Starpeace recorder 1985 / THU 3-3-11 / Language gjuho shqipe / Quested Passage to India woman / Subject of sailor's weather maxim

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: ANDREW JACKSON/JOHNSON (39A: Either of the two presidents who also served as a 17-Across (U.S. SENATOR) from 62-Across (TENNESSEE)) — central answer in the puzzle works whether you choose JOHNSON or JACKSON


Word of the Day: Gilbert ADAIR (60A: Gilbert ___, author of "A Void," a 290-page novel without the letter E) —

Gilbert Adair (born 29 December 1944 in Edinburgh) is a Scottish author, film critic and journalist. He won the Author's Club First Novel Award in 1988 for his novel The Holy Innocents. In 1995 he won the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his book A Void, which is a translation of the French book La Disparition by Georges Perec. The original book contains no instances of the letter e; Adair translated it with the same limitation. His works are compared to those of Julian Barnes, A. S. Byatt and Patrick Gale. [so ... more "translator" than "author" ... not that knowing that would've helped me one whit] (wikipedia)
• • •

Another tricky DJK tour de force. This one was tough all over for me, and it was not until the bitter end that I figured out what was supposed to be happening in the central answer ("'Either of the two...?' But ... no two presidents had the same names ... except ADAMS ... JOHN ADAMS ... well that's not right"). My version went with ANDREW JOHNSON because I came at the last name from 33D: It's rich in sugar (CANE/CAKE), and I wanted CANE from the second I got the "C." HOOK came easily too (41D: Captain James of the high seas). Only problem was BOLLS, which looked so wrong (37D: Cotton ___) ... and yet I knew that "boll weevils" were a thing ... a bug ... that gets after cotton? Seemed OK. Turned out to be right (though, curiously, my software recognized only JACKSON as "correct").



I had to struggle at least a little in nearly every part of the grid. The worst part was the NW, where TURKEY for IGUANA (1D: Creature with a dewlap) started things badly, and then, later, INCHES for LOSSES (2D: The "5" in "6-5," e.g.) really put me in a hole. Wanted GO IT ALONE early on (14A: Act independently) but INCHES said nay. Finally figured out the theme answer must be U.S. SENATOR, dumped INCHES, and it all fell into place quickly. Wanted YALE at 9D: School whose 1910 football team went undefeated and unscored upon (NAVY). Never heard of either of the literary characters (ADELA or ABBIE) (16A: ___ Quested, "A Passage to India" woman / 42A: Wife in "O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms") or the so-called "author" of "A Void" (ADAIR). But I nailed IMO with no crosses (61D: Start of many a blog comment), even though no one ever starts comments on my blog that way, and that little answer helped make the SW the easiest quadrant by far. SE was also doable (learned "jipijapa" from an earlier puzzle, which helped). Really the NW and the eastern middle that held me up the most. I enjoyed figuring this one out, and had a genuine aha moment at the end. This is very much in the mold of the famous CLINTON / BOBDOLE puzzle of election day 1996 (wherein either answer worked and the clue was something like [Winner of today's election]). That puzzle spooked people. I doubt this one will have the same effect. But it's still pretty dang good.

Bullets:
  • 24A: Food sometimes eaten with a small fork (OYSTER) — Had the "O," wanted OMELET (?)
  • 32A: Year the first Tour de France was held (MCMIII) — if you gotta have a giant Roman numeral, it should at least have an interesting clue like this (one that was actually semi-helpful in getting at least the first three letters)
  • 52A: Subject of a sailor's weather maxim (RED SKY) — at night, sailor's delight. This confirmed COOK for me. I mean HOOK. I think.

  • 7D: "Starpeace" recorder, 1985 (ONO) — knew it, somehow—possibly from the three letters, possibly from having seen it in xwords before, and possibly for the vaguely ONOish-sounding quality of "Starpeace"; give starpeace a chance, man.
  • 11D: Real-life character in the 1950 western "Broken Arrow" (GERONIMO) — strangely, I think the first answer that popped into my head was RED ADAIR. He was real, and there was at least one movie based on his exploits...
  • 12D: Language known to native speakers as "gjuho shqipe" (ALBANIAN) — Whoa. Whoa. That is possibly the weirdest-looking language I've ever seen. Needed many crosses, the most helpful of which was the "B" from VERBS (18A: Come and go, e.g.)
  • 27D: 1940 Henry Fonda role (TOM JOAD) — I prefer the 1968 Henry Fonda role of "Frank" in "Once Upon a Time in the West"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

105 comments:

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Love this puzzle! Was easier for me than challenging, maybe because I was on the same wave length for a change. When I realized what the theme was, a real aha moment. Brilliant!

Pete 12:12 AM  

Having grown up listening to the adage RED SUN in the morning, sailors take warning, RED SUN at night, sailors delight was of little help solving this.

Thanks for explaining the puzzle.

I've never understood the use IMO. Isn't it assumed, unless one is making what passes as a statement of fact?

Evan 12:20 AM  

IMO :) this puzzle wasn't as tricky for me as far as Thursday puzzles come and go. When I had the -ENN----- of 62A, I took a look at 39A and saw that it was looking for a President from some state. I put down Tennessee and immediately I knew ANDREW JACKSON was one of the two from that state (remembered that from high school history class, when I had to do a report on him). I didn't know ANDREW JOHNSON was from Tennessee, but I saw right away that the puzzle was going for that same CLINTON/BOB DOLE trick, and from there it was just a matter of getting the fill.

I give this puzzle a big thumbs up for the ambitious nature of the JACKSON/JOHNSON design. I have to imagine constructing a grid that satisfies each combination of crossing letters is very difficult (not to mention finding a cluing pattern that ties each set together), and the way that Kahn fit in those nice stacks of 8- and 9-letter entries in each corner gives the puzzle some real zing to it. Some ugly here and there (like MCMIII and IDENT), but I forgive that based on the rest of the puzzle's creativity.

In contrast to Rex, my version of Across Lite, for some reason, would only accept JOHNSON as the correct answer.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Oddly, the Magmic NYT Crossword app for the iPhone only took Andrew Johnson. I figured it was a rebus thing that should have been ANDREWJ(ao)(ch)(kn)SON. That was clever but now I'll need to do the Clinton/BobDole one! Dan G

lit.doc 12:21 AM  

I see “David J. Kahn” and I think both “I am so excited” and “I am so fucked” which, given the brilliantly schizoid nature of the puzzle, was a pretty good initial response.

By 34:17 I’d gotten the ANDREW JOHNSON version to work, after first achieving JACKSON. Done, I thought. Then I came here and saw that I had just never figured out why I’d chased my own tail for so long. Wow.

Hand up for 2D INCHES initially. NW was such a conundrum for me that at one point I actually plugged in AMBASADOR (does the puzzle really have to say “var.” on Thursday?) to see if anything good would happen. Felt so clever when I finally figured out that it had to be JOHNSON…

Freaking brilliant puzzle.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Thought this was a good one - challenging, but it never really felt like I was in danger of not finishing.

Had some of the same miscues as Rex (YALE, INCHES).

For crosses with ANDREW's last name, I started with BOLLS, COOK (didn't know Captain Hook had a first name), and CAKE. When I realized BALLS would work, I settled on JACKSON.

Didn't figure out the trick until the entire puzzle was finished and I was starting to Google for presidential biographies. I've never seen a puzzle with two choices that will work for the same answer (I wasn't solving NYT puzzles in '96).

conomist 12:50 AM  

Brilliant puzzle, IMO.

Though also fell for the Yale/NAVY miscue, and got more than a little frustrated when the iPad version accepted only JOHNSON. I had Jackson, knew they both worked, and then had to come here to check every single one of my answers, before realizing that it was just a computer glitch.

Which added 3 minutes to my time. Grrrrrr.

sanfranman59 1:02 AM  

Rex, you're starting to creep me out with your descriptions of puzzle missteps lately. TURKEY? Me too. INCHES? Yup. YALE? Ditto. I fully expected that you'd also fess up to going with SHRIMP for 24A: Food sometimes eaten with a small fork. But I guess I was on my own on that one.

I figured out the ANDREW JACK/JOHNSON trick pretty easily and was duly wowed at the construction. But I refused to give up on INCHES for way too long and although I knew 17A had to be something-SENATOR, I simply couldn't get my mind to go to US.

My solve time places this one firmly in the Challenging range. I'm anxious to see how the online solve times stack up tomorrow. @foodie: Did you get a QDI on this one?

retired_chemist 1:10 AM  

Wow! A really nice one. Medium-challenging here.

Put in ILK @ 1A, which led to IGUANA as the only 6 letter animal I could think of starting with I that might have a dewlap. Erased each several times but they kept getting confirmed as I got the crosses.

Couldn't believe the 3s were only 3s - so many longer possibilities for many of them that I was looking for a rebus. But no.....

Slapped down ENE @ 56A, just because. There are many other possibilities. I lucked out. 44A was GRITTY, which seems to fit all sandpapers, which COARSE doesn't. There are fine, extra fine, etc. LOTS of grit sizes.

Put in MCMIII for 32A with NO direct knowledge, other than it was roughly a fin de siècle time frame and unlikely to have been a late 19th century date since MDCCC? looked crummy for the crosses.The I's looked good and again I lucked out.

Got 37D BOLLS and 41D COOK, each correct but not together. Fixed on JOHNSON and only after getting Mr. Happy Pencil did I figure out the alternative. ANDREW JACKSON. Neato!

Thank you, Mr.Kahn.

captcha crips. Anybody have Bloods?

Clark 1:22 AM  

Big thumbs up! But there was only one Andrew Jackson I'm telling myself. Then I saw that CAKE could be CANE, and COOK could be HOOK.

chefwen 1:37 AM  

Stared at this one for a long time before I finally started chipping away at it. Still have house guests so I was not going to Google and embarrass myself. Finally finished with my only write over with JOHNSON over JackSON.

Laughed out loud at @lit.doc comments after seeing the constructor, my sentiments exactly.

Jenny 1:50 AM  

Thanks to an Albanian acquaintance in college, I recognized the 'shqipe' in the clue for 12D as resembling the Albanian name for Albania, so that was an early entry for me.

Like Anonymous @12:23 et al., I didn't fully get the theme until the grid was complete.

I don't time myself when I solve (I am also often doing other things alongside the xword) but this felt more like an easy-medium for me. And I'm no great solver (as in, Saturdays are seldom doable for me but I love the rest of the week)!

Don Byas 1:54 AM  

great puzzle

On Across Lite I needed JOHNSON to get Mr. Happy Pencil, though CAKE, COOK and BALLS should've been sufficient.
GAY revealed itself once NAVY was in place.

jae 3:00 AM  

No problems with NW, I had ILK/IGUANA from the start. But, REDSUN slowed the process down. I did it on an IPAD and JOHNSON did not give me the "completed" screen. That's when I saw the theme. Very clever/fun puzzle. I had this at Med. It'll be interesting to see what the stats show.

DJG 3:08 AM  

I loved this puzzle. It's really terrific.

In addition to the BOBDOLE/CLINTON puzzle, I remember one a few years back that did an either-word-works theme with BLACK/WHITE. It was great to see another one, especially a gem like this.

jae 3:15 AM  

@Pete - I meant to say me too.

@conomist - I suspect we are using different IPAD apps.

Cyberia 3:18 AM  

I lost all heart when scrolling through the clues. I didn't think it would be possible for there to be such a long list of terms that evoked word associations whatsover. What's wrong with me? Sigh.

I skip M-W 5:40 AM  

Pretty nice, although just the three letters that differ between Jackson and Johnson must make the puzzle design much easier than the Clinton/BobDole one. Albanian I knew, from once reading World Almanacs that gave native names of each country, then verbs led me to Geronimo, and that was enough to see Pres name ended in son, which led right away to Jackson/ johnson, tennessee, Us senator, etc.

bohbehchow 6:40 AM  

Wow. Even though I've done the NYT crossword for two decades, and lived in the States, as a non-American, the Johnson / Jackson thing floored me completely. Even after reading your blog it took me a while to figure it out. Names of US Presidents obviously isn't my long suit!

I had Jackson, but had no idea why it was correct, given the wording of the clue

Thanks for clearing it up

MikeM 6:47 AM  

I picked up on the CLINTON/BOBDOLEesque trick early although I tossed around the lyndonJOHNSON/ANDREWJOHNSON possibility first. Realizing Lyndon was a Texan I switched gears and everything fell into place. Only write over was yAle then NAVY. Great puzzle... really enjoyed it.

Vega 7:23 AM  

@bohbehchow, don't feel too bad. You won't believe how many minutes I wasted racking my brain trying to remember a *second* president named Andrew Johnson. D'oh.

Just sharing what is probably just a "me"/cultural thing, but being a (lifelong) vegetarian, it always trips me up when I see creatures (in this case, OYSTERs) called "food." I had O_STER and couldn't figure it out. Got it from YULE.

And that said, I agree that this was a superb puzzle, and for me definitely on the challenging side. I felt like I learned a lot today, not just from the puzzle but from here, like a mini-Wikipedia-lesson on the meaning of fin de siecle. Y'all are so smart.

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

I had JOHNSON at first (either of two?? Was Lyndon really an Andrew?) but changed it because of COOK to JACKSON (but either of two??). So I guess I failed to complete the puzzle, because I didn't see both answers to 39A. Good puzzle.

Ulrich 8:47 AM  

Now I'm mad at myself for not trying harder to understand the clue for 39A--I love those aha moments when they occur in connection with puzzles, and I shortchanged myself with this one. Although I'm in the same boat as @bohbehchow, I knew, vaguely, that there was only one Andrew Jackson--that should've been my hint to think harder...plus, the name of the constructor should have told me that everything had to make perfect sense in the end...

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Doc Watson and Tennessee Stud! I spent many an hour in my younger days trying to imitate Doc's hot lick in the middle of this song. Doc's the greatest. I bought a Martin guitar as soon as I could scrape up the money because what he played.

Got Jackson and said "done". Hand up for INCHES, TURKEY AND YALE.

David L 9:08 AM  

Agreed that this was a clever puzzle, but seems to me there's some issue with the way it was implemented in AcrossLite. I had it finished, with JACKSON as my chosen president, but it refused to give me the Happy Pencil until I put JOHNSON in instead. Whereas some people seem to have had the opposite problem.

Also, I confidently put in PEREC at 60A, seeing as I'd actually heard of the book and its author, but eventually got ADAIR from crosses. It doesn't seem right to call Adair the author when in fact he was the translator.

jesser 9:08 AM  

WOW! What a great puzzle. The NE took the longest, as I started 12D as ALaskAN, but the Roman numeral at 32A nixed that, so I tried ALeutIAN, but the VERBS at 18A were having none of it, which finally gave me ALBANIAN.

So much to love about this puzzle! Like others, I would have not parsed the dual-solving possibility without Rex pointing it out. I went with President ANDREW JOHNSON, although I love JACKSON's portrait on the $20 bill.

Again: WOW!

Busil! (I think that sneezy kid on the Local gave me this cold) -- jesser

mitchs 9:13 AM  

ooops. 9:07 was MitchS

mmorgan 9:16 AM  

IMO, what Rex said (mostly).

Most of this actually fell pretty quickly for me, but the NW just stayed blank f-o-r-e-v-e-r and tied me up in knots. I just could not, would not give up on INCHES for 2D... until I finally just did out of desperation, and that actually (finally) allowed me to finish.

Moral: when confronted with a persistent blank area, the one answer you're sure of is probably wrong.

Also, I wasn't thrilled with some clues. Not sure why, but I did not like either "Shot that's hard to miss" for GIMME at 66A or "Overflow with" for ABOUND IN at 39D. Something just felt a little off with both of those.

Got away with some lucky guesses in the NE as I did not know ADELA or "gjuho shqipe" or that NAVY was a school. (I was able to resist YALE.)

Still, glad to finish, I guess... (even though I had JACKSON and didn't see the implicit JOHNSON -- nice trick, that).

Adam 9:20 AM  

I was utterly mystified by the central clue ("Either of two...") EVEN THOUGH I had, at various times, tried each alternative (COOK/HOOK, CANE/CAKE, etc). I plunked down ANDREW JACKSON because my mom talks about how she hates him all the time, then scratched my head about "Either of two..." until I Rexchecked.

A fun, if sub-par, 20 minutes.

joho 9:23 AM  

Brilliant, David Kahn!

I never saw JACKSON till I came here, thank you, Rex. So very clever and tons of fun. Pefect Thursday.

jackj 9:31 AM  

Never let personal preferences push you into a solving attitude of "what I want it to be" as opposed to "what it most likely is".

Case in point, at 24 across my favorite food eaten with a small fork is baked clams, (oysters, of course, are renegade mollusks), but 10 letters don't fit into 6 boxes so it meant a bit of sulking until the crosses revealed the offensive cousin to my wished for clams.

While David Kahn tipped us to the double answer in the clue for 39 across, the Dole/Clinton classic didn't reveal itself as a twofer, which made for much questioning by solvers (and upset among the partisans). This was a much gentler puzzle by virtue of the reveal.

Nice one, as usual, from David Kahn.

Matthew G. 9:58 AM  

Great puzzle. Count me in the ANDREW JACKSON crowd. Tried to think of other presidents from Tennessee and could only remember James K. Polk, who obviously didn't fit. Didn't remember that ANDREW JOHNSON was also from Tennessee. But hey, a solved grid is a solved grid.

The Stand Alone Crosswords App for iPhone accepted ANDREW JACKSON as a correct entry. Checking now, I see that it rejects ANDREW JOHNSON. Can't fault the constructor for that -- I can't imagine there's any way to code a .PUZ file with multiple correct entries.

Anyhow, this was one of the best puzzles of the year so far. And I didn't think its relative difficulty was that high -- had a good "wavelength" going today, with things like IMO, TASTE IT, and GO IT ALONE jumping out at me with few crosses. Finished in average Thursday time.

Matthew G. 10:00 AM  

I should add two things:

(1) I guessed ANDREW JACKSON off the S, and then pushed to make the fill work, even though I wanted CANE instead of CAKE;

and (2) I really wanted FONDUE instead of OYSTER. Refusing to let go of that slowed me down a tad.

JaxInL.A. 10:12 AM  

I was living in Washington, D.C. on election day 1996 and I remember the initial outrage over the Clinton/BobDole puzzle.  I got the BobDole answer for my initial (paper) solve and had a momentary surreal moment when I believed that somehow the election had been fixed or the NYT had somehow gotten improper information. How could they possibly now that in time to publish? Talk about a huge AHA moment! 

After my initially vacant pass (like @cyberia and @chefwen), through the clues, I started chipping away and got everything except the tip og the NW corner.  ILK for Class never made sense to me, and I had convinced myself that the two letters preceding SENATORS were either JR or SR and that there is an African gazelle or some such animal that ends in ___ANA. I even had LOSSES at that point and still could not see IGUANA. 

Thus I appreciate @mmorgan's Moral: when confronted with a persistent blank area, the one answer you're sure of is probably wrong.

I did not see the second ANDREW before coming here so thanks @Anon 12:20/DanG, for revealing why Magmic on iPad would not accept my answers.

I loved this puzzle.

Lindsay 10:27 AM  

Admirable puzzle. I had Andrew Jackson until I realized that 46A Santo Domingo greeting was unlikely to be "aeo" meaning 37D cotton BaLeS was wrong. So I switched to BOLLS and Johnson without seeing the trick. This despite having majored in American Studies ....

The theme reminds me of 19th century architect A.J. Downing, whose given names (Andrew Jackson) I tend to misremember as Andrew Johnson.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

i, also, did not find this puzzle to be "challenging." thought it was pretty easy, in fact, as was surprised it was a thursday. only difficulty i had was with "carom." i had "masse" and that set me back a bit. i guess knowing american history helped.

slypett 10:37 AM  

This is the most fun I've had with my clothes on for a long time. Full gratification came when I saw Rex had rated it Challenging.

DBGeezer 10:37 AM  

I put CANE and BOLLS in first, and then corrected COOK to HOOK. Being a forgetful old man, I just assumed that we had two presidents named ANDREW JOHSON, and didn't catch on til Rex straightened me out.

Good puzzle and great blog comments IMO.

(Is it ok for me to end a blog comment with IMO?)

OldCarFudd 10:42 AM  

A superb puzzle, despite my frustration. I solved it with Andrew Jackson, but didn't tumble to he Clinton/BobDole analogy until I came here to look for why the "Either of the two - - -" parts of the clue made sense. I remember solving the '96 puzzle with Clinton as the answer, and wondering how they knew; it wasn't until seeing the printed answer(s) the next morning that I realized how astounding that puzzle was.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:42 AM  

Very brilliant puzzle there. Very dense solver here!

I slogged my way through the grid, no write-overs, all correct for the JOHNSON solution, but glossed over 39 A so quickly that I never noticed the brilliance of the alternate answer.

It seems with every puzzle I do recently, I can just see my ACPT rating going down, down, down.

I thought it was snails that were eaten with little forks, but not a single letter fit.

The abbr IMHO makes sense, with the injection of "humble", but agree that IMO is almost always superfluous.

For those who are interested, the term for a work of literature with one letter not used is Lipogram. My mother often spoke of Gadsby. Wikipedia says, "One of the earliest and most remarkable examples of lipogram is Ernest Vincent Wright's novel Gadsby (1939), which has over 50,000 words but not a single letter "E"." But the idea goes back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. Don't understand why Wikipedia calls Gadsby "one of the earliest."

Stan 10:48 AM  

Could not get any grip on this alone so started team-solving immediately, where we came up with OYSTER/TOM JOAD/SNOWS. So, EWJ plus knowing there was a rebus (Across-Lite alerts you) led to figuring out the theme before anything else. Really, really clever crosses.

The remainder was fine (except "author" which reminded me of Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.")

Well done!

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I whipped through this brilliant puzzle until I got to the SW. Lightning speed turned to screeching halt because of a painter, an author, and the wife in a play I've never seen. It got sorted out in the end.
Having a few crucial letters of "go it alone" started out as "guideless." My blankets were snowy until I noticed that yoloed was not a word.
Great puzzle just right for a Thursday IMO.
I cannot imagine how to pronounce Albanian in Albanian.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Rex, any chance you could get us the Clinton/Bob Dole puzzle?

SMS 10:57 AM  

Nice puzzle. Hard in a good way as opposed to many where the obscurity isn't always very edifying. For whatever reason, I found that I was on the right wavelength so guesses often panned out which, IMO is one of the more satisfying aspects of doing crossword puzzles...

retired_chemist 11:03 AM  

@ Two Ponies - I HEAR YA about the proper names in the SW. But the constructor neatly avoided the possible multiple Naticks by using crosses that require either general knowledge or a different knowledge base (in this case sports). To me that is a sign of an excellent constructor - you get a good shot via the crosses even when you don't know any of the names. I guessed ENSOR (high crosswordese IMO) but hads no clue on the other two.

I have been doing some Maleska era puzzles lately and find that the multiple Natick problem was substantially worse then.

Martin 11:09 AM  

You can actually get Across Lite to accept JACKSON. For each of the three letters, A, C and K, use the "rebus" interface. Press Insert, the letter and Enter. Pretty useless, I know, but that's Across Lite.

In the Clinton/Dole days, they had to publish two versions. (Remember that answer keys were blocked on publication date, so this alternate Stupid Computer Trick worked.)

Clinton version
Dole version

SethG 11:10 AM  

I had BALLS early so wound up with JACKSON. But I was confused by the reveal, and thought they meant there were two different ANDREW JACKSONs that were each both president and a senator. I first tried to figure out ways to fit in John Adamses and George Bushes.

Tricky cluing held me up all over, and this felt like a Friday (and took me Friday time).

Aaron A 11:39 AM  

I started out like a TURKEY in the NW and couldn't get going until BRER fox got me out of the BOX.
My wrong team was ARMY, which fit with GAY and my bagel flavor was RYE.
I knew ANDREW JACKSON was from TENNESSEE, got the JOHNSON connection, but took forever to stretch SENATOR with a US, especially when I took a FLU shot.
- Aaron

treedweller 11:59 AM  

I tried JACKSON first and couldn't seem to finish the middle. Even though I suspected the double entry, I changed to JOHNSON and finished. Then I looked back at the grid and couldn't understand why I had such a hard time with JACKSON. I'm sure it was partially because of BOLLS/BaLLS/BaLeS.

@r_c even very "fine" sandpaper is still COARSE compared to velvet. Otherwise, not much point.

Mel Ott 12:14 PM  

All I can say is WOW! What a great puzzle. I stared at the enigmatic clue for 39A for some minutes before I got it and it was one those great WOW moments. Liked it so much I've already forgiven the constructor for using a crap word like MISDO and a 6-space Roman numeral.

Don't really remember the CLINTON/BOBDOLE puzzle. My brain cells may be going faster than I thought. I think that I may have solved it with CLINTON and never got the BOBDOLE alternative until now.

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

IMO: Thought at first that this puz was gonna be pretty thin on theme material -- 31 squares. Now I get it, that it all depends on how you look at it.

They shoulda rigged acrosslite to blink OHN/ACK on that center line, kinda like a neon sign, when Mr Happy Pencil pops up.

Liked this one a lot. Put up a three-cinnamonroll fight. Wanted turkey inches, but 1A=TI? just didn't sing "class" to me, so never wrote anything in. Also wanted shrimp, but it didn't play well with others, either.

Favorite fill answer: MCMIII - Like someone was tryin' to type McMinnville, and the keyboard jammed up on 'em. Favorite clue: the "performed a cadenza" one; it was a total WTF for me. Feeble, unrefined mind was thinkin' "credenza". Har.

Thumbs up to Mr. Kahn.

John V 12:52 PM  

DNF, due to NE. Only quibble: 22A: Oat bagel? Really?

archaeoprof 1:06 PM  

Two writeovers today: inches/LOSSES and rye/OAT.

Splendid puzzle. Got me through the faculty meeting this morning. Colleagues sitting on either side were impressed with this puzzle too!

william e emba 1:22 PM  

We also had the Lance Armstrong FOUR/FIVE time winner of the Tour de France, the summer he was going for win #5. I recall I missed the gimmick that time, and went with the factual FOUR.

I was off to a horrible start, not trusting any of my guesses for anything until I reached the author of A Void. I wrote in Perec instantly, then remembered his first name was Georges, then wrote in ADAIR. And while it required intense ingenuity to translate a lipogram into a lipogram, the plot is essentially the same: Anton Vowl is missing and the hunt is on, Adair is the book's translator, not its author. (Yes, I read the book when it came out. It's not only the sort of thing I consider required reading, I was already a fan of Adair from his first novel, Alice Through the Needle's Eye, a sequel to you-know-what.)

An odd thing about the Perec novel in the original: it received widespread praise when it came out. About half the reviewers did not notice the missing 'e', despite the fact that the novel's plot tries really hard to rub it in your face. (Like chapters 1-4 and 6-26, but no chapter 5.)

Personal acquaintance aside, I'll agree with anyone who thinks Gilbert ADAIR is too obscure for crossword puzzles. Perec is, however, definitely crossword worthy, and has been in the puzzle a year ago, Word of the Day even.

As for the theme, I had TENNESSEE early on, wrote in ANDREW JACKSON immediately, but then paused: I had believed the weird wording of the clue meant there were two names put side-by-side, so I was feeling real bad about the ANDREW part. I was expecting So-and-so JACKSON was going to be the answer, and it was going to be a real cute Famous Jackson bonus surprise, as soon as I got President So-And-So. And I kept wanting Governor for 17A. So I kept thinking about US presidents, but I couldn't get ANDREW out of my head, and pretty soon Johnson popped up, and it was like, oh, that gimmick.

Anne 1:23 PM  

I have a brother named Andrew Jackson - my father was from Tennessee. But I went with Johnson and everything worked so I stayed with it. What a great puzzle. I will be on the alert for Kahn puzzles in the future.

Deborah 1:35 PM  

Is there a dictionary out there for web abbreviations like IMO. Is it just a blog thing, or a text message thing. A teenager acquaintance of mine recently irritated someone older by using the abbreviation bc in an email as a shorthand for "because". The older person thought it was rude or sassy or something.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@Deborah - One source for the endless series of abbrevations.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Very confused by the allusion to the Red/sun adage instead of "red sky at night" - never heard of red sun. I use a small fork to eat pastries, so that slowed me down - I eat oysters and mussels using the shell.

Excellent Thursday puzzle though

Sparky 2:55 PM  

Hung on to BALeS and just let AeO be. TENNESSEE came first, then JACKSON because I put in HOOK. Winkled away at all corners with small fork. Alas DNF NE even though I had GERONIMO. Had a good time working at it.

Darn it's dark out there 2:55 PM  

@Anon 2:19

AFAIK "red sun at night" refers to sunset. Morning is sunrise.

A "red sky at night" would be quite unusual as the "night sky" around here is generally an inky black. ;)

P>G>

Sparky 2:57 PM  

@JohnV. Darn right. Oat Bagels?

Cathyat40 3:00 PM  

I found the puzzle easy, but made one silly error: eNO for ONO.

syndy 3:02 PM  

When them cotton balls get rotten! WOWEE ZOWEE finished the Puzzle with Jackson having given up understanding 39 across clue! no happy pencil but couldn't see my error so came to rex's and saw johnson-well that works but no better than Jackson WTH-still didn't catch on!Quess I needed to be hit with a plank!

R. McGeddon 3:26 PM  

IMO, as hard as it must be to compose a novel in English without the letter E, it must be hideous to do it in French. You're denied, like, 80% of past participles.

retired_chemist 3:28 PM  

!@ Darn 2:55 et al. -

Red sky in morning, sailors' warning; red sky at night, sailors' delight explained, with all its warts.

sanfranman59 3:28 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)

Thu 20:26, 19:08, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:54, 9:13, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Rube 3:45 PM  

HTG so DNF. Classify this as a Challenging Thursday. Probably gave up too early last night. Should have waited 'till morning.

I'm in the RED SKY camp... a better rhyme. No one says GAY these days unless they have a different meaning in mind. I'll have to Google and find out the etymology... never thought of it before.

Jipijapa is mny WOTD.

R. McGeddon 3:51 PM  

My WOTD is gjuho shqipe.

Laurence Tureaud 3:53 PM  

Jipijapa for me, too.

Doug 4:03 PM  

Wasn't Broken Arrow about Cochise, not Geronimo, and Tom Jeffords?

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

@Doug - Wiki seems to agree with you.

chefbea 4:16 PM  

Busy all day and no time for the puzzle. Started it but then had no time to finish.

Love oysters and of course cake. Going to make a banana cobbler that someone told me about. yummm

retired_chemist 4:17 PM  

@ R. McG - from John Farmer on Orange's blog:

"I believe “gjuho shqipe” in Albanian is pronounced “fish.”"

ˈɟuha ˈʃcipɛ 4:21 PM  

The clue is [Real-life character in the 1950 western "Broken Arrow"]. GERONIMO existed, and Jay Silverheels played him in Broken Arrow.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

Very difficult puzzle for me. Could not get anything in the center. So I had to google. Still did not complete. Rex I had the same mistakes as you did. INCHES for 2D, Yale for 9D. Thought of SENATOR for 17A but could not think of US SENATOR. Had APATHY instead of APLOMB in 35A.
Did not realize the trick until I read Rex comments twice. I remember very well the BOB DOLE/CLINTON classic puzzle. I solved the puzzle for CLINTON and did not realize the trick until a few days later when I read some article in the NYT.

hazel 4:29 PM  

Very nice puzzle. I was in the JACKSON camp, which my iPad app was OK with. NW corner was the only area I struggled with. Had to look dewlap up in the dictionary - all I could think of was cowlick.

BEQ puzzle is hilarious today.

Erik 5:13 PM  

I think Kahn ruined a subtle, clever theme by bashing us over the head with it in the clue for 39-across. Once I read the clue, having seen the CLINTON/BOBDOLE puzzle, I instantly saw the trick (thought I admit it took me longer than it should have to come up with ANDREW). Would have been better clued, IMO, as "President who also served..."

Otherwise, it was a solid Thursday with great fill and admirable cluing. Took me a little over twelve minutes. KAAAAAAAAHN!

mac 5:58 PM  

Blogger wouldn't let me post.

Fantastic puzzle! I too wanted inches, yale and flu, also the crosswordese "canape" for oyster.

I ended up with Johnson, but I should have read the clue more carefully. Can we get a link to the Clinton/Bob Dole unsolved puzzle? Somebody? Please? I either missed it or, not having Rex yet, it must have gone over my head. Thank you, Rex!

Alo? I thought ola.

Doug 6:00 PM  

Glad this was rated as Challenging because I couldn't get a toehold for the longest time. I didn't get the theme until I read it here, BUT I can claim the "I'm not American" excuse. I only go back as far as TAFT, thank you.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

@Mac - Martin posted a link above.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

Little factoid: Pittsburgh Panthers (aka PITT) was also undefeated and unscored upon in 1910. Wouldn't *that* have been amazing, getting both JACKSON/JOHNSON and PITT/NAVY as 'either one' clues!

Darn it's dark out there 6:33 PM  

Note to self:

Read twice, post once.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Illinois was unbeaten and unscored on in 1910. Navy had a tie game.

Alpine Joy 8:06 PM  

Speak of the Devil, what was it about 1910? Apparently Pittsburgh was unbeaten and unscored against in 1910. What up?

Appreciated the Doc Watson and the Tennessee Stud, but liked it even more when it led to JIMMY DRIFTWOOD; Now THERE was a NAME, a guitarist, and a COMPOSER! If only my name could have been "Jimmy Driftwood"! I celebrate American Creativity, and Sing the Body Electric!

By "Hook" or by "Cook", we solved this puzzle!

Thanks, Rex!

JenCT 8:17 PM  

@Martin: thanks for the link to the Clinton/Dole puzzles.

OAT bagels are common (and yummy!) in the NYC area.

Also had ENO before ONO.

Definitely Challenging for me. Whenever I see the name Kahn, I know it'll be a tricky puzzle.

imsdave 9:13 PM  

Good puzzle day. Great stuff here and in the LAT. I'm a happy camper.

michael 9:15 PM  

I got it, I liked it, but found it Friday/Saturday hard. Took me a long time to get both the nw and the sw. Inches really held me up. On the other hand, I got the theme quickly partly because I remember the Clinton/Dole puzzle. Now I'm going to google the constructor. Back in 1996 I didn't pay much attention to the names of constructors.

michael 9:18 PM  

Googling the constructor of the Clinton/Dole led me to a Wikipedia entry about a very interesting guy I had never heard of (but my guess a lot of people here have).

Anonymous 9:28 PM  

Broken Arrow was about Cochise but Geronimo was also in it (played by Jay Silverheels, aka Tonto).

One of many? 9:31 PM  

Navy/Rutgers 1910 tie was 0-0, thus thus still "unscored".

Also, the clue didn't specify the ONLY school, just any old school wth that record in 1910 --- that fit the crosses.

mac 10:14 PM  

Anon 6.13 and Martin: thank you!!

adair carom mcmiii 10:34 PM  

Coming up for air just long enough to say "brilliant!"
Neat that it was another presidential one... Now let's see someone do OBAMA/NIXON

Anonymous 11:28 PM  

This puzzle was wonderful to me in all respects save one. There is no such thing as a "snows blanket" or such things as "snows blankets." The word "snowy" was the only correct choice and I happily "yoloed" my way through the rest.

sanfranman59 11:30 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 8:26, 6:55, 1.22, 99%, Challenging
Tue 8:05, 8:56, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:40, 11:44, 0.82, 13%, Easy
Thu 20:20, 19:08, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:20, 3:41, 1.17, 98%, Challenging
Tue 4:20, 4:35, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Wed 4:52, 5:47, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 9:42, 9:13, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging

CoffeeLvr 11:49 PM  

I am breaking my rule, and posting before reading others comments. Of course, this late, who cares. Had other commitments this morning and early afternoon. Sat with this at the coffee shop for the longest (seeming) time, and finally wrote "Shoot ME!" in the margin. Strangely enough, the puzzle was easier over beer tonight than latte earlier. Loved IGUANA, GERONIMO. Favorite clue is "jipijapa," new to me. Had GO IT ALONE in place very early, and for a long time that entry was alone in the NW. REDSKY broke open the whole SE very early, but TENNESSEE was not much help with the solve at that point in time. I have never seen a puzzle with two answers, and I was stuck on CANE and COOK, mutually exclusive. So wanted the presidents to be HarriSONs, but TENNESSEE didn't sound right. Took me forever to see US SENATOR, partly because I was stuck on SOB for 6D (break down is a valid clue.)

I have to admire this grid - a double theme answer, plus the secondary "shot" theme. I was relieved to see Rex rated this as challenging. One quibble, ILK as an answer to "class" is classless.

Chris Kearin 8:48 AM  

ADAIR as "author" is really lame, given Perec's importance. (No disrespect to Gilbert Adair, whose translation is miraculous, in view of the obvious obstacles.) BTW, Perec was a noted creator of crossword puzzles, in addition to novels etc. Perhaps a sly joke was intended, in which case I think Perec might have been amused.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

The clue "Latin pronoun" for 45 across in Friday's puzzle is not accurate: mea is a form of the adjective meus,-a,um, meaning "my". It is not a pronoun.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I was able to guess 12D (ALBANIAN) from having read Every Inch a King by Harry Turtledove. It takes place in the fictional country of Shqiperi, which is analogous to Albania.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

i protest the answer to 9d;the univ of pittsburgh's 1910 team was undefeated,untied,and unscored on;check the ncaa history;also what word is bolls???

Joe Dassin 4:37 PM  

@Anonymous, 2:04 PM - Rex answered your question in the second paragraph of his write-up, but in case you have forgotten:

When I was just a little bitty baby
My mama used to rock me in the cradle
In them old cotton fields at home,

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

Well when them cotton bolls get rotten
You can't pick very much cotton
In them old cotton fields at home,

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

Well I was down in Arkansas
And people were all asking
"Whatcha signed up for?"
In them old cotton fields at home

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

Oh, well when them cotton bolls get rotten
You can't pick very much cotton
In them old cotton fields at home,

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

When I was just a little bitty baby
My mama used to rock me in the cradle
In them old, old cotton fields at home,

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

Oh, well when them cotton bolls get rotten
You can't pick very much cotton
In them old cotton fields at home,

It was down in Louisiana
Just about a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields at home.

Dirigonzo 4:39 PM  

This syndicated solver was just glad to solve this puppy - I settled on ANDREWJACKSON and never considered (despite the plain language of the clue) that there was another correct answer. Now I love it even more, but I'm not quite so smug about finishing since I missed the best part.

Last letter in was the a in TASTEIT because I really wanted 16a to be ADELe so Rex could post another video like the one on Monday.

@Anony 2:04pm - Also see the comment by @One of many? about the 9d clue.

NotalwaysrightBill 6:34 PM  

Syndi-late paper solver.

Thought the puzzle was more medium than what I expect for a Thursday, although it was no GIMME and I committed nearly all the same initial missteps that Rex did. With a few extra. Tried OLIVES for awhile for what somebody might eat with small fork: seems I saw one once at the end of swizzle stick: don't ask, it made sense for a few minutes.

Last time I was in the Yucatan I made a short side trip to the pueblito of Becal to buy myself a jipijapa. A nice old toothless geezer took me down into his cave and explained things before he sold me one he'd made.

http://www.mayadiscovery.com/ing/handicrafts/sombreros.htm

Wore it out on my latest Big Fat Mexican Vacation. Gotta get me another one, GERONIMO ALO.

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

Nice tough one --- felt like a Friday in places.

I went with Andrew Jackson, because I chose Captain Cook. I thought Captain Hook was a character from Peter Pan, not an actual historical figure. Or was his name James?

I'm very pleased to have finished this one with nary a Google. It was touch and go for a while, but I resisted temptation.

novemberyankee68 2:33 AM  

An excellent yet grueling puzzle for me but did actually finally get it. Kahn is one of my favorites because puzzles are hard yet not with silly clueing. BTW-agree w/you that its nice to see roman numeral thing without it being MCMxLI or something. Disagree with you about Fonda though-gotta be Wyatt Earp(My Darling Clementine).

M'sieu Tondeleo 10:05 PM  

Saved! Thank you. Friends & relatives think I'm rully smart, a crack puzzle solver. To the extent I'm almost ready to proudly, smugly don such a mantle, until Rex & every commenter on this site make me feel like a cruci-moron, who for a moment thought "rich in sugar" was neither cake nor cane, but Coke. The doppelganger eluded me altogether, was convinced Mr. Shortz had finally let a gross mistake slip through his fingers.

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