Dec 24, 2016

Saturday, Dec 24th, 2016, Matt Skoczen

Theme: None

Words: 72 (missing J,Q,Z)

Blocks: 29

Phew~!!!  I thought I was going snowblind on the first two passes through this grueling grid.  Mr. Skoczen is back for the fourth time in three months, with lots of vague clues, a few proper names that I knew but not through the reference in the clues, and one or two "meh" answers.  Yet I prevailed, with only one (and a half) cheats; had to look up one word in the dictionary that has never appeared in any reading I have done, and then I did a red-letter check to see if I gaffed something - and I did.  Oh well.  Still, came in under my personal allotted time, and I would say I "broke even".  Four 7-letter corners and 9-letter fills crossing paired 10's and 11's;

4d. Opera originally titled "Violetta" : La TRAVIATA - by "Joe Green" (Victor Borge humor)

the aria from "Rigor Mortis"

24. Phone accessory banned at Disney parks : SELFIE STICK


1. It's commonly read by waiters : TABLOID - Wait-ers, on the supermarket line

8. Place to meet : HALF WAY

15. 1992 Mamet play : OLEANNA - perps

16. Cork holder : IRELAND - #$%^&*~!  My first thought was the city/county of the country, but I was expecting a "?" in the clue

17. Enterprise enterprise : RENTING - dah~!  I put in rentALS, and that screwed me up

18. They're usually kept : GIGOLOS - I went with MEMOIRS; bzzzt.  I did not get this reference until I looked up gigolo on Wiki - but I do know the David Lee Roth remake

19. 1976 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year awardee : EVERT

20. E major scale note : G SHARP - I knew enough to put "-SHARP" in, and then waited

22. Hawthorne cover image : RED A - The Scarlet Letter

23. Quiet : SETTLE - ah, the verb, not the noun

24. Ben, to Jerry : SON - the comedians, not the Ice Cream guys

27. Truce emblem source : OLIVE TREE - the "branch" comes from the tree

29. John Paul's successor : ELENA - dah~!  I tried PIUS I, figured we were talking Popes; nope - the US Supreme Court; it's OK, my knowledge of both groups is "A-Paul-ing"....

31. Movie : CINÉ - the dictionary says cin-ee is "extracted" from cinema

32. Pollutant banned by Cong. in 1979 : PCB

34. Sights from la mer : ILES - Le Frawnche

35. Subjects of family disputes : ESTATES

38. Erupted : HAD A FIT

40. Call to a line : "NEXT~!"

41. __-Man : PAC

43. Singer Lovato : DEMI - hah~! I knew this one

44. Renée Fleming et al. : DIVAs

46. Great extent : LARGENESS - OK, use this in a sentence which doesn't sound contrived....

50. Fed. assistance program : SSI - Supplemental Security Income - never heard of it

51. Conniving, with "in" : LEAGUE - reminds me of a line from a Robert Plant song

my love is....

53. Durango demonstrative : ESTA

54. __ camera : HIDDEN - not CANDID

55. Shares, with "out" : METES - not DOLES

56. Where to hear a lot of talk : AM RADIO

59. Rayed flowers : DAISIES

61. Bond choice : MARTINI - D'oh~!  JAMES Bond

62. Charlie McCarthy feature : MONOCLE - I know this "character", but not the answer until perps

63. Significant supply : ARSENAL - I tried "---FUL" at the end, and it was not working

64. Sounded like a flute duet? : CLINKED - clever.  Flutes, the glasses


1. One facing charges? : TORERO - thought this was the answer, but I had some bad crossings to start

2. Two-part British academic exam : A LEVEL

3. Noted 2013 resignee : BENEDICT XVI - oh NOW we get the Pope clue....

5. "Doing that right now!" : ON IT - dah~!  I read this as "DO that right now", so I had ASAP, then STAT

6. Where there may be no room : INN - timely

7. Typographical symbol : DAGGER - did not know that this symbol, tho I have seen it, is called a 'dagger'

8. Modern, in a way : HIGH TECH

9. Font choice : ARIAL - had it in, took it out, because of  MEMOIRS

10. 1852 literary villain : LEGREE - I did not know him; filled via perps, and then I looked him up - Wiki

11. Turn preceder, in Texas Hold 'em : FLOP - followed by the River; last weekend I went in with a full house, 10s over 9s, lost to 10s over Queens - those are the hands that really hurt

12. Popular store opening? : WAL-mart, har-har.

13. Periodo de tiempo : ANO

14. NFL stats : YDs

21. Small distance : STEP

23. Higher than you might have hoped : STEEP

25. "That's __ haven't heard" : ONE I

26. Cartoon award eponym : NAST - mostly perps, N-ST, and then it hit me

28. Sinusitis-treating MD : ENT

30. 1993 "Ethan Frome" star : LIAM NEESON

33. It can get you in : BADGE

35. Extreme pair : ENDS - oops, not ACES; too much poker playing these days, I guess

36. Paquete de __: cerveza purchase : SEIS - a six-pack of beer down Mexico way

37. Iceberg topper : SALAD OIL - my first thought, but it was dressing, not OIL

39. One of Donald's pair : DEE - DonalD

42. Pen : CAGE - ah, the animal confines, not the writing implement

45. Tried to make it home : SLID IN - meh.  Don't like the 'two word' association to baseball

47. Hip-hop group at Live Aid's 1985 Philadelphia concert : RUN-DMC

48. Holt's detective partner in '80s TV : STEELE - the 'other' James Bond - Pierce Brosnan, that is - in his TV role

49. Mouthed off at : SASSED

52. Minneapolis suburb : EDINA - I'm sure C.C. knew this one

54. Execrate : HATE - OK, the word I looked up.  From the Latin "sacrare", as in consecrate

55. Revealing garb : MINI - yep.

56. Chicago-based professional org. : AMA - Saturday cluing

57. Warp, e.g. : MAR - ugh.  I was thinking "speed" as in Star Trek, and "defect", as in wood boards

58. Board game spots with nine sqs. between them : RRs - Monopoly board

60. Moviefone owner : AOL



OwenKL said...

FIW. FLiP + GIGiLOS did me in. Flip a card I'd understand, but FLOP?

{A+, A-, A, B+, B-.}

There is a proud writer from CORK
Who doesn't like limericks, of course!
He'll sure HAVE A FIT
Should he ever read this --
So by all means please show him, the dork!

When one thinks of a thing that's HIGH TECH,
There's robot cabs that come at your beck,
For fighting, some favor
A trusty light saber,
Others fence with their "SLIDE OUT" SELFIE STICK!

He is dashing with mustachio and MONOCLE!
He has LA TRAVIATA on his car's RADIO!
A prancing white steed
Would be just in his LEAGUE --
You can RENT him from RED-A GIGOLOS!

From the street, the spire may look STEEP
But Steeplejack STEELE can climb in his sleep!
In his STEP is no stagger,
Ascending God's DAGGER --
And his high tea he will fearlessly STEEP!

A MARTINI is an elegant drink
It helps the brain-cells to think
Alcohol kills the weak ones
The rest shine like sequins
Making toasts, as champagne flutes CLINK!

OwenKL said...

Round two, splintered off from Splynter's exposition.
{A, B, B+, A.}

Far and wide he was known for his largess,
He often gave food to the hungry homeless.
So he didn't feel bad
For the meals he had,
Or how far he was known for his width and LARGENESS!

"Is it true," asked the lawyer, "that you were IN LEAGUE
With the gangsters who held the town under siege?"
"I can't say that we ever
Visited LEAGUE together,
But I once toured in Cahoots (Tennessee) with Boss Tweed."

In jolly old London there's a footie team, ARSENAL,
To which a lot of Brits are quite partial.
It was workers ambitions
Of Woolwich Munitions,
A company team that became very martial!

Two things, it is said, that the gods EXECRATE.
One is abuse of their names to cause HATE!
The other's not sin --
Cats don't care a pin!
No, it's when they get hidden away in a crate!

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers -

TDNF on this toothy bear. Actually, most of it went down smoothly and fairly fast, but that NE corner would not yield. Tried Hideout and Hangout, because TDs looked solid. Arial looked solid too, so Hangout stayed. Never played Texas Hold 'Em, so not much made sense in there - slap? Glop? Gigolos would not have occurred to me. Needed red letters.

Then there was the Natick at Torero/Rena. Rena who? And what's a Torero? I am defeated.

Thanks for surviving this one, Splynter.

Dudley said...

Make that Reda. I utterly failed to parse that.

desper-otto said...

Good Morning!

Somehow, I managed to WAG my way to victory. My final guess was the C in CLINKED, but only because I chose it over PLINKED and BLINKED -- didn't know why. RUNDMC was a total mystery. Time-wise, this one came in just under the wire. Thanx for the workout, Matt. And thanx for your perseverance, Splynter. "A-Paul-ing" -- cute!

Our nearest "department" store is a WalMart seven miles down I-69. I find it hard to believe that they're building another new WalMart just four miles down I-69. Those "associates" will be able to wave to one another across the freeway! Talk about your super-saturation...

unclefred said...

I am very impressed at all the folks who manage to do a CW like this one. After roughly twenty minutes I had 4 fills, and gave up. I don't think I could have even cheated my way to a finish.

BunnyM said...

Well this was down right ugly for me, lol. I prefer solving on paper with pencil but perhaps I'd be better off trying the tough ones online to see the red letters (BTW, REDA was one of few in the NE corner I knew)
I finally finished with the help of Google, my much used and ragged edition of 'The Million Word Crossword Dictionary' and Splynter's great writeup. All the help did nothing for my ego but I always feel compelled to finish :-)
I do love a tough puzzle though, so thank you Matt!
Happy Saturday and happiest of holidays, friends!

Oas said...

Needed help this morning ,could't make it half way thru . Merry Christmas , feliz navidad, froehliche veinacht.

Husker Gary said...

-Now that was a “big boy” puzzle. How do you get LIAM NEESON next to SELFIESTICK? Wow!
-Will members of Congress meet HALFWAY this term? Nah, I don’t think so either.
-I thought of the Enterprise that “boldly goes…”
-My first GIGOLO thought
-I’m sure no one in Hawthorne’s time thought men need wear that letter
-Oops, I just told Joann that ice cream Ben was a SON. Oh well, no harm
-My truce carried a WHITE FLAG for a while
-HIDDEN cameras don’t bother some people (!:08)
-One small STEP for a man…
-A new excuse for undone homework? There’s not ONE I haven’t heard
-Off for a Christmas breakfast with one side of the family today. I hope politics are not raised!

Jinx in Norfolk said...

Congrats to everyone who solved today's challenge. I gave up after a couple of passes, but got 8 across and 12 down answers. I proudly got IRELAND, RRS and AM RADIO, but the other 17 were pretty pedestrian. I would have done better if not for having ddt instead of PCB.

Thanks to Splynter for making it make sense. I liked the crop top picture, but I expected a nice miniskirt from one who obviously appreciates a nice pair of gams.

Madame Defarge said...

Good Morning and HO, HO, HO. I hear Santa has some old competition returning: the revival of the Jolly Green Giant.

Well, Matt, this was a killer puzzle. I left and came back four times with not much to speed up the finish. My first entry was RED A, with not enough letters to lead me anywhere. In addition to knitting, Madame was after all an English teacher. Good thing today as that gave me a couple starts: LEGREE also. Lots of tricky stuff. Thanks. I wonder if I would have done better without a list of things to do here today. Uh, no!

Thanks, Splynter, for really fine coverage.

I am spending my first quiet Christmas Eve in 45 years. I quit my job as Christmas Matriarch. Last year was my swan song after too many Millennial nieces and nephews never even let me know if they were coming or not. AND when they are in a home with other adults, they pay no attention to their small children. Madame cannot finish dinner prep and watch kids! Peace on Earth on this RED Letter day for me! I wish all of you the same.

Tomorrow we go to my daughter and son-in-law's with a mixed bag of family and friends. I am looking forward to it. See you Monday on the other side.

Good cheer to all!

Sonia said...

I'm sure all of the mensas raced through this...............
I, on the other hand, lost the race

MJ said...

Good day to all!

I am waving the white flag of surrender on the puzzle today. After the first pass, I had eleven answers, turned on red letters and found that three of them were wrong. Thought "Sounded like a flute duet?" for CLINKED was clever. Thanks for the expo, Splynter, and thanks for linking the Victor Borge clip. He was such a gifted, talented man.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! Enjoy the day!

thehondohurricane said...

After one pass through and three fills, I said screw it.

Just a Gigolo ( Big Easy) said...

What a slog for a Christmas Eve. I HAD A FIT finishing it. Very few gimmes- SELFIE STICK, BENEDICT _ _ _, _SHARP, ENT, and PCB were about the only ones for me. I figured 19A would be either EVERT or Nancy LOPEZ but the rest had my brain doing gymnastics. So many unknowns. A-LEVEL, DAGGER, LIAM NEESON, Violetta and LA TRAVIATA, OLEANNA, DEMI, STEELE, Execrate, Movietone (AOL), FLOP. LARGENESS doesn't even sound correct but it is.

In the SW I filled ON AUDIO before AM RADIO replaced it. The flute I was thinking of had keys and fingerholes. Was thinking of a pope before the Supreme Court took over.

Feliz Navidad

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Came no where CLOSE to finishing on the 2 hour drive from Utica to Rochester on the NYS thruway to spend Christmas with the fam.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

Well, this was quite a workout but I managed to finish w/o help only because I am too stubborn to throw in the towel. (Stubbornness and foolishness may be synonymous, in this case.). Nevertheless, it took way longer than an average Saturday, mostly because of some devious cluing and answers. I held onto DDT too long before PCB fell into place. I'm a little red-faced that Ireland didn't pop right in and also because I didn't get the Ben/Jerry connection until the expo. Liked the crossing of LaTraviata (a favorite) and Divas. And I, too, was thinking Popes instead of Justices at John Paul.

Thanks, Matt, for a very challenging Saturday stumper and thanks, Splynter, for the tour.

Madame Defarge @ 9:32 - Good for you! Enjoy your well-deserved "retirement!" (I wish my sister would follow your example; she's having 32 people for dinner.)

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, everyone!

Steve said...

Nice write-up, Splynter.

Natick'd at BADGE/DEMI - I went with BARGE and REMI. It seemed fair - you can barge your way in, and Remi looked reasonable. Oh well.

Not a fan of SALAD OIL; I call it a stretch. Olive oil, salad dressing.

Off to the kitchen to start some prep for tomorrow!

Northwest Runner said...

An appeal to the musicians in the audience. Isn't A Major the scale with the fewest sharps containing a G#? Certainly E Major (like B Major) contains a G#, but a clue asking for a sharp from a particular scale should, I think, refer to the sharp that the scale adds.

Anonymous said...

Re: she's having 32 people for dinner

She must be ravenous!

Michael said...

This was ghastly.

Without Splynter's write-up, I still would be lost at "John Paul" and "clinked". Puzzlers usually speak of misdirection, but this was more like uncluching a gyroscope and winding up in Patagonia.

C6D6 Peg said...

Thanks, Matt, for a toughie..... Wagged the final L in OLEANNA, and finished, but not a TADA....

Thanks, Splynter, loved the clip of Victor Borgia....where do you find these things?

Merry Christmas to all!

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

I've been (mostly) good this year... Why the coal in my puzzle?

Let's see... INN, AMA, AM RADIO, RUN DMC, SELFIE STICK, OLIVE TREE was about all I inked (right). 8a = mall lot, 19a = Hamil [sic] (Dorothy, 1 ea), and 41a = hee-[man] were bzztt. MUNI??ciple Bonds were right out.

Not 'Special' @1a?!? - Frogs and double-Frogs!

I feel your pains unclefred, Bunny M, Hondo...

Thanks for the learning day Matt. I'd say it was fun but I'm totally deflated that others "got" the whole thing while I was more clueless than a CarTalk caller.

Meanwhile, at an undescript UPS shipping Mecca, our Hero, Splynter, comes to the rescue with joyous filled squares.

Thanks Splynter for the expo & tunes in my stocking; I love Zep and enjoy Plant's solo stuff too. Tall Cool One was my woo'n song that (likely didn't) land DW. :-)

HG - Your candid, er, HIDDEN, camera link goes to 404...

Off to prep'n feasts; Steve do you brine your bird Alton Brown doestoo? I do.

Happy/Merry [insert Holiday here]! Cheers, -T

Jayce said...

Tough puzzle, to be expected on a Saturday. I had to use red letters and several alphabet runs to solve this sucker. At least I knew LA TRAVIATA, OLEANNA (interesting play), and RED A to get started with. Nice job, Matt, and thanks for your terrific writeup, Splynter.

Happy Christmas to you all!

Madame Defarge said...

Irish Miss @ 10:14

Thanks. I am feeling really good about it. Hub is watching the Bears game (JEESH!) and said this feels a little different. I asked if he was disappointed, and he said absolutely not. I just made cranberries to bring tomorrow. Yum! We're having a little something Italian tonight, and turkey tomorrow. I am looking forward to both meals.

Your sister will "see the light" when she is ready. :)

Merry Christmas!

tawnya said...

Merry Christmas Eve!

Dropping in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

This is my most favorite Christmas song - The Boss! Hope you enjoy it!

I'm off to clean and make sugar cookies. Family comes tomorrow so DH is busy prepping for the Beef Wellington dinner. Should be delicious!

Merry Christmas to you all!


Matt Skoczen said...

Thanks, Everyone, as always, for the comments! I'm happy to help make your holiday weekend a fun one!

Whatever you may (or may not) celebrate this season, have a MERRY EVERYTHING. Or, in my Polish tradition, "Wesolych Swiat!"

OwenKL said...

Admittedly this was a difficult puzzle, but I'm surprised at how many of you were defeated by it! Yes, it took me a lot of passes, but there are often Fri & Sat puzzles I don't get near finished on!

Now, I'm not an expert by any means, and in any contest I'd probably win a booby prize for slowest completion, but I may have one tip that might help a few of you: Guess. This is only for those of you who work online. If you use archaic dead tree stuff, it's probably bad advice. But online, if you have even a suspicion of an answer and one or two perps, it's good to type it in. Even if it's wrong, it may tip you off to some crossing word by having an occasional letter correct far more often than 1/26th of the time. The pattern of vowels and consonants alone will see to that! And online, it's sooo easy to just delete or type over a -- I was going to say poor guess, but just because it's wrong doesn't mean a guess is poor -- guess needing modification!

Anon@11:34 -- LOL!!

BTW, I feel the same about Xmas/New Years as I do about birthdays, so pleasant Bah Humbug to you.

Irish Miss said...

Anon @ 11:34 - LOL, too! Correction: She is preparing dinner for 32 people, all of whom will probably be ravenous! 🙃

Madame Defarge @ 2:02 - I doubt that my sister will ever "see the light" as she has been preparing holiday dinners for 62 years. Enjoy your evening and your Christmas 🎄 Day turkey! 🦃

Mike Sherline said...

Northwest Runner @ 11:03:
You're right about the sharps. Clue for G# should have been Note in A Maj. scale. Answer for E Maj. should be D#.

But it's a crossword, and misdirection is a good thing.

Anon11:34 said...

No worries, IM. We all knew you meant having them over. But crossword clues often require an alternate reading.

RetFizz said...

Tough puzzle. I had mostly white space after the first pass, getting only LA TRAVIATA, SHARP, ILES, PAC-man, TORERO, ARIAL, MAGREE (sic), AÑO (very different meaning without the tilde!!), YDS, ONE I, ENT, SASSED, EDINA, and RRS. Also filled in the final Ss when plurals were called for. MAGREE didn't look right, so the cheating began. I looked up Uncle Tom's Cabin to get the right spelling, LEGREE. I knew that five squares weren't enough to fill in John Paul II, so when I started getting some Es from perps, I figured it was the Supreme Court and filled in ELENA. We’d seen the Mamet play, and I remembered that it sounded something like oleander, so I filled in OLE and looked it up. Then Liam Neeson. DMC after RUN. I got FLOP from googling the rules of Texas Hold'em, needing something that ended in P. When I got _ON, it looked liked it could be only Son. Then I remembered the Stillers. Finished it off with WAGS and perps. I agree with Splynter that the Cork clue should’ve had a question mark.

Dudley, our Spanish tour guide told us that Torero was the common word for bullfighter; he thought Toreador, as in Carmen, was an invention of the librettists.

Northwest Runner, I agree about A major, but the puzzler needed a G.

Anonymous T, the holiday to insert is Chrismukkah.

Thanks, Splynter, for your excellent image-laden writeup, and Matt for a very challenging puzzle, with some very clever clues.

Splynter said...

Hi again~!

Thanks for the comments, and to Anon-T for the "joyous filled squares" delivered - I'm finished with UPS for two whole days~!!! Next week is almost the same, but then it's a ghost town after that.

NW Runner, yes, the music clue was vague, but considering it's Saturday, I would not expect them to be direct - and yes, A major is the first key with G sharp.

I first heard Victor Borge on the PBS channel - when they were pledging.

Jinx, I have posted revealing pics before, and gotten into trouble, so I have to find something a little more tame - but I can link something here....and in festive color, too~!

Happy Holidays,


Argyle said...

Now that's an office party !

Dudley said...

Ret Fizz, now I see. I followed your lead and read about Toreador having been invented for its syllables. Who knew!

RetFizz said...

But no-one has checked out my remark about Año vs Ano.

OwenKL said...

Okay, RetFizz, here's Año vs Ano.

Nilesg said...

This puzzle was more than "a-Paul-ing." 22A was one of the few clues I was able to decipher, but only after I realized I couldn't fit seven gables into 4 spaces!

Picard said...

Amazed I completed it correctly with just WAGS and no cheating. I feel like Irish Miss. I just keep working at it stubbornly which may also mean foolishly.

Thanks Splynter for the explanations. I totally could not figure out ELENA and could also only think of popes. And I play the flute and had no idea about the glasses reference. So CLINKED went in with no understanding. Thanks, Splynter, for that explanation, too!

No one else got stuck thinking "Enterprise enterprise" had to do with Star Trek? I also was sure that a MAGAZINE is read by waiters, but it just would not fit. I suspected these two not fittings involved some devious puzzle scheme.

No idea about many of the names like DEMI and no idea about the LIAM NEESON role. Just know him from Schindler's List. No idea about FLOP from poker. Don't know Renee Fleming.

I also was stuck on Ben and Jerry ice cream. But I did eventually figure out they meant Stiller.

Not sure why IRELAND is a Cork holder. I understand that Cork is a County in Ireland. But I don't think of that as a "holder".

I thought Moviefone was something from the 1930s so I resisted AOL as owning it.