FRIDAY, May 8 2009 - J Farmer (Lantz of the 1960s-'70s NBA / Lander at Arlanda / Cremora brand / Higher this goes more it blows)

Friday, May 8, 2009


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BEAUFORT SCALE (11D: The higher this goes, the more it blows) - n.

A scale of wind velocity ranging from 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane).

[After Sir Francis Beaufort (1774–1857), British naval officer.] (answers.com)


This puzzle looks like the top of a can of Kraft parmesan cheese. I was originally thinking of the top of a can of Pepsi, but the line of black squares down the middle looks like it could be part of a hinged lid, where one side is wide open and the other side has little holes for slower pouring. The grid also looks kind of like a button, and kind of like a depiction of two alligators trying to talk to each other across a fence. I thought this was pretty typically Friday in terms of difficulty. I finished in the mid-7s. I honestly don't know how that compares to my avg., as I typically don't speed / time myself later in the week. Love the 9/11/13 outer borders on this one. Up top I thought perhaps I was walking into some kind of "Star Trek"-themed puzzle. The new "Star Trek" movie just came out, so the 10-Across reference to Khan (from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"), seemed timely, especially directly over the movie-related "QUIET ON THE SET" (12A: Order given before shooting starts).

[10A: "From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee" speaker]

The scifi goodness continued with "QUANTUM LEAP" (12D: Abrupt change), but I realized fairly quickly that these answers were not part of any overall pattern. The horrible thing, for me, was a stupid, vexing error. I had FLAT / COATED instead of FLAX / COAXED. I'm well aware that FLAT makes no sense for 31D: Linen fiber, but COATED slid right into 39A: Used butter on, perhaps, and it never ever occurred to me it could be wrong. Seemed more likely that a FLAT was simply some kind of "linen fiber" I'd never heard of. Alas.

Top went quickly. Couldn't get any of the Acrosses, but the Downs came 1, 2, 3. 4D: was a little harder, as I had NOW at first (4D: "That was Zen, this is _____" (bumper sticker)). I'm not sure I've seen the authority of an answer be based on a "bumper sticker" before, but OK. The pun is cute. Ish. The short Downs were also a great help in the southern part of the grid, where CEL (46D: Old Walt Disney production) and TEA (47D: "_____ With Mussolini" (Zeffirelli film)) gave me my first toehold.

Is SUET KOSHER? (22A: Steamed pudding ingredient + 19A: Allowed)

My main trouble spot in the puzzle extended roughly from the JABBED / JAFFA crossing to the heart of the SPACE NEEDLE (49A: Landmark in Elvis Presley's "It Happened at the World's Fair"). Initially thought JAFFA was HAIFA (25A: Mediterranean port since ancient times), and once I had -AFFA, nothing felt right in that first square. Luckily, I finally figured out what the hell 25D: Drew a cross response? was going for. A cross is a punch. A jab is a punch. Ta da. Moving past the FLAT/COATED fiasco, we run into GLARING (33D: Hard to miss) and BLAZE (36A: Brilliant display), which I kept second-guessing and confusing. Perhaps BLARING and GLAZE? Hmmm. Then there's SPACE NEEDLE, which is from a song I've never heard. At one point 80% of what I'd filled in was "E"s, which made parsing awkward. Weirdly, I "knew" ISINGLASS (50A: Common mica). I say "weirdly" because I just don't know terms from the natural world very well (see FLAT/FLAX, above), and "knew" because a. I didn't really know it - more like "remembered it," and b. the spelling I remembered was about three letters too long. It involved way more "G"s and "S"s.


Bullets:

  • 23A: Creator of the "Microsoft sound" played when Windows 95 starts (Eno) - one (ENO backwards) of the many fascinating facts you learn about ENO if you do puzzles long enough
  • 26A: Lantz of the 1960s-'70s N.B.A. (Stu) - a gift to all you "Simpsons"-haters out there. This is what you get when you opt out of "Disco STU." Enjoy.
  • 42A: Comment from the chattering class? ("brrr") - cute, if arbitrarily spelled
  • 44A: Science class decoration (periodic table) - "decoration?" Really. You think teachers put it up 'cause it's pretty or festive?
  • 41A: Some proctors, for short (TAs) - TAs are generally overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. One of the many reasons to avoid grad school.
  • 43A: Early TV host Garroway (Dave) - how do I know this?
  • 3D: Giant on the cover of Time magazine, 1945 (Ott) - Like you (probably), I wanted former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs SPRUILLE BRADEN here ...
  • 6D: Pollen bearer in a flower (anther) - What did the terrorist use to cut the pollen bearer of a flower? (A: An ANTHER AX)
  • 9D: Lander at Arlanda (SAS) - was looking for SST, sadly
  • 36D: Cremora brand (Borden) - "Cremora" sounded vaguely like "cream" which is vaguely like condensed milk .... cow ... BORDEN.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

My write-up of the Friday LA Times puzzle is here.

82 comments:

dk 7:43 AM  

Rex, if the grid was a Rorschach ink blot, extra points for a full card response with activity.

Never knew the Kahn reference. I remember the AHAB quote from Moby Dick and my Sr. honors paper on Iconoclasm in 18th century American lit. Under the category of more than you ever wanted to know the first draft of my last paragraph was written on the mens room wall in Syracuse U library... somehow this is related to inspiration and the BEOUFORTSCALE....

I had gabbed instead of JABBED, apricot instead of CURRANT and so wanted beet instead of SUET.

50's TV icons DAVE Garroway, Muggs the chimp and the UNIVAC all live on in xword land.

Nice finish to the week Mr. Farmer.

Ben 8:19 AM  

I liked this one. Unusual grid and distinctive fill. Challenging but fair. Nice work, John Farmer (is your favorite Neil Young song "Farmer John"?).

Interestingly, the World's Fair landmark could also have been STLOUISARCH and FERRISWHEEL.

joho 8:19 AM  

This was definitely an easy Friday for me ... I guess it has to do with being on the constructor's wavelength. My progress was steady and basically uninterrupted from start to finish ... very unusual for me on a Friday. So thanks, Mr. Farmer, for making me feel smarter than I am today.

I loved the CAPTAINAHAB line and many other fresh words and phrases in this puzzle. Fun Friday!

Kurt 8:34 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Loved Rex's critique. I'm with joho. It was an easy Friday for me because I was also on Mr. Farmer's wavelength. My first thought on about seven of the long answers turned out to be correct. Most with no crosses yet in place. That opened the whole puzzle pretty quickly.

A great start to the weekend. Thanks John Farmer.

imsdave 8:44 AM  

Visually stunning, crisp clean fill, and a shout out to me (PUTT mirroring DAVE). What's not to love? All right, I'm a little BIASed as this has to be the quickest Friday for me ever (sub-10).

The J in JABBED was about the only thing I had to really think about - that's a very clever clue.

Thanks Mr. Farmer.

ArtLvr 8:50 AM  

I'm with Joho -- this is my kind of puzzle! All kinds of tricky clues, but fair in the end. I'm more apt to say something is "more apt" than APTER, but it shows up often enough...

Loved the FABERGE egg maker, ears of MAIZE, pollen-bearing ANTHER, STATE TREE, COAXED with use of butter, GLIB and GLARING. The BEAUFORT SCALE was Beaumont for a first stab until JAFFA emerged.

One gimme was the duchy starting with SAXE, though I was probably thinking Saxe-Coburn. I'll look it all up if Ulrich doesn't feel like a mini essay!

∑;)

ArtLvr 8:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 8:56 AM  

p.s. note how KARATE balances JABBED in the grid! And I admired CROCI and CURRANT, among the other biota.

Alex 9:05 AM  

Pretty easy Friday for me. As is often mentioned, with lots of long answers getting just a couple really opens things up and CAPTAIN AHAB, BEAUFORT SCALE, THE FUGITIVE, PERIODIC TABLE, SPACE NEEDLE, and CUT YOUR LOSSES all fell as outright gimmes or with just one or two letters.

Made the HAIFA mistake. Didn't know ISINGLASS and for some reason, even with BIA- couldn't parse BIAS until my third run through the alphabet.

JannieB 9:09 AM  

Definitely an easy Friday. I literally gasped when I saw the grid - just knew it was going to be a fun solve, and it didn't disappoint. The last bit of business for me was correcting the spelling of Jaffa (originally had Jaifa - sort of a cross with Rex's entry) because the name of the wind scale just wouldn't bubble up.

I fixed that and thought, "ridiculously easy for a Friday", but enjoyable all the same.

Dough 9:16 AM  

I enjoyed solving this puzzle. The words were fresh and the wide-open grid makes for a different solving mojo. Plus, remembering to keep an eye out for the Q's, Z's, X's and J's that Fridays often feature made this a pleasant motor ride through the woods for me. Props to the Beaufort Scale clue, and I liked the bumper sticker clue for Tao. The weakest entry is "BRRR," but so what, the clue was so cute!

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Is suet kosher? Yes!

Suet (/ˈsuː.ɪt/) is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys.

~So as long as it is a kosher cow/sheep, then it is (of course, combining it with dairy would render it treyf)

Fun puzzle today.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I, too agree that this was fun and
pretty easy for a Friday altho
I made the same initial mistakes
as Rex.
Means I'm getting smarter? Nah...
maybe thinking out of the box better.
Rhea

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:24 AM  

Not a big fan of the 4 cheaters in the corner, but not quite sure how one could make a puzzle with the long border entries without at least some assistance. But, having said that, loads of great fill. Will got the cluing at about a good level of difficulty as well. Approved.

Anne 9:43 AM  

Shoot - I knew that Rex would say this was easy and I so wanted to feel smart today. Oh, well, it was fun to do. I first went over it, thinking as usual for Friday, that I know none of these answers, but then ran into The Fugitive and Dave Garroway. Like Rex, I have no idea why I know Garroway. But I then slowly worked back around to the Beaufort Scale area. I googled one time - Saxe - to untangle that area. A very good Friday.

Orange 9:44 AM  

I questioned BRRR too, but Will Nediger told me it's Scrabble-legit. I checked my Mac's Oxford-based dictionary—yup, sure enough, brrr with three R's is in there as an exclamation. Live and learrrn.

My god, Spruille Braden was indeed a giant. His head alone had as much bulk as the whole of South America. I heard he took up professional wrestling after he left statesmanship.

Ulrich 9:49 AM  

Love grids with additional symmetries (the geometry fan in me). Got off to a fast start in the SE half below the diagonal with STATE TREE, a guess, and SAXE, a very informed guess: I remembered that Sachsen becomes "Saxe" in English when combined with other names, as opposed to "Saxony" when standing alone (as in the present state of Saxony in Eastern Germany, capital Leipzig)--end of mini-essay.

The other half took me a little longer, but also fell w/o major interruptions--not in the time some braggards have posted, but better than on a normal Friday for me. And there was great fill along the way.

HudsonHawk 9:52 AM  

Loved this puzzle. I dropped in THE FUGITIVE immediately, then tossed in FABERGE and HAIFA confidently just based on the G and F crosses. With the 4 letter ingredient ending in __ET, I (like dk) assumed I was dealing with the food-not-to-be-named.

But that gave me a 5 vowel string in 11D that just couldn't be right. I worked all the way around the grid before finishing with the JAFFA correction.

I figured RPI was a shout-out to Mr. Hinman.

Rex, I knew DAVE Garroway from the fabulous movie Quiz Show. I love how Redford was able to COAX two prominent directors to appear in the film. Garroway was played by Barry Levinson, while the Geritol exec was played by Martin Scorsese.

HudsonHawk 9:58 AM  

Oh, and the grid was a pangram, which I appreciate far more than Rex. Nice work, Mr. Farmer!

Karen 10:04 AM  

I knew I'd heard the hell's heart quote someplace; but once I'd figured out it was Kahn, it didn't help me any with the answer!

Somehow I had KOSHED instead of kosher (I believe that I was too focused on the verb allowed and not the adjective); and then I spelled the flowers CROCE. I've always called them crocuses.

I had the same problem with HAIFA/Jaffa as Rex. At one point I was looking where Beaufort would eventually go, and I had OUIO and thinking something was really wrong there.

I thought it was a medium Friday.

PuzzleGirl 10:12 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. I'm amazed at how fast some of you are! When I finish a Friday in less than half an hour I feel like a speed demon.

BEAUFORT SCALE really slowed me down. I left the middle letter blank in JAFFA because I thought it might be JAIFA (Hi, JannieB!). I often have a lot of trouble when I have several random letters in a long down. I have to write it out in a way that I can look at it horizontally instead of vertically for some reason. Foodie probably knows why.

If no one has created an artistic rendering of a periodic table yet, someone definitely should. I bet it's been done....

mccoll 10:25 AM  

I finished without any help,but I had one error. I put in RIOS for RIAS and didn't check the cross clue for stolen bases. Rats! Everyone in our re-enactors group would get FLAX for linen fibre and isinglass was a gimme, too. I really like many of these clues. Get a hand on the road-ELOPE, used butter on-COAXED. Even JABBED and BOOTCAMP were cool. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle JF.
@Rex Having been a TA for a while, I know what you mean!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

>>Not a big fan of the 4 cheaters in the corner<<

Brendan, what does that mean?

UltraViolet 10:32 AM  

Somehow it makes me feel better to know that Rex made all the same initial errors I did..... (NOW/TAO, HAIFA/JAFFA,SST/SAS)

Leslie 10:35 AM  

Man, I'm impressed with those of you who thought this was easy!

Not only did I do the Haifa thing, but I was so impressed with myself for FINALLY getting "Beaufort Scale" that I forgot to go back and change the H to a J. So, "Haffa" and "habbed," which . . . doh!

Had a much easier time on the West Coast than the East; loved all three downs: "prescient," "quantum leap," and "cut your losses." "Faberge" and "maize" took me longer than they should have, and I STILL don't really get the "butter"/"coaxing" connection.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

What a great Friday puzzle. A little on the easy side but so much fun.
Only hiccup was Cut Ones Losses until crosses fixed that.
Add me to the "on the same wave length" list.
I feel that xwords have broadened my knowledge even if some might think it is trivia. (Not us of course.) How else would I pull isinglass and Beaufort Scale out of the air?

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

@ Leslie Think of buttering someone up to get them to do something,

imsdave 10:43 AM  

@anon 10:27 re: cheater squares

"Any black square which can be removed from a crossword diagram, along with its symmetrically opposite black square, without decreasing the total word count of the puzzle. A puzzle may be rejected if its diagram contains too many cheater black squares."

@Ulrich - snarky, but fair. I usually post my times on late week puzzles when I break 40 - I just couldn't believe how fast this one fell.

BobG 10:45 AM  

Finally a Friday puzzle that I worked thru smoothly. Usually, long answers intimidate me but this time they came to me over time.

I think reading Rexs' (and other's) comments in this blog has taught me more about solving than I would learn on my own.. Thanks, all!

Shamik 10:48 AM  

Saw the grid and became so excited. Almost put it off until my return home later today since I had a deadline to get to an appointment.

At 8:54 one of my easier Friday solves, so was disappointed. Now off to the appointment with plenty of time.

JeanSp 10:58 AM  

Am I the only person who confidently filled in Corfu based on that second "f?"

nanpilla 10:59 AM  

Loved the look of the grid when I printed it out. Solved it in under 15 minutes, which has to be a new record for me on a Friday! I knew isinglass because we have a roll-up enclosure on our boat made of isinglass. Never knew that name came from a type of mica. I learn something every day. Had RIBBED at first for JABBED, but crosses fixed that. Thanks for a great puzzle, Mr. Farmer!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Kahn quoting Moby-Dick's Captain Ahab! Cute!

Lisa in Kingston 11:19 AM  

@JeanSp: I had the same error for the same reason.
I wonder if there's a word ladder for corfu-haifa-jaffa?
I also had the flat/flax/coated/coaxed error and did not realize it until Rex pointed it out. Had apricot for currant, but prescient straightened that one out.
My first thought for speaker of "hell's heart" was indeed Kahn Noonian Singh.
That "Time" cover made me laugh: Mel Ott was South American? Really?! Then I put on my glasses.

XMAN 11:23 AM  

IMLATE, ELOPE, NEST is a cute stack, in case anyone missed it....Which I doubt.

I was about to fill in HAIFA, when I realized Haifa couldn;t possibly be on the Mediterranean. The hand can be quicker than the brain, eh?

poc 11:36 AM  

Pretty good puzzle. I also had HAIFA for a while till it became impossible.

Just to pick a nit, I'm not too sure about the cluing for QUANTUM LEAP. What counts as a Q.L. (in popular usage, not in physics) isn't just the abruptness of the change but also its magnitude. An abrupt change of 1% wouldn't qualify.

John 11:36 AM  

Yes, Kahn REALLY chewed the furniture in that scene.

SethG 11:42 AM  

HAIFA is on the Mediterranean.

"That was Zen, this is MAO" would be a weird bumper sticker, but one that I had entered. And I've never heard of duck soup other than the movie, didn't know which vowel would start xNTHER, had "WHEW, that was close", and wanted LEM for SAS. So the top was a mess.

Elsewhere, I had SHADE TREE and RBIS instead of DBLS, but they didn't slow me down as much. Why the question mark on OPINE's clue?

Some nice cluing and a pretty grid.

jeff in chicago 11:45 AM  

Loved this one. With just MAHER and PHEW I parsed 1, 10 and 12A. And at the bottom, with just BORDEN and TEA I got 44, 49 and 50A. I was heading for record Friday time. (Which is not a huge record considering I fail to finish - without the google - most Fridays.) ENO and ELOPE gave me 10, 12 and 14D. Woo hoo! I was rockin' and rollin'! And then it all stopped. Having HAIFA and being "sure" 28A would end with UP stopped me in my tracks. Didn't know the SCALE. Couldn't see the TREE (for the forest?) Even having THEFUGITIVE was no help. Finally, MAIZE and FABERGE came and I was able to finish. Still my timer says 31:41 and I'm a happy camper.

Liked seeing an oblique reference to my third favorite Marx Brothers movie. (The Cocoanuts and Night at the Opera rank higher for me.)

And let's spread the love for Spruille Braden.

edith b 12:29 PM  

I filled in the 6 long answers in the North and South in pretty quick order then went down both coasts and had this puzzle squeezed at the Midlands and bogged down in South Dakota/Iowa because of mulitple mistakes.

Had to take out the whole section (Thank God for Across Lite) and eventually replaced IMLAZY/LAMAZE and parsed CINCHES at last.

Ironically, I got JAFFA and KOSHER at roughly the same time and shifted into solve mode.

Had a good time with this one and had to grind out the last few answers. Very enjoyable.

JannieB 12:36 PM  

Spruille Braden and Spiro Agnew could have been separated at birth. Just sayin.

Ulrich 12:45 PM  

@imsdave: I'm just green with envy--that's all:-)

And thanks for the cheater square def.--not knowing it proves I'm still miles away from becoming a constructor. It also occurs to me that cheater squares are standard in diagramless puzzles--would that be one of the criteria that determine if a grid will be published diagramless?

Bob Kerfuffle 1:25 PM  

Striking diagram, fun puzzle.

For awhile, I thought we had a mini-General Science theme going with QUANTUM LEAP, PERIODIC TABLE, BEAUFORT SCALE, and ISINGLASS.

Beaufort Scale was my first long fill, and like Ulrich I had the entire SE done before I made much progress on the NW.

@poc - One of my pet peeves is the use of "quantum leap" to mean a change of great magnitude, since, as you hint at but don't actually say, it is in fact the smallest possible change (i.e., from one energy state to another; there is no intermediate.)

Did anyone else look at 6D, Pollen bearer in a flower, and think of Ogden Nash? -- "If called by a panther, don't anther."

Just two write-overs - had ONO before ENO, and BLOG before BRRR.

fikink 1:25 PM  

Yipes, dk is right, Rex: these grids are becoming Rorschachs for you (I can't see the alligators and I am waiting for the foodies to tell you how superior fresh-grated parmesan is to canned.) Without you I would have not known that Khan died with those words - thanks for that.
Didn't know that a cross was a type of punch. I thought the cross person was just angry, like the response to someone jabbing his finger at you. (rude!)
Made the COATED mistake, and had your same response to "decoration" clue ~ PERIODIC TABLE.
Really liked BIAS for color and OPINE, cuz I do. (@Seth, I cannot explain the question mark either. Anyone? Buelller?)

Thank you Mr. Farmer, a fine puzzle!

p.s. Mr. Fikink will NOT accept BRRR in a Scrabble game. (I humor him.)

fikink 1:33 PM  

@BobKerfuffle, One of my peeves was when the science students inserted physics into their philosophy essays and wrote about Kierkegaard's "quantum leap of faith" - amusing, nonetheless.

Z.J. Mugildny 1:38 PM  

I've never heard of The Beaufort Scale, but that aside, the clue implies the wrong causation. It should be "The more it blows, the higher this goes." Am I wrong?

I was actually trying to think of something that would cause more blowing more by going higher (hmm... "volcanic pressure" doesn't fit).

Quibbles aside, pretty good puzzle overall.

Campesite 1:39 PM  

You'd think Spruille Braden would be much more a household name with a head that large.

mac 1:56 PM  

I had a much harder time with this one than most of you, for some reason. Loved the puzzle, though, a lot of the clueing and the answers, the trickiness here and there.

foodie 2:40 PM  

I liked it but did not think it so easy. Like Rex, I got stung at the COAXED/FLAX intersection. I had FLAK (which seemed vaguely right/wrong) and COOKED (with butter :) and then had to choose between GLORING/BRRR or GLOWING/BRRW...

Of course I knew something was wrong, but sometimes having to go to work gets in the way of the puzzle...

Still, a lovely piece of work IMHO. So little crosswordese or contrived phrases and a lot of great fill!

poc 2:40 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: in physics "quantum leap" (or "quantum jump" which I think is more common) needn't necessarily mean the smallest possible change in energy state (i.e. a change of a "quantum" amount). Electrons can jump by multiple discrete quanta at a time, but not by fractions.

Be that as it may, I believe the vernacular usage has tended towards the idea of a large and sudden change.

Having now reduced the nit to its constituent atoms, we should probably cease to pick further :-)

Frances 2:59 PM  

I hate hearing everyone say how easy a puzzle was when I've spent uncounted minutes staring hopefully at the grid, waiting for inspiration to strike. Many mini-strikes, however, and I finally completed the puzzle without resorting to Google. A very rewarding workout!

andrea brrrr michaels 3:05 PM  

Ha! Love the Rorschach test...
Alligators talking across a fence, could that have been prompted unconsciously by CROCI in the grid?

Looked beautiful empty, John Farmer!
I hope this will get Will and others to loosen up about the whole "cheaters in the corners" issue.

@ulrich
Ashish and I actually got a rework/partial rejection of a puzzle in which we were told "Will hates hates hates black squares in the corner" (but then again, it was a Mon/Tues puzzle not a Friday)

@Ultra VIolet
Me too! Had the exact mistakes as Rex and you: HAIFA, SST, NOW, COATED (tho FLAT made me rethink and catch it in the end)

...and I blame this blog for having me initially enter BEET off the --ET!!!
(Since the show, cooking clues seem to be taunting me!)


My first word was PRESCIENT!!!!!!
But I didn't have the nerve to write it in darkly.

Hey, can someone explain STR to me for Naval Chart Abbrev?

@Hudson Hawk
Michael Blake is throwing a dinner tonight to belatedly celebrate Byron's bday tonight.
We will watch Nancy Stack's ACPT dvd (to see what I missed while in the kitchen)

I'll see if Young Tyler noticed the RPI shout out, as he might not have even done the Downs!

acme 3:09 PM  

@Mr Fikink
May I say a word about BRRR?

(btw I had BLAH initially, thinking the chattering folks would be saying BLAH BLAH BLAH...)

But not only is BRRR a staple in Scrabble, it is a great "dump" if you have three R's...
However, you are best to play BRR as R is so valuable in making a bingo...and then you can surprise your opponent the next turn and "back hook" that third R!
(Scrabble tip #59867)

LOVED the Scrabbledy-ness pangram, bec it helped me get MAX (I had SEE OUT originally), helped me think of QUANTUM when staring at _UAN too long, trying to think what could go before a UA which I kept reading as AU);
helped me unravel the FLAT mystery and the HAIFA to JAFFA one. Not to mention KOSHER.
ALL of those were blank to me till it occurred to me they could be JXKQZ and then everything unfolded.

@Bob Kerfuffle
Wouldn't it BE funny if ONO instead of ENO wrote it and everytime you turned on your computer there was some sort of Ono-esque banshee shriek???

@dk
Apricots for currants was a shout out to me, and you don't even know it yet! How is that shrine coming along? ;)

imsdave 3:20 PM  

@acme - loved ya on the Food Network! You were brilliant!

re: STR. - strait, as in Strait of Magellan

fergus 3:29 PM  

A golfing friend has a modified BEAUFORT SCALE -- it was so complicated that it took at least three holes to explain. We figured the wind effect on a golfball was a squared function of the velocity, but maybe the true scientists can chip in here.

Lots of good guesses made this a stroll in the park. A little doubtful about CINCHES and questioned the question mark on ELOPE. Had to run through the alphabet to discover my BIAS, and remembered ISINGLASS from a Rexual discussion citing lyrics from "Oklahoma."

Anyone else consider a SULTANA in favor of a CURRANT?

Elaine 3:31 PM  

I figured the really great puzzlers would find this easy -- because I FINISHED! I almost never do on Friday, so I was pretty happy...

I also had CORFU for JAFFA at first, also PROPHETIC for PRESCIENT for a short time.

I recognized the quote from Khan in Star Trek II, but couldn't, at first, recall the ORIGINAL source! (Milton kept popping up, but I knew that was wrong...) Crosses finally led me to Captain Ahab.

chefbea 3:40 PM  

Terrible time with the puzzle today. Couldn't finish it, so just gave up and came here.

@Andrea - that's right about the apricots.

Hope tomorrow is easier

Ulrich 3:52 PM  

Now I'm really obsessed with cheater squares (it's really an excuse for not removing more tile in the laundry room). This is the basic cheater square mathematics as I figure it:

A black square in a corner is a cheater square--object of special scorn for WS as per ACM (no, I'm not referring here to the Association for Computing Machinery).

Of any two consecutive black squares on the boundary, one is a cheater square (the pick is yours).

Of any three black squares in the interior that form a corner, the one at the corner is a cheater square.

I leave it to the mathematicians to deal with larger configurations of black squares.

Now, back to my tiles...

PlantieBea 3:59 PM  

Pretty puzzle grid with some fine plant answers. Thanks John Farmer. I must say that when I saw John Farmer, and the plant answers, I thought of the documentary "The Real Dirt on Farmer John (Petersen)"--quirky coverage of the changing farm situation in the upper midwest.

I too had HAIFA and PROPHETIC at some point. Overall a medium Friday for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:04 PM  

@acme (3:09 PM) - There is no "Microsoft sound" of either ENO or ONO when I turn on my computer. I am now and always have been a pure Macintosh person. (Pity those poor people in the TV ads who proclaim, "I am a PC." Me, I'm a human who is a Mac user!)

@poc (2:40 PM) - One more bludgeon to the old nit: Sorry about the Leap/Jump slip, but you do prove my point when you say that "electrons can jump by multiple discrete quanta"; but the single quantum is still the smallest change possible. In any case, we are agreeing, not disagreeing! It's only the vernacular that got it wrong. (Next time, I'll rant about using the word "nuke" to mean "microwave"!)

retired_chemist 4:15 PM  

VERY hard for me, perhaps partly because I was pretty tired last night. I had spent the day in front of the computer taking my defensive driving class to get a speeding ticket excused. Nevertheless I finished eventually, albeit I had an error: 36A GLAZE/36D GORDEN. Figured I just had never heard of GORDEN.....

JAFFA was HAIFA for a long time (as for others) and ANTHER was STAMEN ditto. WHEW instead of PHEW for 8D didn't help get BOOT CAMPS @ 1A.

I grumble at calling the PERIODIC TABLE a "decoration." It's on the wall to be used as a reference. Almost daily sometimes.

joho 4:19 PM  

I love all the science talk here ... to me though, it's like that cartoon where you see somebody talking to their dog and the balloon above the dog's head reads "BLAH BLAH BLAH."

Speaking of cartoons @Bob Kerfuffle: When I filled in ANTHER I thought of Daffy Duck lisping. I like your poem better.

Badir 4:21 PM  

As a mathematician, I really liked the octagonal shape of the grid. And it looks to me like a "NO" sign, with a picture of something and a slash through it. Maybe "NO STOP"?!

Nice grid!

Noam D. Elkies 5:29 PM  

I like the grid shape too. (Looks more like a Diagramless puzzle than a square with too many "cheaters".) FWIW the pattern of mid-grid black squares suggest to me a % sign. NDE

mac 5:30 PM  

@Andrea: LOL about he BLAH! Never thought of that one.

@R_C: maybe you were thinking of the Gordon's Fisherman?

Of course I'm a mac-person.

Off to the theater to see "Around the World in 80 Days" in the Westport Playhouse. Had a pretty good review. Beforehand dinner in the "Dressingroom", Paul Newman's restaurant right nextdoor.

jae 5:35 PM  

Delightful grid and puzzle. Easy for me too except for HAIFA and needing several attempts to spell FABERGE correctly. Made the COATED error initially but applied my "if it doesn't make sense" rule and came up the the X. The "doesn't make sense" rule was also applied to ISINGLASS but the crosses were solid. BTW in my aging dictionary ISINGLASS is gelatin from a sturgeon's air bladder. No mention of mica?

fergus 6:37 PM  

GLIB and Superficial irked me a little bit. While I know that they can share a bit of the same territory, I view them as quite distinct. When I'm glib in tossing something off, I'll mean what I'm saying much more than superficially.

Leon 7:14 PM  

Terrific puzzle Mr. Farmer, a real treat.

Thanks RP for the Khan video. Here is Khan plugging Cordobas.

From Moby Dick:
"In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks of the narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a KHAN of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab."

fergus 8:07 PM  

Alas, finally an appreciation of Melville, and not just for OMOO and TYPEE. I hate to be one the old farts who tries to coax anyone into reading this supposedly tedious classic. Read the first page, and see if you don't get hooked.

Bill from NJ 8:16 PM  

I really liked this puzzle and came a cropper in roughly the same area as Edith B. KOSHER was the answer that broke this ones back and I had so many mistakes in such a compact area that if I had to erase I never would have finished.

THEFUGITIVE crossing DAVE not only shows my age but was my first entry
and I worked from the South, up the East Coast and made steady progress until I Hit the Wall in Kansas.

Got it all straightened out eventually and am looking forward to Saturday.

foodie 8:33 PM  

@andrea, I really liked how you discussed strategy about two types of puzzles-- the BRRR in Scrabble (to dump or not to dump, that is the question) and your use of the pangram hypothesis to help solve today's puzzle.

One of the things I like about Rex's blog and the ensuing discussions is watching how very different minds and thinking styles still lead to the same outcome -- a solved puzzle. For the more challenging puzzles, it seems to me that one always needs some combination of knowledge and strategy. It's interesting to learn how these play out for different people. We tend to discuss the errors we made (which is fun and enlightening in its own right) but we hear less about how people get out of trouble or solve something that at first glance appears almost impossible.

Lisa in Kingston 8:36 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: do I hear an "amen?" Got off the PC drip a few years ago, and wondered what took me so long to embrace the wonderfulness of the Mac.
Do you happen to know who wrote the Mac chord that plays when my laptop boots up?

Lisa in Kingston 8:40 PM  

@foodie, very interesting observation, one to keep in mind for future posts.

retired_chemist 10:06 PM  

@ mac - I bet you are right re GORDON'S.

@joho - remember the Ogden Nash poem:

"If called by a panther
Don't anther."

michael 11:30 PM  

I really liked this puzzle, even if I didn't get it nearly as quickly as some of you. In general, I solve Friday and Saturday puzzles, but not particularly quickly and often with a mistake or two. I don't seem to be improving much and have decided just to enjoy the experience.

I can't remember a grid that looked much like this.

Anonymous 11:50 PM  

"The higher this goes, the more it blows."

Crackwhore.

XMAN 12:18 AM  

Look, this is probaly the last ofr Friday and will make up for my egregious goof on HAIFA.

@mac and retired chemist: It's not GorDon's, it's Gorton's. Take it from a Gloucesterxman.

hazel 12:22 AM  

@foodie - your comment about knowledge and strategy was very thought-provoking. i would be interested too in hearing about strategy, which i've always thought of as more applicable to chess and scrabble and the like.

I could use help with strategies for the late week puzzles. I can't seem to get beyond (1) knowing it or not knowing it; (2) cycling through a few times; (3) putting the puzzle down and sneaking up on it; (4) looking at the partially filled grid to see what would be logical choices for words/word parts, and then looking at the clue to see if something fits; and, if all else fails, (5) the staring (which actually works!); and finally (6) resorting to external references.

My memory is at the point where it will only hold so much, so i would like to hear other's strategies - logical and otherwise - that involve anything other than memorizing!

By the way - my strawberry garden is really getting into gear. Picked the first one about a week or so ago, and picked about a pint today! I haven't picked one as perfect as the one in your avatar, but some are getting close....

Bob Kerfuffle 6:49 AM  

@Lisa in Kingston - I had never given it any thought, but it would seem that here is all you need to know about the Mac opening chord.

foodie 4:58 PM  

@ lisa & hazel, thanks for your comments. Hazel, I think you are already describing some good strategies! This is how I think about it: a lot of misleading or vague clues are in fact triggering a strong association that leads us to an erroneous answer. But even though we know it doesn't fit, it's not so easy to erase it from our mind. In other words, it inhibits the possibility of other associations. So, we need time to let it fade and look for help from some other feature of the puzzle. So, by letting it sit (3), you're allowing the fading of the wrong association. You are also looking at it in a different way (4) and using other types of cues as triggers.

In her post, andrea explained another kind of strategy which helps trigger new associations, whether we had the wrong one (HAIFA vs JAFFA) or none at all (FLA-). It's to guess that the constructor is trying to cover the entire alphabet and force oneself to think of rare letters. Which actually reveals an implicit strategy we all have-- that we're often trying out letters that might make a word but we think primarily about the most common ones.

I enjoy all this because,as a scientist, I like to think about how we make and shed hypotheses, be they small ones like the next word in a puzzle, or big ones like how some brain function emerges. A lot of it is not only about allowing ideas to emerge but finding ways to edit out the wrong ones.

I know that Orange has a book on crossword puzzle solving. I really want to get it, just haven't gotten around to it. But here's the link if interested (I don't get a commission : )

http://www.amazon.com/Conquer-York-Times-Crossword-Puzzle/dp/0312365543

I used to grow strawberries when I lived in California, except the snails got them. Congratulations on the lovely sounding crop! Nothing beats the aroma of a fresh strawberry, especially if you are the one to grow it! My brother (the real foodie in the family) taught my kids when they were little: always smell a strawberry before you bite into one.

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

As usual, I needed your help to finish this one, which was in today's Seattle Times - though the first words I entered were SPACE NEEDLE, as I can see it from my living room window!

AlWeiss 8:13 PM  

Ah, you kids. I was amused to watch the Kahn video clip. But, if you want to see how a master says it, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPGwMyqWouU&feature=related and watch Gregory Peck at about 6:45 into the 7:28 clip.

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