Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Title: Weekend Warrior
Author: Tom Heilman
Theme: None

This is a classic Weekend Warrior which, for me, means hard. I had to scrabble for toe-holds and tease out answers section by section until it finally fell open. As such, I'm not going to bother trying to separate the hard from the easy, the "good" from the questionable. Let's just take 'em as they come.

  • 1a: Definitive statement (LAST WORD). Very nice fill that frankly took me longer to get than I'd like to admit. In fact, the NW was the last quadrant to fall.

  • 9a: Springy? (FONTAL). Yeah, I get it, but... eh.

  • 15a: Cofounder of Lucky Duck Productions (Linda ELLERBEE). I didn't know this at all, but it's a name I recognize so I was comfortable with it once it filled in.

  • 16a: Spanish city that's the capital of Asturias (OVIEDO). No idea. Doesn't ring a bell at all.

  • 17a: Naval formation (FLOTILLA). Another one I should have gotten more easily. For some reason I had ARMADA on the brain, which obviously doesn't fit, but it successfully blocked out any other useful thoughts. I hate when that happens.

  • 18a: 1980 remake of "Down to Earth" (XANADU). I'm familiar with the film, though the fact that it's a remake of something is news to me. Great fill word, though, with the leading X and trailing U. Beautiful.

  • 19a: Color-changing climber (TREE TOAD). This one feels like the kind of fill you put in because it's the only thing that fits. Nothing glaringly wrong with it, but it's just filler.

  • 21a: Dance in triple meter (JIG). Not too many dances in three letters.

  • 24a: "___ to Deodorant" (Coldplay song) (ODE). Great twist on a common word.

  • 25a: Self-titled #1 album of 1982 (ASIA). The original "supergroup", I believe. Never liked them.

  • 27a: Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary (GEICO). Ok, that's obscure.

  • 28a: Particles of the meson family (PSIS). I didn't know this one, but was happy when I was able to shove a Greek letter in there. It just felt right.

  • 29a: Sub spot (BENCH). Sub as in substitute. My first guess was OCEAN.

  • 33a: Blokus piece (TILE). I thought, even after I got this right, that Blokus was some guy's name, like an author or artist. Turns out it's a board game, but not one that I've seen before.

  • 36a: Sub spot (DELI). A nice partner to the BENCH, above.

  • 37a: Volcano of Ecuador (COTOPAXI). This is a really cool-looking nasty fill word. It's not like it's something you could guess, or even nod and say, "Yeah, that looks right". I think I've seen it before somewhere, but I needed the crossings to get it.

  • 46a: Low rollers (TIRES). I wasn't crazy about this clue. Even with TI_ES, I had to run through the alphabet to find what made sense. I almost settled on TIDES.

  • 49a: Gelatin brand (KNOX). Vaguely familiar. Very vaguely.

  • 51a: Happens to (BETIDES). I got this one off the leading B. Somehow, I just knew that's where this one was going.

  • 53a: Bath suds? (ALE). Bath the city, I would say.

  • 54a: Like a good drill team (IN STEP). Almost went with IN SYNC first, but thought better of it.

  • 56a: Bad (SINISTER). Sinister literally means "from the left" or "left-handed". Any of you out there get ruler-slapped by a nun for writing with the "wrong" hand?

  • 58a: 1952 Brando role (ZAPATA). Nice fill word.

  • 59a: Good (OBEDIENT). Well, sort of. There have been some pretty obedient bad people in history.

  • 61a: Fester (ULCERATE). Ewwww. (PB2: I can see why we'd want to avoid this one...).

  • 62a: City on the Loire (NANTES).

  • 63a: Brief buzz creator (TEASER AD). The "AD" part seems redundant, but it's still okay.

  • 1d: Ring leader? (LEFT JAB). I'm pretty sure I've seen this clue before and I still didn't get it right away. Wonderful clue.

  • 2d: Standing order (ALL RISE). Cute.

  • 3d: Fizz ingredient (SLOE GIN). Well, it's an ingredient in a sloe gin fizz. Not fizz in general. But good fill.

  • 4d: Kopf, across the Rhine (TÊTE). I don't know much German, but I know that dummkopf basically means "stupid head".

  • 6d: Like a mango (OBLONG).

  • 8d: Broadcasting no-no (DEAD AIR).

  • 9d: Source of the heart stimulant digitalis (FOXGLOVE). This piece of trivia was actually lodged in the deep recesses of memory. Not sure why.

  • 11d: Original MTV veejay Blackwood (NINA). No idea.

  • 12d: Shade of pink (TEA ROSE).

  • 13d: Included as a bonus (ADDED IN).

  • 26d: Massachusetts town in Middlesex County (ACTON). I live in New Hampshire, so this wasn't unfamiliar.

  • 28d: Make erect, with "up" (PRICK). Wow! This clue/answer combination is a bit, if I may say, ballsy, don't you think?

  • 30d: Cool (HIP). This is amusing in that anyone who still says "hip" is decidedly not cool.

  • 32d: Name engraved on the Claret Jug in 2002 (ELS). The Claret Jug is the trophy given to the winner of the British Open.

  • 34d: Gym entrance requirement, sometimes (LATE PASS).

  • 37d: Watch brand (CITIZEN).

  • 38d: Senators hear it before facing off (O CANADA). That's the Ottawa Senator of the NHL.

  • 39d: A winner might have it (TOP SPIN). Reference to tennis. Or ping pong or volleyball, I suppose.

  • 40d: Common cartoon ending (IRIS OUT). This is a term I was unfamiliar with, but it makes total sense once I got it.

  • 42d: Rampaging (ON A TEAR).

  • 43d: Cornmeal mush (POLENTA).

  • 47d: Like some underwear (EDIBLE). This is not at all where I was expecting this clue to take me, but I certainly got a good chuckle out of it.

  • 48d: Tutor to Nero (SENECA).

  • 51d: Frequent costar of Humphrey (BETTE). Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart.

  • 52d: 45 halves (SIDES). I used to collect 45s (for you young-uns, those are vinyl singles, played at 45 rpm instead of the usual 33 1/3), so this one didn't fool me. Great clue.

  • 57d: Marco, to Omar Khayyam (SIRE). Another piece of trivia I just didn't know.

This is exactly what I expect and like in a Weekend Warrior. Like a good Saturday NYT puzzle, I expect to have to poke and prod until things unfold. Too easy and it's unsatisfying. Too hard and it's not fun at all. A decent struggle that ultimately required no Googling to solve? Perfect.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

blokus is a very good boardgame. it's won several awards. and it's pretty fun.

i hate to do this, but ... i'm going to call shenanigans on PSIS. there is a meson called the J/psi. nobody, and i mean nobody, calls it the psi without the J. (it was discovered independently and almost simultaneously by two teams, who named it two different things. it's a big deal in particle physics, so they kept both names.) there is an excited state called the psi(2S), but ... that's not the same thing. and nobody calls that "psi" by itself either.

aside from that quibble (which i'm sure bothered only me), this was a great puzzle. hard but gettable, with lots of fun clues.

Carisa said...

Has anyone done today's New York Times puzzle? Very weird coincidence with today's Sun puzzle. 33D in the Times is LATEPASS. 34D in the Sun is also LATEPASS. Weird.

Bill from NJ said...

Had all kinds of trouble in the NW, with REFEREE at 1A and EATON as the Mass city.

I finally sussed out LEFTJAB but never came away from EATON and ended up with a mess in Northern California that I never resolved.

Actually, I had little trouble with this puzzle (aside from the above) but I sure bogged down in that NW!