Female charmer of myth / FRI 11-11-11 / Norse equivalent of Mars / Layer of green eggs / Denigrates British slang

Friday, November 11, 2011

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: 11 — not a theme, really; just an arrangement of black squares

Word of the Day: O.P.A. (48A: W.W. II rationing org.) —
The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. The functions of the OPA was originally to control money (price controls) and rents after the outbreak of World War II. // President Franklin D. Roosevelt revived the Advisory Commission to World War I Council on National Defense on May 29, 1940, to include Price Stabilization and Consumer Protection Divisions. Both divisions merged to become the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply (OPACS) within the Office for Emergency Management by Executive Order 8734, April 11, 1941. Civil supply functions were transferred to the Office of Production Management. // It became an independent agency under the Emergency Price Control Act, January 30, 1942. The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of other items, including tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. It could also authorize subsidies for production of some of those commodities. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was a little disappointing, only because I knew an "11" tribute puzzle was coming, and I expected something thematic, not just a black square arrangement. As themeless puzzles go, this one is OK. Long answers are nice, short answers are ... not so nice, often. Is all the 3-to-5-letter muck worth three decent 15s? Maybe. I really like IN FITS AND STARTS, CRIMINALIZATION, and SPRINKLER SYSTEM. I'm less keen on NATES and ENTOM. and OPA, as well as the slew of less irksome but still overly common stuff. This includes a rather large gathering of names from the Pantheon of Crosswordese: ARIE, DINA, CALE, ESAI. But I read that this is actually a much more polished version of the grid that was originally submitted, so let's just admire that damn "11" and be glad that the puzzle hangs together fairly well, without any particularly horrible patches.

Weird revelation of the day: I have no idea what "Concentration" is (old game show). Had -WE for 34D: "Concentration" pronoun (EWE) and wrote in I/WE.

11 Bullets:
  • 4A: Media inits. since 1927 (BBC) — I think I wanted UPI. I wrote in RPI (which is a school).
  • 7A: Music genre of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (SKA) — They're from Bos-ton. Get it?

  • 36A: Denigrates, in British slang (SLAGS) — first guess correct! I usually tank British slang clues.
  • 39A: Things gotten with a credit card, often (MILES) — me: DEBTS.
  • 41A: Atlanta sch. with 30,000+ students (GSU) — Flat-out guess. It's big, it's in Georgia, it's abbrev'd. ... bingo.
  • 44A: Carrie Chapman ___, founder of the League of Women Voters (CATT) — Took me a while to accept this answer, as I get my suffragists mixed up with my teetotalers (for good reason), and thus couldn't get Carrie Nation out of my head.
  • 49A: Norse equivalent of Mars (TYR) — not the best known of the Norse gods. I learned about him from crosswords. 
  • 51A: Female charmer of myth (LORELEI) — as 7-letter answers go, this one is pretty common. Always good to store away words and names made up mostly of vowels.
  • 2D: 1940 Crosby/Lamour/Hope comedy ("ROAD TO SINGAPORE") — I knew it was "ROAD TO..." something. From there, I let ESAI and GSU guide me to the right destination.
  • 10D: Carnegie Hall debut of 1928, with "An" ("AMERICAN IN PARIS") — Gershwin.

  • 31D: Layer of green eggs (EMU) — Considered briefly whether ROE was indeed green. Then got the joke.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 7:03 AM  

You 'new'?

dk 7:03 AM  

no rant 2 day.

This one went down easy except for the southwest. I fixated on geology for what 30 Rock is built on as opposed to the actual clue, built in. That coupled with spurts instead of STARTS -- sigh.

It was the jolt of COLAS that saved the day.

I think Cousin ITT will be the Prince Valiant's son (Em) of my puzzle generation. I shudder to think of the moral implications.

*** (3 Stars) Solid if easier than most Friday

joho 7:10 AM  

Where is everybody?

When I printed this out last night the first thing I wrote in the margin was, "Cool grid!"

The unusual shape made this a unique solve, too. I was impressed by the 6 vertical 15's, my favorite being INFITSANDSTARTS ... which is sort of how I solve late week puzzles. For some reason, though, this didn't seem that hard to me. I finished all but the middle last night and was done this morning before my first cup of coffee was gone.

Congratulations, Alex, for your tribute to 11/11/11.

A big thank you to all veterans everywhere!

aussiedan 7:13 AM  

Strictly speaking I believe the term should be surgeons general

exaudio 7:17 AM  

why is EWE a "concentration" pronoun?

Jim 7:18 AM  

Wow. Right in my wheelhouse, that's for sure. Much less intimidating than the horizontally-stacked 15s, for some reason. Was able to drop in a few short crosses and...away we went. Great fun.

The EWE (you) pronoun refers to the fact that in Concentration pictures or symbols were used to represent words, or parts of words (eye for 'I', etc.). Strung together, they formed a phrase or sentence, and the contestant's job was to suss the answer out. Great fun, actually. Good game.

Yeah, SW was the slowest. Not tireS, not nOteS, what is it? What is it?! Oh, right...COLAS. Meh.

David 7:25 AM  

Pleasant enuugh and certainly easier than many Fridays. I did momentarily wonder if the hams of emus are green....

exaudio 7:26 AM  

Thanks for the explanation, Jim. It didn't help that even though it clearly said "pronoun," I was thinking "preposition." At some point in my school life, I was assigned the task of memorizing the 50 or so commonest prepositions (about above across after against along amid among is just the beginning of the A's). So I was running through that in my head trying to come up with one that ended in WE. Finally just went through the alphabet until I got Mr Happy Pencil, which was a quick task.

Glimmerglass 7:35 AM  

Took a lot of Latin in HS and college -- never ran across NATES. I get suffragettes mixed up too, and I cant spell SINGAPORE. I had CoTT (mixed up CATT and Mott?). Medium for me, though the 15s were relatively easy.

Susain 7:35 AM  

Apparently I'm not on the right wavelength this morning: Where is the joke in green eggs and emus?

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Aussiedan beat me to it. It is Surgeons General.

Don Byas 8:10 AM  

Hooray for OPA!

from the ONION (9.20.2000):

NEW YORK–Stopping for lunch at a Manhattan Burger King, New York Times 'On Language' columnist William Safire ordered two "Whoppers Junior" Monday. "A majority of Burger King patrons operate under the fallacious assumption that the plural is 'Whopper Juniors,'" Safire told a woman standing in line behind him. "This, of course, is a grievous grammatical blunder, akin to saying 'passerbys' or, worse yet, the dreaded 'attorney generals.'"

Gill I. P. 8:12 AM  

Six 15's, top to bottom. NICE. I liked CRIMINALIZATION and AMERICAN IN PARIS.
ROAD TO SINGAPORE was my first entry. I've watched every Road to....a million times. Hope and his wife Dolores were my heroes. I can't think of a living soul in Hollywood now who has the talent, charisma, compassion or genuine gracefulness that these two had. Please feel free to add more adjectives.
So wanted nalga for 45A. Never heard of NATES but I like the word. I looked up NATE and got the word origin. It's a short version of Nathan which means "God has given." Hmmmm.
stared at EDS (52D) for sometime as that didn't make much sense. Oh, editors of the mag.
Fun, easy puzzle, that i really enjoyed.
Off to line up for the Veterans Day Parade where we shall wave our flags and do lots of smiling.

jberg 8:12 AM  

Good grief, I've never seen a conductor look so uninvolved in the music. Gershwin isn't that boring!

I had no idea who this CALE person is, and don't know the game, so I guessed I/WE, as well, and finished with one error. Cousin ITT was a guess too, but VTT and XTT seemed unlikely, and ol' Mel doesn't start with a Roman numberal, so it seemed right.

NATES is Latin? I just got it from the crosses, writing over ASSES.

I did like the family members/familia member cross follwed by parents, and that unknown cousin a little later.

It seems to me that CAT Scan is IDIOmatic, but MRI is just MRI - but then the first Rose Bowl would have had to be in CMIC at the latest, which seemed unlikely.

And, as @aussiedan pointed out, SURGEON GENERALS is just wrong!

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

SURGEON GENERALS!!! The worst entry ever!

foodie 8:21 AM  

Easy puzzle to solve but I'm sure it took talent to construct.

Happy 11-11-11 everyone!

SethG 8:22 AM  

Where'd You Go?

I thought of both KYLE and DALE before CALE, which is kinda oddly poetic. LOAMIER is not.

I really regret not having solved this in exactly 11 minutes. I'm also kinda odd.

Steve 8:32 AM  

Don, I remember an On Language column where Safire went on at some length about the plural of surgeon general, the point being that "surgeon" is the operative word (pun intended). The same applies for "whopper"; it's funny because it's true.

Tobias Duncan 8:56 AM  

Fridays are never easy for me but this one was steady going for the most part.The two race car drivers were gibberish for me but I was very appreciative of the GSU clueing.So nice to see a college clued without sports.They must not have a team.

Ok I have seen this stupid "Glamour types" clue enough to know the answer is EDS but WTF?I know you guys tried to explain it to me before but I still dont think I get it, are they just the type of people who work at Glamour? Is it some play on type as in typesetting? Do editors do a lot of typing.

Slags was a gimme only because I have been listening to the "Ricky Gervais Show" podcasts every chance I get this year.They usually say Slag with off though, as in "I'm not having a go, not slagging him off, its just that he has a head like a F*^%ing orange". Fun stuff.

One of my favorite Onion articles is about the new surgeon general holding a press conference to admit that he is in fact a werewolf, the full moon is fast approaching, and they must lock him up for the night."I am not like other surgeons general" he declares.
That said NPR just did an entire piece on Surgeon Generals.Things are changing.It all comes down to usage in the end, like it or not.

evil doug 8:57 AM  

Nobody says "colas". It's Coke ("We carry Pepsi Cola products, is that okay?"), or Coca-Cola, or RC, or cola nuts. Never just "colas". But that's why it was a pretty good clue (like others, I tried tires, notes, etc).

Had GTU for a while. Of course, it's not Georgia Tech University; it's the Georgia Institute of Technology. But if you're there, go to The Varsity, largest drive-in in the whole damn world.

When I hear "contour", I don't think of pantsuits.

Dina Merrill was hot in Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Her movie bio says she was in Caddyshack II(!), which is probably the worst sequel to a great movie that ever was.

Ezine gets my vote for most irritating addition to crossword fill inventory.


William Safire 9:03 AM  

Most of us in the language dodge take savage delight in correcting anyone who makes the plural ''attorney generals,'' which is as egregious a gaffe as ''court-martials'' or ''cherry jubilees.'' In those cases, the nouns (attorney, court, cherry) are followed by their modifiers, the adjectives (general, martial and the attributive noun acting as an adjective, jubilee). To make such a compound title plural, you add an s to the noun -- the thing itself -- not to its modifier.

That's the rule; salute and do it. But not so easy is the oral salutation. While it seems natural to call an inspector general ''Inspector'' or a postmaster general ''Postmaster,'' it sounds funny to call an attorney general ''Attorney,'' and to call a solicitor general ''Solicitor'' begs the question.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

No one answered Susain yet, and was wondering the same thing. Anyone?

Sarah 9:09 AM  

Not easy, not hard, just chewy and fun for me. The only obstacle was SW, which came INFITSANDSTARTS; for some reason it took me forever to get that old chestnut LEI. I solve in the actual paper and tend not to look at the shape of the grid, so I didn't see the "11" until I came here; I always miss the grid shape designs -- I guess I should look at the puzzle at arm's length before I start working on it! My least fave: REARERS. Really? SURGEONGENERALS is a bit dodgy, imo, but far be it from me to SLAG off an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

evil doug 9:13 AM  

Thanks, Joho. I guess not every 11/11 puzzle can be dedicated to Veterans Day, but just having a big "11" in the empty grid seems like a poor substitute....

My wife is with her folks in Moline today. Her dad was a B-24 pilot in Europe; shot up so bad in his first bomb run that he was certain he wouldn't complete his mission quota, but thankfully came back to marry his high school sweetheart and provide me my wonderful wife of 37 years (and being the spouse of a military guy/gal is not easy, either). My late dad was a Navy pilot in the Pacific. My six years were so easy compared to what they faced.

We're losing WWII vets at a rate estimated to be 1,000 per day, so if you happen to know any make a special effort to seek them out and say "thanks for saving the world".


AnnieD 9:16 AM  

Then again, someone gets court-martialed, not courted martial or courted martially.


Easy for a Friday, but a nice pace to follow, working my way around the grid. Only stumbled with Cale which I did not know. I remembered "Concentration" but it took me awhile to remember all the sheep they used.

And nates? Never heard of it but can see where it comes in handy....Avast you nates! Got it from the crosses.

Agrarian Nit Picker 9:20 AM  

LOAMIER is just plain wrong as clued. Loam is a type of soil, not one that is intrinsically rich in nutrients, the only type of rich which can characterize soils. Loam is richer than a sandy soil, but not as rich as a decent top soil. It may be the preferred soil for any type of agriculture, but it isn't intrinsically "rich".

M07S 9:27 AM  

@Susain and Anonymous 9:06 Emu egg shells are a dark emerald green. There is no "joke" to it.

Jp 9:30 AM  

It is a great feeling for me to finish a Friday. Thought the grid hinted to a Veteran's Day theme. No traction at all other than a few 3 letter words. But a google gave me ROAD TO SINGAPORE and AMERICAN IN PARIS. From there the puzzle opened up quite nicely. It was nice to discover the other long answers:
So for me I rate this one as clever and enjoyable. I did not want this puzzle to end.

Jp 9:30 AM  

It is a great feeling for me to finish a Friday. Thought the grid hinted to a Veteran's Day theme. No traction at all other than a few 3 letter words. But a google gave me ROAD TO SINGAPORE and AMERICAN IN PARIS. From there the puzzle opened up quite nicely. It was nice to discover the other long answers:
So for me I rate this one as clever and enjoyable. I did not want this puzzle to end.

Howard B 9:32 AM  

It's a striking grid, and considering the constraints, it's a nice visual tribute to the day. Quirky and fun. True that it doesn't meet the difficulty of the weekday, but then again we can't quite control where 11/11/11 falls. Some clue tweaking to increase the difficulty a bit though (SLAGS is a toughie if you're not up on the Queen's Slang).

davko 9:58 AM  

This is a puzzle that rewards you generously as you tease out small words that serve as the sparks to bigger chain reactions. Getting the six 15-letter pillars supporting this edifice was what really opened things up, forcing any stubborn horizontals to reveal themselves -- words like REARERS (18A), LORELEI (51A), and LOAMIER (60A).

I was more than surprised to find both ARIE (Luyendyk) and CALE (Gale) --not exactly household names -- populating this grid. Who, lacking 16D, did not put DALE (Earnhardt) for 33A? This is not exactly the same league of sports fill as (Mel) OTT and (Ernie) ELS, and I wonder if Mr. Vratsanos hales from a part of the world that venerates motor racing more than the average NYT reader.

As for EWE (34D) for a "Concentration" pronoun, I don't get that one at all.

jackj 10:12 AM  

With a rather large "11" in the grid one might reasonably expect a tribute puzzle for Veteran's Day but, with no follow through in the puzzle, it seems more a wink than a tribute.

The puzzle had an impressive 6-15's but, like most of this type it meant there were many, many 3 and 4 letter answers which exposed the 15's too easily.

Of particular note with the 15's were INFITSANDSTARTS and SPRINKLERSYSTEM, while SURGEONGENERALS, which should have been a highlight, seemed awkward by its misplaced "S".

Favorite non-15's were UNKEMPT and MILES with the questionable LOAMIER bringing up the NATE(S).

Quite a jump by Alex, from his only other offering of a Monday puzzle, to this themeless construction.

A nice effort, not to be diminished by my gentle kvetching.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

I liked it. I solved the right, then the left, then the center. I liked all the long downs, but especially IN FITS AND STARTS and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. The ROAD movies are so great. Hope, Crosby and Lamour always delivered their lines with tongue in cheek, laughing at themselves.

Once again, EWE was a sheep symbolic of "you" in the Concentration game. This was a TV game show with puzzles to solve that were phrases written out in symbols that when spoken revealed the words.

M07S 10:26 AM  

@davco I don't know a Cale Gale but I do recall a Cale Yarborough of NASCAR fame.

Funny story - My ex wife is a huge NASCAR fan (me, not so much). One year for her birthday I gave her a "Richard Petty Driving Experience" where you drive a one or two year old actual stock car by yourself. We traveled to Charlotte for this. She's only about 5 ft. tall and was the last one to drive since they had to modify the seating for her. Great fun. The following day we went to Myrtle Beach for golf. A local amusement park had NASCAR styled go carts. They wouldn't let her drive because she was too short! What irony.

Stan 10:27 AM  

I think it's so cool we went from Ariel to Times New Roman in one day.

archaeoprof 10:36 AM  

Agree with Rex. This puzzle paid a high price for its nifty 11 grid.

The Republicans get here tomorrow night. Our basketball arena has been transformed into the debate site. A campus eatery next door has been closed down and turned into the spin room.

Collateral damage: our food service staff in that eatery is losing two days' pay.

ksquare 10:43 AM  

Did not recognize EWE as a homophone of a pronoun and didn't know CALE. Hence, DNF with one blank square.

retired_chemist 10:44 AM  

Easy-medium fits.

There is a magazine, Emu Today and Tomorrow, that describes the emu's green eggs in detail, not to mention other ratites' eggs. If you already knew this you must not get out a lot.

Hand up for several things besides ASSES instead of NATES (STERN, PRATS, REARS) I had to overwrite. Googling NATES gets a restaurant in Addison TX as the first hit. Let's not go there.

I share the general wince at SURGEON GENERALS.

Wanted CAT and PET scans @ 1A - MRI is I guess OK with "scan" attached but I generally just say MRI. It didn't readily come to mind.

Had ENTOM instantly, then figured there were MANY 5 letter biology divs. and erased it as likely to mislead me later. Would have solved faster if I had trusted it....

Thanks, Mr. Vratsanos.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

I was signing a bunch of papers yesterday and wishing I was doing it today instead. 11/11/11 is so much easier. After next year's 12/12/12 we won't have these fun strings of dates in any of our lifetimes.
I don't get nates. @ glimmerglass mentioned HS Latin. What's the connection?
I'm glad for the surgeon generals as the "proper" use bugs me. It sounds so wrong.
Is this a debut puzzle?
Let's all root for Joon tonight!
Sincere thanks to our vets.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Concentration was a game show where contestants had to solve a famous saying by revealing a hidden rebus. So a picture of an eye would stand for the pronoun I and a picture of a ewe stood for the pronoun you.
Sorry to be old enough to remember that...
Couldn't there be a better clue for NATES??

Tita 10:56 AM  

@Jim...thanks for
the "Concentration" refresher...

I had no idea what on earth to put for _WE - and nothing looked right for CAL_.

I used to watch that show, but never made the connection.

Given that, 34D is now one of my favorite all-time clues for EWE!

Otherwise, an OK puzzle - also did it in FITSANDSTARTS, and because of CAL_/_WE DNF.

And thanks to all veterans for your sacrifices and courage.

evil doug 11:11 AM  


Happy Veteran's Day.


Tita 11:13 AM  

BTW...did anyone else think there was a theme emerging? First I got ANAMERICANINPARIS...
Then I saw a ROADTOsomeplace-maybe Morocco?, somethingGENERALS... thought it was surely related to Armistice Day.

Oh well...

Matthew G. 11:18 AM  

I note that THE ELEVENTH HOUR is 15 letters long. That entry could have tied this grid together!

A good puzzle for what it was (a themeless forced into a goofy grid). I vaguely remembered the "Concentration" game show after puzzling over that clue for a while. Before my time, but I think I caught a rerun or something on a sick day as a kid in the 80s.

Usage may shift, and I'm not that much of a grammatical conservative, but count me among those who hate SURGEON GENERALS. "General" modifies "surgeon," so it should be SURGEONS GENERAL.

Somewhat preposterously, when someone with the title of attorney general or solicitor general argues in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Justice Roberts addresses them as "General [Name]." I don't know if his predecessors did that, but it strikes me as silly every time.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

The puzzle took me relatively forever. Which would ordinarily be fine. Scoping out stuff that isn't familiar is a primary reason I do the crossword. And I liked a number of the clues.

But the thing I'll remember about this puzzle is ART DECO -- Rockefeller Center is built in it.

Built in it? Are cathedrals built in Gothic or Romanesque?


Anonymous 11:24 AM  

@M07S. Thank you. I got the idea that it was a joke because Rex had said it was a joke.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:26 AM  

@Tita - Yes, exactly! I saw that AMERICAN . . . (my first substantial entry) and thought there was a theme.

@Gill I.P. - Can't tell if you are joking. NATES is the plural of the Latin "natis", which means "buttock."

Liked the puzzle quite a bit . . . except for SURGEON s GENERAL.

John V 11:35 AM  

Consider: 11/11/11 in binary is 111111 which is 63 in decimal. So, a shout-out to all 63 year olds. You know who you are ;)

A tale of two puzzles. Immediately wrote in SKA and then SURGEONSGENERAL, as has been pounded on by others. (Echo of GST from Wednesday.) So, I expected this one to play easy, but it did not work out that way, esp the SW.

NATES? Really? Crosses saved there, but too obscure for my tastes.

My clue/answer of the day: SCHISMS.

Happy/busy Friday to all.

santafefran 11:40 AM  

When I saw a few K's at the top, I was expecting more of them to make 11 of the 11th letter of the alphabet. Alas, it was not to be.

I wanted 44D to be LINES.


V 11:55 AM  

@ Gil I.P....I, too, was hoping for NALGAS. Now *that's* some good puzzle Spanish. Hated NATES, like everyone else.

V 11:56 AM  

My fastest Friday ever, by the way.

PuzzleNut 11:58 AM  

As always, interesting comments throughout. I completely missed that SURGEONGENERALS was wrong until pointed out here. NATES is new to me - thanks @Bob for the derivation. I got snookered by wanted an "S" at the end of 5D, so went with SEATS for a while.
No one has yet mentioned it, but for a really great 11 tribute puzzle, be sure to check out BEQ's site. You can see from my profile why I liked it so much.

Chip Hilton 11:58 AM  

I was hoping for a theme to accompany the striking grid. Oh, well...

SURGEONGENERALs annoyed me too. Got me thinking about sportscasters and their dilemmas: Times-out or time-outs? Hole in ones or holes in one? RBIs or RsBI? (I'm just being silly on that last one.)

A sincere nod of thanks to our veterans.

Lewis 12:00 PM  

Susain and Anonymous 9:06 -- the "joke" is the double meaning of the word "layer", which could cause a misdirect. A layer (level area) of eggs vs. a layer (one who lays) of eggs. As best as I can tell...

Not an easy solve for me, more a slog. The answers didn't pop out easily, and I needed to Google. But I did like it.

Go Joon!

mac 12:08 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, for once picked up on the 11 in the grid, but it was too easy for my Friday. If the grid had had three small 11s, the level of difficulty might have been better.

Thought our friend the ern might have green eggs for a bit.

syndy 12:09 PM  

@ EVIL D-I DO. I found this wildly easy for a friday.despite not knowing NATES(good to know) My only writeover was DALE/CALE but ERADIDATES was obviously wrong.If I was discussing a new cigarette threat would I say The surgeon General's warning or the Surgeon's general warning?

ArtO 12:14 PM  

For a truly enjoyable Bob Hope video go to YouTube for the Cagney and Hope dance routine. These guys gave true meaning to talent and versatility.

Thanks for the Eleven tribute and a relatively easy Friday.

Arlene 12:18 PM  

Nice to see some others remember Concentration on TV years ago. I even had the home version of the game (no electronics, just cards and a scroll thingy.) I really enjoyed it - guess I've always liked puzzles.
And, yes - attorneygenerals really annoyed me to having to put those letters in the grid. But I'm a good sport and played along.
The Word Verification just came up as HEMEN - must be referring to Penn State folks.

Tita 12:18 PM  


Not knowing the answer, I would punt and awkwardly (but correctly) say "the warning of the surgeon general..."

And if there are multiple surgeons general giving out warnings?

Masked and Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Can kinda see why they didn't try this grid decoration idea for 10/10/10. Really fun solve; I'd rate it an 11 out of somethin'.

Fave fill: INFITSANDSTARTS -- My solving technique. Also a special nod out to ENTOM. It's not even an anagram of anything too special. Well, wait... I guess MONET ain't bad. So, then, a better clue for ENTOM = "Touched-up Monet?".

Fave clue: the 59-Across one. Wanted somethin' like CEMENT or CONCRETE. Wrong again, M&A dude.

ThUmbsUp to all Us Vets. Me, I was in military intelligence ... and a beer disposal unit. Scary, huh?

efrex 12:31 PM  

Knocked this one out a whole lot faster than Wednesday's (still bitter about that), although with a Natick at NALE/EWE.

AMERICANINPARIS somehow got pencilled in straightaway with no crosses (no idea why that popped into my head), so the entire right side of the grid got filled pretty quickly. Through in EZINE and SLAGS right off the bat in the middle, but took some time to work through the long answers there. I knew OPA thanks to Abbott & Costello's "Hertz you drive" routine and OSS thanks to Tom Lehrer ("Send the Marines"), and that eventually opened up the right side (see, mom? Memorizing old comedy routines *can* come in handy!)

Nice solid themeless, with enough spice both in the grid and fun shape to mostly make up for the shorter fill.

Ed 12:43 PM  

I wish there had been an 11 theme, rather than just blank squares.

And I'm with @aussiedan - ATTORNEY GENERALS is grammatically incorrect, and there's nothing in the clue to indicate it should be so.

David 12:47 PM  

Finally this week, a puzzle I not only enjoyed but kicked butt on. Though, about 3 minutes in I had completed about 8 clues. The SE was the key - I got all of the across clues down there, which gave me SURGEONGENERALS, leading me to most of the middle, but importantly the NE, which nailed down the 2 long clues in the East (love SPRINKLERSYSTEM).

Had a small writeover with MAFIOSI and MAFIOSO, and a big one where I initially put in INFITSANDSPURTS. I would have kept it but CAPT for Carrie Chapman just wouldn't do it for me, so I revisited and felt much better about CATT.

Happy Veterans Day!
Go Joon!

Matthew G. 12:53 PM  

I didn't think "layer" was a joke. I think it says what it means, and it didn't even occur to me to misread it as layer=level or tier.

Tita 12:56 PM  

Can't resist chiming in again...

Taped Colbert, watching now during lunch...

Brian ENO is the guest! Odd to me to see a real person attached to a name I only encounter 'in the grid'.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

I would suggest that there can never be more than one surgeon general

Regina Benjamin 1:09 PM  

@Anonymous, 12:58 - Spoken like as true American!

C. Everett Koop 1:10 PM  

Previous Surgeons General

Tita 1:12 PM  

Right...there may be a reunion of retired surgeons general.
Or, expanding beyond our own borders, "The Surgeon-General is the senior medical officer of the British Armed Forces" (wiki)

Sparky 1:22 PM  

According to Wordplay, Alex Vratsanos planned a 10/10/10 puzzle but was too late. So he did an 11/11/11 and it was accepted. He is thinking about a 12/12/12. This has nothing to do with Veterans Day. Which certainly is too bad. My father was in WW I, Uncle Joey sneaked in at age 16 and won the Croix de Guerre. My cousins were in WW II, my college classmates in Korea. And it goes on and on.

JenCT 1:29 PM  

Women have been Rotary Club Members since 1987...

Thought I was so smart to put LILY for 8D.

All too familiar with MRIs...

I must've known TYR and LORELEI from doing crosswords.

Happy weekend, everyone.

John V 1:37 PM  

re: 59A "Rockefeller Center is built in it", part of my "this will be easy" was immediately writing in MIDTOWN, which, last time is checked, is correct. Also had CATscan @ 1A for a long time, ditto SHAGS for SLAGS. That was the way it went.

Also forgot to say that 10A, "Solid rock center" was a fun clue. Tried to squeeze in ARTDECO, but no luck.

DigitalDan 1:52 PM  

Hand up for Surgeons General. Not sure about "Whopper Junior"s, since a two word proper name might well resist being broken into.

I have an opposite complaint: Formula 1 race announcers and writers (where Arie Luyendyk once competed) invariably refer to their events as "Grands Prix," where "Prix" means "contest" or something. Seems to me that the contest is the important term, not how grand one is, but I'll admit I know too little about French to know how one would pluralize it the other way.

Submitted by me and my doppelganger.
Digitals Dan

Sparky 1:59 PM  

Hi, it's me again. I believe the "joke" is that the clue puts you in mind of the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. So people are vamping on that.

I have no interest in auto racing and will never be able to remember names connected to it. So, Cal-/--E. ARIE from downs. I had MCMII even though I was misreading clue as Superbowl. Female sheep for you is a real rebus. Started with ROADTO then AMERICANINPARIS. OPA okay if OSS is too. An okay solve.

Thanks to all Veterans.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

i would have finished had i not mispelled which gave me ids as glamour types. despite the error i found this puzzle easy for a fri. i agree with all the english teachers in general but ex-surgeon generals sounds better to me.

hazel 2:45 PM  

First, the puzzle.   Liked the look and the long downs.  Kind of a rollercoaster w/ respect to highs and lows of the actual experience - not a terribly exciting rollercoaster,  but it made me feel clever, and there's something to be said for that.

As to the veterans among us - Thank you for your service!! And since it is Veteran's Day, it also gives me the opportunity to recommend The Good Soldiers by David Finkel, which I'm sure many have heard of. Written by an embedded journalist, the book  absolutely stamps the experience of the Fighting 2-16 on you as they serve their tour in Iraq.  It personalized the war for me in the way that the novels Birdsong (S. Faulk) did for WWI and The Things They Carried (T. O'Brien) for Vietnam.  All 3 eye-opening and heartbreaking and really really make me appreciate you vets!

Alex Vratsanos (yes, it's really me, the constructor) 2:55 PM  

Hello everyone... glad to see all your comments about my puzzle. I appreciate every one of them, positive and negative, because they show that the efforts I put into this puzzle are not going unnoticed.

I would now like to comment on a couple comments here.

Sparky, at 1:22 PM- you are correct. I came up with an idea to celebrate 10/10/10 in late July of last year. Two months, I realized, was not enough time for me to get it through to publication. I actually have drafted a few versions of a potential 12/12/12 puzzle, but the shapes of the numerals makes it a little hard. 12/12/12 will fall on a Wednesday, though, so expectations probably won't be as high.

More importantly, Sparky, I now really regret not thinking of Veterans' Day at all. At the very least, I should have put in the word VET. Our troops most definitely deserve it, and I salute them.

Matthew G., at 11:18 AM- I cannot believe I didn't think of putting in THE ELEVENTH HOUR! And it could have gone at 11-Down to boot! It would definitely beat SPRINKLER SYSTEM, at least in that context.

And lastly, evil doug, at 11:11 AM- that was a very good thing to do with that perfect minute. Did you try to get it at 11 seconds too?

Again, thank you all very much for commenting. This is constructor Alex Vratsanos, signing off.

alberta cale mcmii-chaels 3:55 PM  

ciao alex, bravo!
As usual, finished with one wrong letter, at 1A no less!!! I had cRI, cCMII! Messed up on Roman numerals no less! Convinced myself somehow that that was for 1802.
(Insert concentration-pic of pacifier for DUM(b)DUM(b)

Isn't that great when something you learned in the puzzle becomes "real" life!!! There should be a word for that.
It's how I felt when I saw an ad for IKATS (woven rugs) in the paper where I had preciously only known it from Scrabble!

And not knowing the whole SURGEONsGENERAL thing paid off bec I popped in SURGEONGENERALS without a moment's hesitation
(Moment hesitations?) So, ignorance paying off yet again...scary!

OPA is the cry you make when you smash your plates at Greek dinners.
I can never remember if that is good in Scrabble or not...
as for crosswords, OPAH is the fish you smash to the floor!

Happy birthday to my friend Laurie Drill-Mellum who has been waiting to celebrate 11/11/11 all her life!!!!!

Noam D. Elkies 4:06 PM  

Neat that today's exceptionally symmetrical date inspired a rare asymmetrical grid!

(But with only one 11-letter entry.)


jackj 4:09 PM  

Doug-A thoughtful post at 11:11. Thank you for reminding us of a special day.

mac 4:25 PM  

Grand Prix is the singular, Grands Prix the plural. I think always the case with French words ending in -x (like croix and noix).

sanfranman59 5:09 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 17:15, 25:31, 0.68, 5%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:20, 12:37, 0.74, 13%, Easy

Happy Veterans Day to all concerned and heartfelt thanks for your service. Every one of you is a hero in my book.

JaxInL.A. 5:10 PM  

Thanks for coming by, Alex! I enjoyed your work.

Heads up, though, to anyone who has not gotten enough of the 11/11/11 theme. Patrick Berry has done a very clever puzzle for the Chronicle of Higher Education (which he also edits), available at <A HREF="www.cruciverb.com>Cruciverb.com</A>.

Gill I. P. 5:49 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Twas not a joke. (although that goes completely against my religion.) Had never heard of NATES so I googled the etymology or some such and got this site that told me all about names and that NATE (sans s) is short for the Hebrew word Nathan and that it means "God has given." I thought that was quite apropos.
@ArtO: Someone sent me that Cagney and Hope clip and I must have mailed it around the world. I loved, loved it. Didn't know that those two were such damn good dancers. Folks, if you so desire, do try to see it, it's wonderful. I wish I knew how to embed but I'm sure if you google Cagney and Hope dance routine, it should come up.
Always enjoy it when a constructor stops by. Thank you Alex Vratsanos.
Veterans Parade was wonderful and filled with tears and a million flags.
Cheers -

jae 5:55 PM  

Easy med. for me too. Mostly because, like @david, I had MAFIOSO at first. Once the "i" went in the middle fell pretty fast.

Malapoped CALE.

As a vet, thanks for remembering.

@Evil, nice gesture, and you are also right about Caddyshack.

evil doug 6:00 PM  


"And lastly, evil doug, at 11:11 AM- that was a very good thing to do with that perfect minute. Did you try to get it at 11 seconds too?"

Well, let's just pretend that I did....

And don't apologize for not thinking of Veteran's Day, Alex. As you explain, the complexity of planning waaaaay ahead for, say, interesting numerical oddities makes it easy to miss other angles.

Lots of nice tangential thoughts today, and I appreciate them---and you---all. I went to Applebee's with another retired Delta buddy who was a Navy carrier pilot. While we're sitting there enjoying a couple of Yuengling's (new to Ohio this month, and welcome!) a mom with two young daughters walked up. As mom quietly smiled in the background, each little girl asked us if we were veterans. When we confirmed that we were, they thanked us for our service and gave each of us a little roll of Smarties. Picture two 60+ old farts with tears in their eyes---that was us.

No Evil today....

davko 6:09 PM  

@M07S - But of course. How did I let the name Yarborough escape me? A far more palatable answer now, even for one who's been far too riveted on Formula One to pay much attention to NASCAR.

chefwen 7:22 PM  

@Doug (not evil today) That was a great little story that actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you and all others for your service.

As far as the puzzle, loved it. When I can get through a Friday with a lot of AHA moments and few snags, well, color me happy.

Thank you Alex V.

pl8231 7:44 PM  

shouldn't 7D be "SURGEONS GENERAL"?

mac 8:58 PM  

@pl8231: it's fully explained in the comments.

foodie 9:14 PM  

@doug, what chefwen said! Thank you and thanks to everyone who has served or is serving!

Part of my research program involves work with the office of naval research. In the process I have met many members of the armed forces, including marines. What they all go through is unbelievably tough. And in war, especially of the kind going on now, even the most resilient pay a price. I 'm in awe of each and everyone of them. And after seeing the toll on them and on their families, I hope more than ever that humanity wiil someday evolve so wars will no longer be necessary... Wouldn't that be amazing!

JenCT 9:21 PM  

@(evil) doug: I knew there was a softie in there somewhere...

joho 9:36 PM  

@Alex ... next year honor the veterans with a big V in the grid. It would be a nice signature, too.

@Evil ... you exposed yourself ... in a good way.

Alex Vratsanos (yes, it's me again) 10:44 PM  

Hello again, everyone!

To joho, at 9:36 PM- I'll tell you something about that. I have not told anyone- repeat, anyone- online yet. Even Will Shortz himself may not yet know about this.

"This" is... I have already taken your idea of honoring America's veterans, as I recently submitted a puzzle to the NYT about it. There will be no big 'V', like today's big '11', though, and in my submission letter, I said I wanted it for this coming Memorial Day. That's all I can say here, though. But still, I know exactly what you're talking about.

That's All he Wrote 12:37 AM  

** Comment unrelated to puzzle; is about Joon's Jeopardy performance **
** Please "Blur eyes, scroll down", if you're not interested. **
** I did see Andrea's admonition to keep the comments puzzle-related. I know she will find this as the exception to the rule. **

Now that we have got beyond the disclaimers . . .

Joon didn't win his semi-final contest :( In my opinion, this three-some (Alex seems to get a chuckle out of saying this word) was probably the toughest of the 3 semi-final groups. Just like we dissect the puzzles here everyday, let's review the Jeopardy show, shall we . . .

** Roger, the contestant who won today, found all 3 of the Daily Doubles (DD) and came up with the correct answer all 3 times. Twice he made it a true Daily Double, and in the final instance bet $10K. He went from $7K to $27K in a matter of 4 clues. And that is the reason he won.

** Roger was also quick on the buzzer (great mind-thumb coordination or was it strategy?). He rang up at lightning quick speed, then took the maximum possible time to think through and come up with the answer. This hurt him once when he came up with the answer just after time expired, and was penalized for that late answer. (Poppy seeds was the answer . . . the bagel type to avoid if you have to take a drug test).

** Luck certainly wasn't on Joon's side today; Joon took a wrong turn (obvious only in hindsight) and it ended up as a tactical mistake. The sequence went like this: Roger found the first Daily Double in double jeopardy, bet all-in, and came up with the correct answer (Mannerism was the answer). The next clue Roger chose was answered by Joon. Now it's Joon's turn to choose the clue. And here is the tactical mistake that Joon made: Most of the time, contestants stay with the same category, but Joon went to another category and Roger correctly answered that one. Now it's Roger's turn to chose the next clue and he returned to the previous category. What do you know . . . it was another Daily Double, he bet $10K, came up with the correct answer and the rest is history (Hedonism was the answer). If only Joon had stayed with the category when it was his turn to pick the clue and found the final Daily Double, I think he would have won (because we all know that Joon also has the habit of going all-in, and the clue was relatively easy). That is how the cookie crumbled for Joon (or is it the Apple pie!!!)

** To those who wonder why it's a tactical mistake - When Roger found and answered the Daily double he moved significantly ahead of Joon, and there were only few clues left on the board. So, Joon should have looked hard for the other Daily Double to catch-up when he had the chance. (Some players actively hunt for DD when they're down significantly.) Actually it was right there for the taking . . if only he had stayed with the category. Instead he went back to the category where the first DD was found. Roger answered, switched the category back and found the final DD too.

Joon did win the hearts of many when he said, during his qualifying round interview, that he and his wife decided to give more than half of his winnings to charities, to disaster relief in particular. He not only has a brilliant mind, but also a compassionate heart. Now hurry up and make more puzzles, Joon. PLEASE.

** Sorry for the long post. **

Yogeshvara 7:27 AM  

I hope someone still sees this... I didn't get much chance to finish the puzzle yesterday and just did and still don't know why ASA is the center of rock? Hard as a rock? Nelson Rockefellers Grandpa? I'm atsea!

skua76 8:10 AM  

solid rock center=>solid AS A rock
It is (or was) Friday...

JenCT 9:00 AM  

@Yogeshvara: the clue was Solid rock center?

AS A fits in between there.

cody.riggs 2:04 PM  

I was anticipating this puzzle highly, and perhaps that's the major cause of the disappointment (though the long answers were good.) Was hoping for a rebus, really.

SURGEON GENERALS ruined it for me. Boo!

But it made for amusing blog reading, so maybe it's a good thing!

Someone pointed out to me once how unusual it was that at Taco Bell I always order "2 double-decker tacos supreme"...and did so totally naturally, no kidding.

I also remember an NPR story several years ago where a reporter for Congress explained that in government, no one refers to certain officers in the singular any more, just to show off that they know the correct plural, e.g. "Janet Reno is great among Attorneys General", never "Janet Reno is a great Attorney General."

Two race car drivers in the same puzzle? Bah! I think I shall construct a puzzle with "common pipe organ stops" as a theme. The question is: Is the plural of "Vox humana" actually "Voxes humana?"

jpap2033 11:37 AM  

"ewe" which is not a pronoun is a homonym for "you" which is.

jpap2033 11:46 AM  

I get the Friday NYT puzzle on Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times only 5 weeks after it's published in the NYT. The "11" makes even less sense on December 16, 2011 than on 11/11/11.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

All of this puzzle's long answers are shaped like 1's. And, as the six fifteens are basically paired off (11, 1 1, 11), this is truly an 11-11-11 Vertical Epic. (Note that every bottle of this contains a SURGEON GENERAL'S warning.)

What's also interesting to me is the very first veritcal clue, which I consider a hint to the theme. Yes, the inaugural Rose Bowl was played on 1/1/'II. Michigan defeated Stanford 49-0. I doubt anyone here attended that game, but I happened to be present for the long awaited rematch on 1/1 MCMLXXII, which Stanford won on a last second field goal. The MVP of that game was Stanford QB Don Bunce. (take a look at that jersey number).

@jpap2033 11:37 AM
"Concentration" was a rebus based game show. Ergo, "you" would be represented by a picture of a EWE.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

This finally came up in syndication. Five weeks later it's still a disappointment - there really could have been a clever eleven-based theme.

Clues for some answers were weak to the point of being arbitrary - eg. ENS, EDS.

ECO car is pretty lame, too - Google says it exists, so I can't cry foul. But I hate it anyway.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Just got it in syndication on 12/16, too. I put in EWE because it fit, and CALE didn't make any less sense than any other. I also wanted to put in I/WE, but the clue was clear about it being singular.

I also had a problem with SURGEONGENERALS, but I put it in, grumbling.

I checked Wikipedia, and the first Rose Bowl game was played in 1902 (not 1911), then a gap, so my MCMII was OK.

But my real beef was businessMEN for Rotary Club members. The addition of "some" in the clue would have salvaged that.

Dirigonzo 8:28 PM  

I thought it was great thet the "11" stood out so prominently in the grid and that's enough for me to be a tribute to 11/11/11. I would have enjoyed a Veterans' Day theme, too, but it was a fun puzzle even without it.

@Masked and Anonymous - my service was in MI, too; maybe we can swap beer stories sometime.

From 12-16-2006:
- "Solving time: Why rush when you're doing a Quarfoot? Slow down and savor the goodness"
- "At that point I stopped and looked up to see who the hell wrote this awesome puzzle. And I saw DQ's name and stopped in amazement. Yes, this is a Quarfoot puzzle, isn't it? He's some kind of grid-fill genius. I forgot all about timing myself and really just enjoyed the unfolding puzzle, with answer after answer making me shake my head in genuine, disbelieving admiration. It helps that the difficulty level was not Terribly high - and that I just seem to have some weird wavelength connection to the constructor."
- "
Oh, and that 1A clue I couldn't get at the very beginning - "Faux finish" - yeah, the answer ended up being SILENT X. It was the last answer I filled in. That is what is called "sticking the landing.""
- "49A: Tundra or rain forest (biome). Seriously, if Quarfoot could have made that answer be BIODOME ("Shore vehicle," perhaps), I would have had to build a little shrine to him in the corner of my office. So, not a god. But a demigod."
- "I especially like the rhyming intersectors, STAX (50A: 1960's soul record label) and FLAT TAX (24D: Recurring economic proposal) // SAME SEX and PERPLEX (45D: Puzzle). That's a radio-friendly rap hit waiting to happen."
- "Oh, snap! Just when you think it's all playful, colloquial, everyday fun, Quarfoot busts out the books and gets all literary on your ass. Just in case you doubted DQ's highbrow cred."
- "This puzzle's only demerits come from bringing @#$#-ing "Will Ampersand Grace" into the puzzle (only a few steps up from "Ally McBeal" in puzzle undesirability)."
- @DQ had this to say as one of the nine comments: " Just wanted to say how amazing your blog is. I read it every single day now! I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get talking today, but I've been in bed most of the day with the plague, or some such nonsense. Looking forward to meeting you at ACPT."

Dirigonzo 9:53 PM  

In a bit of syndication synchronicity, I was listening to WMPG, the University of Southern Maine's radio station, while I ate dinner and they were featuring music by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (7a)- very cool SKA, but I have to say I don't think their newer stuff is as good as the clip that Rex featured above. Still worth a listen, though - you can still catch them at www.wmpg.org if you hurry.

Anonymous 4:49 AM  

Spacecraft here. I'd call this one easy-medium, because as so often is the case the 15s come in a rush and contribute that many letters to work with. I did have one writeover when I quite naturally guessed DALE, but had to ERADICATE(S) the D. Otherwise, finished with no help. Got NATES entirely on crosses; never heard that expression in my life (and certainly feel none the richer for having learned it!). Neither did I know GSU, CATT, or SLAGS (really?), but got them all on crosses as well.
@evil doug: aw, c'mon, pleease let us have our COLA back, or we won't be able to sing that Kinks classic in which we spell it out!
The best word in the puzzle sits directly atop the worst: UNKEMPT, a truly marvelous word that opened up the whole puzzle for me, over REARERS...ugh! Hell for a New Yorker would be having to repeat that word for eternity--clearly enunciating each "R!"

disgruntled Canadian 9:15 AM  

6 weeks (syndication) and 1 day late but IDIO as a prefix irritated me so much.... Yes, in idiorrhythmic, or idiosyncratic, but not in idiomatic. Someone named Vratsanos should know better! And why is it that the Spanish word gets familia in the clue but the Italian word doestn't get Italian? Mafia yes id Rnglish,and maybe mafioso, but not mafiosi. And couple is a noun, not an adjective.
yes, court-martialed, but courts-martial.

disgruntled Canadian bis 9:18 AM  

ps voces humanae

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