FRIDAY, May 15 2009 - Xan Vongsathorn (Maryland player informally / Largish animals with black ear tufts / C.I.A betrayer arrested in 1994)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: sort of ... the puzzle's two 15-letter answers are tied together by inkiness:

TEMPORARY TATTOO (17A: Fun application)
DISAPPEARING INK (56A: Means of secret writing)

Word of the Day: JUBAL Early (5A: Confederate general Early) - Jubal Anderson Early (November 3, 1816 – March 2, 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served under Stonewall Jackson and then Robert E. Lee for almost the entire war, rising from regimental command to lieutenant general and the command of an infantry corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. He was the Confederate commander in key battles of the Valley Campaigns of 1864, including a daring raid to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The articles written by him for the Southern Historical Society in the 1870s established the Lost Cause point of view as a long-lasting literary and cultural phenomenon. (wikipedia)

JUBAL = great olde-timey name that no one has anymore. It appears to be pronounced "jooble." Oh look, it's a good biblical name - The son of Lamech and Adah and the brother of Jabal. He was the "father of all those who play the harp and flute" (Gen 4:20-21). (

Odd but enjoyable Friday puzzle, with enough toughness to at least make it interesting. Not an easy start, as none of the Acrosses made sense, and then I hit upon my highly improbable first answer - ICE RUN (2D: Annual river thaw). I say "improbable" because it's an answer that made me go "???" in the recent past, i.e. I had never heard the phrase. But today, it seemed obvious. This started my slow but steady movement around the perimeter of the puzzle - as with yesterday's, I had some trouble getting into that relatively self-enclosed middle, so I was 75% done and coming at it from at least three directions before it finally fell. The "annus mirabilis" was the real problem (40A: The annus in Dryden's "Annus Mirabilis" -> MDCLXVI). I (teacher of 17c. lit) should have known it straight off, but somehow I always think of Dryden as a much later-17c. writer. 1666 is a year I more closely associate with Milton, as "Paradise Lost" came out the following year. Dryden's poem commemorates the (alleged) "miracles" of 1666, which include great military victories for England and the fact that London was not completely destroyed in the Great Fire. The 1666 Plague of London ... gets no ink.

LYNXES was weirdly slow in coming (30D: Largish animals with black ear tufts), and DORAN was utterly unknown to me (37A: Ann of "Rebel Without a Cause"), which added to my struggles in the middle. Just when it was looking like the puzzle might turn out to be reasonably challenging, I rounded the Cape of Good Hope and all of a sudden the puzzle was dry bush and I was fire. Went up the southwestern seaboard in no time flat. Done. I have a question about the SEA, actually, in particular the phrase AT SEA. Today we get ALL AT SEA (36D: Hopelessly confuddled). Well, wait, let's back up and start with "confuddled," which is a word that Blogger is desperately underlining in red. It appears to be the result of cross-breeding "confused" and "befuddled." But the main question is: how is ALL AT SEA any different from AT SEA? Is it simply a matter of scale. You're confuddled with hope, or confuddled with out it? And can you be ASEA (a crossword standard) in the same metaphorical way, or is ASEA always literal?

SALSA DIP always sounds like a lame answer to me (34D: Party dishful). Not the LAMEST, but pretty lame (3D: Like the worst of excuses). Feels redundant. Etc. etc.

Just took my daughter to school. One of the words on her spelling test: OVERWROUGHT. What kind of 3rd grader ever has occasion to use "OVERWROUGHT?"


  • 1A: Tower that's typically scaled from the outside (silo) - it only just now occurred to me that "scaled" means "climbed" here and not "measured."
  • 10A: Concern for a checker (fact) - wanted SCAN (you know, people at the checkout counter use SCANners ...)
  • 25A: "Ubu Imperator" artist, 1923 (Ernst) - sounded very Dadaesque, and early 20c. artists in 5 letters tend to be ERNST, so there you go.
  • 33A: Playback problem (skip) - had BLIP. Wanted HISS at one point.
  • 59A: Supermodel Sastre (Ines) - neeeeeeeverheardof'er. SASTRE would be a cool, if brutal, thing to put in the grid. "SARTRE was a supermodel?"
  • 8D: "Dragonwyck" author Seton (Anya) - another oddish name. This one, a crossword standard.
  • 10D: Canopus or Polaris (F star) - who doesn't love playing "Guess Which Letter The Star Is?"
  • 33D: Biathlon need (ski) - I think you need two. I had BOW here :(
  • 43D: Maryland player, informally (Terp) - one of the most important college team nicknames to know. Short for "terrapin," a kind of turtle.
  • 50D: _____ David (six-pointed star) (Mogen) - not Jewish, so I know "Star of David," but not this more Hebraic version.
  • 53D: Rowlands of "Gloria" (Gena) - saw -ENA and without reading the clue wrote in XENA. GENA Rowlands is a total badass in "Gloria." LOVE her.
  • 45D: Late comedian Mac (Bernie)

  • 51A: Captain Marvel, to Billy Batson (alter ego) - sitting on my desk right now is this comic:

It is Fantastic - aimed at kids but beautifully drawn and genuinely funny in a way that adults can appreciate. I can't recommend it enough. This cover makes it look way more traditional and violent than it really is. Honestly, it's adorable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Xan Vongsathorn is apparently a senior at my alma mater, Pomona College. Therefore, this puzzle is certifiably and unimpeachably awesome. Chirp chirp.

PPS My write-up of Doug Peterson's Friday LAT puzzle can be found here.

PPPS My "Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas" write-up is here

[HEY, Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Sara 8:58 AM  

Check out Jim Horne's interview with Xan Vongsathorn at Wordplay. He's a senior at Pomona, which Jim identifies as Rex's alma mater.

dk 9:00 AM  

Xan, your puzzle had me so befuddled I smoked my TEACOZY. I will be waving the VSIGN as I know more than a few of your professors at Pomona. Be assured your diploma will be written in DISAPPEARINGINK (oddly my first fill).

This puzzle required two lattes and 35 minutes. Just plain fun!

imsdave 9:02 AM  

I started with ICEOUT, LAMEST, SILO, and ICAN. That gave me ONPOT which seemed a bit unusual but it's like, you know man, cool fill. Wandered the perimeter as Rex did rolling back to the NW corner to finally clear up ICERUN and get SITPAT (I tend to stand pat).

Finished the middle after deciding that --CL-VI had to be MDCLXVI - logic!

Nice puzzle.

Jano 9:05 AM  

Here's my mental image of Captain Marvel: he got so mean-looking over the years. Shazam!

nanpilla 9:07 AM  

This puzzle felt particularly fresh. Loved TEACOZY and JUBAL. NEER was actually my first fill.
The location of the dash ( is it an em dash?) in the clue for ANTINUKE made it particularly devilish. The long roman numeral was inpsired, even if I didn't get the significance until I came here. Didn't like ALLATSEA at all!
Very enjoyable, Xan, keep 'em coming!

alanrichard 9:26 AM  

Is this a groundhog day Monday??? I got alter ego and Gena and Terp. Then there was disappearing ink and temporary tattoo. Wow this was the easiest Friday I ever did!
Hit the big leagues doesn't necessrily mean GO Pro, the minors are pro too. Anyway, this was a fun puzzzle - but there were no sticking points anywhere.
I expect to see Fess Parker, (Rex's oater ancester), in a coonskin cap as Dan'l Boone, and a clip of Dancing with the Stars!

Doug 9:30 AM  

I had a rough go of it today. The bottom smiley face section of the puzzle went smoothly. I thought the disappearing ink would help more with the top frowny face section, but it didn't. I was glad to see the proper expression "all at sea"; Puzzleland has made "at sea," the shortened version of it, commonplace in our minds. Some nice fresh entries and good Friday-worthy cluing. I abashedly admit that I actually pulled a dime from my pocket and that broke the center section for me. I was surprised by "on pot." But it did make me aware that self-censoring in puzzleland has kept drugs mostly illegal within these modest squares. You know that social change occurs first in crosswords and then it spreads through society and into law. Someone should do a senior thesis on that hypothesis. Fact: Margaret Farrar, a woman, began editing crosswords in 1920, and within the year the 19th Amendment was the law of the land!

Pinky 9:30 AM  

I only remembered MOGEN DAVID from some Jewish version of Spaniada or Night Train or some other other BowWow wines they used to sell in the 60's

OxfordBleu 9:44 AM  

The Great Plague is more famously known as occurring in 1665.

John 9:46 AM  

The only other Jubal Ive ever heard of Is Jubal Foster, in an Andy Griffith episode. The one where Opie is accused of burning down his barn.

If you like SWEEEET wines then Mogen Davud is for You!

ArtLvr 9:47 AM  

Congrats to Xan on his neat debut! I started with JUBAL, not sure why I remembered that, and I'm glad Rex mentioned the Bibllical Jubal's mother Adah. Now I know where a childhood friend got her name, which I never wanted ask!

When I got to RENTALS' L, I had to think about whether Llamas had ear tufts, black or not? TEEHEES and LOL. And Superego occurred to me before ALTEREGO, but wasn't a problem for long.

In the NW, Rex's first -- ICE RUN -- was my last fill, as I'd tried SST for Boom producer before TNT! All very cute and COZY, the opposite of STALE...


joho 9:50 AM  

Like @dk I got DISAPPEARINGINK quickly with just the "R" in TERP and "K" in BROKER. That really got me going. But, unfortunately, I finished, but with errors. I had ONPCP and PRECD ... both make sense, sorta. But that gave me AUSPARE ... oh, a new word, wonder why it wasn't the word of the day? And ODARE ... another arcane word unbeknownst to me! What an idiot!
No matter, I loved the puzzle, thanks Xan Vongsathorn (Great name!)

JannieB 9:51 AM  

What a schizophrenic solving experience - I had no traction on the top half at all, except for a curious rewrite - tried "FARE" for checker concern (thinking taxi cabs) which gave me FStar - but that just didnt' feel right so I moved on to the lower half and raced across it. That gave me what I needed to move back into the Northern Hemisphere and I finally finished.

Really liked this puzzle - more medium than easy for me, but a good Friday workout!

Hobbyist 9:53 AM  

Very fun today but I had TITTERS for TEEHEES w slowed things up for a while and thought a checker was concerned with TACT. Groan.
Congratulations on an excellent debut.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I never thought I would be happy to see a "Random year in Roman Numerals" clue, but today was the day, the only way I could make headway in the heartland.

I'm surprised AZALEAs don't show up in xwords more often.

Crosscan 10:41 AM  

ANTINUKE? What kind of commie puzzle is this?

I kep trying to fit "Bluenose sailboat" for "image on a dime" but of course it was one of yours.

How do you pronounce MDCLXVI?

mccoll 10:44 AM  

Xan Vongsathorn! There's a name to conjure with. As is Jubal Early, although I had to google him. This was great! It took an hour but I laze over coffee. I couldn't get any traction on the top but the bottom was easy. Once disappearing ink appeared, I was off and worked back up to the NW. Very satisfying. I guess disappearing inc could be Enron or any number of failed enterprises. Thanks ZV and RX.

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I usually cover my pot with incense but tea cozy works too.
Solved this in fits and starts. Got the theme answers with very few letters but some of the fill took some head scratching. Had async for as one for awhile. If asimmer is acceptable why not async?
Some odd clues but a solid debut by this constructor with a very interesting name.
Thank goodness for no Tiny Tim video. He doesn't pass my breakfast test.

SethG 10:58 AM  

Fun puzzle. And my second fastest Friday ever, just a few seconds slower than the last time ICE RUN was in the puzzle. And I wanted ICE OUT then, too. With PISA/AMPED instead of SILO/ON POT, I'm surprised I eventually got out of there somewhat smoothly.

JUBAL/ANYA looks only a tiny bit more likely than JUBEL/ENYA.

I'm sure I'll get much better when I finally start remembering things I've seen before, like that ERNST is an artist and what the full OP. word is and how to tell the laugh sound clues apart. Didn't like the random Roman numeral until I saw imsdave's logic, but now I like it. A lot.

poc 11:01 AM  

NEER had me stumped until I checked Rex's answer. Even then it took a while to click ("ne'er-do-well", geddit?). Clever, but is cluing it without hyphens quite the thing?

I never heard of three-PEAT but got it on crosses. The rest was fun and rather easier than a typical Friday.

BTW any Science Fiction fan worth his NaCl will remember JUBAL Harshaw as one of the main characters in Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land".

jeff in chicago 11:04 AM  

My Friday successes are becoming more frequent. This makes me happy. 37 minutes, and that's fine by me. Got my foothold in the SE with BERNIE and BROKER, and with just the NK I threw in DISAPPEARINGINK. Jumped around the grid to get the rest. Went from ONLSD, to ONPCP, to ONPOT. Does this reveal anything about me?

@Doug: I think we need to explore your idea on the influence of the puzzle. I like to think I'm part of the power elite.

edith b 11:13 AM  

This was easy for me as I got JUBAL - I'm something of a Civil War buff - and got all the Upper Midwest and rode GASMAINS down the East COAST, nailed the SE in short order.

This got me DISAPPEARINGINK plus the other half of the mini-theme which got me a foothold in the NE.

I had real problems in the NW as I found 1D difficult to parse. I finally went the obvious route at 3D LAMEST and finally saw SITPAT. ONPOT was my last entry. I had never heard of 1D that way; I always said Stand Pat.

This one put up a little resistance, especialy in the Midlands but I built the Roman Numeral in the center mostly thru crosses and, curiously, saw TEACOZY right away. Not much of a workout today.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

here's a clue answer combo waiting to be used: Concern for a checker -- UPC Code
or has it already been put to good use?
-- Deion

HudsonHawk 11:18 AM  

Didn't really notice until TwoPonies' quip that we had Pot Cover in the clues and ON POT in the grid. Hmmm. Good puzzle, Xan. I did have the JUBEL/ENYA error, figuring it was just some late-week cluing for the one-named singer.

Three-PEAT was famously trademarked by then L.A. Lakers coach Pat Riley after they had won two straight NBA titles. They did not accomplish the three-peat, however.

Brendan Emmett Quigely 11:19 AM  

Smooth puzzle, made even smoother by the linking 15s. Still took a while to work every corner. Seems a shame to have no fun letters in the long 15s, but on the whole an impressive debut. Approved.

foodie 11:25 AM  

Like several others, I had an easy time with the bottom half and a harder time with the top. But this is a really fun, lighthearted puzzle--- some Fridays can feel like torture. The solving experience felt like puzzling in the real sense. Very little came to mind to start with, yet I was somehow able to puzzle it out.

I love the clue for SILO. I took it, after the fact, to refer to the idea of isolation and separation that SILOs connote. Is this right?

Pomona college! A great place with some very distinguished alumni (obviously!). We went there on a college tour with our daughter about 9 years ago, when she was a high school junior. It was spring and the campus was beautiful but rather quiet. We asked if the kids were on Spring break. No, we were told, just too early in the morning. It was about 11:00 am! How can you not love that place?

XMAN 11:32 AM  

Ooof! I had a hard time, but a good one. Finally gave in at the NW and had to check-in with RP.

@Crosscan: M'DCL'XVIGH is the natural sound. Trippy, ain't it?

Anne 11:36 AM  

I'm not at the point where I actually have fun with Friday puzzles but this one was not so bad; I don't feel frazzled. I began with Jubal which I remember from all the books I read trying to understand the Civil War, but eventually was forced to the bottom where I got disappearing ink which led me back up to temporary tattoo. I googled Doran and Ernst although I should have known Ernst. I don't think that's the first time Rex said we should remember him. But all in all, a good Friday.

hazel 11:55 AM  

@Sara - thanks for heads up on the interview. I love reading about the constructors. Even better knowing that this cool puzzle was constructed by a such a cool and humble guy.

For whatever reason, this puzzle for me was snap city - more like a Thursday than a Friday. Not that very much of it came immediately, but the puzzling out process came naturally as @foodie said - I think because the proper noun obscurities were kept to a minimum so that the clues and the grid offered just a very nice complement of clever creativity and logic. I hope this is the first of many puzzles from Xan.

Mike 12:03 PM  

This was really great. It felt unique and at a perfect Friday difficulty; not impossible or too obscure, but definitely challenging. A lot of the entries felt fresh both as entries and in how they were clued, and as mentioned on Orange's blog, this feels like a younger constructor with entries like ONPOT. Excellent debut!

Also, here's a little pop culture thing that made me instantly know JUBAL without thinking. In the final episode of Firefly, the Joss Whedon show, there is a space pirate character, played brilliantly by Richard Brooks, named Jubal Early. Certainly more memorable, at least for me, than Civil War trivia.

ArtLvr 12:13 PM  

p.s. Note for Doug and Jeff in Chi on exploring links from xwords to the law... The LAT today's 20A clue is "Soothe Geronimo's people?" So very timely!

Did they know that Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn is suing Obama, the Army, Yale and the independent secret society Skull and Bones? He wants Geronimo's skull, rumored to have been stolen from its Fort Sill burial place a few years after his death in 1909, to be returned and all the remains moved from OK to his homeland in NM.

bookmark 12:14 PM  

I didn't start moving until discovering my misspelling GENA Rowlands with an I. Then DISAPPEARING INK led to TEMPORARY TATTOO. The rest was fairly easy.

I just finished reading Geraldine Brooks's YEAR OF WONDERS ('ANNUS MIRABILIS'). Its subtitle is Year of the Plague and is the fictionalized account of a true story of a small English village that quarantined itself to prevent the plague from spreading in 1665-66 (MDCLXVI). People thought 1666 would be a particularly disastrous year because of 666 being the number of the beast. Dryden was thankful the year wasn't any worse, hence his poem. I think the Great Fire of London and the Black Plague are bad enough. What a glass-half-full guy Dryden was!

Vega 12:20 PM  

The consensus seems to be that the South is easier than the North, and I concur. I couldn't finish the top four NW squares, finally. I had SST for TNT, of course, and just didn't think to question it despite the downs not making sense. I stared and stared at 1D and wondered if perhaps "PAS" was some non-English word for "peace," a la "pax" or "paz."

My initial thought for "concern for a checker" was a "coat." There sure are a lot of kinds of checkers.

Still, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.


PlantieBea 12:21 PM  

I had fun solving this very gettable puzzle in fits and starts; but not knowing JUBAL, Ann DAREN, AMES and the annus slowed my to a crawl. That made it a medium/hard Friday. I wanted some kind of TRAIN for the subterranean line, and originally read Boom preceder instead of producer, plugged in SPIREA for AZELEA which stuck for too long...This would have been a better Thursday night puzzle than a Friday morning puzzle, if it had been available at the usual time.

I liked very much seeing LYNXES, TEA COZY, and AUSTERE, plus learned a few new names and facts. Congrats to Xan Vongsathorn for this great Friday debut!

jae 12:27 PM  

Fun Fri.! I had this at easy-medium also but made the JUBEL/ENYA error (for the same reason HudsonHawk did) and needed my bride's help with spelling AZALEA. The two 15s were pretty easy which made for a smooth (but not error free) solve.

Orange 12:29 PM  

I did some Googling and dictionary checking a few months back. ASEA is omitted by some dictionaries, aside from listing a- as a prefix that can be tacked onto a word. ABED, APACE, and ABEAM are listed, so it's not as if all such words are left out.

Both of the dictionaries I consulted say AT SEA means just that, literally at sea, sailing on the water. ALL AT SEA means confused.

In the world of crosswords, however, ASEA steals the clues that should belong to AT SEA, while AT SEA should be clued as a partial, [All ___ (confused)]. It's nuts.

Shamik 12:34 PM  

Excellent debut, Xan Vongsathorn! I think i just like trying to say "xan vongsathorn." Shazam!

And it's Friday. And everyone seems to be in a good mood today. Bravo!

Loved that I went to a wedding at the Univ. of Maryland last fall. One bonus was learning more about being a TERP than I ever knew was warranted.

For me, this puzzle was a solid medium with the sticking point being in that midsection. Really wanted ENCASE and TORAH. why TORAH? Got stuck in the idea that a "dime" may be some sort of obscure Hebrew name for the ark. But eventually figured TORCH and knew it could only be M, D or C in that blasted year.

Other mis-starts:

Very good Friday puzzle! And now I return to my full time job which is looking for a full time job.

twangster 12:36 PM  

After ONPOT (which I thought might be ONLSD), I initially figured "pot cover" was INCENSE.

I solved 2/3 of this without any problem and then was stuck. So I cheated by looking at a dime. I initially had TORAH, which seemed odd but yet plausible given all the strange things on the dollar bill. When I pictured the image, all that came to mind was WHEAT. Strangely, changing TORAH to TORCH helped me get the middle and the rest fell quickly.

Susan 12:49 PM  

My problem with the Dryden clue was that I am stupid. Until I read Rex I was still thinking of Dreiser and wondering why the date was in the 17th century...

Two Ponies 1:04 PM  

@ twangster, we're on the same wavelength, see my previous post.

Clark 1:06 PM  

@Susan -- I did the same thing, that is, read Dryden as Dreiser. But I was saved by being not only stupid but stupider. I just figured Dreiser wrote something about old times (having read nothing by either of them).

chefbea 1:09 PM  

I agree. The bottom was much easier than the top. All in all a fairly easy Friday. Kept trying to think of names for the lids of my pots.

Good puzzle Xan Vongsathorn....Salsa for all!!!

Bob Kerfuffle 1:23 PM  

I had distinctly mixed feelings about this puzzle. Reading the blog lately, I have picked up this question of whether the overall result of the puzzle excuses the inevitable awkward parts.

For example, a cursory Google check shows that "ice out" is favored over "ice run" by more than four to one. (But of course both are legitimate.)

And again, I'm surprised no one mentioned that "Magen David' is an equally acceptable spelling. (We did have an explanation recently of the absence of written vowels in Hebrew.)

I also had 60 A, Soon to experience, as UPFOR before INFOR.

But mainly, I couldn't get over the idea that a puzzle had to be really super to justify MDCLXVI. Can I take it all back?? As I typed that entry, it struck me that it consists of one each of all the Roman numerals! That must be worth something! And I thought the only longish Roman date that had a place in crosswords was the one on the Statue of Liberty's tablet: MDCCLXXVI !

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Dunno. Was stuck and gave up. Didnt know JUBAL and TEACOZY is not in my vocab. Kinda 2/3rds finished, had a headache from the Ambien last nite so I bailed. BTW, whats everyones opinion on Googling? I am sure its been discussed before, sorry if is an old topic. I dont do it, it seems like a "why bother" to me. But in retrospect a Google or two may have gotten me over the hump.

andrea jubal michaels 1:51 PM  

I love when themelesses have minithemes!

I was as intrigued by the constructor's name as I was by the puzzle.

So cool to start with an X.
Tho strange combo of first and last names...
Maybe the constructor was a Vietnamese married woman, or someone with a Chinese mom? Finally settled on the thought that the XAN is probably for AleXANder?

In any case, it was it's own mini-puzzle...Very cool...
(and even more cool that he got his full name atop the blog!
A change in policy? A nod to a fellow alum? An appreciation of a devut? A recognition that really, what's two more letters in the scheme of things? WHatever the reason, Yay.

I loved that in the end the MDCXLVI had every Roman letter
(and in order!)as I tried many different MM and CCC combos first...for some reason I was thinking 1066.

My bigger mistakes were confusing ANYA Seton with ANNE Sexton...
and beach houses being upsTAte (off the TA), also TITTERS for TEEHEE.

PREOP felt daring crossing with ONPOT...but ONPOT struck me as something someone who didn't know/do drugs might say, in an effort to be hep.

Also, I thought TATTOO had only one T: TATOO. Or is that the guy on "Fantasy Island"?

FSTAR and VSIGN were fun...
Since this puzzle was much easier from bottom up, __IGN gave me FEIGN
for "winning move", confusing it with hockey's FEINT...I think, then again, that's DEKE, right? Oy.

Speaking of OY, Rex, you're not Jewish???!! ;)
MOGEN was my first fill.

(Then TORCH bec I once tried to make a puzzle with things found on a dime.)

AH, the importance of being Ernst...

Jim in Chicago 1:53 PM  

I know about the *dreadful* wine called "Mogen David" but had never heard the star of David refered to this way.

I once again have to put in a vote against SALSADIP. This has come up before. No one would EVER say "Pass me the Salsa Dip, please." Its just salsa.

Crosscan 1:54 PM  

I'm waiting for a puzzle featuring all of Andrea's middle names.


Blue Stater 2:15 PM  

Yikes. "Easy-Medium"? Compared to what? Oregon-Del Norte (CA) County were a total Natick for me. 3D was oddly circular; CURSORY fit for 22A, as did ICEOUT for 2D (and I've never heard of ICERUN). 20A was totally off the wall. So, not a happy day.

william e emba 2:31 PM  

I had a logjam in the SW for a bit, since the only 3-letter response to an e-mailed joke I could think of was DEL.

In the latest DC continuity, the wizard Shazam was resurrected, and he took the Captain Marvel powers away from Billy Batson and others. Batson himself had been substituting for the wizard and Freddy Freeman for Captain Marvel. So the clue is a bit out of date, but no doubt it will be accurate again in the near future.

chris 2:31 PM  

Good puzzle. Seemed to run the gamut in terms of fill categories (a bit of literature, dollop of history, pinch of science, etc.), which is always good both for variety's sake and so that I don't get hamstrung by three Broadway clues from 70 years ago and two modern art clues in the same quadrant, or something similar.

The only answers I didn't like were salsa dip and, to a lesser extent, go pro. Salsa dip sounds like something my grandma would say (in fact, I think she may have said it one Thanksgiving), and a minor-leaguer is still considered pro, so the clue doesn't quite fit.

I had gun in place of ski for a hot minute. The biathlon has to be the weirdest sporting event in any serious competition. Way weirder than curling.

poc 2:52 PM  

A propos of SALSA: since it's just the Spanish word for "sauce" it usually refers to something to go with meat (i.e. essentially gravy). Although it's dangerous to generalize, since Spanish has as many regional variations as English, in my experience a dip would usually be called a "crema" (cream), even if no actual cream is present.

SALSA in the context of the clue is specifically a Tex-Mex concoction.

Not a reflection on the crossword, just a random comment.

retired_chemist 2:55 PM  

Very nice puzzle. Congrats, Xan!

JUBAL Early is somehow odd-sounding enough that it had stuck somewhere in my subconscious for decades I suppose. Got it with no crosses.

As pointed out above, 40A having all 7 possible letters in Roman numeralogy, in order yet, was really NEATO. (OK, NEATO wasn't in this puzzle, but is so frequently found in XWDspace we might as well resurrect it in our argot.) Knowing that 40A was a Roman numeral facilitated getting the crosses even before you knew which one was which.

43A TEEHEES was one of my first entries. I thought it wouldn't hold up, but it did.

GAS PIPES for GAS MAINS @ 21A slowed me down, but AMES @ 19D straightened that out.

Overall, easy-medium is about right - 22 min.

Lurker0 3:06 PM  

Hi, all. I've enjoyed lurking for a while, mostly discovering things that I overlooked in solving -- typically subtleties about the theme. Now I'll dip my toe in the (hot?) water.

The puzzle answer "MOGEN David (six-pointed star)" is an inaccurate hybrid transliteration from Hebrew or Yiddish. It happens to be the name of a barely drinkable sweet wine. See this Wikipedia article -- which I have just corrected -- and this more formal one for more details about spelling and pronunciation.

Transliteration is a b_tch, expecially in puzzles.

Ulrich 3:08 PM  

I also started with Anne (Sexton), but found my way around her soon and moved straight down. Encountered, to my delight, annus mirabilis, a phrase a had thrown in yesterday gratuitously in order to bait someone to ask me to speak English (as happened a while ago when I used "exegesis")--no luck yesterday, but compensation today. And to top things, I found (Max) Ernst, proud son of my hometown, where he founded with his (and our) friend Hans/Jean Arp the Cologne Dada Group.

I've told this story before, but there are newcomers who may appreciate it: Max achieved early notoriety as a member of Dada when he exhibited with them and showed a painting titled "The Mother of God spanks the Baby Jesus", and that's what it showed. The archbishop railed against it from the pulpit of the famous cathedral, but it's now a prized exhibit in the Museum Ludwig next to that cathedral.

All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle, and congratulations to the constructor!

andrea crosscan michaels 3:10 PM  

@retired chemist
Meant to comment yesterday how fabulous your additional PIASTER anagrams were with those fun(ky) definitions!

So, is it Alexander? And of course congrats on your deBut!

jimweed 3:13 PM  

also had GAS PIPES for GAS MAINS.

INES sastre was the first fill in for me. (emoticon for embarrassment).

i had SETTLE instead of SITPAT for "be content where one is" and that threw me off.

"biathalon need" was a weak clue.

easy-medium seems right to me.

mexgirl 3:14 PM  

I agree with Rex; who can do a biathlon with one SKI?

edith b 5:11 PM  

In the process of sorting out MDCLXVI in the center of the puzzle thru crosses, I was able to get DORAN also.

Since "Rebel without a Cause" was one of my favorite movies when I was a young girl, I was curious that I didn't recognize the name of the actress directly above the roman numeral. If anybody is interested, she played James Dean's (Jim Stark) neurotic mother Carol Stark.

mac 5:55 PM  

Medium puzzle for me, with all of my problems in the NW. I just couldn't think of another word for "impermanent", I was convinced On pot had to be wrong, and Acme explained why I didn't have the Anya at first...

I liked it a lot, though, and I hope to see a lot more of Alexander's puzzles (sorry, but I think you have been renamed).

@Ulrich: I remembered your comment yesterday, when the "mirabilis" showed up in a clue!

Larry 6:33 PM  

I blew through this puzzle until getting stuck in the NW. I wanted "ONPOT" for 4D in the worst way, but wouldn't allow myself to fill it in as I thought a cardinal rule of crossword-constructing was avoiding clues that contain answers (see 32A: Pot cover). Is this rule occasionally breakable or was it an editorial oversight?

Orange 6:41 PM  

Andrea, I'm thinking the entire name is Asian. A little Googling says Xan is named after his Thai grandfather. According to Xan's blog, he does parkour and can bounce off the ceiling. I'm guessing young Mr. Vongsathorn is the world's only crossword-constructing parkour practitioner.

Charles Bogle 6:59 PM  

Am big fan of Pomona

can be clued: Williams of the West?

I LOVED this puzzle, probably because it's the closest I've come to finishing a Friday w just google. The answers seemed fresh and clever

My big problem: the NW quadrant. Stayed too long w TOT for TNT and SITPUT for SITPAT--which leads me to some rather interesting attempts at the the other crosses. Finally had to come to Rex for SILO and ICAN (which I was sure somehow was SURE)

Differ w answer of ROT for "Hokum," which is wonderful "scat" play-talk in jazz. See, e.g., some Satchmo 30's recordings

Once I switched TITTERS to TEEHEES for "Giggles" I had the lower half completely filled in for a Friday personal best, smiling.

KENS for "Some dolls" was clever and novel

Particularly refreshing for me since I couldn't get to first base yesterday!

michael 7:46 PM  

I found this easy (for a Friday). But I'm fine with that. I liked the puzzle, it's been a long day, and I messed up the larger KenKen.

There was only one clue that was completely news to me (Doran, but gettable from crosses).

Well -- I didn't know the annus either...

Clark 8:30 PM  

@rex, @jimweed, @mexgirl -- I just want to defend SKI clued as 'biathlon need.' If you need two skis, then, a fortiori, you need one.

foodie 8:44 PM  

@Orange, thank for the link. Mr. Vongsathorn is a real firecracker! I loved reading his stuff, including the discussion about whether people could be simulations.

@andrea, Xan is his first name but his Middle Name is Alexander, and you guys are on the same wave length as he points out: "I have always liked it because the middle of my middle name is my name!"

@Xan Alexander, if you decide you're interested in following in Rex's footsteps and going from Pomona to U. Michigan for grad school, let me know. My first name is Arabic for enlightenment or guidance. You can find me :)

Pitz 10:35 PM  

I agree that this must have been one of the easier Fridays because I was actually able to do a lot of it.

I too had BOW and BLIP. It seemed good to me, ah well.

Also, I always thought it was MAGEN David not MOGEN David. Guess that goes to show I'm not a very good Jew.

Xan Vongsathorn 4:03 AM  

Hey guys, thanks for all the comments! This has been a whirlwind of a day, with graduation stuff and all.

@Andrea, as some people have noted, my full name is Xan Alexander Vongsathorn (the first and last are both Thai). I think my grandpa is planning to tell all his friends back in Thailand that HE created this crossword. I'll add that when Will accepted the puzzle, he asked about my name. In the process of replying, I told him that the middle of my middle name is my first name, to which he said something like, "Is that a puzzle? It could be Roxanne, but I'm going to go with Alexander." I had never thought of Roxanne! So he outguessed me at my own game.

@foodie, grad school is next, but I'll actually be at U of Chicago (for economics, woo!). We'll see how much time they give me for puzzles.

And to Rex: Chirp chirp, indeed!

Thanks to everyone for welcoming me into your world! Mighty fun place to be...

Carl V 8:36 AM  

I have the opposite idea about the silo. I was thinking, who climbs up a silo? Not until I read Rex's comment did I think about a scale measuring the contents inside.

foodie 2:06 PM  

@Xan Vongsathorn-- Economics, heh? Well the whole field is a big puzzle. I guess as is the brain. Think Neuroeconomics!

Good luck and thanks again!

Julie 4:14 AM  

Hi Rex!

I've been reading your blog for two years now and was so excited to discover that you, too, are a Pomona alum.

Go Sagehens!
Julie Trescott '08

Timothy 5:21 PM  

Hey Rex -

I didn't see it in the above comments (most likely all from weeks ago), but can you issue a ruling about ONPOT being an answer and "Pot cover" being a clue? I changed ONPOT to ONPCP for a while because of the cluing. Legal or no? Thanks.

Also, my daughter loves the new Shazam comic. Kunkel is off of it now, and the Tiny Titans team has taken over.

Waxy in Montreal 11:26 PM  

Way too late even for a syndicate submission as I (mis)spent most of today watching the US Open - Go Mike Weir!

Great Friday puzzle from Xan whose college grad is now 5 weeks in the distant past. For some reason, I always (erroneously) thought Jubal was short for Jubilation as in Jubilation T. Cornpone from Li'l Abner.

Interesting too for me in that the theme clues and "Annus Mirabilis" fell immediately but, even with these filled in, it took a long time to complete the puzzle.

And why didn't BAN THE BOMB fit into 11D?

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