SATURDAY, Mar. 14, 2009 - Barry Silk (Sticky paint resins / Eponym of national forest in New Mexico / Dartmoor setting / Alternative to pillbox)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: O, The Places I Haven't Gone (or, none)

Word of the Day: ALKYD - An Alkyd is a polyester derived from the reaction of an alcohol (alkohol) and an acid or acid anhydride hence the term alk-yd from "alcohol and acid or anhydride]". Alkyds are used in paints and in moulds for casting. They are the dominant resin or "binder" in most "oil-based" coatings sold to the consumer market. (wikipedia)

Well, if you have spent any time in the Philadelphia area, then I'm guessing this was a good day for you. At least comparatively good, i.e. gooder than the day I had. I've never heard of JFK PLAZA (1A: Park near Philly's City Hall, site of the LOVE statue), and by not having heard of it, you can see all the Crucial letters I miss out on. I spent as much time on the NW corner as I did on the rest of the puzzle, which was also pretty tough. Another place I've never been: KIT CARSON National Forest (3D: Eponym of a national forest in New Mexico). I'm not ashamed to tell you that I had LAS CRUCES and SAN CARLOS (!?!?!?) in there before I got KIT CARSON. That "K" may have been one of the last letters I filled in. There are three proper nouns I didn't know up there: JFK PLAZA, KIT CARSON (at least I've heard of ... him?), and LILA LEE (5D: With 59-Down, Rudolph Valentino's "Blood and Sand" co-star). Had SARA LEE for a bit. Also, ALKYDS (20A: Sticky paint resins)? Nope, never seen it. Went to sleep last night still thinking there was an off chance that it was wrong.

What's fascinating, to me, about my abysmal performance in the NW is the fact that the main blockage, the sticking point that had to be unstuck before I could solve it, wasn't up in the meat of the corner, where the long Acrosses and Downs collide, but way down at the back end of the Downs. The word that tipped the puzzle for me - that took it from a mainly empty to a completely finished corner inside of a minute: MEN (41A: Head word). Here's the weird thing - I considered that "head" might signify "toilet" very early on in the solving experience, but didn't give it much though, and went about solving other parts of the puzzle. When I got back to it, I had the "E," but ... man, I have no idea why MEN didn't come to me then. But at some point SAN CARLOS got in there and so I had -ES where MEN was supposed to be and thought "'HES'??? They can't be serious?" I'd seen that as a plural for "males" before, but couldn't imagine it written on a bathroom door. Once I let my brain open to the much simpler "MEN," then JERUSALEM (heretofore hidden from view) went right down (1D: It was captured by British forces in 1917), and there's the J in JFK PLAZA ... all done quickly from there. Another small answer that might have tipped things earlier if I'd just trusted it: PCT (4D: Election figure: Abbr.). I wanted it, but could get no confirmation, and so never put it in. 24D: One isn't sharp (dolt) . . . tell me about it.

Fabrics did me in again today: add to the TOILE / TUILE controversy the slant-rhyming LISLES (31A: Fine threads), which, despite my familiarity with the French town of LISLE, I insisted on spelling LILLES (hence SAN CARLOS!). Also never heard of a FLASH FIRE (2D: Result of a combustion explosion). BRUSH FIRE, yes, and though I knew the clue wasn't asking for it, my brain just kept repeating the phrase like a skipping record. "Hey, try BRUSH FIRE now, maybe it'll work ... how 'bout BRUSH FIRE? BRUSH FIRE?" Yikes. And to think, it all started out up there with USC (19A: John Wayne's L.A. alma mater) and AFROS (27A: Picked styles?) as such promising gimmes. That was one of the weird features about this puzzle: for a very tough puzzle, it had a lot of gimmes. It was as if the answers tended to congregate at either end of the difficulty spectrum. USC, AFROS, MUIR (22A: Sierra Club founder), SAVE (42A: Reliever's triumph), HALF (54A: One of two that make one), INUIT (13D: Anorak wearer), INFLUX (45D: Opposite of exodus), AVOIR (38D: To have, in Tours), SCOPES (44A: 1925 trial name), I'M DONE (45A: Confirmation to a busboy), IDLY (51A: With no apparent purpose), CFL (34A: Grey Cup sports org.), HESSE (47A: "Das Glasperlenspiel" novelist), TIOS (9D: Reunión attendees), BEETS (26A: A root crop) - these were all gimmes or near gimmes.

Like yesterday's puzzle, this one felt old-fashioned. Maleska-era. But not antique and dusty. Just brutal. Light on contemporary references (X GAMES excepted - 11D: Skateboarders compete in them). Heavy on technical words and place names and general knowledge. PREPAY (55A: Gas pump option), TAX TIP (9A: One might help you on your return), and I'M GONE (16A: "Ciao!") have a nice fresh and chatty feel, and ZONKED ... Well, ZONKED is ZONKED (7D: Totally beat). Even when I was done, I didn't quite get how the word was being used. I thought it might mean "stricken, as by a brick," until I realized I was thinking of not ZONKED but "KONKED" or "CONKED" or perhaps "BONKED." "Beat" in this case means "tired." Again, having the "Z" would have helped. "Beat" for "tired" ... "Head" for "toilet" ... "Put out" for SORE ... lots of colloquialism used as misdirection today.

What to say about the rest of the puzzle. Started in southern middle and spread down first into the SW, which is lovely. Threw down INFLUX and then saw what I think is the best clue of the day: 58A: Secret area of anatomy? What's great about it - I got the "Secret" gag immediately (very clever) but went straight to ARM PIT, which fits, and had me briefly second-guessing INFLUX. Only after I'd settled a few things out did the gorgeous AXILLA come into view (anatomical term for "arm pit"). Problems here: misread 49D: Polish person? as being 48D (!) and so wrote SHINE where SHARD was supposed to go (48D: Dig find). Also, SWANS? Even now I don't know what this means. Looking up ... whoa, the third definition of "PEN" is "female swan." Yikes. And here I thought it was going to be a brand of writing implement, like CROSS or MONT BLANC.



NE was by far the easiest corner. After MUIR, I tested BEETS, and with that terminal -UE in place, TOQUE came instantly (12D: Alternative to a pillbox), confirmed by OPAQUE (18A: Not easily understood), and we're done. Or nearly so. The diagonal stretch from NW to SE was another matter. Tough for me. Can't tell you how long DEVILS took (29A: Prepares with hot seasoning). Too long. DEVON is a place I've heard of, but have no idea what "Dartmoor" is (21D: Dartmoor setting). Lucky guess on IRIS (30D: One of Tennessee's state symbols), though I really can't think of another plausible -IS answer there.

Got into a bit of trouble in the SE with my completely confident entry of YOKEL into the grid at 52D: Bumpkin. That put a "K" in the answer to 60A: Sari-clad royal, and things generally ground to a halt until I let myself consider other Y-answers to 52D. Guessed EL PASO (46D: Texas's westernmost county), thinking it couldn't be right because it was just too familiar. Must be EL GATO or EL LOCO or something. Never seen MAHARANI before, but RANI is familiar enough. CAPSULATE (34D: Enclosed, as seeds) and FRESHENER (35D: Toning skin lotion) are pretty dull, but I love the LASER DISK (36D: Passe video store offering) / "COOL JERK" (65A: 1966 hit for the Capitols) collision. I know the song "COOL JERK" from the Go-Go's mid-80s cover version.



Bullets:

  • 25A: Prefix with facsimile (tele-) - is this the same thing as a FAX? TELEFAX? I have no idea.
  • 23A: Alewife's relative (shad) - Glad I'd seen this recently, or it might have been rough.
  • 39A: River surrounding Navy Island (Niagara) - needed lots of crosses here.
  • 53A: Arnsberg is on it (Ruhr) - another place name that needed several crosses. Considered YSER ... ODER ...
  • 64A: N.C.A.A. rival of George Mason (Drexel) - even with the "X" in place this didn't come easily. Isn't DREXEL in Philadelphia too? WTF is up with the Philly Phocus today?
  • 56D: Dixieland group? (Y'all!) - OK, that is pretty good. Up there with the AXILLA clue for cleverness.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS puzzle is a pangram, for those of you who care about such things. I do not - though Scrabbliness in general is always appreciated.

87 comments:

Crosscan 8:34 AM  

This was leave-it-overnight-and-finish-in-the-morning hard. The NW was a gaping hole with only EROTICA and PCT in place. Oh, and ___PLAZA.

This morning, JFK somehow popped into mind, leading to JERUSALEM and most of the rest. I put FLAME FIRE though.

Another error at ALKYdS/dEVON.

My first entry was CFL of course. Had YOKEL (raise your hand if you didn't). CREDIT before PREPAY due to the RE. INFLOW before INFLUX.

Tough Saturday workout.

nanpilla 8:48 AM  

This should have been an easy puzzle for me, BUT NOOOO!

I used to LIVE in Philadelphia, I used to BE a paint chemist, and I have TWO children currently going to Drexel, and it STILL took me 45 minutes to grind this one out. How embarrasing! DEVON is also a local Philly word, where they have huge dressage and hunter horse shows.

Also stuck with BRUSHFIRE for way too long, and YOKEL. And MAHARAJA.
Even after filling in AXILLA, it still took forever to "get it". But when I finally did, loved the clue. Also loved the clue for BLEACH.
Nice shout out to our favorite root crop!
Overall, a very satisfying puzzle when finally done.

chefbea 8:58 AM  

Of course I LOVED this puzzle!!!! But I did find it difficult as lots of places I did not know.

When You devil something like eggs or ham... it's not necessarily hot. Unless you want to use a lot of hot peppers or tabasco.

@Rex you are not a dolt because you are Sharp

Rex Parker 9:03 AM  

Speaking of Philly and roots, The Roots are a great hip-hop band from Philly who are now the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Just yesterday, I heard a "Fresh Air" interview with drummer and founding member Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. Good, good stuff.

rp

John 9:16 AM  

Dartmoor is a prison in England. I know this from an old Sherlock Holmes movie, but never made the connection! Yikes! What a workout!

twangster 9:24 AM  

Ugh, this puzzle ended a streak of successful NYT solving. In the end was done in by my conviction that it was going to be either TAXCUT OR TAXKIT. I also had TIERS for PEERS, which kind of made sense or at least had something to do with levels, and ANC for "performANCe" piece. All that led me to think the word for "Ciao" would be some obscure Italian or Hawaiian word, like INGANI. So it was a mess.

JannieB 9:33 AM  

I loved it - so much easier for me than yesterday - and these clues were clever and fun; bleach, axilla, erotica - very very good clues.

Minor quibbles - I've been taught that the plural of y'all is "all y'all" but I think "y'all" is more commonly used to include all those reference. To me, a "yahoo" can be any sort of idiot, it doesn't really conjure up a "bumpkin".

Thanks Barry - a great Saturday effort!

retired_chemist 9:44 AM  

It's all in your frame of reference. I knew enough to get me going, which often does not happen. This was among the easier Saturdays for me.

First foothold was the NE where OPAQUE gave me TOQUE, TOQUE changed SEE YOU to I'M GONE @ 16A. I knew MUIR. I figured Mr. Silk KNEW someone who would get a rise out of BEETS.

ALKYDS began as EPOXYS, then was VINYLS, then showed its true colors from DEVON (21D).

Most fun was in the SW, where 58A AXILLA was LACUNA because 49D was RELIC. The ? in the 58A clue should have tipped me off not to be literal, but nooo..... Had to play alphabet soup when 48A was S_ANS and almost despaired at STANS. It was a D'OH moment when I reached W.

I had BRUSH FIRE at 2D for a while like others.

All in all a good puzzle. Not a rave for me like Thu and Fri, but nice and solid.

bill from fl 9:46 AM  

I visited Philly a couple of summers ago, but I still thought this one was really hard. Drexel is in Philly, but I had no idea it's in the same conference as George Mason. Other answers were familiar words or names, but were clued in offbeat ways that made them surprises. No real Naticks either, so I can't complain. Old School, but very fun.

hereinfranklin 9:47 AM  

Finally a Saturday puzzle that didn't leave me feeling completely ZONKED. But I am ashamed to admit that had STOKES for SCOPES for way too long--even though the Monkey Trials were just down the road a bit in East Tennessee. I did have to google two answers, but still finished in under 30--a good time for me. Have a great Saturday--it's raining all day here, so basketball is the order of the day. Go Vols!

evil doug 9:55 AM  

If no one mentions beets, I promise not to do any more posts today.

Evil

edith b 9:59 AM  

I had my usual struggle with Barry Silk today, fighting tooth and nail between light and darkness.

I had good luck right out of the box.
My husband and I retired to the suburbs of Philadelphia last year and one of the first places we visited was JFK Plaza to see the LOVE statue. That along with my knowledge of WWI got me off to a good start with JERUSALEM. Along with ZONKED and all the short acrosses, it allowed me to sprint out of the NW into the SE.
I found several neons lurking there and again the short acrosses gave me a legup on this section, the MAHARANI/RAJ cross being the key that opened up this corner.

I was amused to see Chefbeas favorite at 26A and BEETS crossing XGAMES was the first of three straight short downs that led me into Flyover country where SAVE crossing ENDEMIC brought me towards endgame but the SW was a bear! I stared at white space for a long time before I finally saw INFLUX and the final Philadelphia connection DREXEL hove into view and AXILLA was my last entry.

This puzzle had just the right combination of received knowledge clues vis a vis word play to make this one tough but doable.

Thank you , Mr Silk.

evil doug 10:00 AM  

You blew it, edith....

Evil

David 10:01 AM  

I too was victimized by the NW. I reluctantly Googled the location of the LOVE statue and once JFK Plaza came up, the rest fell into place. For me, I would add 3/4 of 60A to the gimmes since it had to be maharaja or maharani.

evil doug 10:02 AM  

What's the plural of "y'all"?

Evil

evil doug 10:02 AM  

"All y'all."

Evil

evil doug 10:06 AM  

John Wayne never graduated from USC.

Evil

evil doug 10:06 AM  

"Afros" is next to "devils". Is no one offended?

Evil

evil doug 10:07 AM  

I like that "erotica" crosses "seisms".

Evil

evil doug 10:08 AM  

So let's try it again: If no one (else) mentions beets, I promise not to post again today.

Evil

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Thank you, Barry Silk, for an hour well spent. (Of course, I say that because I was able to get everything eventually.)

Some write-overs along the way:

JFKPLACE for JFKPLAZA
TAXKIT for TAXTIP
TIAS for TIOS
TIERS for PEERS
ARMPIT for AXILLA

But mostly discovering the mis-directions and correct answers has the same psychological impact as a good joke, and leaves me with a smile.

bigredanalyst 10:10 AM  

The E was pretty easy for me but the W was impossible.

Even though I live in NYC, I know nothing about Philly.

So Google was needed a few times.

Loved the clues for AXILLA, BLEACH and EROTICA.

And I didn't understand the SWANS clue until I came here.

I thought both today's and yesterday's puzzles were "Very challenging."

But today's was more satisfying.

JC66 10:12 AM  

beets

go get em, evil.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

This puzzle was not composed by a southerner. Everyone in the south knows that y'all is singular and it would have to be all y'all for that Dixieland group.

Greene 10:45 AM  

I loved this puzzle, although I found it brutally difficult and it took about 2 hours in all to get it done.

Had QUAKES for 28D for a time which locked up the western edge of the puzzle. Fortunately, I'm getting better at throwing stuff out, especially when AFROS and EROTICA came into view.

Love the gag about AXILLA and that it sits above REFUEL, which is clued as "do a pit job." I'm surprised Silk didn't find a way to pull SCOPES into the act.

I'm with Evil, let's not get carried away with posts about the root which shall not be named.

joho 11:16 AM  

I feel like I could have written Rex's writeup today. Had all the same pitfalls.

I started out cockily with TAX/XGAMES immediately which got that corner done lickety-split.

Did all but the NW slowly but steadily. That dreaded upper corner did me in. I was thinking US something was a ship. Even with SALEM ... I didn't get JERUSALEM until I Googled (oh, unfortunately yes) the park's name. Because I had BRUSHFIRE I thought the name would be mid-eastern. Ugh. What a struggle. But, still, a great puzzle. Lots of inventive clues and answers.

Thanks, Barry "Smooth As" Silk! Also thanks to those who answered by question yesterday. I think one of the reasons we all love this blog so much is because we are the single solvers in our homes. Except for Sandy and Rex, of course!

PlantieBea 11:23 AM  

I'm glad to have finished this fine but difficult puzzle. Loved ENDEMIC, AXILLA, SWANS (who knew?), ARGYLE. Wow. Tough but fun and clever. I had to look up the LOVE park and NIAGARA which helped me get a foothold in the blanks I stared at endlessly.

I thought that "to devil" meant to add mustard. Perhaps not. And yep, All y'all is the group pronoun used down this way.

Norm 11:24 AM  

Actually, there is a brand of Swans pens as well as pen being a female swan, so that was very cute clue.

bill from fl 11:42 AM  

I'm from the South and I've never heard anyone use "y'all" to apply to a single individual. Must be a usage in a narrower region than New Orleans, Mississippi, or Florida. Hollywood, maybe. "All y'all" just means "all of you"--and is no more redundant.

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

I call bull@#$# on the idea that "Y'ALL" can't be collective. Total and complete bull$#%@.

From wikipedia's crazily linguistic entry on Southern English:

"Some people misinterpret the phrase "all y'all" as meaning that Southerners use the word y'all as singular and all y'all as plural. However, all y'all is used to specify that all of the members of the second person plural are included, that is "all y'all" as opposed to "some of y'all""

Every dictionary I look at has "second person plural" for Y'ALL. So Y'ALL are dead wrong.

rp

retired_chemist 12:00 PM  

RP is right, y'all. My experience in TX/WV and that of my daughter in GA is as he says.

Wade 12:02 PM  

It is bull. Nobody except a non-southernor writing a screenplay about southernors would ever have anybody refer to a single person as y'all.

Brutal puzzle. I was down to a few squares in the SW and quite a few in the NE and finally got there, only to see that I had ALKALS, because I'd started with ALKALI there and just changed hte I to an S.

I think I knew "pen" was either a male or female swan, but I had S_AN for a long time and kept trying to make it be SEAN.

jeff in chicago 12:05 PM  

the puzzle killed me. actually considered RUBY DEE for a moment. that's how bad it was.

but...

mmmmmm....beets! (which i DID get!)

chefbea 12:09 PM  

@evil doug - I thought that just by saying that I LOVED the puzzle, everyone would know why. No need to mention beets.

Blue Stater 12:20 PM  

Probably the most brutal item in this killer puzzle was the fact that JERUSALEM and GALLIPOLI both fit in 1D. The Gallipoli campaign was in 1915, not 1917, I later found, but if you don't know that and don't have a single one of the crosses, that's no help.

Unless dropouts can claim a university as their "alma mater," which I don't think they can, 19A is an error. I have a number of other quarrels with this puzzle (14, in fact), but I'll spare Y'ALL.

Another Doug 12:50 PM  

I had to Google the Love park, my first concession in weeks. Damn. Everything else eventually fell into place.

@REX, I had "ibis" for "iris" a couple of times until I finally got Argyles in place. I remember seeing wading birds in Tennessee, but they may have been egrets.

I grew up in North Florida and we used y'all for singular or plural, as in greeting friends at synagogue, "Shalom, y'all".

Now live in Northern California and have never heard the word "seism," though it's clear in retrospect, given "seismograph." Still, not knowing it left me standing on shaky ground (sorry, couldn't resist the Temptations).

ArtLvr 12:53 PM  

ZONKED! Totally beat today, save for our favorite homophone... Note who else is there, in dEVILs?

I had many of the misstarts mentioned, plus getting TOQUE led me to Risqué for a cross at Q. Well, some blue stuff is "not easily understood" -- at least by me. I was also thinking Saccho for SCOPES because of that pair including Vanzetti
(or however it was spelt).

I loved Rex's write-up and y'all's comments, like Nanpilla actually having two kids at DREXEL As for that blankety PLAZA, it reminded me of a cousin who adored the Elephant Plaza in NYC. That was of course L'Enfant with the first letter stressed.

I did fairly well sorting out most of the East, but then ran out of time (I didn't think both answers I'MDONE and I'MGONE could be right). Sums up today's trip for me -- I've run out of time and I'm both of those. Too hairy, Barry!

∑;(

foodie 12:53 PM  

I'm back from the other side of the earth-- the crossword worthy ALEPPO, and I'm blaming my 24 hours of continuous travel for my shaky performance... I managed the swath from DREXEL to BEETS just fine, but the extreme Northwest killed me, especially that I put in HOT GASSES in lieu of FLASH FIRE early on and it took me a looong time to rethink it.

Rex, your blog is blocked in Syria... I'm sure you've been staying up all night worried sick about why you're not getting major traffic from there... But it's bizarre when you actually see it. At first I thought it was because it's related to the NYT, but weirdly enough the paper itself is accessible. I tried to circle around the block and go to one of your interviews or Sandy's blog, and I could see all of that but if I clicked on the link to this blog from anywhere, it said it was not available. I'm thinking it's the long reach of John Lennon's whatchamacallit.

Good to be back in the good ole US of A and to read Y'ALL's comments.

archaeoprof 12:54 PM  

Here in SC, we use YALL just like Rex says.

This puzzle was DEVILish. I loved it.

retired_chemist 12:58 PM  

@ ArtLvr - it's Sacco and doesn't fit.

HudsonHawk 1:04 PM  

Kicked. My. Butt.

I had TOQUE and INUIT to start the NE, so surely 16A was SO LONG. Which, of course, made 11D FLUMES. That took forever to clear up. Once I eventually rolled down the East Coast, I had LASER DISC, which made COOL JERK tough to see. Whew. Didn't get the AXILLA twist until I came here. Nice.

As for JFK PLAZA, I've driven by it several times, but didn't know what it was called, and RITTENHOUSE SQUARE just wouldn't fit.

fikink 1:05 PM  

@edith, "hove into view" - nice, haven't heard that expression in a while!
@retired chemist - I had LACUNA first, too. Had entopic for ENDEMIC, too, thinking medically.
@bobkerfuffle, re: psychological impact, well said - my sentiments exactly.

HudsonHawk 1:07 PM  

Oh, and congrats to the Binghamton Bearcats on their first NCAA tournament bid.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

A digression (I apologize) - yesterday's puzzle--why is "esses" the answer to "a lot of assessments" ? (I know I will feel stupid when this is explained, but it is worth it--it has been niggling me for 24 hours.)

Two Ponies 1:40 PM  

Another blistering brilliant puzzle from Mr. Silk.
I had to put in down and come back later. Wow, what a workout.
Despite some gimmees this was a real knock-down-drag-out fight.
I have been to Dartmoor (only the outside) but never knew I was still in Devon. Devon is beautiful with thatched roof cottages and all of that lovely cream. The prison is surrounded by miles of hauntingly desolate moors. A pub near there has a fireplace that they claim has been burning continuously for over 100 years.

George NYC 1:57 PM  

@anonymous
The word "assessments" has 5 esses. Ergo, a lot of the word is made up of esses...
Not my favorite kind of clue..

PhillySolver 1:58 PM  

I had an early morning meeting in Center City very near JFKPALZA, but wanted to tie in three other Philly clues. West Philadelphia's DREXEL University is Barry's Alma Mater. The Philadelphia Sound was represented by a number of famous groups, but COOL JERK certainly is included on all albums reflecting on the movement. DEVON is a good seafood restaurant on Rittenhouse Square and they serve a great goat cheese and red root vegetable dish. Not since the puzzle with Cheesesteaks and Philly Pretzels have I had such a head start on a puzzle. I would have to say my trouble spot was ARGYLES which was a real sweater for me.

Clay 1:58 PM  

I could see AXILLA coming from 'Secret' a mile away, and remembered SWANS/pens from the bad old days ... but ended up stuck for way too long with FLUMES (Skateboarders perform in them) and TOQUE both perfectly crossing SO LONG - Finally had to start the NE over entirely. Nice Saturday puzzle, just right.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

@ GeorgeNYC
- Thanks! I don't feel stupid after all!

Ladel 2:10 PM  

@RP's flock

I always thought is was a small fishing boat, y'all.

Parshutr 2:15 PM  

I had a lot of fun, thanks to a devil may care attitude...guessed RKO for the Duke's alma mater. Waited to see if it would be inFLUX or inFLOW (REFUEL solved that). Loved the cluing of EROTICA.
And then there was the headline: MAHARANI ISOLATES COOLJERK.
OK, I'm done/I'm gone. Time to oil up the persimmon.

Clay 2:18 PM  

Oh yeah ... and I used to work as an office gofer in the late 70s, and remember sending and receiving TELEFAXes as the very best part of the job - Because, at 16 minutes per page (no joke), a ten-page document meant nearly three hours of sloth, rather than running deliveries around in the Miami summer swelter. Telefax was a word with a very short life span, wedged chronologically between 'telefacsimile' and 'fax.'

Orange 2:23 PM  

At Carleton College, they toss every student into the alumni association the minute they show up on campus. You don't have to graduate—you just have to have been enrolled in order to be considered part of the family. So I don't have a problem with calling USC Wayne's alma mater. Plus, that phrase means "bounteous mother," mother providing nourishment. USC may have nourished young undergrad Marion Morrison.

SethG 2:24 PM  

Rex, it couldn't have beet LAS CRUCES as the clue specified it was an eponym. Of course I had ALMAGORDO, which isn't even spelled right. I missed a whole syllable.

Apparently eponym is both the name of the thing named after a person, like JFK PLAZA, and the person the thing is named after, John Kennedy. That should be distinguished; English needs more words.

We must, because instead we resort to French again. I assumed AVOxR would be a 'u', and my entire SE was stuck until I let that change. (And 'til I finally let LASER DISC end with a 'k'.)

Pall yall scad shad shard. I am a part of Carleton, and Carleton is a part of me. Yahoo!

Leon 2:25 PM  

Fine Saturday work-out Mr. Silk

Thanks Y'all for explaining it.

allan 2:54 PM  

How tough was this puzzle? It was so tough that I had to google a clue word (eponym) before I could attempt to google the answer. Now that's tough.

I did like the puzzle, and surprisingly, had no difficulty with the sw. That was the only area that fell into place. I knew axilla from the song by Phish.

jae 3:25 PM  

Very tough for me. An overnighter. No googles but I did need my bride's assistance (I am trying to use her less frequently) for AVOIR. She also gave me NIAGRARA after looking at the collection of letters I'd accumulated there. That really cleared up the mess I had in SE. NE was the easiest part of this for me and SE the most difficult. Thanks for the excellent challenge Mr. Silk.

Anne 4:14 PM  

Wow. I gave up and that is the first time that has happened in many weeks. I finished the lower three-fourths of the puzzle without too much trouble.

But I absolutely could not get the north - both middle and west - to come together. I had JFK but no plaza, I had elicitor but could not come up with rattling although I had argyles and so on and so on.

I have spent more time on this than I should so I came here and got the right answers. And as always, it looks simple enough. It wasn't!!!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Xavier 4:16 PM  

I live in Philly and I still had to look up JFK PLAZA. The problem is that I always hear it referred to simply as "Love Park", which although it fit, was not a possibility with both "LOVE" and "Park" in the clue.

I finished about half the puzzle before giving up and coming here. Nonetheless, an enjoyable (partial) solve.


@SethG, are you a real-life Carl? Me too!

Xavs

miriam b 4:41 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. I seem to find very little fault with most of them. Like Browning's Last Duchess, I may have "a heart too soon made glad, too easily impressed."

I have one quibble, though. Is there really such a thing as one SCAD? I've never heard of it in the singular. One slew, mayhe, but many SCADs.

retired_chemist 4:49 PM  

@ miriam b - the online dictionaries say that scad is OK that way but that it is usually used in the plural as you say. Also it's a fish (horse mackerel or jack).

mac 4:50 PM  

Thank you, Barry Silk, for a beautiful puzzle, which I couldn't finish in the NW... The main problem was that I put in "Falklands" for one down, and then it was natural to go to "Franklin" for the park. I can't believe I didn't remember the shad, it showed up just recently and I ate some of its roe last Wednesday.

Loved the clues for "devils", "erotica" and "axilla", and actually quite a few more. I did the yokel-yahoo switch. Have no idea about cool jerks, but that corner lucked out with some guesses.

Dartmoor is an amazing barren area with wild ponies, and the Pub/Inn Two Ponies mentions (is that why you were there?) serves the best Cornish pasties (behave, boys!). Different root vegetables and potatoes, with a bit of meat, nothing red.

poc 5:38 PM  

I found this very tough (had to Google for both JFKPLAZA and KITCARSON), but in fact SWANS was one of the easier ones. Why does the word for a writing instrument also mean a swan? Hint: think quills. In fact I have pet theory that it's the other way round i.e. the swan came first, but I may be raving. However "pen" is related to "penne" (Italian for feather, and by extension also a kind of pasta).

BTW a male swan is a "cob", a good one to look out for in future.

fergus 5:41 PM  

I was so TANKED at the end of this one. That's more spent than ZONKED in my opinion. Somewhat gruesomely, I had GORE for Put out, as in the bull gored out his brain.

CRASH FIRE seemed almost OK for a while. BRUSHFIRE? No, not close enough to the Clue, but how about TRASHFIRE? Well, I wrote it in, but still no go. Next shot was a good enough definition: EX-ASH FIRE. Filling in J_K finally revealed that area concluding in the clever ARGYLES.

A lot of rewriting in the SW, too. I wonder if we could have a citation for the female swans. I know Cygnet, but never heard of a Pen.

I'm sure I've been called Y'all when alone with with a Southern belle -- I'm sure there are regional and class variants ... .

retired_chemist 5:55 PM  

@ POC - good info.

SethG 5:59 PM  

Xavier, you should have hung out with Orange and me in Parish House last year instead of going to the English Beat.

There are a few others of us around here, too. Hi, Cinedina and Alex and [Anonymous]!

michael 6:14 PM  

I got this except for one letter - "alkyls" instead of "alkyds." My solving experience eerily paralleled Rex's down to the aha moment of men and Jerusalem. Seemed like typical Saturday-level difficulty, which is challenging, but possible.

Shamik 7:00 PM  

Late getting started 'cause bulk trash pick-up is this week. Yuck.

Whew! Got this one in 47-1/2 minutes with the same quibbles as many...including the NW as the final segment to fall.

Knowing it was wrong, I still tried to stick DARUSALEM (thinking Dar es Salaam...did i even spell that right?). Tried a JAKEMATA park, YOKOHAMA par, TOKAHARA park.

KITCARSON, SHAD, AFROS, DOLT and LISLES fell easily for that quarter, but that was it for easy up there. And the vegetable that will not be named gave me an easy smile.

Really liked this challengig puzzle. Thanks, BCS!

Orange 7:08 PM  

I just remembered how we knew we had been conscripted into the Carleton Alumni Association during freshman week—it was the blue Alumni Association mug. I think I broke the handle off mine before graduation.

PuzzleGirl 7:33 PM  

Almost an hour and seven — count 'em, seven — Googles. Ouch! Maybe I shouldn't have tried to solve it after the three-hour birthday party for 16 8-year-old girls that happened at our house today. Ouch again!

retired_chemist 7:36 PM  

@ Shamik - DARUSALEM = an organization of Jewish women whose ancestors were associated with the American Revolution?

chris 8:35 PM  

Very hard puzzle made harder by the fact that laserdisk is not an accepted spelling. It's laserdisc. There is no legitimate argument against this so don't attempt to make one. It's even a trademarked word, properly written as LaserDisc.

Rex Parker 10:18 PM  

"Bittersweet Times for Collectors of Laser Disk Movies" (NY Times)

"While Digital Video Dithers, Laser Disk Just Gets Better" (NY Times)

And from Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, see third par. here.

And then there's this:

"Disck or Disc - The Mavens' Word of the Day (Random House)

"Laser disk" is an "accepted" spelling, in that it is "accepted" by the NY Times editorial staff. There is no legitimate argument against this, so don't try to make one.

Steve in Boston 10:48 PM  

I went to George Mason, and I had no idea we were rivals with DREXEL.

I also hesitated over ARGYLES for the longest time, thinking it was already in the puzzle's SE corner. But that was from another recent puzzle that I had just done earlier today....

foodie 10:57 PM  

@shamik, actually Darusalem could be parsed Daru-salem and mean the same as Dar-El-Salam (House of Peace) with a slightly different arabic accent...

Chip Hilton 11:01 PM  

NW - No chance. USC, AFROS, and EROTICA my only fills up there.

Bamboozled!

mccoll 12:22 AM  

Two hours and two googles later: JFK Plaza and Cool Jerk. Still, knowing pen, alkyds, flash fire, and capsulate really helped. I think if i'd stuck with it a little longer I could have done it without help. I liked this one and I learned the word "axilla".

peninhandinga 3:32 AM  

I tried to cross-dress my maharaja with a sari.
This puzzle had a few good Southern references, Tennessee state symbol, devils as in deviled eggs at a reunion, and y'all, as in y'all have a good weekend.

kathy d. 5:14 AM  

Impossible puzzle. First time in many months that I gave up the upper third and came here to find out what the heck was going on.

Even googling didn't help with the top third.

The explanations here are helpful, but was sideswiped by this one, even with google's help.

Kathy D.

acme 3:08 AM  

@Rex...
you may have had IRIS, someone else IBIS but I had EGIS (as in variation of spelling of AEGIS a shield) Made sense to me...unlike the entire NW croner which in the end I left blank and felt like less of a person all day Sunday :(

william e emba 9:38 AM  

I've lived half my life in or around Philadelphia, but what threw me about the park with LOVE is that it is not a park. So I know the sculpture is a few blocks NW (ironic, right?) of City Hall, the clear vision of "LOVE Park" at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Boulevard and, hahaha, the JFK Expressway did not help. Instead, I kept going through my mental list of Philadelphia parks (the clue said park, right?). So there's Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Fitler Square, Fairmount, and so on. No, no, no, the sculpture was not at any of those parks, and no name other than "LOVE Park" popped into mind.

So in the end, after an excessive struggle, I got the J and the F and the K, out popped JFK PLAZA and a very annoyed groan. I won't say I was robbed, really, I personally should have gotten it instantly, but goshdarn, it's not a park.

Whatever temptation I might have had to Google was beaten back by the fact that I knew I knew the answer. That, and it would have been too embarrassing. Heck, in an emergency I might have even visited the sculpture.

william e emba 11:18 AM  

chris: It's even a trademarked word, properly written as LaserDisc.

Rex shot this nonsense down, but I can't resist throwing in another shot.

Typically, one trademarks misspellings, especially the closer you are to the term being a natural for the item in question. It's harder to trademark something that's already in the language, and harder to legally defend it. By referring to the trademark status of your favored spelling, you were, in effect, conceding that it was very likely that you were flat out wrong in the first place!

Sheesh.

poc 12:12 PM  

I don't have a problem with LASERDISK, but I'll just note that the UK spelling of "disk" is "disc", i.e. LaserDisc is not necessarily a mis-spelling.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Ouch! Hardest puzzle in months. I haven't been so beaten down by a puzzle in a long time. Felt totally helpless and lost. What a contrast from Friday, when it all seemed so easy. I've been put in my place by Mr. Silk.

liquid el lay 3:40 PM  

I usually first see the puzzle on the evening of the day of its publication.

No exception here, but I gave myself extra time, and tried it again sunday evening. Today's monday.

I agree the SW is very pretty. Nice to see WAXER.. it's a surfy word.

I missed the 3-wide column in the SE, and the upper bridge to the NW, and, the NW itself.

Thought it had to be BLASTFIRE- FLASHFIRE might have occurred had the cluing been "quick" rather than "explosi(ve)"

Had I seen Jerusalem, I might have completed this puzzle. Very hard, but not impossible. I like that.

If I were visiting The South and someone asked me.."Do y'all like to fish (play football, do crosswords)?" I would assume he was referring to me and to my (physically absent) people. Family, or friends, or town, or state- the people I carry with me, in a way. It indicates a generosity of spirit, and a family-centric way of thinking.

Spoken to one, but still plural in sense.

Barry 6:20 PM  

@William E. Emba: Just for the record, my original clue for JFKPLAZA was [Site of the LOVE statue in Philadelphia, also known as "Love Park"] My guess is that Will wanted to shorten the clue. I agree that it isn't actually a park, like Fairmount Park or Pennypack Park in Philly.

Barry Silk

kathkin 2:45 PM  

kathkin said

Grueling, more than a bit of a slog, but oh so satisfying to get it done. I often bog down on a Sat. puzzle, but this was such a treat. Let the BEET go on. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.

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