FRIDAY, Mar. 21, 2008 - Peter A. Collins (1978 CULT FILM WITH A MUTANT CHILD)

Friday, March 21, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Old Movies (or, none)

I breathed a deep sigh of relief about 25% of my way into this puzzle, as I realized that I finally had a winner on my hands, after a week of bad to ho-hum puzzles. I've always liked Peter Collins's puzzles, but this may be his best yet - a very solid, inventive, and entertaining "themeless" Friday. I use the "unnecessary quotation marks" because it felt themed at times, with at least four movie clues scattered throughout the grid. If you live by pop culture, you die by pop culture, and today I did a little of both. I was exceedingly grateful for the flat-out (intersecting) gimmes of Liam NEESON (44A: "Michael Collins" title role player) and Edward James OLMOS (35D: "Stand and Deliver" Oscar nominee, 1988), though as usual I could not spell NEESON's name correctly - this time I went with NEASON, I think. On the current "Battlestar Galactica," OLMOS plays Commander Adama, whom I now keep wanting to call Commander Obama. The other movie clues didn't come so easily. 15A: 1978 cult film with a mutant child ("Eraserhead") is a great answer - an early David Lynch film that I've heard of but never seen. The movie I wanted to put here: "BASKET CASE." There are multiple problems with that answer (not the least of which is that "BASKET CASE" came out in 1982), but here's the one line summary from imdb, just so you can see why I was confused:

A young man carrying a big basket that contains his deformed Siamese-twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will.

Lastly in movieville, we have Mischa AUER (18D: Oscar-nominated "My Man Godfrey" actor, 1936), which is all kinds of awesome given that the last time this guy showed up (fairly recently), he was erroneously clued as [Violinist Mischa], resulting in untold thousands of Google hits to my site. His grandfather Leopold was the famous violinist. I did not get AUER easily. I think the "A" may have been the last letter I filled in, as my solving went SW, NW, Center, SE, NE.

I had some serious name problems, resulting in educated guesses that were, thankfully, correct. I don't know who JENS Stoltenberg is (51D: Norwegian P.M. Stoltenberg) but I'm sure he's thrilled to be sharing his little corner of the puzzle with ORGY (52D: Immoderate indulgence). I guessed the "J" in JENS from my remedial Spanish, of which OJO (50A: Eye of the tigre?) pretty much represents the outer limits. A little annoying to have two trickily clued Spanish answers today (see also ESTA, 58A: It is in Peru), but I somehow like the foreign symmetry of OJO and OST (19A: One of four directions in 5-Down), the latter of which builds off the nicely clued 5D: It's no longer divided (Berlin). (BERLIN makes me think of Leonard Cohen: "First ... we take Manhattan ...")

My greatest moment as a solver today came when I mentally threw COAXER into the bottom of the NE quadrant, despite not really understanding why the answer fit the clue (42A: One using soft soap). Is the "soft soap" a lubricant ... of some kind? Is it a metaphor for ... greasing someone up? Anyhoo, that put the "X" there at the bottom of a long answer - 12D: Zydeco instrument - and god bless The Who, SQUEEZE BOX was the first thing that popped in my head. I had to convince myself it was a real thing, but that didn't take long. That answer allowed me to get into the NW, but finishing it off was hard. Just guessed that the 11A: Falcons' grp. had something to do with the Air Force (USAF), couldn't remember what "gazetteer" meant, but the "Q" helped me see I was dealing with some kind of SQuare something at 16A: Gazetteer meas. (sq. mi.). And I've never ever heard of 11D: Lend-Lease Act provision (U.S. aid), and the answer seems awfully general. The "AI" was the closing moment for me, with the A starting one name I wasn't completely sure of (AUER) and the I providing the second letter in another (NIELS - 21A: Mathematician _____ Henrik Abel).

This puzzle deserves applause for the wide range of answers, as well as for its four 3x10 blocks, one in each quadrant. Especially impressive that none of the resulting 10-letter answers feels particularly strained. Peter Collins teaches math, so the presence of NIELS Henrik Abel and FIRST ORDER (14D: Simplest, in math and logic) is perhaps not surprising. Ideally those answers wouldn't intersect, but I'll let it go this time.

Olio:

  • 1A: They have many sticking points (rose bushes) - cute and accurate, a rare combo.
  • 22A: Brown and others (Tinas) - o you elitist New York Times - why couldn't this have been Bobbys!?
  • 27A: Football Hall-of-Famer Huff (Sam) - don't know this guy. Thankfully, his name is ordinary.
  • 29A: Corrida sticker (dart) - one of many instances where I had the wrong answer initially. Here, I had DIRK (which I got off the "K" in the (wrong) TSK - should have been TUT - 22D: Sound of disapproval).
  • 30A: Pessimist in a Disney cartoon (Eeyore) - it somehow pains me to see EEYORE referred to as a "Disney" toon.
  • 17A: Sealing fans? (polar bears) - great, if disturbing, clue.
  • 34A: Letters between two names (aka) - criminalia. I like it.
  • 35A: One way to get through a wall (osmosis) - cute, though something about the clue implies that there might be other ways ... and if your "way" is OSMOSIS, my guess is that you didn't have any other options.
  • 37A: Checkers, e.g. (men) - this kind of hurt. I wanted COCKER SPANIEL or at least DOG.
  • 40A: It involves many unknowns: Abbr. (alg.) - another math answer for you. You math constructors should really have limits set on you.
  • 41A: Sched. maker, often (mgr.) - I had MOM, which I think is an awesome answer.
  • 59A: Doll that was once a going thing (Betsy Wetsy) - Don't know whether to laugh or cry. I ordinary urination can't pass the breakfast test, I'm surprised simulated urination does. Still, this answer is fantastic, a pop culture home run. I knew it as soon as I dropped that first "Y" down from MARIN COUNTY (23D: Home to San Quentin State Prison), though to be honest my first thought was "Oh wow ... POLLY POTTY."
  • 1D: Credit report damager, briefly (repo) - Yeah, that would suck. I prefer REPO to be followed by MAN.
  • 2D: Prizes for top atletas (oros) - whoops, looks like I missed an answer when I was adding up the Spanish. That's three. Again ... there oughta be a law. Or at least limits.
  • 4D: Tikkanen of hockey (Esa) - the beauty of blogging a name you don't know - it sticks with you. I see this guy Everywhere now.
  • 6D: Architectural subdiscipline (urban design) - beautiful answer. Elegant. A nice counterpoint to the more popcultury aspects of the puzzle.
  • 7D: "_____ Lady" (1971 hit song) ("She's a") - first thing in the grid. Tom Jones!
  • 9D: Roadside stand units (ears) - i.e. of corn. I had EATS at first.
  • 10D: Old sit-in org. (SDS) - your go-to radical student group.
  • 21D: When doubled, what a rat does (names) - genius. Just great.
  • 24D: Opening pair? (Adam and Eve) - cute and easy, just like I like 'em. That came out creepy...
  • 26D: Marmalade ingredient (orange zest) - I thought more of the ORANGE made it in than just the ZEST.
  • 45D: Perfect Day maker (Serta) - Your nights will suck, but your days: magnifique!
  • 46D: "_____ of traitors!": Shak. ("A nest") - don't know why this phrase is so familiar, but it is. Why is Shakespeare abbreviated?
  • 49D: Summer cooler (Icee) - trademark! This took me a while. Had the -EE and wanted ... TREE. As in "Let's get cool by sitting in the shade of that TREE." Yes, lame.
  • 54D: Where races are screened?: Abbr. (OTB) - so proud of my self (non-bettor) that this just came to me, giving me the "T" that helped me get TEST-TAKING with only two letters in place (57A: Student activity).
  • 55D: "They Like _____" (song from "Call Me Madam") ("Ike") - odd way to get at Eisenhower, but why not? Easy enough to ferret out.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I got so much mail yesterday "correcting" me on DEL MAR. Apparently my facetiousness amp was not set high enough. I often say manifestly wrong things in jest - I knew very well that DEL MAR was DELaware + MARyland. The query about the Spanishness of the name was brought on only by the fact that there is a perfectly good (Spanish) place name of DEL MAR, so as portmanteaus go, DEL MAR seemed weak. And also, re: yesterday, try to be nice to each other. Yeesh. If you don't like what I or someone else has to say about a puzzle, by all means disagree, but try to do so in a way that focuses on the puzzle and does not resort to dime-store psychoanalysis of the people with whom you disagree. Contrary to the apparent beliefs of some, my readers are a pretty independent lot, and don't just jump 'cause I say so. In short, they are not my FLYING MONKEYS (that's for you, Andrea), so please don't treat them as such.

98 comments:

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Loved it. Had surprising trouble with "ORANGEZEST," wanted peel, rind, meat, you name it, no idea why, and since I couldn't get "DAZES" for "FOGS" (wanted "DAMPS"), I was missing the Z.

I agree with Rex on all the charming clues and answers.

Looking forward to all the posts about how hard it was to get ROSEBUSHES because we object to the man's policies so bitterly we Literally Can't Think of His . . . oh, never mind.

I too had to fill in "AUER" at the last. I certainly remember "My Man Godfrey," but couldn't tell you a soul who was in it other than Wm. Powell.

I liked "AROUND," "ABOUT," and "INOUT."

SQUEEZEBOX was lovely -- how many words use Q, Z, and X all together?

Yes, "soft soap" is subtle blandishments. "Lend-Lease" -- US Aid. The idea was to prop up England's WWII defense effort while we rounded up wobblies on the home front to get off the stick and get in the war. Without an exit strategy! We're just lucky it worked out. That Roosevelt.

arb 9:06 AM  

"Is the "soft soap" a lubricant ... of some kind? Is it a metaphor for ... greasing someone up?"

Verbally, yes, similar to flattering someone or "buttering them up."

Love your blog!

Rex Parker 9:12 AM  

And my blog loves you! Thanks.

rp

Crosscan 9:14 AM  

My favorite puzzle in a long time. Lots of answers that you say to yourself "how did I know that"?

I also opened with Tom Jones.

Any puzzle with ERASEHEAD, BETSYWETSY and SQUEEZEBOX has got to be good.

the only forced entries seemed to be OJO and JENS. The J was my last letter but I smelled a pangram.

Pangrams smell lovely, thanks for asking.

dbg 9:23 AM  

I probably would have rated this puzzle 75% easy and 25% medium. Only stumbling block was the NE, which infuriated me because I know the movie My Man Godfrey really well, but could not remember Misha Auer. Reminded me of a recent Newsday Saturday Stumper where they were looking for an actor from A Few Good Men. Was able to come up with at least 8 names from that movie and still had to eventually Google. They had the temerity to be looking for J.T. Walsh, an actor I happen to know but would never remember from that movie. That one had me fuming for the rest of the weekend. Mischa Auer just made me laugh as he has been discussed so recently.

ArtLvr 9:34 AM  

A A Milne would be rolling in his grave, seeing EEYORE credited to Disney - ugh. A minus to the constructor and editor because of that....

Otherwise the puzzle was a great achievement. First letter I out in was Z in ORANGE ZEST, as I knew from prior discussions that the cross could not be "mists"! It turned out not to to be "hazes" either, as one of my lasr corrections was to DAZES.

Happy to to find few pop answers so that I could finish without a google.

∑;)

ArtLvr 9:39 AM  

Sorry I didn't proof-read the above! "First letter I put in.." and "one of my last.." Drat.

∑;)

Alex 9:45 AM  

Ok, COAXERS I now understand though that use of "soft soap" is completely unknown to me.

I still don't understand "Checkers, e.g." resulting in MEN. I'm sure I'm being stupid though as is usually the case.

I have to thank Betsy Wetsy for that first Y allowed me to commit to MARIN COUNTY. That should have been a gimme, but SAN RAFAEL CA also fit in the space provided. Those two long answers completely opened up the southeast.

At one point I had every vowel in ADAM AND EVE (after fixing AKA from my initial NEE) and still couldn't see it for a very long time.

Squash's Mom 9:48 AM  

Frankly if you've seen Eraserhead, that disturbing mutant baby image doesn't pass the breakfast test, for me anyway, at all.

My big mistakes that made things difficult: HAZES for DAZES, ORANGE PEEL for ZEST, and MAKEIT for MADEIT.

I was trying to figure out how rubboard or accordion could fit in for the Zydeco instrument. SQUEEZEBOX finally dawned on me, but that upper right section was the hardest for me. I finally had to ask my teenager the math/logic question. Luckily he was awake enough this morning (no school) to help.

All in all, a pretty enjoyable puzzle. I enjoy Mr. Collins' puzzles, partly because he always throws math things in there and I always learn something and partly because he teaches in Ann Arbor, I believe, which is not too far from me.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

I wanted "Checkers" to be Nixon's DOG, too.
I don't understand MEN as an answer..unless:

Is it that your Checker pieces are called men?
"I'm jumping your man", like? Hm.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Yeah, I'm still a little vague on Checkers, and definitely wanted "DOG" at first.

Eli Barrieau 10:09 AM  

I certainly don't know if this is the context (as it seems weak), but I suppose "checkers" could mean those who check as in coats, luggage, IDs, etc. Of course, WOMEN would work just fine, as well.

NAMES was by far my favorite. BERLIN also makes me think of Leonard Cohen. And when I think of LC, I get happy, oddly enough.

PhillySolver 10:29 AM  

I am glad everyone seems to have enjoyed today's challenge. I had forgotten my erroneous 'nee' jerk reaction where AKA belonged and yes, Lima seemed a good end of word answer for a Friday puzzle. The mix of Spanish words and Scandinavian names has me wondering about Mr. Collins' heritage. "Esta fjords?" I thought we were going to have a reprise of atit at 50D and I tried lots of words for "uses as a bed". The last to fall for me was California with the dog for men error, misspelling NEESON (a different error than Rex), nee as above and trying gift for VEST and on and on. Only took fifty minutes last night and most of it on PST, so to speak.


Oh, forgot the time I was working out "rat rat" ... not of the FIRSTORDER.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Yes, Leonard Cohen! Favorite, favorite, for decades. I want to see some Leonard Cohen clues!

I was thrilled to death to go back and work an old archived puzzle the other day and run across a Robert Heinlein clue -- and not from "Stranger in a Strange Land," either, but from one of his young-adult series, which I love. A scifi clue that's not (groan) Isaac Asimov. Now there's an obscure pop reference I can get behind! Down with sports! Up with Robert Heinlein!

ArtLvr 10:37 AM  

46-A: "A NEST of traitors!" from "The Winter's Tale" (II ii), Shak. -- lovely image of coiled vipers...

Why the abbreviated Shak.? Though we understand that an abbr. like "Gazeteer meas." in 16-A indicates to the solver that an answer is to be abbreviated too (e.g. SQ MI), perhaps the convention is inoperative if the clue is in quotation marks? A corollary to the convention?

∑;)

SethG 10:38 AM  

Ach, took me more than 3 times longer than yesterday. So much trouble, especially in California. Like, all of it.

ADAM AND EVE, which almost should have been a gimme, was my last answer. At various times, some till the end, I had TORO, NEE, DOG, THERON(?!), HAZES, ERAT(and I remember my Spanish), ORANGE PEEL.

Checkers, e.g., all I can think of is hockey, where checking is allowed for men and not for women.

EEYORE was tough, and I'm glad to hear that maybe it's because my mind subconsciously sensed the Disney issue. I also had SAL, which made NAMES tough to get.

One of my favorite jokes:
Q: What's purple and commutes?
A: An Abelian grape.

So yes, I'm an idiot, but NIELS was my first answer. And I think with him, FIRST ORDER, ALG and OLMOS (who played a calculus teacher), that's enough to consider it a math mini-theme as well.

Great puzzle,
sg

John Reid 10:38 AM  

What a great puzzle! I think Fridays are my favorites.

Looks like most of us found the NE corner to be the toughest. I did too. I had 'makeit' rather than MADEIT for a long time, and that K was killing me. It also didn't help me that I had to respell AMELIORATE at least 3 times before I got it right! The A in AUER/USAID (which several of you say was your last letter in the grid) was my *second* last letter...

My *last* letter (and the only one I ended up getting wrong - @$#!@) was bizarrely enough the very *first* letter referenced by Rex in his blog this morning: the O in the NEESON/OLMOS cross! [By the way, does the 'Stand and Deliver' reference count as a fourth math clue? Guess not.] I put the O in, looked at it, changed it to an A, considered that, and then went back and forth between the two options for 20 seconds or so. Finally chose the A; good grief! I just couldn't believe the irony when Rex led off today's comments by saying that for him it was a crossing of '...flat-out (intersecting) gimmes' - I wish I could have said the same!

And why do we have trouble spelling 'Neeson' I wonder? It doesn't look that troubling, does it? Nee-son! Anybody else stumble on this one?

Wanted NEARBY or ATHAND for 24A, and NEE for 34A. Still managed to mess up Mr. Tikkanen's name at 4D even though we discussed it about a week ago, ugh; in one ear and out the other.

POLARBEARS and BETSYWETSY were great, very clever, ROSEBUSHES too. What fun! No wonder I can't get enough of these things!

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

US AID = United States Agency for International Development. Responsible for US foreign aid.

Ulrich 10:45 AM  

I still have to learn to abandon wrong guesses sooner--but for that, one needs the confidence I don't have yet, i.e. the conviction that if it looks wrong, it probably is wrong, not just difficult for someone with underdeveloped skills. Tikkanen put me in a sporty mood (my first gimme), so I chose NFCS(outh) with complete confidence for the Falcons' group farther to the left--and was of course utterly stuck in the NE. Got out of it only after erasing it (after much head banging) and putting "first order" in, which was my choice for 14D from the get-go anyway.

Joaneee 11:02 AM  

Add me to NE corner crowd (and the loved-this-puzzle crowd). And anon 10:43 - USAID is indeed that agency, but in the Lend-lease context, it just means US aid...it's a WWII thing. Lend-lease was a program that gave aid to England and Russia under the guise of lending/leasing, so that the US could appear to remain neutral (before the US entered the war after Pearl Harbor). Helps to be old. Soometimes.

Mary 11:02 AM  

Fun puzzle and probably my best ever Friday time.
I was thinking locally and, like @urich, had NFC-S for FALCONS' GRP, but originally was trying to squeeze in LOSERS or CURSED.
Maybe it was the thought, "I can't squeeze that in" that brought me to SQUEEZEBOX. Who knows how the mind works? But there it was and my heart soared.
Lots of fun and then great comments from Rex...

Jon 11:03 AM  

I'm yet another solver who got stuck in the NE corner but eventually worked out of it. I'm not sure how, but squeezebox came to mind and everything fell after that.

I just wanted to say that NAMES was just an awesome clue/answer. Without 80% of the word filled in I would have never thought, and even then it took me a few moments. Favorite clue in a while.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

If our genders/orientations were more apparent from these postings, might we find that a certain segment of this community has no trouble at all remembering the exact spelling of Liam Neeson's name? Maybe you just have to have the kind of long-standing crush on him that I do in order to have the spelling seared in memory, not to mention every role he's ever played. Those of you who don't respond strongly to grade-A hunks have a natural disadvantage. I'm crazy about Olmos, too, so it was a fine cross for me.

humorlesstwit 11:14 AM  

Amen Ulrich:
I was convinced that CIRC was the answer for 16A, based on the fact that I had never heard of a Gazetteer as an atlas, I was thinking of someone who worked for a Gazette, so circulation had to be the answer. That left me with, well,nothing but a great big mess.

And Rex, when you learn how to be facetious in your writing, while still being subtle (an integral part of facetiousness in my opinion), and still have 90+% your audience get it, please tell me how. I try, but most people either gon't get it or think I'm a jerk. Which I may be.

jae 11:22 AM  

Really liked this one. NW and SE went quickly but missteps in NE and SW that others also made slowed me way down. In NE I had NFC? for too long and in SW had ATHAND and NEE. I tried spelling NEESON with an I. I also tried ASST and ASSC for 31d, the former was the result of 41a AGT and latter was 41a SECretary. (I had to struggle to remember OLOMOS.)

Being a football fan as a kid I remembered the CBS special on SAM Huff (early 60's) titled "The Violent World of Sam Huff."

SOSO was also a gimme as I recently did a Trip Payne puzzle with my granddaughter where it was clued "Just OK."

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

sethg and the abelian grape: You're a man after my own heart!

Rex, sorry about Del Mar. Didn't grasp the irony.

So a gazetteer is an atlas? Now I understand "square mile." I also wanted "CIRC" and even thought that "SQMI" referred to the circulation area rather than the number of readers. Ignorance!

Lend-lease was an attempt to cloak ourselves in apparent peacefulness when all along we secretly intended to fight Nazis. We have a lot of healing to do in the world.

Noam D. Elkies 11:47 AM  

Rex writes "You math constructors should really have limits set on you." Pun intended? Maybe not, since he repeats the call for Spanish where "limits" has no technical meaning...

Nice to have 21A:NIELS Abel together with 40A:ALGebra, which is one area to which Abel made key contributions before dying at 26 -- two days before being appointed professor at Berlin, according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia also reports that in Norway Abel is sufficiently well known to appear on the 500-kroner bill! Abel together with 51D:JENS Stoltenberg also makes a Norwegian mini-theme to go with the Spanish one Rex noted.

Thankfully I remembered how to spell 21A:NIELS. Even with that and 14D:FIRSTORDER to build on (not too egregious an intersection BTW -- what else could either NIEL? or FIR?TORDER be?), this felt more than medium difficulty for a Friday puzzle; took too long to get out of the NE (and even there I was lucky to guess 16A:SQMI --> 12D:SQUEEZEBOX, the latter being apparently the only sort-of-common English word to contain each of Q,X,Z).

Fortunately remembered the otherwise mysterious 4D:ESA Tikkanen from another recent crossword. Yes, I wanted SOB -- er, DOG -- for 37A:MEN; also THEDOOR for 35A:OSMOSIS. (Re:x's comment on osmosis -- there's also active transport across cell walls.) Of course liked the clue for 21D:NAMES too, though it rings a bell (and reminds me of the even more remarkable duplication SHOWS HOW).

NDE

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I had "DOORWAY" too! I mean, not the same as you, but we think alike. Got osmosis later from the crosses.

dk 11:54 AM  

Drat, I had ASST not EMER, RIND not ZEST.

I love POLARBEARS as sealing fans. Still laughing out load on that one.

Joon 11:57 AM  

i also had trouble with ADAMANDEVE, even with all the vowels from pretty early on. it didn't help that i had HAZES instead of DAZES--how is one to know, really, from that clue? anyway, that one took me a while.

also was lured in by NFCS for 11A. i was pretty willing to take it out, though. same with the K in MADEIT (wait, there is no K in MADEIT...).

overall, loved this puzzle. wonderful fill, wonderful clues. NAMES was brilliant, but the more i think about "sealing fans," the more delicious it gets. yum... seals.

there were probably too many math clues. peter, you couldn't have used physicist bohr instead of mathematician abel? throw us a bone! :)

Bill from NJ 12:00 PM  

I, too, started with Tom Jones at 7D. I didn't so much have problems with this puzzle as I just kept grinding away at it for, like, a LONG time, particularly in California. I think I had all the vowels before the answer dawned on me. ADAMANDEVE. I was real proud that I got POLAR BEARS pretty much right away.

Forty-five minutes, tops.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

The checkers on a checkers board are also referred to as men as are chess pieces.

Rikki 12:41 PM  

Another excellent puzzle from Peter Collins and maybe his first Friday puzzle? So, a question for you, Peter: when you constructed the other themed puzzles, did you have a difficulty level in mind or did Will assign them to a day?

Count me among the many who enjoyed this puzzle and found it challenging, but ultimately doable. I love the horizontal and vertical stacks. My favorites today: rosebushes, polarbears, orangezest, betsywetsy (my first doll), and squeezebox. I tsked when I should have tutted and slowed to a crawl in the NE, but squeezebox set me free. Maybe my best Friday time, but I don't usually even watch the clock on the weekend.

Coincidentally to Eeyore, my son and I were singing about hephalumps and woozles over the weekend. Yes, give AA Milne his due, but he was actually in favor of Disney animating the Pooh stories, and his wife sold the rights to Disney shortly after Milne's death. Disney did an admirable job in the first series of shorts, but the later ones (post-70s) don't have the same charm. My son, now twenty, remembers the cartoons fondly. But they are no substitute for reading the original stories. Favorite line, though this may be paraphrasing: Isn't fun the best thing to have?

@anom 11:13, ditto on remembering how to spell the gorgeous Neeson's name. Speaking of name, loved names names!

Dan 12:52 PM  

That was a fun one. NE was last for me too, even though USAF was my first guess for the Falcons.

I was also wondering why "Shakespeare" was abbreviated... maybe just for space, so it wouldn't take up another line? Paging Ms. Ripstein?

I searched XWordInfo for other X/Q/Z words. Three answers beside SQUEEZEBOX came up, all constructed by Peter Gordon (thus pre-2002): SEXQUIZ, SIXPACKBEZIQUE, and SOIXANTEQUINZE. I'll bet there are several more in the NY Sun archives...

miriam b 1:07 PM  

Amen to all the positive sentiments. I too cringe at the association of EEYORE with Disney. That was my first fill, BTW, because I identify with him (EEYORE, not Disney) whenever a gloomy mood strikes me.

Jim in Chicago 1:19 PM  

Fun puzzle today.

For "roadside stand units" I had EGGS, then EATS, and finally EARS.

I was ready to throw a fit about English usage with it seemed that the summer coller was going to be ICET, since the beverage is ICED tea, not ICE tea. But, then it all turned out fine in the end.

I'm really surpised that thh Disney clue made it through editorial, since there are huge issues with who owns the rights to Pooh and to brand poor Eeyore (had a devil of a time spelling that, BTW) as a Disney character is making a statement.

Cluing NEILS as ___Henrik Abel is just plain cruel, but it is Friday.

I was conviced that the "Coorida sticker" was going to be some obscure bullfighting implement, but it turned out to be just plain old DART, ditto with cluing BAD as "severe". I guess hiding the obvious is a legitimate Friday technique.

jls 1:30 PM  

was glad to have (new name to me) "esa" tikkanen reinforced by its inclusion in today's puzzle.

my usual association with that name is as the first part of the hyphenate esa-pekka salonen, a seriously rising star in the world of classical music.

for all the reasons previously state, loved this puzzle!!

;-)

janie

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Shoot, it seems like we get "Niels Bohr" about once a month. I appreciated the new clue even though I've never heard of the mathematician. Are all famous Nielses mathemeticians or physicists? What's going on over there?

SethG 1:36 PM  

Dan,

Don't forget QUIXOTIZES, a '98 Gordon, and ZYXWVUTSRQPON (William I Johnston '01), though that's a theme thingie and not a word.

The word ALGebra comes from the name of a book by a Persian mathematician whose name is usually spelled Al-Kwarizmi, though I've seen it with a Q.

We've had Niels Abel once before, Niels Bohr 27 (or more) times, and no Elkies yet but it'll happen,
sg

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

USAID answer was meant to be, as in U.S. aid, not USAID, the agency. Lend-Lease began before the U.S. entered WWII, as one poster noted, to help Britain (and Soviet Union.)

The federal agency USAID that someone referred to was not created until 1961.

arby 1:41 PM  

Funny all the comments about spelling Liam Neeson's name:

I saw "LIESON" in my grid, said "That's not how you spell Ian Leeson's name" and corrected it. Then said "Wait, it's not Ian Leeson, it's Liam Neeson" and corrected it again. Then looked slightly down and to the left, and saw his name was ALREADY in the grid! Looked at the clue and was forced to uncorrect my answer twice back to "LIES ON". Ugh.

What specifically does Corrida have to do with DART? I guess they use darts to bring down the bull? If so, ick.

arby 1:44 PM  

OH - how about cluing Niels as "_____-Henning Orsted Pedersen" (jazz bassist)? Maybe that would please only me...

Wade 1:44 PM  

Not getting NAMES (which I agree is a brilliant clue/answer pairing) kept me from finishing the puzzle in the NE. I kept trying to make it TALES (as in a pun on "tell tales"), which I know doesn't work anyway, and that wouldn't let me get to NIELS or to USAID.

I know it's sacrilege, but I love the Pooh cartoons and can't bear (get it?) the books. The cartoons are witty and cute, while the books are just too . . . twee, I guess would be the right word. I have two Pooh-aged kids, and everytime I start reading them one of the Milne books I first start cringing at the tedious, witless, endless dialogue and then just start skipping whole sections.

Dan 1:46 PM  

Thanks Seth - must have been missing an asterisk somewhere. I did intentionally leave out the WIJ "decoder key"...

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

I can deal, barely, with "SEXQUIZ" or "QUIXOTIZES," but I stand foursquare against "SIXPACKBEZIQUE" and "SOIXANTEQUINZE," yea, though none go with me. Wait, is soixantequinze just Fr. for 75? Maybe I'll relent.

ArtLvr 2:02 PM  

In line with 39-A answer, VOTE, plus hearing the rousing endorsement and response speeches today, am hereby predicting that Obama's running mate will be Richardson... The clue was the word "Katrina" whispered to Richardson by Obama in a very early debate, when the Governor hadn't heard the question.

∑;)

JC66 2:29 PM  

@humorlesstwit - beautifully said.

Noam D. Elkies 2:30 PM  

Also Danish composer Niels Wilhelm Gade, which I wouldn't expect to see except on a Saturday. Abel seems fair for a Friday, especially with the middle name Henrik which gives some clue as to what kind of name to expect.

Nice to see all those other QXZ crossword entries. I claimed only that sQueeZeboX was the unique reasonably-common English word with these letters, not that no other crossword entry is possible using all three. Of the other examples, QuiXotiZes is inferable but very far from common (8 Google hits as againast a million-plus for squeezebox), and the others are not single English words at all. I must still admire the terse seXQuiZ, the unlikely-looking but Wikipedia-approved siXpackbeZiQue (with a K for good measure), the French 75, and the audacious ZYXWVUTSRQPON.

Sethg 1:36: thanks, but I imagine that if my last name shows up in the NYTimes crossword anytime soon then it will be as a constructor, and even that won't happen in the near future. My *first* name does appear every once in a while, but it's always clued using a certain MIT professor known in linguistics for generative grammar (and in the wider culture for unregenerate far-left politics)...

NDE

Brian 2:56 PM  

Responding to Arby and Jim in Chicago, a dart has nothing to do with a corrida. Not to get too graphic, but the bull's neck is wounded with a pike (and bandoleros before the bull is killed with a sword. I'm guessing the clue is referring to the bandolero, which doesn't seem like a dart to me.

Brian 2:56 PM  

Responding to Arby and Jim in Chicago, a dart has nothing to do with a corrida. Not to get too graphic, but the bull's neck is wounded with a pike (and bandoleros before the bull is killed with a sword. I'm guessing the clue is referring to the bandolero, which doesn't seem like a dart to me.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

The banderilleros weaken the bull with banderillos (decorative barbed darts) before the matador gets in there with the sword. I guess the picadors must be the guys with the pikes. I was trying to make "pico" fit before I stumbled on dart. The banderillos are the multiple things with colorful confetti you see hanging off of the bull's back. Nasty sport.

JL 3:12 PM  

I'm sorry, but no matter how long I stare at POLARBEAR, I don't understand the clue. Could you please explain it to me?

miriam b 3:28 PM  

REPOSTING WITH CORRECTIONS! ORIGINAL POST GOT MESSED UP SOMEHOW - PLEASE IGNORE!

@ Rex: Love your photo of Madam!

@ arby 1:41: I was once dragged to a bullfight in Ciudad Juarez (circumstances too byzantine to relate here). I couldn't watch, and I knew that if I cheered for the bull I'd be in deep salsa. Anyway, those verdammte darts are called banderillos, and the people who wield them are called banderilleros. They are intended to infuriate the bull. Tom Lehrer shares my sentiments. Here are the lyrics to In Old Mexico. If you're interested, you can Google to hear it sung.

*********

When it's fiesta time in Guadalajara,
Then I long to be back once again
In Old Mexico.
Where we lived for today,
Never giving a thought to tomara.
To the strumming of guitars,
In a hundred grubby bars
I would whisper "Te amo."

The mariachis would serenade,
And they would not shut up till they were paid.
We ate, we drank, and we were merry,
And we got typhoid and dysentery.

But best of all, we went to the Plaza de Toros.
Now whenever I start feeling morose,
I revive by recalling that scene.
And names like Belmonte, Dominguin, and Manolete,
If I live to a hundred and eighty,
I shall never forget what they mean.

(For there is surely nothing more beautiful in this
world than the sight of a lone man facing singlehandedly
a half a ton of angry pot roast!)

Out came the matador,
Who must have been potted or
Slightly insane, but who looked rather bored.
Then the picadors of course,
Each one on his horse,
I shouted "Ole!" ev'ry time one was gored.

I cheered at the bandilleros' display,
As they stuck the bull in their own clever way,
For I hadn't had so much fun since the day
My brother's dog Rover
Got run over.

(Rover was killed by a Pontiac. And it was done with
such grace and artistry that the witnesses awarded the
driver both ears and the tail - but I digress.)

The moment had come,
I swallowed my gum,
We knew there'd be blood on the sand pretty soon.
The crowd held its breath,
Hoping that death
Would brighten an otherwise dull afternoon.

At last, the matador did what we wanted him to.
He raised his sword and his aim was true.
In that moment of truth I suddenly knew
That someone had stolen my wallet.

Now it's fiesta time in Akron, Ohio,
But it's back to old Guadalajara I'm longing to go.
Far away from the strikes of the A.F. of L. and C.I.O.
How I wish I could get back
To the land of the wetback,
And forget the Alamo,
In old Mexico.

*******

Not entirely PC these days, but you
gotta love Tom Lehrer.

Homourlesstwit 4:13 PM  

JL - Here sealing means seal hunting, as in fishing means trying to catch fish. And polar bars are big fans of seal hunting, as other than dumpster diving, that's the only way they eat.

John Reid 4:15 PM  

A little off topic, but I just HAD to mention...

I just did today's NY Sun 'Weekend Warrior' puzzle. It's by Frank Longo, is damnably difficult (took me almost 36 minutes to finally defeat it!) but fair, and is one of the best puzzles I've seen in a while. VERY satisfying.

I hope you'll all have time to check it out. Enjoy!

PhillySolver 4:26 PM  

@ miriam b

You can go back and click on the trash can icon at the bottom of your first post and it will delete the first message.

Michael 4:35 PM  

A wonderfuk puzzle. Like many of the rest of you, the NE came last, but I really liked the clues (especially "squeezebox" but also "first order" and "ameliorate.")

This puzzle had a lot of math and Spanish, which was good for me. I'm always struck about how some composers (and solvers) seem to share my knowledge base more than others.

Eeyore clued via Disney?

SethG 4:52 PM  

Didn't realize 'till just now that SIXPACKBEZIQUE, SOIXANTEQUINZE, SEXQUIZ, QUIXOTIZES and SQUEEZEBOX were all part of the _same_ puzzle. On a Thursday!

It's December 10, 1998 in case you want to go do it, but you know all the theme answers so I'll just link to the answers.

NDE, wouldn't surprise me if my G was in a few puzzles 40 years ago, but I don't expect it too soon in the future. I guess I'll have to wait 'til your construction makes it...
sg

miriam b 4:57 PM  

@phillysolver: I don't see that trash can icon! I once heard a man describe his wife as "computer obliterate". This assessment may well apply to me. Surely the icon is there somewhere; apparently I just don't know how to get at it.

Wade 5:11 PM  

John Reid, I took you up on the NYSun puzzle. I can't do it. I gave up at the 17 minute mark, braindead, having gotten maybe a half dozen answers with confidence and a half dozen or so others with iffiness. After I gave up, as is my method, I started Googling everything Google-able, and I still can't finish the thing. I have a theory that once you start Googling, some chemical is released to the brain that is designed to punish you, such that with every Googled answer, the remaining answers increase proportionately in difficulty. Granted, it's late afternoon, I'm supposed to be working (though nobody else is here today), I've caught up on two other puzzles I missed recently, but still, I doubt I could have cracked that puzzle. I'm christening it the hardest puzzle in the universe.

I didn't even know other puzzles were worth trying to do. I stick with NYTimes, Harper's, and until recently The Atlantic (I canceled my subscription when they stopped printing both the story and the puzzle in the print edition. I do miss that puzzle.)

PhillySolver 5:12 PM  

Hi Miriam

Looks like Rex fixed it for you, but the icon is at the bottom of the post just below the time stamp. As a registered Blogger user, it will appear on any post you do, but not on the posts of others.

Rex Parker 5:18 PM  

Liked the Sun puzzle, but got destroyed in the SW, and had a cross in the NW that I could not get (White Owl!?). It's a good, but not great puzzle, and it's hard, but it's not the hardest, I don't think, by a long shot. Of course, I failed, so it's pretty hard ...

ds 5:24 PM  

I'm surprised no one has commented on 49A. To me, that's a very clunky clue. It's the kind of clue that Rex usually complains about.

Had the same difficulty with EEYORE (both spelling and not feeling this was a Disney character).

And for me, ADAM AND EVE was the last to drop. Like many, even after having almost ever letter I struggled to parse the answer.

MargaretR 5:31 PM  

Alas, poor Eeyore!

John Reid 5:33 PM  

@Miriam:

I don't see the trash can on my screen either. I think that different users have different options here, probably depending on whether or not they have set up accounts for themselves or not. I notice that Phillysolver (and many others) have pictures that show up with their messages - this is probably another feature that comes along with creating an account. Just a guess!

@Wade and Rex:

Glad to hear that you tackled that beast - hope you enjoyed it. I often find that the puzzles in the NY Sun are on a par with the NY Times ones, and sometimes are even better (just my opinion.) In particular, I've seen a few of Francis Heaney's puzzles there in the last several months that were just *amazingly* clever.

The hardest puzzle I remember seeing recently was also a Frank Longo creation in the Sun, from 1/4/08, entitled 'Vwllss Crsswrd.' That thing was just cruel.

Wade 5:54 PM  

RE the Sun puzzle, is there somebody who handles it in a blog? Sorry to take up space on it here, but hey, it ain't like anybody's gotta pay for this cyber-real-estate. The SW and parts of the NW and even California ("Stool softener? I have most of the letters and still can't complete that answer) are still blank to me.

"Hardest puzzle in the universe" was tongue-in-cheek, of course, but too many obscure (to me, anyway) celebrities (golfers/NAACP award winners/actresses who won awards and almost won awards/impressionist painters/conductors) and words I just flat-out didn't know (plumbago? opinte?) made it almost opaque to me.

JC66 6:03 PM  

Rex,

Re: White Owl, we had TEAMO earlier this week and you even commented on the hyphen.

JC66 6:10 PM  

Rex,

BTW, I usually have to look to you for the correct answers, so I couldn't help taking this rare opportunity to help you out.

@wade -It took me an hour to complete and I think stool softener is CUSHION

J

Rex Parker 6:12 PM  

We did not have TE-AMO in the grid - it was in the clue. As TEAMO was clued in today's Sun (via White Owl, totally unknown to me), I didn't have a prayer.

Jon 6:15 PM  

@wade - Amy Reynaldo blogs the Sun puzzle, as well as several others.

I think the Thursday and Friday Sun puzzles are often harder than Friday and Saturday NYT puzzles. Not always, but in general they take me longer to solve. The SW corner of today's puzzle was a bear for me, but most of the terms are not terribly obscure. Keep hacking away...

By the way, today's WSJ puzzle might be a nice diversion for anyone still stuck at work. Nothing that will make your weekend, but some enjoyable fill.

Wade 6:16 PM  

Cushion! I was trying to make it TUSHPAD! Ha! Thanks for setting me straight.

I did know that White Owl was a cheap cigar (my grandpa smoked them), but still couldn't get the answer. Having the _ _ AM _, I went with MIAMA, which explains why I didn't finish the NW either.

As for PLUMBAGO, I still say that word is plum loco.

ronathan 6:20 PM  

Looking over the posts, I seem to be the only person who had the following problem:

My hardest part was the SW corner. I had Liam NEESON's name spelled correctly, but really wanted 45D "Perfect Day Maker" to be Lou Reed (the original writer of the song "Perfect Day"). Had GIVE for 56A "Endow" (still don't really understand VEST), so the E in GIVE made me think L REED might have potential. Then I got DAZES for 48A. . . and it all went downhill from there. I could not wrap my brain aroung SERTA for 45D until I managed to get the crosses, and even then I had to think about it before it made sense.

My apologies to Lou Reed. I tried man, I really did.

Cheers,
ronathan :-)

arby 6:32 PM  

RE: trashcan - I think you need to be logged in to Google and/or Blogger before you'll see the trashcan. I.E.: it's not enough to be a registered Blogger user, you must also have supplied valid and persistent authentication credentials recently, otherwise Blogger does not know who you are at all.

Frank Longo is one of my favorite constructors - the local paper used to carry his Sunday puzzle, which was always my favorite of the week. But now, he is no longer attributed with a by-line, so I suspect we are getting some other puzzle these days. Can't find him on the web - I wish I could get more of his puzzles...

kate 6:44 PM  

Kudos for the Wayland and Madam picture, there's a walk down memory lane. I have to love any puzzle with ERASERHEAD, but I did get hung up with SQUEEZEBOX and COAXER, big time.

ArtLvr 6:45 PM  

I enjoyed the WSJ puzzle too -- but it took a rather looong time... Happy weekend, Rex and everyone!

∑;)

Rex Parker 6:54 PM  

With apologies for going off-NYT:

Did Not enjoy WSJ, mainly because ALAI is not "half" of anything (JAI has both fewer letters and fewer syllables). That's like saying DER is "half" a Strauss opera ... no no no.

...Unless there is some Basque game called ALAI ALAI, in which case I completely retract my objection.

rp

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

What can you say about a puzzle that imagines "AEONS" is a synonym for "LIGHT YEARS"? One measures time, the other distance. Sheesh.

And it would be a surprise to find that a Spanish place name was "Los Lunas." Las Lunas, maybe, or Los Lunos, it there is such a thing. But stranger things have happened.

doc John 7:03 PM  

Add me to the "got killed in NE" list. That whole section just sat blank long after the rest of the puzzle was complete. I couldn't think of any other Falcons other than the NFL (kept thinking that maybe NCAA would end up there). Was trying to think of a way to make "chest spoon-scrapie thingie" fit for Zydeco instrument when finally SQUEEZEBOX came to me. I echo Rex's thanks to The Who for that one. After getting that one, the rest fell easily enough although I did have "least order" instead of FIRST ORDER but that gave too many vowels in 18A so I had to scramble for something else. I also thought SQ MI had to do with a newspaper's range- so there's an atlas called the Gazetteer, eh?

I also echo a previous poster about IN OUT and wasn't really thrilled about SO SO, either, but I let it slide- I guess they both equally answer the question, "How are you?"

@ Ronathan: VEST is basically a synonym for "endow".

Fave answer: names NAMES

To all: trying to be facetious when posting can be a very fine line. I do a lot of online chatting and early on I realized that what I wrote wasn't always what others read. That has helped me be more clear in my chatting and posting. I try to re-read my postings at least once to see if any other meaning can be construed and if so, will try to change it. If change isn't effectively possible, a nice "wink emoticon" can help.

miriam b 7:10 PM  

@anonymous 7:03:

There's a Los Lunas, NM. I imagine it's named for a family called Luna. When we lived in Albuquerque long ago, our landlady gave us a kitten which had been found wandering on a relative's farm in - Los Lunas! That cat, Lydia, was an elegant creature who moved back east with us and lived to a good age.

Jon 7:29 PM  

@Rex - good point on the clue, and looking back, a few other dubious entries. Still, a 21x21 puzzle sure beat what I was doing at work.

And I STILL have "Mama's got a squeezebox, daddy never sleeps at night" stuck on endless loop in my head.

Enjoy the weekend all.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Me, too, I've been hearing it all day.

Fergus 8:44 PM  

Had to blur through the later comments since I do want to get around to the WSJ and NYSun Friday puzzles without any foreknowledge.

AROUND and ABOUT was also a good theme for solving today, especially for the rather novel way I ended up going about it. An extended situation where I could look at the puzzle, but felt too self-conscious about scribbling in the entries. So I went all over the puzzle, storing up the answers mentally. RAKE LEAVES, SQUEEZEBOX, MARIN COUNTY, etc. were good markers to set; and now I am tempted to try other puzzles in the buffer, so to speak. Curiously, I think this exercise would be more effective with the more complex puzzles than the easier ones.

Regardless of my novel method, I found this a tantalizingly delightful effort, with numerous intricately compelling letter combinations.

The errors that amused me most were having POLLY WOLLY instead of BETSY WETSY -- why I don't know? -- and a real groaner for 21D, where the double rat does (time): SINGS-SINGS.

jae 8:51 PM  

@arby -- Frank Longo has a syndicated Sunday puzzle in San Diego Union Trib. every week. Generally, its pretty easy. You may be getting the same one with his name deleted?

Badir 10:29 PM  

It was a sad day today when, as a mathematician, I finally had to give up on the Eastern Seaboard today after getting the rest of the puzzle. No NIELS and no FIRST ORDER for me today! :(

ArtLvr 11:18 PM  

p.s. Back to the DEL MAR round-up -- the town in California by that name was the home of Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- but now of course he is spending eight and a half years in jail as the biggest bribee in Congressional history! He pled guilty to taking more than $2 million in bribes in a criminal conspiracy... (They say he created lot of jobs for the locals in real estate, though!)

∑;(

Joon 11:19 PM  

rex, how do you feel about extended commentary on the WSJ and NYS (and other puzzles--i highly recommend today's CHE to anybody who likes... good puzzles) in your comments thread? i don't want to partake in any frowned-upon hijacking, but you seem to be in the conversation yourself, so perhaps you don't mind. although i often read this thread when i've done the NYT but no other puzzles on a given day, and i'd be (slightly) miffed to have the NYS or WSJ "spoiled" for me by a comment here. maybe we should reserve that stuff for orange's blog?

PuzzleGirl 12:07 AM  

@michael: You get the prize for best typo in today's comment thread. It made me squawk.

@jon: You seem to be new here and I wonder if you're someone I know. Did you get any strange stalker emails after the tournament?

I'm too late to add anything to the discussion of this puzzle. I liked it and finished it Google-free so I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now.

I would prefer not to have other puzzles spoiled here. If anybody cares.

Fergus 12:39 AM  

In the prenatal stages of blogworld I masqueraded as a supposedly prescient eBusiness Consultant, and one of my few contributions was to advise on choosing a singular focus. While the Orange realm is more for true puzzle nuts, the Rex blog owes its appeal to such a sharpened focus. Something felt wrong when Rex dwelt with the other sirens.

Orange 1:19 AM  

I'm with puzzlegirl on Michael's errant K-for-L typo in wonderful. Seems like a coinage that is custom-made for spam...

Jon 1:21 AM  

I just wanted to add a quick apology if I broke an unwritten (or perhaps written and merely unread by me?) rule by mentioning another puzzle. Certainly not my intention to shift focus from the NYT and I would absolutely hate to ruin someone else's enjoyment of a puzzle.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

FYI - Edward James Olmos plays CDR. Adama NOT Obama on BSG.

WWPierre 2:32 PM  

Another enjoyable slog, a three cupper today. Like most, I finished New England last, thanks to a happy mistake:

I knew what soft soap was, so when COAXER energed from the grid, I figured I was looking for some kind of SAXiphone. I had supposed Paul MUNI might have been nominated for an Oscar in 1936, and I knew a gazetteer was a geographical information source, so the "u" in MUNI suggested SQ. something, and then SQUEEZEBOX flashed in. Thanks for your help, Paul. Sorry to have to leave you swinging in the wind.:)

BaltoDave 3:04 PM  

Quite funny when you complained about too much math terminology and then called for "limits".

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

6weekslater--ah, Eraserhead! Saw this in about 1979 at the Tivoli in St. Louis (actually in U. City--funky Delmar Loop area). Watch for the scene where the mutant baby, after crying for hours, breaks out in purple spots all over. His father looks at him and says "Oh--you really ARE sick!" It's a great line I've used a number of times over the years in medical practice. Gotta see if they've got it on Netflix! Docruth

Waxy in Montreal 8:42 PM  

So that the US didn't violate the terms of the Neutrality Act while managing at the same time to aid countries such as the UK, FDR agreed that lend-lease (11D.) aircraft were to be flown to near the USA/Canadian border and then hauled across the border into Canada by Canadians or Brits using tractors or teams of horses.

Exactly when did cleverness and ingenuity go out of style among our political leaders?

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

I guess I was the only one who got PORCUPINES for 1A instead of rosebushes, and this totally fouled me up in the NW corner for a long time. But I really enjoyed NAMES, great clue! Haven't thought of ERASERHEAD in years, it is a very creepy movie.... glad I do the puzzle when I get off work or I would have been thinking about the mutant baby at breakfast, yuck!

Marty71 11:21 PM  

I'm at the stage where the Friday puzzles are getting easier, but much of the time I need to use the internet to get me over one or two trouble spots. I liked the puzzle, but I really didn't like the answer for 26D. I know I'm being picky and technical, but I make orange marmalade almost every year when seville oranges are available, and it uses the whole peel (or rind), not just the zest. The zest is only the colored part on the fruit, whereas the peel/rind includes the pith as well. I got really stuck with 12D because I had "concertina" and didn't want to give it up!

Aviatrix 9:56 PM  

I clicked with this puzzle, it fell to my pen without my having to touch Google, a dictionary or a gazetteer (but I so knew that one, it was one of the first things I filled in). I HAD a BETSYWETSY when I was little. I didn't think of POLARBEARS right away, but I was thinking of Newfoundlanders, Inuit, northerners, NOT-Brigite-Bardot or the EEC... so I was pleased with the answer.

I had NAPSON for 38A and confidently filled in THEDOOR for 35A and then briefly considered AS MOSES, somehow figuring that he could do to walls what he accomplished with the Red Sea.

I knew San Quentin was going to be in a state that bordered Mexico, but when it came up towards the one California county I could name, I thought "that can't be right, that county is known for wine and mountain biking. Isn't it just north of the Golden Gate Bridge?"

At the end I had to guess the O in the NEESON/OLMOS cross.

Oh and add corrida to your Spanish count. I didn't know the word and was wondering if it was a car or a sort of fruit, that it had stickers on it.

I will admit to "too much math" in a puzzle when Rex admits to "too much baseball" or "too much Hollywood."

"Me too" to Eeyore's non-Disney origins, MAKEIT, and double-rat's excellence.

Thanks again for the great blog, Rex. It makes it more satisfying to finish a puzzle because you have assembled a community of people who share the experience.

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