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Dec 26, 2009

Saturday December 26, 2009 Michael Wiesenberg

Theme: None

Total blocks: 31

Total words: 72

This grid is framed by a pair of triple stacked 15-letter two-word answers at the top and bottom:

1A. Medieval castle feature: SPIRAL STAIRCASE. Nice entry. Good visual imagery.

16A. Harding's Laddie Boy, for one: AIREDALE TERRIER. Originated in Airedale, England. Laddie Boy was President Harding's dog. Stumped me.

17A. Health club option: PERSONAL TRAINER

59A. With "The," 1958 Hudson/Stack movie about a former WWI ace: TARNISHED ANGELS. See this poster. I've never heard of the movie.

63A. Longtime pal: OLD ACQUAINTANCE. My favorite fill today.

64A. Christianity dominates it: WESTERN RELIGION. Buddhism dominates Eastern religion. Hinduism too, I suppose, considering the number of followers in India.

Hard workout for me. Only penned in a few short entries on my first try. Then I gnawed and gnawed. Was amazed by how much I actually filled in before peeking at the cheat sheet.

Across:

19. Indicates: SAYS. Wanted CUES.

20. Asian holidays: TETS. Only in Vietnam.

21. Univ. awards: DEGS (Degrees)

23. Risked: STAKED

26. Actor Harris et al.: EDS. I liked him in "Stepmom".

29. Three-time A.L. MVP: A-ROD. Finally got his World Series ring.

30. Help a checker: BAG. Checker here refers to cashier, right?

33. Gamblers' mecca: MONTE CARLO. Las Vegas too.

37. Composer Bartók: BELA. Hungarian.

38. Barhopping: ON A TOOT. New phrase to me.

39. Some specials: ENTREES. Excellent clue.

41. Uproar: TO-DO. Nice crossing with SET-TO (22D. Tiff). We also have ADOS (5D. Fusses).

42. Gadget largely pooh-poohed by men until the 20th century: WRISTWATCH. Was unaware of this fact. How silly.

44. Dubbed period: ERA. I rather like this new clue.

45. Russian pancake: BLIN. Only know the plural blini.

46. Oldest child in the comic strip "Baby Blues": ZOE. Tough crossing with KOONTZ (25D. Dean of horror). I knew neither of them.

47. Under-the-sink item: SOS PAD. Yeah, I store mine under the sink.

53. Open end?: TOED. Open-toed (shoes).

55. "Do or do not. There is no try" speaker: YODA. From "Star Wars".

58. Miss out?: DEB (Debutante). "Miss" here is a noun. I was not fooled.

Down:

1. Tasty: SAPID. This word sure doesn't sound tasty. Maybe I am influenced by tepid.

2. See 40-Down: PIECE. And TWO (40D. With 2-Down, like a bikini).

3. Not std.: IRREG. IRR appears in grids more often.

4. They precede mis: RES. Scale notes. Do, Re, Mi ...

6. Turner, for one: LANA. Lana Turner.

7. Really cracks up: SLAYS

8. Launch of 1962: TELSTAR. Just learned that NASA was only established in 1958.

9. 1-800-CALL-__: rival of 1-800-COLLECT: AT & T

10. Cash add-on: IER. Cashier.

11. Violent, probably: R-RATED

13. Frowned-upon contraction: AIN'T. Widely used though.

14. Views: SEES

24. City that inspired van Gogh: ARLES. Absolutely love his "Bedroom in Arles".

27. __ gratias: DEO. Latin for "thanks to God".

28. Glares: SCOWLS

30. Sugar source: BEET. Pickled beet is very tasty, so is pickled herring.

31. Pollster Gallup: ALEC. Did not know Gallup's given name. So now we've had Elmo Roper and John Zogby, all pollsters.

32. Razor cut, maybe: GASH. Did not come to me readily.

33. Dust unit: MOTE

34. Words before before: ON OR. Was this a gimme to you?

35. Zilch: NADA

36. Anchor position: ATRIP. Just clear off the bottom. Learned from doing Xword.

37. Highland hillsides: BRAES

43. Next Christmas: IN A YEAR. Not really fond of this clue, despite its Christmas connection.

45. Dirndl part: BODICE

47. Gérard Larcher is its current president: SENAT. French Senate. Don't think Gérard Larcher is well known outside France.

48. Stevens who sang "Pink Shoe Laces" (1959): DODIE. No idea. Here is the clip. Wikipedia says she's only 13 when she recorded the song.

50. Certain Arabian Peninsula native: ADENI. Oh, the native of Aden is Adeni.

51. Car battery pioneer: DELCO. Unknown to me also. It stands for Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co.

52. "Barnaby Jones" star: EBSEN (Buddy). Recognized his face only when I googled him.

53. Account: TALE

54. Traffic regs., e.g.: ORDS (Ordinances)

56. Twain's jumping frog: DAN'L (Webster). Completely foreign to me. Why Dan'l instead of Daniel?

57. Like contrarians: ANTI

59. Auto club service: TOW

60. Plaza abbr.: SQR. Square?

61. Vandal: HUN. Like Attila.

62. Choke or joke: GAG. Superb clue. Nice rhyme.

37 comments:

Argyle said...

Good Morning All.

A daunting start but slowly picked away at it. Started in the NE and ended there too. I got the CASE at the end of 1A and a few fills and SPIRAL STAIRCASE appeared. But it took till the end to recognize the RR in 11D for what it was(and it has caught me before.)

Anonymous said...

Solved in 55 minutes. Challenging puzzle.

tfrank said...

Good morning, C.C. and all,

Another good workout today following yesterday's grind. Like you and Argyle, I kept whittling away, and eventually everything fell into place. I only needed G help on Messr. Larcher. Those stacked fifteens are very intimidating at first. Isn't there a Chinese proverb that says, "A trip around the world starts with a single step."? Solving the puzzle starts with a single perp.

I had the pleasure yesterday of introducing my niece to the puzzle and the blog. She was delighted to learn about it, as was my sister who has some vision problems and will be helped by the larger print and squares in the downloaded version.

Jean and I enjoyed yesterday's reunion with 25 kinfolk, ranging from my 82 year old sister to our two week old great, great nephew.

Have a great weekend.

Dick said...

Good morning everyone, another tough slog for me today, but I did prevail with only one trip to see Mr.G. The first pass did not yield very many fills and the second pass was not much better. I finally managed to get enough traction, in the top half, to get 1A and then the entire top fell. 47D “senat” was a wild guess on my part.

Favorite clue today was 39A “entrees.”

Looks like I will spend today recovering from the lamb roast last night.

Hope you all have a great Saturday.

Argyle said...

Hey, I was rereading the interview with Michael Wiesenberg while waiting for the ice to melt off my car's windshield. He had wanted to use SPIRAL STAIRCASE back then.

Barry G. said...

Definitely a challenge today, but no fail this time. Hardest part was in the center where BLIN/ATRIP/SOSPAD/BODICE intersected. I've heard of blintz and blini before, but didn't know that BLIN was the singular of blini. I can now say I've seen ATRIP before, but at the time it seemed completely foreign to me. SOSPAD isn't something I personally keep under my sink. And, while I knew that a dirndl was an item of women's clothing, I had no idea that it included a BODICE.

The top stack of 15-letter words was daunting at first, but the crosses were pretty easy and I blew through them very quickly. The bottom stack, on the other hand, was a lot more difficult. I don't think I've ever heard of TARNISHED ANGELS before, and WESTERN RELIGION just seems odd without a final S. I've just never thought of a single entity that could be called WESTERN RELIGION before. The perps weren't much help getting those long answers, what with ADENI, DELCO, DANL, SENAT, DODIE and ORDS, but somehow I managed to muddle through. Actually, I made a wild guess at TARNISHED ANGELS, and that saved my bacon.

Verna LaBounty said...

Good morning,
North Dakota still under blizzard conditions so no morning paper - did the puzzle on line. Actually found the long fills easier than in some other puzzles. I needed to look up Larcher and Stevens, but worked out the other fills. My brain was a bit slow dredging up Ebsen, could see the actor in my mind before the name came to me. Will be another quiet day indoors listening to radio announcements of late openings and cancellations. My Christmas dinner, hopefully, will be served tomorrow.

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, My first look at all that 15 letter fill was a little scary, but this was definitely a case of "perps are your friends"...except for SAPID and SENAT, of course.

With IRREG, ADOS, LANA, CRIED, AIN'T, SEES and ERRS, I had --R-DA-----RIER and --R-ON-----INER which was enough to finish both AIREDALE TERRIER and PERSONAL TRAINER. After that it was just chipping away.

I wonder if Embien has seen this puzzle? Since he always does the Down fill first, this puzzle is right up his alley.

My favorite clue was "Miss out?" for DEB. My "D'OH!" was SOSPAD. It took quite a while to realize it wasn't one word.

C.C., I'm curious. Do you set a certain amount of time to devote to solving the puzzle and after that has elapsed, will finish up with what you call your "cheat sheet"?

Since Dennis is very probably too busy basking in the sun, here are a few "Today Is"

First day of Kwanzaa

National Thank You Note Day ("You better thank your Grandma for that flannel nightgown.")

National Whiner's Day ("But I hate flannel nightgowns.")

Boxing Day in UK & Can (Return that flannel nightgown to the store and get a refund.)

Birthday - Mao Tse-Tung (C.C., It this a holiday in China?)

Andrea said...

Good morning, all.

I only filled in three words on my first pass, and even then wasn't all too sure. So I opted to start reading one of my new Christmas books instead: John Baxter's Immoveable Feast. Very enjoyable read about a man in charge of making Christmas dinner in France for his french in-laws.

Today is my birthday, so hubbie took care of Zoe's morning routine so I could enjoy a relaxing start to the day. We've got a light snow falling, so it's been nice to sit by the window with my book and a mug of cafe au lait. All in all, another great day!

Enjoy the day!

posterboy said...

Could someone please tell me how you get ERA from the clue "dubbed period" (44A)?

JD said...

Good morning CC and all,

This was not an exciting puzzle for me as it took almost an hour for me to pick away at it. The perps helped immensely, but as they filled some were still unknown to me: mote, sapid, braes. I looked up dirndle ,but still needed perps to fill it. Knew blintzes, but gave a WAG filling in blin.

Thought that was interesting about watches. Bob has a large collection of pocket watches from his dad.Some were pretty fancy.

Man oh man, at 14 I thought that shoelace song was great! LOL!

One of my favorite novels was Watchers by D. Koontz, and I'm not into scary. If you are a dog lover, read it!

Van Gogh painted over 900 paintings in the span of 10 yrs, but only sold one during his lifetime. So sad. His brother was his best friend, but died 6 mo. after he did. So his SIL collected his letters and paintings, and because of her, he became famous.Visiting his museum in Amsterdam was one of the highlights of my travels.I was lucky to be able to go on a few of Bob's business trips.

Mary said...

Good Morning C.C. and all,
Happy Boxing Day.

I love watching the 15 letter entries fall one by one. I got first traction in the NE too. I eventually Bobbled (help from husband) and Googled TARNISHED, DODIE and KOONTZ. Senat didn't bother me, Gerard was obviously French.

ERAs are times worth noting, hence naming or "dubbing".

I didn't get ON OR before at first glance. I've forgotten which two perps gave it to me.

I've never gone ON A TOOT, but then I don't do much barhopping.

It took C.C. to make sense out of DAN'L, contraction of Daniel. We saw Calaveras County in California last year. They do quite a tribute to Mark Twain and the celebrated jumping frog.

No flannel nightgowns to return, but I plan a stop at Best Buy's recycling center with our officially retired 1986 TV. Wonder if the new LCD HDTV will make it 23 years?

Barry G. said...

Could someone please tell me how you get ERA from the clue "dubbed period" (44A)?

"Dubbed" in this context means "named" and a "period" refers to a period of time. Often, a specific era is a named period of time, like "The Gay nineties" or "The Roaring Eighties" or "The Victorian Age."

Anonymous said...

Easily I agree but I contemplate the collection should acquire more info then it has.

Warren said...

hi C.C. & gang, we managed to finish the top half easily enough with help from the perp's but the bottom section? I went online again and we checked our guesses that way and finished it even faster than yesterdays puzzle.

Here's a link to the

jumping frogs of Calaveras county

carol said...

Hi C.C. and friends

Hope you all had a great time yesterday.
We were glad of no snow after it ruining a lot of get-togethers last year.

I had no problem on the top half of this puzzle, but the bottom part was very difficult. Did not know BLIN, YODA, TOED, SQR, HUN or DANL. So - so much for perp help there. I did finally manage to get 59A. I know all the words to "Pink Shoe Laces" but couldn't recall the singer.

CA - (or anyone else)... have you heard from Embien??? I have not read a post from him in ages.

Here is a funny curse I read in an e-mail the other day...for those of you that I forwarded it to, forgive the duplication:
"May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your crotch, and may your arms be too short to scratch!"

Annette said...

yes, a checker is a cashier.

I agree SAPID doesn't sound very appetizing to me either.

Happy Birthday, Andrea! That sounds like the ideal way to spend it to me. There's not much better than a good book and time to read it! I'm not much into gift cards, but one I got for Barnes and Noble yesterday is burning a whole in my pocket already!

My experience with the puzzle was similar to most others here. The top half fell with some effort, but the bottom was more difficult and required some red letter assistance.

Annette said...

I think SAPID sounds similar to "insipid" too, further lessening it's appeal...

posterboy said...

Thank you Barry G. for explaining 44A to me. I sure had a mental block on that one.

Glen C said...

C.C. - I want to clarify your statement that NASA was only founded in 1958. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was established in 1915. In 1958, it became NASA, so you see, NASA has a very long history. Many NACA designs and specs are still in use. I was a new graduate in Aeronautical Engineering when the change took place. (Iowa State)
Thank you for all of the work you put into this Blog!!

Sir Thopas said...

Vandals and Huns are, uhh, literally different tribes. Terrible, terrible clue.

Clear Ayes said...

Sir Thopas, good for you, catching the Vandal/Hun mistake. The Vandals and Huns crossed paths, a few times, but it was the Vandals who sacked Rome in 455. The Huns were busy raping and pillaging elsewhere.

Carol, I haven't heard anything from Embien either. Maybe he is just taking a break for a while. LOL, your curse sounds like a comment on our THONG discussion the other day.

Hmmm, is it just me, or did anyone else fail to understand what Anon@12:06 was referring to.

Argyle, what a great memory you have! The SPIRAL STAIRCASE interview was almost four months ago.

MJ said...

Yes, as Clear Ayes said, the perps were definitely my friends today. I was able to whittle away most of the puzzle, but stalled in the SW. Just couldn't get 47A, (Under-the-sink item), and the only singer Stevens I could recall from the late 50's was Connie Stevens, which didn't fit. Finally went to Mr. G for DODIE, and was able to finish up. A nice Saturday challenge.

@Andrea-Happy Birthday! Hope you're enjoying the day.

@Warren-Thanks for the poem yesterday. I tweaked it slightly and read it to the family after Christmas dinner. The 30(ish)-year-old cousins enjoyed it the most, I think, because when they were young, after dinner we would have a fire in the fireplace and play charades.

@Sir Thopas-You are correct that Vandals and Huns are different tribes. However, a vandal or a hun is a destructive person, which renders the clue valid.

Sir Thopas said...

@MJ: I've never heard hun used that way before, but I see in the dictionary that it is, so I'll concede that. I still dislike it rather strongly on aesthetic grounds—for a Saturday, why not just put "Bleda, for one" or something equivalent?

Argyle said...

Clear Ayes, you misunderstood me; I was rereading the interview because I didn't remember it.

I still would like to find our original comments about eating peaches!

Mainiac said...

Good Evening All!

Got my but kicked yesterday and today. Unfortunately couldn't post my woes because I really never tried hard to complete!

We've had a great holiday and wish everyone else has had the same.

I'm in the process of programming by new weatehr station (way over me) after running around the countrty side seeinng family nadd playing b-ball.

Happy Thoughts to All!

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

Vandal for HUN might be valid, but it is quite a stretch. Which is more than you can say for TOED or DEB.

TOED is an adjective, "Open end?" is a noun phrase. Therefore a non-correspondence.

A DEB is a debutante - a person. It's not really clear what "Miss out?" is supposed to represent. Is it the debutante ball, where a Miss is "outed," so to speak? I can't bend it in any way that makes the clue refer to a person. Another kind of non-correspondence.

IN A YEAR is next boxing day.

ON A TOOT is having a drinking binge, which could easily be undertaken in a single bar (or a single's bar,) in the privacy of one's home, or under a bridge.

Yes it's impressive to have clusters of 15 stacks. Other than that, I took no delight in this puzzle.

On the other hand, we learned a little-known fact about wristwatches, and had a visit from a Hungarian composer.

Cheers!
JzB the Hungarian contrarian trombonist

JD said...

Andrea, happy birthday!Nothing better than getting into a good book!

Jazz, I liked that clue-miss out?When I was a teen I was told that rich girls had these "coming out" parties which really meant that they were on the market for meeting a family approved eligible rich guy to get married.At that time girls were not all college bound or career bound.It was the "Father Knows Best" era.

Anonymous said...

Good evening everyone.

Andrea, happy birthday. Sounds like a good way to begin it.

Love this blog and the comments about language and usage. It's wonderful.

The books I currently like best are by David Rosenfelt. The protagonist is a defense lawyer who inherited a bunch of money and doesn't have to work, and likes not working. Except the books involve defending dogs for one reason or another in court, frequently before a judge known as "Hatchet". Another great book for dog-lovers, or lawyers who would like that life-style. Very funny books and great fun to read.

Cheers

Clear Ayes said...

Although a dictionary definition of lower case vandal is "One who willfully or maliciously defaces or destroys public or private property" and since Huns were willfully destructive, I guess the connection is there somewhere. But I'm with Sir Thopas and don't have to like it.

Argyle, LOL, at least you recollected the interview well enough to look it up and therein find the SPIRAL STAIRCASE reference. That's much better than I ever would have done.

JD, not in my crowd either, but young misses of a certain social class "come out" as a DEButante at a débutante ball. I believe it is still a big tradition in some of the southern states. It might be just a "girl thing" and that is why Jazzbumpa wouldn't be up on cotillions and coming-out parties.

Sir Thopas said...

@Jazzbumpa: "open-toed" is a phrase, so TOED is the end following open. Similarly, a DEB is a miss who is out (into the world, or whatever).

Jeannie said...

Hey all, just still diggin' myself out. I actually lost power yesterday and didn't make it to a friend's house in the city. It was a heavy snow and I guess I and my neighbor had one too many eggnoggs and got a wild hair to build a snowman. He's pretty impressive.

Clearayes, I hate flannel nightgowns. Wore my snow pants, sorrell boots, and parka today though. It was kind of fun to covort in the snow once again. I got creative in the "lower half" in Lois' honor. Okay, maybe I did it for me ;)

Clear Ayes said...

Jeannie, Sorry to hear that your plans didn't turn out. But when life hands you a lemon, have some eggnog and build a snowman!

Night All, have a good one.

Jeannie said...

Oh poop, Happy Birthday Andrea! Sorry if that affends you as that is what pooped into my head. Oh, I meant popped into it. Anyway, I hope you have many more...

Anonymous said...

I gave up & came to the blog for several answers. I didn't have much ambition after the high-level
noise and conversation confusion of twenty people for several hours. We celebrated Christmas today & all the expected family managed to make it, in spite of some icy roads. Semi driving S-I-L
had to leave yesterday for Calif. They wouldn't let him wait until this evening. So he's spent hours sitting on Hwy. 80 because they won't let anyone go through. If they'd at least let the trucks travel to the nearest exits, the snow plows could get through but everything is blocked.

The ornament place cards were a success. Coincidentally, most of the gifts were homemade food items - apple butter, special breads, veg. soup base, salsa. Never did that before and there was no pre-arrangement or suggestion to do it. Very nice.

I think I'm relaxed enough now to go to bed. good night.

Dot

Anonymous said...

9. 1-800-CALL-__: rival of 1-800-COLLECT: AT & T

1-800-COLLECT is owned by MCI and Alyssa Milano was the spokesgirl Eva Save A Lot.

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