SATURDAY, March 27, 2010—Brad Wilber

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

Eh, I don't love puzzles whose corners are filled with 7-letter answers. There are some good ones in there, 'tis true, but there are also such answers as FOLIATE, TEARIER, ARRANGE, and EROSION that are just kinda there.

On the plus side, the puzzle was tougher than most L.A. Times crosswords, and hit around a Friday NYT level. Not this Friday's NYT, but the standard Friday NYT difficulty (4:22 for me).

The high spots:
  • 1A: To [Google oneself] is to EGO SURF.
  • 16A: [Scale used in summer weather forecasts] is the UV INDEX. I'm heading to Florida for spring break, and I believe the UV index may figure into things despite it not yet being summer.
  • 24A: The late JFK, JR. is the [Only non-actor ever chosen as People's Sexiest Man Alive, familiarly]. Plenty of non-actors (e.g., a meteorologist for the Weather Channel) make it into the Sexiest Man issue, just not onto the cover for the official title.
  • 32A: [Dagwood's boss] is MR. DITHERS. Anyone else try to put BUMSTEAD in there, forgetting that it's Dagwood's surname? I remembered that the boss was married to Cora long before I could extract his last name.
  • 43A: [Extemporized] means ad-libbed or WINGED IT.
  • 61A: [Pack rat] clues HOARDER. I haven't seen that Hoarders show on TV yet, but my mother's been watching it. She takes comfort in the fact that the people on the show are a half a notch worse than her. "She kept broken shards of a plastic hanger because she thought someone else might use them in a craft project! I would never do that!" So says the woman with socks from the '80s and a collection of used Dunkin Donuts styrofoam cups and plastic lids.
  • 1D: Good clue! A [Tip for an exam taker?] is the ERASER on the tip of a pencil. Oh, wait, I never even saw 51A with the same clue, only this time the answer is the NIB of a pen. Man, do I love cherry Nibs. They're awful, really, all sticky sugar and starch and dye, but I like Nibs better than any other sort of licorice.
  • 2D: The GAG REEL is a [Common DVD bonus feature]. I have yet to see one that's actually hilarious.
  • 6D: [Wrap again, with questionable etiquette] clues REGIFT. There's a fine line between sensible repurposing in a green fashion and unloading your crap on someone who won't want it any more than you do.
  • 8D: [Enviable scholarships] are FULL RIDES. If you were the recipient of a full-ride college scholarship, tell me in the comments so I can ooh and aah.
  • 38D: On Sesame Street, [Bert has one, but not Ernie]—a UNIBROW.
  • 45D: Who doesn't love the ["Doonesbury" hippie] ZONKER? How did he manage to afford to be a sophomore for 13 years? Was he getting an endless full-ride scholarship or what?
I did not know the song in 52A at all. I was hoping it was a blues song, but it turns out to be a 1957 happy-pop song. Here you go, ["Kisses Sweeter __ Wine": Jimmie Rodgers hit] (THAN):

Crosswordese 101: EEOis clued as [Want-ads fairness pledge: Abbr]. It stands for "equal employment opportunity." Guess what other answer gets similar clues? EOE, or "equal opportunity employer." So when you see a clue for a 3-letter abbreviation having to do with hiring or help-wanted ads, you know the first letter is E but have to lean on the crossings to know if it'll be EEO or EOE.

Everything Else — 1A: Google oneself (EGO SURF); 8A: Produce greenery (FOLIATE); 15A: Exceeded, as a time limit (RAN OVER); 16A: Scale used in summer weather forecasts (UV INDEX); 17A: Way back when (AGES AGO); 18A: Researcher's garb (LAB COAT); 19A: Mlle. counterpart (SRTA.); 20A: Card game declaration (I CALL); 22A: Start to dominate? (PRE-); 23A: Want-ads fairness pledge: Abbr. (EEO); 24A: Only non-actor ever chosen as People's Sexiest Man Alive, familiarly (JFK, JR.); 25A: Like some kitchens (EAT-IN); 27A: Apology element (REGRET); 29A: Cockpit reading (AIR SPEED); 31A: MGM co-founder (LOEW); 32A: Dagwood's boss (MR. DITHERS); 33A: "Star Trek" (2009) villain (NERO); 35A: Case for notions (ÉTUI); 36A: Life partners (TRUE LOVES); 40A: Chimes in (ADDS); 43A: Extemporized (WINGED IT); 44A: Faux (ERSATZ); 46A: Crawling with creepers (IVIED); 47A: In advance (EARLY); 49A: Dude (BRO); 50A: Tip for an exam taker? (NIB); 51A: Key of Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" (E FLAT); 52A: "Kisses Sweeter __ Wine": Jimmie Rodgers hit (THAN); 53A: Italian pistol (BERETTA); 56A: Database with openings (JOB BANK); 58A: Deforestation concern (EROSION); 59A: Orchestrate (ARRANGE); 60A: "__ Creek," TV series that launched Katie Holmes's career (DAWSON'S); 61A: Pack rat (HOARDER); 1D: Tip for an exam taker? (ERASER); 2D: Common DVD bonus feature (GAG REEL); 3D: Pizzeria shout (ONE TO GO); 4D: Cubs' all-time home run leader (SOSA); 5D: The Cavaliers of the ACC (UVA); 6D: Wrap again, with questionable etiquette (REGIFT); 7D: Monastic attire (FROCK); 8D: Enviable scholarships (FULL RIDES); 9D: Many a racetrack (OVAL); 10D: Empowerment word (LIB); 11D: Entrepreneurial monthly (INC.); 12D: Anne of Green Gables, for one (ADOPTEE); 13D: Less stoic (TEARIER); 14D: Stretches (EXTENDS); 21D: Slightly cracked (AJAR); 24D: Like FabergÈ eggs (JEWELED); 25D: Puget Sound, e.g. (ESTUARY); 26D: Rose garden bane (APHIDS); 28D: Back out (RENEGE); 30D: Slowing, in mus. (RIT.); 32D: Oscar night devotees (MOVIE FANS); 34D: Poet McKuen (ROD); 36D: Half a sleeping pair (TWIN BED); 37D: Mediterranean hot spot (RIVIERA); 38D: Bert has one, but not Ernie (UNIBROW); 39D: "Too many more to mention" abbr. (ET AL.); 41D: Expert (DAB HAND); 42D: Idiosyncratic (STRANGE); 44D: Banderillero's foe (EL TORO); 45D: "Doonesbury" hippie (ZONKER); 48D: Indian royal (RAJAH); 51D: Hugh Laurie's alma mater (ETON); 52D: Vanishing slope sight (T-BAR); 54D: Three dots, to Morse (ESS); 55D: Familia member (TIO); 57D: Top at the shore (BRA).


lit.doc said...

Good morning, Orange! Terrific write-up and…OMG, 4:22? Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, my 44:50 confirms (in a sad, twisted sort of way) your “standard Friday NYT difficulty” assessment. And whatever the technical shortcomings of stacked sevens, they’re still a relative mercy for us back-benchers.

Plea from a late-middle-aged stoner: NO MORE ROD McKUEN! Age-onset type II diabetes is a serious concern. On a more positive note, 52D “Vanishing slope sight” was the first time I’ve seen T-BAR clued correctly, ever. Bleed-over: NERO from yesterday’s BEQ. Coincidence? How the hell should I know.

jazz said...

@lit.doc--I'm with you my friend. 4:22! Yeah, that's a toughie all right. I'm happy just getting through a Saturday with no googles and no mistakes!

FWIW, I liked today's puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

6:44 here — pretty normal Thursday NYT time. I liked this one. I wish there were more medium difficulty themelesses out there.

Held up only by WAS OVER (?) and not knowing DABHAND. Didn't know ROD, but it didn't matter. My other blog is getting much Google traffic from the NERO clue. ERSATZ is one of my favorite words. Love answers like JFKJR, UVINDEX, and MRDITHERS — multi-words with abbrevs. Makes for great-looking fill.

REGIFT was nice, too. I like a B.W. puzzle I can slay. Not the norm.



OK Puzz, but too EZ
4:06 online, Bah!

Tinbeni said...

4 weeks, seems AGES AGO, Brad Wilber
RAN OVER me (I went back and checked).

No googles, No writeovers, ONE 'Cup of Java' ...WTF today I was the DAB HAND. (OK, I looked that up after, I'm not a Brit. skilled at gardening).

@Lit.doc. I was sick of ROD way back in the day. Also sad to have that memory resurface. @Rex you are lucky.

@Orange Today's UV INDEX is 9, 10 minutes before burning. Sunday late, Monday A.M. showers, rest of next week High 70's and sunny.

ERSATZ is one of my all time favorite words.
ZONKER my current life mentor.
Really liked the ERASER & NIB, great cluing.

Hmmm, nemesis defeated.
I CALLed to order ONE-TO-GO.

CrazyCat said...

Very enjoyable 20 minutes. That's a good time for me on a Saturday. Lots of fun, fresh words. Liked MR DITHERS, ZONKER, UNIBROW, REGIFT. One google for Cavaliers of ACC and had to look up the definition for Extemporized. Yuck also for ROD. My parents had that Jimmy Rodgers record. I was only five in 1957, but I can still remember all the words. Weird. Never heard of DAB HAND. EGO SURF was the last to go.

bluebell said...

I'm having difficulty accepting estuary as a description of Puget Sound. There are certainly estuaries along its shores (places where rivers empty into the Sound), but the body of water itself is huge and deep--an arm of the Pacific flowing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and stretching 75 to 100 miles south.

I never heard the term "egosurf" but then I haven't heard of a lot of computer terms.


Orange, so you can learn the difference between "Original words" and "Made-up words" (per your so-called "funny" Thurs. reply).
Today Brad used several ORIGINAL words, e.g. EGO SURF, REGIFT, GAG REEL, TEARIER, WINGED IT, and FULL RIDE. None of them are made-up words, but they are all fresh and original in that they have never been used in a puzzle before.
Although FULL RIDE is original, I thought FULBRIGHT would have been better for that clue.


BTW, DABHAND is British, but has been used a few years ago by Pat Berry and Will Shortz

Argyle said...

2F, did Berry and Shortz give a hint it was chiefly British?

Orange said...

@Fault Finder: I have seen EGO SURF and REGIFT in other puzzles. Possibly by Brendan Quigley, Matt Gaffney, Matt Jones, Ben Tausig, or the rest of the Onion crew rather than the daily newspapers. I just Googled EGO SURFING and crossword and whaddaya know? I blogged the 9/17/05 NYT puzzle by Rich Norris and commented on the entry EGO SURFING.

TEARIER is (a) boring and (b) not new. It was in a 2000 Newsday puzzle. TEARIEST has been in four NYT puzzles. It, too, is boring. When has anyone ever needed either of these comparative/superlative words? There is a distinction between "not found in Xword Info" and "fresh and new." Some new answers are terrific and some...there's a reason constructors have avoided them.

I appreciate fresh fill as much as anyone, but when you're demanding that a themed weekday puzzle include the showy answers that one expects to find in a themeless puzzle, it seems overly demanding. A Saturday puzzle should sparkle and pop, because the quality of the fill is the raison d'etre. A themed puzzle's raison d'etre is the theme.

Tinbeni said...

@Fault Finder
I find it amusing that you have the gall to admonish @ORANGE regarding "Original Words" used in crossword puzzles.

I am certain the ACPT 2010 9th place finisher (yeah, she is slipping, was 6th in 2009), Co-Host of this Blog and Sole-Host of "Diary of a Crossword Fiend" knows what qualifies as original fill.

You on the other hand hide behind an ERSATZ identifier. That speaks volumes.

A pseudo-intellectual afraid to show your real face?


You're right about Rich Norris using EGOSURFING (but not EGOSURF, so what, it's the same thing). It's a good word and used a lot by Googlers.
I looked through all my BEQ puzzles and could not find REGIFT, but I'm sure you could find it in some second-rate puzzle book. I guess I was referring to LAT & NYT.
TEARIER may be boring to just you, but it is a legitimate word and is used in much of great American literature. Perhaps it would be boring to others who are pop-culturists.
ITA,"Saturday puzzles should sparkle and pop" and this one certainly did. If eating stale words is the price we have to pay for ditzy themed puzzles, then let's lash out at them. My god, a good constructor surely can come up with a FEW fresh words in a weekday puzzle, even if it's themed. I saw none in Jeff's cutesy puzzle.
Was I criticizing today's puzzle? NOT!
I rest my case.

shrub5 said...

I first put FULBRIGHT for the enviable scholarships (I had FUL------) although I noticed the clue was plural. It was eventually corrected when I had to google Dagwood's boss. Getting MR. DITHERS helped to open up a log jam in the area.

Had FOLIAGE instead of FOLIATE which left me with GEARIER for "less stoic". I read the word "produce" in the 8A clue as a noun.

I have a small nit to pick with the 24A clue using "familiarly". I think it should be "briefly." I doubt anyone would have gone up to Kennedy and said "Hi, JFK, JR." Familiarly would be more along the line of "John-John." I don't know if his family and friends still called him that at the age he was "the sexiest man alive."

Really had fun with this puzzle -- thanks, Brad Wilber.

Sfingi said...

I began at the bottom and thought it was easy - until I got to the NW.
I never heard of EGOSURF or GAGREEL;
Had to Google the 2 sports clues in NW: SOSA, UVA.
Didn't know LOEW as a founder of MGM and had to Google. Did know Mayer and Goldwyn, er Goldfish.

Had several write-overs. I had JeteR (I don't know sports, but I know good-looking when I see it), then after Googling had JonJR, and didn't get JFKJR until Orange.

So much for NW.

I never read (past or present) Doonesbury because (and I know this is goofy) I can't get past the dreadful noses - it's an aesthetic thing; however, got ZONKER from crosses.

Got NERO and DABHAND from crosses.

I had "heroine" before ADOPTEE. I read the whole set in 6th grade. That's 54 years ago.
Had "try cee" before ERASER.

HOARDER, I'm one. Mostly (serious) books, also tins and funnels and certain toys. I do have some that might be ridiculous - reusable squirt bottle tops and book marks, but I rationalize they take up little room. We HOARDERs always rationalize. When I heard about animal hoarders, I said - books don't s--t.

Lewis Turco, a retired SUNY poetry prof., wrote about how he handled the students who thought ROD McKuen was a poet. After listening to their praise of this simplistic, formulaic, "synestheic" writer, wrote a bunch of poems in the McKuen style to show them the next day that anyone could do it in their sleep. - And broke it to them after they read and praised what they thought was more ROD.

And, as I may have bragged before, my son had a FULLRIDE at SUNY Binghamton, and a sister of mine was a Fulbright. I bask in their glory.

mac said...

This may have been the hardest LAT puzzle I have ever done, YES! Enjoyed it a lot. Learned and full ride and ego surf (what a good term), loved JFKJR and Mr. Dithers (I also remembered Cora first). Jobbank looks good in the grid.

@Orange: hope you have better weather than last year! Have fun.

Like this one: hotyp. Thank you!

Rex Parker said...

3 comment limit in force ... now.

There is a difference betw. contrarian and asshole.

Always easier to have "fresh" fill in a themeless puzzle, where you have ZERO grid restrictions. To compare today's puzzle to yesterday's on that front shows real ignorance.


Rube said...

I too thought this was like a Thursday or easy Friday NYT puzzle. It feels good to finish a Saturday w/o Googling, (unlike the NYT which I DNF). Like most everyone here who commented, never heard of DABHAND, EGOSURF, or GAGREEL. However they were all gettable from crosses.

@SFINGI, I've heard of foot fetishes and leg men, but a "nabob of noses"? ("Nattering..." seems inappropriate.)

@BlueBell, I was going to agree with you about Puget Sound, but I thought I'd better look it up first. According to Wiki, "...[It] is a complex estuarine system of interconnected marine waterways and basins...". I lived in Seattle for 18 years and never knew that.

Tinbeni said...

@Fault Finder
I truly apologize that your ERSATZ identifier put you in the class of being just another "anon coward" (your words, not mine).

I know when I wake up every day and do the LAT CW, then comment here, that I hold back on expressing my honest opinion because of my fear of being castigated by the ACPT ... ROTFLMAO.

As to fresh fill in the puzzles, I always look forward to it, like in todays offering.
Personally, I thought DABHAND, 41D Expert, was on the arcane maybe a bit obscure side. But I accepted my crosses and looked it up afterward.

But your comments Thursday and today were addressed to @Orange in a very chastising and pejorative manner.

Sort of like "killing the messenger" for the write-ups of the puzzles in this blog.

Seems to me if these are not up to your standards (and I can tell you obviously do a whole lot of CW's, so I'm not questioning that) you should address your comments directly to Rich Norris through the proper channels.

Rex Parker said...

The ACPT is not an entity that can castigate. It's a tournament, not a body of people with a membership or spokesperson.

Tinbeni said...

I know you will delete this because I'm over the limit.

But FF brought up his reason for using an ANON because he didn't want to be "castigated by the ACPT" in the 4th comment he posted, the one you deleted.

Sent shiver's down my spine ...

bluebell said...

@Rube. I lived 12 years on Bainbridge Island and never knew that either. I looked up estuary and the definition seemed to focus on the point where the river entered the sea, and the tides thereof.

Orange said...

@Fault Finder, do you realize that the crossword bloggers give criticism on a routine basis and are not "castigated by the ACPT"? In fact, our panel discussion was the Friday night activity at last year's tournament. Puzzles are made better by criticism, provided that the criticism is well-founded and the critic knows what he or she is talking about. Demanding never-before-seen fill in a weekday themed puzzle seems out of touch with reality.

Sfingi said...

@Rube - They have Rectangular noses. This isn't even a parody of any actual nose. I've seen triangular noses, blob noses, noses that reveal the nostrils full frontal, noses that dip into the owner's mouth, noses like many animals and insects, noses with veins, pimples, warts, whiteheads, hair in and hair out - but not rectangular, even in the slightest. I can't really explain it.

@Tinbeni - you said something that made me think that I have improved in one way - I accept my crosses. I no longer doubt and fail to fill for fear of an unknown result.

Joon said...

well, i agree with fault finder about one thing: today's puzzle rocked. i thought the fill was sensational. yeah, TEARIER and EROSION "just sit there," but there was so much great, fresh fill. EGOSURF, UV INDEX, MR. DITHERS, UNIBROW, JFK JR, ZONKER, GAG REELS, and FULL RIDES... that is a ton of really lively stuff for one grid.

the agreement pretty much ends there, though. BEQ used REGIFT in a puzzle last month. ("going too far," if you must know.) and it's been in the new york sun and jonesin' crossword. if you called either of those a "second-rate" puzzle book, you'd lose any and all credibi... wait, let's close this here barn door right after the last horse leaves.

*David* said...

This was a perfect level Saturday for me. Had difficulty starting at the top but once I hit the bottom things came together. Kept on wanting FULBRIGHT for FULLRIDES and BUMSTEAD for MR DITHERS. Favorite fill was EGO SURF and UNIBROW. New information for me was DAB HAND and RIT.

lit.doc said...

@Joon, Mr. Ed sez "neigh". And isn't REGIFT simply a synonym for FRUITCAKE?

Anonymous said...

I know "defthand" but not "dabhand" for EXPERT.


Jan said...

Having never heard of "dab hand", I confidently put in "old hand" which really messed up that section! Finally got "dab hand" in there, but had to look it up to be sure of it.