S A T U R D A Y   September 25, 2010
Barry C. Silk

Theme: None

I solved this puzzle late last night after I got home from book club ("The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake." General consensus: awesome concept, mediocre execution, unsatisfying ending. I actually liked it more than everybody else.) I really didn't have any trouble with the puzzle at all until I got the southwest corner where I just couldn't figure out what the heck was going on. Doesn't help that I entered SOLAR FLAIR before the spelling part of my brain kicked in. Solar flair! Astronomy based "Project Runway"? I don't know. It made me laugh pretty hard when I discovered my mistake. I'd like to say that the all the trouble was caused by the ugly SNEERY (63A: Derisive), but that's just not the case. The rest of that corner is actually really lovely so, in my mind, SNEERY paid off. The real problem is that I think of JAGS as more of "sprees" than 50D: Flings and don't remember ever hearing of 51D: Novelist EVAN Hunter. Rounding out the problems I had in that corner, GARNET is a 61A: Abrasive mineral? Who knew? (Besides Barry, I mean.) And thinking about the fact that 50A: Sterno, for one is a JELLY is really ooking me out for some reason. (Is "ooking" a word? Maybe not, but it gets the point across, doesn't it?)

As I was solving the puzzle I was thinking "Ooh, I wanna talk about this," and "Ooh, I wanna talk about that," so let's get right to it since it's late and I know you all are probably sitting there refreshing your browser every ten seconds because you just can't wait to see what I have to say.

  • 9A: Support base (PLINTH). Needed plenty of crosses to get this awesome word.
  • 18A: Screwed up (BLEW IT). For some reason I couldn't read the clue as a verb phrase, I was stuck on thinking it was an adjective.
  • 37A: Four-time NBA MVP (WILT CHAMBERLAIN). What a treat to see a grid-spanning basketball player in Barry's grid! He's more of a baseball guy, so I was surprised. Also, got it with only the T in place which, obviously, was a big help in keeping my solving going really smoothly.
  • 42A: Cox who played Drew in "Deliverance" (RONNY). No idea. RONNY Cox sounds like a back-up singer from the Motown era.
  • 53A: Gee (THOU). Very tricky! (Too tricky?) One gee (G) = one grand = one thousand dollars = a THOU.
  • 59A: Party animal? (ELEPHANT). That would be the Republican party.
  • 1D: Winston Groom hero (GUMP). I totally forgot that "Forrest Gump" the movie was based on a book. And I'm pretty sure I never knew the author's name.
  • 2D: Newton or curie (UNIT). These are units of … I don't know. Something science-y.
  • 3D: La __: ocean phenomenon (NIÑA). I would kind of like to know the difference between El Niño and La NIÑA. But not enough to look it up right now.
  • 8D: Residential street warning (SPEED BUMPS AHEAD). One of the topics of conversation at the book club last night was the unbelievable fight the neighborhood has been involved in this past year about "traffic calming" measures that about half the neighborhood wanted to put in place and the other half thought was some kind of fascist affront to their very beings. The nastiness that ensured was truly bizarre and discouraging in a faith-in-humanity kind of way.
  • 11D: Summer cooler (ICE TEA). Yeah, yeah, yeah. Needs a D. I know, I know.
  • 21D: Pass on a ketch (SAIL BY). I read this as "Pass on a kVetch" and couldn't figure out what the heck was going on.
  • 23D: Tribal Council prop (TORCH). Is this a reference to "Survivor"? 'Cuz that's where my brain went.
  • 54D: Former UN weapons inspector Blix (HANS). Poor HANS Blix. I don't imagine I'm the only one who can't remember whether he's the guy who said there were WMD's in Iraq, or if he's the guy who went in and said there were not WMD's in Iraq. Kind of a big difference there. I think if I were the latter, I'd want to make sure people remembered me for the right thing!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 30A: Mass garb (ALBS).
  • 40A: White, in Waikiki (KEA).
  • 43A: Old pol. units (SSR'S).
  • 26D: Native New Yorkers (ERIES).
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Everything Else — 1A: Places for pieces (GUN RACKS); 15A: Worker's advocate (UNION REP); 16A: Foe of Mark Antony (CICERO); 17A: Imagination (MIND'S EYE); 19A: NEA supporters (PTA'S); 20A: Third of seven: Abbr. (TUES.); 22A: Quantum mechanics subjects (ATOMS); 23A: "Bojangles" Robinson, for one (TAP DANCER); 25A: El Cid player, 1961 (HESTON); 29A: Life lines? (BIO); 33A: Like an excited World Series crowd (AROAR); 34A: Sign of life (PULSE); 36A: Baseball stat (ERA); 41A: Up (HAPPY); 45A: Substitutes for forgotten words (LAS); 46A: Releases (LETS GO); 47A: It may be essential (FATTY ACID); 52A: Vengeful Quaker of fiction (AHAB); 57A: Profits (AVAILS); 62A: Compact (ALLIANCE); 64A: Can't abide (DESPISES); 4D: Angler's supply (RODS); 5D: Q&A part: Abbr. (ANS.); 6D: Greek islander (CRETAN); 7D: Excite (KEY UP); 9D: Pollutant found in NCR paper (PCB); 10D: Color similar to pale plum (LILAC); 12D: Where to get a muffuletta sandwich (NEW ORLEANS); 13D: Garnish (TRIM); 14D: Red __: candy (HOTS); 24D: Narrow margin (NOSE); 25D: Peddles (HAWKS); 27D: Phenomenon that emits X-rays (SOLAR FLARE); 28D: Work with a shuttle (TAT); 31D: Fetch (BRING); 32D: Maker of eneloop rechargeable batteries (SANYO); 34D: Melonlike fruit (PAPAYA); 35D: Didn't get 100, say (ERRED); 38D: Stop order (HALT); 39D: Large amount (LOT); 44D: Hospital solution (SALINE); 46D: Abuses freedom of the press, perhaps (LIBELS); 48D: Texas city named for a president (TYLER); 49D: Valencia street (CALLE); 53D: Golden Triangle native (THAI); 55D: Formerly (ONCE); 56D: Versatile wheels (UTES); 58D: Dump (STY); 60D: Spot (PIP).


Van55 said...

Once again I found some tough resistance in solving this Silk puzzle. I had many of the same snags as PG. RONNY Cox is hardly a household name, and the cross with SANYO (Maker of eneloop rechargeable batteries) is a bit sticky.

SSRS is as objectionable to me as SSTS and SSNS.

SNEERY is ugly.

Please don't let's rehash the ICE[D]TEA debate. Get used to the ICETEA spelling in crosswords.

CRETAN is too close to CRETIN for my taste.

Good, medium/challenging Saturday fare for the LAT.

hazel said...

Very nice Saturday puzzle. Nothing too flashy, but good solid, old-fashioned fun, like a game of Sorry or maybe tag.

I have mixed feelings about WILTCHAMBERLAIN. Great athlete. Huge ego. Small character. That 20,000 women business. Sheesh.

@PG - re: GARNET, I did - after I got the ET, at least. And your book review applies to my opinion of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, except I would say the execution was better - pretty good as opposed to mediocre.

badrog said...

Best clue-answer combo: 53A, Gee -> THOU. Mostly for not being clued as "Old you", but also for the additional misdirection from spelling out Gee rather than just G.

Second best clue-answer combo: Sterno, for one -> JELLY. I completely blew past the "for one" part of the clue. Altho I know what Sterno is, I've never used, or even seen it. What sticks most in my memory is how [un]important it was to the storyline of "The Andromeda Strain."

Third best clue-answer: Party animal -> ELEPHANT. For the humorous misdirection.

Names I didn't know: Winston Groom (but I did read Forrest Gump), DONNY Cox, HANS Blix, eneloop.

Senior Moment: Found myself working from right to left on 37A, and am thoroughly embarrassed that I got N-I-A-L before the Stilt finally came to mind.

PLINTH, for me, is one of those words that I recognize, but don't really know exactly what it is, which makes it my WOTD.

EVAN Hunter is perhaps more familiar under his most prolific pen-name: Ed McBain.

Anonymous said...

Ronny Cox is the son of George Burns and Gracie Allen(who?) if I remember correctly.

Tinbeni said...

I like my ICE TEA Long Island style.

Places for pieces, Hmmmm, being more of a lover than a fighter, I was thinking of a certain room here at Villa Incognito before GUNRACKS.

The two 15's were almost gimmies, but that SW corner was the last to fall. Profits = AVAILS, well that's what the crosses indicate.

Liked the GUMP HAWKS JAGS stack.
UTES for Versatile wheels is still ugly. So I guess we'll see it again in the future.

PuzzleGirl, excellent write-up. That is one excited kitty.
If I remember correctly, HANS Blix found a few (10 or 12) extremely short range missiles (ones that could fly approx. 100 miles, they were destroyed) and not much else. GWB was going in the day he was elected.

Anonymous said...

barry tees me off .all puzzles will be solved when we stop looking at gwb and start looking at tricky dick.

Anonymous said...

I always have trouble Friday and Saturday and love the information I get here, but gee to thou? Yuck!

C said...

Good puzzle. Started off without seeing any answers but slowly worked through the puzzle with no drama.

Funny story about this puzzle. I used to work with Ronny Cox's son. I've met Ronny Cox and even discussed his work on Deliverance with him. I STILL needed every cross to get the answer for the clue ;^)

Sfingi said...

Wilt Chamberlain was just being used by those women.

DNF because I refused to give up GUNRAidS crosses IoniAN.

The humans I did get were HESTON, EVAN, CICERO, AHAB, TYLER. The ones I Googled for were WILTCHAMBERLAIN, HANS, RONNY, GUMP.
Also Googled CALLE. It's not camino.

@Badrog - I still don't get Gee = THOU.

Is KEA a color? I was thinking the word Hawaiians call white people, Haole. Hard to even Google for KEA. I better read my President's books.

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with 7 wives.
The 3rd of them was Tuesday Weld.
TUES for short. Oh what the hell.

7 seas, sisters, hills of Rome, wonders of world.

My usual messy, Googly Sat. (7th and final wife, poor thing)

BTW, what is this "visual verification" with no word?

CrazyCat said...

First of all I would like to say that I love that cat picture.

I had the same experience as PG in the SW. Had SOLAR FLASH first and JELLY and SNEERY gave me fits. I wanted GEL for Sterno. Never thought of JELLY. I was very confused by THOU for Gee. Very tricky! I didn't read 30A, Mass Garb, as a plural and thought OK I've finally remembered ALB, now what is that letter on the end? I also read 21D Ketch as Kvetch.

I remember the character Drew from "Deliverance" but couldn't for the life of me remember the actor's name DONNY Cox.

@Hazel - my thoughts on "The Story Edgar Sawtelle" - wonderful execution, really dreadful ending.

@PG Re: "Traffic Calming." Back when I was still working at city hall, the engineering department received a grant to put in a traffic circle as a traffic calming measure. OMG, you would have thought the sky had fallen. The residents were AROAR. No one could figure out how to use it. Letters to the editor and angry calls ensued. They finally took it out and traffic to this day remains very "un-calm" in that area.

badrog said...

Two slang words for 1,000; usually dollars. As in:

Q: How much did it cost?
A1: About a thou.

Q: How much did you get?
A2: About 10 G's.

Would that make "G" an example of second-generation slang? From thousand, to grand, to G.

To me, "gee" when spelled out, is either the standard exclamation, the spoken command to a donkey to either turn right or simply to get moving, or the abbreviation for gravity, as in the weight-like pressure felt during strong acceleration (e.g., taking off into space).

Anonymous said...

It seems GEE/THOU is everyone's big question followed by VERSATILE WHEELS/UTES. Where can a mere mortal such as I get the logic of these matches???

mac said...

Always love Barry Silk's puzzles, and this one didn't disappoint. I stumbled over the ketch/kvetch as well, was really surprised that my birth stone is considered abbrasive.

Favorite word: plinth.

Sfingi said...

@Badrog - O, as in 10 Large.
I couldn't get past THOU meaning Elizabethan "You." Thanx!

Now, I'll I need is an explanation of captcha's "visual verification" with no word there to verify. Got that twice today, followed by a 503 error. Anyone?

Tom in the D said...

Not that it matters much, a Newton is a unit of force, a Curie is a unit of radioactivity. ...one of the few Ans. I knew

Rex Parker said...

Agree that GEE is a poor substitute for "G" — only reason to write it out (which I've never seen) is to make you think about letters, or horses. Poor form.

SNEERY... thumbs down.

If I got 99, it would be weird to say that I ERRED (99 being an A+). In fact, it might be inaccurate, if the points were accumulated as part of an essay question. Clue is trying too hard to be tough. Good to be tricky, bad to strain plausibility to the point of snapping.

SAIL BY was probably the toughest thing for me to come up with, largely bec. of the "ketch" / "kvetch" issue PG mentioned.


Rube said...

Carpenter types will recognize GARNET as the abrasive used on some sandpapers.

I was still scratching my head when I came here to find out about Gee=THOU and SSRS. Now I understand SSRs and consider it to be a fine abbreviation. No-one would complain if they saw USSR in a xword! Re Gee spelled out. Pretty lame misdirection IMO.

I remember sterno as the stuff we used as heat source for fondues in the 60s... remember that fad? Most definitely a jelly-like substance.

The only Cox I could think of was Wally. I didn't think he would have been cast in Deliverance. Got RONNY from the crosses.

Watched El Cid last week. We had ELCID as an answer a while back and I put it in my Netflix cue. HESTON was a gimme.

SNEERY... yuck!

shrub5 said...

Loved party animal = ELEPHANT!

Had EKG for life lines - didn't last there long.

PLINTH: a heavy base supporting a statue or vase. (I needed a little more info.)

TATting can be done using a tatting shuttle or with needles. I have only seen the latter.

A muffuletta sandwich sounds good about now...

Can't help the folks with the no word in the word verification problem -- this hasn't happened to me.

Anonymous said...

Garnet is the Orange sandpaper and stuff in orange nail emery boards.



I started out flying through this puzzle and then I hit those SPEED BUMPS AHEAD. The bottom was hard.
I know it's a little late to comment, but I've been on the road and I'm just HAPPY to finish these backlogs without access to Google or Dictionaries.
My kvetches were pretty much the same as Puzzlegirl's, but despite that I thought it was a well constructed puzzle.
Entertaining, some new words to learn, great fill words and clues, AND NO CORNY THEME TO DEAL WITH!

My friend, Sandy, is taking dance lessons and so now I have a greater appreciation for a really good TAP DANCER, James Devine.
Can you believe this guy?

And now ELHI has made a groove in my brain.

I think I've heard of SNEERY before and I think it was in reference to Vice President Dick Cheney.

BTW, Aimee Bender's writing style is a bit difficult to "digest."

Now I'd kill for a good old Muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery Co. in NOLA !