(1883 MAUPASSANT NOVEL) FRIDAY, Feb. 22, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel and David Quarfoot

Friday, February 22, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

This was hard. Doable, but hard. More like a Saturday than a Friday. One of those puzzles where I start out looking for an answer I know and can't find one. First thing that finally clicked - OVEN MITT (12D: Bit of kitchen wear), which gave me the "V" I (desperately) needed to remember the very basic AVON (16A: "The company for women" sloganeer). From there, the NE went down pretty quickly, but only because I've done so many crosswords in the past year that LODI (11A: California wine center) was a gimme and RETE (18A: Neural network) was something I'd blogged about before, and thus doesn't look as foreign as it probably does to many of you (and as it did to me the first time I saw it). Which president's middle name is KNOX (21A: Presidential middle name)? Whoa, KNOX is the "K" in James K. Polk!

Biggest nemesis of the day: PROVE (20A: Turn out to be). I had END UP. Then I had ... nothing. So frustrating to know that I know the word, and yet not be able to retrieve it. The Downs were Not helping. The hardest stretch of Downs I've seen in a puzzle in a while. Well, OK, only two of them are really tough, but I don't speak German, so three were tough for me. First there's RACOONS (8D: Kinkajou's kin: Var.), which I can't believe this puzzle got away with. It's one thing to have an absurd variant, and then another, more painful thing to have the only clue to that variant being something that sounds like a character from Japanese anime. I wanted PIKACHU here, but ... could a Pokemon character have a variant spelling of his name? These are the things one ponders when one is desperate. Then there's "UNE VIE" (9D: 1883 Maupassant novel), which at one point I wanted to be "THE TIE." Then there's ESSEN (10D: Dine, in Dusseldorf), which is also a German city, which is the only reason I eventually put it in the grid without wincing. Oh, I forgot to mention the wall that kept me from getting through this central portion of the puzzle and up into the North: I had WRONG where I should have had (who says this?) DOING (24A: "What's _____?"). DOING looks like a sound effect to me this morning.

Had two biblical "WTF" moments in this puzzle. First, you can call someone who's a jinx a JONAH (39A: One who brings bad luck)? Is that with a lowercase "j"? Wow. Good thing I know the biblical story, or I never would have bought this answer. Further NOAH (31D: See 29-Down) created a BOAT (29D: Creation of 31-Down)? A BOAT!? Oh, yes, who can forget the story of Noah's BOAT? I actually thought about spelling ARKH thusly.

The gimmes:

  • 22A: Queen in a long-running comic strip (Aleta) - god bless this woman; she was my gateway to the NW, which remained blank for longer than any other portion of the puzzle. Prince Valiant's wife ALETA and his son ARN, to a lesser extent, are your crossword friends.
  • 40A: Childish comeback ("are so!")
  • 46A: Response of feigned innocence ("Who, me?") - what does it say about me that my only true gimmes were an ancient comic strip character and two things a child might say?

The frowny faces:

  • 17A: Providers of exceptional service? (tennis aces) - don't like this at all. You can be a TENNIS ACE and not have a very strong serve at all. Being an ACE and serving an ACE are not the same thing.
  • 33A: "Centuries" (C-notes) - uh ... EONS? AEONS? Why are there quotation marks around "Centuries?" Actually, I know why (to show that it's colloquial) but lots of clues are colloquial and don't have the quotation marks. Happens all the time. So why the quot. marks today? Weird.
  • 34A: Where to find pop art? (soda can) - wants to be clever, and is, sort of. It's just that I don't think of SODA CANs as having much art to them. Is a logo art? I don't know. Grumble grumble. I wanted some version of DEN here - you know, somewhere your dad (pop) might hang his watercolors ...
  • 42A: NATO member: Abbr. (Nor.) - Poor NORway gets this horrible non-specific clue.
  • 5D: Prefix with directional (uni-) - meh. I should probably add this to my gimme list, but since I had nothing to confirm it for a long time, I eventually took it out ... only to put it back in again, obviously.
  • 6D: Shortening in the kitchen? (tbsp) - easy on the cleverness, kids. This one bugged me more than it amused me.
  • 36D: Hide in the woods (deerskin) - got this quickly, but "hide" and DEERSKIN both at least imply that the DEER in question is dead and ready for processing into goods fit for human use. Thus, no longer "in the woods." Unless you live in the woods, I guess.

Question marks:

  • 45A: Boulogne-sur-_____, France (Mer) - so easy in retrospect, but I had no idea when I first looked at the clue.
  • 55A: _____-Mints (Rolaids rival) (Alka) - ditto
  • 56A: Singer of the 1967 hit "California Nights" (Lesley Gore) - Who? What? I listened to a LOT of Oldies radio growing up, and I can safely say I have never heard this song. LESLEY GORE apparently sang "You Don't Own Me," which I do know (and love).
  • 59A: Subject of the 2004 book "Dancing Revelations" (Alvin Ailey)
  • 60A: Jarrow's river (Tyne) - As in "Newcastle-upon-_____"
  • 1D: Mil. V.I.P. (Sgt. Maj.) - that took six periods to write. I had this starting with "B" when I thought that 1A: Awfully accurate? (sad but true) must start with BAD...
  • 2D: Eye component (areola) - I had no idea. How many things have one of these? The list seems eternal.
  • 4D: Poet who won a Pulitzer for "The Dust Which Is God" (Benet) - had the "T," considered ELIOT. I know BENET only from xwords.
  • 32D: "Underboss" author Peter (Maas) - seen it several times before, but can never remember it. Wanted MIES.
  • 53D: Home of Davy Crockett: Abbr. (Tenn.) - yep, that's a state. That'll work.
  • 57A: Title syllables in a 1961 Lee Dorsey hit (yas) - more 60's music I can't recall. Looking up song now ... Whoa, here's Petula Clark doing a French version of "Ya Ya Twist." Weeeird.
The Good Stuff:

  • 15A: Salade nicoise ingredients (green beans) - I've had this salad before and could think only of tuna and possible capers or olives. Tasty.
  • 33D: Smythe of hockey (Conn) - this is the name of a trophy (MVP of the playoffs), otherwise I would Never have known it. Thank you ESPN, for the occasionally useful sports chatter that sticks in my head.
  • 19A: With 50-Across, surmount (move / past) - I like this split. It works.
  • 28A: Strip alternative (T-bone) - great, hard clue.
  • 54A: Holder of many tracks (iPod) - not original or anything, but I just love my iPod so much that I thought I'd include it anyway.
  • 61A: Outdoor toy that attaches to a garden hose (Slip 'n' Slide) - oh yeah. Loved these. Recall playing (roughly, dangerously) on these as a kid.
  • 3D: Where I-25 and I-70 meet (Denver) - I'd like to thank my family for living where they do (i.e. outside DENVER)
  • 25D: Magazine holder (gun case) - well, if it's not FORT, then it must be GUN CASE - great clue/answer.
  • 34D: Cause of colonial unrest (Stamp Act) - we read from our Intellectual Devotional: American History Edition every night, so my head is awash in Colonial history right now. Me: "Honey, did the Stamp Act cause colonial unrest?" Sandy: "Yes." Me: "Woo hoo! I got it right! U.S.A! U.S.A!"
  • 37D: It's out for a pout (lower lip) - another great clue/answer pairing. Easy, too, which was a nice change of pace for this puzzle.
  • 42D: "That's Amore" setting (Napoli) - like this mainly because I got it off the "I" having no idea why I knew it.
  • 47D: Papa Bear of the N.F.L. (Halas) - again, got it instantly. Where am I getting this information? I couldn't tell you much of anything about HALAS, and yet when I saw "Papa Bear," his is the name that surfaced.
  • 39D: Ruler of Scotland, 1567-1625 (James VI) - my wheelhouse! I'm in the Jacobean period Right Now in my 17c. Lit. class.

Enjoy the beginning of your week-end

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS - OK, so the Chronicle of Higher Education article about this site has been available on-line (for subscribers) for about a week. But today - TODAY - a (horrid) picture of me is Right Underneath the masthead at their website. Why couldn't they have used this halfway decent B&W picture, which accompanies the actual article?:


You've still gotta be a subscriber to read the article, but if you go to chronicle.com, you can at least enjoy the picture of my little office, complete with my awesome red desk lamp and "Simpsons" poster in the background. -RP

73 comments:

Mo 9:18 AM  

For the first time ever, I thought a late week puzzle was easier than Rex did! I was happy when I open this puzzle and saw MN and DQ as constructors--a pair of my favorite math guys. I got started in the SE, where HALAS, JAMESVI (just had it in another crossword),LAWNS, TENN, and IPOD were gimmes, then quickly got LOVELL and SLIPNSLIDE, and the rest fell quickly. Last to fall for me was NW area-had CORNEA and then RETINA for eye component, before the crosses revealed AREOLA. The SW was slowed by having STAMPTAX for STAMPACT for a while.

For once, everything I didn't know/never heard of (e.g., Kinkajou, Maupassant novel), I got from the crosses. All in all a good one for Friday.

wendy 9:36 AM  

In one of those bizarre coincidences that seem to happen all too often in Crossworld, my post last night, a half hour before I downloaded the puzzle, was about LESLEY GORE - and You Don't Own Me!

Mary 9:42 AM  

I was quite pleased with myself when I read the clue 56A "Singer of the 1967 hit California Nights" and, after some humming, filled in ERIC BURDEN. That held me up for a while.

SLIP N SLIDE saved me. It is hard to believe we used to fling ourselves down on this slippery roll of flimsy plastic and then get up and do it again. Ouch. Today you'd have to call the paramedics to get me up again. SAD BUT TRUE.

Patrick O'Brian's novels refer to a JONAH. I think in one episode the JONAH gets tossed overboard by the crew and the bad luck goes away.

This was tough, I wore out my eraser. But I went to sleep happy.

It has rained in Atlanta for two days straight. This is great news.

Orange 9:43 AM  

I'm with Rex—it was Saturday-tough. It took Howard and Byron a smidgen longer than it took me, confirming my sense, though Stella cruised through it in 5:00 flat. (Maybe she thinks it's Friday-level.)

PhillySolver 9:54 AM  

It took a long while because almost every first guess for me was wrong. I too tried stamptax, bud/MAC, Ryan/CONN, ger/NOR, Idiots/THEART, Napa/LODI, Earl/KNOX, Taga/ALKA, istoo/ARESO etc. I guess my RETE was malfunctioning. It had my hide so to speak. I disliked ODORED and you know I hated NOAH and BOAT.

I was thinking Gilbert and Sullivan for SGTMAJ, but maybe it was Major General? I also was thinking Albatross for bad luck, but it was good luck, so what's the name of the shooter in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Altho I haven't seen 'rete' in a puzzle for ages, it came to me in a flash because it was a very common word in old puzzles. When you are >65, the gimme's from pre-Shortz are appreciated and, amazingly, they slowly return one by one.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

DO TO A TEE ???? Give me a berak; that isn't even English.

John 10:40 AM  

I had END UP for 20A too, and had UP DOC just below it for 24A "What's____?" for what I thought was some nice symmetry... alas, something was ODORED in NOR... no, that's not right. This was a hard one. My only gimmes were DENVER, SLIP N SLIDE, and WHO ME. Took quite awhile before I could get a purchase on the thing...

Rex -- you forgot to cheer for your favorite word making another appearance this week: "sloganeer"

John

Jim in Chicago 10:49 AM  

Fun puzzle, but oh, so many places to go badly wrong today.

Things started out well when I gleefully filled in Slip-n-Slide and Alvin Ailey but things quickly went downhill from there.

Where to begin. I was sure that the Salade Nicoise answer just had to be BOILED EGGS, that the signs of hunger were PANGS, I was sure the hide in the forest would be BEAR SKIN, I was another solver with RYAN instead of CONN, and so on and so on.

The problem with RYAN/CONN gave me a hard time with "bringer of bad luck" but, of course, our old friend Jonah from the Bible, brought bad luck to everything he touched.

Quibbles? We've already discussed that NOAH had and ARK - get it, an ARK! I also winced when I wrote in AVON, since I was sure they were looking for a sloganeer, as in "a person who disseminates messages calculated to assist some cause", but I couldn't come up with anyone famous who ever pitched avon. Finally gave up when AVON became the inevitable answer.

After the discussion earlier in the week, I was hoping that the answer for "magazine holder" would be ARSENAL.

I chuckled when the clue "Pal" appeared in the puzzle, as did an answer that included ACE, but not for that clue.

Finally, never having heard of ALKAMINTs, I decided that answer had to be FENAmind, but that turns out to be incorrect on two counts. The product name is FEENA mint, and it is a laxative gum, not an antacid.

Hydromann 10:56 AM  

Rex, I interpreted “tennis aces” to be the serve, itself, instead of the person making the service ace. But even then, I agree it’s not a very good clue.

As to, “Where am I getting this information? I couldn't tell you much of anything about HALAS, and yet when I saw ‘Papa Bear,’ his is the name that surfaced”...are you TRYING to make us early baby boomers feel old? If so, you’re succeeding!!!

dk 10:59 AM  

I only got RETE on the crosses. I never knew Lodi was a wine region but it had to be because of Lark.

Agree with the do to a tee, while I got it I do not agree with it.

I like atecrow and tbone together.

TGIF

Rikki 11:18 AM  

I loved this puzzle. DQ and MN together = tough, but utterly engaging. I thought the puzzle was flawless. Quibbling over boat for ark? Come on now, if it had been ark we'd moan that it was too on-the-nose. There were great clues everywhere on the grid. Strip alternative for t-bone, they might indicate hunger for meows, pop art on a soda can, shortening in the kitchen for tbsp. The six 10-letter answers came fairly quickly which never happens to me on a Friday, so I was in bliss, and a number of gimmes (Conn, Tyne, UneVie, Essen, Lodi, Avon, Jonah, etc.) gave me footholds all over. It's winter in SD and the cold rain, hot coffee, and a great puzzle made for a perfect morning.

My grandmother had the perfect hill of soft grass for a slipnslide. We slipped and slid until we were wrinkled prunes.

Any girl who was a teenager in the 60's (or had a sister who was) knew Lesley Gore. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

David or Mike, if you care to share, how do you go about collaborating on a construction. I picture you sitting across from each other, as if playing chess or scrabble, and taking turns adding to the grid. Put a timer on the table and you've got a new word game: Construction! Thanks for a great puzzle.

Happy weekend to all.

jordanboston 11:19 AM  

I just knew that 34 Across was SOUPCAN, so the West was slow-going until I finally saw DEERSKIN. To all of us in New England, try not to do too much SLIP-N-SLIDING out there in this weather...

Karen 11:32 AM  

I had a particular problem with the names over in New Mexico (and thank you, James Knox Polk for making our country mostly quadrangular!). I had HAYES crossing WESLEY GORE and ELI INOILEY; only the latter still looks wrong.

AVON and RETE were my gimmes; I tried to do something with APRON for kitchen ware but the sloganeer saved me.

MEOWS also took a long time to come together; great clue.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

My biggest gripe was racoons. Does "var" in the clue give license to misspell any old way you choose? Two Ponies

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

"Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again"! Did no one else fill Napa in quickly for the wine center clue? Boy, did that ever slow me down! Ergo, the tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival...

Joaneee 11:46 AM  

I think the variant has to appear in some legitimate dictionary somewhere...my concise OED says RACCOON (also RACOON)...so there you are. But I never really like those variants. This puzzle was hard. For me. Almost gave up in the SW, but SODACAN fixed me up.

Joaneee 11:48 AM  

Me too. Re anonymous 11:43. I write in Napa right away.

Jim in Chicago 11:59 AM  

Anonymous, 11:33:

The OED actually lists Racoon as the FIRST spelling, and Webster's has a cross reference from Racoon to Raccoon, calling Racoon a variant. I think this one is OK.

Ladel 12:03 PM  

Anybody know why Rex has begun to include a single clue under the date line of his blog? Snowy day here in the Big Apple, made for solving weather.

PhillySolver 12:25 PM  

Give me almost any number of squares and I can make RRAACCOOOONN fit.

As to ark/BOAT. My problem with that (and I know others disagree) is that you have two answers dependent upon each other. In this construction BOAT is not likely to give someone NOAH without some letters. Try word association with someone and see how many people say Boat when you say NOAH. You have to get at least four crosses to have a chance and THEN you make one of the answers outside of the literature and nary a hint. Gen 6:11-18, Ark is the only word used. I say if var. or ? or "some say" aren't appropriate, clue it another way. The nit pickers have trouble when boat and ship are considered synonymous, which they are not. Sure, I got it and I imagine few people couldn't get it eventually, but I say reserve that stuff for Saturday and make it near a cross or two that you can fill in with out having most of the letters.

Thank you for your attention during my rant.

PhillySolver 12:27 PM  

@ ladel

It is a common Google trick that picks up traffic. People who enter that particular phrase in the search engine get REX!

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

This took six minutes ....

Leon 12:40 PM  

The Noah / Jonah connection was interesting. Jonah means Dove and the story of the Dove not returning to the Ark signaled a new beginning, like Jonah's release from the whale.

mac 12:46 PM  

A snowday! Feel as if I'm playing hookie. Got lots of good food around, and watch the deer and birds in the snow. Even saw an enormous, healthy cayote. This was a great puzzle, especially on a day when I have plenty of time...... Liked lowerlip, meows, sadbuttrue, and prove, so hard to think of! Did not like odored. Am not sure about locates for "turns up". Professor?

Bill D 12:57 PM  

Whew! Glad Rex thought this one was a toughie - I agonized over the entire northern half forever! As a hockey fan, CONN was a gimme, but precious few others. Had UNITES, LOCATES, LOVELL, LOWER LIP, SLIP'N'SLIDE right away, and a lot of "½"-answers later - GREEN--, ---ATEE, --DOWN, TENNIS--. Once SGT MAJ (he's not that big a VIP!) and AREOLA (ditto, Rex) came around SAD BUT TRUE finally enabled the NW to fall. Never heard of RETE (a gimme for some of you!) and desperately wanted LODI (thanks to CCR, as with anon) to fit but was drawing blanks, when KNOX came through and annexed that NE territory.

Hated ODORED, agree on dislike for BOAT/NOAH, also saw ACES as serves themselves. One more gripe - a GUN CASE IS a magazine, it doesn't hold one.

No ampersandwiches today, but a good, tough, fun puzzle with some inspired cluing. Loved SODA CAN, SAD BUT TRUE, OVEN MITT, LESLEY GORE (tho I would have thought LESLIE, but TENN was already there), TBSP (clue almost a crytic); "Strip alternatives"/TBONES had me reaching for everything else - had PANEL for the longest time, thinking a single PANEL was an alternative to a comic STRIP.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Profphil

Had Apron... and then chef's hat before I got ovenMitt.

Napa
StampTax
BoiledEggs

Glad to hear it was Saturday hard as I don't so Saturdays and have been struggling with Fridays but not as badly as today.

Jim in Chicago 1:11 PM  

Bill D,

I was interpreting "Gun Case" to mean the thing you tote your gun around it and assumed that it would also have a pocket for a magazine.

Bill D 1:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D 2:00 PM  

Jim - I thought about that after I posted, but couldn't come up with a rationale - yours makes sense. I withdraw my gripe!

chef bea 2:08 PM  

very hard puzzle today but I kept at it since it has been snowing all day here in stamford, ct. 7 inches outside my front door.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

SAD BUT TRUE...this puzzle took me almost an hour.

Apparently there's no mayonaise in a salade nicoise!

No need for a SLIPNSLIDE here on Long Island...you can easily slip and slide just by walking outside today.

Thanks MN and DQ, and always, Rex.

Nothnagel 4:13 PM  

Hello all.

I'm snowed in, too...except I actually drove into work today, only to have classes cancelled half an hour later! (Have I turned a corner if I actually wanted us NOT to have a snow day?)

Thanks for all the comments about the puzzle. To answer rikki's question, DQ asked me to give him an entry for 1-Across, then constructed the NW corner. He gave me SLIPNSLIDE, and I did the SE. We went back and forth until the grid was done, and then split the clues. Voila! (Oh, and everything was done via e-mail.)

OK, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my snow day. See you in Brooklyn!

Until next time --
MN

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

For me, the easiest and first answer was LESLEYGORE! The SE/NE/SW were medium difficulty while the NW took twice as long as the rest of the puzzle to solve.

What kept me from getting the NW sooner was filling in MAJGEN instead of SGTMAJ. I hadn't considered the possibility of an elisted rank until I figured out 17-A had to be tennis-related. I first had TENNISPROS, then eventually figured out the correct answer.

Barry

Dick Swart 5:23 PM  

I know 'meows' was easy particularly with Maas, but hunger pangs are truly meows from our cats Beavis and Butthead. And the girls are very pleased to have their names mentioned in this important journal!

One dry, one wet, and two staff in Hood River.

wade 5:43 PM  

This one felt about right for a medium-difficult Friday, I thought. The NE was actually the last part to fall for me; I'm a presidential buff and confidently filled in ALAN for the nickname. Ironically (I'm using that word in the sense that college freshmen majoring in business use it), I've been doing some geneaological research into my sordid family history (Williamses and Norseworthys) and just came across a passel of great-great-grandfathers named after presidents, one of which was James K. Polk Williams. On the other side, there are two grandfathers named after James Monroe. The funny thing is, it appears that James K. Polk Williams's second name really was K., not Knox. I doubt people much worried about that stuff back then.

Bill from NJ 5:58 PM  

@anon 11:43 - also had NAPA

GREENBEANS was the first clue I got and the NW quickly fell. I was particularly proud of TBONE in Iowa and the center did not hold.

I had a little problem in the NE with CNOTES and LOCATES leaving me with double Es and double Ss which I knew to be wrong. Oh well.

I had little trouble in the SE and I thought this might not be too bad. Famous last words.

I came a cropper in the SW having SOUPCAN and nothing else. Spent a half hour, frustrated, before finally giving up. It wasn't like it was full of difficulty which frustrated me even more.

Before I found Rex's blog and others, I was more likely to slog forward and not give up. The itch to figure out what I was missing gets to me.

Does anybody else have this problem?

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

Since when is a Seargent Major a VIP in the ARMY? He's a NCO, below a corporal.

I got stuck forever trying some variation on GEN: MAJGEN, BGDGEN, ...

CF 6:06 PM  

Did the same as several others on the wine area - Napa first, then when that didn't work, tried Simi. Ugh. Spent an inordinate amount of time on "pop art"; had the same first thought as Rex - dad's art. Then made the Warhol connection for *soup* cans. Was congratulating myself on brilliance until I realized I had "ueer..." for the down. Rats.
Great fun puzzle.

grandaD 6:37 PM  

@anonymous 6:02PM : Sgt. Maj. is the highest ranking NCO. Corporal is the lowest ranking NCO. Only Private and Private First Class are below Corporal

markus 6:41 PM  

They Might Be Giants have a fantastic song all about James Knox Polk. I loved 25D: Magazine holder because I wanted the answer to be something along the lines of a "toliet organizer"... darn misdirection.

Doug 7:15 PM  

I need a palate cleanser after this distastful one. Got slammed with the rest of you on RAcCOON, NAPA, BOAT, TBSP, etc.

Had DUMMYS not THEART. Didn't like MOVE PAST for Surmount. You don't Move Past an Obstacle for Chrissakes. How about "Overtake" as a much better clue. Would have liked "Turn out (to be)" to tindicate it's ANSWER (to be). PROVE by itself is not equivalent to PROVE TO BE. "What's DOING?" must be waaay down the list of things that people ever said. I had UPDOC, then GOING. Would have liked "In the act of", "Fixing up ones hair", "Not idling by", or something.

Ach, hope Saturday is better. However, amused to think that Shortz and constructors read the blog and purposely throw in Canadian and Scandanavian clues becuase of the readership base. NORway and of course Lee Dorsey, who was discovered by Allen Touissant, who did an album with Elvis Costello, who is married to Diana Krall from B.C., where they both currently reside. I have yet to see a skinny guy in a porkpie hat on the ski slopes though.

Kathy 7:41 PM  

Bill from nj,

I'm with you on being quicker to give up because of this blog. I get that feeling of wasting (well, let's be more politic and say "spending") way too much time, and I want to read the blog. Or I need to check how Rex has rated it, which leads me to "peek" at the thumbnail of the completed puzzle.

Before I found this blog, I printed a week's worth of puzzles on Saturday night when printing the Sunday puzzle. Now I do them daily. And I must be a better person for it, right? Right?!

Plus, I've discovered cruciverb.com, so do other puzzles, too. I'm going to need to give up my day job!

Kathy

Fergus 8:01 PM  

Just the opposite problem, Bill in NJ.

I won't, under any circumstances check with Rex until there is absolutely no possibility of going any further. I slogged down to the final (guessed) T from ALETA and BENET, and though I will admit to temptation, I was defiant about tapping into the blog. It must be Rex's charming arrogance that stirs my obdurateness about completing the puzzle on my own, because it seems just that much harder to admit defeat. That said though, I did seek help for a few letters on Sunday ..., which had UKIAH as a Wine center, and now LODI? Next thing you know, Bakersfield and Barstow are going to be the new Napa and Sonoma.

Aside from the many already mentioned traps that I fell into, there was my heavily inked-in entry for 48A Lose successfully. This had to be DITCH, right? No, it was yet another EVADE/ELUDE dilemma. Also, I had RESET where UNITE actually fell. Must of been thinking of the end of Daylight Savings Time. 7D Level had so many rich possibilities, even after getting the DOWN part. I stuck with COME DOWN as in come down hard on someone when you've got to level with them. Stuck with MAR for Disconcert until the end, when I had to admit that really didn't work, and JAR was obviously better. Kind of funny to be thinking of a JARhead crossing with a Military V.I.P.

scriberpat 8:09 PM  

Rex both photographs of you are great, adorable. You are one of those people who come across as both serious and playful. It makes you totally approachable which is a good thing, no?

jannieb 8:17 PM  

Yuck! Never could finish the NW. I was convinced "ette" was the shortening in the kitchen. So wanted Buicks for "centuries" (crosses quickly got me off that tack). I'm also with the ranks who insisted on "majgen", and I finally just gave up. First unfinished puzzle in months - humbling experience. Oh well, I appreciated the fresh cluing, and am masochistically awaiting Saturday. Happy weekend all!

Liz 8:46 PM  

Like Fergus, since I began visiting the blog, I just don't want to give up before checking in to see how others fared and to read Rex's comments.

Last night after the first run-through, I had only essen, oh really, who me. After lunch I took up the puzzle again and worked from SW to NW to NE and part of SE. Biggest trouble with center to south. Despite being an adult in the 60s I didn't know Lesley Gore, Lee Dorsey. Halas eluded me for the longest time. I'm just not a sports fan. I'd never heard of a slip 'n slide. However, I kept at it and despite going at a snail's pace, I had no errors.

I enjoyed tbsp, oven mitt, tbone. Odored stinks.

scriberpat 8:59 PM  

Doug 7:15,re: "waaay down the list"

My dad used to say to me, "What's doin'?" He grew up in coal mining region of Pennsylvania. He didn't talk a lot. He observed. I kind of liked it when he asked, "What's doin'" 'cause it made me feel relaxed that he was interested in what I might have to say. Whereas my mom was always telling me what she thought I should be thinking or should't be thinking.

Michael 9:10 PM  

I liked this puzzle -- tough, but fair with some nice clues (e.g. awfully accurate -- sad but true, the slipnslide answer)

I enjoyed the profile of rex in cat fancy, which I read online this morning.

kathy 9:25 PM  

Rex featured in Cat Fancy, MEOW in the puzzle....shout out? You be the judge.

Nice article, Rex--I should get Anne Meara's name for the $6.50 I spent to read it!

Kathy

doc John 9:28 PM  

This one really got me! After filling in LOWER LIP and SLIPNSLIDE, I had to do it in pencil- in pencil! *the crowd gasps* I haven't had to do that in a long time. Finally, after many hours on and off, I filled in the last square, the S in MAAS (couldn't decide between "are to" and ARE SO).

Initially considered DITKA for [Papa bear].

I don't have anything much to add to what's been already said, just that it was a very hard, but fair puzzle. OK, one thing- I did think of DO TO A TEE right at first but disregarded it as too much of a grasp.

foodie 10:17 PM  

The "Rete" answer to "neural network" has really gotten under my skin. I realize that technically rete is a mesh or network, but "neural network" has a very specific meaning and not in a million years would the response be RETE to a neuroscientist. I am one and I have been in the business for what seems like a million years, and I have never heard it used. To make sure I was not confused, I went to the scientific literature (Pubmed). Out of hundreds of thousands articles that pop up on brain or neural, if you cross them with RETE you get 19, and even at that, they mostly have to do with the mesh of arteries in brain...

Sorry to get carried away, but if you think Noah's boat is bad...

On a more positive note: Congratulations Rex for being in the Chronicle of Higher Education... Big times!

foodie 10:21 PM  

PS. In my fit of confusion over RETE I googled Rete and Rex Parker (after reading that you had already seen it) and what popped up was from almost exactly a year ago...the blog from Friday Feb. 23, 2007... Weird...

Nebraka Doug 10:23 PM  

Loved this puzzle, great sense of satisfaction upon finishing it. It took a long time, on and off all day at work when I could sneak a couple peeks, and then finally finished it tonight. I had more "ah-ha" moments doing this puzzle than I can remember. NW was the last section to fall. SE was the first.

Big Lefty 10:55 PM  

I thought the puzzle was a little pretentious. Moving to Europe for awhile would have helped me, with this one. "Odored" struck me wrong as did "racoons." A tough puzzle is a tough puzzle without seeming to have to contrive or stretch.

JimHorne 11:01 PM  

@foodie: neural net in this context isn't a medical term but a concept from Artificial Intelligence.

Catherine K 11:54 PM  

I actually knew what a kinkajou was because of my shameful pastime of reading celebrity gossip.

About a year ago, Paris Hilton was seen around town toting her little pet kinkajou, whom she named "Baby Luv". Then it bit her on the arm, and she had to be taken to the hospital for medical attention, and was heard shouting, "That stupid f***ing monkey just bit me!".

Just typing this is making me laugh...

PhillySolver 12:01 AM  

So, Catherine, Paris bit the kinkajou and it was airlifted to the hospital and filed that complaint against her? That is funny!

Jim in NYC 12:07 AM  

This one was a bear as already noted. I spent over an hour entering and then erasing all the wrong initial answers mentioned above.

RACOON and DO TO A TEE were well and truly ODORED and I don't mean that in a good way.

Catherine K 12:38 AM  

@PhillySolver: Yes, and I once shot an elephant in my pyjamas!

Rolis 1:26 AM  

Just a quick note saying congrats on the pics!

Rikki 2:14 AM  

@Mike: thanks for answering and for your great puzzles.

@Rex: very nice picture of James VII. What a handsome devil. Did you notice the last word on the picture is Rex? And then of course the Rex of this world below James. Equally handsome and kingly.

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

This was a tough one. Didn't get the NW thanks to not knowing that green beans were in a nicoise salad. I kept trying to fit tuna in there. Plus I had LARD in for Kitchen shortening, which did me no good. Also had it in my head that a kinkajou was a primate so had both Baboons and gibbons in there before throwing up my hands in disgust. Tennis Aces was just cruel, although clever.

Ladel 8:32 AM  

Call me too practical, but ante Rex I would spend endless google time looking for help, now I just consult the King for things I would have researched anyway. Frees up the day for more puzzles.

Kim 12:08 PM  

Got Slipnslide when I realized WaterWizard wouldn't fit. Anyone remember being chased around the yard by that uncontrollable huge piece of plastic? (To papraphrase Gene Wilder in "The Producers", "I've got a head injury AND I'm wet!!!!").

When I saw the puzzle, I said "Oh, a Nothnagel-Quarfoot" and my husband asked me if that was "like a rebus?".

Great photo Rex!

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Have to agree with the poster who appreciated pre-Shortz "gimmes" -- and I'm nowhere near >65 (just started young)!
Wonder how where you grew up affects what is/isn't easy. I heard"What's doing?" growing up in NYC. Don't know any German, but we've got Ess-a-Bagel (eat a bagel) so that made essen easy. And I live on a street that is aka "Alvin Ailey Place."
On the other hand, Lodi is a town in New Jersey in my mind...

Maybe if I knew how to spell raccoon, I would have realized that racoon is a variant!

Thanks, Rex.

miriam b 9:52 PM  

My Friday NYT wasn't delivered yesterday, presumably on account of the snow. Wihdrawal set in. The paper came today along with the Sat. paper and the Sun. feature sections, so I was finally able to tackle it. Yes, it was tough, replete wih red herrings. I couldn't time myself because one of my daughers phoned, needing to talk.

This snowstorm evidently had far-reaching effects. The supermarket produce section was devoid of eggplants today; they hadn't been delivered. Now I'm in aubergine withdrawal. Had my heart set on making moussaka for dinner, but settled for pastitsio.

Now I'm going to tackle the Saturday puzzle.

jeff 10:41 AM  

I solve slowly and solve to finish, or as I tell my high school students, "I might not be fast, but I always finish" when they want to race doing puzzles in my study hall.

Only when the puzzle's complete do I turn to Rex and the comments . . .kind of like a little treat for finishing. So sometimes I'm reading the blog days (or weeks) later when I'm able to fill in those last few squares.

Thanks for all the commentaries; some make me smile, laugh, wince, groan, but I always enjoy reading them . . .ALMOST as much as doing the puzzles!

Have a good day all.

retired_chemist 11:08 PM  

A fun puzzle. "Sad but true" and "Ate crow" took longer than they should have. "Tennis aces" was "Tennis pros" for a while and I agree with Rex that this was not a stellar clue. James VI of Scotland, eventually James I of England, I know as the successor to Elizabeth R in the Union of the Crowns. Alvin Ailey and Slip'n' Slide broached the SE neatly, which was where I got my foothold. But Lesley Gore - WTF! Didn't she invent the Internet?

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

It appears as though our puzzles are really behind here in Marysville, CA. This puzzle appears in the April 4th 2008 edition of our daily newpaper.

I am over 65 and work the croswords (in my paper only) for relaxation and can sometimes take up to 2 or 3 days to complete one, but usually do finish it. One of the people said this puzzle took them only 6 minutes--it took me about 4 hours off and on between watching Battlestat Galactia, but it is done. Living in CA--it was NAPA first--did not work, so CCR's song was my second choice. Did not like the ALKA clue.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

cody.riggs here. Usually Saturday puzzles are the only ones I can't finish during my commute...this one was hard. But loved it, except the awful RACOON answer and "Centuries" clue. I was convinced at first that "Kinkajou" was a colonial African revolutionary, or perhaps a Kipling character and scanned the entire map of the continent in my brain, before considering animals.

Oh yes, and the most awful answer: BOAT. BOAT??? I also wanted ARKH, really! If the clue gives no information at all, at least the answer should 'click' satisfyingly. This was just deceptive and bad.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't remember ALETA and RETE for the life of me. Both are total gimmes, and I just couldn't jog the right neurons.

Yesterday, Rex and I were thinking alike (except for ESSEN. I speak fluent German, and that was my first answer.) Unfortunately, this gimme made 1a very difficult, since the closing E led to "IMPRECISE"...loved the eventual SAD BUT TRUE though. I also wanted END UP for PROVE, NAPA for LODI, WRONG for DOING, and almost wrote "THE TIE" for UNE VIE!
Was fairly sure of "END UP" since that crossed "ETTE" (wrong answer for 'shortening in the kitchen.)

Oddly, I was sure of "HALVE" for 'change from two to one', though I couldn't reconcile it with OVEN MITTS/AVON which had to be right (well, no, I doubted it since I also wanted NAPA...that would give me APRON-something...)HALVE for UNITE was the only wrong answer I actually wrote in.

Thank goodness SLIP N SLIDE was a gimme, or else I'd have put NAPLES instead of NAPOLI. Had trouble with the whole LESLEY/ALVIN/YAS area, since I've never heard of Mr. Ailey. 'Riley' is a more common name, and if 'Leslee' had been the (perfectly legitimate) alt. spelling, it would have yielded 'ERS', a legitimate syllable, if not actually in a Dorsey hit. Also, the name HALAS was a problem- 'HALES' looks better, and so does the resultant 'ELVINA ILEY' it would have crossed. I eventually just guessed, and got it right by chance.

Wanted so bad to stretch "JINX" to "JYNXE" or something, though I know the Jonah reference.

Got "DENVER" only by knowing that the interstate numbers proceed from the South and West in multiples of 10...though I also travelled this intersection 11 yrs. ago.

Finally, loved the KNOX answer, though I wanted "EARL" so badly (My partner's name is the same as Pres. Carter's, whom we both admire so much.)

And MEOW. WOW. The last thing I filled in. Love it when the hardest answer is so good and satisfying.

WWPierre 2:31 PM  

Since I discovered Rex's blog, I am less apt to consult google. If I need help, the atlas and the dictionary are my first choices.
Sometimes when I can't seem to drive a wedge in anywhere, Hanne helps by seeing the obvious stuff that won't click in my RETES.
I only google as a last resort, and try to come at it obliquely, if I can. Mostly names of people I am not familiar with. If the answer is something I already know, I am so disappointed in myself.
Like Jeff, coming here is my reward to myself for completing the puzzle.

This was a bear. Best clue was the one for LOWER LIP. with SODACAN a close second. I had JONAS, which made the NOAH/BOAT combo the last to fall before the N/W which I needed to resort to Google to finally solve.
There oughta be a law against DQ and MN conspiring together.
'Scusa me, but you see, back in old Napoli, that's NOT amore.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

The right half felt like a Friday but the SW really took some time. The NW was my undoing. Had UNI, guessed ESSEN then nothing.

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