SATURDAY, March 13, 2010—Robert A. Doll

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

If you've been struggling with recent Saturday puzzles, perhaps you'll find this one to be more pliable. I zipped right through it like it was a Wednesday NYT crossword.

I like it when people's full names are included in the grid. Today, we have two people whose first names show up a lot because they have only three letters, two of them vowels. IRA GLASS and YMA SUMAC, today is your day to shine! I'm especially psyched about YMA SUMAC because she is way overdue for Crosswordese 101 attention (see below).

Before I move on to my other favorite answers, let me call your attention to a couple pairs of answers that bump up against the duplication rule, with related French and English words. 10A: [Orly sight] clues AVION, the French word for "airplane." Airplanes fly, and words like avion and aviation are derived from the Latin word for bird, avis. That word is half of RARA AVIS (36D: [One in a million]), which is Latin for "rare bird." Too close for comfort or a lovely pairing? You decide. Even more closely related are the French IDÉE (7D: [__ fixe]) and the second half of "NEAT IDEA!" (14D: ["Very clever!"]).

Groovy bits:
  • 1A: ["Scram!"] ("TAKE A HIKE!"). I gotta start saying that more often.
  • 17A: [It often requires a bedroom set] (LOVE SCENE). True enough.
  • ELOI has been covered in Crosswordese 101 before, but this clue has a little extra oomph. 27A: [Group that "had decayed to a mere beautiful futility": Wells] (ELOI).
  • 59A: [Team with a flaming ball in its logo] (MIAMI HEAT). Lively entry, that. (What kind of picture did you think I'd include?)
  • 1D: [Know-it-all's taunt] ("TOLD YA"). I gotta start saying that more often, too.
  • Potty humor! 13D: [Rustic place to go?] (OUTHOUSE).
  • 35D: [Contest that's usually over in less than 20 seconds] (DRAG RACE). Cool answer.
  • 56D: [Broccoli __] (RABE). I do not like anything in the broccoli category. This is a leafy green veggie with broccoli-like buds and bitter-flavored greens, the dictionary tells me. Bleh. It's also spelled broccoli raab and rapini, the latter word being a recent killer in a tough Fireball crossword. If you wish the Saturday L.A. Times puzzle were twice as hard, you should definitely subscribe to Fireball Crosswords. $10, cheap!

Less savory stuff:

I dunno. There's kind of a lot of not-so-hot fill today, isn't there? A Roman numeral (DCL), a direction (SSE), fill-in-the-blanks (PAO, DRU), ESSES, European geography (AAR, EDAM, ALSACE) and languages (ETE, GATO), RIAS, a weirdly clued plural abbreviation (SCIS, [Some H.S. courses]), a plural first name (GINAS), ANTRUM/[Anatomical cavity]...

Crosswordese 101: I don't know how many people who don't do crosswords know of YMA SUMAC (41A: [Singer in the 1954 film "Secret of the Incas"]). Her first name has been in crosswords for decades now. Clues generally touch on these things: she was born in Peru and her voice spanned five octaves. Something like [Singer Sumac] invariably clues YMA. Would you like to hear those octaves? Have at it:

Everything Else — 15A: Got very sore, maybe (OVERDID IT); 16A: Eva of "57-Across: Miami" (LARUE); 18A: Montana motto word (PLATA); 19A: Seventh-century date (DCL); 20A: Cooper's creation (KEG); 21A: Accepted without question (BOUGHT); 22A: Pines (YEARNS); 25A: Kung __ chicken (PAO); 28A: Features of some hotels (ATRIA); 29A: Effort (DINT); 30A: King deposed in 1964 (SAUD); 31A: Go along with (ASSENT TO); 34A: Vane reading: Abbr. (SSE); 35A: Sudafed alternative (DRISTAN); 38A: Sight from Marie Byrd Land (ROSS SEA); 40A: Took off (RAN); 43A: Like the Kalahari (ARID); 45A: Town inland of the IJsselmeer (EDAM); 46A: Actress Gershon et al. (GINAS); 50A: It may be chased by un perro (GATO); 51A: Lake Thun feeder (AAR); 52A: Studio renamed Paramount Television in 1967 (DESILU); 53A: 1986 N.L. batting champ Tim (RAINES); 55A: R&B group __ Hill (DRU); 57A: Show with DNA testing (CSI); 58A: __-garde (AVANT); 62A: Paramecium features (CILIA); 63A: All in all (ON BALANCE); 64A: Test track challenges (ESSES); 65A: Living end (BEE'S KNEES); 2D: Long-legged shore bird (AVOCET); 3D: Body armor fiber (KEVLAR); 4D: Poet's preposition (ERE); 5D: Things to zap (ADS); 6D: Bumpkins (HICKS); 8D: Top dog (KINGPIN); 9D: Hiver's opposite (ETE); 10D: Chop House Originals brand (ALPO); 11D: Societal concerns (VALUES); 12D: "This American Life" host (IRA GLASS); 21D: Duff (BOTTOM); 23D: Inlets (RIAS); 24D: Cold and rainy, say (NASTY); 29D: "Gracias" reply (DE NADA); 32D: Just like, with "the" (SAME AS); 33D: Truman Dam river (OSAGE); 37D: Approves, in a way (INITIALS); 42D: Certain rush hour commuter, metaphorically (SARDINE); 44D: "__ Darko": 2001 sci-fi film (DONNIE); 47D: Christianity's __ Creed (NICENE); 48D: French region along the Rhine (ALSACE); 49D: Bach compositions (SUITES); 52D: "The Count of Monte Cristo" author (DUMAS); 54D: LAX postings (ETAS); 59D: Hit-making group? (MOB); 60D: Kind (ILK); 61D: Solo in space (HAN).


Tinbeni said...

Oy Vey, I'm Fercockt!!!

To me, this was NASTY.
ON BALANCE, it took me to the OUTHOUSE (now that had a great clue).

Did not know that ALPO, is the Chop House Originals dog food brand.

Not familiar with:
The TV show that IRA GLASS is the host.
Secondary star of CSI Miami, Eva LARUE.
GINA Gershon, who after googling, checking the TV & Movies in her Bio filmography, still don't recall ever seeing. She is pretty but hardly even a C-List actor.

Couldn't recall that the NL batting champ from 24 years ago was Tim RAINES. And I'm a huge B-Ball fan.

The constructor must go to the slowest DRAG RACEs in America. Most are over in about 5 seconds (or less).
Maybe 20 seconds in a AMC, Pacer or LeCar (not the one Tuttle mentioned yesterday). Hell, my Scion Tc does it in less than 14. geez.

Add in some obscure geography, 14 multi-word answers and my slog was complete. Ass Kicked!!!

I did like KEG, though I believe Cooper's actually make barrels, where Scotch is aged.
Hit-making group, MOB was good also.

If I ever wore one, I would 'Tip-My-Hat' to those who solved this easily.

@Orange Great clip, write-up even better.

hazel said...

@Tinbeni - This American Life is an NPR show - plays on Sundays here, but maybe not everywhere.

i'm far from being a know it all, but i found this one to be, as Orange said, just exactly like a Wednesday NYT. My time was within seconds of my Wednesday average. I came in humbled after the NYT thrashing, but my spidey senses must have stayed atingle, and I got the Congratulations! in good order.

Looking back at the grid itself, I didn't really know that many answers to the clues, but the words/ese look like old friends - so I think I solved the grid more than I solved the clues.

The puzzle didn't exactly wow me, but it was a pleasant solve. Like a nice hot bath after the grueling NYT workout.

shrub5 said...

@Orange: you can add to your duplicate list Miami in the clue for 16A and Miami in the answer MIAMI HEAT at 59A.

I couldn't finish this without a trip to google. Had to look up the host of "This American Life" as well as Eva LARUE to get the NE corner done. Didn't know KEVLAR or AVOCET, both of which I needed to finally get rid of GOTCHA that I had at 1D before correcting to TOLDYA.

Favorite clue/answer: Paramecium features/CILIA. Love those little critters!

C said...

Cruised the puzzle until the NE corner. Actress name crossed with a host name spells trouble for this solver. Brute forced the solution but my time suffered.

CILIA was a cool answer. SCIS was not.

Learned some new things from this puzzle so no complaints.

lit.doc said...

@Orange and @you say that like evil is bad hazel, hand up for Wednesday level of difficulty. This one was a much needed salve after I OVER DID IT getting through the NYT puzzle. And for no reason I can put my cursor on, W/NW took half as long as the rest of the puzzle.

@Orange, I hope you at least googled “flaming balls”. Lots of funny stuff out there. And BTW, you think Peter Gordon’s Fireball puzzles are only twice as hard as the Saturday LAT?!

@Tinbeni, I used to live in Phoenix, where drag racing is big. Watching the funny cars and rails running in the heat of the night, blue fire pouring from beneath, was an amazing sight. But FWIW, it’s only the funny cars and rails that are running five- or sub-five-second quarter miles. But you make a good point re the poorly informed clue. My then brother-in-law and I went in on a big-block Ford that we’d take out to the track on weekends to run brackets. Even with our DIY garage special, I once ran a 13.09 quarter. 20 seconds = forever in the quarter mile.

Anonymous said...

Orange, you mention the duplication rule. So where does one find the rules for construction of a CW puzzle? 10Q Golfballman

Tinbeni said...

@Hazel (Who is really nice!)
Thanks for the info on This American Life, NPR show out of Chicago. Learned it did have a 2 year run, won 3 Emmys, when it was on Showtime.

How fast did you write in MIAMI HEAT?
It was my second entry after CSI.

I learned the name of an NPR host and 2 actors.
Enjoyed having the neurons come back to life re: geography once learned that had become dormant.

When "solving" (I use that term loosely since it was a 'Pot of Java' timeframe) and I got to 35D, 20 second contest, I was in a NHRA Gator Nationals mindset.

Using the "Quarter Mile Calculaor" I found on the 'G' a 2500lbs car with 80HP would turn a 19.9 time.

If BY NIGHT, a seven letter partial doesn't bother me, the bump up against the duplication rule answers you sited were OK by me.
Damn, they were two answers I knew quickly.

Orange said...

@Golfballman: Rule #7 of Shortz's "Basic Rules" is "Do not repeat words in the grid. Exceptions are often made for small words (e.g., ON as part of more than one answer). Many interpret the rule to mean that using two forms of the same word (both from English, or from English and another language, especially if they share an etymological root) is verboten as well.

@lit.doc, my strong point is themelesses, so my times flatten out. Today's NYT took me a little over twice as long as the Monday NYT. The easier Fireballs took me less than twice as long as today's LAT. I may not be making any sense, as I need a nap.

Anonymous said...

Had reaction very much like that of @tinbeni


did not like things like SCIS and not-so-hot fill identified by @orange, who did a super write-up. YMA SUMAC...my only google..will now never be forgotten

RARA AVIS..new to me too! Ditto KEVLAR, AVOCET

Had missed five wks of LAT Saturdays...wow have they gotten tougher!

Must confess: Liked LARUE a whole lot better when it was a cowboy as opposed to a show I know nada about-

Charles Bogle said...

my post just vanished...basically I'm w @tinbeni...being away from LAT Saturdays for 5 wks toughness caught me by great surprise...Liked BEESKNEES Liked LARUE a lot better when he was a cowboy...super write-up @ORANGE...don't think I will ever forget YMA SUMAC

Orange said...

@tinbeni, "This American Life" and Ira Glass have forsaken Chicago. He moved to NYC a few years ago. Also! I just learned that he was a horrible boyfriend to cartoonist Lynda Barry, as detailed in her comics.

JIMMIE said...

I agree with tinbeni in that the NE corner with names crossing was no fun.

BTW, the LAT paper had a typo at
17a, with "If" instead of "It," which threw me for a minute.

lit.doc said...

@Orange, you were making sense, just scary sense. I see what you mean about your times flattening out re themeless puzzles.

@Tinbeni, thanks a heap (tee hee) for the additional info (and I understand the NHRA mindset). Just about wet myself laughing at the image of an 80HP heap wallowing down the track.

xyz said...

Kicked my buttski today, but at least I got to hear YMA SUMAC

hazel said...

@Tinbeni - Aw shucks and thanks for the moral support!!
@Orange - I have to clear the record.
A. I like Ira Glass (a lot).
B. I'm pretty sure he's related to Philip Glass, which makes him even cooler.
C. I read that Linda Barry thing, which was of course very funny.
D. Ira Glass admits he was a jerk to her, and they're both OK with it all now.
QED. I am very relieved to see that he's not really so evil either although I'm not sure I've used QED appropriately.

Van55 said...

Utterly forgettable.

18 proper nouns, several of which border on the unknown to many, I would guess. Finished with no joy whatsoever.

CrazyCat said...

Count me among the joyless today. New to me was LARUE, PLATA, ROSS SEA, YMA SUMAC, the GINAS, AVOCET, KEVLAR, IRA GLASS, ANTRUM, RAINES, RARA AVIS, DRU Hill and I haven't heard of DRISTAN for years. Needless to say the puzzle took me forever.
@Orange Liked the write up though. The Lynda Barry article was funny. The YMA SUMAC clip scared my pets.
@Tinbeni Love your left over Yiddish!

Anonymous said...

Toughest one for me in many Saturdays - ymasumac???. Give constructor credit for just pulling that one out of his - well never mind. LocoGatoSenora covered most of the craziness.

*David* said...

Big fan of this one easier then usual for a Saturday which made it even more enjoyable. I felt it left you just enough openings to figure things out. ALPO opened the NE which looked to be the hardest section.

There was some compromise but six 9stacks in the across and six 8 stacks in the downs, I ain't complaining. I felt the real strength of the puzzle was the cluing, 35D and 36D were really sweet. I am a personal fan of throwing in general trivia to puzzles so the names were all good by me.

Cleo said...

Tough one for me too.


I just love this puzzle despite the Miami faults.
What do I like about it? Idioms and Metaphors!
BEES KNEES, packed like SARDINES, TAKE A HIKE, KING PIN,and fighting like GATOs and PERROs.

Knew most of the words with no help, but the DRU/RABE was a definite natick.

When I see a lot of 9-letter words running across, I usually start solving the down crosses, so 1D was a gimme, then 2D was too (I recently graduated in Ornithology, so I had better know AVOCET)... from here on I sailed through the downs. Despite the 56 square natick, I solved the puzzle in 12:30, which is pretty good for me.

There's a typo in the clue for 17A "IF often requires a bedroom set" should read "IT often...".

Fave clues: "Paramecium features" = CILIA, "Bumpkins" = HICKS (cuz I are one), "Rustic place to go" = OUT HOUSE, "Duff" = BOTTOM, and "Solo in space" = HAN.

27A When I saw the quote was from H. G. Welles, I just knew it had to have something to do with an ELOI.

Okay, what the heck does this mean? "Hiver's opposite" (ETE)?

Loved Orange's writeup!

Oops, gotta set my clocks forward and get to bed!

Anonymous said...

Hiver (winter) - ete (summer) in French!

Jan said...

This one was rather tough for me - lots of unknowns. Finished without Googling though it took hours, leaving and returning to it many times. But that's the way I like it!

Can someone explain why speed is considered such an important factor - or a factor at all - in crossword solving? For me, the puzzles that take me the longest are so much more fun than the ones I breeze through. I enjoy having to figure out the answers, and the longer it takes, the more satisfying it is when light dawns. Puzzle times seem so irrelevant and unnecessarily competitive, like school grades. I hope I never become an expert!

jerry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.