Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday, September 29th, 2007 Robert H. Wolfe

Hello again. Happy Saturday to everyone. This is Norrin2, the Green Genius trying once again to fill Linda G's blogging shoes. I gotta tell you, I'm used to having weekends off. I feel like I had just gotten out the ring with Byron Walden in yesterday's New York Sun puzzle and I had to put the figurative fighting gear on to take on Robert H. Wolfe. It worked out all right though. Wolfe may have edged me out on points but like Rocky BALBOA I accomplished my goal of going the distance.

(That sound you just heard was my boxing metaphor going as far as possible and snapping.)

I almost got through this puzzle without having to look anything up -- but I got in vowel trouble. In all the places I was stuck it was because I had the wrong vowel or vowels in place. I couldn't get 1A: When (AS SOON AS) because I had AHS at 5D: Understanding responses instead of OHS. I had a hell of a time with with 9A: Slip covers (BLEEPS) because I had UBOAT at 12D: W.W. II vessel instead of EBOAT (Eboat? WW II? I thought it was only in the last few years we started grafting the letter E on the front of every word that would hold still long enough.) I had a hard time with 27A: African evergreen shrub (ERICA) because I'm not a botanist and because I had ALSO at 27D:More instead of ELSE.

I actually sailed through the puzzle pretty smoothly until I got lost in the vowels. I really enjoyed seeing MATA HARI make an appearance in this puzzle (at 15: She was executed in 1917) I've seen her name in puzzles so much I decided to research her; she was a fascinating woman and, by the way, not a spy.

Here's how you can tell that this is a Saturday puzzle -- BALBOA is a unit of Portugese currency and not a boxer named Rocky; ALI is a figure in the Sunni/Shia split not a boxer named Muhammed. Jessica ALBA is in the movie "Sin City" not "Fantastic Four" and SAL MINEO is in the toy-truck drama "Tonka" rather that "Rebel Without a Cause." ERICA is an aforementioned African shrub rather than an actress on Smallville. The song "Piece of My Heart" is by ERMA Franklin and not Janis Joplin. OCHS is an obscure news-nerd, rather than semi-obscure folkie Phil. (Mr. Ochs, by the way, (Adolph not Phil) is better known as the savior of The New York Times. He took it over when it was in financial trouble, took great pains to keep it separate from the yellow journalism so popular at the time, and even came up with the "All The News That's Fit to Print" front page tagline.)

The three long entries in the puzzle were easier to come up with than a lot of the shorter ones.
The only one that slowed me up much was 36A: Delicacy (SENSITIVE NATURE) where I spent several minutes foraging for a foodstuff. It's always good to get a twofer and that's what we got with 17A: "Nonsense" (THAT'S RIDICULOUS) and its cousin 44D: 17-Across, quaintly (PSHAW) I thought of DON'T LOOK AT ME as soon as I saw the clue for 55A: "I'm not volunteering" and after a couple of crosses I was able to add the requisite HEY.

Although the clue doesn't make it sound appetizing POLENTA (44A: Cornmeal concoction) is delicious.

I don't really get 6D: Pusher (NARCO). Narcs may pretend to push, but they don't, do they?

That's all for me for today. I'll be here again tomorrow for the big Sunday extravaganza, and I hope to see you then.


Anonymous said...

E-boat was in the puzzle a few months ago (or more?) so I was wary of the first letter. An e-boat is a surface cruising torpedo boat, as opposed to a u-boat which is the submarine.

My take on narco/narc--and they have both been in the puzzles before--is that a narc is the govt agent and the narco is the drug distributor.

Tough puzzle...completed on paper with no outside help in a mere 22 minutes. I'd love to watch Amy or anyone else solve something like this in 5 minutes. Suggestion to Amy...tape yourself solving puzzle and include a link in blog. People will be amazed.

Anonymous said...

Great commentary today! Thanks.

That u-boat had me trying to figure out BLUEPS. Or maybe the telly also get CBC, and the answer was CLUEPS?

The next time a WWII vessel swims into view I shall be wary.

cornbread hell said...

really tough puzzle. really good write up.

mata hari was also in today's syndicated puz...
narco = ricoculous answer for "pusher."

erica/rien totally stumped me.

Anonymous said...

I found this puzzle to be hard but not "too hard." As with the nursery rhyme bears -- just right.

My first time through I got nothin'.

Then another round. Got bleeps,RIP, AMTS, MataHari. So a toe-hold. And it went much better from there.

Thanks, Norrin

coachjdc said...

I didn't get to the puzzle until tonight and didn't have much patience at this hour :-P
I had START A FIRE and still would have been lost on ERICA & RIEN also didn't get the SE corner. Was not really on the same wavelength as this builder LOL

Linda G said...

I've been lucky enough to get a signal so I can read the blog and comment, but I'm having a really tough time doing the puzzles online. I'm just one of those who needs to have paper and pencil in hand. We're settled in a condo for the next week...I hope to be able to print out the Sunday puzzle at the clubhouse.

Off to do some walking on the beach, then watch the sunset over drinks. A tough life...I know.

Howard B said...

Green, trying to subtly give away your secret superhero identity via the crossword scan pic? I'm not sure the Justice League would approve. Great job fighting through the puzzle, though - Saturdays are many a solver's kryptonite.

No, I'm not sleepy at all. Just finished Sunday's puzzle and my mind is turning into jambalaya. G'night, and good to see that Linda is enjoying every bit of her tropical time.

Norrin2 said...

No, no, not a secret identity, Howard. I just have a habit of doodling the Caped Crusader when I'm stuck on a crossword or when I'm bored hanging around the batcave with Robin.

Orange said...

cornbread and kratsman, your dispute may be with the dictionary and established usage (even though it varies with how most of us use "narc" or "narco": The New Oxford American Dictionary lists two definitions "a dealer in drugs" and "a narcotics officer." (The Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary—the standard xword arbiter—doesn't get so specific.)

kratsman, just watch Wordplay. You can see Tyler Hinman whip through a Sunday-sized puzzle on his laptop in 6 minutes and change. It looks like the film has been sped up, but it hasn't! I think what helps online speed-solvers is getting used to entering letters in crazy order. Let's say you've got **T*RE*, figure it's IMTIRED, and the cursor's right in the middle. We'll type IDIM to fill in the blank squares. Does everyone do it that way?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to come dragging in so late; this didn't hit the ARDemGaz until today.
Great commentary. This was the first puzzle that sent me searching this week. Zipped through but it didn't help that I had DEMOS instead of SOLOS for that jam session clue. Once I had it straightened out, was still in the dark about ERICA.
Oh well. Maybe next week will be perfect. (Yeah, right.)

Anonymous said...

Hello, to another ArDemGaz victim! I had all of the "hard" answers but still got nowhere..... could not finish. Had "light a fire" and changed to "start"... finally got that section. I hate that I can get obscure things and then run aground on the others!
OH well,
Elaine in Arkansas