Apr 16, 2016

Saturday, Apr16th, 2016, Debbie Ellerin

Theme: Debut~!

Words: 70 (missing F,J,Q,Z)

Blocks: 31

  This is Debbie Ellerin's debut Saturday puzzle for the LA Times, as far as I can tell.  She has had two other puzzles, one duo with Jeff Chen on a Sunday, and a solo effort on a Monday - which to me seems to be the hardest day to construct a puzzle; there has to be a simple theme, simple answers, and simple clues.  I have tried my hand at construction; it's a lot harder than you think earlier in the week.  This one looked a bit daunting at the outset, but then a few solid fills led me to finish in half my personal allotted time.  A pretty pinwheel grid today with triple 9's and almost triple 9's - and nothing longer than that.  And a gratuitous shout-out to yours truly at 46d.~!  Debbie is already in my good books~!

17a. Agitated : STIRRED UP - I had stEAMed up at first

13d. They're turnoffs : EXIT LANES - oooh, so close with EXIT RAMPS

52a. Vanity case? : EGOMANIAC

28d. Sci-fi emergency vehicle : ESCAPE POD - my first experience with an 'escape pod';



1. Ring pairs : TAG TEAMS - on the first pass, I was not sure if this was wedding rings or boxing rings - turned out to be wrestling

9. Result of hitting the bar? : SPACE - I thought we might be looking for something like DRUNK

14. Some strays : ALLEY CATS

16. Plant from the Greek for "flame" : PHLOX - the clue led me to discover this interesting reading

18. Garlicky sauce : AIOLI - my first fill; crossword staple

19. Present, say : TENSE - ah.  Took too long to see this definition of "present"

20. One to keep closer? : ENEMY - one only keeps the friends "close"

22. Setting for a Det. Tigers game : EDT - Went with CST - central standard time; of course, the baseball season is only during Daylight time, and Detroit is not that far from the east coast, really

23. Designer of many Harper's Bazaar covers : ERTE

24. Golden Horde members : TATARS - learning moment for me

25. Dancer Chmerkovskiy of "Dancing With the Stars" : VAL

26. Rutabagas, e.g. : TUBERS - nailed it

27. Chicago Cubs' spring training city : MESA - filled via perps

28. Squired : ESCORTED

32. Lethal phosphorus compound : SARIN

one can just look this up these days

33. Lose control, in a way : SPIN OUT

34. Grind : RAT RACE

36. Evasive : CAGEY

37. Epitome of slowness : MOLASSES - "AS A SNAIL" did cross my mind

38. Parted sea : ARAL - I thought it was the "RED" sea, but in today's geography, this sea has split

39. "Rent" Pulitzer-winning dramatist : LARSON - half crossings, half WAG

41. __ se : PER 

42. Fortune : KISMET - ah, fate, not riches

43. Private dining room? : MESS - clever

47. "Yada yada yada" letters : etc.

48. Place to get clean : REHAB - BT, DT.

49. "Affliction" Oscar nominee : NOLTE - did not see the movie

50. Key location : PIANO - I was trying to be overly clever and pondered Florida; it was only after I came here that I see the answer filled itself in

54. Bean seen on-screen : ORSON

55. "Aha!" : "NOW I GET IT~!"

56. Many a combine model : DEERE

57. Some seniors : OLDSTERS


1. Kind of buds? : TASTE - I tried BOSOM to start

2. Size up, maybe? : ALTER - tailoring humor

3. Sparkle : GLINT

4. Far from flowery : TERSE

5. Title narrator in an 1847 novel : EYRE

6. Deck top : ACE - ah.  Cards, not carpentry

7. Entered the pool? : MADE A BET

8. Hindered the development of : STUNTED

9. Fixes : SPAYS

10. Golden ratio symbol : PHI - φ

11. Some succulents : ALOE VERAS

12. Frigid : COLD AS ICE - look away Tin~!  Look away~!

15. Stick a fork in : SPEAR - "me...I'm done"

21. "__ Robinson" : MRS.

24. Peace Nobelist of 1984 : TUTU - Desmond

26. Metal-measure word : TROY - precious metals; the Wiki

27. Men's home? : MARS - the women from Venus

29. Fifth wheel : SPARE TIRE - ah, the actual definition, not the guy who tags along on a double date

30. Cuban home? : CIGAR CASE - I'm a cigar smoker (not Cubans, mind you ), and so this one was sort of a gimme

31. Law school newbie : ONE-L

32. Kenton of jazz : STAN - filled via perps

34. Bruins' home : ROSE BOWL - I was of course, in an NHL Boston Bruin's mindset - this is UCLA

35. Beaucoup, with "of" : A LOT - "I made beaucoup bucks betting on the game last night"

37. Onetime Sterling Optical spokesman : Mr. MAGOO - seemed logical to me

39. Piece of fiction : LIE

40. Beyond the pale? : ASHEN - cute.  Skin tone

42. Scandinavian capital : KRONE - dah~!  Fell into the trap; not Oslo, Stockholm, nor Helsinki - the money kind of capital

43. "Bouquet of Sunflowers" painter : MONET - I had the "M", so it was an "A" or "O" WAG for the artist - I got it

44. Choice : ELITE

45. Flight segment : STAIR - my lovely Siberian friend got sticker shock when she discovered how much it would cost to come to America

46. Splinter groups : SECTS - I am a part of a lot of groups; this blog is one (LOL)

49. Badgers or hounds : NAGS

51. Negative link : NOR

53. Prefix with life or wife : MID - mid-life, midwife



OwenKL said...

The ALLEY CATS were having a party,
Growling and yowling and howling hearty!
The ones not SPAYED
Were getting cat-laid,
And a RAT RACE was staged for the sporty!

Does Steven King drive a Cadillac
When driving Maine from home and back?
Does his persona relate
To his chosen state?
Would that make him an EGO-MANIAC?

If men are from MARS and women from Venus
Does that explain the difference between us?
Does Venus have mountains,
And valleys with fountains?
On MARS can we growing a large ... peanuts?

The lift-off into SPACE was very odd.
The pilot's only words were "Oh, dear God!"
We won't be reaching MARS,
Power's down to just two bars.
I think it's time to enter my ESCAPE POD!

{C, C, C+, B+.}

Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful day here in my world!

I am in a great mood as it is no longer Cold As Ice. But to be honest, I prolly wouldn't be as STIRRED UP if I was accustomed to this clime. The change is like no other. I gives you an internal boost. Spring eternal.

TTP said...

Good morning all.

Initially having misspelled TORTOISE as epitome of slowness, and then tying it in with Men's home of YMCA and Cubs spring home of YUMA caused for a slowdown in the east. ALOE VERAS led to the fix.

Gotta run. Will read the write up and comments later.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Definitely a toughie today, but a rewarding experience in the end. Once again, it was the NW where I had the most trouble and I had to abandon it and come back to it at the end. I actually wanted TASTE for 1D, but the question mark in the clue made me assume it had to be something less obvious. And I guess HYDE wasn't actually the narrator of "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" (which wasn't actually published until 1886, apparently). GLEAM almost worked, but I had to change it to GLINT in the end. And it took a loooong time until I was finally able to figure out TAG TEAMS at 1A, but I did get it eventually.

I wondered whether PHLOX was at all related to Phlogiston, so thanks for that link, Splynter. I know the word PHLOX solely from a Kingston Trio song that includes the lyrics, "Rectangular is the wooden box, where lies my love 'neath the golden PHLOX" and for years I thought it was "golden flocks" until just recently.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing Merl Reagles puzzles and enjoy his humor. I was saddened by his passing. I also enjoy the daily puzzles here and this blog. My question is I'm looking to order a new puzzle book and was wondering which one to order that has similar wit like merl? Your comments would be appreciated.

Hungry Mother said...

A usual Saturday slog for me. As slow a MOLASSES I was. Very satisfying to complete the grid.

Anonymous said...

Anyone receive a text for the word of the day from Today's was ENDEMIC. Great word. Sadly, there are very few puzzles being written that are endemic of Merle Reagle. Apparently we must keep on keeping on.

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Most of my WAGs were golden, so my puzzle experience was much like Splynter's -- quick, but satisfying. No MOLASSES here. Still, I was right there with other's missteps: Steamed, Ramps and Gleam (Hi, Barry!). Also tried to spell it AeOLI. Well done, Debbie. Those stacked nines in the corners were especially nice.

Abejo said...

Good morning, folks. Thank you, Debbie Allerin, for a fine puzzle. Thank you, Splynter, for a fine review.

I started this last night while watching Perry Mason. Cruciverb worked. Sometimes it does not. Finished this morning while drinking several cups of Earl Grey.

Puzzle was not easy, at all. Parts were, but parts were not.

Tried EXIT RAMPS for a long time. Finally RAT RACE caused me to fix that error to LANES.

TAG TEAMS was slow in coming, but once I had a couple letters it jumped out art me. That helped with that corner. Of course I tried GLEAM for 3D. Finally TENSE gave me GLINT. One word at a time.

Tried CRONE for 42D. Then tried a K and KISMET looked right.

MARS was a good one. That took a while to parse.

Anyhow, it is done and I am off to my day.

See you tomorrow.


( )

Avg Joe said...

Yep on gleam as well as Aeoli. Fixed the former, let the latter be, so FIW.

Still, it was a nice run. Slow to start, but it was easier than typical all told. The toughest misdirect was Troy, IMO. Really really wanted Mil, but it just fidn't dit. Mars was pretty good too, but my wag of Mesa aided and abetted that fill vey nicely.

Yellowrocks said...

Interesting puzzle. Challenging, but somewhat easier than the average Saturday. I liked private dining room. The NE was hardest for me. I could have sworn the Tigers played in the CDT zone. Not knowing VAL and not thinking of ALOE VERA right off held me up a bit.
I believe endemic cannot refer to a single person. It means prevalent or native to a region or group of people. It can refer to tangibles like flora or fauna or diseases, or to intangibles like poverty or corruption.
My mom always said slow as molasses. When I was a kid we had sweet molasses, bought in bulk. It was not at all like today's Brer Rabbit products. It was not like Karo. I have not had any syrup as good as that old fashioned molasses in years.

Big Easy said...

At first I thought I would be dead in the water after a blank NW but luckily the ENEMY, TATARS, TUBERS, TUTU,TROY, and SPAYS section got me going, as they were all gimmes. That opened up the entire left side, with the SW filled entirely by crosses without even reading the downs.

The right side had a few unknowns- PHLOX, VAL, LARSON, MR. MAGOO- that came easily. I can never remember the correct spelling of AIOLI, thinking it it aEoli and the Golden ratio's Greek letter-PHI-solved it for me.

I was definitely on Debbie's wavelength this morning because this was my fastest solve for a Saturday, with only one change- GLEAM to GLINT. Usually I am as slow as MOLASSES on Saturday puzzles.

Husker Gary said...

-A fun Saturday puzzle that suggested many fills for some cluing. ENEMY/MRS was my initial toehold. SHINE was my first erasure
-“What my EXIT LANE for the 101 is five over?” “Oh well, San Diego is always nice!”
-Everyone’s fav EGOMANIAC?
-SPACE appeared five heartbeats before I said, “NOW I GET IT”
-Seriously good AIOLI
-A very forgettable SPINOUT
-Subbing allows an escape from the RAT RACE part of teaching
-OMOO was not EYRE but ironically it was also published in 1847
-Who needs a SPARE TIRE?
-Off to OMAHA for baseball and vacuum cleaners

Chairman Moe said...

"Puzzling Thoughts"

Finished yesterday's puzzle at midnight so I am combining Friday and Saturday comments. Enjoyed yesterday's PSO (personal shout out) with SHOW ME MOE! Thanks Lemony. I HAD to finish that once I saw my SO, but for me it (Friday's) was much tougher than today's

My "cheats" (googles) yesterday were in double digits; today I only needed two: TAG TEAMS and ESCAPE POD. Once those were in position the left side filled in. I completed the Eastern side of the puzzle with just two write-overs: EXIT RAMPS before EXIT LANES and BEAN TOWN before ROSE BOWL. I almost didn't fill in 12d when I saw COLD AS ___ , and in Timbeni's honor, almost left it blank! ;^)

Nice debut Debbie; Splynter, as always, a nice write-up. I was wondering where the pair of stockinged legs was going to fit ... nice!

Got a date with THE IRS - what's mine is THEIRS!

Tinbeni said...


I am NEVER "COLD-AS-_ _ _" ... well that certain 3-letter word aint goin' in my grid.

OTOH ... I am (again!) stuck with a low 70's, beautiful, sunny day ...
Geez, this perfect weather is getting kinda boring.


Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

For me, this was a very tough solve but I did finish w/o help, finally. The NE corner was slow in coming; I had peony>poppy>phlox (almost threw pansy in, too!). Also had CDT at first and couldn't come up with Val to save my soul but, then again, I don't watch DWTS. The cluing was tricky in spots but that's what Saturday puzzles are all about, I guess.

Thanks, Debbie, and congrats on your Sat. debut and thanks, Splynter, for the spirited expo.

Barry, how did Josh make out at camp?

Have a great day.

Madame Defarge said...

Good Morning.

Also as slow as MOLASSES today. I have had a busy week, and I never worked the puzzles before my days started. . . . For me, that means no warm-up for Saturday. I pretty much stalled in all the same places you have already mentioned. Nonetheless a pretty nice ESCAPE POD.

Thanks Debbie for the challenge. It was worth the effort to stick with it on my part.

Thanks, Splynter for another terrific tour. Have a good weekend, everyone.

oc4beach said...

Nice doable puzzle for a Saturday. Good going Debbie and good write-up Splynter.

It took a bit of work to get through it though with a few missteps along the way. Started out with FERALCATS vs ALLEYCATS. I tried TDARENA vs ROSEBOWL because I had the wrong Bruins. At first I tried MONGOL for the Golden Horde before perps indicated TATARS was the right answer. Finally TORTOISE vs MOLASSES was another wrong entry.

All-in-all it has been a good week for solving puzzles with a Thursday and Friday success. I doubt that it will happen again in the near future.

Time to go hunting and gathering. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

My favorite leg fetish guy. Thanks I won again. Small money but you are a sure bet.
Predictable as rain.

Bill G. said...

Hi! I started, as usual, in the upper-left corner. I had trouble. After moving to other areas and with a little red-letter encouragement, I took off and became much more successful. I thought much of the cluing was clever and original. I enjoyed this Saturday effort more than most. Thanks Debbie and Splynter.

Steven J. St. John said...

I was predicting this was a Silkie. Super-smooth construction and really clever, fair misdirection clues. A perfect Saturday!

Anonymous said...

To anon 10:20. Ur right just noticed the leg guy if it is a guy. We ll be seeing him/her on Dr Phil. How much do u guys bet? Now that I caught on. Ick Ick double ick

Yellowrocks said...

Today I read that there is a new instrument police will be able use to scan your cell phone to see if you used it right before a crash. This could penalize guys and gals like me. I pull over and stop before I use my phone. Then I pull back into traffic seconds after I disconnect. If there is a crash soon after, the police will see that I have just been using my phone. There is a penalty if you refuse to have your phone scanned, just as there is with a Breathalyzer.

C6D6 Peg said...

Tough at first pass, but got a foothold in the SW, then the SE, NE, and finally the NW. Thanks, Debbie, for a nice challenge, and congrats on your Saturday debut.

Very nice write-up, Splynter. You always amaze!

Lucina said...

Barnes and Noble has "The Best of Merl Reagle's Sunday Crosswords" which I purchased a few weeks ago. If you don't have B&N nearby you can likely order it online.

WEES about the puzzle. Most of it was relatively easy though after the first pass only MESA was filled but that gave me a starting point. Then ENEMY, TATARS, TUBERS led me to ESCORTS. Soon all but the SW corner was filled. Hand up for EXITRAMPS and guessing VAL. I don't watch DWS.

NOWISEEIT held up the south until GET replaced SEE. At Scandinavian capital, running through all the cities made it obvious that only KRONE would fit. However, it took a loooong time but once guessing CAGEY it all fell in place except that ONEA spoiled it all and of course I didn't notice.

Thank you, Debbie Ellerin and Splynter! This was enjoyable.

Have a lovely Saturday, everyone!

Nice Cuppa said...


Your 3rd verse/limerick is clearly influenced by the bawdy drinking song, "The Good Ship Venus", aka "Friggin' in the Riggin'". There are many variations and it gets progressively obscene with each verse, but it begins something like:

'Twas on the good ship Venus,
By Christ you should have seen us,
The figurehead
Was a whore in bed,
And the mast a rampant .....peanut [to use your euphemism]

Misty said...

I thought this was going to be an incredible Saturday toughie, and the only two items I got on my first pass were PER se, and VAL (thank goodness I watch "Dancing with the Stars"). But then I also got MESS and DEERE, and slowly, slowly, the bottom filled in and then the middle and the NW. Only the NE gave me trouble, and in the end I cheated and looked up PHLOX. But, hey, a single cheat is not bad at all for me for a Saturday puzzle! So, many thanks, Debbie--and hope we get many more of yours, and thank you, too, Splynter.

Scandinavian capital had me flummoxed for a bit--glad I wasn't the only one.

Not too crazy about that icky limerick.

Anonymous, I too loved Merl Reagle puzzles. There are 18 Merl Reagle books available, many of them on Amazon--I have done all 18. And then there are collections like the one Lucina mentioned. Good luck!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Ol' Man Keith said...

Welcome, Ms. Ellerin!
Like Splynter, I thought this would be a tough one, but I managed to finish with only one lookup (two if we count my asking my wife re. Dancing With the Stars)--which is fine for me on a Saturday pzl. Several WAGs aided my progress. It's always a kick to stumble on some niner fills when only a couple of letters are in place, such as guessing ESCAPE POD from just the PE and ALLEY CATS from a C and a T.

I enjoyed the cluing, such as for 43A, 54A, and 9D.

And any mention of the "Golden ratio" is always welcome to me. I love to let my imagination wander on the many ways Phi and 2/3 proportionality can be discovered and applied, from the architecture of the Parthenon to investing in the stock market.

Jerome said...

I guessed that our leader at The Corner was an Aquarian. However, I was COLD AS ICE. C.C. SAID, LEO.

Well crafted Saturday puzzle, Debbie. Keep making them like this and editors will be knocking at your door.

Jayce said...

A very enjoyable puzzle indeed.

Bill G. said...

We just got back from an enjoyable lunch with daughter Bonnie, son Tim plus girlfriend, and birthday boy, grandson Jordan. Jordan, Barbara and I love their lobster bisque soup. We also had a middle-eastern appetizer sampler. I had an ultra-thin crust Margarita pizza.

Tim was telling me about a new restaurant he tried and liked. All local and organic. Very healthy. All those things sound good to me but no mention of whether the food tastes good, a very important criterion for me. A neighbor took us to healthy-style Panera Bread restaurant a couple of weeks ago. I didn't enjoy anything I ordered; an Italian-style sandwich and some black bean soup.

fermatprime said...


Thanks, Debbie and Splynter!

Easier than the usual Sat. puzzle. No cheats.

I, too, had GLeam before GLINT. VAL was perped.

At last, the wind has died down somewhat.


PK said...

Hi Y'all! Spent much of my time on this puzzle doing red-letter alphabet runs, trying to get a toe hold. Thought it was a well-done puzzle, Debbie, just not on my wave-length. I was too tired and impatient to be doing a Saturday puzzle at 2 a.m. Did finally fill the whole thing. Just needed broad hints.

Great as always, Splynter!

Hand up for "drunk" result of hitting the bar, then "whack", then "sinks" thinking of sandbar and boats. SPACE was all perps and took awhile to understand. That's kinda how the whole puzzle went for me.

Didn't associate MR. MAGOO with Sterling Optical which isn't anything local for me. Must be east coast?

Anon at 5:37 a.m.: Don't think there is such a word as "prolly" although I see it some. I think the word is "probably".

VAL, I knew, because I do watch DWTS. Knew that guilty pleasure would be rewarded someday. However, they've decided to go the way of most big musical programs with too many dancers to watch and flashing lights which distract from the quality dancing.

Yellowrocks said...

Lovely spring day, high in the mid 60's. There are more blossoms every day.To me it could not be more delightful. Wishing it were more like summer would be like wishing your 12 year old were an adult right now. Each stage of life and of the seasons is a unique joy.

Ergo (Husker Chuck) said...

Sweet! It may have taken all day but I finished this one in its entirety! I probably average one, maybe two Saturdays in a year that are complete grid fillers.

And I really enjoyed the clever cluing which heightened the satisfaction.

Can't wait for the Sunday paper to drop on the front deck tomorrow.

Anonymous T said...

Posting late, so I'll keep it short. No I didn't finish, so thanks Splynter for filling my middle-bits and your write-up. Thanks too to Debbie for my Dental Distraction this AM in the waiting room. No cavities for the fam, so that's good.

Fav: PHI = (1+ sqrt(5))/2. Fibonacci Sequence: f(n+1) / f(n) approaches PHI as n increases. Fun with math!

Y'all have a great Sunday.

Cheers, -T

Bill G. said...

AnonT, yes, I love that Fibonacci & Phi relationship too. Did you know the Fibonacci sequence can be found in Pascal's Triangle?

Picard said...

As usual, very late to the party.

In the northwest I had Nast in 23A for the Harper's Bazaar covers. Turns out that was Harper's Weekly, a different magazine! Did anyone else try Nast instead of ERTE?

Once I figured out ALLEY CATS not feral CATS I solved it all.