Hoosier Folk-Child poet / SAT 3-6-10 / Red sushi fish / Ned Buntline dime novel subject / Slimming option briefly

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Constructor: Barry Silk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none


Word of the Day: LANATE (50A: Woolly) —

adj.
Having or consisting of woolly hairs.

[Latin lānātus, from lāna, wool.]

• • •

Another typically tough offering from Barry Silk. Why do I insist on starting every puzzle in the NW. Well, probably because a. I'm a human being who speaks / reads English, and so L to R, top to bottom progression is normal for me. Also, starting in the NW puts you at the front ends of major Acrosses and Downs — easy to get going quickly. But that's assuming you make some, any headway in the NW. Today, at first, I didn't. Zip. Horrible. Was reduced to putting in "S"s where plurals appeared to be (and in at least one case even this was a bad idea). After declaring the top a Fail, I tentatively wrote SNOW at the end of 28A: Ski resort forecast (NEW SNOW). I then went OGRE (29D: One may put a damsel in distress) to AGNATE (32A: Paternal relative) and suddenly the little patch of land in the east was full. I also guessed ALTOONA (9D: City near Horseshoe Curve) off the final "A," but since it felt like a shot in the dark, I didn't go chasing after it. Instead, stuck. Again. Humbled by having to resort to filling in a superlative suffix in the far SE — the "-EST" in ILLEST (54A: Least sound). And then, just when I was at my lowest (figuratively and, literally, physically, in the grid), the puzzle turned. I built the whole grid off that damned suffix. Amazing. What had been a challenging puzzle all of a sudden became very average. I just needed a toehold, and today, it was as far away from my starting point as could be. But once I found it — jackpot.

After -EST, I built the puzzle backwards through the long Downs in the south and then up into the middle and west of the puzzle, with only LANATE (which I didn't know) and MEGA (38D: Bit or lead-in) (which I didn't understand) creating serious resistance in the middle of it all. Oh, and I've never heard of BELTWAY BANDIT, so that didn't help matters either (16D: Private consultant to the federal government, in slang). Sounds pejorative, so ... not just "slang." Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, it's a cool phrase, as central answers go. West went down so fast I didn't even see the clues for ODOM (24A: Defensive end Antwan) or TEXAS TEA (30A: Crude, slangily). NE ended up causing a pause, as I (reforgot for maybe the third time) EEC (20A: It. was part of it) and have only barely heard of SYSCO (14D: Food service Fortune 500 company). Once I figured out that the last word in 17A: Signs of unavailability was RINGS and not STRINGS (?), ENGAGEMENT RINGS was obvious. I picked up BUFFALO BILL CODY likewise (15A: Ned Buntline dime novel subject), from the end, and then ended up finishing in the place I began — the NW. Let me tell you, EFGH (3D: What I will follow) is not an answer you want to end on. Terrible way to finish an otherwise solid puzzle.



Bullets:
  • 19A: Composer Janacek (LEOS) — One of several "How'd-I-know-that?" moments I had today. Got ALTOONA off the final "A." Got TILLAGE off the -AGE (I know squat about farming) (44A: Farmwork). Got PYM (37A: Poe title character) and had no idea how I knew it or what "title" this "title character" even came from. And I knew Janacek as a composer of opera, but ... how his first name got in my head, I have no idea.


  • 23A: Skeleton part, in Padua (OSSO) — knew it was OSS-something.
  • 36A: Beckerman who wrote "Love, Loss and What I Wore" (ILENE) — yipes. Rough. Other stuff that I just didn't know included TAI (which I think I've seen before, somewhere) (60D: Red sushi fish) and RILEY, a total mystery to me (39A: "The Hoosier Folk-Child" poet), though I have a feeling I've seen ... him? ... yes, him, before. James Whitcomb RILEY. Yeah. I've seen him. He's not ... memorable.
  • 62A: Alaska area almost half the size of Rhode Island (DENALI STATE PARK) — crosswords were how I first learned the name DENALI. This one was easy to piece together from its back end.
  • 27D: Certain portraits of Zola, Chabrier and Mallarmé (MANETS) — pretty much a gimme. You could've stopped the clue at "Zola." Well ... if MANET did multiple portraits of Zola, you could've. But it looks like he did just the one. Moving on...
  • 33D: It's high in the Sierras (ALTO) — Went to a summer camp called "ALTA Sierra," so I had the second vowel wrong here at first.
  • 45D: Ancient philosopher whose name means "old master" (LAO-TSE) — oddly easy, the various parts of this guy's name being the crossword equivalent of Starbucks, i.e. everywhere.
  • 55D: Slimming option, briefly (LIPO) — as in "-suction." Ick factor = high.
  • 56D: One of 31 in Mexique (ETAT) — One of those double-take clues where you have to think for a second about what language the clue is looking for. Mexico is in the clue, but it's spelled Frenchly. Thus, answer is French. French for "state." ETAT. ETAT and LAO-TSE know each other very well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

72 comments:

Chris 8:11 AM  

I had this one all right, except I had Adom instead of Odom for the DL. My favorite answer is "Texas Tea". I was thinking of crude as an adjective, but once I got oxen the secret was revealed. I liked Beltway Bandit too.

I was just thinking before today's puzzle that it had been a while since we'd had one from Barry Silk. I enjoyed it very much.

NCA President 8:21 AM  

when will i learn that the NYT crossword spelling of lao-tzu is lao-tse? ugh.

i just recently found your blog and love it. i solve the puzzle then come here and compare notes. it's uncanny how we all seem to approach the puzzles similarly.

Elaine 8:57 AM  

Pennsylvania-bred husband fondly recalls train rides taking him around The Bend...postcards, posters, and calendar art abound; ALTOONA was the second thing into the grid, after ENGAGEMENT RINGS. Then things slowed down considerably for a good while.

There was a ?rifle?shootin' iron? called 'The Buntline Special', so I wasted some time trying to wedge weaponry into 15A. DENALI PENINSULA fit beautifully into 62A, though ultimately I had to make it a STATE PARK, thanks to LAO TSE. It's been a long time since I lived in Northern California, but CASTRO finally bubbled to the surface. Very familiar with Janacek, but we're not on a first-name basis.

I had DAMSELS next to IDEAMEN until I ran across a clue with 'damsel' in it...and recalled that this kind of repetition is considered a no-no in crossword construction/cluing. I didn't really know any of the first names or Antwan's last name, but these did sift into place, guessable once a few letters were in place, as with IL__E.

AGNATE and LANATE are my new words. What th'?! My computer just offered to add them to its dictionary.

It's always good to know you've been in a battle, yet won it.

PanamaRed 9:22 AM  

Somehow I knew BUFFALOBILLCODY, I have no idea how, but that got me off to a fast start. Still took a while, but finishing a Saturday, especially on Friday night, is always satisfying.

Knew Denali was a National Park, so had Kodiak for the state park until crosses cleared that up.

Like Chris, got TEXASTEA as soon as I got OXEN - liked the clue, too.

Also started 54a with the suffix, helped get the SE. Don't really like ILLEST.

Ulrich 9:30 AM  

That curve in Altoona is a sight--but still, I shake my head--how can something like this attain national fame? The name itself comes easy enough for me--Hamburg-Altona is a final destination you see on many trains in Germany--I wonder if the Penn. town got its name from there...

Anyway, whenever I can do a Saturday w/o googling, no matter how long it takes, I expect Rex's rating to be "easy"--delighted to see it's not the case today.

ArtLvr 9:33 AM  

I had the same experience, finding a tiny section that seemed to work. Started with IDEAMEN, but then wanted I ASK you at 1D. Arrgh. For me it was SYSCO, OSSO, AGNATE, the Hoosier RILEY, BE GENTLE, and GOLD in the East that got me going.

BILL CODY gave me the BELTWAY BANDIT, who is familiar from a dozen years of domicile in DC. I did think of MAGIC for Tricks, but checked a list of SF theaters to confirm that cutesy CASTRO! Would have preferred Convertible clue if not Cuba there...Ugh.

LANATE was a gimme because of lanolin, and ALL HAIL and EL REY made me smile, as did What's your POINT? Barry Silk made his points today, wow.

∑;)

dk 9:40 AM  

Up from the ground came a bubblin crude, black gold, TEXASTEA... next thing ya know old Jed's a....

This one jarred me out of my puzzle funk.

@Elaine a Buntline Special is a hand gun (aka sidearm) with a long barrel for greater accuracy when pluggin sidewinders.

Fine fill except for EFGH and the always saccharin BEGENTILE.

Did not know ILLEST or AGNATE, now I do. LANATE was a hold over from some Zoology course or x-word.

Speaking of parks and Sequoias a good story is Disney's plan to build a winter theme park in the Mineral King area of Sequoia Natl. Park. Cliff notes version: Scenic wilderness - 1, Disney - 0.

No chance of NEWSNOW this weekend. 50 degrees here in the sunny southern climes of Minnesota. I expect the usual suspects will be out on scooters or driving with the top down.

Ski patrol moment: Explaining to one of the NEWSNOW LASSIES that the small white spots on the crest of her bosom (thread to last week) was an early sign of frostbite and perhaps she should ski in something more than the outfits seen in Rex's video offering. Acme, please note I did not prescribe the sharing the sleeping bag treatment as that is for hypothermia... and you.

Feeling a little LANATE this morning, perhaps a PYM's cup.

**** (4 Stars)

jesser 10:03 AM  

This puzzle looked, for me, like a snow-capped mountain. My first fill was the SHOD/SILT cross at 53, and that was enough to begin the south and mid sections. OSSA at 23A was my only incursion to the north, and it did me no good whatsoever. ____WA_BANDIT at 16D yielded zippo. Poe's PYM was/is a mystery to me.

I came here, after staring long long long, to cheat. After I put in IDEA MEN, the north slowly thawed. But I hate having to cheat.

I am thinking this is a good day to play golf.

Pledles! (the things in my brain that blocked the proper firing of my synapses this morning.) -- jesser, defeated

mac 10:16 AM  

Two Silk puzzles this morning! I had a good time, but more or less followed Rex's path. In addition to that: tilling for tillage, "all rise" for "all hail". Knew 50A had to start with lana, and 32A had to end with -ate, and that helped me a lot.

I'm very happy Texas Tea has been discussed here recently!

@Ulrich: I was told that Altona used to mean: too close, Al zu nah. Can't remember in which era that was.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:24 AM  

Good puzzle; killed me.

I came to the blog ready to confess to one write-over: had LEROY before ELREY.

But I find I finished with a wrong letter: had LAPO instead of LIPO, which makes no sense, or to put it anther way, had INITIATION RATES before INITIATION RITES; i.e., I was totally fooled by the clue, "Costs of admissions?".

My final fill was BELTWAYBANDIT. Perhaps Mr. Poe will drop in later to explain PYM.

balto 10:28 AM  

Beltway Bandit -- probably started as a pejorative -- a lot of government/military contractors are near the DC Beltway, which travels through the MD/VA suburbs of DC -- I worked for a couple when I lived in Baltimore. Now it's just short-hand.

JayWalker 10:28 AM  

Lordy-be, Mr. Parker, but you are a scary man. My experience with the puzzle was almost exactly yours. Be honest - are you secretly a 71 year old Italian man living in retirement in a Southern state????

Edgar Allan Poe 10:30 AM  

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) is the only complete novel I wrote. The work relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym who stows away aboard a whaling ship called Grampus. Various adventures and misadventures befall Pym including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism before he is saved by the crew of the Jane Guy. Aboard this vessel, Pym and a sailor named Dirk Peters continue their adventures further south. Docking on land, they encounter hostile natives before escaping back to the ocean. The novel ends abruptly as Pym and Peters continue towards the South Pole.

Fortunato 10:32 AM  

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

It was originally "of Natick" but I changed it because no one knew the town.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Confidently fell for the obvious @ 1A and put down MIRRORS. It stayed until almost the bitter end. That made 1D MOST or MANY, 2D ISLE, and then trash. Got everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, which made BELTWAY BANDITS obvious and ruled our EMIL Janácek (was thinking of EMIL ZATOPEK, an Olympic runner).

Had to google, for the first time in several months, to get the north. Buntline gave me BUFFALO BILL CODY, which cleared out MIRRORS and the rest fell quickly.

Lots to like - cool fill, wickedly tricky clues, a new word (LANATE), one that was only driven by a little old lady to church a couple of times (AGNATE), and a non-Papal LEOS clue.

Thank you, Mr. Silk - well done. I shall try to live up to your standards next time we meet.

retired_chemist 10:45 AM  

@ dk - BE GENTILE?

Meg 11:01 AM  

I confidently entered SPIT for "what may accumulate in the mouth".

Good, tough puzzle with some wonderful misdirection that I totally fell for...

I liked ABIDE for "brook" and TEXAS TEA was wonderful!

Does anybody still have LINEN shirts?

OldCarFudd 11:17 AM  

Great puzzle, although resuming after a week's layoff with a Barry Silk Saturday is a bit intimidating.

The horseshoe curve was a legend in the glory days of steam railroading. It's impressive from the air; I've been over it many times in a soaring glider.

Leslie 11:24 AM  

My first toehold was OTIC, 24D, which opened up the mid-West Coast. I was slowed waaay down by wanting 9D to be "Abilene," simply because of the N in SNOW. (I don't know from Horseshoe Curve.)

OWNING opened up the mid-East Coast, and then . . . I was struggling with both North and South. I can be my own worst enemy when I fixate on certain clues to the point that I don't even see other ones that could help! Such as 12D, IONES, which I knew (as soon as I could be bothered to look at it).

18A was such a head-slap when I finally got it. I knew it was a baseball player, but--DiMaggio? Too long. Ruth? Too short. Thank goodness it was a name even a non-expert like me knows.

Wade 11:34 AM  

This one was flukishly easy for me, thanks mostly to two gimmes: the Ned Buntline entry and the short but very helpfuly PYM (I just wrote an opera libretto based on Poe and named all the characters after Poe characters. If you're in the greater Munroe, Louisiana, area at the end of this month, you can see the opera, "Sylvan Beach," staged at the University of Louisiana Munroe campus. Two nights only! Opera season in northeastern Louisiana is notoriously short.) I'd have finished this Saturday in (for me) record time if I hadn't read the clue for 1A as singular and had IDEA MAN, which kept me scratching my head for a word that started ALEG ___ for several minutes.

Al Kirsch 11:36 AM  

I got stuck on the west side. I misunderstood "screen setting" as a setting for a computer screen instead of the more obvious CINEMA, and didn't know who Antwan ODOM was. I gave up too soon on "Crude", not thinking of oil.... On the east side I wrote OGLE instead of OGRE so never came close to RILEY. I am slipping on the Saturday puzzles as I near age 70. On to the KenKen!

mitchs 11:36 AM  

Loved it. Misdirection in the clues, and, for me, in the incomplete fills: had GEMENT so wanted management; had RIG so wanted BIGRIG - nah, baba nah.

Had the bottom two thirds and slowed to a crawl at the top.

foodie 11:42 AM  

I've been out of practice for a couple of weeks, so this was a tough one as my re-introduction puzzle. Amazing how quickly the puzzle solving mindset can begin to wobble.

CASTRO helped (my daughter used to live on Castro in SF) and made me think of Andrea. I also guessed at LANATE from the French Laine for wool. Took many stabs in the dark that turned out to be correct but still needed to resort to the big G to get it done.

BELTWAY BANDIT was definitely my favorite, and I love the "Crude"-"Coarse" juxtaposition in the clues and answers. ELEGANT puzzle.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

James Whitcomb Riley 'not memorable'? Are you sure it's wise to upset all those Hoosiers that way? Indiana hasn't struck me as the land of the well-adjusted lately.

But, then, except for a small area centered on Halifax (NC), most places seem to have problems these days.

Two Ponies 11:48 AM  

Tough but fair.
My Waterloo was the SW because of my inability to unravel what seems so obvious now.
I thought 47A might be a German word.
Could not let go of Pan for 52A.
Thought 59A was some Catholic thing.
Add to all of that confusion a Japanese fish and I was sunk.
The rest was great cranium-crushing fun. Mr. Silk got me today but I still loved it.
@ dk, Thought of you with the snow answer. I chuckled at the things that happen up there when the temps hit the 50's. Here in Vegas 50's still mean shivering in our heavy coats wile we marvel at the northern visitors in their shorts and t-shirts. Brrr.

archaeoprof 11:52 AM  

My solve went just like Rex. Right down to filling in an S for some of the plurals. Finally got traction in the SW and worked up from there.

One mistake: Ionas for IONES. I kind of wondered what the AEC might have been. Settled on Atomic Energy Commision and thought "Sure, Italy could've been in that."

@Foodie: puzzle skills can start to drop off pretty quickly, can't they.

Two Ponies 11:58 AM  

@ foodie, Welcome back. I was hoping for an e-mail link on your profile.
I'll try your blog.

Lon 12:07 PM  

@Wade -- FYI, it's Monroe, Louisiana. I know because I'm thankfully from there. Not there now. Austin is much nicer!!

V. 12:08 PM  
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retired_chemist 12:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:08 PM  

re LANATE - presumably Lanolin would have been a clue for those of us who thought of that. I didn't....

V. 12:09 PM  

38 down clue is "Bit or hit lead-in" so answer is mega-bit (data transfer unit) or mega-hit. Lord this was a hard puzzle.

Wade 12:22 PM  

Lon, I knew that before I married a woman from Scotland, where any hill over 3,000 feet tall is called a "Munro," named for the guy who mapped or climbed all of them and also the guy who screwed up my ability to spell Monroe the way it's supposed to be spelled.

I lived in Austin for 13 years and have only visited Monroe (and Ruston). It would seriously be a tough choice for me, but I'd probably lean Monroe these days.

Stan 12:36 PM  

Tough puzzle with some cool crosses (MAGIC/CASTRO, BELTWAY BANDIT/PYM). D'oh moment for me was TOYOTAS.

My landlord's dog is named Denali, and my wife was surprised that I had never heard that word (being after all the highest mountain in the country). Came in handy today.

kate 12:36 PM  

As a native Californian, I always blanch when I see "sierras." Sierra means "mountain range." The mountains between Cal. and Nevada are the Sierra Nevada. One sierra. Not lots.

Ben 12:49 PM  

Good tough test as a Saturday should be. At first glance it looked brutal, but a few key toeholds helped climb the mountain.

Despite not being particularly outdoorsy, I have always wanted to visit the big six-letter parks at the NW and NE corners of our country: DENALI State Park in Alaska and ACADIA National Park in Maine.

Maine is our only one-syllable state.

Disjointedly,
Ben

Bill from NJ 12:59 PM  

I'm surprised that noone mentioned we had TEXASTEA - clued as Black gold - a couple of months ago, prompting a whole discussion of Jed Clampett and "The Beverly Hillbillies" in our Comments section. It wasn't a Sunday or a late-week puzzle so it must have been a Wed. or Thurs.

I remember because the early 60s represented - at least to me - the intellectual low-point of Television at a time when there weren't many entetainment alternatives as these were the pre-Cable days.

mac 1:11 PM  

@Meg: oh yes I do! Probably my favorite fabric in summer. And it wrinkles, but it wrinkels "edel" (German term. Ulrich, how do we translate that? Regally?).

@Foodie: Glad to see you're back! Had wondered the last couple of days. I just found out you can't take a break from Pilates without being punished, either.

dk 1:23 PM  

@ret chem.... dag nab it these computers can't spell for poop. That said BEGENTILE could become a WASP rallying cry... nah probably wouldn't work.

@meg I have 3 or 4 LINEN shirts they are a pain to iron and if you take them to the cleaners they can be ruined. They are best washed at home and are great in the summer.

@two ponies, should be about time to take out the white straw Resistol

lit.doc 1:41 PM  

I approach the Saturday NYT puzzle like it’s an interactive tutorial, and this was a good one. Worked out about a third of the grid before I started googling, and the initial result wasn’t too bad. OTIC for OTIO and TILLING for TILLAGE, for example. Felt good about getting SILT and OAT (I hate that one) right off.

I started out, as did others, keying MIRRORS at 1A (and RAIL at 4D), though I jotted “cannot be right” in my notes, which was of course right. Then keyed in 6D REFINED and jotted “gotta be right, which wasn’t. Ironically, EFGH occurred to me immediately, but I thought “No effing way. Not Barry Silk. Not the NYT” and moved on. I’ve got a lot to learn.

“One of 31 in Mexique” is one of the best clues I’ve ever seen—a double misdirect. Caught the “yo, the answer’s French” part and confidently keyed JOUR. Now I know that Mexico has 31 ETATs. Wow.

I have to share my word-geek excitement over “Paternal relative”. I learned ENATE a few months ago (from a CW, natch), and have been seriously vexed since at not being able to find the corresponding male equivalent. AGNATE! My moment of warm-and-fuzzy closure courtesy of the Saturday NYT puzzle.

joho 1:57 PM  

I love/hate Barry Silk.

This was challenging for me and I did not win. Got it all but the ODOM/OXEN/OTIC/ILENE section. Still I enjoyed every (and there were lots of them) minute.

@Foodie, glad you're back! I also thought of Andrea at CASTRO. I used to live in SF so that should have been easy ... but before I got MAGIC, the "C" was an "S."

@Meg & @mac ... I dug out my favorite Italian linen shirt to wear at my recent trade show. It's a classic. Just like Mr. Silk.

Ulrich 2:12 PM  

@mac: The Altona thing probably makes sense only in the northern dialect.

As to linen shirts: I though the point was NOT to iron them--to show they are made of real linen, not polyester or lowly cotton, and to make you look "edel", which, in this context, probably means "refined" rather than the standard "noble", i.e. you have better things to do than iron shirts, but also not the means to employ domestic servants to iron your shirts for you.

Van55 2:16 PM  

EFGH totally ruined this one for me. I know. A puzzle shouldn't be totally dissed for a single incidence like that but I thought way better of Mr. Silk.

Clark 2:21 PM  

Epic Fail! Above CASTRO OSSO I had nothing but the BEL of BELTWAY BANDIT (which started out as K STREET BANDIT). Ok, then I got NOM and a couple of Ss, but 'tricks' ending with a ____C made me completely crazy. Impossible. I still don't believe that there is any word that could fit in there. :)

It's good to get walloped now and then.

jae 2:27 PM  

This was an overall medium for me, with the top more challenging than the bottom. Tried ETO for EEC, AHI for TAI, and ALLRISE but the rest was pretty smooth. Thirty years of working for the gov made BELT... a gimmie. Very nice puzzle Mr. Silk!

@foodie -- I think attitude may also have something to do with shaky skills. If you don't feel confident things seem to get harder. Any cognitive data on this?

Robert of San Francisco 2:53 PM  

Just wanted to thank Glitch for advice yesterday on how to eliminate that annoying "Do you want to display both secure and non-secure text," etc. message when clicking on "Comments." For the first time ever today, it didn't pop up! Another IE secret exposed.

I seemed to be on Barry Silk's wavelength today -- knew that "mouth" referred to a river; knew Sysco from the trucks that go by every day on their way to the local Safeway; knew Janacek's first name because I love the opening to his Sinfonietta. But it's only fair to confess my inexcusable brain lapse on CASTRO -- me, a 38-year resident of San Francisco, who could only think of "Geary" and "Curran" as theaters, until the obvious answer finally popped into my head after several cups of coffee. Isn't it amazing, how crosswords can make you feel smart and stupid at the same time?

Kurt 3:10 PM  

What Rex said!

Jenny 3:57 PM  

Thought I would note on behalf of the paper solvers that, according to the theater-directory capsule ad located immediately to the left of this printed puzzle, "Love, Loss and What I Wore" is "By Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron." Perhaps Ms. Beckerman needs to have a word with her agent.

It was the immediate availability of seemingly pertinent yet completely useless information that amused me.

retired_chemist 4:26 PM  
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edith b 4:29 PM  

I started along the Carolina coast, getting one answer at a time and not feeling any connectivity happening. I spread out into the NW where the CASTRO/MAGIC cross eventually gave me enough pieces of the 15s to break open the North. I was amazed that with seemingly so little traction, I had better than half the puzzle completed!

Like joho, I love/hate Bary Silk. And I had much the same experience in the South as bit by bit I was able to fill-in-the blanks. Like Bill from NJ, I rememeber the Comments section going on ond on about the Clampetts' over TEXASTEA a couple of months ago, roughly the last time James Whitcomb Riley reared his head.

I never felt like I had a grip on this one, feeling like I was thrown into the deep-end of the pool and dog paddling my way to the edge, disoriented but proud.

retired_chemist 4:32 PM  

@ Jenny -

Acc. to the show's web site, Ms. Beckerman wrote the book and the Ms. Ephrons based their show on it.

PlantieBea 4:32 PM  

Tough but fair. The bottom was much more difficult for me than the top. My favorite worng answer was BELTWAY BARMAN for the private consultant. I also stuck with PAN at 52A. A defeat, but I still had fun trying.

Meg 4:33 PM  

I'm impressed with all you wrinkled and non-wrinkled linen wearers. And unlike polyester, it won't melt on your body should you be in an airplane crash!

Two Ponies 4:37 PM  

@ Jenny, I noticed that as well but after the puzzle. So who is Ilene Beckerman and who messed up the clue?

Stan 4:46 PM  

Lotsa good stuff in the write-up and comments today, but my favorite is @Robert of San Francisco's "amazing, how crosswords can make you feel smart and stupid at the same time."

Meg 4:52 PM  

Nora wrote for the Huffington Post, "My sister Delia and I have written a play. It's called "Love, Loss and What I Wore" and it's based on the best-selling book by Ilene Beckerman, as well as on the stories of our friends and friends of friends."

XwordNut 5:01 PM  

Your earlier comments about starting the the NW and working left-to-right, top-to-bottom resonated with me as I was doing Patrick Berry's WSJ puzzle (http://is.gd/9QjVZ) today.

R. McGeddon 5:31 PM  

With the first three letters of 39A, I wondered for a moment if Rilke could have written a poem titled "Hoosier Folk-Child."

sanfranman59 6:04 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 7:39, 6:55, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:22, 8:48, 1.18, 88%, Challenging
Wed 9:37, 11:50, 0.81, 10%, Easy
Thu 17:27, 19:30, 0.89, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 25:30, 26:07, 0.98, 50%, Medium
Sat 30:40, 30:20, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:41, 1.17, 85%, Challenging
Tue 5:23, 4:30, 1.20, 89%, Challenging
Wed 4:27, 5:48, 0.77, 9%, Easy
Thu 7:02, 9:19, 0.78, 7%, Easy
Fri 11:35, 12:34, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium
Sat 15:32, 17:21, 0.90, 22%, Easy-Medium

Jesse 6:52 PM  

Somewhat chuffed to see Rex rated this medium-challenging, since I got through it fairly easily. On the other hand, there was one earlier in the week that he rated easy and I had to google and scream.

For me the gimmes were:
Gehrig (Iron Horse) – I’d been reading about ALS on wiki a few days earlier and clicked on his name. Bio, Pym, shod, EEC (that’s what they called it when my country signed up – is it still the usage?). I tried “get into” for Don (43D) and was amazed it stuck.

In the SW, Alps and Bio gave me the downs, which in turn helped with a lot of things, despite the fact that I had never heard of Denali State Park. I loved the clue brook for abide. Before I got my AB- - -, I was of course thinking of little streams.

Toyotas nearly finished me, and I’m not talking about the recent recalls.

Tai (sushi fish) was my last fill, and I just guessed. It could have been Toi/Denoli, etc.

I didn’t like the clue or answer for 1A, and only worked it out through the crosses. I’ve never heard anyone use that expression in real life and it is sexist to boot, Mr. NYT crossword editor.

michael 7:05 PM  

Because I got this without too much difficulty for a Saturday, I was bit surprised by Rex's rating. As has been noted here by others, puzzles with long answers can seem hard at first, but once a couple of the long ones, fall they're not so bad. In my case I got engagement rings and buffalo bill cody fairly quickly. Gehrig was a gimme for me, which also helped.

retired_chemist 7:25 PM  

Hmmm - did not notice this one. Red sushi fish is IMO not TAI. Tai is sea bream, and it apparently has a "red" variety, but on your plate it's pretty much white as I recall. Red sushi is maguro, toro, and sake. ( AKA tuna, fatty tuna belly, and salmon).

joho 7:49 PM  

@Meg ... thanks, next time I fly I will definitely wear linen.

JenCT 7:52 PM  

Like Rex, I always start in the NW. Maybe I should give up that habit??

Knew ODOM, probably from watching too much football.

Got IONES easily, but come on - how many Iones are there?

Still don't get ABIDE for Brook - anyone care to clue me in?

edith b 8:08 PM  

@JenCT-

One definition of brook is to tolerate or put up with,

Jesse 8:43 PM  

@edith b: As in, I will not brook "ideamen" as an acceptable answer in the 21st century. :)

foodie 8:55 PM  

@lit.doc I like your attitude about Saturdays. It seems the best way to think of them until one gets to be a real pro (I'm far from it). And I also share your sense of closure about AGNATE/ENATE. I come from a culture which keeps close track of kinship and distinguishes maternal from paternal relationships. So, we have different words for aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws dependent on whether they are enate or agnate.

@Two Ponies, many thanks for the welcome and the comment. I answered you.

@Jae, absolutely, confidence affects cognitive skills. I depend on that : )

@Ulrich, re ironing, I have friends who iron blue jeans. I somehow feel it defeats the purpose.

@mac, joho, arechaeoprof, thanks for the welcome back! After being overseas for a while, coming to this blog is the finishing step in making feel I'm back home.

JenCT 9:22 PM  

@edith b - thanks!

Bill from NJ 9:23 PM  

@foodie-

Welcome back. It is always good to see old friends return and your contributions to this blog are always appreciated.

lit.doc 10:51 PM  

@foodie, welcome back indeed, and thanks for the supportive comments.

Ulrich 12:21 AM  

@foodie: Ironing jeans strikes me as perverse as my mother did who, on her first visit to the States and presented with a hamburger, started to attack it with knife and fork--no eating with your fingers in her world!

andrea begentile michaels 2:19 AM  

I got a google alert about hypothermia so had to come here, even tho I've been traveling and it's late...glad I did.

But tonight I read the comments from the bottom up which is really interesting, like not starting the puzzle in the NW!

I laughed @JayWalker who thought Rex is secretly a 71 yr old Italian in the South, when i know for a FACT he's secretly a 50 yr old Jewish woman from Minneapolis!

Yes, welcome back indeed, @Foodie!!!!!
(I too thought of me at the Castro answer, but like Robert from San Francisco who has been here twice as long as I have, it took me a VERY long time to think of a theater here that was also a street name!!!!!! Bi-zarre.
And of course, showing off the fabulous Castro Theater is one of the first stops on my SF-tourist tour. They are usually even good about letting me come in when it hasn't opened yet or a film is already in progress.)

@ulrich
your definition of "edel" is why i love you so much. So euro and elegant and sexy!
(Now, don't go all sad on me @dk, you know I have a thing for foreign men, older and much younger... but I'm loving this idea of BEGENTILE as a rallying cry!)

@ret chem
Me too on the AEC!!!! My only error.
(to clarify, my only FINAL error...I had about 27 writeovers while solving, including the poet who went from MILNE to RILKE to RILEY...and I wouldn't know AGNATE if she were related to me (on my mother's side)

So I do Barry Silk's NYT puzzle last night in SF, get to the airport and there is a Barry Silk puzzle in the SF Chronicle (about the only time I'll read the SF paper, despite living here 17 years) and arrive in LA where he is in today's LA Times too!!!!!!!!!!! Wow. You can run but you Cannot escape.

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