Drive-in theater in old slang / FRI 5-11-12 / Jai alai basket / Streaming video giant / Football Hall-of-Famer Marchetti / Moe Howard catchphrase / Dixon self-styled seer astrology book for dogs / Fictional narrator Legends of Old Plantation / Literary captain I am not what you call a civilized man

Friday, May 11, 2012

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TIE FIGHTER (61A: Craft in a "Star Wars" battle) —
TIE fighters are fictional starfighters in the Star Wars universe. Propelled by Twin Ion Engines (hence the TIE acronym), TIE fighters are depicted as fast, fragile starfighters produced by Sienar Fleet Systems for the Galactic Empire. TIE fighters and other TIE craft appear in the original Star Warstrilogy—Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)—and throughout the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Several TIE fighter replicas and toys, as well as a TIE flight simulator, have been released by merchandise companies. (wikipedia)
• • •

When I saw Natan's name, I thought, "Oh, I am going to kill this." And I was right. With today's 6:18 time (and yesterday's 10:21), I am now averaging the same time on Thursdays and Fridays over the past two months (since I started tracking my times and solving exclusively on paper). This grid is chock full of original, lively answers, and while some of its answers place it squarely in the 21st century (OPEN SOURCE, HULU) (15A: Like some freely available software, 16A: Streaming video giant), it's also very wide-ranging in its knowledge base. Feels like it was made by a reasonably young person, but I wouldn't call it "youth-oriented," by any means. I'm not so fond of how many little foreign words are in the Down crosses up top, and AUDI DEALER (while original) doesn't exactly stir the soul (12D: Where to see some German models), but "WHY I OUGHTA..." is genius (32D: Moe Howard catchphrase), most of the long answers are quite good, and most of the short stuff is solid. A very worthy effort.

 I know PASSION PIT as a band, not "old slang" for a drive-in theater, so that took more than a few crosses to uncover, but I got OPEN SOURCE off the "P," so that first corner came together quickly. Off SNOW ANGELS (4D: What people waving their arms might produce), I threw down BANGS, EMCEE, and TELL, which opened the whole SW right up. CESTA (44A: Jai alai basket) is one of those words like ... like the names ELWES or GEER or O-REN, names that I just know from doing crosswords. I'm looking around for spots where I struggled, or even significantly paused, and I'm not finding any. I'm surprised I wasn't even faster than I was. I hesitated at 50D: "The Dark Knight" actor, having totally forgotten that Michael CAINE was in it, and I wrote in REEKS for SUCKS (14D: Is god-awful)—I don't think I've ever seen SUCKS clued in this common colloquial manner before. I doubted SUCKS for a few moments because I just couldn't believe the NYT would allow that usage. But there it is.  We watch HULU (Plus) almost every day, so that confirmed the "U" in SUCKS, and I finished it off with FLINTSTONE.

  • 39A: When repeated, response to "Who wants ice cream?" ("I DO!") — I clued "I DO" almost identically just this morning. Except my kids wanted cookies.
  • 52A: First female dean of Harvard Law School (ELENA KAGAN) — had the "ELEN-" so, piece of cake. She's in the puzzle all the time (in first name form), so she sprang readily to mind. 
  • 56A: Football Hall-of-Famer Marchetti (GINO) — noooo idea. Needed every cross. The only Marchetti I know is Lou, and he painted paperback covers in the '50s and '60s.
  • 66A: "The Case of the Demure Defendant" protagonist (PERRY MASON) — speaking of paperbacks of the '50s and '60s ... I own a lot of them, including this ERLE Stanley Gardner title. You can see it here, at my "Pop Sensation" blog.
  • 1D: Offering from a Parisian butcher (PORC) — French for what it sounds like it's French for.
  • 5D: It has more museums per capita than any other country: Abbr. (ISR.) — that is an odd stat.
  • 28D: Fictional narrator of "Legends of the Old Plantation" (UNCLE REMUS) — had the -NCL- part, so no sweat, though I did briefly forget if it was REMUS or REBUS.
  • 48D: ___ Dixon, self-styled seer who wrote an astrology book for dogs (JEANE) — HA ha. Great clue. Wish I'd read the whole thing while solving, but I only needed to get as far as "seer" to know whom I was dealing with.
  • 53D: "Great" detective of kiddie lit (NATE) — missed this guy entirely when I was a kiddie. Learned him from crosswords.
  • 58D: Literary captain who says "I am not what you call a civilized man!" (NEMO) — I love revenge stories, and "20,000 Leagues" is a good one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

The parade of easy Fridays continues.  I did this in about a third of the time that yesterday's took.   Easiness aside, I liked it.  Very zippy...PASSIONPIT (I started with mAkeoutPIT), SUCKS, TIEFIGHTERS, OODLES, OHOH, two Stooges clues...a lot to like.  I'll leave it to others to speculate on the erotic implications of  BANGS HARD HATE across the middle.   Nice one Natan!

foodie 12:11 AM  

Terrific and Easy! Nice palate cleanser after yesterday's complex dish.

I swept through 2/3 of it in like 12 minutes, which for me is amazing. Then stalled a bit in the south. I had a personal Natick at the intersection of CAINE and TIE FIGHTER. Had ThE FIGHTER and CAHNE (which I thought was an odd spelling) but when Mister Happy Pencil did not show up, I ran through the alphabet in my head and came up with CAINE.

LET ME THINK... Didn't know CESTA, but it was inferable. Loved the clue for CROW, and like seeing SUCKS as defined.

A great, fun, offering!

Gill I. P. 12:25 AM  

OH, OH, LET ME THINK.... I.Just.Loved.This.Puzzle.
From PASSION PIT to WHY I OUGHTA to ELENA KAGAN to...all of them! I'm a huge Stooges fan - our two pups are Curly and Moe, son is a jarhead and the AUDI I owned SUCK(ed).
The only complaint I have is that I HATE it when it's over too soon.
Good, fun puzzle, Natan. I really look forward to seeing more..

FearlessK 12:52 AM  

A fun quick solve which was full of so much fresh, fresh content. What's not to like about WHYIOUGHTA? And how did I go so long thinking TIEFIGHTERS got their name because they look like... Ties? Combine Natan's lively puzzle and Rex's commentary and all is copacetic. And now to bed, perchance to sleep. Insomnia SUCKS; crosswords make it feel like an opportunity. Enjoy!

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

Mostly good, but JEANE/ELENA/ALMA/REMUS is a lot of non-figure-out able stuff in one corner. That's plain old trivia. Either you know it or you don't. GINO/OREN is similar, but one square is better than that southwest clusterf$#%...

retired_chemist 12:59 AM  

Blew it out of the water. ALMOST below 10 minutes which is probably my best Friday time ever.

Quite a few writeovers: 3D ROJA [sic], coupled with 19A BRAG; 51A USC (isn't there a law that ALL famous All-Americans come from USC?); 7D BARE; 33A LOCKS; 65A URDU. The long answers became clear from other crosses, though, so each of these got fixed easily.

Gimmes: 8D PRET; 31A ELWES; 66A PERRY MASON; 48D JEANE; 40A PYLON; 56A GINO; 18A ODIC. Wife lived in ALMA (60A), so that too.

Loved the clues for 36A HATE and for most of the 10s. Disliked the clue for 9D I CAME.

Remarkable that young Mr. Last has such a command of stuff that probably fell out of fashion before his birth (PASSION PIT, TELEXED, PERRY MASON), while throwing in neologisms like HULU with abandon.

Well done,Mr. L.

Anoa Bob 3:36 AM  

Just got in from playing some Texas Hold'em so I was all over 41A "Fidgeting during a poker game, e.g." and threw down TELL. I thought an opportunity was missed by not cross-clueing it to 26D I BET.

Got both ___ Maria's, AVE (22A) and TIA (45D). The latter reminded me of one of my favorite drinks, a fresh cup of coffee with a shot of Old Bushmills Irish whiskey, a shot of Tia Maria, and milk to taste. Your welcome.


Glimmerglass 7:11 AM  

I'm so old that I actually called the drive-in the PASSION PIT (and it was). Good puzzle. Not as hard as I'd like for Friday, but still interesting. The long answers were easier than the short ones. Interesting that SUCKS has lost its primarily schatalogical sense. The same thing happened 40 years ago to "screw."

dk 7:22 AM  

I often think I should watch the movie Grand Prix. I went to the drive-in with Jamie (still pine over screwing up that relationship) and we were down on the seat before the opening credits finished rolling. Made funnier as we double dated with Fred and cold fish Marilyn. Jamie (the wag) made several stage whisper comments in jest. Imagine a prim and proper girl in 1967 (or so) sitting in the front seat hearing: "no way am I gonna touch that" followed by peals of laughter from the back seat. Fred and Marilyn went on to "enjoy" a loveless marriage for 20+ years finally divorcing. Jamie went on to become a painter living in Europe. Me: "I am not what you would call a civilized man!"

🚗🚗🚗 (3 Cars) OODLES of fun.

Note: The first Perry Mason in color was the first TV case he lost.


SethG 7:24 AM  

With ROJO, SNOW ANGELS (so good!), TELEXED in place, xxJOxxxxxL in place was so obviously MAJOR LABEL that it took me a long time to rip apart the NW. If I'd only remembered that Rouen means French, not German, I'm sure it'd have been easier.

Nancy in PA 7:29 AM  

I don't feel like such an old geezer when I slap in OPENSOURCE with no crosses. Helps to read the byline and know that Natan is younger than most of my kids.
Loved the puzzle! Now back to Words With Friends, my new obsession.

Scott Thomas 7:57 AM  

I too was surprised that SUCKS has reached the level of respectability. Was thinking about that as I struggled to make 1A be FINGER BOWL, which is what my wife's father called the drive-in. Now, THAT would be some edgy NYT crosswording!

joho 7:58 AM  

This is definitely a combination of old and new with a lot more old than I thought Natan knew:


I think Natan channeled his inner geezer to come up with this fun and yes, easy, Friday.

orangeblossomspecial 8:10 AM  

38A Bob Hope's theme song, "Thanks for the memory".

Hard to believe people don't know the 28D UNCLE REMUS stories about Br'er Rabbit and the briar patch, Br'er Fox and the tax baby. The books are in dialect, so are somewhat difficult to read. Disney owns the film "Song of the South" but won't release it.

Z 8:10 AM  

Apparently Thursdays HAVE to be the extra puzzly puzzles and Fridays and Saturdays have to be themeless. There is no other justification for the puzzle order this week. Yesterday was a Saturday Plus in difficulty, today almost felt like a Monday to me. A Friday without a single writeover in my grid - it just doesn't happen. Even easy Fridays usually generate a couple of tentative letters that I later need to change.

Lots of lively answers. The erotica already mentioned is fun, there is a real FIEND vibe to this puzzle. Picked up TIE FIGHTER off the F and ELENA KAGAN off the -LE-. Star Wars is 35 years old. Just because I watched it in my youth doesn't make it a youthful topic. Love WHY I OUGHTA and PYLON is a neat word. Too easy for a Friday perhaps, but a great puzzle.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Once I sussed that 1 Across was not "finger bowl" it became the easiest Friday since time began.

joho 8:24 AM  

I left out TIEFIGHTER.

Also RECORDDEAL, AUDIDEALERS has a lot of wheeling dealing going on.

Oscar 8:36 AM  

Waaay too easy. If you can't write hard clues, don't write themeless puzzles.

Sue McC 8:40 AM  

Super fun and easy Friday. Anything with Stooges is a winner in my book, and this one had two Stooge clues. The new Stooges movie is great, btw. Favorite clue was "Not fancy at all". I had HATE filled in, but could not make it make sense in my head. Then on my way here, it clicked. OoooOOOOHhhh....*that* fancy. DUh. Great job, Mr. Constructor!

quilter1 8:42 AM  

Got ELENA KAGAN while waiting for the puzzle to print and sailed from there. I hadn't thought of PASSION PIT for a very long time, but pre-air conditioning we would often go to the drive-in in the summer as it was cooler than the house and the kids would fall asleep in the back seat. A few years earlier there was this Dean Martin spy movie I never saw the end of....

John V 8:44 AM  

Well, I'm just fine having an easier Friday. New routine has me flying home on Thursday night, in the door at 11, bed MAYBE by 12, so pretty tired on a Friday morning. At least the paper is on the front lawn, not down the block at Panera's.

So much fresh, interesting stuff in this puzzle, hard to single out anything! Easy spots here were OPENSOURCE and ELENAKAGAN, although I wanted it to be KEGAN. No idea about TRIFIGHTER, whatsoever. I guess, though, SNOWANGELS has to be the best. Good job, Nathan, lots of fun; good way to JUMP START the weekend, is what I'm sayin'

jackj 8:49 AM  

There were other names used for drive-in theatres, but PASSIONPIT is certainly the cleanest of a sordid bunch.

Natan Last gives us an interesting challenge, with lots of excellent debut words, WHYIOUGHTA, SNOWANGELS, TIEFIGHTER, HULU and the above mentioned PASSIONPIT being just a few of this puzzles pleasures.

But, Natan’s challenge is a kinder, gentler one and ultimately comes across as too kind by those looking to be tested. (Although saying it was silk when you were looking for velvet probably won’t rouse too much passion from other solvers).

The weaknesses of the puzzle were caused by a bit too much reliance on crosswordy entries like ERSE, AFAR, CESTA, OAFS, APER et al and then there were some clues that needed a touch more cleverness to toughen them up like OHIO, NAMECALLER and PYLON.

But, bottom line, if a puzzle opens with PASSIONPIT, gives a nod along the way to UNCLEREMUS and closes with PERRYMASON, no one can honestly claim that it SUCKS.

Thanks, Natan. As I recall from the first Brown invasion, you’re “Brown ‘12”, so congratulations as you move on to new challenges!

mac 8:59 AM  

Lots of fun, but easy Friday. My write-overs were rojo and "is it" at 57D. Passionpit is new to me, never been to a drive-in theater. Looks like fun, though.

Sucks went in right a way, but I thought "record deal" must be antiquated. Is this term still used?

Now I'm going to find out about tie fighters.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:08 AM  

Nice one.

Tita 9:12 AM  

Raced through, absurdly fast for a Friday, till I hit that pile-up of proper names in the SE...
TIEFIGHTER and GERE were a natick, and that obscure Moe Howard didn't help at all... Came here and learned he was one of the 3 stogges? Never ever liked them - not one little biit!
Never heard of GINO, The Dark Knight...

But still FWOG. Liked the really fresh clueing. ANd am super busy today, so don't mind that it was really too easy for a Fri. Thanks Mr. Last!

Linda 9:17 AM  

Hi Lurker here....suprised no one mentioned the double "deal"-ing goin on.

r.alphbunker 9:28 AM  

FWOG? Weally? Oh, Finished WithOut Googling.

Puzzle was like a wedding with the generations mixing and open to each others experiences.

Ulrich 9:28 AM  

@glimmerglass: I'm with you. Once I got I CAME crossing PASSION PIT, my day was made.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

For once a "PERRY MASON" answer and not the crosswordese ERLE (Stanley Gardner.

Sir Hillary 9:30 AM  

I am really conflicted on this one. On one hand, an absolutely splendid grid -- a lively mix of contemporary and old-school, with virtually no junk. The SW corner is about as clunky as this one gets, and even that corner isn't too bad. So...grid = 10/10.

On the other hand, the clues are laughably mundane and easy. This is Friday!!! A themeless grid this good deserves some clues to go with it. With a few exceptions like 4D (pleasingly vague), 36A (slight misdirection), 9D (clever) and 58D (trivia-like), the clues here lack interest and and semblance of difficulty. 38A may be the most egregious example, but there are many others. So...clues = 1/10.

A straight average gets you 5.5/10. While being slightly above the midpoint might suggest a glass half full, I don't see it that way. I don't know how the submission/publication process works, but I wish Will had sent Mr. Last away to write some Friday clues. With those, this would have been one of the best Friday entries of the year. Instead, it's a lost opportunity.

Sorry to be a buzzkill.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

What an easy Friday puzzle!!! some great clues, and answers. My favorite...Caesarean section!!

wordie 9:58 AM  

Could someone explain the answers for 41A and 37D? TIA

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@wordie - In poker if you do something whenever you have a good hand, or a bad hand, it's called a TELL. If you fidget whenever you've got a good hand, everyone at the table knows. The TIP of your pencil is the end of your pencil.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

@wordie - From Wikipedia, "A tell in poker is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player's assessment of their hand."

And the tips of your fingers are the ENDS of your fingers.

JenCT 10:14 AM  

Keep in mind that it's Will Shortz's decision to run this on a Friday, not Natan's (to all who complained about this being too easy).

Fun clues, agree on the naughty mini-theme, and I see Natan gave himself a shoutout at 53d.

A welcome relief after yesterday's puzzle.

John V 10:16 AM  

So, we have IBET crossing TELL. Cool. Just noticed that.

JaxInL.A. 10:17 AM  

Stopping back in after a few weeks away, Rexville still feels like home. I hope to see a few of you at tomorrow's L.A. Crossword Tournament! Check out the line-up of constructors and/or guests. Many you will know, including our own ACME and two of Natan's classmates.

I was channeling SethG today, and finally had to peek to fix rojO to SECO. Oy! I have missed all of you.

John V 10:18 AM  

@JenCT re: day of week choice: true, but since is is themeless with no gimmicks -- meaning not a Thursday candidate -- the only days left are Friday or Saturday.

Matthew G. 10:19 AM  

PASSION PIT was an unknown to me, but this was otherwise as shooting fish in a barrel. At point-blank range.

Tita 10:24 AM  

Almost forgot - thank you OREN...
Only reason I did not completely flounder in that tough SE corner was instantly knowing O'REN. This Kill Bill clue appeared not too long ago - I had never heard of it, but because I could relate it to you, I was able to recall it today!

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

What a breath of fresh air after yesterday. The SE took awhile because my whales were in a pod.
Tie fighter was unknown to me.
The rest was great fun.

Chip Hilton 11:25 AM  

Lovely puzzle, but shockingly easy for a Friday. PERRYMASON had me going bottom's up and the only real moment of confusion I had was with PASSIONPIT which should have been a gimmee. WHYIOUGTHA was smile inducing.

Continuing yesterday's Jeopardy discussion (without giving anything away), if the clue shown in today's NY Times is the Final Jeopardy clue, they are doing the three lovely young ladies a cruel disservice. The Final clues up to now have been appropriate in difficulty for teens but this one is ridiculous, especially as the whole tournament might come down to it. Of course, maybe it's just me.

treedweller 11:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
treedweller 11:31 AM  

Maybe next time I will remember Tita's mnemonic for OREN, but this time the 'O' was a guess (like Rex, I needed all crosses for GINO). Also was a little annoyed to find JAR in the grid after "Jarhead" was in the clues. But , agreed, it was pretty easy overall, and had some fun stuff (liked the Moe quote best).

jberg 11:40 AM  

Dang! The NYT's standards are just going all to heck. I thought it was a family newspaper.

I guessed PASSION PIT right off, but didn't dare write it in until I ot APER, NUDE and ISR to confirm. (Well, I got ISR off the I, so that was a recursive confirmation).

It was harder for me than some - but no writeovers, and I guess I was still faster than on a normal Friday, even with CESTA in there. It was fun, though! So I didn't mind.

Also, now I know what a PYLON is. Always thought it must be some kind of pillar.

Mel Ott 11:44 AM  

For this old 50's teenager PASSION PIT was a throwdown. No crosses necessary.

Easy Friday puzzle despite a lot of proper names. If you happen to know the names it makes for an easy puzzle.

Nice puzzle, though.

JenCT 11:45 AM  

@John V: good point re: day of the week.

But, I still maintain that the overall difficulty is ultimately up to Mr. Shortz himself, as he is the editor.

jbsnadb 11:48 AM  

Maybe I'm just not one for gimmicks and tricks in my crosswords. Finished a full 40 minutes faster today than I did yesterday. Must be sharing a brainwave with young Natan today, I guess.

loren muse smith 12:00 PM  

Easy breezy! I BET I'm one of thousands who malapopped AVE or TIA (and "is it" for IT IS)

Loved WHY I OUGHTA, SNOW ANGEL, and OODLES. The cluing for TELL was terrific. I also got a kick out of ONE AT A TIME and IN UNISON being in the same puzzle.

Nice, easy, scrabbly Friday.

Aaron Burr 12:07 PM  

@Chip Hilton - If you mean to say that the final Jeopardy! question is too difficult for the typical teen, you may not have read the question correctly. Take another look - can say no more.

Sparky 12:12 PM  

Not my week. The cursed Blogger just ate my comment with that sign in, create a blog thing. Grrr.

Wed. Just did not like the puns. I "got" them okay, just didn't go ping. Yesterday almost a complete disaster. Coudn't make the jump to jumping. Managed about one third. Had Lothar before THE ASP. Lothar from Mandrake the Magician.

Today, I'm as happy as a clam. I needed that. Nice mix of old and new. PASSION PIT usage in my day though I never went to drive in. City Kid, went to The Paramount, Roxy, Radio City, the local RKO, Loews, or small independent. Cars not in abudance. Natick at 48D as could not remember Dixon's first name and threw in U for the college. Good clue for HATE; a little off for JAR. Thanks Natan.

Hooray, ACME and Loren. Good weekend one and all.

Two Ponies 12:21 PM  

Forgot to mention earlier but as I was solving this with Fred Flintstone, Moe Howard, Perry Mason, and Jeane Dixon I wondered if new puzzles with answers like we had earlier this week (that Killah guy a prime example) will endure long enough to make the cut for crossword compilation books.
Will anyone remember that guy in 10 years?

Chip Hilton 12:49 PM  

@Aaron Burr - You're absolutely right. I read it carelessly. Thanks. Hope the contestants are on their toes!

OISK 1:26 PM  

Really liked this one, as opposed to yesterday's, and I raced through it, until I hit two Naticks, one was Geer and Tiefighter, where I guessed right, and the other was Tel and Elwes, which I missed, but, although I never heard of Elwes, I am ASHAMED not to have caught "Tel Aviv" in ___Avivian. I think that is cute cluing, and it caught me, fair enough. Very nice puzzle for me, even though I have no idea what "Hulu" meant in 16 across.

Interesting to consider, when you saw ____Maria, which did you think of first, Tia, or Ave? Alcohol or religion? To be honest, AVE never occurred to me!

Campesite 1:50 PM  

@Jax in LA, thanks for the heads up about the LA tourney. This is the first time I've ever been in the same town as a tournament, and I'm walking in for sure!

Lovely puzzle today, can't wait to meet some of you at the tournament.

Bird 1:59 PM  

Although I DNF, I still enjoyed it. The SW corner is incomplete because ELENA KAGAN (should have remembered because I read the articles when she was confirmed) is crossing JEANE Dixon (probably should have remembered, but I don’t follow astrology), kiddie detective NATE (no idea) and Will GEER (watched the show, but don’t remember the actors). In other words not enough help from crosses so that I could make an educated guess.

First pass was tough, but things started to click when I started the second round. Had a few “Aha, good one” moments. Loved PASSION PIT (aaah, High School days on Long Island were fun) and WHY I OUGHTA. Only dislike is clue for 9D as I think “section” is a stretch even clued with a “?”.Other than all those names down south I liked the puzzle.

Nice to so see OREN in the puzzle again.

Are we seeing a trend in constructors throwing their name in the grid? I know NATAN is not NATE, but still . . .one has to wonder.


KarenSampsonHudson 2:17 PM  

A pleasant puzzle, a nice antidote to recent ones filled with esoteric clues!

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

We are a bunch of nerds.

Not a nerd 2:45 PM  

Anon 2:34 - Speak for yourself. I do not wear glasses or use a pocket protector. Yes I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but I don't consider myself a nerd.

Stevlb1 2:49 PM  

I find Thursday to be difficulter, than Friday, recently.

Stevlb1 3:00 PM  

I am NOT a nerd either! I do have a pocket protector, but I hardly ever use it. Yes, I usually wear glasses, but my current pair are broken in half. As we speak, I am trying to fix them, by using a Band-Aid, to hold them together. I'll let you know how I make out.

Lewis 3:11 PM  

I thought yesterday's puzzle was easier, but this puzzle had more pop. There were some excellent clues, but I agree with the person who said that if the clues were more Friday tough in general, this would have been one of the best Fridays of the year.

Is HARD a kind of rock?

loren muse smith 3:21 PM  

I'm a nerd. I gave up cheerleading for the chess team. I'd grab my OED if my house were on fire. I can throw around the expression "quad stacks." We may be nerds, but we're cool learned word nerds.

archaeoprof 4:29 PM  

Was it really that easy, or did it just feel that way after yesterday?

I hope SanFranMan can help answer that question.

Didn't know Barry Bonds went to college.

Two Ponies 4:55 PM  

@ Lewis, I took that to mean the musical genre Hard Rock.

Numbers Guy 5:29 PM  

i assume the stats will be off the charts like yesterday the other way according to my index. i never got into xword puzzles because i work all day and ive never read a fiction book, dont watch movies or sports, and dont like opera - i stay on the other side of the geek tracks (though i did read at least 1000 chess books as a youth). not that anyone would be interested in my index, but this is the first friday puzzle i ever finished, making it the easiest friday ive seen (which is a very small sample). also very enjoyable fill - except the SW.
so there it is from the amateur perspective.

MichaelG 5:30 PM  

Huh? I'm on painkillers and zipped through this on a short subway ride. What was Will thinking?

MichaelG 5:33 PM  

Huh? I'm on painkillers and finished this puzzle on a short subway ride. What was Will thinking?

Airymom 5:38 PM  

Gino--11 time Pro-Bowler,from early 50's to late 60's was a defensive end for the Baltimore Colts, teammate of Johnny U., elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, owner of Gino's restaurants, which make the best burgers, humanitarian, hero to a generation of Baltimore kids.

chefbea 8:37 PM  

Just got home from dinner. Missed Jeopardy. Could someone e-mail me so I can know who won and maybe the link so i can see the finals.

sanfranman59 10:19 PM  

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 6:41, 6:50, 0.98, 47%, Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:52, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:30, 11:50, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Thu 29:15, 18:59, 1.54, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 150 Thursdays)
Fri 13:48, 24:47, 0.56, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 150 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:43, 4:35, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:05, 5:53, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 17:23, 9:22, 1.86, 100%, Challenging (Highest median solve time of 150 Thursdays)
Fri 6:56, 12:16, 0.57, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 150 Fridays)

@archeoprof ... it was really that easy. We go from an off-the-charts tough Thursday to an off-the-charts easy Friday. A Thursday puzzle that played like a Saturday, followed by a Friday puzzle that played like a Wednesday. Today's ratios of 0.56 and 0.57 are the 3rd lowest ratios for each group of the nearly 900 puzzles in my spreadsheet. Odd to have extremes like this back to back. There's no doubt that Fridays have been easier since the beginning of 2012. This makes 9 Fridays in a row with Easy or Easy-Medium ratings, 15 of the last 18 and 19 of the last 23. The pattern is similar for Saturdays. This must be deliberate on Will's part.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

56A - you never heard of Gino Marvchetti?? he had a hamburger joint in Wrightstown NJ back in the '60s-'70s - way better than that joint with the golden arches. Would like to have another but it's not where it used to be according to Googleearth.

Solving in Seattle 1:23 PM  

Had rojO for 3D and wouldn't let go, so the NW was the last to fall. The rest of the puzzle was pretty easy. Liked the clue for SNOWANGELS.

Is there a TELEX left anywhere in the world?

OHOH, for Eager pupil's cry is kinda lame. How about Santa's trademark phrase read in a mirror.

Shoutout to my undergrad alma mater in 51A. Embarrassed by Bonds.

Glad so many posters were pleased with the Three Stooges clues. I'm not one of them.

Absolutely loved the UNCLEREMUS stories, especially "don't shake hands with the tar baby." Our foreign policy makers should have to watch that segment every day.

@SiS lol award of the day goes to @Anoa Bob 3:36 for his pointing out the ribald nature of Mr. Last's puzzle.

Capcha: hmentsm. Worship of body builders.

DMGrandma 1:43 PM  

started with PASSIONPIT, thinking that must not be right. then went on to fill in the answers. Slight pause, wondering how I would be expected to know some dean at some school and again at 32D because I've never seen the Stooges, but it all came easily enough except for not knowing the Star Wars plane, so ended with knowing CHANE had to be wrong, but no idea how to make it better.
Now on to solve the captchas !

Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

I threw down PASSIONPIT qith no crosses, and then it was over way too soon. Only write-over was wOrk for TOIL and the only clues that I didn't have a clue on were all taken care of by the crosses before I revisited them.

It feels kind of good to finish a Friday puzzle in under 30 minutes!

Happy weekend, all.

Spacecraft 12:28 AM  

There were enough gimmes scattered about (including a curtain call for Mr. ELWES) that I was able to get the southern and middle sections. Then came the north, and my tech-ignorance hurt bigtime. Never heard of HULU; didn't know whether that excited pupil might yell OHOH or OoOH! I finally decided that three O's was a bit over the top, so went with the H.

Then there was the techie term at 15a. I had the N from SNOWANGEL (great clue!), the O from OODLES and the A of barE, so went with dowNlOaded. Made sense to me. But I couldn't work out 1a. Thought 19a was shOW. Had to put it away and go out for the day. Back later, I remembered--at last!--PASSIONPIT, perforce changed 7d and 19a, and got 'er done.

Easy? Well, maybe if I were smarter than a road grader when it comes to technology, but I took all day. Word of the day might be CESTA. My experience with that sport is limited entirely to the gimme fill-in: "Jai-____." Nice puzzle. Thumbs up.

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