05.07 Sat

May 7, 2011
Peter A. Collins

Theme: No theme on Saturdays

Hey, everybody. Sorry I'm so late today. PuzzleHusband and I had an unexpected evening without the kids last night, so we went out for dinner and then hung out together here at home until it was too late for me to do any coherent writing about the puzzle (or anything else for that matter). And this one was a toughie! Sparkly entries and tricky cluing throughout — I'm guessing it gave people some trouble and other people really enjoyed the ride. Let's get right to it.

Quite a bit of crosswordese in today's grid (for a Saturday), but what I noticed is that the discussions we've had about these words probably didn't help you much today. For example, early in the week it's enough to know that URAL is "the name of a Russian and Kazakh river that feeds the Caspian Sea as well as the mountain range that separates Europe and Asia." But today's clue doesn't even hint that we're talking about Russia (unless you know that the Sakmara is a Russian river, which I sure didn't). Same with OSLO. It's a common crossword word, but if the clue doesn't say anything about the Kon-Tiki, winter Olympics, the Nobel Peace Prize, or fjords, I'm not immediately thinking OSLO. I guess what I'm saying is, good job on the crosswordese. This is really the only way to do it for a late-week puzzle. (Details about all the crosswordese I found in today's puzzle is down at the bottom of this post. Check it out.)

I had the most trouble in the southeast corner and northern California area. I've never heard of "The Professor and the Madman" — apparently a book about the OED that actually sounds pretty interesting. I also had NEATENS where NEUTERS was supposed to go (43D: Fixes), never heard of a BUSHRAT (50A: Small Australian omnivore) and couldn't remember LANA Lang's first name (57D: Lang of Smallville). So you can see where I might have had some trouble there. After guessing on a few of those entries, EDINBURGH finally came clear (34D: City nicknamed "Auld Reekie") but that left me with BASHRAT and ENGN, which totally didn't look right. I was frustrated at that point, but when I finally let go of NEATENS it all came together. Whew!

Man, I am really rambling here and it's just keeps getting later and later, so let's get to the ...


  • 1A: Peace offering? (NOBEL PRIZE). Love this tricky clue and that OSLO (14D: Vigeland Park city) is also in the grid.
  • 11A: __ jure (IPSO). No idea.
  • 15A: Subversive (UNAMERICAN). If you're in America anyway.
  • 19A: Party follower? (GOER). GOER can be a suffix of the word "party," so GOER can "follow" "party."
  • 20A: The Musketeers, e.g. (MEN). Whoa. Specific, specific clue for a vague, vague answer. I guess that's what we get on Saturday.
  • 25A: Cottonpickin' (DOGGONE). Love both the clue and the answer on this one!
  • 36A: Produce (SIRE). The old one-word-that-can-have-a-ton-of-meanings trick.
  • 42A: Oscar-winning Whitaker role (AMIN). Actor's last name in the clue hints that the answer will be the character's last name too.
  • 49A: Grooved whale (SEI). Ne-Ever heard of it.
  • 60A: Heavy wind (TUBA). I'm gonna try to nip this in the bud right here. Yes, a TUBA is a brass instrument, but brass instruments are technically considered winds. I believe the three major categories of musical instruments are winds, strings, and percussion.
  • 66A: Apple that's Minnesota's state fruit (HONEY CRISP). My mouth started watering on this one. Have you all had a HONEY CRISP apple? They're only available for a short time in the fall and they're kind of expensive, but definitely worth waiting (and paying) for.
  • 68A: Teases too much, maybe (OVERSTYLES). As in hair.
  • 4D: Qatar, for example (EMIRATE). We just talked about EMIRATEs here yesterday, did that help jog (i.e., NUDGE) your memory?
  • 5D: Umpire's cry (LET). Yes, I tried OUT first. And yes, the official up in the chair at a tennis match is an umpire.
  • 55D: Painters' protection (TARPS). I didn't notice the plural at first and tried SMOCK, which obviously didn't get me very far.
  • 59D: Ottoman governors (BEYS). When we last chatted about Ottoman governors, I mentioned PASHAS and AGHAS, but totally forgot about BEYS.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up: Other than NIN, the only crosswordese in the grid that didn't seem to have a ramped up clue was IOS, showing up with its typical clue, 22D: Cyclades island. Other words to look out for in clues for IOS include Greece, Aegean, and Naxos. The island is said to be the burying place of Homer, which also shows up in clues once in a while. Also, IOS is also a type of "showy, colorful moth." So try to remember that too.

Other crosswordese in the grid that we've already covered:
  • 18A: The Sakmara flows into it (URAL).
  • 23A: Big name in China (ENLAI).
  • 41A: "Collages" novelist (NIN).
  • 67A: Morse morsels (DAHS).
  • 14D: Vigeland Park city (OSLO).
  • 24D: New York college whose team is the Gaels (IONA).
  • 30D: Presque Isle State Park's lake (ERIE).
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Everything Else 16A: Orthodontic challenges (GAPS); 17A: Modern era (DIGITAL AGE); 21A: Venetian marketplace (RIALTO); 27A: "Dracula" director Browning (TOD); 29A: Contrarian (NAYSAYER); 32A: Eco-friendly border (GREENBELT); 37A: "The Professor and the Madman" subj. (OED); 38A: Not seasonal (ALL YEAR); 44A: Read the wrong way (MISJUDGED); 46A: Ledger entry (LINE ITEM); 52A: Place for boarders (DEPOT); 56A: 1998 NFL Comeback Player of the Year (FLUTIE); 58A: Prattle (GAB); 61A: Infrequently spotted (RARE); 62A: Official report (WHITE PAPER); 65A: GM worker (ENGR.); 2D: With 3-Down, deli order (ONION); 3D: See 2-Down (BAGEL); 6D: London pusher's vehicle (PRAM); 7D: Worked (up) (RILED); 8D: "It seems unreal to me!" ("I CAN ONLY IMAGINE!"); 9D: Bit of evasion (ZAG); 10D: What some bars supply (ENERGY); 11D: Dewlapped reptiles (IGUANAS); 12D: Negotiating during a truce (PARLEYING); 13D: Gaiter relative (SPAT); 26D: Bill for software? (GATES); 28D: Hotel rm. option (DBL.); 31D: Tear (REND); 32D: SportsCenter highlight (GOAL); 33D: Do __ ... (RE MI); 35D: Dramatist Rice (ELMER); 39D: Foyt and Cronin (AJ'S); 40D: Felt remorse for (RUED); 45D: Regarding what's taken in (DIETARY); 47D: Grammar best-seller "Woe __" (IS I); 48D: "Tommy" rockers (THE WHO); 51D: What tots might go after? (TATER); 53D: Learner (PUPIL); 54D: Like some with sedentary lifestyles (OBESE); 56D: "High Noon" director Zinnemann (FRED); 63D: __ lane (HOV); 64D: Agt.'s cut (PCT.).


backbiter said...

This was big fat DNF for me. Not because of the difficulty of the puzzle. It was because of 15A:
Who in the hell do you think you are with an answer like that? Does this puzzle run in other countries? Have you been following the news lately Mr. Peter Collins? Do you see the uprisisings in other parts of the world. I threw the puzzle away! You should be ashamed of yourself. You're lucky this is PG's blog, or I'd be more harsh and rip you a new one.

For the rest of you



mac said...

Liked the puzzle, plenty of bite! I had an experience very, very similar to PG. Was sooo proud to remember Flutie, whom I couldn't pick out in a line-up...

White paper or whitepaper was new, as were line item and bushrat, but they came easily through crosses.

I must admit I was surprised by unamerican as well, a little too specific maybe.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Backbiter,

Thank you for your generous offer to rip me a new one, but I assure you I am quite satisfied with my old one. However, since the clue you were referring to was written by the editor, Mr. Rich Norris, perhaps you should direct your kind offer to him.

As for the rest of you, Happy Mother's Day!

Peter A. Collins

Anonymous said...

Well, well well! Got the dander up of a constructor! They AREN'T evil ogres who live in caves devising ways to drive intelligent people crazy. RIGHT ON!

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

On the other hand Anon @ 1:22,,, Peter could be the exception to the rule as we so very rarely hear from the constructor...Maybe most of them are cave-dwelling ogres and he is just a....wait for it....subversive!

I got all tangled up with "LET" as once I was sure of the L in Nobel Prize then I got rid of "out" and went with LOW... but digiTal age helped me through that kurfuffel. Have had a honey crisp and you are absolutely correct PG..they are deelish! I know Foyt but not AJ Cronin. Was not aware that parleying was a negotiating term. My only experience is with parleying bets (basically betting the outcome of two events that BOTH have to win in order to collect) Kind of a sucker bet but easier on the pocket book.

All in all a good Saturday outing.

backbiter said...

Sorry, Peter, if I flew off the handle. Rich, how could you? That is offensive to the nth degree. I'm not going to comment on it again until I know what the author's original clue was meant to be. I'm not going to repeat myself, just read above and now it's geared toward you. I can't f'ing believe it!!!

Anonymous said...

Spare me your political correctness. I'm a proud American and the puzzle is created in America. If you don't like it, don't do it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Maybe if a foreign visitor is sensitive he or she shouldn't go to a Fourth of July or Veteran's Day celebration. It might offend. Perhaps this same visitor shouldn't look at the LA Times crossword for the same reason. To expect Americans to censor any patriotic thoughts about their country is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I notice that most of the commentary is about the INTENT of the constructor, not the quality of his construction. HMMMM ... interesting!

Mokus said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle which was cleverly clued and sufficiently challenging for a Saturday.

@Dave in Bend. Gamblers parlay. Diplomats parley.

@backbiter: it's a game. Really.

Ol' Man Keith said...

Whew! Yes, a hard one, but a very good one--which I can say because persistence paid off. There were a couple of times I thought of giving up. For me the bane was the NW corner, specifically 1 (A&D). It all boiled down to choosing among the scores of words that work with ?U?GE. Could a jog be a BULGE? a SUAGE? I got DIGITAL AGE before NOBEL PRIZE fell into place.