SATURDAY, April 17, 2010—Barry C. Silk

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

Interesting grid, isn't it? It's got an extra level of symmetry—turn it 90°, 180°, or 270° and the black squares form the same pattern. Usually crosswords just have 180° rotational symmetry. Each quadrant has a pair of 10s that crosses an 8/10/7 stack, and those 8/10/7 bundles criss-cross each other in the middle of the grid.

The puzzle took me 4:35 to solve, so it's on the tougher end of the Saturday L.A. Times spectrum. My only real trouble spot was a misfire at 37A: I answered [Goes ballistic] with WIGS OUT instead of LOSES IT based on that final T, but every other letter was wrong.

Lots of groovy fill! The highlights:
  • 17A. PATSY CLINE is the ["I Fall to Pieces" singer]. Man, what a voice.

  • 28A. An EXEMPLAR is a [Model]. I have a soft spot for words that end with -AR. Cultivar and exemplar have that Latin swing, as does Simon Bolivar.
  • 38A. [Gravel transports] is an accurate but boring clue for DUMP TRUCKS. When my son was a wee bairn, he pronounced "truck" with an F instead of a TR, which provided me with plenty of hilarity when we drove anywhere and passed a truck, as he was wont to exclaim about every last one of 'em.
  • 48A. Dammit, there are no POTATO CHIPs in the house, and now I want one. Or more than one. [It's hard to eat one] when 20 are so delicious.
  • 55A. [Factory outlet] is a great clue for SMOKESTACK. Barry made you think of factory outlet stores, didn't he? Not me, though. I had so many of the letters before I ever saw the clue.
  • 5D. TWYLA! If you ask nicely, Rex will tell you that [Choreographer Tharp] went to the same college he did. Hell, he'll tell you regardless of your level of interest. Then he may say "Chirp, chirp!" We pat his head soothingly and back out of the room.

6D. BOLLIXED UP is my favorite entry after PATSY CLINE. The clue's [Made a mess of].
  • 7D. Tough clue at first, and then obvious: [Collectible involving seeds] is the CHIA PET. Ch-ch-chia!
  • 10D. Barry's a big Phillies fan, so you know how psyched he was to get COLE HAMELS in here. He's the [Pitcher who was a 2008 post-season standout for the Phillies]. I think there was a World Series win somewhere in there, but I really wasn't paying attention.
  • 12D. [It holds water] isn't a GLASS and it isn't a SEWER. It's a LEVEE, which makes for a great destination in your Chevrolet.

  • 26D. Literally, the ADAM'S APPLE is a [Lump in one's throat]. Well, provided that one is male.
  • 27D. HIPPETY-HOP! Who here saw that goofball Coen brothers movie, The Ladykillers? The old woman complained about that "hippety-hop" music the young people listen to. Whenever I hear someone complaining that they don't like/get rap music, I hear them calling it "the hippety-hop." Clue is [51-Down's pace], 51D being a HARE or [Leveret, e.g.].
  • 29D. MILKSHAKES is in a still-commanding third place in Amy's Favorite Answers today. It's clued as [Offerings at some parlors] because "milkshake" is a euphemism for a truly outrageous service offered at sketchy massage parlors. (Alternatively, you order it at an ice cream parlor.)
  • 30D. PROSTATE! This all-too-[Male gland] gets its day in the crossword sun, at last.
Holy crap, you know what I just noticed about this crossword? It has no 3-letter answers at all. Nice job, Barry! Not all of the 4s are so hot (I'm looking at you, USNR NASL OMOO PKGS), but it's a treat to have zero 3s to put up with.

Crosswordese 101: This feature takes a break today in honor of Barry's 3-less achievement in grid filling.

Everything Else — 1A: Stood for (MEANT); 6A: Lingerie spec (B CUP); 10A: Collectible frames (CELS); 14A: Within legal provisions (AT LAW); 15A: Quite (OH SO); 16A: German auto (OPEL); 17A: "I Fall to Pieces" singer (PATSY CLINE); 19A: Court zero (LOVE); 20A: Silently activated signal (STILL ALARM); 21A: Crossed (out) (EXED); 22A: Left __: rewarded (A TIP); 23A: Words before "I remember it well," in a "Gigi" song (AH YES); 24A: Hardly thrilling (BLAH); 28A: Model (EXEMPLAR); 31A: Gernreich of fashion (RUDI); 32A: Party occasion (RETIREMENT); 35A: Passed by (ELAPSED); 37A: Goes ballistic (LOSES IT); 38A: Gravel transports (DUMP TRUCKS); 40A: Start to type? (LINO); 41A: Doesn't get hung up on (SEES PAST); 42A: Center's job (SNAP); 43A: Authoritative orders (FIATS); 45A: Excellent, in recent slang (PHAT); 47A: Glimpse (ESPY); 48A: It's hard to eat one (POTATO CHIP); 54A: River of Xanadu (ALPH); 55A: Factory outlet (SMOKESTACK); 56A: Bit of Realtor lingo (RELO); 57A: Not at all pleased (SORE); 58A: Destined for markdown: Abbr. (IRREG.); 59A: Choreographer's unit (STEP); 60A: Get rid of (TOSS); 61A: Like non-oyster months, traditionally (RLESS); 1D: Some are genetic (MAPS); 2D: Division politique (ETAT); 3D: Some choir singers (ALTI); 4D: Org. that included the New York Cosmos (NASL); 5D: Choreographer Tharp (TWYLA); 6D: Made a mess of (BOLLIXED UP); 7D: Collectible involving seeds (CHIA PET); 8D: Seagoing mil. readiness force (USNR); 9D: Work with feet (POEM); 10D: Pitcher who was a 2008 post-season standout for the Phillies (COLE HAMELS); 11D: Strong adhesive (EPOXY RESIN); 12D: It holds water (LEVEE); 13D: They have runners (SLEDS); 18D: Reception staff (CATERERS); 23D: They may be brown or cream (ALES); 24D: Gave rise to (BRED); 25D: Pip (LULU); 26D: Lump in one's throat (ADAM'S APPLE); 27D: 51-Down's pace (HIPPETY HOP); 29D: Offerings at some parlors (MILKSHAKES); 30D: Male gland (PROSTATE); 33D: Historic Atlantic crosser (NINA); 34D: Sporty sunroof (T-TOP); 36D: Bernadette et al.: Abbr. (STES.); 39D: Takers of prisoners (CAPTORS); 43D: Chill causes (FEARS); 44D: Key (ISLET); 46D: "__, With Love": 1967 hit (TO SIR); 48D: "Hey, you!" ("PSST!"); 49D: Novel with the chapter "Farming in Polynesia" (OMOO); 50D: PC key (CTRL); 51D: Leveret, e.g. (HARE); 52D: Summer coolers (ICES); 53D: FedEx truck filler: Abbr. (PKGS.).


lit.doc said...

@Orange, thanks for pointing out the absence of three-letter fill. Failed to notice while solving, but am totally impressed. Great write-up, and LOL especially at your commentary re Twyla Tharp.

Done in 22:28 (stop laughing, seriously) and am very happy that Barry Silk's puzzle didn't crush my male glands. For a change.

Bleed-over: which puzzle had the OMOO = "Chapter Two: Farming in Polynesia" yesterday?


Usually I get the Saturday puzzles all BOLLIXED UP and I wear out an eraser, but this one flowed like Silk and I solved it in record time. Certainly not a BLAH puzzle, in fact it was downright PHAT! No 3-letter words… Wow!
And I never noticed the spin symmetry of the grid pattern till I read Orange's writeup.

Some cute stuff, like CHIA PET and HIPPETY-HOP.

And hey, I too like that HIPPETY-HOP rap music.

Didn’t know NASL or the Phillies pitcher, COLE HAMELS.
Also, never heard of Xanadu’s river ALPH.
Didn’t like USNR and its cross OHSO.
Thought the clue “Factory outlet” for SMOKESTACK was really clever.

A song I sing after every crossword solution---
“AH YES, I remember it well”

I love this saying---
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” ~TWYLA Tharp

Can someone please explain what a PIP is? Or for that matter, a LULU?
And are OPELs and FIATS still being manufactured? I haven’t seen these on the road for years.

I was crazy about PATSY Cline. She was probably the best female voice of the 20th century. But then God wanted her for his angelic choir.

Orange, a nice rich writeup! Especially like the Don McLean clip.

Sipping on this new Swedish coffee, Gevalia.

LOVE Y’all
Have a beautiful weekend !

imsdave said...

What a treat after (almost) solving that 'other puzzle'. Makes me want a smokeSTACK of POTATOCHIPS and wash them down with a MILKSHAKE.

@JNH - two words:

Judy Garland

Game, set, and match

Happy Saturday all

Gene said...

Alti is plural of "alto"? as in some choir singers. Hey, not in my church.

This comment has been removed by the author.
Tinbeni said...

OMOO, clued exactly the same way as in yesterday's NYT.


Throw in a baseball player I can't (don't care to) remember and inability to get the HIPPETY HOP and my DNF was complete.

EXEMPLAR write-up and clips.

Van55 said...

I thought the puzzle was excellent over all. That said, I think BOLLIXEDUP and HIPPEDYHOP are misspelled answers (or variants) of BOLLUXED and HIPPITY respectively.

shrub5 said...

Loved the puzzle but it was OHSO messy when I finally finished. The good stuff is too numerous to spell out so I'll just give a rousing (sitting) ovation to Barry Silk.

I had USCG (Coast Guard) at first before amending to USNR. Blanked on PATSY CLINE for way too long and for awhile was considering PATtie Page (sic). SEES PAST (doesn't get hung up on) would not emerge because of assorted mistakes, blank spaces and solver denseness. Leveret is a new word for me: a young HARE in its first year. We do see some hares around here so I'll be all ready with "oh, look, a leveret!!"

I sometimes buy a CHIA PET for the joke gift/white elephant exchange at our company holiday parties. It is quickly gotten rid of for just about anything else. This year it was Hillary Clinton who had the dubious distinction of joining past honorees Chia Homer Simpson and Chia Statue of Liberty.

CrazyCat said...

@Orange: My son used to do that F thing with trucks too. Every single one we would pass, he would shout it out from his little car seat. I would be laughing so hard, tears would be streaming down my face. Not a safe way to drive with a baby on board.

25 minutes today. That's good for
a Saturday (for me). I also LOVEd the cross of MILKSHAKE and POTATO CHIP. So much for that low carb diet I've been trying to stick to. PROSTATE wow! I've never seen that in a puzzle before. So many good words today. Also LOVEd HARE and HIPPETY HOP. Have seen TWYLA's troupe twice. Never heard of COLE HAMELS. He was my only google of the day. ALPH was new to me as well. Had GETS PAST before SEES PAST. Other than that, all was hunky dory.

Thanks Orange, for the write up (especially the Mr. T CHIA PET). Thanks also to Barry Silk for a very enjoyable puzzle.
@Tin and Lit.Doc ditto on the deja vu for OMOO.

mac said...

What a beautiful puzzle! To me it has a little retro feel, but smoooooth.

I also thought it was bolluxed. Had to laugh at hippety hop! Don is still singing, thank you Orange!

mac said...

Forgot to say that I found this a great example of a constructor having fun with the grid (rotational symmetry and no 3-letter fill) but still producing a thoroughly enjoyable solving experience for us!

Tuttle said...

And are OPELs and FIATS still being manufactured? I haven’t seen these on the road for years.

Yes indeed, and actually you have. Many Saturns, especially in the mark's later years, were identical to an OPEL model.

FIAT, which now owns Chrysler, is going to again be selling new cars, under it's own mark*, in America starting with the 2011 model of the FIAT 500. It's supposed to be a quite good car for what it is.

* FIAT owns Ferrari, but unlike Saturn Ferrari, obviously, share no parts with its lesser brethren.

Rube said...

Enjoyed this puzzle very much. (Sorry I can't say the same thing for another puzzle today.) No 3 letter fill, amazing.

I agree with @Van55 about the variant spellings... the only bad things about this puzzle, but within the normal realm of crossword tricks.

Stil can't believe the (repeat) clue for OMOO.

@Orange, rumor has it that you use an 0.9mm Pentel. I used one today but I couldn't get it to go anywhere near 4:35. Do they sell a supercharging kit to make it go faster? If so, where can I get one?

Sfingi said...

I noticed the lack of 3 letter words since I tend to look for them first off, along with fill-in-the blank. Did not see the special symmetry.

Though I knew right away the late, great PATSY CLINE (one of Hubster's favorites), I had trouble in the NW because I had byLAW and never heard of a STILLALARM.

Googled for two sports clues - Therefore, I had Jamie Moyer before COLE HAMELS, which made a mess 'til I re-Googled. Don't know either from ADAM. Also, NASL.

Did not know leverex; must be related to lapin.

Read the OMOO chapter on-line, this time, which was quite good.

My TY Beanie Baby rabbit is HIPPiTY - has 2 "i"s, no "E" so I had that wrong.
Had adES before ICES, lOSe before TOSS, Audi before OPEL.

Disagree that PHAT is recent. It's more out than in, now.

@Shrub5 - Got a friend a chia Obama.

@John - I once bought Gevalia for the china container, but found it too acid. Maybe they grow it on Icelandic volcano slopes.

Hubster tells me soccer (called calcio in Italy) is big this year and he's following it on RAI TV. His cousin, Rosie, is head of AYSO, the youth thing, and travels a lot.

I know pip as a small seed, not a LULU.

Barry Silk is still very challenging for me.

Anonymous said...

@JNH a pip is slang for something special, as is a lulu or oner. Think seeing a real funny person and saying "Shes a real pip" or maybe someone putting something over on you. You might say "Thats a real lulu". Golfballman

*David* said...

Lots of fast movement and stopping. The East fell fast but the West was another story needed some googles to get into the NW. Couldn't get any foothold there with PATSY CLINE, BOLLIXED and CHIA PET. POEM also flummoxed me completly, add a USNR, and a NASL and I was dead in the water.