Physicist James / FRI 2-12-10 / 10-kilogauss units / Novelist who was lifelong friend of Capote / Sci-fi's Chief Chirpa / Hanukkah nosh

Friday, February 12, 2010

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: None

Word of the Day: AZOLE (22D: Nitrogen compound)

An azole is a class of five-membered nitrogen heterocyclic ring compounds containing at least one other non-carbon atom of either nitrogen, sulfur, or oxygen.[1] The parent compounds are aromatic and have two double bonds; there are successively reduced analogs (azolines and azolidines) with fewer. One, and only one, lone pair of electrons from each heteroatom in the ring is part of the aromatic bonding in an azole. Names of azoles maintain the prefix upon reduction (such as pyrazoline, pyrazolidine), except for pyrrole, which has no -azole suffix and is reduced to pyrroline and pyrrolidine. The numbering of ring atoms in azoles starts with the heteroatom that is not part of a double bond, and then proceeds towards the other heteroatom. [if you stayed awake for all that, you're a better (wo)man than I am] (wikipedia)
• • •

1A: 9 + 3 + 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + ..., e.g. put me off this puzzle immediately, and once I lost that loving feeling, I never got it back— despite the fact that there is nothing really wrong with the puzzle at all. The grid is impressive in that obvious way that giant stacks of 15 always are. The fill is pretty solid given the (daunting) grid constraints imposed by said stacks (though it's really really hard to love a puzzle that hands you the gruesome twosome of ECHT (2D: German "genuine") and O'TEA (3D: "Cup ___" (1970s Don Williams song)) right off the bat). And yet it was way out of my wheelhouse and either arcane or dull to me. Too much math/science for me, and too much of it zzzzzzzzzzz boring. Here a JOULE (23D: Physicist James who contributed to the laws of thermodynamics), there an AZOLE (22D: Nitrogen compound), here some TESLAS (6D: 10-kilogauss units), there a GEOMETRIC SERIES, here a whatever. And so many of those answers (3) crammed in that tiny western section — I blanked on Harper LEE's name (39A: Novelist who was a lifelong friend of Capote), and paid dearly for it, as I found the section next-to-impossible to fill out without her. Literally half my solving time was spent just staring at that section. I'm sure thunderstorms produce OZONE, but ... yeah, that didn't come to mind (30A: Thunderstorm product). I don't even know what AZOLE is. I'm pronouncing it like "asshole." Is that wrong? I hope not. JOULE is some guy's name? Some guy who "contributed to" the laws of thermodynamics? Pretty vague. And then RAJAHS was clued with a cross-reference to a word that was *in this same damned section* (itself vaguely clued — ROYAL as a noun, 21D: One with subjects). Finally accepted ANKA (24D: He had a #4 hit with "It's Time to Cry") and then, facing -AHS at 21A: Some 21-Downs, just guessed RAJAHS ("What's a word I know that ends '-AHS'...?"). That fixed things.

[Charisma!]

Then there was the bottom half of the puzzle, which went down like a Wednesday. So, this was ... weird and uneven for me. But I fully admit this is more a matter of taste than a matter of substandard construction.

Bullets:
  • 17A: Seminal naturalistic work ("The Descent of Man") — I know this is by Darwin (Happy Birthday, btw), but all I can think of is the poster showing a line of beings from apeman to homo sapiens ... and then I wasn't sure about "Descent," as it seems to connote devolution, a fall rather than a rise. I also initially misread the clue as [Semi-naturalistic work].
  • 55A: 13-time Grey Cup winners (Edmonton Eskimos) — well, the EDMONTON part was easy from a few crosses (and knowing that the Grey Cup is Canada's Super Bowl). ESKIMOS ... was unexpected.
  • 4D: Trend in 1970s fashion (midi) — pfft. Could've been anything as far as I was concerned. AFRO?
  • 13D: "This ___ ... Then" (Jennifer Lopez album) ("Is Me") — that may be the most painful clue I've ever had to type.
  • 25D: Hanukkah nosh (latke) — these always make me think of Andy Kaufman, who was familiar to me long before I'd ever heard of LATKEs.
  • 27D: Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld (Orion) — yeah, he saw a lot of people. A LOT of people.
  • 28D: Animated character who likes "Hello, Dolly!" songs (Wall-E) — I don't even understand the clue. There is a song (singular) called "Hello, Dolly!" I am not aware of there being a genre of songs called "Hello, Dolly!" songs. But then I haven't seen the movie in question. [I see now: songs from the *musical* named "Hello, Dolly!" ... ah, retrospect, why must things seem so obvious in you?]
  • 25A: Tir à ___ (bow-and-arrow sport: Fr.) (l'arc) — seen it before, but it still beat me down today. Couldn't do a thing with it, and had every letter from crosses before I figured out how to parse it.
  • 31D: Sci-fi's Chief Chirpa, e.g. (Ewok) — !?!? those things had names? Guessed this off the "W" — from YOU KNOW THE DRILL, which is by far my favorite answer in the grid (33A: Routine statement?).
  • 48D: Lightman who wrote "Einstein's Dreams" (Alan) — ALAN Lightman is about as familiar to me as, say, Don Williams. That is, I've never heard of either. Lightman is the name of Tim Roth's character on "Lie to Me," which appears to have gone missing again. I really like that show.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

117 comments:

lit.doc 12:03 AM  

Tonight, I will not be crabby and intemperate. This one was flat out hard, but nothing about it pissed me off. Finished in 72:20 with only a half-dozen googles [cue laugh track]. Good learning experience.

Much to my surprise, I worked through the N and S slabs of 15s and then spent an eternity on the center. Happy birthday to Darwin indeed, as his seminal work was the key to N for me. Had to google E_HT and Don Williams (whose “Cup O’WTF was big in the ‘70s). In S, got ESKIMOS from the crosses, but had to google for EDMONTON. Also for JANSEN. “To be in a faraway land” was my favorite clue of the night.

Had to google to get JOULE and EWOK (oh please, I’ve seen the progressively dreadful movies a bunch o’ times, and I’m supposed to remember THAT?). Square 28 was the last filled. Saw Wall-E and liked it a lot, but have no memory of hello anybody but Eve.

Enough missteps to feel annoyed and challenged. PASTIME INTERESTS was so tempting that I entertained the possibility of a rebus (yeah, I know it ain’t gonna happen in a Friday NYT), but was saved by the lack of a symmetrical problem in SE. FINE before JAKE. DANTE before ORION (The Inferno?!). AGOG before ASHY. And AN ARTIST before OP (symptomatic of how the center went down).

foodie 12:09 AM  

I thought this was a truly beautiful grid, and the stacks of long answers were very impressive. I also thought it belonged on a Saturday.

Of course, I like the science vibe, but AZOLE did not come easily...

I don't love ESSENTIAL ORGANS as a phrase... VITAL (too short of course) INTERNAL?

Zeke 12:22 AM  

We need a term, along the lines of Modified Olaf, for clues such as "Cup ____ (blah blah blah)" where the blah blah blah states 99.9% of you simply have to fill in 4 letters which may logically follow Cup. I trust Wade will chime in with a dissertation on the merits of Don Williams, but I can't convince myself the clue didn't read Don Johnson, so I will ignore Wade.
Aren't all INTERESTS, kind of by definition, ACTIVE? I mean, if they're not active, how interested are you in them, really? Unless dating sites differentiate between active and passive interests.

I just came out of an AA meeting which calls itself the TELLITLIKEITIS Group. It's all I can do to keep from screaming, as they announce this name every week, it should be TELLITASITIS.

Martin 12:23 AM  

I don't even know what AZOLE is. I'm pronouncing it like "asshole." Is that wrong?

That depends how you pronounce "asshole."

It's pronounced like the way I pronounce "a-hole," but with a "z" instead of an "h."

Martin 12:29 AM  

Pronunciation notwithstanding, the most common use of azole compounds is in treating feminine fungal infections. Any remedy beginning with "Vagi-" is probably azole-based. Ironic, no?

treedweller 12:33 AM  

I was really proud of myself, with the top and bottom falling smoothly (not in a great time, but still an accomplishment for me). Then I got to that middle part. I am so relieved to see EWOK wasn't obvious to someone else. But I tried "idee" for the French thing (no particular reason, other than I don't speak any French), which made me want a "pupil" with subjects, which gave me nothing for RAJAHS. Even with the AHS, I kept trying for "allahs", and still couldn't see royals. AZOLE was "oxide" and, briefly, "amide" (is that possible? I know it's something). I ran the alphabet more than once trying to figure out what kind of ARTIST I was looking for. Could not stop trying to make EVEN THo fit. Finally, google got me EWOK, which got me the first part of THE DRILL, and then--I googled for JOULE to finish. Ooof!

edith b 12:37 AM  

I had more or less the same solving experience as Rex: I found the South far easier than the North, misread the Darwin clue and instead was looking for a novel in the Dreisser/Norris tradition and spent a long time in the same West Coast area as he did.

I had most of the South finished before venturing North but as I crossed the Midlands, I did find the North a little less daunting than I found it at first. I wonder if all that white space slightly intimidated me and I failed to thrive on that level?

My big break in that region was remembering that yesterday it was mentioned that not only was it Lincoln's birthday, it was also Charles Darwins' and once I determined the true reading of the naturalistic clue, I entered THEDESCENTOFMAN without further crosses and that was the dealbreaker, to put a reverse spin on an old chestnut.

I found this one to be a tale of three puzzles, one Medium, one Hard and one confusing. Once I found a corner I could pry up, I was able to cherry pick my way through was one.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Rex goes out of his way, he makes a point of going out of his way, to ignore technical accomplishments, but this one is worth mentioning.

Stacks of four fifteen-letter answers are rare. There has only been one other in Times history. This one has two such stacks. Wow.

Three of the long answers were no-cross gimmees for me so I found it easier than usual for a Friday but still incredibly enjoyable.

Steve J 12:55 AM  

As I've been getting back into puzzles and getting better at them, I've found myself continually hitting a wall called Friday and Saturday. I can pretty regularly solve through Thursday, but I struggle with Fridays and Saturdays. This Friday wall was a particularly firm one for me.

My innate ability to retain trivia paid off in getting EDMONTONESKIMOS right off the bat with no crosses (I knew Grey Cup referred to the Canadian Football League championship, and that's the team that fit). That enabled me to poke away at some of the downs. And that's about as far as I got before crying unkle. Just didn't have the energy to try to slog through it for an hour or more.

Pretty impressive grid. Now that I see what was going on, I don't think anything in it was cheap. Nicely done.

I'm going to have to find a way over the Friday/Saturday wall one of these days. Just not today.

By the way, Alan Lightman's "Einstein's Dreams" is one of my absolute favorite novels. It's not a beautiful book, in the way that my favorite novel ("All the King's Men") is, but it's one of the most thought-provoking things I've read, and next to the Tao Te Ching, it's one of the best things I've read to inspire me to live in the present rather than wishing for an alternative.

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

Since no one seems to have said it yet, I will:

Congratulations Kevin on a world crossword first!!!

This is a truly astonishing grid.

This feat of construction has NEVER been done before... and if it has, I don't think it's been published, and I doubt if it has been done this well, with 15s anything like as good as these.

I'll say it again unless anyone missed what I said:

This is a truly astonishing grid!!!


-Martin Ashwood-Smith

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

In case you don't know, Martin Ashwood-Smith is the King of the triple-stack grids.

- RC

retired_chemist 1:06 AM  

Wow. TWO quad-stacks of 15. I agree with previous posters that that is impressive. (Almost) solving it makes me feel like part of history.

I was so sure that 40D was (Dan) JENSEN I left JER in - so finished with one error.

The 15s were gettable without a lot of to-do since the crosses were relatively straightforward. Tried MATZO for 25D and had enough reinforcement (the -AT--) that it stayed. Too long. Hey, I'm just an ordinary goy..... That and RULER @ 21D made the midsection messy for a while.

AZOLE troubles me. 40 plus years as an organic chemist and I never considered that AZOLES comprised a class of compound. Do not recall any textbook using the term stand-alone. It's a suffix which has a structural implication for the molecules. Kinda like -INE for amino acids, which nobody calls INES.

Nonetheless, I really liked the puzzle. Thank you, Mr. Der.

Spencer 1:25 AM  

AZOLE and the whole central-California section killed me. I did have AMIDE first, but it didn't fit in too many ways. THEDESCENTOFMAN was my first fill, although I was pretty sure that 1A ended SERIES, I couldn't figure out what kind of series. Should'a gotten GEOMETRIC (tried EXPONENTIAL but it didn't fit).

I thought of JOULE but from the name I've always figured he was French. Whaddya know? I'm ashamed to say I had to Google for ANKA. 4-letter songwriter = ANKA.

Got ESKIMOS from crosses, then the initial E gave me EDMONTON.

ALLA francese isn't French, which fooled me for while. It's Italian, used for food cooked "in the French style."

Rex, "Hello, Dolly!" songs refers, very simply, to songs from the movie "Hello, Dolly!"

chefwen 1:52 AM  

I agree with @edith b - this was three different puzzles. For me, the lower third was medium, middle was difficult, and the top was Holy crap, I don't know anything. Finally broke through with ACTIVE INTERESTS and the rest was history. However, I did end up with a major headache and must go watch mindless T.V. to eliminate the pain. At least I can finally finish a Friday (Thanks Rex and others) it's been a fun ride. Looking forward to many more.

SethG 2:29 AM  

THIRTEEN AND A HALF didn't fit. Neither did Rosey GRIER or the TORONTO ARGONAUTS.

I've taken Acetazolamide, which is not an antifungal. TRIG is both math/science and Palin.

I liked the clue for CYGNET, and I like the word CYGNET. OWS, not so much.

Rube 2:41 AM  

This was my kind of puzzle. I usually have trouble on Fri-Sat puzzles, but, like most of you engineer-scientists out there, I found this fun... hard, but fun.

1A & 6D were gimmes and the rest of the north just flowed. Did not have much success in the middle on 1st time thru. The south felt like a Wed. Did not like 47D, ITTO. Blanched when I saw the JELLO drink -- we had this recently and I nearly tossed my cookies then. Wanted Toronto Argonauts, but wouldn't fit. Had to piece out the Eskimos one cross at a time.

Back in the middle I put Clerk in 23D, as in James Clerk Maxwell. (Remembered his real name as James Clerk and the Maxwell was added as a title. Wrong. That was his father per Wiki.) THus, got no traction in the MidWest so struggled thru the MidEast. We had AIOLI here a few weeks ago, similarly clued. (Incidentally, AIOLI goes well with bass!)

With a few downs in the middle, the 15 of 33A became obvious and then JOULE was a natural with RAJAHS and then ROYALS dutifully following. Last letter was the h in hALLE. Yeah I know Halle Berry doesn't look anything like Barbra Streisand but what the hey. Came here to get straightened out and felt foolish 'cause I saw Wall-e on the airplane recently. Still don't remember Hello Dolly songs in the movie.

Must confess to a little cheating here. I have to get my blood tested tomorrow so have had no alcohol all day, (and evening). @Tinbeni, eat your heart out.

(Captcha is aimie... close enough for Valentine's day.)

andrea echt michaels 3:19 AM  

This puzzle was sort of like pouring a nice glass of wine or something, as I got the whole bottom filled in and then inch by inch filled the middle and then the top.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't fully notice the stacks, so I'll chime in on the congratulations construction-wise!

What I liked was it seemed SO completely Kevin Der-ish. I don't know Kevin that well, but it seemed to totally reflect him as an individual, lots and lots of science and math (I'll bet the TRIG clue wasn't originally Palin) + EWOK/WALLE kind of stuff, and a team I'd never heard of, and then this sort of deadpan, "YOU KNOW THE DRILL, TELL IT LIKE IT IS, Sure but EVEN THEN..." I could totally "hear" Kevin say all those things...

One mean note: JLo is SO phony with all her "Jenny from the Block" faux-ness that I literally guessed ISME bec she is the ROYAL AZOLE of the me me me stuff!
SO not knowing ANYTHING about that album, nor having one letter, I tried to imagine the most self-involved title I could think of...et voila!

As for the 70's trend, even if you realized it was a skirt, it could have been MINI, MIDI, MAXI; sort of like the VENI VIDI VICI thousands of years later!
I came, I saw, I lowered my hemline?

It's truly a work of art when you can make a puzzle SO your own...I mean SO your own...from the construction feat to all the J's and Z and 5 Ks!
(I so wanted it to be a pangram, I started out guessing the top was ...EQUATION with the Q making QRTS for CTNS.)

Bravo bravo bravo, Kevin!

Elaine 6:02 AM  

Did you know that BUSINESS AS USUAL fit perfectly, in every way, for 'Routine statement?' And DIVIDED BY THREE worked for 1A. And isn't OZONE a nitrogen compound?--like I'd know. But I did know ECHT, my first word into the grid.

THE AMERICAN DREAM could not be shoe-horned into 17A, and plainly THE OCTOPUS was too short a title; (Hi, Edith B; do you suppose we are sister separated at birth?)

CYGNET led to TRIG Palin, who made me remove 33A--and I had been so, so confident! The light dawned with DAYBREAK... I've never heard of the Gray Cup or the EDMONTON ESKIMOS, but the K helped me a lot.

I did finish with an error at AZOLE-- a pharmaceutical compound, I gather--as I left the N there when I relocated OZONE; and I had Dan HANSEN vs JANSEN. Maybe people who fish for HAKE think they're Ducky? and serve them with LEMON?

Still feel good about doing this without giving in to Google! Thank you, Kevin G. Der, and a murrain seize thee!

pauer 7:13 AM  

Congrats, Kevin.

If any of my word-babies grow up to be a themeless, I hope they turn out looking like yours.

I guess you'll be going after a quint-stack now, eh?

imsdave 7:17 AM  

Similar experience to many here - tore up the south, the north was fairly quick on my second visit there, then a long slog with the middle. Like Andrea, I wanted either expression or equation to be part of 1A to start the pangram ball rolling.

I remembered a funny essay on Boyle's law (this obscured JOULE for quite some time). Snopes denies that this is real, but it's still good for a chuckle.

Boyles Law

Crosscan 7:38 AM  

A truly awesome, fantastic, wonderful puzzle. From 1 Across, which is an excellent clue for GEOMETRIC SERIES to gimme-for-me EDMONTON ESKIMOS, just great.

Bravo!

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

There is a musical called "Hello, Dolly!" There is a title song called "Hello, Dolly!", but there are also other songs in the musical. Those songs could certainly be referred to as "Hello, Dolly!" songs, just like one could say that "Officer Krupke" is a "West Side Story" song. It may not be the most elegant formulation of that idea, but it is unquestionably accurate.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

This one was actually on the easy side for a Friday for me. One of the first Fridays I've ever gotten almost all the way (I don't bother even trying Sat). I thought the long acrosses were mostly guessable.

Did anyone else think ACTIVE INTERESTS was ugly? I challenge anyone to find a real dating service questionnaire with that heading (not that I've ever seen one). It's the kind of answer that makes you think any old crap is acceptable in a crossword puzzle.

John 8:35 AM  

Got the top and bottom and the center, but those two middle ears KILLED me. you know its hard /obscure when you google and the first answer is Rex Parker. The biggest irony is "You know the drill" is part of the message on my answering machine!

HudsonHawk 8:44 AM  

Impressive grid, KDer. I thought of Thoreau before Darwin, but not for long. Like Rex, I struggled on the Central Coast. But the Y in YOU KNOW THE DRILL gave me ROYAL, and even though it's been 30 years since I took physics, I can still hear the name JOULE.

It was the Mid-Atlantic that was my undoing, specifically the AIOLI, TRIG, CYGNET crossings. Nice Friday challenge, all in all.

nanpilla 9:12 AM  

@retired_chemist : I feel the same way about AZOLE. I had put in OZONE for the thunderstorm product right away, then put in AzIDE off the Z, feeling all smug. Then spent the entire puzzle thinking that 21a referred to the nitrogen compound, not the ROYAL. Azides can be explosive - think air bags - but nothing like that would fit. I finally finished the whole thing - but it took me about 40 minutes - definitely a challenging for me.

I was amused by the SSTS and SSNS, but in a feat like this, I can see how they are almost a necessity.

I love the look of the grid,like a staircase, and the placement of the black squares didn't allow for a whole lot of entry into other areas, leading to the feeling of separate puzzles. I also started in the bottom, then took the "stairs" up to the top, finishing in the middle.

Absolutely amazing construction, and very satisfying to finish. Thanks, Kevin!

Ben 9:16 AM  

Agreed with several Anons and @Martin Ashwood-Smith: what a grid! Before starting to solve I saw two quadruple 15 stacks and mentally doffed my cap. Very impressive, Kevin Der.

Also liked that the ex-Pixar employee got a WALL-E in there.

@Rex @ACM, agreed as to JLo's self-regard. With no crosses I filled in ISME to complete the solipsistic diva's album title, and even though I didn't know it was right, I knew it was right. And it was.

But don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got, she's still Jenny from the block, i.e., still as in love with herself as she apparently was from a young age.

retired_chemist 9:20 AM  

@ JOULE lovers everywhere -

First wife was at one point a newspaper reporter. Interviewed a laser physicist who was claiming HUGE power for a new laser he was developing. He measured his energy in joules, of course. Fortunately my wife let me read the story before it went to the Editor. Unfortunately it was before the computer made it easy to do global replacement of "jewels," which is what she thought the word was. So - it was retyped, with the paper and the physicist none the wiser.

Leslie 9:21 AM  

Wow--astonishing grid! My solve was a bit different that some of you, in that it was the middle that allowed me to break in at all. Then the south, and finally the north.

I generally play it safe, safe, safe, but kept writing in off-the-wall guesses that turned out to be right. Love that! YOU KNOW THE DRILL, POKY, JAKE, FOB, etc.

I tried "What then" before changing to EVEN THEN, "slur" before SLAM, and--grrr--forgot to go back and put the "W" in WAll-E. Dang it.

Andrea, that was my EXACT solving philosophy on the Jennifer Lopez clue, so you're not alone.

retired_chemist 9:24 AM  

@ Elaine - OZONE is O3 - trioxygen. Doesn't have any nitrogen. ECHT was my first word too.

jesser 9:27 AM  

Despite never having heard of either the Grey Cup or the EDMONTON ESKIMOS, the bottom stacks fell quickly. Alistair COOKE was key to that, as were GIGI, AT 'EM, NINOs and SSTS. The O off JELLO gave me enough ammunition to pen EDMONTON, which opened up everything else down there.

I stared at the middle a long time.

SSNS went in first up top, and then much more staring ensued before GATS and CTNS appeared in my brain. The R in REFER had me convinced I was dealing with some kind of SERIES, and the G of GAT made me think of GEOMETRIC, but I resisted it far too long because, well, I'm bad at math and I don't see how that series has a damn thing to do with geometry as I remember it. Once I committed to it, however, the top went down.

The right side of the middle was the first to be dispatched, although I fought myself over TRIG, wanting TRIp instead, which would make that swan a non-word. F'ing Palins.

Because we get spectacular thunderstorms out here and I love the smell of the OZONE, I plopped that in, then tentatively tried ROYALS and RAJAHS which confirmed EVEN THEN snaking down from above. And that side went in.

Then there was the middle of the middle. I had many OWS in there. This use of JAKE was new to me, but like Rex I had guessed EWOK off the W, so what else could it be? Finally parsed Latke, which game me the L in LARC, which I hated, but the puzzle was done.

I've never seen such a daunting grid, and I'm proud of the solve. It was as beautiful as the day is forecasted for us. High of 64, with sunny skies. And that, friends and neighbors, is my cup O'TEA!

Gedemol! -- jesser

Smitty 9:27 AM  

I was W/Rex - bottom 2 first - Top came last.

TOday's puzzle felt like putting plumbing fixtures together. Lots of taking it apart and starting over again.

Didn't help that in Post-Googling lots of right answers weren't there (CUP O TEA) and lots of wrong answers were....(CG ARTIST)

grouchonyy 9:34 AM  

It's 9:30 A.M. as I write, and LA Confidential is not yet up. I wonder how many times one of the long answers shows up up in both puzzles the same day albeit with slightly different spellings and totally different cluing.

foodie 9:44 AM  

@andrea echt michaels, I can see that beyond its gorgeous construction, this puzzle had a unique "voice" and it was very interesting to hear from you how well that reflected the constructor. Thank you for that perspective!

One of the great benefits of reading Rex and the daily comments is that I have begun to think of puzzles not only as a source of my entertainment, but as a piece of creative design. Not just the obvious design features of the grid itself, but also the content, its balance and a sense of coherence that can emerge from it. This feature is easier to discern in themed puzzles, but the artistic signature of themeless puzzles emerges in the hands of the very best constructors. This was ambitious and edgy, and totally distinctive.

tptsteve 9:45 AM  

Amazing construction- felt like a Saturday to me.

Tell it like it is

The Corgi of Mystery 9:49 AM  

So is Kevin contractually obligated to have a Pixar reference in every puzzle he publishes? (Kidding...congrats on the great accomplishment if you're reading this.)

Shark 9:51 AM  

This was spectacular! Holy smokes - my solving time is not an accurate representation of my abilities since I must have spent several minutes just staring at the amazing double-quad-stacks + a frickin ninth 15-er smack-dab in the middle.

PlantieBea 9:55 AM  

Bravo, Kevin Der! What a grid!
My first entries were CYGNET and REAL ESTATE AGENT. Then, staring commenced. I had to fight through most of the upper two thirds, but perserverance paid off. No help needed. Yay.


This inorganic chemist is raising her hand for AZIDE after getting OZONE--just didn't know. YOU KNOW...and realizing francese was Italian fixed AZOLE. Thank goodness for Harper Lee; she saved that area for me. I knew that 1A would be a series, but first tried to cram in all versions of SIGMA up in the front.

Thanks again, K. Der.

dk 10:17 AM  

Except for the JLo comments (only cause I do not know any thing about her or her music) what Andrea said.

Begin at the bottom. Screwed up the middle with EVENTHou, thinking the end of 1A was equation and that it was the ascent of man.

STAINLESSSTEELS seems a little forced... but I quibble over nits in my spare time.

Agree with the CYGNET fans and the puzzle raves.

**** (4 Stars)

ArtLvr 10:52 AM  

@ r_c said it for me -- "(Almost) solving it makes me feel like part of history." What a gem of a grid! And like @ r_c I also thought Ruler before ROYAL and Matzo before LATKE... Those came out fast.

The rest went smoothly, until I was left with only two blank squares, seeing OWS/WALLE versus OHS/HALLE as a total coin-toss. The one I'm chagrined about is ALLE francese, where I should have seen the double L, but got stuck on Abla v. Avla. (ECHT I checked in my German dictionary.)

@ Martin's note will remind me if another occasion for AZOLE arises: "Pronunciation notwithstanding, the most common use of azole compounds is in treating feminine fungal infections, ironically." Thanks a bunch for that...

Again, kudos to Kevin for this record-breaker!

∑;)

Ulrich 10:53 AM  

I also agree fully with Andrea about grid and voice. And since I started with GEOMETRIC SERIES more or less off the bat (with nothing but ECHT in place), I moved steadily from top to bottom, with the bottom stack giving me more trouble than the top one as none of the long acrosses came immediately to mind--cracked it via those real estate agents.

Is "echt" really in the language, or do people know it b/c they know so much German? And if it is in the language, how do English-speakers pronounce it, given that English does not have the "ch" sound in question? And no, it's not pronounced like Scottish "ch" as in "loch" or in "Bach". My guess is it's something horrible like "ekt"...

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

What a fantastic grid.
I would have liked a better clue for 18A. Lots of things are dishwasher safe and that doesn't define stainless steel to me.
Even so it was a great puzzle and now we all got to be present as xword history unfolds.
Thank you @foodie for putting forth such an elegant comment that reflects my feelings so well.

Humorlesstwit 11:08 AM  

Speaking for all Americans, as I surely do, I would have to say no. No to the extent that I had forgotten it, and as I read your question I thought "ECHT - kind of translates to eck, meaning yucky. Maybe it is in the language in some form". Then I re-read the clue.

hazel 11:12 AM  

Thank you Kevin Der for that bowlful of awesomeness this morning!! The whole thing went down like a JELLO shot.

Bit of struggle up north, but once THEDESCENTOFMAN emerged, remaining resistance was just futile. Much of the grid was like a 70s highschool flashback for me and the letters just jumped off my fingers.

The nod to Einstein's Dreams also seemed most apt as both the puzzle and the novel are great blends of the arts and sciences (with you @Steve J on coolness of E's D).

Fantastic puzzle!

PlantieBea 11:21 AM  

@Ulrich: I had no idea what the German "genuine" was, and I don't recall having ever seen ECHT; as well, yes, I was sounding out the answer as "ekt".

slypett 11:28 AM  

Der, Kevin, how did you know I was "drunk and asleep in (my) boots", when the family was playing "WALLE"

Great puzzle! (But you know that already....)

Steve J 11:29 AM  

@Ulrich: No, "echt" isn't commonly known amongst American English speakers. I knew it straight away since I speak a decent amount of German (although my "functional" status has slipped over the years). Some beer drinkers will recognize it in an older spelling of Aecht from the labels of the delightful Schlenkerla beers from Bamberg. (Which leads to some people thinking the name of the brewery is "Aecht.")

I hear it get pronounced most of the time as "ekt"; I suppose that's better than pronouncing it as the English "etched."

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

I too was impressed by the structure of the grid -- and I fairly sailed through most of it, a good number of the 15's were gimmes to me -- including geometric series as well as Joule and echt. And almost no Hollywood/TV silliness. Almost heaven. Let's have more like this.

PlantieBea 11:36 AM  

ECHT is listed by MW as a word that's in the language. The listing includes the pronunciation.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/echt

You learn something new here every day. Now, to remember it...

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

One of my favorite puzzles ever. Excellent.

mitchs 11:48 AM  

Just a quick word for those who didn't like this masterpiece or had nits to pick: Whadaya NUTS? I mean C'MON!!!! Seriously, WHAT? Respectfully submitted...

icculus 11:52 AM  

Looked at the grid and said, "Screw this. I'm never gonna finish this thing." Then saw that 1A was a gimme and everything in the top fell quickly from there.

I'm in the Top-Bottom-Middle club. RULER instead of ROYAL made the middle really tough for me. And, no matter how many times I see it, AIOLI will not stick in my brain.

OldCarFudd 12:00 PM  

Utter, humiliating, ignominious defeat! Got GEOMETRICSERIES right away after trying infinite series, which didn't fit. Then got the bottom, then the rest of the top, then the middle fifteener, then --not much. Came here to see what I didn't know, or I would have accomplished nothing useful all day.

After yesterday's day-early tribute, I was hoping Darwin would get a turn today, and am glad he did.

Astounding grid. I keep wondering whether someone, someday, will do a puzzle with no black squares at all! Meanwhile. let's all be grateful for this one - even I, who couldn't solve it.

retired_chemist 12:00 PM  

@ Ulrich - I learned ECHT in Bavaria from the teenage daughter of a German friend of mine. He would talk to her and fully two-thirds of her responses were "Echt." Rightly or wrongly, my functional translation, taking into account her age and projecting on he an American teenager's attitude toward her parent, was "Yeah" or Really." Looked it up and the word stuck. I do not think I could mispronounce it after hearing a German say it so often.

lit.doc 12:11 PM  

Hey, someone or something has taken a vorpal blade to my avatar, as well as a lot of other folks'. I've seen several comments just lately about this happening. Anybody figure out what's going on and/or what to do? Ditto on the LAT blog.

Stan 12:13 PM  

Loved it! We know the drill: Sir, Yes, Sir -- more push-ups please!

But now I need a mental Whirl-Pool bath to soak tired neurons...

Ulrich 12:16 PM  

@ret_chem.: Genau--that's how the word is used in colloquial speech, and not only in Bavaria--"Really!" and "Really?" is "Echt!" and "Echt?", respectively. If you pronounce it "esht", people will assume you learned your German in the Rhineland--it beats "ekt" any time...

mac 12:26 PM  

This was a great day for constructors and scientist. For me it was challenging. Oddly enough I had the whole top part first, then went around and around in the bottom part. Jake, Wall-E and Azole gave me lots of trouble, and what is a jello shot?

Congratulations Kevin, but please stay away from that fifth puzzle next week!

foodie 12:43 PM  

Rex, thank you for the Andy Kaufman clip. I thought I'd seen most Taxi episodes but I had never seen this one, and it brought tears to my eyes from laughing.

I have a very international research group and this scene reminded me of one in my lab from years ago. I walked in on a Japanese postdoc and an Italian/American postdoc looking at Playboy and discussing, with great scientific precision, the various body parts that are appreciated by different cultures... The Japanese guy was saying he had been raised focusing on the beauty of graceful long necks, but he was fast switching his allegiance to "Bleasts".

They blushed as I walked in and I pretended I had heard none of it.

Clark 12:48 PM  

@anonymous 8:25 -- You said "One of the first Fridays I've ever gotten almost all the way (I don't bother even trying Sat)."

You should always try Saturday. As often as not, I find Saturday easier than Friday. Don't know why.

I join in the general acclamation. Great puzzle. Loved to see WALL-E in the grid.

@mac -- Here is a link to a video that tells you all you need to know about JELLO shots. This video has it all. It is flagged for mature audiences only and it begins with a Pantene commercial. It finally proceeds with a tutorial that is, I don't know, maybe as hilarious as it is offensive. But the whole package communicates fairly well what jello shots are about I think.

Ladel 1:07 PM  

Objective grid analysis is not informed by applying classroom critique carping.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Excellent puzzle--loved it!

Elaine 1:24 PM  

For a different 'take' on Jell-O, do visit The Life and Times of Michael5000, and scroll down to the Jell-O recipe book. Once you've seen THAT, you will need a Jell-O shot.

I am about to click on Clark's link, but just wanted to mention how much fun today's Comments have been. This puzzle seemed to have just the right mix of hard, tricky, wide-ranging, and educational clues. My hat is off to all who finished it error-free.

@lit.doc
vorpal blade?

Perhaps it was done by a 'deduist.' That captcha sounds sinister enough to be responsible!

lit.doc 1:34 PM  

@Elaine, my avatar is Lewis Carroll's Jabberwock (sorry if copy & paste messes up the formatting:

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"


He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

Lewis C. 1:35 PM  

His vorpal blade went snicker-snack.

lit.doc 1:42 PM  

This is a test. If the Jabberwock reappears, it was a Blogger profile problem.

Van55 2:00 PM  

Congratulations to Mr. Der on a masterpiece of puzzle construction. Attempting to solve it without external help was utterly humbling for me. If I had had Saturday leisure time to try it, it might have been a different story.

miriam b 2:08 PM  

When I encounter "echt", I invariably think of this line from the first stanza of The Waste Land:

"Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch."

AWESOME puzzle. The science references made up for my woeful ignorance of the pop and sports worlds.

vnave

chefbea 2:30 PM  

Tough puzzle which I couldnt finish. Too busy getting ready for our move. Got 18 A. and a few others. After doing errands did the LAT which was sooo much easier.

Haven't had time to read all the comments. Did anyone mention the wonderful bars (dessert) called Hello Dollys??

SueRohr 2:38 PM  

While I agree that this is obviously a great feat of construction, I think the question again arises: Was it as much fun for the solver as for the constructor? For me, too obscure for a Friday, especially the languages. Are echt and tir a l'arc phrases that most people (or even som,e people) know? Not to mention all the names, scientific terms etc. that are just almost impossible for some of us without googling. I really prefer a puzzle that is hard because it's witty and uses misdirection rather than obscure names, but that's just me.

andrea is me michaels 3:08 PM  

@Sue
I agree with a lot of what you are saying...but/and I think most of the super-compliments were in acknowledgment of the feat not the fill.

FWIW I speak French and didn't know L'ARC and got the science-y names, plus ECHT from the crosses, which I would count as a sort of word play, tho not witty as much as workman-like (worky?)

That's it! Today's puzzle was more worky than witty, but it was a splendid example of Kevin's art.

@Ulrich, is ECHT the opposite of Ersatz?
I admit I would have pronounced it as tho clearing my throat (which is how a lot of German and Hebrew and Arabic sounds to me)
Not knowing the definition, if pressed, I would have guessed somehow it was akin to "Uck!" or "Feh!")
I like that it has a loftier meaning!

archaeoprof 3:32 PM  

What Foodie said. From this blog I've learned to appreciate puzzles as works of art. This grid jumped off the page. Wow.

@Rex: thanks for the country music clip. Kevin Der and country music in the same day. Wow.

@Ulrich: my German friends around Heidelberg and Mannheim don't use ECHT very much. "Ist das dein Ernst?" or "Ehrlich?" are more frequent.

@Andrea is me: an Israeli friend once told me that German was the third semitic language he learned, after Hebrew and Arabic.

sanfranman59 3:38 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 27:12, 26:02, 1.05, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:47, 12:32, 1.10, 80%, Challenging

Colleen 3:47 PM  

Hello, all. I've been lurking here for months but will timidly chime in today to say that I thought this was an absolutely wonderful puzzle. Only about twice a year do I have to google to finish a crossword, and this one puzzle had me googling twice. This is not a good situation in which to be in mid-February! But it was worth it to complete such an amazing grid.

Like many, I found the bottom third a snap but just could not get any traction on the middle and top in spite of having the whole mid-Atlantic region. After google gave me EWOK and JOULE the middle fell into place and from there I slowly got the top. Since my knowledge of German is pretty much confined to words I heard on "Hogan's Heroes" reruns, I had ACHT (??) for ECHT, briefly giving me GAOMETRICSERIES. Um, no.

Anyway, super fun and very impressive puzzle and I really enjoy reading Rex's witty write-ups and all the clever comments here every day.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Did anyone else think that the pattern of black squares resembled a DNA double helix?

Was this intentional for darwin's birthday?

Badir 4:16 PM  

As a mathematician, I threw down 1D as my first entry as soon as I counted it out--yay math! I tore through the top half, though the bottom half took me longer. But then I spent about 4 minutes hacking through the blizzard in the DC section: I had TRee for 32A, which gave me beLLE for 28D; I dunno, maybe that's one of the things she liked to sing to herself? Still, even after that, it was a pretty quick solve for me.

Rex Parker 4:21 PM  

@Badir,

Thanks for "As a mathematician..." I've been waiting all day for that.

RP

Elaine 4:36 PM  

I have a tablecloth that is "ECHTes Blau?punkt" (I am possibly imperfectly recalling the paper label which I removed years and years ago.) It is a deep indigo color, with design motifs in white.

If the EDMONTON ESKIMOS hurry, they can get up a game in Dallas. (Crosscan: what do they play?)

Based on the comments, I guess I am proud that I did not Google...but then, if only I had, perhaps I would not have finished with 2 errors. Nah-- I was way too sure of HANSEN, darn it.

See you tomorrow!

Crosscan 4:41 PM  

@Elaine: As a mathematician, I'd say they play football, Canadian style.

roswell denizen 4:50 PM  

@Anon 4:05 Have you been drinking? This puzzle does not look like a double helix. It looks like a flying saucer.

What is the connection between Darwin's birthday and a double helix anyway?

Ruth 4:57 PM  

Wow, I too read the Descent of Man clue as "semi-naturalistic work" right through to the end and said, "goody, I bet Rex will tell me what that work of art is." Well, you did tell me that my eyes are playing tricks on me once again--weird--I looked at that clue a BUNCH of times.
I counted about 18 posts by 6 a.m. Is this becoming the insomniac's fave place to be?
Such a fun puzzle!

Lon 4:59 PM  

Don Williams? I was Paul Williams! As Zeke points out, it doesn't seem to matter how they clue these.

Frances 5:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CoolPapaD 5:10 PM  

Well - it's late, but I couldn't finish without Googling LEE, and then the whole mid-California area fell quickly.

I am so blown away by this grid - I've never attempted construction before, but this is truly inspiring. Amazing, entertaining, educational, yada yada yada. I also want to say how much I really enjoy sitting and reading everyone's comments, today and every day.

Congratulations.

Crosscan 5:13 PM  

As a mathematician, I should clarify that Canadian football is similar to American football.

Significant differences include 3 downs instead of 4, a single point awarded ("rouge") for kicks through the end zone, and a wider and longer field.

3rd down and punt.

Ulrich 5:25 PM  

@Andrea: Right you are! In the days of the GDR, one of the greatest treats you could bring on visits there was "echter Bohnenkaffee" (coffee made from real beans), as opposed to the "Ersatzkaffee" they could buy (roasted from who knows what).

Old GDR joke (which loses some punch when not told with a broad Saxon accent): A worker comes home from work in Leipzig and finds his wife in bed with his best friend. He gets furious and yells at them, "you're fooling around here when they have lemons at the co-op!"

@Archaeoprof: Your friends simply speak a less slangy German!

the redanman 5:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 6:04 PM  

Congrats on the 15x4s, Kevin!
Not much more to add other than that I had a malaplop at 6D. Put in joules instead of TESLAS.
@ Rex- all those electrical-type measurements are people's names: the names of their discoverers. Ohm, Curie, Roentgen, Farad (from Faraday), etc.
Did anyone else put in Origin of Species for 17A?

the redanman 6:07 PM  

Funny, ECHT was one of my gimmes such as "ECTHES LEDER" = genuine leather to be found on leather clothing (probably not worn much by the NYT crowd.

Didn't realize that this was such a landmark of construction, although it did strike me as Saturday-ish (Absolutely impossible for me rather than just very very very hard and unfinishable.

Charles Bogle 6:18 PM  

@andrea put it nicely: more worky than witty. Hand up for general acclaim from someone who got through college taking Astronomy to satisfy math and science requirement. Knew right away to have a chance I'd be googling and learning, which, on top of a unique grid, made for a very worthwhile time (long). Like @edithb, @chefwen, others, tale of three puzzles fit me: south first, north second, gasping to get through middle. Major misstep w AMINO for OZONE right up until nail-biting finish. Also had experiences similar to @lit.doc: were we doing this side-by-side in parallel universes, just at opposite ends of the day...to @Zeke..good luck friend. Thank goodness I've been tearing through Raymond Chandler of late--JAKE and GATS became gimme and soon realized cup OJOE had to be tea. Wonderful accomplishment, Kevin, thanks!

jae 6:21 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. I echo what foodie said about this blog. Without it I would not have known what an accomplishment 2 stacks of 4 15s is. Congratulations to Kevin Der. My solving experience was like many of yours. Medium to tough top, easier bottom, and lots of staring at the middle. My last fill was running the alphabet for 28 down and then slapping my head when I got to W.

I remembered Harper LEE as Capote's traveling companion to Kansas in the movie about him writing In Cold Blood.

treedweller 6:24 PM  

Hope you won't mind this derail, Rex:

Someone at BEQ's blog asked for descriptions of the ACPT from former competitors, so I did a write-up. If you've been undecided about attending, or if you're just curious, you can read it here. This was written today, looking back, speaking more in general terms--if you dig through Rex's old posts, he had his own write-up then and many of us commented on that specific event while it was fresher on our minds. Of course, I welcome others who have competed to add their own thoughts and memories in the comments.

SueRohr 6:28 PM  

Andrea - Thanks for your response. I read this blog every day, enjoy it, and never mentioned that I thought your Sunday puzzle was fantastic. One of the best I can remember in many years!

slypett 7:12 PM  

Ulrich: That lost nothing in translation. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

joe 7:12 PM  

Kevin also holds the record for fewest black squares. Quite a guy.

andrea latke michaels 7:25 PM  

@suerohr
Sweet! Thanks! It was 80% Tony Orbach this go-round...other than the original genesis for the puzzle (COMMONSENSEI), only OPENWIDEANDSAYAHI was mine... Francis Heaney came up with a couple of the entries (including the super-solid YOUCANCALLMEALI) and the tough clues were 99% Tony with Will adding extra EYE-deas...
Heck, I'm lucky I even got my name on it! ;)
(Thank god, tho as it's paying for my trip out East to hang with the Rex crowd!)

I can't wait to see everyone next week (that's how I met Tony, thru Patrick Blindauer, see @pauer comment above...and where I met young Kevin Der!) and I'm hoping to have a thousand new ideas for this coming year!
This blog has truly changed my life.

Who am I, J-Lo? OK, back to Kevin's puzzle now.
Hey, what was with the 2 k's in Hanukkah? ;)

lit.doc 7:44 PM  

@Colleen, welcome! I was so recently in the watching-from-the sidelines situation that I really feel your discomfort and am glad to see more new voices coming into the conversation. No timidity allowed here--as has been observed before, this is a tough crowd!

@Ruth, re insomniacs, a big yes. Just wait till summer when the teachers don't have to get in the morning!

chefwen 8:33 PM  

@Ruth - As I am 2 to 5 hours behind the mainland, I get to jump in early if Rex stays up and posts the night before. That's always a treat, otherwise I'm a latecomer to the party and all the booze is gone.

Bill from NJ 8:59 PM  

Thanks to jae, foodie and our dear Andrea for pointing out what an incredible accomplishment Rex has wrought in this blog.

The last three or four days can only be described as astonishing, as this virtual salon continues to be a rich source of information to any serious person who is interested in the world of crossword puzzles.

Again thanks to Rex for presenting this platform to us

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

Rex and I are on opposite wavelengths. Most of the time the puzzles he rates as easy-medium kick my butt, and then once in a while I find a relatively easy one (like this one) and he rates it medium-challenging. I enjoyed the math-science answers and am thankful there was little pop culture (my bane). I wish more people knew the names of scientists like Joule, instead of forgettable pop-divas like J-Lo.

retired_chemist 10:23 PM  

@ Anon 9:48-

But Joule did not have the kick-a** butt that J-Lo does.....

fvigeland 11:10 PM  

Rex, how we differ! I am proud to say that the first answer I wrote in was GEOMETRICSERIES. As a senior in high school, though, who took many a test on geometric and arithmetic series not even two years ago, that probably helped. And LEE was the next thing I wrote in, after being frustrated with only ETAL and SSNS coming from 1 through 15 Down.

I agree with the Anonymous at 9:48 PM, this one in general was pretty easy. The center was a little tough though… had never heard of JAKE in this context.

Loved the quadruple stacked 15's though! I think the first time we've seen that was a couple weeks ago with Joe Krozel, and he had to bend the rules a little with a 16x15 Saturday. This one did it (twice) and within all the usual constraints. Bravo!

salo 11:20 PM  

I will take a mathematical or science clue over a band or singer clue any day of the week (especially Saturdays). I am glad that the NYT throws us science types a crumb every now and then!

Sarah 11:36 PM  

For me the southern end of the puzzle was definitely the hardest. REALESTATEAGENTS kicked my butt. I really liked OPARTIST, a nice variation on the usual OPART. And this is maybe the third time there's been a Palin name as a clue. They're the 21st century Uma: Trig, Todd, Track, Blort, Splat, Crick (oh, wait, I got carried away). I predict that Palin names are here to stay until at least the next election cycle.

Sarah 11:37 PM  

For me the southern end of the puzzle was definitely the hardest. REALESTATEAGENTS kicked my butt. I really liked OPARTIST, a nice variation on the usual OPART. And this is maybe the third time there's been a Palin name as a clue. They're the 21st century Uma: Trig, Todd, Track, Blort, Splat, Crick (oh, wait, I got carried away). I predict that Palin names are here to stay until at least the next election cycle.

mac 12:21 AM  

Ha! I saw OTT!

NorthernSolve 9:07 AM  

What a cool blog. I just stumbled across it looking for James Joule. I am heartened to hear that the 44th greatest crossword solver in the universe uses Google.

Like many, I found the bottom of the puzzle easy (except for 'essential organs'), the middle vague, and the top was a 'echt' toughie ... until I realized that 17a) seminal naturalist work might not be 'traditional hymn'.

It was a real pleasure reading your posts.

BTW ... Rex's post says that the crossword was from Feb 12 ... today is March 19 ... does it take over a month for NYT crosswords to get up here to this northern outpost?

Rex Parker 9:10 AM  

@NorthernSolve,

Welcome. Glad you like the blog. To be clear, I never use Google as a solving aid. I use it only afterward, when I want to know more about an answer.

Also, you get your puzzle in syndication, like much of America (regardless of geographical region). Syndication is 5 weeks behind orig. pub. date.

rp

NorthernSolve 9:20 AM  

Ooops! I forgot to add my kudos to the author of the puzzle ... all that white space in the grid is so intimidating and inviting at the same time.

Excellently crafted!

NorthernSolve 9:21 AM  

Rex, my apologies.

wilsoncpu 12:08 PM  

1. I'm proud to say I did this in about 20 minutes, while eating lunch, with no errors (beyond drops on the newspaper).
2. I'm embarrassed to say I don't get the "as a mathematician" reference to 1D. 1A, I'd understand. Was that a typo, or is there some subtle math joke to GATS I don't get.
-From SyndicationLand

wilsoncpu 12:09 PM  

PS: a-MA-zing grid! Congrats, KD.

Waxy in Montreal 2:58 PM  

I'm gonna TELL IT LIKE IT IS. 8 of those 13 EDMONTON ESKIMOS Grey Cups wins have been over the MONTREAL ALOUETTES. Sob! Time for a CUP O'TEA or maybe even a JELLO shot.

BassManPDX 11:18 PM  

When I saw this grid, with those NINE full-width acrosses, I was sure this would be another Friday where I would never get enough traction to get rolling.

However, 1A looked like a GEOMETRIC progression to me, and when that didn't fit, I took a chance on it being a SERIES. I got a few downs to confirm the likelihood that it was correct, so I stuck with it. Took me over 90 minutes, but I feel pride of accomplishment any time I finish one of these late-week challenges.

Mary 10:13 AM  

Loved it! Until the Jello shots and the tip jar. Weird drinks and places with tip jars just aren't part of my world. "Jello" seemed such a peculiar answer that I had to come to this blog to find out what was going on with it.

MikeinSTl 2:13 PM  

Hmmm, this actually skewed easier for me than Rex, but, as someone posted a few days ago, the construction is cool but the solving is weak. There-in lies the rub -- the balance between 'wow what a great grid' and 'wow what a great puzzle' ... but who am I to talk?

sificligh 12:11 PM  

Just finished this one in the six-week-delay syndication. I found it about medium for my Friday experience, although for me it was considerably eased by the math and science answers... each of us has their own strong areas I suppose.

Oddly, the western area that gave Rex so much trouble fell very quickly for me, with ROYAL and RAJAH coming very fast, which gave me JOULE, and then the rest fell apart. it was the bottom that did me in. Had CAKE instead of JAKE for "ducky" and BAR instead of JAR for "tipping point?" and then I was screwed.

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