SATURDAY, June 12, 2010 — Brad Wilber

Theme: NONE — As always, a themeless Saturday.

This was a little tougher than we've seen this week, and that's a welcome change. I didn't struggly mightily or anything, but I did have to chip away at a few sections. I didn't know that FERNS don't have seeds (22A: Seedless greenhouse denizens) or that CHARD is a 27A: Vitamin K source. And I predictably misspelled NAPOLEON in NAPOLEON COMPLEX (14A: Source of overcompensating bravado). I always want that second O to be an A. What's up with that?

The southeast corner held me up for quite a while. I threw in BURNS (42D: Seethes) and DEAN (45D: Academic list keeper) easily enough, but had a lot of trouble with everything else down there. ECHOER is an ugly word (38D: Parrot), but I think it's the only real clunker in the grid. But it's right next to MAYFLY (39D: Bass prey) which I love despite the fact that I needed every single cross to get it. So that kinda helps cover up the clunkiness.

Other WTFs for me today include:
  • 13D: Crystalline gypsum variety (SELENITE). If you say so!
  • 44A: Actress Palmer (LILLI). Never heard of her. Of course as soon as I type that, I look her up on Wikipedia and some very very faint bells start ringing in the back of my head. I've probably seen her in a puzzle before.
  • 32D: Air pressure unit (MILLIBAR). Y'all know I'm not real sciencey, right?
Oh and I wanted galas for BALLS (41A: Black-tie events). One last thing that took me a while to understand was ENTR (21A: Start of an intermission?). This entry refers to the term entr'acte, which is French for "between the acts" and, therefore, a synonym for "intermission." So ENTR is the start of a word that means intermission. Clear as mud?

My faves:
  • 26A: Declaration in a playground game (NOT IT). I'm a big fan of the colloquial phrases. Especially if they're juvenile.
  • 28A: Over (FINITO). This word must be accompanied by dramatic hand gestures. But you knew that.
  • 32A: One who doesn't do Windows? (MAC USER). Cute clue.
  • 42A: Florida's __ Chica Key (BOCA). I've never heard of this place but I love the way it sounds.
  • 50A: Impertinent (SNIPPY).
  • 7D: Hobby involving launches (ROCKETRY). Because I had misspelled NAPOLEON, this was looking like RACKE*** for a while. Yikes!
  • 16D: Unknown (X-FACTOR). It's kinda cool, kinda mysterious, and it's got an X. Win-win-win!
  • 36D: Meager (PALTRY). Is this word used to describe anything other than a "sum"?
  • 48D: Sch. with a yearbook called the Gumbo (LSU). HAha! Totally inferrable and simultaneously hilarious!
If you like this puzzle, you should check out Brad's blog, where he'll be offering occasional free themeless puzzles. The good news for us solvers is that each puzzle will have two sets of clues, hard and easier. I love the idea and plan to support Brad in his new adventure. Hope you will too!

Crosswordese 101: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is, indeed an 47D: Engineering sch. on the Hudson. Clues for RPI will often reference Troy, N.Y. (which is considered "upstate" New York). Occasionally, it's helpful to know that its sports teams are known as the Engineers. Wikipedia tells me RPI is "the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world." The reason I've heard of it? Tyler Hinman went there.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 18A: Old Greek theater (ODEON).
  • 10D: Bootleggers' nemeses (T-MEN).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: One in a coup group (USURPER); 8A: Tenochtitl·n founders (AZTECS); 17A: Stay away (DISTANCE ONESELF); 19A: Carpenter with drums (KAREN); 20A: Van Halen's "Somebody Get __ Doctor" (ME A); 23A: Judicial seat (BANC); 24A: Flare, maybe (SOS); 25A: Makes an example of (CITES); 29A: Yin and yang, e.g. (DUALITY); 33A: Native Alaskans (INUITS); 34A: Seemingly charmed entrepreneur (MIDAS); 35A: Rival of Sparta (ARGOS); 36A: Like unsorted mail (PILED); 37A: Beaut (GEM); 40A: Course objectives for many (PARS); 43A: Ophelia's niece, in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (EVA); 45A: Peer's realm, perhaps (DUCHY); 46A: 2009 addition to Wimbledon's Centre Court (RETRACTABLE ROOF); 49A: Like a master criminal (SLIPPERY AS AN EEL); 51A: Loses all its water (RUNS DRY); 1D: Annuls (UNDOES); 2D: Declined (SAID NO); 3D: Sports page headline grabbers (UPSETS); 4D: Turning part (ROTOR); 5D: Design (PLAN); 6D: Morn's opposite (E'EN); 8D: Nuts in cupules (ACORNS); 9D: Tunes (out) (ZONES); 11D: Mini-albums, for short (EPS); 12D: Showy arbor vine (CLEMATIS); 15D: Approached (NEARED); 22D: Edicts (FIATS); 23D: Employee of the Month incentive (BONUS); 25D: Markers (CHITS); 26D: Battery acronym (NICAD); 27D: Madison Avenue honors (CLIOS); 28D: Diminishes (FADES); 29D: Nursery supply (DIAPERS); 30D: Figures out (UNRAVELS); 31D: With a browned crust, as potatoes (AU GRATIN); 34D: First woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (MILLAY); 37D: Expand the admission pool, in a way (GO CO-ED); 41D: Arm wrestler's pride, as it's commonly called (BICEP); 44D: Reindeer herder (LAPP).


DataGeek said...

About average LAT difficulty for a Saturday - totally gettable. I had to stare at GOCOED for quite some time, though. I couldn't believe there would be two words side-by-side with an OED combination (next to ECHOED). Cute clue and fun answer. Forgot that KAREN was the Carpenter who was the drummer - but her brother's name (Richard) wouldn't fit. I used to love singing along with those two back in the 70's. Karen was how most of us learned about anorexia - such a tragedy.

PG - Your solo gig is working out well - fun write-ups every day. More, please.

Tinbeni said...

AZTECS was my first fill.
That got me the Bootleggers' buddy,
the T-MEN.
Why is it I have an uncanny knowledge of alcohol related clues?

BOCA Chica Key is obscure even for a Floridian. Since all you are going to do is drive over it on your way to Key West.

I wouldn't know the current Pulitzer Prize Poet so MILLAY was all crosses. And that was the easy part today.

SOOOO, as my grid disolved into an INK BLOT test,
my numerous unknowns, X-FACTORs got me a DNF.

@DataGeek: I salute you. 2-0 is more FUN than today's 0-2 for me.

lit.doc said...

@Puzzle Girl, I'm an ECHOER (jeez what a dreadful wordform) of DATAGEEK's sentiment's re your posts. Keep 'em coming!

Coming in under 20 here was a relaxing lap around the track after wrestling with the NYT puzz. Nice paired 15s would have been nicer if themed in some way, but hey.

A question for all, in the context of Saturday puzzles: are no foreign-language cues at all expected? I'm thinking of the French 21A ENTRE'acte and the Italian 28A FINITO.


Took me a little longer than most Saturday puzzles, but I'm proud of the fact that my struggle didn't require any Googling and I got it 100% correct. As Puzzlegirl put it, I just had to "chip away".

KAREN Carpenter was called a drummer, but I really believe she was THE BEST female vocalist of the 20th century. I cried the day she died... what a tragedy! She was an extremely versatile musician... as my trumpeter son said "a musician's musician."

Again, I enjoyed the LAT Saturday puzzle and I have to say that Puzzlegirl goes way beyond the PARS with her wonderful writeups. Thank you, Angela!

Time for some waffles.

Y'all have a super weekend!

David L said...

After putting in BALLS at 41A I gleefully entered NIPPLES at 29D... Very disappointed at having to change it later. Just hoping for a little titillation, you know.

lit.doc said...

@David L, shame on you. I was hoping that I was the only one who went there.

Tinbeni said...

I always expect foreign language clues in EVERY puzzle.

However, ENTR'acte and FINITO were not clued (Start of an intermission & Over) in such a way as to be explicit "non-English" answers.
As such, I got them. Go figure.

@David L
I left the NIPPLES in and took the DNF.
I have certain morals, they're low, but they're mine.

Rex Parker said...


hardest LAT of year by 6 seconds.

CLEMATIS / SELENITE corner is Really unfortunate. Otherwise, it was tough in a wonderful way. Great (hard) cluing. Burned thru parts of it, but had to work most everywhere else.

Took me Embarrassingly long to get AZTECS. I had MAYANS and then I had ... nothing. This is possibly bec. I had GMEN where TMEN belonged.

Rex Parker said...

Oh, and I burned many seconds at the end looking for a mistake—turned out to be LILLY/MILLYBAR. :(

redhed said...

Well, DNF this one either! Bummer. I did a bit of googling and really ran through most of the puzzle until I reached the second half. Then.Stopped.Cold. Husband made pancakes whilst I struggled. Yum! Uses the big yellow book recipe. Loved the write-up! And now I really am considering pulling weeds. Hope all have a great day -- In the low nineties here in the sunny Carolinas!

Van55 said...

Fine, solid mildly challenging LAT Saturday. I didn't mind selenite and clematis a bit. Easily gettable from the crosses.

Jeff Chen said...

Loved it! Great puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

Lots of crap is "easily gettable from crosses." Most crap, in fact.

gespenst said...

I liked it ... for me, Saturday should be ultimately finishable, with some struggle but no google. This one qualified!

ENTR actually was a relatively early entry, though FINITO took longer, mainly b/c I had WANED instead of FADED (for diminishes).

I definitely felt like practice doing crosswords, being an experienced (though NOT expert) solver helps w/ puzzles like this ... there were some basics which I was able to fill in which helped the solving. Of course now that I say that, I can't figure out an example of what I mean by it.

Had fun w/ MILLIBAR; we were thinking of units of air pressure, but everything was shorter ... then I filled in MACUSER and realized that MILLI + short answer like BAR = long answer ;)

Oh, and CHARD was another easy one for me ... just had to find a dark green leafy veg which had 5 letters (KALE and SPINACH were the wrong length).

CrazyCat said...

The grid looked very scary to me at first, but slogged my way through. Hardest part for me was SELENITE (?) next to XFACTOR crossed by FINITO. Also the disaster in the SE with MAYFLY, ECHOER, GO COED and DUCHY. Finally turned on non expert mode and got a little help. So technically it was a DNF. I also thought Nipples at first, but had RETRACTABLE ROOF in place already so knew it was wrong. Actually had RETRACTABLE DOME at first, but fixed that when I got BURNS. Pretty much was all over the place.
Out to garden in the June Gloom - brrrr.
@PG Thanks for the Napoleon Dynamite pic. He makes me laugh.

lit.doc said...

@Rex, gotta say your 9:58 post may be the most succinct observation about a certain aspect of crosswords that I've ever read. Creating a "natick"-like label for it would be a public service.

NJ Irish said...

Haven’t been around here long enough to know what DNF means, ?

Did the LAT CW for the first time on line today. It’s in our local paper The Star Ledger here in NJ
and also in the NY Post. I think it’s easier on line because if you type in an incorrect letter it lets you know.
For those who like to do it in ink

44A wanted Betsy Palmer before Lilli

@CCL I had retractable nets until I got burns.

@RP, you never disappoint with your commentary.

@David L and Tinbeni, 29D…. okay that was funny!

NJ Irish said...


@PG loved the write up and had to chuckle when I saw the Drive-in Movie pic. WOW does that bring back memories. We had at least 4 of them within driving distance of home when I was, ah younger.

CrazyCat said...

@NJ Irish DNF is Did Not Finish : ( That's when the little red letters come in handy.

At least this puzzle was a whole lot better than last Saturday's IMHO.

NJ Irish said...

@CCL Then last Saturday was a DNF for me. When I checked this blog and saw the answers I was missing it was one DUH after the other. I think I saw someone here say "palm to forehead" moment.

lit.doc said...

@NJ Irish, re DNF, someone here made the useful observation a while back that it's a personal definition. I'm still at a point where I tap out on DNF if I can't even finish using google. It's only cheating if you claim you did it on your own but didn't.

Tinbeni said...

@NJ Irish
Also a DNF if you don't correct an earlier entry like LILLY and leave the MILLYBAR.
That's when you go get the V-8 can and conk yourself in the forehead.
(I do on paper in ink, no "red letter" help.)

Well the game just finished.


1 to 1 vs England.

ah, I know that is a tie ... but the London papers will be talking about their loss.

Rube said...

This took me an inordinate amount of time, but did finish with no Googles, (unlike the NYT this morning). I must join the gripers who did not like the French ENTR and the Italian FINITO not clued as foreign. I'll add to that BANC which I believe is actually supposed to be "en banc" in French. Any of you legal types want to weigh in on this?

Wanted Paschals for pressure, but that got quickly discarded. Thought Laura Palmer for 44A, but she wasn't an actress, just dead in "Twin Peaks". MAYFLY and Bass??? There are no mayflies where I fish for bass. Striped bass eat shad at Lake Powell, (and crayfish and littler bass)!

hazel said...

Nice Sat. puzzle. Like the fact that my weekly solve graph resembles a hockey stick again.

What's with the hubbub about CLEMATIS and SELENITE? What makes them crap fill? They're real world things that I happened to know the names of thanks to my grandmother and my profession.

The only thing I really didn't like was ECHOER. Made the SE the hardest corner for me as I also couldn't see GOCOED until, of course, I did.


When a so-called expert deems perfectly good words (CLEMATIS and SELENITE)as crappy, isn't he really just admitting his ineptness? I now believe the the game is not speed, but knowledge. SELENITE is freshman level science and is in every dictionary. CLEMATIS is one of the prettiest of the arbor vines, which any ordinary gardener knows. I actually filled in these two words before working the crosses. In fact, they helped me get the difficult crosses like BANC, NOT IT, and FINITO.
Seems we all chime in with the experts, because... well, he's the expert.

CrazyCat said...

@Fault Finder I must admit I had no idea about SELENITE, but freshman level science was in a past ERA. CLEMATIS, I know and love, although I can't seem to keep one alive where I live in CA. Got that in a NY second. According to the Western Garden Book, there are almost 200 species. Many should grow in my zone, but I have yet to succeed with this particular Showy Vine. Bougainvilla and Jasmine no prob.
@Hazel - Your new avatar made me smile.
@Tinbeni - give us newbies a break : ) Next year when I'm older and wiser, I'll try ink on paper on Thurs, Fri and Sat.

mac said...

Great Saturday puzzle! Never did a harder LAT one.

Vitamin K hit close to home: husband had a knee replacement operation 2 weeks ago, is now on Coumadin for 6 weeks and has to avoid that vitamin! I have a big list of vegetables I can't serve, and normally we are vegetable nuts.

I tried so hard to think of Karen Carpenter's brother's name for the drummer, until I remembered her sitting behind the set.....

hazel said...

@crazycat - she makes me smile at least once a day!!

Van55 said...

Amen to fault finder. There is nothing crappy about clematis or selenite except perhaps to the ignorant. They are real words and are not obscure, trite or lazy. And as I said even one who doesn't know them could get them in this puzzle from the crosses. The "expert" has no clothes!