APE WRESTLERS: FRIDAY, Feb. 1, 2008 - Doug Peterson

Friday, February 1, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Struggled with this puzzle this morning as I lay on the couch with cereal and tea near at hand. Then I realized that Tim Russert was droning on and on in the background, totally harshing my puzzle vibe, so I turned off MSNBC and the puzzle fell reasonably quickly thereafter. I began with a pair of pop culture gimmes right in the heart of the puzzle: ERINS (25D: Actress Gray and others) and ELISE (25A: Actress Kimberly of "Close to Home"). ERIN was in the 1987 Patrick Swayze epic "Dirty Dancing." [ERROR - Jennifer GrEy was in "Dirty Dancing"; ERIN Gray was, as a helpful reader pointed out, on TV's "Silver Spoons" with Ricky Schroder - wish that had been in the clue] Kimberly ELISE is a successful movie and TV actress whose last name is a dream come true for constructors. Here's a Saturday-level ELISE clue for constructors to consider: the Lotus ELISE, a roadster from the English Lotus car company. The first one was produced in the mid-90's. It's like the 90s incarnate, this thing. Ridiculous and bulbous and fake-space-agey. Scary. Let's not go back to the 90s, shall we?

I solved this puzzle from the middle to the SW, and then came up short despite having the first three letters of all the major Across answers down there. Very frustrating (Russert was sent packing shortly after this moment). Had to regroup in the NW, then washed over the NE before getting stopped again somewhere around PASTY (23D: British meat pie), which I had right, but which created a line I could not get west of. So then I went down to good ole JED (37A: Prez's first name on "The West Wing") and worked my way back across the south from east to west, before finally conquering the pesky rebels in the Indiana portion of the grid. Said rebels were led by RAT ON (26A: Give away), which I couldn't get despite having -ATON (!?), and RENT-A (26D: _____-crowd (attendance booster)), which is from outer space. Is this a concept from politics? From sports? I have no idea. RENT-A-Cop, yes, RENT-A-Crowd, no. Oh, wait, there was a third rebellious answer in this section: GENTLES (32A: Domesticates). Are these nouns!?!?! Is "GENTLES" supposed to be a verb!? Ugh. It hurts.

There was much odd / off cluing in this puzzle, some of it making for a bracing a challenge, and some of it just making me groan. 8A: Ape wrestlers (grapple) hurt me so bad. It's a huge groaner, but I Should Have Known Better than to fall for the old noun-to-verb switcheroo. Me, on getting GRAPPLE: "What is a GRAPPLE, and how does it wrestle apes?" So sad. Why the insanely specific clue for ERE (24A: "A little _____ the mightiest Julius fell": Shak.)? No matter - I like when the puzzle seems custom-designed for me. As you know, I just began teaching Julius Caesar this week [Whoops - quotation is from Hamlet, not Julius Caesar; as my correcting reader said, "no wonder it didn't ring a bell"]. Not that I recall this line off the top of my head. TERMS is such a basic word that I was a bit miffed to have to go through 35A: Polynomial components to get it. Seems arbitrary, but what clue for TERMS wouldn't be? Then there's this new PEI guy (11D: Linguist Mario). As with yesterday's ADELE, I wish puzzles wouldn't force a common answer to have a new meaning. Maybe I don't mean that. Why not mix it up? But this has an "Anyone-But-I.M." desperation feel to it.

Long answers:

  • 15A: Be negative about (pour cold water on) - an excellent phrase, which it took me a good while to uncover. Long phrases with basic words can be hard to parse. Plus the clue was vague, so getting to the answer took some effort.
  • 17A: Hobbes in "Calvin and Hobbes" (imaginary friend) - I was annoyed that this wasn't a gimme. TALKING TIGER? No. I couldn't think of a phrase that fit. Of course IMAGINARY FRIEND is perfect. Sometimes brain no work.
  • 46A: They're not easily overturned (outrigger canoes) - had the OUT and went "???" Now that I have the answer (totally guessed the RIGGER part after getting either end), I can visualize these things. They have those floaty parts that run parallel to the canoe itself, like a runner on a sled ... sort of. Here's a pic:
  • 49A: Stereotypically smarmy sorts (used car salesmen) - like IMAGINARY FRIEND, this was an answer I should have come up with much more quickly. Had the USE- and couldn't do anything with it. Briefly though the answer might start "U.S. E..." But no.

Here's some other stuff that gave me trouble:

  • 20A: Body part above la bouche (nez) - total gimme ... except I spelled it NEE.
  • 34A: With 44-Down Cajun dish with giblets (dirty / rice) - I saw the word "giblets" (another candidate for Top Ten Ugliest Words) and blanked out, as if in self-preservation, so I would not be forced to contemplate "giblets" for even a second.
  • 50A: Without much wind (tersely) - the most embarrassing stumper of the day. I was even trying to think of forms of TERSE and still couldn't get this, however impossible that sounds. I never thought "adverb" - only "adjective." So I was stuck even when the answer was practically punching me in the face.
  • 32D: Prepare for a shower, maybe (gift wrap) - clever cluing. Too clever. I want to smack this clue. It beat me. I was trying to decide between bathroom shower and rain shower.
  • 37D: Basso Hines (Jerome) - mystery guest #1
  • 45D: Longtime columnist who coined the term "beatnik" (Caen) - mystery guest #2. You realize that "TERM" is in the puzzle, right? Is that one of those words that's allowed to be in both clues and grid at the same time?

Anything else?

  • 28A: Tahini base (sesame) - one of a handful of gimmes that helped me out today. We have an unopened jar in our cupboard that we have done nothing with for months.
  • 36A: Subject of some conspiracy theories (Hoffa) - needed the HOF- before I got it. Me: "UFOS? Moon landing? Vince Foster? etc."
  • 8D: Fred of "The Munsters" (Gwynne) - I knew this at one point in my life, but forgot it. It came back to me once I had the -YNNE. My brother-in-law's mom is named GWEN, as is a horrible character on a soap I may or may not watch, so that spot of my brain is occupied.
  • 44A: Playboy's plea (renew!) - gimme. Entered it with no crosses. The puzzle loves to play around with RENEW by playing off of magazine titles in ways that misdirect you.
  • 10D: Brand in a bathroom (Atra) - the Official Razor of the NYT Crossword Puzzle.
  • 51A: Tickled the most? (pinkest) - cute
  • 27D: Make like Pac-Man (chomp) - double cute. My sister used to kick ass at Ms. Pac-Man. I was always a Donkey Kong man (boy), myself.

We're ICED IN up here - all schools closed. So we'll try to subsist on the meager rations in our larder, which contains primarily hot chocolate and garbanzo beans right now. Yum.

Stay warm and safe.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

61 comments:

Megan P 9:10 AM  

Still perplexed by the ape wrestlers; brain in wrong gear.

Have some tahini today!

Rex Parker 9:13 AM  

"Ape"= verb meaning "imitate." So if you imitate wrestlers, you GRAPPLE. Or so the puzzle tells me.

RP

Karen 9:21 AM  

IMAGINARY FRIEND was my gimme, it got me off to a great start.

I wanted NAIR to be the bathroom product, until I started to think 'where in the bathroom does the puzzle like to hang out' and ATRA popped right up.

PENTA GON was completely random cluing. No way to get it without double crossings

Since you can GENTLE a horse, of course it is a verb.

I was happy with this puzzle in everything but the GRAPPLE.

Hammy 9:28 AM  

Funny, imaginary friend was the only gimme today. Got it with only one cross (which turned out to be wrong). I'm amazed that some days I work on the same wave length as you & on others, I can only get the two that stump you without googling.
I couldn't kick myself enough for 1a! It was the Merriam-Webster word of the day, ugh. Me brain no workie too good either.

PS
A little lemon juice and some garlic and you've got the makings for some yummy hummus.

pinky 9:33 AM  

My kind of puzzle - tricky but doable.

except...

i had SETTLES for GENTLES which gave me SOFT WRAP as in - for a baby shower? (hey, it's less of a stretch than GENTLES)

Rex- Thanks for the GRAPPLE explanation. I put it in there but had no idea why

pinky 9:33 AM  

My kind of puzzle - tricky but doable.

except...

i had SETTLES for GENTLES which gave me SOFT WRAP as in - for a baby shower? (hey, it's less of a stretch than GENTLES)

Rex- Thanks for the GRAPPLE explanation. I put it in there but had no idea why

Orange 9:44 AM  

Hey! We have a boatload of snow, too. But the Chicago Public Schools almost never close—so instead, my husband opted to work from home and he walked the kid to school. The house is quiet, the kid's taking his spelling test, and I am warm and dry. Crossword time!

It was only recently that I learned that DIRTY RICE contained that which we will not speak of by name, so (1) those two entries were a joint gimme and (2) eww. Do you mind? I just had breakfast.

Apparently Mario PEI wrote bestsellers back in the day, such as The Story of English in 1952 and 1978's Weasel Words: Saying What You Don't Mean. Maybe he should be in more crosswords for his word-nerd cred. Then again, he promoted Esperanto, which is just wack. (A couple good Pei quotes in that Wiki.)

PhillySolver 10:07 AM  

I could not finish this last night because of the NW. However, I was so pleased about how it was all coming together when after I read every clue I had actually put in five things I knew. Guessing well and with some luck I thought I am going to do this...NOT.

PENTA + GON is not a nice thing to do. I don't like that construction and never will. I mean really, it could be anything and isn't something you could ask in a trivia game for sure (OK, Question 3 for 5 points, What word am I thinking of broken into two parts?) Yuck!

Now, what I still don't get 1) why are RAFTS hosts? Why is SUABLE fit to be tied? One problem I had was making up the word Absuage so I was going to ask why bomber was not at all sunny. I think you see why I struggled here, but I was close and then just realized, Hey! its Friday and it is supposed to be hard.

Just cold rain here and it is supposed to end later today, so off to Restaurant Week and good times tonight.

Rex Parker 10:08 AM  

Fit to be TRIED

rp

marcie 10:10 AM  

oh mymymy! Even after reading the blog, I could NOT wrap my mind around ape wrestlers = grapple... thanks again for parsing it so clearly! (also so glad to know I was not alone on the slow train about that one!).

ryanfacestheworld 10:15 AM  

Delicious hummus recipe:
1-15oz can chickpeas
1 garlic clove
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 water

Throw it all in a blender or food processor, process until smooth (about 40 seconds). Eat. It'll take you all of 10 minutes to make, cost about 3 bucks and will be much better than the packaged stuff.

PhillySolver 10:17 AM  

thanks...and Orange writes that RAFTS referred to "a lot" like the Heavenly Hosts. May go back to bed and start day over.

Alex 10:22 AM  

I was so happy to have a 15-letter gimme with the Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes clue. Until I realized that ANTHROPOMORPHIC couldn't be right. Having that word in the puzzle would be teh awesome.

I would have gone this route for cluing grapple. I refuse to try one of those abominations but my wife says they're not bad.

Took quite a few looks before I realized SUABLE was sue-able and not swabble.

When I has the US- and -MEN part of USED CAR SALESMEN I gave serious consideration that it must be USA CONGRESSMEN but decided that was a little bit too judgmental for it to be right.

Yes, Erin Gray was in "Silver Spoons" but the vital role of her career from the "hotness in the eyes of young boys" was as Wilma in "Buck Rogers."

rick 10:25 AM  

@phillsolver

rafts = hosts = tons = lots = many, many

kratsman 10:27 AM  

Your explanation of "Playboy's plea?" is also good for the puzzle's frequent cluing for editor, viz, Playboy's head?

I don't think there's a rule against a word in a clue appearing in the puzzle, unless it's really an unusual word.

I learned that PASTY is pronounced like "past-ie" and not like "paste."

I know outriggers only from Hawaii.

I couldn't grasp "ape wrestlers" for way too long.

Since you have tahini and garbanzo beans, you might want to give this recipe a try:

burgers

PhillySolver 10:37 AM  

For those of us who are more visual, could we ask Emily to draw us her version of Ape Wrestlers?

I did get that answer early and as happens for me a lot, I just go with it and try to figure out the arcane clue later. Sometimes I end up with unusual stuff, but I didn't "understand" the ape bit until I read Jim's blog as he didn't get it either at first. Brain is foggy today.

Jim in Chicago 10:41 AM  

I must have had an off day since I really struggled with this puzzle. Lot's of things just didn't come to me. I think I'll blame the sniffles and my slight fever.

Wade 11:09 AM  

No snow in Houston today.

Is Atra still a company? Those dual-blade razors were great and slid so elegantly onto the razor. Now they don't make razors and razorblades anymore--they make "shaving systems," which they keep adding blades to and you need a toolbelt to put the blade and the razor together. Not only that, but I can never remember which "shaving system" I have at home and thus wind up buying the wrong kind of blade (and they're real expensive), so now I have a cabinet full of blades that don't fit my shaving system. I started using disposables for awhile, but that just feels wrong, like eating off paper plates in the house.

And shaving cream! Standing in the shaving cream aisle trying to figure out whether I wanted aloe, whether I had a tough beard or not or sensitive skin or not or wanted cream or gel, I often as not gave up after about a half an hour and just picked whichever can was cheapest or closest and left feeling demoralized.

Finally I just said screw it and grew a beard of mourning for Atra.

Nice puzzle today--guessing right on a couple of the long acrosses on the first pass got me a long way, though I went through the alphabet three times trying to complete __ERFS. Serfs just didn't occur to me as a word.

Don't get me started on toothpaste.

Rikki 11:12 AM  

Really fun Friday puzzle. I aped wrestlers on the whole NW of this puzzle last night, but I'm attributing it to exhaustion, since it came pretty quickly this morning. I for one did not like the phrase pour cold water on. Never used it, never had it used on me. But the rest of the puzzle was super. I also put nee for nez though I don't know why. Think pince nez. Jed in the West Wing, yeah... the very best TV ever offered IMHO.

Calvin and Hobbes is our family favorite and Waterson our hero. My mother used to cut the cartoons out and send them to me when I was in school. My son had every book and read them every day until they were tattered and torn and falling apart. We gave him the beautifully bound boxed set of them last year for his 20th birthday and he nearly cried. Kudos to Bill Waterson for his brilliance. He also eschewed capitalism and did not go for the billions he could have earned by marketing the mugs, shirts, hats, dolls, movies, action figures, etc. preserving his art in its original form. I'd love to have a frame within a frame of just one cartoon!

Had a Shakespeare lover for an English teacher in high school and we did Julius Caesar and Hamlet in depth. But I knew this answer from puzzling, I think. Didn't we have this quote before for ere?

Hungry right between dirty and rice. Yum, g-word and all! Pasties... double yum. The Brits know their meat pies!

Jerome Hines was an amazing opera singer and stunning to look at. Check him out here:

http://www.josephshore.com/Hines/

Herb Caen may have coined the term Beatnik, but it was to mock the Beat generation a la Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The stereotype of the pot-smoking, Van Dyke-sporting, black-and-beret clothed beatnik belied the spirit of the Beat Generation whose individualism and nonconformity gave rise to hippies and the Sixties. Anyway, at least it was a different way to clue Caen other than as a French city!

Too bad no orange rolls in the larder, Rex. They'd go well with cocoa.

jae 11:57 AM  

My kind of Friday puzzle. Lots of long answers and tricky clues and not many obscure names/facts to be derived from crosses. GWYNNE was a gimme and the G prompted me to parse ape as a verb and I was off and plodding (its Friday). Had REAMS for RAFTS and also SETTLES for GENTLES for a while. Got USEDCAR... off the USE.

MINSK always reminds me of the Seinfeld Movie episode Rochelle Rochelle about a young girl's erotic journey from Milan to MINSK.

Sally 12:04 PM  

After I got GENTLES for domesticate (32 across), I figured 32 down ("Prepare for a shower, maybe") must be "Get naked." Oops...

Noam D. Elkies 12:11 PM  

Even if GRAPPLE were intended as a noun it couldn't match "ape wrestlers" if that clue were read as "those who grapple with apes", because that's still plural.

TERMS does in fact have a technical meaning in mathematics that matches "polynomial components"; see for instance definition 5a in
http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/term. Better TERMS than PENTA+GON (which but for two crosses could also have been HEPTA/SEPTA+GON), but at least PENTA rhymes with RENTA.

Took me a while to put in IMAGINARY FRIEND, even though that's the first thing I thought of, because Hobbes is not entirely imaginary: others can see Hobbes, albeit only as a stuffed tiger.

ELISE/ERINS and JED/JEROME are two intersections of proper names I didn't know but fortunately there were no plausible alternatives.

Nice to get in the two "hosts" clues...

NDE

Gioacchino 12:18 PM  

I had Mario Pei as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the 50's; I've always wondered why he isn't used more. Also, I disagree that Hobbes was an imaginary friend, he seemed perfectly real to me! I really hated ape wrestlers.

Dick Swart 12:19 PM  

Wade - Here Here on 'shaving systems'(re: ATRA)!

My guess is technology has produced longer-lasting blades hence to keep volume up, Gillette has come up with edges galore and systems to maintain and increase dollar volume. Selling razors like SUVs. I'll have the Hummer, please - 14 edges, heavy-duty suspension system by Fox and a phone in the handle - gotta tuff beard, can't waste time?

Foam in cans- talk about over-packaging. I switched to a brush and shaving soap years ago - and it feels better!

ramsey 12:29 PM  

I had no problem with 'grapple', but got sidetracked when I used 'gungho' for 'hungry'.

I'm used to 'throw cold water on' rather than 'pour'. Is that another Minnesota-ism from my youth?

Frances 12:29 PM  

MINSK always reminds me of the line from a Tom Lehrer song: "...from Omsk to Tomsk to Minsk to Pinsk to me the news will run." That song offers the following advice about getting ahead in academia:

"Let no one else's work evade your eyes.
Why do you think the good Lord made your eyes?
So don't shade your eyes,
But just plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize..."
Only be sure to call it, please, RESEARCH!

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

A pretty good Friday puzzle for this solver-no googling necessary (I got all the unknown-to-me actors and actresses via crosses), and I was only slowed down momentarily by putting in DUNNIT for the Who clue in the southeast. A small quibble-for the "la bouche" clue, shouldn't the answer really be "le nez"? Or am I just being too obsessive-compulsive? Wait, don't answer that!

Greg 12:58 PM  

Hey Philly,
the clue is actually "Fit to be tRied," not tied! And hence, able to be sued! (tried in court, suable; you get the idea).
I was pretty happy with this puzzle all around, though briefly had "siren" for "She's dangerously fascinating" instead of "circe." Corrected it a moment later, but I hate the write-overs in pen - would have looked so nice except for that! I also liked the "pinkest" clue/answer Rex!
Happy solving all!
Greg

miriam b 1:15 PM  

I loved this puzzle with its off-center clues, though I was slightly affronted by the intersection of WATCHOUT and OUTRIGGER.

The "g" word made me blench, as always. SESAME was an antidote.

Just had a nice lunch - slices of cold salmon loaf (left over from yesterday's dinner)with spicy-hot mango chutney on homemade white bread, followed by piping hot Russian Caravan tea and a square of seriously dark chocolate, then a banana aa an afterthought.

Blue Stater 1:16 PM  

*Not* my kind of puzzle, alas -- indeed, just the kind that usually ruins my day, full of popcult, pun-howlers, etc., of which the worst was "ape wrestlers." Still, I must admit a grudging admiration for 46A -- the clue will also accommodate BIRCHBARKCANOES, which fits, too. This one had more instances than usual of clue-answer pairs where my first guess was right, but then I thought about it and concluded "that *can't* be what the constructor meant." This was particularly true for GRAPPLE, but also for REGAL, APIECE, and DRESSY.

Fergus 1:50 PM  

Great riff on shaving systems, Wade. I think the technology peaked with the Sensor. The fancy 5-blade vibrating gizmos seem to have bypassed their fundamental purpose.

The only actress Gray I know was Linda, who played Sue Ellen on "Dallas." The composition in 47D was a a little squirrelly since, the implication could be either the product or the components. REGAL and Austere took a while to match, as well.

Just the opposite of Rex, I had all the ends of the long Acrosses, and took some time to sort out the beginning parts. All in all, this was an archetype of a Friday puzzle: a bit of grappling, some wishing, seduced by a WITCH before CIRCE, and ultimately ASSUAGED when Jimmy HOFFA took over from my suspected MAFIA.

mac 2:52 PM  

I love when a puzzle takes a long time, and this one did. Favorite clues/answers: domesticates and tickled the most. Miriam, do you always eat so well at lunch, or are you snowed in and baking bread and making salmon loaves to kill time? I've got to get myself a little dark chocolate, now. Rex, thank you for explaining the grapple answer.

rafaelthatmf 3:01 PM  

S T U F F E D A N I M A L – Not enough. I M A G I N A R Y [Yes!] F R I E N D [Awsome!]. U S E D [Noway – kinda insulting maybe?] S A L E S M E N. [Damn Rex still kinda pisses me off]. G I F T W R A P [Too funny – those geeks on the forum are pretty cool – wonder what’s going on in there]. [Actress on the cross and the down – sorta bogus] _ _ _ _ C O L D W A T E R O N [dump, toss, flip] P O U R [should got that right off]. [wonder how Orange did in the tourney – okay Rex too] P E N T A: G O N [sweet] G W Y N N E [ha I remember I met his widow Roxy at a wedding – mmmmm Roxy]. [Wonder if anyone questions G R A P P L E]. [To hell with Rex I have to check in and see what’s up]
Hey guys! Loved this puzzle. Sorta mad at Rex and [why would he set up a site then hate on the overusers? We beg him to set it up? He built it we came. Sorry us] couldn’t bring myself to stop in but [They can’t see me tear up right? Right?] Peterson’s poser forced me to give into that little voice in my head [they can’t hear this] and had to see what was going on. [That’s enough – That’s enough just say goodbye and get out Get out!] Oh well hope everyone has what they need - see ya.

doc john 3:03 PM  

I guess I'm in the minority because I liked [Ape wrestlers]! Not thrilled about GENTLES or SUABLE but I'll live with it. I had IMAGINARY FRIEND because "stuffed tiger" didn't fit.
A fun Friday without anything too highly esoteric except maybe PEI.
I was going to mention Herb CAEN as a columnist for the SF newspaper (Examiner?) but Rikki beat me to it.

I agree that grappling apes would be a great subject for Emily's next pic.

Onward to Saturday- happy weekend, everyone!

rafaelthatmf 3:19 PM  

Wade – seriously! No seriously!! My beard grew in so patchy my own mother mocked me. Paper plates in the house…[chuckles].

Sorry Rex

miriam b 3:25 PM  

Mac, I do eat this way. I'm retired and a serious foodie blessed with efficient metabolism, else I'd weigh 300 lb. I did some errands this morning, got throughly soaked, changed clothes, did the puzzle in my tiny butler's pantry which has good light and a nicely situated radiator, had that lunch, and am ready to tackle other projects.

1. Make rye bread to go w/day-old borshch (the only way to serve it)
2. Go over mail
3. Pay bills
4. Do TurboTax for the one daughter who has simple financial picture
5. Give oldest cat his hyperthyroid meds (not as hard as it sounds - he's mellow)
6. Finish reading today's NYT
7. Hang some artwork which has been lying around
8. Start reading Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle
9. Possibly straighten out spare bedroom where visiting grandkids' toys are kept

mrbreen 3:31 PM  

Really wanted GETNAKED instead of GIFTWRAP.

jae 4:10 PM  

rafael -- nice to hear from you -- addictions are hard to kick!

jls 4:15 PM  

this one took me soooooooooo long, but loved the good feeling once i was done. solved it (mostly) from the bottom up. never thought i'd see that top portion finished!

;-)

janie

markus 4:45 PM  

Hooray! I finished a NYT friday puzzle! I thought I'd never see the day! I had BRAINY for "Smart" which caused a quagmire of ??? in that portion of the puzzle, but I took a deep breath and finished. GRAPPLE and IMAGINARYFRIEND were a couple of my first entries and getting a long across off the bat helps out a ton I've discovered.

Does anyone else think the grid looks like a giant "22"?

Fergus 4:58 PM  

Just like Emmitt Smith, now that you mention it.

PuzzleGirl 6:51 PM  

GRAPPLE was a gimme for me. I've caught onto the "ape means imitate" thing, and I've been completely obsessed with college wrestling for about two months now, so I've come across that word A Lot.

The only part I left undone was the Louisiana/Alabama region. I thought OUTRIGGER would be OUTRIGHT-something. Had SETTLES for GENTLES, so didn't have a prayer with GIFT WRAP, even though I suspected the reference was to a party-type shower. I think I might have been able to finish this puzzle if I had let it sit for another day, but it's just too hard to stay away from Rex's site. Sigh.

@kratsman: One of Patrick Berry's "Less Exalted (But Still Important) Rules of Cluing" is "Avoid reusing words from your grid in your clues. ... Your main goal is to prevent solvers from noticing any duplications, and some words are more noticeable than others." Apparently, TERM was noticeable to at least one solver today.

@wade: You described perfectly the feeling I have when (on the rare occasion) I shop for pantyhose.

@ramsey: I, too, couldn't get "THROW cold water" out of my head. (I'm originally from a place very close to Minnesota though.)

@frances: I'm not familiar with the Tom Lehrer song you quoted, but now I have his "New Math" stuck in my head. Fun!

@ryanfacestheworld: I keep saying I'm going to hunt up a good recipe for hummus. Sure didn't think I'd find it here though. Thanks!

Jim in NYC 8:30 PM  

Anonymous 12:45 is right on my wavelength. Great puzzle, awesome grid pattern, and those two quibbles.

emilyjo.c @ gmail dot com 8:48 PM  

oh my i love the word grapple!

karmasartre 9:01 PM  

Re. Herb Caen...Yeah!

Re. Hummus -- rinse the garbanzos first, the mucky stuff detracts from the taste (if using canned).

Re. GRAPPLE -- my fridge is stocked.

mac 9:29 PM  

Miriam.b, it it's raining, it must be Fairfield county!

quentin q 9:30 PM  

IMAGINARY FRIEND was one of my few friends in this puzzle (I'm still a bit overmatched at the end of the week...but working on it!) Even still, I did enjoy this puzzle quite a bit, or at least the sections of it that I was able to solve.

Most of my headway was in the NE; PRENATAL and ENDZONES were hard-fought victories aided by, what else, NEZ.

Also, I just wanted to mention that the word smarmy deserves more attention, being #4 on the list of words that sound really funny as comparatives. I mean, who DOESNT (39D) like hearing someone say SMARMIER?
Thanks.

miriam b 9:45 PM  

Mac, you must be psychic. In fact I was born and raised in Fairfield County, though not the ritzy part. I've lived in Suffolk County, L. I. for lo these many years. And it's still raining here, and probably in Stratford too.

mac 10:24 PM  

miriam b, your day sounds a lot like mine. Don't we like our lists? Saving time to end up doing what we really like. I am a foodie, too. Just another way to be creative and add to the quality of life.

Michael 11:00 PM  

I liked this puzzle. Just the right level of difficulty for a Friday, hardly any crosswordese, some clever clues. I didn't like penta and gon, though.

Karen 11:03 PM  

Alex, now I'm going to bet we see ANTRHOPOMORPHIC show up within the next month. I love that answer. I did eat a couple of grapples; overpriced, overly-concord flavored, but very crisp and nice packaging. I won't get one again!

Rikki 11:37 PM  

@Noam D.E. ape wrestlers = mimic wrestlers = grapple (a verb, not a noun).

@anonymous 12:45 (that sounds like a Bible passage - hast thou not a name?) I agree that it should have been le nez to be consistent with la bouche.

Hi Raf!

Noam D. Elkies 11:53 PM  

Rikki @11:37 PM:

> @Noam D.E. ape wrestlers = mimic wrestlers = grapple (a verb, not a noun).

Yes, I got it (and was suitably amused). My comment was in reply to Rex's

} "What is a GRAPPLE, and how does it wrestle apes?"

I was pointing out even if there *were* "a grapple" that wrestled apes it would not explain the answer.

NDE

andreacarlamichaels 4:46 AM  

I wanted to say THROW cold water on too and I'm also from Minnesota, so maybe it is!
(It's like duck duck grey duck and "come with")

Rex, your mention of DOnkey Kong is my third today! Fellow film reviewer complaining that "King of Kong" wasn't nominated for an Oscar...then just now Craig Ferguson talking about how great the film was...and now I belatedly read the blog, and you mention it too!

(My other moment of synchronicity, was just finishing up a puzzle and wrote "Actresses Mendes and Longoria" and she appeared on Craig! while I was writing that!)

Herb Caen wrote for the SF Chronicle for, like 50 years but I second-guessed myself bec I had SIREN.
Also stuck with LATHERUP for awhile.
Hated GRAPPLE and PENTA GON thing.

Badir 9:46 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. It's lots of fun when you get to fill in a 15-letter answer, and I got to do it four times! I wanted something like STUFFED TIGER for a while, but eventually shifted to the more generic idea. I grew up in San Francisco, so Herb CAEN was a gimme. So was TERMS, as Noam pointed out, since I'm also a mathematician. I liked the fancy clueing, except for the really forced-sounding Domesticates: GENTLES. I also liked this puzzle, since it was my second-fastest Friday ever! Yay!

Oh yeah, Rex, I was going to tell you to put your TAHINI and garbanzo beans together to make some yummy humous, but RyanFacesTheWorld beat me to it.

Kim 5:10 PM  

My darling husband came up with "grapple" confirming, once again, that I made the right choice twentysomething years ago.

fotos4fun 3:17 PM  

I'm a rookie Sunday NYT solver. You guys who do it in under 10 mins blow my mind. Usually it takes me all week and I don't finish it. This week I got it almost done by Sunday night and I'm DARN proud of myself. I was always afraid of this puzzle and now I'm hooked. I can't wait to tackle it each Sunday. If I did it in 10 mins I would hate it ... To have my fun cut so short would be terrible. I love trying to think like the developer to figure out the harder clues and the theme. The Sunday NYT puzzle rocks ... bring it on .. I'll never consider it TOO EASY.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Well, I guess there was a reason I dated a high school grappler all those years ago!! Started this puzzle off in fine style for me, although I did have to shake my head with amusement at the clue. I hope Doug didn't use "apes" as a pun.

TimeTraveller 11:11 PM  

NDE 12:11 notices that JED and JEROME cross; doesn't mention that CIRCE crosses Jerome and starts Herb CAEN. Thats a lot of proper nouns entangling themselves. Isn't there a rule against that?

And ELISE and ERINS cross -- but that's pop culture so its OK by Rex. *sighs*

WWPierre 5:08 PM  

6 weeks and 1 day later: This puzzle sat on the kitchen table for 24 hours with about 6 or 7 answers scattered about while I contemplated googling with a heavy heart.

GWYNNE was a gimme, for some reason, as were ACT ONE, and SESAME. In Florida I had EMCEES, and CIRCE, (very gloatable, I thought) The Saturday puzzle arrived, and I decided to give this one more try in case my eye were to wander to the answers while doing Saturdays, thereby cementing my defeat, and throwing me into deep depression for who knows how long. (while my ego is large, it is somewhat fragile) :)

Wonder of wonders! I finished it up with the first cup of tea!

I also grew up with "Throw COLD WATER ON" and I am from Nova Scotia.

One small quibble, which I am surprised no-one mentioned: If "friend" can refer to an inanimate object, (A fisherman's Friend cough drop, for instance) then Hobbs is NOT imaginary. He is a stuffed tiger, and is often depicted
hanging limply over Calvin's arm.

Aviatrix 9:01 PM  

Just came back from Yellowknife (-30C, but not more than 30 cm of snow), and the crossword was waiting for me.

- grappling with STUFFEDTOYTIGER or TOYSTUFFEDTIGER: he's not imaginary, - la bouche calls for le nez
- ERE the mightiest Julius + Brutus has a lean HUNGRY look = yum
- triple ERINS/ELISE/GWYNNE = yuck
- FINDSOAP before showering :-)
- Would cluing PEI as "potato province" or "Green Gables locale" or "seat of Canadian Confederation" be too easy or too hard for American solvers?
- Is Basso Hines a cake mix that fell flat?
- Your picture is an outrigger KAYAK. Canoes have open tops, and the birchbark variety mentioned by blue stater may fit the grid, but are very VERY easily overturned. Hence the expression, "able to make love in a canoe."

Thanks for the blog!

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