGLOBE); 14D: Frank __, architect of L.A.'s Walt Disney Concert Hall (GEHRY); 15D: Missouri tributary (PLATTE); 22D: Thumbs-up (YES); 24D: Aspiring atty.'s hurdle (LSAT); 25D: Courses (ROADS); 27D: Amalgamate (MERGE); 28D: Consequences of one's convictions (JAIL TERMS); 29D: Communion line setting (ALTAR RAIL); 30D: Upscale Roman shopping street (VIA VENETO); 31D: Corner pieces (ROOKS); 34D: Its trill opens "Rhapsody in Blue" (CLARINET); 35D: Doormat (WUSS); 37D: Plant geneticist, at times (CLONER); 38D: Homemade cassette with assorted songs (MIX TAPE); 40D: Docs' lobby: Abbr. (AMA); 41D: "__ hath seen such scarecrows": "Henry IV, Part I" (NO EYE); 43D: Red Ryder, for one (BB GUN); 44D: Word with bore or basin (TIDAL); 45D: Paperless read (E-ZINE); 46D: Fizzle (out) (PETER); 48D: Not pizzicato (ARCO); 52D: That, to Teresa (ESO); 53D: Diminutive suffix (-ULE).


KJGooster said...

10mg Valium for a neck/shoulder sprain + midnight solving = nearly half an hour to finish when it should have taken me ten. Kind of entertaining, though. Also, probably Too Much Information for you all.

Liked the puzzle. Lots of solid fill, though in my state I'd probably be impressed with just about anything. Off to bed -- will reevaluate these comments in the a.m. Or afternoon, as the case may be...

Toady said...

Does anyone know if this Grafton person has finished all 26 books (one per letter) and is now retired or what?

Tinbeni said...

I liked your write-up and clips.

I surmise Brad Wilber goes ON AN EGO TRIP when he constructs. I've noticed he enjoys a few Naticks in each of his puzzles.

3 JAVAS to complete, a slow slog.

BOGGS, HEAD, PXS, GNU, HOMES, ETON, MUSEE were all gimmies.
JAIL TERMS & DIE HARDS earned a groan.
But GALBA & GEHRY and a few otheres were definitive WTF moments.

@Toady, google her.

Off to see the pirates invade Tampa, its hokey but fun.

shrub5 said...

I fought valiantly to finish this puzzle but it defeated me -- unable to complete the SE corner without coming here for help. I drew a blank for 'hand net user' (EELER), thought of TIDAL to go with 'basin' but rejected it because it didn't go with 'bore' and couldn't come up with AUDIT to complete ENERGY-----. Then RESCUE PARTY came to mind and that pretty much sealed my fate in this area.

Nevertheless, I still had fun with the rest of the puzzle. Not much came easily so there were many aha! moments. I got a lot further than I thought I would early on.... I might have even been glad to come across a Roman numeral clue/answer ... wait ... no, I wasn't that desperate.

ERNANI, ARCO and GALBA were unknowns as well as the terms HAYMOW and LAVA LAKE but got them via crosses. Well, I learned a lot from this challenging puzzle and tip my hat to Brad Wilber with an E.

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Anonymous said...

Not having gone to school in the US the geography mnemonic was of no help at all! Omens for augurs totally threw out the northwest corner too. Liked Paris and Rome in the clues - know them both well. Good Saturday puzzle

Parsan said...

So proud of myself! Didn't think I could get through it. Just like Shrub5, many "wow" moments as answers emerged. Really liked the many two word answers - sometimes got one end and had to wait for the other; and the four word On AN EGO TRIP, cool!

Took augurs as a noun and thought it was seers but knew BOGGS which gave me SEXTETS. Have not thought of the word HAYMOW (grandmother's farm) in years and loved seeing it.

@Toady--Sue Grafton, I think, must now be working on V is For---. If you're not a book snob, her low key formulamatic detective stories make fun beach reads. Read them today, forget them tomorrow.

CLARINET are great clues. MUSEE d'ORSAY a good museum. Frank GEHRY's Guggenheim in Bilbao on my Bucket List.

@KJGooster--10 mg. Valium and only a half hour? I'm not on anything but JAVA and it took me an hour.
Your injury--been there--feel better!

@Orange--Good write-up, as always!

bluebell said...

Sue Grafton has just published "U is for" (I forget what--I wait for paperbacks.)

I really liked the "It's trill opens the 'Rhapsody in Blue' clue." Had to stop and listen in my head to be sure of the instrument, though already having clogs helped. Clogs, clarinet, cloner--nice alliteration.

Even so, I lost in the East. Had KPs instead of PXs and got bogged down, not to say clogged up.

hazel said...

@Orange - word of advice - don't tell your friend her son looks like Patton Oswalt. While the video is pretty funny, I'm not sure she would take the uncanny likeness as a compliment. If she goes on frequent ego trips, though, it might bring her down to earth.

Nice Saturday solve. Liked the geology subtheme with the LAVALAKE and the TREMORS and, for some reason, the little OBE alignment in the East. Never heard of a HAYMOW.

Platte River by Rick Bass is an interesting read.

Orange said...

Hazel, my husband and I know better than to tell somebody that her kid looks like that goof! The mom is much too nice.

Orange said...

...and both parents are better-looking than P.O. Kid'll probably outgrow the resemblance. Another friend's little twin girls bear a resemblance to Wallace Shawn, but that'll be our little secret.

hazel said...

@Orange - duly noted. Just making sure. I hope the twins' mom is not an LA Times crossword puzzle person....

CrazyCat said...

The puzzle this morning almost caused my brain to PETER out. But, the good news is that I finally finished. Started off well. My husband knew BOGGS - I like it when he's home to help with the sports clues. Didn't know GALBA so I resorted to one google. Knew GEHRY. His Disney Concert Hall has become quite the landmark in downtown LA. I got totally discombobulated in the lower right. Had RESCUE PARTY and couldn't come up with TIDAL or EELER, but finally everything fell into place. Phew! Nice puzzle with lots of tricky clues and fresh answers. Thanks for another outstanding write up, Orange. The KFC Famous Bowl clip was hilarious. Won't be ordering one of them any time soon.

Frank460 said...

By the way, that's Brad WilbEr, with an E, not a U. Lotta people spell it as Wilbur. Anyone have a good mnemonic for remembering that this guy's name has an E? "WE like his puzzles." Or "WE call him our nemesis."

Try remembering:
Well I Love Beers Enery Rush

Parsan said...

@Orange--The comedy clip is LOL! A
relative was an exec. with KFC. Wonder if he would find it funny. Oswalt looks like he's had a few bowls. A shame about the twins. Wallace Shawn, a distinct persona like Peter Lorre, but gets more cheerful roles. Loved his Dinner With Andre!

lit.doc said...

Surprisingly, I was able to finish this one, and to do so in 24:35. I think if it hadn’t been about two a.m. and my blood-alcohol level had been lower, my time might also have been lower. But at my skill level, a Saturday LAT under half an hour is cause for celebration. Can’t figure out why it went so smoothly.

It was almost as if Brad Wilbur had sat down with me before he constructed this one and asked me to tell him all the stuff that I actually *do* know. It certainly wasn’t CW skill. I had just come from such a soul-crushing experience with the NYT puzz that I posted a dreadful rant which I tossed into the trash can when I got up this afternoon. Hope none of you read that one.

lit.doc said...

Oh, good. I read Orange's entertaining and informative post, watch with particular pleasure (and tears running down cheeks) the Patton Oswalt bit (my solving experience with the NYT puzz was, indeed, "a failure pile in a sadness bowl"), and then spell it "Wilbur" in my comments. Geez.

Rube said...

Had the same and same number of Googles (1) as @Crazycatlady and the same crushed feeling with today's NYT puzz as @Lit.doc.

After finishing, I googled ROOKS thinking it was some wood thing that went on the corners of cabinets or such. Groaned most piteously when @Tinbeni said it was "clever". I owe him a glass of Laphroaig.

This is the 2nd time in 2 wks that we've had ERNANI, (or was the other appearance in the NYT).

My Xwdeese word-for-the-day is ARCO.

Thank you RN and BW for giving me a very fine and "doable" Sat puzz. (Unlike that misanthrope over at the NYT.)

Rex Parker said...

There are no Naticks in this puzzle (that I can see). True Naticks are actually pretty rare. You might make an argument for ERNANI / VENETO crossing, but ... that's a stretch.

This was the hardest LAT of the year — by 42 seconds (which is a pretty big margin considering the gap betw. 2nd and 3rd hardest is 7 seconds and gap betw. 3rd and 4th hardest is also 7 seconds). Feels like an NYT reject. OK, but not terribly memorable, with nothing that feels current or particularly daring.



Started my slog through this CW at breakfast waiting for a friend. Finished NE and SW corners but filled in LAVAFLOW instead of LAVALAKE which caused me to come to a complete halt in that area.

4 javas later and back home, I plugged what I had into the online version. I think I was more awake so actually finished with only 2 googles and 3 or 4 red letters to help me.

Although I read augurs with a 'u', my brain was thinking augers so luckily, I guess, I plugged in BORES. The R obviously caused a problem. I had to look up the meaning of AUGURS to even understand how it connected to BODES. Learn something new every day!!

All in all, a tough puzzle but gratifying in the end.

ddbmc said...

Whoa is me! I, like @Shrubb, wrestled (not like the Hawks) with this puzzle. I've been tossed from the Red Sox fan club for not knowing Wade BOGGS immediately. Sigh!

Toughies: Augurs-kept thinking this was a drill (augEr) like WilbEr! Need to learn more vocab and spelling...; ERNANI-I know I've seen this one before; Via Veneto, barn loft and Galba-just plain didn't know and had plum forgot HOMES.

Cracked up at CORNER PIECES-(my men love to play chess); Used to work for DOE, so ENERGY AUDIT was a gimme. LOVE Frank Gehry designs, however I hear they leak like crazy (he has a building in NYC that does, anyway).

@Orange, I am a Merrill CLOG and shoe junkie. If they could make a dress shoe, I'd be in heaven! In @Tinbeni town, REEFS sandals are the footwear of choice.(the squishy kind) Arrh, hope the Pirates behaved!
Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Fun clues: FRIDAY PLAYER, RED RYDER (You'll shoot your eye out, Ralphie!)JOES AT A DINER-(Eat at? Joe's); PLACE FOR WALLOWERS (MUD?) no STY.

Today was a two googles/one dictionary day for me. (ERNANI and BOGGS) and aforesaid AUGURS. Can't even use @KJGooster or @Lit.Doc's excuses!

@Orange, there was a friend of the family, who's daughter looked like an OLD CRONE at the age of two! It was horrifying! In her 20's, she is stunning! They do grow out of the larval stage, eventually! :)

Tinbeni said...

You owe me nothing. Since I enjoy playing chess, it should have been a gimmie.
But at first I was thinking along the line of 'corner pieces' being corner cabinets.
Like 'Friday player' WEBB, at first I was thinking teen, as in High School football player.

THEN you see it (the Rooks & Webb)and a smile & nod happens.

Jailterms & Die Hards got groans, but in a nice way.

Thank you for the Gasparilla clip.
I am more of a flip-flop fan.
The Invasion was rained on, kept the festivities a little more sobber, but not me.
3 Mugs-of-Coffee puzzle = 3 Scotches Parade, 7 bands of beads booty.

1% who have read READE is probably about right, but the clue was excellent and solvable.

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Tinbeni said...

I meant embed.

Gasparilla normally gets about a half-million to the invasion, parade, after party.
Crowds were down in the 300,000 range due to the front that past over exactly as it was beginning.
But it's not like I don't know a few (all) of the watering holes in Downtown Tampa.

And it was, as I said earlier, Hokey to the MAX.
A GOOD TIME was had by all!

CrazyCat said...

@ddmc - agree with you about Merrill shoes/CLOGS and Reefs. I wore 2 pairs of Merrills the entire time I was in Italy. They were great on cobblestone streets. Reefs are my shoe of choice about 9 months out of the year. I also love Fit Flops and Eliza Bs. This has nothing to do with the puzzle, but I can't resist talking about shoes.

Googled KFC Famous Bowl nutritional info - 720 calories, 32 grams of fat and 2,390 grams of sodium - a failure pile in a sadness bowl fER sure.

Entropy said...

This puzzle was an exercise in my answers being 1 letter too short.

"Fully Loaded" I wanted Hash Browns, the kind they have at Waffle house.
"Like Marley and me" first thought was Stoned!
"Castaway's dream" = Rescue boat.


Never been to Rome, so the Via Veneto was totally by crosses, even then it didn't look right.

ROOKS, WEBB & JAIL TERMS were great clues.

@Orange - your Marley clip, like your write-up was perfect.

Rube said...

I just thought of this when reading @Tinbeni's remark about DIEHARDS. For those of you who care, my mechanic informed me earlier this week that those great DieHard batteries you used to get from Sears are now made by Exide. Like many things these days, your choices are constantly narrowing, and not necessarily for the best! Back to Consumer Reports.

Hmmm. Have to add Gasparilla to my KB.

*David* said...

I didn't find it particularly difficult. I flew through the western side and got stuck in the east where I boldly wrote in TEENAGERS for PROMDATES and ISH for ULE. Realized my mistake by REN and completed the puzzle.

I believe this is the second puzzle where Mr. Wilber has used LAVA LAKE and ERNANI. Some of the long fill seemed a bit blah such as ENERGY AUDIT and ALTAR RAIL. I did like SNOW GLOBE and XENOPHOBE.

Sfingi said...

@Orange - VV - vivisection? - Learned this one as a teenager visiting Boston with a church group and seeing the Anti-Vivisection Society. We all proceeded to give soap box speeches on the subject on the Boston Commons. Happy hicks.

Very difficult, verging on impossible. (NYT was impossible.) Wanted "marls" for MERGE, PROMgoers for PROMDATES, "omens" for BODES, "heels" for CLOGS, and many more. Wanted the wallowers to wallow in pity, but too long.

GEHRY was my first gimmee. I have two coffee table books on him. That's not his real name, but made up by his ex-wife.
@Ddbmc - sad to hear they leak. I heard there were outdoor reflection problems in some directions, also. The Disney in LA has raised the temp around it to 120. They sure look dreamy, though.

Like @Hazel - Is HAYMOW local? We call it a hay loft.
Around here, a Marley is a place you can buy ganja/weed.

Sue Grafton isn't even 70. Is she going to use numbers next?

Where was the clip of Ren & Stimpy?
I was thinking Triumph, the Insult Dog.

Zero degrees, here. Baltimore sister says it's 15 there, almost unheard of. I could use some titanium reflection, now.