Brit's bender / FRI 6-4-10 / Mawashi wearer's activity / It's superior to bohea / Oratory projection / Oblast between Kursk Tula

Friday, June 4, 2010

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CÉSAR Ritz (23A: Ritz of the Ritz) —

César Ritz (23 February 1850 – 24 October 1918) was a famous Swiss hotelier and founder of several hotels, most famously the Hôtel Ritz, in Paris and The Ritz Hotel in London. His nickname was "king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings," and it is from his name and that of his hotels that the term ritzy derives. (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt like I was struggling, but my time came in below average (albeit two minutes and one minute higher than my last two Fridays, respectively). So the puzzle's challenging compared to recent puzzles, but closer to average compared to puzzles on the year; at least for me. I have been noticing lately that I'm getting faster, and I think it's throwing my personal "averages" off. I can't very well accurately compare my times today to my times in January if I'm a significantly faster solver today. I did not think I could get much faster than I was in January, but lately it appears I have a new gear.

Today, I could tell right away that the puzzle was back to the difficulty level I'd come to expect, after taking a couple weeks off. Actually had to work to get into the top, with the first toehold coming at ZAG / SWAYZEthe former instantly got me the latter (9D: Veer + 5A: People magazine's 1991 "Sexiest Man Alive"). From there I was able to work that north section enough to get COMPARED AGAINST and ... some kind of LEARNING. It *had* to be A LITTLE LEARNING, didn't it? (spoiler alert: it did). But ... but ... I've got EAMES at 15D: Chair person? How can that be wrong? It works perfectly, even (especially) with the tricky cluing. I'm leaving it in ... and look, one cross works, two crosses work .... three crosses work. How Can That First "E" be a "T"!?!? Aaargh. Eventually, the A LITTLE part became indisputable, and once I accepted that, TAMER jumped forward quickly. As in LION TAMER, I'm guessing. I can tell you now that whoever wrote that clue knew *exactly* what he was doing.

Here's where I turned on the gas — I dropped 2D (A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE) and 3D (TIME OF DEPARTURE) (both 15 letters) into the grid with only the first few letters in place. That's a huge chunk of the puzzle done in a matter of seconds. I did not have as much luck throwing the long answers Across down below, largely because I couldn't see APSE (49D: Oratory projection). Again, that's intentionally deceptive cluing. APSE is the key to seeing those Acrosses (esp. the first one). Instead, I worked the south, which was Hard. 55D: TV monitor goes to a federal agency (FCC), not a screen for your living room. The SCOTIA Sea turns out to be far away from any place with "SCOT" in its title (incl. Scotland and Nova Scotia) (60A: ___ Sea (part of the South Atlantic)). The sloganeer today is a station (CBS), not a tangible product (50A: Former "Reach for the stars" sloganeer). BRET Boone ... I forgot he existed, and I follow baseball (51D: Second baseman Boone). I remembered catcher Bob Boone (BRET's dad), and Aaron Boone (his brother). Sorry, BRET. I knew a few of the other answers down there; eventually I guessed SCOTIA and stuff started to fall, STRETCHER BEARER being the toughest 15 to bring down (58A: Battlefield attendant).

I struggled to polish off the middle, which is where I made my last stand. I got into it OK, with PLANT (36A: One that shoots 6D: Unwanted 36-Across (WEED) helped with that) and "SING A," despite never having heard of the song from which the latter comes (39A: "I Can ___ Rainbow" (classic kids' tune)). Problems were along the southern and eastern edges of the middle. Couldn't see either answer. Oh, and completely forgot about Bugs MORAN (33A: He tried to have Capone killed in 1926). That didn't help. But the main hindrance here was 42A: Brit's bender (BOOZE-UP). Once I guessed the "C" in CÉSAR, I saw CENTAUR (23D: Horseback figure?), which gave me a weird BO--EU- answer for [Brit's bender]. That's when I entertained the idea that the answer might break between "E" and "U." Got the "Z" from FRANZ (27D: Liszt or Schubert), and there it was: BOOZE-UP. I would have arrived at this answer sooner, perhaps, if 43D: It's superior to bohea had made any kind of sense to me. And I might have gotten that answer (PEKOE) if 53A: Hindu love god had made any kind of sense to me. I wanted RAMA. Later, when PEKOE was the only possible answer at 43D, I was reminded of the KAMA Sutra, and so felt OK about KAMA as an answer. Last letters in the grid were the "FO" in FOLIO, which is odd, as I remember thinking "FOLIO" the very first time I glanced at that clue (26D: Page number). Sometimes, apparently, I don't just write in the first thing that comes to mind.

Unknowns to me: MOOTED (21A: Brought up for discussion) — "Excuse me, I'd like to MOOT something" (good luck making yourself understood with that sentence); CÉSAR, as I've said; MORAN, whom I just plum forgot; KAMA, whom it turns out I sort of kind of knew. Everything else in the puzzle (except the "bohea" in the PEKOE clue) was familiar to me. Nice to have a puzzle that is tough without being horrifically obscure. D'OH YEAH! (19A: Spoken word that's a sound trademark of 20th Century Fox + 8D: "___, you!").

  • 29A: Vintner's vessel (TUN) — It was that or VAT. I think I already had the initial "T" in place from MINIATURE CAMERA (11D: Spying aid) when I saw the clue. As I've said before, I know "TUN" from Middle English literature. Chaucer used it. Chaucer himself was granted a TUN of wine a year by the king in 1397.
  • 34A: Mawashi wearer's activity (SUMO) — went with HULA at first :(
  • 37A: Oblast between Kursk and Tula (OREL) — led with OMSK (another oblast), and then remembered that OREL was a. a Russian place of some sort, and b. crosswordese, and common in a way that OMSK isn't. Seemed a good guess. Was.
  • 4D: Green party V.I.P.? (ST. PAT) — I really dislike ST. PAT as an answer, generally, but I love this clue.
  • 5D: Canon shooter, briefly (SLR) — I object to "Canon"'s being in this clue, as the specific brand has nothing to do with the answer, which is a general term for a kind of camera: single lens reflex. Putting in "Canon" deliberately, in an overly heavy-handed way, tries to make you think the clue wants a brand name for an answer. [Shooter, briefly] would have worked just fine.
  • 7D: Lt. Raine of "Inglourious Basterds" (ALDO) — just saw this, which helped. Some (still needed a cross to jog my memory). I liked the movie. Sensationally violent in parts, but it's mostly the constant threat of violence that gives the movie its persistent tension.
  • 10D: "Only the hand that ___ can write the true thing": Meister Eckhart (ERASES) — Speaking of medieval (which I was, a few paragraphs back). This was easy to get with just a cross or two in place.
  • 30D: "I won't miss it" ("NO LOSS") — a great crossword answer, I think. Perfectly colloquial. A genuine AHA moment when I uncovered it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


PanamaRed 7:45 AM  

I liked this puzzle - but I usually like a Friday puzzle I can finish. Would not have finished if I was boozed up, though.

Liked the clue for St Pat, and never knew D'oh was trademarked.

Like Rex, never heard of MOOTED used this way.

Also got a kick out of 59a, oxford letters (EEE).

foodie 7:56 AM  

Great write up Rex! It was like watching you do it!

I greatly admired the construction and the grid. Compared to puzzles that are chock full of specific factoids, this one feels more like a true test of one's ability to "puzzle out" a grid. The huge majority is occupied by expressions or phrases from daily life. You know you should be able to figure them out. So, it becomes a matter of thinking flexibly and seeing patterns.

It was hard for me to get started, and I needed help with LANGE to open up the center, but I greatly enjoyed the process. Thank you Martin Ashwood-Smith!

Zeke 8:00 AM  

I started with ALITTLE___ for 14a, and tried to fit ALITTLEKNOWLEDGE. When the alternate quote appeared, I wondered who had the cujones to paraphrase Alexander Pope. He's named for the conqueror of the known world AND God's emisary on earth, so who dared paraphrase him, and poorly at that?
Also tried to fit MARTINIZE in 25A, but that's just me.
Nice, solid puzzle.

imsdave 8:10 AM  

Neat looking grid. A little crossword learning is definitely a dangerous thing as I'll bet most of us jumped at Eames. MOOTED doesn't seem quite right, but appears to be legit.

Oh, and that Eckhart guy needs a spelling lesson

Leslie 8:10 AM  

This felt Saturday-hard to me, although I managed to finish with only one mistake: "Rama" instead of KAMA, and "peroe" instead of PEKOE. Rex's reasoning on why it has to be KAMA makes great sense--wish I'd had my thinking cap on like he did!!

I got my first toe-hold at 20A and 16D, even though at first I thought the latter had to be "sips." Easy to fix, though.

I liked all the long answers as they revealed themselves. They weren't so "out there" as to be unguessable, and really helped with the shorter answers.

OldCarFudd 8:12 AM  

I also remembered the quote a "A little knowledge - - - ". That made me wonder if I ought to be looking for a rebus, since knowledge didn't fit. Enjoyed the long answers. The middle was the hardest.

Gardeish -the best a fencer can be en after a long booze-up.

snowmaiden 8:30 AM  

Just in time! Thanks, Rex. I'm in Amsterdam waiting every morning (afternoon) for you to post your blog. I was about to give up and head for a coffee house.

David L 8:47 AM  

A little learning is a dangerous thing
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring

That's the correct quote -- ironic that in so many people's minds 'learning' has been changed to 'knowledge.' I wonder who was responsible?

I did fine on this, after a slow start, except I was totally stymied by the ONEG/SGT cross. I don't know what ONEG means, in connection with blood, and despite going through the alphabet didn't hit on SGT for the down. So I guessed a letter, and guessed wrong. Spoiling an otherwise pleasing Friday. Bah!

SethG 8:55 AM  

I polished off the middle first, with LANGE and FRANZ leading the way. And I got into the top with AGTS/SPITS and ALDO, so I had LEARNING (actually LEARSING...) before A LITTLE and never fell for EAMES. Still, TAxER/AS A TEAx was my last fill. I had problems, just not the obvious ones.

Why was I sure that the airport delay would be somethingTIME with the x..xRTxxx in place? More importantly, why did I fill in FTC instead of FCC? Let me tell you, SxxETTHERBEARER is really hard to see and a) be confident that your end _is_ correct and b) parse. Thankfully, I was able to teach myself enough French to get SEPT, and that broke the long downs. (I did initially try to figure out what French for "seventeen" would be...)

Moot court for me was the Kama Sutra for you in terms of making sense of the answer. My quibble: [Adds roads to, say] really sounds like you're editing an existing map, while REMAPS would be creating a new one.

Nancy in PA 8:57 AM  

I had the same problem at ONEG and SGT. Went thru the alphabet, couldn't parse One-G, didn't think of O-Neg. D'oh! Otherwise enjoyed immensely.

experks--the corporate jet and company cars sold to stave off chapter 11

David L 8:57 AM  

OK, OK, I get it... The blood thing is "O neg(ative)." I was reading it as One G. As in a quality grade, or something. You go to give blood, and they say, sorry sir, yours is coming back one g -- that's not good enough. I suggest you get an upgrade as soon as possible.

dk 9:05 AM  

Thanks @David L, knowledge was what I knew... I am spared being out MOOTED this am.

My experience was bizarro world Rex. I began with the middle except spelled XENO as zeno as I have a Doctorate in Psychology: DOH!

I know take five as "break for a make," from high school garage band days.

Epic fail on TUN as I also misspelled INSTRUMENT with an a.

This one took at least one hour. Again bizzaro world Rex as I seem to be getting slower, must be the MIMOSA for breakfast.

*** (3 Stars) This one beat the crank pants off of me.

Hi Judy! Coming to you from 5 weeks in the future.

joho 9:34 AM  

I was staring seemingly forever at white squares, nothing was coming to me. Oddly, STRETCHERBEARER suddenly appeared to me and I got going from there. I did have Minute before MOMENT for a while. I also had cAner before TAMER.

MIMOSA was the last answer I wrote in as I kept looking for something that buzzes like an alarm clock or shaver.

What a workout! I loved it. Thank you Martin Ashwood-Smith ... maybe you should change your surname to Ash Wordsmith!

Golfballman 9:39 AM  

Somebody please explain 31A Mods is that a plural abbrev. for modifies? If so its a sucky clue as is mooted.

Tinbeni 9:45 AM  


What is there not for me to like about this Friday offering.


Anonymous 9:52 AM  

@ golfballman,
I think mods is an abbrev. for modifications.

Zeke 9:55 AM  

@David L. I think I proveed Pope's quote with mine. Thanks for the correction.

ArtLvr 10:16 AM  

Like joho, my Chair person was a Caner after scrubbing Eames -- again 3 of the letters were right! Loved the TAMER in the end, though, and the mythical CENTAUR too.

My circuit around the grid started with SEPT at 38A and went through the bottom stretch, then up the east side and center to the NE, so that LEARNING was there before I could get sidetracked by lack of "Knowledge". It still came to mind as more common, so thanks to David L for the actual quotation!

Like Leslie, I was so befuddled by the "Bohea" that I left in a wrong letter, getting Peroe and Rama. Really odd, since I'd thought of KAMA Sutra early on.

All in all, a wonderful workout, though I agreed with Rex about the "Canon shooter" clue and disliked even more the "One that shoots" clue vis å vis PLANT! Yes, a WEED may shoot up, but most plants probably can't be said to "shoot" either in fast growth or in branch formation... Two too many shooting misfires -- maybe Buggsy MORAN'S ghost was lurking.


harphoo - unfinished slaughter?

NCA President 10:17 AM  

yikes. thank golly for google.

Tinbeni 10:20 AM  

@David L.
Seems there are a lot of quotes:

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot."
— Albert Einstein

“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.”
- Terry Pratchett quotes (English Writer, b.1948)

Tinbeni 10:28 AM  

It was George "Bugs" Moran.
He avoided the Capone Valentine.

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was the mobster involved with the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Cost over-runs led to his firing.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:38 AM  

I had the feeling that all week we had been lured on by little crumbs of easy, tasty puzzles, and then today, WHAM!, the trap slammed shut!

For me, an hour plus, though with no references I did finish, and just one write-over, the RAMA/KAMA spot.

(I always think of the "Heidelberg TUN" in Moby-Dick.)

David L 10:50 AM  

@Tinbeni: but Old Al Pope got there first! I think Einstein can be forgiven -- he probably said it in German first, then someone translated it into English...

I guess it's like "Play it again, Sam." Something everyone knows Bogey said, except he didn't. Or was Ingrid?

CaseAceFos 11:07 AM  

I've been enjoying my MIMOSA in the morning...Formosa my life!
Also, 15D (chair person) has to be one of the best in the history of Crossword cluedom, thus making M. Ashwood-Smith, a regular Will-O'-the-Whip!

Smitty 11:18 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle thanks for the reference - I must have missed it somewhere in Melville's 600 pages of whaling footnotes for a 15-page story. (musta been the laudanum) Ashamed to admit I liked John Houston's version better.

Hands up for "a bit of knowledge" which fit the grid.
and Rex's HULA/VAT answers.
Wanted QUEEN to be a verb meaning Be a Dandy and had TABLED for MOOTED.

Nice Friday, Loved EEE for Oxford letters..
but shouldn't there be a question mark after "TV Monitor" clue?

lit.doc 11:24 AM  

For me, a perfectly challenging Friday. The four pairs of 15s were brutal but interesting to solve. Good puzzle.

I so wanted COFFEE for 21D, but was saved by the semi-gimmes at 24A IN_ and 35A _NEG. East was lots tougher than the rest. I knew 29A had to be VAT or TUN, which was settled soon enough by my erroneous but felicitous 34A JUDO and 40A ACRO—got lucky there.

Total WTFs were 23A CESAR, and 37A “Oblast” and OREL. Last square fixed was 53, where I had RAMA for the longest time, till PEROE made me revisit it. Finally heard “kama sutra”. Done in just under 45.

Two Ponies 11:26 AM  

My hat is off to everyone who finished this one. I just could not catch on. Complete failure today. Felt like a Saturday for me.

fikink 11:27 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one!
Struggled, walked away, struggled, walked away - got some dishes done, the dog breakfasted, came back, finished it. (There is a reason I do not time myself. I doubt Will would let me go throw in a load of wash during the tournament.)
Lots of neat tricks - TAMER possibly my favorite.
Isn't the Kama Sutra where the Sazerac Slings are employed?

@artlvr: "harphoo - unfinished slaughter?" LOL !

JayWalker 11:28 AM  

I JUST LOVED THIS PUZZLE!! It kicked my butt all over the room and yet I finished it with not one error!!!! That's not bragging, btw, because I sweated blood to get there. Waaaay more "I guess I'll just take a chance here"s than I ever would like - and yet I thank MA-S for each one. "Tamer" and "team" were my last entries because I couldn't see beyond "as a TEMP" for the longest time. And Tamer? Evil, pure evil. Just loved it. Thank you X 3. This Friday puzzle made up for ALL the rest of the so-so puzzles that preceded it during this week.

retired_chemist 11:38 AM  

A fine workout. Doable but it stretched me. I'd call it challenging - Saturday tough.

Many of the same initial entries as Rex - EAMES especially, of which the S remained and caused an error I only caught when I going to Orange's site. Not that TAMES/SUFFLES makes any sense - I just missed it. Also VAT/TUN and OMSK/OREL.

I learned stuff, just as I do from Martin's posts here. D'OH copyrighted? Bohea? BOOZE-UP? KAMA? MOOT as a verb? CESAR and MORAN, mawashi, and more!

Thank you, Martin! I expected something this good when I saw the by-line and was not disappointed.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Anyone put in Beckham for 42A? (As in Bend it like Beckham).


squar: Southern pronunciation of English country gentleman

jae 11:59 AM  

An excellent puzzle and just about right for a Fri. Hand up for KNOWLEDGE (which wouldn't fit) and (@joho) MINUTE. I also tried RUMPLES before RUFFLES. Last entry was the H in YEAH, DOH!

lit.doc 12:09 PM  

And yeah, me too re “Canon shooter, briefly”, which got me started with EOS there.

Pace The Vicar of Christ—Pope, right?—sufficiently little learning (i.e. just short of total ignorance) can be bliss, as in my not yet having gotten EAMES into my Crosswordese 101 file. Also, I came across that chair/tamer pair in a puzzle just a couple of days ago, so I got lucky on that one.

@Smitty, ROTF (the T was to mollify Rex) LMFAO at your characterization of Melville’s cetology tome. Aptest (jeez, I hate that word form) I’ve ever seen by far.

Nick 12:18 PM  

Felt like a lot of the 15-letter clues were old hat. I know I've seen A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE and INSTRUMENT PANEL at least once before, possibly also TIME OF DEPARTURE.

Smitty 12:18 PM  

@lit.doc - so glad I"m not the only one - a case of A LITTLE LEARNING going a looooooong way.

Masked and Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Slowly crashed and stumbled my way thru most of it. No completed puz bonus here: had the dreaded PErOE/rAMA miscue. Otherwise lots of 54-A's, but no need for a 58-A.

Loved that grid layout, with cool, interwoven 15-letter fills playfully floppin' over each other like otters. Was real, real glad to see no LUXOR appearances today.

Big old thumbs up there, Kemo Sabe.

syndy 12:28 PM  

had the lucky to pop alittle learning right in and guessed apse right off too so i had opposite experience from rex -my fight came in middle east( and thanks for not throwing down with the sumo guys)but final letter was the blood G got me again!

Greene 12:36 PM  

@fikink: Good one! If I give you the fruit, will you swing?

I got my butt kicked to Cleveland by this puzzle. Flailed for an hour last night, but finished up on my lunch break today. I am the anti-Rex when it comes to timings: I just get slower and slower.

Sparky 12:38 PM  

Can't believe I finished as last two Fridays and Saturdays went nowhere. Started at breakfast, kept an appointment, finished later. Looked up Swayze in almanac, had Terri,(spelled wrong) not Lange, vat for tun. Pecked away and it came. First entry 14A. But I don't remember much Pope. Thanks for the quote. Didn't get Oxford till I read this blog. Thanks for that too. I am looking forward to Sat. and hope my luck will hold. Enjoy your weekends.

Misdirection anyone? 12:50 PM  

@Rex wrote

Putting in "Canon" deliberately, in an overly heavy-handed way, tries to make you think the clue wants a brand name for an answer.

OTOH, I never thought the clue was looking for a brand name

First pass was looking for an abbrevation for a military or pirate gunner, then, realizing it was a one n cannon, went looking for a bombastic preacher (FRA??).

poc 1:19 PM  

An excellent puzzle for the most part, but I balked at COMPAREDAGAINST, especially as an answer to "vis-à-vis". I had WITHREFERENCETO for a long time, which royally messed up the N of course.

PuzzleNut 1:41 PM  

A very good puzzle. Like others, finished without any errors, but boy did it take a lot of work to get there. Felt every answer was fair, and several that I had to get entirely by crosses.
Started with oEd instead of EEE (which is a great clue), crt for FCC, Ambo for APSE. I actually finished the middle first and slowly oozed out. Nop idea what bohea was, but had ?EROE and saw PEKOE. Was trying to put Breach Gun Loader or something like that in the botom. Had ?I???A and tried CICADA for a while. Just had a tough time getting going until I filled in INSTRUMENT and MINATURE. From there, things fianally started dropping in place. I liked the STPAT clue, had cAnER, sIPS for NIPS.
Great feeling to finish this one!

Clark 1:52 PM  

Martin? Is that our Martin? Great puzzle. I am a fan of the whole martinizing thing.

@retired_chemist -- DOH is (if we believe the puzzle, and why would we not?) trademarked not copyrighted. You can't copyright a word, but you can trademark it. DOH isn't quite like 'Delta' and cartoons are not airlines, but in case your interested, here is a short blurb on TMs:

"You generally trademark terms by using them to refer to your brand of a generic type of product or service. Like a 'Delta' airline. Delta Airlines 'owns' that word applied to air travel, even though it is also an ordinary word. Delta Hotels owns it when applied to hotels. (This case is fairly unusual as both are travel companies. Usually the industries are more distinct.) Neither owns the word on its own, only in context, and owning a mark doesn't mean complete control . . . ." (I stole this quote from

chefbea 2:08 PM  

tough puzzle. Googled a lot then came here. Had Eames of course.

We are about to plant a formosa tree in our yard. They are beautiful

Shamik 2:25 PM  

Fabulous puzzle. Or is it fabulous because I finished it error free? It is always interesting to hear where the puzzle opens up for different people. Although I had a few words in...far from each other and wrong, to boot...STRETCHERBEARER started the south and southwest for me and then the puzzle went clockwise with some stuttering in the center and east.

And all in a medium-challenging time for me...same classification as Rex...but not nearly the same time as his time, I'm sure.

Many of the same ins and outs as have been reported, though I also had ARIA for APSE, IDOL for SALE, SEA for SOX, and ACRO for XENO.

Ret_chem 2:29 PM  

@Clark - it was the sound, not the word.

Stan 2:37 PM  

We were SUFFLEd but not irritated by this sly, clever puzzle.

Nifty explanation from Rex of the multiple misdirects.

Good one, Martin!

eva 3:41 PM  

Fun puzzle! I started out with SEPT and worked my way out from there. The 15s came pretty quickly, but I got stuck on a few crosses, the most ridiculous being TEAM/TAMER. I had already scratched out AT A DESK and AS A TEMP, and somehow convinced myself that it had to be ON A TEAR! I guess I thought that a TARER was some kind of upholstery repairman...

On the other hand, one of my early mistakes actually came in handy. I plugged in KALI instead of KAMA, so the K helped me guess PEKOE right away. The slip-up probably reveals something unsettling about my love life, though. DOH.

Clark 3:59 PM  

@Ret_chem - Actually, it was 'the spoken word "D'oh"'.

chefwen 4:05 PM  

Semi puzzle solving husband and I double teamed this one. He started doing the syndicated Mon/Tues puzzles a few months ago and has just graduated to aaaalllmost getting Wednesday done. We passed it back and forth for about an hour last night and finally finished correctly. It was a blast! He'd learn a little faster if he had time to read this blog, but he has A LOT ON HIS PLATE and barely has time to turn around.

Thank you for a great puzzle Martin, I enjoyed it as much as I enjoy your informative comments.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

I think we have more than one Martin around here. Anyway, thanks for the feedback!

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

andrea very sari michaels 4:52 PM  

Only ONE write-over????????!!!!!!!!!!!!
I finished, but had a write-over on every single word, save FRANZ and LANGE (wow that's close to FRITZ LANG, no?)

Try turning breakFORAMOMENT into PAUSE!!!!!
or ACRO into XENO or NADER into STPAT!!!!!!!!!!!
This puzzle took me an hour plus I think.
I mean everything that could be wrong was...from MeDS to White Sea!

Also, the one thing I immediately did write was SARI, but I questioned it, bec I thought Pakistani's do not wear saris but wear those sort of pants suit outfits that have a different name.

Did anyone comment on the SGT/AGTS thing? My heart is still beating so fast on this one I can't see straight.

retired_chemist 4:56 PM  

@ Martin Ashwood-Smith - I thought you were the Martin who posts here frequently. Sorry if I created some confusion.

@ Clark - Yup, I was confused. Problem was trying to post from the new iPad, which only allows one window. That made it difficult for me to check my (misremembered) facts since I could not have the puzzle and the blog open simultaneously.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Andrea, enlightenment.

Stan 5:04 PM  

The A in AGTS was my last letter. I wanted BGTs to get cuts (Jeez, that's not even the real abbreviation for budgets, is it?) This made my Italian possessive MIB, which didn't look quite right.

sanfranman59 5:08 PM  

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

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

Fri 32:02, 26:28, 1.21, 91%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 17:10, 12:49, 1.34, 95%, Challenging

chefwen 5:08 PM  

@Martin Ashwood-Smith - OOPS, Oh well, I like you both.

Kale Lady 6:04 PM  

Thank God for Google, otherwise I would have been totally stumped. I too thought Terri Garr, not Jessica LANGE was in "Tootsie" (of course, she was in that other gender switch movie in which men turn out to be better women than women are, "Mr. Mom"). Likewise SWAYZE and MORAN (I knew it was a Bugsy, but could only think of Siegel). Had "break" FORAMOMENT not PAUSE, which slowed me down in SW for a bit, particularly since APSE didn't make sense to me in this context. But it's such a common clue that I had to go with it, which then yielded PAUSE.

I dunno; this one wasn't much fun for me. Usually when I finish a Friday, even with some Google help, I feel flush with victory. This mostly felt like I'd run a marathon (well, ok, a 1/2 marathon, but still).

Kale Lady 6:06 PM  

Oh, and the traditional garment in Pakistan is more likely to be a salwar kameez, the long blouse with roomy pants underneath, than the SARI.

mac 6:13 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, write-up and comments! I suspect a quality puzzle generates the rest.

I had to do this one in stages, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The Oxford clue was my favorite. One mistake, the Rama/Peroe crossing. And I like tea! Just didn't think of the kama sutra, d'oh.

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

Loved ALDO, FRANZ and BRETT marching down the center!

andrea who's sari now michaels 7:48 PM  

thank you! That's the term I was looking for but have already forgotten it as I type this.

@anonymous 5:03
Double thank you If only REAL enlightenment was that easy!

Martin 8:41 PM  

I've been out of computer range for a few days. Martin Ashwood-Smith is the King of the triple-stacks and does a mean double-stack as well. He's also a Canuck (from Vancouver Island, BC, I believe) so he's forced to work in a foreign language to boot.

I am Martin Herbach, and my contribution to Puzzleworld is mostly limited to pissing off Rex.

Sorry I wasn't around earlier to head off the confusion before MA-S had to point out he wasn't me. It's me who isn't him.

Rex Parker 8:50 PM  

Martin: you have a weird, over- (or under-) inflated idea of your role here. I think you're wrong a lot, and that you are a puzzle apologist whose opinion about puzzle quality doesn't count for much because you've never met a NYT puzzle you didn't like. I don't ever recall being "pissed off" at you, though. If that's your goal, you're gonna have to try a lot harder.

Martin Ashwood-Smith: good job.


retired_chemist 9:23 PM  

Glad to have BOTH Martins as part of this community.

fikink 9:38 PM  

@retired chemist, thanks for the diplomacy! Sheesh!

Stan 10:08 PM  

@retired_chemist: Yes, cheers for both Martins! I wonder how many of us were a little confused... I think I tried to investigate this once when Martin Ashwood-Smith was written up in Wordplay a few months back, then just gave up. So I'm pleased for the clarification. It's difficult because they both seem so smart and erudite, but in completely different ways.

Nebraska Doug 12:02 AM  

Challenging for me. Surprised I was able to finish it. Kept plugging away at it all day long, five minutes here and there. Real sense of accomplishment when I finished this one.

shrub5 5:53 AM  

A very slow start for me -- about 75% blank after a couple of passes, so had to google a few things to get over the hump. Had -NEG for the blood designation and waited for the A, B or O. Like @joho and @lit.doc, I was thinking along the lines of an alarm clock or coffee for the morning buzz, but eventually got MIMOSA which provided the O.

Groaned/laughed at the clue 'Oblast between Kursk and Tula.' Brad PITT stuck around awhile for Lt. Raine of "Inglourious Basterds" and prevented progress up north. I finished (so to speak) bloodied and beaten to a pulp, but accomplished more than A LITTLE LEARNING and appreciated this fine puzzle.

jpChris 12:50 PM  

Will someone please explain how 38A: A third of vingt-et un, is "sept"? Isn't it Blackjack or that type of card game? Sept is seven (or a seventh) in French.

@andrea very sari michaels: Might you be thinking jodhpurs?

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I, too, had HULA after getting the the U.

Two other places, I got even trickier than the author: I wanted so much to use CANER for TAMER -- like a chair maker using bamboo canes.

The other one made greater sense, so the middle part didn't fall easily for me: with the B, I had BECKHAM for 'Brit's Bender'; a reference to Brit footballer, David Beckham who has a knack for bending his free kicks around the walls set up by the defender. So talented, that a movie was made titled BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. Much better misdirection IMHO.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@andrea very sari michaels , Were you thinking maybe jodhpurs?

Pierre 2:13 PM  

@jpChris, re 38 A, Vingt-et un is a card game, oui, but the name means "twenty-one", and a third of 21 is sept. (21/3=7)

Sudsy in Chicago 11:09 AM  

jpChris, "vingt-et un" is the number 21 spelled out in French.

Good puzzle, though I finished with several errors and write-overs. Enitre SE half fell into place pretty quickly once I got started with AGTS and MIA in the NE. Middle wasn't so cooperative, mostly as "One that shoots" for PLANT was a tortured misdirection and FOLIO for "Page number" was a complete unknown to me.

W and NW took much longer. I guessed 3-D, TIME OF DEPARTURE, early on but could not get 2-D as I kept wanting it to be something about a FULL PLATE. When I finally figured it out and felt confident enough to write in COMPARES AGAINST for 17-A (one of several mistakes I made), I saw SWAYZE at 5-A and still couldn't see what the heck 14-A could possibly be!

Most embarrassing mistake: writing in COS (as in nickname for Bill Cosby) at 50-A instead of CBS, and compounding it by making 51-D OREL, having completely forgetten I'd already written that in at 37-A. Sheesh. This also gave me SCOLIA at 60-A, but like Rex said, as the location is nowhere near Canada or any other place where SCOTIA might make sense, I figured it had to be something else. Why not SCOLIA?!

Thing I really liked was that all the 15s were common terms or phrases, not, as has been noted, obscure factoid answers. Makes solving so much more fun!

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