Perpetual Peace thinker / FRI 9-3-10 / Legendary Spanish bullfighter / Auto marque of 1980s-'90s / Ricky frontman for bluegrass's Kentucky Thunder

Friday, September 3, 2010

Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: John Lennon... — actually, none

Word of the Day: MANOLETE (61A: Legendary Spanish bullfighter) —

Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez (July 4, 1917 in Córdoba, Spain – August 28, 1947 in Linares, Spain), better known as Manolete, was a famous Spanish bullfighter. // He rose to prominence shortly after the Spanish Civil War and is considered by some to be the greatest bullfighter of all time. His style was sober and serious, with few concessions to the gallery, and he excelled at the 'suerte de matar'—the kill. Manolete's contribution to bullfighting included being able to stand very still while passing the bull close to his body and, rather than giving the passes separately, he was able to remain in one spot and link four or five consecutive passes together into compact series. He popularized a pass with the muleta called the "Manoletina," which is normally given just before entering to kill with the sword. In addition to all of the major bullrings of Spain, he had very important triumphs in Plaza Mexico. He died following a goring in the right upper leg as he killed the fifth bull of the day, the Miura bull Islero, an event that left Spain in a state of shock. // Manolete received his fatal goring in the town of Linares where he appeared alongside the up-and-coming matador Luis Miguel Dominguín, who, after Manolete's death, proclaimed himself to be number one. In response to Manolete's death, General Francisco Franco, then dictator of Spain, ordered three days of "national mourning", during which only funeral dirges were heard on the radio. (wikipedia)

• • •

An enjoyable Friday offering, closer to a normal Friday difficulty level than most of the past month's offerings (but still slightly tougher than normal for me). As is typical, I really struggled to start (in the NW) and then settled down, progressing pretty steadily through the rest of the puzzle. Was surprised at how much John LENNON seemed to be looming over the puzzle. He is the BEGETTER (19A: Sire) (with Yoko ONO48A: Co-producer of "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)") of SEAN LENNON (53D: With 62-Across, subject of "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)"). He also wrote "IMAGINE" (3D: "___ that!") (a UTOPIAN song) (40D: Idealist). And, of course, he was well known for throwing a mean SINKER BALL (27A: It drops on the way home — love that clue). My favorite answer of the day is probably "I DID WHAT?!" (1A: Question the morning after), though I still might prefer my first guess here: "WHO'S THAT?"

The only part of the grid that even came close to making me wince was the MANOLETE / STODGES (43D: Fuddy-duddies) cross. The former is only vaguely familiar to me, and STODGES feels odd. I was slightly concerned that the answers would be MANOLETO and STODGOS, but thankfully, no. The grid is pretty dang smooth otherwise. No idea what EXOPLANETS are (44A: Far-off discoveries in astronomy), but I can guess—the EXO- prefix was pretty inferrable. Easiest area for me was the SW, where I got all three names with no hesitation: SEAN LENNON, Hank AZARIA (60A: Voice of Moe and Apu on "The Simpsons"), and NICOLE Richie (daughter of Lionel) (58A: Paris's partner on "The Simple Life"), all very familiar to me. Second puzzle appearance in a row for Hank "Blue RAJA" AZARIA.

Embarrassed by my slow start in the NW. Had the corner cornered, boxed in by RANT (25A: Jeremiad) over SWEAR TO (31A: Avow) in the southern portion and ARSENIO (7D: Hall with a posse) in the east, but I couldn't get into the meat of the corner very easily. Those short Downs all had super-vague one-word clues: [Cut] [Pique] [Fervor]. Had SNIP and OMIT before DELE, SNIT before WHET, and ZEAL before HEAT. But the longer Downs are all things I should've known earlier, *especially* DANELAW (2D: Part of England in the time of Alfred the Great). I mean damn, if ever I'm going to break away from the rest of y'all, it should be on that answer—I know a little something about early English history and literature. I was thinking of specific kingdoms like Wessex and Mercia, completely neglecting the Whole Damn East Side of the Island, where Scandinavian invaders/immigrants (always a murky distinction in early English history) held sway for centuries. Further, I had IMAG-NE before I got that answer. I was reading it as "I'M A G..." e.g. "I'M A GONER" or the like. Bah!

  • 20A: Ricky ___, frontman for bluegrass's Kentucky Thunder (SKAGGS) — thought this would be obscure, until I realized, no, it's the first "Ricky" that popped into my head.
  • 22A: "Hip Hop Is Dead" rapper (NAS) — some great sampling in this one, but this version is "clean" so there's an annoying AMT (35A: Total: Abbr.) of dead air:

  • 34A: Auto marque of the 1980s-'90s (GEO) — "Marque!?!?!" OO LA LA! (16A: "So chic!")
  • 46A: "Perpetual Peace" thinker (KANT) — Had the "K" but would never have gotten this without "thinker."
  • 49A: "... but not more like my father / Than ___ Hercules": Hamlet ("I TO") — easy, but interesting way to clue this common letter combo.
  • 8D: Capital that was the scene of 2009 mass demonstrations (TEHRAN) — wow, that fact left my brain a little too fast.
  • 10D: Annual journalism award, informally (POLK) — Named after George POLK and not, as I would have liked, after the only POLK I actually know—this guy (about the most charming video I'm likely to post...)

  • 13D: Cigarette brand that once used the slogan "Not a cough in a carload" (OLD GOLD) — I know this brand from the very first episode (very first scene, in fact) of "Mad Men"; see here.
  • 27D: Tiny opening in a leaf (STOMA) — word I learned from xwords, though it took a while to come back. Knew it sounded like -O-A...
  • 29D: Its uniform includes a red serge tunic and a Stetson: Abbr. (RCMP) — the Mounties! I went from "???" to "Oh!" very quickly with this clue.
  • 39D: 1970s Bowie collaborator (ENO) — for reasons I don't quite understand, I love ENO crossing ONO. SO SUE ME! (36A: "See if I care!")
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Glad to get this one after yesterday's disaster (for me). I applaud all who got that one.

Loved IDIDWHAT, SOSUEME and clue for SINKERBALL, too.

Thanks John Farmer, and Rex for the great writeup.

PanamaRed 12:13 AM  

Actually meant to post my ID, not anonymous.


Jen Muehlbauer 12:26 AM  

I like "Who's that?" for 1A. I really wanted "Where am I?" Alas.

SCOTUS Addict 12:30 AM  

I had, "How was it?"

Zeke 12:37 AM  

I never got past 1A: "Where am I", "who be you", "i did what", "A goat????" until I started crying. I'll just have to take your word on the rest of the puzzle.

jae 2:34 AM  

Very nice Fri.! "WHEREAMI" was my first thought on 1A. Someone I didn't know I knew = SKAGGS. Gimmies for me also = NICOLE, AZARIA, and ARSENIO. Medium seems about right. Nice job JF.

@andrea -- after being initially annoyed, I really liked yesterday's puzzle. The fact that it worked both ways was brilliant. I didn't have time to comment yesterday, so please forgive me.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

@SCOTUS addict - I'm still laughing!
Husband and I came up with a plethora of answers for 1A, but none as funny as yours.

Was missing the H in OO LA LA, but I can live with that.

Got a little hung up in the NW and SE, but after setting it aside and coming back with fresh eyes, all came together rather quickly.

Two thumbs up Mr. Farmer, I do enjoy your puzzles.

andrea I DID WHO? michaels 2:38 AM  


When is a themeless not a themeless?
I IMAGINE it HAS to be about John ONO LENNON who begat SEAN and even smoked OLDGOLDs while sipping REISLING!
(OK, maybe not, but what is Sean smoking in that pic you posted?)

Had RHEA before ILIA and I had had to google that!!! How could someone named RHEA SILVIA be also known as ILIA? @Clark?

Never saw NAS, but thank god ARSENIO fixed my SucKERBALL.

Still swooning over yesterday's comments! Thank you (almost) everyone! (Sorry @panama red!)

Kant sleep 3:03 AM  

Felt like an average Friday for most of the puzzle but it took a long time to turn off my SPIGOT of ignorance in the NE. (POLK, ILIA, SKAGGS, and OLD GOLD all conspired against me)
I assumed POL_ would be some informal name for the Pulitzer.

operapianist 3:27 AM  

The entire Southern hemisphere fell in less than 10 mins, then I struggled... *struggled* in NE and NW. I refused to let go of RHEA (for ILIA) and LUCKIES (cigs) and thus IDCARDS, SPIGOT was invisible. Disaster.

Funniest outcome was Ricky SKANKS crossing the "K" of LUCKIES... then I remembered that in my middle-GA high school, that worf described the people who tended to listen to him. Ha! (No offense to present fans.) A fun late-night almost-solve for me.

The Bard 8:17 AM  

Hamlet > Act I, scene II

HAMLET: O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.

David L 8:24 AM  

Would've been my way fastest Friday ever had I not run aground in the NE. ROTS for SOBS, OHLALA for OOLALA, DRUGWAR for GANGWAR -- took a while to untangle but still ended up with a respectable time. Either Fridays are getting easier or I'm getting the hang of this.

EXOPLANETS is now the official term for what used to be called extrasolar planets -- ie planets orbiting stars other than our own dear Sun. Astronomers are finding so many of them these days that they needed a shorter name.

joho 8:38 AM  

One error at DANEmAW/AmI. I couldn't get over the fact that 2D had to be an actual place ... so I made it the big hole in the ground named after the Danish invaders.

Other than that I found the rest very reasonable for a Friday. Loved SINKERBALL, IMAGINETHAT and SOSUEME.

I also liked the mini Lennon theme.

Thank you, John Farmer!

And you, @Rex, for the "Mad Men" clip.

Rachel LS 8:39 AM  

You have a good point about so many of the answers being related to the Ono/Lennon family! :)

OldCarFudd 9:01 AM  

A good, smooth, not-too-hard Friday that I didn't quite finish.Didn't know Ilia, Polk, or Skaggs, so of course I couldn't get them from the crossings. Unlike Nas, Ali and Azaria, that I also didn't know but COULD get from the crossings. I was pleased that I did know Danelaw and Manolete, so they opened up their respective corners very quickly.

The Hag 9:13 AM  

My kind of puzzle. Tough with no gimmicks and a minimum of googleables.

Mr. Parker - While I almost always agree with your detailed assessments of a puzzle's pros and cons, I'm at a loss to understand your relative difficulty ratings. You've given every puzzle this week a "Medium". I found M-Th to be almost trivially easy and today's to be hard. I realize that it is all, ahem, relative but it's hard to argue that, for any given solver, today's puzzle would have be of equal difficulty as Monday's.

ArtLvr 9:26 AM  

Difficult for me, because of most of those names. I'm not sure I'd even have had a start if not for the crossings of BATIK, KANT, RCMP, and EDAMS. Tried for a SOCCERBALL, but that was a no-go. I did remember MANOLETE, however...

My solving route was the opposite of @chefwen's. I did the NW and SE last night, (1A "I did THAT"?) -- then found the NE and SW easier to see this morning with the SPIGOT and IDAHOS. Baby SEAN was a pure guess, based on the popularity of the name and the crossworthiness of the letters. Egads.


Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Hag -- I think you're missing that it's a rating for that day, compared to previous puzzles for that day (e.g., Fridays). Obviously the puzzles get harder as the week's goes on. It's explained in the FAQ.

mitchs 10:02 AM  

Was zipping right along until arriving back at the blank NW. ARSENIO and the T in rant were my only entries. Held up by trying HEREHERE, ZEAL, SNIT and various other dead ends.

I always thought of a Jeremiad as a prediction of doom rather than (the more general) rant. And, speaking of general - I think that's what made the NW so time consuming. Much of the cluing could have signaled a variety of answers. How many variations of "________ that" are there?

Really liked it, though.

PuzzleNut 10:05 AM  

Managed to slog through this one with only two errors. Had ScAGGS and OhLALA. That left me with PhLc which made absolutely no sense. I think if I had spelled SKAGGS correctly (which I knew, but somehow was thinking of scrags), the O in POLK would have come to me. With two mistakes, I didn't know where to start.
Started with AMT, RCMP, BATIK and KANT at which point I had a long pause. Eventually, against all odds, it came together pretty well. Don't have any idea how I knew MANOLETE, but got it with only a few crosses. Lots of really good clues.
I'll second @chefwen regarding @SCOTUS addict's answer for 1A. I also liked WHERE AM I? Reminds me of a client of my wife that had a pretty serious drinking problem. He was supposed to stop by her office after lunch to sign some papers and never showed up. Finally, around 5:00 she called him and asked if he was going to make it in. "What time is it?" he replied groggily. "It's 5:00." After a pause he asked, "AM or PM?"

Bob Kerfuffle 10:17 AM  

Science good: My first fill was the EXOPLANETS/OXIDIZE.

Culture not good: Finished (pen on paper) with mistakes in the NE. Not for the first or even second time, I must say, "Like PuzzleNut . . .", I had OHLALA instead of OOLALA, SCAGGS instead of SKAGGS, and that odd PHLC award given in place of the POLK.

(Aside to PuzzleNut: To quote one of my favorite cartoons, Great minds think alike, and so do ours! :-))

Cathyat40 10:31 AM  

Hand up for "Where am I?"

The NW was hardest for me.

I didn't know DANELAW, so I went to Wordplay last night, just to confirm it.

Briefly had bakerS, before IDAHOS.

Like David L., I think I might be getting the hang of this. SOBS popped into my head more as a bit of crosswordese than as a word I would normally substitute for "Breaks down."

fuggiess: a stodge's secret lover

Nancy from PA (but on LI) 10:43 AM  

This took me way too long, and I finished with an error--ScAGGS--I guess I was thinking Boz. Had G-string before TASSELS.

And now Earl has hit us on eastern Long Island. Yikes.

chaos1 11:08 AM  

Good Puzzle, although it took me damned near an hour. The SW was my hardest quadrant, where I spent over 20 minutes because of stupidity. Still, the first two legs of the trifecta are in place.

Hey, @ Nancy from PA: Greetings from Sag Harbor. Wet and Wild here also !

treedweller 11:09 AM  

I don't know what this says about me, but my 1A was for a long time "Any cream?"

Finally had to google for RANT and ALI to finish the NW.

JaxInL.A. 12:10 PM  

Loved the Hamlet clue. I don't often get a chance to benefit from being a Shakespeare geek from the age of 13. Got the entire south with relative ease and BOMBED on the north. Like @Andrea I could not let go of Rhea in the NE which screwed up everything else.

Shouldn't DANELAW be Danish law? Happy to see Hank Azaria two days in a row tho. Not my finest hour.

Mel Ott 12:20 PM  

From Wikipedia:

The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (also known as the Danelagh; Old English: Dena lagu; Danish: Danelagen), is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to be geographical. The areas that comprised the Danelaw are in northern and eastern England. The origins of the Danelaw arose from the Viking expansion of the 9th century, although the term was not used to describe a geographic area until the 11th century.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Also wanted WHERE AM I for 1A, but I DID WHAT is also good. After 28 years of sobriety, it's a long time since I asked this kind of question.

CaseAce 12:30 PM  

This is roughly how I recollect this oldie, "Pall Mall and Philip Morris were riding on a Camel, they stumbled upon OLD GOLD and that was their Lucky Strike!"

CoffeeLvr 12:32 PM  

@Andrea, I have saved the puzzle you and Mr. Blindauer crafted for yesterday. A list of words that go both ways is embedded therein. Did any one ever find a known term for that? May I suggest binyms? Malindrome doesn't work for me, because only ROTOR and MADAM were palindromes.

On to today. Interesting how different solvers struggle in different corners. Certainly there is our knowledge base, but also some luck. Knowledge got me the whole south, though I doubted STODGES and MANOLETE, like Rex and others. I got the NE by luck. I had nothing, but threw down BLINDS for 18A, I just "knew" it. That gave me SOBS, and the rest was (relatively) easy. Later, I realized 18A could have been drapes or shades, or probably more.

My personal hang up was the NW. Went to bed with most of the far corner blank, save ONALEASH. This morning all I could see was that HEAT was a better fit than zEAl. I tried who'sTHAT, but no help. Yielded, and came to Google. Read a long article on King Alfred, but never saw DANELAW, despite having ??N?LAW. Stared some more. Finally checked out my answer for 21A, and fixed it; had guessed eLo for ALI. And the light dawned. In went ISOBARS, BEGETTER, and all the rest. I had thought of a form of beget last night, but didn't think it fit.

@Rex, thanks for the NAS clip, love hearing the insistent drums and bass of In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. Still remember when I first heard the album version - at a church lock-in, of all places. The story about the title is that it is a mumbled version of "In a/the Garden of Eden. The point: "A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning." (from Wikipedia) I believe someone asked about a term for such misinterpretations a few days ago.

Well, I have gone on much too long.

hazel 12:48 PM  

Loved this puzzle to pieces. All the great expressions, starting with 1A - and then SINKERBALL! The Braves have an ace sinkerballer on their team (Tim Hudson).

Go Braves!!

I also liked ENO crossing ONO - a marriage made in crossworld.

The Hag 1:31 PM  

@twangster. Well, don't I feel stupid! Thanks for the clarification. I would still quibble with calling all of this week's puzzles medium for their respective days, but it at least falls in the arguable range now that I understand the rating system.

Stan 1:35 PM  

We are still roffling over all the 1A variations.

Had to put this down for about an hour (and prep the back yard for a tropical storm that still hasn't arrived), before returning to the Northwest and seeing that my ENGENDER was wrong.

Yes, there needs to be a new term for the kind of words in yesterday's (excellent) puzzle. Today I noticed IDAHOS produces SO HAD I...

archaeoprof 1:38 PM  

Epic fail for me today. Found this puzzle "totally, absolutely and in all other ways incontheivable." Worst effort for me in years.

I must be losing it...

Or maybe it's just that today was our first day with students back on campus. Why does summer have to end? It's been going so well.

Van55 1:42 PM  

Massive and embarassing DNF for me today. Mr. Farmer and I must have vastly different pools of knowledge. This one made me feel so ignorant.

chefbea 1:55 PM  

Tough puzzle. DNF. came here to see the finished puzzle.

Earl passed us by. Nary a drop of rain!!!

CaseAce 2:04 PM  

1A, I thought at first was "Where am I", however, 'I did what' was a topper.
"The Death of Manolete, by Barnaby Conrad, is one of the greatest illustrated books you'll ever set eyes on...Can't recommend strongly enough one pick up a copy or check it out of a library...graphic beyond belief!

sillygoose 2:18 PM  

Well, I got the SW corner, and RCMP, and zeal, which was wrong.

Why such a big jump from Thursday to Friday?? Yesterday's puzzle was so much fun. Before I wonder how people have ever come to hear of DANESLAW I'm going to go look up jeremiad :(

fergus 2:27 PM  

How about WHO WUZAT given the possible Z for ZEAL?

PASTIES attach to TASSELS, no?

I was thinking ELLY or ELIE for the Journalism awards, since the little trophy is a elephant.

No like Clue for ISOBARS. They indicate curvy lines of the same pressure, not the isolated points of H and L.

Shamik 2:54 PM  

Wheee! What a good solid puzzle this morning. Yes, it is still morning here in Alaska. Call it a medium-challenging Friday for me. NW was a bear for me, like with many others. A so not boring puzzle. Bravo.

shrub5 3:19 PM  

Started at the bottom as I spied the "Beautiful Boy" clue right off. Finished the bottom half of the puzzle in record time and thought "gee, this is a very easy Friday." The top half, though, was one mess after another caused by, among others, the RHEA and WHERE AM I? errors others have mentioned.

I just knew the volcano in a national park had to be one of the Hawaiian ones ... Mauna Loa/Kea (didn't fit) or Kilauea (crosses I was pretty sure of ruled it out.) Forgot about Mt. RAINIER until it emerged. Jeremiad (RANT) was a new word for me, as was EXOPLANETS, so I learned a few new things while solving this enjoyable puzzle!

sanfranman59 4:10 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 28:21, 26:41, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:30, 13:01, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging

miguel 4:30 PM  

I always enjoy the write up here, Rex. I hope all is well in Kiwi land tonight...first reports just coming in.

foodie 4:59 PM  

@Archeoprof, you have a companion in your epic fail. I had some spots that worked well but I was completely stuck in the NE.

My biggest accomplishment is that I nailed the rating with my QDI as Medium Challenging, and that I'm doing this on my new iPad.

Stan 6:54 PM  

Here's my stab at 1A: "Does anybody read enough Chinese to tell me what this tattoo says?"

dk 6:54 PM  

No idea who the bullfighter was, spelled it OhLALA and tried to fit amp meter in as a fault finder. Sigh.

Did this one in between a trip to the dentist, running checks to step lads for school picture day and waiting on plumbers.

Thus, did not get tuned in, just solved.

** (2 Stars) SOSUEME.

Andrea your responses to 1A: Priceless

Nebraska Doug 8:35 PM  

When I finish (or don't finish) a puzzle, I try to predict how Rex will rate the puzzle. Today I predicted, "this has to be an easy!". Except for the the NW which slowed me down quite a bit and the awkward crossing of "stodges" and "manolete", which made me think, "can this me right?", I found this to be much easier than normal for a Friday.

andrea ono michaels 8:59 PM  

Joon posted something very interesting on yesterday's LA Crossword Confidential blog calling them SEMORDNILAP(S).
That was so ugly and I didn't even realize it was PALINDROMEs backwards!
(and if you follow his embedded link, it also names ten other names for them...)

I like your "binym" coinage tho I think it hints at the double words, but not the backwards-ness of it all.

However, I've been simply calling them "backwords" and I would like to coin that and do a series of easier puzzles with that name.
My idea is to have THREE sets of clues: Across, Down AND Reverse! (But some feel that is too easy. 'Sides, without PB's genius, I don't think I could construct one on my lonesome.
Actually, I KNOW I couldn't.)
(In an ideal world, I'd leave out abbreviations, two word phrases, palindromes and even proper names unless they were very easily clued. In other words, probably impossible!).

Anyway, I don't want to go on about this on John Farmer's special day and in comments for his fabulous puzzle
(Still dreaming up all sorts of possibilities for 1A...
@treedweller...any cream???!!! ha!!!) ;)

Glitch 9:56 PM  


From the creator of "Natick Town Square", I vote for "BACK[-]WORDS",


sanfranman59 10:06 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 7:08, 6:58, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:09, 8:52, 0.81, 3%, Easy
Wed 11:51, 11:44, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 24:26, 19:16, 1.27, 89%, Challenging
Fri 27:42, 26:41, 1.04, 58%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:43, 1.05, 82%, Challenging
Tue 3:49, 4:34, 0.84, 6%, Easy
Wed 5:59, 5:46, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:48, 9:15, 1.28, 89%, Challenging
Fri 14:01, 13:00, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Many thanks to John Farmer for motivating me to listen to Double Fantasy today (the Lennon half, that is). It has one of my favorite love songs ever (Woman) and probably my very favorite John Lennon song ever (Watching the Wheels) ... and that's really saying something. The latter never fails to bring tears to my eyes. You're missed, dear John ... rest well.

foodie 10:46 PM  

@Andrea, I really like " backwords" ! I had to trick my word processing program to allow me to write it :)

I struggled yesterday with the naming. Then as I was explaining the puzzle to np- husband he asked: so is it like you're looking at it in the mirror? I had to actually type up a couple of those words and hold them up to the mirror. Yep, that works. So we can also think of them as mirror words.

tetu301 7:03 PM  

I'm always curious to see Rex's ratings--it's clear to me we are of different generations and have different frames of reference. I rate myself as to whether I have to google any answers or can get it all by myself, no matter how long it takes. I fact, I print out the puzzles and just keep working on them until they're done or I get bored/frustrated and start googling. This puzzle was a 3 googler for me--Thursday's was a rare could-not-finish AT ALL in spite of googling--just never saw the bass-ackwardness of it. Then an oh-s--t,of course moment. Love this blog! Makes me feel one of the crowd....

Douglas 4:09 PM  

In his song "In Old Mexico," Tom Lehrer sang

"Ah, but best of all I remember the Plaza des Toros,
Now whenever I start feeling morose,
I revive by recalling that scene...

And names like Delmonte Dominguina Manolete,
If I live to a hundred-and-eightay,
I shall never forget what they mean!"

But I actually dropped in to ask if this puzzle was the first occurence of exoplanets in the NYT crossword of which you know of.

E. T. 4:22 PM  

@Douglas - All questions of "Has this word ever appeared . . . " or "How many times has this word appeared . . ." can be answered by going to the XWord Info database, here.

Dirigonzo 6:23 PM  

Here in syndication-land this puzzle appeared on October 8, which I'm told by a young friend who knows about these things is the day before John Lennon's birthday. So maybe the mini-Lennon theme was a shout-out from Wil to the multitude of fans who wait patiently for the puz to show up in their local daily rag. Well, probably not but still, I sure he knows we are out here.

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