SATURDAY, May 31, 2008 - Robert H. Wolfe (AFTER THE PENTATEUCHAL PERIOD)

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Solid Saturday effort. Tough, with tons of misdirection and a handful of nutty but gettable answers. The first place my eyes went was 58A: Jenny Craig testimonial starter, which ended up being about the last answer I solved. Not that it was tough (I LOST), just that I didn't get it right away and moved on. Hit a string of interconnected gimmes shortly thereafter. After 49D: Court hangers (nets) went nowhere, I moved up to the center. The big floodgate opener was SOSA (36D: Sportsman of the Year co-winner in 1998), which took me in two directions - one that led to SSA (36A: Grp. issuing IDs) and ENYA (23D: "Amarantine" Grammy winner), the other that led to LALALA (45A: Lyric stand-in, perhaps) and APSES (46D: Sites of some religious statues) and LAPTOPS (50A: Flight passengers often work on them). Nevermind that LALALA was actually NANANA (ugh). At that point, I printed the puzzle out and went downstairs to solve it over breakfast, starting in the NW and moving in a mostly clockwise pattern til I was done.

NANANA for LALALA (an error I'm betting many people made) was one of several holes you could have fallen into today. I fell into FAT AS A PIG (1A: Porky => FAT AS A HOG), which gave me IRA for (8D: Bank deposit, of sorts => ORE), which made me wonder whether there were such things as NUNNERIAS (17A: Where habits are picked up? => NUNNERIES). I also had SEEMS LIKE for SO IT SEEMS at 61A: "Sure looks that way" - LAO helped me fix all that (57D: Mekong Buddhist). LALALA had me guessing that RENAULT (40D: One of three French auto-making brothers) was RALEIGH - I base this on the fact that RALEIGH made the ten-speed bike I had as a teenager, and the French ... they're into cycling, right?

Mystery answers (to me) included TONI (3D: 1956 Olympic skiing sensation _____ Sailer), which I briefly thought was the answer to 51D: "The washday miracle" sloganeer, once (Tide). Then there's 22D: Day when courts are not in session (dies non) - "a no day?" - oh, it's a contracted form of "dies non juridicus." I see ... never heard of N-RADIATION, but that was easy to guess (13D: Certain atomic X-ray emission). I always screw up the 48A: Massachusetts motto starter (ense) - I always want ESNE, which is a different bit of crosswordese altogether (old skool - means "feudal serf" or something like that). No idea what a SAIL NEEDLE is (12D: Tool for sewing canvas), but again, easy to guess. Didn't know STILE involved a door jamb - I've seen it in other contexts (35A: Vertical piece in a door frame). Where is CERES (60A: Heavenly discovery of 1801)? According to Wikipedia it is a dwarf planet, and "by far the largest and most massive body in the asteroid belt." I thought maybe it was a moon of Jupiter ... it has 63! Though only four of significant size - the Galilean moons (discovered by him): Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. That's your astronomy lesson for the day.

Assorted:

  • 16A: "The Wreck of the Mary _____" (1959 film) ("Deare") - no idea how or why I remembered this, correct spelling and all, but I did.
  • 24A: "The Novel of the Future" author (Nin) - total guess. I would look it up, but I would only be disappointed when it turned out not to be about robots.
  • 25A: First Earl of Chatham (Pitt) - like NIN, no idea, just a guess put together from crosses.
  • 34A: Exchange for something very valuable (eyeteeth) - a great great word.
  • 37A: Tennis star Petrova (Nadia) - another guess based on crosses (this seems to be the real skill you need for late-week puzzles - guessing PLAUSIBLE (56A: Not too much of a stretch) answers from partial fill).
  • 38A: Like some adult hippos (three-ton) - whoa.
  • 43A: Text messaging command (send) - never saw this clue. Usually Saturdays require that I read every clue at least once.
  • 47A: Clammy? (silent) - very nice
  • 1D: Obnoxious sort (fink) - hmmm ... FINK is a very specific kind of obnoxious. Don't think I like this clue.
  • 5D: Retaining instructions (stets) - man, there were three Downs in a row here where I could *not* parse the clue correctly. I just couldn't understand what the clue was going for. Are the "instructions" being retained? Are the "instructions" instructing someone how to retain ... something? In the end, it's a basic editing command. Then there was...
  • 6D: Spread statistic (acreage) - spread like in better? spread like oleo? Come on! Even with the ACRE- in place, it took me a few beats to get it. Lastly, there's...
  • 7D: Top arrangement? (hairdo) - spinning top? shirt top? No.
  • 10D: Passage to get 8-Down (adit) - one of my favoritest bits of crosswordese of all time. Very Olde Fashionede.
  • 30D: It's 8 for O (At. No.) - probably my favorite clue/answer pairing of the day. No idea if it's original, but it's original to me.
  • 42D: Chichewa and English are its two languages (Malawi) - wow, was I wrong. I thought for sure that the country in question would be South American ... this, sadly / not surprisingly, is the only reason most people have even heard of MALAWI.
  • 39D: Cot spot (tent) - not sure why this took me so long. It's obvious. Oh, right ... now I remember: LALALA. Ugh.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Once again, I failed to comment on an answer that I Clearly marked up for commentary on my puzzle paper - POST-MOSAIC (25D: After the Pentateuchal period). Completely inferrable, but ... never seen it used in a sentence. I spent a few seconds trying to think of the adjectival form of MOSES: MOSEL? MOSEAL? MOSISH?

44 comments:

imsdave1 8:28 AM  

I didn't fall into the LALALA trap, as I had TENT early. After I finished the puzzle, I stared at DIESNON on and off for about 10 minutes. I'll take Rex's word for what it means, but it sure looks odd. ESSE looked right for a long time but obviously ASOSE wasn't going to cut it. Nice having ASONE and ADUE in the same puzzle. Excellent workout for me.

PhillySolver 9:28 AM  

I had many of the stumble Rex describes except for NANANANA (Hey Jude) and added stats for STETS and lessen for SADDEN for a bit. Like imsdave, I tried to rework the middle for five minutes, but I couldn't fix anything to eliminate DIESNON and left it thinking ITLLDO.
I think Hamlet told Ophelia to get thee to a nunnery because she was gaining weight and was approaching some adult hippos, which would make her FATASAHOG.

A challenging puzzle and a lot to like including the stacks in the NW and SE.

dk 9:29 AM  

Just plain fun!

NANANA right on the heels of yesterday Sha na na was a good start for me.

Tick source had me looking for Deer, etc.

I so wanted CERES to be Pluto, and ITLLDO has me thinking about Babe (a not so fat pig). Pig is where I went instead of FATASAHOG, which is how I feel after consuming ribs and beer last night.

It seems there may be a "do I look fat in this" theme to this puzzle with THREETON, KIESTER, ILOST and the aforementioned FATAS...

Word to the wise blogging and beer do not mix, it is not any funnier when you write it than when you slur it.

I shall be SILENT as a clam, except to say great start to a Saturday... perhaps just one more espresso will be what HEALS me.

ArtLvr 9:35 AM  

Yes, it took me a looong time too... Skipped the NW with "Porky" clue, thinking it was going to be a cartoon or comics character, and got the NE going very nicely. EYETEETH was a favorite with me too, and ROLL-ON deodorant was a hoot.

After that I had the DIES but not yet NON, broke open the SW with TILED, REEL, TENT, I LOST, NETS. Loved MEDDLESOME here, and SILENT "clammy" was just okay. Back to the NW where GE'S got me HOG and HAIRDO, and then the rest.

Finished in the SE where I already had RENAULT, but tried "napkins" crossing "Manila" and other oddities instead of the obvious LAPTOPS. Finally got those straightened out with OBOE -- having considered "Babe" for clue "one found in the woods". Haha.

I think the SAIL NEEDLE is curved like a carpet needle etc., but didn't look it up. Very nice puz, quite PLAUSIBLE!

∑;)

Judgesully 9:41 AM  

Very funky puzzle that could be conquered with a lot of staring at the page until it clicked. The ambiguity of some of the clues made for mild frustration, but all in all I liked the different ways that it led you down the wrong path.

psattler 9:49 AM  

I fell into many of the same traps (PIG for HOG, IRA for ORE), as well as GOING ALONG for GOING AHEAD; CALLED OUT for BAWLED OUT, and -- my first big error -- (Natalie) WOOD for (William) INGE.

In fact, this puzzle gave me so much trouble that I doubted by own correct guesses, erasing ASSNS because the "NR" cross seemed implausible. And I erased CERES because...um, well, I'm not sure any more. (Perhaps it had to do with originally thinking that Massachusetts' motto was "Live Free or Die." When I recalled that was the motto of New Hampshire, I started second-guessing everything.)

Best Ah-Ha moment: "Spread Statistic" and ACREAGE. I just like the look of that word. And I snapped to it after thinking through every vocabulary term from my stats class.

(Speaking of which, how often is "overthinking" a clue a problem for you folks, in terms of leaning toward meanings of clue-word that are far more difficult than what is required? With "Attic," for example, I kept thinking of Athens instead of the space above my head!!)

Biggest confusion: "It's 8 for O" for AT NO. Thanks for visually clearing this up, Rex.

Biggest smile: PBS for "Oscar airer." I love trash, too!

jannieb 9:53 AM  

Nice workout we're getting this weekend. I too had napkins and Manila for awhile. That gave me balled out which looked okay and never got fixed until I looked at Rex's grid. Even with help from Orange my geography skills are sorely lacking. (Malali??? Why not?)

First thing I filled in was nunneries, then 16A, Deare. Then I saw 10D. Weren't we missing that recently when we had Adia for fill? That gave me Ore at 8D so I avoided the pig trap. For once I finished the NW first.

Made an astounding number of good guesses - Renault (was thinking we needed a first name here), Nadia, Pitt. Didn't like "on hire" at all. As for DiesNon - whatever!

Great fill = second hand, rollon, eyeteeth, keister.

Hope Sunday gives us great solving trifecta.

jannieb 10:56 AM  

Just noticed that post-Mosaic (is after Moses really an era???) and "tiled" are in the same quadrant. All the California downs were fun - and well clued.

Zach M. 11:12 AM  

Rex, as your faithful and loyal servant, I looked up The Novel Of The Future for you. You are right - it doesn't involve robots in anyway. It's literary criticism, the title refers to what the novel (in a large sense) should be in the future. And I think it's a superfluous book, since we all know what novels should be in the future.

They should be about robots, obviously.

jae 11:21 AM  

Nice Sat. This seemed easier to me than yesterday's. Maybe because I blew my error free week yesterday so the pressure was off. Fewer missteps than yesterday also. I did bite on LALALA, had GOFIRST, ILIAR, and CBS (over thinking, ala psattler, Oscar on the odd couple which was actually on ABC). Like jannieb I briefly tried BALLEDOUT but checked/corrected the spelling via my bride when MALALI looked strange. I also agonized over the spelling of KEISTER as ADUE and TONI also looked iffy, but a PPG confirmed I had it right. Again, quoting Rex, a "solid" enjoyable puzzle where I learned new stuff that I hope I'll remember.

Frances 11:53 AM  

A DUE for "in unison" trips me up every time. For "unison" I envision a whole bunch of people singing the same melody; if there's only two people (or instruments), I want each of them to have a recognizable line--ie, a duet. For "unison" in future puzzles, I'll just go on auto-pilot: if five letters, use AS ONE, if four letters, go with A DUE.

PuzzleGirl 12:10 PM  

I, too, had the ACR of ACREAGE and had to look at it a long time. Weird. I was initially thinking the spread had something to do with gambling (me: "over-under? some sort of ODDS?"). I went through quite a few possibilities in my head for 15A ("whatever"). I'm really glad I'M NOT LISTENING MOM SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL STOP TALKING didn't fit. This was an awesome puzzle.

mac 12:16 PM  

A very enjoyable, sometimes tricky puzzle, as a Sat one should be. Had some of the same trip-ups as mentioned above, and in addition started out with "nubile" for 32A.
6D made me think of spread sheets, which I can't read."itlldo" is great, eyeteeth too.

We're having ribs this evening, son has been working on them since yesterday afternoon. They are brined, marinated, rubbed and brushed. I have to make the German potato salad.

Megan P 12:23 PM  

A gnarly puzzle for me. Just one tiny mistake: TONY for TONI, yielding KEYSTER - which did look odd.

Superman is staring at that lady's front.

alanrichard 12:39 PM  

I got Renault and Sosa right away. Then of course I was looking for lalala but it was nanana. I knew Pitt, surprisingly so - probably from too many years of doing puzzles. This was a pretty quick puzzle for me - but today's Newsday, which is not nearly as clever or as much fun, is alot harder.

foodie 1:12 PM  

This puzzle made me feel smart, reversing my lingering sense of brain rot from my performance yesterday.

Like Rex, I put down "SEEMS LIKE" for "Sure looks that way", and promptly reinforced it by intersecting the K with HUNK for "Extremely desirable" :) That definitely lifted my mood, except I had to give up the HUNK for the less desirable PLUM. Oh well...

I just looked up eyeteeth-- I knew they are valuable but never knew they meant canines... Somehow, the word always evoked something biblical, as in "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

Excellent start for the weekend. Thank you Mr. Wolfe!

Leon 1:15 PM  

Real nice puzzle with lots of wonderful misdirections.

Re: na nas - I also thought of Hey Jude and to add to the list : Sheryl Crow has a Na Na song. In 1969, you have the
the best of Steam. (Assembled after the song took off)

The song is a Stadium staple played to taunt athletic opponents.

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye

Ulrich 1:36 PM  

I guess I'm the only one for whom TONI was the only gimme--remember him as the last skier (man or woman) to win gold in all three alpine events--the sport has become too specialized since then.
Had an unusual amount of what seemed very good guesses ("monastery" instead of "nunneries"; "in love" for "ready to be engaged", reinforced by "veer" for "lurch"; "comet" instead of "ceres") that I was very reluctant to give up. Finally googled the state motto, which got the SW unstuck. It was hard...

The Band 1:48 PM  

The night they drove old dixie down and the bells were ringin’
The night they drove old dixie down and the people were singin’
They went la na na na na na la na na na na na na na

Ulrich 2:02 PM  

Correction: Jean Claude Killy of France repeated Toni's feat in 1968--he was the last to do this.

miriam b 2:18 PM  

This is the kind of puzzle to which one gives a preliminary scan and then says "Huh?" After a short time clues begin to make sense, then it's off to the races. I sussed the constructor's mindset after a few clues, notably "Top arrangement?", which had relevance to me because I've just returned from a new (to me) salon with a great cut and HAIRDO, and an instant rapport with a pleasant and bright stylist who knows her onions. I forgave ITLLDO because I loved the puzzle so much. I rarely find serious fault with the NYT puzzles. Like Browning's Last Duchess, I'm "too soon made glad, too easily impressed." Bad outcome, for her.

I stubbornly insisted for a while that some hippos have three toes, realizing later that although an adult may carry a THREETON weight, it has a massive frame and is not FATASAHOG.

I know zilch about cars of any origin, so of course I put Peugeot where RENAULT should have been, and finally figured that out at the end.

Re BAWLEDOUT: The original Riot Act sounded pretty impressive:

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!

I think of FINK as meaning an informer or a strikebreaker. I associate it with the German word for finch, a songbird. Too farfetched, Ulrich?

Onegin is being sung today at the Met. Good radio reception, despite the rainstorm. . Actually seeing the incredible Hvorostovsky in action would be a lagniappe, but the audio is enough to blow me away. They did broadcast on PBS last year, with Fleming as Tatiana. That was great.

I have to stop this avoidance and reconcile bank statements now. Thank goodness for Quicken.

bill from fl 2:21 PM  

I lived in Chicago during the '70s when White Sox fans began the now-universal taunt of singing "Na na na na, na na na na, HEY HEY HEY, goodbye!" to opposing teams who were losing. So another really forgettable song achieved immortality as a cheer.

Great puzzle.

Fergus 2:49 PM  

I remember Toni Sailer gushing about Jean-Claude Killy ...

NETTLESOME, BURDENSOME; wow that section was tough. Glad I chose to work in pencil this morning. OVER A TON, UPPER FLOOR, etc. NUBILE, LABILE, MATURE yet there was a question mark for Ready to get engaged?, which yielded the only weak answer. I still don't understand TILED for Like many a backsplash? My closest guess was SPURT. And I wondered whether Lurch was from either the Adams Family or the Munsters.

Ulrich 2:51 PM  

@miriam b: I've opened a thread where we can discuss "fink" w/o bothering anybody here. BTW Do you have an e-mail address?

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Stadium Rock Classics
Gary Glitter's 'Rock and Roll, Part II'
Sam the Sahm 'Wooly Bully'
anything by Queen
any song with nanananananana

Michael 3:13 PM  

My one mistake was threetoe/dieseon.

I had no idea what dieseon was and was not surprised to find that this was wrong.

I was held up for most of the puzzle by writing in eyetooth instead of eyeteeth. When I fixed this, I finished quickly.

jae 3:20 PM  

I meant to thank miriam b for the PPG* abbrev. IT"LLDO quite nicely.

*Post Puzzle Google

archaeoprof 3:21 PM  

For awhile I thought "like some adult hippos" might be "three toe." But that just doesn't look right, does it? On cross it produces a nonsensical Latin phrase "dies eon." Went through the alphabet to get THREE TON. But now I wonder: how many toes do adult hippos have?

chefbea1 3:23 PM  

Hard puzzle for me Had to google and come here for help. I too had lalala for quite awhile

@fergus - a backsplash is the area behind the faucets on your kitchen or bathroom sink and they are usually tiled so the wall doesnt get sprayed with water.
Also Lurch was the butler for the adams family

Bill from NJ 3:29 PM  

Like JannieB, I opened with NUNNERIES and DEARE but had GAS at 9D that held me up in the NW.

Didn't fall into the LALALA trap as both TENT and RENAULT were gimmes and that opened up the Midlands for me along with SSA and NADIA.

In Georgia, I had LAPTOPS and made a good guess at 56A PLAUSIBLE which produced OBOE and broke open the SE.

I had no trouble, curiously, with THREETON and didn't out-think myself at 26D INTHEAISLE and moved through the West Coast by getting all the downs which pretty much got me the SW by default.

I finally corrected 9D when I guessed at FINK and realized that 16A wasn't likely to end in an A and IDONTCARE occurred to me at last which got me HAIRDO and the NW fell.

EYETEETH was the last clue to fall as I slowly but surely chipped away at the East Coast and managed to finish in 1:15.

Not a very good time, true, but I did finish and had no Googles.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Regarding 24A, Amazon lists the book as "Novel of the Future" without the "The", so clue could be a little off.

Patrick 6:18 PM  

Isaac Asimov had an article entitled "The World Ceres". I'm convinced he only wrote it for the title :-)

Joon 7:29 PM  

i liked this puzzle a lot. SOITSEEMS, ITLLDO, ATNO, SELL... lots of good stuff. but. but!

i can't believe i'm the first one to complain about NRADIATION. what the hell is that? nuclear? neutral? negative? i've never heard of this. the only thing N regularly stands for in atomic/nuclear physics is the neutron (with a little n), and in that case, the clue makes no sense. x-rays are photons, not neutrons. "n radiation" (a radioactive source of neutrons) exists, but it's certainly not atomic x-ray emission.

green mantis 8:28 PM  

The elusive three-toed hippo got me, because diesnon?? Non. In typical bizarro-brain fashion, I was desperately seeking, for "Day when courts are not in session," the nickname Sandra Day O'Connor's family uses for her when she's not working. Sandy Jo?

Also wanted the Renault brother to be, I don't know, Rakeem or something. I have a weakness for rapper names.

mac 10:28 PM  

@archeoprof: I'm guessing adult hippos have as many toes as young hippos. It's funny toes were brought up: I knew a family of 6 with 4 members having toes joined together, webbed as it were.
I thought the clue for the French car was odd; I got it because of the crosses, but I was also looking for first names, like the Baldwin boys.

mac 10:39 PM  

The family I talked about are human beings!

Fergus 11:45 PM  

Yeah, Joon, I was looking for ALPHA DECAY (though I know that's inaccurate, too) or something less trumped up. I'm sure the pairing was vetted, but I don't like the puzzle advisers when it comes Physics or Art History. It seems like they feel as if they get away with a sort of Philistinism, combined with the smugness of a dilettante.

Fergus 11:57 PM  

Thanks, chefbea1 for the backsplash clarification. I figured as much when I went for a walk after expending an unusual amount of mental effort there. Now, it seems like it ought to be a new form of punctuation, and could be clued as such, if only it started with an e.

Anonymous 3:04 AM  

oscar...sesame street...pbs

andrea carla michaels 1:47 AM  

Couldn't get the Notheast at all bec of the NR, thought maybe SOC abbrev might be ASSC bec CR seemed more, well, PLAUSIBLE.
I thought I must be wrong and didn't know READE and was too stubborn to google...
so didn't even finish the puzzle, (first time in a long time...) but really enjoyed the challenge!

One odd synchronistic moment, had spent the night before with friend trying to see how many countries in Africa we could name (insert how nerdy I am here and yes, it was a Friday night!)
and I always thought it was a cool trivia question that MALI is MALAWI without the AW.
That combo also exists in soMALIa.
(oops, I guess the trivia is not about MALAWI but about MALI...
"What African country's name is entirely within another African country's name?"

Joe 11:24 AM  

I'm not entirely happy with 'post-Mosaic' as 'Pentateuchal' refers to books, and the Historical books are next, and 'HISTORICAL' is the right length, and it screwed me up for a long time.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

I just found this site. You are GOOD. Thanks.

specman 6:19 PM  

Anytime refernce to "keister" always floors me. This puzzle took me close to two hours, but it was time well spent! I'll try to remember the day when courts are not in sesson.

jpchris 2:05 PM  

I don't get 32A: Ready to get engaged?

On hire? For hire, yes; but not ON hire.

Help?

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