Mythical Hun king — FRIDAY, Oct. 23 2009 — 2001-05 Pontiac made in Mexico / Actor Ford of Snatch / Title girl in 1968 Turtles hit

Friday, October 23, 2009



Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: WYSIWYG (52A: Acronym for a kind of PC video screen display)WYSIWYG (pronounced /ˈwɪziˌwɪg/), is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. The term is used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed during editing appears very similar to the final output, which might be a printed document, web page, slide presentation or even the lighting for a theatrical event.

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Hard and grating, as opposed to hard and rewarding. Lots and lots of precious cluing made for few AHA moments and many UGH moments. There's thorny / clever cluing and then there's ... trying-too-hard cluing designed to make the puzzle more difficult / mask the fact that much of the fill is really quite bad. Now, there is much to like about the grid too. With the exception of the dreadful STINTER (16A: Spendthrift's antithesis), the NW was fine, and I especially liked the SW, which popped and crackled from VROOM (40A: Dragging sound) all the way down to LARGOS (59A: They don't move quickly) (WYSIWYG isn't original fill, but it's always fun to say). The POORness starts right around POOR, which has one of those cutesy clues — 39D: Below C level? Get it? Below sea level / C level? Yeah, you get it. I had -OOR and still had not idea what it was after – and 25% of the grades I gave on my last midterm were "Below C level." I consider "F" (which is "below C level") worse than POOR. POOR is "D" (actually, "C" to many of these kids). OK, so D *is* "below C level" even if "F" isn't, fine ... I have professional reasons for thinking this one sux. No big deal. Let it go ... It's just that everything east of here was like nails on chalkboard to me, especially in the NW, where, despite BRYCE CANYON's coming to me early (23A: National park with the Pink Cliffs), I couldn't get anything north of it to work, and then when I (finally) did, ugh and ugh.

You can be ESTRANGED, but very few people these days ESTRANGE other people. That was ... valid, but yuck (35D: Turns away). WTF is ALAN Ford (51D: Actor Ford of "Snatch")? Biggest nobody I've ever seen in a puzzle. His wikipedia page looks like it was made-up yesterday. He's "famous" for being in Guy Ritchie movies? Hell, GUY RITCHIE is barely famous enough to be in the damned grid. Yeesh. I know you think it's cute that you got two [Actor Ford]s in a row in there, but only one of them (GLENN — 47D: Actor Ford of "Gilda") is a valid answer.

And does this puzzle really have ATKA (32D: Aleutian island) and ATLI (21A: Mythical Hun king) in it???? What year is it? PFC and NCOS??? Really, this is not good. The (to my mind) obscure cluing on NCOS only made matters worse (20D: Mil. E-4 to E-9). Your answer is crosswordese. All the thorny cluing in the world can't hide that.

The worst part for me was the NE. After I laid ATLI on top of BRYCE CANYON ... nothing. ANGLO-Egytpian Sudan???? Got me. I tried ITALO- at one point. WAY IN is horrible fill. [Door] did nothing for me when I had -IN. Just nothing. Should have remembered the perfectly fine GOLAN Heights (10D: _____ Heights). Finally cracked the thing by throwing SOOTY up there (11D: Blackened), even though its clue seems (over-)designed to make you think of fish. Without knowing AZTEK (15D: 2001-05 Pontiac made in Mexico) — and I surrrrrre didn't — couldn't see ZOOLOGY for a long time (17A: Natural history museum subject). That could have been CAVE MAN or ... anything, really. The one "O" from SOOTY somehow jarred loose ALTOONA (15A: Locale of a Penn State campus), which is the only way I got the puzzle done. J-LO is familiar enough, but as clued (8D: Quadruple-platinum 2001 album), and with no crosses, I had not shot early on. Never heard of this particular ITO — another obscure actor, ugh (9D: Klugman's "Quincy, M.E." co-star). Final letter was the "K" in COKED. COKED. Yes, the big finale was ... COKED (28A: Converted from coal via distillation). So, a study in contrasts today. Liking first half OK, but stunned by a. bad fill and b. overly cutesy cluing in the second half.

Bullets:

  • 26A: One-named singer with the 2008 Grammy for Best New Artist (Adele) — more crosswordese, but hot damn! It's got the new clue that I knew was coming soon ...



  • 48A: Sacrifice site, in Siena (ara) — did someone say "crosswordese?" Yeah, I think someone did. OK, you didn't clue it as a [Heavenly altar] or whatever, but ... come on.
  • 51A: 1979 exile to Saudi Arabia (Amin) — I fear I'm just repeating myself here, but ... more tired fill from an earlier era. Only the "I'm going to throw you off" cluing toughened this up. I wrote in SHAH without even thinking. My bad.
  • 31A: 1980s El Salvadoran president (Duarte) — not sure how I (eventually) remembered this. Seems like the leaders of Central American countries were just much more in the news in the 80s (into early 90s).
  • 57A: Title girl in a 1968 Turtles hit (Elenore) — ... gee I think you're swell, and I can't believe that's how you spell your name. Weird.

[I think this guy did magic tricks at my 8th birthday party]

  • 4D: Opposite of dull (hone) — ah, the old "adj.-for-verb" trick. One way to toughen up your clues. Gets pulled out Twice today — here, and at 25D: Fancy to a fault (adulate).
  • 30D: Fine with the Stooges (Larry) — pretty sure I learned this in another Barry Silk puzzle. I forgot it completely until today. More actors I don't know. Bah.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

83 comments:

imsdave 7:08 AM  

Knowing the Pontiac AZTEK (probably the ugliest car ever built) opened up the NE for me right away. Even with the K in place, COKED just didn't feel like a real word. Easy/Medium for me.

Joe 7:39 AM  

K was my last letter, too. And I would have missed it if COCED didn't look so ugly. I liked the puzzle. It was one of those little lovelies that looked utterly un-doable in the beginning and then, bit by bit, things began to fall. I stared at the SE for years before IN RANGE gave me TREE RINGS. Loved VROOM and EUROPOP. I also don't know where I pulled DUARTE out of. I think Rex was a little hard on this one, but to each his own.

JannieB 7:57 AM  

I'm with @Joe on this one. After the way too easy stuff this week, today's outing was a well-placed Friday offering.

I threw in top hats right away but drew a blank on the rest of the NW so left it alone. The NE was next and I got that pretty quickly - then the SE and SW (best corner by far) and finally back to the NW.

Not my favorite "piece of Silk" - it definitely had a retro/Maleska feel to the fill - but I thought it was an enjoyable workout.

Crosscan 8:31 AM  

I'm with @Joe and @JanneiB on this one. A real Friday Friday.

My desktop background is a picture I took last year at BRYCE CANYON. I liked it better than the Grand Canyon. Beautiful place.

joho 8:34 AM  

TOPHATS is the carryover.

WTF is WYSIWYG a word?! is what I screamed in my head. Thanks for explaining, Rex.

I liked that both PFC and NCOS were in the same puzzle. Also TESTPAPER and POOR.

Loved the clue and answer for VROOM!!!

@imsdave ... I agree with you, the AZTEK is one ugly vehicle.

@Joe ... like you, I thought this was going to be impossible at first glance and then was happily surprised when I finished. I like puzzles like that ... and I definitely liked this better than Rex.

hazel 8:54 AM  

Seemed pretty standard friday fare to me also - a bunch of stuff i didn't know crossing a bunch of other stuff i didn't know. Slowly but surely all got resolved.

Thought it was more workmanlike than cute - i.e., high ratio of obscure facts to cute (i.e. annoying) wordplay clues.

STINTER is a pretty irritating word, regardless.

PuzzleGirl 9:06 AM  

I kinda liked this one. Maybe it's just that I'm totally thrilled that I can now finish a Friday puzzle in one sitting most of the time. Gives me hope for Puzzle 5 at the ACPT next year.

@imsdave: Yes, the AZTEK definitely has a top spot in the Ugly Car List, but the All-New Nissan Cube is giving it a run for its money. Actually saw one of these on the street the other day. I'm all, "Seriously?"

PuzzleGirl 9:08 AM  

P.S. I put TUXEDOS in for TOPHATS. Just like I did yesterday.

submariner_ss 9:14 AM  

This impossible dream became reality after a nearly blank start. Hampered by a little too much pop culture - Adele, JLO, (misspelled) Elenore. The real headscratcher was Ara. What has that got to do with Siena? Altar in Italian is altare.

WYSIWYG is archaic, beyond retro or obsolete. A big deal in the early days of the Microsoft and Apple battle but hardly seen today. Everything is displayed that way. Anything in computers that is more than a very few years is obsolete. Anything over a quarter of a century old is out of a dead language.

Howard B 9:21 AM  

The AZTEK reminds me of the SNL spoof 'Adobe' car for some reason.
I'm just extremely thankful that "made in Mexico" was appended to its clue, or else I'd still be floundering around in that area.

Challenging puzzle, though I was left feeling as if I had been trampled by the Philly Phanatic. I suppose in a way, that's true.

Karen from the Cape 9:25 AM  

Lots of mis-starts for me...TUXEDOS for TOPHATS, TESTSCORE for TESTPAPER, CANADA for CANYON (it didn't say what nation). I kept trying to expand FIBULAS to take up PATELLAS space. TEENPOP for EUROPOP, ATTU for ATKA, GEOLOGY for ZOOLOGY (I figured some band might be JLE (Justice League Europe)). But hey, I knew COKED, and WYSIWIG, and POOR. MY favorite answers were PARAKEET and VALLEY FORGE (more nice misdirection)

retired_chemist 9:26 AM  

WONDERFUL puzzle. A true challenge – yet doable. Thank you, Mr. Silk. Retro/Maleska is just fine with me.

Started with 1A TOP HATS, put down the (correct but ultimately incorrect) HERSHEY for 15A, got 22A PFC, then had a truly blank grid (cf. Joe’s and joho’s comments) until 52A WYSIWYG. 44-45-46 D got me to try FALLS CHURCH @ 43A and BARGES @ 59A. D’oh….. Lacked the courage of my convictions and delayed VROOM (40A) and ARA (48A) until most of the crosses were in.

Interesting mistakes: the aforementioned HERSHEY and BARGES; TERM PAPER for 1D; STEAM TAP for 7D; FOPPISH (thinking fancy was an adjective) for 25D. And yet it all fell into place in reasonable time.

COIXT RECORDS 9:29 AM  

Dave Barry once called the Pontiac Aztek "The Hunchcar of Notre Dame" and "The Buttmobile."

John 9:39 AM  

After the Aztek Pontiac came out with the Vibe. Wasnt that a modified Aztek?

Elaine 9:44 AM  

Despite getting PATELLAS, ETONIAN, and BRYCE CANYON, and even VROOM and DEALING very early, this puzzle just wasn't for me. Even when words emerged, I couldn't BELIEVE they went with the clues! and there were far too many obscure recording "artists" and unknown actors to make this interesting.

I got everything but the NW, and having TOPHATS (repeat!) didn't help. Phooey. Killed me, and I did not finish.

Elaine 9:46 AM  

Just saw the newest comments come up... hand up for TERMPAPER, BARGES. But I wasn't as with it as Ret-Chem. Oh well!

nanpilla 9:57 AM  

I confidently filled in TOPHATS and MOSAIC right across the top and thought this was going to be another easy one. Wrong! This was definitely challenging for me. Put in ostracize for ESTRANGES (I know, not even the correct tense), which also slowed down the SE. Oh, and Radar for CEDAR. So I guess I really made this one hard all by myself with all of those wrong answers to have to fix!
Go Phillies!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:01 AM  

3/4 of this one fell with the usual amount of effort to solve a weekend puzzle, but great googly moogly. That NE was just stupidly unfair. Not really much else to say about this one. Where's the freshness? The risk? The innovation?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Leaving the question of quality to the experts, I was just happy to be able to finish this correctly in under an hour!

Judith 10:34 AM  

I gave up! That doesn't happen too often. Guess I should study my crosswordeze....

dk 11:01 AM  

Much better Flo and Eddy: MAD TURTLES

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! HAT TRICK

Just guessed ALTOONA and the rest was fastest Friday ever.

Ulrich 11:03 AM  

I, too, started with several blank minutes until AMIN could be seeded, followed by ORTEGA at 31A, which immediately slowed me down again. But the SE fell eventually, then the SW and then the NE. The NW was hardest--I tricked myself by second-guessing Pope and thought the current (German) pope would start his prayers with an "O Herr" (Oh Lord).

@Joe: I never corrected the C in COCED, not remembering the car, let alone how it was spelled...

One word to those who are blase about WYSIWYG: I remember well the days when you prepared a document by intermingling content and formatting instructions (as you do to the present day if you write straight HTML) and had to wait for the printout to see what the thing actually looked like. Getting a WYSIWYG editor was pure bliss. Yes, these types of interfaces are now the norm, but so is indoor plumbing--that doesn't make it outdated or obsolete, to me.

XMAN 11:04 AM  

I'm with the tiny "couldn't finish" crowd. The SW moidered me. I couldn't see VOWEL to save my life.

Babs 11:07 AM  

I managed to finish this one, starting last night and filling in the blanks this morning. A good challenge.

Two Ponies 11:10 AM  

I must have REALLY overslept today.
This was a Saturday puzzle for me. I just couldn't get in the groove at all. For ex. the clue for vowel? Adele? If she isn't Jane Eyre's ward I don't know her. Two many places that were no fun even after revealing themselves. I usually enjoy a Silk puzzle but today I took a real beating. Maybe my brain was too largo today.
I would never have gotten wysiwyg even with a gun to my head.

SethG 11:29 AM  

My first answer was BEHREND. It didn't get better.

Elaine 11:50 AM  

@ SethG and others

My hubby WENT to Penn State-- and he couldn't come up with an answer. I knew BEHREND (but thought it had an S at the end)...and it didn't work anyhow...
Penn State has 17 or more campuses, after all.

Even with Google help this puzzle had blanks when I gave up.
three and out

pednsg 12:01 PM  

I'm in the "if I can finish a Friday with less than two or three blanks, I'm oh so happy" camp. My first run through the acrosses yielded a single answer, and I didn't do much better with the downs the first time. Why is it that putting the darn thing down for a few minutes REALLY works? Slowly but surely, in no order whatsoever, I finished with a single stupid error. For me, there are few things more satisfying than cracking one of these wide open, and at this point in my crossword career, I have a big smile!

Dave 12:21 PM  

the hard/grating vs. hard/rewarding distinction works for me.

i'm a computer geek and have been for a while and WYSIWYG was new to me.

Sagacious Trout 12:26 PM  

Hey, Ma, look at me, I'm on the internet!

I finished maybe a third of this one from the SE diagonally up to the middle and nothing in the NE except ALATOON. ALATOON! Here I am down in Houston and never been to Pennsylvania except for an interstate-blurry trip up to Maine 20 years ago and don't follow college sports and all by myself adrift in a sea of white squares I guess ALATOON. That's close enough. And I got ALERA off the A.

I thought BRYCE CANYON was an old comic strip. Never heard of it otherwise.

Anybody here speak German or whatever language "Oooten gleeten glotten globen" means something in? Heard that on the radio today and was reminded that nobody writes songs the subject of which is rocking anymore.

Rex Parker 12:30 PM  

Most sagacious comment ever! A throwaway reference to "Steve Canyon" combined with intense Def Leppard lyrical analysis? That's impressive stuff. Genius. More please.

If that paragraph sounded facetious, I assure you it's not. Neither is this one.

rp

SethG 12:39 PM  

I'm pretty sure I've never failed to identify a Sagacious comment from its first sentence. What Rex said, Trout.

Daryl 12:40 PM  

I agree that this was more of a (medium) slog than ultimately rewarding but not sure I'd agree with BEQ that the NE was unfair. Got JIGSAW straight off the bat which gave me GOLAN and SOOTY next.

I hate car model clues like AZTEK, but that's a function of not being in America and not knowing what's on the market.

Daryl 12:44 PM  

What I thought though was that an E-4 is often a Specialist and that Specialists in the current US military system are not considered NCOs.

Rex Parker 12:47 PM  

To me, a JIGSAW is a saw and a JIGSAW puzzle is a JIGSAW puzzle. I'm weird that way.

rp

mccoll 1:06 PM  

I liked the commentary better than the puzzle;from everyone, actually.
Rather entertaining.
This one was medium for me. I got it with a google for ADELE, which gave me PRINCETON (Go Tigers) Who knew?

The Aztek reminds me of the Swedish/American auto dubbed the "Vomit." It has a throw up hood and a horn that goes Braaack.

jae 1:10 PM  

I'm with Joe et. al. at the top of the comment list. I thought this was OK and about right (read medium) for a Fri. My last fill was to change the C to K in COKED. Interesting that KNEECAPS also fits 29a.

ArtLvr 1:24 PM  

I agreed with r_c: good Friday and gettable, -- but Rex made some good points too. ("Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln...") That STINTER was a stinker: I'd have preferred yesterday's Hoarder again!

Once started in the right directions I enjoyed it, but I saw lots of misdirections to ignore like Diorama for ZOOLOGY, Spritzer for SPRAY CAN, the bones that weren't PATELLAE, even Attu/ATKA.

GOLAN got me going, with ATLI, and it was VROOM down around through the BRYCE CANYON and VALLEY FORGE areas. WYSIWYG was a What the _? The NW took a bit extra time to untangle since I wanted Bobcats on top. Also, I should have caught PRINCETON's Tigers sooner, as I'd lived there.

I like Latin plurals, but think I'd nominate anyone using ASYLA for "asylums" for return to the same...

∑;)

Guy who stole "Guy who.." from the Trout 1:29 PM  

Y'all know who the trout is, no?

Two Ponies 1:29 PM  

Ah, one of my favorite LOL moments on this blog "That's what I am, a sage stuffed trout."
Welcome back.

Ulrich 1:53 PM  

@sagacious trout: Slip back into your prior incarnation as German shepherd and you'll understand. Hint: Think of the third stanza of the German national anthem sung in the East-Frisian dialect!

Hazelden, Inc. 2:09 PM  

ALATOON is not in Pennsylvania, but is a branch of our main Rehab center here in Center City Minn. We serve the TOON community in their struggles against addiction, helping them return to responsible, sober lives. As these sober lives are dedicated entirely to your enjoyment, we would appreciate their not being the butt of your jokes.

Sincerely,
Bill W, Founder.

XMAN 2:24 PM  

Nobly put, Bill of Hazelden. Let me assure that any hint of humor you find on this blog is strictly accidental. Jest is as frowned on here as farts at a quilting bee. So, if it appeared that your dear TOONS were dissed, be assured that it was mere appearance without substance. Best of luck in your endeavors.

jau 2:31 PM  

Adele won the 2009 - not 2008 - best new artist!! An outright error unless Amy Winehouse didn't actually win hers.

Estrange and dull are not verbs except in cruciverbalist's heads, I think. (Dull would have to be a verb if the opposite of hone is dull, right?)

I thought apt means able or likely (he's apt to do that...)? Have you ever said, gee that guy is really apt and meant he was quick??

And yet, like Rex, I liked some of the puzzle a lot. Weird. Maybe Silk's evil twin did the ATKA/ATLI, ARA/ARAL, FORD/FORD, etc. clues.

Noah Webster 2:36 PM  

@ jau - Be careful in slashing your fellow commenters, lest ye dull your instrument too quickly. As you are an apt pupil, you will understand my admonition.

Rex Parker 2:38 PM  

We've been over and over this.

Grammy ceremonies are where people win awards based on music released the previous year (hence ADELE won the 2008 Grammy for Best New Artist in early '09). See list of all such winners here.

HudsonHawk 2:41 PM  

Thanks Rex, you beat me to it. Is it possible to put the Oscar/Grammy award year explanation in your "important posts"?

foodie 2:42 PM  

what are you all smoking?
I need some...

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

slow going but I got there.
I feel like a stooge but would
someone 'splain Larry on 34D
plesae? thanks, Rhea

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

@Rhea Larry Fine was Larry of Curly, Moe & Larry

JannieB 2:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 3:02 PM  

Tough, tough puzzle. Googled a lot and then had to come here to finish.

Went to Bryce canyon a couple of years ago. It is fantastic.

I agree, the aztek has to be one of the ugliest cars along with the Nisson Cube. I too saw one the other day!!!

Clark 3:06 PM  

RANT and COKED crossing NCOS and AZTEK was tough to bring down. But for the most part I was just on Mr. Silk's wavelength today (rare for me on a Friday). VOWEL LARGOS VROOM ADULATE: well-clued for a Friday, it seems to me.

poc 4:01 PM  

WYSIWYG is a term used to describe a characteristic of some computer applications, mainly editors and word processors. It does *not* refer to a display (a display is a specific piece of hardware, also called a monitor.) This one really set my teeth on edge.

(Critics refer to the limitations of this kind of system as What You See Is All You Get).

PlantieBea 4:06 PM  

Many false starts including hoarder followed by pack rat, tuxedos, hatters (for halters), and entry. I had to google the pink cliff park to get help in the whole north half and finish the puzzle. Grrr.

We saw Flo and Eddie perform Elanore at Epcot's Flower Power concert series this year. They sound exactly the same.

edmcan 4:13 PM  

I guess I'm an idiot, but I hated this puzzle. Too smart for it's own good, I say.

dk 4:14 PM  

Bill of Hazelden you hapless fool, the units name is ALTUNA, we are the offspring of mercury laden parents.

Stay on those steps and you will get there.

Signed
Kilgore Trout
Author of Sense and Sagacious: The COKED years.

Trout Stuffed with Sagacity 4:23 PM  

Steve Canyon! Yes, that's it. I think my thought process was something like Canyon = Nature = Mark Trail = screw it, it has something to do with one of those comic strips I never read because they were drawn serious instead of funny and that was somebody's name, like Mark Trail or Mary Worth or somebody Canyon.

Ulrich, fished in! Of course it's the third verse of the German national anthem sung in East Frisian dialect. Who don't know that?

sanfranman59 4:26 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 32:42, 26:03, 1.26, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 18:36, 12:23, 1.50, 100%, Challenging

This one's stacking up as one of the most challenging puzzles (relative to the day of the week) of the 109 puzzles I've tracked over the past 5 months. In fact, as it stands now, it ranks as the most challenging based on the top 100 solve times. After the relatively easy puzzles of earlier this week, today's represents a real change of pace.

Robin 4:58 PM  

Wow. Aren't we all feeling frisky today? Googly-moogly is my word o'the day.

Hobbyist 5:33 PM  

Hard and clever as ever w. Mr. Silk. Missed the rutabagas et al today.
So pitiable are those who refuse to try same.

andrea rant michaels 5:47 PM  

GOLAN and LARRY were my only answers first time through the grid...I'm such a jew!

(Oops, I actually also got OSAY too)

I never ever ever learn...I NEVER enjoy Barry Silk puzzles but always feel compelled to do them and then am always sorry I did...
but once again I slogged through with zero enjoyment in determination to join in on this conversation or at least know what y'all are talking about.

(It feels like that old Lily Tomlin routine about adding up how long an orgasm lasts and weighing it against all the bullshit you go through to get there...)

I STILL don't get the VOWEL clue, nor the ONENESS...I am actually sorry to learn WYSIWYG and I had to google BOTH Fords to get going.
(as well as BRYCE CANYON, ATLI, the spelling of ELENORE)


@Puzzlegirl
I haven't even heard of the Cube!!!!!!!!! I'm still in name shock from The Aspire and The Fit!!!!!!
They gave out Aztek Pontiacs for a while on "Survivor" which was sort of dumb to be in wilderness with no roads and then win a car.

Considered PARROTERS I so didn't want ATKA...which is the sound I will now make whenever I see another Barry Silk puzzle.

andrea reexamine michaels 5:49 PM  

ps @Robin
WIth you on googly-moogly!
Maybe not so frisky as COKED up?

andrea europop michaels 6:10 PM  

oh, and another thing about ELENORE

I saw a sneak peek of another abysmal film called "Pirate Radio" that was supposed to be about rock and roll in 1967 England but ended up, thanks to a horrid script (by the writer of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" which I loved!) that in-between English boy's Public school humor filled with sniggering jokes about small "knobs", at least four shots of people on a toilet, tittering references to lesbians and other women-fearing plotlines, homosexual experimentation referencing, one mean Scrabble joke, not-to-mention punchlines no better than "He's from (Fill in obscure English town)!" had to resort to having a character named Elenore, just so they could play that song on the soundtrack!

On a more positive note, @Rex comment about that guy doing magic tricks at your 8th birthday will actually have me laughing out loud the rest of the day...

Larry Golan 6:33 PM  

I'm pretty sure the magician's trying to rhyme "et cetera" and "better". And NDE finds pop music "unimaginative"!?

Robin 6:46 PM  

WAY INto Ret_Chem's puppies. More pics, please?

JannieB 6:51 PM  

@Andrea - an AU pair = A & U, both of which are vowels (cue Vanna)

Ulrich 7:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 7:21 PM  

@JannieB: I thought the "au" and "ai" were the vowels b/c if you pronounce them the French way, that's what they are--they are not diphthongs, and there are two of them in the phrase.

@acme: Your remark about learning WYSIWYG reminds me of the guy in the Moliere play who learned that he has been speaking prose all his life--no need to learn anything;-)

BTW I knew you wouldn't bite on the indoor plumbing theme!!!!!!

edith b 7:31 PM  

I had a wicked hard time with this one due to errors of all sorts. I had GEOLOGIST at 34D, erased it because I knew 17A was GEOLOGY (confirmed by the L at GOLAN and O at SOOTY), was married far too long to ORTEGA at 31A which totally bolloxed up the SE for me.

The long way back began with neons at VALLYFORGE and BRYCECANYON and the piecing together of the NW and SE one clue at a time - loved EUROPOP and WYSYWYG - and the TAXER/REEXAMINE cross helped me correct my errors in the SE.

I spent more time correcting mistakes than I ever remember and I got ALTOONA without knowing Penn State had a campus there which pretty much tells you all you need to know about this puzzle.

Tough puzzle for me but perseverance saw me throug hwhen several years ago I would have given up

foodie 7:34 PM  

Words to live by:

"After the opera is done I’ll re-instill some discipline or at least some pro forma hand-wringing into this process."

From Trout Stuffed with Sagacity--AKA Nutcracker Buck

Two Ponies 8:10 PM  

Wow and thanks to foodie and Buck

JannieB 8:11 PM  

@Ulrich - I guess it depends on how you parse the clue.

Ruth 8:38 PM  

re ARA: in my Garzanti big fat Italian dictionary, ARA is defined thusly: "presso gli antichi romani, altare destinato ai sacrifici." So yup, at least for the ancient Romans, the definition is legit.

mac 9:00 PM  

Lovely puzzle, Friday-worthy, clever clues and lovely answers, and TOTALLY UNDOABLE!

I usually do well with the Barry Silk puzzles and like them but today the whole NW was blank. For the Pope statement I had "No man" (right, right?). I've just read all the comments and it sounds as if Foodie and I are on the same wavelength.....

Aaah, I do have an excuse. Dinner party tomorrow, I've been shopping and chopping and cooking all day.
Have to get back to my short-rib sauce.

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:21, 7:00, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 8:36, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:44, 11:45, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:56, 18:17, 0.76, 8%, Easy
Fri 33:56, 26:07, 1.30, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:44, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:24, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:46, 0.89, 19%, Easy
Thu 6:34, 8:51, 0.74, 6%, Easy
Fri 18:15, 12:22, 1.48, 98%, Challenging

retired_chemist 10:37 PM  

@ Robin - I'm out of town and non-puzzle wife does not know how to upload pictures to the web page. Give me about ten days for more puppy pix. Thanks for the interest.

the Smart Bohemian 11:04 PM  

The very first thing I entered confidently was "ELEANOR," and the very last thing I did was to correct it to "ELENORE." Ridiculous.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

大陸新娘要幾歲才能嫁來台灣?外籍新娘如何申請良民證? 大陸新娘來台後須多久才可以申請身份証呢?外籍大陸新娘來台後在沒身份証情形下可以工作嗎? 外籍新娘努力向上,台南有一個大陸新娘,他在大陸是一新疆舞的老師,他雖然嫁來台灣當大陸新娘,但是他一樣努力向上他為了讓新疆舞的美讓台灣人都知道於是在公園教越南新娘林氏一起跳,二個人就這樣變成好姐妹,越南新娘也因為如此他的生活也更加充實開心.

andrea oneliner michaels 3:48 AM  

@Rex
Did you know "It's raining men" was co-written by Paul SHaffer (of David Letterman fame) in 1979, I think before Letterman was even a gleam in the eyes of the young girls he's slept with...

@Hudson Hawk
ohmygod, I realize the Poundstone curse can work with Gamache as well!
A lot of people love my puzzles, but do you know who they REALLY think is great??? PAULA!

FIrst answer was TINATURNER and I think the two TInas are sort of ok, bec TINA in TINA TURNER is clearly not from the name Christina in this case...

My favorite memory of my early days in SF is my pal Johnny M dressing up as Ms Turner for Halloween...he was not yet out, but that was the final indication.
What's love got to do got to do with it?

kas 8:58 AM  

hi

Waxy in Montreal 2:18 PM  

From SyndCity: toughie today. Desperately wanted to use STINGER (weird back-formation from STINGY) instead of STINTER. Had PARROTER instead of PARAKEET and TUXEDOS for TOPHATS. Wanted WALLAWALLA instead of VALLEY FORGE (even tho it didn't fit). Stumbled into the other pitfalls of SHAH and ORTEGA as well which didn't help. Also, wanted BARGES rather than LARGOS. Only ended up solving correctly after Binging BRYCE CANYON and ADELE.

Nevertheless, IMHO a great Friday puzzle. Thanks, BCS.

Old John 2:45 PM  

I'm probably one of the few people here old enough to have owned the Turtles' album containing the song "Elenore." Every time I see Eleanor, I think it's misspelled.

By the way, who are you people? Googling? Erasing? Use a pen and your brain, nothing else.

Rex, Rex, Rex. Any reference to the immortal Stooges is proper material for crosswords forever and ever.

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