Foster girl / FRI 12-31-10 / Serbian city Constantine Great / Gentille one of song / Humbugs of world author 1865 / Boxer who wrote Reach

Friday, December 31, 2010

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Medium


Hi, everybody. PuzzleGirl here with your very last puzzle of the year. What an honor! And it's only because Rex is off drunk somewhere. Allegedly. I mean, that's what I heard, but there really hasn't been any confirmation, so I probably shouldn't say anything. You know what? Let's just forget I said anything. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason that Rex isn't here today and I'm relatively certain it has nothing to do with alcohol. So let's just move on. Sorry about that.

Hey, look everybody! It's Caleb! Remember how yesterday Andrea was talking about how everybody has a crush on Caleb? Well that's the truth. And if you met him, you'd know why. He's completely adorable. Now, he's got a filthy mouth on him, that's for sure. But other than that? Completely. Adorable. Oh and then there was that one time he used RECARVE in a puzzle. Boy, that was ghastly! But did I mention he's completely adorable? Would you like to see a picture? I know you would.

So here's the thing about this puzzle. There is some awesome, awesome stuff in here. Then there's some stuff that really stinks. So let's just really quickly get this out of the way: NIS is the 25A: Serbian city where Constantine the Great was born. Huh. Interesting? Memorable? Fun? No. ACTA is clued as 32D: Court proceedings. Whatever. S-STARS? IPSA? (Don't try to act like you didn't try "ipso" first.) QUA? ORRS? AITCH? I could definitely do without any of that stuff. Actually QUA wasn't that bad for me because it tricked me: I tried both "per" and "ala" before it finally clicked into place. But that's all I'm going to say about the bad stuff because there's a lot more good stuff to talk about. Like …

STICK IT TO THE MAN (35A: Be revolting). Is that awesome or what? And BROMANCE? Will let's the young kids get away with all that hip slang. And that's a good thing! Plus, how crazy does LAILA ALI look in the grid with all her Ls and As and whatnot (3D: Boxer who wrote "Reach!")? I also like the dueling melt downs of WIGS (10D: Freaks (out)) and LOSE IT (34D: Freak). Everybody chill! Let's just run some bullets and get out of here.


  • 1A: One likely to die on the road? (JALOPY). I know Rex was just talking about the Archie comics here the other day. Did someone in the Archie Gang drive a JALOPY? Because I always associate the word JALOPY with Archie. Or I bet it was Jughead. He seems like he would drive a JALOPY, right?
  • 7A: What something may go down to (THE WIRE). I've heard so many great things about this show. (Yes, I know it's not clued as the show, but I'm just going off on a tangent, try to keep up.) But I've never seen it! Then all of a sudden one day, I'm looking at something on the Internet machine about it and I realize that the brother of a friend of mine was actually on the show. Now I definitely need to see it. Good thing we finally signed up for Netflix last week. What year is it again?
  • 14A: Foster girl (JEANIE). This is a reference to Stephen Foster's famous song "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair." But you knew that.
  • 15A: Poster girl (TEEN IDOL). The most popular poster girl here at the PuzzleHouse is Taylor Swift. In fact, when I got home from work today, PuzzleDaughter and her friend immediately started explaining to me about how they had just been discussing how cool it would be if Taylor Swift came to PuzzleDaughter's birthday party because then maybe they could cut off a little piece of her hair and keep it as a souvenir. Also if she went to sleep, they could take a video of her sleeping. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
  • 41A: San Francisco's Museo ___ Americano (ITALO). Thought we were looking for Spanish here, but I couldn't get Latino, Chicano, OR Mexicano to fit.
  • 47A: Big hit (POW).

  • 57A: "The Humbugs of the World" author, 1865 (P. T. BARNUM). Oh yeah, I liked the two guys with the two initials. J. J. ABRAMS (1D: Creator of TV's "Alias") looks especially cool in the grid with that J collision that seems like it should be totally wrong until you realize what's going on.
  • 63A: 1974 hit with Spanish lyrics (ERES TU). I really wanted this to be "Oye Como Va" for some reason. Oh right, because it's a kick-ass song.

  • 65A: The Allman Brothers Band, e.g. (SEXTET). Okay, one more video, but that's it.

  • 38D: "Gentille" one of song (ALOUETTE). Does this song make anyone else think of Ginger on Gilligan's Island? Just me? Fair enough.
That's it for me for now. I might be back in a couple days. You just really never know who's gonna show up when Rex is … indisposed.

Love, PuzzleGirl

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter] [or PuzzleGirl]


Bassetwrangler 12:45 AM  

Okay, I solved the puzzle but why is the AAA an organization with towers rather than the FAA?

Noam D. Elkies 12:50 AM  

Because here "towers" is used trickily for "those who tow". You may have seen a similar trick with "flower" used to clue a river, etc.


foodie 12:51 AM  

Puzzle Girl, that was hilarious! And I agree, there was a lot of awsomeness, peppered with some yuck.
That NW corner did me in, but other stuff came easily enough.

Good way to end the year. I hope this next one is great to all the denizens of Rexville.

@Bassetwrangler: They tow cars...

That Dude Your Sister Used to Date, the One into Sourdough 12:55 AM  

The Wire is hugely overrated: stock characters, wooden acting, undeveloped relationships, dull pacing, scenes with SYMBOLISM flashing in neon. It's like an episode of "Law and Order" dragged out over a few dozen episodes but not as well-written. I made it through the first season and the first five or six episodes of the second before calling bullshit.

I thought the puzzle was pretty tough--a solid Friday.

I had two wrong letters, going for DROP instead of STOP BY and knowing an S-Star from a D-Star or my Greek alphabet, not being a Greek astronomer.

You sure whipped out this write-up quick, Puzzle Chica. Nicely done.

Tower as in tower of cars, bassetwrangler. Sometimes I call AAA but don't go far enough into the phone book and get some guy trying to put me on the spiritual road to recovery instead.

Bassetwrangler 1:07 AM  

Thanks Naom and other responders. Doh!

r.alphbunker 1:24 AM  

False starts included HARDH, GADGET, ESSE, VIA, TALIAALI, ALA, and PIGS but they were easy to let go of. SAMI sounds like a language that Dr Seuss made up.

chefwen 1:44 AM  

Young Caleb can usually back me into a corner whimpering like a little girl, but my husband told me to "buck up" and we ended up solving this one, not without a struggle, but successfully. Started out quickly in the northeast but soon fell apart in the southwest with BROMANCE (didn't see the movie). At 42D I had call on, stop in, and finally DROP BY. PHEW! At least, now I know that I can tame the terror that I feel when I see his byline.
I'm finally beginning to zoom into his wavelength.

retired_chemist 1:53 AM  

A good puzzle. Medium indeed. And, no, I didn't try IPSO first - knew the phrase of interest, (res ipsa loquitur).

Several writeovers: ASTIR <= ALIVE, Museo NORTEamericano, BOL <= CHI (Chile, not Chicago), SEXTET <=SEPTET, HAVE TO <= MADE TO, YES I SEE <= NOW I SEE, WIDGET <= DOODAD, and more. But that is what makes a Friday a Friday IMO - several plausible answers that fit, so you are trying out the alternatives instead of picking he low-hanging fruit and waiting for crosses to tell you.

Finished with one error - thought about, and rejected, RNA replication. No indeed, that isn't a good way to describe what eukaryotes do AFAIK. But viruses do replicate their RNA. So I was wrong.

Loved STICK IT TO THE MAN, BROMANCE, and OBLATE M&Ms. Didn't hate anything. SAMI and NIS came close though, and would have made a hate list if the crosses weren't straightforward. But they were....

Well done, Caleb.

jae 2:45 AM  

Pretty much what Puzzle Girl said. I got hung up with STINK... for STICK... (and yes I had IPSO) . I also tried TIMEANDAGAIN which of course didn't fit. Med seems about right.

I skip M-W 4:21 AM  

I visited the Italo-American Museum in SF on Thursday (great photos of Piemonte workers and factories over the 20th c.) and came home to this puzzle. Nice. Thought answer for 29 down would have to do with catnip, somehow, but got hip in time.

andrea oblate michaels 5:20 AM  

Puzzle Girl!!!!! SO funny! So breezy! SO right on! So you!!!!

Yes, that LAILAALI is one freaky fun fill! So much to love.
Caleb puzzle + Angela write-up, a match made in heaven!

Even tho I want to be you if/when I grow up, I respectfully wildly disagree about the rating, esp after yesterday's bear.
ie Started with JALOPY after hedgehog wouldn't fit and never looked back.
Actually felt the puzzle was easy-peasy, (except for totally falling for the fAA thing), dNA briefly for RNA and 3 different attempts for STOPBY (comeBY, drOPBY...)
but, really, what else could 12D be besides ROADIE, or the greyhound thing besides HARE, etc. Where was the clever cluing/misdirect there?

Only one letter was hard. The S in SSTARS? Does it never end?

(OK, I had rAU till I doublechecked the grid and I don't know the word OBLATE but totally gettable)

Along with all the lively language that Puzzle Girl covered, my favorite thing was that it's a pangram, save for a Z!!!!!!!! Ha!
I'll bet that's on purpose...
Clever little boy..."I'll put in JJABRAMS, QUA, SEXTET and then...and Z!!!!!!!!!!"

(altho perhaps the black squares between 20-21 and 48-49 seem to form Zs)

@I skip M-W
Cannot believe you actually were at the Museo ITALO Americano today! I mean, I thought NOBODY would know about's so tiny.

Will end the year on a bittersweet note. My oldest friend from college, Andre Burke, whose bday would have been this past week, is the person playing the haunting violin in the closing music credits of THEWIRE. Haven't been able to bring myself to watch just yet.

imsdave 6:54 AM  

Not only did I try IPSO, I followed it up with IPSE. Fun easyish puzzle. I wonder if I'm the only one who tried STICKINONESCRAW? SUSANNA wouldn't fit for JEANIE.

Have a great day all. See you next year.

glimmerglass 8:13 AM  

"Down to the wire" is a metaphor from horse racing. If something is not decided until the last second, it went "down to the wire." The Wire" in the TV show is not a finish line.

Smitty 8:39 AM  

Medium Challenging for me.
Challenging because it was hard. Medium because I finished...
BROMANCE and UEY were nicely clued. SWAT not so much.
I liked TURINO better than TURBO for musle car...and
CAVE TO was a better answer for "be coerced". But in the end I do what I HAVE TO to see the smiley pencil guy...
@Noam thanks for the "Towers" explanation. (I wrote in AAA but didn't know why)
@Puzzlegirl thanks for the great write up.
Anyone else notice Teen IDOL crossed with IDLING?

joho 8:46 AM  

@PuzzleGirl ... you made my morning! You honestly and hilariously brought up the stinkers and STARS of today's puzzle which I found surprisingly easy for a Friday. The stuff I didn't know was very gettable.

I had to call AAA a month or so ago and when they asked, "Are you in safe place?" I'm was embarrassed to say, "Yes, I'm in my driveway." I won't go into how I hung up my Mini on the stone ledge.

It was nice ending the year without a struggle: thank you, Caleb.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

@Nate from yesterday - thanks. I must have been having a senior moment over JAPESAVOWARNO.

ArtLvr 8:51 AM  

Maybe I gave up too soon last night, but doubt it would have helped to persevere. MULAN, LAILA ALI and J J ABRAMS just aren't in my vocabulary, and I thought Jodie rather than JEANNIE (neither spelling fit). Also, 22A RNA's definition is definitely erroneous -- or too much of a stretch, anyway! Thus the NW eluded me, though I had JALOPY, AAA and PIES.

The rest wasn't an 'AITCH' of a lot better, but doable despite NIS-SAMI-IPSA etc. I had a Gadget for WIDGET but fixed that okay.

I guess this one wasn't much of a POW (Big hit) for me, but I'll look forward to Caleb's next puzzle.


@ Noam D.: my favorite -er trick clue remains Number, meaning something that Numbs. Groan.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Who else had "GEATESTBANDEVER" for 65 across? I had to double-up on some squares, but I was still positive I was right.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

(gReatestbandever)... jeesh

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

What a way to end a year; a super puzzle from Caleb and a review for the ages from Puzzle Girl.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Wow, what a writeup! Was there a STICK IT TO THE MAN hdden in it? Rex should get drunk more often?!

After reading the posting times above I'm beginning to think puzzle solvers suffer from insomnia.

Youse guys are all too schmart for me, as this wss a little too tricky and challenging, but no complaints for a Friday, just some new stuff to absorb, which, as Carl Spackler once said, is nice.

Happy New Year to all....

Go Bears (there is a QB named Caleb on Da Bears)

PS. Part of my problem might have been I couldn't get Cindy Lauffer out of my head while doing this.

mitchs 9:12 AM  

NW was the last to fall, had to change DNA to RNA and really wanted some kind of word for comedian at the top.

What Puzzle Girl said so hysterically.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Also Jodie Foster played jeanie in 'foxes'

Leslie 9:29 AM  

I'm laughing a lot this morning, both at fill like STICK IT TO THE MAN, BROMANCE, and UEY, and at the great write-up.

@Anonymous 9:12: Yes, I so wanted "Foster girl" to somehow be JODIE.

Signed, "heess" (the sound of a deflating Spanish tire)

pauer 9:33 AM  

Super puzzle by Caleb and a thoroughly entertaining write-up by PuzzleGirl: what's not to love?

"Alias" is a show that my sweetie and I watched when we first started dating, so JJABRAMS was a gimme off the bat. "Barnum" is one of my favorite shows, too, with lots of terrific music by Cy Coleman. My biggest hang-up in the grid was trying STINKEDTOTHEMAX. D'oh!

The free monthly puzzle on my website is posted, too, for those interested (
It's a collaboration with BEQ (who has also posted it on his site). Oh, and there's only a month left to participate in my latest Puzzlefest (a crossword contest with prizes). You can sign up via Paypal at

Happy New Year's Eve to all.

David L 10:28 AM  

SAUCE may stick to your ribs? Are we talking about sauce = booze (appropriate for this evening) or just regular sauce? In either case, I don't get it. Anyone?

Rex Parker 10:31 AM  

Usually I can do Caleb themelesses in 6-9 minutes (wavelength thing), but this took me 11-something, so Med-Chall for me. Granted, I was, as PG says, drunk (not true), but the bigger problem was wrong answers.

A NEW LOW for THE WIRE — that is my fav. wrong answer, mainly because I thought A NEW LOW was great, and I was preparing to praise Caleb for it. Rare that a wrong answer is fantastic and original. I also had IPSO and had no idea what JEANIE and Foster had to do with each other. I'm pretty sure Caleb will tell you that THE WIRE was orig. clued as a TV show. I really wanted TIME AFTER TIME to be clue as a Cyndi Lauper hit, but then I'd have nailed it. Infelicities have been pointed out. NIS is my lis favorite (is that how it's pronounced?), w/ SSTARS a close second. Fun end-of-year stuff.

Special new team write-up for your New Year. I'm back (for real) on Monday.

It's in the 70s here in FLA. Finally.

Happy Day,


Rex Parker 10:31 AM  


Bob Kerfuffle 10:31 AM  

I saw TIMEAFTERTIME cascading down the center of the puzzle as topical reference to tonight's drop of the Waterford crystal ball in Times Square.

Happy New Year to all!

(Yes, I fell for IPSO.)

(@David L - BBQ sauce on your ribs.)

OldCarFudd 10:32 AM  

Fun puzzle, and Puzzle Girl's write-up was right up.

Hand up for ipso. What the hell is a bromance? (My spell checker wants to know, too.)

In the old Archie comics, Archie drove a beat-up Model T Ford. Remember, this was back when you could get a running Model T for 10 bucks. Sometime much later, I think there was an episode in which everyone suddenly realized that Archie's T had become a collector's item, and that having him drive it wasn't a good joke any more.

I can't think of a famous barbequer 10:33 AM  

@David L - I'm thinking barbeque sauce sticks to your spare ribs.

retired_chemist 10:38 AM  

The blogosphere appears to have eaten my post of last night. Bah.

Liked it. Lots of possibilities for alternate answers, which adds to the fun of Fri/Sat. DOODAD for WIDGET, NOW I SEE for YES I SEE, CHI for BOL (that would be Chile, not Chicago), MADE TO for HAVE TO, Museo NORTEamericano for ITALO, and more.

Somehow forgot ipso facto and homed in on res ipsa loquitur.

Stuck with DNA for RNA, which I couldn’t shake. Thought about RNA, thought through what little I know about Molecular Biology, and decided RNA didn’t work that way. So I finished with an error and a WTF for 1D. But with viruses , RNA DOES work that way. So, my bad. Question to the biologists on this blog: does “RNA replication” have any meaning for eukaryotes?

Well done, Caleb.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

PuzzleGirl, you rock! Can't wait for Rex to go off on another of his toots so that you can come back.

Proud of myself as a geezerette to know "bromance."

David L 10:42 AM  

@RP, Bob K. Ican't think...: Thanks, but then it seems like a totally vague clue. Sauces can be light as well as heavy, and things can stick to your ribs without the assistance of any kind of sauce (bangers and mash...). There's nothing about "stick to your ribs" that makes me think of sauce in particular.

retired_chemist 10:44 AM  

Forgot to thank Caleb for the way cool fill: STICK IT TO THE MAN, BROMANCE, OBLATE, etc., plus the P. T. BARNUM title.

balto 10:46 AM  

Of course I'm not objective, being a Baltimore native, but I think of The Wire as one of the great shows ever. It was almost like I knew a lot of the characters -- and David Simon captured a lot of what's wrong with Baltimore (and I would guess a lot of other cities not on the upside of things).

It's funny that one poster here with a handle too long to repeat would compare it to Law and Order -- since that just happens to be the one procedural drama that I cannot stand watching for even a few minutes -- and my complaints about that show are the same -- I always feel like someone's slipped me a Valium when I see it.

But it was successful, so I assumed it was my blueberry muffin -- a popular favorite, but just not my flavor.

JayWalker 10:56 AM  

I loved this puzzle and the difficulty I had solving it. BUT - can we all agree to just stop using that damn song "Eres Tu"? Why? Because there is another song (or the same one written a different way - I don't know and I REALLY DON'T CARE) - "Eris Tu." How is one supposed to know the difference? WHY is one supposed to know the difference? Who cares? Puzzle makers: Stop using this stupid clue!!!

I can't think of a famous barbequer 10:57 AM  

@David - Perhaps if you thought of it as sauce that sticks to the ribs you're cooking, it would make more sense. Tricky? - sure. Thankfully.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Very fun solve!
I can't believe I got the NW since I don't know that J.J. person or the Eddie Murphy movie.
I liked the clever clues such as debunked. Stick it to the man and hanging a uey were great.
I knew a woman with a pet hamster named Mr. Aitch or I might have had more trouble with that one.
Lots of a- fill. Astir, arisen, abets, and aflame. Hmmm. With Caleb at the wheel something is bound to be afoot.
Thanks Puzzle Girl and Caleb for a memorable end to 2010.
I hope Starbucks is open tomorrow or I won't have a puzzle.

David L 11:18 AM  

@I can't think: D'oh! Now I get it...

R. McGeddon 11:22 AM  

Shamefully DNF the NW. Didn't know JJABRAMS, so with DNA thought it must be JJ AND somethingMS (had nOr(way) for the tin exporting country - it's close to the UK, right?, which used to produce a lot of tin, I think). Also assumed the boxer would be some Italian, with the I at the end of the name. Ugh!

In any case, PG's write-up makes up for everything. Along with ACM's yesterday. Happy New Year, great community.

Glitch 11:27 AM  


As I recall, "RNA replication" (actually "transcription") does occur in eukaryotes.

At least it did many years ago, when I last took a bio course ;)


Mel Ott 11:33 AM  

STICK IT TO THE MAN is terrific, but I really wanted 35A "Be revolting" to be STINK UP THE JOINT.

Vega 11:37 AM  

Thing of beauty. Every last bit of it -- the puzzle, the write-up, the comments. To echo others, perfect way to end the year.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

ABB is actually a septet - 7 members - rather than a sextet. 3 drummers, 2 guitars, a bass and Gregg. Solved anyway since "vep" isn't a word, but as a fan I had to set the record straight.

jyp0625 11:49 AM  

Very difficult Friday puzzle. Needed all the google help I could get almost from the beginning. I had OBLONG for OBLATE, GADGET for WIDGET, ONFIRE for AFLAME, HARD H for AITCH.
With those errors I naturally could not finish the puzzle and had to look at REX blog.
I learned of JEANIE, JJ ABRAMS and PT BARNUM, but I am sure I will forget them by tomorrow.
There were also some cute clues for JALOPY, ARISEN, THE WIRE, TEPEES and AAA.
Not the most enjoyable puzzle if I cannot finish it even with google.

mmorgan 12:15 PM  

Some answers didn't feel quite right, as if they needed a "perhaps" in the clue.

And I had a bunch of goofs -- TEE for TAU (48A), YESIrEE at 64A, IPSe at 36D, and wrongly guessed SEpTET for the Allman Bros (who I know of only vaguely, at best). COULD NOT see the A in the cross of S_UCE and _ITCH. And the NW was a disaster -- just too many Naticks for me.

The Foster/Poster Girl matchup is clever. And "Towers" -- ouch!!!!

Thanks for the STOMP, Caleb. IMSOGLAD you decided to STICKITTOTHEMAN.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

I fall for the "er" thing every time, and I always laugh to myself when I finally get it. This is the first time I have actually finished a Friday puzzle without cheating, so yes I liked it. Okay. I cheated once on Laila.

Van55 12:16 PM  

Very enjoyable for me. So much more so than yesterday's.


DNF on account of knowing that the Allmans are a SEPTET and assuming that VEP is just a word I don't know.

Jim 12:24 PM  

Good puzzle, no doubt. Too much crosswordese and/or misdirection in key places for me to finish w/o a little help. Specifically, QUA, IPSA and ACTA freed things up. Thanks, PuzzleGirl, for putting those near the top so nothing else was spoiled.

Speaking of PG and her comments, I'm sure similar requests have been made of Taylor Swift by creepy old men, and were probably not well-received. NW should have opened things up for me, but I had no doubt YEomen was correct, and that kept me from getting into the middle, etc etc. I still think that's a better answer.

And though I could see Caleb was going for AERONAUT (eventually), it made me laugh. What an old-timey feel: like the 50's filmstrip in Mrs Krabapple's class wherein the announcer talks about the virtue of America's 'Astro-men', racing to get to the moon.

Criticizing 'The Wire' for its lack of character development is like criticizing Brett Favre for his modesty. Of all the criticisms..loved 'The Wire'. That being said, I bailed on Mad Men when Peggy gave up her kid and started befriending the priest...etc.

chefbea 12:26 PM  

lots of googling. DNF what is aitch??? No time to read the posts. Gotta get those ducks going.

Happy New Year to all

treedweller 12:30 PM  

I almost got burned by the SSTAR, since, like others, I had drOPBY, but rAU caught my eye and revealed the lie. I always hate those *STAR answers; they make me cry.

Apparently, I also am not the only person to check the clue for 14A, go to enter it, see "Jodie" doesn't fit, move on, come back to 14A, try to put in Jodie, etc. (and I never knew who JEANIE was-thx puzzlegirl). Must have been the last thing I got. Even though I've heard JJABRAMS' name before, I couldn't quite remember it (Addams was my guess, partly because of dNA, until I finally gave up and googled it). Also had no idea for BOL, which did not help.

@Old Car Fudd BROMANCE is when a two straight guys start hanging out together so much that it looks like a romance. see urban dictionary.

@Two Ponies "Mulan" had a character voiced by Murphy, but it was really a Disney movie. Better learn it--it will probably be back soon.

TimJim 12:34 PM  

Like artlvr I was defeated by the NW. Never heard of Abrams, boxer, etc. Glad I didn't waste more time trying to figure them out. Other than that, liked it!

treedweller 12:34 PM  

forgot to mention, going back to the rivers of yesterday: today in the local paper's crappy syndicated puzzle, OUSE was an answer, clued almost exactly as in the nyt puzzle before it. I still hesitated till I had a cross or two, but got it easily.

@chefbea aitch is how you spell out "H".

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

hated debunked loved debugged.

PuzzleGirl 1:06 PM  

Totally forgot to mention that the grid's subliminal message is that we need to go play more Tetris. Obviously.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

@chefbea - say AITCH outloud and you will know it when you hear it....

PS. It is a real (ugly) word....

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Confessions of an Anonymouse (it’s ok for an anonymous to call himself anonymouse):

ENO my first entry – that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

NW a complete mystery and finished that last when I realized my car was 1A.

Had AJODIE before putting in JEANIE without realizing the connection (bad for a Hillie, eh, Acme?).

JJ ABRAMS simply materialized out of gray matter soaked in bourbon. No other explanation.

AERONAUT came after several failed attempts at AIR PILOT and whatever pathetic answer came to mind.

Never heard of THE WIRE (not sure that says something for me or against me).

TEEN IDOL came after T_EN…L, like I was playing Wheel of Fortune.

IMSOGLAD I got it because I was getting real tired of the NE.

TIME AFTER TIME was almost a gimme, because it had to parallel OVER AND OVER and AGAIN AND AGAIN couldn’t work because of the AND. Besides, Father Time was lurking.


AFLAME sucks but the only logical answer.

TEPEES was obvious but I never know if it’s TEEPE, TEEPEE or TEPEE.

NO WAY OUT is a movie title several times over.

MAPQUEST came to me a 3 in the morning while sucking on a popsicle.

The SE was a bore. MADE TO before HAVE TO. SEXTET because it was the only number that fit. Had NORTE AMERICANO before I realized the Italians were all over San Fran and founded Bank of America so ITALO followed. And ERES TU you!

The SW was another slog.

Never heard of BROMANCE but what the hell.


Wanted Sonja Heine (whom 10 year old Caleb probably never heard of) but settled for ORRS (a different kind of ice legend).

PT BARNUM is better known for “there’s a sucker born every minute” (have to wonder if there was a mini theme with STICK IT TO THE MAN) but he lived in the clue timeframe.

AIRYH before AITCH and only knew it when I said it.

YES I SEE led me back to that cat where I had I MEOW before IM HIP.

Happy New Year, Nate/AnonB and everyone else....

Stan 2:05 PM  

We're still grinning at P.G.'s write-up and many of the comments. @foodie's "a lot of awesomeness, peppered with some yuck" is difficult to improve upon. By the way, we shopped for New Year's Eve dinner yesterday at Maine's brand new Trader Joe's (do you know this chain, Andrea?) Our selection: baby back ribs in barbecue SAUCE.

Thanks, Caleb.

mitchs 2:08 PM  

BTW, I was all set to rail against SWAT as clued: sacrifice fly. I mean, wouldn't that have to be sacrifice THE fly? Sometimes I'm too toopid for words.

VERY cool clue. Joni Mitchell would congratulate Caleb for looking at SWAT from both sides now.

Matthew G. 2:10 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Loved it. Wish there were more like it.

I can't remember the last puzzle where there were such a high percentage of many praiseworthy clues and answers. BROMANCE. {Be revolting} for STICKITTOTHEMAN. {Sacrifice fly?} for SWAT made my wife and I both laugh out loud. {One likely to die on the road} for JALOPY. {What something may go down to} for THEWIRE. And so many more.

All I can say is that Caleb and I are on the same wavelength cruciverbally. That's not to say I found this easy, because I certainly didn't, but I never stopped wanting to finish because the clues were just. that. good. This is the kind of construction that keeps me doing puzzles.

Finished in 40 minutes with two wrong squares. I had "drOP BY," "dSTARS," and "rAU." Couldn't spot that error despite lots of searching after I finished, since DROP BY seemed good, I have no idea of the difference between S STARS and D STARS, and I thought maybe RAU was a character in some book by a guy named Cross. I was convinced my error lay in "AITCH" somewhere, but no. Medium-Challenging, I say.

chefbea 2:13 PM  

@stan love trader joe's. Miss it here in wilmington. Have to drive to Raleigh.

Thanks all for the aitch explanation

Matthew G. 2:15 PM  

Oh, two other things:

(1) Love that SARTRE and NOWAYOUT (cf. "No Exit") are both in the grid.

(2) Went straight for IPSA without trying IPSO. Must be the lawyer in me.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Someone explain ARISEN! I don't get this at all.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

When you get out of your bunk bed you have arisen....

JaneW 3:05 PM  

ARISEN = got out of the bunk bed.

michael 3:28 PM  

Question about isla - Luzon:

Luzon is an island in the Philippines, once ruled by Spain but not since 1898. Spanish is not an official language of the Philippines as far as I know. Is it ok then to clue Luzon as an "isla"? Apparently there was a ship called isla de luzon but seems too obscure even for a Friday puzzle.

Or am I missing something?

william e emba 3:38 PM  

Yes, RNA replication goes on. In fact, many origin-of-life scenarios envision what is called "RNA World" as a key step on the way to life as we know it. This is because of the ability of RNA to both self-replicate and to catalyze.

I had trouble getting started, but once I got going, things fell together quite smoothly. Only real hitch was I had TBIRDS for the muscle cars (to be honest, I have no idea if they are) and was seriously thinking of SOB for "Cross character". And for the life of me, I couldn't think of a four-letter word for "mechanical rabbit".

And if I didn't have DEET in already, I would have seriously considered EBANO or IBANO or something. (Note that I'M HIP and I'M HEP both fit.)

JD 4:06 PM  

Significantly slowed down by trying ENGINE and then JUNKER at 1-Across. Not to mention the less defensible STICKINONESCRAW at 35-Across. Mainly though, I'm just mad because I seeded a puzzle with BROMANCE like a year ago and... never finished it. That's what I get for laziness...

Oh, and a great puzzle.

PlantieBea 4:49 PM  

Nice puzzle Caleb and funny write-up PuzzleGirl! I thought I was on pace for record solving time, but then I got stuck in the SW where I had to cheat to get P.T. Barnum. AITCH almost Had me, but I was rescued by the stick-to-the-ribs SAUCE.

Happy New Year, all. @Rex, you should get another beautiful Florida day tomorrow. I hope you're enjoying your stay and managing the crowd navigation if you're at the happiest place, filled to capacity once again.

mac 4:59 PM  

Great puzzle and great write-up! Medium-challenging for me, I also went the drop-by route and it took me too long to fix that area. Sami? What sort of language is that? Love the word bromance but hadn't heard it before. Had Targas for turbos, because they are my favorite muscle cars.

Yup, Cyndi Lauper was my earworm of the day. Talking about music: this morning I walked into the apt. and my husband was playing an Alman Brothers cd! Coincidences like that happen all the time, it seems. A few days ago I read the word "mermen" for the first time, later that day read "merman" in a book I'm reading, "Room".

Does anybody know what the source is of "stick it to the man"? I got it, but don't know wherefrom.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve, everybody!

Yes, Cyndi Lauper was my earworm of the day.

NATE 5:04 PM  

To Michael at 3:28

The Philippines were governed by
Spain for ca. 300 tyears. Still spoken by many.
See Google

Two Ponies 5:14 PM  

I came back to see if everyone enjoyed this. Glad that the answer is Yes.
@ Stan, Trader Joe's is good for dairy, eggs, produce, and some meats but their home label products suck.
They have the best tuna for cats.
Any time I am there I feel like I am surrounded by old people afraid of dying. They treat "organic" like it was a prescription.
For most of us the horse is already out of the barn.

imsdave 5:17 PM  

Thanks JD, for confirming that I wasn't the only one to try STICKINONESCRAW.

@Mac - Happy New Year, and you will be sorely missed at the Westport Library tournament.

I'm much happier with the Gilder/McCulloch original "Time After Time". Too lazy to search for a great jazz version of it, so I leave that to you.

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

"The Philippines were governed by
Spain for ca. 300 tyears. Still spoken by many.
See Google"

We've been rooting Spanish influence out of the Philippines for over 100 years. ISLA seems wrong to me also. All the top results seem to be for the ship. For me, without something more than "See Google.", it's a questionable clue.

Shamik 5:30 PM  

Yes, IS an ass kickin' song. Thanks for that video.

Knew I was in trouble with a Caleb Madison Friday: missed two squares and took a VERY long medium-challenging time. With, as PG said, a balance of great and guff. Well, maybe she didn't exactly say "great and guff."

ksquare 5:51 PM  

Tricky clue for 59D. I had NORth since Manhattan's avenues are said to run North-South. Actually they are slightly tilted to NNE. Also thought ENGINE likely to die on the road. Thus found puzzle a bit challenging, but enjoy comments as much as puzzle. Very enlightening and often funny.

babslesley 5:52 PM  

I love this site. My only question was about AAA, and voila it's the very first question on these comments. What is it they say? Great minds think alike?

babslesley 5:55 PM  

Oh no, don't listen to That Dude. "The Wire" is just about the best TV series EVER.

JaxInL.A. 5:58 PM  

Considering this is supposed to be a partial vacation for me, I am having a hard time reconciling myself to having very little time for puzzling this week, and even less for posting here. New home-stay student from China arrived Weds, sick kid today, work emergency, argh!

If I had had enough time I think I might have been able to crack this puzzle. I was quite tickled to see Caleb's byline today after his name appeared in the grid yesterday and Andrea put up that pic of him in the blog. Yesterday's photo seems much younger than today's, though.

I often have similar solving experiences to @SethG and @mmorgan (thanks for correcting my Spanish-I was VERY tired when I posted that night). Not today, though, as they both seem to have finished and I didn't. Defeated by that brown-haired girl and not enough time to stare at the grid. Much to like here, though, despite some very ugly fill already noted. LOVED PG's observations and the views of Puzzle Daughter and friend. I've got a 13-year-old who recently became much too wise to be so charmingly, well, charming, about someone she admires.

@Stan, you are in for a treat with your new TJs. Best prices on dried fruits and nuts of all kinds, great wine and cheese selection, and outstanding frozen and prepared foods at aforementioned great prices. They started next door in Pasadena, and I was mightily happy when they moved out of California and started sharing with the rest of the nation while I lived in Washington, D.C.

Speaking of Pasadena, Rose Parade tomorrow, everyone! It's just the best when you can see it in person and smell the floats go by. Plus, I'm a band geek going all the way back to middle school so the parade is nonstop fun for me.

Wishing only the best in 2011 to all fellow citizens (denizens?) of Rexville, including our fearless leader and his able partners (henchwomen?) ACME, PuzzleGirl and Orange (I know she didn't stand in this time around, but she's out there somewhere, right?). Blessings on you all.

JaxInL.A. 6:04 PM  

Oh, wanted to mention that after weeks of being able to see all or nearly all the videos on the blog, today my iPad wouldn't display a single one. I gather one was Cyndi Lauper, one Allman Bros, and what was the other?

I hate it when that happens, and wish that Apple and Adobe could just get over it and let Flash play on Apple products.

OldCarFudd 6:07 PM  

@Treedwellwer: Thank you. An interesting word I'd never heard before.

@william e emba: T-Birds are/were personal sporty cars, but never muscle cars.

@mac: My first pass was Targas, too!

Sami is the PC-preferred term for Lapps, the indigenous people who live in northern Scandinavia and herd reindeer. I didn't realize their language was related to Finnish, which I always thought had only two known relatives, Estonian and (distantly) Hungarian.

SethG 6:42 PM  

Jeanie? Jeanie.

I thought the cat would dig, then I thought he was hep. Entries entered with no crosses included AAA, ENO, WIGS, BROMANCE (having never heard of the movie), and ERES TU.

I like Caleb's puzzles.

Clark 7:03 PM  

I am going to vote for the 'Luzόn' clue. Whatever you may think about the colonial past, the word as written in the clue is Spanish. And that is true notwithstanding the fact that the word comes from a Tagalog word 'lusong'.

mmorgan 7:26 PM  

@JaxInL.A.: No, it was a DNF for me as well -- the NW just ate me up. But I "appreciated" the puzzle.

Happy Noo Yeer to all!

Stan 7:27 PM  

[Off-topic alert! Feel free to skip.]

Thanks for the offhand responses to my remark about Trader Joe's.

@chefbea: We also have to drive (to Portland). But that's a lot better than driving to the Massachusetts North Shore, a traffic nightmare.

@Two Ponies: The tuna catfood is *why we went*! They love it! One of the cats (Syd) gets medicinal eyedrops twice a day and needs a reward...

@Jax in L.A.: Yes -- prices way better on staples like wine and cheese.

But [back on topic] I really like @Matthew G's suggestion that NO WAY OUT relates to Sartre's "No Exit" ("Huis clos").

David 7:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
davko 7:47 PM  

Hats off to you, P.G., for thinking this one to be a "medium." I eventually finished, but only after grinding through 4 sessions, interrupted by lengthy impasses.

Congrats to J.J. Abrams for making it into the pantheon of crossword's T.V. luminaries, joining the ranks of regulars Desi Arnaz, James Arness, et al. He's probably better known for creating "Lost" than for "Alias," but what really helps is having those 2 well-placed vowels in a 6-letter surname.

Didn't like POW for big hit. I mean, isn't that just an expletive, best reserved for the pages of action comics?

mac 9:06 PM  

@Matthew G and Clark: I also think that is a wonderful feat of this puzzle!

Trader Joe's: looooove their frozen hors d'oeuvres and other foods. Recommend the chicken- and shrimp fried rice, the quinoa and butternut squash mixture, spinach triangles, lemongrass chicken stix, mushroom turnovers, chicken and tomatillo chili (add chickpeas), and the separately frozen chicken thighs and chicken breasts. I often buy flowers and plants there, but am not crazy about the fresh vegetables/fruits/meats/cheeses. Dried fruits and nuts are fine, as is the dairy.
Sorry about the detour.


retired_chemist 10:49 PM  

Anybody know whether the words Sami and Suomi (Finland's name for itself) are linguistically related?

Eric Halsey 1:34 AM  

Hey, I object to the Luzón clue/answer (isla?). I know that filippinos/filippinas often have Spanish surnames, but these islands haven't been a Spanish colony for more than a century. Nobody there speaks Spanish any more. Tagalog, Ilocano, English even. But not Spanish.

And Sacrifice fly? Even after I fill in SWAT from crossings, I don't get it. Is the clue actually supposed to be sacrifice a fly?

I agree with PuzzleGirl about IPSA. Which Latin phrase was that??

On the other hand, "It's often hung illegally" (UEY) really tickled me, as did Debugger? (DEET). Good old Off!


Eric Halsey 1:58 AM  

Ok, I give up. I have now read all the posts. Several people refer to how clever the SWAT clue is, without explaining. Explain, please!


mitchs 8:51 AM  

If anybody's still reading, swat = hitting a baseball, as in a sacrifice fly

Lurking, Just Behind You 1:11 PM  

Happy New Year from Syndication-Land!
I hope that 2011 is turning out swellegantly for everybody on the board.

I usually (heart) Caleb's grids, but this on left me a bit cold. Too much weak fill. Loved the write-up though.
On the other hand, I got BROMANCE with no crosses...pretty good for a fuddy like myself. And I had never seen it in a puzzle.

And by the way, for all you unfortunate souls trapped under untold feet of snow in the rest of the country, visit San Francisco next has been 65, sunny and beautiful here practically every day for the past 3 weeks. Great place/time for a vacation.

gpakga - what the drunk Rex says (if he indeed is/was a drinker)during the third quarter of the game on Sunday (GO PACK GO!!)

Tim 1:13 PM  

From SyndLand: I wanted it to be STINKSUPTHEJOINT and thus had a mess from which I couldn't recover in the center of the grid (even after getting TIMEAFTERTIME). Other problems included RHO for 48A (thinking of INRI as in crucifix) and NORTE for SF museum -- even though I live in the Bay Area!! Better get out to my museums a bit more. Also had DROPBY and thus guessed DCLASS for SSTARS -- and btw, there is no D Class of stars.

But as a newish solver, I was quite happy to get (the top) half of a Friday with no errors.

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