High priest in Aida / FRI 2-25-11 / 1988 animated action film set in 2019 Tokyo / Winner famous 1938 rematch / 16th-century assembly

Friday, February 25, 2011

Constructor: Henry Hook

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none


Word of the Day: "AKIRA" (37A: 1988 animated action film set in 2019 Tokyo) —

AKIRA (アキラ?) is a 1988 Japanese animated epic action film. It was written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who based it on his manga of the same name. The film is set in a futuristic and post-war city, Neo-Tokyo, in 2019. The film's plot focuses on Shotaro Kaneda, a biker gang member, as he tries to stop Tetsuo Shima from releasing Akira. While most of the character designs and basic settings were adapted from the original 2182-page manga epic, the restructured plot of the movie differs considerably from the print version, pruning much of the last half of the manga. The film became a hugely popular cult film and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation and film. (wikipedia)

• • •

Not sure how a puzzle with a word count this low (66) could be so lacking in longish, interesting fill. Big problem for me was finding the jokiness of the THE DIET OF WORMS (19A: 16th-century assembly) and IT'S FOR THE BIRDS (44A: Detractors' comment concering 19-Across?) pairing really corny. There's just not much else to admire here. I enjoyed the challenge — clues were devilishly clever at times — but the vast majority of answers are either ordinary or (less often) unpleasantly odd. The west felt particularly ugly to me, mostly because of the pile-up of regional answers. CANARSIE is going to be nuts to a non-New Yorker (32A: Brooklyn neighborhood), just as LAVAL (LA VAL?) will be to a non-Montrealer (23D: Montreal suburb), and AVILA ... well, that one I just inferred from knowing that there is a Saint Teresa of AVILA (34A: Kansas City university). But still, a Kansas City university? Does anyone outside K.C. know that? Elsewhere ... RAMFIS (7D: High priest in "Aida") is about the stupidest-looking name I've ever seen. I could Not believe it was right. I was delighted to see "AKIRA," which I love (in both its manga and anime forms), but I know most of you don't know it. No, you don't. I'm glad it's here, but it probably made the east a little hard for some folks.

I look at the rest of this grid and simply don't have much to say. Lucked out by knowing "AKIRA," ANITA (24D: Novelist Brookner), and IEOH straight off (though I spelled that last one IAOH for some reason) (44D: Architect ___ Ming Pei). Also saw right through the clue at 36D: Bench, for example (CATCHER), which ended up being a Big help in that nightmarish western region (got me PLATE, which helped me get both SCAMP and VALET ... ended up educatedly guessing that "A" at LAVAL / CANARSIE). Not many initial missteps, though did want ARID instead of SERE, and IDOL instead of ICON, and, oddly, TALC for CALM (confused my Beaufort scale with my Mohs scale). This puzzle was a worthy opponent, but not a particularly pretty one.

Bullets:
  • 1A: Spice mix used in Indian cuisine (MASALA) — I felt certain that I had whatever this answer was in my cupboard, and I literally sounded out the first part just to get some letters in the grid. I think the spice I was thinking of was GARAM MASALA. I just plunked the M and A down and waited to see what would happen...
  • 21A: Winner of a famous 1938 rematch (LOUIS) — as in Joe. This took me way too long. I had LOU-S before the answer ever dawned on me. Stupid RAMFIS. Rematch was against Max Schmeling.
  • 5D: 1970s pinup name (LONI) — as in Anderson. I don't remember her as a pinup, but I guess she was ... Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs are the pinups I remember best from that era.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

86 comments:

I skip M-W 1:37 AM  

Found it went quite speedily, except for east, didn't know Akira, but did Purim. Had plate, knew the name Bench from my childhood, so, even though no baseball follower, got that. I think Canarsie is well enough known from books and movies so as not to be strange. Knew there's a Laval Univ. near Montreal, never heard of Avila, but not hard to guess from crosses. Anemone was mentioned in yesterday's comments. Realise, I now realize, is the English spelling, hence convert to pounds rather than dollars.

Quite nice puzzle I thought, arexically.

Clark 2:32 AM  

I hardly ever get 1A right off (on Fri or Sat). But I had just made a pot of Mulligatawny (from Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible) when I sat down to do the puzzle. Garam MASALA is one of my favorite spices. And then I got ANEMONE out of nowhere. Somebody mentioned it the other day here in comments. Can't remember who or why.

LAVAL/AVILA was a Natick, but I got lucky. Didn't know AKIRA, but the crosses delivered it. Couldn't figure out the connection between CATCHER and Bench. Semi-puzzle partner said there was some famous catcher with that name, but then he mixed him up with Pete Rose -- so how believable was that? THE DIET OF WORMS just popped up out of nowhere.

Kind of a strange Friday all in all. But I like any Friday that I can finish.

jae 3:37 AM  

Top and bottom thirds were on the easy side, the middle was tough. Guessed right on AVILA/LAVAL. Did not know AKITA so it was nice the crosses worked out. I like Hook's puzzles and enjoy his bimonthly BGs so this one was a nice Sat. challenge for me. The AVILA/LAVAL cross seems to me to be a trademark of Hook's. I think he has a pattern of including at least one WTF per puzzle.

CaseAce 4:18 AM  

What with PEON the night before and now SLAVEANTS in this go-round, what's on the menu for tomorrow...serfs and menials? I'm beginning to feel like the YOKE is on us...I ONUSLY do!

Cyberia 5:45 AM  

Sigh - yesterday and today I felt the ethnocentricity of the puzzle quite keenly - AVILA, DANNON, LAVAL, W Irving as a clue for CRANE, Adar as a clue to PURIM and CANARSIE were new to me. Still puzzling over ICER for champagne bucket - is this ever used or just a nicely made up word for the puzzle? Also ADES? Is this meant to be short for lemonade? In the midst of this REALISE seemed like a lovely concession for us antipodeans (oh, and the Brits), so much so that I missed it. Funny that RUIN for bankruptcy came up on the Sydney Morning Herald puzzle in the past week, so that was a nice get. After about 25 of these (working back on old puzzles over the past week) I'm almost but not quite getting the hang of these. Learning a lot of new stuff doing this puzzle every day. But I will not be defeated!

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

Had some time before puzzle released and went back and did Friday puzzle from a year ago (love the easily accessible archive on the IPhone app)...anyway odd coincidence that Diet of Worms was a clue in that puzzle...made getting a foothold here much easier!

fikink 7:11 AM  

Absolutely dead on re: my personal Naticks, @Rex. And I deduced AVILA as you did, still having Teresa on my shelf right up there next to Hadewijch.

Thank you for providing a snippet of AKIRA, too, as I have been trying to become conversant on the whole manga/anime thing.

Saw the drought clue and considered the day of the week. Fridays give me SERE instead of ARID.

I don't remember LONI as a pinup either and I particularly do not care for "locale" being used when referring to a person, i.e., [CATCHER's] locale.

I seem to recall Henry Hook's Cryptics. Do I have that right? If so, it is probably why I enjoyed much of the clueing in this one.

@Clark, THE DIET OF WORMS just popped into my head also - is it something that has been in the news here in the Midwest? I was amazed it was the first thing I thought of, AND it fit, AND it was correct.

Smitty 7:14 AM  

@Rex, Your RAMFIS comment made me laugh. I had RAMSIS, just guessed at any RA-IS egyptian name I knew (even though it's spelled RAMSES)
Got LOUIS no problem - Problem is I spelled it LEWIS.

I'm from Brooklyn, so all I had to do was visualize every booster jacket I remember from high school. (ROCKAWAY has the same number of letters as CANARSIE)

Matthew G. 7:40 AM  

I absolutely detested RAMFIS, but otherwise disagree with Rex and thought this was a gem, mainly because of the great cluing. I was on some kind of wavelength with this one, conscious the entire time that it was a Challenging or Medium-Challenging puzzle but moving through it better than my own average Friday time. A lot of stuff just came to me, like ESTONIA, CANARSIE, and LAVAL (being a big geography buff who stares atavistically at maps was a big help today, especially with LAVAL).

For whatever reason, words jumped out at me today with significantly fewer crosses than usual required. I'll take it.

David L 7:40 AM  

Turned out to be easy for me. Knew LAVAL and CANARSIE somehow, didn't know AKIRA but HIKED was obvious. Puzzling new name for me was IEOH, which looks totally implausible even for a furriner, but the crosses meant it couldn't be anything else.

@Cyberia: ICER and ADES are indeed words that you will find in crosswords and nowhere else. ADE especially -- supposedly a generic term for lemonade, orangeade etc. Merriam-Webster 11th, which is my trusted guide on these matters, cites '-ade' as a suffix, not as a standalone word.

joho 8:28 AM  

Last section to fill was LAVAL/AVILA, like a hail Mary pass.
I was happy to finish with no errors.

I'm with Rex on this one.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

DNF here - NEC (not even close). Could someone explain 53A (Convert to pounds?)? It seems to be a British spelling, but...

nanpilla 9:14 AM  

If I rate this puzzle just by time, it has to be a easy-medium. However, I didn't know SO MANY things, that I can't figure out how I finished so quickly and correctly. I guess that is the sign of fair crossings and a couple of lucky guesses.

@moonchild - I guess I'm not the only one who was grateful for your discussion of anemones yesterday!

Alpine Joy 9:21 AM  

I think STRINGS is a pretty 7-across clue for 17-a "Conditions", but I guess I'll take it.

Had 58-a, Choice in bottled water, as DASANI for so long, it's still that way!

But then, I thought Radar O'Riley played Snoopy in "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown",only to find out it was Bill Hinnant.

Thanks, Rex

Bruce 9:28 AM  

There's a character called RAMFISt in the all male revue Gayida here in Los Vegas. Thirteen shows per week.

mmorgan 9:29 AM  

Some really nice/tough clues, but some real Naticks for me (but since I do know Natick, I'd personally rather call them RAMFISES).

My main disaster was the West, where I basically gave up (don't have the time for it today). Knew some kind of ANTS were involved, but I had TRASH for ERASE at 26D and had no idea as to ANITA, LAVAL, or AVILA.

Took me a while to change Emerald to AVOCADO at 16A.

Also was stuck with THE DIET OF WIEMS and WEEMS (for some reason!) for a long time.

Long time fan of I.M. Pei but never knew his actual name!

Lindsay 9:50 AM  

Lots of late-week times I struggle through a puzzle, then look at the finished grid and think "What was the trouble? It's all so obvious."

Today, I ground through the grid without any particular problem, then looked over the finished product and thought .... I don't know any of this stuff! Canarsie? Ieoh? Those words are not in my brain. Anywhere. But finished with no mistakes. Don't understand it.

I too was hung up on Cheryl Tiegs for 5D. When I was in high school my not-too-slim mother had the poster on our kitchen wall as a DIET motivater. Didn't work.

Look Up Guy 9:53 AM  

Another word for a Champagne bucket is an "icer." The word icer is used when referring to any ice bucket that is used to chill Champagne or wine before serving.

Source:
Worthpoint: Solid Brass Champagne Icer/Cooler
----
Definitions of ADE on the Web:

•fruit drink: a sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Anne 10:01 AM  

Very strange puzzle. It seemed harder than it actually turned out to be. This is the first Friday I've done in a long time with no mistakes. That was fun.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Sorry David L, but before you write "... and nowhere else", it would be wise to check some other dictionaries. For example, both ICER and ADE are listed as stand-alone words in Websters 3rd.

retired_chemist 10:08 AM  

@Rex, how can RAMFIS even be the stupidest-looking name in a puzzle containing IEOH? His name looks like he should have designed Old Macdonad's barn.

I liked this even though I finished with one error. All the obscurities mentioned by Rex and previous posters were subject to educated guesses, frequently by analogies, as y'all have said. Same path as others for LAVAL, AVILA, ANEMONE, AKIRA (a common enough Japanese name, so after several crosses it becomes odds-on), etc.

Favorite correct but wrong answer: COUNCIL OF TRENT @ 19A.

Second FCBW answer: ASHES TO Ashes @ 6D.

Error: NEREAD/COLOSSA @ 42D/55A. Hey, it's DRYAD and NAIAD, right? I'm sure classicists can tell us why this one is -ID and the others -AD. And COLOSSA then looked like a Latin plural to my tired eyes (lobbying in Austin all day yeaterday, did the puzzle at 10 PM.). I KNOW COLOSSUS is second,not third, declension, and the plural as given is correct, but I just didn't think it through and bought the -AD uncritically.

Thanks, Mr. Hook.

David L 10:26 AM  

@Look up guy, anonymous: Ok, I was being a little hyperbolic, but really, do people use ICER and ADE in the normal run of things? They're perfect examples of crosswordese. It's not that I object to them, just that if you're new to the puzz biz, you have to learn them and be aware of them.

The fact that one can find them in some dictionary, or somewhere on the Internet, doesn't cut much ICE, I don't think.

imsdave 10:39 AM  

@mmorgan - love the homonymic (if disgusting) ram feces. Doesn't qualify as a Natick due to the crosses being fair, but OMG, that looked weird in the grid.

CHIPS for CHAPS slowed me down a bit.

@jae - again, on the same page. My Natick was not AVILA/LAVAL, but in the same neighborhood - CANARSIE/LAVAL - sadly chose O for the fail. Should have remembered CANARSIE in retrospect, but I was so frustrated at that point I didn't take enough time with it.

Have a great weekend all - off to NYC for a theatre weekend with my (almost) 91 year-old dad. Seeing "Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark" more for the NASCAR element than anything else.

Moonchild 10:43 AM  

Wow, a malapop of the Nth degree!
I'm glad my aimless nattering yesterday about wind gods and
anemones actually was beneficial (for once).
Another strange puzzle.
Parts were easy and clever but that nasty collision of geography and proper names in the NorCal area stumped me.

JC66 10:49 AM  
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JC66 10:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 10:52 AM  

@retired_chemist

"IEOH? His name looks like he should have designed Old Macdonad's barn."

Funniest comment in awhile.

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

DNF for the first time in a long time but I'm not wasting energy kicking myself. I truly have never heard of the Brooklyn borough nor the college nor the author but hopefully it will be retained for next time.
I was on Mr. Hook's wavelength for most of it and wasn't tricked by the clever clues like the ones for modeled (my first entry) and magnetic. Others seemed too straightforward to be true like grieved and rejoice.
Today I learned I.M. Pei's full name. I've never seen it before.
The flower discussion yesterday got me going in the NW. Thanks.
Loni reminded me of the recent amusing aquatits.

dls 10:54 AM  

Huh. After getting my butt kicked for the last month or two on late-week puzzles marked by Rex as easy, I breezed through this one, except for the west. (I lived in Montreal for a few years, so LAVAL was a gimme, but the rest came very slowly until CANARSIE somehow popped into my head for _A__RSIE.)

Lost a few seconds in the SE after I quickly threw in IDOL, DECO, REJOICE, and BAJA, then filled in GALLON for the bottled water choice.

Mel Ott 11:08 AM  

Is there a convention about the inclusion or noninclusion of definite or indefinite articles in crossword answers, as in 19A? Should there be some way to signal that?

Thanks, @Moonchild. I too was helped by your comment from yesterday. I assume that Pasque is from the word for Easter in French or some other language, so I was looking for some kind of lily.

Stan 11:08 AM  

I liked a lot of this fill: MASALA, ANEMONE, AVOCADO, STRINGS (for conditions), MAGNETIC (for attractive), etc.

Did not care for SLAVE ANTS, and *really* didn't like DANNON for bottled water--yes I know it's Friday but this seems like misdirection for its own sake.

My NYC past got me CANARSIE immediately (good old 14th St.), and my current location made LAVAL familiar (here on the Maine seacoast, we like to think of ourselves as Canada's tropical province). This only shows that one person's Natick is another's.... Framingham?

quilter1 11:14 AM  

Chipped away until I finished then found an error, chips for CHAPS and I had never heard of either igita or AGITA.

Also had Dasani for a long time and my first thought at 57A was SHEETED but I didn't trust myself and left it blank until I had some crosses. I must trust my first thought.

As a Lutheran I enjoyed the corny DIET OF WORMS joke, though I had *at* instead of *of*. Going to have to look that one up.

mmorgan 11:19 AM  

@imsdave: Ha! I hadn't noticed the homonym.

Be careful of falling bodies at the show.

JaxInL.A. 11:20 AM  

Miraculously, like @Clark and @fikink, I popped in THE DIET OF WORMS with only two crosses.  About half of the puzzle just popped into my head like that. In the end, though, I got stuck in two spots and had HTG for Mr. Pei's first name and, humiliatingly, for PURIM.  I just agreed to help with the Purim festival at my temple. Why couldn't that pop into my head when I got the big Catholic conclave? Argh.  

For anyone who fell asleep that day in history class, the clue refers to the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire held at Worms, Germany, in 1521 that was made famous by Martin Luther’s appearance before it to respond to charges of heresy. (from Britannica).  

This grid looks very clean to me. Even though I could not finish on my own, it seemed mostly tough but fair. 

I'm surprised that we don't see MASALA in puzzles more. It has such a handy combo of letters. Do any of our chefs dabble in Indian food? Masala is one of my favorite dishes, though I have not tried to cook it.  I'll have to get a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook. I love her on TV and radio whenever I see her.

Loads of chuckles from posters here today. Thanks, @Stan, @mmorgan, @r_c, and all of you clever folks. And, of course, to Mr. Hook.

ultingi = @sfingi's cousin?

Howard B 11:23 AM  

AVILA was tough. Never read the manga, but AKIRA was the first Japanese animation I saw, on a friend's copied VHS tape sometime around 1990. Amazing stuff, blew me away at the time. Was my saving grace in this puzzle too.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

First Friday in my life that I got (nearly) all the way through with no use of the web. Very excited.

Glitch 11:58 AM  

@Mel Ott

Generally, the omission of an article that is normally part of a title or phrase is signaled by a "with ___" in the clue --- it would be "with the" in this case.

It has to be accounted for somewhere.

Also remember, there are conventions but no rules, especially later in the week ;)

.../Glitch

SethG 12:12 PM  

Yeah, IEOH is weird.

SE was super easy, NE was pretty easy, I had trouble in ever other sextant. Heck, I couldn't even think of VALET for a while, and "gentleman's personal gentleman" clearly didn't fit.

There aren't a lot of AxIxA words, so AVILA/ANITA/AKIRA/AGITA is a weird little symmetric subtheme.

treedweller 12:18 PM  

Crashed and burned after getting around half of this. Finally started cheating for pretty much everything in the middle--even stealing an answer was not opening up anything adjacent. For some reason, I expect that admission would delight Mr. Hook.

My favorite wrong answer was "Leif" (Garrett) for LONI. I was so proud of myself for not automatically assuming it was a woman . . .

Matthew G. 12:22 PM  

I lived for several years in a building designed by I.M. Pei (my college's original dormitories), and today is the first occasion on which I ever learned what the "I.M." stands for.

I've noticed in reading the comments after my first that I'm far from being the only person who thought this puzzle "felt" hard even though time-wise, it wasn't. To me, that's a sign of a satisfying solve, and the great Henry Hook deserves applause today.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

REX:
How would you sound out the
first part of masala, or anything,
if not literally? Or do I misread
you?
I find "literally" to be almost
universally misused.

Look Up Guy 12:43 PM  

@David L

As you wrote, "The fact that one can find them in some dictionary, or somewhere on the Internet, doesn't cut much ICE, I don't think."

Actually, I've heard ICER and ADE "in the real world" more than once, in addition to finding them on-line.

However, I don't claim they're commonly used, and perhaps you shouldn't go to the other extreme.

I don't usually interpret my findings, mearly post them as additional information on topics or unanswered questions that come up more than once in a day.

You also wrote "... It's not that I object to them, just that if you're new to the puzz biz, you have to learn them and be aware of them."

I hope my postings help.

Be correct before you correct 12:47 PM  

@Anon 12:34
From real, live dictionaries (specifically, items #3 and 4):

lit·er·al·ly   /ˈlɪtərəli/ Show Spelled
[lit-er-uh-lee] Show IPA

–adverb
1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually

So, what's the problem?

william e emba 1:13 PM  

This started out easy, got more difficult, and finishing proved somewhat challenging.

As for what was easy and what was not, well, I got LAVAL off the initial L, 19A off of two letters, I even have some of the AKIRA books from way back when, so that was an obvious guess, even though I don't think I've ever heard of the animation.

But to make things difficult, I had Short-sighted. I thought "becomes cracked" was snaps. So I thought maybe that maybe Nike has become a verb when I wasn't looking, and trail followers niked. I somehow managed to read something totally wrong for the 48D clue, resulting in fiji where BAJA belonged. So I thought the withdrawn one might be an EViCtEE.

But eventually I worked my way out. And to my surprise, on coming here I saw it was a Henry Hook puzzle. Now you tell me!

Regarding REALISE. When you cash in some asset, you are realizing its value, in American, and realising its value, in British. So if you convert gold into pounds, well, obviously we're talking British English, so REALISE is the answer.

The Latinate plural of colossus is COLOSSI. The plural of colosseum, if it had one, would be colossea. But there's just the one.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

To BE CORRECT at 12:47

How would "literally sound out"
be changed if "literally"were
omitted?
I find that "literally" is mostly used to stress what follows, not
as the dictionary definition which you cite.
Also, I can live without your
insulting identity of "BE CORRECT..."

Sparky 1:14 PM  

Almost made it. Two blank spaces and two question marks. CH-PS and RI-UP. Don't like RIGUP a whole lot. RAMFIS strange but OmWORMS doesn't work. Guessed LAVAL and AVILA. Put the I in for 44 down and waited for the rest. I'm happy to be this close on a Friday. Last couple of weeks, disasters. Have a good weekend.

David L 1:18 PM  

@Look Up Guy: I enjoy your contributions to the blog. I'm willing to believe you've heard 'icer' in real life, but 'ade'? I'm honestly surprised.

My preference is for puzzles that use familiar words, ingeniously clued. A tall order, to be sure. But I'm never going to like 'aroar,' to pick one egregious example, no matter how many crosswords or dictionaries I see it in.

And I need to tell myself, from time to time, they're just friggin' crosswords!

retired_chemist 1:20 PM  

@ Wm E - hand up for SNAPS also. Which led to NOSED @ 28D and a SNAFU in the mid-Atlantic for a while. This chain of errors is described on Amy's blog, since she made the same false starts.

Be correct.. 1:48 PM  

@Anon 1:14 "..sound out" would be less emphatic than ".. literally sound out", which is the point of adding an intensifier (literally) to the phrase. Would you have complained if he had said " .. actually sound out" vs ".. sound out", when he was just trying to emphasize that he sat there saying words out loud while searching for the answer to the clue?
You were pretty clearly putting Rex's usage in the 'nearly universally misused' category, which it isn't.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Here're some literal ades. Here's another. Here's another. It's a grocery category.

Glitch 2:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mmorgan 2:04 PM  

@Matthew G: Me too!!! (New College, no?)

[Sorry I couldn't find your email on your profile to contact you off-blog.]

PuzzleNut 2:21 PM  

Hard to add anything that hasn't been mentioned by Rex and others.
I love a tough puzzle that takes forever, but once you're done, you know everything is right. That was not the case today. IEOH, RAMFIS, NEREID, CANARSIE. Entirely from crosses and not a clue if any of them were right.
Had WORMS in place and could not figure out how to make the S in RAMSES work. Also wanted ASHES TO ASHES.
Like others, I know I. M. Pei from years of puzzles, but never had seen what the I.M. stood for. Can honestly say I have never met another IEOH and probably never will.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

To BE CORRECT at 1:14

I have a great idea. Let Rex
answer me instead of you. I don't
think I was being disrepectful
as you are being to me.
I asked him if I misread him,
and how he was using"literally".
I did not accuse him of being wrong

TimJim 2:33 PM  

Difficult. Did not succeed due to too much stuff (places, mostly) I just didn't know. Enjoyed most of it, but too many Naticks for my taste. Wanted MORONS for Newlywed Game contestants, but it was one letter too long.

retired_chemist 2:34 PM  

Popular early 20th century writer,columnist, and playwright. Answer: 12D

retired_chemist 2:35 PM  

oops, was supposed to add "and family."

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

now i see -pepsi plural, and slave ants (which i had but didn't know why.) didn't know iEoh and didn't realize realise, otherwise i did fine for a fri. i've stepped up to another plateau. was only recently just a wednesday kinda girl. thur and fri still a tad challenging but getting closer thanks to rex, you all and sticktoitivity.

Matthew G. 2:41 PM  

MMorgan:

Yes, that's correct! You can find my e-mail address in the new directory under the (entering) class of 1994. I believe I'm the only Matthew G. of that year.

Judge Roy Bean 2:43 PM  

Anonymous. The objection is overruled. The testimony of BE CORRECT shall stand and I find the defendant guilty. Bailiff, get a rope.

mmorgan 2:48 PM  

@MatthewG -- I don't have the Directory; my email is on my profile.

[VERY SORRY TO TAKE UP BLOG SPACE, FOLKS! PLEASE FORGIVE.]

Frances SC 2:49 PM  

To Rex... Speaking of Ramfis... a beautiful book your daughter might enjoy and which I have used with middle school gifted arts students is "Aida" as told by Leontyne Price and available through amazon.com.

Lurker0 3:07 PM  

Mel Ott 11:08 AM said...

... I assume that Pasque is from the word for Easter in French or some other language, so I was looking for some kind of lily...

"[S]ome other language" is Hebrew via Latin: פֶּסַח Pesach.

Pasqual, like Pasquale/Pascual/Pascal, derives from the Late Latin paschalis or pashalis, which means "relating to Easter" from Latin pascha ("Easter"), Greek Πάσχα, Aramaic pasḥā, in turn from the Hebrew pesach, which means "to be born on, or to be associated with, Passover day". Since the Hebrew holiday Passover coincides closely with the later Christian holiday of Easter, the Latin word came to be used for both occasions.

A better take on Pesach comes from the verb pasoch, meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that God "passed over" the houses of the Jews while slaying the firstborn of Egypt.

Modern scholarship relates to the adjective pisayach, meaning "lame," perhaps referring to a limping type of dance performed during the festival.

All these words are written with the same three consonants, so vocalization (and speculation) is optional.

Larry, the Hebrew pedant

Clark 3:30 PM  

@JaxInL.A. -- I have two Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks, and they are both excellent. Indian Cooking is a very accessible cookbook. Real Indian recipes; everything explained very clearly. One of my favorite cookbooks. Her Ultimate Curry Bible is new on my kitchen bookshelf. It is a great cookbook, but it also includes lots of interesting and useful history and other information about curry. And it goes beyond India. The subtitle of the book is "India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Trinidad, Guyana, Japan, USA." [Pushing the relevance to the puzzle, I know. But it was 1A.]

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

I dislike puzzles that create difficulty by incorporating far too many obscure trivia and pop culture based entries into the grid. This puzzle has just too many of them to get me really excited or disappointed that I did not finish it.
For my capabilities I did OK. Almost completed the right part of the puzzle. Had SET UP instead of RIG UP and did not know AKIRA.
The left part of the puzzle was another story. ANTH, IEOH are ugly. LONI, ANGELAS, LAVAL, ANITA, NEREID are distasteful entries.
With some googling I almost finished the other half. But the finished grid left me underwhelmed.
No shame in not finishing this one.

sanfranman59 3:57 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 23:52, 26:10, 0.91, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:43, 12:51, 0.99, 55%, Medium

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

What I liked most here are the exchanges between Be Correct and that other Anon. It would be useful if you two could do that eveyday, if for no other reason than for my enjoyment because I have reached a point in my life where my only joy is schadenfreude....

quilter1 4:23 PM  

See today's Zits comic strip for a funny commentary on "literally.

ANON 4:59 PM  

To Anonymous at 4:20

I am not suffering any misfortune.
BE CORRECT can speak for himself.

By the way, I used to be ANON B
and, before that,NATE. You didn't
think I could stay away, nor did
I, but I did.(I did send a contribution to Rex). I use the site if I can't finish a puzzle
and I skim the comments but don't
get aggravated as I used to. I just
have a pet peeve against "literally"

mac 5:06 PM  

Got it without mistakes, but it took a while.

Had some roadblocks, like Reims for Worms, snaps for chaps, short sleeved and also looking for some sort of Easter flower, but also some gimmes, like Anita Brookner, whose books I think I all have, colossi, Notre Dame and Canarsie.

Garam masala is, like curry powder, a mix of spices. The one I have right now has coriander, cumin seed, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, ginger, dill seed and cardamom. You can make your own mix to taste, toast it a little and grind up.

I thought of Farrah as well.
@TwoPonies: no aquatits for Loni. I once heard her tell a talk show host that she had breast reduction TWICE.

Good puzzle, and I did like "it's for the birds"....

archaeoprof 5:40 PM  

West central was a fight today, but finally got it.

Loved the clue for 36D: Reds #5 is still the greatest catcher of all time.

I've seen Aida twice. Both times in Rome: once at the opera house, once in the baths of Caracalla.

Fell asleep both times...

ANON 6:03 PM  

Quilter1 at 4:23

Thanks. I read Zits this morning and that is what convinced me
to post my remarks. If I had
known what I was getting into,
I might have reconsidered.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

Anon aka Nate -- I missed you ever since someone suggested we get a room. You should try Wordplay. They are more tolerant there. I still enjoyed your exchanges. I liked your last retort the most (translated: shove it up your AVOCADO)

ANON aka NATE 8:06 PM  

@ANONYMOUS at 7:11

shove it up your AVOCADO?
I don't get it. Apparently it
relaates to AVOCADO in the puzzle,
but how?
So long.

michael 8:17 PM  

I found this easy for a Friday, maybe because names stick in my head for some reason. Well, most names. Never knew what the I. in I. M. Peri stood for before today. And though I know lots and lots of colleges and universities and live in the Midwest, Avila was new to me. (Side question: Is Kansas City in the Midwest? How about Wichita and Topeka? People living their entire lives on the coasts need not respond.)

Nitpickeresse 9:32 PM  

@ michael, The lines of what is the midwest are blurred for me as well.
@ Anon. Nate, You are my gnat in the bug zapper. Why not start your own blog for like-minded pests? You never fail to bug me. Happy now? I think that is your sole agenda. Scat.

Jenny 9:37 PM  

@mmorgan @Matthew G.: Hey! Three Novo Collegians on Rex's blog! Three's a ... crowd, I guess.

I think I could spell out the "G.," too.

Re. puzzle: Enjoyed this one a lot. Non-New York places to learn CANARSIE: sociology class.

OISK 9:49 PM  

Under 15 minutes for me, but I live near Canarsie. Felt very good to rip through a Friday that Rex considers more difficult than average, after my disgraceful DNF yesterday!

I order chicken masala pretty often, but never considered it particularly spicy. (try Vindeloo...)

As someone else observed, any Friday I can finish is a good Friday...

sanfranman59 10:00 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 6:59, 6:54, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Tue 9:17, 8:56, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:06, 11:45, 0.77, 7%, Easy
Thu 20:23, 19:07, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 24:00, 26:10, 0.92, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:22, 4:35, 0.95, 42%, Medium
Wed 4:42, 5:47, 0.81, 8%, Easy
Thu 10:05, 9:12, 1.10, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 12:09, 12:50, 0.95, 43%, Medium

Bill from NJ 5:22 AM  

As a Honeymooners fan of long standing, CANARSIE was not dificult for me or as EdithB used to say a neon.

Hope she shows up agin as I miss her comments.

fikink 9:36 AM  

Good to hear from you, Bill! Had I but known that Ralph was shouting, "To the moon, Alice!" from CANARSIE!

Your post caused me to google and I discovered that Ralph Kramden was the inspiration for Fred Flintstone - so that's what YABBADABBADO means!

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

I don't remember Loni Anderson as a pinup either. The bid one was obviously Farrah, with Cheryl Tiegs and Adrienne Barbeau in the second tier.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Had to do a few googles to finish. Too many specific answers on top and center east for me and couldn't` get "Diet of Worms" withou`t some more crosses.

I agree. Loni Anderson? i tried Tina, becasue I seem to remember a pinup poster of Tina Turner.

Jim 2:50 PM  

Stupid SHEETED made this a DNF for me. Had circuit, then stacked, which I confirmed with POSSE and hook(!) Also, forgetting the yogurt people made water (had DAsani, and do companies make just ONE thing anymore??) didn't get me the BIRDS I was looking for until after I cheated in SW. Still don't get the joke. There was something called THEDIETOFWORMS in the 16th century? Diet as in Japanese legislature Diet? Oh well, too peeved to look it up. Loved the rest of the puzzle.

P.S. I guess I get REALISE, but...sheesh! That's a long way to go for a pun.

Dirigonzo 9:22 PM  

Northeast Syndicationland experienced a nasty April Fools' snow storm but I can't think of a way to use that as an excuse for leaving a few open squares scattered all over the grid. Worst mistake was mispelling ANEnOmES so there was no chance for success in the NW.

Don't remember Loni as a pin-up, but all the discussion above has left me with a vivid image of the iconic Farrah Fawcet poster from the era, so thanks for the memories (yes, I almost used another word but I managed to stifle it at the last minute.)

Ming 2:08 AM  

Just a thought on the AxIxA subtheme mentioned earlier: AIA = American Institute of Architects, so perhaps a nod to I M Pei? And today I learned that his middle name is the same as my first name!

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