FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel ("Step the meek fowls where ..." / _____ Bulba (literary Cossack) / Annual college event since 1935)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Mike Nothnagel generally does fantastic, lively late-week themeless puzzles, and this one is no exception. Despite some cluing that left me a little queasy, I loved this puzzle. The highlights for me were the two long Downs, both highly colloquial: PUT A SOCK IN IT (19D: "That's enough out of you!") and ONE TRICK PONY (9D: Person who's talented but not versatile), which is also a great Paul Simon album and song (and yet ... no performances on youtube; how can that be? He's Paul @#$ing Simon). Oh well, here's "Late in the Evening," a song off the album in question. It'll have to do ... although he's singing it here with Art, which makes it sound weird.

I thought the NW was tough, as I'd never heard of SERI (14A: Bandar _____ Begawan (capital of Brunei)), and what the hell is "morning dress?" (1D: Component of morning dress - ASCOT). British? Do you take your ASCOT off for "evening dress?" I'll never know, as the only people who ever wore ASCOTs are Don Knotts circa. "Three's Company" and Fred from "Scooby-Doo." I do like the band My Morning Jacket, though. A lot. My very very favorite album of the summer was / is "Evil Urges." Superfantastic.

Then there was some trouble in the SW, where ALOT instead of A TON (49D: Swarms) really tripped me up good. How could 51A: "No way, no how!" start with "NO!?" (A: it couldn't - really started with NOT, but I couldn't see that - NOT ON A DARE). Lastly, there was trickness in the NW, where the cluing on ORANGE BOWL threw me (17A: Annual college event since 1935). This demonstrates how little I associate College Football with actual "college." A "college event" to me is, like, a gold-fish-swallowing contest or something. Pledge week. Toga parties. OK, so all my ideas about college come from "Animal House," despite the fact that I've lived / worked at colleges every day of my life since 1987. Oh, and the BAT MOBILE would like you to know that it's offended by the pedestrian cluing (5A: Way around in comic books). "Way around?" "Way around?" Have you seen the thing? First of all it's only a "way around" for Batman, and maybe Commissioner Gordon if you believe "Batman Begins." Second, it's a pretty sweet ride. "Way around," indeed. A cab is a "way around." The metro, a bus, a pogo stick, fine. All apt. The BATMOBILE deserves better. I will say that I applaud the puzzle's recent obsession with Batman. Yesterday, WAYNE. Today, his ride. Keep that up.

Assorted otherness:

  • 15A: Succumbs to interrogation, perhaps (names names) - seen it, and recently. It's still good. I believe the killer clue in its last incarnation was [When doubled, sings], where the answer was just NAMES. That clue was awesome.
  • 16A: "Varsity Blues" actor Scott (Caan) - I'll tell you what I told Will: "Who?" Google image search reveals him to be a young man who works on his abs.
  • 18A: Exceedingly rare infant (octuplet) - tell that to Apu.
  • 21A: S. E. Hinton classic ("The Outsiders") - do you have to be of a certain age to know this? The movie of this book featured many teen heart throbs of the 80s, including Matt Dillon.
  • 30A: Third-degree, in math (cubic) - I was so slow to understand this. So ... if you raise a number to the third degree, you are cubing it ... am I in the ballpark?
  • 34A: Looking forward to being docked? (seasick) - great clue
  • 36A: Nail holder (toe) - I have griped about this use of "holder" before
  • 42A: Org. at the center of the 2007 memoir "At the Center of the Storm" (CIA) - I only just noticed that the phrase "at the center" is doubled in the clue. Mmm, wordiness.
  • 43A: Like Ibsen, to his countrymen (Norsk) - oh I like this. The world needs more "K"s.
  • 48A: Director and star of the 1958 Best Foreign Language Film (Tati) - this puzzle has a lot of Long clues. I know because I am having to type them. I like clues that are 2 or 3 words, at least one of which is odd and the combination of which is borderline absurd. Like 7D: Real good-looker (ten) or 46D: _____ Bulba (literary Cossack) (Taras), the latter of which makes absolutely no sense to me on any level. I can barely define "Cossack," for god's sake. And maybe she's "good-looking," or a real "looker," but a "good-looker?" Hey, good-looker / Whatcha got ... cooker?
  • 44D: Brand with Ohranj and Razberi varieties, briefly (Stoli) - This was highly intuitable.
  • 50A: One whose motto is "The only easy day was yesterday" (Navy Seal) - again with the long clues! I think NAVY SEALs should not have a "motto." If you're such badasses, why do you need a motto? Plus, as mottos go, it's too long. It sounds like the motto for a mom's group.
  • 55A: Like some nonvoters (apolitical) - Are there political nonvoters? Can you really call yourself "political" if you don't even vote?
  • 56A: Ancient dweller in present-day Kurdistan (Mede) - first, easy. Second, "dweller!" Kwintessential Klue word.
  • 58A: "Step the meek fowls where _____ they ranged": Emerson ("erst") - if this made you wince, and it should, just be glad you didn't get the original clue here: [Root for a while?]
  • 2D: They're blown up and thrown up (beach balls) - true enough, though "thrown up" does nothing to beautify this puzzle.
  • 3D: Image on Oregon's state quarter (Crater Lake) - I did not know that.
  • 4D: Making waves? (sinuous) - I objected to this, but was Overruled.
  • 6D: Treasured instrument (Amati) - one letter off from Amata, the wife of King Latinus in the Aeneid. Amata goes on crazy midnight howling spree after Juno sends the Fury Allecto to rile her up and get her to oppose the proposed marriage between Aeneas and Lavinia (Amata's daughter). FYI.
  • 26D: Protest music pioneer (Pete Seeger) - requisite musical clip follows

  • 35D: With 30-Down, locale of lots of locks (Erie / Canal) - L, L, L. I feel bad for the clue that it gets upstaged and drowned out by the [With 30-Down] intro.
  • 43D: Rice product (novel) - objected to this too, and again overruled - though I appreciate the cleverness and the (largely successful) attempt at misdirection.
  • 48D: Go for a few rounds? (tope) - of all the words used to describe drunkenness and its attendant activities, this is the one I like the least. It sounds exactly like TAUPE. When has being like TAUPE ever been a good thing?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Daryl 12:47 AM  

I got tripped up slightly because I somehow confused Mulholland Falls with Mulholland Drive, and wanted to put in the lovely Naomi WATTS where NOLTE was. A reasonable Friday puzzle, but maybe because I figured out SERI (helps to be living near Brunei), ORANGE BOWL, THE OUTSIDERS, and SEASICK pretty quickly. Only the SW was annoying - not too keen on NOT ON A DARE.

I agree with you, Rex, though on the ugliness of TOPE as a word. There are some words that don't sound anything like what they mean, and TOPE's one of them.

Doc John 1:18 AM  

Great write-up, Rex! LOVED the "Hey good looker..." comment in particular. As a plural, that same clue could have worked for 10D, as well. Not sure if you were just being facetious but an ASCOT is part of a morning suit (think Reagan's inauguration) but is not worn with evening attire.
Morning vs Evening

I guess I was let down by BATMOBILE, too. I was expecting something like teleporter.

Scott Caan is James Caan's son.

Lots of fun fill and cluing, as Rex mentioned, and a heckuva lot easier than last Friday's but a few new things for me, too: MEDE, TATI, SERI. Fortunate to get ERST from the crosses. I had Norge for NORSK for the longest time and I kept thinking of Lisa "Tang and egg salad" Loopner.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ellen 1:23 AM  

THE OUTSIDERS was the first thing I filled in, so either you know it or you don't.

PETE SEEGER was the speaker at my college graduation in 1973. Actually, he was the singer. There we were, capped and gowned and ready to go out into the world - and having a hootenanny.

This puzzle fell relatively quickly (5:33, on paper). Someone asked yesterday if your times stay the same, does that mean the puzzles are getting harder, since you should be getting faster? I don't think so. At my age, it's physically impossible to get any faster and I'm happy to hang on to the status quo. I never was much of a sprinter, anyway.

jae 1:52 AM  

Another fine Nothnagel! AMATI and THESOUTSIDERS were among my first entries so I'm with Ellen on knowing it or not. Got hung up on NORSK (tried DONSK?) and in the SW where I resisted NOTONADARE and DIN because they just didn't sound right. Once I gave in .... TATI, MEDE, and SERI were all new to me also. I liked ALA on top of ILK.

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

PUT A SOCK IN IT is a British idiom. I don't believe the phrase is used much in the USA.

andrea carla michaels 2:30 AM  

Thank you. Will be giggling about pogo sticks all day long...

@ Ellen
PETESEEGER has FIVE E's. There has to be a puzzle in there somewhere...Myles?

And as I said two days ago, here in SF, I like my EPI- to be the prefix for center.

The puzzle took me more than half an hour, even WITH googling TARAS Bulba and Ohranj...I guess I have to take up reading AND drinking!)

I thought 2D Blown up/thrown up was going to be some sort of balloon/drugsmuggling reference. ick.

I also briefly had PUTASOCKONIT
Not unlike that Red Hot Chili Peppers cover
(Seth, do I dare ask you to embed that!?)

Anonymous 2:34 AM  

Didn't get the TATI/TOPE crossing, but managed everything else, eventurally. Tried PUT A CORK IN IT instead of SOCK at first but fixed it when I realized CAR SICK wouldn't fit the clue and it had to be SEA SICK. I enjoyed the puzzle and seemed to be on the same wavelength as the constructor except for the aforementioned glitch.

steve l 6:28 AM  

@Anon 2:20--Put a sock in it is used in the USA.

@Rex--I'd have preferred the original ERST clue. Always take clever over obscure.

wendy 7:19 AM  

Yeah, anon - I'm as American as they come, and I say PUT A SOCK IN IT whenever I can. I love that expression.

The STOCKYARDS clue was a bit of a laffer.

imsdave1 7:46 AM  

Wow - a Friday I both enjoyed and didn't struggle with. Started with the STRAD/AMATI conundrum, which pointed me to NAMESNAMES and off to the races. Nice long answers, and I finally know where CRATERLAKE is.

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

@rex/doc john

Scott Caan might be best remembered as the one paired with Casey Affleck in the recent Oceans 11-13 franchise, usually dressed as casino employees.


Crosscan 8:08 AM  

Awesome puzzle.

PUT A SOCK IN IT is one of my favorite answers of the year.


Reasonable solving until the SW which took forever and was only completed after a break.

Not sure what you have against Rice product; I thought that was clever and I'm glad it remained.

Other than MOUNT HOOD, what else could CRATER LAKE have been?

Nothnagel rules Fridays.

Cheryl 8:30 AM  

I had a great time with this puzzle, my first finished Friday without any Googling or use of atlas or dictionary.
I think I might have done better with the other ERST clue, and didn't know MEDE, so that area was all on crosses and the SW was the last area to finish.
Had spar instead of TOPE at first, but then PENITENTS popped into my head from the T's and I got on the right track.
NORSK is fantastic, and IRKSOME and ILK, while we're on the subject of K's.
And I am grateful for the SE Hinton clue, a nice gimme to get started with.

joho 8:33 AM  

Rex, great writeup ... I agree with everything you said, especially TOPE/TATI ... the "T" on TOPE was the last square I filled in ... it just sounds wrong even though it's the only possible answer. Thank you for reminding of your previous comment about Prince Charles being a "big ear holder." I laughed just as hard this time.

And thank you, Mike Nothnagel for the most entertaining puzzle of the week!

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

At first look, I thought it was a hard puzzle but very surprised that I, too finished w/o any help.

Did not 'get' swarms answer either.
Have used Put A sock... often; didn't know British connection.

Now if only tomorrow proves to be as easily solveable...

Ulrich 9:36 AM  

I must confess that when I saw the Oregon clue, I went to look at my (still) growing--two more to come) state quarter collection and the Oregon specimen in particular, and bingo! there it was, by name and picture. I mention this b/c I'm somewhat surprised that collecting these things hasn't come up yet--I figured that with the obsessive streak in all of us, more people would be into this. My wife and her female friends, though, are all agreed: It's a guy thing.

Aside from that, I could finish this w/o further help--thx, Mike! TARAS was a gimme (again, my background payed off), MEDE an educated guess (read The Gates of Fire) and the unkowns were all gettable--glad to know that Scott is James' son, now I can remember him--not that it will matter outside xword puzzles.

ArtLvr 10:06 AM  

Blissfully happy -- I completed the puzzle with no errors, no googles, no quibbles... though I enjoyed Rex's various points of view. Guess I'm used to "dwellers" for inhabitants, etc.

Crosscan's comments are mine too -- a ton of yummy phrases. Bravo, Mike!


ArtLvr 10:08 AM  

p.s. ironic to see APOLIITICAL in the aftermath of an epic convention!

dk 10:09 AM  

@doc john, beware the nuggie patrol.

Slight departure delay so even though some would say PUTASOCKINIT every time they see my avatar:

Solid fun. I would like to adopt the Navy Seals saying for the puzzle crowd.

As with @ellen, PETESEEGER, THEOUTSIDERS and outside of a cork instead of a sock the long ones went down quickly.

So why did it take over 30 minutes:

Robes instead of ASCOT, BIAO instead of CAAN, Glacer(sic) instead of CRATER. In short I needed SKELETONKEYS for the upper left. Most humorous to me (with no intention to offend, yes I'm talkin to you evil d) was having rubic instead of CUBIC and trying to figure out what a renal(sick) lock might be.

Off to a wake for a person who may have benefited from the book we discussed (well I got yelled at:):)) last week. One final morose note: As a clinician I lost more patients to abuse or accidental misuse of prescription drugs than anything else. The belief that just one more pill will make the pain go away is...

Joon 10:19 AM  

the only easy day was wednesday. well, okay, i guess monday was pretty easy too.

this puzzle was super-sweet. i can't even count the number of answers that i absolutely loved. luckily, most of them have been mentioned. ONETRICKPONY is probably my favorite. i initially wanted something along the lines of CHARACTERACTOR.

bandar SERI begawan is the first thing i dropped into the grid. best city name in the world, in my opinion. next was THEOUTSIDERS. after that, nothing for a while, but it eventually came together.

TARAS bulba is a nikolai gogol novel about an old cossack and his two sons. it was a gimme for me, although i've never read it. his funny stuff is really, really funny, but i've never been particularly tempted to try his serious work.

a "third degree" polynomial is also called a CUBIC polynomial. it has a term with x^3 but nothing with x^4 or higher. i guess most people when they take algebra don't bother studying polynomials higher than second-degree (quadratic).

did not like the TATI clue. i never like it when the clue isn't the most straightforward and the answer ends up being something i've never heard of. you people who know more about old film than i do (i'm looking at ... pretty much everybody here)--would including the name of the film (mon oncle) have made this answer too easy?

Joon 10:38 AM  

ps--acme, you should definitely check out jimH's blog today. he's got an interesting discussion of your "there's always a holdover" theory.

rm 10:39 AM  

I also found TARAS Bulba a gimme, but for a different reason than joon! At one point in my college orchestra career, I bought a recording of some compositions by Janacek (not as famous as he perhaps deserves) as a rehearsal reference, and on it was "The Prophecy and Death of Taras Bulba". I had no idea he was a Cossack until today...

miriam b 10:43 AM  

I was thrilled to see Mike Nothnagel's name above this puzzle, which definitely didn't disappoint. My one little nitpick is NOTONADARE; I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that. Maybe I just hang out with positive types.

On the other hand, like other Americans who addressed this point, I definitely have heard, and occasionally said, PUTASOCKINIT.

I love the word LEWD. It just sounds so - well -lewd.

The SW bothered me a bit at first. STOLI and TATI were gimmes, but I couldn't shake the notion that sorry souls were something akin to sad sacks. Then APOLITICAL dawned on me, and the rest fell into place.

Thanks for a very entertaining puzzle, Mr. N.

Leon 10:45 AM  

Great puzzle MN.

Outsiders Movie cast Where are they now?

becky 10:54 AM  

I had my danish sitting on a Batman napkin (4 year old nephew's) next to me as I worked this, yet BATMOBILE was one of the last clues I solved!

In the past year or so I believe the NYTimes did a feature on the 30th anniversery of THE OUTSIDERS. The fantastic book that is; it was my first experience in life where the movie version ruined an beloved book.

STUPID ME with first instincts: TIMBERLINE instead of CRATERLAKE from the start; BED instead of TOE; HOMECOMING instead of ORANGEBOWL. Good think I write my first guesses in VERY lightly!

Alex 10:57 AM  

I have a coworker who is an immigrant and not yet a citizen. He is very political, but he doesn't get to vote.

evil doug 11:25 AM  

A lot of highly political people say they won't vote for Obama because he's black/inexperienced/not Hillary; nor for McCain because he's not black/old/not conservative enough.

opus2 11:30 AM  

As a Canadian, most of the quarters I see still have the Queen's picture; I've never seen one with Crater Lake.

Despite that (and the already noted TOPE/TATI problem), and despite solving on the Beta version of the game on my Blackberry (the little keys slow me down a bit, but it IS fun to do the morning puzle on the bus), solving time was pretty fast for me.

Never even heard of Ohranj or The Outsiders (perhaps I was teleported here from Jupiter?), but got STOCKYARDS with just the Y in place, and ORANGE with just the G. Pretty satisfying fill; this was a good puzzle.

Ulrich 11:40 AM  

@opus2: As a Canadian, you may not know this: The US Mint started in 1999 a program in which every year for the next 10, five special quarters are issued, each dedicated to a specific state in the order in which they joined the Union, with the "tail" designed to reflect something special about that particular state. As I said before, the Oregon quarter has the words "Crater Lake" and a picture of that lake on its back. The program (considered the msot popular in the history of the Mint) will end this year, with Alaska and Hawaii the last two quarters to be issued, which gives all of us who are collecting these things finally some rest.

archaeoprof 11:41 AM  

Visited Crater Lake a couple summers ago. Spectacular. Never saw water so blue.

Wonderful puzzle, with clues to make you scratch your head, and then smile.

But I didn't get the TATI/TOPE cross.

Noam D. Elkies 11:43 AM  

At first I thought the Outsiders picture showed octuplets. Then I counted.

Re five-E'd PETESEEGER -- ELLENDEGENERES has one more... Some years back there was a NYTimes puzzle with no vowels other than E!

Which reminds me of this old puzzle:


(said to have been cut into a wooden church pew)

CUBIC -- yes, a metonym for the leading term of the polynomial. The sequence (starting from degree zero) goes

constant, linear, quadratic, cubic, quartic, quintic, sextic, septic, octic,

and past this point (if not earlier) most people go to the generic "9th degree" or "degree-9" and higher, though I've seen nonic and dec(t)ic.

"Constant" because that's what a degree-zero polynomial is; "linear" for the shape of the graph; "quadratic" and "cubic" for the leading term ("quadr-" as in the four sides of a square); quartic through octic use familiar prefixes. I've also seen "biquadratic" for fourth degree, though that's also used for the special case of a fourth-degree polynomial involving just even powers, such as 27x^4+18x^2+28.

There's also binary, ternary, quaternary, quinary for polynomials in 2, 3, 4, 5 variables; the series continues, but already "quinary" is quite rare.


HudsonHawk 11:47 AM  

Nice puzzle, Mr. Nothnagel. I was surprised to see Ohranj in the clues and ORANGE in the puzzle.

@becky, I remember the NYTimes article about S.E. Hinton. Terrific piece about her and her childhood in Tulsa that inspired the book. The movie reminds me a bit of "Diner" for the number of young unknown actors that later went on to bigger things.

John in NC 11:50 AM  

Rex -- great write-up! Agreed with all. Your Navy Seals mom's group comment had me laughing out loud.

I got way bogged down down in the SW. Had ENTER instead of ENTACT, SPAR instead of TOPE (which I had Never Heard Of Before), ALOT instead of ATON, GOT instead of ATE, and ADO instead of DIN. Nothing was working down there.

I saw My Morning Jacket at SXSW this year. They were awright. Way way way too loud though. Am I getting old?

Margaret 11:54 AM  

Hi everyone. What a great puzzle! It was a one-googler for me, just about perfect level -- stumping me for stretches but always felt do-able. And great fill.

I had Hillary's voice in my head: NO WAY, NO HOW, NO MCCAIN. Then I wanted DONT YOU DARE -- which is kind of the same thing -- before finally getting the right answer. I am not APOLITICAL!

Speaking of voices in my head, I kept hearing Sean Connery saying "The PENITENT man, PENITENT man, PENITENT."

I wanted to put PETE SEEGER in but tripped myself up with SIN for PSI, and GUN for TOE, so that way the clue started with SEGER (I got Bob and Pete's spellings mixed up) before unravelling myself. If you haven't seen the documentary about Pete, The Power of Song, it's worth renting.

Another problem area was in the west where I had TYVEK for BALSA which put a V into the Oregon clue which obviously was something BEAVER, right? OR NOT.

Last movie comment, Jacques TATI is a subtheme in a sweet movie, A Good Year w/ Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard (of Piaf fame), with a dog named Tati and some clips of Tati's films worked into one scene.

@Ulrich: Thanks for mentioning the quarter collection. I just ordered a Coin Map of the US for our surrogate grand-kids (ages 6 & 8) to fill in with state quarters.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I adored this puzzle. Only slowdown was TOPE/TATI. Have a great Labor Day!

Peter 11:59 AM  

Today's offering was the very definition of a "solid puzzle" in my book. Lots of fun phrases and cluing.

My only complaint is the lack of QZXJ letters to give it that extra flair. Still quite enjoyable though!

fikink 12:03 PM  

Rex: So glad you said "no theme" as I had a devil of a time trying to find it; enjoyed the Paul Simon.
My question to you: Could the Batmobile be legitimately clued by some reference to KITT?
(The Rice clue took me forever, so I liked it.)
@ulrich, my FIL collects them and goes through Fik's POCKETCHANGE when he comes home every night.

Shamik 12:27 PM  

@ulrich: My MIL and I both collect those silly quarters...two per state 'cause that's what the folder holds. We're are not men. (And we're not Devo, either.)

@andreacarlamichaels: Thank you for taking over a half hour and googling. I feel better about my time.

I liked this Nothnagel puzzle. Bravo!

--TNT for DIN
--GOT for ATE
--NIP for NAP

No wonder it took me almost 21 minutes!

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

@everyone who had TATI/TOPE trouble

He has been in the puzzle before, and someone can look up the freq/most recent/how clued particulars (Rex?). If he's not officially part of the xword pantheon, he might have to be considered.

If I see a 4-letter answer and the clue has any reference to non-recent foreign films, I put TATI in lightly and see if it helps get me anywhere with it's neighbors.


Anonymous 12:39 PM  


You mentioned a Coin Map for the quarter collection - i got one for my oldest, but the company that made it says they don't carry it any more.

My 2 younger kids (all girls), would love to get one similar to their big sister's, instead of the very ordinary-looking US Mint trifold.

Can you, or anyone direct me?


Crosscan 12:46 PM  

TATI shows 34 appearances, nearly all clued by reference to "Mon Oncle", "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" or actor Jacques. You would think French actor in any of these.

Today's clue is by far the most obscure.

Rex Parker 12:56 PM  

TATI was a gimme for me, and I've never seen any of this movies and couldn't pick him out of a line-up. That era, French (or in this case, simply foreign), four letters ... TATI. Easy. Admittedly, if you don't do puzzles all that much, or follow French cinema, TATI could be rough. But I can't imagine the actual film titles would have helped you much. You know TATI or you don't know TATI. I would think.


chefbea1 1:07 PM  

no time to chat today. Thought the puzzle was very tough..googled a lot and still couldnt finnish.
Have a great weekend all!!Enjoy all the bbq

Two Ponies 1:09 PM  

In trying to get the tope/tati answer I ran through the alphabet and was surprised how many worked with _ope. I couldn't recall Tati so it could have been any letter. After today I think it might finally stick. I don't care if I never see tope again.
Despite that I truly enjoyed this rather light-hearted puzzle. Can you hate a puzzle with a Navy Seal and a seasick one trick pony playing with a beachball at Crater Lake? Not on a dare!

peni tent 1:16 PM  

Q - How long before Sarah Palin shows up in NYT xwords?

Rex Parker 1:17 PM  

Please, readers, if you don't enjoy the blog or the way I run it, I'm begging you, just stop reading. Other crossword blogs await you. Godspeed.


andrea carla michaels 1:18 PM  

TATI has been used, according to the database (that I don't think includes this year yet), 67 times over all, 23 times in the NY times, evenly distributed over the days of the week, except only once on a Monday
(by my former doppelnommer Evie Eysenburg)

TATI usually includes some ref to "Mon Oncle", Comic Jacques, or star of "Mr. Hulot's Holiday". Considering it's a 50-yr-old film, foreign at that, it prob wouldn't have killed WS/MN to throw us a bone, that it was French, par exemple.

And what do you mean "TARAS bulba was a gimme" but you've never read it!!!!!????!!! ;)

ALso, Joon, Super thank you for pointing out JimH's blog today
( and his cogent explanation as to why there are daily bleed overs. (Today's is ESL)


I think that number would easily go over 50% if you factor in two days before.
e.g. NEAL was in three puzzles this week (MON, TU, and THURS)

But I won't let dry statistics get in my way of thinking! it's still intentional/conspiratorial/magical
Esp when it's an odd word like NITPICK which someone pointed out was in the LA Times and NYT same day.

That's funny that LEWD is the counterpoint to TOPE in sounding like what it means.

We need a name for something that is not literally onomatapoetic
(just looked up the spelling, I always thought it was onomonopoeia! SO wrong!)
but sounds like what it is, like LEWD...( is that?)
AND we need a name for a word like TOPE that is the antithesis of onomatopoeia.

(Having recently coined "malapop" with only varying success, I turn this one over to the true namers out there!)

OK, going to put a sock on it!

Rex Parker 1:46 PM  

Comment moderation has been turned on because a single commenter is very angry and writing nasty, personal comments that are a distraction from the puzzle (and reposting and reposting them ad nauseam).

To said angry commenter: By "idiocy" (and I've now erased my own comment, as it seems to have been confusing) I meant that to vote the way you hypothesized would be idiotic. I wasn't calling you an idiot.

Anyone who doesn't know how to argue civilly will have his/her comments deleted, even if I agree with them (yes, this has happened, not infrequently). I don't want to have comments moderation on all the time, but if that's what's required, I can live with that. Most readers care about the puzzle and puzzle-related matters, and have no interesting in watching other readers attack each other personally. Again, I refer you to the half dozen other crossword blogs if this one is upsetting you.

All the best,

fikink 1:48 PM  

Rex, my question to you was sincere. Can some analogy be made to KITT (Knight Rider) in a clue for the batmobile, or does the long and much studied comic book genre preclude its use?

Joon 2:04 PM  

it was a gimme for me in the sense that ["the house of the seven ___"] or heck, even ["finnegan's ___"] would be gimmes even though i've never read those books either. i know their titles and what they're about (roughly) and could probably name some characters from each of them, or at least i could back in my quizbowl days. likewise TARAS bulba, which i think was even made into a movie. eisenstein, maybe? hmm, no, imdb says otherwise. it's actually been made into three movies, one of which was american (1962, starring yul brynner and tony curtis), and a 1980s czech miniseries (?!?).

anyway, i know it's not as famous as my other examples, but fill-in-the-blank clues can be pretty easy even if you have no "real" knowledge of the subject--all you need is to have heard of the answer. for example, i'm sure i had answered [Jai ___] a zillion times before somebody told me what jai alai actually was.

rex, i agree that either you know TATI or you don't--and in my case, i didn't. but it still rubs me the wrong way when even after filling in the correct answer from crosses, i can't make any sense of the clue. in this case, i had the name TATI and i didn't know what his first name was or what movie was being referenced. that was IRKSOME. (nowadays i'm obsessive enough that i always look things up after the fact anyway.)

also, while i'm solving, if i see a clue that appears to be intentionally withholding important information, i always mentally think, "that means the answer will be quite famous, and this is the only way they could make the clue friday-worthy."

none of this is really anybody's fault but mine--it seems like TATI is actually fairly well-known to others, so it was a totally fair clue. i'll remember him next time. (with a name that crossworthy, there will certainly be a next time!)

final thought about today's puzzle: the clue for IMON was simply perfect. it had previously only ever been clued as a partial, but it works great as a standalone phrase.

Nothnagel 2:13 PM  

Who would have thought the entry APOLITICAL would be so, um, political.

As usual, you are all too kind. I was thinking about this puzzle the other day, after I heard someone use the phrase ONE-TRICK PONY in conversation. Nifty.

Until next time --

Bill from NJ 2:22 PM  

I did the NYT puzzles for years and never paid attention to the constuctors. Rex and Orange and Jim Horne taught me to pay attention, not only to the cluing, but to the style of the creation of the puzzle.

43D: Rice product was, to me, quintessential Mike Nothnagel. I enjoy Nothnagel puzzles without doing well on them but today was a different story.

Except for the NE, I blazed through this one. I had *A*MO*ILE which in retrospect, looks like a gimme but I had to run the alphabet at 5D, 7D and 10D twice to get it. I could not reconcile the way around part of the clue at 5A with the answer BATMOBILE.

I never read the novel THEOUTSIDERS but I associate it with the Coppola film which, ironically encough, gave me Scott CAAN by two degrees of seperation and helped me to break open the NW and all the West Coast. Jacques TATI was the only four letter director from La Nouvelle Vague that I knew and, being a big fan of film noir generally and French films of the 50s specifically, got me started in the SW. I pulled NOTONADARE out of the blue and anchored the whole section.

I really enjoyed this puzzle and the fact that it was a Nothnagel made it that much sweeter.

Two Ponies 2:24 PM  

Wow Rex, sorry such stern tactics have become necessary on your part. Thanks, as always, for keeping it civil and, best of all, fun and educational.

fergus 2:26 PM  

Well, I guess PENITENTS was right. Couldn't decide whether my ABSTAINERS or the PENITENTS were going to have to be tossed. That SW messed me up good, after an affirming saunter through the rest of the puzzle. Really liked getting SINUOUS after the PSI. My only question mark came on the PIECE answer for Rod?

Most of this puzzle was sheer brilliance, but NOT ON A DARE, when we already had OR NOT besmirched the effort for me.

jeff in chicago 2:29 PM  

I'm typing my comment slowly, having injured my arm patting myself on the back. My best Friday EVER! 2 Googles, both very late in the game.

Threw in ABCS for 1A, but wasn't confident. Then, in the first run through the rest of the puzzle I somehow got PUTASOCKINIT, ONETRICKPONY, PETESEEGER, CRATERLAKE, SKELETONKEYS and NAVYSEAL. Soon after, NOLTE, BABES and IMON revealed BATMOBILE, ORANGEBOWL and NAMESNAMES.

Never have I had such a grand start to a Friday. 45 minutes of pondering yielded a finished puzzle. The SW was the last to fall.

Liked OCTUPLET and IRKSOME as words; "good looker" and "go out for a bit" as clues.

My weekend is off to a good start. Hope everyone enjoys theirs.

PuzzleGirl 2:36 PM  

I literally said "Yay!" when I saw Mike Nothnagel's name on this puzzle. If Andrea is the Queen of Mondays (and I believe she is), then Mike is the King of Fridays.

Nothing else to add that hasn't already been said except that IRKSOME is a great word. (Wait, did someone say that already?)

mac 2:57 PM  

Great puzzle, great write-up, lots of fun this morning. Had a few speed-bumps, like yesterday: wanted tails for Ascot, free for erst, and I needed my husband to give me the pony, where I knew there was an animal involved - joey?, dogy? Tati came out of the crossword recesses of my mind, and I got "not on a dare" but didn't feel certain about it. Lots of great clues and answers, some of which came to me with only one or two letter - I'm happy and googlefree.

Gotto go, making lemon syllabub (nice word?) for dessert.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

Ulrich said:
"I must confess that when I saw the Oregon clue, I went to look at my (still) growing--two more to come) state quarter collection..."

Well, I have just been sorting my state quarters and rolling up the others to take to the bank. Yesterday, I was very surprised to learn from the State Quarters wikipedia page that there will be EIGHT more "State" quarters--Alaska, Hawaii and six others (see if you can guess them)
Wikipedia entry for State Quarters

P.S. I am female, yet still feel compelled to collect these silly coins.
P.P.S. I am still missing New Mexico, Utah and North Dakota.

Orange 3:24 PM  

Ulrich, you and your family are wrong! Or you just travel in circles in which the women just happen to be numismatically disinclined. I just introduced my son to my state quarters collection. My mom gave me the collection books to hold 'em all back when the quarters were first launched. I have some holes in the collection, though.

/extreme nerdery

Rex, perhaps my reading comprehension has dwindled, but I see nothing in your post and nothing in the puzzle besides APOLITICAL that might spur political comments. My blog's always open for business, but rants about politics will get deleted. Well, unless they happen to jibe with my own views, in which case I may leave them.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

@ andrea carla micheals
I would suggest nonomatopoetic if it was easier to type ;)

joho 3:30 PM  

One of the greatest things about this blog is it's readers who offer, on the most part, funny, intelligent comments on the puzzles plus amusing asides when they apply. I come here to get insight from fellow puzzlers and to see if our brains work in somewhat the same way. It seems they do in that whether we're mathematicians or English mavens ... we share a common thread of reasoning that works to get the job done: all the blanks filled in correctly! And that's what we delight in. This is where words sparkle and victories are won.

Rex Parker 3:41 PM  

Sorry, fkink, I didn't see your question, and am not sure I understand it. Could you rephrase it, preferably in the form of lyrics from a mid-80s pop hit?

(Seriously, ask again, and I'll try to answer)


Rex Parker 3:45 PM  

Comment moderation off.

Let Freedom Ring.


kevin der 3:48 PM  

loved this puzzle. the top two thirds were incredibly gettable, but the bottom third was super hard for me. i've never heard of pete reeger, "not on a dare" was unknown to me as a common phrase, as was tope, tati, taras bulba, plus novel had a really hard clue imo.

jubjub 3:48 PM  

Question for Rex --
I'm curious, was "No way, no how" the original clue? Seems rather serendipitous if it was, as that seems to be one of the democratic convention catch phrases as of Hilary's speech a couple days ago.

kevin der 3:49 PM  

seeger, i meant to say

Rex Parker 3:52 PM  

Yes, "No way, no how" was original. So the Hillary connection is entirely coincidental.


jeff in chicago 3:54 PM  

I thought fikink was referring to Eartha KITT, who played Catwoman and thus was connected to Batman and his mobile. Maybe Bruce Wayne gave her a lift at some point?

Nothnagel 3:56 PM  

@jubjub: As far as I remember, "No way, no how" was the clue I wrote for NOT ON A DARE. Kudos to Will for running it on an apropos weekend, and kudos to me for being clairvoyant. :)


Noam D. Elkies 4:05 PM  

P.S. Rex writes "of all the words used to describe drunkenness and its attendant activities, [48D:TOPE] is the one I like the least. It sounds exactly like TAUPE. When has being like TAUPE ever been a good thing?" Well, why *should* being drunk sound like a good thing?...

(Neither TOPE nor TAUPE carries much of an onomatopoetic charge for me, but de gustibus et cetera.)


fikink 4:06 PM  

Well, I noted your disaffection with the cluing of BATMOBILE (on the ECRU side for such fertile territory for you). I was wondering if something AKIN to "forerunner of KITT" or "KITT sans computer" could be a clue. Where does the "much-too-pop-culture to make the NYT xword" end in the context of the rich history of comic books?
p.s. Still working on the song, maybe something to the tune, "This Land is Your Land," (pete seeger)...well, in a few months maybe...

Ulrich 4:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 4:08 PM  

@shamik: If your album has two slots per state, you're supposed to collect each state from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints (since this is my last post, I'll answer the inevitable question right here: You recognize those by looking at the miniscule "D" or "P" on the front). And no, I'm no Devo either, but Brian Eno used a studio in my hometown to produce the album--small world!

@anonymous at 3:02: I know about the 6 additional quarters, and I'm disstressed b/c the agony will continue: to get one from each mint early enough so that it's still in good condition. BTW here in CT, it's just impossible to get your hands on Denver quarters--I'm cooperating with a former PhD student who moved to Wasgington State--see what I mean about "obsessive"?

@orange: Do you still think I'm challenged that way?

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

I'll go NDE one better: As a reformed TOPER, being thought of as TAUPE would have been a huge step up for me.

Further, having been called every archaic variant of drunk, I can't decide about which I'm more chagrinned: Not getting TOPE, or not getting STOLI.

I really had to post as Anonymous, it's part of the deal - HT

jae 5:11 PM  

I visited CRATERLAKE on July 4th and it was snowing.

@everyone -- thanks for the extensive discussion of TATI, I will hopefully remember him next time.

@puzzlegirl -- my first thought on finally getting IRKSOME was very cool word!

qv 5:18 PM  

Perhaps a neater clue for TATI would be "He shot my uncle in Paris". Because clever does ace obscure.

Growing up in Sydney in the 60's, it was ultra-cool to be a Jacques Tati fan - his movies were shown in late night sessions in little single screen art cinemas like the Gala in Pitt St and the Lido in George St, which sold (gasp!) coffee instead of popcorn.

For all those Rexers who have never encountered the timeless M. Hulot, do take the time to read the Wikepedia entry on Tati, and maybe even track down a copy of Mon Oncle - just a remarkable, brilliant, eccentric film maker who after winning his Oscar eventually went bankrupt pursuing his impossibly uncommercial impossible dream.

Finally got to Paris some 20 years later and was intrigued to discover an even smaller cinema in St Germain that showed only Tati films, all day, every day of the year. Talk about impossibly uncommercial, what a hommage!

All these lovely venues have closed now, driven out by the videotape, the DVD and the avi file, no doubt. But on the bright side, Rex, there are a few classic Tati clips on YouTube which you could put up on the blog next time his name bobs up.

anonymous 5:41 PM  

@anonymous 3:24pm

Perfect!!!!!!! Simple, clever, right on! Spelling be damned!
You rock!

@anonymous 4:18pm

Bravo, in general.
I'm thinking of starting an RA chapter-
"My name is Andrea and I'm a first I started just reading his blog once a unwind, in made me feel all light-headed and giddy...then I started coming back to it for a little quick read, just to see if I was alone or not...
The time I used to spend reading literature and creating puzzles, I now spent reading Rex's blog and the people who blogged about the blog and those who responded to those who blogged about the blog.

I started posting more than 3 times a day, I didn't care that people were telling me, that it had become a problem and I was no longer the life of the party..."

evil doug 5:55 PM  

@Rex: I accept your apology.

Pick one argument out of the list: A, say, very political Hillary supporter might not vote for Obama but will simply stay home rather than cross over to McCain. A highly political Republican may be unmotivated to the point of not supporting the party ticket by McCain's weakness in some traditional conservative positions, but still refuse to support a Democrat.

Orange 6:16 PM  

Crosswords! And the things that appear in them! Topic of this blog!

I am distressed to learn from Anonymous Quarter-Collecting Woman that the assorted U.S. territories will have quarters. I mean, I can't wait to have a Northern Marianas quarter, but my nerdy quarter holders (like Ulrich's, with spaces for the D and P mints' outputs) end with Hawaii and Alaska. I have no holes for territory quarters. At least I'm in the middle of the country, so I have just a smattering of D and P gaps rather than a bunch of gaps for just one mint.

/numismatic nerdery

By the way, not only does this Nothnagel puzzle have a load of great answers, it has no crappy ones. None! That's quite difficult to pull off. I do usually like 68- to 72-word themeless puzzles (this one's 68, I think) because they allow for fresher, more interesting fill and fewer compromises.

wade 6:40 PM  

Great puzzle, write-up, comments, post by me . . . .

This might be my fastest Nothnagel. I'm on to the guy now.

S.E. Hinton is from Oklahoma. That's close to Texas when somebody from Oklahoma does something cool. So far that's S.E. Hinton, Ralph Ellison and Troy Aikman.

I'm going to the baseball game tonight! Yay! Except that I hate baseball!

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

Not that it matters that much but according to this site the term
"Put a sock in it" is British.

Crosscan 7:12 PM  

Here's a new word for all you constructors out there:


A publication I just received has an erratum to a previous issue stapled to the cover, which it calls an "onsert", as opposed I guess to an insert which would be placed inside.

It doesn't appear in Jimh's database

Orange 7:21 PM  

Anon, it may have begun in England, but Americans know and use the phrase "put a sock in it" too. (See comments from 12 and 13 hours ago on this thread.)

Michael 8:02 PM  

When I started this puzzled, I was horrified when I could get very few answers. But I poked away at it and eventually finished it in just-about-average Friday time. As also with Nothnagel, an enjoyable puzzle.

I know several women who are avid state-quarter-collectors.

I know Kevin Der is young, but still am struck that such a clever, knowledgeable guy has never heard of Pete Seeger. I hope he knows Woody Guthrie...

Karen 8:30 PM  

Mark me down as another woman with a 48-quarter collection.

No one else tried to use ONE TRACK MIND? Oh well.

Fikink, I don't think the Batmobile and KITT are much alike other than both being cars. KITT had an AI with a personality and was the driving force (sorry) for a series; the Batmobile had good tracking computers, but no voice. It was essentially a tool, but Batman could go on without it. Kind of like comparing the Invisible Jet to Airwolf. Oness an accessory, one's the reason for the show.

A very good time for me, and a perfect Friday, yea. Knowing the Outsiders definitely helped; and Tati is one of those names stored behind my eyeballs.

Crosscan 8:34 PM  

Anybody else remember the comic book "Batman and the Outsiders"?

fikink 8:55 PM  

Thank You! Exactly apropos to my question cuz I wasn't really sure if was an fair comparison. (I kinda like the fact that Eartha Kitt was in Batman, thanks Jeff!)
Would Will Schultz even allow a reference to Knight Rider, being mindless pop and all? (Just call me the Sarah Palin of crosswords. If something happens to Rex, I do not have the experience to shepherd this blog.)

chefbea1 9:02 PM  

finally back from working all day!! Must admit I loved Rice product even tho it was not food related.

Bill from NJ 9:30 PM  

The phrase put a sock in it may have originated as a British expression but it has become an American one also. It wouldn't be the first example of cross-pollination across the pond and it won't be the last one either.

We are two distinct cultures that share a language after all.

I'm sorry to say that I missed the fireworks today and the imposition of martial law that followed. Imagine my surprise to find the chilling Comment moderation has been turned on suddenly appearing on my screen when I tried to post my take on today's puzzle.

I'm glad things are back to normal
{if, in fact, they are}

fergus 9:43 PM  

The Anonymous confession about blog addiction was very amusing. I'm ever so slightly embarrassed by my crossword nerdiness, and how it has grown due to finding a forum with others so obsessed. The puzzle isn't a big deal and nor is it profound, but it does represent a great deal of effort on the constructor's part and embodies some of the same for the solver. So, even if it's sort of a trivial exercise, it's not insignificant -- because it holds a nice magic trick matrix of ideas that lots of other people were juggling with, more of less at the same time. And it is enjoyable to see how other people arrive at their thoughts, especially in a territory as neutral as the NY Times crossword puzzle.

kathy d. 3:03 AM  

Loved the puzzle; only required three googles. It all worked for me.

One word about being political and not voting: one can be extremely political and not think either party reflects one's views or what one thinks should be done to solve world or domestic crises and problems (notwithstanding a brilliant and historic candidate).

acme 3:26 AM  

I too am always surprised what folks know and don't know...but let's not scare young Kevin off from admitting his gaps, it's a wonderful reminder
how arbitrary and cultural and random our collective and individual knowledge is!
I still give Will shit about not knowing who Hello Kitty is, I bring it up EVERY chance I get, but then I turn around and was clueless about Senta Berger or Dumbledore or whatever Potter-du-jour clue turns up.
I'm very interested in what folks know/don't know so when making a puzzle I can gauge the difficulty usually is about age more than any other factor.
And face it, it's amazing anyone knows who Pete Seeger is any more.
I know folks lionize him, but I still think of him getting irked that this Bob Dylan upstart was upstaging him and he refused to play at one of his own "peace" concerts (I know I'm probably getting the story half wrong, but I feel like I saw it in a documentary) and that already is
40+ years ago!!!!!

ArtLvr 8:30 AM  

@ acme -- We have a new documentary on Pete Seeger which has aired several times this year on PBS in the Albany NY area. He's very much involved in keeping the Hudson River clean -- water, air and embankments -- and regularly takes youngsters' classes out on the River in his beautiful old-fashioned sailing ship to teach them about the ecosystem as well as getting the sails up properly! It was thanks to his help that a major new construction project including multiple tall polluting smokestacks was killed after a decade of legal wrangling. That was scheduled to be built in the heart of the historic scenic near Hudson, NY, and Frederick Church's home/museum, Olana.


becky 11:51 AM  

Dorky Trivia: KITT= Knight Industries Two Thousands

Those of you with quarter collections must have your own washers and dryers! I don't think a quarter collection would last very long in my house; nickles maybe, quarters definitely not.

becky 11:54 AM  

Too funny, as I was sitting here typing my last comment, my father actually yelled "STUFF A SOCK IN IT" at the annoying yippy yappy dog out the window. He doesn't even do crosswords; he's a Jumble guy.

wilsoncpu 12:46 PM  

PETESEEGER - Just met the man a few months ago, even got to shake his hand! A thrill for one of us, and it wasn't him... I'm not a drinker, so STOLI was a complete mystery, thank goodness for the crossing entries. I, too, finished in the SW corner, 10 minutes, which is decent for me for a Friday. The times you folks get scare me!

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

This is the anonymous L. L. Thrasher again. I have a general question about the blog and I hope it isn't inappropriate to ask. I was just wondering about the clues that are quoted at the beginning of each blog, following the name of the constructor and the date.

I've been trying to come up with some rhyme or reason behind your choices, but I'm still, well, puzzled. My best guess so far is that you pick some of the most unusual clues so that people will immediately know they're looking at the puzzle they just finished and haven't landed on the wrong day's blog by mistake. I'm mostly just curious, but also I keep wondering if I'm missing the point, the way I often find I missed the whole point of a clue when you explain it in your blog.


chris.conradi 6:42 PM  

No one objected to 27D: stockyards as the answer for Where many heads are put together? Yeah, I got it, but "head", as in 20 head of cattle, is a plural; in this sense, "heads" is a grammatical error.

Ted 8:55 AM  

How can "Big blast" be a clue for "din?" (53D) a din is a loud, prolonged noise. A big blast is a loud, short noise.

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