SATURDAY, January 9, 2010—Brad Wilber

THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless/freestyle puzzle that's just about the same difficulty level as other recent Saturday puzzles

Some people say that Brad Wilber is their nemesis. He does a lot of themeless puzzles for both the New York Times and the L.A. Times and I dunno, I don't find Brad's work particularly difficult, nor do I find that I'm cosmically attuned to his wavelength. Do you struggle more with his puzzles than the other Saturday constructors', or are they par for the course?

Lots of zippity-doo-dah answers in this one, plenty of zing. Among the 20 answers that are 7 to 9 letters long, these ones really sparkle:
  • 15A. EMILE ZOLA gained crossword immortality via the movie Wordplay when a couple blank squares in ZOLAESQUE atop Byron Walden's finals puzzle cost Al Sanders the championship at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Plain ol' EMILE ZOLA rides those coattails but also scores as a first-and-last-name combo. Those are always cool, particularly when crossword solvers have been plunking the person's first or last name into the grid for years. Both EMILE and ZOLA are ≥50% vowels and have literary cred, so they're crossword regulars. (The clue? Writer painted by Manet. And the video that follows? It's from Gary Louris's "Every Word," written for Wordplay.)

  • 17A. NASCAR DAD is slightly less au courant than it would've been a few years ago, but it's still a bright spot in a crossword. My cab driver today was wearing a Nascar cap. Can you believe it? An actual native-born American cabbie? I see one every couple years in Chicago. They're like blue moons.
  • 32A. GORETEX is a Parka material. Timely! I looked at a U.S. temperature map this morning, and only teeny slivers of the mainland were above the 40s. Have we got any readers in the North Dakota area? If so, good gravy, how can you stand the cold? Best thing that ever happened to me was getting dumped just before Valentine's Day by a guy from the Fargo area. Glad not to have wound up moving to N.D. because Chicago's winters are so much milder. Ahem.
  • 62A. Yeah, a SPEED TRAP is Where you might see a cop aim a gun. Recently learned that flashing your headlights is a way to warn folks on the other side of the highway that there's a cop lurking with radar. "What's that guy doing with his headlights? That's weird." ... "Ohhhh, speed trap. Gotcha."
  • 9D. I'll put LAD, A DOG in here just because I've never seen the full title in the grid. This Classic man's-best-friend novel by Terhune gets the junky partial-entry treatment sometimes; e.g. "___ Dog" (Terhune book). This is better.
  • 14D. IDEE FIXE gets a tricky clue, Something a Parisian might get stuck on? Maybe you can explain why, once I got the FIXE part, I then filled in PRIX FIXE. Durr...
  • 21D. Bing, bing, bing! We have a winner! The phrase GO ROGUE is my favorite thing in this puzzle. Deviate from team strategy is a reasonable, non-Palinocentric clue for the term, which I suspect will have legs for years to come.
  • 34D. Breeding center is a STUD FARM. If you can't get a little horse sex into the crossword on a Saturday, when can you?

Crosswordese 101: DAG! Do you ever say "Dag!" instead of "Dang!"? That's not the DAG we're dealing with today. The crosswordese Dag is much beloved for two reasons: (1) I learned his name from crosswords when I was a kid, and (2) many of the paperback youth fiction I read when I was a kid was published by a company whose address was One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. So DAG has always stuck in my mind. 27D: Nobelist Hammarskjold is the clue today. JFK called him "the greatest statesman of our century"; it's a little early to nominate anyone for the present century. (The picture? Well, Ingrid is prettier than Dag, and they're both Swedish. Like ABBA.)

Everything Else — 1A: One making a brief contribution? (PARALEGAL); 10A: Missile Command game company (ATARI); 15A: Writer painted by Manet (EMILE ZOLA); 16A: Went wild (RAVED); 17A: Family racing enthusiast (NASCAR DAD); 18A: Island where Icarus was imprisoned (CRETE); 19A: The Jonas Brothers, e.g. (TRIO); 20A: Panini cheese (ASIAGO); 22A: Northwest Passage explorer (RAE); 23A: Actress Paquin et al. (ANNAS); 25A: Prefix with skeleton (ENDO-); 26A: "You wish!" ("AS IF!"); 27A: Nobelist Hammarskjöld (DAG); 28A: One who refuses to take an oath? (CENSOR); 30A: Sub builder? (DELI); 31A: Examine closely (SIFT); 32A: Parka material (GORETEX); 34A: Place to pick up a cat (SCRUFF); 37A: Aplenty (GALORE); 38A: Fawners (TOADIES); 40A: Madrigalist's accompaniment (LUTE); 41A: Items in a modern bibliog. (URLS); 42A: Charmers (CUTIES); 44A: Clock-setting std. (GMT); 47A: Tim of "Private Practice" (DALY); 48A: Steady (TRUE); 49A: West Indian sorcery (OBEAH); 51A: It may be at the end of the line (FLY); 52A: Vivacious wit (ESPRIT); 54A: Erato's instrument, in some depictions (LYRE); 55A: "My Fair Lady" race site (ASCOT); 57A: C·diz's region (ANDALUSIA); 59A: Put on again (REAIR); 60A: Smooth, lustrous quality (SILKINESS); 61A: Bowling pin wood (MAPLE); 62A: Where you might see a cop aim a gun (SPEED TRAP); 1D: Group of five (PENTAD); 2D: Historic Nile excavation site (AMARNA); 3D: Heading up (RISING); 4D: Metal industry acronym (ALCOA); 5D: Grazing ground (LEA); 6D: Book after II Chronicles (EZRA); 7D: Miraculous (GODSENT); 8D: Delon and Resnais of French film (ALAINS); 9D: Classic man's-best-friend novel (LAD: A DOG); 10D: Chevron competitor (ARCO); 11D: Seaman (TAR); 12D: Against (AVERSE TO); 13D: Mall tenant (RETAILER); 14D: Something a Parisian might get stuck on? (ID´EE FIXE); 21D: Deviate from team strategy (GO ROGUE); 24D: Netflix genre (SCI-FI); 26D: Jane Eyre's charge __ Varens (ADELE); 29D: Personal or special things (EFFECTS); 31D: Big-headed? (SUDSY); 33D: Joe Buck's friend (RATSO); 34D: Breeding center (STUD FARM); 35D: The Great Barrier Reef borders it (CORAL SEA); 36D: Itís usually a regular one worn backwards (RALLY CAP); 39D: Outdo (SURPASS); 40D: Get no use (LIE IDLE); 43D: Root crop high in vitamin C (TURNIP); 44D: Yellowstone attraction (GEYSER); 45D: Actress Tomei (MARISA); 46D: Daddy Warbucks's hired muscle (THE ASP); 50D: Not pulling any punches (BLUNT); 52D: Infinitive with a circumflex (ÊTRE); 53D: Receipts (TAKE); 56D: Drum filler (OIL); 58D: Soup-to-go need (LID).



Nice puzzle... I've always liked Brad Wilber because he comes up with interesting words. Makes for good blogging. Orange, IMO, Wilber is about par for Saturday level.
When I saw your ABBA clip, I was sure you did that just for me...I RAVED! First ABBA is my fave group, secondly they're Swedes, and thirdly "Dancing Queen" is the name I gave a pink rose when I used to be affiliated with the research wing of the American Rose Society (a century ago). Thanks, Amy, for the very entertaining and extra-informative writeup this morning. And you got up real early too. I won't add anything to your comments because I pretty much concur with everything. BTW, DAG means "Day" in Swedish.
Your mention of the movie "WORDPLAY" makes me want to go out and rent that DVD... can you believe that I've never seen that? Was it a good movie in your opinion? Thanks for the Gary Louris clip.

I was helping my friend Sandy to hang up some pictures and so I told her I needed to use a "stud finder"... her reply was classic "Oh, I've been looking for one of those for years."

Some of my fave words (and there are many): AMARNA, ANDALUSIA, ASCOT, ASIAGO and ADELE. I wonder why all my faves start with the letter "A"?

I love this group of bloggers and commenters... seems like we have a lot of ESPRIT de Corps and joviality GALORE. Sometimes to excess, as Rex pointed out yesterday with his scoldings.

I liked seeing PENTAD crossing with TRIO.

I'll tell you, there's no way that I could have solved a puzzle of this level in less than half-hour without calling up my Crosswordese 101 background. Solving those little CW101 words often unlocks those big 8 and 9 letter words.

Whenever I see ASIF in a puzzle, I cringe. That Val-Speak word (along with "whatever") is so so rude. These so-called "IN" youngsters need to be taught genteel and civil ways to respond to each other, and especially with adults. The English language is seriously getting "dumbed down" and impertinent. John steps down from his soapbox.

When out in this subzero weather here, shoveling the new batch of winddrift snow, I always say it's a GODSENT, this GORETEX North Face coat that I'm wearing. Come on, ORANGE, asmit it, you know that the areas surrounding the Windy City can be even more brutal than North Dakota. That just sounded like a rationalization to me.

Time for some good Kona coffee and to finish eating the leftovers from yesterday's Apple Dutch Baby.


The GO ROGUE clue reminded me that I need to finish reading the Palin book. Surprisingly, it's pretty well written and isn't quite as sour-grapish as the critics would make you believe. I'm trying to go the fair & balanced route in my political readings. Any suggestions on what I should read next (non-Palinesque book)? Anyone? Anyone?
---Please, no flaming here---

MWOD says "IDEE FIXE is an idea that dominates one's mind especially for a prolonged period : obsession."
So I guess that's something a Parisian's mind might get stuck on.

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Parsan said...

Yes, hard, hard, harder than a usual Saturday for me. Surprisingly, the long answers came easier than the short ones: EMILE ZOLA, NASCAR DAD, ANDALUSIA (I misspelled it), SPEED TRAP, STUD FARM, CORAL SEA, RALLY CAP, and RETAILER.

New words to me: OBEAH, RAE, AMARNA and GORETEX. Remembered ALAIN(s), ADELE, RATSO, ANNA(s), DALY and have long admired and read books about DAG Hammarskjold.

Had potato for TURNIP, and lyre for LUTE but got LYRE later at 54a.
Had lay idle for LIE IDLE(lay the book down; the book lies there).

Cleverly clued words: REAIR, FLY, RISING, and SUDSY.

GO ROGUE a given and favorite clue. Difficult but fair puzzle.

@Orange--loved the write up!
Happy weekend, all!

Parsan said...

@JNH--And thanks for the Wordplay. I'm envious of her ability!

Jane S. said...

Since this is the first time I have ever been tempted to use the internet to finish a puzzle, I'd say, "Yes, this puzzle is harder than usual". Kudos to Brad for creating a fun challenge.

shrub5 said...

On my first pass through, I just had a few answers sprinkled here and there -- couldn't build much off of them. So, I had to google clues which gave me EMILE ZOLA, AMARNA and OBEAH. That was enough to finish the rest off. There were so many fresh, interesting answers today. Haven't heard the term NASCAR DAD previously. The last little toughie to fall was REAIR which I just couldn't get from the 'put on again' clue. Finally, the aha moment.

GORE-TEX material is also used in vascular grafts put in place for hemodialysis access. I don't know how or if it differs from parka material.

Haven't heard of Daddy Warbuck's hired muscle THE ASP. I don't think the character was in the musical "Annie" which is my only source for Little Orphan Annie knowledge. I rarely if ever read the comic strip.

Anonymous said...

@johnsneverhome - ABBA rules - though my favourite is Mamma Mia and of course the movie Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

I thought the puzzle today was challenging - initially had spandex for goretex even though I knew it wasn't right but corrected it eventually. Loved Andalusia and Asiago too. Was puzzled by ladadog - never heard of this book or the writer. Lad: A Dog makes much more sense.

Now to get on with the frigid weather in the Gulf Cpast region = I hate it!

Orange said...

I note that @JOHN used up his daily allotment of three comments right off the bat.

I loved Wordplay, and not just because I'm in it and it's about my friends. It's an entertaining movie. If you watch the DVD, your best opportunity to see me on screen is in the main menu screen—there's a video loop that shows me curtsying once every 30 seconds or so. And who couldn't watch that all day long?

Also? In last year's ACPT, the fabulous Ellen Ripstein had a rough time of it and I finally placed ahead of her for once.

imsdave said...

Very pleasant puzzle. Interestingly, it took me almost exactly the same time to do this one as the NYT this morning.

Thanks for the great writeup Orange, and looking forward to seeing you at the ACPT.

Tinbeni said...

This was the hardest SAT.LAT in a long time.

Did not know TURNIPs are high in vitamin C. I'll stick with my Florida Oranges.
Another new food item, panini cheese, ASIAGO. I'll stick with my Swiss.
Fell into the gate/TAKE trap. Had mug for LID, soup-to-go need.

Wish I had something GORETAX, @ noon it is only 35 here. As I said earlier this week, when it comes to cold weather, we Floridians are Woosies.

Don't understand why CENSOR is "one who refuses to take an oath."

But I nailed RATSO right off the bat. Midnight Cowboy is a personal favorite.

@JNH - Thanks for the Wordplay clip. Like you, I'll probably rent it.

@Orange - Great clips, esp. ABBA

Parson said...

@Orange--I know we had a contentious day Thursday when there were over 100 hits and Rex has imposed the 3 time rule. I know the NYT often has over that many and perhaps they are more civil, but maybe that had nothing to do with the ban. Just trying to understand the reason and will willing comply.

Third time and done!

imsdave said...

@Tibeni - a censor is the guy who bleeps out the curse words, hence, refuses to take (abide) an oath (swear word).

@Parson - the three post rule has been in effect over at Rexworld forever. Exceptions to the rule seem to occur later in the day, when most of the meaningful commentary is done.

CrazyCat said...
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C said...

Fun puzzle, slow steady solve. Good clues, nothing to argue with and it led to a great writeup.

Thanks for the effort, Orange!

Rex Parker said...

Three comments should be plenty for anyone. It's not about keeping comment number down, it's about keeping a small handful of voices from running roughshod. Also, it's about keeping increasingly off-topic (and sometimes stupid) private conversations from taking over. This is a public space, not a private chatroom. So comment away ... but not more than thrice. Thanks. In my experience, the most interesting commenters are those who keep it reasonably short and sweet.


Tinbeni said...

I got CENSOR completely by crosses.
Never really thought about the clue.
Later when I looked at the completed grid, I noticed I had not crossed off 28-A but had it answered.
Two "Huh?" moments at one junction.

SUDSY was perfect, it took me a while to think of it in terms of beer.
Todays temp. requires some warming up.
Boilermakers should hit the spot.

Entropy said...

This puzzle lived up to my expectations.
Total chaos as I struggled.
Felt like I got caught in a SPEEDTRAP.
Time to google.

lit.doc said...

First time I can remember the Saturday LAT puzz being harder than the NYT. Lots of fun today.

Ample opportunity for false starts: NASCAR MOM (you know, like "soccer mom"), RE-DON ("Now, re-don our gay apparel..."), SHININESS, LET IDLE, and LYRE.

Actually remembering Orphan Annie comics had negative utility. Slammed in PUNJAB, Daddy Warbuck's gigundous Indian servant. Favorite of the was "Something a Parisian might get stuck on?".

And BTW, isn't O'BEAH Irish folk magic?

GoG8rs said...

Here in "sunny" Florida (ha!) its a good day to stay inside a work a challenging puzzle. Just wished I'd had some GORETEX when I went out to the mailbox. It was sleeting! Brr. NASCARDAD and I are huddled by fire. Embarrassed to admit I missed the SUDSY clue even after I got it from the crosses. Same with PARALEGAL. Brain freeze, I think.

JIMMIE said...

I found the CW harder than most LAT Saturday puzzles. I had the hardest time in the NW corner for some reason. The clues were very clever. And thanks for the Abba clip, Orange.

Orange said...

I was going to be hip and include a clip of the Hives, a current Swedish band I heard about from Tyler Hinman. But it was a noisy-boy band and the songs didn't grab me...so ABBA snuck in.

mac said...

Wow, if the Saturday LAT puzzle is going to be as good as today's, I'm going to print it out from now on and enjoy it fully!

Plenty of new words for me: rally cap, nascar dad, Obeah(?). Wonderful words like galore, andalusia, gore-tex, paralegal and Emile Zola. The French artists must have really liked him, Rodin did a series of sculptures of him, too. More beautiful words! Silkiness, lyre and lute close together, scruff and censor in the middle.

Thanks Orange, very thorough write-up and follow-up comments!

Sfingi said...

This was very difficult, possibly harder than Saturday's usual. The only named humans I knew were EMILEZOLA, DAG and the ALAINS. Zola was the muckraker of the day, writing about miners and prostitutes, and in his new naturalistic style.

Thought ANDALUSIA was spelled with a "c" rather than "s."

@Litdoc - I also had REdon.

It's moving towards zero in Utica. We have an accumulated foot of crystaline water. We tend to get Chicago's weather the next day. Gore of GORETEX has a home in my IA sister's town, near Ottumwa. Bet he's not there this time of year.

I didn't understand 51A FLY, Is it sports? I've followed flies across a paper with a pencil, but that's not it.

Anonymous said...

I think ANDALUCIA is how the Spanish spell it

Tinbeni said...

Yup, it was your nemesis: Sports.
Fly as in "Fly fishing" like in the movie "A River Runs Through It" which was on TV yesterday so I got it.

Utica at zero? At least you all know how to function in that extreme.
Here it is going down to 27 later tonight and Tampa Bay is "Closed."

imsdave said...

@Sfingi - a fly is a type of fishing lure, very small and generally hand tied to resemble whatever insect is hatching on the top of a river or stream. It is an art that eludes me.

Van55 said...

I thought this one was tougher than the usual Saturday LAT fare, but still LAT fair. Excellent job by the builder.

On a side note, my personal opinion is that a good blog host would refrain from demeaning his followers by use of adjectives such as "stupid." I certainly oppose turning the blog comments into flame-fests. The hosts, however, set the tone.

Anonymous said...

Rex doesn't like his commenters to be calling each other names (see past blogs), but he himself sure can dish it out(see recent blogs).

Entropy said...

@Van55 & @ Anon 5:19
Rex did not "demean his followers" with the use of the word "stupid" in his 11:45 comment.
READ it clearly.
He was talking about 3 comments being enough and not having this blog move in the direction too off topic or private conversations.

He was just hoping this blog did not become me.
(the tendency of nature to go from order to disorder in isolated systems)

Orange said...

And there are always emergency situations in which more comments are acceptable, like when somebody needs to know the proper way to drink Scotch.

Rex Parker said...

I was getting email / seeing Tweets on the Twitter saying the comments section was full of a "bunch of whiners" today, so I came to see what was up. . . If you imagined that "stupid" somehow referred to you, well ... I don't know what to say to that.

We get 5000 visitors a day to this site. I'm trying to keep the comments section welcoming and interesting to more than just, say, 20 of those visitors.

Thanks to @Entropy for being able to read.


Somehow my third comment this morning got deleted. I had put a link to the very entertaining movie, "Wordplay". Something new to me and perhaps to some of y'all. I need to go out and get the DVD of this. This interesting clip is about Ellen Ripstein. Let's try it again...

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni, Imsdave - I should have guessed, assuming sports. I was at a crafts fair once, and was attracted to this one crafter because his prices were so high. I didn't know what the feathery things were, but he explained it.

@Anon418 - Thanx, very good.

Lad, a Dog was real. A collie. Buried in Wayne NJ. 2 sequels.

Rex Parker said...

Amy (Orange) will tell you (will tell anyone who will listen) that she can be seen on the Wordplay DVD. Just ask her :)

Anonymous said...

yes but you and orange have used up your three comment max.
guess we will have to wait until tomorrow to ask her
and he last comment was "stupid"

Orange said...

It's true. My comment with a 9:24 time stamp gives the details.

@Anonymous: Bloggers have carte blanche to comment as many times as they wish at their blogs, of course. It's part of the maintaining-an-online-community gig.

Anonymous said...

well then we will just have to watch out for that demon with the scotch and the pitchfork

Entropy said...

That clip of WORDPLAY is great.
Now I want to see the movie.
If I entered the contest, and there were 1000 players, at least I would finish as the only one with 4 digits in my ranking.
(I'm new to crossword puzzles).

@Anonymous - you are over the comment limit.

Charlie don't tweet said...

Through some strange series of events, with Youtube no less, The Google has resurrected an old ID = Phil_m99, and continues to insist I use that ID to post here. So from here on in I'll be phil (Instead of DNE GLowe, I'll be DNE phil_m99).

It'll save time. I'll continue to post once (at most) per day, unless I have nothing to say, then it will be twice. :-)

lit.doc said...

@Anon 5:25 and, likely as not, 6:48 and 7:02. If you can't take it, don't dish it. "Can't take it" = hiding behing "Anon".

Bohica said...

I'm totally with our hosts on the topic of comments. If you want my recipe for Dutch apple pie, email me and I'll send it to you. If you think your Great Uncle Harvey is my maternal grandmothers cousin, let's meet up on Facebook or Myspace. And yes, some of them are "stupid" to those of us who don't care!

*David* said...

Perfect level puzzle for me for a Saturday moved steadily through this one until the SE corner where I got hung up with RALLYCAP/FLY/DALY. I filled it in without understanding but realizing that it was the only fill that worked.

CrazyCat said...
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Sfingi said...

@Bohica - I suppose that was directed to me. I believe it was Tuttle I asked about ancestors. The others I brought up from clues.

I would hate to see forum members stop citing poems of Yeats or the source of expressions, or stop attaching pictures of a celebrity or dog all mentioned in the puzzle. That enriches this experience.

And I've certainly learned much about using the web and parsing info here. It's not a sin (is it?) if it can be applied to other realms.

It's my third and it be late - 1150 here.

CrazyCat said...

@Sfingi - Thank you! You never cease to impress me.

lit.doc said...

@Bohica, I'm glad that you're totally with our hosts re Public Space management. Whether or not your post was directed @Sfingi, s/he deserves better than "Profile Not Available" though.

gespenst said...

I had issues w/ all the people in the puzzle, only some of whom I know. Oh well, that's what crosses are for (GF two unknown names crossing each other!)

My coup of the day was ANDALUSIA ... only knew it b/c in reading the paper earlier in the day, it was mentioned I believe in regards to land conquered from the Muslims 500 years ago ... had a couple letters and my brain filled in the rest w/ the word I'd read earlier :)

Toady said...

(steps up on soap box)





Also, I think it is illegal.

Bohica said...

@Sfingi: I don't know if you come back to previous days comments, but that comment was directed at no one in particular. I've seen others do the same thing and was just using ancestry and cooking as examples of comments that others may not care to see here.

Joon said...

3 comment limit? now we're talking! maybe i'll come back.

brad's my nemesis, yeah, but this one was easy-peasy compared to his other recent work. i guess it's the LAT. but man, this was a sweet grid. EMILE ZOLA, GORETEX, RALLY CAP, SPEED TRAP, GODSENT, STUD FARM, NASCAR DAD, and GO ROGUE are all excellent entries. and there were some terrific clues, too.

am i the only one who wanted {Joe Buck's friend} to be TIM MCCARVER? (or even better, NOBODY?) i suppose i'll never know, because who will ever read this comment?

Orange said...

Joon, I read it. I was waiting for Troy Aikman to say, "I'm walking here!" (Provided, of course, that it was Aikman who was on screen with Buck yesterday. I really don't know Buck other than laughing at his name yesterday.)

Parsan said...

@Joon--Hand up for Tim McCarver! Of course it didn't fit and then I thought, "maybe he hates him"!