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Jun 7, 2008

Saturday June 7, 2008 Barry Silk

Themeless

Tough journey this morning. This is unquestionably the most complex puzzle I've ever solved. The grid has a very quizzical look, do those black squares contribute to some kind of commercial sign/logo?

Here are the queasy Q's:

8A: Sought after: QUESTED

35A: Saddam Hussein associate: TARIQ AZIZ. I wanted Ba'athists. This AZIZ (Deputy Prime Minister) was # 43rd, later #25 in the Playing Card Deck (Most Wanted List). Saw his mug often on TV before the invasion. But I could never remember his name. Always confused him with the Bagdad Bob (the Information Minister).

52A: Ask: QUERY

21D: For the asking: ON REQUEST

7D: Question off location: WHERE AM I

8D: Nunavut's neighbor: QUEBEC. I had no idea where Nunavut is. O CANADA (1D: Neighbor's anthem), I hardly know ya! Interesting to learn that the song was originally commissioned by the then Lieutenant Governor of QUEBEC in French language. I dislike the clue for 1D, too narrowly defined.

37D: Poorly matched: UNEQUAL

And the zany Z's:

33A: ___ Zee, former Netherlands inlet: ZUIDER. Big stumper. ZUIDER Zee means "southern sea" in Dutch. See here for more information. Boy, I sure don't want to see that new name IJsselmeer appear in our puzzle ever. This J can drive you nuts, JIJ, who are you?

35A: Saddam Hussein associate: TARIQ AZIZ

25D: Low-maintenance hairstyle: BUZZ CUT. Another Army reference is 51A: Most G.I.s: PVTS.

34D: Moral-ending?: IZE. Hmm, moral-ending, let's start the tribute to morel then!

28A: Den denizen: BEAR CUB. I like the clue.

And the excellent X'es:

47A: Sturdy feller?: AXE. Good clue.

58A: Certain movie house: TRIPLEX

42D: Utmost: EXTREME

43D: Neuters: DESEXES

And the jazzy J's:

40A: Clampett patriarch, to Jethro: UNCLE JED. Hard for me. I know nothing about "The Beverly Hillbillies".

41D: Olympian's spear: JAVELIN. I look forward to seeing JAVIER Bardem and his current flame Penélope Cruz clued in one puzzle someday. With letter J & Z, that will be SAHARA hot.

To further scrabblize the grid, I suggest the following changes to the clues:

19A: Geeks: NERDS. Change to "school clique"

44A: Penguins' org.: NHL. Change to "Gretzky's org."

23A: Exclamation of grief: ALAS. Change to "Dejection exclamation"

Also noticiable are the three "Former":

61A: Former: ONE TIME

31A: Former New Yorker City mayor: ABE BEAME. NY's first Jewish mayor (1974-1977).

33A: ___ Zee, former Netherlands inlet: ZUIIDER.

Overall, this puzzle is too much of a Herculean task to me. I quit after 20 minutes of floundering and completely exhausted Mr. Google later on.

ACROSS:

1A: Current rule? OHM'S LAW. Very clever "Current" mislead.

15A: Somewhat aloof: COOLISH. I've never used this word before.

16A: Farther along the ascent: UPSLOPE

17A: One-celled organisms: AMOEBAE. The plural form could also be AMOEBAS.

18A: Abnormal site of an organ: ECTOPIC. Unknown to me, had never heard of Ecotopia either. Dictionary says it's from the Greek éktóp(os) (out of place). OK, so "ec" is a prefix for outside, tópos is place, and "ia" is a suffix for disease. "Ic", of course, is an adjective forming suffix.

20A: Nasal membranes: SEPTA. Singular is Septum. Here is the definition and examples from the dictionary: "A thin partition or membrane that divides two cavities or soft masses of tissue in an organism: the nasal septum; the atrial septum of the heart."

24A: Star in Cygnus: DENEB. It simply escaped my mind.

27A: Hammarskjold of the U. N.: DAG. He was awarded Noble Peace Prize in 1961 (the only person to have been awarded posthumously). JFK delivered a great speech one week after Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash in Congo. He said "A noble servant is gone. But the QUEST for peace lies before us."

37A: Moving vehicles: U-HAULS

45A: Letterpress printing plate: LINE CUT. Also called "Line graving". I am not familiar with this term.

56A: Anonymous: UNNAMED. I put UNKNOWN first.

60A: Gallery event: ART SALES

62A: Mope, perhaps: LOOK SAD

DOWN:

2D: Amateur developer's setup: HOME LAB

3D: Marina charge: MOORAGE

4D: Tundra transports: SLEDS

5D: Left-wingers: LIBS (Liberals). Who do you think is the most influential liberal columnist in the US right now?

6D: Sly-fox link: AS A

9D: Mdse. identifier: UPC (Universal Product Code)

10D: Ballpark figs.: ESTS

11D: Blackthorn berries: SLOES

12D: Knocked over: TOPPLED. Does this answer & 35A clue bring you the picture of Saddam's statue being TOPPLED?

13D: Quintessence: EPITOME

14D: Illinois city: DECATUR. "The Soybean Capital of the World". Did not know this before.

24D: Formal introduction?: DEAR SIR

28D: Important thing: BE ALL. I don't get this one. Why? Can you give me an example?

29D: Well-muscled: BUILT. Of course, I fell into the "ed" trap and wrote down TONED first.

36D: Forebear: ANCESTOR

38D: Saki's real name: H. H. MUNRO. Another toughie. Not familiar with him at all.

39D: Not recognizable by: ALIEN TO

46D: Essential: NEEDED

49D: "East of Eden"family name: TRASK. Completely unknown to me. I've never read any Steinbeck novel.

51D: ___ Bismol: PEPTO

53D: Singer Sumac and others: YMAS. Others? Who? I challenge you to provide me with another YMA of some fame.

57D: Old-time high note: ELA. Saw this clue before. But I forgot the meaning.

Finally, 55D: Carpe ___! (Seize the day): DIEM. And don't forget to Carpe Noctem (seize the night) as well. Here is Sade's Cherish the Day. Please don't go astray. And surprise me, Denis of Cork, show me you are really really for real this time!

C.C.

37 comments:

Katherine said...

Not a good puzzle for me today. I think I got 3 right! I had to see your answers CC to get any of them. I don't know how you did it!
I have to get ready for work now. Have a good day everyone.

Dick said...

Hello cc and DFs. This was a tough one today particularly the center and NE corner. The remainder was not too bad and like you cc I did not remember who Saki was but once I got 37, 44 and 48A I took a good guess at Monroe. I could not remember Saddam's associate and had to see Mr G. I did remember ZuiderZee from visiting the Netherlands. Maybe they need to get some of the Dutch engineers to go to New Orleans and help out with the levee designs. Maybe that would stop the breaches there.

Go Big brown!

chris in la said...

Wrtiting from New Orleans - several state & local reps went to the Netherlands in the aftermath of what we call "the thing", and reps from the Ntherlands came here as well and advised the Army Corps of Engineers on several of the design elements of the new system being built.

cc: re 28D - important thing - it would probably be better clued as "important person" as in "you are the be all & end all of my life" which I have actually said to my true love. It's an old romantic saying, but I'm not sure about its origin.

I liked all the "z's" "q's" & "x's" - lots of fun on this one.

Happy Birthday to me!

C. C. said...

Chris,
Thanks for the "Be All" explanation. Nobody has ever said that to me before. 生日快乐 (Happy Birthday to you)! Cherish the Day! Did you get 35A by crossing clues or was it a gimme for you?

Kim said...

Happy Weekend everyone. I too had a hard time with this one. I got about half, then gave up. Over an hour for so little just wasn't worth taxing my brain anymore. Don't want to overuse! Top left and bottom right were easy enough, but crashed & burned everywhere else!

lois said...

Good morning CC & DFs: This puzzle reminded me of a song...If I Had A Hammer!!! Only w/your help, CC. Zuider Zee used to be a great seafood rest. in San Antonio. 'Bear' is back; a bare bear can be in my den esp if he's a 'morel' one, and that is not an 18A! But the whole SE corner was a 'one time' extreme thrill esp w/pvts & tripleX close together. Thank you for the link, CC. Hola, Javier!!! I'd like to Carpe him and Diem! It's a 'pepto' morning, 21A but not a 7D. Hope y'all stay 15A today.

Dennis said...

Good morning, C.C. and fellow DFs -- I really enjoyed this one, lots of challenges. Made it through without Mr. G, but took a while. Kept thinking it was 'zeider', which didn't help, and 'be all' was a struggle, since I didn't know 'linecut'. And I'm always glad to see my favorite saying, 'carpe diem'.

C.C., I knew Tariq Aziz because I'll never forget his proclaiming on TV that he had wiped out the invaders, while around the corner, the Marines were watching the telecast, laughing.

chris in la said...

cc: admit to googling for Tariq Aziz - I knew the name but not the spelling. Unfortunately it's spelled "-ek", "-ik" and, of course, "-iq". 21D "on request" solved the problem and gave me "where am i" as well, but it took some puzzling.

Thanks for your good wishes.

NYTAnonimo said...

Finally gave up and googled. Thought some of the crossings and cluing were bad. Do you know any other YMA besides Sumac? Thought having ONREQUEST, QUESTED and QUERY in the same puzzle was poor construction. I agree with you on the cuing of ZUIDER ZEE-it is the former name. Think the archaic old time high note ELA should not have been allowed. My downfall was the southwest corner as I did not know TRASK and forgot HHMUNRO. Sometimes I think we get the puzzles rejected by other editors. Barry Silk has written a lot of puzzles including many that were pangrams for the NYT so not too surprised at the scrabbly nature of this one.

Barry said...

Oh, man. This one really kicked my butt. I thought Saturday puzzles weren't supposed to be harder than the weekday ones?

I actually did pretty well after an extremely slow start. The NW corner didn't reveal itself until I finally put MOORAGE for 3D instead of SLIP FEE. I then stared at the puzzle for a loooong time before I was finally able to dredge TARIQ AZIZ and ZUIDER Zee from my memory. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for knowing RAMONES and ECTOPIC and DENEB and and H.H. MUNRO and OHMS LAW and DECATUR.

Unfortunately, I crashed and burned in the center section. I didn't know who ABE BEAME was, Had no idea what a LINE CUT was, and couldn't figure out BE ALL to save my life. Actually, had I known BE ALL, I would have gotten the other two, but I just couldn't. And yes, it does make sense to me in hindsight (although I always heard the phrase as "the be all and end all" and not the other way around).

Ah well...

Dick said...

Happy Birthday Chris and thanks for the info on the Dutch engineers in The Big Easy.

Judi said...

I bombed out on this one also. Exhaused google and then gave up and went to the blog to finish up.

Anonymous said...

I got everything except NY mayor and Cygnus star. Again we are getting hit by the Arabic use of Q without U for their letter qaf. Despite Mr. Aziz' Bath party bent, I always admired his English ability. Moving vehicle bugged me as I emphasized the vehicle part instead of the pantechnicon idea.

Beautiful day here in northern California, but we don't get the puzzle until three hours after many of you.

Barry Silk said...

@nytanonimo - Just for the record regarding your comment about ONREQUEST, QUESTED in the same puzzle: my original submission to the editor had QUIPPER at 8-Across and most of the NE (9-Down through 14-Down) was changed. Not sure whether my original puzzle would have changed your opinion! :-)

When I'm constructing themeless puzzles, I try to use as many of the rarer letters (Q, X, Z, J) as possible, as long as it results in 'lively' entries. Although I try to avoid such 'crosswordese' entries as ELA, sometimes using them is necessary as a last resort when filling a corner is impossible otherwise.

MH said...

wow! tough one. Even with Google I struggled. Lots of long unrecognized and/or esoteric words. I liked all the common letters thought (Z, J, Q) - a good puzzle that I learned a lot from.

Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, everyone! What a bear, and not a cub, either -- this was the full blown version. I surprised myself by finishing without Mr. G, but it took almost half an hour, LOL! I had IST instead of IZE, ART SHOW instead of ART SALE, and had no idea on the NYC mayor. If we only had an F we would have had the entire alphabet here. Chris, may you have a marvelous birthday! Thank you for your comments, Barry.

C. C. said...

Lois,
RE: Javier. Seen "No Country for Old Men"?

Dennis & Mh,
I only remember Baghdad Bob telling the lie. Have a safe trip to FL, both of you!

NYTanonimo,
Re: YMAS. No. Sumac is the only one I know and I am tired of "Singer Sumac" clue. FYI, YIMA is Chinese for aunt.

Barry,
Saturday's themeless is usually more difficult than the weekdays'. I was expecting another "false start" today from you :-)

Anonymous @9:19am,
There is no "U" after "Q" in Chinese either, like Chinese Qin Dynasty (First dynasty to unify China) or Qing Dynasty (last dynasty in China).

Barry Silk,
Thanks for leaving a comment. I tried to envision 8A to be QUIPPER. What are your original clues for 18A & 22A then?

Crockett1947,
Wow, I could not find "G" and "F" this morning! Now I see Mr. G. Thank you!

Barry Silk said...

@CC - As I mentioned in my previous post, the editor had changed most of the NE corner, including the entries at 18-A and 22-A. So, my clues for 18-A and 22-A were for different words entirely (EDITOUT and DECCA respectively). The first time I saw the revised grid was today!

The editor of the TMS crossword, Wayne Williams, makes his own revisions (after accepting the original submission) without asking the constructor to make changes to parts of the puzzle he is unhappy with.

Other editors, such as the editors of the NY Times and LA Times, will ask the constructor to revise the original submission before accepting the puzzle. Usually this occurs when they like the puzzle, but have an minor objection to a word or two.

Carol said...

Good Morning C.C. and all the D.F's: I have a headache from trying this one! I have not finished it... and agree Kim, not worth taxing my poor brain anymore this morning. I may try again later.
Happy B-Day Chris!!
Nice to hear from Barry Silk! I was surprised that the constructor would actually "talk" with us, good going:)
and it's been a long time since we had a real toughie.
Hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

awfully hard puzzle. the worst!

Razzberry said...

C.C. Couldn't help but notice that "U" was left off of your list of oft used letters today. ;~)

C. C. said...

Razzberry,
You are so right, 10 U's. I guess I just focused all my attention on those scrabbly expensive letters.

Superfrey said...

I thought this was an interesting puzzle... I only got stuck with 53D
YMAS... which made 62D LOOKSAD a struggle.
C.C. I thought it was cool to have the constructor replay to us.
Barry Silk- Nice of you to drop in. I can see where you could be frustrated with Wayne Robert making a change without giving you the chance to amend. Nice puzzle though.... I like the themeless ones a lot. Keep up the good work :-)

Anonymous said...

re: YMAS
In Spanish, "y mas" means "and more".
Actually kind of a clever pun, if that was what the author meant.

lois said...

Chris: Happy Birthday and wish you many more. I hope you kick up your heels and have a great time! I'll toast to you tonight!
Barry Silk: I'm impressed that you would talk to us. It's interesting how the puzzle world works. Thanks for your explanation.
Katherine: did your AC get fixed?
CC: No, I've never heard of Javier before but will enjoy pursuing him.
Dennis: have a good trip tomorrow. Wonder where drdad is.

melissa bee said...

hello c.c. and all,

i could not give this puzzle sufficient time before work today and had to wait until now to finish. needed help for hhmunro, ohmslaw (sounds like coleslaw) and linecut .. but enjoyed the challenge. i was sure this one would have all 26 letters and looked three times before i was certain there was no F. so close.

@chris in la, that's cute. i've heard 'the be all and end all' all my life but not so much romantically.

@barry silk, nice to see your comments here.

@c.c., once again, great links .. loved the sade video.

NYTAnonimo said...

Thanks for the comments Barry. I don't think the editor should change your grid/cluing without consulting you-not if your name is going on it-there's something wrong when someone alters your work without your OK and publishes it. I like the scrabbly nature of your puzzles. Creating crossword puzzles, especially a pangram, is impressive. I think I would've liked your original puzzle better. Wonder why Wayne Robert Williams changed it.

Bea said...

What a treat to have a challenge. Thank you CC and the DFs for help in solving those toughies. CC, you asked about favorite authors/books. My answer is tied to the Javier Bardem role in "No Country for Old Men", based on a book by Cormac McCarthy. Read the book for insights into the movie. His book, "The Road" is one of my favorites, really great for discussion. Enjoying a beautiful night in ND.

bea said...

Sorry, forgot to add that Javier Bardem's role in "The Sea Inside" was terrific and the topic was worthy of discussion.

Anonymous said...

C.C. Couldn't have finished this without your help. I worked for almost an hour but couldn't come up with quested, upslope, or ectopic. Also couldn't finish up look sad; had a brain blip, I guess. Really enjoyed this puzzle though; it was challenging. Liked the z and q words. Wonder what Dennis's time was on this one?

Hope Big Brown is okay. Did anyone hear the conjecture about the use of steroids? The news said he'd had an injection on April 15 and nothing since, and that maybe he couldn't run without it. Sad. I had no idea they were allowed to use steroids on those beautiful creatures. Should be illegal, don't you think? I was rooting for Denis anyway.

Good Sunday to all.

Kit

C. C. said...

Anonymous @4:19pm
Thank you for the interesting "y mas" explanation.

Bea,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments.

Kit,
We seem to have a lot in common. David Cook & Denis!! I don't know much about this anabolic steroid. Horses seem to need those stuff for quick recovery.

Anonymous said...

Late checking in-but you mentioned the grid on that puzzle looked strange. To me it looks like cross-hair target for a rifle shot--did you notice Tariq Aziz right in the middle?

D&SK

C. C. said...

Barry Silk,
I like what D&SK wrote @12:52pm, but is it a pure coincidence? Frankly I am very intrigued by your grid structure.

Barry Silk said...

@cc - The grid pattern that I chose for this puzzle was not meant to resemble anything in particular!

Perhaps you can think of it as a Rorschach ink blot test and interpret it as you see fit :-)

vizcaino said...

It's not Steinback but Steinbeck. You said you haven't read him but you should (one of America's great contemporary writers) Although, you must have seen the movie East of Eden with James Dean where the name Trask is repeated over and over.

C. C. said...

Vizcaino,
Thank you for pointing out the mistake. No, I have not seen the movie either. I am going to Netflix it.

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