FRIDAY, May 1 2009- J Pahk (Poule's partner / Big name in steelmaking / Subject of plays by Sophocles Sartre O'Neill / Imperator's law)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Relative difficulty: Challenging*

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CECUM (46A: The appendix extends from it) - The cecum or caecum (from the Latin caecus meaning blind) is a pouch connected to the ascending colon of the large intestine and the ileum. It is separated from the ileum by the ileocecal valve (ICV) or Bauhin's valve, and is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine.

Mmm, just what I want with my puzzle. Intestine.

I would have made KLEPTOCRACY the word of the day (7D: Government marked by rampant greed and corruption), since it was arguably the answer of the day, but CECUM was far tougher for me to get, so it won.

*I did this puzzle immediately upon waking at 6am and got nowhere and then got grumpy fast, so I have no perspective today. Upon completion, the grid looks nice, so it's probably better than I think it is at the moment. Given the less than ideal circumstances under which I solved this one, I'll try to keep evaluative comments to a minimum. I'll leave them (mostly) to you.

I feel like Joon's puzzles are not great fits for me on two levels. One, he seems almost overfond of misdirective cluing, of pulling out the "?"-clue or cluing his stuff as toughly or tricksily as possible, which can be great fun or irritation galore, e.g. 28A: They're not exactly user-friendly (narcs), or 60A: Guy making passes (matador). Two, science. He's a scientist. His stuff always feels self-consciously math/sciencey to me. Not my strong(est) suit. CECUM was news to me. DNA SEQUENCE (26D: Biochemical arrangement) took forever to see, but that's likely due more to the fact that I was looking for a single word ending "QU-NCE" for a long time than to the phrase itself. It's not an unfamiliar phrase. AREOLA is familiar enough, but not as clued (2D: Small hollow in a surface, in biology). I guess that's really not that many answers from the math/science genre, but the first two in particular created major stopping points. Other troubles...

Couldn't remember what [Hidebound] meant. All I could think of was "threadbare," and so "STO..." was doing nothing for me. FEHR (57A: Donald of the Major League Baseball Players Association) is borderline unfehr, in that I follow baseball reasonably closely and had No Idea who this was. As baseball obscurities go, this one is way way up there. I had TAKEN for LADEN at one point (51D: Afflicted (with)), thinking "oh yes, a "K," that seems very late-week Joon"). Do WELTER-weights "tumble and toss about." I realized at some point during this puzzle that I don't use the word "WELTER" and couldn't really define it, though it feels like a very familiar word. The only real lasting annoyance I feel toward this puzzle involves LAIC (36D: Flock member). Since when is this a noun? "Hi, I'm a LAIC." What? There's the LAITY, there's a LAYMAN (or LAYPERSON), and then there's the adjective LAIC, referring to the aforementioned lay folk. "See that LAIC over there?" No, I don't.


  • 1A: Take the wheels out from under? (carjack) - good, though the "?" is almost unnecessary
  • 8A: Arms on shoulders (muskets) - the NE took me longer than any other section. It was wide open up there until I guessed ANTIQUE (16A: Object of many an appraisal), and then after the SQUADRON debacle at 12D: Army outfit (equipage), I was able to piece together MUSKETS, which made everything else up there finally come together.

  • 20A: Nombre after six (sept) - perhaps the first thing I filled in, with a SIGH (43A: Indication of longing) of relief after floundering in the NW.
  • 41A: Subject of plays by Sophocles, Sartre and O'Neill (Electra) - wouldn't have known it off hand, necessarily, but know enough about ancient literature to have seen it easily with just the "TR" in place.
  • 44A: Poule's partner (coq) - once again, saved by basic French
  • 59A: "_____ in Love" ("Kismet" song) - ugh, my other nemesis. Musicals. Luckily, this one was obvious.
  • 35D: Imperator's law (lex) - obvious, and yet ... I wrote in RES. "Ooh, look at me, I'm so clever, I know the Latin word for 'law' .... D'oh!"
  • 37D: Big name in steelmaking (Bessemer) - no idea why, but this name came to me instantly. Hesitated a bit, as I wondered if I wasn't confusing it with "gossamer." "A trip to the moon / On bessemer wings ..."

  • 48D: Predecessor of web forums (usenet) - this term is vaguely familiar to me from the '90s.
  • 13D: Gridiron boo-boo (turnover) - if you are on the "gridiron" and you use the word "boo-boo," you will get the ass-kicking you deserve.
  • 17A: Like wingdings (festive) - if you use the word "boo-boo" at a wingding, everyone will chuckle amiably at your ironic use of childish language.
  • 33A: Most miserable hour that _____ time saw": Lady Capulet ("e'er") - always like the Shakespeare quotes that I can get without knowing anything about the play. I'm guessing this is from Act V.
  • 61D: Image specification, for short (res) - as in "resolution?" OK.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Presidential LAT puzzle today - my write-up here.


Anonymous 8:29 AM  

If one says "cleric" (noun) and "clerical" (adjective), what is the objection to "laic" and "laical" ?

I liked the clever cluing in this puzzle and found it easier than the usual Friday.

Alex 8:33 AM  

Got KLEPTOCRACY from the clue, got DNA SEQUENCE off the D. Knew FEHR from his frequent face time every time there's a strike or potential strike.

Then put in so many wrong answers that I wasn't able to untangle it all. SUM up (TOT up being a phrase that I've never heard of; the first Google page for the phrase is entirely dictionary entries and it appears to be entirely British in use).

RAIN was my precipitate. Except when I took it out so that "Picks up" could be NOTICES. Actually had AROUSAL off the L but then took it out when I wanted EASES instead of CAVES for "Relents."

Very frustrating solve but not unfair. I was just on a completely different wavelength.

ArtLvr 8:41 AM  

I found joon's puzzle fabulous! Was most gratified to know CECUM and get nearly all the rest too... but it turned out that I ended with one wrong square, OOW and WEHR for OOF and FEHR.

Never mind, I still think this deserves a prize for having the lowest amount of common xword-ese.

retired_chemist 8:42 AM  

Good one, Joon! 29 black squares is a true tour de force. It is as good an example of the Friday genre as yesterday’s was of Thursday. I eventually got it but with much more than a soup├žon of head-scratching. In fact, by the time I got 44A coq, I was taking it as a sure sign that you were giving us l’oiseau (just kidding). Literally nothing to complain about. Just a really good themeless workout. I am betting the awesome KLEPTOCRACY (7D) was the linchpin.

The SE was my first foothold, even though I had hard-to-shake errors there too. Had 46A CECUM instantly, then changed it to BOWEL to let 36D be LAMB. The correct LAIC is used as a noun much less frequently than as an adjective, so it took me a while to see it and restore CECUM to its rightful place.

The NW was the last to fall, in large part because I couldn’t shake SUM for 19A TOT and EASES for 6D CAVES for the longest time.

Rex Parker 8:55 AM  

Because LAIC is adjectival and CLERIC is not. Further, a holy man might call himself a CLERIC, but a layperson just doesn't call him/herself a LAIC. Dictionary gives the noun meaning, of course, but it's terribly out-of-language. Boo + hiss.

LAIC also = Lesbian Archive and Information Centre


Anonymous 8:58 AM  

"TOTING UP A BALANCE.." from Mary Poppins. But MYYYYY GOOOOD!!!!! Where do you get an airline ticket to Joons planet??

Dough 9:00 AM  

Fun and very challenging. The key for me on this one was remembering that it was a Friday. So, I started looking for J, X, Q, whenever I was totally stuck. It worked! Up appeared carjack, antique, dna sequence, the ax, and lex/exit, which broke those areas. I found the SW easy as I too got Bessemer from the clue. I'm a fan of clues from the outer edge of cleverdom. This puzzle was rich in them. Big props to the "user-friendly" clue! My only complaint was Wehr/Hehr/Fehr (oow, ooh, oof??). Might as well have clued it as Oskar Fehr, the great German ophthalmologist!

imsdave 9:04 AM  

Thanks Joon - great workout.

Started with JUT, TOT, and COQ. Not a lot of traction there. Then ONTIME, with the N giving me STONY, the S giving me MUSKETS the K giving me KICK. Corrected ONTIME to INKIND and then a very slow steady circle around the grid ending in the NW with my 'doh' moment getting CARJACK. That got me off on that classic double play combination EASES to CEDES to CAVES.

45 minutes of fun, one of my favorite late week puzzles of the year.

fpbear 9:19 AM  

Loved this puzzle, mostly because of the great clues. But when a solver of my ilk finishes a Friday in less than a half hour I wouldn't rate it challenging.

PuzzleGirl 9:25 AM  

Really really tough for me today too. I guessed an S at the LAIC/CECUM cross. It made as much sense to me as any other letter. Having ELATION for AROUSAL in the NW slowed me down quite a bit up there. I, too, fell into the SQUADRON trap. I also had LAMB for LAIC which gave me RAMP for EXIT and that all took a while to sort out. Oh, and I had TELNET for USENET which led me to guess the song as "ALI in Love." ("Kismet"? Not sure what it means, but it sounds Middle Eastern to me so why not?)

Overall, a tough workout, which is pretty much what I expect on Friday. Nice job, Joon.

dk 9:29 AM  

Tough love.

Parries for BARRIER and thinking MATADOR had to be mashers or something like that, writhe for WELTER--- aarrrgg (as the hated Cathy of comics would say).

ANTIQUE was my first and only confident fill. This puzzle OWNed me.

I am very happy I did not look at the clock before I started this one.

Megan P 9:43 AM  

A pretty and admirable puzzle, but not my wavelength, either. I crashed and burned.

Weirdest blunder: INEPTOCRACY.

retired_chemist 9:43 AM  

@ PuzzleGirl - I too had ELATION for a while, adding to my NW woes. Did it lead you to think about INEPTOCRACY for 7D, as it did me?

Rereading, I am in awe of the sheer number of tough but fair misdirections (DEKES?). Simply wonderful cluing. Felt like it was going to take me sept heures but it was only about 45 minutes, like imsdave.

retired_chemist 9:45 AM  

@ Megan P - another crosspost day?

Denise 10:01 AM  

This puzzle daunted me -- I finally decided to fill in guesses and then look at the crosses -- lots of erasure.

I "finished" the puzzle, but left in errors -- never got USERNET, for example.

My husband gave me "FEHR."


Michael B 10:03 AM  

Nope, challenging isn't descriptive enough...I know hard puzzles have their place, but I don't know of many Saturday puzzles harder than this one. Glad some people like it, but the times on the NYT site reflect a disconnect one this one. Who CARJACKED Friday's puzzle?

Norm 10:04 AM  

Tough puzzle but enjoyable. My trusty Random House dictionary has LAIC as a noun as well as an adjective.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Curious to know what the Aerosmith video relates to in the write-up or puzzle.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Or is it just one of those things?

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Pure hell.

Adam 10:18 AM  

For (2D: Small hollow in a surface, in biology) I pulled LACUNA out of my hat and felt quite proud of it. It sat there by itself for a long time, then I took it out. Then I put it back in. Exasperated, I looked it up in the dictionary and found this:(2. anatomy: a small cavity, e.g. in bone or cartilage). And so I left it there. Because I was right. And smart.
Pfffft. Areola.

Frieda 10:24 AM  

Never got any traction, finally cut my losses and checked in here. Had some things that seemed plausible (ANTIQUES), fairly plausible (LAMB), and crazy-implausible (UNCOGS) which just made a big WELTER of a mess. I knew there were answers I would only get by crosses, if I ever got there (FEHR, for ex.), and some answers I got for the wrong reasons--Polar bears as SEALERS started with a stab at SEA, thinking of a compound noun (with all that seascape/hydrospace etc.) In that sort of Xword turmoil, ANTIQUES didn't seem plausible after all. Phew!

Now that it's all over, I can appreciate it!

twangster 10:24 AM  

As hard as this was I managed to make a lot of progress until I stalled in the top right. What killed me was thinking 12-down was either REGIMENT or FATIGUES, both of which fit with INKIND. In retrospect I'm mad I couldn't come up with MUSKETS or ANTIQUE.

edith b 10:26 AM  

Knotty and challenging indeed. I do have a love/hate relationship with joon's puzzles and since this one lacked the weird words that mar some of his other efforts, this one bordered on love.

I am more and more fond of cluing of this type where adjectives morph into nouns and one is never sure what part of speech a word is. Once I figured out that aspect of the puzzle, I was able to make steady progress, LAIC being the main example of what I mean.

I finally got a foothold in the SW but bogged down at the OPEC ALLEGES line and moved into the NE where INKIND and ANTIQUE got me moving down the East Coast. I needed every cross to get CECUM, being unfamiliar with the word but the SE was built on THEAX and my correction to DNASEQUENCE producing STODGY as I moved into the most difficult area of the puzzle - the NW where all I had for the longest time was JUT. Like others I moved thru Eases cedes to CAVES which allowed me to see FESTIVE and finally CARJACK which led me to endgame.

This seemed Saturday level to me and I had very few neons to build from and, like IMSDAVE, I spent an enjoyable 45 minutes on this one.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I gave up on the NW, the cluing just plain didn't work for m

Arousal opposite of depression??? technically, i guess, but there has to be better cluing than that.

caftan -- unisex clothing, I guess, but not much of a hint. and the first two sites i visited called it generally a man's garment.

retired_chemist 10:49 AM  

@ Adam 10:18 - I don't think LACUNA fits 2D. A small hollow isn't a gap, which is the meaning of LACUNA. I too thought about it though....

Lisa in Kingston 10:51 AM  

I had a feeling you wouldn't like this puzzle, Rex. As a former biotechie, I like to see science-y stuff in the puzzle once in a while. That said, my first fill was CARJACK and JUT, and it was all uphill from there! I started this puzzle last night and put in so many wrong answers, I wore out my eraser this morning. (Note to self: no solving puzzles after wine.) Eventually, everything fell into place with no googly-moogly. Thanks for a good challenge, Joon Pahk!

Crosscan 11:01 AM  

SIGH. 42 minutes and I got it (except I had COCUM/WELTOR) but not much fun. The lack of pop culture in joon's puzzles mean I'm not on his wavelength either.

I did get KLEPTOCRACY fairly early, although I took it out KLEPT and put it back a few times.

COQ took way too long for this ex-Montrealer.

Remember to look for E, R and S in the bottom row and right hand column of these types of puzzles - they make up 18 of the 27 letters.

hazel 11:04 AM  

I had a love/hate relationship with this puzzle too - i loved finishing it FINALLY - but i hated what i thought were the clues that felt a little too obscure or "dictionary-ish." (kleptocracy, aureole, laic) - although, if there's going to be arcania, I'd much rather it be dictionary-ish as opposed random places on the globe, unheard of species, or operetta heroines.

Probably, the thing that bothered me more was that there were too many generic clues (e.g., barrier, mounted, presses) that were so vague it was difficult for me to establish firm toeholds anywhere. Combined with the long kleptocracies, ouch. I understand that this is what makes it so challenging and theoretically fun for many people - but for me, it was too much sensory overload.

I look at the completed grid and wonder what was so hard - it all makes sense after the fact, but I'm still left with this feeling that it was a bit too cunning for my tastes. I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment at having finished the thing, and that's something.

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

I managed most of the puzzle with enjoyable effort but it was the little things that killed me.
A good workout but I never felt on Joon's wavelength.
Do soldiers say equipage?

Adam 11:05 AM  

Thanks for backing me up retired_chemist! But I imagine that those with science backgrounds have an advantage when distinguishing between lacunae and areolae. Or gaps and small hollows.

Dough 11:32 AM  

Oftentimes, hard Fridays precede very hard Saturdays. I'm champing at the bit!

Blue Stater 11:34 AM  

Brutal. In what universe is a CASHIER "registered for work," with or without a question mark? Yes, the two words "cashier" and "registered" are in the same semantic ballpark if you lop the "-ed" off "registered," but I know of no sense, even a fanciful one, in which a cashier can be thought of as "registered for work." Ditto, though less categorically, for "win" and PROCURE. Since when are wingdings FESTIVE or CAFTANs "unisex wear"? And what Rex said about LAIC. This puzzle consistently went right up to, and in several cases crossed, the boundaries of what's English and what isn't. I think Joon Pahk's puzzles are fine for Games magazine, say, but not for the NYT -- which, I suppose, has more important things to think about these days.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Aren't about 25% of the general populace supposed to know the answer to make it a legitmate clue?I'll bet not even 5% knew cecum. Caftan unisex? Generally I think not!! And somebody please use equipage in an ordinary day to day sentence. I could go on but its lunch time. Golfballman

Orange 11:48 AM  

Rex, I'm hardly a baseball fan and I got FEHR pretty easily. I'm thinking I must have learned the name from the Sun crosswords or something.

If you shop for a CAFTAN at Amazon, the first page of 24 items is all women's attire.

Blue Stater, have you seen Games magazine lately? Joon's puzzle is too hard for Games.

I like a good Saturday puzzle, even when it shows up on Friday. Although Dan Feyer apparently didn't have a Saturdayish experience here—he finished in less than 4 minutes. Grr!

imsdave 11:52 AM  

My equipage includes a caftan that protects my cecum from antique muskets.

HudsonHawk 11:54 AM  

My first entry was FEHR, but I was sure it would garner plenty of complaints here. For what it's worth, he's been the face of the most powerful union in sports for 23 years.

From there, OOF dropped in and the South came into view, albeit at a pretty slow pace. Then the NE fell fairly quickly. But the NW absolutely killed me. Had CEDES, which gave me the very unlikely FUN TO DO for wingdings. CAVES finally set me straight, but it wasn't pretty...

Lisa in Kingston 11:54 AM  

@Blue Stater, I think the wingdings in this puzzle were akin to shindigs.

Clark 12:18 PM  

I liked this puzzle, though I was not quite able to finish it (not out of the ordinary for me on a Friday).

But, two complaints. Shouldn't the clue, 63D, have included a comma? "However, briefly" could be "tho" or even "but" or "yet". But "however briefly" has quite another meaning. "However briefly he worked out, he always found his caftan drenched in sweat." Seems like an error to me.

And I'm with @blue_stater: a cashier is not registered for work; a cashier registers for work. It is the purchases that are registered. Also an error. Or?

Caftan seems ok to me. There are cultures in which women wear them.

Pete M 12:24 PM  

FEHR was my first entry also. Hard to not know him if you follow baseball. My downfall was having SETBACK/BUG where CARJACK/JUT ought to have gone. That was tough to recover from. All-in-all, it felt very Saturday-ish to me, and a bit vocabularic for my taste.

Pete M 12:25 PM  

Oh, and SARONG was also part of that total NW disaster.

PlantieBea 12:31 PM  

Kudos to those who finished. I could not complete the NW corner. I think of a CAFTAN as a woman's garment. Never got AROUSAL, or CARJACK. And I was stuck with SUM instead of TOT. Never got NARCS. I did get FESTIVE, but had a crossing with GIVES instead of CAVES. What a disastrous corner.

I love a challenge, but I was conquered by this one. Couldn't get on the right wavelength. Ugh.

fergus 12:33 PM  

Also thought about UNCOG or DECOG up in the extra tricky NE. Since my first guesses were Repaying ON TIME and the Army outfit as FATIGUES, there were lots of dead ends until finally MAP brought it all together. Wondering about OFFSIDES for the Football boo-boo didn't help either.

Figured COLON was too obvious I hit on CECUM pretty quickly, and like Rex was very resistant to LAIC. Why ALLEGES took so long to fall I don't know, since I was on the verb train.

That bottom row of RESENTS and EXHORTS sort of mirrors my take on some of the more outlandish Clues. You gotta like 'em for the challenge they create, yet the wit can show some strain. Pretty fine puzzle though, despite this minor subjective detraction.

And oddly enough, as I was searching for where the puzzle was buried this Friday, I recalled that OCHLOCRACY Klahn puzzle, wondering whether we might have something similar today.

SethG 12:36 PM  

Well, my Webster's defines WINGDING as "a wild, lively, or lavish party", so I think that pretty clearly works. I, of course, was thinking of shoes.

I...failed. Miserably.

Hey, you know who started Pittsburgh's own US Steel? JP MORGAN(8) and Andrew CARNEGIE(8).

Nombre and six are French words? Who knew? Probably the same people who knew what Poule means. Others might have had a clue what an imperator was, might have understood what the hell was meant by 'Stumper' before right now (similar to Blue Stater's problem with 'Registered'), might not have had INCOHERENCE.

I also thought a drink would have a kick, initially refused to admit that UNRIG could be a word, thought 'Mounted' implied more intention than ROSE, confused STERN with APORT, and couldn't shake the idea that the guy making passes was some sort of printer.

USENET is not just archaical; I usenetted just this morning. And for me today, it was more fun than NYTing.

Greene 12:53 PM  

Joon, one word for you: OUCH! You slapped me around but good this morning. I slammed in a few answers immediately and felt proud of myself. Things like CECUM, DNA SEQUENCE, ELECTRA, HE'S, and OPEC were all written in immediately, so I had traction all over the grid. Unfortunately after that I just did a lot of staring. I spent an hour on this before work and then used up almost all my lunch break, but I finally got the beast filled in. This sure felt like a Saturday to me.

Loved the clue for NARCS. IWGA!

Get this: I actually knew FEHR! In what kind of bizarre alternate universe is there a sports clue which slows down Rex that I get early on with no crosses? Brother, I shall not see this day again.

Thanks, Joon.

Dan 12:54 PM  

A CASHIER uses a register for work. He's "register-ed"! You don't have to like it, but the question mark makes it fair. Same with [However briefly?] - the "?" usually means you have to read the phrase/idiom differently.

Remember to look for E, R and S in the bottom row and right hand column of these types of puzzles...Oui, oui, Crosscan! Also note how AREOLA, AROUSAL, and ALIENATE are comprised entirely of letters that fit after almost any other letter - and they're in the middle of those corner stacks.

I hate LAIC as a noun, but I'd seen it before...

John 12:58 PM  

I would describe this puzzle as SMARMY, Too Smug for its own good.

Noam D. Elkies 1:19 PM  

Ah well, another fun puzzle I missed by spending the week at a conference (last one I saw was Trip's remarkable UM/ER rebus last Sunday). Even if I did have access to the puzzles here, I probably wouldn't be able to post much more here, what with the sporadic Internet access and the French keyboard layout (MAWZ in strange places, periods and numbers are shift characters, &c.)...

Till Sunday,
--NDE (from Guadeloupe)

Clark 1:21 PM  

@Dan -- You talked me into it. The questions marks make it fair.

The Warden 1:21 PM  

Friday is the day that leaves me in the dust. There seems to be such a substantial gap between Thursday and Friday that I can't seem to bridge.

Does someone have some Friday tips that they could share for this frustrated Thursday-level solver?

chefbea 1:33 PM  

Hardest puzzle ever. I really hated it. Couldnt do it. Came here and still didn't understand many of the answers.. Tomorrow has to be better.

joho 1:35 PM  

This took forever. Much more Saturdayish than Friday.

Like others I had LAMB for LAIC, then EASES, CEDES, CAVES. I don't do very well with Joon's puzzles, but today I just kept plugging. Stopping and returning and eventually got it all.

KLEPTOCRACY is marvelous!

I hope tomorrow isn't more difficult than this!

XMAN 1:58 PM  

Did anyone else get FATIGUES for "Army outfit?" Tak=lk about a wrong answer getting in the way!

Had a terrible time qwith this puzzle. Couldn't finish the NW.

Tomorrow's just another word for nothing left to lose.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:00 PM  

Great puzzle! I almost gave up, but was so happy to finish everything correctly after some thought. A couple of write-overs (RAMP/LAMB before EXIT/LAIC, e.g.), lot of the same hesitations others had.

But to add something new: Like Rex, when I see BESSEMER as the answer in a crossword (this isn't the first time), I think of a song. But the song I think of is this.

treedweller 2:03 PM  

I'm with the "Challenging" crowd. Stared at white space a long time before googling FEHR. I tried to google other stuff, but didn't have much luck. Amazingly, I ended up getting it all done eventually.

On the plus side, I was proud to get SEEDLESS from the surmised double esses and USENET was a gimme. On the other hand, I tried ileum for CECUM, Carnegie for BESSEMER, wanted goat for LAIC and kept trying to make the K work so I could write in KICK but took a long time to do it because I couldn't see MUSKETS (Rifles? no. Rifles? won't fit. Rifles?). I still don't know how I sorted everything out. I'm amazed at how often writing in a wrong answer can help me see the cross as much as getting the same answer right.

In the end, it was a good struggle. Only about 3X the time I'd need to solve this at ACPT. I'll keep trying.

jae 2:12 PM  

Nice to finish a tough one correctly after blowing yesterday's. But, it took a while. My problem is that it takes things I know a while to surface, e.g. FEHR, especially after I had OOW at first for 45d. The easiest part of this was SW followed by NW. The east side was pretty rough. This is the type of puzzle I like more after finishing it than while I'm doing it. That said, this was a good Fri. workout. Thanks Joon!

I just checked EQUIPAGE in my dictionary and the definition pretty much fits the clue.

fergus 2:29 PM  

To the Warden,

I found the key to getting over the Friday/Saturday hump is to be very skeptical of what you're first inclined to fill in. Every so often the obvious is correct, of course, but hesitancy and caution keep you from having your own misdirection layered on the misdirection of the Clues.

JOLT was another possibility for the Punch KICK, but I couldn't see another J working up top.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  


archaeoprof 3:14 PM  

Science-y, yes, but that's not the problem with this puzzle. Perverse cluing is. Too clever by half. So this week we had a great Thursday and an awful Friday. Bring on Saturday!

Daniel Myers 3:39 PM  

Fun, easy puzzle for me - I suppose Rex simply hasn't been reading his Tennyson lately:

"Laics and barons, thro' The random gifts of careless kings, have graspt Her livings." from "Becket"

"Her livings" here obviously referring to the Church's - er, clerical - funding.

fikink 3:44 PM  

@Alex, yes, TOT, seemingly very British; I recalled it with a Noel Coward dialogue line, "Do you work very high up in a bank or just sitting in a cage "totting" up things?"
Also, precipitate ran the gamut from RAIN to MIST to WASH and never to RASH which is a lovely use of the word from a scientist toward whom my perspective was skewed while doing the puzzle (but FEHW did not sound as likely a name as FEHR).
@Dave, my ONTIME went to INKIND, too.
@Megan P, r-c, I like INEPTOCRACY :)

Ohhh, the funniest first response I had, a very "blonde" response was FATIGUES for Army outfit.
Can't you just see Gen, Petraeus calling a friend and saying, "What are you wearing tomorrow?"
(sorry, Fergus)

Joon, GREAT! Talk about wordplay - what fun!

big crapple 3:55 PM  

Don Fehr was on TV a lot during the congressional hearings on steroids. He was painted as the villain for opposing steroid testing for the past howevermany years. I remember really disliking him and this other guy Victor Manfred, so his name just stuck. Also, it helps to have heard his name a bunch of times on ESPN whenever there's some sort of union business going on.

This puzzle had a lot of science clues and very little artsy fartsy crap, which generally makes for an enjoyable puzzle, except the good parts were balanced by a bunch of tricksy clues, which I hate. Overall I'd say it was pretty good, and pretty tough.

Leslie 3:57 PM  

Challenging, but VERY enjoyable. I'm filled with admiration for those who worked it in 45 minutes or so--I didn't time myself, but I took much, much longer.

What's nice about a tough puzzle is the little glow I get when the light bulb goes on! OOF (although I had never heard of Fehr before). Cecum--I'd heard of it, but not for a loooong time. Little stuff like "alleges?" Took me FOREVER!!

But what a glow when it's done!

edith b 4:08 PM  


Too clever by half. Perverse cluing. Quite. My impression when I first scanned this puzzle was the idea that Mr Pahk was trying just a little too hard. One of the things I said on his last puzzle was maybe if he just relaxed some . . .

Don't get me wrong - I admire this man's efforts but I have the nagging feeling his best work is in front of him.

imsdave 4:16 PM  

@archaeoprof and edith b - remember that Will has the final say on these things - Joon may have had many different clues than the ones that appeared today.

The Warden 4:20 PM  

Thank you Fergus!

Karen 4:20 PM  

I love the dichotomous responses to this puzzle. It's sure shaking things up around here. I finished with a lousy (for Friday) time but very happily had everything correct. I started in the NE with KICK and INKIND and finished in the NW with ROSTER and ALES (really wanted the bees there). Completely agree with challenging, and disagree with hardest ever (see Wrath of Klahn in Rex's sidebar).

And thanks for the WINGDING defn SethG, I thought it was just a type of font.

chefwen 4:21 PM  

@John - Smarmy, I love it.
@Megan P - I was driving the car going in the opposite direction. I also crashed and burned.
Too rich for my blood.

Jet City Gambler 4:24 PM  

Found this one rather uneven, I echo Rex's observation that I didn't have much fun with it, and looking at it now I don't know why.

Solved the NW last, originally had INEPTOCRACY, which is perhaps a good name for our previous administration ...

Ulrich 4:46 PM  

I found this puzzle hard, for sure, but not as hard as other Friday puzzles b/c I could do everything w/o outside help EXCEPT for the OOF/FEHR cross, where I went for yet another variation, OOH/HEHR. In retrospect, I should've known Fehr.

But more importantly, unlike others I could mention, I really liked the misdirectional cluing--so, I have no complaints, really.

archaeoprof 5:11 PM  

One remarkable thing about today's puzzle: it has kept us talking all day about the puzzle! Very few diversions today.

As a 50-something professor, I hear students tell jokes I don't get. And they don't get my jokes either.

This puzzle felt like I just didn't get the joke.

retired_chemist 5:15 PM  

Agree with Ulrich about the misdirectional cluing - awesome. I wonder how much was Joon and how much was Will.

Two Ponies 5:19 PM  

Considering how much buzz this puzzle has generated I wish Joon would drop by and give us some background. Joon?

BirnFam 5:29 PM  

Didn't read through all the comments (too many!) Anyone notice that muskets are "on the shoulder" of equipage? How cool is that?

Found this challenging but not impossible. I'm a fan of tricky clues, e.g. not exactly user-friendly. Great exercise in lateral thinking!

Vega 6:18 PM  

Yeah, I'm still not sure how I feel about the cute clues -- some made me smile, and some fell flat for me. Overall, though, I this puzzle felt challenging but fair to me. Sort of a perfectly adequate Friday puzzle. I do think I'm relatively on Joon's wavelength, which helps.


Joon 6:51 PM  

hi folks. it's been a while since i poked around here, but given how strong the reactions are (in both directions!) to this puzzle, i thought i'd drop in and say hello.

first things first: this puzzle's destiny was to be a saturday. i wrote it with saturday in mind (hence EQUIPAGE, CECUM, WELTER, etc.), and clued it to a saturday level. i'm pretty sure when will accepted the puzzle, he said it would run on a saturday. and when i looked over the clue changes he'd made, i thought if anything it had gotten even harder. so i was (and remain) quite surprised that it ran on a friday.

secondly: will shortz deserves much of the credit/blame (depending on your perspective!) for the twisty clues. of all of the most misleading/tricky clues, i think only {However briefly?} and {Stand against a wall, perhaps} were mine. oh, and {Left on board} and {Stick in the fire}, although that last one's an oldie-but-goodie. as for will's clues, well, my opinion's no more meaningful than any of yours, but fwiw, i loved NARCS, REGATTAS, MUSKETS and CARJACK but didn't like CASHIER and MATADOR.

as for the other clues... you have my sympathy. the clues for FESTIVE, AROUSAL, CAFTAN, and AREOLA made the entire NW very tough. i don't think any of them are unfair, exactly, but boy, are they tough. (btw, it's hard to clue AREOLA without talking about nipples. in a different publication than the NYT, you might have seen a very different, but much easier, clue. to a lesser extent, the same goes for AROUSAL.) my hat's off to all of you who eventually untangled it.

i didn't realize myself that LAIC could be a noun, but it's already a weird enough word that i don't think i would have tried to get extra-fancy with a misleading clue. same goes for EQUIPAGE, which i had clued as {Luxurious horse-drawn carriage} (its other meaning).

thanks for all of the kind and not-so-kind words. i hope edith b is right that my best work is ahead of me--you might already be sick & tired of me, but i'm still pretty new at this, and i do think i'm getting better. in particular, i learn a lot from all of you about what you like and what you don't. (although--sorry crosscan!--i'm never going to have a ton of pop culture in my crosswords, simply because i don't know very much pop culture. you'll continue to see sports clues, though. i'm not sure if that's a promise or a threat.)

PhillySolver 6:59 PM  

joon, thanks so much for the post. I was about to refer everyone to your notes on Orange's blog. I see that the things that tripped me up could have been resolved had your original clues been used. I am in the camp that thought that if this had been a Saturday, it was acceptably tough and my critique would have been unjust. I do look forward to the next one. Thanks.

fikink 7:00 PM  

Joon, glad you dropped in. I meant to add that "stand against the wall" was my favorite clue in the puzzle. I'm glad it was yours!

miguel 7:03 PM  

I think this one must have been worth the dollar to evildoug. Certainly hard and beyond me, but I am ready for the next one.

retired_chemist 7:16 PM  

Joon - I truly appreciate your coming here and responding to the questions and complaints. At the risk of repetition. I loved it - keep 'em coming.

PlantieBea 7:26 PM  

Thank you Joon for your post. I do appreciated hearing the voice of the constructor! I'm glad to hear that this puzzle was intended for Saturday because it sure felt that way to to me. And, the NW was indeed a bear. Got me.

fergus 7:47 PM  

Joon, thanks for continuing the feedback loop. To clarify my earlier comment concerning the bottom row, I would way more exhort than resent the styling of the Clues in this puzzle. It was really an excellent combination of vaguely obscure information along with the play on words. Plus, when the entries were finally sorted out, there was no doubt about what was meant. That clean finish is another testament in recognizing a fine puzzle.

Crosscan 7:48 PM  

Fair enough, joon. I may not be on your wavelength, but I did manage to eventually finish it so I guess the signal did come through.

Sports clue are ok, too. I did know FEHR.

foodie 8:03 PM  

Thank you Joon. I've always appreciated your comments and liked the way you think, and so I'm happy I can blame Will for some of these clues:)

Some of them really bothered me even after the answer revealed itself. For example, although both men and women wear CAFTANS, they are distinctly different looking, so it really is NOT unisex wear the way, say, a T-shirt might be.

And specifically as a scientist: AROUSAL as the opposite of depression is particularly inapt.

What is great about the puzzle is that if you forget the cluing and you just look at it, it's a miracle of construction because a) it has very few esoteric proper nouns-- b)it has remarkably little crosswordese and c) it is not age or subculture-specific.

So, I guess our editor was in a mood... SIGH...I EXHORT him to moderate his temptation to ENTRAP us. Some of us might come to RESENT it.

joho 8:12 PM  

Joon, that is so cool that you commented. I feel better knowing that you intended this to be a Saturday puzzle because that's just what it was to me.

I think you're brilliant. My brain works so differently from yours, it's really a thrill when I can somehow meet you in the middle and figure out what you've done.

In the past I've felt that you're not my cup of tea and now I'm thinking ... with sugar or cream?

Lady Capulet 8:24 PM  

Act IV, scene V:

LADY CAPULET: Accursed, unhappy, wretched, hateful day! Most miserable hour that e'er time saw In lasting labour of his pilgrimage! But one, poor one, one poor and loving child, But one thing to rejoice and solace in, And cruel death hath catch'd it from my sight!

Ruth 8:43 PM  

@fikink, I put in FATIGUES at first too. CECUM was my gimme--I spent last night and part of this morning taking out appendixes, and I see cecums when I close my eyes right now. (well, ceca, but it looks so pedantic) Thanks, Joon, for the medical footholds; they were all I had for a loooong time.

mac 8:57 PM  

I did this puzzle in dribs and drabs, because I had a busy day, but also because that was the kind of puzzle it was. I love this crypto-like clueing, the turn of phrase, and NOT a lot of pop culture.
That said, Carnegie got me into big trouble in the SW, and spelling caftan with a K precluded carjack, and I wanted T-shirt anyway.What in the world is a wingding? (I have since looked it up, and son mentioned the font).
There were plenty of other stumbling blocks: adultry for Electra, colon for cecum, thrash and writhe for welter.... For no good reason the word nombre sounded Spanish to me, and that after more years of studying French than English by a lot! Ohave no problem with laic as a noun, and my favorite clue was 28A.
Equipage makes me think of the group of people a royal person needs to make life bearable. Tot up came to me with no problem, but then I've lived in England for two periods of time. I liked the workout a lot, and I'm also very glad that Joon reacted to the write-up and the comments, it makes the whole exercise so much more interesting.

hazel 10:06 PM  

joon - i had a couple problems with the puzzle - but, for whatever its worth, you seem like a really great guy and you're obviously a great constructor.... So, like Edith B, i look forward to your next puzzle.

Noam D. Elkies (still in Guadeloupe) 10:43 PM  

Interesting about the other, very different, meaning of "equipage". The entry for the word includes yet another gloss: ETUI, of all things!


michael 10:52 PM  

I found this hard and never did get the entire northeast. This rarely happens to me on a Friday so I'd have to agree with Joon that this is Saturday -level (and a hard Saturday at that

fergus 11:08 PM  

lady capulet channels the accursed day of her daughter's death. E'er I ever was the monk who suffered more than any montague

retired_chemist 11:14 PM  

Q mac = nombre indeed is Spanish. It means name.

David 11:18 PM  

Friday puzzles are usually beyond me, but I happened into this one.
I was annoyed at CECUM, because in med school we were taught that the appendix was attached to the CAECUM. Of course that was 55 years ago.
Thanks for all the comments. I enjoy them as much as, or more than I enjoy the puzzles.

fergus 11:33 PM  

Ophelia, Cordelia, and Portia.

More on offer than Juliet.

mac 11:43 PM  

@fergus: I like your free-associating late at night....

Frieda 12:39 AM  

@mac et al, equipage sounded so "horsey" (dressage? cavalry? what?) but I was willing to give it a try. Having heard from Joon, I'm glad the puzzle was expected to be a Saturday. CAFTAN made sense (made me think of Dashikis/Tashikis, singular or plural, wouldn't want to cough either one up as a puzzle answer). Defiinitely remember a CAFTAN as women's-wear in the 1970s. (I wanted SWEATS.) What I liked about a puzzle I couldn't really begin to finish was wit (all those twisty clues). The magic was is knowing that I couldn't finish the puzzle, and at the same time how cool it might have been if I had. Bravo/brava to those who did!

fergus 1:00 AM  

mac, you're up late. Electra, and then, a dearth till Shakespeare?

I'm a guy who likes feisty girls in literature.

fergus 2:19 AM  

Beatrice, or was she a real character?

retired_chemist 9:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 4:33 PM  

Finally, finally finished it! The NW just killed me. Joon's puzzles in general just kill me. Even though I'm science-y by nature, like Rex I can't get onto his level. It took a mistaken entry, gives, instead of CAVES that finally gave me FESTIVE and that did it. I kept thinking of the wingding computer characters, which I guess are festive, too, in a way.

I was happy to guess right on FEHR (it just sounded best out of the 26 possible choices) but really have no idea why precipitate=RASH. Is it a derm thing?

Tim 9:10 PM  

This one killed me. Got SEPT/TOW, OPEC/EER/SPIT, OOF/FEHR,THEAX, APORT and THO out of the gate. It all went south after that. LAMB and BOWEL didn't work so went with LAIC, looked up CECUM and SE came home. Had SWEATS for 1D and CARNEGIE for 37D and that got me nowhere. Like wingdings, all I could think of was the font. Finally got too frustrated and came here.

Waxy in Montreal 10:21 PM  

Thanks Joon for your comments - takes some of the sting out of a really tough puzzle.

A dichotomy of sorts - New England for me was a gimme (relatively) whilst the Pacific Northwest never did get completed. FEHR, ELECTRA, SEPT and COQ were easy but then hit the wall. Hard.

IMHO, the Friday puzzles of late have been way more challenging than Saturday's. Mebbe a paradigm shift in Will's thinking.

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