Footloose hero McCormack / FRI 2-10-12 / Spartan toiler / Onetime pickling liquid / Tony's Taras Bulba co-star 1962 / Longtime Dodgers coach Manny / Only Englishman named Dr. of Church / Maker of fabrics with intricate designs

Friday, February 10, 2012

Constructor: Barry C. Silk and Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



 THEME: none

Word of the Day: JACQUARD LOOM (54A: Maker of fabrics with intricate designs) —
The Jacquard loom is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask and matelasse. The loom is controlled by punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order. It is based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (1725), Jean Baptiste Falcon (1728) and Jacques Vaucanson (1740) (wikipedia)
• • •

Never heard of either of the long Acrosses, so ... yeah. Not much joy there. Fighting for every letter of an answer that ultimately means nothing to you—not the most pleasant experience. POLITICAL DNA (18A: Party makeup?) I've probably heard somewhere, once or twice, but it seems pretty weak, as in-the-language colloquial phrases go. My first page of google hits for the phrase gives me a Facebook page with that title and two different stories about Nancy Pelosi's daughter. Shrug. Rest of the grid was pretty nice, with lots of late-week trickiness in the clues. But looms just don't excite me, and there's not much else to get very excited about. It's a very serviceable, solid puzzle, for the most part. A good 10-minute workout for me today. That's about 2-3 minutes over my average, and all of that time was spent a. figuring out those two mystery Acrosses, and b. remembering how to spell DE RIGUEUR (6D: Proper). Man, that "UEU" combo just eluded me. I kept forgetting the first "U" and thinking "Why Won't It Fit?" 


I just put HELOT in a puzzle I constructed. I wasn't proud, but I did it anyway. It's a solid, if somewhat arcane, word. It'll do. Beats ALEGAR, that's for sure (I remember learning that word years ago, from crosswords, of course; never seen it since, til now) (16A: Onetime pickling liquid). Had a back-and-forth about "Throw Momma From the Train" with some friends recently (I have a "Screening 1987" Facebook group that is watching one 1987 movie a week, all year long— "Throw Momma" is on the schedule). Momma's saying "OWEN" was one of the things I remembered best about that movie. I apparently have no idea what it means to be named a "Dr. of the Church." Which Church? Catholic? I have "Dr. Donne" in my head (a metaphorical rather than literal title, probably), so I was thinking Anglican Church, which of course made the whole "Only Englishman" thing completely bizarred. "But ... it's the Anglican Church ... so ... what?" (29A: Only Englishman named a Dr. of the Church = ST. BEDE). The phrase "'Footloose' hero" made me laugh, so even though that's a crazy clue for REN, I approve (12D: "Footloose" hero McCormack).


Bullets:
  • 32A: Tony's "Taras Bulba" co-star, 1962 (YUL) — "Taras Bulba" may as well be a JACQUARD LOOM for all I know about it (saw it used in a puzzle once as a clue for "TARAS," I think). No idea who "Tony" is here (it's Curtis). 
  • 59A: Running quarterly, for short? (COIN-OP) — yeah, that's a good "?" clue.
  • 10D: Longtime Dodgers coach Manny (MOTA) — 32 consecutive years as a Dodgers coach. Keep in mind, that's not the same as *the* coach, i.e. the manager. Still, impressive.
  • 13D: Ending for AriZona flavors (-ADE) — they make sugary drinks and "teas" and what not. -ADE was an educated guess.
  • 51D: Like the Navajo language (TONAL) — I thought 63A: Reacted to a punch was WEAVED, so I had this answer ending in "V." Not a lot of options. YAKOV? PART V?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

85 comments:

jae 12:07 AM  

Mostly medium for me but I did struggle a bit in the NE.   Took a while to dredge up Manny  MOTA, parse the DNA part of 18a, and suss out HARDG.

Also, SCARCE for SCANTY, PLANTO for PLANON, and TEA for ADE

Possible Naticks ALEGAR/HELOT and TRAMPS/JACQUARD (an "O" works with 44d).

Excellent Fri.  Nice resistance with a bit of zip e.g.
MAGICBEANS, AMPED, DE RIGUEUR...

You know you've crossed a crossword threshold when "Swiss stream" is a gimmie.

Deb 12:30 AM  

I could've sworn ALEGAR was in another recent-ish NYT puzzle (though I couldn't dredge the ALE part of it from my memory). I also had SynC (thinking syncopated) instead of STAC and just couldn't begin to imagine what cliched company claim was needed at 14a, so the whole NW area was just a big, fat hole that remained until I closed the puzzle for awhile and came back. With the app I use, any wrong entries are x'd out after you close and re-open it, so I was able to finish with that bit of assistance.

Had my first malapop since learning what malapop means: Wanted TKO for "Clock stopper, at times"; and lo and behold it ended up being the answer to the linked clue for 38d instead.

@Jae, I guess I haven't crossed that threshold yet because I tried AyR before AAR.

Evan 12:36 AM  

Man, and I thought that the powers-that-be would have let the clue for BLUNTS be something related to smoking weed, like "cigars for those who like the high life?" That would have given the puzzle some edgy spice in keeping with the NYT's recent penchant for letting it all hang down with MID-ASS TOUCH (well, not all the way....let's say letting it sorta hang down).

Today was a pretty solid offering which for some reason I found to be much easier than yesterday's. MAGIC BEANS fell with no resistance and I was off and running from there. I have seen POLITICAL DNA used in writing before, but only as a phrase on a couple of blogs here and there. I've never heard it mentioned in a newscast before. Incidentally, I owe those same political blogs the credit for introducing me to the term DE RIGUEUR, so I got that one with little problem.

A hand up for THRUSH at 21-Across, SPARSE at 15-Down, and CHI at 19-Down. I might have been naticked at the ALEGAR/HELOT crossing if I hadn't seen ALEGAR in the XWord Info database before.

davko 1:20 AM  

This was quite a workout, but an ultimately satisfying solve. I had to fight for some devilish words, like ALEGAR (16A) and JACQUARD LOOM (54A), but in the end, plugged in the right crosses, even if only vaguely recognizing them from previous puzzles or their long-forgotten literary contexts (i.e. HELOT and ERAT). I didn't mind gnashing my teeth over challenges of this sort, and commend the collaborators on tossing us a marlin of a puzzle that, defiant as it was, I eventually was able to reel in.

acela chimera magicbeans 1:28 AM  

Bottom half, nary a write over, top half a MESS...
started with vitamina/tea so really struggled there.

Finished with the dread one wrong square... STjEDE. Had STjuDE...
since St Jude's is related to hospitals...and told myself that jTEAM might be like a jv Team!

When I couldn't deny MAGICBEANS (my fave answer by far far far) I left the j :(

So, once again, sports almost killed me. Manny MOTt? MOTo?
Took me a half hour to figure out NL might stand for National League...and the whole jTEAM fiasco. :(

You have no idea what a leg up if one throws down MOTA with assurance how phrases like POLITICALDNA can become 80 times clearer 38 times faster!
Struggled to turn IDO-SO into IDONOT, as I don't know what a TSLOT is either. I had oSLOT and felt fine.

Also tried SwAC, thinking some dotted notes might be letters and SwAC might be some weird variation of Sealed with a Kiss.
Mess Mess Mess bec I don't know what a HELOT is, like WECARE!

Anyway, I did feel a sense of accomplishment in finishing it...but still annoyed. Don't know at whom, so I'll pick Barry!
;)

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

Very satisfying, if you like the obscure, the arcane, the unknown and speak foreign languages. Aside from that there wasn't much fun in either the clues or the answers. I figured this was the perfect puzzle for Rex....

JFC

Anoa Bob 2:34 AM  

This one had a French feel to it with PARAMOUR, JAQUARD LOOM and DE RIGUEUR. I think of the last one as more in the sine qua non vein than, as clued, just "proper", as in "To be a good crossworder, knowing your European rivers is de rigueur. (See 57 Down.)

I thought both ERAT (5D) and "sum" were forms of the Latin infinitive "esse", to be.

MOTA (10D) is slang for marijuana down here in the Tex-Mex border region.

Lots of stuff to like in this one. SPHINXLIKE (two words? hyphenated?) is my favorite.

jae 2:34 AM  

@Deb --I suspect you have now. Just remember that sometimes, just to be dickish, they put an "E" on the end.

Evan 2:43 AM  

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering why I thought THRUSH was an "urban planting favorite" at 21-Across and not what it really is (a bird or a yeast infection)....I was probably confusing it with BRUSH. I couldn't have told you what a THRUSH was until I looked it up just now. Add that to the stuff I never knew until doing a crossword made me learn it -- like a good ol' JACQUARD LOOM.

chefwen 3:17 AM  

This one kicked my derriere from DERIGUEUR to the JACQUARD LOOM and back again, with a few MAGIC BEANS thrown in for good measure. Don't think I could have pulled this one off in 10 hours, much less 10 minutes. Gave in mid-solve and I am a happier person in doing so. More time to watch childish and inane behavior on American Idol. UGH

i need top 3:52 AM  

Do best, no regret. I concern on gucci outlet because I love gucci bags very much.

I skip M-W 6:06 AM  

Insomnia led me to do 2 puzzles in one night. Hands up for vitamin A and tea for carotene and ade.
Jacquard loom was almost a gimme, because it features in the prehistory of computers -- those punched cards, for those old enough to remember when you had to submit a deck of those to have your program run. Never heard of Mota.
@Rex, I think doctors of the church were ancient esteemed figures, such as "venerable" Bede.
Whole puzzle filled with clever clues, I thought, though it took me about 7times as long as Rex to finish. Now I'll try sleep.

dk 7:09 AM  

@jae, dickish (chortle).

If only I could spell words like GINKGO.

Cute that Mr. Silk used JACQUARDLOOM in the grid. And, guess what other common food item is rich in CAROTENE (hint it is orange and not a fruit).

The PARAMOUR, FAIRPLAY and CROSSED stack is oddly interesting.

All told my solving experience (albeit slower) was similar to Rex's. A lot of work, not so much joy. But my experience does not take away from what Misters Silk and Wilber created.

*** (3 Stars) A solid Friday. Now back to Humble Pie... Peter Frampton's first band. Think "I don't need no doctor."

exaudio 7:59 AM  

Did not finish due to trouble in the MOTA/DNA region, but I have to call a foul on 9 down: "retort of contradiction." Here's how the conversation would go:

Original statement: "I can run a mile in 5 minutes."

Contradiction: "No you can't."

Retort: "Yes I can."

I suppose if the first speaker alleged a negative, the retort of the contradiction could be "I do not," but I think the clue was misleading.

loren muse smith 8:24 AM  

@davko - "marlin of a puzzle." Spot on. I DNF because of the BTEAM/STBEDE cross (kept wanting "stead" or something), and the entire rest of the fill was a huge fight. I plopped down MAGICBEANS, TOWEL, AND (oops) "vitamin e" thinking it was going to be too easy but then I came to a grinding halt. Thought the cross of SPHINXLIKE and AKITAS was apropos; the only two Akitas I've met were definitely, creepily, inscrutable. I can't believe it took me so long to get HARDG, champion that I am of such shenanigans. And what are CROSSED words? Spoonerisms?

Because I didn't see BTEAM, I'm slinking off now to eat some humble pie. Jeesh.

loren muse smith 8:41 AM  

Oh. Right. CROSSED words. What do I do every morning of my life? Duh. (I must be still REELing from staying up too late just to watch a freshman from Duke stun my beloved Tar Heels.) Now for a second piece of pie. Double jeesh.

Sue Mc 8:48 AM  

POLITICALDNA - blech! Other than that, it was just ok.

jackj 8:50 AM  

When my first entry was MOTA, an obscure baseball answer, it triggered a warning to expect a total head banger of a puzzle.

But, working down the right side, things began to pop up like spring blooms. There was PLOY, then MOOLA, ROONE and XTRA which begat SPHINXLIKE and with that beauty in hand the grid rapidly began to fill, clockwise, including JACQUARDLOOM, PEPSQUAD and PARAMOUR, until it was time to identify a Brit who was a Doctor of the Church and then, of course it was…….nothing. Zippo, nil, nada, nothing. Not a clue.

So, from there to completion, it was a no holds barred letter-by-letter, word-by-word battle that ended with a filled grid at STAC (that turned out to actually be a hairier answer than the Venerable one).

Still, the best of show was the brilliant POLITICALDNA and to lighten the load along the way, there was one other charming bit, that rib tickler, the bakers’ bane, FLOURY hands.

Terrific puzzle from crossword’s Killer B’s! Thanks Barry and Brad.

Howard B 8:52 AM  

@exaudio: "Retort of contradiction" can also mean "Retort of a contradictory nature", depending on your reading. But I see your confuzzlement.
Editors and constructors alike use ambiguity as one of their many tools to make our heads spin in the tough puzzles.

Anyway, some great, bizarro stuff in here (SPHINXLIKE?!?), and some not quite as interesting, but a worthy challenge overall.
I had also never encountered the term POLITICAL DNA, but it's still a lively phrase. I guess I'm just out of the political talk-show loop.

Tita 9:00 AM  

Top third was my undoing.
TEAs-->ADES
rariTY-->SpotTY-->SCANTY
share-->spLiT-->ALLOT
wasNOT-->areNOT-->IDONOT

@Anoa - agree on DERIGUEUR - think of it as "required".
And also liked SPHINXLIKE for the improbability of _P__NX__K_.

Plenty of un-googleable clues up there. DNF. Some google, some Rex.

About what a Friday should be, I suppose.

JaxInL.A. 9:02 AM  

It turns out that just as vinegar is made from wine, ALEGAR is made from...ale. I found this helpful explanation on the site of a fellow who makes and sells the stuff. given our chef types here I thought someone might find it interesting. Remember that water was likely to be contaminated and unsuitable for drinking.

"In Mediaeval England, wine was limited to Royalty and nobility, whilst Ale was widely consumed by all ages of the general population at every meal - even breakfast.(Queen Elizabeth 1st apparently drank 2 pints of Ale every morning !)What wasn`t drank was naturally turned sour, leaving a good supply of ale-gar,( gar being an narrative of the French word “aigre” meaning sour ,) to use as a condiment and preservative as well as for medicinal purposes."

David 9:06 AM  

I consider myself a pretty darn good speller, but not knowing how to spell 3 words in the top half gave me all kinds of fits today. Like @Rex, I had trouble with DE RIGUEUR, and that slowed things up quite a bit in the NW, until the MAGIC part of MAGIC BEANS smacked me in the head.

Once I figured out DE RIGUEUR I knew GINKGO, but couldn't spell that one either, and once I got HARD G I was almost clear, but still wanted either CREATINE or CAROTINE for the Pumpkin clue, finally seeing the light after getting CHIMERA.

Wrote in PLAN TO instead of PLAN ON, which hid the crucial SPHINXLIKE (wow, looks great in the puzzle). Love the clues for COINOP and LOANER CAR, as well as POTHOLE and yes, POLITICAL DNA.

Two tough days in a row for me, but when a puzzle is challenging like this I feel more a sense of satisfaction in solving than considering it an unenjoyable slog.

Mr. Benson 9:25 AM  

I finished all of this but had no clue about the ALEGAR/HELOT/STAC crossing. I don't know what STAC means; anyone? Google isn't helping (I assume it's not referring to the Security Traders Association of Chicago or the Southern Tier Athletic Conference).

Also, with MOTA in the grid I was expecting to see a clip from Airplane.

Mr. Benson 9:26 AM  

Ohhhh, staccato. Got it. Should have stuck with those piano lessons as a kid.

quilter1 9:26 AM  

DNF but that's OK. I was proud of all the arcane stuff I knew and the arcane stuff I didn't know and couldn't get from crosses 'cause I didn't know those either. It was still fun. I *liked* JACQUARDLOOM and MAGICBEANS, PARAMOUR, DERIGUEUR. I hate clues like 8D. Challenging indeed.

Tita 9:32 AM  

@Mr. Benson - thank you!! I have "and now batting, Manny Mota, Mota, Mota...." in my brain, infuriatingly elusive...

@Jax...thank you too - you took a "meh" answer and made it fascinating, from both the drinking and the language angle...

evil doug 9:46 AM  

"Stone Cold Fever" here, dk....

Anything north and east of Ohio ('Cin') had me reelin' and a'rockin':

'Reviewed' instead of shadowed;

'Rarity' instead of scanty;

'Ben' instead of Ren;

'ors' instead of 'ade' (I mean, if 'hard g' and 'capital n' are legit, then why not the last three letters for 'ending of AriZona flavors'? ('Cin' Reds started their trek west for spring training today---hallelujah!)

'Go away' instead of 'I do not'. So Mota and ewe were lonesome fills up yonder.

Alphabet runs don't help with 'slot'. Or 'beam'. They all sound possible.

Jacquard, de rigueur and paramour are fun to look at. (Speaking of French, some bonus trivia: Groundskeeper Willie of the Simpsons is the original source of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".)

Evil

Sir Hillary Bray 9:48 AM  

Oh man, this was brutal. I feel like I've been on an ACELA that CROSSED the track and hit a POTHOLE. I REELED for a good hour before replacing "SCARCE" at 15D. I was thinking to myself, "IDONOT have the time" because I didn't PLANON having to TOTALUP at LEAST 45 more minutes. So, SHAMED and having eight squares unfilled, I finally came here with SHADOWED brow for the solution. It's all FAIRPLAY and DERIGUEUR for a Friday, but good thing I don't solve these for MOOLA, else I would be on the DOLE.

I don't buy POLITICALDNA, but agree with Rex on the clue for COINOP. My favorite clue/answer combo was LOANERCAR.

joho 9:54 AM  

Got it all but the NW making me SHAMED even with SHAMED in the grid. I had to throw in the TOWEL as work had to be attended to, sort of like a HELOT. I had DNA but hadn't a clue about POLITICAL. Though STAC was creC, so wrong.

I liked it anyway. Thanks to those bad boys, Barry and Brad!

Gill I. P. 10:01 AM  

This was worth all the effort if only to come here and read @chefwen's post.....
I like a HARD puzzle but I just couldn't see some of the answers. CHIMERA??? I thought it was a two headed animal. I favor a Husky over an AKITA.
@Jax: interesting info. Another little tid-bit: Evidently about 7000 years ago it was women who invented the stuff and only they were allowed to run the taverns. I'm not so sure that was our finest invention....

Tobias Duncan 10:04 AM  

Like ACME, the top half of my puzzle is just a mess.But unlike her, I DNEFCCTF this one. Solving on paper is barbaric as I have said before.I may have been able to finish if I printed out a new puzzle and started over again.
My puzzle looks like it was attacked by and angry child with a pen.
I picked the wrong week to give up Across Lite.
There is a certain level of extra concentration somehow required on paper that has to do with fishing out the clue while keeping track of the answers place in the grid.Somehow during that process my mind starts to wander.With the computer constantly showing me where I need to be, I am somehow more fully engaged.
I hope this gets better.I did enjoy last Fridays puzzle on paper but we all know that was really a Wednesday.

KRMunson 10:28 AM  

@Tobias - How creepy is it that I understand your abbreviation DNEFCCTF????

chefbea 10:33 AM  

Too tough for me DNF Had STL, then Chi. and finally Cin. I too loved the magic beans.

r.alphbunker 10:42 AM  

25A Make less edgy BrUNT was wrong at the end. Knew the problem had to be with the "r" because all the other crosses were rock solid but my alphabet run missed the "L". I guess I wanted a more delicate word for the answer.

MAGIC BEANS was my fava clue.

Lindsay 10:56 AM  

I like JACQUARD LOOM well enough for both of us. Also POLITICAL DNA, which strikes me as a common phrase, but then I'm a political junkie.

Some problems in the middle however, where my NL Central city mIl crossed chillS for "makes less edgy". Another writeover at 15A follOWED >>> SHADOWED.

Got everything worked out except the cholesterol/church Dr. crossing. Just stared & stared at the blank square as hoplessness welled in my breast. Finally dropped in "d" as the LEAST bad choice, came here and voila. All is right with the world. But that is one crappy cross.

Thanks @Mr. Benson for the STAC explanation.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

Top half brutal.
My little ewe was even lonelier than @Evil Doug's. She was by herself a very long time. The only Ren I know is a dog.
Speaking of dogs, I have my doubts about Akitas pulling things. I thought they were guard/fighting dogs.
I wonder how the team wrote this.
I'm guessing Barry did the bottom and Brad did the top.

Rudy 11:10 AM  

So many blue-ribbon words: CHIMERA, CAROTENE, DERIGUEUR, ALKANE (I know there is an "Alkene") PARAMOUR (Brits must get a chuckle that the Yanks forgot to drop that "U").. and to make all these fit into a crossword.. hats off to Silk & Wilber. Needless to say, I was woefully behind and called it quits. As Eastwood claimed " A man must know his limits"

archaeoprof 11:34 AM  

Agree with @Two Ponies. Top half felt like Wilber, bottom half like Silk.

Was 19D a shout-out to Cincinnatians like @Evil (and me)??

Matthew G. 11:40 AM  

I strenuously disagree with Rex's position that POLITICAL DNA is insufficiently in-the-language to be in the puzzle. I have heard the term many, many times, and I think it's a wonderful colloquialism and the best thing about this puzzle.

Overall, this was an awesome, awesome puzzle. It could have run on a Saturday and I wouldn't have blinked, but I loved it. This was my slowest Friday in ages because precious few of the clues were in my wheelhouse, but each time I finally broke through a section it felt so satisfying. You know it's a tough day when your first grid entry is CAROTENE clued off its abundance in pumpkins ...

There were just so many entries to love. SPHINXLIKE! DE RIGUEUR! COIN-OP! WE CARE! I love a puzzle where there are lots of letters in seemingly impossible combinations and yet every tough square has an inferrable crossing.

Final squares filled were the B and M in B TEAM. Never heard of the winged ELM or ST BEDE, and was worried I was going to fall short after getting so close, but the {Subs} clue finally clicked in my moment of despair.

Five stars, Barry and Brad.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Brutal for me...I got MAGICBEANS right away...MOTA as well, and only 3-4 others...even as I "got help' many of the words/clues I still had no idea of the arcane/scarce words...less than excited about it.

jbsnadb 11:54 AM  

Ughh. Second-guessing cost a whole lot of time for me. At one point in the NE I had CAROTENE in place along with SCANTY and everything MOTA and east before deciding that 15a just HAD to be follOWED.

Also majorly tripped up in Oklahoma, where i confidently refused to budge off of PLANto, because 38d was, without a doubt, "out". Oops. Once I changed it to PLANON, it was a full twenty seconds to fill in the rest of the section, which made me feel pretty dumb about the ten minutes staring at POo... with STYES the only filled in part.

Like Rex, the only part of "Throw Mama From the Train" that sticks in my brain is "OWEN!"

chefbea 12:58 PM  

changing my avatar again. lets hope it worked

John 1:31 PM  

I found this to be one of the toughest puzzles in a long time.

I had "Vitamin A" instead of "Carotene" which really messed me up for a long time.

John V 1:39 PM  

POLITICALDNA is made up BS. Ruined it for me.

Lewis 1:43 PM  

@loren -- that freshman from Duke is Doc Rivers' son, and was a high school legend in Winter Park, FL, where I used to live. I think he will be a huge NBA star one day.

@matthew -- I'm with you. It was hard hard hard, especially the NW for me, but ever so slowly things clicked, except, even with MAGICBEANS and DERIGUEUR and STAC I had to Google for ALEGAR. And darned if that HARDG took me forever to get -- I love/hate that genre of clue.

Acme 1:53 PM  

In the light of day, this puzzle has grown on me thanks to the comments...
Esp @jax explication of ALEGAR, @Tobias's hilarious shorthand and @karen's understanding it...
as well as @matthew g's splendid list of words to love
SPHINXLIKE, COINOP, WECARE, compleat with !!!s!

@jackj
It's amazing how polar opposites we continue to be...that your FIRST answer was MOTA and that you even admit how obscure it is!

In competitions, once again, this is a perfect example of the disadvantage (many) women face when a puzzle is created by two men and edited by a third baseball junkie with no pause given to the obscurity, yet balking (another apt baseball term? ) at the inclusion of an answer that would be a gimme only to a handfull of women....
(Tho perhaps in this puzzle, JACQUARD as a fabric might have been a slight slight advantage for women...)

So if you are racing and already have the final A in place in POLITICAL??A as opposed to POLITICAL???, i guarantee it's enough of a leg up, in a speed contest, (which is already such a male construct/purview) to make a difference.

It is not a "level playing field"... How apropos!

I'm no longer whining But trying to genuinely understand and get specific about why 90% of top finishers (and Friday/Saturday puzzle constructors) are male and 90% of the women who come to the competitions come to socialize as much as to compete.

This puzzle had me at HELOT...but not in the Jerry Maguire sense!

mac 1:59 PM  

Medium-challenging is right! In the end Hard G and DNA cought me, I had Ana and Ginkho (Harah's Grand Hotel?).

Loved the beautiful long words, and the steady piecing together of this real Friday. Jacquard loom and sphinxlike were my favorites.

@Anoa Bob: I thought the same thing, the infinitive is esse.

Moonchild 2:11 PM  

Did I know Mota?
Not one iota.

Bird 2:12 PM  

Ouch. Brutal. DNF.

@JFC - perfect comment

I got the bottom third and half the rest.

TGIF

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

I grew up in Georgetown forever ago and our fav thing to do walking to school was to avoid stepping on the fallen fruit of the Ginkgo tree. They look like green grapes but have an incredibly foul odor. Of course there were times the boys chose to throw them at les femmes which was not at all pleasant. I can't imagine why a tree which produces "stinkbombs" is anyone's favorite anything. That said, there were definitely times I wished heartily to take aim at our constructors today! Very happy to learn that I was not the only tortoise among us, having initially made a few wrong turns. However, I must admit I ended up finishing and enjoying it. My brain tho has asked for a timeout from the coach.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Very tough puzzle to finish, and always nice to get a Med-Chall from RP when I get through WHTG. I do admit checking dictionary after putting in chimera, which I did at least know was a word, just not the definition thereof.

@Lindsay 'D' should not have been your last letter, since the answer had to be either LDL or HDL - I never remember which is good though.

Lots to appreciate with all the scrabbliness.

Dating myself a bit, but I remember Manny Mota because he was such a good hitter that he remained an active player into his late forties at least as an exceptionally reliable pinch-hitter. IIRC, he played in 5 different decades.

RT

Matthew G. 3:06 PM  

@acme:

I will never feel that baseball clues give men an unfair advantage, given that women are (in my experience) much better than men are at remembering non-sports celebrities. To me, the baseball clues are there to outbalance all the minor actors, pop stars and celebutantes who are completely interchangeable to me and who no sooner get into my brain from one puzzle than vanish from it for the next. And those are more common in the puzzles than sports guys.

@John V:

Sorry, but POLITICAL DNA is not made up. "[Policy view] is deeply embedded in Senator So-and-So's political DNA" is a phrase one hears all the time in political reporting. It was certainly a difficult entry (even for me, knowing the term), but it's completely legit.

Unknown 3:26 PM  

Tough Friday!
I think doctor of the Church with a capital C always mean the Catholic Church (like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Theresa of Avila and now we now St. Bede the Venerable...)

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

@Unknown - St. Bede was a Roman Catholic.

Mel Ott 3:46 PM  

Late today - spent the AM driving down the Overseas Hiway to Key West. Which is even more fun than the NYT Crossword Puzzle.

@Rex Even tho we think of Bede as an Anglican saint, the designation Doctor of the Church is a Roman Catholic title bestowed mostly on great theologians of the past like Thomas Aquinas. Bede is so designated because his work was done before the Western Church divided into Roman, Anglican, and various flavors of Protestantism.

I think of Bede more as a historian than a theologian, so I was a tad surprised. I wanted Anselm, who was Engish and a major theologian, which really would have driven the bloggers nuts!

Bird 3:51 PM  

@RT (Anon 2:30) - a good trick to remember which cholesterol is which, is to remember that the bad stuff must me kept Low = 'L'DL.

sanfranman59 3:56 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 28:46, 25:13, 1.14, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 15:05, 12:29, 1.21, 84%, Challenging

Lindsay 4:02 PM  

@Anon RT ---"had to be either LDL or HDL" *if*if*if* you follow medicine.

I prefer to follow sports ;~)

mac 4:11 PM  

@RT: L stands for lousy.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

@Bird at 2:12 - Thank you. When I wrote it, I wasn't sure if I made sense but after seeing the comments since I am more confident in my conclusions.

@Acme - YOU ARE NEVER WRONG... until you listen to others.

Captcha: Parma - a blue collar suburb of Cleveland.

Have to go now. I rented the original Thomas Crown Affair just so I could watch a chess match with Windmills of Your Mind playing in the background. Something to do on a cold, snowy, wintery day in Chicago on a Friday afternoon after a two martini lunch....

JFC

Larry I in L.A. 4:23 PM  

My antennae were up for Scrabbly letters, so JACQUARD and SPHINX did not sidetrack me much. It also helped immensely that my powers of conjecture (OK, semi-wild guessing) worked out almost every time, starting with SWAPS/WECARE. A near Natick with HE-OT/A-EGAR, but got it on the second attempt (tried N first).

Broke 20 minutes and felt great about it, but a couple of false steps could have turned this puzzle into a full-blown disaster. Does Barry Silk enjoy pulling off the wings of butterflies?

S.O.S. 4:41 PM  

What happened? Where's the PG-13 fill? I thought this was going to be a fun puzzle, but it ended up being a train wreck. @JFC - It'll take more than 2 Martinis for me to recover. Not that I mind.

Will must have woken from his slumber and decided to punish us for behaving like little children snickering at MIDASSTOUCH and the like.

BigSteve46 5:13 PM  

Am I the only one who had "ACTA" for "MOTA?" I know Manny Acta is the manager for the Indians and seems to have been around forever, and although I couldn't connect him to the Dodgers - WTF, a longtime baseball guy, begins with A and ends with A, 4 letters - I just plugged in ACTA and it took me a half an hour to finally realize that it just didn't work! And I'm a longtime Dodgers fan and remember Mota well. Boy - these Friday/Saturday puzzles give the gray matter a good workout!

jackj 5:28 PM  

Anonymous@2:17 P.M. wrote, (in part):

“I can't imagine why a tree which produces "stinkbombs" is anyone's favorite anything.”

Ginkgo trees are possibly the oldest living things in our world, having been around for 270 million years, give or take a few eons and with individual specimens having survived over 2500 years, these “living fossils” are to be revered, not reviled.

The 50 foot ginkgo which anchors my home landscape is a sight to behold, with its erratic shape looking like a chrysanthemum firework gone rogue, (no symmetry for these beauties), blanketed with fan shaped leaves which are the envy of the plant world and which change from a lush green color in spring to a brilliant gold for an autumn treat.

The trick, Anonymous@2:17PM, is not to grow a female ginkgo; their ovules do have an unfortunate odor which smells like vomit (or, being kind to the ginkgo, like rancid butter) while the male has no such problem and is the ginkgo du jour for home use.

Know thy arborist and just plant males is the secret to happiness in the wonderful world of ginkgoes. Believe me they are easy to love.

Ulrich 5:30 PM  

@JaxInLa: I can't remember another recent comment that set me straight on so many things in a single paragraph--now where can I get my hands on some alegar?

@JFC: I envy you--gone are the days in which I could get away with multiple-martini lunches. Used to have a friend in NYC who sometimes invited me to his club for same--and they were great martinis, too...

I love it when an anonymous talks to an unknown...

John V 5:41 PM  

@Matthew G. Honestly, I'v never hear the phrase "political dna" before today's puzzle. If you have, I accept that. In CT, we say political **R**NA ;)

So, not literally made up, I acknowledge, but for me, it does have that bouquet.

Ulrich 5:48 PM  

@jackj: When you say "oldest living things", you mean "oldest VISIBLE living things", right? And how can the species survive if nobody plants females anymore? Sounds like sex discrimination as practiced in some countries I've heard of...

jackj 5:59 PM  

Ulrich- Not condoning sex discrimination, only suggesting, if you want to enjoy a ginkgo on your own property, plant a male.

Wise Chinese have mastered the problem over many, many millenia; guess we can be successful in aiding the propagation of the species while avoiding the unpleasantry involved should we so elect.

loren muse smith 7:52 PM  

@Lewis - I don't care how good he is. I can't talk about it, think about it. Truly painful.

mac 8:25 PM  

Having read about the bad smell of ginkgos I've made a point of sniffing them out and I could never discern anything bad. Must have been males everywhere. Amazing.

Two Ponies 9:00 PM  

I read somewhere that ginkgo fruit was a natural insect repellant.
I'll know in a few years as I planted one in my yard last year. Not sure of the sex.

miriam b 11:10 PM  

Misread "Spartan toiler". Decided that PRIVY was pretty Spartan, as toilets go (pun intended). After seeing my error, I continued solving and throughly enjoyed the experience.

@Tobias, I'm still chortling over your acronym.

It's been a long day.

pk 1:25 AM  

My, my, my, this was one tough puzz. So glad that so many of yall kids either struggled mightily or DNF (I would be in the latter category.)

I did get Sphinxlike all on my own and loved it.

Wasn't there something on an I Love Lucy about Vitamina Vegemate? @Rex: I Love Lucy was sort of The Simpsons for the 1950's

pk 1:31 AM  

I also did not know that "de rigueure" had two u's. In fact, I was certain it did not, but was also certain that was the answer. Go figueure.

sanfranman59 1:44 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 6:49, 6:49, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 10:54, 8:52, 1.23, 93%, Challenging (10th highest median solve time of 138 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:44, 11:50, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Thu 19:34, 18:57, 1.03, 60%, Medium
Fri 28:46, 25:13, 1.14, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:40, 0.98, 46%, Medium
Tue 5:58, 4:35, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest median solve time of 138 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:52, 5:52, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Thu 10:05, 9:16, 1.09, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 14:22, 12:29, 1.15, 78%, Medium-Challenging

jberg 9:32 AM  

I'm posting this the next day, as I didn't finish the puzzle until late afternoon, and then was busy. JACQUARD LOOM was a near-gimme, since you always see them in computer museums. But after that and the lovely SPHINX-LIKE, I figured it must be PIZZA express (not a bad chain, as chains go). That and GINgkO really held me up! (I've got two of those things in my garden, but that doesn't mean I can spell them!)

In DE RIGUEUR, you need the first U to make it a HARD G. Keep that in mind and you'll remember.

POLITICAL DNA was right up my alley once I got rid of the pizza; but my weatherstripping fits into what looks like a c-SLOT, so that needed the cross.

@ACME, I loved the way you used sports metaphors to complain about the prevalence of sports terms. Brilliant!

COIXT RECORDS 12:21 PM  

Rex, has your 1987 movie club watched "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" yet? Absolutely mandatory. :)

Solving in Seattle 2:37 PM  

I'll take my vitamiNa and tea with my humble pie, please. Also hung up on SCArce for awhile. You East coasters had an advantage on us Westerners viz ACELA express. Never heard of it. Got MAGICBEANS right off, which luckily led to POLITICALsomething.

Anyway, Mr. Google (yes, I cheated), my wife (knew JACQUARDLOOM) and I knocked this one off fairly quickly.

Does anyone know what STAC means?

DMGrandma 4:54 PM  

Wow!
This one got me in the NE. With vitamina and politiccal-something, I finally gave up and looked up Manny. The on
Y four letter response I got was Diaz, which didn't work with chimera, so did not finish! Feel good about sussing out derigueur and sphinxlike among others, so not too bad a day. Maybe there will be less esoterica tomorrow.
did anyone else find you couldn't post anything earlier?

Red Valerian 7:01 PM  

@Solving in Seattle: Mr Benson (I believe) answered above. It stands for staccato, and scores have dots on top or below the notes in question.

Did not know Acela, but guessed right. Got naticked by the L in Helot and Alegar, so DNF. But should be able to remember at least the latter for next time!

Really enjoyed the puzzle! And the comments--thanks, folks, from out here in syndi-land, where it seems few continue to visit :-(

SurvivorMaam 7:08 PM  

Got the bottom half from St. Bede (29A) and Yul but was totally stuck on the top half. Don't think ginkgos grow up here so it didn't come to mind. Also thought huskies pulled things not akitas though they are big and mean enough.

Political DNA?? Not a phrase used here I don't think. I'm often at a disadvantage in these NYT puzzles; being a non-sports follower and a Canadian.

So long for now.

Dirigonzo 9:51 PM  

This was like two competely different puzzles for me. The bottom half practically filled itself in, but everything north of the equator remained a barren wasteland, although for some inexplicable reason I did manage to get CAROTENE off the C in SCANTY, and that showed up from the cross with BLUNTS. Everything else up there was blank or wrong. I blame Canada.

Gingko Canuck 10:39 PM  

We're thin-skinned aboot (how you think we say it) criticism up here, eh? So our marines are on alert to invade southwards (or northwards to Detroit or Wasilla). Oh, we don't even have marines? Rats! Never mind.

Dirigonzo 10:58 PM  

@Gingko Canuck - some of my favorite syndi-commenters are Canadian. You just became one of them.

Blogger please, please bring back email updates!

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

There are only three things that can trip me up in crossword puzzles: Words I don't know, words I can't spell, and tough clues. This puzzle had enough of each to present me with quite a challenge. Almost gave up three times but kept reminding myself that these things were meant to be solved.

Finished Saturday morning, with writeovers in maybe a third of the squares but just three errors (polynaticked at 16a/2d,4d; 4d/29a).

Answers that didn't survive:
BLEEPS/SKIMPY
PINHOLE
I DO TOO/O SLOT
FOUL PLAY

Answers that went away and came back:
BLUNTS
RESOLE

Answers that put cool songs in my head:
FAIR PLAY
MAGIC BEANS

On to Saturday...

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