May 31, 2008

Saturday May 31, 2008 Matthew Higgins


Hey, only 3 ING suffixes today: TRUMPING, TOEING & REVISING. And a few tolerable amount of ER, RE & S affixes. This constructor Mr. Matthew Higgins is getting better.

I had a nightmare at the DIS corner this morning. I simply had no idea what was 37A: Alaskan peninsular (SEWARD), though I vaguely heard of "SEWARD's Folly" before. And I penned in WAVERING for 39D: Changing, as one's opinion (REVISING), thinking of those politicians constant flip-flopping. Did not know what was 56A: Roman for Pluto (DIS). I had never heard of DRESSAGE either. Was not familiar with the carpentry meaning of TOEING (65: Driving nails obliquely). And NINON was a complete stranger to me, so were ABULIA & SYENITE.

Got very flustered earlier on, and quickly surrendered to Google.


1A: Hindu maxims: SUTRAS. Know this word only because of "Kama SUTRA". Isn't it strange that a country that contributed this to the world can be so prudish about Richard Gene's public kissing?

7A: High-ranking military officer: BRASS HAT. Who is the highest BRASS HAT in Pentagon now? I suppose you can not call Secretary Gates as one.

15A: Deeply absorbed: ENRAPT

16A: Adjust to specifications: REGULATE

17A: Abnormal inability to act decisively: ABULIA. Can also be spelled as ABOULIA. Dictionary says it's "loss or impairment of the ability to make decisions or act independently". It's derived from Greek word " abouliā" indecision ( a-, without; boulē, will).

18A: Light musical production: OPERETTA

19A: Of a school period: SEMESTRAL. Can also be spelled as SEMESTRIAL. I did not know this. Only knew SEMESTER.

22A: General Arnold's nickname: HAP. Saw it in a TMS puzzle before, then I promptly forgot. General Henry H. Arnold.

26A: Elevator man?: OTIS. Why question mark? Here is model Carré OTIS. She has become a Buddhist.

28A: Large rays: SKATES. Ha ha, I caught it this morning!

33A: Free from obligation: EXEMPT

35A: Memory trace: ENGRAM. What, RANG ME?

45A: Crapshooter: DICER. And RAKE (20D: Profligate one), though it's not clued as "croupier's tool".

49A: Practice exercise: DRY RUN

52A: Bang: SLAM

54A: Brain cell: NEURON. Oh, my impulse carrier.

56A: Roman Pluto: DIS. Nope, nope. I barely know Pluto as the god of underworld. I looked up in the dictionary, it says Orcus is the Roman counterpart of Pluto. Very confusing, this Pluto, Hades, Orcus & DIS.

57A: Sea of Queensland: CORAL. Gimme for me. Someone down there in Queensland used to send me a bottle of Tendre Poison every Christmas.

59A: Neat and trim condition: NATTINESS

61A: Breadcrumb and cheese cover: AU GRATIN. Is it ready?

63A: Lack of vitality: ANEMIA

64A: Arizona city: PRESCOTT. Unfamiliar to me.

66A: Affected lovers of beauty: ESTHETES. Our Editor has become very arty lately. AESTHETE was clued as "Refined lover of beauty" on Sunday May 18, and ESTHETIC is clued as "Having a love of beauty" on May 20 Tuesday. What's next? "Memoirs of an Aesthete"?

67A: Infuriate: ENRAGE


1D: Land between tide marks: SEASHORE. And 10D: Wave action: SURF

2D: Zero in the loss column: UNBEATEN

3D: Topping like The Donald?: TRUMPING. I like this clue.

4D: Death rattle: RALE. Mr. Higgins used this identical clue in his April 19 puzzle.

5D: Foolishly imitative: APISH

6D: Conditions: STATES

7D: Battle weapon: BROAD AX. I had no idea.

8D: Abounding: REPLETE

12D: Bigot: HATER

13D: Churchill's successor: ATTLEE (Clement). Do you like David Brooks? I do, here is his Op-Ed with a brief mention of ATTLEE.

14D: Needler: TEASER. Dislike the intersection with SER (30A: Sun. homily)

24D: JFK, LBG, et al: DEMS. Would've filled in PRES if not for the D from 23A: Was in charge of (HEADED).

32D: Electoral district: WARD. Once and Again, no Sela WARD, you don't like her anymore?

36D: Dawn 'til noon: MORN. "Stay for just a while. Stay, and let me look at you..." Enjoy this September MORN and this September MORN (Paul Chabas). That's indeed too little of a MORN, and too much of a maid, isn't it?

38D: World of scholars: ACADEMIA

40D: Equestrian event: DRESSAGE. DRESSER means "To tame/train" in French (like DRESSER/Entraîne a dog).

42D: Igneous rock: SYENITE. Completely unknown to me. Dictionary says it's "an igneous rock composed primarily of alkali feldspar together with other minerals, such as hornblende". It's originally quarried in SYENE (now Aswan), Egypt. "-ITE" is a just a suffix meaning component, like NORITE, another Igneous rock. Too complicated.

43D: School skippers: TRUANT

44D: Mongol tent: YURT. Here are two YURTS in the Mongolia steppe.

46D: Type of clause or hatch: ESCAPE. Unknown to me. What are they? (Update: Here is Chris' explanation: an escape hatch is a submarine term for a way to get out of the boat in the event of an emergency, an escape clause is a legal term for a way to void a contract in the event of a failure to deliver.)

47D: Self-rising and all-purpose: FLOURS

48D: Firing-ranging object: TARGET

49D: Tore: SPED

50D: Write music: NOTATE

53D: Ngaio of mysteries: MARSH. I had never heard of her name before. Wikipedia says she was one of the four original "Queens of Crime" (Agatha Christie was another one).

55D: Sheer rayon fabric: NINON. Here is the definition: "A sheer fabric of silk, rayon, or nylon made in a variety of tight smooth weaves or open lacy patterns". Dictionary says this word probably came from French NINON, pet name for Anne, meaning "favor, grace".

58D: Add spirit to the punch: LACE. I am not familiar with this LACE. Adriana Lima's LACE looks pretty potent here, doesn't it?

60D: __ do-well: NE'ER. Yawned with ennui on this clue. Will we ever get poetic Mr. Williams? NE'ER?



Anonymous said...


Re: 46D question - an escape hatch is a submarine term for a way to get out of the boat in the event of an emergency, an escape clause is a legal term for a way to void a contract in the event of a failure to deliver. I, too, spent some time with Mr. Google this morning. Have a great day!

Katherine said...

Yikes! I think I got about 5 correct on this one. I had to look all the answers up from you CC. Color me really stupid this morning. Two nice pictures today. Loved the lace. I want one of those.
Have a great day, I have to get ready for work. Going to hear my drummer tonight.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Good morning Chris,
I've added your explanation to the blog entry. Thank you.

Lucky you! I would not mind botching a puzzle if I have a drummer to hear too.

Dennis said...

Good morning, C.C. and gang - thought this was a really good puzzle until I got to the SE corner and refused to believe 55D was anything but 'nylon'. Finally gave in to 'anemia', and knew there was only one way to spell 'nattiness', but I've never seen 'ninon' in a crossword, or anywhere else for that matter. Never saw 'abulia' either, but the perps took care of that.

C.C., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would be the highest-ranking military officer.
And thanks for the great links - if Carre Otis is connected with the elevator Otis, I understand why they go up and down...

Hope it's a great weekend for everyone - June's a-comin'.

Jeanne said...

My neurons were on vacation this a.m. As a former teacher, never used semestral, never heard of abulia, own some sheer fabrics, but I don't think ninon is one of them. Have a good weekend everyone.

NYTAnonimo said...

早晨好 c.c.. Never heard of ABULIA, ENGRAM, SYENITE, SEMESTRAL and NINON. I thought they were all poor fill. Carpe diem!

NYTAnonimo said...

Just looked at a news article about the National Spelling Bee-some of the final words were:

"guerdon," a word that appropriately means "something that one has earned or gained"

"prosopopoeia," a word describing a type of figure of speech

"numnah," a type of sheepskin pad)

And the winner was a 13 year old.
Not exactly what you hear in a typical conversation. Wonder if abulia, syenite and ninon were on the list. The spellchecker just redlined every one of those words!

Anonymous said...

Watching ESPN Sports Center this morning - they covered the spelling bee. The poor kid (who actually wound up winning) heard "numnah" pronounced as "numb nuts" and asked for clarification - the look on his face was priceless!

C.C. Burnikel said...

Thanks for the BRASS HAT answer. That would be Michael Mullen then. Gosh, I thought it's still General Peter Pace. ABULIA must be a very obscure word if you have not heard of it. I laughed at your OTIS up and down reasoning.

I just did some checking at cruciverb's database, SEMESTRAL has never been clued in any crossword puzzle before, neither has ABULIA.

早上好! Have you seen Spellbound? This puzzle might be a piece of cake for those kids.

Boomer said...

Too tough for me today. I've never been to Prescott AZ, but I've been to Nevada a few times and visited the craps tables. To my knowledge, I've never heard the players called a "dicer". Mostly they are called "Sir" or "Ma'am". After they have left a week's pay behind and left, they might be called "sucker", but never "dicer"

Barry G. said...

Morning, folks!

Today was definitely slow going, and I had to do a fair amount of educated guessing, but I'm happy to report I did finally manage to solve it all unassisted.

I had never heard of ABULIA, NINON or SYENITE, did not know that PRESCOTT was a city in Arizona, never heard of Ngaio MARSH or Clement ATTLEE, and have my doubts that SEMESTRAL and DICER are even real words. Fortunately, I did know enough of the other "obscure" cross-clues such as DIS, DRESSAGE, TOEING, HAP, ENGRAM and SEWARD and to get me through.

I put NORTH instead of CORAL for 57A, which bogged me down for awhile until I realized my mistake. Geography was never my strong suit. Like C.C., I guessed (correctly) on SUTRAS. 7D got me a bit worried when I got BROAD__, since I was sure it was supposed to be BROAD SWORD and thought maybe this was one of those funky rebus puzzles or something. I've never actually heard of a BROAD AX before, but it fit.

All in all, a decent puzzle, but I'm still not happy with SEMESTRAL and DICER...

Boomer said...

To heck with this puzzle - on to other news.
I noticed that mostly Red Sox and Yankees are leading the AL All Star voting, and although the Rays and the Marlins are near the top of their divisions, Marlin Hanley Ramirez is the only Florida player leading his position in either league. I can only assume that Florida moved up their All Star Vote, and now MLB will have to meet to decide whether the Florida votes should count. People from Boston are insisting that they count because Lu Clinton once played right field for the Red Sox.

The good news is that Michigan is not a problem. Not only have they not voted, but the Tigers have not even started their season yet, and nobody pays much attention until the Red Wings and Pistons are done.

It's getting Uggla out there.

Anonymous said...

This was tough for me today. Nothing seemed to gel.

lois said...

Good morning CC & DF's: Thank goodness it's not just my 'neuron's ths am. Thought maybe I've killed too many lately. Not a 'morn' for 'syenite'...cyanide maybe after this puzzle. Liked 'teaser' and 'bang'...'slam' didn't quite fit the image. I spike my punch, and 'lace' the brownies...or my body (great links, CC). Think Higgins has overindulged in one or two of these. He's confused.

Dennis: Is June a personal friend of yours?

'Surf'is UP !!

Enjoy this gorgeous day! Party on!

Boomer said...

While I am spouting off about non-crossword related issues of marginal importance, I noticed in the paper today that McDonald's (of "45 cents for a three course meal" fame), will be selling a 20 oz. McLatte for only $3.29. The price of coffee is up to about $4.00 per pound, but a pound still yields about 200 cups of coffee. I was thinking that maybe if the oil company refineries added a little powdered milk, sugar, and powdered egg to the gas and whipped the daylights out of it, maybe people wouldn't complain about the price.

Dennis said...

C.C., Peter Pace, the first Marine Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was a bit too outspoken for the political world, and was not given a second term.
Lois, of course; wouldn't you be?

lois said...

Dennis: hell yeah, if I got the same benefits!

Crockett1947 said...

Good morning everyone! Thought this one would be a real bear since the first answer I could get was 22A! SW corner was the most difficult for me, bur I had to rely on many perps today. Boomer, loved your comment on 45A! Have a fantastic week-end.

Dick said...

Hello cc and DFs. Struggled in some places with this one. The NE corner was impossible until I finally recalled brass hats and then the rest filled in easily. I did not know ABULIA, ENGRAM, SYENITE, SEMESTRAL and NINON so I had some struggles in those areas as well but the perps helped somewhat. For some reason it took me a long time to get 61A augraten and needed help from the perps.

Happy to learn that I am not the only one unhappy with some of the words and cluing. Have a great week end!


Anonymous said...


Having taken riding lessons as a child growing up in Rockford, IL, the Lippizzaner stallions are the best example of dressage I have seen (while on tour here in Bowling Green).

Argyle said...

My head still hurts from smacking it when it came to me what topping like the Donald was; I was thinking, comb over and such.

Dick said...

cc I liked the links to Sela Ward, Carre Otis and Linas's lace. Somehow they all remind me of Lois on a horse from a few days ago.

NYTAnonimo said...

You might prefer this to the crossword boomer. Sad to say I've yet to knock one in-could be a good thing I don't play golf in real life!

bujin said...

Hey group,

First time here...nice to know there's a place to go when i'm stumped...which is generally on authors, composers, or actors. Oh yes, and I do cheat, but only after a concerted attempt at solving without help. My "cheating" consists of a well-worn NY Times crossword book, and my electronic Franklin Puzzle solver. Hope to contribute here...beautiful breezy Saturday here in the Detroit area.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

C.C.and gang, I have had trouble getting my "blog" to print my these "Google/Blogger"accounts expire?? I can now "publish" this under anonymous but not as I was doing. Any suggestions for me? Many thanks, Carol

C.C. Burnikel said...

I think it's the Blogger software glitch. Several of our fellow solvers experience this annoyance before. Try again tomorrow and see if it works. Otherwise, when asked to choose an identity, you can click on Name/URL and type in your name (like Lois often does) instead of Anonymous.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Welcome to the group!

You sure love our Lady Godiva!

carol said...

Hey gang, I hope I am back with all of you again...what a morning! My "identity" was gone for some unknown reason!
Wow, the puzzle game me fits many weird words!
Matthew Higgins has had some tough ones in the past too.
Dennis, loved your comment about our Mr. Otis...up and down!! Naughty boy.
(but fun)
How many time do any of you use abulia, semestral,engram, dicer, dis or esthetes in conversation??

Lois: Are you planning on killing any more neurons today/tonight?? After all the trouble with my posting, I might kill a few of the ones I have left! Cheers! :)

carol said...

C.C. thanks for your help, I appreciate the quick response.

Excuse the spelling error in my previous post.

Anonymous said...

C.C. et al, Glad I'm not the only one who never heard of abulia, ninon, syenite, ninon, or semestral. Strange words. I got all but abulia, semestral, and sutras after a lot of hard thinking, but had to rely on you to supply those.

Thanks for the link to Neil Diamond. Saw him in concern twice and had a front row seat. Definitely got my money's worth. He's a terrific performer - so to speak!

Happy Sunday to all.


lois said...

Carol: Oh, yeah. More neurons have hit the dusty trail this wkend than I care to consider, but I'll compensate for that loss by giving out something other than a 'piece of my mind'.

Dick: I'm touched that CC's links of Sela Ward, Carre Otis, and Lina's lace remind you of me on my beautiful stud...I mean steed,but I just wanted to make sure that you realized the ONLY differences between us are that my hair is blond and a whole lot longer.

Anonymous said...

21A Anchors Away-Thought everyone knew the Navy Anthem.

Old Salt

Enjoy yur blog.

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