Memorable 10/1/75 event / FRI 10-1-10 / Brewer Bernhard / Henry Fielding title heroine / Statesman of old Athens / 164-foot-tall movie star

Friday, October 1, 2010

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ALI-FRAZIER FIGHT (40A: Memorable 10/1/75 event) — theme answers all relate in some way to this answer


Word of the Day: MOONEYES (21D: Silvery fish) —

The mooneyes are a family, the Hiodontidae, of primitive ray-finned fish comprising two living and three extinct species in the genus Hiodon. They are large-eyed, fork-tailed fish that physically resemble shads. Their common name comes from the metallic gold or silver shine of their eyes. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty straightforward for a tribute puzzle. Used to seeing much more complex and interesting fare from Mr. Kahn. Central Across is a dud, specificity- and phrasing-wise: there were three ALI-FRAZIER FIGHTs, and they are known as ALI-FRAZIER I, II, and III (they also each have a nickname), and more often "ALI VS. FRAZIER" than the "ALI FRAZIER FIGHT." Only reason for the phrasing here is to get that "I" in the right place to intersect with the downward THRILLA IN MANILA (the best theme answer, by a mile, in this whole thing—7D: 40-Across, familiarly). Rest of the theme answers are just names, places ... if you know anything at all about boxing, they all fill themselves in (the danger with straightforward tributes). Theme answers in NE seem gratuitous—there only to give symmetry to the SMOKIN' / JOE (67A: With 62-Down, 40-Across loser's nickname) answers in the SW. Also, there is nothing Friday-like about this puzzle at all. Many of you will have shattered your record Friday times on this one, no doubt. I'd put an asterisk next to that time—this simply isn't a real Friday puzzle.



Though the theme did nothing for me, I did like IRON HEAD (63A: Nickname for racer Dale Earnhardt Sr., so called because of his stubbornness)—never heard that one before. Liked MOONEYES (despite plural) for the same reason: new and colorful.

Remaining theme answers:
  • 3D: Where the 40-Across was held (PHILIPPINES)
  • 16A: 40-Across activity (BOXING) (you don't say ...)
  • 11D: The Louisville ___ (40-Across winner's nickname) (LIP)
  • 27D: 40-Across winner's nickname (THE GREATEST)
  • 71A: 40-Across ending, for short (TKO)
Bullets:
  • 8A: Henry Fielding title heroine (AMELIA) — not a work I know. Filled it in easily from crosses.
  • 32A: Statesman of old Athens (SOLON) — wanted a generic answer here before realizing it was a specific, very familiar name.
  • 45A: Brewer Bernhard (STROH) — wanted something else here at first and can't remember what. STEIN? That's ... beery.
  • 8D: Pop group whose first Top 40 album was, appropriately, "Arrival" (ABBA) — they appear to have "arrived" via some sort of transparent helicraft.


  • 9D: Musical equipment popularized in the 1960s (MOOGS) — synthesizers. Not terribly attractive in the plural.
  • 25D: 164-foot-tall movie star (GODZILLA) — Wow, that's a pretty specific height! How the hell did anyone get a ruler (w/ American measuring units) on him!?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

93 comments:

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

that is the easiest NYT Friday puzzle I have ever done

Evan 12:24 AM  

You're absolutely right, Rex. I destroyed my Friday record by more than 8 minutes (14:27). Felt like a Thursday that happened to run on a Friday. Rarely do I recall seeing themed Friday puzzles, and certainly none quite as easy as this one. Only thing that tripped me up was the N crossing SOLON and NCR.

Huge number of 3-letter words in this one, too, which makes the theme seem less than fresh and exciting to me.

Evan 12:28 AM  

Also, before I even saw the rest of the puzzle, when I had the first four letters of 3-Down filled I started instinctively writing out PHILADELPHIA. Figured that maybe 40-Across had to do with the Declaration of Independence, or something historic like that. But nope, as soon as the fifth letter I came in, there was the PHILIPPINES.

D_Blackwell 12:41 AM  

I destroyed my best Friday time, machined-gunned Ashen, and all his friends too.

The theme was okay, but where were the vaunted testers when decisions were made; and maybe a little too much ping pong on the schedule also.

chefwen 12:49 AM  

Last Friday I finished the puzzle sans Google because I was on an airplane, was pretty happy about that feat. Finished this one also without Google because, like Rex stated, it was easy. I don't time, but holy cracker, whipped right through it and I abhor boxing.

Two write-overs ASST at 4A over abbr and ANGLO over Ashen at 24A, that one was easily fixed when good 'ol GODZILLA loomed over me.
Momentarily forgot Frazier's nickname so that southwest corner was my last fill.

capcha - furicke - what Toby's fur is after he has rolled on a dead chicken.

Anonymous 1:21 AM  

Hmm. Who knew that boxing aficianados could construct crossword puzzles? I guess we all have our own niches.
Ugly captcha "theape"
Sorry for the Anonymous, Google won't let me log in.

Robin

Harry 1:28 AM  

Well, I suppose it had to run on 10/1 for it to make sense, but it was pretty easy Friday. Hell, I've had Tuesday's that took me longer, but I'm not complaining. Enjoyable for the theme, but not much else to talk about.

andrezilla michaels 2:00 AM  

47D I needed a "second shot" and then a third and then a fourth!
I had RETort/REpeat/REbuKE...
so the Scrabbly-ness of the J in JOE finally led me to PAJAMA...
and THAT's why the Z, X, J in puzzles are so important!
The Z in GODZILLA was the most fun letter in the puzzle.

Joho and I made an entire puzzle about dances and I've never heard of the "Alligator"! I racked (wracked?) my brain trying to come up with the word for a little shirt logo that had 5 letters...

Also tried PHILadelphi...and once I realized it was the Philippines, I didn't know if it was one L or two or how many Ps...I still sort of don't know.

So even tho it was easy, in relative terms (except the whole 47D fiasco) I wish the other fill was less sportsy...there are musical ways to clue BOPPER, for example...tho I don't know what could be done for IRONHEAD.

I know I'm a broken record, but I really do feel weary of the testerone level of the themes and fill of so many crosswords.

(Maybe it's bec I just came out of the Facebook movie, where all the women were relegated to the status of groupies or interns who the boys use to snort cocaine off of! And the Harvard women were being judged just by "hot or not". Sad 30 years ago, sad now.)

A- - - E - C - - - - M- - - A - L- 2:10 AM  

ps Re: yesterday's discussion of --CKOFF...today I had A--HOLE

jae 2:12 AM  

More like a Wed. but an OK tribute puzzle. I too started to fill in PHILIA. Also tried SOCKEYE. Other than those I filled in the rest about as fast as I could print.

@andrea -- One musical way is the guy who went down with Buddy Holly.

Anonymous 2:39 AM  

No thrilla in vanilla....

George NYC 2:44 AM  

I am so tired of references to this fight.

George NYC 2:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben 4:04 AM  

@Harry makes a nice point; this had to run on 10/1 for anniversary purposes.

But a Wednesday puzzle published on the wrong day is still a Wednesday puzzle. This thing took me 5:40, which as Rex suggests is so much faster than my usual Friday range that it doesn't even count. It's like a 600-foot home run hit in Denver with an aluminum bat. This thing was so much easier than yesterday's Thursday puzzle by the Hon. Victor Fleming; it's a nice puzzle but a waste of a Friday. After last Saturday's powder puff, here's hoping for a brutal Bob Klahn puzzle tomorrow.

Superman vs. Ali seems unfair somehow. Who fights the winner, Godzilla?

fikink 5:15 AM  

I know nothing of boxing but found this puzzle boringly easy. And, if I am remembering this constructor correctly, I am surprised at the puzzle's simplicity.

Wish BOPPER had been clued with "The Big," and didn't care for AGR or ARMHOLE.

@Andrea, re: the testosterone level, I hear you. But, fret not, Sistah, the domination is a Potemkin village. The circus is in town.

Smitty 7:19 AM  

Float like a butterfly..sting like a bee.

Great shot of the two TITANS, @Rex. He certainly was THE GREATEST.

KING KONG had the same number of letters as GODZILLA, is his weight, height, hair color listed anywhere?

r.alphbunker 7:19 AM  

This was a NYT puzzle published on a Friday. It was not a Friday puzzle. My solve time was a Beamonesque improvement on my previous best but I consider it to be wind-aided.

mmorgan 8:00 AM  

Pleasant enough, with juxtapositions of AGITATOR and SOOTHER (and SENATOR and IRONHEAD ;-).

Like several others, I'm not a boxing fan -- I really know nothing about it -- but I found (most of) this to be remarkably easy for a Friday. I guess just enough of this has seeped into the common knowledge level of popular culture (though I had no idea of the date -- even the year -- of that fight).

But I did have trouble in the extreme SW. I guessed that 62D had to be THE (oops), and then I got SPEED... and then I just sat there and stared for a long, long time.

Briefly had OAF for APE but I knew it had to be ELMER. Never heard of MOONEYES but they sound cool!

Could do without ARMHOLE (does anybody use that term?). But I loved the "Block Letters?" clue!

David L 8:02 AM  

Now I'm worried that it's not really Friday and I still have two more days to go before the weekend starts.

Also, Ali-Frazier was 35 years ago, people! Is it really something we have to commemorate? It was just a boxing match, fer gosh sake. (You're right, I don't care for boxing. Ugly business. Fortunately the Ryder cup will keep me occupied this weekend, assuming it really is the weekend...)

edith b 8:08 AM  

When I was a little girl, My father and I would go to the local theater to watch championship fights on "closed circuit TV." I remember seeing one of the Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johanneson fights that way.

To someone who is a boxing fan, this was a snap. I liked this puzzle but what happened to my Friday NYTimes puzzle? This was not it.

SethG 8:15 AM  

Almost 50% improvement over my fastest Friday. Asterisked indeed.

Fine puzzle for what it was, too bad the anniversary is what it was. Unfortunately, tomorrow is Peanuts' 60th birthday, and next Friday Matt Damon and Soon-Yi Previn both turn 40.

Kurt 8:39 AM  

What @Ben said ... in spades. Apparently, late last night while I was sleeping, somebody sneaked a Wednesday puzzle into my Friday NYT.

Enjoy the weekend.

KooKooKaChoo 8:41 AM  

Who knew Philippines was so hard to spell?

O...that video was so not passing my breakfast test...

My anti-baseball, soccer-playing 11yo liked that a homerun hitter was the wimpy "bopper." Sounded about right to him.

So easy, but "Bugger of Bugs" made it OK w/ me.

joho 8:41 AM  

This puzzle turned me into a speed solver for a few moments of glory.
I'm hoping tomorrow I'll be right back at my snail's pace, struggling to the finish line.

I wished ALP couldn't have been boxing related like its opposite corner, TKO.

@andrezilla michaels ... I said the same thing, "Alligator?!" that's a dance?!!!

KooKooKaChoo 8:42 AM  

...and yes, I mean the ABBA video.

Parshutr 8:51 AM  

@JOHO...ALP is boxing-related; Primo Carnera, heavyweight champ in the 30s, was known as the Ambling Alp (he was about 6'7" tall.

smk4 8:56 AM  

This one had one BIG error by me - filling in 40A with the answer for 7D; who the Heck Ramsey calls it the ALIFRAZIERFIGHT? Other than that, my usual mid-week typos and brain-freezes kept me from getting past the 90% mark before I had to get to work. Otherwise, solid Wed. puzzle I thought

Parshutr 9:00 AM  

@smitty...King Kong was a model, actually 3'6" tall. (as cited in "The Stunt Man). Shot to appear 18ft tall on Skull Island, 24 feet tall climbing skyscrapers in NYC.

shrub5 9:00 AM  

Had The Louisville _I_ for Ali's nickname and instinctively put in KID. Forgot about the LIP. I'm stifling an anti-BOXING rant right now so as not to throw a wet blanket on this puzzle.

Put LENA before LENI for director Riefenstahl -- this compounded my trouble at 5D) March alternatives and made SIT INS the last answer completed.

SOLON (statesman of old Athens) was a gimme. The Sacramento Solons were a minor league baseball team here off and on over the years. Name derived from Sacramento's status as the law-making capital of CA. Hard to call this current bunch of lawmakers 'statesmen.' Dysfunctional is the kindest word I can muster.

Got MOONEYES via the crosses and it took me awhile to see it as MOON EYES -- briefly thought it was a one word three syllable genus name like Mooneyes silverensis.

Enjoyed the easy speedy solve!

Tinbeni 9:03 AM  

For Monday (obviously I got back into Mr.Peabody's "Way-Back Machine" ... again!) this was a FUN solve.

Nothing TIMID about these two fighter's.

I have a feelin' tomorrow is going to kick-butt.

PSS: Liked that it got my job right, TIN TANS.

jesser 9:24 AM  

What you gals and guys said. Easy.

But I managed to make it harder than necessary by confidently mis-entering Ashen at 24A and then (confidently) plopping down anchovie at 21D off the terminal n in Ashen. It Took A While to make that mess rise up off the page. My puzzle has a writeover scar that looks like open-heart surgery!

I was an exchange student in the PHILIPPINES in 1976/77, so had no trouble spelling the name of that gorgeous (and troubled) archipelago.

I hate boxing. It's barbaric. It pains me that son Daniel loves it to the point of paying upwards of $50 to order pay-per-view bouts on a semi-regular basis. In all other ways he's a good kid.

MOOGS, SOOTHER and ARMHOLE just look ha-ha funny to me this morning, so I'll be grinnin' for a while yet. Of course, the looming weekend helps with that!

Pinessed! (When you get so angry at someone that you go climb a conifer to calm down.) -- jesser

Bob Kerfuffle 9:39 AM  

Had to smile when, after filling in four out of five crosses, I discovered that a Pony or an alligator was a DANCE!

But, 38 D, EFS? Isn't that usually spelled EFFS?

dk 9:40 AM  

Please GODZILLA, come back and eat ABBA.

Favorite Ali quote: It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

Sports puzzles are usually epic fails, but given my pugilistic past... Dad thought as I was/am a smart ass I would need to defend myself, interestingly after 4 years of Golden Gloves no one ever tried to bully me again. And, the only fight I provoked was when some jerk tried to take liberties with my sister (Jerry, I still know where you sleep).

Loved the puzzle and my time.

*** (3 Stars)

dk 9:48 AM  

Dance Reference

OldCarFudd 9:57 AM  

There is a parallel universe in which the Manila fight occurred 9/28/75, and this was a smooth, medium-difficulty Tuesday puzzle. Due to a previously-undetected wormhole in the space-time continuum, the puzzle leaked into our universe on the wrong day.

Date before dele. Otherwise, a stroll in the park.

Lindsay 10:03 AM  

Figured out immediately that this was about boxing. But neither "Rumble in the Jungle" nor "Thrilla in Manilla" fit, the latter because I can't spell "Manila," which left me trying to dredge other fights out of my brain. Unsuccessfully. Turns out I can't spell "Philippines" either.

archaeoprof 10:20 AM  

My, but aren't we grumpy today.

Even if you don't like boxing, this is a 25th anniversary puzzle for a very important event in the world of sports.

And what's so bad about an easy Friday now and then?

JaxInL.A. 10:31 AM  

And here i thought that halving my usual Friday time and not having to Google anything (did have to ask hubby once) was due to hanging out with the experts here, and my increasing xword skills. Sigh.

I still don't get 46A: ONER???? How is that a humdinger? And shouldn't 50A have been clued as an abbreviation?

Loved GODZILLA in same puzzle as THRILLA and MANILA.

Susan 10:33 AM  

I am forced to watch way more NASCAR than I want to (which is to say I am occasionally in the room when my husband is watching NASCAR) and I have never heard Dale Earnhardt referred to as IRON HEAD. He was The INTIMIDATOR, which is the second awesomest sports nickname I know (Eddy Mercxx was "the cannibal" -- that's my favorite).

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

Boxing has never been the same since Ali. Sugar Ray Leonard kept me interested for awhile but now I can't seem to muster any enthusism.
I, too, remember paying to see matches live at the local theater.
Sockeyes for mooneyes slowed me down and the NE corner was the only sticky part.
Thrilla, Manila, Godzilla all together amused me.
Ironhead is the stupidest nickname I have ever heard.

Rex Parker 10:43 AM  

@archaeoprof,

My, but aren't we miscounting today ... ;)

rp

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

@JaxinL.A. - Re: 50 A: My (paper) Merriam-Webster says, "dele - to delete esp. from typeset matter" is a stand-alone word, not an abbreviation, dating to 1705.

archaeoprof 10:52 AM  

@Rex: won't someone please invent a spell-checker that catches mistakes like that??

Bob Kerfuffle 10:56 AM  

@JaxinL.A. - Re: 46 A: Had to go to an Oxford Dictionary to find, "oner - a remarkable person or thing" (no usage dates given in this dictionary.)

mitchs 11:09 AM  

Can I go off topic and recommend BEQ's latest (Thursday's) for those who may not normally venture there and who missed their usual Friday challenge?

It's rated Medium, but it's still a challenge and a good example of the fun to be had over there.

bto 11:09 AM  

To the tune of Takin' Care Of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive:

The Alligator

You start clapping at chest level to the beats of the music - clap, clap, clapclapclap.

Then slap on the tops of your thighs to the same rhythm.

Then bang on the floor to the same rhythm.

Then lay on your stomach on the floor and bang on it to the same rhythm.

Then shake your right leg in the air to the same rhythm.

Then shake all of your limbs in the air.

Then shake your left leg in the air.

Then work your way back up - banging on the floor while laying, while kneeling, slapping your thighs, clapping.

Repeat until the song is finished.

P>G>

Badir 11:14 AM  

Well, I only broke my Friday record by 3 seconds, so I don't feel I need an asterisk. :) I agree, though, that it felt just like a Thursday puzzle, and it was a roughly typical Thursday time for me. I just had a bit of trouble at the end with 47-down, where I started with RETurn and went through RETApE to RETAKE. SMOpIN' JOE?!

Lookup Guy 11:17 AM  

•From 1954 through 1975, Godzilla was featured as standing 167 feet tall (50 meters).
•In the 1984 sequel, the new Godzilla stood an impressive 267 feet (80 meters).
•From 1992 through 1995, the new Godzilla towers a whopping 334 feet (100 meters) into the sky. [Several Sources]

Ulrich 11:20 AM  

I'm with Harry et al: This is a tribute puzzle published on the anniversary of the event it celebrates, which happens to be a Friday--big fu**** deal! You Friday masochists: calm down, relax, enjoy the fall--the world doesn't come to an end if you miss your expected torture for one week. The rest of us, who have learned to roll with the punches, are relishing the reprieve, especially when the architecture of the theme answers is as rock-solid as this one's is.

Well, I too, had to give up Philadelphia early on and then latched onto the Philippines, from where it was smooth sailing all the way, except that I never had heard of the Louisville Lip and put in KID initially, like others

Mel Ott 11:22 AM  

Like a lot of others in this conversation I look forward to more of a challenge on Fridays.

Nevertheless this is a really nice puzzle. Who couldn't love GODZILLA right next to THRILLA IN MANILA?

Clues from baseball and auto racing are a bit of overkill for the non-sports folks among us. It could have been worse. The Steelers had a running back named IRONHEAD a few years ago. NEHEMIAH could have been the Olympic hurdler. ELMER could have been any number of athletes including one of the bums curently in the Mets' bullpen. TITANs and SENATORS have been (and are) professional team names. Etc. etc. etc.

chaos1 11:37 AM  

Wow. As someone who has always been an aficionado of the " Sweet Science ", I naturally blitzed this puzzle. Were I more proficient at typing, my time would have been in the Tuesday range. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get the typical Friday workout, but it was a fun puzzle.

@Susan: You are indeed correct, and beat me to the "Punch", pun intended. Only real Nascar nuts know that one of Dale Earnhardt's nicknames was IRONHEAD. The great masses knew/know him as the INTIMIDATOR.

That kind of correlates to this puzzle. It is true that one of Ali 's nicknames was The "Louisville Lip." I think that was given to him earlier in his career, when he still went by his given name of Cassius Clay. When he achieved dominance in the boxing world, he christened himself "The Greatest !" I think that sobriquet is far and away more recognized.

Ergo, my caveat here, is as follows. Should fellow cruciverbalists who are not NASCAR fans, every see another clue relating to Dale Earnhardt SR. and his nickname, don't freak out when IRONHEAD doesn't fit. Just Sayin ?

joho 12:03 PM  

@Parshutr ... thank you, it makes total sense that Mr. Kahn would have thought that through and I'm happy to know he did.

@bto ... thank you, too, that's hilarious! I wish you could demonstrate!

hazel 12:10 PM  

I'm happy to find myself in the rather erudite company of @DK, @archaeoprof, and @Ulrich! Though not a boxing fan, I thought the construction impressive, and enjoyed solving it.

And my time was significantly faster than my average - so I'll go kayaking 30 minutes early - I'm OK with that.

tut tut

And Go Braves!!

Nick 12:15 PM  

This was easy for me not because I know boxing, but because they've used at least 2 or 3 of the same theme answers in a puzzle before. I don't remember exactly when, but it wasn't that long ago.

CoffeeLvr 1:07 PM  

There were so many ways to err at 47D. Thinking tennis, I had RETurn for a while.

PuzzleNut 1:15 PM  

What everyone else has been saying.
NEHEMIAH was unknown, but easily solved through crosses.
I would have been a lot faster if I hadn't stopped so often thinking the puzzle MUST be harder than it appeared. In the end, it was just EASY.

JenCT 1:18 PM  

Yes, this was easy - as @Ulrich said, so what?

@Andrezilla: Please tell me you're working on a (mostly) female-themed puzzle!

Wow, I've been reading the comments from the last few days - I missed all the excitement! Seems we have some trolls...(is that the right word?)...

Sparky 1:18 PM  

@bto: please tell me you made that up. I never even could learn the Macarena. lol. I was puzzled by the puzzle having a theme but what the hey? Roll with the punches. AMELIA came in with the downs. Same goes for much of the rest. Tomorrow may be a lulu.

archaeoprof 1:59 PM  

@Two Ponies: I agree with you about boxing since Ali. Vince Lombardi once said Ali would have made a great linebacker. Is that where most of Ali's potential successors are today -- playing linebacker or safety in the NFL?

3 and out...

Doc John 2:08 PM  

Darn! I was hoping I'd come here to find that Rex didn't even finish it today. I also hoped blowing through this puzzle meant I was getting better in my solving abilities. Alas, neither was true. Definitely not a Friday puzzle. Oh well, onward to the weekend.
Favorite word: SOLON. That's the last name of many family members.
I always knew that Earnhart was called The Intimidator (and there are 2 coasters named after him). I guess IRONHEAD would work as a coaster name, too!

chefbea 2:11 PM  

What an easy puzzle!!! Loved it and nary a google. First time ever I finished a Friday puzzle without help.

On to Saturday

andrea the thrilla is gone michaels 2:16 PM  

just realized MANILA is ALI 'NAM backwards...didn't he have a whole thing about refusing to go to Vietnam?

And I will try and remember ALI, MANILA and PHILIPPINES all have but one L. GODZILLA has two, but he's tall!

@JenCT
As I said, we had one about wedding dances but it was rejected... Not necessarily a girl theme, but just something not about people blooding each other senselessly...
yes, boxing may be an "Art" blah blah blah but look at poor beautiful Ali now. It's so sad to see what damage he has sustained. For what?

Moonchild 2:33 PM  

Yes, easy but the calendar dictated the day it had to run so I just let it fly.
Boxing has a primal savage beauty.
Humans must have their gladiators.
Before I got the theme I had the _Pines of Philipines and thought it might be a golf course.
Moogs are instruments just like pianos are. I wouldn't clue a piano as equipment.
I remember the first time I heard a Moog synthesizer.
It was magic to my teenaged ears.

Sharpie48 2:46 PM  

I've never finished a Friday puzzle in such a short time--31 minutes with just 3 Googles! I know it is probably rated a "Super-Easy" but still.

I am usually working on the Friday puzzle off and on for hours.

Thanks to Rex and everyone for this blog--learning a lot.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

THE GREATEST Dance, rRs, Alp, eFT, DeO, Dele, mooGs, dEo, sRtas....

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

@anonymous 3:04pm

I wanted to do the same thing with THEGREATEST and some combination of answers giving 'conscientious objector', but alas there is only 1 C in the entire puzzle.

RT

sanfranman59 4:13 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 12:38, 26:17, 0.48, 1%, Easy ... as in Wednesday puzzle easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 6:36, 12:48, 0.52, 1%, ditto

This one is so far out of the norm for a Friday puzzle that I'm tempted to exclude it from my calculations. I beat my previous Friday best time by almost 4 minutes (10:07 vs 13:49). I understand that Will wanted to publish this on the anniversary of the bout, but the cluing could have at least been a little more Friday-like. Sheesh!

your average blank 5:02 PM  

ali fights made many people boxing fans in those days....it was good entertainment. An easy friday keeps us dummies in the game. Thanks mr kahn for the tribute.

your average blank 5:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:21 PM  

Wow, you're awfully cranky lately.

Another Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Wow, you're contributing a lot to our discussion lately.

OldCarFudd 5:48 PM  

There's a story, possibly apocryphal, that when Ali was called up for his draft pre-induction exam, he flunked the written part. When accused of malingering, his response was: "I never said I was the smartest. I just said I was the greatest!" I use that line often, with attribution, when I do something particularly stupid.

ArtLvr 7:24 PM  

@OldCarfudd -- Cute story, but actually Ali claimed exemption from the draft on religious grounds... the claim was challenged but upheld.

What's more interesting to the history-minded is that he was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and his father (Sr.) was said to be descended from the slaves of the famous Clay family of Kentucky.

These included Henry Clay, 1777-1852, three times Speaker of the House, US Senator (deemed one of the five greatest by JFK), and Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams. He became a slave-holder when he inherited two slaves at the age of four, but in adult public life worked to curb the spread of slavery. He was one of the major figures in negotiating the Compromise of 1850, staving off the Civil War for more than a decade,

His second cousin, the original Cassius Marcellus Clay, 1810-1903, was even more of a fighter for emancipation. He was a friend and supporter of Lincoln and served him as Minister to Russia, where he witnessed the Tsar's emancipation edict. Recalled to the US to accept a commission as a major general from Lincoln, Clay publicly refused to accept it unless Lincoln would sign a similar emancipation proclamation. Lincoln sent Clay to Kentucky to assess the mood for emancipation there and in the other border states. Following Clay's return, Lincoln issued the Proclamation.

In a way, it's too bad Ali gave up his illustrious birth name in 1963, though it was understandable at the time!

∑;)

edith b 7:30 PM  

While he was still Cassius Clay and before he won the championship, he was known as the Louisville Lip because of his penchant for making comments to the press that were, well, provacative.

This was in the pre-Howard Cosell days.

mmorgan 7:44 PM  

@dk

You get the line of the day: "Please GODZILLA, come back and eat ABBA."

I'd kill to have thought of that. (But I felt it, deeply, in my soul.)

Ellipses Man . . . . 7:45 PM  

What a freak show! The seventies, I mean. Ferdinand Marcos climbing into the boxing ring to congratulate Ali, Mailer and Plimpton and CBGB's and Max's Kansas City and the "malaise speech" where the word malaise was never actually said and the Meathead, and who could forget "the Fonz"? Meanwhile, a young Joe Piscopo was teaching the world to laugh. The Philippines has really been hit hard with the new paperless society--all those artisan folder-makers out of work.

Matthew G. 8:06 PM  

Was a stunningly easy Friday everywhere but in the NW. I have never heard of LENI Riefenstahl (though after looking her up I recall learning about there being such director linked with Hitler, just not her name) or NEHEMIAH, and just couldn't remember the spelling of AMANA despite pounding my head trying to think of every refrigerator I've ever seen.

With those three crossing, I sadly finished with two incorrect squares (where the consonants in AmAnA are).

Oh well. Can't win em all.

chefbea 8:10 PM  

Just met Bonnie and Brett who lurk here. Maybe they will join us!!!

expobill 8:44 PM  

when did they measure godzilla?

OldCarFudd 8:51 PM  

ArtLvr - Thank you for the clarification. It's still a good story, even (especially?) if unburdened by truth! I hadn't known how strongly the historical Clays had fought slavery. I wonder whether Ali knew it, given the fervor with which he abandoned his "slave name" of Cassius Clay. Maybe he, too, liked a story unburdened by truth. It's also interesting that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed only the slaves in the states then in rebellion, over which he had no de facto control at the time. Slaves in states that hadn't seceded weren't included in the Proclamation.

Lookup Guy 9:08 PM  

@expobill

Actually, Godzilla's height was specified in each movie's orders to the "Special Effects" department.

Godzilla's height had to be proportional to the (known) height of the buildings (and other things) he was destroying, as per the screenplay.

As buildings got taller over the years, so did Godzilla san.

Sfingi 9:12 PM  

Solving this was very strange. I wasn't anywhere near a computer today, so I did it w/o Googling. And it was all sports.
Bit by bit I got the info by crosses.
FIGHT, BOXING, thought it might be a Rocky movie, especially with PHIL. Reoplaced Hugh with EPPS and saw PHILIPINES. Then a nickname, then THRILLAINMANILA which I vaguely remembered. Then ALI. At the point that I had 2 nicknames and was really confused since they wanted a third, I asked another nursing home visitor, who said Frazier was called SMOKIN JOE and ALI had many nicknames, before and after his Clay days. Done!
I'm a sports retard.
Got IRONHEAD from crosses, too.

I remember someone who owned a MOOG synthesizer - pronounced Mohgh. I assume it's a Dutch name. It was weird.

@Andrea - Thanx - I'll skip the movie which I was seriously thinking of seeing. I was a programmer at 7 companies in the '60s and '80s. When I became a prison teacher, I had to take courses in How to Deal with Difficult People, which were generally B--LS--T, but one time they asked if anyone had to deal with people who had poor hygiene. I was the only one who had that experience - male engineers and programmers. Everyone was flabbergasted. Engineers on crack have got to be the worst. Half of them are autistic, anyway.

@Kartoffel - those (annoying) words are crosswordese.

ileen 9:47 PM  

This was the easiest Friday OF ALL TIME [/Ali impression]. I've never even finished a Friday before, and my time was under 19:00. Thanks for the confidence booster.

Ulrich 10:03 PM  

@Sfingi: Who ("whom" for the fuzzbudgets--not that I know how to spell them) are you calling "Kartoffel" (potato)? Having been a programmer myself, I tried to "Find" said person in today's comments--to no avail...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:18 PM  

@Ulrich - Not for the first time, @Sfingi is referring to me (Bob Kerfuffle) as Kartoffel. Just a little joke, I hope.

My two comments addressed to @JaxinL.A. were only intended to be helpful to someone who may not be familiar with some crosswordese (dele and oner, specifically

Sfingi 10:41 PM  

@Yes; I like potatoes; don't know what a Kerfuffle is. Just a joke.

sanfranman59 11:23 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 7:23, 6:58, 1.06, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:16, 8:55, 1.15, 87%, Challenging
Wed 9:45, 11:39, 0.84, 17%, Easy
Thu 17:57, 19:07, 0.94, 44%, Medium
Fri 12:47, 26:17, 0.49, 1%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:43, 1.07, 83%, Challenging
Tue 5:08, 4:36, 1.12, 85%, Challenging
Wed 4:54, 5:45, 0.85, 11%, Easy
Thu 8:41, 9:10, 0.95, 49%, Medium
Fri 6:36, 12:48, 0.52, 1%, Easy

JaxInL.A. 3:56 AM  

@Sir Kerfuffle: thanks very much. I have seen ONER before and couldn't find it in my dictionaries. How dense am I for not looking it up in online dictionaries? Thanks, too, for giving me the thrill of a two-way conversation in this learned spot. Very fun.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

You bet I bested my Friday attempts: I actually completed it! Thought at first there was a baseball theme but got it once I figured 16A. The fact that I finished, in one sitting, made me enjoy it.

NotalwaysrightBill 4:53 PM  

Syndicated puzzler. Got most of the puzzle pretty easily.

Except. Exercising my AGITATOR "March alternatives":SITINS option, I'm floatin' like a butterfly in me NAPPY with my head stuck inextricably in my PAJAMA ARMHOLE (nice IMAGE, eh?), hopin' SMOKIN' Joe or Da LIP (or some other TITAN) don't wanna knock my block off to add to the indecipherable "Block Letters" [SPF]. Wikipedia says SPF has something to do with spamming: didn't understand a lick of it.

Wasn't thrilled with "Balm" as the clue for SOOTHER (some healing balms are actually irritants, like the beeswax, olive oil and cayenne pepper muscle heaterupper I make is).

Fav word of the day: LARGESSE.

Waxy in Montreal 5:38 PM  

@NotalwaysrightBill, SPF is the sun protection factor (i.e., BLOCK) in suntan lotions.

My WTF was OPALINE. Eventually got it from the crosses but never heard of the word before. TKO'ed me.

Dirigonzo 7:09 PM  

Late word from 5 weeks back: Saw Louiville LIP, knew it was ALI and the theme answers filled themselves in from there. Then it was just a matter completing the short fill and letting the crosses solve the unknowns (NEHEMIAH and IRONHEAD, to name two) for me.

I thought this puzzle might be hard for those unfamiliar with ALI but apparently it wasn't hard for anyone!

Loved the history lesson re Cassius Clay - thank you @ArtLvr.

NotalwaysrightBill 6:55 PM  

Captcha: demenses. Latin fer my condition? Ebonics term fer smartypantses?

Couldn't have been too hard if I finished it without help.

I'll take my LEMONTART with , uh, uh, uh . . .

Milk. Thank you.

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