FRIDAY, Jan. 23, 2009 - Barry Silk (Clio maker / Asian au pair / Two-time foreign minister of the U.S.S.R.)

Friday, January 23, 2009


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SNEAK THIEF - (n.) One who steals without breaking into buildings or using violence.

A fine Friday puzzle in which nothing in particular stands out. Not much zing, but very very smooth. I see that the puzzle uses every letter. That's nice, but every time I see a pangram puzzle, I can't help but wonder what was lost in the quest. It's not as if pangrams haven't been done (and done and done) before. Not sure what's in it for anyone anymore. Certainly doesn't add to the solving pleasure. The coolest answer here is HYPERTEXT (34D: Web connection means). That "HTTP" you see at the beginning of the URL for this site stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol." I thought HYPERTEXT and HYPERLINKS were essentially synonymous, but apparently not. The entire document is a HYPERTEXT; while the HYPERLINK is a means of navigating between HYPERTEXTS. I'm sure some nerd or nerds have a detailed explanation of the fine points that we all can't wait to hear.

I like puzzles that are tough but, when finished, contain all recognizable answers. This is one of those puzzles. The most unrecognizable thing in it, for me, was SNEAK THIEF (25D: Lifter). I had ----- THIEF and thought "PURSE THIEF? .... Is that something?" Then when I got the "K" I thought "SNEAK THIEF? I know thieves sneak, but that can't be right." Seems awfully redundant, like a FLY PILOT or a SERVE WAITER. I guess the SNEAK THIEF is probably a lot more successful than his counterpart, the ANNOUNCE THIEF. "I am removing your wallet from your purse, madam. Good day."



I believe that the clue for "AFRICAN QUEEN" (17A: Film with the line "By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution") is the longest one I've ever seen. The longest one I've seen since I started blogging? Anyway, it's long. PAUSED (41A: Like some DVDs in DVD players) describes perfectly my last (and only) encounter with "THE AFRICAN QUEEN" - I thought "This movie is long and not interesting me and I probably know all I need to know about it by now ..." Never got to the Kaiser William line.

Bullets:

  • 1A: Creek confederacy tribe (Alabama) - a late-week cluing technique (tribe-for-place switcheroo) also occasionally used with IOWA, ERIE, MIAMI, OMAHA, etc.
  • 8A: "The Appeal" novelist (Grisham) - never saw the clue; I see that it is law-related, but I don't know that would have helped me much.
  • 15A: Two-time foreign minister of the U.S.S.R. (Molotov) - I know him for his delicious cocktails
  • 16A: Clio maker (Renault) - CLIO is better known to me as an advertising award. Or a muse.
  • 23A: Recipient of a trade discount (retailer) - not sure I understand this. Does this refer to the fact that RETAILERs buy things wholesale and then mark them up?
  • 30A: King of Naples in "The Tempest" (Alonso) - the last play I read with my prison students last semester. Not Shakespeare's last, but may as well have been. Just saw Paul Mazursky's 1982 film version, with Gena Rowlands, Raul Julia, Susan Sarandon, and Molly Ringwald. Wacky. Other Shakespeare clue in the puzzle - 49D: "As You Like It" setting (Arden), a gimme. It's usually part of the phrase "Forest of ARDEN"
  • 44A: Evidence that one is an alien (accent) - uh ... OK. Lots of citizens have accents. I'm just sayin'.
  • 46A: Opening for an anchor (top story) - knew right away that the "anchor" in question was on air, but it still took some crosses to get the (cool) answer
  • 51A: Asian au pair (amah) - an elder stateswoman of crosswordese. You don't see her much in the Shortz era, but Maleska loved her, so she's forever in my mind, along with ADIT and ESNE and such.
  • 55A: U.S. org. with over 39 million members (AARP) - only gonna get bigger for the foreseeable future
  • 56A: Fantastic flight (magic carpet ride) - This is at least as good as HYPERTEXT. In fact, they seem vaguely related. Effortless movement from here to there.



  • 62A: Big East team with six N.I.T. basketball championships (St. John's) - the Red Storm. Not often you see a "J" lying along the bottom of the grid.
  • 2D: "I Know Who Killed Me" actress, 2007 (Lohan) - this movie took home a boatload of Razzies that year, including Worst Film and Worst Actress.



  • 4D: Givers of unfriendly hugs (boas) - also some professional wrestlers and the murderous Care Bears that no one ever talks about
  • 12D: U.S. military chopper (Huey) - how did I know this? Had the "Y" and wrote in HUEY. I don't know jack about "choppers." I'm sure 80s TV is to blame. "Airwolf?"



  • 32D: Pasta eaten with a spoon (orzo) - briefly blanked on answer and wanted OUZO, which you would only eat with a spoon if you'd already drunk a lot of it.
  • 40D: Franklin contemporary (REO) - so "Franklin" is some kind of car, or "Speedwagon."
  • 48D: Hill in Nashville (Faith) - PuzzleGirl tried to put her full name in a puzzle we're writing. I had to exercise veto power.
  • 52D: Where Bambara is spoken (Mali) - why God invented crosses
  • 55D: One of a comic-strip married couple (Arlo) - this more recent, non-Guthrie ARLO is now a full-blown gimme. I wonder who will be the next generation's ARLO. Let's see what ARLO is doing today.

Arlo & Janis

  • 58D: Atlantic City hot spot, with "the" (Taj) - as in Mahal. About as good a 3-letter terminal-J answer as you're going to get.

Signed, King of CrossWorld

93 comments:

Parshutr 8:55 AM  

I agree with all of Rex's comments, but urge him to hang tough to the end of THE AFRICAN QUEEN.
Not Shakespeare, but vintage Huston, Bogie, Kate.

dk 8:59 AM  

Good morning all. Outside of Bali for Mali this was a fun ride. Agree with Rex than when it was done it all made sense and that is good.

INHORROR was my first fill and I only got ALABAMA with the crosses. Thank you Barry and in your honor I will not mention presidents or tubers. However...

What did the 0 say to the 8? Nice Obi.

Nice story on Scrabble in last weeks New Yorker.

OK, 2 sins and a post, over and out.

Megan P 9:05 AM  

AFRICAN QUEEN IS a great movie, and wait til you see the latest TEMPEST, now in production. The casting choice for Prospero will surprise you.

Nice puzzle, I thought. Great blog, as always.

jubjub 9:07 AM  

I had some trouble finishing the puzzle:

I had bALI instead of MALI, as I didn't know AMAH (I tried to put Anna there first, as I've never seen "Anna and the King" but my impression is it's about an au pair for some Thai kids ... I know Thailand's involved anyways ...).

I couldn't decide whether it was IRkS/AkRO or IRES/AERO as both AERO and AkRO are not prefixes to marine to me.

I did not parse TOPSTORY, Franklin correctly until I came here, and hence had trouble deciding between TOPSTORY/REO and TiPSTORY/REi.

Still, I really liked most of it. A lot of the clues were quite clever and original.

jubjub 9:09 AM  
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PlantieBea 9:14 AM  

I watched The African Queen only this summer with the teen kiddos. I'm a fan, they say ho hum...I was happy to see the clue. Smooth sailing for the most part, except that I thought for a long while that the unfriendly huggers were BRAS instead of BOAS. In fact, I stumbled around in the NE for a while before LOHAN and MOLOTAV fit.
Also, we borrow many library DVDs. So, my answer before PAUSED was ABUSED, as we have found many well watched DVDs to be.

This was probably my fastest and smoothest Friday solve ever. So, I give it two big thumbs up with a sigh of relief.

Megan P 9:16 AM  

Bras ARE unfriendly huggers, no question!

Crosscan 9:38 AM  

At least THE AFRICAN QUEEN is 15 letters. Longest clue for a 3 letter word in 2008 was:

Sylvia Plath poem that begins "I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root" - ELM

I spelled SKIMP was a C. Third time I've made the same error. Can anyone help me remember this other than with "SKIMP has a K, you idiot!"

Nice Friday puzzle.

alanrichard 9:42 AM  

This was the easiest Friday I can remember. Got African Queen immediately and the rest was a "Magic Carper Ride".

Cheryl 9:44 AM  

My solve wasn't smooth, but it was satisfying, since at first I thought it would be impossible because there was so much I didn't know from the clues.
However, I was able to tease everything out without looking anything up.

The east was the worst, especially since I had 'stint' for SKIMP which gave me 'nosh' instead of MORE.

It really helped that the answers I didn't already know were recognizable and I had fun figuring them out. Now I know that Molotov cocktails were named after somebody. Cool.

Cheryl 9:44 AM  
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edith b 9:46 AM  
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edith b 9:48 AM  

I pieced together 1A and 8A by way of the small downs which developed THEAFRICANQUEEN for me. I soon bogged in North Carolina and skipped into the deep South where I worked from the old Maleska warhorse AMAH into the Florida Keys where, again the small downs helped with the long across MAGICCARPETRIDE.

I ended up back in North Carolina and had major problems parsing out that whole section. I finally got SKIMP by way of SAUERKRAUT and INHORROR led to the end game: the IRES/AERO cross which I remained unsure of til I came here.

I didn't like IRES in this context snd AERO-marine made no sense to me as I never heard of it so I had no confidence in my solution.

I generally have more of a problem with Barry Silk's puzzles but I agree with Rex - this was a smooth one that made sense except for the minor quibble I indicated above.

joho 9:49 AM  

@Parshutr: I, too, think The African Queen is a classic. Love it.

@PlantieBea & @alanrichard: this was my fastest Friday ever, for sure. It started with quickly filling in THEAFRICANQUEEN and CIADIRECTOR. I just took off from there. The only quick blip was INteRROR, but was quickly fixed to INHORROR.

This was a really fun Friday for me!

twangster 9:49 AM  

Almost got it all but got tripped up by "beards" for AWNS and couldn't sort out the ALONSO, SNEAK, LOAM part.

fikink 9:50 AM  

@Cheryl, I too had STINT which I think is equally valid ...except for the SAUERTRAUT at the end, I guess.

humorlesstwit 9:51 AM  

Was just about to gloat about how I thought this was the easiest Friday ever (meaing I did it with no major issues) when I decided to count my write-overs just to verify. This led to my checking what 38A was, and what AKRO marine was. Oops
While I concede that AERO is a common prefix, and AKRO is nothing other than a wrong answer, AEROMarine? Planes with pontoons?

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

I still don't get Beards for AWNS..

twangster 10:08 AM  

Anon -- I didn't get it either until I looked up the definition for awn: 1. a bristlelike appendage of a plant, esp. on the glumes of grasses.
2. such appendages collectively, as those forming the beard of wheat, barley, etc.

Jon 10:18 AM  

I heartily second Rex's sentiment: I love a tough puzzle with great clues that ends up containing all recognizable answers. I thought this puzzle rocked, even without a lot of flash.

SNEAKTHIEF was also a point of unfamiliarity for me. I had --EAK-HIEF, and thinking about "Lifter" as a weightlifter, I inferred a "C" in the middle, and then was guessing at slang for power-lifters. All sorts of hilarity ensued: Steak Chief? Creak Chief? Then the clouds parted.

One unforgivable sin messed up my puzzle in the end: I immediately put ISTOO in 1D, and then marveled that I had never heard of the ILABAMA tribe or foreign minister SOLOTOV. I'm still a relative puzzle newbie, and this is definitely a problem I have, esp. on Friday and Saturday puzzles: I assume at the outset that I'm lacking a lot of knowledge that will be in the puzzle, so if I get an answer that seems really strange, I don't second-guess it, just assuming it's something random and xword-y I've never heard of. Ah well. Onwards and upwards.

Anyway, I am obviously a newbie to these comments as well, so I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for creating such a fun community and for being so open to new folks. And sorry if my posts run on, I have problems with rambling. I'll try to keep those in check.

Potential mnemonic for SKIMP, @Crosscan, esp. if you're from/familiar with the commercial food products of the Northeast: Tastykake is a horrible discount alternative to Hostess (as if the world needed even cheaper and more disgusting mass-produced desserts); the company also has a penchant for replacing C's with K's. So: When you want to SKIMP on snacks, buy TastyKaKe Krimpets. Lots of Ks there!

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

A pick pocket is a SNEAKTHIEF, a mugger is an ANNOUNCETHIEF. Having been the victem of both, I much prefer the SNEAKTHIER.

The answer to 8A is "You know, that guy who writes all those lawyer thriller/mysteries. You know, the one whose books I buy to read on the plane cross country. You know, that guy...."

Cheryl 10:19 AM  

@fikink
..unless you like pickled fish on your hotdog, then it works fine.

Wanted to add that I liked the crossing opposites of 'IN A SNARE' and 'had AN OUT'.
And also the symetrical pair of MORSE CODE and HYPERTEXT: the old and the new.

Hydromann 10:22 AM  

Humorlesstwit, According to Wikipedia, the "Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company" was an early builder of flyinh boats, so the term, "aeromarine" is really a brand name and not a gneric airplane type.

As to the puzzle, itself, yes it was fun, I guess, but way too easy for a Friday. I can't remember the last time I zipped through a Friday in less than 25 minutes as did this AM. It felt more like a Wednesday or a tough Tuesday puzzle.

I too am a big fan of “The African Queen.” If you are either a Bogie or Kate fan, how could you not like it? In fact, I’m not so sure it doesn’t meet the “Shakespeare standard,” Parshuttr!

bigredanalyst 10:28 AM  

I'd rate this as an "easy" for a Friday puzzle.

The words I didn't know directly came easily from the crosses.

Started on the SW (AMAH was a gimme) and got MAGICCARPETRIDE from the _G_C__etc. That opened the entire bottom of the puzzle.

The NE was the last to fall even though SAUERKRAUT came from just the K (and some good intuition). Since I never read Grisham and Clio is an ad award or muse to me also, I needed all the crosses to finish here.

All in all I think this puzzle is more of a Wed/Thurs than a Fri -- which was disappointing to me.

But perhaps I just got lucky the puzzle hit the trivia that I'm familiar with and avoided topics that I know nothing about.

dbg 10:33 AM  

@crosscan
..I think an easier way to remember skimp is that a c followed by an i is usually, if not always, a soft c. Forget about Italian, as the c in that language kills me, but in English I think the rule holds true.

william e emba 10:35 AM  

I only knew of John GRISHAM The Appeal because I read the book review in the NYT last year, no doubt because it was close to the crossword puzzle. The brutal ugliness of the summary was incredible, I still remember it and as a result, I couldn't help but notice seeing the book earlier this week, just out in paperback.

AEROMARINE, according to Google, is used for a variety of commercial items, going back to an early sea plane manufacturer.

Franklin cars were famous for being air-cooled.

My fastest Friday was 14 minutes (that USA! USA! USA! 4th of July puzzle). Today's was 15 minutes. I do the puzzle in ink, only 5 squares rewritten, and 3 of these were more accidents instead of mistakes. I was actually quicker today than this past Wednesday and Thursday.

And yes, THE AFRICAN QUEEN is utterly fantastic.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I actually got stuck on "ATF" for a long time -- even though it obviously fit (I had ALABAMA and MOLOTOV) -- because I was positive ATF was part of Treasury, not Justice, and I couldn't imagine a factual mistake like that. Turns out it got moved over to Justice in one of those post-2001 homeland security restructurings. The more you know.

steve l 10:40 AM  

@Jon--What I like about Fri. and Sat. puzzles is that despite the fact that you look at all the clues and wonder where you're going to ever get a foothold, once you do, the puzzle starts flowing. There rarely is anything in there that's ungettable, just tough--or extremely clever--clues. And the more experience you have, the more intuitive your solving gets. Eventually, you face the Fri. and Sat. puzzles with the confidence that you are going to finish, no doubt about it.

Paul 10:45 AM  

I figured MALI would cause some people trouble. It was a gimme for me, as I spent 10 weeks in Mali and learned some Bambara. I ka kene wa? Toro si te. Anyway, I generally need all the help I can get on Friday puzzles, so it was a welcome clue.

Ulrich 10:48 AM  

Believe it or not, SAUERKRAUT was the last answer I completed, and I also assumed that an AKROMARINE is something that exists even if I never heard of it until the web set me straight. A good Friday puzzle, except...

...for the clue for hypertext: It is NOT a means of connection, it is a mean of communication--the same way in which the language I speak on my phone is a means of communication, not to be confused with the "plumbing" that establishes the connection. I have been generating hypertext documents for two decades by now, and I'm picky in that context.

Karin 11:07 AM  

Just a funny...this puzzle took me twice as long as it would have if I hadn't insisted on "scales" for 44a "Evidence that one is an alien." :)

HudsonHawk 11:07 AM  

I also rocked through this one faster than my typical Friday. I liked it a lot, nevertheless. I solved from South to North, so had THIEF in place and wondered if the lead-in would be PETTY.

Two Ponies 11:08 AM  

Very nice Friday puzzle as I have come to expect from Barry Silk.
Funny to see sauerkraut today after Rex posted the "sourcroot" photo on Tuesday.
I agree with Rex about the African Queen. I saw it recently for the second time and couldn't imagine why I had loved it so much the first time. I hated seeing Bogey submitting to the henpecking from Kate the church lady. I also found the quivering in her voice to be a great distraction. If she had poured all of my liquor in the river I'd have thrown her overboard.
Whew, I feel so much better now.

jae 11:14 AM  

A solid puzzle and very easy for me also. Had the same hiccup as joho with INTERROR and initially tried DEA (also thinking ATF was Treasury) but, other than those, a very smooth solve. Knowing G. H. W. Bush's resume helped open this up.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Re: By the power......

VERY long clue

Using a new MacBook instead of my now dead PC it took a lot of experimentation to be able to get the print large enough to be able to read the whole clue. If NYT crossword puzzled don't keep my mind sharp, learning to use the Mac will.

pj

zk 11:35 AM  

ANNOUNCE THIEF = Bank Robber? Sometimes successful, other times...not so much

imsdave 11:48 AM  

Fridays and Saturdays, I tend to not write in an answer until I have at least one possible cross letter in my mind due to the typically clever cluing. That cost me dearly today. AMTOO, ATF, HUEY, ALEE, and BOAS were my first guesses, and not putting them in really slowed down the north. Of course, on the other hand, MORERELISH would have been pretty devastating for SAUERKRAUT.

@Cheryl - you beat me to the punchline on the fish gag (though I wanted to get Ulrich involved somehow)

@DGB - arcing

Twenty minutes, should have been ten, but loved every one of them.

Oh, and I was suprised at the 39M number - I thought it would be higher.

AARPdave

PuzzleGirl 12:08 PM  

Awesome puzzle today. jae and I are on the same wavelength. I also had DEA and IN TERROR at first. Never heard of SNEAK THIEF, but it appeared through the crosses. GRISHAM was the first thing I entered into the grid. I've never seen THE AFRICAN QUEEN and with some of the crosses in place, I thought it might be AN AMERICAN [something]. That, too, worked itself out.

I'll have Steppenwolf in my head for the rest of the day.

@Rex: One day I will put someone in the puzzle that you don't think should be there but the fill will be so brilliant that you'll have to say yes. I just hope it turns out to be Dan Gable.

Margaret 12:08 PM  

THE AFRICAN QUEEN was my first answer in the grid. I love that movie. It may not be Shakespeare but it is James AGEE, he of crossword fame.

@Megan P -- Speaking of SHakespeare, thanks for the heads up on the new Tempest. Wow. Julie Taymor, Helen Mirren, Djimon Honsou, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper. Can't wait to see it.

I can always get AMAH because I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I was a kid. (Actually, I still love it.)

Tennessee Factoids of the Day: Both Agee and F.H. Burnett were from Knoxville. Also, Jimmy Johnson of ARLO 'n Janis used to live near Memphis, hence the Peabody reference in today's strip.

obertb 12:12 PM  

THEAFRICANQUEEN and CIADIRECTOR were both immediate gimmes and the rest came along by bits and pieces and through crosses. Took 30 minutes, but in AcrossLite, which I know slows me down by at least 30 percent due to the hinky keyboarding and the likelihood of typos.

Since I've decided to go to the ACPT, I should probably stop using AcrossLite, but it's convenient and I paid the *$#%# forty bucks for the privilege of getting the puzzle online. Doesn't really matter because I'm not likely to end up in the finals anyway. I do need to stop googling, though, which I do from time to time just to hurry things alone. I find that I can usually solve even a Sat puzzle without googling if I stick with it long enough.

Less diligent x-worders than I sometimes ask me how I can possibly solve a Fri or Sat puzzle. It's easy, I say, because you probably KNOW most of the answers; it's just the CLUES that are difficult. That's how a Shortz puzzle differs from a Maleska, where the clues were generally straightforward but the answers often obscure.

dbg 12:12 PM  

@crosscan and imsdave
..that's what I love about this blog. Ok, take out the "if not always" from my comment but remember that an I following a C is "almost always" a soft C. I also found the rare exception in that skivvy can also be spelled scivvy and pronounced the same way.

Shamik 1:03 PM  

@Megan: Holey moley! That will be some sort of Tempest! Can't wait.

Thought this one was an easy-medium until I came here and realized I spelled ALONSO with a Z. Made sense at the time. Loved SNEAKTHIEF. Seemed to be a term I heard more in my childhood than the last bazillion years. For some reason, MAGICCARPETRIDE was a gimme. And wanting to be done of those Texans who had two generations in the White House, CIADIRECTOR was long in arriving.

Other mis-steps:
CAN for ONT
HAWK for HUEY
AORTA for RENAL
HEADPHONE for MORSECODE
DEA for ATF

joho 1:10 PM  

Smooth as Silk. I wonder, has that been said about Barry before? It sure fits.

Doug 1:12 PM  

INTERROR and not INHORROR left me with TYPExxxxx (TYPEENTER?, TYPEUSERID?) and without a toehold with which to invade the Union. In the same vein, Franklin's contemporary was not a REB, as I had.

I'm a career RETAILER and like Ulrich, took far too long to enter the obvious. A TRADEDISCOUNT is given to retailers, typically at trade shows (go figure) which is also open to the public.

For some reason, an Omen marathon (I, II and III) was playing on TV here all through Xmas and NY so I was full of Sam Neill as Damien saying "The NAZARENE is here." And for some other reason, a Deathwish marathon (I-V, guess Stallone was a producer) was also on. Charles Bronson blowing away hoods, every Saturday at 8!

Super puzzle, great fill!

Shamik 1:14 PM  

@foodie: Re yesterday: We were vagabonds for last summer, but have a house in Phoenix (now rented). We (or at least I) will be in Phoenix for at least the next 5 months. Long story having to do with the economy, income, schooling, travel jobs, etc.

chefbea 1:18 PM  

Today was hard for me. Had to google a lot and finally finnished when I came here. I knew amah and @margaret I too love the secret garden. Recently bought a copy of the book at a tag sale so I could re-read it.

Another word from the Maleska era that we haven't seen in ages is raree (and now I forget what it means)

Loved the saurkraut clue.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Thank you Puzzlegirl for reminding me that it was Steppenwolf and not Hot Tuna that sang Magic Carpet Ride. I thought for sure there would be a link to it here.

In the 60's a HUEY was known by most of us as we had friends serving in Vietnam.

Some very nice "aha" answers this morning.

--Chris in LA

ArtLvr 1:47 PM  

@ crosscan -- Just picture a know-it-all penny-pinching brat on a ski outing who will SKIP Most of his beginners' lessons, thus being a SKI-IMP who might cause loss of an I (eye) because of his SKIMPing on wise preparation...

@ karin -- I was looking for something more physical than an ACCENT for the alien's trait too, like "big ear"? Your "scales" were more fun. But it got sorted out...

JannieB 1:48 PM  

@joho - my sentiments exactly. Silk puzzles are very elegant and yes, smooth. Surprised no one has commented on the latest odd job - "fleecer". The only clunker in the puzzle, IMO. Silk puzzles are an easy solve for me most days. Interesting comments from him at the Wordplay blog - seems Hypertext was the seed for this puzzle.

@Chefbea, I think a raree is a street fair of some kind. It was of the same era for me as amah and awn.

rafaelthatmf 1:55 PM  

Perfect Friday puzzle. Changed my mind midstream from thinking it missing something to feeling sated at the end. Maybe a little too little zing somewhere but I loved it.
Ok a stupid question but is 11D a double entendre or just a twist on the hotdog topping? I mean does anyone call a brusque request a sauerkraut request? Stupid question? I mean sauerkraut is kind of acerbic and sometimes people ask for things impolitely so …

Karen 1:57 PM  

Thanks for the Airwolf video, it reminded me that Ernest Borgnine's birthday is tomorrow. Happy day, Ernie.

I was recently reading about The African Queen (which I haven't seen) and it said that the wedding scene on the enemy German ship was done so Bogart and Hepburn wouldn't be an unmarried couple alone together at the end of the movie, as that would lead to it being banned in several markets. How times have changed.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:57 PM  

Very pleasant puzzle, and I felt on its wavelength right from my first fill of SAUERKRAUT.

Only write-over was 25A, Withdraw, had RECEDE instead of SECEDE, which slowed me down in getting to SNEAKTHIEF -- but is it an age thing? SNEAKTHIEF seemed very familiar, everyday to me.

thebubbreport 2:06 PM  

My big misses:

BIGSTORY for TOPSTORY

BEAR for BOAS as I missed the plural aspect of this clue. junjun, I thought about bras too - I just could not get this - the first thought I had was W.A.S.P.

Never heard of AEROMARINE. I still had IRKS/AKRO at the end, thinking I was done. I had AQUAmarine in there for a long time.

I thought there were some very clever clues in here. Loved PAUSED, FLEECER, COUPES and MORSECODE. MAGICCARPETRIDE, and the Q in THEAFRICANQUEEN helped me solve that one without any other letters. Gotta love a Q!

I'm off to go look up the words "pangram" and "awns" Have a great weekend everyone!

becky

green mantis 2:08 PM  

Why are most comic strips allowed to be so unfunny? It makes me crazy. And this one with the fabric--it doesn't even make any sense. Shouldn't it be a word for amount of fabric, like yardage or something? I mean come on. Is nobody in charge?

Silky puzzle.

green mantis 2:11 PM  

@rafaelthatmf: Just a request for what you want on your frank. Hotdog.

Crosscan 2:30 PM  

Thanks Jon, dbg, ArtLVr, etal. Bring on SKIMP.

obertb: Just download using AcrossLite and and then print the puzzle, like I do in ACPT training time. Step away from the computer to avoid temptation, until done. Then head for Rex.

jae 2:45 PM  

@obert -- your comment about knowing/recognizing most of the answers is why I went with AERO over AKRO. AERO shows up quite a bit with various clue. AKRO I've never seen.

@chefbea -- I've seen raree clued as "peepshow" and "street show."

jeff in chicago 2:49 PM  

Sweet Friday. And by that I mean I Friday I could finish. And in a darn good time for me! Woo hoo!

I got 10 of the 1 through 14 downs on the first pass, which revealed THEAFRICANQUEEN, SAUERKRAUT and CIADIRECTOR and I was off. SNEAKTHIEF was the last word to finish. I just couldn't convince myself that it was right.

Did have a typo goof for a sec with GAO for FAO. Ha! Maybe the Government Accountability Office plays with toys. It could happen.

@Anonymous 1:35 (and PuzzleGirl): Was PG referencing "Magic Carpet Ride"? I thought she was hinting at "American Woman," which I always think is Steppenwolf but is really The Guess Who. (Hmmm...I guess it's not "The American Woman," but that's what I was thinking, so there...)

@Karin: Scales. Funny!!!

@Cheryl: Agree on the nice pairing of 6-D and 34-D

allan 2:51 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot, although it took me a long time to finish.

Things that slowed me down were thinking this to be another rebus I kept trying to fit "father of the worst president ever" into 18d, and "green card" into 44a. Just couldn't figure out how!

Loved sauerkraut and molotov the most, but I always thought that malotov was a way of wishing someone good luck.

@Orange: Thank you very much for your help.

chefbea 2:53 PM  

@jae Yes I remember it as street show. Thanx

liquid el lay 2:55 PM  

I did the puzzle early so I could comment early

Had problems at the california-oregon border, and west of savana down to the eastern gulf.

An unshakable RECEDE for SECEDE caused me to doubt NAZARENE and SMOKE and to give up on R--AKTHIEF. I knew LOAM was sandy soil, but not that it was often used in the sense of rich growing soil too. So I postulated SIAM (even though I thought The Good Earth was set in china.)

The sports-shakesphere-toystore-nightclubname-obscurepun confluence was too much for me.

the MAGICCARPETRIDE I like very much. Ahma(arabic for mother?) may ride the exalted fleceer

.........

As a newcomer I'd like to comment on the flap about post before reading. Maybe the posters want to comment on the puzzle, rather than enter a conversation where they may feel they are intruding. Also, they may themselves enjoy best reading the comments on the puzzle rather than eavesdpopping on personal converations. Maybe they're posting the sort of post they enjoy best as readers.

I, myself, best enjoy posts which are business first, then by some marker- such as a series of "@" prefaced paragraphs- goes into the often interesting but off-topic tangents and discussions and so forth.

chefbea 2:55 PM  

@allan that would be mazeltov. for good luck...not molotov

evil doug 3:00 PM  

@Megan P: I sympathize with you, and if I were you I'd throw those unfriendly huggers away and release the hounds. [And if any of you puzzlemakers out there are going to use "bras"---in the puzzle, I mean---I'd clue it in at 36D....]

Bush 41 has given a remarkable portion of his life to the USA---from the youngest Navy pilot in history, to Congress, to the CIA, to Veep, to President, to teaming up with Clinton in seeking aid for hurricane/tsunami victims. He looked old at the inauguration, but they say he's preparing for another birthday parachute jump....

Evil

Anne 3:13 PM  

Today was absolutely the best Friday for me so far - I wanted to say smooth as silk but I know that has been said since I read all the comments!

Like a couple of others, I made one mistake - aero - and I should have caught that. But, nevertheless, it was quite doable. I started with CIA Director and everything just opened up quickly after that. I love Arlo and the African Queen, and I used to have a Renuault a looong time ago. Now to Saturday.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Only 8 incorrect squares - that's certainly a Friday record for me! All in the SW, too, and I'm pretty sure I would've gotten FLEECED and MISFIRE if I hadn't put SNEAKTRICK in 25D (which led to AMPS and the total head-scratchers of PLECCER and SISKIRE). AMAH is new to me, so my combo of ABAH/BALI looked good enough.

The rest of the grid was great. The SE started me off, and I pretty much worked counter-clockwise from there. It was a perfect distraction on the train and in my morning class!

Frances 3:42 PM  

Re 7D, "focus on one's approach:" Wouldn't AVIATE be taking off, rather than landing?

imsdave 3:57 PM  

@Frances - I am always hopeful that my aviators are adept at both.

rafaelthatmf 4:08 PM  

@evil doug - actually laughed out loud!

@Frances - aviatin's aviatin'; taking off, flying or landing.

mac 4:53 PM  

After reading Rex's blog and ALL THE COMMENTS I think I figured it out: people who know and love "The African Queen" had a much easier or at least better time with this puzzle.

I love this one, no gimmicks, just great clues and answers, all gettable with patience. Just a little worrisome that it took me so long considering the tournaments are coming up. I gave myself some trouble by a couple of false starts: 61A Cut wire, 3D alarm, too many promo's of "Grissom" leaving that show,
acdc for 51d and corpse instead of coupes. I had to laugh when I got 11D, because I was puzzling to the smell of sauerkraut poaching in white wine, smothered onions and juniper berries!
I only got hypertext, through crosses, because I failed to think of the to me more familiar hyperlink.....
Funny, the scales, and I too thought of pointy ears. Here's one not-anymore alien with an accent.

All in all, both puzzle and blog were great today.

allan 5:02 PM  

@chefbea: Sorry that I left out the "lol" at the end of that. My attempt at humor. As they say in Eretz Yisroel: "Mit mazel, mit glick" (at least in the Brooklyn version, which is where I was born).

@PlantieBea: There you go with the sexual innuendos again. Hope the brats turn out alright. Do I need a lol here?

Doug 5:23 PM  

@evil: Always saying the things I'm thinking. Keep up the good work.

@jeff in windy city: American Woman is by The Guess Who, which is dare I say, a Canadian band from Winnipeg. Still touring without Burton Cummings (vocals) and Randy Bachman (lead guitar) which is like the Stones with Jagger/Richards.

suzyq 5:26 PM  

Had to comment today about the Gaston and Alphonse comic. I taught HS English for many years, and a favorite story was "After You, My Dear Alphonse" by Shirley Jackson. I never realized that Jackson was alluding to this comic strip. My students and I thought the young boys in the story who used the phrase were mimicking adults they had heard.

Love the blog. I learn something every day.

B. Ro 5:29 PM  

This puzzle represents a glorious new chapter in my life - my first ever friday puzzle completed with no outside reference. I had been stuck at thursday for way too long. Woohoo!

Finding this blog a few months ago was, no doubt, a major contributing factor. Thank you to Rex and all the commenters!

Here's hoping next friday doesn't prove this to have been a fluke.

Alec 5:50 PM  

I had PWNS for "Beards," which I guess was too clever by half:

BEARD: "To boldly and bravely oppose or confront."

PWN: "A leetspeek slang term, derived from the word 'own,' that implies domination or humiliation of a rival."

Grrr. That's what you get when Shakespearean English and leetspeek collide...

chefwen 6:43 PM  

I thought "fer sher" Mr. Parker would rate this one as easy, I mean, I actually finished a Friday, not impossable but certainly a rarity. Oh Happy Days.
Wanted antenna for accent but couldn't cut out one of the n's, just wasn't going to work

Ulrich 7:22 PM  

@B. Ro (and to all others expressing similar sentiments): Congratulations! I still remember what it feels like.

And thanks to all who, when they hear that I'm an alien, expect scales and antennas and the like--makes me regret that all I can offer is a stupid old accent.

andrea carla michaels 7:28 PM  

Had something for something originally but now that I've read thru all the posts, I'm exhausted and can no longer remember what I wanted to say!

@allan
Mazel tov for making your first joke that someone took literally!

The curse of email (or whatever this is), even literary literate literati seem to get awfully literal!
That's why I pepper my comments with happy faces, overuse exclamation points, and would italicize in neon if I knew how! ;)

@crosscan
When in doubt, simply tell folks you are coining a new word:
skimp + scrimp = skrimp or scimp, maybe even sqimp!
(I had STINT so it was moot)

Oh yes! I wanted to say that pangrams always add to my solving pleasure as a constructor/solver/substitute blogger/commenter.

@Rex, I just checked...by coincidence, this comment is a pangram!!! Doesn't that make it better all around?!
:)

fikink 7:52 PM  

LOL! Andrea, I swear we were separated at birth. Don't you remember Mom always saying, "Don't stint!" ?
and Ulrich, your accent makes me weak. Memories of my babushka!

Brother Dit would have appreciated MORSE CODE. Thank you, Mr. Silk.

acme 7:57 PM  

@fikink, Ulrich
Accents make me weak too, but nothing to do with grandmas! More in the category that it will add at least 3 extra months to any relationship...

And I wanted to say something 9/11 related about that guy who they caught bec he took those flying lessons but didn't care about learning how to land...and then tie that comment into one about US Air and the whole Hudson River thing, but as I said, I'm now too exhausted...

Crosscan 8:30 PM  

Andrea sqimp is perfect. I may call myself that from now on.

It is hard commenting late. I will summarize my reaction to all the comments: I agree with about half of them.

allan 9:22 PM  

@acm (if I may be so familiar): That was the funniest comment EVER!!!!!(:>) By the way, to use italicized neon script in Internet Explorer simultaneously hold down the alt+shift+i+n. Choose italicized neon from the dropdown menu. If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you must hold down the crtl+shift+i+z+n. You go directly into italicized neon script. By default both will give you a hot pink neon. There is a way to change the color, but that is for another time.

@crosscan: In the words of the great Maxwell Smart "That was the second funniest blog comment I've ever heard."

Michael 9:22 PM  

I am pleased to see that many people had the same reactions that I did:

(1) This is a terrific puzzle -- possible, right level of difficulty, great clues, unusual answers.

(2) Count me in with the fans of The African Queen.

I was slowed for a while by writing in "tendency" instead of "gradient." But then I remembered "Grisham" for some reason.

Doc John 9:26 PM  

Well, it's late and I finally read through all the comments. I guess this was my fastest Friday ever- just over 22 minutes. (But a fun 22 minutes.) That really surprised me because I only had a couple answers after my first go round. I think CIA DIRECTOR opened it up for me and then I was off like a shot. Many, many missteps, though- did anyone else put in TRU for toy initials (for Toys R Us)? That T made me want to put in Trish for FAITH but as I was typing it in I thought that it didn't look right AT ALL and then FAITH popped in (that's always a good thing). I also was a receder instead of a seceder but that got sorted out, too. I also had Lois (of another mildly humorous strip) for ARLO.

BTW, John GRISHAM is a former attorney so that's why all of his novels are law-related. Same thing for Robin Cook and medicine (and Michael Crichton, although his books were a lot more diverse). "Write what you know," they always say.

Get your motor running, head out on that highway...

radioguy 9:26 PM  

Once upon a time, I dated a woman whose parents were from Mali. She spoke to her family in Bambara, so that clue was a gimmie for me.

I spent much of my childhood riding between NYC and the DC area in a 1985 Renault Alliance that had an AM-only radio.

fergus 9:26 PM  

I was just wondering how much licensing and royalty revenue Steppenwolf has made in comparison to their recording sales?

I wonder why I've never heard The Who's "Going Mobile" in a car commercial ... .

Only problem I had dealt with my persistence with AM/PM, so FLEECER took too long to appear. For a little while, I was willing to go along with SNEAK-CHIEF.

The AEROmarine left me thinking I got it wrong rather than recognizing something clever.

GRADIENT for Inclination seemed quibble-able (quibblable?) but then, even being fussy mathematically, I see that it works as well.

"The Tempest" and "As You Like It" in the same puzzle sparks my curiosity about where to find the most Shakespeare-heavy examples? Any pointers? Do the cruciverbalists have filters capable of sorting along these lines?

fikink 9:45 PM  

@fergus, quibblable is good stuff...

bibiddy, bobiddy boo!

3 and out.

mac 11:07 PM  

Coming back to "The Appeal", William B Emba is right, it is a horrible, upsetting story, depressing in many ways, but well-written and, unfortunately, most likely all too true....

Retired_Chemist 9:19 AM  

Busy yesterday so am just getting around to enjoying this one. And I did! I'll echo the "Smooth as silk" comment. To me, one of the best constructions I have seen. My compliments to Mr. Silk.

SO many clues I had to think about and/or reinterpret. Two favorites:

11D Frank request (SAUERKRAUT) - SO clever. Never had or would want such a frank - a waste of good sauerkraut that deprives some Reuben of its proper component.

Hadn't seen TAQ (17A) in more than 50 years, and had forgotten the line in the clue. Seeing a large part of TAQ emerge from crosses and remembering enough of the plot to see that it made sense - THAT was fun.

Pulled MALIKOV out of thin air @ 15A - slowed me down because I couldn't shake it for the longest time. My bad.

Sharon 5:57 PM  

@allan
ni Testing. Keep getting ni but no pink neon.

Robert 2:29 PM  

I love the puzzle, Rex's comments and the blog but I am appalled that so many are not familiar with The African Queen--one of the greatest films ever!

deerfencer 12:22 PM  

Re Rye's Playland, it's a modestly famous 1920's art-deco waterfront amusement park on Long Island Sound that's been used as a backdrop in several well-known movies, including Big and a 1990's Woody Allen flick, Sweet Lowdown.

Coolest ride: the ancient Dragon Coaster, a mostly wooden-braced structure that I believe is one of the oldest rollercoasters in the country (built in 1929). Westchester County has operated Playland for many years at a modest loss, and many New Yorkers regard it (rightfully IMO) as an historical treasure. There's also a decent-sized indoor skating rink there that used to serve as a practice rink for the NY Rangers, and a fairly decent sandy beach to boot, all open to the public.

Palm Spring Pete 11:37 AM  

@Rex - found it curious that you would take off on "nerds" who might provide a distinction between hypertext and hyperlink.

From Wikipedia:"Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests that are age inappropriate rather than engaging in more social or popular activities."

Hmmm, now who would that sound like, Rex? lol. Nerds are not confined to the high-tech industry.

Also, give African Queen a chance. It *is* a very good movie.

Keep up the good work!

syndakate 3:26 PM  

I did it! I solved a Friday puzzle! Every single square. And Rex rated it medium! I am a genius.
@Palm Spring Pete: If you check out Rex's sidebar you'll see he was named Dork of the Year for 2008. While I'll admit that dorks and nerds are inherently different, they are still closely related. At least by marriage.

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