SATURDAY, June 19, 2010 — Barry C. Silk

Theme: None — No theme on Saturdays

It's kind of a coincidence that today's puzzle is by Barry Silk. I had lunch with Barry just last weekend and the result of the conversation we had was that I would post a question to you guys. So here it is. We are in the preliminary (and I mean preliminary) stages of exploring the possibility of putting on a crossword puzzle tournament here in the D.C. area. The question is: Would you be interested in attending? If you haven't been to a tournament before, it's important for you to know that competition is by far the least important aspect of a puzzle tournament. The real point is to spend time with other puzzle people. So. Please let me know if you're in or near Washington, D.C., if you think you might be interested in attending. Feel free to mention it in the comments, or you can email me directly at puzzlegirl065 at gmail dot com.

Speaking of puzzle tournaments, I should remind everybody about Lollapuzzoola 3: The Great Pickle Giveaway. This super fun tournament, hosted by Ryan and Brian of "Ryan and Brian do Crosswords," will take place in New York on August 14 (that's a Saturday in August). I'll be there, Rex Parker will be there, many crossword luminaries (ha!) will be there. It's a rockin' good time and if you're anywhere close, you should come.

The puzzle. This was not my favorite Barry Silk effort. I was just annoyed by too many little things. Like having SHELL GAME (33D: Thimblerig cousin) in the grid and "Shell seeker" in a clue. Als, Thimblerig?? I'm not crazy about seeing both 22D: End of __ (AN ERA) and 2D: Box score stats (ERAS). Also, does the U.S. FLAG actually wave on the moon (47A: Waver on the moon)? I mean, there's no oxygen there, right? I enjoyed some of the longer answers. WINDCHILL FACTOR is awesome (36A: Heat index counterpart). Having grown up in North Dakota, it's something I'm very familiar with. EASY DOES IT is nice (60A: Caution to one getting too hot?), as is TREBLE CLEF (38A: Note-clarifying symbol) and BETTER OFF (10D: Making more money, say). And, oh my God, ROACH MOTEL (12D: Black Flag product). Gross and delightful at the same time. But too many little annoyances in the fill and the cluing overshadowed the awesomeness for me.

Quick Hits:
  • 24A: Last, in much '60s baseball (TENTH). You can pretty much always count on some interesting baseball trivia in Barry's puzzles.
  • 41A: Seltzer is often used after it (ALKA-). This is one example of the cluing that I'm not fond of.
  • 49A: Where heros are made (DELI). I can never remember which kind of hero takes an E for the plural. I guess it's not the sandwich kind.
  • 58A: Quebec export (MAPLE SYRUP). Mmmm … syrup.
  • 25D: Greet with respect (BOW TO). I wish we bowed more. There's an Asian woman who runs a sandwich shop near my office where I often (like every day) go to grab lunch. She gives every customer a little bow after every transaction. I love it.
  • 34D: Beats (TICKS). I had LICKS here for quite a while but, even though I'm not up on my 33A: Electric generator parts, SLATOR COIL really looked wrong.
  • 47D: Pac-10 school (UCLA). All these athletic conference clues are going to be outdated pretty soon. I believe Colorado is joining the Pac-10 and Nebraska(?) is joining the Big Ten. Other Big Twelve schools are bailing as well, leaving Iowa State almost homeless. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
Crosswordese 101: There are two people named OLIN that you need to know for solving crossword puzzles. One is Ken OLIN, the 32A: "thirtysomething" actor. Skimming through past clues, it looks like that's the only thing he's ever done. Lena OLIN, on the other hand, has been in a number of movies including "Chocolat," "Havana," "Casanova," "Hollywood Homicide," "Polish Wedding," and "Romeo Is Bleeding."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 11A: Dyne-centimeters (ERGS).
  • 18A: River through Lake Thun (AARE).
  • 29A: C-ration successor (MRE).
  • 40A: Oklahoma native (OTO).
  • 59A: Impersonator (APER).
  • 51D: Bodkin holder (ÉTUI).
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Everything Else — 1A: Shell seeker (HERMIT CRAB); 15A: Graphic designer's asset (TRAINED EYE); 16A: Strike (X OUT); 17A: Sinclair Lewis best-seller (MAIN STREET); 19A: Trip starter (LSD); 20A: Needle (PROD); 21A: Substance in the Nash poem "Reflection on Babies" (TALCUM); 23A: Stray (ROAM); 25A: Clarinet's home key, usually (B FLAT); 28A: Cable (WIRE); 33A: Electric generator parts (STATOR COIL); 39A: Grant (CEDE); 42A: Pin site (ALLEY); 43A: Rolls up (FURLS); 45A: Soprano Te Kanawa (KIRI); 50A: Marlowe's "The __ of Malta" (JEW); 53A: Stylish (CHIC); 54A: Improve (AMELIORATE); 57A: Traditional accounts (LORE); 1D: Online file suffix (HTML); 3D: Incursion (RAID); 4D: Short time? (MIN.); 5D: Where the crowd is (IN SPOT); 6D: Prefix with fluoride (TETRA); 7D: Jewel box contents (CD-ROM); 8D: Portland, Oregon, college (REED); 9D: Marine assent (AYE); 11D: Lionize (EXALT); 13D: Sikh leader (GURU); 14D: Stalk (STEM); 23D: Grammy category (R AND B); 24D: Spine line (TITLE); 26D: Dally (FLIRT); 27D: It's not safe to be in it (LINE OF FIRE); 28D: When doubled, an Evergreen State city (WALLA); 30D: __ la Plata (RIO DE); 31D: The king of Spain? (EL REY); 35D: Fourth-century date (CCCLI); 37D: Schumann's composer wife (CLARA); 42D: Melodic (ARIOSO); 44D: Stress consequence, perhaps (ULCER); 45D: First "Idol" winner Clarkson (KELLY); 46D: Admission of deceit (I LIED); 48D: Talking point at a business dinner? (SHOP); 49D: Passbook amts. (DEPS.); 50D: Shocks (JARS); 52D: Grieved (WEPT); 55D: Lea cry (MAA); 56D: 49-Across choice (RYE).


Anonymous said...

I just want to say how much I enjoy your explanation of these puzzles. But I noticed a couple of puzzles ago you mentioned that question marks were not used correctly in the clues. How are they supposed to me used? What do they indicate?


mac said...

I also noticed the shells and the eras, a little disappointing in an otherwise good puzzle. Is that the editor's responsibility?

I also had "licks", looked so good! Also, without crosses, wanted a "steady hand" for the graphic designer.

Still had a good time with it!

David L said...

Count me in for being interested in a tournament in the DC area. Long time solver, novice commenter, virgin competitor...

As for this puzzle: why is TENTH last in 60s baseball? Did they have different rules back then? If the game was tied in the tenth they just gave up and went home?

And what kind of animal goes MAA? A sheep-cow hybrid? That would be an awesomely dimwitted creature...

Tinbeni said...

@David L
Tenth was last place in each league until expansion of the number of teams.

Sorry, but my first thought on this was CUBS.

What a challenge for Saturday.

WIND CHILL FACTOR was an early fill and got a grin.
When I hear from my sister in the winter she talks about it all the time like it is the actual temp.
It makes me wonder if she goes outside and exposes bare skin to it.
Here we have the Heat Index and I sit inside Villa Incognito enjoying the A/C.

Got the West fairly quickly then came to a screeeeching halt.

Never heard of REED College in Portland or KIRI the Soprano. Had the BAA lea sound, Emir for GURU.
Based on the number of times I see their license plates I thought the Quebec export was Canadians.

ROACH MOTEL a Florida gimmie.

After two mugs of coffee I chalked it up as a Saturday DNF.

hollyhock said...

@tinbeni: I am a die-hard Cub fan, but that was my first thought also! But I wasn't born until 1980, so I thought maybe they weren't as bad back then!

Only had to Google about a third of the clues. Pretty good improvement for the rookie.

Wasn't 18A (Aare)just in another puzzle and spelled Aar?

Just finished watching a marathon of American Loggers on Discovery Channel so I was thinking some kind of paper. Maple syrup makes more sense though.

I am pretty adept at pop culture clues. Plus the hubby usually helps with the mechanical stuff like 33A. My daughter takes piano/band and can usually get the music clues for me. I consider this puzzle a family affair!

Tinbeni said...

As a kid I spent my summers in Chicago and Wrigley Field (a lot).
In the National League I have a soft spot for the Cubs, Ernie Banks (Let's play two!) wins the MVP on a last place team.
What's not to like about them.

Anonymous said...

Uh....what does oxygen have to do with a flag waving?

Anonymous said...

Hi--nice blog! My comments on the puzzle: Why does "ticks" mean "beats"? I still like "licks" better. Plus,in fact there is some scientific type person named Slator who, according to Google, has made comments and perhaps improvements on the coil, causing me to stick with Slator, even though "Stator coil" is a much more fequently used term.

Now I really must weed the veggie patch. Really.

Ratty said...

Wow, just raced through this one today. Pretty easy for a Saturday, at least for me. Friday's was a lot harder. Just barely finished that one by the skin of my teeth.

MAPLE SYRUP gave me some grief. As I had MOO for the down I kept thinking the answer must be French, which I don't know (and by the way, MAA is very unfair!)

Anonymous said...

Sure - I have lots of friends in the DC area and would definitely attend a puzzle tournament there.


CrazyCat said...

Struggled though this one today - and guessed a lot. Hand up for LICKS, then KICKS. SKATORCOIL looked fine to me. Just as good as STATORCOIL. I have no idea.... Had the "DEW of Malta" for 50 across. which led to DARS and that's when I gave up. Loved AMELIORATE. HERMIT CRAB for Shell Seeker was really cute. HERMIT CRABS are plentiful in the tide pools out here along with sea anenomes. Always interesting to watch. I had to google to get the definition for 33 D "Thimblerig." That led me to SHELL GAME. 42D ARIOSO was a complete WTH, only gleaned though the crosses.

Unknown said...

Shouldn't the clue for US flag indicate it's a shortened answer? I had US flag instantly but didn't put it in because the clue did not lead me to believe it was a shortened answer. Just now got r and b. Couldn't figure out what rand b was. duh!


Far far too easy for a Saturday, but I really liked it… probably more for its content than for its cleverness.

I think a good CW solver also has a TRAINED EYE.

Dilly-dally, I do this all the time but never knew that the word “Dally” meant FLIRT.

Thought FURLS over U.S. FLAG was sort of cute… and then there was Black Flag.

I think in Quebec they spell it SIRUP, instead of SYRUP. Well, at least on Route 66 (in Funk’s Grove Illinois), they call it SIRUP

A bit of TALCUM
Is always walcum.
~ O. Nash (my fave poet)

How come we never hear about the WIND CHILL FACTOR on these 90 degree days?

Today we have a bit of musical clues (I love it !): B FLAT, TREBLE CLEF, ARIOSO, REED, R AND B, KIRI Ti Kanawa, KELLY Clarkson, and CLARA Schumann.

The marvelous Katherine Hepburn film about CLARA Schumann.

Clara Schumann (née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German musician and composer, considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and the tastes of the listening public. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann. She and her husband encouraged Johannes Brahms, and she was the first pianist to give public performances of some of Brahms' works, notably the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. ~Wiki

Y’all have a wonderful weekend!

hazel said...

@PG - you're just kidding about Ken Olin, right? That you've reduced his life/career to how he's been clued in crosswords?! Funny writeup (as usual), regardless.

I thought this one was pretty tough - cluing seemed to me trickier than usual. Liked it.

shrub5 said...

Wanted to put in beachcomber for 1A -- wouldn't fit.
Wanted to put humidityFACTOR for 36A -- wouldn't fit.
Got going on MAINSTREET.

REED College (Portland, OR) was a gimme -- it's where the ultra-brainy kids from my high school applied; few got in. It's a small school of approx. 1500 students.

@Randi, you're not alone. I spent a lot of time trying to think of a Grammy category starting with RAN--. Fooled again.

New info for me: thimblerig = SHELL GAME.

lit.doc said...

Thought I’d start out Saturday gently, relatively speaking, and do the LAT puzzle before the NYT. Then I pull it up and it’s by Barry Silk. First thought is “I’m totally hosed”.

First pass on the Acrosses was as expected—next to nothing. “I’m totally hosed”. But the first pass on the Downs was much more productive, and let me work out the NE and SW corners.

55D “Lea cry” is a good example of a Barry snare. MOO? BAA? I eventually split the difference. MAA is much less common (anyone know how to check the Magical Constructor’s Database on this one?) but nonetheless a perfectly legit answer.

Same with 24A, “Last, in much ‘60s baseball”. Been doing this just long enough not to get suckered by it (like I used to), so I entered __NTH and waited for the crosses to decide NI (too obvious, right?) vs. TE. Progress happens.

Finished in NW, took almost half an hour. Enjoyable, challenging Saturday LA puzzle for me.

lit.doc said...

@Anon 8:38, I think PG’s point re oxygen is that there’s no atmosphere on the moon to make a flag wave. The US flag we planted there is held unfurled by a cross piece of some sort, and just hangs there, motionless.

@Anon 9:08, think of “ticks” of a clock, e.g., and BEATS of a heart—or of a conductor’s baton. As JNH noted, there’s a strong music not-quite-a-theme in this puzzle, and “ticks”, like BEATS, indicates passage of time, e.g. counting through a rest in music.

@CCL, “thimberlig” my ass. That’s one of those moments when I just mumble “eat me” under my breath and move on, praying for crosses.

@JNH, “dally” in that sense is probably more literary than currently in use, as in “Sir, are your intentions sincere, or are you merely FLIRTing with me?”

@shrub5, me too with BEACHCOMBER out of the gate. Actually entered _____COMBER, hoping good things would eventually happen. Not.

Sfingi said...

I don't know what just happened, but I frolicked through this one - and a Barry Silk to boot. Got the 10 letter ones - including STATORCOIL zip zip. Must be my obsession with Tesla.

I don't understand what's so bad about having a clue that echoes an answer elsewhere.

But I agree with everyone who says MAA is NG.

Didn't like MAPLESYRUP - who has to go to Canada to get that? O, you poor people, I forgot. In your speed to avoid snow.

The opposite is why I would never go to DC/Baltimore in the summer ever ever again. Even S. Texas couldn't be worse. If you do, check out my sister's tiles at the Baltimore-Washington "International" Thurgood Marshall Airport daily parking garage, 1st floor. 9 artists designs were made into tiles by Imagine Tile.

Did have some write overs:
INSide for "IN"SPOT.
Mom for MRE - does it mean "mystery," as in mystery meat?
gEm for JEW - the basis for The Merchant of Venice rather than the Maltese Falcon.

Didn't know GURUs were Sikh, but Singh didn't fit. Another sister and many other converts moved to Fairfield IA to be near the Maharishi International U. The locals called them "roos" for gurus.

Never heard of KELLY Clarkson or any other "idol."

This puzzle made my weekend, which I'm entering with a dental abscess. Antibiotics are helping. A few weeks ago, my dentist couldn't find anything, maybe because there were 4 teeth in a row there which already had root canals! I'm looking at surgery, but that's not new. Don't let any Narr tell you flouride isn't the best thing for the yungins.

SOS said...

MRE = meal ready to eat (a precooked and prepackaged meal used by military personnel.) I guess it could possibly contain mystery meat....

JIMMIE said...

Ken Olin is a regular actor on the current TV show Brothers and Sisters, as is also his wife.

Anonymous said...

What's so bad about "maa"?? It's the sound goats make.

My first thought for 1a was pearl diver.

mac said...

@JIMMIE: I think he is also a producer. I looooooved Thirty Something, what a cast.

captcha: ecrums.

Tinbeni said...

When a clue is from a show I have watched ... well I like it.

Not being a fan of "thirtysomething" or "Idol" or Opera (in general) made the OLIN, KELLY and KIRI all exercises in crosses.

Plus I was being distracted by Hollands cup match.

Being from Florida, I like all things Orange.

C said...

Hmm, found today to be an easy puzzle, some people found it to be challenging. This puzzle must be in my sweet spot. Never knew I had a puzzle sweet spot. I know that I have puzzle, um, bitter spots (actor/actress/movies I'm looking at you) but never a sweet spot.

Anonymous said...

Hey. I just discovered this blog. What fun and I learned something in the process. I find saturday puzzles to be extremely challenging.

CrazyCat said...

@Too Young PG: I agree with @JIMMIE and others. Ken OLIN and his wife, Patricia Wettig are all over TV. Especially "Brothers and Sisters." "Thirty Something" was "must see TV" at the time. Especially if you were "30 Something", having kids, dealing with friends, rennovating an old house and trying to build a career. It was kind of like the "Friends" of the 80's, but *way* better.

Rex Parker said...

Never heard of KELLY Clarkson? She and one other Idol (Carrie Underwood) are Huge pop stars, well beyond their "Idol" years.

I almost went to REED. Didn't. Pretty sure that was the right call.

I have no opinions about Ken OLIN.

And of course I'd come to D.C. for a tournament.


Van55 said...

Sorry I missed praising this puzzle yesterday. Excellent!

"Beats" of a heart or of a clock = "TICKS"

Anonymous said...

Hi. We get this crossword after a short lag in India and I give up if the answers relate to US TV shows/baseball/US football.