FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (Mandrake the Magician's sidekick / Fictional manager of a "psychiatric help" booth / Carpenter's scoring tool)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: None, though the grid looks suspiciously Canadian...

There are two important points to be made about this puzzle. Well, maybe more, but I'm going with two. First, the NW was way, way harder to get into than any other part of the puzzle. A true IMPASSE (38D: You can't escape from it) - for a while, anyway. In fact, I'd have rated this puzzle "Medium" had it not been for the NW. Not knowing LOTHAR didn't help (1A: Mandrake the Magician's sidekick), but usually I can fight my way out of a blank 1A. Today, not so lucky. I literally had that whole quadrant framed, but otherwise empty. Everything inside the area defined by FRAT ROW in the south and REGISTRAR in the east was empty. Never heard of 5D: NPR's "Only _____" ("a Game") - at one point I had the "ME" and thought "Only ... Hit Me? Ask Me? For Me?" Ugh. I tried TAS where FAC was supposed to go (23A: Sch. staff). FAC is ugly, but legal. Had ERG where OHM was supposed to be (20A: Unit in a physics textbook). These three-letter mishaps made the oddly clued Downs up there Very hard to uncover. Tried LET OUT for LET OFF (1D: Release). Eventually figured that HALF had to be the second part of 2D: Fair share, maybe (one half), and then got the CAR part of what ended up being TRAM CAR (3D: Rock roller?), and the whole section fell from there. Except ...

[The following rant occurred after I googled [hab bell centre] and misread the first hit - I really should have googled "HABS," plural ... "HABS" are apparently what hockey fans call the Montreal Canadiens. How I've never heard this in my life, I have no idea; it's probably been in a puzzle, and I just forgot. Anyway, I'm leaving my rant in, despite its being entirely irrelevant to the actual content of the puzzle: enjoy!]

And this brings me to the second important point about this puzzle: HAB (4D: Bell Centre team member, familiarly). I simply challenge the puzzle-worthiness of this answer. I call foul. I call a much more profane word, actually. I was second-guessing LOTHAR, so bad did HAB look. I know the professional sports teams in all four major N. American sports. HAB? OK, I long ago accepted that I had to know that Houston has a minor league hockey team called the AEROS, but I refuse to accept that I have to know another @#$#ing minor league hockey team. I mean, HAB? OK, I'm going to write a puzzle with BSEN in it. Fair? No, of course it's not. But the HABS (short for Hamilton Bulldogs) play the BSENS on a regular basis. What the @#$# is a BSEN, you ask? LOOK IT UP! That's what I had to do with @#$ing HAB. I'm guessing this was some misguided way to pay tribute to Ontario, which Mr. Nothnagel has some particular attachment to (see 50A: Setting of Main Duck Island - LAKE ONTARIO). There's also some Frenchy fill today in the intersecting TOQUES (44D: Kitchen headgear) and COQ (51A: It may come in vin). The fact that Mike is fond of math is one thing - I support that, even though I don't always understand it, and I enjoyed today's CALC clue (34A: Course that has its limits, briefly). But this Canada thing ... there are, indeed limits.

[OK, back to relevant commentary now...]

Best answer of the day: LUCY VAN PELT (45A: Fictional manager of a "psychiatric help" booth). By a mile. Beautiful, smile-inducing gimme. She gave "Peanuts" its edge - not to mention its unabashed sexuality. I don't know that any cartoon girl has pursued a cartoon boy as hotly as she chased Schroeder. Draping herself over the piano, endlessly trying to seduce him away from his relentless practice and his bust of Beethoven. The kind of endless sexual drama that was good for scores of strips. Quite the opposite of her treatment of Charlie Brown. "Oh, sure, go ahead, kick it Chuck, I won't pull it away..." Such a Chuck-tease. Always Chuck-blocking. OK, that's enough "Peanuts" sex-talk for one day. Here's some more grown-up piano-related sexual innuendo for you:



There were, I'm happy to say, several other cute and easy answers. ESPRESSO BAR was clever, if transparent (24A: Its employees get a lot of perks). ALF is an obvious answer to any clue that wants a three-letter sitcom title character (32D: 1980s sitcom title role). I know enough Spanish to have gotten AGUA easily (41A: About three-fourths of la Tierra), enough about Hindu gods to have gotten VISHNU (53A: God commonly depicted with four arms), and enough about Arthurian legend to have gotten ELAINE (57A: Half-sister of Arthur). As easy as those were (relatively), they were mostly offset by a couple of technical words that I just didn't know. One is ROAN (7A: Sheepskin leather for bookbinding). I know the horse, but the leather, no. Then there was SCRIBER (11D: Carpenter's scoring tool). Sounds writing-related, but no. Needed all the crosses, and basically guessed at the "C," having completely, perhaps purposefully, forgotten about the existence of the Country Music Association.

Rat-a-tat:

  • 18A: Call after which someone fills a box ("Batter up!") - I find the clue ungainly. I even have that word scrawled in the margin of the puzzle. Then I drew a line from that word to 31D: Pre-reincarnation periods (past lives). All but one of those lives is in fact post-reincarnation, as well as pre-. I'm just sayin'.
  • 28A: Where le nez is (tête) - yeah, roughly. Hey, more French! Back to Canada with vous!
  • 33A: Capital of Shaanxi province (Xian) - here's how good my Chinese is: I had the "X" and just wrote in "XIAN" on a gut feeling that it ... just seemed right. So ... I invented a Chinese place name that ended up being real. That's how deep my mystical powers run.
  • 55A: Pitching asset? (ear) - I did not know "pitch" could be verbized the way it is here.
  • 27A: Flawlessly (to a T) - now That's what I'm talking about. TO A TURN, my eye.
  • 56A: Home of the ancient Olympics (Elis) - Mmm, crossword knowledge. Had ELEAN a few weeks back, which is how I found out about ELIS.
  • 34D: Quaint news source (crier) - I challenged this on the basis that when the crier was an actual "news source," he was not quaint. He was just the news guy.
  • 22A: Piece of silver (spoon) - cute. Had me fooled. I was thinking coin. Then I was thinking horse (not a pretty thought).
  • 36D: Desert denizens (iguanas) - Denizens! That word needs to be *in* the grid. It's done its time in cluing purgatory.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Check out this 1941 crossword puzzle from the "Cleveland Plain-Dealer" (sent to me by a kind reader who found it while cleaning out someone's house, I think). As always, click to enlarge:



Hand-shaded and -numbered grid! Two-letter answers. The tersest clues on the planet. I found the puzzle nearly undoable. ERIE is clued [Large lake]. Well, that's not wrong...

101 comments:

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

Rex:

Hab is short for Les Habitats, the French name for the Canadiens. This is well-known among sports fans.

If you look at the Montreal jersey, it has a large C surrounding a small H for Habitats. Bell Centre makes the clue acceptable to me.

Rex Parker 11:44 PM  

Aargh. I searched HABS and got squat. Should have searched Bell Centre. Still haven't heard it, but whoops.

Will fix.

Rex Parker 11:55 PM  

Ah, my fatal error was googling [hab bell centre]. Hit #1 reads - well, look for yourself. I read "Binghamton Senators @ Hamilton Bulldogs (Bell Centre)" and went from there...

Christopher Casúr 12:05 AM  

The "H" actually stands for "Hockey", from what I've uncovered through the interblag.

But yes, Habs is the familiar nickname of the Montréal Canadiens. As a resident of Buffalo, New York, and an avid Buffalo Sabres fan, I hate the Canadiens, but that's neither here nor there.

Staying on a Canadian rant, I thought a "toque" was the Canadian name equivalent of a skull cap/beanie.

Crosscan 12:12 AM  

Well what can I say?!! I guess we should call your HAB comment a MISS BY A MILE.

I just finished reading a new history of the Montreal Canadiens, to celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2009.

Their fans in the cheap seats were called Les Habitants, hence the Habs. The H in the logo is actually for Hockey - Le Club du Hockey Canadiens.

I've also been reading the Complete Peanuts series, reprinting every strip in order. LUCY VAN PELT is a great answer; KITE-EATING TREE from earlier this year may be my favorite of 2008.

I am also reading Billy Graham's UNTO THE HILLS - ok not really.

Great, great puzzle. A real fun battle.

PhillySolver 1:14 AM  

Recent Headline in the Philly press...
Montreal-Philadelphia: Habs Sweep Flyers

In the morning it should read...
Nothnagel Trounces Philly!

SCOTUS Addict 1:33 AM  

My nez is in my visage.

I had to get tete through the crosses. I was not able to get visage out of my tete and therefore could not free associate in English or French. The crosses were very hard, given that I had no idea that scriber was coming.

Sometimes I cannot see what is right in front of my nose. Tant pis.

I did like emoticon. Loved calc.

I'm with Rex that the NW was a bear. I've never heard of "Only a Game," Mandrake the Magician, or any hockey teams.

acme 2:15 AM  

I had every single answer from 31A down. EVERY one and an entirely empty top half! ENTIRELY empty.

So I googled and learned LOTHAR and then it was like dominoes.

Any relation between LOTHAR and LOTHARIO?

@SCOTUS
mot for mot my experience (said with French accent, s'il vous plait!) :o)

(C'est un emoticon avec le nez)

Of course I didn't know HAB but the good part about having zero sports knowledge, is you can't get mad, bec HAB might be just as common as ORR, the one three letter hockey word I do know.
And that, only bec of commericals for something as a child where he said at the end "I'm Bobby Orr and I play hockey".
Butter?

Smiled at EMOTICON, as I overuse them happily :)

Only mistake: MISSTHEMARK for MISSBYAMILE. ONABET straightened that out.

JoefromMtVernon 6:24 AM  

Well gang, I love having to google...

Perhaps it was the singular "Hab", since the Canadians are referred to all over as the "Habs". I thank anonymous post #1 for explaining (finally) it's meaning. I am not as certain regarding the H on the jersey as meaning "hockey"; being that they are French-Canadian, Habs makes more sense.

Who even remembers Mandrake? Only comic book fiends and those older than early baby-boomers...

Once Lothar, that entire empty corner fell. Had Xosa (thinking Xhosa) for Xian, so that took awhile. Have seen Vishnu, but couldn't put a name to him (google #2). Wanted Maxwell House or Coffee House for Espresso Bar.

Wasn't Lucy Van Pelt an outfielder who could never catch the ball? Thought Peppermint Patty was the manager.

Grade for today: Frustrating.

Joe

Jason 6:31 AM  

I can't the American crossword fanatics would be talking so much about the greatest hockey team in the world.

Jason the Canadian (and huge HABS fan)

Rex Parker 8:04 AM  

Nobody in America (except half of today's commenters, somehow) cares about hockey. Philadelphia and Detroit excepted. It's a Canadian sport. No such thing as "Hockey Night in the U.S.A."

I know every team in the NHL. I apparently don't know their pet names. Tant pis, indeed.

rp

Rex Parker 8:09 AM  

Oh, and Buffalo. They like hockey there. But Buffalo is practically *in* Canada, so that's not surprising.

rp

JannieB 8:20 AM  

Typical of hockey - four comments in and there's a brawl on the ice!

Really enjoyed this puzzle, except the NW. That "H" in 1A was the last letter I entered and it was purely a guess, even though I lived in Buffalo for much of the 80's. First fill was "miss by a mile", the had a multiple re-right with CMA. Like ACME, had the bottom half done quickly, then just stared at the rest for awhile.

Agree with the rating - proud to finish this one!

steve l 8:29 AM  

Of course, it's no longer the Number 1 hit. Guess what is??

It's Habitants, not Habitats. That's Jimmy Carter's team. And it's Club de Hockey Canadien. The s is not needed. The team is referred to as the Canadiens in the normal, abbreviated version.

Hockey is pretty big in New York, too. There are three, count 'em, three teams in the area.

I think the HABS are a fairly common sports nickname, a lot like the Fish for the Miami baseball and football teams.

BTW, I'm not a hockey fan at all.

I knew Xian because friends of ours went to China last year, and Xian was one of the stops on the tour. It's apparently a big deal, although I don't know why.

@SCOTUS addict--My nez is also in my visage, but my visage is part of my tête, so the clue's valid. Anyway, a French body part, four letters, is going to be tête.

@everyone--Just because something is French doesn't mean it's Canadian.

Rex Parker 8:54 AM  

The hit of which I spoke is indeed still number one. Read the visible text.

And thanks for the French lesson. I'm sure we're all grateful.


PONCA,

rp

imsdave 9:13 AM  

I almost missed the boat on this one. Then EMOTICON allowed me to 'fix' that to MISSTHEMARK. You can't imagine how hard that made the north center for me - especially with FEWER for NOTAS. Got there eventually, but it was a long (well over an hour) and enjoyable workout.

Glitch 9:41 AM  

I'm not a sports, much less hockey, fanatic, but I do listen to NPR's "Only a Game" --- very aptly named IMHO --- in order to hold up my end of a conversation (or puzzle).

NPR as my major source of sports news may sound odd, but its part of my ploy to appear as a well rounded, normal, person.

Rex Parker 9:44 AM  

Your ploy is vaguely succeeding!

RP

Kurt 9:48 AM  

I agree with Rex on the HAB issue. But LOTHAR rang a bell, so I was able to make a reasoned guess.

Interestingly, the controversy could have been easily avoided by changing LOTHAR to GOT FAR. LET OFF would then be GET OFF. And HAB would become FAB.

That said, LUCY VAN PELT made it all worthwhile. Good, solid puzzle in my view.

norm 9:52 AM  

Nobody PERKS coffee anymore, do they? Especially not to make espresso. That one was a clunker, even though I agree with Rex it was pretty obvious what it was going to be. Thank God for LUCY VAN PELT, or I would never have even gotten started on this puzzle. Tough but fun.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Tough puzzle! Lots of misstarts including arm for pitching asset and I also tried to squeeze in Sisyphus for rock roller. Learned a lot from this puzzle.

Rex, don't forget Minnesotans! Minnesotans LOVE hockey. Well, not all Minnesotans, but the sport is huge here. The boys and girls High School Hockey State Championship Tournaments are televised here annually in March. Some of the games sell out the Xcel Energy Center. I was just at a girls hockey game last night (daughter plays). Supposedly MN has more girls playing hockey than any other state in the US.

CinEdina

edith b 10:10 AM  

I think this puzzle inspiration was LUCYVANPELT and the whole puzzle was built around this answer, IMOO.

It was my first answer and I bled southward and Northeastward as VISHNU crossing PASTLIVES were my second and third entries and I solved the puzzle to the FRATROW/PAIRED line almost at once.

The funny thing happened on the way into the NW . . .

My husband has NPR on all day long (WHYY here) and "Only a Game" is his favorite program. I learned about Les Habs from this show, ironically enough, as my husband loved Red Barber, who was featured until his death and, since my husband was a Yankees fan, he mentioned "The old Redhead" every time he came on.

When I was a little girl I used to inhale the Funnies, as we used to call them, every morning and I remember LOTHAR very well as he was the only black character in the funnies. He used to wear a leopard-skin top, as I recall.

I had the entire puzzle done except for the NE in short order but this section gave me fits. I had SET as a guess but didn't know what to do with it until I guessed TAPERED which gave me TETE which broke open EMOTICON and, although it took almost an hour, I was finally able to piece together the rest, almost a letter at a time.

I have this love-hate thing with Mike Nothnagel as I always have a number of neons to build around but it always ends up being a struggle to the bitter end.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

never have I had so much trouble with a friday puzzle. Couldn't get anything except Lucy Van Pelt and Vishnu. Otherwise, totally blank. The things I did fill in tentatively ALL turned out to be wrong (COFFEE HOUSE instead of ESPRESSO BAR, ERG instead of OHM, HUDDLES instead of FRAT ROW... I could go on).

Ugh.

treedweller 10:24 AM  

I also tried Sisyphus, then tourbus, for TRAMCAR. I'm still not sure why that makes sense, though I'm guessing it's a mining thing.

Then I tried sallies for DALLIES, though I did not understand why a sipper would be in a stew, and didn't fix that until I submitted an incorrect solution.

Before I got there, I had to google LOTHAR and GAME. Tried to get HAB that way, but looking at the roster for a player to fit there was clearly the wrong approach (found two players that started with HA but couldn't get L or M to fit).

Is OHM really a whole unit in physics? I would have thought it was a small part of the unit on electricity . . .

@TOAT: I think this is WS messing with us again.

On a personal note, I was just yesterday thinking of the song "Linus and Lucy" and how those names would make good puzzle fill, so I was especially amused to see LUCYVANPELT.

Anyway, I expect a Nothnagel puzzle to be hard but gettable, and I'm a little disappointed in myself for giving in to the google temptation. But I had a good time overall.

Rex Parker 10:27 AM  

Orange informs me that the first hit you get when you search [hab bell centre] now is ... this site. God I love the arbitrariness of the googlesphere.

rp

treedweller 10:27 AM  

DOH! I get it now--OHM is a unit of measure, not a unit in the text.

steve l 10:28 AM  

The following was cut and pasted directly from the Google screen for the search "hab bell centre":

Results 1 - 10 of about 24,300 for hab bell centre. (0.13 seconds)

Search Results

Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle: FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2008 ...Dec 12, 2008 ... [The following rant occurred after I googled [hab bell centre] and misread the first hit - I really should have googled "HABS," plural . ...
rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/2008/12/friday-dec-12-2008-mike-nothnagel.html - 10 hours ago - Similar pages

Canadiens de Montreal > Gdt: Binghamton Senators @ Hamilton ...2 posts - Last post: Nov 30
GDT: Binghamton Senators @ Hamilton Bulldogs (Bell Centre) .... Greek Hab. Nov 30 2008, 07:08 PM. Bell Centre is sounding pretty loud. ...
forum.canadiens.com/lofiversion/index.php/t21762.html - 18k - Cached - Similar pages

Crosscan 10:28 AM  

In 1917 the Club Athlétique Canadien, which had an CA in their logo, became the Club de Hockey Canadien, and the logo was changed to include a CH. H standing for Habs may make more sense, but that doesn't make it more right. The french word for hockey is hockey.

I do agree that HAB was tough. Even Mr. I-grew-up-in-Montreal-going-to-Habs-games-at-the-Forum had to work out Bell Centre -is that Montreal or Toronto - for a couple of beats.

The clue required figuring out where the Bell Centre is, the name of the team playing there, and their familiar name. That is a lot to ask crossing LOTHAR. An IMPASSE.

Even with HAB, the NW took a lonnnng time. ERG didn't help.

I doubt many canadians (or Canadiens) have heard of Main Duck Island.

I thought the awards show was the American Music Awards and SARIBER could have been a tool. or a familiar hockey nickname in Buffalo.

Loved TAXPAYER and IRS FORM; I recognize I will be in the minority on this point.

Go Habs go!

joho 10:34 AM  

I Googled to get LOTHAR and A GAME and that made it possible for me to finish the puzzle correctly.

Having grown in up in Minnesota you'd think I'd be a hockey fan, but I'm not. Seeing a person sitting not far from me in the stands get hit in the visage by a hockey puck didn't help. HAB came by crosses.

I, like acme and JannieB, had the bottom ONE HALF done quickly and struggled to fill in the top.

In the end this was a great Friday workout with some excellent answers like ESPRESSO BAR, EMOTICON and LUCY VAN PELT.

Matthew 10:45 AM  

Plenty of Americans love the hockey, Rex! It just depends on where you live. Aren't you in Binghamton? I would've thought you guys have a lot of fans up there, what with all the NY teams -- I guess not?

In fact, as I'm typing this, the two girls in the next room are in the middle of a Penguins discussion (well, they're talking about meeting Marc Andre Fleury, but same difference :)).

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

To be fore warned is to be fore armed, but to be four armed is to be Vishnu

Karen 10:56 AM  

Only a Game is a great show, it gives me a smidgen of knowledge about football (including a discussion of long hair) and lots of knowledge about other sports. They've even talked about curling.

Anyone else ready to invoke the Natick Principle on LOTHAR/HAB? I had to stare at that crossing square a long time.

I love the misdirection of the schedule for IRS FORMS. Particularly when teamed up with the cross-cluing for TAXPAYER.

Susan 11:09 AM  

Only a Game is practically the only thing a knew right away.

I had "face" for "tete" because it gave me "profiled" for face sideways, which I thought looked pretty good. Yeah, took me a while to give that up.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Ooh, Ooh, I can add something to the conversation. First of all, Xian was the capital of China during a few of the older dynasties, not sure which. It is also famous for the terracotta army, thousands of life-size soldiers, chariots and horses that were found buried there.

Am I having deja vu? I feel like there was a discussion of the C and H on the Canadiens jersey a few months back.

-Big

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Iguanas do not live in deserts.

JD 11:31 AM  

looks like enough's been said on the Habs, but yes, its well known, and most, or at least many Canadiens Fans - (yes, that's the correct way to spell the team name!). To be fair, Hab is a stretch, while it works in theory, I've never ever heard anyone refer to a Hab, only the habs... montreals version of da bears.

Rex Parker 11:34 AM  

Desert iguanas live in deserts. I'm guessing that's where they got their name.

rp

Crosscan 11:40 AM  

@JD - The Montreal Canadiens official website has a Ask a Hab feature.

If you thought the H in the logo was for Hab and got the right answer using a faulty logic path is that a Malaroute?

jeff in chicago 11:46 AM  

I often find Fridays very difficult. This was one of those days. Onward and upward...

My only quibble would be the clue for EMOTICON. While many do "face sideways," I think I see more of those full-front, yellow smileys than any other kind of emoticon. Plus, there are plenty of others that "face forward" | ^_^ | *_* | ^_~ | >,..,< | o_o

O.O
___

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Amazing the chatter that HAB created! I didn't get the clue because I refuse to learn the commercial names of arenas. To me, the Habs play in the forum (just as the Mets will always play in Shea.

While the program is not called Hockey Night in USA, the weekly hockey program shown on Mondays on Versus could just as well be called Hockey Night in USA.

While things Canadian lurk in today's puzzle, so do things American (IRS form and baseball's "batter up"), so you really couldn't say the grid seems Canadian. Maybe North American.

Doug 11:52 AM  

Ah, everyone has their sweet spot -- One person's gimmee is Dante and another's is professional hockey teams. Fun fact: Professional hockey has the most affluent and educated fan base in North America, so there's somethig in common with cruciverbalists. "Well, maybe not the wealthiest," I think, as I gaze into the cracked mirror and open my tin of breakfast Alpo. :)

evil doug 12:01 PM  

The Cincinnati suburb of Mariemont---a National Historic Landmark as one of the first planned communities in the US, with lots of neat Tudor architecture and such---still has a town crier, with the little hat and leggings and bright coat and all that crap. He's quaint.

"Rubs raw" is my favorite answer today. Reminds me of tortured nipples on those crazy people I see jogging in the winter.

Evil

Doug 12:02 PM  

RP: You're unusually visible today. You must have got through the Zs in your crime fiction library? Or does all this talk of hockey just make you want to throw a few punches?

twangster 12:02 PM  

I got LOTHAR and HAB without incident but made a mess of DIPPER and DALLIES. I had ___PER for "one may be in a stew" and tried out PEPPER, TEMPER and (in desperation) KIPPER before finally googling to get LAKEONTARIO (pathetically, I had the ONTARIO but was thinking it would be a city, not LAKE).

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

55A Pitching Asset -

Trying to get a hold in the southwest

I first tried ARM - as in baseball pitching.

Erased it for Iguana and changed it to TAR as in roofing.

Then for my "convience" my computer was automatically restarted for security updates and lost the whole thing. Didn't restart the puzzle.

pj

Doug 12:17 PM  

I'm 3 and out, but I'm laughing at that old puzzle, which has some "current" favorties:

Wind instrument (OBOE)
Roman emperor (NERO)
Electrified particle (ION)
Eagle (ERN)
Governor in India (xABOx)
Additions to buildings (ELLS)
Sun god (RA)
Church council (SYNOD)


Fav clue:
Young oyster (SPAT)

Shamik 12:38 PM  

@norm: We finally found a metal...use on the stove...percolator at Goodwill. We use it on the propane stove when we've got the motor home parked without electricity.

@treedweller: Thank you! I knew there was a guy who rolled rocks for eternity...just couldn't recall SISYPHUS...but that's what I wanted there.

My brother at 51, is still playing goalie with the local clubs in Connecticut. My nephew in high school is a goalie and is really, really good. They have season tickets to the Sound Tigers ("farm" team for the Islanders). AND they have the NHL package on t.v. Guess what I got a huge dose of when I was visiting them for 2 weeks! Still didn't know HAB.

Like others, the NW almost did me in, but I'm happy and proud to admit to successfuly completion without googles to the most challenging Friday I've ever completed. And it was a brilliant puzzle with lots of unusual fill.

Misstarts:
AMA for CMA
PUPPET for TEABAG
ERG then OHM then ERG then OHM
DRS for FAC
STET for FLAT
IMITATE for EMULATE
SECYS for ATTYS (thinking politics)
FORME for AGAME
SETOFF for LETOFF

Loved INERTGAS, VISHNU, COQ, and especially LUCYVANPELT.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Cannot believe that otherwise intelligent individuals concentrate their collective powers upon such a meaningless piece of fill as HAB. Bah!

jae 12:58 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. I know its going to be good when early on I have serious doubts about being able to finish unassisted. I did finish but thought for sure HAB was wrong. My post puzzle google on Bell Centre left me pleasantly surprised. I too considered SISYPHUS, had TAXFILER briefly, and tried PLUMBOB for 11d which caused me to re-right MISSBYAMILE. Loved LUCYVANPELT, Nothnagel is consistently delightful.

SCOTUS Addict 1:43 PM  

::::::searching for a four letter word for "besserwisser" in any language:::::::

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict - Have you tried "bidu" in Portuguese?

Bob Kerfuffle

treedweller 1:56 PM  

@Shamik
fortunately, Sisyphus did not fitiphus, or I might never have let go of it.

And that is mostly an excuse for a shameless plug/trial run of my new blogger profile (and blog). Hello, blue-and-orange!

SCOTUS Addict 3:07 PM  

Bob,

Scoo-bidu!

Thanks a million!

(Rex, apologies for my bloggiarrhea)

archaeoprof 3:29 PM  

1A left me staring blankly. Then I saw the name Nothnagel and thought, "Here we go." Fuss about HAB if you want, but I'm impressed by a puzzle that includes OHM, FRATROW, AGUA, INERTGAS, VISHNU, MADONNA, and TOQUES.

Here's a question: yes, the construction is always important, but isn't if often the cluing that really separates a great puzzle from the herd?

rafaelthatmf 3:32 PM  

Ouch ouch ouch! This took me forever - tho I don't really measure times I just realize how much work isn't getting done! In hind sight nothing seems terribly hard or obscure and still I struggled from top to bottom. What a workout!
I've been to Xian. A real freak. Thousands of unique (each guy is different - hair cuts, mustaches, shoes etc.) soldiers, horses and chariots. They're laid out in a battle array around a dead emperors grave. He intended to have the actual soldiers buried with him when he died but his successor thought it more prudent to keep the live soldiers for his defense and so had them remade in terracotta. A super eerie place. Found by a farmer digging a well. He got a couple of bucks and relocated. No royalties no nothing.
When my wife's out of town I get to watch hockey in hi def - if hi def becomes ubiquitous it could bring the sport to mainstream. Continuous action like soccer except they actually score goals . And well bloody noses too I guess.

HudsonHawk 3:33 PM  

Great puzzle. Like many posters, I filled the south but had very little going up north. I am not a hockey fan, but I am a huge sports fan, so HAB was a gimme.

As for Canadian references, didn't the McKenzie Brothers refer to their winter hats as TOQUES?

I loved seeing the fill for 31D, as it makes me think of Albert Brooks' brilliant Defending Your Life and the PAST LIVES Pavilion...

fikink 3:40 PM  

WHEW!
All of the above.
This was a real audible, from which I walked away at least 5 times.
Thanks, Mike Nothnagel. It required much effort, but succeed I did...tho' my last letter was a guess.
and yes,
it was the H!

GlennCY 3:43 PM  

Hab was an absolute gimme for me. First thing I wrote in the grid. They killed my Rangers the other day while celebrating thier 100th year.

nyestreet 3:52 PM  

The scriber I carry in my tool box looks exactly like the compass one would use to draw a circle or an arc in geometry class in high school. It is used to trace an uneven surface onto a piece of wood that will then be cut and butted against said surface. I use a sheetrock knife to score (tile, sheetrock, vinyl)things.

chefbea 3:53 PM  

Tough puzzle. Couldnt finnish it although I did get the bottom half. Loved Lucy van Pelt.

I did that old puzzle that was found in the attic. I forget who sent it to me - but it was fun.

Love coq au vin - use to make it all the time while wearing a toque

@rex forgot what ponca means. Can you tell me again

green mantis 4:37 PM  

I loved this puzzle, minus lothar/hab of course. Hockey schmockey.

I was held up for a while with dipper/puckers because I was sure irregular folds was going to be ruching. That's a thing, right? Was feeling clever and expected the thing in a stew to be a harper or a carper, and although iguanas most certainly do live in deserts, it took a while for them to emerge from the sand.

And I guess I'm the only one who had (briefly) toe tag for thing on a string? Speaking of carnage Rex, your piece of Silver comment reminded me of a recent incident...somewhere...in which some wannabe thugs tried to intimidate a debtor by doing the Godfather thing but failed because, in the words of the debtor, "It was just some random horse. I didn't know the horse. I didn't care about the horse. So it didn't really bother me."

fergus 4:38 PM  

I was thoroughly humiliated by this magnificent puzzle -- and in an odd sense I'm glad to have found myself so completely bewildered. I count only seven or eight ANSWERS to the Clues. The rest was going nowhere, so I have to admit I gave up.

green mantis 4:41 PM  

Oh! and: Stephen's boots. Game, set, match.

Marlon 4:52 PM  

Good, tough puzzle and Habs is short for Les Habitants. And being a life-long Red Wing fan and a good Canadian, I despise the Montreal team in both our national languages.

jae 4:53 PM  

@chefbea -- Click here for the PONCA discussion.

chefbea 4:58 PM  

@jae nothing happens when I click on here

David from CA 5:05 PM  

I must be missing something obvious, but what is the deal with NOTAS for "Less". I assume the parsing is NOT AS, but how is that a replacement for "less" without a "much" or some such? That "N" was as tough for me as the LOTHAR/HAB "H"!

jae 5:07 PM  

@cheabea -- oops sorry, let me try again, how about here

jae 5:56 PM  

Oops again, that should be chefbea.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

A little late but---

I put in Morgan for King Arthur's--I thought it was a gimme--so that meant toques could not be right and it was downhill from there. Didn't anyone think "Elaine" was a bit too obscure?

jeff in chicago 6:08 PM  

That Plain Dealer puzzle is crazy! (11 of my 15 years as a newspaper editor were spent at the PD.) I'm glad we've evolved away from that style. My favorite clue was "golf mounds" for TEES. A little searching revealed to me that the modern golf tee wasn't patented until 1925. So by 1941 a lot of golfers must have still been piling up dirt. Fascinating.

kalaala 6:42 PM  

Fun puzzle! I have the same question as David regarding NOT AS: how is that a replacement for "less" without a "much" ?

@Joe: you were not alone in thinking MAXWELL HOUSE, the "perks" seemed so right.
@Rex: When CMA popped into my head today, I pushed it right back out until there was no other choice. Incomplete, but definitely purposeful, repression.
And add me to the list of those who tried to squeeze "Sisyphus" in for "rock roller".

acme 7:04 PM  

@rex
in regards to those who do/don't wade through the first comments, we've apparently become a society of HABS and HAB nots

jeff in chicago 7:05 PM  

I am NOT AS smart.
I am LESS smart.

edith b 7:34 PM  

Re: The puzzle from 1941

I saw two entries that sang to me from the Maleska Era:

1. Pen name of Charles Lamb
2. Female ruff

I'm fond of conjuring up old Maleska clues and the pen name of Lamb I remembered but Female ruff I had completely forgotten.

Ah, old Eugene T.

SethG 7:55 PM  

We meet again, Nothnagel!
(SethG shakes his fist menacingly in MN's general direction)

This took me just as long as last Friday's did, which presumably means I'll solve tomorrow's in less than half the time and set a personal best.

Anonymous, for many of us Elaine comes to mind just as quickly as Morgan does.

Orange 8:06 PM  

@edith b, I don't even remember what "female ruff" might be. So I Googled [female ruff crossword] and found this recent Irish Examiner puzzle. Holy crap, that puzzle is downright McMaleskan! I went straight to the solution to see that it's REE.

The same puzzle has VIMINAL, TAAL, ANOA, the fiddler crab genus UCA, CRESSET, LAAP, IDAE, RUDERAL, BREVIER, and TIERCE—and it's only a 13x13 grid. I would pay $50 to anyone who could have answered the clues for these answers. Which is the eucalyptus secretion? Which is the fire basket (torch)? How about the Laconian clan group?

That paper is "America's leading Irish newspaper." You think anyone actually likes its crossword?

Thank you, Will Shortz, for providing a more satisfying crossword than the Irish Examiner, with very little RUDERAL in it. (That means "waste growth.")

mac 8:39 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict: how about Alec?

Michael 8:54 PM  

I have no idea why I found this one of the easiest Fridays ever. I've noticed before, however, that I seem to be on the same wavelength as Nothnagel. I wrote in Lothar immediately, knew Hab, and rushed through the rest of the puzzle.

I then came to the site and was surprised that a lot of people found this one hard -- including many commentators who often have less trouble with puzzles than I do.

mac 8:55 PM  

That was a tough one, but ultimately a spectacular one. I folded in the NW, I googled Mandrake and never found Lothar in the google site I consulted, so I went to Rex and just peeked at 1A: after that it was dominoes.

Had some funnily wrong starts: 43A Well executed: dead. 3D rock roller: glacier. Profiles instead of emoticon, although when I got that one right I really liked it.
I don't understand the stew/dipper connection, and I had frat from the start but didn't know -row at all. 24A clearly had to be coffee-related, but for some reason I dropped the ball and took a long time to get espressobar. Oddly enough, I got inert gas, crier and vishnu without any crosses, and I love the toques/coq crossing.

@Acme: you are way ahead of me, I still need crosses to know whether it is Ott or Orr....

Susan 8:58 PM  

Some Canadians do call their knit winter caps toques. But a chef's hat is also a toque. When I lived in Canada the anglophones pronounced "toque" to rhyme it with duke. In French we say it to rhyme with cock (or actually coq).

Mac, "dipper" with stew is like a ladle.

joho 9:10 PM  

@mac: well executed: dead

Now that is hilarious!

ArtLvr 9:24 PM  

I clicked the timer off after fifteen minutes, then found things LESS difficult = NOT AS difficult...

Very enjoyable, in fact, and finally a completion with no errors, no googles, and lots of comments to relish too, having been hit by the Northeast ice storm and power outage from pre-dawn to post-sunset.

Yes, I thought of ruching, Morgan, ingot for {silver} SPOON, all sorts of misses-by-miles. Loved acme's observation about Habs and HAB nots, and like filink, the H was my last fill.

This is my signicon -- even if Googler thingy is gone again!

∑;)

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

@mac
Dipper as in ladle.

Chefwen

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Late comment here from a Californian who had a really busy Friday. Re: hockey = Canada, what about those strange folks in the Silicon Valley who sell out San Jose Sharks games?

foodie 10:56 PM  

From "Sisyphus" to "Morgan",
From "Face" to "Profiles",
I missed by an inch
I MISSED BY A MILE...

But in the shimmer of AGUA
Of the ONTARIO LAKE
I LET OFF my anger
And was NOT AS ENRAGED

As I spied a COQ
Who was wearing a TOQUE

A TEABAG and a SPOON
In an ESPRESSO BAR

DALLYing, then eloping
In the old TRAMCAR…

chefbea 11:14 PM  

@jae thanks for the ponca link. Got it

Boy I'm up late. g'nite all

Christopher Casúr 2:13 AM  

Buffalo loves hockey because if it weren't for the Sabres, there'd be nothing worthwhile here. Rumors of the team being for sale became a bigger news story around Western New York than the bailouts. And to Anonymous, the Sharks sell out games because they win a lot and because they're a very entertaining team, both of which keep the fan base happy. I've been a Sharks fan longer than I have a Sabres fan, for that matter.

Rex, I congratulate you for being the first guy to refer to Buffalo as "practically Canadian" and get away with it unscathed. People in Buffalo are used to being insulted, but that's the one that really seems to set people off. Apparently being so close to Ontario makes three quarters of our population detest them.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Wings and Habs. Great rivalry. Can't believe people would not know this. Then of course we are north of Canada, eh!?

Why Oxbow? 10:27 PM  

Les habitants are what the settlers who lived in the area of Montreal called themselves way back when. And Les voyageurs were the trappers that paddled out into the hinterlands in the spring after ice breakup and came back in the fall to join les habitants.

Nothnagel 11:24 AM  

Hey folks,

Finally getting around to reading the blogs...thanks, as usual!

The GOT FAR / FAB crossing that kurt (9:48 am) brings up is the original crossing I submitted. Will felt that the GET in GET OFF and the GOT in GOT FAR were too similar, especially since they would cross each other. I went back and forth over whether to submit that version or the LOTHAR version. Shows you what I know. :)

MN

Steve 4:52 PM  

Is anything actually perked at an espresso bar? Would I want to drink it if it were?

I figured that the answer probably had something to do with coffee, but would never have thought of espresso in this context if I hadn't got most of the letters from the down clues.

OTOH, I've listened to "Only a Game" many, many times, so that and Lucy were two of the first three I filled in.

DocRuth 12:55 PM  

From syndication land: just had to add another objection to "perks" at "espresso bar." Sheesh. Espresso is EXPRESSED, hence the name. And you'll only find perked coffee at the church picnic or your granny's house (she doesn't drink coffee anymore but everybody always loved the coffee when she made it in that pot she's had for 62 years). Still, the answer was easy enough to get. . .

penny 2:39 PM  

On the issue of "toque" - when we arrived in Canada (AB) in 1972 from Europe, we were bemused that a woollen winter hat was called a "took". Then found out it was spelled TOQUE, but no-one could explain the pronunciation. I am now further bemused to find out that a chef wears a toque: isn't it rather warm? Can anyone please explain?
Penj.

Retired_Chemist 4:13 PM  

LOVED this puzzle, precisely because of its challenge. I was feeling SO GOOD to have filled in all the squares without googling, and then when I checked it I found I had left the last two letters of impasse (38D) as they were from previous erroneous crosses. So, I am now feeling SO BAD.....

SO much of the puzzle was a letter or three from obviousness - very little traction anywhere until Lucy Van Pelt (45A) and miss by a mile (21A) came out of nowhere. Then things started falling into place. Wanted toques for 44D but for the longest time didn't trust it enough to write it in - what 3 letter word ends in Q? Well, COQ (Fr.) will serve....

embien 7:05 PM  

From syndicationland:
My first fill was Xi'An, entirely because the blogmaster for the Tribune Media Services syndicated puzzle was originally from that town (if you read that blog you know her as c.c.). You can check her blog at Star Tribune Crossword Corner.

Anytime I complete a Nothnagel puzzle without Googling, I get full of myself. This puzzle was difficult, but scrumptious.

Waxy in Montreal 9:31 PM  

Bonjour tout le gang dans le terre de syndicat:

Given my nom-de-blog, you know I couldn't believe mes yeux when I first espied the HAB gimme. Were the rest of the puzzle as easy 'twould have been Monday-like fare. Malheureusement, 'twas not le cas.

BTW, the old joke about the CH logo at centre-ice at the old (much beloved) Forum and now at the Centre Bell was that it stood for "Centre Hice". (Actually it's for the much more prosaic Club de Hockey Canadien).

It's so cold here today I've got my toque on not only in the kitchen but in every other room of le maison.

Salut!

boardbtr 10:56 PM  

Five weeks after the fact, but I have to say thanks for the Lothar. It didn't pop into my mind immediately, but as I ponder other areas of the puzzle, it came creeping in. For me a rare Friday for which I completed the puzzle with no external aids.

DocRuth 8:53 PM  

To Penny: I think the stereotypical high pouf'ed white chef's hat is what is called a "toque" here.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

REX: JUST TO CLARIFY THE MONTREAL CANADIENS ARE ACTUALLY THE MONTREAL CANADIEN HABITANTS. LES HABITANTS IS A VERY COMMON TERM FOR THE TEAM ESPESCIALLY IN QUEBEC. I BELIEVE HABITANTS MEANS LITERALLY 'INHABITANTS' IN FRENCH. THUS THE MONTREAL TEAM THAT LIVES THERE. KIND OF REDUNDANT, BUT NONETHELESS TRUE. I KNOW FOR SURE THE H ON THEIR JERSEY DOES NOT STAND FOR HOCKEY. HAVING SAID THAT IT TOOK ME AGES TO GET HAB. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

Crosscan 4:01 PM  

HEY ANONYMOUS 3:12PM, YOU ARE SO WRONG. Check out "The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory" by D'Arcy Jenish. Unless you have a better source.

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