Husband of Gudrun / FRI 7-16-10 / Old Dubble Bubble maker / Guinness's most fearless animal / Online reference for all things Star Wars

Friday, July 16, 2010

Constructor: Mel Rosen

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EGERIA (45A: Female adviser) —

n.
A woman adviser or counselor.

[After Egeria, Roman nymph or goddess and adviser to Numa Pompilius, a legendary Roman king.] (answers.com)

• • •
Aside from EGERIA (gibberish to me—the one answer I was really uncertain of), this puzzle felt very doable. Tough, but typically tough for a Friday. Perhaps I was a little slower getting started than usual, though I feel like I say I was slow getting started All The Time now, so I don't know. I do know that I started in the NW with a colossal failure. A failure that went three answers deep before I realized something was wrong. Figured the "counter" in 1A: Counter act (SCAN) was a deli counter, or some place where things are sold (in this, I was right), so I wrote in SALE (in this, I was wrong). Off the "S" I wrote in not the correct SORES but the incorrect and much worse SKINS for 1D: Dermatology topics. Then off the "K" in SKINS I wrote in KEEP for 14A: "___ quiet!"—which, in my defense, is a very credible answer, perhaps even slightly more credible answer than the "correct" OH BE. But a candy maker that starts "EP-?" No. Couldn't think of one. And I know a little something about candy makers, I like to think. So after that initial foray into the grid, I had to abandon the NW and move on—to the NE, it turns out, where NIP AT became the first Solid answer in the grid (16A: Attack as a young boxer might). Crossed it with APT (11D: Easily taught), and sighed with relief at "finally" getting a real toehold. Sadly, this toehold would, initially, lead nowhere, largely because I wrote in SCARE instead of SNARE at 9A: Woe for the unwary. This meant CIN- as the opening for 10D: Skittles (NINE PINS). Couldn't remember exactly what skittles were, but was pretty sure they weren't CINEASTS, say, so with just the wee NE done, I again decamped and headed for greener grid pastures.

And so I arrived in the west, where having seen Johnny Depp in "Donnie Brasco" helped me get FBI (30A: "Donnie Brasco" grp.), which gave me BONGO (31D: It's not played with sticks). Tried LOLL at 35A: Eschew exertion but that ended up being weird so I eventually changed to LOAF. Wrote in ENTYM at 40A: Branch of zool. until I realized I'd conflated the study of bugs with the study of word origins—changed to ENTOM and rode FOREWORD (36D: Its page numbers are often Roman numerals) down to the bottom of the grid. Finished off the west (after braving EGERIA) and tried to ride 3D: Short-term? up to the top of the grid, but felt uncertain. Luckily, Ben VEREEN (27A: Chicken George player in "Roots") was there to help me out, giving me the "V" I needed to be certain of ABBREVIATED. Those Bs didn't look friendly at first, but they eventually made the NW behave. From there, I had serious momentum, and didn't struggle again. Rode the wave of progress in a generally southeasterly direction, eventually ending in the far SE with AROD (65A: 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, familiarly).

[VEREEN! Goldblum!]

In the end, the puzzle seemed solid enough, though nothing was very grabby (or REGRABby, I guess) except WOOKIEEPEDIA (54A: Online reference for all things "Star Wars"), the spelling of which is very odd. What's with the unnecessary "E" in "WOOKIEE?" Never heard of: HONEY BADGER (24D: Guiness's "most fearless animal"); EGERIA (duh); MYLES (8D: Lee ___ (transmission repair chain)); HEME (62A: Myoglobin component); or INIGO López de Loyola (25D: Society of Jesus founder ___ López de Loyola). DRAYAGE was very inferrable (as I know what DRAY is), but it's at least a little icky (51A: Carting fee). Wanted NILE VALLEY or NILE BASIN before figuring out NILE DELTA (33D: Alexandria is in it). Not sure how I managed to associate an old brand of baseball card with the [Old Dubble Bubble maker], but I was: FLEER was the first thing I thought of after getting FBI. AYESHA I learned from crosswords (48D: H. Rider Haggard heroine). Dumb luck there. I can see that SE section being kind of brutal: a SNARE for the unwary.

Bullets:
  • 23A: Cry from a stuck-up person? ("STOP HIM!") — very cute; possibly the best clue of the day.
  • 32A: Near midnight (LATEN) — this word is like kudzu. Can we stop it now?
  • 39A: Bearer of trumpet-shaped flowers (SEGO) — A lily, which I confuse with the SAGO palm and (for no good reason) the corn syrup KARO.
  • 44A: "Lo! in ___ brilliant window-niche...": Poe ("YON") — YON is not in the original 1831 version of the poem ("To Helen"), but appears in the 1845 revision:
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand,
Ah! Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
  • 63A: Game with half-elves, informally (D AND D) — nice ampersandwich. Had the final two Ds and thought "Uh oh, that's not good." But it was.
  • 5D: "Golf Begins at Forty" writer (SAM SNEAD) — forgot he wrote golf books. Was looking for somebody NEAL (?) until the obvious dawned on me.
  • 7D: Husband of Gudrun (ATLI) — honestly, I wanted LOKI. Then later I wrote in ATRI (different crosswordese—Longfellow crosswordese).
  • 57D: Janeane's co-star in "The Truth About Cats & Dogs" (UMA) — I saw this more than once in the mid-90s. I also own, and still listen to, the (good) soundtrack. I don't think the movie was that good. I think I was just bored. But I ended up liking the music—first time I ever heard Ben Folds. Soundtrack also features Paul Weller (erstwhile lead singer of The Jam):


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

79 comments:

cranky 1:49 AM  

Ayesha crossing Drayage is bullshit. Laten is also a crap word. Overall this puzzle was pretty boring and unmemorable, although now I can impress my friends when I tell them the last two words of "If."

chefwen 3:12 AM  

Husband and I tackled this together and Oh, what a mess we produced. Had laze in at 35A, freight in before DRAYAGE, he slapped in glossory in at 36D (already had RUMOR MILLS in place) well I knew that was not how that was spelled. So we had a bloody mess going on the So Cal area again. Took the whole corner out and started over, finally, every thing fell into place. Last two fills were ENTOM and EGERIA. Had to Google EGERIA after all was said and done just to find out who she was advising.

Good puzzle, I'm always a happy camper when Friday is put to bed!
A few years ago, before this blog, I would have quit half way through, so thank you Rex and all the Rexites, I have learned much.

oblarmi - Makes me want to take a trip to the Old Sod.

syndy 3:16 AM  

Okay so crickete(e)rs bowl but I'm sure using an actual bowling ball would be considered cheating.-Alexandria is most definitely at the Nile's delta (very serious delta) But relet,regrab don't make me regurgitate-laten?-Devil may not love this puzzle but he liked it a little!Still thanks for the shout to my brother the entom.

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

I guess Mr. Rosen flies first class. Most uf us poor cats have yet to see leg rests on an airline seat. Do they charge extra for that too?

A different Anonymous 7:05 AM  

My solving experience was nearly identical to Rex's, especially in the NE where I, too, initially had SALE, SKINS and KEEP.

In fact, the only difference in our experiences today was the fact that I wasn't able to infer DRAYAGE and didn't know AYESHA and was therefore left with DRA_AGE crossing A_ESHA. I finally guessed "W" as the missing letter. Oops. I can definitely see how that could make somebody feel a bit, er, cranky...

JenCT 7:54 AM  

I also had the same solving experience in the NW as Rex.

Good to see SPELUNK in the puzzle; was a fun hobby for me years ago.

Had RETAKE before REGRAB.

I'd seen the HONEY BADGER on some nature show, so that was easy.

Didn't know EGERIA or DRAYAGE; got from crosses.

Good Friday puzzle.

joho 8:23 AM  

TRee before TRAP, latER before NEVER, LOll before LOAF, SkIpS before SKIMS ... kept me from seeing answers all over the place.

WOOKIEEPEDIA just looks wrong.

This puzzle made me scream like a Wookie.

Leslie 8:25 AM  

Man, this puzzle kicked me hard. Stupid LATEN. Plus, like Rex, I call foul, foul, foul on that extra "e" in WOOKIEEPEDIA. I guess the word "online" is supposed to justify it, as in "stick in an extra e," a la email, etail, ezine, etc. Anyway, that hid NILE DELTA from me, which hid DRAYAGE. Thought HEME should be HEMI or HEMA--no?

On the other hand, I was unreasonably proud of myself for getting EARTH SCIENCE and HONEY BADGER right off the bat.

ArtLvr 8:47 AM  

Sympathizing with Rex, I wanted Loll before LOAF. Sometimes likely thoughts linger longer than they ought!

And I had that mistaken Y in ENTOM for a fleeting moment too -- silly, since I actually took a course in Med Ent long ago (medical entomology). Will spare you all the ghastly grisly details! Best tackled when young and brave, MY SON.

Luckily, I'd decided early on that Skins were too obvious for a Friday and was rewarded with EARTH SCIENCE. Throw in HEME, RODENTS and HONEY BADGER with SPELUNK, ONIONY, SEGO and SEAS and you get quite an odd tour of the natural world.

Even knowing EGERIA and DRAYAGE, etc., I ended with nonsense in the SW corner, thinking Gnarly was Raw, not seeing D AND D. Oh well, it was still fabulous!

∑;)

revyhog - dream pig, or new word for nightmare?

David L 8:52 AM  

I was surprised to finish this in a reasonable time, since there was so much I didn't know. Got lucky guessing the E cross at FLEER/EGERIA, neither of which I knew. ATLI, INIGO were unknown to me also, but gettable from crosses. The DRAYAGE/AYESHA cross was a bit naughty, but AYESHA was lurking in the back of my mind from somewhere.

Didn't like RELET and REGRAB next to each other (or in the same puzzle, for that matter).

And now there is golf to be watched...

nanpilla 8:56 AM  

Having put in dabbled before MINORED slowed down the southwest for quite a while, but this one finally fell in a medium time for me.

Agree that WOOKIEEPEDIA looks wierd, but that's the way they spell it, so what can you do?

Took just about the entire alphabet to finish A_ESHA, but a dray is a cart to the Y went in.

@syndy: I think bowling is a verb in the clue, not an adjective.

rolin mains 9:25 AM  

@rex: i really enjoyed reading how you processed the puzzle. i didn't make the same errors you did, but i solve puzzles the exact same way. work here, there, then back here, move away for a while, then back. funny how things that were completely hidden suddenly jump out at you as completely obvious. kinda eerie.

i personally thought "STOPHIM" was sexist. really? all robbers/muggers are men? okay, maybe the majority, but it seemed just a little presumptuous.

i know SPELUNKING is a noun formed from a verb, but i don't think i've ever heard someone actually use the verb form before. my mac dictionary does not include it as a verb. it has spelunker too...but, alas, no SPELUNK. "are you going to SPELUNK today? i hear there's a great cave not far from here." nope. no one says that.

i might, if i were more of an expert, cry foul on having "REGRAB" and "RELET" so close to each other. "RE-" anything seems rather gratuitous.

did anyone notice the 10-time silver slugger award winning AROD riding the pine during this week's all-star game? at least he gets a shout out in the NYT puzzle.

:)

donkos 9:29 AM  

The actual url is http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wookieepedia - it's a stretch to say that wookieepiedia by itself is the online reference (in fact it's a redirect to http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page)

CaseAce 9:51 AM  

Mel Rosen, donned his glad RADS and dealt us up another weekend challenger. Must say, he surely has a FLEER and AMORE for the game and we GITMO for the money when he's on it!

mitchs 9:53 AM  

Well, this was MUCH tougher for me then most of the posters so far. My longest Friday in a some time - and wound up guessing wrong at draWage.

Dough 9:57 AM  

This started out like a Saturday, for me, as I grabbed at every RE- and -S I could find mixed in with a random word here and there. But then it began to fill in like a nicely constructed Friday should. Some great words here (including the Wookieeeepdia) and a nice balance. I agree with @rolin that "STOPHIM" struck me as sexist. But then how many women would lurk in dark alleyways wearing face masks with cutout eyeholes?

jesser 10:01 AM  

AYESHA? EGERIA? HEME? ATLI? WOOKIEEPEDIA?

What the hell just happened here?

I struggled with this one and it took nearly an hour to wrestle down, mostly because of all the names I Have Never Come Across Before Ever.

The middle west was hardest, because it took me eons to let go of BiNGO at 31D and I don't know from Double Bubble, so _iAF just hung there, taunting me. The head slap moment of changing the i to an O was the Aha Moment. I still had to guess that second E in FLEER, playing briefly with U.

I liked the clue for RUMOR MILLS. I was a bit off put by the image of RODENTS silding down the snakes' gullets, however. I've seen snakes eat, and it is no happy occasion for the rodent.

And I have never ever ridden in an airplane featuring LEG RESTS. I always feel somewhat happy when I can manage to have one arm rest to myself.

Overall, I thought this puzzle was a tad ONIONY, and it leaves me wanting to go brush my tongue.

Nucid! (The sequel to the very crosswordsy El Cid) -- jesser

Rex Parker 10:06 AM  

Sexism charge is absurd. Flat-out absurd. Next time you're held up at gunpoint by a woman, call me. Not that it couldn't happen, but come on. "Sexist?" Laughable. "How dare you associate gun-related violence with men!?" HA ha. "I am indignant, sir! When will my fellow males be free from such aspersions!"

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I suffer from the SEGO, SAGO, KARO conundrum, only more severely, as I frequently want SEGA as the answer for one of the first 2 and CARO or SARO for the corn syrup.

I also replicated RP's NW experience, but was dubious about SKINS from the get go, so I probably got out of trouble a bit faster.

Regards, Eileen

archaeoprof 10:22 AM  

Had the same mistakes as @Joho and @ArtLvr.

Non-puzzle biologist wife helped with HEME.

Speaking of Kipling's "If", my dad once told me, "If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs ... maybe you don't really understand the situation."

Zeke 10:28 AM  

AYESHA, being the daughter of The Prophet, is one of the most famous and common names in the world. Makes filling in any one unknown letter kind of easy.

SethG 10:29 AM  

I don't understand the complaints about WOOKIEEPEDIA, or at least about its accuracy. That's its name.

Knottiest section for me was the mid-east. No idea about, well, any of it. Didn't know NINE PINS, ONIONY, ENNIS, INIGO, MY SON, YON, badger types, etc. Eventually worked it out, but ugh.

CaseAce 10:38 AM  

I generally flunk the Spelunk, due mainly to the fact I tend to Cave before the end!

wiki vrs wookiee 10:39 AM  

“On Wikipedia, every article is written by an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters. Wookieepedia on the other hand, every article is written by an infinite number of Emperor Palpatine clones with holocrons.”

~ Captain Sarcasm on explaining the main difference between Wikipedia and Wookieepedia

P>G>

still somewhat cranky 10:48 AM  

Wookiee is spelled like that. Wookiee. Not Wookie. I know, it's weird, and when I first saw it in print I thought it couldn't possibly be correct, but it is what it is.

CaseAce 10:53 AM  

"Something Wiki this way comes" Begging your pardon, Captain Sir, spare us the Sarcasm and the unseemly Cloning around!

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

My give-a-shit factor was pretty low today. I left the N. Dak. area go because I've never heard of the auto repair place and those wacky Norse names can be spelled any old way.
Ayesha might be a common name somewhere but it was lost on me and, as I said, I just didn't care.
A honey badger is the most fearless animal? Well, I guess an entomologist might tell us how nasty bees can be but this little factoid might deserve some research.
The crossing of Fleer and Egeria was brutal and worthy of a Sat. for me.
I did like the bongo clue.

Leady, irony, and oniony all in one week. Take your friend laten and get lost!

rolin mains 10:57 AM  

@rex: clearly, you don't know my ex-wife...STOP HER!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:06 AM  

Two write-overs, one hour, no complaints.

(The write-overs being PORES before SORES at 1 D and BANJO (D'oh!) before BONGO at 31 D.)


Never heard of EGERIA or WOOKIEEPEDIA and a few others, but all gettable in the end. And having ABBREVIATED spelled out in full deserves at least one exclamation point!

JaneW 11:17 AM  

Well, I didn't recognize INIGO because the founder of the Jesuits is commonly known as St. Ignatius Loyola and I've never seen him referred to any other way. Googling shows his given name at birth was Inigo -- or Ignacio -- or Inazio.

I'd think Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) or Inigo Jones (British architect) would have been more fair.

dk 11:21 AM  

Rex is correct, although he may or may not be sexist.

The weapon of choice for women is poison followed the knife (dirk in xword land). A gun is seen as disconnected from the act in the minds of fairer criminal sex. I am a professional with a Phd in forensic psychology so any rebuttal will be considered only in calculating the DRAYAGE :):)

Things I did not know (ALTI for one), a few I did not like (LATEN -- WTF) and several that were just fun (RUMORMILLS, DRAYAGE, RODENTS, SPELUNK, etc.)

*** (3 Stars) A fine Friday.

ps. they have LEGRESTS on international flights in coach

Howard B 11:36 AM  

For what it's worth, before the days of Mr.Shortz, EGERIA was (unfortunately) a much more common fill in these puzzles, at least considering its length. One of those crossword dictionary standards, as I understand it.
When I was first learning to solve these things and didn't know the difference between editorial styles, I picked up words like this; I only remembered EGERIA from its frequent appearances in those earlier puzzles.

I suppose we can be thankful for what we have now. Imagine a weekend puzzle containing about 10-15 more words as common as that one, names, small villages, and rivers, all criss-crossing in an intricate web of obscurity. You would solve to reach a goal of a minimum number of guesses at the end, sort of like those 'Hi-Q' peg-board jumping games.

That said, EGERIA is kind of a cool word.

Rex Parker 11:39 AM  

@Howard,

EGERIA's cool to know, but it Kinda sounds like a disease.

Martin 11:43 AM  

Now that's sexist.

Cheryl 12:31 PM  

I know hush puppies only as footwear, not food, so my brain was nowhere near oniony. And I never saw Brokeback, so I didn't finish that little section.
Still enjoyed the puzzle overall: a solid Friday excepting the re-re in the middle.

JayWalker 12:33 PM  

To "dk" - the forensic person: I can see it now: "This is a stick-up!! Gimme yer money or I'll make you drink this!!!" I don't think so. Altho, I did consider arsenic a couple of times doing today's puzzle. BUT - I finished it - without Google - and got it 100% - which absolutely floored me!!! Rex: "Medium" my butt. I loves yah buddy, but yer an elitist where puzzles are concerned.

Zeke 12:34 PM  

Actually, I think EGERIA sounds like the result of a disease, as in having contracted Malaysian Swamp Fever, my nasal EGERIA was an unearthly green with specks of blood.
I misspoke earlier, what I meant to say was that cries of foul about AYESHA were unwarranted, not that anyone should specifically have know it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Didn't finish again. Gettin' to be a discouragin' trend. Just a bad run of crosses that aren't in my wheelhouse, I guess. Today it was AYES?A/?EME. The other stuff that I didn't know crossed stuff that I did know, so only lacked the one letter.

Say -- wasn't that how it was supposed to work? Wasn't there some rule once that you don't let two ornery words cross, when you construct a puz? 44 called it "nat-tick", or somethin'. I call it give folks a fightin' chance. Is that rule out the window now? Are the gloves off? Have we reached a state of total OCEILL-ILGWU? Makes yah feel...wobbly.

One measly "U" again. The drought continues. Bah. Let's see what joon's got, over at the LAT puz...

obertb 12:44 PM  

An unrelenting, humorless slog.

Van55 12:57 PM  

@obertb

I couldn't have expressed my opinion better than you did, so I won't try.

Stan 1:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan 1:23 PM  

SPELUNK! That's the sound of a large wet towel being thrown in. Congrats to all who finished!

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Ayesha is the name of a horse in a Louis L'Amour novel set in 14th century Europe and Middle East.

Would that count as culturally insensitive these days? I honestly have no idea.

I liked the puzzle -- a good bit of stuff I didn't know, but most of it was inferable from the crosses.

I did google wookieEpedia, because that E was the last character to go in and it seemed to me that any vowel was as good as any other. I enjoyed the first go-round of the Star Wars movies years ago, but not enough to look for them on the web. Of course, leg rests would have been obvious, but I wasn't looking there at the time.

Tinbeni 1:35 PM  

Mashed and Anon:
I always do the LAT (its like batting practice) before the NYT.
Joon's puZZle will not put you asleep and also was a testy Friday offering.

DNF as I tried to watch the Open and solve at the same time.

I liked seeing UMA and my favorite Jamaican greeting, hey MON, together.

Howard B 1:36 PM  

@Rex: On second thought, I agree. I can certainly imagine it in that sense:

"Nonrelpetxoo is solely for the treatment of chronic Egeria. Side effects may include blurred vision, loss of soul, spontaneous combustion, and occasional drowsiness."

chefbea 1:49 PM  

Not as difficult as the usual Friday puzzles but I gave up and came here. DNF

What is the game D and D?? never heard of it??

Shamik 1:54 PM  

Easy-Medium for me at 12:39 and fairly interesting...although I just have an intense dislike for LATEN. MILLIONTHS, DRAYAGE, SPELUNK and CRICKETER made up for it. Good puzzle today.

@chefbea: Dungeons and Dragons = DandD

Clark 2:20 PM  

NIP AT, VEREEN, SEGO, ENTOM, EGERIA, HEME, FLEER, ATLI, ILIE, MYLES, AYESHA, INIGO. YIKES!

Having been an avid spelunker during my undergraduate years in Southern Indiana, I would say that "to spelunk" is definitely something one says. I love to SPELUNK.

Martin 2:31 PM  

Professional cave explorers hate the term "spelunk." They call it caving. Their motto is "spelunkers are the guys cavers are called in to rescue."

chefwen 2:35 PM  

@Clark - There are a couple of great caves close to where you will be staying that you can SPELUNK.

@Zeke - Gross. Haven't had breakfast yet, might have to skip it now.

Tinbeni 3:06 PM  

Round here you never hear the term SPELUNK.

We call it cave diving.
If you lose your way, you drown.

Lurking, Just Behind You! 3:14 PM  

So I have to admit that I am one who does the NYT puzzle via syndication, so I am six weeks behind...and if I were ever to comment on the witty banter and the wizened teachings and learnings that go on on this comments page, I fear that I would be screaming into the silence of cyberspace.

That being said, Thank you - everybody - for being an integral part of my morning. I (heart) the puzzle and I do it every day on the bus to work. What I enjoy most about it is that it inevitably leads me to this page where I can lurk and laugh while I prep for my workday. Even though I have never met any of you, I love the humor and camaraderie that you all share. From the good wishes to the familiar greetings and jokes that fly back and forth amongst you, it is a joy to observe from afar.
I will participate in the Bay Area X-Word tournament this September, and hope to meet at least a few of you.

On a side note, it will be a bit weird to read my own comment 6 weeks from now.

natochr - Dyslexic fan of gooey, tasty tortilla snacks?

Nighthawk 3:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 4:14 PM  

@ Lurking 3:14 - I predict you will spend the $$ for the NYT puzzles online ere long, as I did a while back. Welcome aboard when you do.

Had googled skittles because I didn't know whether it was a snack or to a game, cf. "beer and ...." And then the def. made it clear that the answer was ninepins. Sigh.....

SEP for MON @ 52D was one writeover. The rest was a slog, but not an unpleasant one. Fixed on parts in 18A as mechanical stuff, not fractions, so tried MICRO...whatever. Coupled with 9D as SLURPEE, this made the Ohio area problematic before the writeover SNO-CONE.

Agree that WOOKIE-EPEDIA seems to have an extra E, but not so.

Good one, Mr. Rosen.

Nighthawk 4:27 PM  

I had much the same starting experience as @RP and others and wasn’t comfortable anywhere until I plunked in SPELUNK, and started to look for other gimmes, which turned out to be 26D) MY SON (I had to memorize the entire poem once in grammar school, but liked @archeoprof’s embellishment of the first line), 30D) FLEER, 52D) GITMO and 42A) RELET.

For 27A) I knew Chicken George was from “Roots” but the only actor I could think of at first was LaVar Burton, but that just didn’t feel right.

Once I sorted the sale/skins false start, ABBREVIATED looked right, then EARTH SCIENCE.

After that, it was a slog for the rest of the fill, 63A) D AND D, and 65A) A-ROD being the exceptions. With a bit of fill, 36D) FOREWORD became clear.

I ended up with brain-lock for the Jesuit founder at the space at 39A) SE_O and 25D) INI_O, until I remembered
this. I can’t believe @RP didn’t include that clip in the write-up.

Hands up for banning LATEN.

Masked and Anonymous 4:34 PM  

@Tinbeni--See what yah mean now about the LAT puZZ and not bein' put to sleep. Har. It had 5 U's, a theme, and I could finish it, to boot. Darn near feel like I went and won the trifecta, compared to this here east coast puz, which kinda left a tantalumy taste in my mouth.

More fave crossins' to reminisce semi-fondly upon: FLEER/ENTOM/EGERIA; WOOKIEEPEDIA/AYESHA/HEME; ONIONY/ENNIS/INIGO/MYSON. Man. Looks kinda like gibberish, huh? But I'm less off my feed now, after my trifecta win -- also, just got four new Michelins put on the beverlyhillbillies-mobile. So got my snort back. Off to the big city for the weekend. Snort.

sanfranman59 4:36 PM  

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

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

Fri 27:16, 26:41, 1.02, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:10, 12:58, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

foodie 4:49 PM  

In response to 18A: Very small parts, I confidently put CAMEO ROLES. That did not help.

Alexandria brought back memories- I was 8 and we were living in Egypt and I went swimming in the sea for the first time. It really scared me when the waves hit and I thought I was drowning. Interestingly, a subsequent experience in the Dead Sea counteracted that-- you cannot drown there if you try.

Rex, interesting about your "Counter" assumption. I was in DC and heard an ad about a place called "Counter Intelligence"-- it turns out they sell granite counters! What's weird is that when I mentioned the name to Andrea, she immediately guessed what their business was.

Also, Rex, I laughed at your response re the sexism (or lack thereof) of STOP HIM. There are areas where equality is not to be coveted, for sure! Thank you!!!

I had a grand time with Andrea in SF. We spent an afternoon strolling along, sitting in the sun, admiring a statue of Ghandi (which I never knew existed-- check it out) and exploring a foodie paradise in the Ferry Building (I used to live in SF many moons ago, and it was always amazing in terms of restaurants and love of food. But I can tell I need to go back on a mission to discover more). It was a wonderful afternoon-- fantastic company, beautiful city and even perfect weather. Thank you Andrea, and thank you Rex for the friendships you've helped create.

@Lurking, just behind you, nice to hear a voice from the future! What a lovely picture you paint.

jae 4:56 PM  

Medium-challenging for me. Started with WARTS (the R worked), and tried TREE, SEP, NILERIVER, and LATER before sorting it all out. I thought this one was pretty good and about right for a Fri.

I think we have had the AYESHA discussion before, so, if you've been around a while she should at least seem familiar.

The Same Anonymous 5:36 PM  

AYESHA, being the daughter of The Prophet, is one of the most famous and common names in the world. Makes filling in any one unknown letter kind of easy.

Not my prophet (or Prophet, if you prefer), sorry. And I had no way of knowing that H. Rider Haggard wrote a book with a Muslim heroine (the only book I know of that he wrote was "She" and I don't even know any of the characters from that one). ALESHA is also a fairly common name in some circles, btw. But since it's an unknown character in an unknown book by an author known for his fantasy writing we're talking about here, it could just as well be ATESHA or AWESHA or pretty much any other letter.

Oh -- and strangely enough, the only time I have ever seen the name AYESHA in print is in crossword puzzles. As I said, not my Prophet.

Ah well, one man's easy is another man's challenging, I suppose. HONEY BADGER was a big fat gimme for me, for example, even though Rex didn't know it up front.

Martin 5:52 PM  

@5:36,

You know the book. "She" is Ayesha. If you read it you'll learn she's an African queen, but was born in Arabia 2,000 years earlier. Apparently the name predates Islam, at least according to Haggard. Intesting early fantasy.

In the old days of Times crosswords, this was the only way AYESHA was ever clued, because Americans preferred to be clueless about other cultures. Sounds like you would have liked it.

Stan 6:05 PM  

Many thanks to Rex for the Paul Weller clip!

As it turns out, my wife was a big fan of Style Council, and I'm one of the few Americans that has actually seen the Jam (in a freezing Second Avenue venue that used to be a Yiddish theater).

We're looking into his solo career.

James 6:24 PM  

Got "Honey Badger" without a problem, having read about them in a guide to African mammals.

This is the part I remember:

If attacked by a lion or another large predator they will slip between the much larger animal's legs and bite off its genitals.

Sparky 6:29 PM  

Thanks Shamik and chefbea for explaining DANDD. I was trying to think of some Sly Stalone character. First entry SPELUNK. My Grandfather was a drayman but I never thought of it. Tried to put in "the she" because She is the only book I know of by Haggard. Managed to fill all in except for that Y. Did not like RELET and REGRAB. Was in Miami for five days. No leg rests on planes. Did puzzle on Across Lite. I like my newspaper better as I never seem to be able to finish in one sitting and I like to curl up with the Times. Anyrood, mad blog today. Such imaginations. Have a good weekend.

Two Ponies 7:00 PM  

I just googled the honey badger.
Wow, that is one tuff mutha.
If he's not ripping up bee hives he's chomping on pythons, adders, and small crocs! (No mention of the self-defense tactic involving genitals) They are smart enough to roll a log to make a step to get what they want.

Stan 7:06 PM  
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Stan 7:13 PM  
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mexgirl 7:19 PM  

See? This is why I don't even try Fridays. Too much information learned from a life lived in an English speaking country. Still, cheating, googling and all helped me some....though I still have no idea what DRAYAGE is, why is LOAF an eschew exertion, who EGERIA or ATLI are or what kind of game is DANDD.....
I'll keep trying, though. Ten years ago I was barely doing Mondays :^)

CaseAce 7:20 PM  

If what James said has any truth to it, e.g. the badass Badger maneuvering betwixt the legs of a larger animals legs to bite off it's genitals...then we all gotta admit, that really takes BALLS!

Elisa 7:43 PM  

Check out the YouTube footage on the Honey Badger. You won't regret it.

michael 8:03 PM  

I liked this puzzle better than most of you and didn't find it particularly difficulty. I did miss the ayesha-heme crossing and don't this can be attributed to my lack of interest in other cultures. I knew that "egeria" had to be right but don't remember ever seeing this word before.

Made the same initial mistakes in the nw as Rex.

relet and regrab are not good.

foodie 8:38 PM  

re Ayesha, the name does predate Islam, I'm sure. It means "long lived". Nothing in the clue related back to the religious connection, so I too found it rather obscure.

That HONEYBADGER is a disturbed and disturbing creature. I wouldn't want to run into it, but wouldn't mind sneaking a look at its brain or its DNA.

Zeke 10:07 PM  

My first reading of the clue for 48D resulted in my asking myself "Merle Haggard wrote a book?". My second reading made me ask myself "Who the hell is H. Rider Haggard?" With that name (seriously, this is what I thought) I thought it was the pseudonym of a pulp western writer, e.g. "The Longest Cattle Drive" by H Rider Haggard. My point being, the clue spoke to me exactly as blah blah blah: Name. All I was saying was that AYESHA is a famous enough, and common enough, name in huge swaths of the world, for it to be fair. I will grant the Y/L confusion there.

sanfranman59 10:07 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 7:33, 6:56, 1.09, 85%, Challenging
Tue 9:21, 8:49, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:40, 11:46, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 21:08, 19:10, 1.10, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 27:50, 26:41, 1.04, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:10, 3:42, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:48, 4:31, 1.06, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:44, 5:47, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 10:22, 9:10, 1.13, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 13:58, 12:58, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Dang! That HONEY BADGER is one nasty mo-fo!

honey badger in man's clothing 11:50 PM  

"In a 2002 National Geographic documentary titled "Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari", a badger named Kleinman was documented stealing a meal out of a puff adder's mouth and casually eating the meal in front of the hissing snake. After the meal, Kleinman began to hunt the puff adder, the species being one of the badger's preferred venomous snakes. He managed to kill the snake and began eating it, but then collapsed on the dead snake as he had been bitten during the struggle. After about two hours he surprisingly awoke. Once his paralysis had subsided, the badger continued with his meal and then resumed his journey."

Whoa.

Robin 1:15 AM  

Checked out after Mon-Tue debacles, but just did Wed-Thur-Fri in one fell swoop.

Had Exactly the same false start as Rex at Sale crossing Skins and "Keep" Quiet. Made perfect sense until nothing else would fit with it. Pretty clever misdirection.

@ret_chem and Lurking: If you subscribe to the dead tree version of the Sunday NYT, you get all of the puzzles for free online (plus all the archives.) And it's fun to work the Sunday puzzle in the shiny slick mag. You can carry it around with you and work it in stages, which is good since it's so big.

Is honeybadger an oxymoron?

Waxy in Montreal 5:15 PM  

Funny but for me SPELUNK, VEREEN, LATEN, DEVIL, RELET and AROD were immediate gimmes so smugly thought this was to be the easiest Friday ever. But pride indeed does cometh before a fall and I eventually ended up a DNF destroyed somewhere on the shoals of CALIFORNIA. CAPTCHA is SUBVALEEN and I think that describes me exactly, whatever it means...

Katie 7:27 PM  

I was glad to see D and D, as I have spent many happy evenings playing (Unfortunately my elf sorcerer was recently mauled by a barghest). Inigo felt odd to me, as I know the founder of the jesuits as St. Ingnacius Loyola. For me, the only Inigo is Inigo Montoya. Drayage was also new, but luckily Ayesha was familiar. I also have never flown in a plane with leg rests, though that would be nice.

Generally enjoyed this puzzle, but had to use Google a bit.

Sudsy in Chicago 5:20 PM  

Man, this one was tough for me. Finally got NILE DELTA and FLEER by googling, but other stopping points were my own fault -- like reading "Its page numbers are often Roman numerals" to mean some kind of pager that displays numbers as Roman numerals. Sheesh . . .

Am I the only one who wanted LEG IRONS for "Airplane seat features"?

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