FRIDAY, Nov. 9, 2007 - Henry Hook

Friday, November 9, 2007

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

This is how you do a Challenging Friday puzzle. A handful of gimmes or very gettable answers, and then a whole lot of brutality. So inventive was the fill in this puzzle that stretch words like UNLETTABLE (30D: Too awful even to fix up, as an apartment) and FIRER seem just fine to me. I crashed and nearly burned in the NE, where some Native American confusion screwed Everything up for a while. Recovered once I finally cottoned on to the trick in the clue for 11D: He or I, but not you: Abbr. (elem.).


Yesterday OO LA LA. Today, LA DI DA (16A: Pretentious).

This puzzle starts in the far NW with a great intersecting pair - the first answer of which I got immediately, the second of which took me a while:

YOU OK? (1A: Concerned query)
YEAH, I'M FINE (1D: Hope-for reply to 1-Across)

Other interesting pairs today:

PSST (49D: "Over here") and AHEM (18A: "Pardon me")

BLASÉ (14D: Sighing a lot, perhaps) and UNIMPRESSED (3D: Apt to say "So?")

LEU (10D: Moldovan money) and LEONE (27D: West African currency)

I'm sure there are others, but I'm moving on now.

First answer into the grid (after my tentative YOU OK?): ESTRADA (28D: Ponch player in 1970s-'80s TV). So glad my eye caught this clue early, as I was floundering around in the north of this puzzle. Along with UTHER (23D: _____ Pendragon, King Arthur's father), another gimme from yet another area of my expertise, ESTRADA helped make the middle of the puzzle very doable.

Let's talk about the NE, which, as I say, killed me a little. SORTA killed me (47D: In a sense). After being elated that I vaguely remembered DRUSE (29A: Monotheistic Syrian) from another puzzle earlier this year, and after happily getting SAW (24A: Horror film that starts in a filthy lavatory), about which my best friend just sent me a long analytic treatise, I figured I was in good in the NE. Got the cleverly-clued ADIEU (19A: Closing bid?), and then made a horrible mistake by entering CREES for ERIES at 8D: Iroquois' foes. Had no idea which letter preceded SQUAD at 9D: Lee Marvin TV oldie ("M Squad"), but that "Q" was sure to solve all my problems. Only ... incorrect CREES gave me U-EQU-L- for 17A: Without a match, so you can imagine the torture I endured as I tried to figure out why neither UNEQUAL or UNEQUALLED (or UNEQUALLY, for that matter) would fit. A Deathly Trap that probably no one fell into but I. Despite having taught Dante recently, I couldn't get STYX for a long time, figuring that "river" in the clue, 13D: Deep river?, meant "something that rives (i.e. cleaves something in two)." Too clever for my own good, I am. 6A: Without a leg to stand on? (stemless) ... ?! That's just mean. I'm unfond of that clue. Throw in my barely having heard of CORSELET (15A: It's a cinch), my even more barely having heard of LEU (10D), and my complete zoning out on the home perm product that is TONI (7D: Product whose ads featured twins), and you can see my problem(s). I tried every letter of the alphabet in that "T" position in TONI. Did Rice-a-RONI have twins in its commercials? Why couldn't this answer have been "Doublemint!?"


Here's some stuff that baffled me:

  • 14A: Vermont senator Sanders (Bernie) - my knowledge of senators is fair to middling
  • 36D: Marcel Marceau character (Bip) - maybe if you remember TONI, you remember this. I sure didn't.
  • 43D: City connected to the 4.1-mile long Sunshine Skyway Br. (St. Pete)
  • 58A: Toeless creature in an Edward Lear verse (Pobble) - these answers are all off my geographical / cultural radar screen. And I mean, JUST off - like, I should know them, but don't.

Here are some startling answers:

  • 26A: Weaken, in a way (embrittle) - What does one EMBRITTLE? Peanuts?
  • 44A: Result of a new TV series's renewal (season two) - had both "O"s and thought "???" There is currently a writers' strike in Hollywood, so no SEASON TWOs for anyone right now.
  • 39A: Hostel environments (inns) - I just like this because "Hostel," like "SAW," is a recent horror film that my best friend also saw. SAW!
  • 61A: One with a second helping (dueler) - good example of an answer I was set to hate, until I got it - stared at DU-LER for more than a few seconds.
  • 2D: Payment is often sent with one (order blank) - o my god this answer is creepy, in that it has the appearance of normal, but something about it feels very off. I had a really tough time uncovering it.
  • 25D: Call slip? (wrong number) - obvious now, but hard to get, primarily because I had FILER for FIRER for a while (63A: Personnel director, at times).
  • 33A: Most in need of toning (fleshiest) - first, gross. Second, some fleshy things do Not Need Toning.
  • 38A: About 40 degrees, for N.Y.C. (N. Lat.) - the most startling thing here is that my slow brain knew instantly that something about longitude or latitude was at stake.
  • 48A: Appoints as an agent (deputes) - [gag]
  • 56A: Afro-Caribbean religion (Santeria) - one of those answers that got stuck somewhere in my head, and that I had to drag kicking and screaming into the light, cross by cross.
  • 58D: Sharable computer file, for short (PDF) - surprised I don't see this more. This was a lifesaver in the SE.

I'll stop there.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

58 comments:

Parshutr 8:51 AM  

Some questionable spelling. I'd have used LAHDIDAH and DUELLER [but "One with a second helping" was a brilliant clew] and He (Helium) and I (Iodine) add up to ELEMS, not ELEM.
Took me awhile to erase ENTRYBLANK and LOA from the NW.
And I hated to give up TWERP as an answer to TWIT.

wendy 9:02 AM  

Isn't Henry Hook that young kid who lives near Will? I reallllly like his work, whoever he is. Solving this puzzle showed me how far I've come in the nearly year that I've been in this blogging community. I inferred stuff on my own that would have been out of the question previously.

RAN RAGGED and SORTA were among my favorite answers. I got YOU OK and YEAH I'M FINE very quickly, which thrills me. What I found bizarre about ORDER BLANK is that it's so last century, I guess. If you're ordering something nowadays, the 'blank' is more likely to be an online form, or you're doing it over the phone. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Otherwise had a lot of the same reactions as Rex. Except for SAW, for which the clue itself does not pass the breakfast table test, where I was when I first encountered it. I do not want to be confronted with a lavatory much less a filthy one when my defenses are down. ;)

Dave 9:03 AM  

Did Will goof and put this Saturday puzzle in a day early?

Dave 9:04 AM  

Henry Hook isn't exactly a kid.... you must be thinking of Oliver Hill, Wendy.

RVS 9:07 AM  

By the way, when will the NY Times remove the puzzle by Martha Stewart??? I'm tired of looking at her smug face every morning when I go to download the puzzle!!!

marcie 9:08 AM  

This was an "arrrrghhh" all the way through. I spent more time on reference sites than I have all month. But FUN!

I loved the "final bid" and "He and I" clues, once I gottem. As well as the second helping... which started out as "buffet" in my grid. The Afro-Caribbean religion began life as Rasta-something for me. I've heard of corsets, but not corselets. No one area really fell into place smoothly for me. I was happy to see our southernmost state well represented, and with Kea instead of Loa and no mention of taro, for a nice changeup.

Wade 9:09 AM  

My experience mirrored Rex's exactly (including falling into the CREE and UNEQUALY traps), except I never picked up on the ELEM clue and finally bought the farm in the NE. I thought this was an ingenious puzzle. Especially loved the cluing for DUELER and WRONGNUMBER. I don't know, however, why a twit is a tease.

dk 9:11 AM  

Ambushed by the Crees as well and I never heard of a corselet. Those two coupled with the b in embrttle and the k in peaks slowed me down.

Being a recent Vermont transplant I knew about Bernie. I had Hirer instead of firer for a while...

All in all a great challange for a Friday morning.

rick 9:12 AM  

Did the same as Rex in the NE but justified my errors: had UNEQUALY for UNIQUELY, I've seen the double LL left out many times, which gave me EREES (alternate spelling) and ELAM because I didn't know what was going on with that until I statred at Rex's blog for a few minutes (head slapper). So, my NE is totally screwed up.

Had YESHIMFINE for 1 down for the longest time, I guess 46A, DTS, put me in the frame of mind.

rick 9:15 AM  

twit definition

Orange 9:30 AM  

Wade, if you don't want to click on Rick's link—twit is also a verb meaning "to tease." (And Rick, you're not likely to see common misspellings in the Times crossword!)

That Erik ESTRADA picture is played out, Rex. Feast your eyes upon this one. Am surprised you don't remember the Toni twins TV commercials! And Bernie Sanders? He's the Senate's only socialist. And yes, you're right about some of the fleshiest things needing no toning.

liebestraum 9:32 AM  

My biggest problem in the NE was having STOOLESS instead of STEMLESS.

Which is pretty gross now that I think about it.

lieb

wendy 9:36 AM  

Oliver Hill, yeah, that's it! Thanks, Dave. I knew it was a one-syllable last name, anyway.

PuzzleGirl 9:38 AM  

parshutr: The clue says He *OR* I, not He *AND* I, thus the singular answer.

Loved this puzzle. With SCUD, ADIEU, and SAW in the Northeast, I couldn't finish without Googling Lee Marvin. But once I got MSQUAD it opened right up. FUN!

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

'Bip' was really a gimme since Marcel Marceau died recently. One tends to read the obits the older one gets.

rick 10:12 AM  

I know that Orange, but when self-justifying at 4:00 AM you'l grasp at anything.

To all: (all constructors look away) Eree is an alternate archaic spelling for Erie with an accent on the second "E".

Hobbyist 10:19 AM  

Not too bad but for the NE corner w I never did get even with googling of Lee Marvin. Druse and corselet are new to me.
Good puzzle.

deion 10:33 AM  

the NE threw me for a loop, too...

and though i finished the SE w/ pdf, i still don't quite get 61A: One with a second helping (dueler)

...anyone care to clarify?

pinky 10:45 AM  

SEAMONSTER aka seadweller worked with OAST instead of MALT.
So did UNLIVEABLE for unlettable

M Squad and Toni just appeared from some scary ancient lobe in my midbrain that's incapable of thought.

Still don't get He or I but not you. Anyone?

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

deion: from wikipedia.com rules of duels..

Each party would name a trusted representative (a second) who would, between them, determine a suitable "field of honor",

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

pinky He or I are symbols for elem(ents)... you obviously isn't.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Duels have "seconds" (helpers) to assist in the preparation and denouement of the event.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Stumbled with OTOES (not CREES) for ERIES, KINDA for SORTA, OUCH (more aptly 4-letters, IMO) instead of OATH and HIRER/FIRER. Tricky puzzle indeed.

Belle Howell 11:40 AM  

I always thought Ponch was some part of the body "most in need of toning". Never saw the CHIPs show.

CORSELET was brand new to me. Given the increasing proclivity to turn verbs into nouns by adding "er", should the clue have been "It's a cincher"?

Likewise DRUSE and DOBBLE were way off my grid. Had STEMLESS but without DRUSE and CORSELET, I kept trying to fit a "McQUA__" name in for Lee Marvin's TV oldie. LIke "McQUAY -- Wharf Detective", or "McQUAD -- Campus Cop".

For a second, no just for a nano, when I saw the clue "Over here", I thought of a stirring European answer to GM Cohan's "Over There".

Wanted "Macca" for SIRPAUL -- didn't fit. Wanted "Lat" for NLAT -- didn't fit. Wanted "Patton" for Briggs and STRATTON -- didn't fit and way wrong.

I really enjoyed the puzzle, and I was just one MSQUAD away from everything falling. Henry Hook's books, e.g "Terribly Twisted Crosswords..." are full of wickedly good puzzles, of the type (e.g. the spiral that has clues reading in and reading out) that you see under the Sunday Times puzzle from time to time.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Enjoyed additional comments besides yours, rex ... can you include them in your commentary section more often. Thanks.
Signed: A Grateful Rex Reader.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

What does pashtur mean?

hank heijink 12:15 PM  

Man, this was hard. Got completely stuck in the SW, not knowing anything about football or engines, plus a lot of unknown (to me) pop culture. Estrada, MSquad, and Toni, oh my. I hate having to resort to Looking Things Up, but there was no way around it this time...

Great write-up, Rex. Thanks!

rafaelthatmf 12:41 PM  

Loved this puzzle – even tho I found the NE UNIQUELY unsolvable: maybe because corselet in my dictionary refers to a piece of torso body armor and the cinching girdle type spelled with the 'ette' suffix. But not my worst case of sour grapes. Isn’t SORTA slang for Sort of? I guess after a rereading the clue hints at this but I don’t like it. And even tho I did get ESTRADA right off Ponch is a nickname for Poncerello (serious geek check!) and to use TV to hint toward abbr. seems underhanded. I had DUELER right off but hated it and never fully understood the clue: IMO the second in the duel was far from helping! I agreed with Rex when he said he wanted to hate it ‘til he got it: which I didn’t until someone above mentioned the assistant participating in the event. Now I sincerely hate it for such ridiculous obscurity! On second thought that clue has changed my opinion of this puzzle – now I just adore it.

Orange 12:55 PM  

Rafael, TV wasn't hinting at an abbreviation—clues that hint at abbreviations hint at them in the answer, and here, ESTRADA is not an abbreviation. By Will Shortz's conventions, TV would not be considered an abbreviation cue because we say it all the time as TV. Whereas something like dept. as an abbreviation for department—nobody pronounces it "the State Dept.," so using dept. in a clue would cue an abbreviated answer.

The most recent anonymous commenters are making no sense to me. People! Could you at least click "Other" and type in some sort of name when you're commenting? (That, of course, is a separate issue from the nonsensical thing.)

rafaelthatmf 1:08 PM  

Orange: Makes sense. Seems my unhappiness twisted my tirade: Ponch in the clue made me want Erik's nickname in the answer - I should complain more coherently.

Joaneee 1:10 PM  

What he (RP) said. NE was hardest, but I totally blew SE by insisting to the end that Personnel Director was Hirer not Firer, then wondering WTF is a PDH. And me a geek. Mind cramp.

GK 1:41 PM  

In response to "About 40 degrees, for N.Y.C.", I wanted to put MEAN, but it seemed too cold! (The average temperature there is over 50 degrees.) As a Buckeye, however, I really should have gotten it instantly: the 40-degree NLAT parallel runs right through Ohio State's campus.

This puzzle was enjoyable, especially with a good night's sleep in mid-solving. In the light of day all the perplexities resolved themselves.

jae 1:44 PM  

This was a rollercoaster ride from the very easy (when was the last time you saw KEA on Friday) to the mindnumbingly obscure (POBBLE, LEU, LEONE) to the "only in crossword land" (EMBRITTLE, UNLETTABLE). I also was trapped by the CREES for a while but my downfall was SE. I initially had DEIST for DRUSE and MONSTER for DWELLER but could not let go of HIRER. Management fires HR hires! I had to google the Lear creature to get the P and finally change the H to an F. My problem with seeing PDF is that I thought it was a language like HTML because you are often given the option of viewing a PDF file in HTML.

I've seen the DUELER clue before so it was actually a gimme.

A friend sends me the Boston Globe Sunday puzzle each week and many of them are by Hook. They are always fun and challenging and up to NYT Sunday standards IMOO. This was no exception!

anoa 2:06 PM  

Oh that northeast above 40 degrees nlat! I too lost my cred with cree, was unequal the task of making that word fit, and was up the Styx without a pobble.

I also also hated second helping until I loved it.

And I'm sort of with Wendy on order blank. Besides, even back in the day, was an order blank still a blank after you filled in the form?

All in all, a nice TGIF gift from Messrs Hook and Shortz.

Fergus 2:54 PM  

So many nature shows watched gave me CEPHALOPOD for Octopus, e.g. so that had to be right. Right? Well, sometimes you can be too clever, and then take forever, unwilling to relinquish such a proud display of underwater knowledge. Same goes for ALPH, my Deep river, which twice five miles ran through canyons measureless to man down to a sunless sea. Too bad I couldn't DWELL there, with my UNEQUALS, which seemed plausible for Without a match. I recalled the DRUZE militia from conflicts in Lebanon when I finally had to abandon the Cuttlefish and Octopi, still running ragged all over the Eastern front. I wonder if there is any connection between SANTERIA (which I teased out from Voodoo somehow) and DRUSE? I doubt it. I was thinking leglessly on 6A, figuring it had something to do with supreme inebriation? Well, my wineglass could end up stemless in response to that clue. I'm not OK with PEKES as Lap dogs, though I am IMPRESSED with most of the rest of the Puzzle. And still wondering whether what I bit on for 31D was an intentional misdirecting Hook?

Delilah 2:59 PM  

Can someone please explain what IMO or IMOO means? Thanks. (I'm sure it will be quite obvious once I know) :)

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

IMO = IN MY OPINION. Sometimes an H is inserted before the O to mean HUMBLE. Have no idea about IMOO.

jlsnyc 3:30 PM  

bip and hirschfeld combine beautifully here:

marcel

;-)

janie

profphil 3:59 PM  

I stuggled with the puzzle and almost completed it without Googling. Which for me is fantastic for aFriday. Completed all except the NE where the NAtive Americans slew me. Had Footless instead of Stemless. Otoes instead of EEries and Faun instead of scud. Got Sela and Styx and Saw but not Adieu as I spelled "Altimas" as "Ultimas" and had "under" for "adieu." Cars and sports and very old TV are my weak spots. LIke others hated "dueler" until it was explained for a"second" time and had the aha moment followed by the D'uh.

rick 4:06 PM  

Fell for the ULTIMA, ALTIMA also which gave me UD_EU for an across. Ugly.

Selected Other for Orange 4:36 PM  

IMOO = In My Own Opinion, but could also be "Obvious" or "Odious" opinion.

I got the western half fairly easily, with copious amounts of googling, but the east killed me.

I really wanted the nasty apartment to be untenable, to the extent that I allowed it to be misspelled as untennable for quite some time. I had Druze which messed me up in the same quadrant. Is "deputes" a word? If so, it should be demoted. The Free Dictionary disagrees with me.

Never heard of a pobble. Didn't we have Jabberwocky yesterday? Gibberish poem week?

johnson 5:15 PM  

I worked over two hours (mostly in the NE fighting with OTOES crossing UNOQU---) Finally fell when I got ELEM (and I, a biochem major!)

Great challenge and great Friday fun.

I wonder if there's any way to quantify how much better we become as solvers because of this blog. I have improved enormously, mainly because I won't log on until I've really fought the hard fight.Do others feel you have improved? Rex?

Federico 5:29 PM  

This was a very challenging puzzle, and although I could quarrel about more than a few clues, one clue makes it all worth it...and I'm surprised you don't mention it Rex: 41 Down: Bush League=GOP

calpoet

rafaelthatmf 6:39 PM  

Johnson: My awareness of this community seems to improve my focus and I do feel like the discussions forward some sort of technique. Curious to know if an official position exists on the use of reference materials like dictionaries and the internet. As a rule I don't use them. Does Rex Google?

Orange 7:15 PM  

Obnoxious self-promoting plug: My book, How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, could possibly be an even handier tool for improving one's crossword skills than reading blogular discussions of crosswords. Though of course, this blog and some others do raise awareness of constructor tricks, cluing conventions, crosswordese, etc.

Our own Rex coined IMOO as "in my obnoxious opinion." He's hoping it will go viral. It's got definite potential, though the muddling with "own" or "obvious" is a strike against it. I like its self-deprecating nature, though.

Rafael, I rarely ever Google while solving, but I do it frequently after I finish, looking up answers I wasn't familiar with. It's a helluva handy way to learn more—and learning more words and factoids allows one to become more adept at crosswords.

Martin 7:27 PM  

Henry Hook may not be a kid, but he's probably the only crossword constructor with a New Yorker profile.

And Rex, metals are embrittled. Hydrogen embrittlement is a major cause of metal failure, as all hotrodders know.

Michael 8:14 PM  

I thought the level of difficulty was about average for a Friday (doable for mewithout references with some thought) until I got to the NE. Even after googling the Lee Marvin clue, I still ended up getting several letters wrong. And I didn't understand the answer elem until I read one of the comments here (by the biochem major).

Fergus 8:55 PM  

Martin, Thanks for the article, which I soon realized I had read at some point, with vaguely envious fascination. It made me realize that I now pay attention to the Author of the puzzle, something I hadn't done before becoming a regular consumer of Rex bloggery. I also realize, probably by personifying the construction, that I am much more acutely aware, or curious about the creative process that goes into this exercise. I once likened crossword construction to writing a poem, and while they're not exactly parallel there is some fundamental similarity.

wendy 9:16 PM  

Thanks for the tip on the NYorker profile, Martin! According to it: " ... an average solver will do the Monday puzzle in an hour or so, the Wednesday in two hours, and fling the Saturday puzzle across the room in a fit of impotent fury."

The Monday puzzle in AN HOUR OR SO??? Man, I guess I must be way above an average solver, then. How could the Monday ever take even close to an hour, much less Or So? Or am I just being smug? ;)

billnutt 12:04 AM  

I'm rather proud that I was able to fill in as much of this puzzle as I did without Googling or resorting to the dictionary.

All I know about Afro-Caribbean religion I got from Bob Marley records, so I wanted RASTA-something for that clue. PSST is cute in retrospect but was a pain to get.

Did anyone else feel that ST. PETE should have had a flag as an abbreviation?

My sister-in-law has an ALTIMA so that was a gimme. I like Lear, but POBBLE was a new one on me. And the clue for ADIEU was terrific.

Took me a while to realize about He (helium) or I (iodine, right?).

All in all, a challenging but gettable (rhymes with UNLETTABLE) puzzle. However, I shudder to think what tomorrow will bring...

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

"Br." in the St. Pete clue is an abbreviation signal.

Rikki 3:25 AM  

Felt a little Saturday-oid to me, but is was such a beautiful puzzle. Loved the long and the short of it... wrongnumber, seadweller, GOP, dueler. Stemless was a deja vu. I'm sure we've had that recently. Does cinch=corselet? Is there a kind of armor or a female undergarment called a cinch? Never saw Saw. I was clueless on pobble, lue, leone, santeria, or druse, but they fell in place eventually from crosses. I never thought I'd finish this puzzle, but I was having so much fun, I didn't care. Then suddenly it was done. Like Orange, I like to look things up after the fact, then add them to my little sieve upstairs and hope they'll stay there.

jilmac 7:39 AM  

Finally finished this puzzle very late last night after leaving it in disgust to go shopping. When I got home, everything just fell into place!! First clue I got was 'pobble' - cannot believe I could remember that from elem. school! Really enjoyed it after the early problems. Had to Google leu and Bernie and santeria but apart from that all was OK. Am just about to go outside to fetch in todays hard copy - the only way to approach the puzzle as far as I am concerned - and settle down for an hour with a coffee before facing the day

Jim in NYC 8:48 AM  

I had exactly Rex's problems in the NE. The whole west side fell quickly, then slogging. 58 minutes.

Olde School 9:10 AM  

Loved this, since I was lucky to know more than I should have. Total gimmes came early: BERNIE, SIRPAUL, SEASONTWO, STRATTON, MSQUAD, ALTIMAS, SANTERIA (which I remembered from a creepy movie with Martin Sheen), and THEBEARS (being from Chicago). I have never gotten off to a faster Friday start--thinking something must be wrong. But wasn't slowed too much after these, with good footings everywhere.

Debbie 5:10 PM  

Freshiest? seriously now...

Waxy in Montreal 11:27 PM  

Debbie: It's Fleshiest.

From the Syndicate:

Bernie Sanders is quite a hero up here in the frozen north as he's very much in the mold of a Canadian politician; i.e., Bernie's US socialism is about on par with the positions of the middle-of-the-road Liberal Party up here.

In a puzzle with so much slang/informality (YEAH, SORTA, etc.), too bad Henry Hook didn't find a way to use "DA BEARS" in the SNL tradition instead of "THE BEARS".

And as Nat King Cole sang, today's puzzle was "UNLETTABLE in every way...".

Adieu.

Northerner 8:05 PM  

Embrittle was definitely not crosswordese to me. It went in on the first pass and helped me secure that corner. I allow myself to Google US politicians, sports and celebrities, as I'm not from there, so Bernie and The Bears got in that way.

I was thinking in terms of a new TV show being picked up as a pilot episode, so I had SEASONRUN until the kitchen appliance starting with NS forced me to admit it couldn't be. I had OLIVER for the second helping for a long time too, so the sharable file ending in OF or OS wasn't happening.

I didn't think Iroquois territory ever extended as far north as the Cree lands, and we just say "Cree" not "Crees" so I apparently was alone in trying to cram FRENCH or ALGONQUIN into five letters. I also got stuck with the UNEQUALY thing, and as Americans often have only one L in words we spell with two, I was not 100% sure it was wrong. I got STYX on my own as I'd already guessed MAX, but needed Rex to understand ELEM.

Only one I hated was NLAT. I've never seen that written anywhere. At first I put HIGH, because I figured NY didn't get any hotter than that, then I remembered that Americans use F, so tried MEAN (which at least got me WRONGNUMBER, when I misread my H changed to M as an N!)

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