Not just mess up in modern lingo / FRI 5-7-10 / Film character who lives to be 877 / Musician nicknamed El Rey / His #2 was retired in 1997

Friday, May 7, 2010

Constructor: Tyler Hinman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none


Word of the Day: SURD (24A: Voiceless, in phonetics) —

n.
  1. Mathematics. An irrational number, such as √2.
  2. Linguistics. A voiceless sound in speech.
adj. Linguistics
Voiceless, as a sound.

[Medieval Latin surdus, speechless, surd (translation of Arabic (jad̠r) 'aṣamm, deaf (root), surd , translation of Greek alogos, speechless, surd), from Latin.]


• • •

This was the puzzle used in the Finals of the Crosswords L.A. Tournament, so I solved it right along with the three finalists: John Beck, Jon Berman, and Eric Maddy (the eventual champion — Beck had him beat by a good 15-20 seconds, but spent an eternity checking his puzzle over, and so Maddy ended up edging him out by about 5 seconds). It wasn't a clean solve, as Andrea Carla Michaels and Tyler himself were doing color commentary during the finals, and so inevitably revealed some answers (they actually got shushed by an audience member when they started discussing the puzzle, i.e. Doing Their Job). It's a fantastic puzzle but for two places. Admittedly, the first "bad place" probably isn't inherently bad — it just contains two longish words, both of which I find somewhat repulsive: AMORTIZE and ASPERSES (61A: Spread out over time, in a way + 63A: Slurs). I have never liked either word, and today, they have mounted one another. Yuck. The other "bad place" is more objectively bad: SURD!? Luckily the crosses were all recognizable words and phrases, because yikes. And, more luckily, the rest of the grid is clean and snappy, with entertaining cluing throughout. Loved it.

Let's start with "1-Across," which I'm going to start saying in place of "EPIC FAIL" despite the fact that no one will have any idea what I'm talking about (1A: Not just a mess up, in modern lingo). ANNA PAQUIN was a nice, fat gimme for some people. and a "?" for others. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Piano" in the early '90s when she was, what, 11? 12? Anyway, she's growed up and vampiric now. I didn't know NASDAQ was a "company" — I thought it was an entity that tracked the value of companies — so I had NASCAR there at first (31A: Big company located in Times Square). I think I also wanted LA RUSSA where LASORDA was supposed to go, at first (8D: His #2 was retired in 1997).

Apparently some people thought swiss cheese was made with GOAT MILK, which then made getting into that SW corner a little tough (37A: Swiss cheese ingredient). That was my easiest corner, actually, though I had WARLIKE for WAR-TORN (39D: Opposite of pacific) and ROOTER for ROOT ON (57A: Support in a stadium) at first. Nice little crossing of SNOW and GLOBE there near the center (46A: With 35-Down, something meant to be shaken), but the "W" made KWANZAA almost *too* easy to pick up (40D: Annual celebration with candles) (I didn't even have the "K" at that point and I knew what the answer was instantly). Aside from SURD, which I just didn't know, the hardest answer for me to uncover was ST. AGNES (44D: Symbol of chastity), first because I don't normally think of human beings as "symbols," and second (related) because I thought the answer would be a single word. I might even have thought "What's a STAGNES" before realizing I needed to put a space in there somewhere.

I finished in the NE, somewhere around SURD.

Bullets:
  • 16A: First name that's feminine in English and masculine in Italian (ANDREA) — a (coincidental?) shout-out to ANDREA Carla Michaels, who was calling the finals with Tyler.
  • 20A: Nickname since 1959 (ALOHA STATE) — honestly, I can never remember when Hawaii joined. I must be the only person who gets Hawaii's statehood and the foundation of Israel confused, date-wise.
  • 36A: Film character who lives to be 877 (YODA) — Also an anagram of "DAY-O," which I would pay good money to hear YODA sing.

  • 45A: Old Spanish queen (ENA) — lateral move from the more typical [Bambi's aunt] clue.
  • 53A: Musician nicknamed El Rey (TITO PUENTE) — Got to see him in concert once in the '90s. Very entertaining, though he was mildly contemptuous of his audience for being ... let's say, soulless. Ann Arbor!

  • 58A: Staple of classic rock, informally (ZEPPELIN) — true enough, though slightly weird that "informally" here means, more precisely, "partially."



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

94 comments:

The Bard 7:32 AM  

The Tempest > Act I, scene II

[Re-enter ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing;
FERDINAND following]

ARIEL'S song.

Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Courtsied when you have and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Hark, hark!

[Burthen [dispersedly, within] Bow-wow]

The watch-dogs bark!

[Burthen Bow-wow]

Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.

joho 7:41 AM  

It's uncanny how often @Rex mentions the same things that I experience while solving. I'm sure I'm not the only one this happens to. STAGNES was my word of the day until I parsed it correctly. Then I chose SURD. Never heard it.

Absolutely loved this puzzle. Excellent, fresh clues and answers. Unlike @Rex I liked seeing AMORTIZE. The SNOW/GLOBE cross is brilliant. There's just too much good stuff to mention it all.

The shout out to ANDREA was wonderful as it crossed BEETRED for Chefbea.

Thank you Tyler Hinman for this fantastic Friday!

Abigail 7:47 AM  

I was (unreasonably perhaps?) incredibly annoyed by the Yoda clue, not because I didn't know who it was, but because he actually lives to be 900...

imsdave 7:52 AM  

"I might even have thought "What's a STAGNES" before realizing I needed to put a space in there somewhere."

Finished the puzzle in a right fine time (for me) and then stared and stared and stared at STAGNES. Now I know I can't spell, but my vocabulary isn't that bad. Why have I never heard of this word?

I are an idiot.

Great stuff. DK's day has been made with 16A.

Deborah 7:55 AM  

Root for; cheer for; cheer on. Root on? Don't like it.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Do not remember ever hearing of "surd" despite taking a semester of phonetics. Granted, this was almost 30 years ago, but still.

SethG 8:22 AM  

And what are all such gaieties to me,
Whose thoughts are full of indices and SURDS?
x2 + 7x + 53
= 11/3

-Lewis Carroll

So I knew the word, just not that it also had linguistic meaning. So I didn't have any problem when the crosses revealed it. I did have both WARLIKE and ROOTER, and it took a post-solve Google to make sense of STAGNES. "Oh, that makes much more sense."

My second fastest Friday ever, which just puts me probably several minutes behind the LA finalists...

Leslie 8:25 AM  

I finished this one correctly, but slowly. Had "idolize" for LIONIZE, "ewe's milk" for COW'S MILK (because, hey, aren't almost all cheeses made of cow's milk?), and "needed" for NEED BE.

Had exactly the same reaction as Rex to NASDAQ. But unlike Rex, I rarely have positive or negative reactions to words based on their sound or spelling or whatever. Fine with AMORTIZE and ASPERSES.

Loved AVON LADY, LA QUINTA, BASIN, and SNOW GLOBE.

Would someone please explain the clue and answer to 18A? STILES turn, right? What's that got to do with steps?

Leslie 8:28 AM  

I rarely have positive or negative reactions to words based on their sound or spelling or whatever.

Except I just remembered that puzzle the other day where I really liked CALDERA, AQUEOUS, AND GNOSTIC. So yeah, now and then, I guess.

tptsteve 8:32 AM  

A tale of two puzzles for me. North fell, south did not, a result 30A would have liked. For me, 1A.

I had to google Stagnes to figure it out. A humbling end of the week.

jesser 8:50 AM  

Medium, Rex? MEDIUM? That's abSURD! (At least in Jessville)

This one was just painfully slow to do, and was not in any way helped by EcsTasy at 1D, montanA at 8D, frOnd at 23A and slUG at 34A. When you (meaning me) plunk down those as givens, you (still me) are in for it.

I finished it, but I would have had an EPIC FAIL at Tournament World because of KWANZAi/iSPERSES, which I never went back to check. Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh.

I don't like COW'S MILK. Isn't it just MILK if it comes from a cow? Isn't that why we use all the other qualifiers: goat's milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.?

CENTRAL = key? If you say so.

I'm proud that I got LIONIZE without any crosses, which made AMORTIZE a throwdown. I could have eaten (without biting) three TOOTSIE POPs while unraveling the rest of this beast.

The sun just minutes ago came over the Organ Mountains, so Las Cruces is officially SUNLIT. And it's Friday, so I am OK with everything in the world except SURD.

One last thing, from yesterday: @Andrea: I can take some of the name-dropping heat off of you with stories about (in no particular order) Corey Hart, Leo Buscaglia, Bill Richardson, Ralph Nader, Julia Roberts, Norman Maclean, Jack Ingram, Todd Snider, Larry Harmon (Bozo the Clown), Gary Johnson (who I'm guessing will run for Prez in 2012), Ty Murray, Pete Domenici, Jeff Bingaman, David Duke, Jesse Jackson, Phil Donahue, John Irving, RC Gorman, Jonathan Frid, Kevin McIlvoy, Samatha Dunn and Tina Griego. Also a near miss with Willie Nelson. But the puzzle has to invite the story lines. And then I will tell.

Ailiespr! -- (a sickly aircraft that has weird propellors that allow it to take off vertically, and no one wants it, not even the Pentagon) -- jesser

CaseAceFos 8:50 AM  

I found this La-sorda ab-SURD-a, to say the leasta. You've only to look into these LIONIZE to realize I'm in an ALOHASTATE of mine!
Sinfully yours, Howie from Maui

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

@Leslie-steps over a fence are also called stiles or sometimes spelled styles. Great puzzle Tyler. Golfballman

Leslie 9:01 AM  

steps over a fence are also called stiles

Ah. Thanks, Golfballman!

Cathyat40 9:15 AM  

Loved the cluing, the fill, and the Tito Puente video clip.

Hand up for: not having ever seen SURD before; staring at STAGNES until I saw ST AGNES; entering frOnd before SPORE and idOlIZE before LIONIZE; and not being fond of ASPERSES (I've only heard "casts aspersions" used).

@Leslie: A stile is a structure which provides people a passage through or over a fence or boundary via steps, ladders, or narrow gaps. Stiles are often built in rural areas or along footpaths to allow access to an adjacent field or area separated by a fence, wall or hedge. Unlike a gate, there is no chance of forgetting to close it, and should the stile break, the fence remains intact (livestock cannot escape). However, stiles may well be difficult to use for some disabled people and people with limited mobility. (Wikipedia)

fikink 9:20 AM  

@Bard, thank you, once again. I count on you every time Shakespeare is in a puzzle. So nice to have your research done for you - like footnotes to the puzzle!

Had UNICORN for STAGNES for a while, but that is virginity, isn't it?

@Dave, you are not!

@SethG, thx for the Lewis Carroll


@Leslie, stile 1 |stīl|
noun
an arrangement of steps that allows people but not animals to climb over a fence or wall.

Loved this puzzle. Way to go, Tyler!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:26 AM  

C'mon. Any homeowner with a mortgage will let you know that AMORTIZE is just fine and dandy. thought the puzzle was brimming with now-ness. Good stuff.

duaneu 9:32 AM  

I enjoyed this one. It's not often I can complete a Friday puzzle with no googling and no mistakes.

Ulrich 9:36 AM  

WARLIKE--check; ROOTER--check; add to that 9A NEEDED, 59D HOG and 51D STAYS--results of my new tactic NOT to wait for confirming crosses to put a guess down late in the week. Still, or perhaps because of that, the easiest Friday for me in a while--"easy" not being measured in time, but by the fact that (a) I never even considered googling; and (b) never had to stop for a longer period of time in sheer frustration. The gimme duo of PANETTA and ANDREA helped for sure

mitchs 9:38 AM  

What a great puzzle. I had about five iffy answers from my first pass and a lot of angst. Then, BEETRED fell and things got flowing. Questioned STEM until thinking (finally) tide - hand up for never seeing or hearing SURD. Never did get STAGNES until coming here, but the crosses dictated that it had to be right.

I can't imagine solving this under the pressure of a timer. Kudos once again to all that did so.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:42 AM  

At about 55 minutes, definitely challenging for me, but ultimately doable.

Like @Leslie, had IDOLIZE before LIONIZE and NEEDED before NEEDBE.

But my third write-over was at 4 D, "Providers of tips for improving one's English?", where I had PROS, as in someones who might help you improve your tennis (or table tennis?) game, while the desired answer, CUES, just doesn't seem quite right to me. If the clue had been "Providers of tips for improving one's play?", I think the ambiguity would have remained but the answer would been more appropriate.

Nancy in PA 9:43 AM  

Hand up for frond before SPORE and idolize before LIONIZE. Anyone else cycle through REI and EMS before KOA? Great puzzle.

ArtLvr 9:44 AM  

Close, but DNF because of LASORDA, ALOHA STATE, DR LAURA. I would have persevered a bit longer, but the NASDAQ calls -- Didn't anyone notice the "flash-crash" yesterday? A real shocker! Talk about EPIC FAIL...

∑;(

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Of course I loved this puzzle!!! But I am beet red for having to google way too much.

Wanted chanuka for kwanzaa. Learned a lot of new stuff

Colleen 9:47 AM  

I really liked this puzzle quite a lot; it was full of interesting stuff (LANDHO, ALOHASTATE, EPICFAIL, and SUNLIT) and didn't have any terribly annoying bits. I was as mystified as others by STAGNES, until a quick post-solve Googling made me see the light.

Special mention for including poor Queen ENA (Victoria Eugenie), the youngest granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who was the unfortunate carrier of the hæmophilia gene into the Spanish royal family. I think the current king of Spain is her grandson.

fikink 9:54 AM  

@Nancy in Pa - yes, when I had UNICORN for St. Agnes, REI fit right in!

Kelly 9:57 AM  

@Bob Kerfluffle - I think "English" is another word for spin in pool games. (Or something like that.)

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

surd, stiles and stagnes perplexed me too. thanks for the stiles explanations.

i do remember a folktale with the refrain,"dog dog bite pig. pig won't go over the stile and i shant get home," said by an old woman. but i always thought of the animals going over a turnstyle, city girl that i am.

David L 10:20 AM  

A struggle for me -- FROND for SPORE, CRUCIAL for CENTRAL, got LANDHO early then took it out because it didn't work with WARLIKE -- and so on, before it all fell into place after a painfully long time.

Today's objections:
DOTED for 'lavished gifts on' -- no, that's not what it means.
COWSMILK -- ah yes, the damnably ingenious Swiss, they figured out how to make cheese from cow's milk, while everyone else...
ROOTON -- as Deborah says, a blend of cheer on and root for that sounds wrong, to my ear.

retired_chemist 10:27 AM  

Hand up for lots of stuff: FROND (which made me erase LASORDA and not get it back for a good while), NEEDED(9A), IDOLIZE(43D), ANA(45A), and incorrect parsing of STAGNES. I was SURE of STAGNES from crosses, but I didn't get it until I came here.

I knew the mathematical SURD but rejected the answer at first because I didn't believe that such an ugly sounding word would make into TWO branches of knowledge, particularly when the one is question was phonetics.

All in all, a nice Friday workout. Thank you, Mr. Hinman.

ingled - put in a crosswordese fireplace.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:35 AM  

OMG! D'oh! Mea Culpa!

@Kelly - You are so right and I was so blind! And of course CUESticks have "tips", physically, where I was thinking of "prompts"!

Thank you for enlightening me!

mitchs 10:41 AM  

@Kelly: "english" in pool is imparted onto the cue ball when the cue stick strikes it anywhere other than the middle of the ball. It effects the the path of the cue ball after it makes contact with it's target. Or, in a "masse" shot, popular with crossword constructors, the cue ball is struck with a dramtic downward hit to one side of the ball, causing it to curve on its own, usually to avoid a first ball and strike the one behind it.

Martin 10:47 AM  

The one place that the phrase "cow's milk" is regularly used is in describing cheese. Any good cheese list will include this heading.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

Since I was caught up in the drama and color commentary of this final puzzle I did not even try to solve it in L.A. Andrea and Tyler were very entertaining and added to the excitement. It was painful to watch John Beck get nosed out. I really wanted the champion's winning to streak to end. John Beck is also a past contestant in Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions and a very nice guy.
I also chose not to solve this at the time so I would have something to do today. The only answers that I remembered from that day were 1A and snow globe (both great answers.) I thought this was tough but fun. It must have been torture to have been in the spotlight trying to do this under pressure.

pezibc 10:59 AM  

ROOTON must be regional. "We're going to the game to root 'em on."

EASEDBY is off for me. I don't think of that as 'Passed effortlessly' at all. For me, it has always been to 'use caution', to eeeease by and not bump into or knock over something.

ArtLvr 11:00 AM  

p.s. other news flash -- recall of lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia because of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people, three of them with life-threatening symptoms. Do check it out...

fected!

HudsonHawk 11:02 AM  

Fun Friday fare, Mr. Hinman. Loved ANNA PAQUIN in Almost Famous. ROOT ON is definitely in the language around here, and COW'S MILK seems like fair game to me. Now we just need to squeeze BUFFALO MOZZARELLA into a grid. Might have to be a Sunday. Andrea?

Falconer 11:09 AM  

Awesome Friday puzzle -- I always feel that I'm in synch with Tyler and the words and clues he uses. Even hard clues are fair. Loved epic fail -- such a fresh locution -- and as a Dodger fan from that great era, the Lasorda clue. Thanks TH.

Van55 11:16 AM  

Challenging for me. DNF.

Loved much of it, including some very clever cluing (e.g. CUES and ANTENNAS).

I take issue with DOTED's cluing. One need not lavish gifts to dote on someone.

I agree with Rex that NASDAQ doesn't fit exactly as a "company." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASDAQ

Cathyat40 11:16 AM  

All,

I so enjoy reading this blog and your posts every day and just wanted to share that. What a nice group of folks. I hadn't puzzled (or solved, as you say) for many years until February of this year, when I was snowed in and reached for an old, unfinished puzzle book on my shelf. The bug re-bit me and I signed up for the NYT crossword subscription. Some how I found you guys and now you regularly make my day. I still smile every time I see the name "Bob Kerfuffle." That would be a perfect name for a muppet.

Thanks to all, and I wish you a lovely weekend.

Cathy in Charlottesville, VA

CrazyCatLady 11:28 AM  

I was in the audience watching the three finalists solve this puzzle. I wanted to watch and listen, so didn't attempt to solve. The only answers I could remember were EPIC FAIL, ANDREA, SNOW GLOBE and ANNA PAQUIN. Even with all those givens, I still had a time of it. Had GIFTED for Naturally Bright. Had no idea what STILES or SURD were. Had to google to get TITO PUENTE. Only got ROOT On from the crosses. Same for ASPERSES. Very enjoyable, albeit difficult level for me. I can't imagine solving it, front of a hundred plus people with the timer ticking away. Kudos to those three.
Loved the YODA clip and TITO/OSCAR.

Ruth 11:38 AM  

My favorite kind of solving experience! First pass through the puzzle: nada, nada, nada. I can't do this. Tyler's too hip for me. Not a prayer. Then something falls in, another, a little burst till the southeast corner is filled, plod, more burst, plod--and finito! I did it!

Egad--window washer outside my office just thunked in out of nowhere. Nearly plotzed!
Thanks Tyler Hinman. (My husband is RPI 1969 and feels a communal bond with you. In case you were wondering what that feeling was)

Howard B 11:38 AM  

Says Yoda, "Come daylight, go home me wanna."

Great puzzle today. Chalk up another solver here that was stumped by STAGNES, at first. We're not alone in that experience.

chefbea 11:42 AM  

Is there a clip of the play by play of the final puzzle in LA. Would love to hear/see it. I'll check out utube

joho 11:44 AM  

@Cathyat40 ... what a lovely note!
This is a great blog thanks to Rex and all who stop in here. Life has been made better for having found this site!

retired_chemist 11:53 AM  

@ Jay Walker - the OLYMPIC TRIALS seems OK to me, since it must be a single overall event with the apparent plurality deriving from multiple specific and distinct events being included. But I see your concern. Maybe someone else can speak definitively.

poc 12:04 PM  

@Deborah: Agreed. ROOTON just sounds wrong. Root for, cheer on, not root on. And the cross of DOTED for "lavished gifts (on)" is also a something of a stretch. I resisted as long as possible before inserting that final T.

Falconer 12:09 PM  

Btw the answer "NASDAQ" for "Big company located in Times Square" is not technically right, though I suppose the weasel word "located" is close enough to let Will and Tyler get away with it.

Nasdaq OMX Group is a company that provides exchanges and trading-related services worldwide. You could say that it is "located" in Times Square only in the sense that its Nasdaq MarketSite facility is there. MarketSite is used for conferences, product launches, and as a broadcast background for TV and web video shows. It's basically a stage with a gigantic LCD sign out front. But NDAQ's headquarters is downtown near the NYSE on Liberty Street.

So Nasdaq is "located" in Times Square only in the same way that McDonalds is "located" there because it has a restaurant there. I don't think it's accurate but maybe in clue-speak it's an acceptable stretch.

Tinbeni 12:14 PM  

Did this almost in order, almost by the crosses only. Needed the downs to get SURD. Thx. Rex for the explanation.

However, how someone can say regarding AMORTIZE & ASPERSES, "I have never liked either word, and today, they have mounted one another. Yuck." Escapes me.

Geez, I may not know a word (hell, it happens all the time) but how does one come to a conclusion they dislike a word? Is it the combination of the letter order? WTF!

Liked the cross of BEET RED with ANDREA. Two of my fave here.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Had to google two clues to get going -- after that most everything fell in place. Even though I had to google, this would have been a fine puzzle except for the the d**aura reference. the less i'm reminded of that shrew, the better off i am.

babslesley 12:29 PM  

Those saints get me every time.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Amortize is a wonderful word, I wonder why it's not used more often. The particular clue, while accurate, was way too amorphous to be much use.

Abigail 12:52 PM  

This was my first Friday that I have ever finished and I did it as quickly as a Wednesday! Its a happy day! I came to see how Rex rated it and am so happy to see it was well received by people and not considered ridiculously easy. Yay!

Two Ponies 1:22 PM  

@ r_c, I was thinking along those lines as well and also thought of auto racing and time trials (don't know much about track and field.)

Jeff Spicoli 1:35 PM  

Root on, dude. Zeppelin!

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

No T.G.I.F. when I espy Tyler H's name tendered to one of his Xword teaser's! I just know this senior solver will be in for some HEAVY lifting and the Fault isn't ANDREA'S, but solely my own!

mac 2:29 PM  

Great puzzle! My Waterloo was in La Quinta, never heard of it. In addition, I was thinking ESL related for 4d.

I didn't get Kwanzaa until I thought of amortize and asperses, both perfectly fine words in my book. Ashamed to say I know very little about camping and the big names in the activity. Doted surprised me, as did roon on. Loved Land-Ho! Cow's milk would definitely on my cheese wrapper.

But for an j and an x this would be a pangram.

foodie 2:36 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. If the people in it would get together, it would make for quite a party- YODA, ST AGNES, TITO PUENTE,ZEPPELIN,ANNA PAQUIN, DR. LAURA, LASORDA, and..... ANDREA!!!!!

I too wish I could see the LA final. @Chefbea, let us know if you locate a video somewhere.

Rex, Ann Arbor welcomed Obama as its commencement speaker last Saturday with a great deal of ELATION and soul.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

I wanted CLUSTERF*CK for 1A (modern lingo, indeed). Perhaps another time. Sigh...

retired_chemist 2:48 PM  

Off to a dog show - staying at a BEsty Western because the LA QUINTA was full.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

I'm a little new to this stuff. What was the winning time for this puzzle in LA? What is a good time for an average person?

Clark 3:15 PM  

The nuns who were in charge of my education as a lad belonged to the Sisters of St. Agnes -- which gave me a leg up. In the game of stained glass representations, you know you’re dealing with St. Agnes when you see a lamb, and you know it’s about chastity when you see St. Agnes. Nice to have a clue about a clue once in a while.

I had frOnd before SPORE and EcsTasy before ELATION. That slowed me down some. And חנוכה before KWANZAA. Well actually I mis-spelled it out in latin letters. That's a word that a challenged speller can spell at least 7 different ways.

Elaine 3:16 PM  

Well, I've been fishing, so home late and got to the puzzle after lunch. I got Tommy LA SORDA, TITO PUENTE, and even ZEPPELIN. What more do you want?????
Blood apparently. Had NEEDED for 9A [Necessary] and could not recover, although ANDREA and STILES were in place.
NO NO NO NO NO! How many times do I have to tell you: HAWAII became a state in 1960!!!!!!! Both Alaska and Hawaii were voted statehood in 1959, but Alaska was allowed to enter The Union first. I was in my classroom in 6th grade at Wheeler AFB Elementary when the bells and sirens declared the successful passage of the bill for statehood. My dad was the artillery officer in charge of the 50-gun salute on the grounds of Iolani Palace the following spring, and Yes, I was there. It was 1960, and I was 12 years old.

I haven't read the Comments yet, so I imagine I'm the last to chime in.
This was not an EPIC FAIL, but I ended with 2 blank squares and 2 error squares. Hinman wins. But he doesn't know his statehood facts!

retired_chemist 3:30 PM  

@ Anon 2:54 - you think any of us is AVERAGE? :-)

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Elaine
Alaska became a State on January 3, 1959. # 49
Hawaii, August 21, 1959. # 50

Of course, you were there, so the History books are wrong.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

I loved surd and Lasorda in the same puzzle, classy even.

I thought Rex might have youtube-shared the Simpsons episode where Otto floats out to sea and his last words are 'Zeppelin rulesssss'

Great Friday to all

lit.doc 3:51 PM  

EPIC FAIL—the best 1A I’ve ever seen. And, ironically, one of the few answers that I got without a struggle today. Hey, give me 68:15 and a gaggle o’ googles and I can embarrass myself with the worst of ‘em. NE was abSURDly hard to finish, though I ended up with no errors.

Even to achieve just the illusion of traction, I needed badly to guess, and guessed badly. 23A FROND/SPORE, 4D PROS/CUES, 9A NEEDED/NEED BY (took forever to fix that one), 52A APORTION/AMORTIZE, 7D ANGLO/ITALO, 38D MINUTIA (hey, it’s singular)/ONE IOTA, 51D NIXES/STOPS/STEMS, 50A SINUS/BASIN, 40D WORSHIP/LIONIZE , and 52A REI/KOA.

And 58A “informally” is LED ZEP, though the letter count saved me from that one.

The most astonishing thing today was learning from 45A that Bambi’s aunt was a Spanish queen.

dk 3:54 PM  

right you are @imsdave. Just coming off my ELATION of the 16A fill, not that I am one to LIONIZE. Ahh as was once sung: "Love is the DRUG."

Geezer moment- Saw Led ZEPPELIN when 2 had just been released. Iron Butterfly was the warm-up and friend Sue and I had to be helped across the street and then ushered to our seats as we were Dazed and Confused.

Shishkabob for TOOTSIEPOP -- not so very smart And, I was sure KWANZAA was that Jewish holiday beginning with H that I also cannot spell. Also had REI instead of KOA . Other than that Mrs. Lincoln it was a fine play.

*** (3 stars) and If NEEDBE 16A can give me all the answers.

secret word: bucksim , au natural Sim City.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

Elaine, "Better late than Never" was never more apt than in your case, nor less cliche!

Prince Kuhio Kalaniana`ole 4:00 PM  

March 11, 1959- The Senate passes Hawai‘i’s Statehood Bill 75 to 15.

March 12, 1959- The U.S. House of Representatives passes Hawai‘i’s Statehood Bill, 323 to 89.

March 18, 1959- The Act to Provide for the Admission of the State of Hawai‘i is signed by President Eisenhower. Hawai‘i’s delegate, John Burns, is not invited to the signing ceremony.

June 27, 1959- A plebiscite is held to allow Hawai‘i residents to ratify the congressional vote for statehood. Out of 155,000 registered voters throughout the territory, 140,744 ballots are cast. The “yes for statehood” garners 94.3% (132,773 votes) while the “no” ballots equal 5.7% (7,971 votes).

August 21, 1959- President Eisenhower makes Hawai‘i Statehood official by signing the proclamation that welcomes Hawai‘i as the 50th state of the union. He also unveils the new fifty star flag.

[http://hawaii.gov/statehood/history]

Ben 4:20 PM  

PETR Korda was a deeply talented lefty on the pro tennis tour but too big a head case to sustain a long run at the highest level. He'd beat Sampras one day, lose to Sampras' racket stringer the next.

@Abigail, nice job.

@Cathyat40, "Bob Kerfuffle" is just a stage name he uses on the Internet. His real name is Steve Kerfuffle.

chefwen 4:34 PM  

This took me forever, ecstacy before ELATION, needed before chefbea noodged me for BEET RED, wouldn't take out idolize so I failed epically with a big fat DNF. So close but yet so far.

ALOHA

jae 4:42 PM  

Fine puzzle which was on the easy side for me due to several gimmies (ANNA..., PANETTA, TITO.., LASORDA, ...). Only missteps were STUN for DRUG, and ECSTASY for 1d. I did struggle a bit with the KWANZAA spelling and had to stare at STAGNES to get it to sink in. Solid Fri. Mr. Hinman!

edith b 4:46 PM  

My father was always concerned about what I was reading, never more so that when I dicovered the subset of marytred Irish saints which included St Dymphna and St Agnes.

"We're not even Catholic," he would mutter, "why are you reading this pagan stuff?" I read what I read when I read it and never judged its worth, regardless if it was Sci-fi or US History. It'll all come in handy someday. Like today.

I feel like Ruth does almost every Friday and Saturday and usually end with a feeling of satisfaction. I'm a retired school teacher and I always get a twinge when I see Tyler Hinman's byline. I fought this one for almost an hour and my last letter was the S in ASPERESES.

And, please, to any Catholics reading this, I do not ascribe to my father's beliefs.

Martin 5:27 PM  

@Anon 2:54

I'd second the response that there's no such thing as an "average" or "target" time for any crossword. If you enjoy the solving experience, the time is just right.

On the other hand, it's reasonable to ask what a competitive speed-solver will do. I don't know what the winning time in LA was, but the top tier speed solvers can be expected to solve a Friday or Saturday puzzle in six or seven minutes. There aren't many solvers in that tier, but those who are are remarkable consistent. These solvers will do a Monday or Tuesday in 2 minutes and change.

I personally don't like solving against the clock. We've had the debate many times whether savoring a puzzle like a fine meal or downing it like 50 hot dogs in seven minutes is more satisfying. Of course, there is no correct answer to where you find the most enjoyable solving experience. If you do want to train as a speed-solver, you need to know your bar is very high.

Martin 5:29 PM  

@Anon 2:54

I'd second the response that there's no such thing as an "average" or "target" time for any crossword. If you enjoy the solving experience, the time is just right.

On the other hand, it's reasonable to ask what a competitive speed-solver will do. I don't know what the winning time in LA was, but the top tier speed solvers can be expected to solve a Friday or Saturday puzzle in six or seven minutes. There aren't many solvers in that tier, but those who are are remarkable consistent. These solvers will do a Monday or Tuesday in 2 minutes and change.

I personally don't like solving against the clock. We've had the debate many times whether savoring a puzzle like a fine meal or downing it like 50 hot dogs in seven minutes is more satisfying. Of course, there is no correct answer to where you find the most enjoyable solving experience. If you do want to train as a speed-solver, you need to know your bar is very high.

CrazyCatLady 5:46 PM  

@Anon 2:54 I wasn't really looking at the clock when the three finalists finished, but I think it was around 10 minutes or maybe a little less. They all finished within a few seconds of each other. Does anyone know the exact times?

@Lit.Doc About ENA. Me too.

Elaine 5:54 PM  

Well, here's the thing: there are official dates, and there are 'the way things actually went.'
Setting aside how tiresome it is when some folks must be anonymous as well as tacky-- allow me to share the following:

The way it was explained to us fifty years ago, Alaska wanted to be The Only State for 1959. All statehood ceremonies in Hawaii were deferred. There was a lot of excitement that day in March, '59 (and it rained, a traditional sign of good fortune,) when the Congressional votes were cast.

I did start thinking, 'Could I have forgotten the sequence?' because yeah, I saw the 'official record.' But I have pretty strong memories-- it was a pretty big deal to all of us who were living there. So I unearthed my rather small box of surviving memorabilia, and on the desk in front of me is an official letter from the Chairman of the 'State Spelling Bee' -- on the letterhead of the Department of Public Instruction, dated May 10, 1960. And the letterhead reads:
TERRITORY of HAWAII.

Now that so much time has passed, the record reflects officialdom, but not the way things played out. The Statehood ceremonies were in late May, 1960.

SethG 6:24 PM  

Elaine, it's no less tiresome when you're repeatedly incorrect by name about easily checked facts.

In furtherance of the conspiracy, here's a New York Times article from August 21, 1959 about the state of Hawaii. Here's a Honolulu Advertiser page with lots of pictures from 1959.

July 4, 1960 was the first time the 50-state flag was raised over the palace. Maybe that's what you're remembering?

In any case, the clue was [Nickname since 1959]. The Hawaiian Legislature, by joint resolution, instituted "The Aloha State" as the official nickname in late April, 1959.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:34 PM  

Aw, Ben, you're givin' away all my secrets!

Steve ;>)

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

Here's the one I found: www.hawaiireporter.com

Moonchild 7:24 PM  

For someone who was not there at the time and really doesn't care that much the Aloha State clue was "close enough for government work."
That's all I need.
Is being correct to the last molecule what we need to get the correct answer and solve the puzzle? If the answer is No then let's savor this juicy puzzle, enjoy it, and be glad we weren't on that stage, OK?

Look at it this way, perhaps 8:31 PM  

The Oscar for the best picture of/shown 1959 was presented/celebrated in the spring of 1960.

Catches the neos every time.

P>G>

Ulrich 8:47 PM  

Sometimes I can only shake my head in wonder: The people here are supposed to be smart, so how can some of them miss the point so totally? As SethG says, the issue is the year when the name "Aloha State" was established, which happened in 1959 from the sources quoted, period. What the hell does this have to do with the year Hawaii became the 50th state (I know this anyway b/c I collected the state quarters--never mind)? Or with awards given a year after the event? Or with the year Charlemagne was crowned, to name just one other fact that is of no relevance here?

joho 8:55 PM  

Hawaii is a state?

Martin 9:05 PM  

@Ulrich,

Good point. We do know "Aloha State" was adopted by an act of the Hawaiian legislature in 1959.

We don't know whether they called it in from Kenya.

dk 9:41 PM  

@joho, I don't know about Hawaii, but I'm in a state.

@moonchild, Correct to the last molecule!!! I cannot wait to use that on the step twins. Bless you.

Wanna rock to Eric Burton in living black and white: cut and paste.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQknxjce3_Q

Back to what ever it was I was doing.

@ulrich, facts with no relevance? tsk tsk :)

nite all

MikeM 10:04 PM  

@Cathyat40 - My thoughts exactly.. I do the puzzle on the bus on the way into NYC. The first thing I do when I get to the office is see what Rex and the gang have to say about it. I do not post often... I am at work most of the time... but I do read this forum almost everyday and, truthfully, it is every bit as enjoyable as the puzzle itself
@Jeff Spicoli - Awesome, dude

sanfranman59 10:13 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 6:57, 6:55, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Tue 8:45, 8:51, 0.99, 51%, Medium
Wed 13:13, 11:52, 1.11, 80%, Challenging
Thu 14:23, 19:20, 0.74, 6%, Easy
Fri 24:46, 26:26, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:40, 1.05, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:15, 4:31, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:35, 5:50, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Thu 6:45, 9:15, 0.73, 5%, Easy
Fri 11:39, 12:46, 0.91, 29%, Easy-Medium

michael 11:18 PM  

It's reassuring to find that I made the same initial mistakes as others (crucial, frond) and was not alone in puzzling over stagnes. But I eventually got it all -- slowly at first, but then quickly after figuring out Tito Puente.

I had prorated for a while (instead of amortize).

michael 11:18 PM  

It's reassuring to find that I made the same initial mistakes as others (crucial, frond) and was not alone in puzzling over stagnes. But I eventually got it all -- slowly at first, but then quickly after figuring out Tito Puente.

I had prorated for a while (instead of amortize).

andrea andrea michaels 12:24 AM  

I loved this puzzle and not just cuz of the shout out (total coincidence, as Young Tyler wrote it months before we knew we were going to do the play- by- play!)
I loved the definition about the Italian boy's name bec I have to always explain that and how Andrea actually MEANS "man"...
but I am secure about it all. 30 years of therapy notwithstanding! ;)

I had never heard of EPICFAIL and I never did parse STAGNES which I thoughts was pronounced STAINS so seemed odd to meean pure!

Since FIN was my first entry, I put in Marriott instead of LAQUINTA which I also didn't know...and sadly the A, I and T fit! So, that was tough.
Also since i had goatMILK the G worked for gENeRAL which had the same 5 of 7 letters for CENTRAL!

SNOW GLOBE crossing was lovely.

The finals took ten minutes, but they all finished within seconds of each other so we were stunned into silence (a first for me, as I had 20 more minutes of material!) ;)

To clarify, I understand I was shushed initially bec one of the contestants in the audience solving along didn't realize the ones on stage had on head phones!!!!! And it is terribly hard to keep up, not give away stuff, elucidate and attempt to be mildly amusing, but it was lucky that Tyler could give the constructor's viewpoint and I could give the solver's perspective.

I didn't want to give away 1A till the contestants did, and I was aware others were slving along...it all went by so fast, I only vaguely remember trying to make a joke about LANDHO could've been defined as the gal who waits on shore for the sailors to come back!

I don't think any of it was recorded. Normally West Coast tourneys are dominated by the Erics (and there are more coming up; #4 was an Eric, and my pal Eric Seale who competed with his wife Sandy won the doubles competition and walked off with a gift basket as big as their car...
Elissa was amazing with her prizes...
But this was the year of the John. John Beck and Jon Berman (both of whom had done in the top 50 at the ACPT, so folks to watch out for)were great, nice, humble...
Lots more to say, but I think Rex and PuzzleGirl and 2 Ponies + CrazyCatLady (whom I didn't meet) covered it pretty well.
The fact that no one even quite remembers who won and in what time I think says the most about the fun that was had.

Arundel 9:40 PM  

This is Mrs.Stan posting, and we know we're a little late, but on vacation and with computer difficulties, we feel it's not too late to chime in. We really enjoyed this puzzle, which we did together while driving to Western New York. We did it in 198.7 miles, laughing all the way. Your mileage may vary!

PS The avatar is Willow's good friend Russell.

paulinSW 11:13 AM  

A remarkable post and comments today. And quite a history lesson, too. From syndication land, so doubt this comment will reach anyone. Have NYTimes account but not access to archived articles. Anyway, interesting to me to find there was a 49-star flag for one year before Hawaii's star was officially flown on July 4, 1960. I definitely 1-A'd this.

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