Mosel tributary / FRI 1-27-12 / Scrooge star 1951 / Henry James biographer / Wailuku's county / French expert in body language

Friday, January 27, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: EEEEEasy


THEME: BOX (36A: Enclosure ... and an alphabetical listing of letters not appearing elsewhere in this puzzle's answer) — BOX appears free-floating, in the middle of the grid, inside a BOX made of black squares

Word of the Day: TALIA Shire (37A: Sylvester's "Rocky" co-star) —
Talia Shire (born April 25, 1946) is an American actress most known for her roles as Connie Corleone in The Godfather films and Adrian Pennino in the Rocky series. // Shire was born Talia Rose Coppola in Lake Success, New York, the daughter of Italia (née Pennino) and arranger/composer Carmine Coppola. Talia is the sister of director and producer Francis Ford Coppola and academic August Coppola, the aunt of actor Nicolas Cage and director Sofia Coppola, and the niece of composer and conductor Anton Coppola. She was married to composer David Shire, with whom she had a son, Matthew Orlando Shire. She has two other sons, actors/musicians Robert Schwartzman and Jason Schwartzman, from her second marriage to the late producer Jack Schwartzman.(wikipedia)
• • •

Yesterday we had a Wed. trying to be a Thur., today a Thur. trying to be a Fri. (while being as easy as a Wed.—full circle!). Freakishly easy, and interesting only at the architectural level. I want to fail it as a crossword, given that nothing "crosses" BOX, but you need (or can use) info outside the BOX to solve BOX, so ... good enough, I guess. Maybe "think outside the box" was the impetus of the phrase, since you (sort of) have to (literally) do that to solve the puzzle. At any rate, aside from the arrangement of the black squares, it's a dull and easy puzzle that suffers from the problems every pangram suffers from—most notably, a general all-over junkiness of fill that seems patently unnecessary. I mean, look at that eastern section. Ghastly. Inexplicable ... until you realize: W's gotta go somewhere (I don't know *what* the SW's excuse is. You already got your Q up top... In fact Z, Q, J, and K are all dispatched in exactly two Acrosses up top). Anyway, the fact that TALIA is the Word of the Day tells you nothing interesting is happening inside the grid. You got a box. A little picture. There you go.





[Yes, that *is* Tilda Swinton]
 

Started with EMMAS and never stopped (1A: Actress Stone and others). What was the logic behind making the cluing so easy? The only place I hesitated at all was the far SE, and then only because there were a pair of self-referential clues down there and I didn't know that ALDA was the host of PBS's "Scientific American Frontiers." AMPS also froze me out (even with -MPS in place) (55D: Concert pieces). But I finished this thing in under 5. Except for that one ridiculously fluky Friday where I finished under 4, this was almost certainly my fastest Friday ever. EDEL (63A: Henry James biographer) and SIM (5D: "Scrooge" star, 1951) are mildly obscure to ordinary folk, but to longtime solvers they're as ordinary as houseflies. MARCEAU is an interesting name and close to the most interesting thing in the grid (23A: French expert in body language?). Actually, I think JUST MY LUCK is my favorite answer (21A: "Figures I'd have this problem!"). Bouncy, colloquial, fresh—everything the rest of the grid is not.


Bullets:
  • 56A: Baseball All-Star Kinsler and others (IANS) — an attempt to toughen up the puzzle a bit, I gather. I watch a lot of baseball, so this was a gimme. Also, two plural names in the same (easy) grid? (see also EMMAS) Not great form.
  • 57A: "1984" shelfmate ("ANIMAL FARM") — interesting clue, but far, far too easy. Now if the answer had been "PILGRIM'S PROGRESS" (my shelf holds allegories...), that would've been a surprise.
  • 34D: Mosel tributary (SAAR) — one of your lesser-used 4-letter European xword rivers.
  • 51D: The Charleses' pet (ASTA) — to the NYT's credit, this dog is not nearly as common as he once was. But when you stick him in a corner like that SW corner, well, it's like he's at a group meeting for his 12-step "recovering crosswordese" program. O man, I didn't even see AGRA until just now. Quaint euphemism! It's old-timers' day at the crossword.
  • 2D: Wailuku's county (MAUI) — you don't say ... hey, has "YOU DON'T SAY" ever been an answer? 'Cause I think it'd be a good one. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

112 comments:

r.alphbunker 12:10 AM  

22D Stocking-up time? [fULlTIDE-->YULETIDE]

I had _ _ _ _ TIDE

My reasoning must have gone like this.

1. Tides happen at the beach.
2. In LA I recently walked on the beach with pants rolled up.
3. Stockings are clothing also.
4. To prevent them from getting wet you roll them up.
5. This has to be done at full tide

QED not!

I loved the black box in the middle being labeled with BOX, Even though the uncrossed B crashed my program.

jae 12:13 AM  

What Rex said.   Too easy and too much LAME fill for a Fri.  Seems like a long way to go for BOX and a pangram.  

Two very good (IMHO) lesser known EMMA Stone movies are the crossword friendly Easy A and Crazy, Stupid,  Love.

retired_chemist 12:16 AM  

I liked it, even though it was a very easy Friday. I thought the BOX was a cute idea and I wasn't upset by fill.

Had 23A wrong - realized my spelling of 7D KITCSH, one of my lead-ins to 23A MASSEUR was a screw-up which led to another screw-up. Soon all was fixed.

29D SWAMI clued as "Pundit" seems wrong.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

What I posted at Wordplay before Rex was up:

What a great puzzle/pangram!

I laughed when I read the clue for 36A, knowing that a certain Blog Meister hates pangrams and thinking how much in your face this puzzle was to pangram haters. And then when I finished by filling in 36A I laughed again thinking how obvious the answer should be by the shape of the grid.

I’m sure others will say this was too easy for a Friday and maybe should have been a Thursday but Mr. Krozel gets a hearty congrats from me for making me laugh. We need more puzzles like this to get through the dreariness of winter.

I could add that this puzzle was fun, everything Rex's puzzles aren't, but I won't. Is that like saying, just saying?...

JFC

pk 12:30 AM  

Hey Y'all Kids - It Wasn't All That Easy. At least not for me. A'course, throwing down Quiz Show MC at 17A screwed things up for a minute or two.

But the only other thing I Did Not Know was 63A Edel, which Rex says was a gimme and crosswordese, so I haven't been doing this long enough!

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

I only like reading Rex on days he hates the puzzle which, of course, is most days but he's been getting a little soft lately so I haven't been a regular reader. But I rushed here just to see the master skewer yet another "pangram" (obscure Latin for God this puzzle suxxxxjqzzx!) Thanks, Rex, for not letting me down! Sic 'em Rexie!

K

theodolite 12:35 AM  

I felt like a genius finishing in 5:30. Thanks for bringing me back down to earth.

jackj 12:37 AM  

Just imagine, a pangram and it not only brags about it, it makes you knowingly complete the pangram by filling in the puzzle’s middle with the completing letters of B-O-X.

Our Rex must have been apoplectic when solving this one and, poor soul, he is probably still dealing with the vapors. (Write softly).

Favorite entries were the two three’s (ex-BOX, that is), “Logical ending” for QED and “Draw back” for SHY. And, then, SHY was part of the trickiest zone of the puzzle in the upper right which had excellent, tricky misdirects for MENUS, REAP and UMPS.

With Marcel MARCEAU so prominently placed in the puzzle and with its truly unique grid and reveal, it is my guess that Joe Krozel fancied this as a tribute puzzle to Marceau as “Bip in a BOX”, which then geed itself into a quasi-themeless.

Nice puzzle, Joe, whatever your intent.

Tobias Duncan 12:55 AM  

Damn it all to hell! I thought I had finally gotten the hang of solving on paper.
Yes this was really easy but it was also the first time I have ever enjoyed solving on paper. I am on record here as being no pangram fan but this one made you use that information to finish.Call me a rube but I fell for the gimmick hook line and sinker.

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Knew Rex would rate this one super easy as I was able to finish with only one Google at 56A IANS, not up on my baseball guys and Mr. Sportsman was not available at the time. Had I a little more patience I could have gotten it with the crosses, unfortunately, that is not one of my virtues.

Sure do love a Friday that I can get through without chewing on my 44D's.

Evan 1:37 AM  

I think the puzzle was better than Rex gives it credit for. All six of the longest across entries (each 10 letters or longer) were all quite good, and both YULETIDE and MUSCLE IN are nice entries that cross three of those across answers. There is also some pretty good fill in the middle north and middle south sections of the grid (with the exception being EDEL). It's certainly no easy feat to pull off a pangram in which everything outside the box rests on the ability to avoid using the letter O. So the puzzle does have KITSCH value going for it.

Having said that, I agree that the fill is weak in several other areas. The good news is that one can probably tweak it in some spots fairly easily because the corners are mostly closed off from the rest of the grid. In fact, I just tried a little re-arranging on my own, and here's what I came up with for the southwest corner:

S A D
T R I A N....
R I N D
U S E D
M E S S

For what it's worth, I think those might be better entries than IANS, PSAT, and SERA, and it takes away the need for another Q.

One could probably put the W of the pangram in the southeast corner, maybe by switching DREGS to WRENS and then filling in the surrounding answers from there. Don't know what to do about the eastern section, though. The I and V of DEEP SEA DIVER tend to limit the possibilities for 29- and 32-Down.

Still, I give Joe Krozel credit for an ambitious puzzle that has some otherwise sparkling long answers and was still pretty fun to solve, if a little on the easy side. It actually would have been my fastest Friday ever if I hadn't been so slow on the final BOX at the end. I knew O had to be one of the letters, so I stuck it in the middle, but rather than try to figure out the answer to "enclosure" straight on, I ran through all the letters of the alphabet that I couldn't find anywhere else. It wasn't until I got to X that the answer mercifully dawned on me.

Jakarta Dan 1:47 AM  

What the ?!

I just got back from being on travel for four days. Did the puzzle and thought I must have picked up the Wednesday paper by mistake. Checked the date, and sure enough, it was today's paper.

So then I thought maybe the paper at this end of the world printed the wrong day's puzzle by mistake (it happens sometimes). Came to rexword and saw it is, in fact today's.

So the hardest answer in this puzzle is why it's a Friday.

Hmmm.

Buh 1:49 AM  

60D is clued in the Magmic app as: 54-Down for a trip. Am I completely missing something, or shouldn't this say 56-Down?

Andrea Qtip Michaels 1:56 AM  

After reading @rex i can barely remember what I felt at the time...
But in fairness to Joe, tho I doubt he cares, I will try and remember...
I think I thought It was too easy, But enjoyed while it was happening (insert @dk lascivious comment here)

Fabulous fill.
JUSTMYLUCK, IKID, IMSURE, KITSCH, SWAMI, SPIKY, QUIZMASTER, MARCEAU, MUSCLEIN, and MANIC!

Having DREGS at the botom is a subtle touch!

My only raised eyebrow were three "I" statements...
The aforementioned IKID, IMSURE, and IMETA...
But I like it anyway!

Tho I see @rex's point that for every more-than- fabulous word in the list above, there was : ASTA, ALDA, AGRA, AFAR, AGARS, AJAR, ANTI...no excuse for those.

Love @rex's idea that it's maybe a metaphor for "Think Outside the BOX"...brilliant!

Love the pangram...and re: apoplectic rant, I must once again invoke my new mantra @46D: QTIPs:
Quit Taking It Personally!
:)

Greg Charles 2:16 AM  

OK, I did it in Wednesday time too, but I did last week as well, and that rated a medium or something. I didn't think this was easier than that one.

I liked the box in a box, and the ego stroke too.

Deb 3:56 AM  

While this one was also easier than yesterday's for me, it took me an embarrassingly long time to connect the big black BOX in the middle with the missing letters. Instead of simply sitting back and pondering it for even a second, even though I had made a passing note of the oddly set-off word in the center, I kept going through the #$!@$! grid to be sure I knew what letters were missing. And I was quite certain that the missing letter were B O z. Huh?! And sigh. (In my defense, I was simultaneously trying to reconstruct a 1940s pattern and juggle several game of WWF.)

Once again though, the comments on this blog are as interesting as either the blog or puzzle themselves...

@JFC, did you take yellow ribbon to Rex's blue in the 9th grade science fair?

@jackj, Ha! Reading your comment made me wonder if the constructor BOXed up that little panagram as a nod to Rex's standing in xWorld. What fun that would be. Oh, I hope I hope I hope the constructor pops in today!

@M07S and Andrea - thanks for helping me out with "malapop" yesterday.

And @Evan, thank you for ...whatever it was you helped me out with a couple of days ago (my brain is a sieve), and @ Sparky (I think it was Sparky?), if you're ever back in The Fort, definitely shoot me an email so we can have coffee.

iomens: Steve Jobs' killer tech from beyond

dk 5:17 AM  

Why would Andrea equate me with easy and lewd? Great umbridge!

Some puzzles are more equal than others. Like Tobias I had a swelled head (stop it Andrea, i am in rehab) for a few moments until I realized this one was just easy peasy.

Still fun and fast. I had BOX filled in first.

Muff diver would have been disquieting given...never mind. Go to my chaste space... Much better now.

Still not my week.

** (2 ASTAs)

d(round heels)k

Nickyboy 6:52 AM  

It was cute, but there were 10 freaking plurals in it!! Bleh!! I always feel like the "....and others" clues are a cop out.

Unknown 6:52 AM  

I finished a Friday puzzle with minimal googling.
I am happy even if it was EEEEasy.
Those of us who don't finish in under 5 minutes on a regular basis need some positive reinforcement.
Thanks, joe.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

An excellent puzzle, with outstanding long entries. Try constructing a grid with no O's anywhere---not so simple.

I agree, very easy for Friday. Felt more like Tuesday.

Thanks, Joe.

Z 7:18 AM  

Finishing Friday before taking the kid to school means very easy for a Friday. I had a couple of pauses, knee to rICE to MICE while fixing ohSURE. We were RIsE-ing en masse at mass before I MEsA girl clarified that issue, and I was hyper before I was MANIC. Otherwise, breezed through.

I am agnostic on the pangram issue, but the overall grid shape is not my favorite. Each corner has just one way in, so each corner plays like a separate little crossword. I wonder if the easy cluing is an overcompensation for this structural fact.

SethG 7:30 AM  

I love interesting grids that do something new, and I love interesting (and tricky) cluing on a Friday. Given one of those, I'll choose the cluing every time.

AnnieD 7:35 AM  

Way too easy for a friday, but a pleasant puzzle otherwise. No major hitches throughout. Pangram was clever and some fresh longer clues. Did not know Edel, but crosses made it easy. Only other pauses were Talia vs Shire and Alan vs Alda...both quickly became clear.

My only nit, which probably has been discussed here before is ice tea vs. iced tea. It was always iced tea AFAIK until IceT...

David 7:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
David 7:40 AM  

Ha, I too felt good about solving a Friday in record - for me, slow for others - time. And then I see "EEEEasy" - which I take means easier than easy!

Very nice structure, however. And it did give a nice foil to Rex, whose ability to continue commenting on this stuff after all these years is a paean to his passion.

Thanks, Rex.

joho 8:02 AM  

I laughed out loud when I realized that not only was this a pangram but a pangram wrapped up in a pretty box and tied with a ribbon just for @Rex to rant about!

I was happily surprised to see the additional Q in QTIPS now knowing from @Andrea Qtips Michaels what this phrase actually means. When she mentioned it a while back I thought it a great reminder and something to remember. I also loved the other "Q" answer, QUIZMASTER, among other fresh answers already mentioned.

Sure some of the fill was lame but the bigger picture and concept of the box and thinking outside the box was brilliant. Easy yes but original, too, and definitely different.

Thank you, Joe Krozel!

John V 8:17 AM  

Well, having worked until 9 last night, done with dinner at 10:30, I am grateful for an easy Friday. I had fun doing it. Liked 43D Contact Liquid clue. Wanted INFOCUS for 49A. NW last to fall for me.

I'm buying my paper at Panera's these days. Does that make me a PAN-GRAMP?

Really looking forward to the plane home ... just saying.

Tita 8:52 AM  

The the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol is by far the best, and the only one I can watch.

@Ralph - love your train-of-thought - shows how much recent experience factors in. Though if I'm not mistaken, it would be hard to "roll up one's stockings" unless you had been lax in DARNing them, so had big holes to stick your feet through!!

@jackj - thx for the MARCEAU observation...

@joho - agree on the big picture

@Z - you may be right on your separate puzzles idea

Liked it more than I hated all that crummy fill.

Rex Parker 8:58 AM  

@Evan,

You overestimate how awesome it is that the long Downs cross three long Acrosses. If those Acrosses were theme answers (necessary to the puzzle, locked down, bound by adherence to some strict organizing principle), then getting those triple-crossing Downs to work out would be somewhat more laudable. But as long as the long Acrosses don't have B, O, or X, those answers can be ANYTHING. In fact, you'd likely *start* your grid by getting those long Acrosses and the intersecting Downs to work out. With a virtually empty grid, this would not be so hard.

Pangrams are bad because of what they make constructors do to the fill. That is the only reason they are bad. I would applaud a clean, gorgeous 15x15 pangram. That is *not* a challenge.

rp

evil doug 9:09 AM  

chefwen: "Sure do love a Friday that I can get through without chewing on my 44D's." Wow, you must really be built. But you shouldn't chew on 'em....

Unknown: "Those of us who don't finish in under 5 minutes on a regular basis need some positive reinforcement." Not on a Friday. I don't mind a good gimmick, but that box totally cuts up what normally would be challenging, entertaining Friday fill.

Michael is 100% right, and I blame Will for assigning a Friday grade to what's clearly a midweek puzzle.

Evil

Glimmerglass 9:11 AM  

Triple easy. Felt like a Tuesday. Some of the long answers were fun, and the BOX in a box is okay. But you can't take old crossword warhorses and hope to hide them with clever cluing (EWERS, MICE). Except for banal word-choice, this isn't a bad puzzle -- for a Tuesday. One objection. Nobody I know says "I KID." "I'm kidding" or "I kid you no," but not IKID.

loren muse smith 9:20 AM  

Since I have no idea how to construct a puzzle and am so grateful to all the constructors out there, I hate to criticize ANY puzzle. Or do I have the right to criticize because I solve a lot? I liked today's, even though it was pretty easy. So cool that the bottom right was DREGS!

On MICE. For years I've contemplated the plural of that thing you use with your computer. And I've polled people on whether they'd buy two MICE at Staples or two "mouses." The bigger question is what to do with words with irregular inflections when they take on a secondary modern meaning. Your mom took a second job to make ends meet. So she "moonlighted" or "moonlit?" I don't think there's a right or wrong, but if I had to choose, I think it's "mouses" and "moonighted" for me.

Lindsay 9:26 AM  

??????

A box dropped onto a disjointed themeless? That's it?

Wood 9:26 AM  

Record Friday for me too. I am fine with some lame crosswordese in the service of an otherwise impressive feat, which this grid is, in my book. Just wish the cluing had been harder... Would have made solving it that much more satisfying. Only stumbling blocks were the C and second E of ICE TEA... Nice misdirection on all three of those clues.

Jp 9:35 AM  

This was a super easy Friday for me. Imagine that I had 90% of the puzzle done before I even needed to google. On difficult Fridays I cannot often enter more than a few answers before going to Google.
I had ABCS for UMPS and ASIA for URAL so that stymied me in the the NW corner. For a while had MASSEUR in 23A. Had the BOX very early.

archaeoprof 9:38 AM  

Saw Joe Krozel's name and SATUP, ready to ENGAGE. TRIED to like it, but this puzzle was LAME, the DREGS. Too much KITSCH. I prefer a SPIKY puzzle.

On the other hand, TALIA always reminds me of the greatest movie of all time: Godfather II.

Coolguy face 9:40 AM  

@ Rex


Challenge accepted.

David 9:40 AM  

This was definitely a Wednesday in a Friday slot. After solving I didn't have BOX right off the bat, but got it as soon as I reached B in the alphabet. Mildly cute construction, but very easy - my best Friday time was in the 12 minute area, today was around 8 and a half....

Tobias Duncan 9:46 AM  

Heading to the coffee shop to get a "World Cup Coffee,Taos NM" bumper sticker for dk. Anyone else want one? They are small and unobtrusive.


I Would have clued 37A as Geni finisher.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

Haven't finished a Friday puzzle in ages!!! What a great puzzle. Did google a bit. Let's see what tomorrow brings!!

quilter1 9:54 AM  

Liked the answers others liked. I know Sharon Stone but not EMMA. I thought the grid was interesting when I first saw it and was a little let down that it was just a box.

captcha: amight. Amight and amight not.

baja 10:08 AM  

Laughed out loud when I saw 36 across. Thought for sure the 3 letters were going to be jox. The jokes on us for all the discussions re pangrams and fitting all the letters in. Made my day!

M07S 10:09 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Cleverness and learning something new (EDEL) are worth the croswordese. (I mean how else would you know what a Celebes wild ox is? Or a proa for that matter)

"Chortling" over Evil's comment about chefwen's 44d's.

sadatid...what I probably ought to be.

Kurt 10:09 AM  

What @Evil Doug said. In fact, everything @Evil Doug said!

Ulrich 10:12 AM  

@loren etc: Thx for abandoning the pangram dying, if not dead, horse and introducing a new topic of real significance:) Here's the mio $ question: Long-time commentators here know what an anonymouse is (a poster who rants while hiding behind anonymity). Now what's the plural? The consensus here seems to be "anonymice"--I could explain, but then again, as soon as you explain a joke...

foodie 10:25 AM  

This puzzle is like one of those minimalist, self referential modern paintings from the mid 20th century. Most people look at them and think: Really? I could have done that! And yet, they are arresting in their own way-- they make you think, wonder what the hidden message is, what the creator was thinking... Even, Rex, who is not partial to pangrams or gimmicks, read something very cool into it-- thinking outside the box! Is this really what JK was thinking? Who knows. But it's great to see how people are compelled to project meaning when the object does not speak out loud.

If all puzzles were of this type, it would get old fast. But the change is wonderful, it brings a smile. And finishing in good time was good for my ego. It told me that my addled brain could function in spite of 10 hours of flying homeward.

jackj 10:30 AM  

@Loren- I didn't think about it when I wrote in MICE but, your comment had me try on "mouses" as a better alternative.

For me, it seems, it is impossible to say (or think) "mouses" without choking. My purchase at Staples would probably not be "mice" though but, rather, a "mouse" and then another "mouse".

Your second question flows easier as "moonlighted."

Glad you raised the question.

Cheerio 10:40 AM  

I also enjoyed using the fact of the pangram to help solve the puzzle. I guess that if I were a better solver, I would not have needed that help and would not have enjoyed the pangram as much.

Pete 10:44 AM  

One of the great life lessons I've learned came from, of all places, an installment of Banacek. Banacek walks into a mobster's house which is decorated on what only can be described as Venetian 16th Century Bordello - gold gilt heavily carved wood, red velvet upholstery everywhere but the ceilings which are painted with naked seraphs. The mobster, watching Banacek take it all in, asserts that Banacek thinks it's garrish, to which Banacek replies that no, it's obviously very well done, it's just not to his taste. This satisfied the mobster and solidified in my mind the two aspects of appreciating something.

This puzzle wasn't to my taste. As to the well done aspect, in its favor we have the fact that when I first looked at the puzzle I literally thought "odd, there's a box in the middle". When I got to the end and had to figure out what 36A was, yet didn't immediately get it, one "well done" for Joe.

The reason I didn't get it was the clue - You really expect me to go through the puzzle and find the missing letters? Are you kidding me? I couldn't hit reveal in AL quickly enough, I was so pissed off. They should have clued it simply as "Enclosure" and left it difficult.

Then you've got the all the standard fill that should only appear in early weekdays, if at all.

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

If this had appeared earlier in the week I would have liked it much better. It's fun and original but I was looking forward to having to think. I suppose I will have my ass handed to me tomorrow.

I am surprised at the number of long-time bloggers here who still Google. Because of this blog I haven't done that in literally years. It became a matter of self respect for me. I could not bear the shame of giving up. Daily practice and patience cured me of the temptation. But that's just me. Everyone has fun their own way, as it should be.

Ulrich 10:51 AM  

@foodie: D'accord! I actually got into the swing of things by consciously not thinking about the box until the surrounding puzzle had been filled and then making a quick check for the missing letters, which revealed the inside answer right away. It's like the Pirates of the Carribean game: You enjoy it more if you pretend to BE a pirate than when you watch yourself playing a pirate, thinking how silly it all is...

Crosscan 10:58 AM  

Another clever, inventive cool Joe Krozel puzzle underrated by our host.

Tita 11:25 AM  

@Ulrich - but then, of course you would prefer anonymice, given the German tougue's proclivity to form a plural by changing the preceding vowel sound rather than adding an 's', oder?
(Or should I say 'Aaargh')

Rookie 11:37 AM  

I put myself through college working as a dental assistant, so I was delighted to know and to be sure about knowing that a lidocaine delivery option (9/12D) was "needle prick" rather than "dermal patch." Did anyone else do the same?

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

I didn't think it was THAT easy, but finished it all, longer than 5 minutes...By the way...Google-ing is cheating...why not just look at Rex's answers? Same thing.

Stan 12:13 PM  

I loved it: a memorable grid and simple theme that played with the rules of construction, breaking the American "No unchecked squares" injunction (but not really).

Deb Amlen, by the way, posts a link to a nifty Patrick Merrill from 2001 on a similar theme.

Thanks, Joe -- big grin.

ksquare 12:28 PM  

@Glimmerglass 9:11 Triumph, the foul mouthed dog puppet, frequently says "I KID" after one of his nasty remarks.

loren muse smith 12:29 PM  

@Ulrich - @Tita raises a great point about German plurals' vowel shifts. Surely this "mouse" phenomenon happens auf Deutsch. Do the new words get a regular plural "s" ? I would call them "anonymouses."

@Jackj - I agree that I would find it tough to get my mouth around "mouses," but I'd rather leave Staples with two mouses than two mice.

If you could get a noun form of the verb to "goose someone," I think the plural would definitely be gooses and not geese.

On google vs nongoogle - If I can't finish a puzzle, I announce out loud, "Well the puzzle has officially beaten me." And then I google what I didn't know. I don't consider that I solved the puzzle. BUT I find spouses and children fair game for help.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Please explain URAL.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Did you read about the Buddist who refused LIDOCAINE during a root canal? His goal...transcend dental medication.

A relaxing and enjoyable puzzle for a rainy Friday!

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Themed FriPuz. Pangram. 9 U's. QUIZMASTER. KITSCH. JUSTMYLUCK. thUmbsUp.

Didn't put up much fight at all. Right puz, wrong day. Too many "I ... such and suches". Cool, scrabbly fill up top became (relatively) uninspired, down under. Did two different dudes write this grid? thumbsdouun.

Feel strongly both ways.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

@Ulrich. Always look forward to your comments. Wouldn't be anonymous if I could ever name myself. Blog illiterate.

oldbizmark 12:40 PM  

agreed. super duper easy. made me feel like a boy genius. and, awesome link to Orbital's "The Box." still have the album but never listen to it. brought me back to 1996 (or thereabout).

TM 12:44 PM  

Fun, but was too easy, seemed like WTF this week was almost in reverse in order of difficulty.

Lewis 12:51 PM  

@tobias -- made me chuckle with your TALIA alternative

I think what Two Ponies said: "If this had appeared earlier in the week I would have liked it much better. It's fun and original..." is instructive. Had this puzzle appeared, say, on Wednesday, I'm thinking it would have been greeted with plaudits. Most of the complainers today still have given grudging praise to the design and idea behind the puzzle. If this is true, the blame goes to Wil for inserting this puzzle on the wrong day, and not to Joe, the constructor, and all this negative feedback really isn't fair to Joe.

retired_chemist 1:29 PM  

@ Two Ponies - I echo @loren muse smith. I do Google occasionally but don't consider it a completed puzzle if I do. In that case I will 'fess up here.

Captcha fockye - what I say when I need to Google.

Lewis 1:30 PM  

@Theodolite Ah, so you're the one I've been chasing everyday on the IPad Crosswords app! I thought my 7:17 would surely best you at last but it was not to be. Good show sir!

-pointedfinger

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

re 40a: i don't believe that deep sea divers use flippers. scuba divers do, but they rarely go below 150 feet--hardly deep sea. my image, at least, of deep sea divers is of people in bulky pressure suits and boots, not flippers.

Masked and Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Upon further review...

Put yourself in the Shortzmeister's place:
1. Gotta except this one. It's just so... shapely. So unusual. So clever. BOX in a box. Lovin' it.
2. Vocab level shouts Mon-TuesPuz.
3. Theme density is ... three. Nope, not three entries. Three letters! Hmmm. That lets Mon-ThursPuz out, pretty much.
4. 71 words shouts Fri-SatPuz. But it has that theme and easy vocab, so go for TGIF, I guess.
5. How do we clue this thing for a FriPuz? Geez...

Oscar 2:03 PM  

Sigh ... yet another puzzle in which the initial visual aspect is the best thing about it.

Joe K = joke

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I wouldn't call it Wednesday easy. Mostly because it wasn't. I have been doing the NYT for a while and didn't recognize EDEL. Was pretty easy, though.

M and A's Last Silver Bullet 2:16 PM  

Make that "accept", in point 1. Still delirious from lack of cinnamon rolls. Sorry.

M&A's fearless solution: Make this a SunPuz. Either as the bonus puz, or, better yet ...

Put a big black box, three black squares thick, around the whole damn thing. Box in a box in a box, made up of boxes. Give 31 enough material for a 20K-word blog.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Loved the clue "education dissemination locations"!

retired_chemist 2:53 PM  

{soapbox}I suspect most of us who have used LECTURE HALLS as "education dissemination locations" regard them more as information presentation locations. Education, if it occurs at all, occurs in smaller group or one on one formats, or in the best circumstances through the blood, sweat, and tears of the student.{/soapbox}

Sparky 2:57 PM  

My first thought upon looking at the grid was that it had a belly button. I just printed an alphabet around the grid and ticked off the letters as used.

Anybody else think Alex Trebek for 17A? I knew Rex would say easy. Sigh. EDEL was big when I worked in publishing a million years ago. QTIP gets me through the day. Thanks @Andrea. I'd surely love to visit Ft C again @Deb.

What an odd week. Mostly enjoyable but out of whack. Have a good weekend.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

@Anon at 12:10 - I don't think googling is cheating because I don't see the puzzle as a test. I see it as an opportunity to learn as well as enjoy myself. When I started three years ago, I could barely do Monday. Now I can do Friday and Saturday - with lots of time, of course, but many times without googling. If I just look at the answers, I see other answers I don't want to see and I don't learn. But to each his/her own.

Sparky 3:04 PM  

@Anon 2:55. Go down to where it says Name/URL and check it. Put in any name you please, like Sparky. You can hit Preview, and edit, bouncing up and down till satisfied. Then when you hit Publish it will show up with the name in black. Blue gets more complicated. Of course, put in the catchpa too. (I hope this works.)

retired_chemist 3:16 PM  

@ anon 12:32 - URAL is a region in the game Risk. I had to Google that since I had never played the game.

JenCT 3:20 PM  

@Lewis 12:51: well-put; I enjoyed the puzzle.

Sigh - just when I think maybe I've gotten good at this, Rex rates it Super-Easy.

Liked I'M SURE, KITSCH, JUST MY LUCK.

sanfranman59 4:11 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 15:50, 25:13, 0.63, 3%, EEEEEasy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 7:23, 12:29, 0.59, 2%, EEEEEasy

By the numbers, it's been a very strange week in NYT puzzle-land. This puzzle's not only easy for a Friday, it's going to be one of the top 10 easiest puzzles relative to the day of the week of the 801 puzzles I've logged in my spreadsheet (similar stats to Todd Gross and Doug Peterson's Friday puzzle two weeks ago). These solve times would slot in at the low end of the Easy-Medium Thursday range and at the high end of the Challenging Wednesday range.

Sentences I never thought I'd hear in my lifetime 4:19 PM  

"One of the great life lessons I've learned came from, of all places, an installment of Banacek."

captcha: rudernbe - A newbie ruder than usual.

chefwen 4:23 PM  

NEVER of the other 44d's until I received a very funny email from @retired_chemist and after reading @evil doug's comment, now I can't stop laughing. OOPS! Talk about a straight line.

What happened to the month that was? 4:26 PM  

I really miss those posts :(

archaeoprof 4:58 PM  

After reading @Foodie and @Ulrich and others, I officially retract my earlier negative judgment about today's puzzle.

@what happened: I miss those posts, too.

Ulrich 5:12 PM  

@anonymous at 12:35: If you really chafe under your anonymity and long to be something other than a mouse, please send me an e-mail for easy instructions!

@Tita and loren: One of the glories of German, indeed, is that it has 12 ways to form a plural, one for every day of xmas...

...from the boring do-nothing: Berliner/Berliner (Berliner/Berliners)
through the minimalist--change an internal vowel into an umlaut: Mutter/Mütter (mother/mothers)
to the truly inspired--double a final n and add "en": Bundeskanzlerin/Bundeskanzlerinnen (Federal Chanceloress [think Angela Merkel]/Federal Chanceloresses). Is this great or what?

Tita 5:53 PM  

@Ulrich - We poor Portuguese have only 5 ways...
Tricky part is that words ending in "ão" can randomly take any 3 of those methods...

Alemão - Alemães (Germans)
avião - aviões (planes)
mão - mãos (hands)

@Gill - is Spanish like this?

mac 6:17 PM  

Clever, enjoyable but too easy for a Friday. Loved "Just my luck"!

Otherwise what @SethG said. I do think the puzzle could have been published on a Thursday with slightly more difficult clues.

Had a malapop: Amps at 10A.

Very weird: I could not read the captcha, there was a letter I did not recognize!

jazzmanchgo 7:05 PM  

"Draw back" = "shy"? "Shy" can be a verb????

Stan 7:13 PM  

@jazzmanchgo: Yes: a horse (or a person) might 'shy away' from something.

jazzmanchgo 7:54 PM  

Okay, yes, I figured out "shy away" after I posted the question. Still, I don't think "shy," in and of itself, is the verb. A person, a horse, or anything else can't simply "shy."

Might be nitpicky point, but it seems to cross the line from misdirection to outright deception via inaccurate cluing (or perhaps just sloppiness).

Sore Guy 8:04 PM  

@Jazzmanchgo. Why did you fall off? My horse shied. A conversation I've had many times in my life.

Z 8:08 PM  

@jazzmanchgo - shy


Maybe not the most common usage, but it can stand alone.

loren muse smith 8:20 PM  

@Ulrich and Tita - Yes, German is inspired in many ways. I used to try to come up with sentences that ended in a ton of infinitives: Ich habe blah blah blah sollen koennen machen. . .

Since we're talking plurals - some English speakers have been bitten by the Plurally Inspired Bug and are using apostrophe's to mark plurals and yes I did that on purpose.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

@Deb - Take heart. I am old and will soon die so you won't need to read my comments. But in the meantime I like fun puzzles....

JFC

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

PS to @Deb,

If you were referring to my gratuitous shot about Rex's puzzles not being fun, I will explain. First, I believe he has three published in the NYT (which is the only puzzle I do) and my comments in this blog on those puzzles reflect my view that each was better than the last and that my one complaint was that they lacked fun. I believe the last one published came the closest to being what I consider fun. I think Rex finds his fun in the challenge of doing the puzzle, and the more difficult the better, but what I mean by fun is a puzzle that offers a surprise or an twist or has something clever to offer the solver. Now I would not have added that cheap shot but for Rex saying:

"Actually, I think JUST MY LUCK is my favorite answer (21A: "Figures I'd have this problem!"). Bouncy, colloquial, fresh—everything the rest of the grid is not."

Rex had already made his point abundantly clear. He did not need to pile on gratuitously. He could have ended his comment on a positive note by not adding "everything the rest of the grid is not" but apparently he wasn't up to the challenge. Neither was I....

JFC

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

@JFC - Yeah, EWERS crossing ELEV, RITE and SAAR, sitting atop TALIA was bouncy, colloquial & fresh. Don't know what Rex was talking about.

michael 9:30 PM  

Perhaps I've been going to this blog too long.

(1) See name of constructor -- Joe Krozel.

(2) Without looking at puzzle think "I'll like this one."

(3) Without looking at puzzle think "Rex won't like this one."

yep

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

@Anon at 9:05 - First, you realize Rex does not resond to Anonymice, don't you (although I recall at least one time he did reply to me before I added my JFC)?

Second, "EWERS crossing ELEV, RITE and SAAR, sitting atop TALIA" is not "the rest" of the puzzle. But even if you think the rest was not bouncy, that, my fine feathered fellow Anon, is totally, completely and utterly (lawyers always use three when one will do) irrelevant to what I said.

sanfranman59 1:48 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:39, 6:50, 0.97, 44%, Medium
Tue 7:57, 8:51, 0.90, 20%, Easy
Wed 13:13, 11:50, 1.12, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:41, 18:56, 0.88, 29%, Easy-Medium
Fri 15:38, 25:13, 0.62, 3%, Easy (4th lowest median solve time of 136 Friday puzzles)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Tue 4:13, 4:34, 0.92, 26%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:00, 5:52, 1.19, 90%, Challenging
Thu 8:55, 9:16, 0.99, 56%, Medium
Fri 7:02, 12:29, 0.56, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 135 Friday puzzles)

John 11:20 AM  

I have a love hate relationship with the Crossword App. Sometimes I leave it open and forget that it's racking up time even though I'm not doing the puzzle, giving me freakishly long times like an hour for a Monday.

treedweller 4:10 AM  

i am on vacation and this is the first chance I've had to check in with this post. I was quite surprised to see such negative reviews. I thought it took the "pangrams are pointless" argument and turned it upside down. Maybe it was a bit easy for Friday, but it was excellent, in my opinion. sorry to be so late--I hope mr. krozel happens to see that at least one person liked it.

Joseph J.Combs 2:01 PM  

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SRAM Aero 500 Brake Lever Set

SWsyndland 11:04 AM  

Had to come here because it was so eeeeeeeasy for me, and I can't normally even touch a Friday. NE corner almost doubled my time with clues for 10A, 16A, 11D, and knowing nothing about Risk. Box was a gimme in two seconds.

SWsyndland 11:08 AM  

I should add, I loved it!

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Great puzzle, lotsa fun, somewhat easy, but I noticed others will not be so happy unless they nitpick over the smallest item. I would say, firstly try making up a grid on you own. Secondly, try having it published. Thirdly, wait for the ensuing comments. I have trouble suffering whiners and complainers.

rain forest 2:47 PM  

Aw, what the heck. So it was an easy puzzle for a Friday. So it was a pangram. Jeez, does it matter? Does it not matter that it was unique, that it was quite entertaining, that even though easy overall, it had sections that were tricky? I'm beginning to think that some people have a need to expostulate over trivial matters such as, why another Q?, or, too many plurals, or my favourite, crosswordese in a crossword. As I said, what the heck, I'm out here in sindiland. No one cares.

Solving in Seattle 5:08 PM  

Did this Friday without mr. google's input. Unusual for this relatively new solver, so I guess I agree with Rex how easy it was. Still fun for me. I thought the SE was the best section. BOX was a doy after pen didn't work.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

I care. But then I didn't find it easy at all.

Dirigonzo 8:02 PM  

OK, I finished in under two beers, so maybe it was a tad easy for a Friday. But c'mon, it's a pangram that the solver has to finish him/her self without any crosses - you gotta love that (except @Rex, you gotta hate it)!

Joe Krozel's puzzles rock!

Still sad that the email updates are gone, though.

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

Super easy, except for 36a which I had to get from the crosses.

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

@Anonymous 3:04 PM
Anon at 12:10 - I don't think googling is cheating because I don't see the puzzle as a test.

no it's not a test, but you're cheating yourself out of the opportunity to think it through and come up with the answer on your own. Most of the time it's not as difficult as it first appears; I've found that if you give your brain enough time it will eventually fill in the gaps for you.

Spacecraft 1:33 AM  

Wow, you all put this down as easy. Not so here; I can't believe Retired chemist is the ONLY other one among us who went with MASSEUR. That seemed totally natural to me, and it caused severe delays in the area, till I thought of MARCEAU. The clue was perfectly good for either of two 7-letter entries that start with MA! Go figure! JUSTMYLUCK to pick the wrong one first.
But there were plenty of other reasons for Fridaying this puzzle, and they are the clues. Several were brutally misdirectional, as has already been mentioned. Yeah, IMSURE, the theme answer was easy, but overall it's got to rate at the very least a medium. It was amusing, in its own way. I'd say, on the lawn of Crossword puzzles, this one is the KITSCH.

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