FRIDAY, Oct. 10, 2008 - Kyle Mahowald (Target of a 1989 E.P.A. investigation / Scorer of a record 158 goals / Yupik relativehwbvutw)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Despite some fabulous fill here and there, this puzzle was generally irksome. The main problem for me: clues trying way way way too hard to be clever and cutesy. Sometimes the "?" clues, and the ones with deliberately misleading wording, can be entertaining. Today, for whatever reason, I was not amused. While I didn't mind the clue for STRIP POKER (18A: Game in which players barely bet?), I think I mainly just like STRIP POKER so much as an answer that I'm willing to overlook the clue. Not so with the clues for PLURAL (19D: Like apples and oranges), FAMILY ROOM (3D: TV station?), PARTED (45A: Having a headline?), MRI (8D: Hand pic, perhaps), INNIE (30D: It doesn't come out of the stomach) or USDA (61A: Certified letters?). I do have to give it up for the MARXISM clue, though (7D: School concerned with classes?) - as with any good trick clue, when I got the answer, I was forced to admit its genuine cleverness - I was thinking something to do with fish, but no.

There were also some clues that just seemed off. Take 54A: Much of high society (jet setters). What? Those terms belong to some other era. The fifties, perhaps, when "High Society" was a big hit and BOAC instituted the world's first commercial jet service. Don't clue a dated term with a dated term unless the fact that they are dated is at issue. I am confident that last sentence made sense, though I don't care to explain it. Further, the clue on SCANNERS (50A: Needs for 8-Downs) is just weird, and unnecessarily forced. No doubt the MRI machine has a SCANNER as one of its components, but ... you know what you need for an MRI of your hand? An MRI machine. The idea that you "need" SCANNERS for an MRI is just oddball. Plus the move from singular MRI to plural SCANNERS is grating here.

The real bummer for me was I had never heard the term NICAD (9A: Certain dry cell, briefly), which is now a word I officially hate. NIckel CADmium battery. Seems common enough when I google it, but if I've seen it or heard it, it's been only in very quick passing. Maybe the odd xword where I knew all the crosses and thus didn't notice it. Problem - I could not figure out the first letter of CAKE (11D: Stick together). So I had NI-AD and -AKE and I ran through the alphabet and eventually went with ... "T" - if something TAKES it sticks, sort of. NITAD ... whatever. I didn't know. Eventually I could see that TAKE was just way too forced, even for this puzzle, and so I sat there befuddled until eventually stumbling into the "C" for CAKE, which caused me to smack my forehead and say "D'oh!" NICAD ... sounded more right than NITAD.


  • 1A: Beach nos. (SPFs) - clever, but again, it's like the cluer is trying Soooo hard to hide the answer.
  • 5A: Scorer of a record 158 goals (Hamm) - PELE? Anyone?
  • 15A: Target of a 1989 E.P.A. investigation (alar) - one of a handful of common crossword answers with slightly fancy clues. See also OSAGE (16A: Language related to Winnebago) and SHAQ (1D: Three-time M.V.P. of the N.B.A. finals, familiarly). I wonder when crossword constructor Kevin will ever be famous enough (in whatever capacity) to be the clue for DER (13D: Overseas article). I hope so. "Hey, I know that guy."
  • 20A: Makeshift (quick fix) - great great answer, obviously, but I don't think of QUICK FIX as an adjective. I guess it can be, though.
  • 24A: Yupik relative (Inuit) - Learned "Yupik" when writing a short piece about the word INUIT. Learned (and probably forgot) more than I ever wanted to know about native northern folks.
  • 28A: Emphatic response during a drill ("SIR, NO SIR!") - yeah, that's good. Nicely done.
  • 35A: Horizon happening (moonset) - is this really a phenomenon such that one would watch the horizon for it? And by "one" I mean a non-astronomer.
  • 37A: Dealmaker's delight (closing) - reminds me of "Glengarry Glen Ross" - "ABC. Always Be Closing!" (foul language ahead):
  • 42A: Beneficial thing to release (genie) - ick. In fiction, maybe.
  • 43A: Gator rival (Seminole) - sporty clue; see also ESPN (62A: "Pardon the Interruption" airer)
  • 46A: Pulitzer-winning writer Sheehan and others (Neils) - Wanted GAILS, but that's SHEEHY.
  • 2D: Indiana town where Cole Porter was born and buried (Peru) - news to me.
  • 9D: Macho credo ("No Pain, No Gain") - didn't know this was particular to men.
  • 25D: Salome, to Herod Antipas (niece) - "Antipas" makes me think of "Antipasto."
  • 26D: Spelunking aids (lamps) - I guess this is true. I was looking for some kind of gripping thingie or ax or something. LAMPS = so basic I didn't see it coming. Didn't see it ... that was not a pun or play on words of any sort.
  • 48D: Pop singer De Sario (Teri) - who??? Let's find out ... OMG, you will be sickened ... but will dance in spite of yourself:
  • 54D: Funerary receptacle (jar) - ugh, the trickiness. You wanted URN, I wanted URN, we all wanted URN. Instead we got something peanut butter comes in.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS For those of you who don't read me M-Th (and what's up with that, anyway?) - please check out the VP debate-themed puzzle, "Don't Blink," which I co-wrote with PuzzleGirl (with an editorial assist from Orange)


JoefromMtVernon 9:03 AM  

Couldn't sleep last night, so I did the puzzle at 1 AM.

Compared to Thursday, where there were words I never heard of, this one seemed to make sense in the end; but, I agree with Rex, it seemed like the constructor was trying to "make his point the hard way". But, then again, it is Friday.

First impulses: Pele instead of Hamm; Upper Class instead of Jet Setters, Urn instead of jar, etc. etc.

I am disturbed by the clue for innie. Anatomically, it's wrong. It's like telling children "babies come from mommy's tummy." Perhaps saying "body" instead of stomach?

Also, according to Wordplay, isn't crud (51D) one of those words you should avoid?

Enjoy the weekend all!


Karen 9:19 AM  

Aw, I enjoyed this puzzle. Some of the long answers were fairly easy to get (NO PAIN NO GAIN, KEEP AN EYE ON). I kept trying Pele for the soccer clue too, but of course he had a lot more goals (1281 per the internet). I was worried that CRUD would be...something that rhymes with trap. I didn't like the MRI clue...conceivably that could be an Xray, CAT, PET, and probably some other pictures too. A lot of the clues did give me an Aha moment.

PuzzleGirl 9:48 AM  

I initially guessed HOWE for HAMM off the H. They're called goals in hockey right? Yeah, I don't know anything about hockey.

JAR for URN is just yucky.

CAKE = [Stick together]? Like soap? Whatever. I had TAKE/NITAD too.

JoefromMtVernon's INNIE comment reminds me of one time my then-six-year-old son was talking to a boy four years older about the different places they'd traveled to. The other boy said he had been to Russia when he was in his mom's tummy. My son nodded his head, paused a moment, and asked, "How did you get out of there?"

john in NC 10:10 AM  

I liked this puzzle. NICAD was a gimme for me (I'm a carpenter and have many many NiCad battery powered tools). I put in PELE instead of HAMM, but eventually fixed that. Saw Sheehan in the clue and immediately wrote down ANNES (and later slapped my head when I realized that Anne Sheehan was a scientist I sorta knew from my previous life...).

Favorite clue: 47A Came up with an invention (LIED). Made me chuckle, even if it's not super-original.

I agree about the clue for PLURAL. Ugh.

Crosscan 10:34 AM  

I liked this puzzle overall.

I knew the goals had to be soccer so of course it was PELE. Not.

Oddest error I had was trying to fit SIR YES SIR without crossings, then giving up and going elsewhere without even considering SIR NO SIR. I guess I'm just a positive person.

Joon 10:36 AM  

according to m-w, makeshift is a noun first and adjective second. i did not know that. i think QUICKFIX is strictly noun-only, though.

NICAD seems totally common to me. before lithium ion batteries became the thing, there was NICAD. but i agree that the CAKE clue was tough.

NOPAINNOGAIN isn't particular to men; neither is the adjective "macho" (at least not necessarily).

maybe i did well on this puzzle because i just didn't think too hard about anything. saw "high society," put in JETSETTERS. filled in JAR from the crosses before i ever saw the clue, so URN never crossed my mind. got SHAQ and then tried QUICKFIX without pausing to think about the fact that one was (as far as i knew) only an adjective and one was a noun. the whole puzzle was sort of like that.

joho 10:44 AM  

Anyone who has dealt with a loved one's urn has to be repulsed by JAR. I couldn't believe it. Still don't want to.

I agree with Rex that the clues are trying too hard. Even so, I was happy to figure them out. KEEPSANEYEON got me going and it was pretty steady from there.

A solid Friday puzzle, no Googles.

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

Considering how nearly all of the answers are fairly common words or phrases I guess that misdirection was the only way to make this a Friday puzzle. I thought this was rather easy and clever but perhaps I just was on the right wavelength.
Nicad comes easily to anyone who works with tools or flashlights.
I suppose lamps are about the only equipment that separate spelunkers from other climbers.
All-in-all a good brain exercise so I'm happy.

Wade 10:55 AM  

PELE for me, too.

A lot of plurals in this puzzle. That tripped me up on the HAS FUN / LAYMEN crossing, where I had an S instead of the N for awhile.

NICAD is also news to me. I got CAKE pretty quickly but thought _ER might be some other foreign pronoun. That D was my last entry, and a glum one at that.

(I wonder how much of one's reaction to a puzzle comes down to the last entry. I kind of want a rise in intensity throughout the puzzle, so that the last entry feels trimuphant. A half-hearted final entry kind of casts a shadow over the rest of the puzzle.)

Adding to the quaintness of the puzzle is the notion that fraternities are associated with "serenades." Maybe they sing while they spank and puke on each other, but I think serenading probably went out with the one-antlered moose salute from "It's a Wonderful Life."

dk 11:14 AM  

Echo, both the jar comments and @crosscan's half full persona as I want siryessir as well. And, I am down with @two ponies on her assessment of the puzzle.

As most of you know I kicked off Rex's campaign yesterday so this morning I was in traffic court. :{

I will spare you the details. I was doing the puzzle while I waited in line for the opening bell and when the hearing officer walked by, he stopped and asked what did you get for 5a. I said I started with Pele and then correctly id'd HAMM. He thanked me and walked on. Imagine my joy when I got the same hearing officer. Well he took me to task for my out of state license, delay in responding to a ticket I got in April (WTF) even though he agreed it was not appropriate and told me my license to drive had been suspended. I smiled sweetly (it never works), paid the fines and asked how he had done on the rest of the puzzle. He stated he had not had time to start it yet and my answer to his question would be his first fill. I thought briefly about giving him some special help (wink, wink) and then remembered that our campaign answers to a higher calling. So I asked myself WWRD.

That my friends is why we should elect REX: He makes us do the right thing.

My name is not Rex and I am sure he would not approve of this message as it is to long, not related to the puzzle, etc.

dk 11:18 AM  

Today's song:

treedweller 11:24 AM  

OK, we've gone from "anyone else try Pele?" to "anyone NOT try Pele?" When I was sure it would not work, I started thinking hockey. Hamm was a google in the end. Yes, once again, the puzzle kicked my butt.

Funny thing--I usually avoid sticking in esses when I don't know a plural because I've been burned by that many times, but sometimes I will when two plurals cross. Today, I picked the same wrong ess as Wade.

I'm surprised how many people don't know NICAD. Get with the times, folks! Alkaline batteries are so last century.

I had to give up on this one with maybe 20% filled in (some, like Pele, incorrectly). I especially hated SPFS and MRI. I really wanted ropes for LAMPS, and that section was empty a long time. I have to admit, though, that things fell into place after a few googles gave me some traction. Even stuff I didn't know fell into place. Like SAINTDENIS, which I've seen in a puzzle before but couldn't have figured out without crosses even if I were being tortured (which I felt I was for a while there early on).

ArtLvr 11:33 AM  

Oh, drat -- so close but no cigar. I got everything through three quarters of the puzzle without too much difficulty, but was hung up in the NW... even had NICAD, but not the first letter of HAMM!

I got SHAQ and QUICKFIX, but the 1A Beach thing(s) eluded me, and I had 4D as "electron" rather than SPECIMEN in a lab... I got SEMINOLE, and 26D LAMPS but took the latter out because I thought [dig deeply] was "probe", and never looked for a different meaning, ADORE... Too bad I didn't take the first part of that to get Club PRO!

Worst blank spot for me was in fact 23A [spot] = LIEU, since I should have known it! FAMILYROOM never came to me either, though I wondered why the clue said [TV station] and not TV channel. Grumpy now for sure, but I expect I'll get over it...


steve l 11:40 AM  

Misdirection is what makes it a Fri. puzzle. It took me a while to get started, but in the end, I got through it all. Yes, the clues were a little cutesy, but I was tired last night when I did the puzzle, and still didn't get stumped in the end. Minor quibble: USDA is not certified letters, they are certifying letters.

Cheryl 11:49 AM  

This one kind of kicked the s*** out of me today. I had to google to get seminole, teri, and to confirm Neil. I eventually gave up in the Hamm area and now feel a major D'oh! moment for not getting fix even though I had quick. Ouch!

I tried mien in lieu of lieu, sunrise instead of moonset, aleut instead of inuit.

I'd get a long answer and think it was all going to fall into place, and then it just wouldn't.

I very much liked sirnosir, and Imean for preceder of what should have been said. Regarding serenading fraternity members, I think that may be from the same era of jetsetting high society.

Also, there was a mini theme with the three TV clued answers.

jeff in chicago 12:07 PM  

It's Friday. It kicked my butt. I tried. Moving on...

Alec Baldwin parodied his Glengarry role on Saturday Night Live in a Christmas sketch. Toward the end of this clip he accidentally reverts to the original movie dialogue. Very funny. Here's a link.

Doug 12:26 PM  

I did as much as I could, before throwing in the towel, which was in about the 4th round. A couple of wrong answers (UPPERCLASS instead JETSETTERS, ISINON not ISONTO, etc.) and the misleading clues got me.

I really liked the STRIPPOKER, MARXISM clue (perfect misdirection that brings a smile) but really disliked the several really ambiguous clues like Hand pic/MRI.

Of course, it could just be that I'm a so-so puzzle solver!

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

"PS For those of you who don't read me M-Th (and what's up with that, anyway?) - "..

Haha, that would be me. I find the Monday-Wednesday puzzles too easy, I only do Th- Sundays.

Maybe people don't check in because they're relatively unchallenging those days. But keep up the great work here, am grateful.

PhillySolver 12:46 PM  

As the MOONSET, I sat in the FAMILYROOM while ESPN covered the Phillies' victory.

Ryan and Brian seem to question PARTED as the right tense for Having a headline? Any Grammarians in the house? I agree with the comments above, with out twisty clues, this one might have been too easy. NICAD eluded me even though I know of nickel-cadmium batteries. I guess I am just not on a nickname basis with them.

chris 12:46 PM  

Didn't like this puzzle for reasons already stated by others. I don't really like puzzles where the bulk of the clues are tricksy. In particular the MRI clue is of a class that misleads by hyper-specificity for a more general answer. I hate clues like that. They've always bothered me for whatever reason. I guess this one had "perhaps" tacked on at the end, but I still didn't like it. Part of my enjoyment of crosswords comes from learning useless pieces of arcana because I'm nerdy like that. This puzzle had very little arcana and lots of cheap tricks.

Also if I've learned anything from books and movies and jokes it's that genies aren't necessarily good (cf. Goosebumps Be Careful What You Wish For, Wishmaster, and the men with the 12" pianist).

nikki 12:51 PM  

Ugh, I totally agree with you on this puzzle, Rex. I'm relatively new to the NYTimes crossword, but for the last few weeks I've improved a lot, so this puzzle was a real downer because it made me feel dumb for not be able to figure out its oh-so-clever clues. I feel much better, though, knowing you felt the same way!

Elaine 1:02 PM  

Salome was Herod's stepdaughter not his niece. She asked for the head of John the Baptist after dancing for Herod

Didn't anyone else notice this wrong answer?

chefbea1 1:08 PM  

Tough puzzle for me.Had to google quite a bit. Wanted sun rise instead of moon set and club med rather than club pro. And Jar was the worst.

Rex Parker 1:15 PM  

People should be very, very careful about stepping in here with "wrong answer" accusations. Most people who do so end up proven wrong.

From Wikipedia:

Early in his reign, Antipas had married the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea. However, while staying in Rome with his half-brother Herod (son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II), he fell in love with his host's wife Herodias (granddaughter of Herod the Great and Mariamne I). Antipas and Herodias agreed to divorce their previous spouses in order to marry each other.[19]


According to Matthew and Mark, Herod was reluctant to order John's death but was compelled by Herodias' daughter (unnamed in the text but traditionally Salome), to whom he had promised any reward she chose in exchange for her dancing.[24]

So, Herod Antipas married Herodias, who had a daughter (Salome) with Herod's half-brother. That would seem to make Salome both Herod's step-daughter and his NIECE.


Orange 1:20 PM  

You mean we didn't bury my father's ashes in a Mason jar? That was an urn? Huh.

Glengarry Glen Ross is eminently quotable. I can't tell my kid that coffee is for closers because he's only 8 and I keep caffeine away from him, but on occasion I do like to bark that ice cream or cookies are for closers. Surely I'm not the only one who does this?

miriam b 1:23 PM  

This looked impossible at first, but I persevered. QUICKFIX, MARXISM, ALTI and MRI opened the puzzle up. The sports references don't always sit well with me. And JAR! Puhlease.

thebubbreport 2:06 PM  

I had all my tribes mixed up - SIOUX instead of OSAGE; ALEUT instead of INUIT.

@joefromtvernon: I had UPPERCLASS too.

I should have known PELE was too easy for a Friday!

I kept thinking GATOR referred to some sort of ATV. I forgot about FSU/FL rivalries.

I thought the macho comment would have something to do with not eating quiche.

Anywhere I could have zigged on this puzzle, I zagged. It felt like a Saturday puzzle to me today!

steve l 2:30 PM  

@nikki--Don't worry. If you have improved a lot in the past few weeks, you're doing ok. On Fri. and Sat., you have to assume there are a lot of misleading clues. Start with something you know that couldn't be anything else. For me, this was ANA Ivanovic and ARME (the French weapon). From ARME, I was pretty sure that it was SHAQ (familiarly means a nickname, and how many basketball players are that famous and have a four-letter nickname with an A in third position?) The word "article" (DER) means the word "a" or "the" in some language--in this case, German. "Biz" in TV biz figure tells you it is a shortened word form (AD REP). My first answer, though, was IMEAN. After all, how many other ways are there to vocalize "preceder of what should have been said"?

mac 2:31 PM  

I had an easier time with one than with last Friday's, for some reason. Got strip poker and seminole without crosses (am particularly proud of the latter, which seems to go well with osage, Ana and inuit) and I liked a lot of the clueing. I was surprised about "serenade", what? Can't envision that. How about the breakfast test and crud? I know someone whose nickname is Cruddy. I had "am too", Gails and Med instead of pro, but most of it got straightened out quickly. I like the clues for lied and lieu as well. The last area to fall was the SW.

@puzzlegirl, funny story. I remember so many of those with my son.....

AuntHattie 2:58 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot--I like it when I have to hit my head and say, of course (although even when I had cake it took me forever to understand). The Egyptians used funerary jars to store the organs of the deceased before mummification--not that I did not have urn, like everyone else, and wanted desperately to keep it even when forced to give it up.

rafaelthatmf 3:03 PM  

This puzzled intimidated me and stumped me occasionally. In fact the frustration grew to the point that I Googled only to find that I had already filled in the answer I had Googled. I don’t know if that counts as a demerit or not. Didn’t really have much of an opinion of this puzzle ‘til I entered here and now realize I don’t like it – pick your reasons from Rex and above. But make sure to include Torch Site and DIME to the reason list. Just too something or the other and nothing; all at the same time. Sorry for Zen.

rafaelthatmf 3:07 PM  

Oh and I almost forgot to rant. Moonlight madness disturbs not only because of the cloying sweetness but also the obnoxious length. Two minutes - let alone seven - would be way too much.

SethG 3:08 PM  

PELE of course, but when the H came up I went with HULL. PELE scored a lot more goals overall but only 77 with the national team, which is where HAMM scored her 158. Brett Hull scored 86 hockey goals in his best season.

I have watched more HAMM than I have PELE or HULL.

My worse error was LIEGE instead of NIECE. It worked with ALEUT, and then I just figured ALIUT was a Friday alternative spelling or something as I filled in more...spent a _long_ time wondering about GLOxING, and SERENADE was non-obvious. Finally remembered TAU and worked my way out from there before finishing up with MARXISM and the like.

Rex, that Teri De Sario _was_ sickening, and I didn't dance in spite of myself. I half expected to come here and find a bunch of people raving about her performance in the French version of Saturday Night Fever or something.

Mike the Wino 4:45 PM  

Hopefully I didn't overlook this in the previous comments, but what does DIME have to do with "torch site"?

PuzzleGirl 4:48 PM  

@mike the wino: That one took me a while too. If you have a dime on you, take a look at the back of it. There's a torch on it. Ugh, right?

Mike the Wino 4:49 PM  

Never mind, I figured it out as soon as I commented. There's a torch on the back of a dime.........duh! Talk about misleading!

Mike the Wino 4:51 PM  

Darnit PuzzleGirl, I'm just not a fast enough typer! ;>}

Orange 5:07 PM  

Apparently today's fraternity serenades are classy affairs, with songs like SNL's "Dick in a Box." Oh, the hilarity.

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

In common usage, MRI can refer to either the machine or the images produced. Typically the output of an imaging session would be several series of images. Each series would be akin to taking a loaf of bread and arranging slices in rectangular array staring in the upper left and ending in the lower right, thus giving you an idea of what is inside. Each individual image is actually refered to as a slice. Newer machines allow you to flip through front to back, side to side or top to bottom. The machine would not produce a single "Hand Pic", in the literal sense, unless you generated a reconstucted image, typically 3-d or rotatable, from the data of the primary series of images.

The term scanner would typically refer to the entire machine: PET, CT,or MRI unless a distinction was being made between the image processing computer and the portion of the device sensing the raw data. This distinction in my experience is made in only two settings: a sales pitch and when it breaks.

With respect to clue Across 50: the plural, "8-Downs", would not usually imply more than one scanner anymore than pictures implys cameras. This then leads to a consideration of the plural form "Needs". Usually when I see need and MRI together the frame of reference is the clinical purpose of the study or a utilization study. Certainly one could have two or more needs for more than one scanner for more than one problem in more than one patient, but two or more hand pics is a stretch given that the machines are several million a pop or am I being too concrete?

Joon 5:16 PM  

hmm, everybody else seems to have had the exact opposite reaction to this puzzle that i did. i love, love, love tricky clues. they're probably my #1 favorite thing about crossword puzzles. this puzzle was chock-full of them, and almost every single one made me happy.

i didn't fall into the JAR/URN trap, but if i had, i don't think that would have made me go, "ugh." instead i would have been happy--the clue is certainly accurate for either one, and i could have had the "aha! for once it's not URN!" moment. i was confused about [Torch site], too, but when i figured out DIME i thought "aha!", not "ugh!". what a terrific clue--haven't we all looked at the back of a dime a zillion times without registering the torch? (canadians excepted, of course.) everybody knows it, but nobody thinks about it.

i was never tempted to try PELE, as i know he scored well over 1000 goals. (staggering, really, when you think about how low-scoring soccer is, and how spectacular an achievement it is when a guy like cristiano ronaldo bags 40 goals in a season.) HOWE (or HULL, not that i know what position either HULL plays/played) may have had some sort of scoring record for defensemen, but even i know that all the overall scoring records are held by gretzky, and i don't think it would fly if you just said "scorer of a record ___ goals" when what you meant was it's a team record, or a record for position, or a single-season record, or whatever. so i waited around and eventually got HAMM from the HA__.

in short--i don't mind being tricked on a friday. it's supposed to be tricky, and it's supposed to have great fill. this one passed on both counts, and it made me smile. the only frowny thing about it (for me) was the partial ITALL. (rather a plenary partial, if you'll forgive my pun. okay, never mind--i don't deserve forgiveness for that.)

Crosscan 5:26 PM  

joon: I'm with you on the puzzle.

HOWE and HULL (father and son) were forwards. If you see a clue for a high scoring defenseman, it's our old friend ORR.

The Canadian dime has the Bluenose schooner on the reverse, as nothing says Canada like a champion sailing ship.

The looney (dollar) coin has a loon and the Tooney ($2) has Hall of Fame goalscorer Pele Hamm Toon. No wait, its a polar bear.

Queen Elizabeth is on the obverse of all of our coins.

End of lesson

va beach puzzler 5:48 PM  

I didn't see anyone comment on the mysterious (to me) tau lepton (55D), which completely messed me up when I smugly thought I had finished this puzzle in record time. Tau lepton??? Is that a household word?

PhillySolver 6:00 PM  

VA beach...crosswords have made a whole raft of obscurities household words.
joon, crosscan...I wrote elsewhere but will join you here in praise. I liked the work of our young Crimson constructor. I wonder if Noam knows Kyle. 'plenary partial' what's to be forgiven?
tau tau

Wade 6:17 PM  

If you Canadians are ever feeling insecure about your goofy currency, cheer yourselves up by making fun of the Welsh. They got a leek on their pound coins.

I wonder what's on the yuan. I guess we'll all find out soon enough.

mac 6:30 PM  

@wade: have you ever seen a Welsh leek? It is magnificent, tall and white, with very little to chop off and throw away (or put into the stock pot). I've always wondered why we can't get decent leeks here.

Ulrich 6:44 PM  

Not much left to say, other than joining those who were so not on the constructor's wave length that googling became a necessity.

@rex: Thanks for digging up the Salome/Herod genealogy. Since "Salome" is my favorite opera, I was aware only of the stepdaughter connection, which is milked for all it's worth in the opera (and in the Oscar Wilde play on which it is based). I got NIECE strictly b/c nothing else would fit. Wrote note to myself to check this out, and you spared me the trouble.

steve l 6:47 PM  

Tau lepton? Wasn't he in one of the Star Wars movies?

Orange 7:24 PM  

"Have you ever seen a Welsh leak?"

I don't know the punchline, but I hope it involves magnificence and having very little to chop off and throw away.

Michael 7:26 PM  

I liked this puzzle and didn't find it particularly hard. I dig get messed up for a while by "serenade." There are more than enough fraternities in the town where I live and when I think of them the word "serenade" is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind.

fergus 8:05 PM  

Apparently my alphabet doesn't include a V. Thought I would just look at the puzzle before driving home and before I knew it, it was done -- except the the square at 41. Hmmm. Couldn't think of anything, so I started running through all the letters, going across and down, then each separately. Nothing. So I start to drive, having a quick check at each red light to make sure all the other squares are correct. Check. Then just before getting home I was behind a guy towing a boat, a vessel, which if it were named with some relation to Tequila, would have been uncanny.

For the first time in a while I'm way off from Rex in the Relative difficulty rating, at least in this comparative direction. Aside from that V, I wondered about HAIRED instead of PARTED, and DRAT rather than CRAP or CRUD. That SERENADE still doesn't seem so convincing. And as tough as they are to fill without quite a few other letters, the Playground retorts always seem to amuse me.

fikink 8:26 PM  

Just did the puzzle 7p.m. Central.
FINALLY got it!
So many misdirections in this puzzle, I couldn't really tell you what just went down.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

How common is an MRI of a hand versus, say, a hesd? I associate MRIs more with internal organ scans. What could possibly be going on that would warrant an MRI of a hand? (I mean, asidde from insurance bilking.)

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

Someone should do a statistical correlation between puzzles Rex finds challenging and puzzles he nitpicks. It seems strong to me, but my memory may be faulty.

fergus 9:11 PM  

Anon 9:04,

Wouldn't that be a causality, and not a correlation?

andrea carla michaels 9:52 PM  

Breezed thru this, despite the whole PELE situ, tho I had SITU instead of LIEU at first.

It's weird, bec I sort of agree with EVERYONE about EVERYTHING on this, even tho people had opposite experiences! I guess bec there was enough to like and dislike all in the same puzzle.

So I'm sort of with Joon on this one as well as the person who prefers arcana to trickery.

Loved that QUICKFIX had QCKFX all in one word! Made me think it was going to be a heavy Scrabble-y pangram, which gave me the J for JAR, so I never considered URN...
(@ Orange
very funny re: Mason Jar!)

Tho not a pangram, bec oddly no B,W,Z (I'll bet there was in the original...Kyle?)

Hated the apples/oranges clue, that IS the kind of clue I can't stand... (along with misuse of foreign terms).
Speaking of which,
@steve l

Very nice of you to help the newcomers, but slight mistranslation of DER. I believe DER is THE not A in German (which would be EIN/E).
Right, HerrProfessor Ulrich?

@Mike the Wino
I not only loved the clue about the torch site/DIME, it actually led me to spend over an hour trying to come up with a puzzle of other "Torch Sites":

and playing with variations of BACKOFDIME, ROOSEVELTDIME, etc. to get numbers to match.

So, I love clues like that, where you either learn something you may have known subconsciously, but it triggers all sorts of fun ideas like "What else has a torch?".

I then thought about Torch singers, Torchlight parades (and learned about the Seattle Seafair), torching for insurance, how the English call flashlights "torches", TORCHSONGTRILOGY and on and on...
just off one clue!!!!!!

I disliked CRUD, not bec of any (nonexistent) (according to Will) breakfast test (plus I do these around 1 am) but bec it's as faux as someone saying "Rats",
ie I don't think anyone has ever muttered the word "Crud" ...EVER. ("Rats!" maybe...)


I originally guessed SAINTANNE, but was thrown off that it wasn't saint with an E.
I may have been thinking ANNE bec of ANA and ANAT, So I filled in SAINTANNE.
Wrong... but moments later ANNE became the center of scANNErs that DENIS crossed with!

stacey flowers 10:29 PM  

I have never commented here, but today's puzzle was so irritating for me, that I feel compelled to share my experience!

I agree that mis-direction makes a great friday puzzle, but i felt like today's mis-directions weren't mis-directing, they were just poor clues.. clues that weren't quite accurate, as opposed to unexpected double or triple meaning, etc.

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person who found some of today clues irksome.


Orange 10:54 PM  

Anonymous 8:57: I, too, wondered about the utility of hand MRIs, so I Googled it and came upon a book for doctors on that very subject. Hand and wrist MRI may be used to evaluate "trauma, tumors and tumor-like conditions, arthropathies, infection, avascular necrosis, nerve compression syndromes, and miscellaneous conditions."

Ulrich 11:06 PM  

@andrea: You're right about "der" (I only dare to go into these details if explicitly asked). It's "the" for masculine singular nouns (der Vater); for female singulars, it's "die" (die Mutter); for neuter singulars, it's "das" (das Kind); for all plurals, it's "die" (go figure!): die Väter, die Mütter, die Kinder--remember my remark on the sexiness of German plurals from some weeks ago?

steve l 11:08 PM  

@stacey flowers--Which clues did you think were inaccurate? I didn't find any. Granted, I didn't know anything about Salome (but got it by process of elimination) and that's the one everyone thought was wrong--but wasn't. In any event, welcome aboard. It's always nice to expand this community with new perspectives.

@andrea--I didn't say DER was German for "a." I just said that "article" referred to "A" or "THE" in whatever foreign language.
But thanks for the flattering comment, just the same.

Rex Parker 11:28 PM  

stacey flowers - you are absolutely correct, especially insofar as you agree with me.

Seriously, LOVE hearing from new commenters.

It's late. Just back from finishing up "Romeo and Juliet" with my prison students. Great fun. Must do sat. puzzle now.


mac 11:28 PM  

@Andrea; glad you agree, it's a really ugly word and I have never heard it used except for in Cruddy!

@Orange: I know you are not into vegetables (if you were you would eat all of them) but really, you probably have never seen a Welsh leek. It can be as big as 16 - 20 inches in length, and if you know anything about leeks, you know that basically the only edible part is the white part, and in the US the white part is only 3 - 4 inches.
Sorry to rant about this, but LEEKS are a very important part of DUTCH PEA SOUP!

Wade 11:40 PM  

How many puns per gallon does Mac's email get?

mac 12:12 AM  

@wade: I would love to know.

fergus 12:30 AM  

Treble entendres
some unintentional
I wager to guess.

(Disclosure: 3rd grade haiku)

Ellen 12:41 AM  

Hated this puzzle. Really weird, forced cluing and just an overall feeling of "yuk!" (to use the technical term).

andrea carla michaels 12:54 AM  

Well, if you ARE going to use technical terms, then, technically I think you mean YUCK, YUCKY or YECH, YECCH (all good in Scrabble!)
(unless, of course, you meant it was laughably bad!)

andrea carla michaels 12:58 AM  

ps What a YUTZ I am! I can't believe I left out YUCH and YUCCH!


(*not good in Scrabble!)

Anonymous 1:23 AM  

two hours and 20 minutes
always happy to finish with zero bad squares
but, aside from "strip poker," didn't crack a smile.

foodie 2:31 AM  

I started late in the day, did this in pieces, had to get help and like anonymous @1:23, did not find it not a joyful experience.

And I know I'm going to regret asking, because it must be obvious since no one else asked. But it's driving me crazy: What is TREYS and how does it relate to "They don't take many tricks"? Is this poker or something?

fergus 2:44 AM  

My dear Foodie,

It's a combination of high and low.
Deuces are the lowest, and Aces are high, unless you are playing a a different game of cards where they are capable of going low as well.

fergus 2:57 AM  

All the big-time financiers know how to play bridge; it would behoove you all to learn the game.

fergus 3:02 AM  

The game is simple; I taught a HS class to play and enjoy the game in half an hour.

foodie 12:49 PM  

Thank you fergus. I really appreciate the information and dissonance reduction! And I may need to add Bridge to my list of all-consuming escapist hobbies. All this stress needs some serious counter-forces...

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Strip Poker was obvious but couldn't relate alto with plural form (alti) so used "rats" as "some singers" which seem themed with another puzzle clue and then tried to fit Bret Hull hockey high scorer...but eventually rounded my way around to the correct soulutions. Never could get MRI (they do that to hands only?) especially since pic is computer term and tried to figure in cdi, pda or some other digital photo term (they do use scanners).

BTW,I thought everybody knows of nicad batteries.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Strip Poker was obvious but couldn't relate alto with plural form (alti) so used "rats" as "some singers" which seem themed with another puzzle clue and then tried to fit Bret Hull hockey high scorer...but eventually rounded my way around to the correct soulutions. Never could get MRI (they do that to hands only?) especially since pic is computer term and tried to figure in cdi, pda or some other digital photo term (they do use scanners).

BTW,I thought everybody knows of nicad batteries.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Re: jars as funerary receptacles. Funerary receptacles doesn't have to mean holding ashes. Ancient cultures used jars for ointments and other things.

Joon 11:12 PM  

somebody asked about TAU lepton. no, this is not a household word or anything. it's a fundamental particle, the heaviest member of the lepton family. it's like an electron except much, much heavier--and really, there's no other difference. the TAU was discovered by martin perl, who was seen in the grid in the "i'm adam perl, and don't you forget it" puzzle back in may.

some fun lepton trivia: there are three flavors of leptons. the electron is the lightest and the only one which is present in ordinary matter. the "middle" lepton is the muon (or mu), which was discovered in the 1930s by carl anderson. when he published this result (basically, "hey, i found this thing which is exactly like an electron except heavier"), physicists were befuddled. one of them, isidor rabi, famously asked, "who ordered that?" it remains the greatest quote in the history of particle physics, if you ask me. anyway, the TAU was discovered in the 1970s but wasn't nearly as surprising, since people had gotten used to the idea that there were families of similar particles.

also, play bridge! (i know nobody will ever read this, but i might as well try.)

polabran 1:45 PM  

Of course I always chime in late because I get my ny times puzzle fix from my neighbor's recycle bin, but I was hesitant on this one only because it seemed unusually easy for a friday- it's funny how different themes and clues tap into one's own experiences apart from the standard x-wordese. Growing up in Indianapolis, we would take trips past Peru to a lake called Maxinkuckee in Culver. I somehow forgot about Cole Porter but remembered that Peru was a circus town.
oh yeah that teri desario? clip was truly awful and the glengarry clip -awesome.

Rick 10:25 AM  

I actually like this puzzle; I was cruising through it without much difficulty. I did get hung up like most everyone else on the goal scorer clue, but I was thinking hockey the whole time until MRI fell and then saw it had to be Hamm. I did balk a bit at the clue for MRI as I would think X-rays would be done on a hand, but then realized the clue was a pun on "hand-pick" and and my disfavor of it lessened a bit.

Since the puzzle is themeless, it had to be a Fri or Sat but is too easy for a Sat, so it had to be clued trickily for Fri level. I actually like tricky clues, and let's remember that Will rewrites most of the clues himself.

Even with the misdirection I thought it was on the easier side for a Fri.

Palm Springs Pete 11:17 AM  

@Orange -- the Welsh leak comment reminded me of the joke - Guy calls the plumber and says "Hey, I gotta leak in my sink." Plumber responds, "Go ahead, it's your sink!"

@Rex - I happened to like the apples and oranges clue. Agree with you on the '?' clues. I found them all to be obtuse at best, except perhaps the MARXISM clue, but even that was easily divined from the 'X' cross from QUICKFIX.

I thought this was pretty easy for a Friday. I ripped through it with only a brief stall in the SE. All the long answers were eminently gettable which provided traction in all quadrants. All in all took only about 10 minutes to solve. One of my quickest solves for a Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Suprises me that noone seems to know about tau leptons, etc or Nicad batteries. What ever happened to science classes or reading Scientific American or watching Nova on PBS?


Anonymous 3:19 PM  

The term "jar" for funereal remains is common, especially in early Egyptian, Chinese, etc. periods. See the ffg article on canopic chests and jars:

Aviatrix 5:20 PM  

For those of you who don't read me M-Th (and what's up with that, anyway?)

The person who supplies me with my crossword puzzles has a Friday-only subscription to the paper that carries the New York Times crossword.

mama2gracie 4:37 PM  

Thanx Rex, I got stuck on the same Cake/Nicad that you did.... nice to know someone else was pissed off with some of these clues for their cutesiness. I was having a slow evening at work and picked up this old Crossword to keep me busy. It appeared way up here in Canada in the Vancouver Sun on Nov 14th. I'll be reading you regularly now every time I attempt the NY Times Xword

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