SATURDAY, April 3, 2010 — Mike Nothnagel

Hi all. Today post is by committee. Two parts, joon, one part Crosscan. The world of crossword blogging is a little upside down right now, but we'll keep you guys covered. Crosscan uses capitals and joon doesn't, for those keeping score at home.

(joon) this is mike's LAT debut. mike's puzzles are so uniformly excellent. and today was no exception. the only thing i didn't like about it was that it didn't really put up a fight. mike is an excellent clue writer, but almost all of the clues today were entirely straightforward, enabling me to sprint through the puzzle in my fastest saturday time since that brief period last summer when they were all incredibly easy.

highlights from the fill:

  • {Chat with someone on the way out?} is an EXIT INTERVIEW. one of the few clues with some trickery, both for the context of the clue and the fact "chat" wants to be a verb here.
  • {Dreamer's activity} is WISHFUL THINKING. a really nice pair of answers crossing in the middle, but this clue (like so many others) was so straightforward that it wasn't hard to put in all fifteen letters here.
  • {Part of a kid's lunch from home} is a JUICE BOX. nice scrabbly phrase here, part of the very scrabbly northwest. i bet this is the first entry mike put in the grid, but i wonder if he didn't clue it in reference to the astros' home park. (see also {Contests on the road}, AWAY GAMES.)
  • {Cart's wheel attachment} is an AXLE TREE. AXLE came pretty easily here. TREE, not so much.
  • {Home to FDR's presidential library} is HYDE PARK. cool answer, and i don't think it would have been a gimme, but for the fact that i had HYDEP___ in place by the time i saw it.
  • {"Nope, the other thing"} is "WRONG ONE." love this one.
  • {Pew extension} is a KNEELER, and a {Church rite site} is an ALTAR RAIL. neither one of these is tough, but spending a half-dozen hours in church this weekend probably made these even quicker to spring to mind.
  • {Like many a residential system} is SEPTIC. now this one took some working of the crossings. i don't think you can hide the unpleasant subject matter of the answer just by making the clue incredibly vague. we're going to see it all in the end anyway, right?
(Crosscan) Right, joon. No real trouble spots for me, but I did put ALGOR first instead of ALGOL for {The "Demon Star"}. Thinking Al Gore, I guess.

Some Diane/Diana music:
51A: "Touch Me in the Morning" singer (ROSS);

61A: Jack's partner in a 1982 #1 John Cougar song (DIANE):

Everything Else 1A: Some pilgrims (HAJIS); 6A: Contests on the road (AWAY GAMES); 15A: Enjoy a victory, say (EXULT); 16A: Ignore, as an insult (RISE ABOVE); 17A: More or less uniform (ALIKE); 18A: Black Sea region (ASIA MINOR); 19A: Holiday pie ingredients (PECANS); 21A: Growth chart data: Abbr. (HTS.); 22A: __ torch (TIKI); 23A: Chateau __ Michelle: world's largest Riesling producer (STE.); 24A: Deem appropriate (SEE FIT); 26A: Indifferent grade (CEE); 27A: Space balls? (ORBS); 29A: 26-Across enhancement (PLUS); 30A: "Holy Toledo!" ("EGADS!"); 32A: Like a ward for some new hospital patients (NEONATAL); 34A: It fits in a lock (OAR); 35A: Chat with someone on the way out? (EXIT INTERVIEW); 39A: Pitcher Dwight Gooden's nickname (DOC); 40A: Home to FDR's presidential library (HYDE PARK); 42A: Showbiz figure (CELEB); 45A: Seattle Slew, vis-à-vis Swale (SIRE); 46A: "The nursery of England's gentlemen" (ETON); 47A: Park in NYC, e.g. (AVE.); 48A: "Oops" elicitors (BONERS); 50A: Like "Spring" from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" (IN E); 51A: "Touch Me in the Morning" singer (ROSS); 53A: "Oh no!" ("ACK!"); 54A: Parasite (SPONGE); 56A: Church rite site (ALTAR RAIL); 59A: The "Demon Star" (ALGOL); 60A: Passé reception aid (TV ANTENNA); 61A: Jack's partner in a 1982 #1 John Cougar song (DIANE); 62A: Tony award category (SET DESIGN); 63A: Join (ENTER); 1D: Adds in great quantities (HEAPS ON); 2D: Cart's wheel attachment (AXLE TREE); 3D: Part of a kid's lunch from home (JUICE BOX); 4D: Chase on stage (ILKA); 5D: WWII Mark II's (STENS); 6D: First name at Notre Dame (ARA); 7D: Dreamer's activity (WISHFUL THINKING); 8D: In reality (AS IT IS); 9D: Baker's supply (YEAST); 10D: Piece of cheesecake? (GAM); 11D: Somewhat (A BIT); 12D: 1992 Wimbledon runner-up to Steffi (MONICA); 13D: Called forth (EVOKED); 14D: Word on some Emmy awards (SERIES); 20D: Like many a residential system (SEPTIC); 25D: Spark (ELAN); 28D: Nasty (SNIDE); 30D: Wasp's nest site (EAVE); 31D: Complaint (GRIPE); 33D: Distance covered by a first step (A TO B); 34D: Sequences (ORDERS); 36D: Teacher of Adele Varens, in an 1847 novel (EYRE); 37D: Bothering a lot (EATING AT); 38D: "Nope, the other thing" (WRONG ONE); 41D: Pew extension (KNEELER); 42D: Stone figures (CARATS); 43D: Increase in complexity, perhaps (EVOLVE); 44D: Vampire played by Cruise (LESTAT); 45D: Assertion from one who won't be outdone (SO CAN I); 48D: Shows (BARES); 49D: Part of a deck (SPADE); 52D: Golf hazard, often (SAND); 55D: "Enemies, A Love Story" Oscar nominee (OLIN); 57D: 47-Across, e.g. (RTE.); 58D: PC-to-PC system (LAN).


Rex Parker said...

Hardest LAT of the year for me (at 8:01). I don't think I was trying very hard, but still, there's no way this was easier than the typical LAT Sat.


The first puzzle in a long long time that I had to cheat and peek at the answers. Am I losing it?!!! Got most of it pretty well but was stuck in those 9 letter corners in the NE & SW.
When I finally finished, I said "Constructor must be a genius", then I saw the byline and knew for sure he was.
Much as I complain about trite crosswordese, I would have welcomed ABIT in this very difficult puzzle.

Learned a lot of new words today, which is good.

I used to use a computer programming "language" called ALGOL (which is short for ALGOrithmic Language). Also I knew right off that some pilgrims are HAJIS, so the NW & SE corners plopped in quickly.

No, I'm not going to put a Vivaldi "Four Seasons" clip in here today. I realize now how few CWers appreciate classical music.

Favorite entry: RISE ABOVE (a good policy for me to use with flamers).

Couldn't figure out 45A. Anyone help me on this?

Joon and Crosscan--- thanks for the nice writeup and the Ross and Mellencamp vid clips.

Time for waffles and blueberries.
Y'all have a lovely Easter & Passover weekend.


Now hearing that from Rex makes me feel better, but for me his 8:01 would be more like in hours.

Rex Parker said...

Forgot to say — I really liked this. Wish more LAT puzzles were this entertaining and thorny late in the week.


Tinbeni said...

Good morning, Crosscan and joon.

I did like GAM, for piece of cheesecake. And PECANS for my Holiday pie. DIANE & DOC were gimmies.

AXLE TREE, beginning of the arcane clues.
ILKA Chase, never heard of, at least I realized it was an actor being looked for.
ALGOL, don't really speak arabic.
IN E, Vivaldi's "Spring," geez I hate "Key" clues.
ACK, well ... I'm not "Bill the Cat."

Knew I was going to struggle when 2A, Contests on the road, didn't give me any traction with my "Drag Races" entry. Didn't help that for 7D, Dreamer's activity, I started filling in "Rapid Eye Movemen" and ran out of space for my 'T' ... which I used at 52D, golf hazard, for Trap.

The above notwithstanding, no HEAPS ON the praise here.

SO CAN I just toss this one in the Septic tank?

Joon said...

hmm. it's possible i had an atypical experience with this one. i started with HAJIS, STENS, ILKA, and JUICEBOX and then had the whole NW filled in nothing flat, even though AXLE TREE didn't seem familiar. then i just sort of plowed through the grid.

there were more misleading clues than i remember, but i guess i didn't fall for them: CHASE, ORBS, OAR, AVE, GAM. never saw the IN E clue or the ROSS clue, which is just as well since they wouldn't have helped much.

JNH, seattle slew and swale are both famous racehorses. or at least seattle slew is. if memory serves, he's the last triple crown winner (1977 or so?). somebody will surely correct me if i'm wrong.

shrub5 said...

Thank you, Crosscan and joon, for pinch-hitting for our vacationing Orange who I hope is having a nice relaxing break.

This excellent puzzle was quite entertaining and just difficult enough to give me a good workout. Got a good start with AWAY GAMES and WISHFUL THINKING right off the bat. Finished with one goof (HAJES/ELKA instead of HAJIS/ILKA), a few writeovers but no googling. Had no idea what the "Demon Star" is, but ALGOL filled itself in.

Fun clues: Stone figures (CARATS) and Space balls? (ORBS).

Tinbeni said...

I'm 57 yo, in a 'kid's lunch from home' was a sandwich.

Affirmed in 1978 was the last Triple Crown winner.

For me this puzzle just didn't EVOLVE.

@Shrub5: Also liked the clue for CARATS and ORBS.

paul stratman said...

Swale is 1984 Kentucky Derby winner.

backbiter said...

I dropped in "drag races" for 6A without hesitation. That answer shares four letters with "away games" in the same spaces. I made one helluva mess in the NE corner, and unravelling it was frustrating.

Argyle said...

45Across: Seattle Slew, vis-à-vis Swale, uses vis-à-vis as a preposition. Seattle Slew is the SIRE of Swale.

mac said...

One of the best Saturday puzzles in the LAT I have done. Liked the clues to "away game" and @carats", and I didn't have any trouble with that juice box!

Thanks Mike, J and J.

Van55 said...

I liked it!

CrazyCat said...

Second hardest LA Times puzzle of the year for me. I had to google and cheat, but then I was rushing through because I had to decorate and dye two dozen eggs for the family egg hunt tomorrow. Plus getting ready to cook Easter dinner for 8 tomorrow. I was able to get EXIT INTERVIEW (really liked that clue) right off the bat and JUICE BOX. AXELTREE was a complete huh? My biggest problems were in the SW where I had no idea who the Vampire played by Cruise, LESTAT was. Also was thrown by the clue Secretariat, vis a vis Swale. Had no idea what that meant because I still had SWALE a low damp place from the other day in my brain. Nice puzzle though. I wish I had more time to enjoy it.

Many thanks to Joon and Crosscan for filling in for Orange.

Gunghy said...

Not being English, The Mark II was the pineapple grenade. It was the standard grenade used by American forces from WWII through Vietnam. It was sometimes referred to as a FRAG, since unlike in the movies, it does most of its damage from the fragments of the steel casing it throws off as shrapnel. This promoted the term fragging, which was the elimination of an unpopular officer.
Anyway, throw in sandwich and frags, and the northwest was unworkable.

Sfingi said...

The only sport I follow ;
Affirmed was the last to win the Triple Crown, 1978, year after Seattle Slew. There've been only 11 winners.

Poor Swale, a dark bay colt, won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes (by4 lengths) and died 8 days later. Many think it was equicide. He showed no heart ailment and never was sick. He made 1.5 million in his short career. 'Course, he didn't know that.
Pincay on Swale
This puzzle was hard and I didn't finish. This is the kind I'm hoping to conquer some day, as it demands thinking way outside the box, but thinking.

My kid lunchbox (metal, Girl Scout) was heavy as hell with a small metal thermos for my soup. There were no school buses and we walked a mile uphill both ways. My grown-up lunchbox was zippered cloth with plastic thermos (no mercury) sangwhich (as we say here), fruit and a juicebox.

I got into the L'Estat series for a while.

@Tinbeni - let's not give up! In June it'll be a year for me.

*David* said...

Nice puzzle I didn't find it the hardest Saturday of the year but it certainly wasn't a Joon experience. I would say smack in the middle as far as time for a Saturday. I should've had the confidence when I had WISH to fill in the rest which I was pretty cetain of but wanted to see the crosses.

Nebraska Doug said...

Harder than normal for me. I eventually got it though. The NW was last too fall, had never heard of "axletree" or Ilka Chase. "ALGOL", I only got because of the crosses, had to look it up to verify. A fun puzzle.