FRIDAY, Apr. 25, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (ILOILO'S ISLAND)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

I'm normally far more on Mike's wavelength than I was today, but I still enjoyed this puzzle a lot. Cannot say that I enjoyed the anchor / marquee answers: PENNY WISE AND / POUND FOOLISH (30A: With 36-Across, shortsighted) but that's just me; I'm not big on aphorisms, and cutesiness makes me hurl. Luckily for me, that bland bit of wisdom was crossed by the far more interesting answers THE BORN LOSER (7D: Long-running Art and Chip Sansom comic strip) and MAXWELL SMART (21D: Fictional secret agent). I have not seen, heard, or thought of "THE BORN LOSER" since some time in the 80's, though apparently it still exists (not in my local paper, it doesn't). Stared at "THE BOR-" for some time thinking "... but ... I teach a course on Comics ... why don't I know this?" As for MAXWELL SMART, I only wish I had been old enough to see "Get Smart" when I was on in prime time - it went off the air before I turned 1. I know it was on in syndication when I was a kid, but I didn't watch it much. Writing about it is making me want to find and watch back episodes. Did you know it was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry? You probably did. I did not.

I had two serious Google moments in this puzzle (I Googled after I was done, not before). The first was with 30D: Iloilo's island (Panay) - I remember being super-vexed by ILOILO twice in one week back in late 2006 or early 2007, so I knew I was going to be in the Philippines, but island? Oh no, that's far too specific for me. All the crosses for PANAY looked good - the only uncertainty was the second "A," from ETTA (38A: Editorial cartoonist Hulme). But I let it ride, and that paid off. "Iloilo" is hard to read in newsprint (and in Across Lite) in that capital "I" and lowercase "l" look identical. Of course all clues start with capital letters, so there shouldn't be any confusion ... and yet, try telling that to my eyes. I'm guessing a lot of people don't even know what to Google. LLOILO's island? IIOILO's island? Next problem: the requisite botany bruiser, RACEME (18A: Simple inflorescence, as in a lily of the valley). That "C" was the very last thing to go in the grid, as I stared at 11D: Need to get hitched: Abbr. wondering "???" At first I thought the answer would be a verb phrase, like ... AM PREGNANT or WANT TO BECOME A CITIZEN (only shorter). Then I remember what I needed to get hitched: a LICense. RACEME looked horrible to me, but all the crosses made sense, so it stayed.

Most inventive clue of the day - and one I got shocking quickly because it involved one of my favorite words in the English language - was 48A: Two strikes? (carom). Had the "M" and thought "no ... it can't be. That's too good." Wrote it in and the letters panned out. Sweet. Never heard of NAVY PIER (53A: Landmark on the Chicago shoreline) but it was easy enough to guess. As with nearly all Mike Nothnagel puzzles, there was some sweet 80s pop culture pandering going on. Today, two iconic early 80s figures (one a song, the other an actor) made their presence felt. DER is such a boring little German article, but when it's clued via the consummate one-hit wonder, "DER Kommissar" by After the Fire, I cannot help but love it (22A: "_____ Kommissar" (1983 pop hit)). Man they do not make videos like this anymore (sadly). Tarantulas! Surreal. Early MTV seared itself onto my soul when I was what they now call a "tween," and try as I might, I will never, ever forget the songs on heavy rotation back then (back when MTV actually played music videos). Then there's the second-most-famous actor featured in "Bachelor Party" - Adrian ZMED (46A: "T.J. Hooker" actor Adrian). Funny that he's clued via "T.J. Hooker," in that he was only the third most famous actor from that show (dwarfed in fame and popularity by both William Shatner and Heather Locklear). I'm pretty sure this is the first and last time Adrian ZMED will ever be this close to UMA Thurman (40A: She played Fantine in "Les Miserables," 1998).


  • 1A: Tournament organizer's concerns (brackets) - had TOP SEEDS, which got me ECG (6D: Thing that keeps track of the beat?: Abbr.), which kept TOP SEEDS in longer than it deserved. In fact, the whole NW was a huge false start for me, with multiple wrong answers. Had LESS for INAS (23A: Much often follows it) - forgetting for a moment what follows means. Strangely, VISTA (19A: Outlook) came to me immediately, and once I erased LESS, I was able to fix the whole ugly NW pretty quickly.
  • 9D: Cheerleaders' doings (splits) - "doings" = unattractive word.
  • 15A: Hombre-to-be (muchacho) - had EKG instead of ECG at first, which allowed me no shot at this word. Spanish word meaning "boy" ... with a "K" in it?
  • 5D: _____ Sea (arm of the Arctic Ocean) (Kara) - would have been way easier for me had it been clued [Captain Thrace of "Battlestar Galactica"]. I always think of her as a lieutenant, but apparently her rank changed when I wasn't paying attention.
  • 24A: Future star athlete who debuted with the Rangers in 1989 (Sosa) - "Future" belongs Nowhere Near This Clue. SOSA is a star athlete. The very concept of "debut" implies that his stardom is in the future. Horrible. That's like [Future singer/actress born Frances Ethel Gumm]. No no no.
  • 25A: Food described in Exodus (matzo) - tanked this by writing in, without hesitation, MANNA.
  • 29A: He was succeeded by archdeacon Hilarius (Leo I) - total guess. Most xword popes are LEOs or PIUSes.
  • 47A: Its logo is a goateed man in an apron (KFC) - had RFC when I thought PEEKS AT was PEERS AT (36D: Views through a keyhole).
  • 56A: Rushing home? (gridiron) - had the IRON part and still hesitated. considered FRAT IRON. I never "rushed" a fraternity, so what do I know? FRAT IRON seemed plausible for about 2 seconds.
  • 9D: Dinar earner (Serb) - wrote in, without hesitation, ARAB. Ugh.
  • 24D: Sequel title starter ("Son of...") - no one starts sequels that way anymore, so maybe someday soon we can add "Bygone" to that clue.
  • 32D: Response facilitator: Abbr. (SASE) - Yes, that sounds like the way a SASE would be described in bizspeak. "We need to streamline our response facilitators and incentivize our ..." I can't go on, not even in jest.
  • 37D: Gunpowder alternatives (oolongs) - mmm, tea clues. Sweet. Gunpowder green tea is lovely. Smoky. Good stuff. Gets its name from the little pellet-like forms the leaves take during processing.
  • 41D: Streaker with a tail (meteor) - rather easy for a Friday.
  • 52D: Irene's Roman counterpart (pax) - Peace. IRENE is Greek and gets Way more action than PAX, puzzle-wise.
  • 50D: 1995-2001 House Judiciary Committee chairman (Hyde) - this guy also played one of Sam's grandfathers in "Sixteen Candles." At least that's who Hyde looks like to me - can't find any good pictures of that actor in that movie. Dang! Wait, here's Hyde:

Now I'll add dialogue - "Dong ... where is my ... aut-o-mo-biiile?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


treedweller 9:10 AM  

I started with PFC/PEEPSAT. Had to track that one down when I got the "incorrect" message from the applet. I remember thinking PFC was odd there, but it is a plausible enough answer if you don't double-check the clue.

jannieb 9:16 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle - something for everyone (except for the math lovers). Took awhile to get traction - finally got the SW (once I too fixed Peeps). Next to fill was the Plains which gave me a toe-hold in the NW. Once I got muchacho that corner opened up. Correcting manna to matzo and Arab to Serb helped finish the NE. Last for me was the SE - I had zip it - finally had to google Zmed and then it was done. A nice, rewarding workout for a Friday. Happy weekend all.

ArtLvr 9:28 AM  

Ditto to everything said above, except I knew NAVY PIER and hoped that was the landmark required. Had to google to check KARA Sea and Adrian ZMED -- guess the latter has been/will be around again. It was hard to get a toehold, so I was very glad to have cracked it after T REXES appeared! Top half came last...


PuzzleGirl 9:29 AM  

Fun, doable puzzle today with no Googling. Yay!

Strange coincidence. A friend just sent me a link to this video yesterday: What to do with too much matzah. Pretty funny. Or should I say "hilarius." (Did you all notice the name of that archdeacon at 29A? -- ha!)

I didn't know or like RACEME and have been wondering all morning if there's a viable clue for RACE ME.

I was surprised not to see a rant on SO TO SAY. Come on. What IS that???

With the MA and the ART for MAXWELL SMART I kept thinking MARY TRUEHEART. Is that ... something?

PhillySolver 9:31 AM  

One of my first thoughts was of treedweller as I entered LORAX. I read the story recently (grandchild and not regression) and had forgotten the environmental theme. Speaking of bloggers, I really hope Noam Elkies will chime in and tell us about ALEPH numbers and who cares. I just threw in a Hebrew Letter since it has been three days or more since the last one.

Many of the same missteps as jannieb and like Rex the C in RACEME was the last to go in as I too, was thinking shotgun marriage. I bet we have someone who will tell us more about plant morphology, a topic I know three cents about.

Agent 86 never came to my mind when we discussed running out of food, but here it is again.

I liked the Seder year in Jerusalem.

mike 9:34 AM  

I love at math and I still never heard of ALEPH number, but went with it because of the strong crosses. I wiki'd it, and found it to be very obscure.

other problems


Had VIEWS instead of VISTA and couldn't figure out how rap=CHAWS, and had no clue for KARA/KARS

Loved MAXWELL SMART. I remember as a child watching the opening sequence where he walks through a series of doors that open automatically for him at the last minute and wondered how they did it. Automatic doors are everywhere now and they evoke no mystery.

Wendy Laubach 9:39 AM  

I loved this puzzle from beginning to end. For a long time it seemed I would be stumped, but slow and steady progress at last yielded success. Just right.

I filled in "gunpowder alternative" entirely from crosses and didn't even realize what the answer meant until I saw it written here and lightbulb came on. I kept trying to see that word as a chemical.

Also please note: I have overcome inertia and acquired an identity!

billnutt 9:42 AM  

Two Fridays in a row without Googling! Woo-hoo!

Still, the MANNA/MATZO mix-up posed difficulties, and it took me WAY TOO LONG to work out the SW, mainly because I insisted on PEEKSIN rather than PEEKS AT, and GOTAFTER just wasn't coming to me.

I didn't PENNYWISE etc., but I would have loved it if the first word had been clued as "King clown."

Rex, I was sorry you didn't include a pic of THE GOON, the brilliant comic book written and drawn by Eric Powell.

jannieb 9:43 AM  

@puzzlegirl - you might be thinking of Tess Trueheart - Dick Tracy's girl friend.

wade 9:55 AM  

I thought I'd finished the puzzle and realized after coming here that I had a wrong letter: matzA/sterAid. Since I can't get the applet to work anymore I never know until coming here whether I have a correct puzzle. Also didn't understand OOLONG's relationship to gunpowder until checking here. Still isn't ringing any bells. The word summoned up something between an umlaut and Yvonne Goolagong, the eighties Australian female tennis player who did commercials for, I think, hemmerhoid medication.

Speaking of the doors on Get Smart, anybody know if there's a word for fear of revolving doors? The scare the bejesus out of me, especially the fast ones.

mike 9:56 AM  

heres the the opener for Get Smart. The theme is nothing great to listen to. I also thought of him during the discussion about 86 the other day.

Get Smart opening displayed

Megan P 9:57 AM  

"Der Kommissar" was not a one-hit wonder for FALCO - just one of the many trickily clued moments in this puzzle (since I never heard of that other band.) Putting Adrian whatsisname (someone else I don't know) where Rex didn't expect him is another example.

I found this puzzle pretty challenging, but fun - and I love "raceme," and I think others will come to love it, too.

Ulrich 10:12 AM  

I was so proud b/c I filled in the long 30A and 36A with just the P for "peeks" in place, and along comes Rex and tells me that these answers are no great shakes to begin with--speaking of a wet blanket :-)

In any case, with all these letters in place, I managed to lick this at a steady, if slow, place--misled, like everyone else, by manna, which in this case was no gift from heaven.

Now off for work to a town east of Vladivostok!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I don't expect to catch anything I know on a Friday, so any traction anywhere in the grid is a place to start. 80s songs, tv I didn't see, baseball, football (dim sense that "rushing" was footballese) ...ay whatever. My students would have hoped for an EASYA this spring, and LORAX is what I'd rather be reading, so those came first.

Wanted ICEPACK for STEROID, which worked with MATZA but made way too many LEOs.

RACEME surprised me, because I DO know that word... and so some "Mountain, eg" ZONE made me think "RIMEZONE?" --some frosty leafy flowery place up high in the hills (on a clear cold spring day...mind wandering far far away from school)--nonsense, though probably in the right TIMEZONE.

Nice "work out" to SOLVE this morning.

Laramie, WYO.

miriam b 10:36 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle no end and completed it correctly despite getting a few fills on crosses and having to take some of them on faith. ETTA? Who's she? I remember Etta Kett from the comics. After I figured out MAXWELLSMART, things started to fall into plaxe pretty fast.

ArtLvr 10:42 AM  

re RACEME -- Rex's illustration is a good example of the symmetric cluster (grape-like, from its root) in botany, and we may see the idea again in a "racemic" chemical compound, which is optically neutral -- having a balance of left-handed and right-handed isomers...

It was an eye-opener, learning that there was such a thing as "gunpowder" green tea! Does it get one going with a blast of energy in the morning?


Joon 10:45 AM  

i'm probably best described as an ex-math-lover, but ALEPH was a gimme for me. it's used in set theory to denote the cardinality ("size") of infinite sets. aleph-null is the lowest such cardinality, and corresponds to how many integers there are. then it's how many real numbers there are, and so on. it's a sticking point of set theory axiomatics whether there exists (or whether it is possible to prove that there does not exist) a set whose cardinality is between aleph-null and aleph-one. i'm sure noam can do this explanation better justice than i.

loved the puzzle, by the way. ZMED is only very dimly familiar to me, but it looks pretty sweet in the grid. after i got rid of SEEDINGS and MANNA it wasn't too tough, but MANNA was in there for a while. finally i convinced myself that i really, really wanted 12D to be ICEDTEAS (my favorite drink, but only when sweetened) and then MATZO came to me. only thing that meant nothing to me in this puzzle was PANAY. how many philippine islands do we have to know? after luzon and mindanao, i'm done.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I took Sosa to be a future star back when he was coming up with the Rangers. (The Once & Future Star Athlete.) Made sense to me.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Bill from NJ 10:47 AM  

I will never be a competive solver. I don't time myself on late day puzzles for the simple reason that it takes me at least an hour to complete one.

My first entry was SOSA/SONOF then LORAX. This allowed me to get 21D, then the aphorism that Rex hates and I thought I was off to the races.

I spent the next half hour grinding out the whole Deep South, moving from the SE into the SW.

Being a nice Jewish boy with an inflammatory joint condition, the MATZO/STEROID cross broke open the NE for me.

Which left the NW.

Did anyone notice VISTA BOMBS in Kansas/Nebraska? I wonder if Nothnagel is a Mac owner.

When I finally changed EKG to ECG, it fell at last.

It took me an hour and 15 minutes with no Googles and I'm damned proud of myself.

Phanatic 10:49 AM  

About ALEPH numbers. I am currently getting my PhD in Mathematics and have taken several classes in set theory. The concept of ALEPH numbers is not that obscure for people who know, which unfortunately is completely useless for the rest of the population. It turns out that there are different sizes of infinity starting with Aleph naught, then Aleph one, etc. I won't get more into it than that.

The big problem for me whenever I see math clues in a puzzle is that they are always awkwardly clued as the constructors tend not to know what they are talking about. The way the clue was phrased I really wanted ORDINAL numbers or CARDINAL numbers, because those are common two-word phrases. ALEPH numbers are usually referred to as the ALEPHs. This poor cluing completely eliminated any advantage I might have had over the rest of population.

I did well for my skill level on a Friday. I had to look up the C in RACEME, as I have no marriage experience to fall back on. I also was apparently unwilling to change PEEPSAT even though I had no idea what PFC could be.

Orange 10:52 AM  

Rex, we were practically twins in solving this puzzle.

Where Rex gets the New Zealand clues, I get the Philippines ones. Other notable Philippine islands (besides Luzon, where Manila is, and Mindanao—both mentioned by Joon) include Cebu and Leyte; there are 7,100 more, 4,000 of which are inhabited. Don't worry—the vast majority are too small to be fair game for crosswords.

Paul 10:52 AM  

Your post went up as I was writing mine. It's not a question whether there is a set between Aleph null and Aleph one. Instead the question is whether or not the set of all real numbers is Aleph one or something bigger. It has been shown that this question is independent of the standard axioms of set theory. That is, it can neither be proven or disproven.

Bill from NJ 10:53 AM  

Oops, I meant late WEEK puzzles, not late DAY

Phanatic 10:53 AM  

oops. Paul and Phanatic are one and the same.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Do popes get to pick their own names? If they do, why in the world would you pick Hilarius??? Did the bishops have a field day making up jokes behind his back? Reminds me of a Monty Python movie with Michael Palin as a lisping emperor wondering why everyone kept snickering when he refered to a Roman named Biggus Dickus. Two Ponies

Rex Parker 11:01 AM  

Made sense, but it's Completely unnecessary / redundant.


Rex Parker 11:03 AM  

PS I was referring to the SOSA clue - how did a billion commenters get in there while I was typing such a short response???


Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Having the "ID" at the end of 14D (inflammation reducer) I really wanted something like NSAID, but obviously it didn't fit. That one took me a while.

BTW, the After the Fire version of Der Kommisar isn't half as interesting as the original by Falco, in German.

miriam b 11:15 AM  

@artlvr: Forgot to hit Publish on my original message, so here goes again;

I'm a tea nut and always keep Gunpowder on hand. A supplier told me that shortly post 9/11 a shipment was held up at the Port of NY because the word GUNPOWDER, without amplification, was stenclied on the bozes.

This puzzle had some rather difficult cluing. OOLONG could have been clued as "Alternative to pekoe", for instance. After all, it's Friday.

GlennCY 11:19 AM  
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SethG 11:23 AM  

Add me to the "quite familiar with the ALEPHs, never heard of them as 'ALEPH numbers' list.

For a while I wondered about whether a Saud could be the same as a Saudi. Also questioned the PANAY/ETTA cross and the C in LIC. Got MAXWELL SMART from the MA (the second MA). Knew MANNA might be MATZx from recent research. TREXES was my initial guess.

"Can’t a girl just do that thing in a book where she adds up the days of her, uh, what do you call it, mentalstration?" That was Adrian ZMED as Johnny, leader of the T-birds in Grease 2. (full scene here)

I had BIG problems in Seattle, which took me about 10 minutes longer than the rest of the puzzle combined. My initial thought for 1D was "Razzie", but then I thought "no, that's not the movie itself." Then I got MUCHACHO and ON TARGET, and I knew it was EMOTER. Then...nothing. Couldn't think of a prefix for salivate, couldn't do anything. Ugh.

I mean, yay puzzle, ugh me.

John 11:25 AM  

I liked the puzzle, but had a tougher time than I should've in the NW corner. It took far longer than it should've. I, as almost all others here, also put MANNA in immediately. Ran into trouble in the SW. Couldn't for the life of me figure out KFC, because I had "PEEPSAT" instead of "PEEKSAT." Although I teach biology RACEME was a mystery to me. I guess I have to remember that one for future puzzles... Have a great weekend.

DONALD 11:32 AM  

"Dong ... where is my ... aut-o-mo-biiile?"

TV thought that was funny?

Rex Parker 11:36 AM  


Many of the constructors who tend toward math very heavily in their cluing are in fact mathematicians, and thus do "know what they are talking about." Today's constructor is a mathematician. Quarfoot. Walden. I could go on.


Wade 12:04 PM  

And some are carpenters' wives.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Wade, Love your Dylan reference. I'd like to buy you a beer some day. Your comments always make my day. Two Ponies

dk 12:18 PM  

Ah, the cone of silence, the shoe phone and all things MAXWELLSMART.

Tried to Google for PANAY but only got a reference to this blog.

My lovely wife nailed the PENNYWISE... within a minute or less.

ZMED got me (the lack of a TV is a real handicap sometimes) so I had Quiet for ZIPIT until we got NAVYPIER.

SOSA and the LEO's are the most popular xword sports and popes.

ALEPH I only got in crosses, but the concept (learned from this blog) sounds cool.

Rex, perhaps you could award degrees. I should like another doctorate with my fries please.

I/we had a carom board as kids that one was a gimme.

Hasta la'vista muchachos snow forecast for MPLS today so we will be RACEME-free for a while longer.

eli barrieau 12:29 PM  

I do love me some oolong. It's kind of a halfway between green tea and black tea. This morning I had some Ti Kwan Yin, which not only is delicious but translates into the awesome "Iron Goddess of Mercy". It's hard to have a bad day when you start with that.

Hello to all the Boston Cru members at Will Johnston's constructing talk last night. I had a blast.

jae 12:53 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! NW went very quickly for me as BMOVIE and MUCHACHO were the first things I put in. PENNYWISE... would have fallen fast also if I hadn't misspelled LEWD (don't ask). Add me to the MANNA, ARAB, and QUIET contingent. Fixed MANNA the same way joon did and NAVYPIER took care of QUIET. NE was the last to fall as I had to guess the "A" in RACEME. Thanks to all for the ALEPH explanations.

Technical question. Acrosslite has started printing out my previously gray squares in lavender. I tried to turn this off with no luck, suggestions?

Rex Parker 1:00 PM  

If you lived in America, you heard After the Fire's (mostly English) version of "Der Kommissar." It was the version on the radio and MTV and hit #5 on the charts here. Falco's version only ever hit #72, and was entirely in German. I certainly *heard* Falco's version (the original) now and then, but *The* US Version belonged to After the Fire (it's OK you've never heard of them - many people who were listening to them in 1983 couldn't have told you their name either). I think most people of my generation would swear that the song they know was sung by Falco (as Falco is famous for other songs, most notably "Vienna Calling" and, of course, "Rock Me Amadeus")


rafaelthatmf 1:16 PM  

Kudos Two Ponies - Wade slays me often. And 'Blood on the Tracks" is my desert island record. I still chuckle about the shaving systems rant whenever I have to make that nervous decision. And I must admit I have used the 'like using paperplates at home' line [gasp] uncredited! Sorry Wade.
Serious frustration over 57A - I've toured tons of natural history museums and have never seen a TREXE! Didn't figure it out 'til I got here.

Blue Stater 1:19 PM  

Isn't the correct abbreviation for an electrocardiogram EKG, not ECG? And how can ELSE be a programming -- or any other kind of -- command?

Needless to say, not a happy Friday.

Pete M 1:21 PM  
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jannieb 1:34 PM  

@blue stater - a lot of programming code is based on Boolean algebra - IF x=y THEN do this ELSE do that.

foodie 2:15 PM  

Great puzzle!

I started with the same errors as everyone- Arab (which was good in that it yield "bomb") and Manna. But went with Manna in a direction probably few of you took: I replaced it with "Salwa". This is because in the Koran version of the story, the heavens rained "Manna and Salwa". The name Salwa in Arabic now means solace, although I have never seen it for food. But you can actually buy Manna to eat in some places. Very tasty, chewy, almondy tasting. I need to find that recipe? Any of the other foodies know one?

And while I'm in that corner of the world: in Arabic, Aleph means Alpha or A or the first letter in "alphabet". But pronounced slightly differently, with the emphasis on the first syllable (Alph) if means a thousand or a very large number. As in "Alph layleh wa layleh" " A thousand and one nights". Or I have a thousand worries...

miriam b 2:17 PM  

@bluestater: EKG stands for the original German name of the test: Elektrokardiogramm. Somewhere along the line this was anglicized into electrocardiogram (ECG). I think these terms are used interchangeably. Someone (Doc John?) please correct me if I'm wrong.

Rex Parker 2:30 PM  

Dear Anonymous,

Wanna know what happens when *I* delete a comment? - just check out your recent comment; oh wait, you can't, because it's not there.

*That's* what happens when *I* delete a comment. Poof. Gone. So yes, you are to believe that if it says "This post has been removed by the author," it was, in fact, removed by the author, not by me. Happens all the time.

Next time you have a question about the accuracy or honesty of my blog, just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to reply.


andrea carla michaels 2:37 PM  

@jannieb thanks for the ELSE explanation, now that the OOLONG one was taken care of!

Lots of fun, love Maxwell Smart, actually looking forward to the film.

Stumbled for a while with HEP vs HIP
PEEPS vs PEEKS (after all, keyhole seemed the very definition of a PEEP hole!) MALAY vs PANAY.

Took me longer to understand GRIDIRON answer than it did to do the whole puzzle!

And for some reason I dislike that spelling of Matzah...but many many points for the atbesthonoraryjew Shortz for getting it in during Passover!
Will dig up a cute pic of Nothnagel from the ACPT for Rex's wrap-up.

wade 2:40 PM  

@Two ponies, you're on. If you ever get to Houston (and who doesn't?), give me a heads-up. We'll do a stationary roll in the pickup in the driveway and listen to "Blood on the Tracks" and I'll tell you the sad story of my life. (I thought there could be no sadder song written than "Tangled Up in Blue" until I discovered, years later, "Up to Me," the outtake that is included on "Biograph." I wonder how many grad-student suicides that song has accompanied. I bet it holds the record unless "Famous Blue Raincoat" edges it out.)

@rafaelthatmf, thanks, and you're welcome to steal anything you find worth stealing. Ditto re: Blood on the Tracks.

@Rex, I was going to "educate" anonymous (wanted to reference another Dylan line, maybe my very favorite, about offering up your innocence and getting repaid with scorn), but I held off because I thought it'd be more fun to watch you do it. I was right.

miriam b 2:46 PM  

@foodie: How's this? Looks good, though the price of nuts these days seems prohibitively steep.

4 c. finely chopped almonds 2 tbsp. vanilla 8 tbsp. sugar 1 tsp. salt 3 c. flour
Mix well; knead well. Mold into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2" apart. Bake in 400 degree oven just a few minutes until slightly brown. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to get cold. Roll in powdered sugar and store in tight container. If stored very long, roll again in powdered sugar.

This recipe is one of many from You may want to browse through that site until you find the recipe that looks right to you.

miriam b 2:58 PM  

@Wade: Back when I was a mere kitten, the song for suicidal types was supposedly "Gloomy Sunday", translated from the Hungarian and preferably recorded by Paul Robeson or Billie Holiday. The composer actually did off himself.

toonhead-npl 3:17 PM  

1. I only remembered ZMED because his name was used as a passing gag in the Simpsons. Twice, actually.

2. THE BORN LOSER (my first entry): do you remember TBL's son Wilberforce, who always looked like a girl because he had his hair in sausage curls and wore little sailor suits (a holdover from lord knows how many years ago)? The kid FINALLY lost them. I can't believe how many years that went on; I never even knew he was a boy until someone referred to him as a "he."

Carisa 3:32 PM  

Rex, I am so pleased that you used "super-vexed" in today's commentary! I blogged to you just yesterday how I am trying to use "vex" more often. You made my day.

foodie 3:34 PM  

Miriam B,

Thank you, thank you! I will definitely try it, and the website, and see how well it approximates my own personal Madeleine...


When I used to teach college undergrads, I would use "Tangled Up in Blue" to start the discussion about depression and "White Rabbit" about psychoactive drugs. I actually started the whole course playing Jefferson Airplane...Woke the kids up and increased class participation throughout the term.

wade 3:36 PM  

Foodie, how many typically survived the course?

foodie 3:44 PM  


We had fun overall, so I figure I improved survival (well, except for the premeds who always wanted straight A's. Their depression is not existential)...

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

Wade -- "Famous Blue Raincoat" isn't even the most suicidal Leonard Cohen song. He specialized in them. And don't forget Loudon Wainwright's "Suicide Song."

I remember hearing the English version of "Der Kommisar" a few times, but it was the German version that stuck in my head. The English lyrics were kind of lame, that is, they sounded awkward with the music and the beat. I had no real idea what the German lyrics were about, but at least they scanned.

PhillySolver 3:57 PM  

Just back and missed the Anonymous charge, but I am glad to see Rex got as cross as a bear. (just kidding)

A question was raised about phobias. Anonymous may have Phronemophobia, but for the door thing I suggest the Greek based, epi (door) strepho (rotate) phobia (fear) = epistrephobia.

Where is Noam?

Wendy Laubach 4:24 PM  

As a child I had an irrational fear of escalators. Want to take a stab at that, phillysolver?

imsdave 4:34 PM  

Not much to say today, but was a bit ashamed that I actually remembered ZMED from Bachelor Party (the name jumped out at me in the credits). I liked TURKEY for 1D for a few seconds (I already had BOMB from ARAB and that seemed like a nice pairing. I was married to ARAB for way too long. 11D, I just couldn't come up with an abbr. for pregnancy. Tough one for me today, but no cheats and finished (leisurely). For Ulrich's entertainment, I'm east of Chicago.

archaeoprof 4:40 PM  

Made most of the same errors as everybdy else, plus one of my own: for 57A ("some natural history museum attractions"), I first wrote "imaxes." Good hard fun Friday puzzle, I thought.

Michael 4:49 PM  

I did this during a tornado warning, which for some reason slowed me down a bit. {I see that puzzlegirl did this pre-tornado-warning]. What really slowed me down was writing in "man from uncle" instead of "maxwell smart." Still, like all Nothnagel puzzles, not too hard for me and a lot of fun.

PhillySolver 4:56 PM  

@ Wendy...

First, welcome to the blue and orange world.
Second, those childhood fears are not irrational
Third, amaxophobia is a fear of riding in a car (horizontally) so adding vertical (kathetos) gives you kathamoxophobia. If this discussion bothers you, you may have onomataphobia.

korova 5:16 PM  

@Dave, I just saw your answer to my "APPLY TO" question from Thursday. Your comment (that I had caught Mr. Shortz in a bona fide error for including "to" in the clue and the answer) made my day! Regardless of whether he would acknowledge that it was an error, I am enjoying taking an irrational amount of pride in having someone say that I caught him. (Isn't being petty fun?!)

Orange 5:32 PM  

Korova, first off, the NYT puzzles let more duplicated words/parts of answers go, and also lets some clues contain a word that appears in the grid. People who feel it's an absolute rule that these things will not occur frustrate themselves when the puzzle doesn't adhere strictly to the rule. Second, I can't get exercised over a prepositional TO in the answer duplicating an infinitive's "to" in the clue. Though I suppose another sense of APPLY TO could have been used, perhaps [Stick on]...although that wants to be [Stick on to], which would be a no-no. Given that the answer is stacked under a long theme answer and crosses three 7s and two 6s (i.e., it's ambitious construction), I can accept the compromise.

Peter 5:40 PM  

Rex, your opinion of the PENNY WISE / POUND FOOLISH pair may be raised by the fact that those were the respective pseudonyms of the writer and director of The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular.

Orange 5:41 PM  

P.S. Whoever it was who asked about ECG vs. EKG: I think most of us grew up calling them EKGs. The medical association I edit for has set ECG as its standard abbreviation for the term, but some doctors' manuscripts do still include EKG. I like EKG because an EEG is an electro-encephalogram, and that soft C is lurking in there trying to trick people into thinking its abbreviation is ECG instead. Cardio has that hard C, so the K makes some sense to me. Plus, if Kmart wanted to get into the medical equipment business, wouldn't they want to make EKG machines and not ECG?

Ulrich 5:57 PM  

Yesterday, I mentioned the express train from Frankfurt to Cologne, and I didn't think anything else could be added to that story--wrong! This is the headline I just read in a German online paper:


The story: A goat decided to make herself comfortable on the very tracks of that express train. The first time it happened, it took officials 1 hr--after a complete shut-down of the line--to shoo the goat away.

One hr later, the goat was again seen on the tracks. This time, the goat was caught by what the paper calls 'officials of the Federal Railroad and Federal Police'. But when said officials tried to deliver the goat to an animal shelter, it escaped (so much for the famed efficiency of the Germans).

The goat's mistake: It escaped to the same railroad tracks, which had to be closed again, and since no veterinarian with a stun gun could be found on short notice, the goat was shot and killed by a Federal Police Officer 'to avoid further dangers for rail road traffic'.

This is how the article closes: 23 trains were impacted by the closings, resulting in 445 min. of delays (I love the precision of these data!). The owner of the goat has not been identified at the time of this writing.

korova 6:22 PM  

Orange, couldn't you have let me enjoy my self-described "irrational" exuberance a little longer? ;-) (I actually agree with you that it's not a big deal since the clue "to" was a different sort of "to" (grammatically) than the answer "to." But I do think alternative clues, such as perhaps "stick on," would have been more elegant.)

andrea carla michaels 7:28 PM  

To this day, right before i enter a revolving door, i get that same momentary fear I used to get when forced into playing jumprope and having to jump in while the double ropes were going.
I'll bet there are a lot of now-all- grown- up-yet-still-feel-like- uncoordinated- little-girls that share this same (as yet unnamed) dread.
(Still chukcling at "tell that to my eyes") ;)

fergus 7:33 PM  

Can't believe how long it took to ID Colonel Sanders, nor how unhelpful getting the long clues (except the comic strip) early was. This was just about the ideal Friday plod -- complete engagement for a considerable time, quite a few write-overs, suppressed urges to reach for the atlas, a few ELICITations of bygone thoughts returned after a translation of Arabic to Serbian, several BOMBS, revelations, one blank corner (NW), and then the final flury with INASMuch, MUCHACHO, who I didn't realize was yet to be a hombre. I thought he was merely John Wayne's 'pal'.

Seeing Mike Nothnagel's name I figured I was likely to be on the the same wavelength, but it turned out that I was on the same frequency as Rex. I guess it's the other MN (Manny Nosowsky), who I often seem to tune into best. Regardless, either MN seems to always produce a puzzle that brings satisfaction in one form or another.

Nothnagel 8:18 PM  

Hey folks.

It's been a long day (for reasons in which you most likely aren't interested), but I wanted to at least stop by and say hi and thanks for the kind words. Sorry for the Cute Aphorism, go-round, I'll go for All Ugly, All The Time. :)


MarkTrevorSmith 8:18 PM  

I struggled to find a theme: surely "foolish" and "smart" and "loser" might add up to something, if a complementary fourth term could only be discovered?

By the way, most people who think they know what KFC stands for are wrong. Like SAT, AARP, and FFA, the letters KFC officially stand for no words at all. (There must be a name for the executive action of removing the words from an organization's initialism?)

scriberpat 9:14 PM  

please tell why is GRIDIRON the answer to 56A Rushing home?

is "home" the End Zone?

JC66 9:51 PM  

Talking about suicide & TV Show theme songs, check out the M*A*S*H theme (Suicide Is Painless):

mac 10:03 PM  

I have to admit that this puzzle was tough for me, and I'm using the excuse that I'm too busy right now getting ready for a big sale and sticking to it. I had emoter, Malay, quiet and a few other things to slow me down.... Andrea Carla, I can still feel that fear when having to jump into the double jump ropes, even though I usually did pretty well!
@Wade, there you are again, talking about other people's wives!

PhillySolver 10:56 PM  

Fear of jump rope (jump = pido + rope = skoini + fear = phobia) so pidoskophobia is fear of jump rope. Make that double by adding diplos (double) pidodiploskophobia.

I am sorry to say I am now afraid of you guys.

jae 11:09 PM  

@scriber pat: A lot of rushing for yardage happens on the gridiron thus it is a home to the act of rushing. Hope this helps.

SethG 11:33 PM  

@JC66, re: the M*A*S*H theme:
The suicide being referred to is that of the camp's dentist, Captain Walter Koskiusko Waldowski, from Hamtramck, MI. He was a very good dentist, and so they called him The Painless Pole.

He was also "beyond any shadow of a doubt...the best-equipped dentist in the U.S. Army Dental Corps...the owner and operator of the Pride of Hamtramck." His assistant made a lot of money telling others about his shower schedule. ("Ah'd purely love," said a corporal from Mississippi, "to see it angry.")

After he fails in bed one night (strongly implied in the book, I think more overt in the movie) he decides to kill himself, and the guys from the Swamp pretend to play along. They have a goodbye party for him and give him "the black capsule", a special pill they've made that will knock him out until he gets over his depression.

Robert Altman's 14-year old son wrote the lyrics to the song ("Suicide is Painless", get it?), and Wikipedia reports he's earned over $1M, while Robert Altman himself made $70K for directing the movie.

I'd be very surprised if anyone actually cared about this, but it's too early to comment on the Saturday puzzle and I really like M*A*S*H.

Barb in Chicago 12:32 AM  

@ Ulrich, re the Goat: For lack of a stun gun, Chicago police recently shot a wild mountain lion in a neighborhood near mine. Mountain lions do not ordinarilly run loose in Chicago, so it has been the talk of the town for days.

@ Wendy, me too, re fear of escalators, although my fear lasted into adulthood. I especially have trouble stepping on to go down.

@ Foodie, thanks for the tidbit about salwa. I am going to add it to my theological vocabulary.

LIC was my first sure entry today -- possibly because I am licensed to perform the ceremony for which the LIC is required!

emjo 3:01 AM  

i knew my age was shining through when all i could think was "inspector gadget" even though in reality i certainly watched more nick at nite than nickelodeon.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Hey, Foodie, THANKS for the arabic lesson, complete with phonetics -- what a great, alliterative phrase to tuck away in my mental carpetbag.

Ulrich, in my experience, you can't keep a goat behind any fence, no matter how high, unless it wants to be there. Too bad someone couldn't just lure it off the tracks with some fresh carrots -- granted, finding it a suitable home (from which it wouldn't once again GO AWOL) would be more challenging.

FUN puzzle, despite being a bit too challenging for me to finish!

Rock Rabbit

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

ps TREXES made my day. Anyone who likes comic strips should check this one out....

Rock Rabbit

Bill D 5:22 PM  

B MOVIE, T REXES, EASY A, LEO I - c'mon, people, we really need a name for these constructions if they are going to appear so regularly!

"Wanna _?" (schoolyard bicycle challenge): is the best I can come up with for RACE ME.

No one had a squawk with PLASM?

Took longer to do this puzzle than it should have, but I was riding shotgun in a bouncing car and it came to me in fits and starts. Had B MOVIE right away after our discussions of previous days, had ARAB but no other false starts.

I also noticed, and loved, the subliminal VISTA BOMBS.

The "Get Smart" opening is a take off on the opening of "The Prisoner", which of course I didn't discover until I became a Prisoner fan later in life (have even been to "The Village" in Wales!) As for my favorite line from "Blood on the Tracks", and the one I most often relate to, it's "...[I] was drinkin' hard and seein' [my] reflection in the night..."

Nebraska Doug 10:55 PM  

Add another to the list of those who liked this puzzle. Chipped away at it at work all day long, using every spare moment. Loved how it just came to me word by word. Had to work for it. Very satisfying. Of course, any Fri or Sat puzzle that I finish without a mistake is a great feeling.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

42 days later.....Immediately had rainouts in Alaska and couldn't get anywhere up there until I erased it much later. Also had Arab in Green Bay which I refused to believe was incorrect. All in all my pink pearl was busy today.

embien 6:28 PM  

No one who read (or watched) any Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout's orchid-obsessed fictional detective) would have given a second thought to RACEME. Wolfe was always selecting the best RACEMEs for his guests or to place on his desk.

It was nice to see a REX in the grid (TREXES), which reminded me to send in a donation for the blog, a blog that has increased my enjoyment of crosswords immensely.

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