WEDNESDAY, January 20, 2010—Barry C. Silk

THEME: "Mo-o-om! We Want Better Snacks!"—Four two-word noun phrases end with snacks but are not edible

At a family function last night, I learned from my aunt that blogs are "a waste of time." (Both the writing and the reading thereof.) What do you think? Is it more likely that (a) she has never actually read a blog and expressed a wholly uninformed opinion, or (b) that's she's merely unconscionably rude, in that she looked me straight in the eye when making these pronouncements?

Obviously, Rex and PuzzleGirl and I don't think blogs are a waste of time, and we love helping people to extract more enjoyment out of their crossword puzzles. (By the way: Crossword puzzles? Also "a waste of time"! And people wonder why I don't go to more of these family parties. I act like the one-hour drive is too far, but really, I'll fly to New York and spend a lot of time and money to hang out at the crossword tournament with no concern about travel time.)

Theme entries:
  • 20A: Microprocessors (COMPUTER CHIPS). These are best with a hint of sea salt.
  • 27A: Shipping thingies used as a filler (PACKING PEANUTS). Can't get enough of those honey-roasted styrofoam nuggets.
  • 43A: Bits of user information created by Web sites (BROWSER COOKIES). Oatmeal/chocolate chip/cranberry are the best, but I like those peanut butter/chocolate Girl Scout cookies I'm buying from PuzzleGirl's daughter, too.
  • 51A: Contortionists (HUMAN PRETZELS). Some people prefer their human pretzels dipped in white chocolate, but I think white chocolate is an abomination unto humanity.
  • 35A: With 63-Across, this puzzle's theme (SNACK / FOOD).

Random rundown of clues, quickly because I'm behind schedule here. I did the puzzle late last night but found my eyes closing mid-solve. Not a boring puzzle, just one I did when I was overtired.
  • 5A: Plays a trump card, in bridge (RUFFS). Don't know this one at all. To me, RUFFS are Elizabethan collars, a comic-strip dog name, or furry/feathery necks on various beasties.
  • 18A: Mizuno Corporation headquarters (OSAKA). No, you're not expected to know this as a trivia factoid. Just to recognize "Hmm, Mizuno, that sounds Japanese," and plunk in a 5-letter Japanese city that works with the crossings.
  • 19A: Sty resident? (SLOB). The question mark tells you it's not a literal pigsty, so it's not a BOAR.
  • 38D: '50s TV scandal genre (QUIZ SHOW). Gotta love a fill answer that's long and contains both a Q and a Z.

Crosswordese 101: ENIAC gets an unusual clue today: 15A: 1946 high-tech unveiling at the Univ. of Pennsylvania. If the answer is 5 letters and the clue is about an early, old, pioneering, giant computer from the '40s, ENIAC's your friend. However! If you have a 6-letter answer about a pioneering mainframe from 1951, UNIVAC is your friend. Sorry I don't have a mnemonic for remembering that they're not Uniac and Enivac. No, wait! ENIAC is CAINE backwards. Think of Michael Caine standing in front of a giant old mainframe. Being a 6-letter answer, UNIVAC shows up as filler much less often than ENIAC does. Astonishingly, a Google image search of michael caine computer turned up a photo to help us remember this.

See you Saturday, time-wasters!

Everything Else — 1A: Caesar's reproach (ET TU); 5A: Plays a trump card, in bridge (RUFFS); 10A: #2 (VEEP); 14A: Caution (WARN); 15A: 1946 high-tech unveiling at the Univ. of Pennsylvania (ENIAC); 16A: On Hollywood Blvd., say (IN L.A.); 17A: Way out (EXIT); 18A: Mizuno Corporation headquarters (OSAKA); 19A: Sty resident? (SLOB); 20A: Microprocessors (COMPUTER CHIPS); 23A: Poet Lowell (AMY); 25A: Tennyson's twilight (E'EN); 26A: Beginning (ONSET); 27A: Shipping thingies used as a filler (PACKING PEANUTS); 32A: Persian Gulf ship (OILER); 33A: Roll call response (HERE); 34A: Court response (PLEA); 35A: With 63-Across, this puzzle's theme (SNACK); 37A: Water color (AQUA); 41A: Grammy winner Braxton (TONI); 42A: Subjects for searching or saving (SOULS); 43A: Bits of user information created by Web sites (BROWSER COOKIES); 48A: "Me, too!" (SO AM I); 49A: Buddy List co. (AOL); 50A: Eastern discipline (ZEN); 51A: Contortionists (HUMAN PRETZELS); 56A: "Back __ hour": store sign (IN AN); 57A: Budapest-born conductor (SOLTI); 58A: "Good heavens!" ("OH MY!"); 61A: 15th century date (MCDI); 62A: Place for a bracelet (ANKLE); 63A: See 35-Across (FOOD); 64A: Wet expanses (SEAS); 65A: Shocking weapon (TASER); 66A: Rare bills (TWOS); 1D: Farm mom (EWE); 2D: It's based on purchase price (TAX); 3D: Scooter kin (TRICYCLE); 4D: "Do __ others ..." (UNTO); 5D: Get back in business (REOPEN); 6D: Like heroes who deserve more credit (UNSUNG); 7D: Italian automaker (FIAT); 8D: Counterfeit (FAKE); 9D: Fight memento (SCAR); 10D: Hindu god incarnated as Krishna (VISHNU); 11D: Join the Army (ENLIST); 12D: Runs off to wed (ELOPES); 13D: Beer with a blue ribbon logo (PABST); 21D: Subject of the play "Golda's Balcony" (MEIR); 22D: Ice cream holder (CONE); 23D: Per unit (A POP); 24D: E or G follower (MAIL); 28D: Mauna __ (KEA); 29D: "Why Can't I?" singer Liz (PHAIR); 30D: Common Market letters (EEC); 31D: Biblical refuge (ARK); 35D: "Mayday!" ("SOS!"); 36D: D.C.-to-Albany dir. (NNE); 37D: Just fine (AOK); 38D: '50s TV scandal genre (QUIZ SHOW); 39D: Title beekeeper played by Peter Fonda (ULEE); 40D: Part of PGA: Abbr. (ASSN.); 41D: Mattress size (TWIN); 42D: Step on it (SOLE); 43D: Dribble (BOUNCE); 44D: Holiday Inn rival (RAMADA); 45D: Muscat residents (OMANIS); 46D: Ranch roamers (CATTLE); 47D: More slime-like (OOZIER); 48D: Leveling wedges (SHIMS); 52D: Jr.'s exam (PSAT); 53D: First name in gossip (RONA); 54D: Fraternal group (ELKS); 55D: Room at the top (LOFT); 59D: 46-Down call (MOO); 60D: Gridiron gains: Abbr. (YDS.).


imsdave said...

B. That said, white chocolate shoud be dismissed from the language - no such thing exists in my universe.

Nice puzzle Mr. Silk.

Zeke said...

@Amy - C, all of the above.

Tinbeni said...

@Orange - Your aunt comments reminds me that being across country from my living relatives is not always a bad thing.

For the third day in a row, a 1 Mug of Coffee puzzle. Not even close to a write-over.

QUIZ SHOW is good, but I like OOZIER better.
Liked the SOULS x SOLE crossing. The latter was my last fill, the clue 'step on it' a huh moment.

A friend of mine is moving to Muscat, we were talking last night, OMANIS = slamdunk.

Alright, time for Girl Scout COOKIES, I love the Thin Mints

*David* said...

O-I'm sure its a combination of both. People think Twitter is a waste of time when I look at it as the next generation of social networking.

My kids liked the theme but they said it wasn't SNACK FOOD it was JUNK FOOD.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

I'm pretty sure that there was a similar theme to this one in a 21x21 recently (possibly a WSJ puzzle?) with the answers clued as dishes people from various professions might bring to a potluck. That made the puzzle feel a little less fresh, unfortunately. However, as a bridge player, I must say that RUFFS = both gimme and win.

lit.doc said...

Even at "Why are you doing this to yourself again on a schoolnight?" o'clock (geez, I wish the LAT posted their CW earlier in CST) and with pleeenty of help from Mr. Jameson, this was one of the fastest Monday puzzles I've ever done.

@Orange, laughed so hard I almost wet myself while reading your write-up. Does your aunt also think laughter is a waste of time? Know just what you mean about the drive. Grew up in Denver, sib's and mom still there, me a thousand miles away. :)

imsdave said...

@Tinbeni - Thin Mints - YES!

@Corgi - any bridge clue is a gimme for me. I can't find a game to save my life. Do you play online (SAYC player here, with a few tweaks - I like Flannery), and if so, where? I'm afraid that bridge is a dying art. That would be a shame, as it is the best card game I'm aware of.

xyz said...

@Orange - Hardly a waste of time! Harrrrumph! Just tell them that you have a wider circle of friends that way and you never have to deal with any of them in any but your own way!

Personally liked today's puzzle and only OILER for Tanker gave me and so-so factor. Very nice variety today.

As for snacks? How about Bahlsen dark Chocolate AFRIKA wafer-cookies, yummy.

and ....
As regards speed solving, I've always been a bit fascinated, but never really interested in pursuing it and will never get that good, but here's an experiment with today's NYT puzzle.

Done for fun ... ???

My arm hurts now.

This puzzle took me 20 leisurely minutes on paper with a printed out Across Lite grid. That didn't do it.

I did this puzzle on paper, printed out Across Lite grid just writing over the solution letters with all "X"'s. Time: 1:56

I did this puzzle in Across Lite using "x" and the Tab key, not typing too fast. Time: 1:51

I did this puzzle on paper, printed out Across Lite Grid, overwriting my answers previously completing it in ~20 minutes as above. Time: 1:43

Speed solver times are amazing to me, a wicked easy Monday puzzle won't ever be under 5:00 in my hands. M, Tu, We are often similar times for me, they all take 10-20 mins unless I get stumped somewhere. I just finally got around to getting some perspective. I'm sure few if any care, but what the hell.



The Corgi of Mystery said...

@imsdave: I play mostly online (on BridgeBase) with a longtime partner. We use a slightly modified SAYC as well -- neither of us are big system geeks ;) And like you, I live in constant fear that bridge and crosswords are going the way of the dinosaur.

xyz said...

p.s. That Meredith Viera clip is hilarious, just watched it.

Only have one post left, right?

Bob said...

It wasn't hard up to ONE point.

And I'll probably whine about this for some time.

57 across and 53 down. Some random person's first name and some random person's last(?) name. If wasn't doing it online, that space would have been left blank. As it was, I just sat and hit keys until it came up "finished".

Names in crosswords are pointless at best, and infuriating most of the time.

Two names crossing is enough to make me skip the puzzle.

Georg Solti said...

As "one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century" [Wikipedia], I resent being called random.

Burner10 said...

You can choose your friends, your blogs but not your relatives or your friends blogs.
Smooth solve for me - kind of ho hum but nothing too bad or too good.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Parsan said...

@Tinbeni--Also SOLE last in. An easy but fun puzzle with no look-ups or write-overs.

Just Saturday we had PABST clued something like Brewmaker Fredrick and I blogged that the Blue Ribbon Beer song was stuck in my head, and today we have it as the clue.
Oh - stuck again!

IMHO, no commercial COOKIES are ever as good as ones homemade, like carrot cookies/orange icing, Hello Dollies, and date/walnut pinwheels!

I don't know how to embed(?) something here but if you want to see some HUMAN PRETZELS go to "you tube Solid Potato Salad". This video from 1944 presents the Ross Sisters who sing like the Andrews Sisters and do things with their bodies I'll bet no one on this blog can do. Anyone?

@Orange--Life is too short to worry about mean spirited comments. Family!! We all have them! Enjoyed the write-up!

Entropy said...

Welcome to the Blog, noticed yesterday that early on you were an Anon, then fessed up to being Bob.

Now as to the Names, Sports, Roman Numerals, Three Letter cheap fill (that are the glue that hold the puzzles together, but are overused, things like AHA [in NYT today] or ET AL, UMA, ENE [or todays NNE] ETC) References to Movies or TV Shows, Current & Historical Events, any word that is in the Dictionary ... well I am sorry to inform you they are ALL in play for a Crossword Puzzle.

Georg SOLTI & RONA Barrett are hardly unknown. In fact, I'm betting that @JNH will give us another insightful story about Solti (very much appreciated by the way John).

Since the above happens all the time, I gander that your crossword experience will be frustrating for you.

But since I am the tendency that nature moves from order to disorder, whine away.

mac said...

Sounds like we are having a Super Bowl Party already! Go Jets! (Have to remember to order a Smithfield ham).

Very nice puzzle, with funny theme answers. The packing peanuts we usually call popcorn, another snack! These days they are almost edible, they melt in water. I checked.

@Orange: great mnemonic for the Eniac. The Univac always makes me think of a vacuum cleaner for both carpet and smooth floors.

Hope your aunt reads your blog for today! Crosswords don't waste time, they just eat it....

KJGooster said...

At my home I'm not allowed to buy order more than 4 boxes of Thin Mints because my wife WILL eat them. Though I don't know why she worries 'cause she eats whatever she wants and still stays a size 2.

Seems like this weeks puzzles have been really easy so far -- I hope we're not seeing a trend toward the difficulty level of a couple months ago.

CrazyCat said...

@Orange - Rude and thoughtless relatives should be banished to the cornfield. Loved the Horny Merideth clip. That was hysterical.
@Tinbeni - agree with you about being on the other side of country.
CHIPS, PEANUTS, COOKIES and PRETZELS OH MY. SNACK FOOD has been banished from my house until further notice, including Thin Mints.

Started off really well except for RUFFS which filled itself in eventually. My parents were avid bridge players and somehow I never learned. Probably since as a teen I tried to avoid the parents at all costs. Now I wish I knew how to play. I'm putting Bridge on my bucket list. ENIAC and UNIVAC always confuse me so thanks for the Michael CAINE mnemonic. Loved QUIZ SHOW and OOZIER. Favorite clue was Step on it - SOLE. Off to walk the pooches between downpours.

xyz said...

I think SOLTI is one of those great trifectas: well-known, elite in field and crosswordy. I have many an album with Sir George at the rostrum.


Vega said...

I figure calling something a "waste of time" isn't so much an insult as a sign of an envious speaker burdened with guilt for ever having any fun. I'd have been all, "So...what's your point?"

And I love white chocolate! What is wrong with you people!

Puzzle: fun enough.

shrub5 said...

Liked this theme a lot. My only flubs were GAME SHOW before QUIZ SHOW and EACH before A POP, but those were quickly fixed.

@imsdave and @Tinbeni: another vote here for Thin Mint GS cookies. @KJGooster: I envy your wife's cookie-eating with impunity.....

@Parsan: What are Hello Dollies?

Carol said...

@Orange - my mother-in-law used to tell me that crosswords were a waste of time. Then after my own mother got Alzheimer's, she decided that my doing crosswords were a good idea to keep my brain going! (Not that I ever stopped doing them because of her opinion.)

Laughed at the clip. Oh my, he is handsome, though!

Love coming to this blog to clear up words, clues, or themes. Don't listen to your relatives! We need you all. I enjoy the comments, but don't always feel the need to write. Just more of an observer.

Parsan said...

@Georg Solti--LOL!

@Shrub5--I don't think they want recipes here anymore so you or anyone else who would like the easy to make Hello Dollies recipe can e-mail me:

Van55 said...

Haven't we seen a whole bunch of PSAT's in grids lately? Or is it just me?

I thought the theme was just OK today and had to mark down for the Roman numeral and the random geogrphical direction.

@Bob -- I understand your complaint about "random" proper names, but they don't bother me much unless they are really obscure, unlike SOLTI and RONA.

@Orange: Your aunt's remark was just "silly" -- much like someone constantly pointing out crap fill on crossword blogs. LOL

Seriously, though, doing brain exercises such as crossword puzzles has serious medical benefits, just as physical exercise does. Next time your aunt calls your hobby a waste of time, give her this link:


bluebell said...

We all decide how we will use time. Balancing work and play is lifelong. I've come to crosswords somewhat later in my life than many of you, but I enjoy the intellectual challenge--and I am grateful for the blog and our hosts because they have given me tools for solving. That isn't to say that the end of the week puzzles are always gettable for me--but I can do more than I used to.

I might even learn bridge terminology one of these times--its a game I never played.

Entropy said...

OH MY, what a great clip and write-up.

I like your ENIAC mnemonic (Caine, dyslexic).
But cavinu works for me and univac.

A-OK, seems PHAIR.

@Parsan - No home made cookie helps my neighborhood Girl Scouts more that those beloved THIN MINTS.
Trust me, YOU DO NOT want me baking cookies.
(I can already see the mess).

The rare Jefferson, the TWO dollar bill.
I like them. Esp. when I'm out, having a PABST and the bartender thinks I only tipped him/her $1.
It does get a lot of smiles.

fun play online said...

Ignore your auntie. She obviously doesn't know how many bloggers have become millionaires because of their ''time-wasting'' hobby.

Carol said...

@imsdave - Bridge isn't really a dying art. If you're a reasonably decent bridge player you can go on-line to the Contract Bridge Association and find tournaments all over the place. My hubby played in his first one in Reno a couple of weeks ago. He found the people remarkably friendly and helpful. I don't know what your age is, but many senior centers have bridge games during the day. For awhile we were so desparate to find partners that we taught our daughters - then 10 & 13 how to play! Don't give up the game, it's too much fun.

Carol said...

@imsdave - P.S. There were 75 to 100 tables in the tournament. That's a lot of Bridge players! My husband didn't have a partner and there are people at the tournament that help find partners at the same ability level!

bob said...

@entropy and van55

Even putting obscure names in isn't the real problem as long as I can get them from the crosses.

The problem is when two names hit each other. That square is destined to be blank, and there's no way to work it out from any other clues.

That's the real problem.

chefwen said...

Saw the roman numeral and directional clues and thought "Oh God, here we go again.

Didn't know RUFFS but it got filled in and like a idgit put in armada instead of RAMADA, Doh! I knew that didn't look right. Only other write over was OH MY over ah me.

Loved the puzzle and love pretzels dipped in DARK chocolate, never white. White has a kind of oily texture.

That Merideth clip had me almost on the ground with laughter.

@Orange - Thanks for the great write up and another good reason for me to be living where I do.

mac said...

@bob: you know, no matter how long you've been doing puzzles, every once in a while you run into a situation like that. When it's early in the week, some people consider it unfair, late week it's just part of the game (name of the game?). That's when you really like coming here and finding out what the answers are, and learning a new name or word.


Well, I no longer do Mon.-Wed. LAT puzzles, but thought I'd stop in to say hi.
I do like to read the blogs and comments.
Sir Georg SOLTI is perhaps the greatest symphonic conductor of all time... at least that's what my trumpeter son in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra would say.
I don't want to bore you (@Entropy) with SOLTI stories, but he was a totally fascinating personality.
I sort of resent seeing a SOLTI poser in this blog making that stupid remark.
Since we had RUFF and we talked about chocolate, how about Bridge Mix, the epitome of "junk foods"?
@PG, I saw that Millionaire episode with "hot panties" Meredith... it seemed totally out of character for her, but I really laughed a lot. I like that show because it sort of parallels the trivia mindset of us puzzlers. Also Jeopardy. Now I'm watching IDOL auditions and it's the most disgusting thing I ever saw.


It has long been my personal theory that older people (like myself) can stave off Alzheimers by faithfully doing crosswords (just like aerobic exercise benefits the heart). But I now can back up my claim with that article from a professional study. Thanks for the link.

Sfingi said...

Bridge is a waste of time. Poetry is a waste of time. Family functions are a waste of time. Overbearing relatives are a waste of time. Collecting funnels is a waste of time. Anything that doesn't make $ is a waste of time. I take it you don't ask her for $ and make your own living. Tell her it's not a waste of her time, just yours. She has made me very angry, grrr, and since it took me all day to straighten out a problem with Time Warner to get on today, just tell me where she lives and I'll come over and slap her around a bit and discharge capacitance. She must have a stupid hobby, like growing American Beauty roses, or washing her floor every day, or (gag) Find-a-Word. She's jealous.
I agree with @Vega.

I liked the puzzle, and the forum. Writeovers: I had "moll" for MAIL (thinking it was music), gameSHOW for QUIZSHOW,
both "king" and "crib" for TWIN, (I often sleep in a TWIN bed and think of it as as a - bed) until straightened out. Didn't know TONI Braxton, Mizuno, Liz PHAIR. Otherwise, easy, made sense, no Googling, even no sports!

Especially liked AMY Lowell, one of my favorites. SOLE crosses SOULS was neat.

In my and my squirrel buddies universe, peanuts are not a snack. They are a way of life, and a daily sacrament to Saint George Washington Carver. Confess to being a chocoholic. Thin Mints, Afrikas, white chocolate, all welcome.

Great clip, @Orange. Showed it to hubster. The guy is nice, I must say.

Crockett1947 said...

@lit.doc The LA Times puzzle is available on cruciverb.com in the archives section at 7:00 p.m. PST, a full 4 hours before it's available on the L.A. Times web site.

Tinbeni said...

I had heard about the studies that Crossword Solvers were not as suseptable to Alzheimers for at least 15 years.
The brain, like our muscles, is a "use it or loss it" proposition. Another confirmation, thanks for the link.

It is not just when two unknown names cross that you have the resulting blank.

It is when two unknown anythings cross that this arises.

Maybe you just noticed that for you is was names.

Several of the ladies here cringe when they see the sports stuff.
I know I cringed at the Simpsons (until I learned them by doing CW's).
If QUIZ SHOW wasn't a fave movie, I would have entered Game Show, and I noticed a few who commented they did, before they corrected.

But here is the thing, and don't get me wrong on this, it is just a puzzle, no cash reward or Gold Star awarded.
If you miss a square or answer, no biggie.

Coming here the Hosts will give great insight in their write-ups and the CW101 lessons. Also, check out the CW101 button in the banner.

The commenters add "regular solver" mind sets as to what gave them fits.

The important thing is to have fun.

HUTCH said...

Yes, three easy puzzels and all is well! Hold on! At a recent conference, our moderator[a shrink],said crosswords wont hold off altheimers. He suggested community college and learning a new language as a proper exercise for the brain. I agreed but felt he, being Mexican-American might have influenced him. But I'm taking Spanish! Adios muchachos!

lit.doc said...

@sfingi, speak to me of collecting funnels! LOL, hoping for more.

@Crockett1947, thanks for the LAT info big time. Good excuse now to subscribe to cruciverb--more sleep!

CrazyCat said...

@JNH - Watching American Idol - I see what you mean.

Crockett1947 said...

@lit.doc No subscription needed -- just register.

Jan said...

As a psychologist, I have to add this:

Now that we have so much research showing that people learn and perform at tasks far better when they have had breaks than when they have not had them, I think it's fair to say that there is no such thing as a waste of time!

Jan said...

My son and I always have a good laugh when we see a store sign saying "Back in an hour" with no indication of the time the sign was put up! Will they be back in an hour? In a minute?

Charles Bogle said...

fun, enjoyable puzzle/theme. Any day I can latch onto the theme and successfully deploy it is a treat