Dec 6, 2008

Saturday December 6, 2008 Matthew Higgins

Theme: None

Total blocks: 24

Total words: 66

Nice looking grid, isn't it? So open. Only 24 blocks (black squares). This is a record for us. More often we have between 27-32 on a Saturday themeless puzzle. NY Time's fewest block record is 18.

I think I am going to count the total words for Saturday grids from now on. 66 sounds quite low. Our average is probably 70. FYI, the maximum words allowed for a TMS themeless is 72 (78 for themed puzzle). This puzzle holds the record for lowest word count (only 59) in Jim's database.

The plethora of affixes (S, ER & ING) still bother me. But they sure helped me tremendously in tackling today's offering. TARSALS (26D: Ankles) are "Ankle bones", not "Ankles", right?

I have to say again, this grid just looks so pretty.


8A: Run playfully: SCAMPER. This word always brings to mind the photo of JFK Jr. crawling out of the Oval Office desk. He later said in an interview that the space was too small for Bill Clinton and Monica to play around.

15A: Quintessence: EPITOME. I would like to see QUINTESSENCE clued as "Epitome" some day.

16A: Greek cafe: TAVERNA. New to me. Ink, is this a neuter or a feminine noun?

17A: Invigorate: LIVEN UP

18A: Ice-breaking remarks: OPENERS

19A: Old Turkish title: AGA. I have a question regarding AGA Khan. Is it an Irani hereditary title? Where is his office based? I seem to remember a Pakistani AGA Khan who was active in the 1950s and dated some Hollywood actresses.

20A: Goldbrick: SLACKER. Not familiar with this slang. I was thinking of ingot.

27A: Sees a mental picture: ENVISIONS

29A: More inadequate: LAMER. INANER came to my mind first.

30A: Makes certain: SEES TO IT

31A: Action of endearment: CARESS. And LONGINGS (33D: Strong persistent desires). Hmmm, "amor vincit omnia". What a wonderful 15-letter phrase! Perfect for a Valentine's Day theme answer.

32A: Swinging freely: PENDULOUS. This is the only "ing" clue that I liked.

37A: Athenian philosopher: SOCRATES. He said "Know thyself".

41A: Word-weary: BLASE

42A: One of Sri Lanka's languages: SINHALESE. Or Sinhala. Fascinating, Wikipedia says "Sinha" means "lion", and "la" means "to seize". Unknown to me. The only Sri Lanka language I was aware of is Tamil. And I always associate it with the Tamil Tiger force.

43A: Stadium top, often: DOME. Can you believe that the Twins new stadium will be roofless?

44A: Mold, mildew and smut: FUNGI

45A: Bristle: SETA. Bristly would be setal or setose.

46A: Dos Passos trilogy: U.S.A. I was so happy I finally remembered this trilogy.

49A: Slap the cuffs on: NAB

54A: ABaAabAB rhyme scheme: TRIOLET. No idea. Waiting for Clear Ayes to explain what this scheme is. Funny how it has "Trio" as prefix rather than "Octo" since it has eight lines.


1D: Interacts: RELATES. I like how it intersects with TOLD (23A: Informed). Wish the clues reflected the tie between the two.

2D: Mediocre imitator of an artist: EPIGONE. New word to me. All I could think of is copycat.

3D: Cockle or mussel: BIVALVE. Oyster is also BIVALVE too. Do you like raw oysters? So tasty!

6D: Light-sensitive photographic coating: EMULSIONS. Got it from the across clues.

7D: Resembling a calyx: SEPALOID. Wow, it's a word. I did not know this. Sepal-oid.

9D: Canaveral and Coral: CAPES. Have never heard of Coral CAPE before.

14D: Scan-line patterns: RASTERS. Another new word to me.

21D: Bruising: CONTUSING. The noun form contusion is more commonly used, isn't it?

24D: Arrange: DISPOSE. Not a familiar definition to me.

28D: Cubic meter: STERE. Who actually uses this word in their daily life?

29D: Classic Gene Tierney film: LAURA. Ha ha, I got LAURA today. Felt a bit sorry for LAURA Bush. She deserves a clue.

31D: Red dye from insects: COCHINEAL. Completely unheard of. Sounds so cruel to crush the insects to get the dye. Wikipedia says the COCHINEAL insects live on cacti. Look at these harvesting baskets.

35D: Conclusion: CLOSURE. I wonder any constructor has thought of a "SURE" puzzle, you know, with CLOSURE, COMPOSURE, EXPOSURE, LEISURE, MEASURE, etc.

36D: Small, bushy-tailed monkey: TAMARIN. New monkey to me. It's tiny. Strange mustache. Wikipedia says TAMARIN's gestation is "typically 140 days, and births are normally twins". And they live to be 18 years old when in captivity.

38D: "I was a __ Werewolf": TEENAGE. I forgot. Mr. Higgins used the same clue in his last puzzle. Looks scary.

42D: Guarantee: SURETY

44D: Peggy Lee classic: FEVER. See this clip. I guessed. I actually thought of NEVER first.

53D: One of Bobbsey Twins: NAN. I bet our editor does not like Indian food. Otherwise, he would have clued NAN as "Indian bread".



Martin said...


I should have known AVER because it has appeared in Reader's Digest quizes: people tend to think it means "avoid" because they are thinking of "adverse" but it actually means to state and opinion.

I don't like the word STERE: not only is it French but it is an uncommon French word that, as far as I know, is only used in France itself and not in other French speaking countries. It apparently refers to a cubic metre of chopped wood. A cubic metre would be the equivalent of a million litres so I was thinking MegaLitre or simply MEGAL.

I did like the way EPITOME and EPIGONE crossed. Critics of comic book artist Rob Liefeld claim that he is constantly swiping layouts from other artists so would that make him the EPITOME of an EPIGONE?


Martin said...

I should probably say "unknowns included" from now on because I always miss a few, such as SETA, RASTERS and SLACKER (in the context of a gold bar).


C.C. Burnikel said...

I like this "EPITOME of an EPIGONE". What is the difference between AVER and AVOW?

There was no memo. I just thought "Less is more" and set the 5-post/day limit. Like chocolate, a little bit of DF every day is quite healthy.

Thanks for the pronunciation on MACH.

C.C. Burnikel said...

You made it! Hope to see you here often.

Clear Ayes,
Thanks for "free from the harsh grip of hunger" interpretation.

I think you are right about MACH Speed. How to pronounce German "ch"? I really appreciate the time and effort you've spent on my questions.

Chris in LA said...

Good morning CC etal,

Not bad today - a couple of googles (SINHALESE & MILO - can't seem to remember him). The rest of the "tough-ies" came on the perps.

CC: raw oysters are indeed delicious (and so sensual) but there's a restaurant in the New Orleans area call Drago's that serves char-broiled oysters which are truly decadent - buttery, garlicky, mmmmm. It's a regular stop for me when I have out-of-town company, especially those who indicate a dislike for oysters as it's fun to watch them convert and eat a dozen of them!

Raster Image Process is the way a computer converts a file to something a printer can understand - in the trade it's referred to as a RIP.

Hope all have a great Saturday!

Argyle said...

Hi c.c. and all,

c.c., there are a few typos in your original post, e.g. Mitthew Higgins. Doesn't bother me but you know how some anons are.

I noted that longing and Laura were SO close together but not touching. Have you watched the movie yet?

Clear Ayes can provide us with a triolet I hope.

Well, I've got things to do before the snow starts (Notheast) so I better get going.

Anonymous said...

19:08 for me today.

20A: Goldbrick: SLACKER. Not familiar with this slang. I was thinking of ingot. I agree CC I was also.

I struggled with 57 A Foxy Characteristic

I was thinking foxy = sexy!

I guess that is not what the puzzle maker had in mind.

also how can smut be fungi? I thought smut was considered porn?

44 A mold, mildew and smut

Chris in LA said...

@ Red Democrat & CC:

Smut is a kind of fungus.

C.C. Burnikel said...

What is the most sensual dinner you've ever had? And with whom? You sound like a great cook.

Did you have drills on concentration when you were with the Marines? If so, can you share with me? I desperately want to have Tiger's focus. Please always feel free to point out my mistakes. I have yet to put LAURA on my Netflix list.

How long have you been doing TMS & NY Times puzzles? I wonder what the heck this constructor was thinking when he added "smut" in the clue for FUNGI. "Mold and mildew" should be sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Cape Coral, near Fort Myers, is the largest city in Lee County, Florida.

Dennis said...

Good morning, c.c. and gang - a fun puzzle this morning - lots of thinking involved, at least for me. Got perp help on three or four.

I never would've related 'slacker' to 'goldbrick' - I always think of a slacker as someone who 'slacks off', shirking responsibility, etc.

c.c., I think the author threw 'smut' in there just to make you stop and think whether or not 'fungi' was the obvious answer.

Today is Put on Your Own Shoes Day - I guess I can skip the high heels for one day, then.

Chris in LA said...

Goldbrick - I thinks it's an old slang term, probably circa WWII, but others will be more enlightening, I'm sure.

CC: that's a tough one, there are three (yes, I love to cook, especially "iron-chef" style with whatever might be handy):

Sushi - any style, preferably that which can be picked up with fingers

Small romaine salad, bowl of shrimp & corn chowder, a dozen char-broiled and then a dozen raw oysters washed down with a couple double Stolichnaya vodkas on the rocks with a twist of lemon

1" thick T-bone steaks on the grill, baked potatoes covered with sour cream and fresh butter & grill-roasted corn on the cob drenched in butter

Of course all of the above were with the love of my life. The tactile experience adds to the sensuality, IMHO.

PS - oysters work!

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Man, this puzzle really ground me down. I eventually got it all, but there were so many words that I just didn't know and had to rely on the perps to get, and some of those I could only get with the help of some educated guessing.

TAVERNA, SINHALESE, TRILOET, TARSALS, CONTUSING, EPIGONE, SEPALOID and RASTERS all all words that live outside of my vocabulary (although, as C.C. pointed out, many had roots that were familiar enough to let me guess them with the help of the perps).

I was also unfamiliar with LAURA and FEVER (I actually guessed LOVER instead of FEVER, which messed me up for awhile).

What really saved my bacon today, though, was the fact that I did actually know COCHINEAL (although it took me awhile to remember how to spell it). In fact, that word is the reason I don't drink ruby red grapefruit juice anymore....

Barry G. said...

Oh -- and TAMARIN was also a gimme for me, due to the fact that our local zoo has oodles of them and we take our son there all the time (the zoo is just 1 mile from our new house).

KittyB said...

Good morning, C.C. and all!

Chrisinla, call me the next time you're doing steaks! *G* One of my cook books has supplied the most amazing Corn and Shrimp chowder recipe. Corn is used in the broth. Shrimp is added to the corn mixture, and then it's served over a mound of decadent mashed potatoes. It takes some work to get everything finished and hot at one time, but it's an orgasm for the mouth!

I'm amazed that I managed to finish this puzzle without resorting to Google. I must have run through the across and down easily four times, and then had to pick off a letter here and there. It took me about fifteen minutes to complete.

I did not know EPIGONE, STERE, TRIOLET, RASTERS OR SETA. SEPAL I know...but it didn't occur to me that you could add OID to it.

Argyle, we had an inch of snow last night. I think we've gotten off easy this past week, but more is on the way.

My mother will be 92 tomorrow. We started our celebration last night, and it will continue through the weekend, so to steal a sign off from Buckeye....I must be off!

NYTAnonimo said...

I thought today's and yesterday's puzzles were tougher than usual. Mixed up SINHALESE with SENGALESE (country of western Africa). Felt like I should know RASTERS from somewhere and did not make the connection until I read your comment Chris. Rasterize is a function or command in Adobe Photoshop (one I don't use). Lots of new or unusual words in today's puzzle for me too cc-TRIOLET, SEPALOID, EPIGONE. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Chris in LA said...

@ KittyB

Your recipe sounds intriguing - can you post or email it to me?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting hungry...

Anonymous said...

Goldbrick: a common term derived from the fact that an ingot of gold does no work. Maybe used as either a noun or a verb.

I knew all the words except for triolet. That was a new one.

A challenging puzzle.

melissa bee said...

good morning c.c. and all,

thoroughly enjoyed this one, actually got it all in one pass.

c.c. you are right, technically the clue for TARSALS should be ankle bones, there are seven - collectively tarsus. plural is tarsi although i've never heard it used.

i liked seeing your SCAMPER link, what an interesting history the resolute desk has.

i know it's a themeless, but i couldn't help but think of dennis with marine bottom and fungi. (someone had to say it).

Anonymous said...


Lets do some math:

1 Litre=1000 Cubic Centimeters (ref
CRC Press Std Math Tables)

1 Cubic Meter = 100cm x 100cm x100cm = 1,000,000 Cubic Centimeters

Dividing out we get

1 Cubic Meter = 1000 Litres


A*** Retentive Engineer

Barb B said...

I know when I see Matthew Higgins that the puzzle will be all about the dictionary; no puns, no games, no humor. So I rub my hands together, put my thinking cap on, and open a new tab for google; I’m sure to need it.

I like these, because I know what to expect, and I learn every time. Today’s new words for me were EPIGONE, SEPALOID, RASTERS, COCHINAL, and TAMARIN. Oh, yes, and triolet didn’t appear in the rhyme scheme article on Wickopedia, so I had to get if from the fills.
I wanted jaded for BLASÉ.

I think the only light spot was FEVER. I loved that song; thanks for the clip. Fun to see K.D. Lang and Peggy Lee in the same clip. Her version of ‘Fever’ is interesting.

Anonymous said...

If anybody wants an hour of frustration, try the NYT puzzle for today. (We're four weeks behind the NYT date, so it's puzzle number 1101.)

Hint: Half of the across answers are backwards. It's very confusing, even after you know the gimmick.

One more thing on how to pronouce 'Mach'. The German 'ch' is not easy to describe, but I can give you some more examples.

It's very similar to the Hebrew 'Chaim', as in this song from 'Fiddler on the Roof'.

If you're a fan of "Borat", it's also close to the word "Chram" that he uses. Watch the movie if you want to know what that means.

In English, most people just pronounce it the same as 'mock'. If you think of mixing an 'h' sound with the 'k' sound, you'll be very close.

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, Today's was an interesting puzzle. Longer fills are always a challenge for me, particularly those pesky compounds. SEES TO IT stumped me to the last, but it finally appeared when the perps fell into place.

I had a mistake with the cross of COCHINEAL and SINHALESE. I filled in COCGINEAL and SINGALESE. Was it a mere spelling error? I'd like to pretend so, but I just plain guessed. Once again, I was happy to come here to see the error of my ways.

RASTER and SEPALOID were brand new additions to my word list.

Johnboy, Thanks for L'Chaim from Fiddler On The Roof. It's another of my favorite musicals. (Is there any I don't like??)

g8rmomx2 said...

Hi c.c. and others,

Challenging puzzle for me. I did google Epigone, Sepaloid, and Sinhalese. Guessed on the the last "a" in Taverna just sounded Greek to me! I actually knew Cochineal which was helpful. There were others, but I got them from the perps.

c.c.: Haven't been on for a while because I had both my girls in town plus one of their boyfriends for 5 days and then it took days to get my house back in order. All was worth it, had such a wonderful time with them.

kittyb: Impressive no googling and 15 minutes? Congrats! Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating your mom's birthday!

Anyone watching the SEC game today between Alabama and Florida? I will be glued to the TV. And it is GO GATORS all the way for me!

Clear Ayes said...

C.C. Prince Aly Khan was the younger son and only surviving child of The Aga Khan III.

He was quite the playboy and spent a lot of time with "the Hollywood crowd".

He was married to Rita Hayworth in 1949 and they had a daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan,seven months later. They divorced in 1953

I don't know if it was pre or post Rita, but he was also engaged to today's gorgeous clue Gene Tierney.

The man obviously had impeccable taste.

Dennis said...

Regarding the 'Mach' conversation, I always figured Germans were afflicted with hairballs.

melissa bee, i thought you meant I had moss on my ass - I know I'm old, but damn...

Dick said...

Good afternoon CC and all. I am late today and it was caused mostly by the puzzle which had me scratching my head. Sinhalese, Triolet, Epigone, Cochineal, and Tamarin were new to me. Some I got by guessing and some came from the crosses but I still needed some outside help.

I did not like the cluing for 26D as tarsals is a bone in the ankle it is not the ankle itself.

Chrisinla I sure will have Drago's on my list of must visits the next time I go to NO. Wouldn't mind stopping by your place for one of those juicy stakes also.

Peggy Lee's Fever was a gimme as was Gene Tierney's Laura. I don't know why I knew either of these.

Snow coming in tonight. This should make for interesting driving to my camp tomorrow. I will be out deer hunting for the next week so I will not be checking in for awhile. Hope you all have a safe and sane week.

Clear Ayes said...

All you ever want to know about TRIOLET and then some...It's an old French poetry form and is pronounced tree-o-lay.

It's an eight-line poem with two rhymes and two repeating lines. The first line of the poem occurs three times, so...triolet. It is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines. The eighth line repeats the second line.

Author Thomas Hardy, who wrote the novels Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure also wrote poetry. The following is his TRIOLET -

How Great My Grief

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Nor memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?

Apparently, he wasn't as lucky in love as Aly Khan.

Kitty B, Happy Birthday to your mother!

Mr. Ed said...

Good morning C.C. & all - another blackout for me but not without quite a bit of thought & lucky guessing after perp fills. Triolet Tamarin and Sinhalese - unknowns but that's ok! I incorrectly thought raster was spelled r-a-s-t-o-r so that slowed me down just a tad. Many words like 'stere' are used so often in crosswords they come automatically to me. Overall, tough but not a stumper!

No xw in 'O' manana so I'm outta here. Have fun decorating or whatever & I hope you all have a good weekend.


carol said...

Now Dennis, you are not old and mossy-butted, you probably were sitting with your ass in a north-facing direction...moss happens!!

Clear Ayes said...

G.A.H. and I, along with two other couples went to some friends' house for a dinner party last night. It turned out the theme was A Christmas Story.

I know just about everybody has seen this movie (TBS has a marathon every year.), but just in case...The movie is about nine year old Ralphie, his family and Ralphie's Christmas wish for "an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time" At the end of the movie, after neighbor Bumpuss's dogs eat their Christmas turkey, Ralphie and his family go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

Our dinner party was run in reverse.

We started out with a Chinese dinner that our hosts had ordered from a well-known local restaurant. Now I like a homemade dinner as well as the next person, but the food was terrific and it sure saved a lot of work for our hosts.

After dinner with a nice big schooner (or two) of Harbin Lager in hand, we watched the movie on their big screen TV and yelled out the taglines. Lots of laughs and it was a great AND easy way to kick off the holiday season.

Anonymous said...

cape coral is a city in florida. i used to live there. very boring place. lots of empty land and nothing for kids to do but get into drugs

Dennis said...

We had a delightful dinner last night - got the #2 special at McDonalds, with a delicious chocolate vinyl shake, and topped off with a couple fresh-baked apple pies. Watched the always-funny Christmas Vacation from our cache of high-brow DVDs.

Topped the night off with a vintage (2007) bottle of Yellow Tail merlot.

Clear Ayes said...

Kitty B, Does this recipe Corn and Shrimp Chowder with Mashed Potatoes look about right?

Dennis, Sarcasm? Just sharing what I thought was an easy holiday get together if anybody was looking for ideas.

Always like Yellow Tail Merlot (the big 1.5L bottle!) myself.

dougl said...

Quick note on "rasterize" from a long-time Photoshop user (and more recently the more economical Paint Shop Pro). There are two ways to represent graphics in a computer, as outlines (a string of x.y coordinates, which is called "vector") or as a grid of pixels (called raster, a term apparently from video engineering). The verb "rasterize" is when you convert from an outline into pixels, which printers do to print out vector graphics (probably way more than anyone wanted to know!!)

KittyB said...

Chrisinla, I think Clear Ayes may have found the recipe I was thinking of! I haven't checked it line for line, but it sounds like the recipe I was talking about.

Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

I think a glass of Yellow Tail would be fine with the chowdah!

kazie said...

Hi from your very late resident Aussie. Had a wonderful day with our son and his wife, and after getting things back to normal here, finally got to check in at the blog.

I had the puzzle almost done when they arose this morning after staying overnight, and I finished it hurriedly without taking time to double check my thinking on a couple of things or g'spot anything.

Didn't remember "goldbrick" and couldn't spell sepaloid, so had slicker and sepiloid instead. Didn't know EPIGONE or RASTERS, but got them from crosses, forgot FEVER and had FORGING for MERGING, so that was mess until I came here. I had also started with JADED but fixed that earlier. I did know cochineal--I remember it as a food dye. Not sure I like the idea now I know where it comes from!

I can never remember STERE, but I think I've figured out a way to remember now: It's got to be related to STEREO--the sound fills the cubic space in a room! It was an "aha!" moment for me today.

Today is also St. Nicholas Day, and we found all sorts of goodies in our boots left by the door after last night's walk through the snow--we got 2+" overnight and today, which is what is headed towards some of you now. Our son's wife is German, and it's a big thing with them.

The best way to describe the German "ch", apart from Dennis' idea, which BTW isn't far off, is that you wiggle your uvula until it vibrates like you are trying to clear your throat, and what comes out is a cross between an "h" and a "ch" sound. It's like a "k" that doesn't quite connect.

C.C., don't worry about my answering your questions, I enjoy having an opportunity to continue teaching what I know.

melissa bee said...

melissa bee, i thought you meant I had moss on my ass - I know I'm old, but damn...

@dennis: is it wrong if i'm lichen the image?

JD said...

"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance."

Enjoyable puzzle.. didn't have time to do in one tree...hung here..
I did my share of G-ing as there were loads of new words for me.Even had to pull out my copy of "The Bobbsey Twins at Spruce Lake"(c. 1930)

Barry, is that really true about ruby red grapefruit juice? Yikes!

We saw tamarins in Costa Rica while on cruise.Lovely creatures

another quote from Socrates:
"Children are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers." not too different today

off to Sharks game......

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your mother.
Hope she has many more!
My mom in 93 and loves her birthday parties.
Best Wishes,

carol said...

Kitty B - please wish your a Mother Happy 92nd Birthday. I hope she enjoys her celebration!

JD and Barry, what is it about the ruby red grapefruit juice and cochineal??

Clear Ayes, I thought your dinner party sounded like a lot of fun! It seems that Yellow Tail wine is getting very popular...I see it at get-togethers a lot lately.

Dennis said...

melissa, carol, your DFness knows no bounds. I'll adjust position to NW as a tribute.

clear ayes, nope, that was my actual evening.

dougl, great explanation on 'rasterize'; thanks.

Anybody else getting snow?

carol said...

Dennis, great - now your giving us the ass?

carol said...

Please forgive the grammatical error; and insert 'you're'.

melissa bee said...

@dennis: that would definitely break the mold.