SATURDAY, June 5, 2010 — Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: NoneAs usual, a themeless Saturday.

Looks like we're on a pretty good roll here. I found this puzzle very enjoyable. There were a couple things that you just kinda hate to see, but I think the only one worth mentioning is the random alphabet string, 21A: What U can follow (RST). Yuck. And then there are the two complete and total clunkers. I can't decide if they were bad enough to ruin the puzzle for me. I didn't get to them until the very end so I was quite disappointed, but I don't know. I liked it up until then. What am I talking about? Of course: 31A: Dose people? (DEM) and 26D: Like atolls (REEFY). "Dose people"?? Seriously? That's an awfully awkward path to go down for a word that can be clued pretty easily. And REEFY, well. We can all agree that's ugly, right?

Other than that, though, this seemed like a pretty typical end-of-the-week (themeless) solve for me. Not quite as difficult as a New York Times puzzle, of course — with those I usually feel completely discouraged after one pass through the clues. But tricky enough that it kept my brain cells hopping. I had the most trouble in the NE corner where I plopped in shine for SHEEN (11D: Polish). I got ESTOP and ETHNO- pretty easily (10A: Bar at the bar / 10D: Centric leader) so I thought the 23A: White House nickname might be JOE for Joe Biden, which I thought was a little weird because usually a "White House" clue is referring to a president and not a VP. As it turns out, it's also dumb because, sure, JOE is a nickname, but it's not like he's ever called anything else. I also tried peel for PARE (14D: Skin) at first, so, yeah, it took a while to sort all that out.

The 15s are all really cool:
  • 17A: Daydreams (CASTLES IN THE AIR). For some reason, this phrase always always always makes me think of "Islands in the Stream." What the heck is that about??
  • 38A: Reaction to a coincidental entrance (SPEAK OF THE DEVIL). Kinda sorta wanted "Look what the cat dragged in," but this is very cool.
  • 58A: Declaration that's from hunger (I COULD EAT A HORSE). Ha! I wonder why the clue wasn't simply "Declaration of hunger," but whatever. Still a great entry.

  • 1A: "Something's Got a Hold on Me" singer, 1962 (ETTA JAMES). I always like it when a person's whole name is in the puzzle. I feel like I just said that a couple posts ago. … Yep, it was back on May 13 when JET LI was in the puzzle.
  • 24A: Musician nicknamed "Sugar Lips" (HIRT). Here's another guy who sometimes gets his whole name in the puzzle. And that's an awesome nickname.
  • 36A: Uncle equal? (I GIVE). Did you get this one? It's like how "saying 'uncle'" is the same as saying "I give."
  • 42A: Hampshire's home (STY). I hope a Hampshire is a type of pig.
  • 55A: "Verily, thou __ God that hidest thyself" (Isaiah) (ART A). I was chatting with a friend who thought this was the worst answer in the grid. I admit, it's not great, but come on! — Verily!
  • 63A: Glacial ridge (ESKER). Ne-Ever seen this word before.
  • 5D: First name in sci-fi (JULES). As in JULES Verne. Around the World in Eighty Days is a book I've always wanted to read.
  • 57D: Land of plenty? (ASIA). Love this clue. It reminds of a clue I saw once for ASIAN: "Like most people." Kinda pulled me right out of my little ethnocentric bubble.
Crosswordese 101: Is it possible we haven't covered ÉTÉ yet? It's pretty easy to remember. It's simply the French word for summer, but the clues for it can be really tricky. Today's clue, 39D: Soissons seasons, is pretty straightforward. Even if you don't know what Soissons is, you can kind of guess that it's French. But sometimes, instead of Soissons, they use Nice! That's a place in France, you know. It's pronounced like niece, but it looks like the English word nice so it can really throw you off if you're not careful.

Other crosswordese in this puzzle that we've already covered includes:
  • 1A: "Something's Got a Hold on Me" singer, 1962 (ETTA JAMES).
  • 8D: Ohio tribe (ERIE).
  • 30D: For this purpose (AD HOC).
  • 54D: Acropolis sight (STOA).
  • 59D: Hal Foster prince (ARN).
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Everything Else — 15A: It "ain't what it used to be": Yogi Berra (THE FUTURE); 16A: Birch of "Alaska" (THORA); 19A: Cry of exhilaration (WHEE); 20A: Like an irritated person's teeth? (SET ON EDGE); 27A: Try to jab (HIT AT); 34A: Like the Indian rhino (ONE-HORNED); 40A: Upholstery adornments (TUFTS); 41A: Plant grafting component (ROOT STOCK); 43A: 1966-67 AFL rushing leader Jim (NANCE); 44A: DOJ employee (ATTY.); 45A: 'Enry's abode ('OME); 47A: Ink __: octopus defense (SAC); 49A: Alfalfa locales (HAYFIELDS); 61A: It may be metered (VERSE); 62A: Above (AFORESAID); 64A: Doesn't draw (STANDS PAT); 1D: Inclusive abbr. (ETC.); 2D: Cold war abatement (THAW); 3D: Radio host John (TESH); 4D: Then (AFTER THAT); 6D: Took in (ATE); 7D: Tousle (MUSS); 8D: Ohio tribe (ERIE); 9D: Directed (SENT); 12D: Loathsome sort (TOAD); 13D: Copier insert: Abbr. (ORIG.); 18D: Actionable offense (TORT); 22D: During, old-style (THRO); 24D: Armies (HOSTS); 25D: Data, often (INPUT); 28D: Red head? (INFRA-); 29D: Dakota dialect (TETON); 30D: For this purpose (AD HOC); 31D: Displacement from a club (DIVOT); 32D: Force out (EVICT); 33D: Braves outfielder Cabrera (MELKY); 35D: Blesses (OKS); 36D: They may be checked at the door (IDS); 37D: Be convincing about (GET ACROSS); 43D: Requirement (NEED); 45D: Not worthless (OF USE); 46D: Sebastian Coe, e.g. (MILER); 48D: Sounded amazed (AAHED); 49D: Swarming spot (HIVE); 50D: They can be high or low (ACES); 51D: Walled English city (YORK); 52D: Where cows chow down (LEAS); 53D: Bats (DAFT); 54D: Acropolis sight (STOA); 56D: Under-the-sink item (TRAP); 59D: Hal Foster prince (ARN); 60D: Summer hrs. at MIT (EDT).


Tinbeni said...

When you look at this blank grid, then experience that the 15's are the easiest answers, well ... they yielded some traction.

Write-overs, Ike, shine, coral (reefy? WTF!) and Lenin for that Red Head.

In NYese, isn't DEM guys, "Dos" people? No 'e'?
Armies clues HOSTS?
ESKER for Glacial ridge came up somewhere recently, can't remember where.

GET ACROSS going down got the AAHED moment.

@PuzzleGirl Excellent write-up. Your deck sealer is a cutie.

Rex Parker said...

OK. Longs good, rest adequate, with some exceptions (in either direction). Enjoyed seeing MELKY, and liked that little section more than any other. Big triumph of the day — nailing ESKER (a rare but impt crossword word).


lit.doc said...

Found some rather intemperate remarks about the fill that I typed after solving last night. Friends don’t let friends drink and drive their huffy bikes around. I begin again.

I’ll still whine about REEFY having no redeeming features, but much of the rest is, as both Puzzle Girl and Rex point out, just Crosswordese 101 chapters I hadn’t yet read. And I’m giving a shiny gold star to OF USE just for not being UTILE.

Best laugh (this a.m.) was at myself. I had done the NYT puzzle a couple of beers earlier, and it had, surprisingly, been a themed puzzle. [cue sound of mind-set locking] I did this puzzle and then sat staring at the screen, and staring, and staring, in slack-jawed puzzlement. Draft post from last night included a rant about how much I hate it when, a year and a half into serious puzzling, a theme still eludes me, said rant seasoned liberally with expletives.

@Tinbeni, I’ll go out on a limb here and mount a defense of DOSE. In that dialect, D = TH, so THEM goes to D’EM and THOSE goes to D’OSE. Look any better with the not-in-crosswords apostrophes?

backbiter said...

32D "Displacement from a club" had me a tad stumped. I kept thinking of night clubs, rowdy crowds, and bouncers. I finally got 'divot'. I don't know if I felt had or what. I let that go tho because it reminded me the U.S. Open will start in two weeks at Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach, hell yeah!!!! Can't wait

Chip said...

Glad to see I was not alone in thinking SHEEN was SHINE, PARE was PEEL, and that REEFY is lame at best. Of course, I have no one to blame but myself for not recalling correctly Yogi Berra's remark and inserting NOSTALGIA instead of THEFUTURE. My memory ain't what it used to be, either. Once I got ETTAJAMES, though, that was an easy fix.

lit.doc said...

@Chip, in fairness to yourself, NOSTALGIA is a hell of a good answer, and entirely worthy of Mr. Berra.

mac said...

Nice puzzle, with to me only reefy a real clunker. I also had shine for sheen, and wanted pach- for skin, when there was no indication for that at all...

I sorta liked dem, maybe because I got it right away?

Van55 said...

REEFY really is awful. On the whole though this was enjoyable for me to solve.

PurpleGuy said...


I must be on a different planet, because this puzzle was just awful. I really,really hated it.
I've been doing crosswords for over 40yrs and this one was the worst for me.

REEFY is just terrible.
AFORESAID ??????? Yuck !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Another complete waste of space and time! DEMS = "dose people"????? REEFY means ribs! Even Hal Foster aficionados like myself would have to dig for "Prince Arn" Love to copy the answers and check backwards to see what people with too much time on their hands do to waste their precious lives. No puzzle should require the use of a computer to solve. It should be a test of basic knowledge of our great language, not a stupid "trivial pursuit" like these moronic, elitist puzzles are.

PurpleGuy said...

@Anonymous 2:47 Right on. I couldn't agree more about this puzzle.
There are probably times when I'm an "elitist" solver.
I liked your send up, though !!

CrazyCat said...

Somebody's grumpy....

I kind of agree with @PurpleGuy. I was not thrilled with this puzzle. Too many sports clues for one thing. It may be because I was solving newspaper style in the car on the bumpy 101 (spouse was driving). Somehow I got REEFY easily, but was rather astounded that it was actually the answer. ESKER, I think I've seen before, but just not one of those words I can retain for some reason. I misread Polish as Polish as in from Poland - d'oh moment of the day. Still don't get how Armies=hosts?
I did like the long answers though.
@PuzzleGirl your write up was the best thing. I love the pics of the piglet in boots and that cute little girl.

CrazyCat said...

Oh and one more thing - SET ON EDGE? Clenched maybe. Never heard of SET ON EDGE referring to teeth...

chefbea said...

terrible puzzle. couldn't do it!!!

Sfingi said...

Same as ChefB -
Had Val for ARN, "sensitive" for SETONEDGE, "syrup" for THORA, bArn for LEAS, IKE for RON, Bath for YORK, "arete" for ESKER, Clara (Bow) for INFRA.

In other words, mine was a totally different puzzle.

Did like ROOTSTOCK, cause all apple trees here are grafted. Got DEM right off. Hmm.

Never heard of THORA Birch, but have heard of birch syrup as the maple syrup of the West. I've never had it, but expect it's not that good (?) since they add honey to it.

Cute kid and pig-in-boots, in that order.

shrub5 said...

Contrary to other folks above, I liked this puzzle but thought it was a toughie. Had to google MELKY, ETTA JAMES and ART A. I had CW101's arete instead of ESKER so the SW was slow to emerge. Loved I COULD EAT A HORSE, I GIVE and the Yogi-ism THE FUTURE ain't what it used to be.

@PG: I sure enjoyed your witty write-ups this week. Hope you are energized and not considering yourself DAFT for deciding to carry on alone. Nice personal "ABOUT" you up at the top of the blog by the CW101 list.

RASTA said...


Lemonade714 said...

For the record, ESKER appeared in a December 10, 2008 LA Times by Allan Parrish and a May 8, 2009 Dan Naddor