May 17, 2008

Saturday May 17, 2008 Michael T. Williams


I dislike this puzzle, too many S's (28 in total, almost 15% of the grid), too snaky, look:

25A: Cobra's cousins: ASPS

14D: Serpent's sound: SSS

62D: Snaky character: ESS

This has become a very annoying pattern for Williams' SATURDAY themeless. I mean our editor Wayne R. Williams, not his nephew Michael T. Williams who authored today's puzzle.

I played through the upper left corner without encountering any obstacle this morning. I could not believe my eyes when SATURDAY turns out to be the right fill for 1A: Day like today? But why question mark? The clue felt very anemic to me. Had some problems with SCAUPS & POD crossing. I did not know that a group of whale is called POD, and I had not heard of SCAUPS before.

Lots of animal fills in today's puzzle: SWINE, SCAUPS, TERN, SABLE, ASPS, SKATE (24D: Flat fish), CAT, and a half TSE. I guess it's too much of a stretch to include DEER from DEERE (6D) in the list. There are also quite a few animals in the clue: 65A: Bronco-busting events (RODEOS), Raccoon distinction (RINGTAIL), whale group (POD), Serpent's noise (SSS).

Of the 2 singers today, BILLIE Holiday was a gimme, and CAT Stevens was easily gettable, though I had no idea who he was. Very interesting to see ALLUSIVE (58A: Having indirect references), ASPERSE (22D: Badmouth), BUM RAPS (43D: False charges) structured in one grid. It's painfully pleasant to see SKATE intersects SPRAIN. A bit disturbing to see SWINE crosses SHRILL. Have you ever heard of a last shrill cry from a pig? Boy, it's really piercing, you can hear it a village away.


9A: Cousins of canvasbacks: SCAUPS. The plural form can be SCAUP too. Wikipedia says there are three kinds of SCAUP: Greater SCAUP (also called Bluebill), Lesser SCAUP & New Zealand SCAUP.

15A: Rump: DERRIÈRE. Aright, yesterday's ITEM picture, the girl is Jessica Biel, who is currently dating Justin Timberlake.

16A: Trunks: TORSOS. Hmm, TORSO rotation. Big problem if you can not unwind properly during the downswing.

19A: Field of Jets: GRIDIRONS. This might be difficult for our fellow solvers in Asia & Europe. Jets here refers to NY Jets, an American football team.

21A: "Peace Train" singer: CAT STEVENS. He said he wrote this song while on a train, and he was thinking of Alfred Hitchcock at the time.

29A: Japanese port: OSAKA. Literally "large hill". The gourmet food capital of Japan. I love OSAKA style kitsune udon!

32A: Ankle injury: SPRAIN. You do need to COSSET your ankle after the sprain, don't you?

37A: Comes to rest: SETTLES. I tried SLEEPS first.

39A: Tenor Pavarotti: LUCIANO, Yes, We are the world!

41A: First name in mysteries: ERLE. Unbelievable, 3 appearances in one week!

42A: Hunter of films: TAB. No. Completely unknown to me.

44A: Gum flapper: GABBER. Very interesting clue.

45A: Half an African fly?: TSE. Remember what Orange said about this clue? "Tsetse is one word! If it's acceptable to clue half of it as an entity, what's stopping the editor from trying TSET for "two thirds of a fly"?

48A: French city known for textiles: LILLE. Known as Lisle before. Probably less than 1 hour away from Gare du Nord if you take Eurostar.

49A: Collectors' groups: SETS. Does anyone here own a 1952 Topps set?

51A: Sportscaster of note: AL MICHAELS. Do you believe in miracles? YES!

53A: Bonapartes' last battle: WATERLOO. Or _____International Station, which used to be the London terminus of Eurostar. About 2 1/2 hours away from Paris.

55A: Piecing in tone: SHRILL

63A: Coetzer of tennis: AMANDA. Not familiar with her name. But it's easily obtainable.

64A: Mechanical music makers: PIANOLAS. What is it? I've never heard of it.

65A: Bronco-busting events: RODEOS

66A: Activity periods: SESSIONS. What a desperate need for S's!


1D: '60s radicals: SDS. And 2D: NRC predecessor: AEC. They've become gimmes to me now. Repeat offenders.

5D: Raccoon distinction: RINGTAIL. Good morning cutie! (Update: The cutie in the picture is a lemur. Sorry about the mistake).

6D: Tractor maker: DEERE. Look at this John DEERE collector's corner.

7D: Make it big: ARRIVE. I like this clue. Still waiting for Günther and the Sunshine Girls to ARRIVE in the US.

10D: Italian resort lake: COMO. Want to go to Lake COMO?

12D: Sailors org: USN. Or ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) sometimes.

13D: Whale group: POD. Seal group is POD too. Seal is probably a better clue as many solvers will be trapped into thinking singer Seal.

20D: Pentium manufacturers: INTEL. Why plural form?

21D: Pampers: COSSETS. Treat me like a baby!

23D: Mini-pie: TARTLET. Want some?

27D: Roberts of "Bonanza": PERNELL. No idea. I got his name from across clues.

28D: Spanish gentlemen: SENORES

40D: John C. and Rory: CALHOUNS. Not familiar with either of them. Again, I strung this fill from across clues.

60D: Worldwide workers' grp: ILO (International Labor Organization). And they celebrate Labor's Day on May 1.



Dennis said...

Good morning, C.C. and fellow DFs - as C.C. said, some very weak clues in this one. It's a relatively easy puzzle, but the editor must've been looking forward to the weekend.
C.C., a pianola is just a player piano - it reads perforated paper rolls and translates the holes into notes.
To answer your question, I HAD a '52 Topps set a few years back, but sold it. My favorite is '56, which I have.
Hope it's an outstanding weekend for all - that big round orange thing is out here again, so it should be a good one here.

Dick said...

Good morning cc and Dennis. This was another one done in "Dennis" time. It seems that for the last week or so the puzzles have been easier. I am sorry to see that the ITEM is a Lois look alike as I thought there was only one Lois. It is going to be another wet and dreary week end here in the Berg. Grass is going crazy and it has been too wet to mow. Guess I will just kick back and enjoy the time off. Have a great week end.

C.C. Burnikel said...

I love '56 Topps Mantle card more than the 1952 one. Is yours graded?
We also have a gorgeous sunny day here in MN. Spring has finally ARRIVE(d). Doesn't the rampant amount of S's bother you?

Katherine said...

Good morning CC and everyone! I thought this one was pretty easy. I never heard of "scaups" or "pianola". Jessica Biel is beautiful. Thanks for all the links today. Lake Como is beautiful too.
I think we hare having rain today. But I have to work anyway.
Have a good weekend everyone.

Dennis said...

C.C., the '56 Mantle is a PSA8. And no, the extra S's didn't bother me when I was doing it, but I see your point.

C.C. Burnikel said...

PSA8? That's pretty rare, isn't it? I forgot to say earlier that I was very impressed with your Vanessa Minnillo guess yesterday. Still could not believe that you got Jeter.

I don't know much about crossword construction. But if a themeless puzzle has to have so many S, or other affixes, I would prefer a themed one.

Jessica ALBA, Jessica BIEL and Jessica Simpson are all beautiful 9D.

I agree. Feels like Williams has been in a mellow mood lately.

Superfrey said...

This one was a ACE C. C. OKay... who was in yesterday's pic... Jeter and J. Lo .... that was my guess.... who is it?

Kim said...

CC & gang,

I too thought this was way too easy for a Saturday, which I normally stumble through to get half of the puzzle. My only problems were in the southeast corner. I had eel for 62D which screwed me up until I saw the error of my ways. I also had trouble with 9A.

Enjoy the sunshine Dennis & CC, we have that all the time. Today 89-90! Pool Day!

Have a great one!

NYTAnonimo said...

Liked your Pavarotti reference c.c.. Met him once at a hotel I was staying at but failed to get his autograph.

Didn't know AMANDA Coetzer or SCAUPS either.

Some links for you. Hope you all have a great weekend.

AMANDA Coetzer
picture of SCAUPS

Barry G. said...

Morning, folks!

This was mostly smooth sailing for me. I didn't have a clue (so to speak) about SCAUPS, but fortunately remembered the name of Lake COMO. LILLE also threw me for a bit, but I was able to get it via the cross clues. Not a great puzzle, but challenging enough to be interesting without being impossibly obscure.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Read my comment on 15A.

Kim, NYTanonimo & Barry,
No comment on 1A clue? Are you guys all OK with the "?" mark?

Barry G. said...

No comment on 1A clue? Are you guys all OK with the "?" mark?

I didn't have a problem with it. I just figured somebody might be doing the puzzle on a different day than the day it was actually published.

Anonymous said...

Good morning. Is that a raccoon picture that you titled "cutie" or is
that a ring-tailed lemur. I was hoping to see the cute little black-
masked face. Just wondering.


Dennis said...

Sandra - yep, it's a ring-tailed lemur.

Bill said...

SSSSSSSSSSS !! Another croSSword with leakS. Can't you just hear the air ruShing out??
Good day except for sCaups !
I put the C in because I knew Lake Como but thought something else must have been wrong 'cause I never heard of a SCAUP. I knew a canvasback was a duck but...........Oh,well. I found out I was OK after I got here.
1A was a little boggling. Who'd 'a' thunk it really would be the day of the week the croSSword showed up in the paper?
I think a simple clue
(like TODAY?) might have been more appropriate altho simplistic.
Gotta go. Big birthday party tomorrow so lots more to be done.

C.C. Burnikel said...

I've updated the blog. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

Is SCAUP a familiar word to you?

I like your clue for 1A. Have fun with your granddaughter's party!

MH said...

Easy one today. I didn't dislike it because I was able to complete it without help. Cat Stevens, nee Stephanos Demetre Georgiou, is now known as Yusuf Islam. Peace Train is one of the all-time great songs from the anti-war era.

Dennis said...

C.C., nope, scaup came from the perps.

Anonymous said...

Hi C.C. and everyone. Fairly easy one today except for the Southeast corner where I could not come up with ALLUSIVE (58A)for some reason. Didn't know 59D and forgot 60D (could have looked it up but too lazy)!
Lots of references to stars of the 50's: 42A,40D,27D,54A(actually he was in some late 40's movies too).
Stumbled on 12A because I thought it was ONI, so that took awhile to fix.
I never heard of SCAUPS

Anonymous said...

Hi, having trouble getting connected here so am testing

Anonymous said...

Hi again, guess it's all ok now.
Fairly easy today, with the exception of SE corner. I could not get 58A or 59D and forgot what 60D was.
Lots of references to stars of 50's: 42A,40D,27D and 54D (he also was in movies in the late 40's).
Haven't seen clue 55D for awhile!
I thought 12D was ONI so had to look up canvasback as I did not know what that was, so finally got back on track.
Bill, have a wonderful time at your grand-daughter's party!!
C.C. is right about theme puzzles being a little more interesting.
Hope you all enjoy your Sat. We will be quite warm in Portland again today(88),actually that's hot for me!!
Crockett is from Portland too, so hope he stayed cool in yesterday's 92! Odd temps for us this time of year.

melissa bee said...

good morning all,

another So-So puzzle today. i actually thought the theme WAS s. just look at all the outside downs:


and so many other words that begin and end with s. c.c. i knew you would ESSchew all those esses. (and yESS i do want to go to lake como!)

i did like derriere, BUMrap and ringTAIL.

i wonder what a group of esses is called?

Crockett1947 said...

A messy grid for me this morning because I work in pen and mark over my errors. Had problems with COSSETS, TAB, BUB, ELUSIVE, and COLAS (wanted SODAS), but mended my ways and got everything OK. I couldn't believe the answer for 1A also. Yes, I think the ? is unneeded. Bill, I like your suggestion. There are certainly too many ESSES today. I guess my comment from yesterday was a bit prophetic, LOL. C.C., you are the queen of links. You have a very creative mind.

Crockett1947 said...

Anonymous Carol. Yes, I stayed hidden in my burrow. It did get into the 80s in the house, but today is supposed to be better. Just about time to batten down the hatches and keep the heat out. Have a great weekend, all.

C.C. Burnikel said...

I just listened to the "Peace Train" after reading your comment, not my cup of tea. Too hurried an delivery.

I like your 50' STARS comment. I only knew ALDO.

Today's S's really drives me nuts! I wonder what's the record of the number of letter S in one grid.

I actually thought of GOSSIP pair when I came to 62D and lamented the lost opportunity. But I don't expect such clue in another 3 months. I see you still want ELUSIVE.

I hope you enjoyed those links. I am a free thinker, or a free spirit as you said sometime ago.

lois said...

Good afternoon, CC et al, Good fun today with the OLD names and hind part references...odds and ends? But 'scaups'? Schnaps is more to my liking. Had to laugh at
8D "Yes Dear" thinking of Bill and his begging jargon. 64A pianolas got me...player pianos is what we called them. Great links, always.

Good luck w/the party, Bill.
Dick: It's ok. You keep thinkin' that's my double. I'm sure most would thank God there is only 1 me.

My pool team has made it to the 3rd tier of the playoffs. Too much fun for my words. Wish us luck.

Enjoy this gorgeous day!

Crockett1947 said...

Lois, good luck to your pool team! Have fun playing with all those balls!!

C.C. Burnikel said...

Are you in a pool league? When will be your next play-offs?

Dr. Dad said...

Good afternoon. A bit late in getting here. No trouble today - 6 minutes. Closing in on Dennis.
Pernell Roberts played Adam Cartwright (Bonanza) and was Trapper John, M.D. after Trapper went home from Korea (Wayne Rogers played him in MASH).

Lots of comments today have already said what I noticed about the puzzle.

Lois - have fun playing with the balls!


Anonymous said...

C.C. I'll never catch up with Dennis, but got this one in 12 minutes without help. Didn't know "scaup" but filled in from other words. Checked the link - what a beautiful creature! I thought the question mark for Saturday was unnecessary. By the way, the old "Bonanza" show that Pernell Roberts was on still runs on TV Land. He was soooo handsome as a young man. Great voice, too. My paper is Dayton Daily News - we don't get this puzzle on Sunday. Don't know what it is; usually don't work it because the answers are printed on the next page and it's too tempting to cheat! Have a great Sunday, everyone.


C.C. Burnikel said...

I was wondering the whole morning where the Speedy Gonzales was!

I don't think I will ever catch Dennis. He is incredible!

Wow, I cannot believe any paper will print the answers to the puzzle in the same day.

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