SATURDAY, June 26, 2010 — Joel Fagliano

Theme: None — A themeless Saturday

Wow! Good challenge today! I had to chip away at sections of this grid and, in the end, I even had a mistake. And you know the only reason I admit that is to make y'all feel better if you had trouble too! For some reason I thought PINKETT sounded just fine for 33A (Gettysburg general (PICKETT)). And even though I couldn't make sense of NTS (34D: Tender abbr. (CTS.)) I let it stand. I thought NTS might be an abbreviation for notes or National Treasury … something. I rationalized it is what I'm saying. In my own defense, I will say that if I wasn't under pressure to blog the puzzle in a timely fashion, I probably would have set it down and picked it up again later. You know how that works, right? You can't make heads or tails of a certain section of the puzzle, but when you come back to it ten minutes later it's glaringly clear. What is it that happens in those ten minutes??? I don't know, but I'm very grateful for whatever it is on late-week NYT puzzles, I know that much.

The last letter I entered into the grid was the V at the cross of VAUNT and VIGILS (43A: Crow / 43D: Watches). I originally had a T there, thinking "taunting" was close enough to "crowing." Obviously, VAUNT is better. I mean, even aside from the fact that it's, ya know … right. With the T there, I thought I was looking for a brand of wristwatches. GAP was a gimme (51A: Old Navy is one of its brands), so I knew it wasn't Timex. Figured it must be some high-end watch that's not in my universe. But I felt uneasy enough about that T to go back and suss it out. (Unlike that stupid N I had up in "Pinkett.")

Non-sports-minded people probably a little trouble with this one, as there seemed to be a mini sports theme running through the grid:
  • 44A: Five-time Fiesta Bowl champs, for short (ASU).
  • 48A: Six-time U.S. Open winner (EVERT).
  • 8D: Two __: hockey advantage (ON ONE).
  • 24D: Major college football's winningest coach (PATERNO).
  • 32D: Amer. Airlines Center player (MAV).
  • 56D: Football Hall of Famer Dawson (LEN).
The only one of those I balked at was the hockey one. Everything I know about hockey (which isn't much) I learned from crosswords. So I guessed Two "to one" here, thinking that was kinda lame. And it was! Because it was wrong.

I also enjoyed the two humorous quotes:
  • 37A: "I intend to live __. So far, so good": Steven Wright (FOREVER).
  • 7D: "Knowing all the facts," according to Woody Allen (PARANOIA).
I remember so clearly the first time I saw Steven Wright on TV. I remember him saying he was going to make a life-size map of the United States and it would say "one mile = one mile." Ha!

Couple more things:
  • 1A: Comfort food snack for some, briefly (P B AND J). Chunky Skippy, seedless strawberry jelly, and a side of Ruffles potato chips. Comfort? More like heaven.
  • 7A: You might be unprepared for it (POP QUIZ). Nice Scrabbly entry.
  • 25A: One of the Allmans (DUANE). I went looking for a vide of Travis Tritt singing "Put Some Drive in Your Country" because at the end of it he sings: "Now I still love old country / I ain't tryin' to put it down / But damn I miss Duane Allman / I wish he was still around." That's how it is on the original recording anyway. Unfortunately, more people who fit the context of the lyric have died since then and he substitutes their names in for Allman's. Actually, the name he uses most often these days is Waylon (as in Jennings) and I don't think he really fits the context of the lyric. I mean, I know he was an "outlaw" and everything, but he was still country. Unless I have no idea what I'm talking about. Which is always a distinct possibility. After all that, I suppose I should at least let you hear the song. Oh man! Looks like all the Travis videos are non-embeddable. Curses! Foiled again! If you're actually still paying attention to this tangent, well first I should thank you — you're awesome! And second, here's a link to one of the videos if you're interested.
  • 29A: LP filler? (MNO). This just means that the letters MNO are between L and P in the alphabet.
  • 55A: Salad bar option (ITALIAN). Following up on my Obama lunch story yesterday. I've heard that he's gone to Ray's Hell Burger on two separate occastions. Ray's is awesome and all, but ya know what? He needs to go The Italian Store. (I know there are some northern Virginians reading this who agree with me.)
  • 3D: Axillae (ARMPITS). Did we just have this in a puzzle this week? Or was that the NYT?
  • 5D: Bishop's rte. (DIAG.). Chess!
  • 11D: Not intended (UNMEANT). This is a clunker. A big, fat clunker.
  • 13D: Remote (ZAPPER). Do people call a remote a ZAPPER? We call it a "clicker" here at the PuzzleHouse. I think of a ZAPPER as that think that bugs get zapped on.
  • 21D: Handbag counterparts (MAN PURSES). I was watching a Ron White comedy special on TV this evening and he used the term that I think is more common for this: "man bag."
  • 28D: Protect from erosion, as a riverbank (REVET). Not familiar with this word, but it looks legit and it is Saturday after all.
  • 45D: __ Minor (URSA). This is the only crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered. And I didn't really see any more. That's awesome.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 14A: Country with a mostly red, white and blue flag (SERBIA); 15A: Receiving aid (ANTENNA); 16A: It makes it easier for you to lose your balance (ATM CARD); 18A: General plan (ROAD MAP); 19A: Time out? (NAP); 20A: Einstein and Planck, e.g. (GERMANS); 22A: Unproven ability, for short (ESP); 23A: Brew choice (DRIP); 26A: Scruff (NAPE); 27A: Its capital is Doha (QATAR); 30A: Colombian title (SEÑOR); 31A: Modus operandi (SYSTEM); 35A: Weighed (EVALUATED); 39A: Forgetful, in a way (SENILE); 46A: It may be thrown in (TOWEL); 47A: Digging, so to speak (INTO); 50A: Part of a stage question (TO BE); 52A: Urges (PRESSES); 54A: Accident consequence (JAM); 57A: Trig inverse (ARCSINE); 59A: Driving need (LICENSE); 60A: Shade of pink (SALMON); 61A: Like aftershave (SCENTED); 62A: Wide of the mark (ERRANT); 1D: Things to mind (P'S AND Q'S); 2D: Radioactive emission (BETA RAY); 4D: "Heroes" home (NBC); 6D: "Chapter 27" star Leto (JARED); 9D: Class-conscious orgs.? (PTAS); 10D: Logical letters (QED); 12D: Up the creek (IN A SPOT); 17D: Word with kettle or steel (DRUM); 26D: Is unobliged to (NEED NOT); 30D: Shooting sport (SKEET); 36D: Unlike matzo (LEAVENED); 37D: Monomaniac (FANATIC); 38D: Beat (OUTPACE); 40D: Mount Suribachi's island (IWO JIMA); 41D: Part of ancient Phoenicia, today (LEBANON); 42D: Gold, e.g. (ELEMENT); 48D: Remove (ERASE); 49D: Clipped (TERSE); 52D: Pub serving (PINT); 53D: __ tissue (SCAR); 58D: Point-and-shoot alternative, briefly (SLR).


KJGooster said...

Really enjoyed this solid puzzle today. Much to like, little to dislike. My experience was similar: the V in VAUNT and the C in CTS were the last to fall. Never heard of REVET either, but the dictionary says OK, so fine by me.

I don't usually like the spell-out-the-ampersand thing (e.g. RANDB always fools me), but the PBANDJ/PSANDQS combo in the NW worked for me.

I am NOT a fan of quotation puzzles, but I am a BIG fan of the way Joel included the Steven Wright and Woody Allen quotes today.

Remember, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you...

Anonymous said...

Tender abbr. = CTS.? I must be really thick today because I don't get it. What do it mean?

Anonymous said...

Cents. Legal tender.

Van55 said...

Lots of mensanized cluing again today. NOP just stinks as do most, if not all, alphabet runs.

Liked the Wright and Allen quips.

Anonymous said...

Without Google there was no way I was going to complete this puzzle! (How did people even DO puzzles with so much arcane trivia in them like this one before Google or the Internet?)

Anonymous said...

HATED this puzzle. I couldn't even get it started and when I finally went to the solution I STILL didn't know the stuff. I figured it was done by an east coaster...too many regionalisms for this 5th generation Californian. Same for the NYT puzzles. I don't do those either.

Anonymous said...

@JNH glad I could help

Burner10 said...

Did the puzzle the old fashioned way - in pencil with a dictionary while watching Kor vs Uru. And I only used the dictionary twice - once to troll the Biog section (had P--K) and once to troll for REVE. So Mr/Ms Anon that's how its done without Google. QED.

Tinbeni said...

That is an original "Blue name" ... wish I had thought of it last October. LOL (actually!!!)

Puzzlegirl you are amazing and out did yourself today.
Best Saturday write-up ever!

DNF, missed a few.
AXILLAE was in the NYT a few days ago clued with todays answer. Now its a gimmie.
ZAPPER got a WTF, never heard the clicker called that.
Write-over at Asia to URSA Minor.
Really liked the beginning with PB AND J and the
P'S AND Q'S cross (Thought manners).
SERBIA, again? also a gimmie. The three bar flags are IMO boring. I'll stick with our beautiful flag.

Ahhh, about time to settle back and watch the World Cup with a PINT (or two).

Greene said...

Haven't done the LAT much lately, but got around to this one early this morning because of insomnia. Excellent puzzle! First entry in the grid was P'S AND Q'S which just looks like a random letter collision. Then worked clockwise around the grid and finished in the SW where I got stuck because I had trouble seeing the VIGIL/VAUNT cross. Even managed to suss out the answers to the sports clues which doesn't happen often with me. I love how good puzzles like this allow me to get something like IWO JIMA when I have no idea what the clue even refers to.

Joon said...

i liked this one, too. really fun 1a/1d with the isolated P, and that led to a fun scrabbly grid with excellent cluing. just want i want in a saturday. korea losing to uruguay was not what i wanted, but you can't have everything.

syndy said...

dictionarys are still a crutch- may be not as bad as google; but then where does wikipedia fit? Is asking a resident sport fan count?Isn't it a personal ethic? I liked the puzzle a lot -started with "to one" but QED" fixed that! also had "acosine" all gettable or quessible and lots of fun

CrazyCat said...

Yikes! This was a tricky one today. Lots of fun though. Used the put it down and pick it up method and just chipped away. Loved the 1D/1A combo. Didn't get 34D CTS until I came here. Agree about ZAPPER. We call it the clicker too. I'm guessing most people wouldn't want to zap their TV. A few too many sports clues, but was able to guess on most of them. Had ozone at first for 8D ON ONE. That shows you how much I know about hockey. Axillae was a google for me since I didn't do the NYT puzzles this week.
Puzzle Girl You outdid yourself today. As always, a big thanks!

Sfingi said...

When I saw the sports clues, I knew I was in trouble. Hubster gave me PATERNO. He suggested two Canadians for hockey advantage, or some version of that.
Other than that, MAV appeared and I had to Google to find out what it meant. (MAVERICK - Oh, like Sarah Palin.) Google everything else and got only LEN. I don't even have the skill set to do a proper sports Google. Malcolm Gladstone tells us that it's initially a hockey advantage to be born in winter. I looked up only men tennisers, and I have little idea how to form sports abbreviations.

Fiesta Bowl looks like this:Fiesta
Also, Googled for the non-Gregg Allman, for this JARED Leto dude, and the owner of Old Navy (I'm too old for either store).

At least I got 1A and D and the two tortured Jewish comedians.

But, none of it helped. Fagliano is too clever by half.

(There were 69 Civil War generals. We even have a couple for Oneida County - Halleck and Garrard. Many Civil warriors, both sides, are buried in the Wood Lawn, Bronx.)

By the time I threw in the TOWEL, I was thinking Spanish (Inquisition) for "You might be unprepared for." This was like one for me.

Had Asia before URSA, "soft" before SCAR, lEVEe for REVET.

@Anon540 - Fagliano is capable of a few duds, such as bad abbreviations, my pet peeve. Also, nope to NOP.

@Anon733 - I've been at this more than a year, and only got half. I can only blame a quarter of that on sports, where I have a large plaque in my brain. But I have learned what sorts of things are ok, and I hesitate less.

@Anon756 - I was thinking that there was too much CA stuff! Like that Red Rock Park yesterday.

Definitely agree, we oldsters call the remote a "clicker" not a ZAPPER, and that a ZAPPER kills bugs. Just bought a marvelous ZAPPER that delivers a shock by battery from a device that looks like a tennis racket. The housing for the batteries is crappy and I ended up putting a rubber band around it. It was $10 at the grocery store, and is great on Injun meal moths (a.k.a plodia interpunctella), skeeters and fruit flies. There was a huge house fly that needed the back of a heel for the coup-de-grace, though. Great CW word - what Injun meal moths leave behind is called "frass." Not a breakfast word.

Someone on the radio just said Syracuse is best in winter, because the snow fills in the potholes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others - just plain dumb clues and arcane words for answers. "REVET"??? Not in any dictionary I use. "CTS"??? you mean we have to go through several layers of guessing to reach the meaning Joel wants??? How many countries have RW&B flags??? If a ROADMAP isn't more than a "general" plan then those using them will get lost -as many trying this convoluted puzzle did. Isn't it a travesty when we must use the computer to do our thinking for us? Or maybe other puzzlers have the time to memorize such trivia for future use. I certainly have more important things to do!!

CrazyCat said...

I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that 25A DUANE's brother Gregg Allman had a liver transplant this past Wednesday. He had hepatitus C which was diagnosed in 2007.

shrub5 said...

Just got around to this puzzle tonight. I'm probably talking to an empty room. @Sfingi: loved your stream of consciousness post! I don't think you have a plaque in your brain's sports area -- just so much other info in there in that finite space!!

I had mind your MANNERS before PSANDQS. LOL at ATMCARD clue (lose your balance). Like others, I was stumped at REVET. I had REVEG for awhile (re-vegetate to prevent erosion?) but once I finally figured out the V for VAUNT/VIGILS, I was left with REVET. Looked it up in the dictionary afterward: OK.

Don't use the term ZAPPER in the shrub household, either. Just call it 'the remote!'

Nice, challenging puzzle. Excellent work, Joel and Rich. @PG: Thanks for the restaurant tips: Ray's Hell Burger and The Italian Store.


Very tough puzzle for me.
BUT I DID FINALLY SOLVE IT (on Thurs)and got it 100% correct. :-)
I'm still wandering around on the Mother Road (Route 66) and that's why I can't always do it on time.

cheezguyty said...

You all have to be kidding me! This was a great puzzle and all, but it was ridiculously easy! I did it in half the time it usually takes me. Not a big fan of the huge chunks of black on the top and bottom, but other than an excellent job by Mr. Fagliano.