Wonder-working biblical figure / FRI 3-4-11 / Last of Nordhoff Hall's Bounty Trilogy / City on Niagara Escarpment / ColorQube maker

Friday, March 4, 2011

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none


Word of the Day: ENCEINTE (4D: Pregnant) —

adj.
Carrying an unborn child; pregnant.

[French, from Old French, ultimately from Latin inciēns, pregnant.]

also, FYI:

n.
  1. An encircling fortification around a fort, castle, or town.
  2. A structure or an area protected by an encircling fortification.

[French, from Late Latin incīncta, from feminine past participle of incingere, to surround closely : Latin in-, in; see in- + Latin cingere, to gird.]

• • •

This was very hard when I was trying to do it while watching the end of "American Idol." I had most of the middle but only the wispiest bits of correctness in the top and bottom. Once the show was over, I concentrated on the puzzle, and it got a lot easier (though it remained tough). Once I got a long answer to fall, the bottom (and later the top) went down in reasonable time, but getting that first one to fall was Rough. Even with AAHS and FLAT going straight in the grid (i.e. even with the first two letters of every long Across down south in place), I didn't go anywhere. AFRICAN-AMERICAN *never* occurred to me, as I just assumed that was some general term, not a Jacksonism (46A: Term popularized by Jesse Jackson). Wanted something like RAINBOW COALITION (one letter too long). I think the first long answer I got was A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE (seen that one before). Tried to make 56A: City on the Niagara Escarpment "something, OHIO." Then considered NOVA SCOTIA... (I forget why), then gave up and came back and got HAMILTON, ONTARIO after more of the crosses were in place. I've been to HAMILTON. Presented my first professional paper there, actually. Good times (well, OK times). Anyway, the double ONE'S down there is ugly, and MESNE is possibly the ugliest answer I've seen this year (45D: Intervening, in law), but whatever: I was just glad to get out alive.

Up top, I had ENCEINTE but had no faith it was right since I know it only as a French word. Why in the world would English need it? It's just as long (syllable-wise) as "pregnant" and it reeks of Frenchitude. Had -LION at 5D: Casanova and considered LOVE LION and STUD LION before eventually hitting on STALLION. Strangely, the first long answer I got up there was PITCAIRN'S ISLAND (17A: Last of Nordhoff and Hall's "Bounty Trilogy")—this despite having no idea where PITCAIRN'S ISLAND is, or who Nordhoff and Hall are (!?), or what the "Bounty Trilogy" is. PI-C ... -ND just gave it to me. All kinds of trouble in the NW, where I had WITCH'S HAT for WIZARD HAT (23A: What may be put on before spelling?), ATM for HEN (20A: Source of collectible deposits), ALSO for ELSE (9D: Further) and HURT for NEAT (13D: Smart). Never heard of ELISHA (10D: Wonder-working biblical figure)—the phrase "wonder-working" is something I've only ever heard George W. Bush say, and whoever was discussing the clip in which he said it was talking about the way Bush's speeches were loaded with a kind of coded language of particular significance to evangelicals. Odd that that phrase evokes that memory so clearly. No idea how I remembered 3/4 of GERI's name (7D: "The Facts of Life" actress Jewell). I wanted TERI. I think Jewell has cerebral palsy. Hey, I'm right. Again, strange what my brain will retain. Thought GERI DON'T FEEL LIKE IT was I DON'T WANT TO DO IT at first. I'm guessing LOTT succeeded DOLE as Senate Majority leader, because he sure wasn't a senator from Kansas.



Gimmes were few, though, in retrospect, more than I'd imagined: ADIA (2D: #3 hit from 1997 album "Surfacing"), LOEW, TINE, STDS, A TIE, AAHS, FLAT, AVA, IVIES, WANDA, APSOS, NEOS, DOE, ANNO

Bullets:
  • 36A: Philanthropist/art collector Broad (ELI) — Nope. No idea. But surrounding answers were easy so no problem. Broad (rhymes with "road") is a big figure in L.A., apparently.
  • 37A: "Fabien ___ Franchi" (Oscar Wilde poem) ("DEI") — more obscurity. All crosses. Between this and the MESNE / MEA cross ... a little much, Latin-wise.
  • 38A: ColorQube maker (XEROX) — had "FEAR Factor" at first instead of "THE X Factor," but once I fixed that, XEROX was easy. No idea what a ColorQube is. That is some gratuitous Q-action right there.
  • 12D: Bond girl player in "The Girl With the Golden Gun" (EKLAND) — Britt. Heard of her, but can't picture her. Keep getting picture of Brett Somers from "Match Game" stuck in my head.
  • 21D: They're straddled in pits (CELLI) — This reminds me: I did not like the clue on CAN I? There is nothing in "Please?" to suggest ungrammaticality or child-talk. If you're asking permission, it's MAY I?
  • 51D: "Turnin ___" (2009 Keri Hilson hit) ("ME ON") — Now seems as good a time as any to remind you to remember the name Keri Hilson, because that KERI will come back to bite you, eventually.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

99 comments:

syndy 12:40 AM  

Also had the witch's hat and May I but rest of the puzzle didnt put up much fight-an awful lot of partials though -favorite clue Hand passing time!! otherwise a little flat

Don Byas 1:21 AM  

Tough getting started, but I managed to keep hope alive. AFRICAN AMERICAN fell into place and i worked up from there.

"He simply walked; he walked straight before him, following the river, till he got out of the ENCEINTE of Paris." Henry James, The American

retired_chemist 1:47 AM  

Impossible here. Had to google after about a third of the fill was in. Would have just quit but I need to wait up to take my shirts out of the dryer.

My hat (and it's not a WIZARD HAT today) is off to all who finish.

lit.doc 2:21 AM  

I hope Joe Krozel found my brain tasty. DNFF. Which is still pretty normal for me on Friday, but still…there’s being chopped liver, and then there’s being zombie food.

I actually figured out a few of the 15s, which is progress of a sort. But trying to figure out how to make some variant of WITCH’S HAT work in 23A NIXed any chance of sorting out the middle.

With only the help of Check All, I was able to wallow through it in under half an hour. In my fatuous puzziverse, that’s a somewhat warmer circle of hell than actually having to google anything. Yeah, I know.

And ZAXIS is ZARDOZ’s evil twin, FWIW.

jae 3:51 AM  

Bottom 4 stack easy, top Med-Challenging, middle tough. Hand up for MAYI, plus ADDTO for ADDIN, and RETRIEVE was my first stab at RETAILAT. The MENSE/MEA cross took a while. I also had some spelling help from my bride (e.g. SATELLITE, I can never remember which letters are doubled and what the correct vowels are--dyslexia sucks). Speaking of spelling, PITCAIRNSISLAND was a gimme except for spelling it PITCARINS. That took a while to fix. So, challenging works for me but not quite for the reasons Rex covered. Oh, I liked this one a lot! Thanks Joe.

I skip M-W 7:04 AM  

Took 89 minutes, but did it. Is mesne related to feudal demesne, and if so, why?idiotically, I put in Mexican-American before I got African-American. Z axis is third axis signifying depth in 3-d graph. Nordhoff and Hall wrote trilogy about mutiny on the Bpunty against, Captain Bligh; mutineers wound up on Pitcairn island where their descendants still live, but why the s, I'm not sure. Naturally, May I before can I . Isn't pregnant just as French in origin as Enceinte? Never heard of Adia. would have thought Eklund, but didn't fit. Tried del before dei for Wilde poem, which never heard of either. tried mtns before ctns, and many other miscues along the way.
captcha = stansone, reminds me of 57 A. Night night

Glimmerglass 8:01 AM  

@ISKIPMW: I was about an hour and a half also. This was a typical Friday for me. Early on I was sure I'd be DNF. There were tons of things I didn't know (ADIA, LOTT, GERI just in the top stack), but the downs I did know revealed (in time) the long acrosses. Got PITCAIRNS ISLAND off the last two letters (I taught the book to 8th graders many, many years ago). For some reason I guessed ONTARIO correctly. HAMILTON came from just a few down crosses. There were some clever clues (39A, 20A, 21D, 49D, 25D) Good, challenging puzzle.

Yahswe Sukuyugi 8:11 AM  

That's correct, need a brilliant mind to answer this thing. But really it's fun. :-)

Skua 8:21 AM  

Thanks to Classics Illustrated Comics, I knew 17a. The second installment of the trilogy Men Against the Sea, shows a different side to Captain Bligh.

Ross 8:31 AM  

This onewas definitely tough. I made all of the errors noted by Rex and others. What drove me nuts though was all of the "on"s in the south. .…ONONES…, HAMILTONONT…, and another …ONONES… in the last answer.

I hadn't finished the north yet so I started looking for similar patterns there, but they weren't to be found. It seemed too heavy to be a coincidence, but too repetitive to be allowed otherwise.

Smitty 8:51 AM  

I fell into every single trap Rex mentioned....and a few more - like WILLY for "movie fish" (Of course, he's a mammal, but how is that any worse than SIPping a color printer?)

I guessed my way through and needed the checker to x-box my way home.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

CANI wasn't a trap... just wrong cluing.

Van Gaughin 9:01 AM  

Pitcairn Island is inhabited by descendants of the mutineers from the Bounty. Its population has never been more than a few dozen people. It was in the news a few years ago for a series of rape and sexual assault accusations against most of the adult males on the island. Seems that over the years the Pitcairnians adopted a more Tahitian view of sex, age of consent, etc. Fascinating place.

twangster 9:02 AM  

Wow, being able to solve this without cheating (and seeing it rated challenging) makes up a bit for my failure to solve Monday's puzzle, with its BABAAURHUM.

The top was the last fall, once I got away from IDONTHAVETIMETO and ABEAD.

No BS 9:04 AM  

Nomination for 21D as cleverest clue of the year. Very tough puzzle, but it gradually yielded, to my huge satisfaction. About an hour for me.

OldCarFudd 9:11 AM  

Pitcairn's Island was a gimme; I even remembered the possessive. Then Lott, tine, and stds. Then - zilch. For a long time. Then with just a few letters, a lot on one's plate. Then guessed Ontario. Then just walked through it. It's interesting how these multiple 15s intimidate, then (usually!) fall with just a bit of nudging. Fun puzzle!

David L 9:14 AM  

Got the middle reasonably quickly, then stared at blank top and bottom for a long time before they started to yield. Got STALLION but had ANEYE next to it. SATELLITESTATES was the first -- after wanting somethingREPUBLICS. Etc etc. A lot of missteps before eventually finishing with an educated guess at the MEA/MESNE cross. Happy and somewhat surprised to finish.

I don't agree with the objections to CANI. Whatever one thinks about the correctness of the expression (and in any case, there's nothing ungrammatical about it), it's perfectly common, and not restricted to children.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

I haven't looked at my Latin declensions of "ego" lately but "mea" is a possessive adjective, not a pronoun. Puzzle still tough.

efrex 9:25 AM  

After yesterday's Wrath of Kahn DNF-fest, I didn't hold up much hope for today. Seeing Big Bad Joe's name (like the quad-stacked 15s could be anyone else) put the nail in the coffin. Wanted ELIJAH instead of ELISHA (the former did the flashier miracles), and MAYI for CANI, and that put the kibosh on me.

*sigh* oh, well, here's hoping for a workable Sunday puzzle...

Vega 9:29 AM  

I don't think IDONTFEELLIKEIT is a procrastinator's comment. I think it's a a lazy person's (or perhaps blase person's) comment.

What are CTNS? What are pks? Oh...it's coming to me...cartons and packs? I had CTyS for the longest time, thinking perhaps counties hold (?) many parks. And I've never heard of HEARN, so Heary seemed plausible.

This one involved a lot of putting in, taking out, putting back in, taking back out for me.

jackj 9:29 AM  

This was one of those puzzles which had no flow, no sparkle and no fun. When finished, there was no sense of achievement, only thanks that the ordeal was over.

Constructors who seek out and use obscurities like MENSE, rather than fine tune the puzzle in consideration of beleaguered solvers, deserve the Maleskan Hall of Shame Award.

joho 9:35 AM  

Tough puzzle for me. I had very much the same thought process as Rex but at a slower pace, no doubt. I got it all but the top where I really struggled for quite a while. Wanted AlInE on and had took forever to give up on the Casanova being a LION. Also, even with ENCEINTE it was still Greek to me. (Ok, made that French,)

Very Fridayish, Joe, thank you!

joho 9:38 AM  

Sorry for the typo, I hit the wrong button before I could proof. Should read: Wanted AlinE on and it took ...

Bob Kerfuffle 9:38 AM  

DNF; day is too short.

Had all the 15s, top and bottom, only writing over MAYI/CANI (agree with complaints on this one) and 54D, had MODS before NEOS.

But total fail with WITCHSHAT (considered WICCANHAT, didn't help, never thought of WIZARDHAT), so ZAXIS (thought there was some kind of device used by fishermen!) never suggested itself, didn't think of ELISHA, and even HEN escaped me at that point.

Good puzzle.

Joe 9:44 AM  

I thought this was going to be my easiest Friday every. Procrastinator's comment was obviously ILLDOITTOMORROW and East Germany and such was also obviously SOVIETSATELLITE.

Yeah, not so much.

twangster 9:44 AM  

jackj -- I think you're underestimating how hard it is to line up 4 long answers like this (twice in the same puzzle no less). The constructor almost certainly did not "seek out" MESNE. Probably it was the only option with the four long ones he had, which otherwise fit well. And I'm sure he did plenty of fine-tuning.

jesser 10:04 AM  

Unlike others, I breezed through the bottom and middle, but came to a screeching halt in the north. Having AneyE at 6D and aLSO at 9D really fouled things up up there. I eventually Googled the Bounty Trilogy, and that unlocked the damn quadrant, first by giving me a string of letters to work with and second by showing me that my entry at 6D had to be Wrong. After that, it all fell into place, but I feel dirty and shamed.

Maybe Saturday will spank me not so hard. Maybe I am a wishful thinker. Where is my WINE GLASS?

Undra! (This puzzle threw me UNDRA truck, and the truck ran over my nuts) -- jesser

Kurt 10:14 AM  

I finished but with two errors that I never went back to correct. Like Rex suggested, I thought that the proper answer to "Please?" was MAY I. So I ended up with MELLI and ENCAIYTE. I hope that had I revisited the area, I would have righted the ship. Then too....maybe not.

Very good Friday puzzle. Thanks Joe. Thanks Rex. Enjoy the weekend.

nanpilla 10:17 AM  

Having STretchONESneck in the bottom held me up down there, and having aLSo and AneyE up top held me up there, too. In the end, they all worked themselves out, but not until 45 minutes had gone by, and I still had an error. I forgot to check my crosses and left ELo for ELI crossing ADDoN for ADDIN.

This is not giving me confidence for the upcoming ACPT!

chefbea 10:20 AM  

DNF just came here to see the answers

Mel Ott 10:21 AM  

Pretty tough puzzle - worthy of a Friday.

I had a lot more trouble with the top than the botttom. Sometimes these 15's just jump into view (A LOT ON ONES PLATE did for me) and sometimes you just have to keep plugging away at them.

In the N I had -----AGREEMENTS early on, but it took a lot of crosses before I saw PITCAIRNS ISLAND, which finally opened up the section for me.

Doomed To Repeat It 10:23 AM  

The history the of "May I / Can I" can be remembered via the blog of Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Very tough puzzle for me (many Fridays are tough for me). Had to google right away. Got PITCAIRN"S ISLAND but not much more to make any headway. So went to read Rex comments. I can honestly say that no amount of time would have helped me to complete this puzzle.
Well at least Rex rated this one as challenging.

Two Ponies 10:31 AM  

Yes, that Keri chick can bite me.
So can the rest of the obscurities.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:42 AM  

Two questions:

1) Isn't ELI and ELISHA a repeat?
2) Why didn't you post some Ween to tie in with the STALLION?

PuzzleNut 10:49 AM  

I'm on top of the world! Finished in about an hour and Rex rated it Challenging. Slowed down by chic/NEAT, aLSo/ELSE, ADDto/ADDIN, AneyE/AFILE.
Liked the CELLI clue a lot, somehow knew ELI Broad, HEN was good and ZAXIS was nice.
Last fill was the MENSE/MEA cross, but M was by far the best guess.
Had no idea that Jesse Jackson coined the AFRICAN AMERICAN term.
Between yesterday's masterpiece and today's toughie, a great end of the week.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

The term African American has been around since the 1890's. The Rev Jackson may have popularized it, but he certainly didn't coin the phrase.

Bassetwrangler 11:05 AM  

Being polite I'm one on the "May I" side and got gobsmacked by entering "dim" for "nix" and "an eye" for "a file". "Z axis" finally hit me and it was no longer a fish called Wadda. Geri Jewell was more recently a character in HBO's Deadwood.

Lindsay 11:06 AM  

Minimal difficulties in the south and then ..... panic. I have sent in my entry to the ACPT, not because I have any interest in, or aptitude for, competitive puzzling, but because this long winter has fried my brain, and I need to escape. So this is a bad time to realize I can't complete a grid. Except that I did, eventually, after putting the puzzle down, and coming back later. You're not allowed to do that when Will Shortz is proctoring, are you?

Most of the errors already mentioned, plus others. For example, 38A "Something-you've-never-heard-of maker" in 5 letters = Atari. Then I had "ore" as my source of collectible deposits, which with the first "s" of ???????STATES at 18A led me to suppose that the wonder-working biblical figure would be "the son." Which I later switched to "Samson." Yikes.

I would still be staring at the grid if I hadn't found 25D Z-AXIS after reciting the alphabet for the umpteenth time at that location. Z-axis gave me WIZARD HAT, and the grip on reality (rather than miracle-working) that I needed to finish.

I promise to write shorter posts after I get this silly competition out of the way. Hope to meet some of you there.

Lindsay 11:10 AM  

Did I mention "mood" at 8D?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

For a second I thought there was going to be a mini-theme of having an "ONON" string in all the 15s on the bottom and was about to be mightily impressed... but only having 3/4 makes it look like a bug rather than a feature

Hiram 11:14 AM  

Say it ain't so, Joe. Snoozefest today. I'm not impressed by tetra-stacks if the answers are going to be this boring. OK we get it, you can make crazy grids. Patrick Berry can do it too, and he does it better.

Mr. Krozel is obviously a skilled grid-maker, but I wish he'd stop doing these "record breakers" and concentrate on a solid 68- or 70-worder. Way too many boring entries in this one. Knock our socks off with amazing fresh and fun entries!

Mel ott 11:20 AM  

Re AFRICAN AMERICAN: I think the clue is reasonably accurate. Jackson took exception to the term Afro-American, which was the more popular term at the time, and argued for African American. So he popularized the term - doesn't say he coined it.

JaxInL.A. 11:45 AM  

Rex thought the word MESNE is Latin, but it's only Latin in the sense that French derives from Latin. MESNE is really a remnant of Law French.  

After the Norman Conquest of England, French became the language not only of the elite but also of legal activities. Over the next 600 years, even as French and the vernacular language began to meld into something like the English we recognize today, legal activities kept using a limited form of French that came to be called Law French.  Several attempts to make legal language more intelligible (yeah, that's a fight that is centuries old) diminished or removed the use of Law French. Most of it has disappeared, but some of it entered common use and some Law French terms have specific meanings that remain useful to legal activities today. 

Remnants of law French include words like bailiff, culprit, defendant, estop*, force majeure, mortgage, parole, plaintiff, and voir dire*. The two starred words show up in crosswords pretty regularly.  Then there's the obscure stuff used only in legal circles like laches (the bane of every law student) and MESNE profits, which are the monies someone has been deprived of while being unlawfully kept out of their property.

Liked the puzzle but HTG for quite a bit before I began to get a toehold.  

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Googled Pitcairn, Ekland and (ashamedly) Xerox. Slow but fun.

BigSteve46 12:08 PM  

Finished but with a few mistakes - around the "elisha/mister/ekland" area. I know this isn't really "finishing" but when a puzzle has 8 15-letter clues in it and I get them all right - that's a "finish" for me!

foodie 12:08 PM  

Thank you, Rex, for calling it challenging. I had to use the "Check" function as I was solving to eliminate a number of alternative answers: keep AN EYE on in lieu of A FILE on, ORE in lieu of HEN, Go FLAT in lieu of COLD (Malapop!) ... I know I would not have finished if it weren't for that device.

I recognize it's a form of cheating, but it's an interesting alternative to Googling. You have to come up with all the answers yourself. I think of it as working on my willingness to take risks and my ability to give up on an answer even when it feels like it's the only possible one. All part of the quest for perfection!

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I'm not understanding why "led to" works for "prefaced." One might say "He prefaced his remarks with.." But I would not say "He led to his remarks with.." Hmm. I suppose you could say that. But "He led into his remarks with," seems better.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

@Rex Parker said...

Strangely, the first long answer I got up there was PITCAIRN'S ISLAND (17A: Last of Nordhoff and Hall's "Bounty Trilogy")—this despite having no idea where PITCAIRN'S ISLAND is, or who Nordhoff and Hall are (!?), or what the "Bounty Trilogy" is. ...

Never heard of ELISHA (10D: Wonder-working biblical figure) ...

And on Friday, 02/18/11:

And then there's the matter of PAYCOCK, which I assumed was some kind of close relative of the gamecock. But no. Some Irish play I don't know...

***

Hmmm, a PhD in Literature -- strangely weak in English Lit., the Bible, and Irish Lit. Strange indeed!

SethG 12:31 PM  

Bottom, not hard. Got Hamilton from the HxxxxxxxxxxxxIO, then NOON, then AFRICAN AMERICAN. Middle, I was pretty sure that VANNA White was a fish in Finding Nemo. I have no idea why I thought that.

I knew ADIA from the clue even though I didn't know the album, because ADIA is the four-letter late '90s crossword song. I would have bet that ENCEINTE was not an English word. My first (and second, third, and fourth) guess on TINE was I DOT, which I would not put past Krozel.

Quad stacks is amazing, but the result is pretty underwhelming.

a guy 12:35 PM  

Anon, if you could please provide a list of all knowledge you consider essential, that'd be great, thanks.

Also, please tell us your areas of expertise, so we can spend some years probing to find out what you don't know about any areas plausibly related to it.

Also, you're an ass.

Moonchild 12:40 PM  

A quick scan before I made a single mark
Don't know, could be anything, books I haven't read, geography, Oh one I know -ile, may I or can I, something about magic, Mia or Ava, Bible crap, vague fill-in-the-blank, Oh another one I know Erase, person I don't know, poem I don't know,what's a Qube?, something about liquor, pks?, Oh I'll bet it's Doe, Latin, Jesse says a lot of stuff, vague clue, more geography, some long phrase.
Well, let's look at the Downs. Cross reference, unknown album, politics blech, pregnant?, something with Love in it, An Eye, TV show I never saw, Vague, vague, more bible crap, hmm too long for amigo, too many Bond girls, vague, toast points? too long, abbrev., Pits? wrestling? casino? peach pits?, vague, Oh Wanda, Jerry Brown?, theater, Oh dogs Apsos, TV show I never saw, Loew, film clips? hair cuts?, vague, something about editing, thatch? cedar shakes?, law crap, Aahs, flat, cross ref., mesi?, more music I don't know, I iz 2 stoopid 4 this puzzle.

Sparky 12:52 PM  

Couldn't get a toehold. Came to see answers same as @Chefbea. Had only Middle West. And ATM for HEN. And oh, I thought I was being so clever. Guess not.

I'm about to register for ACPT. Fear and trembling.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

@A Guy - Quit picking on Anon 12:24. I, like he, feel totally emasculated by Rex's ability to solve these puzzles when I've no idea, and it's theraputic for me to poke whatever fun at him that I can. We need this for our sanity.

Rex Parker 1:15 PM  

I accept any and all ridicule of my knowledge gaps. I do appreciate the defense, but it's unnecessary.

rp

Masked and Anonymous and U-less 1:16 PM  

No U's??? No. No. No.

Couldn't do this one without resorting to "research" (for the top puzpart).

"American Idol?" No. No. No.

Gil.I.Pollas 1:30 PM  

Wow, it's a bit hard to comment after "Also, you're an ass." However, I sorta feel like one with regards to this puzzle. I couldn't seem to get a toe-hold although my first entry was PITCAIRN'(S) ISLAND. Loved reading anything to do with mutineers.
I wish I could have seen any theatre renditions of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. I never seemed to be in a place that featured it. Instead, I watched Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in the Birdcage. My husband and I roared. I happen to love both actors; I could watch Lane in anything.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

jackj said...

"Constructors who seek out and use obscurities like MENSE, rather than fine tune the puzzle in consideration of beleaguered solvers, deserve the Maleskan Hall of Shame Award."

I can assure you that there is no way that Joe Krozel could have easily "fine-tuned" MESNE out. Nor would he have "sought out" MESNE.

Here's the deal, back in Maleska's day, words like MESNE appeared routinely relatively easy-to-construct daily puzzles. This is why some critics (quite rightly) started to eventually complain.

If there ever was a place for a word like MESNE (a legitimate legalese word, BTW), then it is in a puzzle with quad-stacks like today. Did Joe Krozel seek out the word? No. Would he have liked a different word here? Yes. Would he have scrapped an ultra-rare, and almost impossible to construct double-quad stacks because of this? Hell no!

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

Clark 1:39 PM  

Total crash on the top of the puzzle for me.

@anon 9:19 -- MEA is both a possessive adjective and a possessive pronoun.

@JaxInL.A. -- Adding to what you said about MESNE: "mesne conveyance" and "mesne assignment" are the phrases familiar to me. But how about this?: The ancient and abolished 'writ of MESNE' "which lay when the lord paramount distrained on the tenant paravail. The latter had a writ of mesne against the mesne lord" (Black's Law Dictionary).

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Post puzzle googling shows that although it is Pitcairn Island, the Book in the Bounty Trilogy was named Pitcairn's Island. I never got the answer to the clue, because I was unaware of the Trilogy. Last Night on AMC, the original movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" was on, and I saw the Hollywood depiction of Pitcairn Island, along with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton in living black and white. Coincidental, but not, unfortunately, helpful.

Rex Parker 2:06 PM  

MAS FTW!

Apropos of nothing, I'm listening to "Lungs" by Florence and the Machine, and it is Astonishing. I'm a fan.

Back to trying to make a Monday puzzle (harder than I'd ever imagined).

rp

TimJim 2:21 PM  

Hand up for WITCHESHAT, ATM, and ANEYE. DNF due to the north. Agree with the complaint about the cluing for IDONTFEELLIKEIT. That's not a procrastinator, it's a refusenik. Also didn't like "Cassanova" cluing for STALLION. But it's been a while since I've been either ...

Stan 2:50 PM  

Since I like to announce success, I should also acknowledge failure. Not even close, except for the bottom, which was fun.

No complaints, Joe, we all like a challenge!

Ruth 2:53 PM  

I visited Paris while pregnant in 1983 and was charmed by the notices on the Metro designating the "easy" seats on the cars as for "enceintes" (and other enfermes as I recall--I knew more French then). I thought of that word for this puzzle but didn't know it was used in English--then when it fit a few letters, I very tentatively put it in, and Voila! It lasted. And was very helpful in busting open that section. Who knew?

sanfranman59 3:30 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 32:03, 26:14, 1.22, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 17:54, 12:54, 1.39, 93%, Challenging

With these numbers, this puzzle would rate as a Medium-Challenging Saturday. It will certainly come in as one of the tougher of the 90 Friday puzzles for which I've recorded online solve times.

chefwen 4:01 PM  

I had the opposite experience of most here, got the top and middle O.K., yeah, there was some Googling going on, but the bottom third I wasn't able to finish, even after waiting 'til morning to look at it again. I guess I was just over it by then.

Remembered the may I/CAN I discussion of January, so I didn't fall into that trap.

Favorite clues were Port terminal at 39A and They're straddled in the pits 21D.

Good but super tough puzzle.

archaeoprof 4:12 PM  

DNF. For some reason I didn't trust my hunches today. Wanted WIZARDHAT but couldn't bring myself to write it in. Saw SALESAGREEMENTS but talked myself out of it. Liked AVA but chose "Mia."

Isn't solving a strange brain state! Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't...

Kudos to Krozel!

Jayke 4:20 PM  

Liked the fill a lot. Also like many of the clues. This is a puzzle I could get behind.

Unfortunately, I was mostly crushed by it. Had some traction in the middle, not much in the north or south. Pondered it for about 20 mins, which was nearly all the time I had to spend on it. It was obvious I wasn't going to get through it, so I bailed.

JenCT 4:37 PM  

@nanpilla @Lindsay & @Sparky: hope to meet you at the ACPT.

Puzzles like this make me want to give up.....except I just registered yesterday for the ACPT. Good thing I'm not attending to try for any prizes; just to have fun & meet people.

Hand up for all the mistakes mentioned; got lots of shorter answers, but the long acrosses escaped me.

ENCEINTE? Really?

Gil.I.Pollas 5:15 PM  

@Moonchild
That was fantasatic. I'm still laughing because just about every thing you said was exactly what I felt. I couldn't have expressed as funny or as well as you.

Gil.I.Pollas 5:28 PM  

I can't spell. Is expressing ones opinion correct?

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

What the heck is Zaxi? I looked up Zardoz from the comment above, but it didn't help (so maybe it wasn't meant literally?). Driving me crazy.

JenCT 5:54 PM  

@Moonchild: I second what Gil.I.Pollas said - very funny!

JenCT 5:55 PM  

@Anonymous 5:53: Z AXIS

Masked and Anonymous II 6:01 PM  

@44: "Dog Days Are Over" ... thumbs up
"Kiss With A Fist" ... prefer "MTA"
OAO
M&A

babslesley 7:22 PM  

Just when I think, "Hey, I'm getting good at these Friday puzzles," along comes Mr. Krozel to bring me back down.

Stan 7:27 PM  

[piling on] @Moonchild -- hilarious!

@Gil.I.Pollas: Expressing one's opinion is always correct.

Nancy in PA 7:51 PM  

I echo JenCT: hope to meet you and @nanpilla @Lindsay & @Sparky at ACPT. I'll be the one knitting. Have gone to the last 2 and had a blast, though not a speed solver. Today, an hour; no mistakes, no Googles.I'm getting psyched!

mac 8:00 PM  

Enceinte was a gimme. The rest was really tough, and a part of it impossible.

Where do I begin? Whow factor, also, may I, Mia.... Actually not so bad, there were just some white holes that I had a very long time filling.

Love it, because I like tough themeless puzzles, but I didn't have a lot of happy moments solving it. Oh, well. I guess Will is scaring us before the ACPT.

foodie 8:31 PM  

@moonchild, you rock!

I've reread your comment 3 times and laughed out loud every time. It got better as I re-read. Best kind of humor, the unvarnished truth.

Speaking of humor, and Monday puzzles, I miss Andrea.

Entrap Vapor 9:09 PM  

LOVELION!!! Worked it for about thirty minutes at each meal today. Thought it was a great puzzle. Luckily I went to the gym and watched People's Court on one of those treadmill tvs, and I saw two people fighting over a SALESAGREEMENT contract... aha! Got everything but the middle. I suck at three-letter combos. Does anyone else have this problem? Kept working it but then just said IDONTFEELLIKEIT, I got ALOTON[my]PLATE and moved on with my life. Oh, yeah, I spelled satellite wrong like an idiot. Too tired!!!

I skip M-W 9:22 PM  

@REX what does MAS FTW mean? Sorry to have to ask.
Also, what sorrow has befallen Andrea? Again sorry to have to ask, and condolences about what it was.

michael 9:37 PM  

I got it all, but was lucky that I drive through Hamilton, Ontario every summer. Nice to be able to write in a 15-letter answer with no crosses. Even so, for a while I thought I wouldn't finish, but it finally fell into place. It didn't help that for a long time I rejected Pitcairn Island because it didn't ft.

mmorgan 9:45 PM  

Epic fail.

michael 9:49 PM  

Side note: The New York Times Sunday Magazine has been completely revamped -- except for the crossword. They fired many of the columnists, revamped the design etcetra. But Will Shortz and the puzzle seem safe at least for now.

PastelLady 3:47 AM  

Joe Krozel should be mauled by bears. (I got this idea from ELISHA.)

Tetu 10:11 PM  

Late to comment and late to not finish the puzzle--starting out with "I'll do it tomorrow" and downhill from there....

Adre 10:21 AM  

Would someone please explain 21D? I have 55A and brain is somewhere
9D. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Not a Musician 10:39 AM  

@Adre - 21D, They're straddled in pits, refers to the way one must embrace a cello (plural, CELLI) while playing it.

JenCT 10:39 AM  

@Adre: cellos are played in the orchestra pit; plural is CELLI.

Not a Musician 10:40 AM  

. . . in an orchestra pit, of course.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

kaufman and broad arer huge single home builders in CA

NotalwaysrightBill 11:07 AM  

Syndi-late paper solver.

Usually anyway: had to Google today. SUMOS didn't work for "straddled in pits;" didn't know hardly any of the pop culture references, just guessed right at AVA; too much latinate and legalese and no WIZARDHAT. What an array of pincers! Yes, the better to torture you with . . . .

Bright points: IVIES is a fun categorization; enjoyed recalling "A Fish Called WANDA;" AND Britt EKLAND for her "The Wicker Man" performance (even if she used a butt double standin for THE scene); and I got PITCAIRNSISLAND right off from having read it as a teen (thought at the time that "Men Against the Sea" was the best of the trilogy, but if I read them all again now, who knows . . .?).

Howsabout [46D Masseur: Wizard of _____]=AAHS (though I don't expect much ego massaging for a coupla days)?

captcha: "plutants":
pollutions from the underverse that escape and manifest as sucky crossword fooey

WilsonCPU 1:01 PM  

I skip:
MAS FTW =
Martin Asherwood Smith For The Win.
The aforementioned's comment was considered perfect, hence the Internettism "FTW", signifying the winning move/statement/accomplishment/etc.

Rico 1:35 PM  

I'm surprised no one mentioned the famous I Love Lucy episode where the suits had a big debate on whether Desi could say the word "pregnant" on TV. They ended up compromising that he could say "enceinte" instead.

Marc 4:34 PM  

This one started out tough and got easier, so I'd rate as a medium.

The hardest part for me was WIZARD HAT. I couldn't think of WANDA for a long time, and while I considered X AXIS and Y AXIS, somehow ZAXIS didn't occur to me until I finally got the W.

I remember quite clearly the speech that Jesse Jackson gave in 1988 or 1989 advocating "African-American" as the proper term to use. So the south end fell quickly.

Never heard of ELISHA? As Indiana Jones says in Raiders of the Lost ARK, "Didn't you go to Sunday school?" Of course I tried ELIJAH at first, but quickly realized it was the other guy. If I remember, Elisha came after Elijah, but Sunday school was a long time ago.

Dirigonzo 8:40 PM  

Total slog-fest for me today. AFRICANAMERICAN got me started in the south and when I finished that section and headed north I was convinced I was looking for some kind of on/on theme. Finally had all the long answers filled in and was left with a smattering of blank squares smack in the middle of the grid. I forgot the fish was WANDA even with _AN_A in place and I never got past "x" for the _AXIS. WIZARDHAT would have fixed the problem but I never saw it before coming here. Sometimes I have a penchant for overlooking the obvious.

Red state DEMOCRAT 9:15 PM  

Rex Parker,

BRITT EKLAND

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I just found this awesome & hard puzzle half solved under the passenger seat of my partner's car. I must have done the bottom and some of the middle back in March, but a lot more needed to be done on the middle and the top was still totally blank. I stared at it off and on. Lotta fun. Finally got the whole thing -- except MESNE/MEA. I had RESNE/REA. But there were so many other blind guesses (Zaxis????) that I felt happy that I got this close to perfect on such a hard puzzle. Shame on you googlers -- I'd rather stare at blank cells and try to magically melt the wall. The miracle -- or shall we say "wizardry" -- is when the impossible somehow, improbably, melts, as dim pieces of knowledge that you didn't even know were in the brain float to the surface like pieces of suppressed memory brought to life by a forensic hypnotist. Thank you Joe Krozel, you are a master and a ninja. Will Shortz, you are a national treasure.

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