FRIDAY, Feb. 8, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (ULTRA-OBEDIENT COMPANIONS)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium


Struggled with this puzzle a bit, and I have two explanations. One, I started in the far far far SE with JERI (57A: Ryan of "Boston Public") crossing AJA (55D: 1977 double-platinum album with the hits "Peg" and "Deacon Blues" [pauses to load Steely Dan onto iTunes ... realizes he has only a live version of "Josie" ... decides that will do]). It's very disorienting to try to work a puzzle from the depths of hell upward. Perhaps I was just feeling DAZED (54A: Woozy) from (explanation #2 for my struggles) having napped between about 9 and 10:15pm. Not your optimal napping time. Lying there in bed trying to work this R to L, Down to Up, after having just napped, left me feeling a bit sluggish. And yet, once I finally got some damned traction, this puzzle was a real pleasure - though two areas vexed me terribly. Vexed, I say!

Vexation 1: The SW

Whenever I find myself working into a corner where I know there's no way out, no back door, just a dead end, I can feel myself start to get a little worried inside - what if the scent goes dead and I've just got blankness staring at me? I started feeling this way when I sent CAPE VERDE (52A: Africa's westernmost point) and then ITINERANT (56A: Like some salesmen and preachers) arcing across the void toward the west coast ... and then nothing happened. I had something-AWAY underneath and a whole lot of blank above. Even (finally) nailing STEPFORD WIVES (17D: Ultra-obedient companions) didn't make things better. Eventually, with a little patience (and a nice guess at 40A: _____ shop (pro)), I hacked my way through. In retrospect, two problems: ELEMI (48A: Fragrant resin) was simply baffling, though it has the air of a word I've seen before, in some crossword long ago. Then there was the vagueness factor at 58A: Brushes off (sends away) - that SENDS felt like it could have been anything - and then 41D: Have a connection (relate) and 45A: Rolls over, in a way (renews), which I don't quite get. Is this 401K-speak? I would never have known PRECIS (40D: Abstract) if I hadn't had to write one in British Literature II with Professor Reed in 1989 ... why, I don't know? All I know is PRECIS conjures that very precise memory. And ONE PIN (42D: Spare part?)? You missed the ONE? I would have thought TEN PIN, but I guess people miss the ONE all the time, now that I think of it.

Vexation #2: The NNW

This part wasn't nearly as bad as the SW, but because I couldn't make sense of 20A: Pay stub data (TA...??? - turned out to be TAXES), I couldn't work my way up in to the NW. Another @#$#$#ing "epoxy" stood in my way - 5D: Kind of resin (epoxy). I eventually came at the N from the back end, though as I worked my way up there (my Last Stand), I had that creeping feeling of "you're going to stall ... the engine's going to cut out ... here comes the free fall ..." Thankfully, the long Acrosses up there were reasonably easy to pick up from their back ends, though my initial error at 8D: Big _____ (I had TEN instead of BEN - Go Michigan!), left me with a silly mess at 5A: Results of compliments (--OTOOSTS??? - ended up as EGO BOOSTS, of course). I am quite proud that I drove the OTOS (7D: Natives of Noble County, Okla.) out of their hiding places almost instantly. Come on - you're crossworld's most recognizable Native Americans; you're going to have to hide better than that. PATENT LAW (15A: Invention convention) feels weird to me. Is a "LAW" a "convention?" I guess ... it is. But it's got the force of ... well, LAW behind it. You are welcome for that circular definition.

The Bullet Train

  • 1A: Ways to get inside hip joints? (MRIs) - what's weird here is that I thought the anatomical route was the misdirection, so I thought "Oh, I see, 'hip joints' = cool bars or clubs ... aha! Clever!" Ah ... no. "Hip joints" are indeed just that. I have had two MRIs in the past year. I hope never to have another. (I am fine, by the way, thanks for asking)
  • 14A: Is not misused? (ain't) - cute. A nice little gimme for me up here in the NW.
  • 18A: Opening on an environmentalist's agenda? (ozone hole) - I can't believe that I had HOLE and still had to think a few seconds about what this could be. I was thinking of knotHOLES in trees ... sheesh.
  • 19A: Wrangler rival (Lee) - another sweet little gimme. I noticed on my wife's half-completed puzzle that she got this with no crosses, so I wasn't alone.
  • 22A: Person after a lifestyle change, self-descriptively (new me) - gangly clue, but great answer.
  • 36D: Jersey workers (knitters) - thought for sure this would have to do with cows.
  • 27A: Modern vent outlet? (blog) - I'll "vent" you, you wise-ass. Speaking of blog, I had a photo shoot yesterday (HA ha) for the forthcoming "Cat Fancy" article on me (and by "Cat" I mean "Chronicle of Higher," and by "Fancy" I mean "Education"). It was So Elaborate, with all kinds of lights and backdrops ... and yet the photo will likely not reflect at all the circus-like machinations that went into it. People kept peeping their heads into my office to see the celebrity, only to be massively disappointed.
  • 29A: You may pass on these: Abbr. (rds) - uh ... sure. You may do lots of things on these.
  • 31A: Old hippie hangout, with "the" (Haight) - is the hangout old, or are the hippies old? Or both?
  • 38A: Singer Lennon and others (Seans) - went totally blank on this. Could see the kid (not a kid anymore, I guess) in my head, but kept trying to write in JOHNS.
  • 43A: Where a tongue can be found (deli) - gross. Never eaten tongue, and likely never will.
  • 47A: Probably will, circumstances permitting (plans to) - way harder than it should have been because I had "A" in the final letter for a while due to a mix-up at 39D: Pinch-hit, where I had STAND IN instead of STOOD IN.
  • 51A: Torch-lighting skater at the 1998 Winter Olympics (Ito) - my first clue that STAND IN was wrong. I knew this Had to be ITO (actually I entertained ALI for a bit, which just goes to show, you should actually Read your clues ... the word "skater" is right there!).
  • 1D: Laugh-producing game popular since 1958 (Mad Libs) - as I was trying to figure this out, I was thinking "'Laugh-producing?' I'll be the judge of that." But I have to admit that, as a child, I laughed quite a bit at Mad Libs. Sahra thinks they're hilarious.
  • 2D: What ethylene may be used for (ripening) - science! Between the resins and the RIPENING, I was at a decided disadvantage today.
  • 9D: Short-term relationship (one-night stand) - breakfast test! Do I really want to think about casual sex with my cereal? Wait, that question didn't come out right ...
  • 13D: May TV event (sweeps) - love it. Got it instantly. Very contemporary.
  • 24D: Measure that resulted in multilingual labeling on goods (NAFTA) - that's where multilingual labeling came from??
  • 27D: Sect governed by the Universal House of Justice (Bahai) - what a coincidence: my sect is governed by the Universal House of Pancakes.
  • 28D: Storyteller's pack (lies) - I was talking to my class yesterday about the long-standing association between story-telling and lying.
  • 44D: Pitch preceder (slo-) - because "w" just takes too damned long to write.
  • 50D: "The Facts of Life" housemother _____ Garrett (Edna) - total gimme, and yet I wrote in MONA at first, completly conflating Mrs. Garrett with the saucy Mona Robinson, Katherine Helmond's character on "Who's the Boss."
  • 53D: Silent _____ (Era) - took a while for this ERA to come to me.

Lastly: I had this insane dream last night that remotely involved 3-time Crossword Tournament Champion Tyler Hinman. I had been in a mall but ended up at an Italian restaurant out on a dead-end road, and when I went in the place was a mess and didn't even appear to be functioning. A few people here and there with largely empty plates. A waitress came over and told me that they were out of food because Tyler Hinman had been there just beforehand with some other guy and they'd eaten everything in the restaurant, so now all they had to serve were oat cakes (!?). Then it got very "Godfather" and morphed into a story wherein someone died in a car bombing in the parking lot. Just thought I'd share.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


rick 9:04 AM  

When a contract automatically renews it is said to roll over.

I had big SUR, maybe because of the old hippies (and I think you can put old in any context in the clue because old hippies still hang out in what is the old hangout for 60s hippies).

And as far as your cereal goes, if it's over 18 and consenting, do what you will; other wise: ZIPUPYOURFLY.

Mo 9:32 AM  

Woo hoo (to use a Rexism) another Friday finished with no googling. Got the eastern half very quickly (also had STAND IN at first for STOOD IN). In the NW I also thought "hip joint" was going to be a club of some kind. Took a long time to figure out BIG APE--I know "lug" usually refers to a kind of person in crosswords, but I always suspect that occasionally it will mean "to carry." ELEMI is the only thing that makes the "never heard of list for today. I really enjoyed this puzzle, great job MN.

Rex, I'm a faithful Chronicle reader, so am looking forward to their piece on you. But why the circumlocution of "Cat Fancy?" Actually, as a fellow cat lover, I had was looking forward to an article on your cats.

dbg 9:47 AM  

As always, one person's hell is another's heaven. My jumping off point was TALMUD and SWEEPS and within minutes had the whole right side of the puzzle. But my one blank box was where Rex began. Never heard of Jeri Ryan or the Steely Dan album. Came up with Teri, Keri, Peri, and even Geri but never thought of Jeri.

My only other stumble was writing in HTTP instead of HTML and took several minutes to unsnarl that one.

Morgan 9:49 AM  

It's not that people missed the ONE PIN (although that's possible, but only with some odd pin action). Rather, they left ONE PIN standing, any pin. In pro-bowling they talk about one-pin spares a lot, and it's one of the few statistics they keep track of.

I thought TEN PIN too, at first, and I'm a bowler.

BTW, this is my first comment--I really enjoy reading this journal every day after I (try) to complete the puzzle. Hopefully soon I'll be able to solve Fridays and Saturdays with as much ease as you (these days, I only solve those days with my boyfriend).


Norm 10:02 AM  

Isn't it a HOLE in the OZONE layer rather than an OZONE HOLE? Just being picky because the AJA-JERI cross was a total mystery to me. Never heard of either one so I guessed AGA & GERI. Close but not quite.

Liz 10:03 AM  

Smoked beef tongue is a taste treat sliced to make sandwiches or as the entree for a meal. I've also had wonderful sliced pig tongue from Asian delis. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Jim in NYC 10:10 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. For "See stars" (6D) I first tried "gape", which led to some time wasted on the nonsensical OPONEH---(opponent? up one ...? Oprah?) before EMENDing it to "gaze".

I too tried HTTP instead of HTML (31D) causing 37A and 43A to be the last squares to fall.

As a patent attorney I first tried PATENTESE at 15A (invention convention), which, I respectfully submit, would have been a better answer (but probably not right for the NYT).

Jim in Chicago 10:21 AM  

Fun puzzle today.

I began by figuring out the TAXES/EPOXY cross, put in OZONE and EGO, PATENT (even though didn't have the rest of any of those) and most the East fell from there. I dig have Big TEN for awhile which, lacking OTHER, seemed to give me EGO TOASTS (maybe still thinking about those EGGOs from earlier in the week). Finally said, oh big BEN.

I managed to misspell CAPEVERDE, ending it in an I, which combined with MEANSTO instead of PLANSTO, gave me MIIEY for something that brings people to church. Sigh.

I knew neither AJA or JERI Ryan, which left me with a blank square in the SE.

PhillySolver 11:12 AM  

In Jeri fashion, I would give this a "seven of nine"

I did not finish today and it was two mistakes late last night that did me in. I fixed the Verdi/VERDE error and the ten/BEN, addlibs/MADLIBS, traveling/ITENERANT, meanto/PLANSTO, and then added the two that killed me... amend/EMEND (which had R-NAWS) crossing PR?CIES (which I did not know) and was flummoxed by RI_ENING/D?L?S) That one I should have gotten, I know, so I have earned my D+

I guess as an old hippie, I HAIGHT myself this morning.

Wade 11:15 AM  

I also learned the word "precis" in a college lit class (in 1987) and haven't seen or used it since until today.

I had tongue just a couple of days ago in a breakfast taco I bought at the best taco truck in Houston--it's on Durham just south of I-10, parked in that vacant lot next to the Wendy's, if anybody's interested. It was very good but not as good as the tripa tacos I usually get there.

SW was the last to fall for me but still had a pretty good time (for me) on a Friday--just under 17 minutes. (Having MEANSTO instead of PLANSTO slowed me down a bit. It made me want to put MIATA for what brings people to church.)

Wade again 11:25 AM  

By the way, does anybody remember a TV show or movie in which a character makes the case that a D plus is in fact the worst grade you can make? ("Dad, it's not a D. It's a D plus!") There is something insulting about the plus appended to the D. It seems to imply that you're not merely an idiot but in fact are an idiot who tried.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

I feel for the stand in/stood in trap as well. I was wondering how the clue could/should have been phrased to indicate the past tense of the answer. Pinched hit? Pinch hitted? Of course both are wrong but what would be correct? English is a crazy language. Two Ponies

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

I feel for the stand in/stood in trap as well. I was wondering how the clue could/should have been phrased to indicate the past tense of the answer. Pinched hit? Pinch hitted? Of course both are wrong but what would be correct? English is a crazy language. Two Ponies

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Sorry, I hit the submit button twice. Two Ponies

matty lite 11:28 AM  

Everyone should know Aja. As "Eno" is to musical artist, so "Aja" is to musical album. It's on there every few months.

Also, you'd not be doing yourself a disservice if you listened to it. It's great. It's a high-water mark in that late 70s super-perfect Wurlitzer and crisp horns and jazz chords kind of rock. It features hilarious-when-focused-in-on backup vocals by Michael McDonald, too, if that's your thing.

voiceofsocietyman 11:37 AM  

I had the awful SILLILY for "how a goose acts." You silly goose. You inane goose. Hmmm.

I loved the cluing and answer for OZONE HOLE.

I thought "abstract" would have an adjectival answer, so I had a C where the S of PRECIS went. I then put in CASTS AWAY rather than SENDS AWAY for awhile.

jae 11:58 AM  

Great puzzle. Add me to the TEN, STOODIN list, but this generally went pretty smoothly for me. AJA and JERI were gimmies (JERI is now with James Woods on Shark). The long answers were fairly obvious and once I had a few of those the rest of the puzzle opened up. Like yesterday my only complaint was having to play "guess the vowel" at the ELEMI/PRECIS crossing. I have written countless abstracts but have never encountered the word PRECIS. Just glad to guess right.

@karma – re: full circle -- Bradley Whitford was on Ferguson a couple of nights ago talking about the demise of “Studio 60,” he said “the people upstairs took Old Yeller out behind the barn and shot him.”
Do you think he reads Rex?

dbg 12:07 PM  

For those who believe they have never seen the word ELEMI I can only say that it must have been in the puzzle before, and more than once because I not only know it, but it is also the first word that I think of on seeing the clue fragrant resin. I am 100% certain that the ONLY reason I know this word is from doing the NYT puzzle.

I was also going to say that I had never seen AJA before but perhaps if used previously the "J" was obvious in the intersecting word where here it certainly was not, at least for me.

Dick Swart 12:15 PM  

Re: Cape Verde. Instantly brings to mind Cesaria Evora to off-set Steely Dan. She has a new disk out with Senegalese neighbor Ismael Lo.

PhillySolver 12:20 PM  

ELEMI is making its ninth appearance in the NYT and AJA eleventh. Its the second JERI and to illustrate you can't teach an old dog new tricks, both of my stumbling places, PRECIS and DPLUS occur for the first time today.

matty lite 12:43 PM  

Phillysolver, your stats are awesome. Thank you. Where do you get them? They really scratch an itch. Every ASHE, ever SHEA makes me wonder how many times they've been clued, and you seem to have the answers.

karmasartre 12:46 PM  

I found the Eastern half easy (in spite of STanDIN), but the Western half seemed to take days. The STEPFORDs weren't happening, ELEMI was not in my repertoire, and INANELY seems way too sophisticated a concept for a goose.

@norm -- I agree re. OZONE HOLE. But I'm never comfortable with the use of a noun as an adjective, even though I hear it (and use it) often.

@wade -- Tongue taco (see?) Yipe! and Yike!

@liz -- Huh? I believe in knocking everything I haven't tried. It's a law.

@rex -- 1) re. OTOS, enjoyed your "hide better than that description", 2) Glad you're fine. For me, MRI doesn't pass the breakfast test, Sunday or otherwise. There has to be a better way than that soul-shattering device, and 3) I think the dream means that TH has won and you feel you're playing for the spoils, er, second-place.

@jae --Good catch/connection! I don't know about Bradley reading Rex, but as he's probably between gigs, he ought.

Frances 1:27 PM  

@ matty lite--

The source for those enlightening stats about word/clue frequency is This is a wonderful site, where a lot of constructors and other very smart people congregate, but it's loads of fun for us run-of-the-grid folks, too. You can download (through across-lite) puzzles from a number of sources, read about celebrities in the cross-world, find out about coming events, etc. To access the word/clue archive, you have to be a paid member ($35 for a year, but well worth it in entertainment value).

Ted 1:35 PM  

I guess I've been doing these long enough that ELEMI is such a bit of crosswordese that I wrote it in without any crosses. I have a bit of a problem with the clue for 19A. How can Lee and Wrangler be rivals when they are the same company (VF Corporation). Are Chrysler and Plymouth rivals?


Rex Parker 1:35 PM  

Yes, anyone who wants those stats can have them - I recommend supporting I do.

JimH also keeps stats on NYT puzzles. See blog link, sidebar.


matty lite 1:42 PM  

@ frances & rex--
thanks for the cruciverb heads up. $35 seems like it'll pay for itself the first word I look up. Which, by the way, will be ENO.

profphil 1:45 PM  

I too had means to instead of plans to at first. Then switched it to leans to and had limos instead of piety going down. It made sense as many weddings take place in churches and limos often drop off the wedding party. Thought it was a very clever answer. Of course that did not work with Cape Verde. After almost completing the puzzle without Googling hit a final wall in the SW corner. Was really stuck and required help from Mr Google to get Edna/Mrs Garret and Deion (always forget his name) to get a foothold in that corner and finally complete the puzzle. Still good for a Friday.

As to precis, it's a word I really like and often use when I am summarizing something .

PuzzleGirl 1:52 PM  

A Google-free Friday for me. Yay!

A hundred years ago when I was in the jazz band in high school, we played "Aja" pretty much every year. Awesome tune.

I, too, hoped for Big TEN (Go Hawks!), opted for Big Top instead. When I figured out OZONE HOLE I thought it might be TEN after all, but alas.

I didn't know that Sean Lennon sang. I kept thinking about Julian and wondering if anyone had ever actually called him Jude.

I couldn't get STEP IN out of my head, so had trouble with STOOD IN.

EDNA was the first word I placed in the grid. Now that's sad.

@wade: There's a place in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that advertises their breakfast burritos as "Burritos as Big as Your Head." I've always loved that.

@Two Ponies: Actually, the way it's clued IS past tense. That's how you know it's Friday.

@dbg: ELEMI hasn't been in the Times puzzle since November 2005. Good memory (or maybe you're doing other puzzles too).

@phillysolver: I assumed you were getting your stats from Cruciverb, too, but when I did a search I came up with 7 for ELEMI and 9 for AJA (3 in 2007). What's up with that?

I once had a bizarre dream where my friend Rachel and I were hanging out with Aerosmith in downtown Iowa City. It was Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer, but instead of Brad Whitford from Aerosmith it was Brad Whitford from The West Wing.

Noam D. Elkies 2:07 PM  

First word I filled in was JAVA where HTML was supposed to go. :-( [HTTP is not a language, but JAVA is, and fits the space.] Eventually rescued by GET ON THE -- though I can't recall ever seeing or hearing the full phrase; is it STICK as in a stick-shift car?

Other wrong turns: 2D ~ TORCHING (bzzt -- that would be acetylene, not ethylene); 3D ~ IN LEAGUE (as in "conspiring with") off the UE, only three letters away from the intended INTRIGUE. Had no idea about AJA/JERI; guessed T instead of the J. Also forgot about the OTO variant of OTOE, giving the cross TAXEE which seemed barely plausible enough.

On the plus side, got ONE NIGHT STAND off the last N... I see that gives the primary meaning "a performance (as of a play or concert) given (as by a traveling group of actors or musicians) only once in each of a series of localities", so the phrase could have been clued without ruining your breakfast (assuming your breakfast enjoyment already survived edible TONGUE).


Greg 2:21 PM  

My only issue was "Bahai" crossed with "Haight." I had Behai and Height, having heard of neither one! Height seemed the most reasonable answer - oh well! All else was Google-free-for-me!

jae 2:49 PM  

Puzzlegirl -- thanks for the date on ELEMI, I started doing the NYT in mid 2006 which explains why its new to me rather than something I've forgotten.

PhillySolver 2:52 PM  

Full disclosure, although I am a Gold Memebr (hmmm) on Cruciverb...

is where I go...I love this stuff...Jim's Blog is great for lots of (dare I say it) nerdy reasons.

Date Grid Clue Author
Friday, February 08, 2008 48A Fragrant resin Mike Nothnagel
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 63A Fragrant resin Seth A. Abel
Wednesday, December 18, 2002 66A Fragrant resin Merle Baker
Friday, August 24, 2001 53A Lacquer ingredient Manny Nosowsky
Tuesday, June 12, 2001 23A Varnish resin Alfio Micci
Sunday, April 04, 1999 86D Lacquer ingredient Richard Silvestri
Wednesday, April 08, 1998 29D Varnish resin Nancy S. Ross
Thursday, February 13, 1997 30A Fragrant resin F. Longo
Sunday, December 15, 1996 51D Fragrant resin R. Ross

JimHorne 3:26 PM  

Speaking of nerdy, "Web code" is an excellent clue for HTML. HTTP is a protocol, rather than code. JAVA is a language but it's not particularly associated with the web. JavaScript, a similarly-named but completely unrelated language, is pretty much web-specific.

But the clue didn't mention language, only code. HTML is not really a language, although that's what the L stands for, because it lacks basic language semantics like IF statements, but it is the code that drives the web.

A long way of saying, good clue. Bravo to the fact checkers (Ellen?) for being so precis. I mean precise.

Damn, it feels good to be able to brag about arcane knowledge here in the RexWorld. This is what doing puzzles does to us!

miriam b 4:01 PM  

Resins and use for ethylene were gimmes as I'm a retired chemist. Bring on the ases. oses, enes, ane, ines, and even ynes. I'm ready.

I tried BIGOAF at first, mainly because I love the word oaf. I had to capitulate to INANELY, which I find - well, inane. Then all became clear.

KNITTERS fits for Jersey workers if you mean British people knitting by hand. The traditional Aran Island knits originated among the fisherfollk on the Isles of Jersey and Guernsey. The Jersey styles are called jerseys, of course. The Guernsey styles are gansies. These pullover sweaters are textured with wonderful symbolic motifs, all with a connection with the sea or shore.

American jerseys are garments sewn from finely machine-knitted fabric, and I guess the people operating those industrial machines could technically be called KNITTERS. I'm a demon hand knitter myself, so I feel qualified to nitpick (sorry).

I just realized that I held forth on basketry terms the other day. I hope I'm not becoming a tedious bore. I'm into the fiber arts and even have a cottage industry going. I restore antique wicker.

Orange 4:31 PM  

All the previous AJA clues in the Cruciverb database mention Steely Dan—this is the first time I think I've seen the album clued without the band. That definitely makes it Friday-tough, and nigh impossible for anyone who doesn't know JERI Ryan.

Jeri Ryan's ex-husband was running for Senate against Barack Obama a few years back. Eventually the divorce papers were made public—though Jack Ryan was a very attractive candidate as far as Republicans go, the repeated cajoling and trying to get his wife to go into a sex club with him torpedoed his political career. Nothing wrong with a couple going to a sex club if they're both into it, but trying to convince your famous actress wife to go when she doesn't wish to? Not good.

@Two Ponies: Particularly in Friday and Saturday puzzles, you're not going to get a hint as to whether a word is past or present tense. In fact, I daresay the constructors and Will Shortz like to include words like "put" and "set" in the clues specifically to introduce that uncertainty. It's all part of the vexatious fun!

doc john 4:56 PM  

This puzzle killed me! Although I did finish it mistake- and google-free, it took forever. Got the NE handily enough but every other part was a long fight. Even though AJA was a gimme for me (and I sorta remembered JERI from ST:Voyager) I still couldn't get a handle on the SE. Fell into the stand/STOOD trap, too, but nice to see Midori ITO's name in a puzzle. She was always one of my favorite skaters; what a charming, bubbly personality she had on the ice.

The SW in particular got me and I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the puzzle. Held on to ALLOWS (for renews) way too long and also had casts instead of SENDS. Finally figured out the PIN part of the "spare" clue and I was on my way. To me, PRECIS is the name of some car (maybe a Hyundai?). And I'm another one who must know ELEMI from crosswords because I have no other idea how I could have known it!

Loved the clues for:

PhillySolver 5:05 PM  

@ doc john

You are right about the PRECIS car, however it was far from precision and only lasted from 1990 to 1994. Dude, it was one ugly car, but it may soon challenge ALERO for cars past their prime, at least in Friday puzzles.

Watch for it.

Tyler 5:14 PM  


markus 5:21 PM  

Hoo-Rah! Second week in a row I've finished a Friday NYT puzzle! I am completely elated! I had Big TEN as my answer as well (to those who've posted as having this as their wrong fill) and I'm gonna give a shout to my alma mater... Go Illini!

Catherine K 5:48 PM  

@Morgan: Like you, I am fairly new to doing the weekly puzzles regularly. I was a Sunday solver for years, because I subscribe to a newspaper that runs a syndicated version of the Sunday puzzle (one week behind).

Then I started to enjoy Rex's blogs so much that I decided to become a diehard solver.

Today I printed it off, and found that I was able to solve it more easily. Maybe I'm better visually, seeing the whole picture.

Two resins in one puzzle! I will remember ELEMI now. And I suspect that DEION is crosswordese that I'd best remember also. That was my only Google today. I was so proud of myself!

I can never remember the spelling of EMEND vs amend. And I must remember that a goose in the NYT is usually not a bird! And LUG is a person, not an action!

Where is GET ON THE STICK" used?

green mantis 5:51 PM  

I kept wanting "Mrs." for Mrs. Garrett's first name, because that's what Tootie and Blair always called her. You take the good, you take the bad...that song is almost as infectious as the Good Times theme.

I also had a crossword-related anxiety dream, Rex. Mine had me looking at a puzzle whose clues consisted solely of random letters like some kind of algebraic formula, none of which were numbered.

The hippies on the Haight are young. And they're not hippies; they're punk rockers with dogs and no money and attitudes. Makes walking that neighborhood rather unpleasant.

Amy 6:15 PM  

This is only my second time posting, but have been reading for a few months now.

I thought this one was quite easy, not sure why. But I did see a theme in the long answers: STEP, STICK, STAND. Not sure exactly what the connection is, but all one syllable words starting with ST at a minimum.

I enjoy the blog a lot, but find that too often I want to look before I finish the puzzle. I couldn't do that when I had to wait 24 hours for the paper the next day.

billnutt 6:22 PM  

I was so happy! I didn't even THINK about googling working on this one!

Doesn't mean it was all roses, though. I so wanted "Silent____" to be CAL.

I initially feared that the Lennon clue would refer to one of the sisters, whose names completely escape me. (Was one Kathy?)

Interestingly, Rex, I started the puzzle the same way you did. I agree that the SW was deucedly tricky, but once I sussed out STEPFORDWIVES (brilliant clue!), the rest fell easily.

Dick Swart, thanks for the heads-up on a new Cesaria Evora CD. She's wonderful!

Howard B 6:36 PM  

Just wanted to pay my respects to the Universal House of Pancakes while I'm here. Anointeth us with boysenberry syrup. We thank thee for our daily bottomless pot of coffee, which never runneth over or runneth out. Amen.

No big shock that I'm going to say it was a fun puzzle today.

rick 7:12 PM  


The reason you (and I know you do) do a lot of puzzles:

Had the A and the A and did not know JERI but AJA was just in a puzzle not too long ago. Informed WAG pays off.


Was thinking the Lennon Sisters also.

Orange 7:13 PM  

Catherine: Amend vs. emend? It's usually spelled amend, unless it's in a crossword puzzle, in which case you need to check the crossing. "Neon Deion" Sanders (also called "Prime Time") is a two-sport legend—he played in the NFL for about 15 years and in Major League Baseball for 9 years. I doubt anyone else in the last 50 years made as big a splash in two different sports—Michael Jordan kinda sucked at baseball.

Orange 7:14 PM  

P.S. My mom and I attended worship services together on Wednesday, praying to the pancake gods at IHOP. The prayers didn't work—I still lost on Crosswords.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

37 across: orders?
nope!, aromas!
diaf wil!
I keed!

Nothnagel 7:53 PM  

Hey folks.

I must confess that I really don't know where the phrase "get on the stick" comes from, but it's one of my favorite phrases, so into the grid it went.

It's been a long day today -- finals given and graded, curriculum written and edited, etc., so I'll say "thanks for the kind words" and make my exit.

Until next time...

emilyjo.c @ gmail dot com 8:00 PM  

i would like to thank this puzzle for putting steely dan- "peg" in my head today.
and also for being neither too easy nor too hard but just right and everything nice.

Fergus 8:04 PM  

This was a great puzzle -- I don't recall ever having so many private laughs -- or maybe not so private since I did it in the students' lounge, and some people noticed my repeated chuckles.

Had a ONE-NIGHT FLING that caused complications, if only because it was slightly more meaningful than a STAND. Also had for 2D, the ethylene Clue AS DEICER, which I thought was pretty clever, but that required every single letter to be overwritten. OZONE HOLE was perfectly clued -- good groan/guffaw on that one.

If Nothnagel AIN"T up to SNUFF, AIN"T no one that is.

Fergus 8:08 PM  

Great synchronicity here, I'm just waiting for some people to come by so that we can all drive up to San Francisco togother, and go to a party in the HAIGHT.

Kim 8:09 PM  

Rex: LOLed at your dream. Still am, actually. Now I'm thinking that AJA would be a good soundtrack for it. Did you order the oatcakes?

Rockonchris 8:12 PM  

I could not for the life of me find STEPFORD WIVES. Instead I forced the awkward STOP FOR DROVES. That connoted obedience to me. I vaporized "Companion" out of the clue because that was the only way to make it work.

Sometimes I get stuck like a wind-up toy that reaches a barrier and just keeps spinning its wheels.

Flexibility is the key. Yoga for the body and more crossword puzzles for the mind.

I so enjoy doing the puzzles and reading this blog everyday. You're a riot, Rex.

Sorry about your loss, Orange. Eating more pancakes will help you feel better.


Fergus 8:22 PM  

Orange, what about Bo Jackson? He straddled baseball and football with just as much panache; clearly better at baseball, though I'd probably have to give the edge to DEION in football, though it's hard to compare a standout corner man with a bruising running back.

Michael 8:48 PM  

I always enjoy the puzzles of my tocayo (how many of you know that Spanish word?) Nothnagel. They seem hard at first, but then fall apart (or me) fairly easily and the clues are fair and clever. I would have had the puzzle completely right but I changed aja/jeri to ata/teri. It is often best to stick with one's first guess when you're totally clueless.

harrietLou in Philly 9:21 PM  

his was awful today - It always seems to be when I don't have time to attack the puzzle in the a.m. and try after a long day. Had "ris" filled in and still couldn't think MRI's - started through the alphabet and actually paused at "bris" for a few seconds before talking myself out of it. Was convinced that ultra-obedient companions had to be some variation of love slave. Once a thought takes hold, it's hard to displace.
Oh well tomorrow is another day - even if it is Saturday.

jls 9:50 PM  

catherine -- if you google "get on the stick" you'll get lots of hits -- several of which explain the origins of the phrase. like this one:


cheers --


Bill from NJ 9:51 PM  


mac 10:17 PM  

I know Rex loves IHOP, but I have to believe Orange et mater went to church to get their little ash cross on their foreheads!
Nice puzzle to chew on, loved "in league", itinerant, Haight and Aja (my son, my father and I all love that one). Wasn't too sure about "sends away" and "get on the stick" (why not ball?), and only think ozone hole is acceptable because we use ozone layer. Since we're talking about dreams, the weirdest and most memorable one I had recently...... forget it, I can't bore you with it.

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

My problems arose in the SW corner when I had the ...erant ending for salesmen and preachers and wrote in exuberant.

Orange 11:10 PM  

Mac: Er, no. I'm an atheist. I do believe fervently in IHOP pancakes, however.

Fergus: I conflated Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders in my mind. (Sports is not my strong point.) No wonder the TV commercials mentioned in Deion's Wiki didn't sound familiar—it was the "Bo knows" ads I had in my head. D'oh.

dbg 11:38 PM  

@PUZZLEGIRL- thanks for the date on elemi-did not realize it had been so long since last used. I guess I can thank my memory, though, as I rarely do any other puzzles. I have, however, been doing the NYT puzzle since 1981 so certain words must just stick. Funny though, since I have no memory of AJA which makes me think I must have always gotten it from crosses.

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Web code is not a great clue for HTML, in my opinion. HTML isn't a programming language, and since one refers to the text that constitutes a program as code, it doesn't really make sense unless you use code in a very abstract way.

karmasartre 12:32 AM  

@ orange and fergus -- two other multi-pro-sport athletes come to mind: Danny Ainge and Dave DeBusschere (they both played bball and bball).

Bill from NJ 2:28 AM  

It is amazing how many different interests come together through this blog. I used to go to IHOP on Sunday morning and work on the puzzle while eating.

I thought my interests were "unique" to me as crossword puzzles are such a solitary pursuit


Rikki 3:37 AM  

Another super Mike Nothnagel puzzle. Perfectly Friday, chock full of good clues and answers. The kind of puzzle that is built for comfort, not speed, at least for me.

Took me three sittings, ending in the SW which killed me, too, Doc John, even with Cape Verde a gimme. BTW, they are gorgeous islands that are actually Portuguese. Great surf, Fergus!

Loved Stepforwives and onesnightstand, new me, ain't. Itinerant was my nemesis and didn't remember precis until I typed it. Got stoodin, but it was tricksy because it could have been stand in. @anonymous 12:26, pinch hit is grammatically correct for either the present stand in or the past stood in because the verb hit is the same in the present as it is in the past, at least in the first person. You wouldn't say I hitted the ball. What do you do? I pinch hit when necessary. What did you do? I pinch hit for Ramirez.

Aja is my very favorite album, #1 on my list of music to take to a desert or a dessert island. It is clean and pure and filled with the sophistication and savvy of two inordinately talented men.

Had to swing by the Haight when I lived in the Bay Area and leave a little something at Jerry Garcia's doorstep when he died. Never saw it in its hippie heyday.

Interesting dream, Rex. Hilarious that your subconscious chose oat cakes of all things, but we did have it in the puzzle in the last six months or so, and it is very close to pancakes, which were probably also on your mind. What would Jung say? I don't think the oat cake is one of the usual archetypes. But the bomb... hmm... afraid you might?

Sean looks so much like John in that picture.

@KarmaS... tongue tastes like corned beef, but I've made it a rule of life never to eat anything that a cow uses to moo. Nice the way you slipped yipe AND yike in there.

andrea carla michaels 5:23 AM  

btw in Scrabble, you can play YIPE and YIPES, but only YIKES...NO YIKE

as for the person who had never heard of The Haight, it might ring more of a bell as Haight/Ashbury.

and rikki, don't feel bad, the Haight's heyday probably was only about 6 months and has lived off that rep for 40 years!

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

You should try cow tongue, referred to by my mexican relatives as barbacoa (though that technically refers to the cooking method). It's often had in a corn tortilla with salsa verde for a delicious brunch. You will not be disappointed.

Rex Parker 11:11 AM  

@all the tongue fans,

Didn't mean to malign your cuisine. I actually don't eat meat (much), so tongue is not on my horizon. Even when I did eat meat, I didn't eat tongue. I'll take your word for it that it's tasty, and maybe someday, if the occasion arises and I feel daring, I'll try it.


Waxy in Montreal 7:47 PM  

6 weeks later:

Good Friday's puzzle was certainly good Friday fare. Excellent, in fact.

BTW, in this ozonehole, we ain't got the aromas of IHOP's to do the NYT crossword so I try to get up to snuff instead at Tim Horton's, a Canadian alternat(iv)e.

impjb 10:52 PM  

From the future (or past)

Since I do these 6 weeks later than most others on here I try and think of imaginative ways to describe the difficulties I ran into, and then post something (if my imagination doesn't match anyone else's). While reading through Rex's commentary, every single one of my sticking points matched up with the difficulties you described. Rex did a much better job of writing about them than I could though...

Thanks for the blog!

Anonymous 11:02 PM  

Whoa Waxy, I think you've exceeded your restaurant plug/puzzle reference limit.

SW LaGland

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