FRIDAY, Jun. 22, 2007 - Mike Nothnagel

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: awesomeness (or, none)

I believe this is my favorite puzzle of 2007. I will have to go back and check, but it is up there, certainly top five. My initial excitement was regional in nature - I've got EZ PASS booths (1A: Tollbooth option for Northeasterners) on the interstates to the east of me and ELMIRA (1D: College in south central New York) just down the interstate to the west of me, and those two intersect at the "E" in the far NW. So nice. But then the whole grid opened up from there with a couple of fabulous, long, intersecting wildlife answers, and after that I just slowed down and savored each new clue - I had a feeling that the puzzle was going to be consistently clever and impressive, and I was not disappointed.

The wildlife answers:

  • 16A: One concerned with school activities? (marine biologist) - I know the "school" trick is pretty easy to see through, but this answer made me "ooh" nonetheless
  • 5D: Birthplace of the first giant panda in North America to survive to adulthood (San Diego Zoo) - almost wrote in SAN DIEGO, CAL, before realizing the actual, better answer. The clue is kind of morbid, in that it makes me think of dying baby pandas.

So I liked a lot of this puzzle - details below - but the one answer that really made my evening (actually it made me exclaim a profane phrase in joyful disbelief) was ... OK, I've been to Disneyland many times in my life, so when I had

_RT__DSWI______

for 54A: Disneyland attraction since 1955, I got frustrated, briefly, at having no clue what it could be. Then I got the "A" in the fifth position and MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE jumped into view. That's the funnest bit of fifteen-letter fill I think I've ever seen. Here's some other stuff.

23D: Cause for some fluff filling (slow news day) - I feel bad for this answer because it's superb but somewhat overshadowed by MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE, which it intersects. When SLOW NEWS DAY is your second best long answer, you know your puzzle is good.

15A: Plans named for a Delaware senator (Roth IRA's) - F@#$ing Delaware, WTF!? Back-to-back days where Delaware plays a crucial role in the puzzle - and wasn't its status as "The Diamond State" referenced in a very recent puzzle too? Anyway, this answer looks good in the grid.

19A: Itself, in a legal phrase (ipsa) - the only time I had to erase even part of an answer during this puzzle. I had IPSO.

27A: Mathematician seen on a Swiss 10-franc note (Euler) - Yesterday BUELLER, today, EULER. This guy stumped me many months back, you may remember. Not today. I nailed his ass with just the "E" in place.

39A: "Blade Runner" actress Young (Sean) - of all the Seans! HA ha. Nice to see her working again. Whatever happened to her?

42A: Cheer starter ("Sis...")

This answer amuses me. "Sis-boom-bah!" When is the last time anyone unironically cheered that cheer? This answer is fabulously old-fashioned and makes me think of Mr. Burns: "You there! Fill it up with petroleum distillate, and revulcanize my tires, posthaste!" I often hate things that are dated, but sometimes things are SO dated that they re-enter the realm of goodness. It's like with politics, when people move so far to the right that they end up on the left (and vice versa).

58A: It may sit near a jack (gas can) - spent a few seconds wondering how in the world a jack could be said to be near a GAS CAP.

12D: Link between DNA strands (base pair) - the one answer in the puzzle I flat-out didn't know. Luckily the crosses were easy enough.

17D: Books with many cross references? (bibles) - again, the trick is pretty easy to see, but that doesn't keep the answer from being delightful. My wife and I are reading the Bible, cover to cover, over the course of a year. We have a schedule and everything. We just started. It's ... fun. God does some inexplicable @#$#, though, I have to say. I felt bad for Cain, and Ham, and Hagar ... I feel like I'm not reading it right, like maybe if I read it upside-down, or by firelight or something, all would be clear. Anyway, it's fun, and I'm hoping it pays off, you know, puzzle-wise.

7A: Pennsylvania town that was the longtime home of Rolling Rock beer (Latrobe) - This puzzle has a lot of long, weirdly specific clues (à la the NY Sun). Not that I mind. As for this particular clue ... I drank a lot of Rolling Rock in grad school. The green bottles, horse head, and "33" were all somehow aesthetically pleasing to me. The beer was kind of crap.

Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

36 comments:

profphil 1:07 AM  

Rex,

I completed it een tho it took me a long time. Had one mistake before Googling: Japanese PM as Aje and across No Jail. Turns out it's Abe and No Bail.

I never heard of Mr toad's wild ride but managed to guess it after getting Mr Toads. Nor did I know the Penn city where rolling rock came from but still managed to get it without Googling. That's what I really liked about the puzzle: even if one were clueless, so to speak, one could still figure it out from the crossings and with a little clever guess work. Fun.

Alex 1:46 AM  

Until recently I used to run MousePlanet so you better bet I was pretty insistent that I figure it out just from knowing it was 15 letters and a ride that opened in 1955 (the same year as the park itself) and still exists.

Since I already had MARINE BIOLOGIST my first thought went to SUBMARINE VOYAGE (and a bit of product placement since after being closed for almost a decade it just reopened last week as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage). But Submarine Voyage didn't open until 1959.

Loved the long fill.

Jerome 9:26 AM  

Fun puzzle & enjoyable post. Liked ELMIRA's picture & wouldn't have minded seeing one of SEAN YOUNG, as well.

Being from the NE I seemed to be on the same wavelength as MN and I breezed through this (for a Friday). Like you, ORIGINALly had IPSO. My favorite ANSWER was SLOW NEWS DAY.

DONALD 9:35 AM  

jerome

...and for SLOWNEWSDAY, how about Paris Hilton?

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

The photo is of Elvira-tho I liked seeing it too-was it taken in Elmira?

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I loved this puzzle also. I had __OTHIRAS and, in the down cross, __IPLE__ and it still took some mental activity to see ROTHIRAS and RIPLEY. SIS was the last clue I got (I had "ONADAY" before I saw that the O needed to be an I.) FYI, Latrobe is equally famous as the hometown of Mr. Rogers.

Kitt 10:49 AM  

"Hey Mikey, I think he likes it" : )

I liked it too! Had never been to Disneyland so was pretty proud of myself for getting Mr Toads Wild Ride -- must have had him somewhere in the back of my brain.

Really struggled in the SE. Had "oneday" for 43 down....and couldn't figure out the guitar clue. Now that I see the answer I'm slapping myself on the head.

Anyway, very enjoyable puzzle. Great job MN.

Jack Martin 10:52 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle as well, had a a hard time with MRTOADSWILDRIDE & SANDIEGOZOO, although it was one of the easier Friday puzzles. Enjoy your remarks and the comments of readera as well.

Linda G 10:56 AM  

Fun puzzle all around. I love multiple word answers, especially when I see them straight away.

Mr. Toad was anything but wild, but the kids loved it ; )

Orange 11:04 AM  

Maybe Sean Young scared off all the producers with her Catwoman madness (see Trivia section in that Wikipedia link). I heard a vague rumor that she had an affair/relationship with some Hollywood guy and things ended badly and somehow she ended up blacklisted from the movies...but I remember no details.

She has an "officail" (sic) website!

Maybe these people are blackmailing Will Shortz to promote Delaware.

Blue Stater 11:07 AM  

I join in the general praise for this one, probably because I got it without googling or coming here first.

Is Rolling Rock beer, the beverage of my (distant) youth, no longer made in Latrobe, P-A? If not, where? Is it still the righteous brew it was all those years ago? Ou sont les bières d'antan? Etc.

Evad 11:18 AM  

I think Anheuser-Busch bought out Rolling Rock, and is now planning on brewing the stuff in New Jersey.

The boys at Bud have put up some pretty weird billoards around us promoting their new acquisition--one says (on a Rolling Rock green background): "If you were offended by our man thong ad, please email us at someexec@rollingrock.com" Do these ads even exist?

barrywep 11:23 AM  

I was watching a CSI Rerun with Sean Young immediately before doing the puzzle, so I was pleased to have that gimmee. I had not seen her since Ace Ventura, but apparently she is working steadily.

Evad 11:25 AM  

I guess I answered my own question with a bit of, ahem, research.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Rexy,

Another bit of brilliance from good ol MN. The puzzle was beuatifully smooth, and I remember thinking at the end that it was like drinking a Rolling Rock (or two or ten).

The thing I've enjoyed most about his stuff is that it doesn't feel overly computer-y. Many constructors these days reek of Auto-Fill. I've seen this killa sit down and blast through big chunks of grid with pencil and paper. It helps that he knows every single human being on the planet and just about all facts that exist.

I sense he'll be the fresh new hotness for the next decade.

DQ

Harleypeyton 12:39 PM  

Sean Young appeared this year on a couple One Tree Hill episodes.

Orange 1:02 PM  

Remember when Sean Young was a movie star? Those days apparently are over. Guest appearances on TV shows? Ouch.

campesite 1:56 PM  

Not to sound like a LAPDOG, but I agree with Rex and most of the posters here: this was a very enjoyable puzzle. I just might have to go run a ONE K.

Nothnagel 2:13 PM  

Hello everyone.

After reading Amy's blog and discovering that this puzzle is going into her "favorite puzzles" folder, I smiled a rather large smile.

But, Rex, "favorite puzzle of 2007"? That's too kind.

The frame of the grid started with MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE and SLOW NEWS DAY (both of which I had been hanging onto for a while...it appears I chose the right grid in which to feature them). When I finished the rest of the fill, it made me happy.

And DQ, thanks for your compliment -- I can most certainly send it right back to you, as your grids never feel forced or artificial, either.

And I don't know ALL the facts that exist, just enough of them to do well at Trivial Pursuit or make good conversation at parties.

MN

Austin 2:57 PM  

I was pretty happy with myself to get SANDIEGOZOO without any crosses and I got MRTOADSWILDRIDE off of just the RT at the beginning. Living in Orlando didn't hurt. I'm pretty sure they got rid of the Mr. Toad ride here a while back, but it was here for a long time.

I have to agree that SLOWNEWSDAY was my favorite answer of the puzzle.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

I agree that it was enjoyable, but I thought it a lot easier than most Friday puzzles. Maybe Saturday will be harder.
Incidentally, Latrobe, PA is most known to many of us as Arnold Palmer's home town.

Fergus 3:45 PM  

Further concurrence that this was a pleasing puzzle -- and with acknowledgment from the puzzler, too!

A quibble or two:

Doesn't the cheer start with Rah, Rah before SIS?

IPSA, Ipso -- I need to brush up on Latin.

SINEWS seems a stretch.

7D LOOSER was great, as well as the Martini companion, though I wanted and olive. Got this one going with EULER, so I can't complain too much about mere information clues, can I?

Fergus 3:53 PM  

... and 37A Worn Rocks was great.

The most gratifying expression from getting a clue is an emphatic groan, which JEWELRY produced.

Rex Parker 5:14 PM  

Holy Crap, bluestater liked a puzzle! LIKED it. Damn. Did hell freeze over and nobody told me?

I wonder what Auto-Fill smells like. Maybe DQ will tell me some day.

Good puzzle day ... and I got brand new Red iPod Nano today (free w/ wife's new MacBook computer), so I'm quite happy. It's so ... small. And metallic. Apple really has its aesthetics down cold. We'll see how long I can hold out before getting an iPhone. I'm guessing not long.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

Fergus - 19A clue refers to a legal phrase, namely, "res IPSA loquitur" (emphasis mine), which means, "the thing speaks for itself", i.e., doesn't require analysis. This ancient legal concept dates back several hundred years in English jurisprudence, and applies only to negligence cases.

Fergus 6:35 PM  

Gracias Anonymo,

That which applies only to negligence cases, and doesn't require analysis, plus speaks for itself must be a very fine thing. Cheers for IPSA

Kitt 6:47 PM  

Rex: laughing out loud at your latest post. Haven't you heard that hell froze over today around 2:35 pm EDT? Satan will be on Larry King tonight.

Having said that I think Bluestater makes good points from time to time and I try to keep an open mind.

I was rushing when I posted earlier. I just want to say that "EZPass" wasn't "EZ" for folks who aren't familiar with said turnpike. And 37D at first I thought to myself there is no way I'm gonna get this -- what? some kind of rock that starts with a "j"...but here's the beauty of crosswords..when I was determined I could figure it out it came so quickly. Anyway, love it when that happens.

On to Saturday!

Anne 6:57 PM  

I had JETTIES in before I got Jewelry. but finished the puzzle in record time for me on a Friday! Rah Rah

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

IPSA, IPSO, IPSI and IPSE would all be possible answers for ITSELF, HIMSELF, HERSELF in Latin.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/latin/advanced/popup/grammar-table.htm

Res ipsa loquitur provides a permissible inference of negligence in cases that might otherwise be missing an element of proof. The original case that established the doctrine involved a barrel rolling out of a second story window and injuring someone below. The injured party could not be expected to be able to prove how the barrel rolled out of the window and thus would be unable to prove that the barrel maker/buidling owner was negligent. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in negligence cases. Res ipsa steps in to allow the jury to infer that there was negligence based on the very fact of what occurred. How else could a barrel roll out of a window unless someone screwed up? Note that this is not conclusive as the defendant could still provide additional proof that refutes the permissible inference of negligence. Dfendats in such ases normally try to prove that they did not have exclusive control of the premises.

Steve M.

Alex 8:07 PM  

I've never been in EZ Pass country but got it as a gimme based on watching Law & Order.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Walt Disney World is now The Many Adventure of Winnie the Pooh.

Linda G 8:13 PM  

Ooh, Steve M., I love all that legal talk ; )

I've been out of law for more than 20 years and completely forgot res ipsa loquitur. Only remembered ipso facto. I'd better start remembering again, if only for puzzles.

stucknkc 9:29 AM  

I wish you ill. All of you!

Just kidding, this puzzle ate my lunch. I couldn't even scrape together enough hope to grind out 90-95% over a couple of hours, my usual response when I come up against a tough puzzle. Good thing too, I looked at the answers relatively early, and I would never haver come up with many of them.

I've been working the puzzle for about a month now, is it an experience issue? For what it's worth, I've fared much better with most of the other Thurday, Friday and Saturday puzzles.

I gather that solving it was a delightful experience, unfortunately one that I did not have.

KC

katya 12:29 PM  

What a joyful bunch you all are. I guess MN, among others, has been amply stroked today.

What made this blog for me (puzzle was an OK deal) was Rex saying he was reading the Bible end to end to better prepare for crossword clues!?! That's the first time I ever heard that reason. :: ) Just a thought, Rex: OT is better read less as inspiring sermons and more as real people living life -- often bloody, screwed-up people.

And why is God so hard on some and winks at others? This question has been asked for about four thousand years. When you get to the Samuels and Kings, you'll see a new aspect of the Angry God. Good luck!

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

6WL :::::


Couldn't get the SE corner, even with RIDE and AYEAYE filled in.

It did seem easier than many Fridays, but fun and interesting and challenging enough.

One quibble: the Giant Panda clue could have said "born in North America" rather than just "in North America", as the way it was worded left room for being born elsewehre, relocating to NA, and reaching adulthood here.

It's 11:18 A.M. here on Mercer Island, WA, 8/3/2007, and the Blue Angels are about to scare the pee out my dog Ralph. He'll have to suffer this for three more days. After the crash in April, I did the math, and they lose a pilot in a crash every 2 1/3 years. Seems crazy. "Be Less than you can be" must be the recruiting slogan.

RonB 6:36 PM  

This puzzle was not easy for me. But it kept me enterained. Many stops and starts but each time more and more opened up to me. San Diego and Slow News Day were the first big ones to drop along with Roth IRA and Latrobe.

Liked the cluing on 21A, Rossi, 33A, Lap Dogs and 38A, Sneeze.

Vince 4:48 AM  

I just started the NYT crosswords this week, after seeing the Will Shortz documentary recently and having been away from crosswords for quite a few years. I did better on this puzzle than I have on the previous 4 days', which really surprised me. Many of the answers were funny, some were educational, and a few were maddening.

I had a lot of different options for 14A, but LEERAT was not one I thought of. I played around with LOOKAT, PEERAT and GAWKAT, oh well.

I was surprised that 11D could be both SEASONAL and ORIGINAL. This slowed me down for a long time.

I also had WILY for 25D, not OILY.

I was initially thinking REPORTTO for 34D, not ANSWERTO, but the right answer has a nice ring to it.

26A: ATH for NBA'er or NFL'er... this still drives me crazy, I'm not sure I ever would have got it.

Oh well, I'm learning!

Thanks for the great website, I'm sure I'll be back.

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