FRIDAY, Dec. 14, 2007 - Manny Nosowsky

Friday, December 14, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Another Great Manny Nosowsky puzzle - I have very few complaints about this one. There's a host of fresh answers here, including three 15-letter multi-word answers across the middle of the puzzle and one fantastic (if oddly split) two-part answer. My big problem today was the puzzle's geographical provincialism - which is to say, my own geographical ignorance. Let's just say that if I were ever to appear on "Jeopardy!," I would steer very clear of a "New Jersey Geography" category. I was saddened by my complete inability to get 20D: Neighbor of Hoboken, N.J. (Union City) even with the first two letters in place. I felt sure that if I could just get it, the middle part would open right up. I desperately wrote in UNANDILLA at one point, because it sounded like a name of a place I heard of once ... turns out I was thinking of UNADILLA, NY. No help.

15-letter answers are far far harder to get the more words they have. Parsing A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE (38A: Much work to get done) was well nigh impossible for me until I had a huge chunk of the West in place. Another element of parsing difficulty: loads of common letters. CLEARANCE CENTER (39A: Place for good deals) was just a bunch of A's, E's, and N's for a while, and RETURN TO REALITY (35A: Snap out of it) was likewise mostly "Wheel of Fortune" gimme letters for a good chunk of time.

My time on this puzzle was mediocre for me - mid 9's. But I was super-proud to have finished the latter half of the puzzle in about 3 minutes. I just got horribly stuck in the middle, but for some reason, little old ECO (43A: "Baudolino" novelist) was the wee gimme that gave me the momentum I needed, and I tore up the second half of the puzzle from there. ECO to OAKEN (44D: Of a durable wood) to PREBAKE (57A: Cook first, as pie crust) to BRO (58D: Bart, to Maggie) took about 10 seconds, and the SW fell from there, which allowed me finally to get the lovely RORSCHACH (TEST) (36D: With 14-Down, something that can have you seeing things). That gave me enough at the front end of the 15's to pick them off one by one, which led directly into the SE, where only the eely 59A: Cardiff Giant or Piltdown man (big hoax) gave me any trouble. The end.

Magical Mystery Words:

  • 16A: Luxembourg grand duke in whose name an annual art prize is awarded (Adolphe) - no way. Got it once I had the -LPHE, but this one is totally off my radar.
  • 22A: French city where William the Conqueror is buried (Caen) - very proud of myself for sticking this one out. I threw 4-letter French cities at this answer like they were punches (ST LO, NICE ...) until one of them finally landed.
  • 29A: Ba preceder (alif) - Arabic? Had ALEF for a bit. ALIF is also a surgery acronym.
  • 62A: University with campuses in New York and Rome (St. John's) - more puzzle provincialism. I know ST JOHN'S from their basketball team, so I got it fast enough, but the "Rome" part of the clue meant zero to me.
  • 3D: Guam's _____ Bay (Pago) - PAGO PAGO is in American Samoa. That's what I know about PAGO.
  • 6D: Leader of the Alamo siege (Santa Anna) - knew this, but have only ever seen it spelled like the California city / winds: SANTA ANA. Wrote in ANNA but did not feel good about it.
  • 33D: Sea _____, denizen of the North Pacific (otter) - took me a while. It's an extraordinarily non-specific clue. Enjoy the cuteness.
  • 55D: Flow in a coulee (lava) - "coulee" is a new word to me. "Stream of lava" appears to be the fourth definition.

Fun stuff:

  • 8A: Watches in astonishment (gapes at) - I had GAZES AT. Just kidding.
  • 15A: Went for unhesitatingly (leapt at) - first answer in the grid - I love the ballsiness of following an "AT" phrase with another "AT" phrase.
  • 18A: Plant material used for fuel (biomass) - a great, original answer. Sadly, my first attempt here was CORN OIL, which led to AEON instead of SPAN (12D: Period of time), so I was all kinds of messed up in the NE.
  • 19A: Brawl-ending cry ("Stop it!") - somehow I doubt that this would end any self-respecting brawl.
  • 45A: It may be kept in a boot (tyre) - I had TIRE back when I thought the "boot" in question was the lock a cop will put on your TIRE if you have been parked illegally and are subject to being towed away. But here, of course, "boot" = British for your car trunk.
  • 34D: Wayne W. _____, author of "Your Erroneous Zones" (Dyer) - why do I know this!?!?

Miscellaneous:

  • 24A: Work an aisle, slangily (ush) - this little bastard is going to force his way into the Pantheon for sure. I don't like him, but he's everywhere.
  • 27D: Relatives of the Missouria (Otoes) - when USH arrives at the Pantheon, he will be greeted by a large group of OTOES for some kind of induction ritual I haven't invented yet. The OTOES, as a people, pretty much rule the Pantheon, though the INCAS are not to be underestimated.
  • 63A: Zealots have them (agendas) - Chess clubs have them too. Yeesh.
  • 10D: Dilapidation (poor shape) - good answer. Sadly, I had POOR STATE.
  • 49D: Actor _____ Cobb (Lee J) - Really? Again? I guess if you really need LEEJ as your answer, you don't have a lot of options.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS some more Cureton Creations:

54 comments:

Karen 9:25 AM  

USH is pantheonic? Really? Orange, can you tell how many times that's been an answer, because I don't recall it any recently. Of course, twice would probably be too much for that little word.

A complete guess on DELLA opened up the middle for me. I had OPTOMETRIC TEST instead of RORSCHACH for a long time.

Rex Parker 9:28 AM  

Do you really think I'd have put forth USH if I hadn't seen it many, many times? I think it was in a NY Sun puzzle just this week. Plus, frequency alone is not the issue. See the formula at the Pantheon page.

rp

Alex 9:33 AM  

Has a brawl ever actually ended because someone shouted "stop it"?

Unfortunately, CA-- made it very clear what four letter French city I wanted: CAAN. And then AL---- made it clear that John ALLEN (not that I've ever heard of such a person) was the John in question. That little snafu held up the middle for quite a while.

Otherwise the only really uncertain part of the puzzle was the RIATA/OAR crossing since I don't knowt he word RIATA (it looks made up, but once done has a ring that I've seen it in the puzzle before and didn't know it then either) and Blade = OAR is not a association my brain makes easily. Fortunarly there aren't many options for O-R.

kratsman 9:35 AM  

Great puzzle and write-up. My only hang-up was trying to remember how to spell RORSCHACH. Had a couple variations before I finally came to the correct spelling. Also, had FRA instead of DOM at 26A for awhile. About average time for me on a Friday...2xRex.

Rex Parker 9:36 AM  

No one's gonna want to hear this, but RIATA is Pantheonic, and if it's not in there already, it will be. Like LIANA - a jungle vine - it's a word that I know Only from crosswords.

rp

Alex 10:01 AM  

Yeah, I definitely had a strong feeling that RIATA is something I should know by now. But some of these pantheonic words just refuse to stick in my brain.

Herod from Union City 10:02 AM  

I don't mind RIATA. Every time I do some cowpoking I like to choose from my assortment of riatae, lassoes and lariats.

Unless I can evade, elude, or avoid the job all together.

This puzzle was easy for me for some reason. knew the enitire NW with out pausing, most of the NE, SE and SW fell easily also.

Got a lot of traction with HEROD along the midatlantic which made the long answers fairly simple.

Did have a hangup with FRA for DOM and just wasn't seeing MUTATE even though I was only missing the "M", AUTATE looks like a mutation kind of word.

Cut my best Friday time by 50% and my average by 66% on this one, first under 15 minute weekender.

Orange 10:09 AM  

RIATA's a tricky bastard, because REATA is an accepted spelling variant. (The Cruciverb score: 87 RIATAs to 54 REATAs.) That's one where I always leave a square blank until the crossing word gives it away. (See also: ROVE vs. ROAM, RANT vs. RAVE, ENURE vs. INURE.) Both spellings of RIATA/REATA are hardcore, old-school crossword pantheon caliber.

USH is less common (19 hits in Cruciverb, not counting this week's two appearances in the Sun and NYT). Three-letter words with common letters are definitely handy tools for the crossword constructor, so don't "ugh" about this one and expect not to see it again. It's not going away. At least, not in crosswords. I don't know how much theater ushers might use the word.

Rex, the comics picture is presumably meant to illustrate RORSCHACH. Who is this blue man?

Nebraska Doug 10:12 AM  

Two good days in a row for me, probably my fastest Friday ever (slow by Rex/Orange standards).
Hoping Saturday continues the trend. Even thinking of starting to time myself. But, somehow that thought frightens me. It seems like the start of a slippery slope.

Wade 10:27 AM  

This one was easy by my standards also--a little over 12 minutes (so obviously my standards are lower than RP's).

As for Wayne Dyer, I can still envision the cover of the paperback on my stepmother's coffee table: a bald guy with a mustache grinning at my 13 year old self. Dyer must have been the original Dr. Phil. I don't think he helped my stepmother, though.

I don't think Riata is pantheonic because it has a life outside of crosswordom in that it was the name of the ranch in the movie "Giant." Speaking of brawls ("Stop it!"), the one at the end of Giant is probably the longest and most unrealistic one you'll ever see outside of a 70's Burt Reynolds movie.

Hazy St. John 10:34 AM  

Wayne Dyer was big time in the '70s and 80s.

Had his own national radio show and a series of self help books. He was the Dr. Laura of his time and is in the process of making a comeback.

Rex Parker 10:47 AM  

If your only life outside of crosswords is as a ranch in an old movie, you are still eligible for the Pantheon. In fact, that ranch thing might actually seal the deal.

rp

wendy 10:47 AM  

Ah Rex, I don't know where you get your mammal and bird images from, but they are just the best! I often get the feeling that you've just run out of the house and taken these pictures yourself, which is, of course, preposterous. But I still think it every time. ;)

I'd also like to start a Pantheon of words that are only used to *clue* crosswords - like Denizen. I bet I could come up with many more if I put my mind to it, which I'd vastly prefer to do vs. what I'm actually supposed to be doing.

I thought I knew how to spell RORSCHACH. I was wrong.

I didn't like RETURN TO REALITY for Snap out of it. I was expecting something that's in the language - who says that? I sometimes say, "Excuse me, I'm due back on Planet Xenon" in this situation, but that was Waaay Toooo Loooong.

Rex Parker 10:58 AM  

Wendy,

Here's a few:

slangily
sloganeer
wheel (meaning "exec")

rp

Rex Parker 11:00 AM  

preceder

rp

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

The reason you could pick up on Wayne Dyer is probably because it is PBS Pledge Week (Month, Eternity), and for some reason they think that having that fraud on 24 hrs per day will get them money.

Rex Parker 11:04 AM  

cager

rp

karmasartre 11:42 AM  

Surprising that there has been little reference to ALOTONONESPLATE, as its previous occurence led to one of the more spirited days of commenting. Good to see it return in such a great Friday puzzle.

Entered GAdS in GABS' spot, and stared at dIOMASS way too long. The SW fell quickly, everything else was nicely challenging. The NW took a long time, but I can't see why in hindsight...other than general, uhh, slowness..

Beata 11:43 AM  

speaking of CAEN and "william the conqueror"..... check out this site: http://home.nycap.rr.com/useless/william_the_conqueror/index.html

hydromann 11:49 AM  

RIATA in the Pantheon? YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

This was a fun puzzle. My LOL moment came when the answer to 35D: Fuhgeddaboudit popped out - HELLNO

The use of coulee to mean something through which lava flows managed to elude me through two degrees and some 80 credits of geology courses. It is a common enugh term in the geosciences, but as a feature related to moving water, not lava.

JC66 12:02 PM  

Isn't lariat derived from la riata?

Orange 12:24 PM  

jc66: Yes. From la reata, actually. And Wade, the Giant ranch is spelled REATA. Let's see, is there a mnemonic to remember that? It's got James DEAn in it, so it's REATA. (Whatever you do, don't link Giaant and Riaa...)

jae 12:46 PM  

I immediately wanted to put IMPASSE and GAPEAT for the top across answers but after yesterday I was a bit hesitant as it seemed way to easy. Went ahead anyway and got both North and South very quickly. Alas, the center took a little longer. I also had FRA for DOM and was debating between LASSO and RIATA. Seeing RETURNTO finally broke it open for me. Really liked this one, the unknowns were highly inferable

campesite 12:52 PM  

ELTON John, while not in the least bit obscure, sure shows up in the grid quite a bit, and clued many different ways, like "British John?". Taupin makes it in once in a while as well.
Good chance if you're in Union City you'll hear "Fuhgeddaboudit."

dk 12:53 PM  

You NY residents can actually visit the site where the Cardiff Giant was unearthed.

We have coulees in our neighboring state of Wisc. and they refer to valleys formed by erosion rather than glacers... not much lava here so I tried to think of some pantheon-worthy word for a small river.

Hard puzzle for me and fun.

Riata is great word although I started with lasso.

Wade 1:09 PM  

Thanks for the spelling clarification, Orange. FYI, I grew up in cowboy country and never heard any cowboy (rodeo, working or drugstore) use the word riata or lasso. You might occasionally hear somebody refer to a "lariat rope" but never lariat alone and usually just "rope" or "calf rope." (As another aside, instead of making your wrestling partner say "uncle" to mean "I give up," you'd make him "holler calfrope."

Ren 1:09 PM  

Did no one else take issue with BIOMASS as an answer for Plant material used for fuel (18A)? I was trying to come up with a particular material (ethanol, corn oil, etc.). I've most often seen the word biomass as a measure of how much living matter exists in an ecosystem. This includes animals, fungi, and bacteria--not just plants. On top of that, biomass is not a single material, but rather all biologic material.

Loved Rorschach test and big hoax. Though for a while, with only the initial T in 14D, I was trying to make "something that can have you seeing things" something about hallucinogenic toads...

Fergus 1:42 PM  

If it wasn't CAEN it would have been ST. LO. On the same wavelength as Mr. Nosowsky today, so the only impasse was at IMPASSE. That whittled down the surprising number of four-letter words that could mean Gist. Reluctant to put down ILLS for the Sorry situations, since that seemed too awkwardly put for an otherwise elegant puzzle.

As Rex mentioned, a very low Pantheon return today, except for maybe AWL AH, SO and USER, along with that troupe of OTOES.

Stopped in at the Piltdown Man pub while driving around in Sussex one day for a few jars and amusement at the mock-up of the contrived prehistoric bones. Bill Bryson, in his book on 'just about everything' gives an amusing account of the perpetrators of the Piltdown hoax.

Leon 1:52 PM  

I too had fra for title and tie game for deadlock as well as other misreads, that's what makes it a Friday puzzle.
Dom is a great answer think Champagne.

Frances 2:11 PM  

This seemed mighty easy for a Friday. The NW corner practically wrote itself, but the SE corner gave trouble. I kept trying body parts for Piltdown man and Cardiff giant (big foot? big head? big hand?). The clue for 'exes' gets points for ingenuity. In all 156 appearances of 'exes' in the last 10 years, the '2 in 66' trope has appeared only once before--courtesy of Manny Nosowsky,would you believe!

baturkey 2:14 PM  

The comics picture is Rorschach from the Alan Moore comic Watchmen.

Jim in NYC 2:30 PM  

OK, Frances, you win, I'll ask you. Why is "exes" the answer to "2 in 66"? Some kind of bizarre divorce statistic?

not frances 3:00 PM  

siXty siX

Michael 3:52 PM  

leej [cobb] was the first answer I wrote in, remembering the recent discussion here and I finished the SW easily. The rest of the puzzle struck me as appropriately Friday-level and I ended up missing one letter (the d at the cross of herod and dyer). For me opera clues are hard and baseball clues are easy and I understand the irritation opera fans must have when they see baseball clues all the time.

Mike 3:55 PM  

Rex,
Funny you should mention cager, I woke up this morning wondering how a cager equals a basketball player. I've played basketball since I could hold the ball and have never heard this outside crosswords.

Jim in NYC 4:11 PM  

Mike, I believe "cager" is common sports-pages-headline fare [fare = another pantheonic clue word].

NJPHil 4:42 PM  

Mike
Years ago, basketball was such an ignominious sport that they used to actually put up netting (the cage) between the court and the seats to keep the fans safe. Which is why it may not be pantheonic, in that it had a very real and common usage within the past century.
Oh, what the hell, into the pantheon it goes.

Doc John 5:46 PM  

Very interesting because I was just thinking of the word "cager" last night for some reason.

A very fun Friday puzzle- lots of interesting clues that required some thought and deduction, not just remembering trivia. And speaking of deduction, there are also two ESES in [sixty-six]. I had a feeling it wasn't right and that it's usually ESSES but again I made the mistake of not running the whole alphabet. Subsequently, I thought maybe BIGHOAS was the name of someone associated with Piltdown man, etc.

I'm surprised that Rex hasn't heard of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

There's also a UMATILLA in Florida- very similar to the city Rex was thinking of.

The name John Allen (that Alex mentioned) is well known in some circles and you may have seen him interviewed on some PBS or National Geographic documentary. He designed many famous rollercoasters such as Skyliner (formerly of Roseland Park, Canandaigua, NY), Blue Streak (Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH), Mr. Twister (Elitch Gardens, Denver, CO), and finally Racer (Kings Island, Cincinatti, OH). The Racer is the coaster that the Brady Bunch rode in the episode where they visited the amusement park.

Anyway, enough babbling. Onward to Saturday!

doc John 5:48 PM  

Oh yeah- I love the new crossword drawings. If Ms. Cureton ever puts out a book of them, I'll be first in line to get one!

PuzzleGirl 6:20 PM  

Fun puzzle. I couldn't finish without Googling though. There, I've said it.

I had TIE GAME for IMPASSE and BEACHES for LAGOONS (even though BEACHES seemed way too easy). "POLICE!" was the only brawl-ending cry I could think of. Not that I've ever been involved in a brawl. That you know of.

I also had CLEARANCE CELLAR for a while. Sort of a cross between "clearance center" and "bargain basement" I guess.

ADIEU with the tricky "bidding" thing in the clue has become a gimme.

I hastily scribbled a list of singers with the first name John on the bottom of my puzzle (Mayer, Tesh, Denver, Lennon, Mellencamp....). Tricked again.

HELL NO made me laugh. Not quite as much as SCREW IT did that one time not so long ago.

I also wanted to point out that it seems to me Rex's write-ups have been damn near playful the last few days. Holiday spirit? Whatever it is, it's fun.

PuzzleGirl 6:21 PM  

Oh yeah, and I'll be right behind doc john in the line for the book of crossword drawings. They're awesome.

PuzzleGirl 6:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pmhendrickson@gmail.com 6:21 PM  

I really enjoyed today's puzzle although I was verrrry slow. But considering I've only just recently made the breakthrough to consistently solve weekend puzzles, I shouldn't be too surprised with slow days.

I liked the opportunity to use my newly-remembered LEE J Cobb knowledge to work after my LEE Z COBB mishap earlier this week.

I have to ask about the HELL NO fill. I thought about that for a while, but didn't think that passed the "Sunday morning test", so I had HECK NO in there for a bit. Is the "Sunday morning test" a thing of the past?

Orange 7:22 PM  

"Do you want onions and peppers in your omelet?"

"Hell, no!"

Works for my breakfast test.

jae 8:06 PM  

pm... I too was hesitant about HELLNO for the reason you mentioned. Chuckled when that's what it turned out to be.

Orange, glad to see you are also emphatic about breakfast.

stopit user 9:14 PM  

pmhendrickson,

You may not want your email address exposed like that.

lee j. zed 9:16 PM  

or, maybe you do.

mac 9:18 PM  

Orange, I like the way you put that. Let's not be too fussy. It's not Sunday morning yet, anyway. Other than that, you have all beat me to the punch,I liked the puzzle, did it fairly quickly and had no major beefs with it. Looking forward to the Saturday issue!

Jim in Chicago 11:27 PM  

I was surpised that HELLNO hasn't gotten more comment than it has. While it takes much more than that to make me blush, it did make me put down my breakfast coffee and say "could it really be the answer?"

Rikki 1:42 AM  

I think one of the first times I visited this blog was the Manny puzzle to which Karmasatre refers with the theme 'a lot on one's plate' which provoked a lively discussion about the appropriateness of the selections Mannie chose to plate together. So I filled that answer in the middle of this one without a letter crossing, giving me a hold on that center glacier. I loved bargainbasement until it was wrong. Then had clearancecellar, like Puzzlegirl.

Haven't seen ush enough to not hate it, but I'll get over it. Ush? C'mon. Who says this? Anybody? Sorry, I just needed one squawk.

There's that Moonstruck quote, Wendy. Snap out of it! And a tasty little gimme for everyone with Lee J showing up two days in a row. I don't seem to hate that as much when it's a Friday or Saturday and I'm looking for any gimme I can get.

Fuhgeddaboudit... that's an interesting word. It has so many meanings and is used in various ways, including the exact opposite of hell no. As in: Hey, Adolphe, would you like to meet one of my exes, Della? Would I? says Adolphe, fuhgeddaboudit (hell ya).

Speaking of Adolphe, I think that if the duke of Luxembourg, grand or otherwise, is fill for the NYT puzzle, then the WNBA should be fair game.

And I would be remiss in my devotion to the denizens of the Pacific if I didn't pay homage to the sea otter which is one of the creatures of nature that graces me with their wondrous company while I surf. Adorable picture, Rex.

I thought this was an excellent puzzle... the kind I'm both happy and sorry to finish. But it's already time for Saturday's. Adieu.

Corey 3:18 AM  

No commentary on the fact that Manny Nosowsky's previous puzzle (Sept. 4) had "A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE" in the grid (and as its theme, no less)?

Fergus 4:20 AM  

Rikki, it's fun to read what you've written.

Rikki 5:08 PM  

Thanks Fergus! Corey... see my note above yours.

Aviatrix 11:40 PM  

Sigh. I didn't even finish this one, just crept over here to find out what was so wrong. I got the top right corner quickly and actually had a number of correct words in other corners, but put more confidence in wrong ones, and couldn't escape from my mess. I had SANITY at the end of 35A, ISLANDS, then BEACHES for 17A. I had EASILY for 30D and LASSO for 32D and I won't tell you what I had for the Alamo, because then you'll know how ignorant I am of your history.

It's not the puzzle's fault, though. Maybe next week. I'll redeem myself.

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