Old swing digger - FRIDAY May 22 2009 - M Nosowsky (Lens grinding Dutch philosopher / Celestial neighbor of Scorpius / 100ths of a krona)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Words of the Day:

  • FWIW (10D: E-mail disclaimer) => "For what it's worth..."
  • TMI (49A: "I didn't need to know all that!," informally) => "Too much information!"

An old-fashioned beat-down. I took one look at the puzzle constructor's name and jumped right in, thinking, "this should be fun ... no, wait, I mean hard ... I mean ... oh ... oh, man ... O DEAR (47D: "_____ Cassio!": Othello) ... why is my puzzle so blank?" I probably got a little psyched out, as Manny Nosowsky is not only legendary for wildly inventive and thoughtful and entertaining puzzles, he's also legendary for tough ones. This took me twice as long as last week's Friday, for instance. In fact, after a good handful of minutes, I had the NE corner done, but virtually nothing else. I was literally gawking at the rest of the grid, where all I could muster were sad, thin strands of answers here and there. A wisp of L RON (48A: Hubbard of science fiction), a smattering of ACEY (51D: _____-deucy), a hint of RETAG (26D: Change the price on), a trace of OBIE (that one was wrong - turned out to be TONY -> 46A: Accolade for a great play). I had PHINEAS and CO-STAR locked down in the NW, only a. the answer was PHILEAS ... and b. even with those two answers in place, none of the nearby answers seemed to want to come out of hiding (I just discovered that my wife made the PHINEAS-for-PHILEAS error too - I wonder how common that misconception is). I couldn't even make sense of the clue for 1D: Old swing digger. Yikes. Sounded like it wanted a construction machine, only there was already a construction machine in the SE (43D: LOADER), though I had no idea which kind yet. So ... flailing. Genuine concern. Something like panic.

And then, out of the clear blue sky, a bolt from the Crossword Gods - PILTDOWN MAN came crashing down upon me (4D: Its teeth were actually a chimpanzee's). PILTDOWN MAN is a century-old paleontological hoax that I learned about ... from crosswords. I had to look it up and blog about it once because it was an entirely new concept to me. So I was very pleased to be rescued, today, by something intimately tied to my crossword-solving past - to past ignorance, in fact. Made me feel like a good solver again. The puzzle went down in slow but steady fashion from there. [Old swing digger] = HEPCAT! Wow. "Hey, man, dig that old swing ... it looks pretty rickety. Hey, I dare you to swing on it! Crazy!" And [_____ bread] => RAISIN!?!?! Thanks for the help, clue. Really narrows things down. Yeesh. Rough. The horrible irony about struggling so much in the NW is that the very first word that entered my head upon reading 1A: Magazine since 1850 was HARPER'S! I mean, I'm a @#$#ing subscriber. And yet I didn't / wouldn't write it in. Maybe because I couldn't get any of the short Downs to work off of it. Never heard of the "Port Huron Statement" (7D: Port Huron Statement grp. => SDS), barely know about ELEA (5D: Home of Parmenides) and thought REAR (6D: Can) should be STIR, from the phrase IN STIR, meaning in jail, i.e. in the "can" - not to be confused with INSTR. (8D: Music producer: Abbr.).


  • 15A: Accepted PayPal payments, e.g. (e-tailed) - by far the worst thing about this puzzle, in that I didn't actively dislike *anything* else. It's enough that I have to accept the concept of E-TAIL. But the verbing? Oh, the verbing!
  • 23D: Ocean, in Mongolian (Dalai) - like HARPER'S, guessed it straight off, but refused to trust my instincts.
  • 29D: "Under Two Flags" novelist, 1867 (Ouida) - wouldn't have believed a person with such a name existed had it not been for prior crossword experience with this woman. OUIDA is the pen name of Maria Louise Ramé. "Under Two Flags" is about the British in Algeria.
  • 18A: Lens-grinding Dutch philosopher (Spinoza) - no idea he ground lenses, but I had the "IN" part of this one, so he was easy to uncover.
  • 23A: Scandalmonger's love (dirt) - one of the handful of gimmes in this puzzle.
  • 24A: Goal-oriented superstar? (Pele) - it annoys me when something is a gimme but I don't even see it until I have nearly all the letters. Waste of a gimme!
  • 25A: Ravel's "Bolero" calls for one (tenor sax) - I don't recall this at all. Must listen ... now.

  • 32A: It may be striking (union) - had the -ION and could come up with nothing. The only word I could even think of that fit was SCION. Ugh.
  • 37A: Celestial neighbor of Scorpius (Norma) - that's a very uncelestial sounding name. No offense to the NORMAs out there.
  • 55A: It's heard before many a face-off ("O, Canada") - that's good.
  • 56A: Sluggard's problem (inertia) - the only word that would come to mind here for a while was ENNUI ...
  • 11D: Consistently defeat, in slang (own) - the first thing I entered in the NE. I wavered for a moment, thinking the answer might be PWN - just discovered that the Wikipedia entry for "PWN" has been nominated for deletion, and there's a long, occasionally interesting thread where people argue about the merits of "PWN" as an entry. See it here.
  • 12D: It was NE of Bechuanaland (Rhodesia) - heard of the answer, Never heard of the place in the clue.
  • 20D: Cardinal that looks the same when viewed upside down (sixty-nine) - oh, "cardinal" number ... ok. Man, you really want to make this difficult, don't you?
  • 24D: Of fraternities and sororities collectively (pan-Hellenic) - took me way, way too long to get, considering I've spent most of my adult life in close proximity to fraternities and sororities.
  • 27D: World's first carrier with a transpolar route (SAS) - Scandinavian, so that makes sense.
  • 34D: Where pit stops are made to get fuel? (coal mine) - cool clue. I had COAT MINE for a second, as I mistakenly thought that ETON had the sports teams called the Phoenix (45A: ELON).
  • 36D: Provider or wearer of some hand-me-downs (sis) - I wrote it in, but only tentatively, mainly because there is nothing in the clue signifying abbrev. Also, thought it could be SIB.
  • 40D: Stand-in for unnamed others (et alia) - man, cold. No indication of Latinity or anything.
  • 42D: It has a twin city in the Midwest (Urbana) - because of LRON (the "R"), I never even considered ST PAUL, which seems the obvious choice.
  • 54D: Questionnaire check box option (Mrs.) - like [_____ bread], this could have been a million things.
  • 55D: 100ths of a krona (ore) - KRONE/A was once my Word of the Day. I think I mentioned ORE then. Did it help me here? No.
I realize it's hard to tell from the write-up, but I Loved This Puzzle. Not all agonizing struggles are bad.

Signed, bruised, but happy, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Much easier LAT puzzle today - my write-up is here.


retired_chemist 8:14 AM  

Manny, happy returns!

I am now an EVEN BIGGER Manny Nosowsky fan. This was 28 minutes of sheer solving pleasure, with several delicious “who knews” (WK) to boot. SPINOZA (18A) a lens grinder - WK? The ELON (45A) Phoenix - WK? A TENOR SAX (25A) in Boléro - WK? (BTW acc to wikipedia it was notably one of the first orchestral works use saxes). DALAI (23D) means ocean in Mongol - WK? OUIDA (29D)? Never heard of her, but there she was.

SO many answers were not obvious but were gettable with thought (and lots of it). All these subtleties and nary a Natick violation - kudos! Never saw NORMA (37A) coming. I thought she was an opera. I felt SO smart knowing that Libra immediately preceded Scorpio in the zodiac. So LIBRA it was for far too long. First entry was Phineas (my bad – but with RP and Sandy I an in good company) instead of PHILEAS (17A), which error concealed PILTDOWN MAN (4D), another nifty WK, until crosses demanded it.

PANHELLENIC was clued straightforwardly, and I sure needed it to solve this one.

The tricky, ambiguous cluing was awesome! LOVED 58A LESS TAR – was looking for something involving the foot-candle kind of light. 19A COSTAR – “bill” was first an invoice in my mind. 20D SIXTY-NINE: I thought of the bird and the religious leader long before the cardinal number. The symmetry of 69 is that of a std. Xwd puzzle, incidentally, including this one. 50D was MAUL for a long time, which produced quite a bit of INERTIA in the SW. AMEBAE (51A) – thinking of a human scumbag, and COAL MINE (34D) – thinking of NASCAR, ignoring the ?s again. RP, I WILL learn better someday….

I thought the puzzle was continuing the raunch of the earlier part of the week with 20D, but clearly the cross at the exact center square (33A, I CAN’T SAY AS I HAVE) bluenosed it some.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Didn't get time to post yesterday. Couldn't the theme answers have been anagrams as well as homophones? Golfballman

Dough 8:33 AM  

God, I love Manny's puzzles. I know they're hard, but they're the model of perfection for Friday and Saturday themeless. All familiar entries; some clued through the prism of misdirection; and some clued straight with "wow" info, kind of like on Jeopardy. I loved today's, "It was NE of Bechuanaland." I certainly didn't know it. But he is telling us "erstwhile familiar place name" and that was good enough with a few crossings. I suspect that lots of folks are totally pwned by Manny. But I thank our lucky stars he's there for us! More Manny anytime!

Orange 8:39 AM  

I believe the phrase "Manny Friday" is, as they say, in the language. I don't think of his puzzles as killers—if they were killers, they'd be Saturday puzzles. But yes, this one was a bit on the tough side for a Friday.

@Golfballman, as Patrick Blindauer commented elsewhere, "Yep. Just a letter switch. Pronunciation was incidental." (I'd been mildly troubled by the sometimes the same, sometimes changed pronunciations in the changed words.) And, picking up on what Andrea was saying yesterday, those weren't no homophones neither. That term refers to words that sound (phone) the same (homo).

Nebraska Doug 9:08 AM  

This one took me a while, but I was thrilled to finish it, then come here and verify that I did it without mistakes. I've still have a few Fri/Sat puzzles from the past few weeks still sitting unfinished on my clipboard, so to finish a "challenging" Friday puzzle is very satisfying. FWIW made me think WTF? There were plenty of things in the puzzle that I've never seen before, but was able to get because of the crosses and. It felt like it would be a good day when the first answer I got was "PILTDOWNMAN", a gimme for me. But after that it turned into a grind, but an enjoyable one with a happy outcome.

DONALD 9:13 AM  

Brilliant write-up Rex-O!

VaBeach puzzler 9:14 AM  

Great puzzle! Loved the contrast of txt-ese TMI (49A) and FWIW (10D) with jargon like I CAN'T SAY AS I HAVE (33A) and IT'S A LULU (41A)-- expressions you could put in old-fashioned ARMOIRES (35D). Completing this puzzle makes you feel like part of an exclusive, non-PANHELLENIC fraternity!!

Denise 9:18 AM  

I had PHINEAS, but other than that, it's all about age. My first fill was "Harpers" and then "hep cat"and I had no trouble with SDS. The Port Huron Statement was their manifesto.

I loved this puzzle -- I could feel my brain working. Actually sense the wheels turning. And, no Simpsons!!

I went from here last night to Trip Payne's vowel-less puzzle. I loved the one in the last Sunday Times

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

I was this close to giving up early on but kept at it and managed to finish.

Actually I ended up with PHINEAS and PINTDOWNMAN but that couldn't be helped.

The top right was the toughest: at various times I had NOCATS, IMHO, SCENEONE, ENGNR and CRAM.

dk 9:29 AM  

As hoaxes go I am a Cardiff Giant fan myself.

I had PItTTOWNMAN and wanted pipeax instead of HEPCAT, Started laughing with SIXTYNINE as fill thinking of the posts this week on sex, drugs and rock and roll and hoping WME, twoponies, fikink, joho and others will keep a civil pen on their pad.

Agree with Rex this puzzle had me going NOWWHAT so often that when I filled REAR for can, I went re ar NOWWHAT is that.

I had bobcat instead of LOADER spelled AMEBAE wrong.... and COALMINE for-get-it.

I did get LRON and DIRT right away.

I am writing an article on adult bullies I think I will send a copy to Manny :):)

I limp toward tomorrow.

imsdave 9:30 AM  

r_c and I must be on the same wavelength today - didn't time it, but 28 minutes is about right. I tried PEATMIRE for COALMINE - wow, thats a huge 'don't ask'. Also RECORDER for TENORSAX. PILTDOWNMAN leapt out at me for some reason. Stunningly good puzzle. Thanks Mr. Nosowsky.

ps. In honor of 'sexual innuendo week' at the NYT (see 69 today), I've changed my avatar from my driver to my pecker.

SethG 9:32 AM  

Mongolian! This was right up there with my fastest Fridays ever. The NW corner went down like a Tuesday, with HARPERS, SDS, REAR, PILTDOWN MAN and AT HOME entered immediately and the rest built from there.

A slowdown in the SW with HAND/MILEAGE, but not too bad. I did have some trouble in the middle, where SO AS TO and I CANT SAY AS I HAVE were slow and ITS A LULU was from the crosses. Didn't remember OUIDA this time, won't remember her next time.

Much fun, and no crap. (Ahem, amebae, ahem.) Awesome puzzle.

Ben 9:40 AM  

Rex, as seems to recur lately, I'm tracking you through the grid: I also went with PHINEAS and ETON.

I like how the world's largest collegiate Greek system, i.e. at my home-state University of Illinois, is represented by URBANA, immediately next to PANHELLENIC.

First learned about PILTDOWN MAN in a Games magazine hoax contest many years ago. Don't know whether it was Shenk, Shortz, Schmittberger, or Gordon, INTER ALIA, but someone wrote the story under the pseudonym Jeremy Piltdown. The later reveal explained about the P. Man.

Maybe yesterday's puzzle should have had "pwnbroker, in slang."

I liked RAISIN bread, because I like raisin bread. Got it off the R, it was my first and only thought.

Nice work, Mr. Nosowsky. Today a nation of solvers will be, like Luscious Jackson before them, "In Search of Manny."

Jim H 9:53 AM  


I learned this not from crosswords, but professionally. Paleontology? No, computers.

In the early 1990s, Apple produced three new computers based on a completely different architecture. If you followed Apple at the time, you might remember the name Power Mac. Well, these three were the first. As a developer of Mac software, I had one of these computers on my desk a few months before they were released.

They were code-named: "Carl Sagan", "Cold Fusion", and "PDM" (short for today's answer). Piltdown Man was, of course, a hoax. Cold fusion? Hoax. Carl Sagan? Complained, so they re-code-named that one, to "BHA" (rhymes with "mutt-head astronomer"). Carl Sagan? Litigant! And that was the end of funny code names from Apple.

Karen 10:03 AM  

I put PHINEAS in also instead of Phileas. It looks like there's been only one Phileas, whereas many Phineases, including Phineas Bogg in the cool tv from my youth Voyagers, Phineas Black in Harry Potter as a previous headmaster, and lots of cartoon Phineases. In real life the only one I recognize is Phineas Taylor Barnum aka P.T.

And Norma is a two star constellation that's supposed to look like a ruler. Originally called Norma et Regula, latin for set square and ruler, the set square part (think plastic right angle tool) has been divided up among other constellations. It lies within the Milky Way, which you can see from my house on a clear night. One of the four spiral arms is named the Norma arm, so I guess it is kind of an important constellation after all despite being so small. I'm still not going looking for it. (Plus, it's really a southern hemisphere thing.)

I'll have to remember OUIDA for next time. You'd think a name with so many vowels would be seen more often.

Tough puzzle, I'm happy I finished it correctly.

Bella Flowers 10:14 AM  

My brain hurts. But it's a good hurt.

Elaine 10:19 AM  

I'm glad others thought this was hard -- it was a lot of fun, though! I didn't quite finish (sniff!) because I got stuck in the SE and just couldn't get there. Oh, well...

Note to Rex: Bechuanaland is what Botswana was called pre-independence. That made Rhodesia (the FORMER name of Zimbabwe) a gimme for me.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

How many ways are there to spell ameba, ameoba, amebae? Can't somebodt agree on one spelling

fikink 10:23 AM  

I truly can't believe I finished this puzzle without help.
Had HARROW for Distress for a while - I always look in my own backyard first.
Tried Pithicus for PILTDOWN (what do I know?)
Rex, I always thought it was "In THE stir."
Nicely ironic, Rex: "verbing"!
UNION was forever to get, finally everything popped when I got PANHELLENIC.
Did the ETON thing, initially, too.
I don't think SIS constitutes an abbreviation anymore.

Mr. Nosowsky, this is possibly my favorite puzzle thus far this year.

R-C, thanks for the validation last night. Once again, thought I was on my own little planet.

Dave, nice woodpecker!!!

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I LOVED this puzzle and all the clues...now I just have to remember OUIDA. Ouch. And I agree with the comment about no Simpsons! Thank goodness for that.

Ruth 10:32 AM  

I love the long central "I can't say as I have"--such a nice Midwestern kind of expression, slightly dismissive, a little wary, but open (maybe) to the possibility. Significance of crossing with 69 is a matter of interpretation and degree of gutter-mindedness.

Crosscan 10:39 AM  

I had PHINEAS, ETON, SCION. Rex, stop copying my puzzle, ok? One day you'll be able to do these on your own. Just keep trying.

AMEBAE? It's one cell, how many spellings does it need?

EYE CARE an issue for me lately. Better now, thanks for asking.

O CANADA just had a $49 million dollar lottery, giving some great WEALTH to the winners. MAZEL TOV to them. Wasn't me, so my goal of living on the pro-crossword puzzle circuit will have to await another day.

retired_chemist 10:39 AM  

@ Anon 10:21 - you will learn to appreciate the "ambiguity" of stuff like AMEBA/AMOEBA/AMEBAE, AERIE/EYRIE, etc. I am sure constructors depend on it to complete puzzles pretty often.

So NO - you won't find one spelling. Just enjoy the ride.

Anne 10:43 AM  

I think I'll post before reading anything although I did see that Rex thought this was challenging. For one thing, I went past my set time for working on these things, but I was so close I thought I would try to finish. The SE just killed me and I had to google both Ouida and panhellenic, as well as check the spelling for amebae. I thought this was really hard and I feel good about finishing. Actually I enjoyed the whole thing.

HudsonHawk 10:46 AM  

PHINEAS? (meekly raises hand)

UNION take way too long to see? (hand up again)

Mind in the gutter regarding 69? (hand still up)

Fun, brutal puzzle. I actually had the NW, NE, and SE completed, but still had big chunks missing in the Midwest through the SW. Wisconsin-Green Bay is also the Phoenix, but UWGB was just not going to work. DALAI and WEALTH finally hit me and everything worked after that.

The accolade for a great play was sports related in my brain at first, but even when I thought Broadway, I wanted a term for a rave review (like BOFFO), not the name of an award. Brilliant clue.

Parshutr 10:52 AM  

My very first fill in this was NINETYSIX...then filled in the NE rather quickly, thought this would be a breeze...and when I guessed STEW, had to correct to SIXTYNINE.
Then, the better part of an hour to slog through the rest.

jae 11:02 AM  

Delightful! PHINEAS here also which got fixed with WEALTH. I too tried MAUL, IMHO, BOBCAT, briefly considered PWN, and went through a couple of spellings of AMEBAE. I've never encountered OUIDA but hope she sticks in memory as that many vowels are likely to reappear. A very fun Fri.

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed this puzzle.
I did not.
I never seem to be on Manny's wavelength and this was no exception.
For me it was a laundry list of things I don't know.
No joy in my world today.
I did get a grin from 69. It reminded me of listening to it being explained to a very naive woman and her gasp of disbelief. Priceless.
@ dk, sorry to be so predictable ;)

Glitch 11:07 AM  

My mind is not usually in the gutter, so I took 20D a my Class year, (tho we took a lot of kidding on that).

On the other hand, imsdave's icon, for some reason, did bring Pinocchio to mind.


Daryl 11:10 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Had PHINEAS like so many others, but then got PILTDOWN MAN. Something about being on the same wavelength - got AIR MILE and ARMOIRES and NO PETS straight off, without any crosses (well except the common I in AIR MILE and ARMOIRES) and got OWN and TMI next. Had IMHO as the disclaimer at first, instead of FWIW. But the SE was a LULU... zipped through most of the puzzle quickly then spent most of my time there despite having LRON and RELINES. Would rate it slightly under challenging, but it was a good one overall.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Interestingly enough, I finish Friday's about half the time and managed to do this one in just under fifteen minutes.

PILTDOWNMAN, PANHELLENIC, and RHODESIA were oddly in my wheelhouse for three very diverse reasons (only one having to do with a previous (non-crossword) puzzle: http://web.mit.edu/puzzle/www/05/setec/eoanthropus_dawsoni/ ). Having those three as relative gimmes opened things up quite nicely.

And I wondered if 20D passed the breakfast test... until I realized thinking that probably makes me a little more perverted than necessary.

Blue Stater 11:20 AM  

Say it ain't so, Manny. I never thought I'd see a WS-style puzzle from ya. So it goes.

The especially fiendish aspect of today's was the proliferation of answers for which there were other plausible answers with the same letter count: HAMM for PELE, ZIMBABWE for RHODESIA, READE for OUIDA (another obscure British writer -- I've never, never ever, never once, heard of OUIDA, so he? she? may not indeed be British), ERASMUS for SPINOZA (not sure Erasmus was Dutch), and the aforementioned ETON for ELON and PHINEAS for PHILEAS. I of course got every one of these wrong, and with little help from the crosses, that was all she -- or I -- wrote. "Ocean, in Mongolian"??? Sheesh! Given the geographic location of Mongolia, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Mongolian didn't *have* a native word for "Ocean."

All in all, not a happy Friday. Oh well. Manny giveth, and Manny taketh away.

PhillySolver 11:32 AM  

A tough puzzle for me, but I made it through. Just got around to reviewing the answers and see an error with coster/COSTAR. Don't think I'll explain why that was okay with me. I do like Manny's puzzles, but they play with my mind. I wonder why H. RON made sense for a while...does he have a brother? Speaking of avatars, my grand daughter wants to know why Socrates and Plato are wearing dresses.

XMAN 11:35 AM  

Uh, killed in the SW. Had to peeek. For shame.

Other than that, it was a fun puzzle. Is Saturday tomorrow?

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:36 AM  

Killed this in twelve minutes, which for me is about my Friday times. PELE was the first one, then the entire SE corner. Got PILTDOWN MAN without any crossings, dunno what that says about me. And frankly, if the complaint is all over ETAILED, then we're talking about a stellar puzzle.

edith b 11:42 AM  

When I was in high school in the mid 60s, I did a "term paper"- what they called them in those days - on Evolution and spent a lot of time on the great hoax, The Piltdown Man. It was my first entry and I built the NW from that. It allowed me to avoid the FOGG trap which I would have stumbled into otherwise. My mind went right to Beatnik days and HEPCAT was a neon for me. I went southward to the WEALTH UNION line before I finally hit a wall.

R_C, variant spelling bailed me out in the SE and I echo your advice to Anon 10:21.

I had MILEAGE at 53A which held me up for a considerable length of time and, although I usually do well on "in the language" phrases, today was a different story as I could not parse 33A or 41A until I developed a large number of crosses. This one took me about an hour as I was definitely not on Manny's wavelength today.

RAISIN Bread was a perfect example of the problems I had with this one.

Ulrich 11:51 AM  

If I had known the phrase "I can't say as I have", this would have been one of my easier Fridays--as it went, I had to build this answer painfully cross by cross, always thinking something was wrong. What helped elsewhere was that when I learned geography, Africa was still under colonial rule, which made RHODESIA a gimmie (having been recently in Botswana also helped for background). And the other unknowns all fell w/o help from Google--I was never even tempted. So, MN lived up to his reputation AFAIC.

Ulrich 11:53 AM  

... and @Karen: I really appreciate your mini-essay on THAT Norma.

@fikink: You're letting imsdave get away with a lot!

Z.J. Mugildny 11:59 AM  

The middle-right stymied me. I finally got SIXTYNINE (hehehe), which had a great clue, and figured the rest would fall immediately, but it didn't. PANHELLENIC was completely unknown to me, and I have never heard ICANTSAYASIHAVE with the AS in there.

Jim Weed 12:34 PM  

also put PHINEAS and ETON.

way more enjoyable than yesterday's, although i couldn't finish without help.

poc 12:37 PM  

Good one, though I cringed at PANHELLENIC (@Ben: you realize "world's largest Greek system" means "largest in the USA", right?). Why do fraternity and sorority (both from Latin) combine as panhellenic (Greek)? Rhetorical question; I know why but I don't have to like it.

I also wanted PHINEAS but it wouldn't fit with PILTDOWNMAN. Hint to self: it's Phineas Finn (Trollope) and Phileas Fogg (Verne).

Rex, Bechuanaland is now Botswana, location of the endearing No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

AIRMILE was dodgy. Is this *ever* used in the singular? "I'd like another airmile, please".

But to repeat: good one.

Greene 12:41 PM  

Loved this puzzle! Probably my favorite of the year thusfar. I generally love Friday puzzles as a rule; they're hard, but usually solveable for me whereas Saturday is just a crapshoot.

I remembered PILTDOWN MAN from another NYT puzzle not that long ago, so that was my first entry. The NW filled very quickly after that with HARPERS and HEP CAT coming almost immediately. Solving was much slower after that, but nothing that time and standing on my head couldn't solve.

@BEQ: So how would you have clued 20D? I'm just askin' SO AS TO get the DIRT. I'll bet IT'S A LULU!

Anybody else put RAVE instead of TONY for 46A? Granted a rave review is not necessarily an accolade, but the history of the Tony Award includes so many dubious choices that the phrase "great play" does not equal Tony Award in my mind. I suppose this is true for any award.

Love the tenor sax in Bolero. If memory serves, there is also an extended solo for soprano sax as well. I've had to play the E-flat clarinet solo line in that piece before and it's incredibly difficult to keep in tune. Not to mention the whole extended crescendo issue. You play just a hair too loudly too early and the whole thing just falls apart. It is piles of fun to play though, particularly when you get to the unexpected key change at the end and the whole orchestra is just wailing triple fortissimo.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

A note from the gutter
Clue for 20D Aussie kiss
(it's like a French kiss but Down Under)
You can all groan now.

joho 12:57 PM  

Man oh Mannyshevitz ... to anybody embarking on this puzzle I say MAZELTOV!

I had many of the same mistakes as others plus more ... started with phase ONE instead of STAGEONE. Had Phineas not PHILEAS. Mileage for AIRMILE. Bobcat for LOADER. Amoeba, then amebas, to AMEBAE. Obie for TONY. Maul for MITT. I even had don't for CANT.

Wonderful clue for SIXTYNINE, don't you think, dk?

FWIW is a worthy new phrase to me.

This took forever but was worth the time and toil. Loved this puzzle ... thank you Mr. Nosowsky!

tedequity 12:58 PM  

When my daughter attended ELON in the '80s, my friends who did the NYT puzzle had heard of the college. Few others had. But back then the mascot was the Fighting Christians. In 2000 it was changed to the Phoenix.

retired_chemist 1:28 PM  

@ joho - I ditto mileage and amoeba, in addition to the others I mentioned earlier. It's fascinating how many of us all made the same false starts. Even ditto HudsonHawk on taking too long to see UNION - another misdirection with "striking."

And yet, strangely enough, almost all of us feel exhilarated rather than knocked upside the head. That is IMO a principal characteristic of a tough but eminently fair puzzle.

I aqree with Greene and fikink - my favorite of the year to date.

@ imsdave and fikink - BTW if we call a budgerigar a budgie, do we call a woodpecker a woodie?

multisync 1:31 PM  

Monday was the 'COCK' ring and today 'SIXTYNINE' is put right there in the middle.

I think someone is getting a little naughty in the editors office.

Stan 1:33 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle and proud to have finished it (tho somewhere in the middle I needed to go dig dandelions and let my synapses recharge).

One of my favorites for the year, too, along with BEQ's recent "Take That, Matt" and E. Gorski's "Ring" puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:44 PM  

Great puzzle, lots of fun!

Only two write-overs, ETON for ELON, AMOEBA for AMEBAE.

When I saw, 23 D, Ocean, in Mongolian, five letters, the only Mongolian place name I could think of (ocean has to be a place name, right?) was BATOR, but I didn't put it in since I couldn't get any crosses to agree.

I saw Michael Todd's super-spectacular "Around the World in 80 Days" in its first run as a kid, and in those days I thought I was hearing "Phineas". It was only years later, I think when a movie or TV remake of 80 Days was released, that I noticed "Phileas", which at the time I thought was a typo! Found out it was correct, and haven't forgotten since.

Leon 1:49 PM  

Thank you Mr. Nosowsky.

Classics Illustrated taught me literature.

Today's NYT has a great article on Aging and the Brain. Puzzles, games and socializing are important.

Thanks RP for the puzzles and the social circle.

Clark 2:08 PM  

I am visiting family, and I stayed up late last night working on the puzzle with one of my sisters. She is not a crossword person, but she took to it like a duck to water and was making great progress. There were some blank spots when she retired for the evening. This morning she came in to breakfast crying LOWTAR. This great puzzle may have hooked her.

(@PhillySolver -- Do you have a non-standard interpretation of your avatar? Usually the character holding the Timaeus is thought to be Plato and the one holding the Ethics, Aristotle.)

chefbea 2:37 PM  

Tough puzzle. Had Phineas also. Had to google and still couldn't finnish so I came here. Hope tomorrow is easier

mac 2:41 PM  

I'm so embarrassed now, I saw "Around the world in 80 days" just a couple of weeks ago and I still had Phineas....

I'm not going to repeat all the mistakes you all have owned up to, but I had a problem with "et alia". I was convinced the clue was about people, so I put in "et alii".

Erasmus was Dutch indeed, but I don't think he ground any lenses. Huijgens did, though, so I was a little messed up there. The ij could be spelled as y, so it would fit. This man also invented the pendulum, among other incredible things.

@poc: I know what you mean. Like the world series, where only North America participates.....

This may also be my favorite puzzle of the year!

poc 2:56 PM  

@Mac: I've heard a story whereby the World Series was originally sponsored by the newspaper called The World, but as I know next to nothing about baseball (a significant handicap in doing the NYT puzzle at times) I'll leave it to others to refute or confirm.

Frances 3:07 PM  

PILTDOWN MAN was the first thing I entered, but I removed it because I thought Mr. Fogg's first name called for an 'N'. Wrong!! It took a long time to recover from that, and even longer to recover from LO GLARE, as the selling point for some lights.

ArtLvr 3:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 3:28 PM  

I too was happy to get everything on my OWN, but it was Blow by Blow with hours of errands in between. I had the entire west side and middle done, but NE ad SW corners took longer than all the rest...

I think of Spinoza as a Jewish expat philosopher so the Dutch lens-maker part threw me off. And I'd guessed ELEA for Parmenides' home, though it's usually clued as Zeno's, isn't it? Someone else's anyway. I looked at Hubbard and couldn't think of another besides L RON -- I guess the clue about sci-fi works, but I think of him as religious nut!

AMEBAE was annoying because you either stick with old-fashioned Latinizing amoeba to plural amoebae, or Anglicize both parts to AMEBAS. Pfui. Also slowing me in the DC area was my "so that", rather than SO AS TO, never mind a muddle of striking match or clock before UNION arose.

Loved PILTDOWNMAN, PANHELLENIC and MAZEL TOV among others. Manny, many thanks...

∑;) (HEPCAT!)

Spencer 3:32 PM  

I guess you have to be "of a certain age" to have heard of Bechuanaland. I knew it was one of the enclosed "countries" in South Africa (I'm pretty sure that at the time, the quote marks were relevant.) But even though I'm pretty good with geography, I didn't picture NE correctly. Once I had a few crosses, then RHODESIA popped out at me in a face-palm moment. (Named after Cecil Rhodes, eponym of the "Rhodes Scholars".)

retired_chemist 3:52 PM  

@mac - it would be hard to define Huygens as a philosopher, wouldn't it? An icon of optics, yes. A very interesting and influential guy. Check out his wiki.

JC66 3:57 PM  

REX gets a shout out in today's BEQ puzzle.

Paul 4:37 PM  

This was a tough one for me. I had PILTDOWNLAD (a variation I have heard) and PHINEAS- but was able to cobble together hte NW off of SDS, AMID, and my mistakes. Also got the SE without too much difficulty- although I put AMOEBA instead of AMEBAE- so that slowed me done. The rest of the puzzle was very hard for me, but I was able to slowly build from clue to clue.

Glitch 4:45 PM  


For every dollar I charge on my reward card, I get one airmile credited to my freq. fly. acct.

Sometime 2.


poc 4:59 PM  

@glitch: well, there you go :-)

PuzzleGirl 5:47 PM  

Awesome puzzle. Had to Google. Never heard of PILTDOWN MAN, so Pintdown Man sounded just fine. Yay, Manny!

mac 6:07 PM  

@r_c: you are right, of course. On the other hand, Spinoza isn't exactly known first for his optics. After reading the wikipedia article about him, I realize I lived very close to his temple, the old Portugese synagog in Amsterdam. Huijgens lived in or around The Hague (check his wiki out!).

fergus 6:09 PM  

I thought Rex was going to go all Cockring on the SIXTYNINE, but it shows that frustration leads to restraint. Or is that the other way around?

LESS TAR took a while to see, and the folksiness of the middle 15er was a bit difficult to peict together, but no Manny torture here today.

retired_chemist 6:18 PM  

@ mac - exactly. Who knew Spinoza ground lenses for a living?

PlantieBea 6:31 PM  

Whew, that was tough. I ended up with Pintdownman and Phinias. I started with ninety six but made the switch after getting tenor sax. I loved the cluing for this puzzle, but the whole thing felt like Saturday to me. Perfect write-up, Rex.

retired_chemist 7:15 PM  

@ PlantieBea - was PINTDOWNMAN "discovered" in a Britisn pub?

andrea acey michaels 7:38 PM  

Mazel tov, youda Manny, you hepcat you! It's a lulu!

Yes, I had PHINEAS but I blame Julia Roberts, I think she named one of her eight children that...with two n's no less, if I'm not mistaken, but refuse to google ANYTHING about her or this puzzle!

I had OCARINA for quite a while for the whole face-off thing, thinking it was some weird Hillbilly musical contest...
(which leads me to the one thing I hated in this puzzle: INSTR.)

@retired chemist
You're still here?
Loved learning so much from this... I echo your whole Who Knew? sentiment. e.g. Beuchuanaland

Thanks, for pointing out it's also the former name of Botswana! NEVER heard of it, even tho I recently researched a trivia question about former names in Africa.
Sounds like some punchline for a joke about "Bet You Want this land" to some white colonist)

Totally with you on not mixing and matching parts of AMOEBAE and AMEBAS!!!

You're STARTING you SIS on a Friday Manny puzzle? Wow!
Another blow for Mondays! ;)

@dk, et aliA
As for sixtynine (I can't can't say as I have)(TMI?) will directly ask Manny what he had in mind and see who wins the blushing contest.
There's a lot of TAIL in this puzzle if you count ETAILED, IN DETAIL, and ETALIA (sort of).

Lots of subconscious sexual things going on...Even slowed me down for TENOR SAX as I had TENORS_X and since Bolero was the theme music of Bo Derek running down the beach in "TEN", I parsed it as TEN OR SEX for more than a split second.

On my 40th birthday cake (that I embarrassingly had to buy myself... my mother ordered it from a local bakery and the bakers asked ME what I wanted on it when I went to pick it up.
Seemed too creepy to have to request that it say, "Happy Birthday, Andrea!" so I settled for "NOW WHAT?")
(And now, ten years later...the sentiment is the same!)

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

I only knew Urbana from "Some Like It Hot"

PlantieBea 8:07 PM  

@Retired_Chemist: Seems very possible that the PILTDOWN MAN hoax was conceived after downing a few pints. I thought PINTDOWN MAN looked perfectly fine in the puzzle.

@ACM--yes, I'm sure Julia Roberts is responsible for planting the PHINIAS bug in my ear. I had forgotten that she named one of her babies Phinias or Phinnias?

Lisa in Kingston 8:16 PM  

Thank you, Rex, for the Bolero. Terrific music to accompany a lovely puzzle. Thank you, Mr. Nosowsky!

retired_chemist 8:17 PM  

@ ACME - I'm here in and out - on and off- most of the day. Such is the retired life, especially when one does a LOT of other work on one's computer....

Glitch 8:37 PM  

To whom it may concern:

Re: The perceived sexual innuendos this week:

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


PS: but ain't it fun to assume otherwise?


andrea L ron mochaels 9:13 PM  

OK, I blink...
I was kidding about her eight children. Julia Roberts has but three...new son Henry Daniel and the twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus
(crazy spelling = shades of Amoebae!) now called Finn.
Phineas is from Hebrew for "oracle"...
Not to be confused with Phineas T. Barnum...who said, "there's a sucker born every minute" (to Angelina Jolie!

fikink 9:50 PM  

Don't forget Phineas of A Separate Peace.

Didn't EVERYBODY have to read that one?

that's andrea "not Mrs." michaels 11:27 PM  

It's official...I've spent too much time on this blog today...I misspelled my own name in the last comment!

I mean, 28 minutes doing the puzzle, an hour reading folks' responses
(mysteriously there were exactly 69 when I originally checked in),
another however long writing my little nonsense...
and, like, FIVE HOURS still smiling whenever I think about
Rex writing (Re: RAISIN bread)
"Thanks for the help, clue."

hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.
OK, three and get a life.

michael 12:48 AM  

I like Manny's puzzles and usually don't find them hard. This puzzle was no exception -- it was a relatively easy Friday for me. Great clues and answers.

I wish someone could say more or less why some constructors/solvers are on the same wave length and others aren't. I don't think it is entirley or even mostly knowledge -- instead it seems related to cluing and wordplay.

MIchael G 3:40 AM  

Age and being born in Urbana helped on this one. I know several authors of Port Huron statement (and have read it) . Remember Bechuanaland from old maps, although there were both Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively) and remember the discovery of the Piltdown forgery. Also Phileas, I think from previous crosswords. And hasn't everyone heard that Spinoza was a lens grinder? I have often seen/heard it mentioned. Other answers came a bit slower, but this is clearly an old-timers' puzzle (if not too old).

retired_chemist 11:14 AM  

@ Michael G -

"hasn't everyone heard that Spinoza was a lens grinder?"

Obviously not I.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

It's Tuesday, I cheated on at least 8 answers and even with the solution it took me a while to 'get' the meaning of some of these answers. RELINES? That's a clever, sneaky, barely valid STRETCH. I also didn't like the combo of SO AS TO and CAN'T SAY AS I HAVE. Even with the solution I couldn't quite bring my head into that second one. This was a major challenge and is a great reason to keep puzzling, but my head hurts!

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

FYI, the old 50's movie with David Niven had the hero as Phineas Fogg, but Jules Verne named the guy Phileas. I saw the movie first as a kid, then read the book later and the name change struck me, so I knew the correct name for the puzzle. But movies seem to stick in the collective consciousness better than books...

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

ITSALULU??? WTF??? What a stretch.
I had the LULU part from solving that botto, corner but still didnt get it. Once i got the lulu part i got even more confused and decided this puzzle was bunk.
I admit, there were some good, clever clues in there, and xome of the ones you seemed to have trouble with i got right away (such as pan-hellenic when all i had was the P from Pele).
The "etailed" answer was particularly irksome too,
As was "cant say as i have" - shouldnt it be cant say i have or cant say that i have???
Oh, and the so as too also bothered me. I don't mind a challenge in the clues and answers, and even being vague is alright (such as _ bread... i felt good once i got some letters and realized it was raisin), but some of these just went to stupid or just felt like too much of a stretch... Once i saw what the answers were i was pretty glad i didnt get some of them

Waxy in Montreal 12:19 AM  

@Anonymous 4:58pm (why doesn't the date appear? comment may be in syndicate time): naw, the 1956 film (filmed in Todd-AO, no less) starred David Niven as Phileas Fogg, not Phineas.

Fine puzzle - may be an age thing but Rhodesia and Hepcat were easy, O Canada was a gimme for obvious reasons and except for the southwest, I wouldn't have considered it challenging for a Friday. Also, Norma is a pretty insignificant constellation - surely a Marilyn Monroe clue instead would have been more fun.

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