Golfer nicknamed Supermex / FRI 7-9-10 / Peanuts surname / Yarn with rubber core / Losers of Battle of Meloria 1284 / Uhuru park locale / Minced oath

Friday, July 9, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none


Word of the Day: LASTEX (60A: Yarn with a rubber core) —

Lastex
A core of latex (elasticized rubber) wrapped with another fiber. invented in 1919 and destined to revolutionize the underwear business by eliminating the need for hooks, buttons and ties. (vintageskivvies.com, swear to god)

• • •

Typical Friday in terms of solving experience—ugly, slow start, and then a tipping point where the answers start to come together quickly. Wide open puzzle meant that it was possible to get that great cascading action that only American-style crosswords can provide. First five minutes—patchy, ugly grid. Next five minutes, done. Stuff that looks impossible turns out to be familiar. And so on. This puzzle was *not* typical, however, in terms of quality—it's superior. A 66-worder that it so smooth it ought to be illegal. There are exactly three entries in the whole grid that are even close to unseemly. Three. Out of 66. What? Yes. They are: LASTEX (which sounds like a combination boner pill/laxative) (60A: Yarn with a rubber core); BLYTH, which looks like a girl who didn't have enough room to write out her full name (25D: English city that's home to the Spartans football club); and SOPOR, the ugly younger brother of TORPOR (10D: Lethargy). There's other stuff in the grid I don't know—EFREM, for instance (51A: Roger's "77 Sunset Strip" co-star), or this PAULINE character (13A: Princess who was a sister of Napoleon Bonaparte)—but they seem like legitimate names. OK, so maybe you wouldn't take SELENIC home to meet your mum (12D: Containing element #34), but most constructors would (metaphorically) give their left corneas to achieve this kind of low-word-count smoothness. Parallel 15s glued together with 9s ... in both directions (Across and Down)!? This Patrick Berry person is to crosswords what that Red Bull-drinking, red-haired kid is to snowboarding.

LeBron's move to the Heat isn't very big news for crosswords, but I wonder when future teammate Chris BOSH will become a clue (right now all BOSH clues are [Nonsense], [Claptrap], and the like). And more importantly, when is *someone* gonna put the C-razily named DWYANE (yes, that's how it's spelled) Wade in a puzzle? He's one of the three best players in the NBA *and* his name is insane. Get the man in the puzzle.

Used a bunch of gimmes, scattered about the top part of the grid, to get started today. Love Nabokov and LOVE film NOIR, so ADA (22A: Literary title character with a palindromic name) and NOIR (26A: Genre of "The Set-Up," 1949) went in early. Put in GLEE right away, but with nothing to confirm it, retracted it. Got distracted by the two-part gimme 19A: With 21-Across, like many rivers in winter (ICED / OVER), which was very helpful in getting me into the NE, though I'm embarrassed I didn't get TREVINO (11D: Golfer nicknamed "Supermex") a Lot sooner than I did (had like 5 crosses before I tumbled to it, ugh). VAN PELT was the last of the true gimmes up there (17A: "Peanuts" surname), and once I had the NE, I was able to follow both the Across and the Down 15 out of there and on to other parts of the grid. With good tough clues on JOGGER (1A: Park ranger?) and GINSU (4D: Pitched blade?), and a nutso trivia clue on PISANS (13D: Losers of the Battle of Meloria), the NW put up a bit of a fight, but the bottom half of the puzzle went down with very little effort. One answer just spilled into the next. I didn't know PEI (48A: Big name in Modernism) was associated with Modernism (a movement I associate with the early 20th c.), but other than that, not much hesitation down below.



Bullets:
  • 18A: Sports champion with a palindromic name (SELES) — always good, from solver's perspective, to know something's palindromic. Doubles the value of your crosses (assuming your cross isn't the middle letter).
  • 25A: Feta maker's need (BRINE) — also SHEEP.
  • 34A: "Few can be induced to labor exclusively for ___": Abraham Lincoln (POSTERITY) — From his Temperance Address of 1842: "Few can be induced to labor exclusively for posterity; and none will do it enthusiastically. Posterity has done nothing for us; and theorize on it as we may, practically we shall do very little for it, unless we are made to think, we are, at the same time, doing something for ourselves."
  • 35A: Popular sea menaces of film (MAN-EATING SHARKS) — Well, there's "Jaws," and ... this?


  • 41A: Where I-15 meets I-86: Abbr. (IDA.) — I was just there, and remember neither of these roads.
  • 43A: Dickens heroine ___ Trent (NELL) — My brain just kept serving up "Little Dorritt," but NELL sounded Dickensian enough.
  • 46A: 1974 Best Picture nominee directed by Bob Fosse ("LENNY") — No idea Fosse directed that. I know him only from "All That Jazz."
  • 50A: ___ Emperor (Taoism figure) (JADE) — Had the -ADE, so, you know, reasonable guess. "J" was very helpful at getting otherwise invisible-to-me JESU (50D: "___, meine Freude" (Bach motet)).
  • 55A: Rope-ladder rung on a ship (RAT LINE) — pretty sure I learned this term from crosswords.
  • 57A: It's also called a "way car" (CABOOSE) — guessed off the -OSE. "Way car" is a supremely lame name for anything.
  • 5D: "The ___," next-to-last song on "Abbey Road," ironically ("END") — clue could have / should have lost "ironically." Makes the reveal funnier, not having it spelled out for you. The last song, of course, is "Her Majesty":


  • 7D: Army post unused since the 1950s (FIVE-STAR GENERAL) — And here I was like a sucker, imagining the clue was referring to some abandoned fort somewhere...
  • 8D: Minced oath (EGAD) — How is it "minced?" Is it said ... while mincing? With an effeminate voice? A lisp? What the hey?
  • 27D: Ready enough (RIPE) — Had RARE and loved it.
  • 37D: Uhuru Park locale (NAIROBI) — Uhura's first name was NYOTA. Did you know that? I did not.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

67 comments:

Clark 12:50 AM  

Mostly blank space for a while. JESU and . . .AREA triggered memories of one of my favorite ancient tunes, Pange LINGUA which got me started. Then it was off to the turtle races, it being Friday and all. The NW corner put up massive resistance for the longest time. SELES broke that open, but I had to run the alphabet to find her.

chefwen 1:18 AM  

A minor DNF in this camp. Had to Google a bit to get my foot in the door but faltered in the southwest. Man I'm beginning to hate the southwest. Tell me that I am not the only person who put please at 24D first go around, and seemed before ARISEN at 29D, those two messed me up for a long time.

@Clark - Did you get my email reply? Sometimes my system isn't compatible if you are using an i phone.

Overall, I really liked this puzzle as I do most of Patrick Berry puzzles.

CaseAce 1:19 AM  

It's historically rumored that Napoleon was very often upset with his Princess sister who spent beau coup francs on acquiring exotic jewelry from around the globe...we remember it today as the "Pearls of Pauline!"

Clark 1:58 AM  

@chefwen -- Got your email. Thanks. Will reply after some sleep. Being "about as far out in the boonies as one can get" on Kauai is just where we want to be! There will be Wi-Fi, and there will be group solving of the puzzle every night on the Lanai, followed by brief comments here. Is it possible for two UPer denizens of Rex-world to be on the same Hawaiian island at the same time? We'll know in a few weeks.

syndy 2:21 AM  

Wanted nairobi,needed nairobi,kept putting in nairobe and could't make it work because i wanted to spell tongue "langua" Bet it helps if you can spell-took way too long to come up with Jesu and then said Bach! of course-Jesus.and i was guessing that when i got the Indian lake i would say "OH YES" instead "WHAT THE.." I blame canada- still exellent puzzle

adrenal carla michaels 3:16 AM  

For the Feta clue I had -RINE and thought "Please, lord, don't let me find out after all these years of loving Feta that it's secretly made with uRINE!

(What a slow uphill climb that was, had sheep that became ovINE to -RINE...)

That sums up the whole puzzle for me...lots of wrongness, stumbling into gradual rightness.

Ditto on @rex over the description of BLYTH and the surprise about LENNY!

I ran thru the whole gamut of "Peanuts" surnames...Brown, VANPELT, um, um...Did Schroeder have a last name? Peppermint Pattie?

SELES my first answer, but so many tennis players seem almost like a palindrome:
NOVOTNA, SAMPRAS, FEDERER, NADAL, MAURESMO (well, maybe not Mauresmo...)

Richard Lederer (no relation to Federer...unless you change the L to F!)in his "Word Circus" points out that the palindromic SELES became the #1 ranked woman in...1991!

One last note, as an avid Scrabble player ADRENAL is the only word that I can make from my name + a blank: ANDREA?

andrea carla micmachaels 3:29 AM  

oh, and one moment of total synchronicity, earlier today I saw there was a film called "The MICMACs" and wondered what/who that was!

Greene 4:45 AM  

Gorgeous Friday puzzle which suited me TO A TEE. Got VANPELT immediately followed by ICED OVER and TREVINO. Seconds later, the entire NE was done and I thought this was the easiest Friday ever! Um, rest of the grid? Perhaps not so easy.

LENNY and JESU were the last of the gimmies and the rest of the grid came in bits and spurts. Good Lord how I tried to make GREAT WHITE SHARK work at 35A. I knew it had to be a pleural, but my answer was so good!! Took forever to see the MAN EATING bit. I also had FIVE STAR in place and kept stupidly wondering where this FIVE STAR fort was.

The center of the grid with its wide open blankness and interlocking 15s is a thing of beauty. Bravo Patrick Berry! A superb puzzle, indeed.

Oh yeah, loved the clue for GINSU. Terrific misdirection.

Happy Friday all!

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

A bit off topic but do these constructors have some sort of side game going to use the same odd words on the same day? Last week, for example, the Washington Post and the NYT (or was it Peter's puzzle?) both included Hyena and Saki. It would seem that this happens much too often do be a mere happenstance.

Tom A
Falls Church, VA

grouchonyy 8:01 AM  

EFREM Zimbalist, Jr

Rex Parker 8:10 AM  

@Tom,

It's happenstance. No editor is going to take the time to coordinate that sort of thing. What would be the point? Joon Pahk once wrote something very instructive about the odds of any two puzzles duplicating at least one word. I wish he'd do it again so I could link to it. I get this assertion ("it happens too often to be coincidence@!") a lot.

And HYENA and SAKI aren't that odd.

rp

Michael Leddy 8:30 AM  

Chefwen, you weren't the only person stuck on PLEASE.

For anyone who hasn't seen it, The Set-Up is a terrific film.

Michael Leddy 8:32 AM  

Oops--

For anyone who hasn't seen it: The Set-Up is a terrific film. I didn't mean that it loses goodness once you see it. No snark in my recommendation.

JenCT 8:33 AM  

Arggh, DNF for me. Got SELES, UPDOS, PRESTO, ICED OVER, TO A TEE, END, and then stared for a while. Got a few more, but had to come here for the solution.

Liked the puzzle very much, though.

Loved the clue for GINSU; was thinking epee at first.

@Rex: LASTEX - good one!

@Andrea: uRINE - LOL!

imsdave 8:41 AM  

Challenging here - but that could just be the fried brain cells due to the heat wave. I got my footholds with TREVINO (the Merry Mex to me, but close enough) and LENNY, and batted it around from there for a good forty minutes. I tried FORT briefly for the army post and YEAST (ignoring the crypto part of the clue). Oh well. Good stuff.

nanpilla 8:42 AM  

@chefwen : seemed and arisen here, and PlEase for PRESTO to boot!

Great workout -more on the medium to challenging side for me, but loved every minute of it - even those when I thought I wasn't going to finish.

TOATEE looks like it should have a small beard.

rolin mains 8:43 AM  

@rex: i won't mince words here, but if i were to hit my finger with a hammer and my 4 year old daughter were around, i'd likely say "egad" rather than something less minced. (well, it probably wouldn't actually be "egad," but you get the idea).

i liked this puzzle mainly because i never had one of those "seriously?" moments. everything was well clued, IMHO, and the answers had nice payoffs.

i especially liked SEDIMENTARY ROCK, which i'm sure used to run on saturday mornings along with school house rock.

and, as much as i hate to admit this on the interwebz, i have had some underwear that were a little beyond their prime and began to unravel around the waistband...but i didn't know those spongy thread thingies were LASTEX. i just figured they were elastic strings.

David L 8:56 AM  

Stupid mistake for me -- at some point I put in OUTPAID for OUTLAID, then after debating whether it's GINSU or GINZU, failed to notice that I ended up with SEPES for the palindromic athlete. Could be a Romanian soccer star, right?

But I'm not feeling at all unhappy this a.m. because the doctor's office just called to say that the MRI was completely clean -- they didn't find a damn thing inside my head! You can't get better news than that...

Leslie 9:03 AM  

David L, awesome news!! Congratulations!!

Did the "magic word" = "please" thing; wanted PAULINE to be "Maxine" (even though it didn't fit) because I wanted "spent" to start with an "ex-"; felt all proud of myself for remembering Lucy and Linus VAN PELT. Fun puzzle!! Sometimes Patrick Berry can absolutely eat my lunch, puzzle wise, but his puzzles are so. much. fun!!

Zeke 9:17 AM  

I was so smart, throwing down RESIDENTIALZONE off nothing but a confirming guess at ICED/OVER. Except I made a typo somewhere, had RE...ZONES to make it fit, tried to figure out which movie started with the Z, and was screwed from then on.
Fortunately, my miserable, collosal fail didn't matter, as yesterday was the happiest day of my life. I will not, at least for the next five years, have to hear speculation about where LeBron James is going to play next year.

submariner_ss 9:24 AM  

Horrible start in the NW. Didn't get going until the SE. Was thankful for LASTEX, TREVIN, ICED OVER and PRESTO.

Was embarrassed by my struggle with BRINE given the overly salty taste of feta.

FIVE STAR GENERAL rankles me! The proper term would be rank, not post. A post implies a specific assignment, whereas a rank is, well, a rank.

Glimmerglass 9:26 AM  

I guess "minced oath" comes from "Don't mince words," but that's pretty lame. Good puzzle today. Many "impossible" clues got down to only one letter missing, and the one letter was inferable.

mitchs 9:27 AM  

What a puzzle and write up! I immediately got EGAD from the crossword recesses of my brain, but also wondered, for the first time I think, what "minced" meant.

And ditto feeling like an idiot after lingering over FIVES_AR____ for FAR too long.

Last to fall was a guess at the C crossing MICMAC and CRIB.

"cascading action" = terrific description.

twangster 9:29 AM  

BEQ used DWYANE a few months back, to much puzzlement. Several people, myself included, thought it was a typo.

I almost got this but had to google to finish the bottom left. Could only come up with NAMIBIA and MOHAWK down there.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:38 AM  

Beautiful puzzle.

Took me about 40 minutes compared to Rex's 10. Only two write-overs: 1A, had JAGUAR before JOGGER, and 44A, DRUGS before CRIBS.

Two things I considered but did not enter. 20 D, Like Arcadia's inhabitants, could have been CANADIANS. Re: 6 D, "Place with higher speeding fines, often": It seems to me that around here a RESIDENTIALAREA may have lower speed limits, but it is in work zones or construction areas that the signs loudly proclaim that speeding and other fines will be doubled.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:46 AM  

You were wondering about when D-Wade will appear in a puzzle? Look no further.

jesser 9:50 AM  

Great puzzle. Beautiful construction. But the SW kicked my LASTEX. I Could Not Give Up on the idiotic MIaMic lake, and my brain convinced me that a 'way car' was a CABridE, and that worked just super with RETro for 45D. All of which is to say that I am proud to have gotten TREVINO and KLEENEX with no crosses, but Patrick Berry gave me no love down in my own beloved desert region of the USA. My bad, not his.

I am off soon to play in a charity golf tournament. But before I go, I'll indulge in an Andrea moment and tell you all that Lee TREVINO still owes me 50 cents from probably four decades ago when I bought his son a container of milk at an El Paso zoo trip that both our schools attended. With interest, I'm guessing SuperMex owes me an easy $1.41.

Munnia (what one hopes to win at the golf tournament, but what one knows will be instead spent on the services and products of the Beverage Cart) -- jesser

Tinbeni 10:31 AM  

Rex
Thanks for the Shark clip.
Better plot and special effects!
I always thought that JAWS was a rip-off.

Welcome to DNF (but FUN!) Friday.

The 15's were easy enough but SW corner did me in.

Hmmm? Bottom line is LINGUA LASTEX. Nope, not going there.

eva 10:33 AM  

Finally had to call in my boyfriend to fill in the final two crossings in the SW - MICMAC, CRIBS, and BETON - but I had struggled so much in that corner and was so pleased to have figured out CABOOSE, ADRENAL, and NAIROBI that I didn't mind. Had something of a mess in the SE, with EFRon instead of EFREM (quite a few decades off, there) which led to SLIngS instead of SLIMES (???), but finally hit upon KLEENEX, which cleaned everything up. Nice puzzle.

Van55 10:40 AM  

A fine, fine puzzle.

@Rex: "It's happenstance. No editor is going to take the time to coordinate that sort of thing. What would be the point?"

Your response is 100% reasonable and one has to agree.

Still and all, a week or so ago, the appearance of STACKS in the exact same puzzle location and clued exactly the same ("IHOP offerings" or some such) on the exact same day in the LAT and NYT puzzles was an astounding coincidence that could encourage the conspiracy theorists.

Smitty 10:44 AM  

@Carla - love the Urine comment - I had Sieve for a long time, after writing "EVA Long".
@Rex me too on the Five Star General - still thought it was some ghost town outpost before coming here.
Most embarrassing moment - staring at ---EATING SHARK for way too long, guessing "REPEATING SHARK? DEFEATING SHARK?....etc.

PuzzleNut 10:52 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Solving experience very similar to @greene. Laid down VANPELT, SOPOR and TREVINO in the NE and had that puppy filled in within a minute. That gave me the FIVESTARGENERAL and SEDIMENTARYROCK (all the 15's were easier than usual) and moved to the NW where ADA (lucky first guess), SELES and NOIR opened that right up. Had aspireS instead of INTENDS, but only for a moment. Wanted LOGGER for 1A until I finally parsed JANE DOE correctly.
Even the middle fell quickly and by this point I figured this was the easiest Friday I'd ever done. Then the whole south hit me like a ton of bricks. Had the 15's and a few other inroads, but I couldn't fill in one answer in either the SW or SE. Finally saw KLEENEX and slowly worked out the SE, but with a big mistake, SLIngS for SLIMES, leaving me with RATLINg (that sounded right) and EFREn (that I overlooked as I originally had loREn). The SW looked even worse - I had "only", which didn't help at all, so I tried changing it to MERE. RENAL didin't fit, but then I saw ADRENAL, which makes sense. The interstates must be somewhere in the NW, so IDA worked. Had rOb for HOG and LabbiA for LINGUA. Somehow saw CABOOSE and slogged through the rest.
Really enjoyed laying down the long answers so quickly, but enjoyed the "impossible" areas just as much. Nothing unfair about this one and am kicking myself for errors that I should have caught.

Two Ponies 11:10 AM  

Here I am throwing towels again.
Even so, I always love PB's puzzles.
The NE did me in as I could not come up with Pauline and I've never heard of Meloria or Pisans.
Lots to learn in this one if I can remember things like way car, Micmac, and rat line.
A few clues did not feel right to me esp. the ones for mere, rental, and aliases.
Really wanted 'roids for the banned aids.
The Y in Ryan kept me thinking for way too long that 34A must be some kind of *money*.
Not on my best game today.

Mel Ott 11:24 AM  

Really liked this puzzle, especially the elegant linkeage of the 15's and the 9's in the middle.

My breakthrough was getting FIVESTARGENERAL on just two crosses, the first E and an assumed terminal S for 23A. Agree that the clue re post is questionble, though.

Resisted CONTENTED for 20D, but the crosses demanded it. Why are inhabitants of Arcadia contented? Am I missing some literary allusion? Evangeline?

joho 11:38 AM  

Absolutely beautiful puzzle thanks to the one and only Patrick Berry.

It took me forever but every minute was worth the effort.

I had cOuGER for Park Ranger? for a while and was so happy it wasn't the usual definition for said cat.

Fantastic Friday!

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

to be fair BEQ, rex wanted d-wade in the puzzle so badly partly because of the crazy spelling of his name, and when you put him in your puzzle you spelled his name wrong (then had to fix it)...

mitchs 12:00 PM  

Okay, looks like "minced oath" is basically a euphemistic construction like "Oh fudge". But nowhere do I see why in the h-e double hockeysticks "minced" applies here.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Egad might be a minced form of
Ye Gods or something old English
of that sort? It was a way of swearing with really blaspheming.

Martin 12:12 PM  

Late Elizabethan drama contains a profusion of minced oaths, probably due to Puritan opposition to swearing. Seven new minced oaths are first recorded between 1598 and 1602, including 'sblood for By God's blood from Shakespeare, 'slight for God's light from Ben Jonson, and 'snails for By God's nails from the historian John Hayward. Swearing on stage was officially banned by the Act to Restraine Abuses of Players in 1606, and a general ban on swearing followed in 1623. In some cases the original meanings of these minced oaths were forgotten; 'struth (By God's truth) came to be spelled 'strewth and zounds changed pronunciation so that it no longer sounded like By God's wounds.[11] Other examples from this period include 'slid for "By God's eyelid" (1598) and 'sfoot for "By God's foot" (1602). Gadzooks for "By God's hooks" (the nails on Christ's cross) followed in the 1650s, egad for oh God in the late 17th century,[12] and ods bodikins for "By God's little body" in 1709.[13]

JayWalker 12:24 PM  

There are times, after I have sweated BLOOD over a puzzle, that I see Rex's "Medium" and I want to crawl into a hole somewhere and never come out! Nonetheless, I prevail. I too had "Outpaid" and got completely stuck on "Pip" instead of "Ada" so I couldn't see "Jane Doe" to save my soul. Never got "glee" or "Seles" - I know - shame on me. Nonetheless, I really had to work for this "almost solve". Serves me right for *itchin about how easy Thursday's puzzle was. I couldn't tell anyone tho - could NOT get onto the blog for two days. Anyone else have that problem?

archaeoprof 12:26 PM  

Harder -- and more fun -- than the usual Friday. The interlocking long answers in the center are impressive.

@ACME: uRINE really troubled me too. But I was reassured when I couldn't think of an English football club that began with 'U' :)

Mel Ott 12:40 PM  

The Free Online Dictionary gives the answer to my own query about Arcadia:

Ar·ca·di·an (är-kd-n)
adj.
1. Of or relating to the ancient Greek region of Arcadia or its people, language, or culture.
2. often arcadian Rustic, peaceful, and simple; pastoral: a country life of arcadian contentment.

Nothing to do with Acadia (no 'r'), Cajuns, or Evangeline. Pretty obscure, but gettable from the crosses, so I have no quarrel with it. In fact I learned something.

Anon 12:07 12:45 PM  

Of course I meant "without really
blaspheming"
Thank you Martin.

syndy 1:37 PM  

You mean it wasn"t outpaid-egad I must of missed that! pretty sure I had outpaid.@jaywalker it's been harder lately -takes at least two tries-hit publish:get a captha-type that- may or may not accept my name if not- publish again and usually autofill will step in!!

shrub5 1:42 PM  

This was a beautiful but difficult puzzle. After two passes, I had but a half dozen words. Just couldn't be patient today so I googled MICMAC, element 34 and the Abe quote. That got me going.

Made some of the same mistakes as mentioned above: rob for HOG, libels for SLIMES, only for MERE. Got them all worked out.

With - - I, I thought of PEI for big name in modernism but like @rex, thought he was too current.

Favorite clue: Run out of clothes? STREAK.

@rolin mains, you are not alone...I have some similarly worn-out undies (next stop: the rag bag) with visible LASTEX. Oh, so that's what that stuff is called.

Masked and Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Real nice grid. Real nasty clues. "Minced" was over my head, so glad Martin came to our rescue. SOPOR ain't in my dictionary, but I'll take 44's word for it. Really wanted a form of REPO to fit in 28-A. REPO-UP? REPOIN'? REPOEE? REEEPO? Naw.

Wasn't havin' too much problem, once I sussed out RENTAL, until I got down to just that SW corner left. Then I built a whole intricate web of completely bogus -- yet elegantly interlocking -- words down there. Took a couple hours to dig myself out. And for what? No theme and two U's. Ah well, it's the journey, not the destination, on yer usual FriPuz or SatPuz.

Thinkin' 44's right about two puz's sharin' a word. Odds probably aren't too long. Kinda like two dudes in a math class havin' the same birthday; not as unlikely as one might suspect. Can't back it up with a math proof; seems like you'd have to do lots of assumin' about size of puz and size of word pool, ...etc. Hurts my head; let joon do it.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

New to weekday puzzles and find myself growling and googling a lit. I'll get over it and learn something as I go. From reading this blog, I'm learning a lot about the difficult and elegance of puzzle construction.

Loved clue for STREAK--I kept trying to make STRIP fit. Am a Texan so got TREVINO early. LENYY was later than it should have been because I was a Fosse fan.

syndy 2:23 PM  

Reading a book called the Science of superstition- according to the author a crowd of 27 strangers has a 50/50 chance of having two people share a birthday and that our over-estimating the likelyhood of coincidences causes to see patterns that aren't there

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Banned aids= CRIBS. Still trying to figure that one out.

mitchs 2:39 PM  

@ Anon 2:25 I think "cheat sheets" in exams are/were also known as "crib notes".

@ Martin: thanks. Actually, remembering the phrase "don't MINCE your words" meaning "speak plainly" helped explain this in my mind.

3 & out

archaeoprof 2:40 PM  

@Anonymous 2:25: CRIBS (or "crib sheets") is a term for the notes that students try use during exams when the prof isn't looking.

Today they've been replaced by texting under the desk...

chefbea 3:29 PM  

Too tough for me. Googled a bit but still DNF

Hopefully tomorrow might be easier

Nancy in PA 3:59 PM  

This took way too long and three sit-downs, between driving daughters here and there. NW was the worst--put in and erased NOIR and INTENDS, tried Saxons, Romans, even Titans for Pisans. Oy. Very happy to finish with no errors and no Googles. On to Saturday!

Nancy in PA 4:00 PM  

This took way too long and three sit-downs, between driving daughters here and there. NW was the worst--put in and erased NOIR and INTENDS, tried Saxons, Romans, even Titans for Pisans. Oy. Very happy to finish with no errors and no Googles. On to Saturday!

Masked and Anonymous 6:46 PM  

@44: If the word pool is 100,000 (during Shortzmeister era at NY Times it's been somewhat less), and both crosswords have 72 words, then the odds of a matching word between the two puzzes is about 1 in 20. But better see what joon calculates, cuz I slept through some of my probability lessons in school. (Woke up and shrieked one time, when realized where I was). Plus I dreamt up my formula while doin' yardwork in the heat. (Hopin' yard looks better now, cuz I sure don't.)

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

A puzzle this fine gets away without anyone griping about the four "cheater squares" -- until now.

kalaalah 8:13 PM  

@Greene: re: "I knew it had to be a pleural," I guessed you just might be a physician, made me chuckle :-) pulmonologist?
@Rex: I had "rare" for RIPE also; hmm, maybe I should be eating more fruit.

jae 8:48 PM  

Medium-challenging for me with SW taking overnight plus. Lotsa obscure stuff in that corner. Somehow, after much staring, I remembered MICMAC which finally let me finish. Me too for PLEASE, plus LOANER for RENTAL, MUG for HOG, and a reright for NOIR. Excellent PB puzzle and a fine Fri. challenge!

Van55 10:00 PM  

Are the black squares in each corner actually "cheater squares?". I still don't fully grasp the concept.

Martin 10:16 PM  

A black square in a corner has to be a cheater square. If it doesn't change the number of entries, it's a cheater square by definition. Eliminating a black square in a corner would just make one across and one down entry one letter longer.

The term is not considered accurate, by the way. It's just a way of making a grid work. Obviously, too many of them would not be acceptable but a few are not considered a flaw at all.

Stan 10:35 PM  

Awesome puzzle! Required total team-solving and hours of time, but well-spent. Many smiles and revelations.

The Arcadia being referenced is (I think) by Sir Philip Sidney.

Great to see a Native American tribe I'm familiar with (the Mic-Mac Motel is right down the street from here).

Nabokov once characterized his fans as falling into three categories (sorry for not looking up the actual quote): people who have read 'Lolita'; people who have read all his books except 'Ada'; and people who have read all his books, including 'Ada'. I'm in group number two.

andrea lastex michaels 11:02 PM  

I have a strange LASTEX story, is it late enough to write it?
I had a friend named Dan "Smith" who had old underwear with his old college roommate's name written on the waistband (he had accidentally appropriated them somehow and kept them upon graduation)
I have changed the names to protect the guilty...let's say it said EPSTEIN on the waistband.

The underwear was old and gross and falling apart, not to mention they weren't even Dan's to begin with, so his girlfriend (Alice) used to throw them away every chance she got and Dan would rescue them, out of sentimental value or something crazy. You know how some men are and their old ratty clothes...

One day, they (Dan and his girlfriend Alice) were staying with Dan's parents (I know this story bec I was dating Dan's brother Billy and they were sharing this story as a "charming" story about Dan's mother) and ALice had enough and cut up the underwear with EPSTEIN on the LASTEX and threw them away once and for all.

WELL, Dan's mother thought that was nervy; Nevermind it wasn't ANY of her business...
so while the girlfriend slept, Dan's mother took EVERY pair of ALice's underwear and wrote EPSTEIN across the LASTEX!!!

(They all laughed when they told this particular story in a isn't-that-funny-what-our-crazy-mother-did? way...
Needless to say, I realized what life would be like with that psychotic potential-future-mother-in-law and ran screaming!)

@Tom A 7:44am
I live for coincidences like the HYENA/SAKI thing. I know they are not conspiracies, but it is flabbergasting, despite Joon's calm statistical studies! That's what makes life fun.

sanfranman59 11:07 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 no data
Tue 8:14, 8:48, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium
Wed 16:06, 11:49, 1.36, 96%, Challenging
Thu 13:19, 19:08, 0.70, 5%, Easy
Fri 31:39, 26:40, 1.19, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 4:11, 4:31, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:42, 5:48, 1.33, 96%, Challenging
Thu 6:10, 9:09, 0.67, 2%, Easy
Fri 14:15, 12:57, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Stan 11:25 PM  

@andrea lastex: What a great story!!

I do hope that Dan, Alice, and Billy all moved many thousands of miles away.

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

@Andrea - loved your story, and Micmacs is a wonderfully imaginative and amusing French film. Highly recommended.
Lesley from CA

Brian 3:30 PM  

One of those rare puzzles in that you can join every vowel in the grid with one continuous line without lifting your pen. (This is a win in crossword solitaire.)

Larry 2:53 PM  

Nobody has mentioned the combo starting at 9D -- Ann Blyth, actress from Mildred Pierce and other movies. BTW, if you are asked to name Bob Fosse movies, you should always remember Cabaret, maybe his best-known.

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