TV's hipster doofus / FRI 5-18-12 / 1997 #1 hit with nonsense title / Ticker with cachet / Retail giant mascots Red Ruff Blue Mews / Cartoon character who cries You eediot / 2006-08 heavyweight champion Maskaev

Friday, May 18, 2012

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MR. RAKE — anagrams thereof

Word of the Day: OLEG Maskaev (60A: 2006-08 heavyweight champion Maskaev) —

Oleg Alexandrovich Maskaev (RussianОлег Александрович Маскаев; born March 2, 1969, inZhambylKazakh SSR) is a Russian professional boxer and a former WBC heavyweight champion. He is an ethnic Mordvin. [...] Oleg is known for his powerful right-hand punch: he has knocked out former WBO heavyweight challenger Derrick Jefferson, contender Alex Stewart, and twice knocked out former WBC heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. However, he is also noted for a weak chin that was evident in his knockout losses to contenders Oliver McCallDavid TuaKirk JohnsonLance WhitakerCorey Sanders and journeyman Nagy Aguilera. (wikipedia)
• • •

Flimsy excuse for a theme. Do a real themed puzzle or do a themeless? This puzzle's kind of stuck in no man's land. The cluing on it is very good, though, and tough in places. I wouldn't like "scrapper" or "bugger" in a grid, probably, but in the clues they were interesting, in that I wasn't quite sure at first what they were going for (11A: Many a bugger = SPY; 28D: Scrappers put them up = DUKES). I had no idea the cat and the dog in the PETCO logo had names (49D: Retail giant with the mascots Red Ruff and Blue Mews)! Clue on SPEECH, good (4D: Word chanted at a celebratory party); clue on ROLEX *killed* me, but it's good (40A: Ticker with cachet); I had the "X" but thought it must be some kind of exchange like NASDAQ ... only ending in "X." NYNEX? Is that something? Hmmm, a former northeastern telcom ... no, not what I was thinking. Anyway, that SW corner was the toughest for me by far. Had AVIA for MCAN (37A: Big name in footwear). Blew the ROLEX answer. Found clue on CALORIES remarkably hard (34D: What water lacks). Big issue down there was actually annoying cluing on all the short answers. I'm not big on clues where I know instantly what the clue is getting at but don't have enough information to make a choice. So, I knew instantly that it was UIE ... or UEY (58A: It's often illegal to hang one). Not "hard," just ... annoying. Same with the NL West clue (55A: N.L. West team, on scoreboards). I can name every team in in the NL West, but with no crosses ... I just wait. No way to get it otherwise. And again, with LES (61A: Article in the Louvre?)—I know all the "articles" in French, but ... there are several that are three letters long, so ... wait. Difficulty by clever cluing is better than difficulty by annoying vagueness, especially clustered annoying vagueness. To be clear, this is different from the vagueness of a clue like, say, [Point] (is it a dot? is it a location? the gist of something? what a free throw's worth? a verb meaning to indicate with the finger?). That kind of vagueness can be maddening, but also interesting. But the vagueness in the SW has no mystery, no surprise. I instantly surmise a limited set of possible answers, and then just wait around to figure out which one it is. UIE can't really be fixed, but ARI and LES could've had more specific clues.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: It may be acknowledged with a slap (OFFENSIVE REMARK)
  • 34A: TV's "doofus hipster" (COSMO KRAMER) — I was thinking of Bob Denver's character on "Dobie Gillis," who I now recall was named MAYNARD G. KREBS
  • 51A: Bad tool for a toddler to find (PERMANENT MARKER)
I don't see how a SIDE TRIP is a "bonus" (63A: With 14-Across, cruise bonus). Did you not pay for it? Was it unexpected? That was odd to me. I messed up several answers initially, including PUTS down for MOWS down (5D: Routs, with "down"), and MMVI for MMII (6D: When the Salt Lake City Olympics took place). Wanted MACARENA for 5A: 1997 #1 hit with a nonsense title, but it wouldn't fit ("MMM BOP"). Had trouble getting from [Wish] to PLEASE and [Watch it] to SPECTATE, but there was nothing truly mysterious except *all the names in the SE corner*—never heard of any of 'em, not COLIN (50A: "9 to 5" director Higgins) or SARA (57A: Ramirez of "Grey's Anatomy") or OLEG (60A: 2006-08 heavyweight champion Maskaev). Yeesh. Still, managed to work it out in reasonable time.

That is all.

Just a reminder about the Crosswords LA tournament puzzles:

P.SFor anyone with an interest in solving the puzzles from this year's Crosswords LA tournament, they're now available online at They are certified Fantastic—I test-solved all of them.

For $5, you get six tournament crosswords (by Donna Levin, Aimee Lucido & Zoe Wheeler, Todd McClary, Trip Payne, Brendan Emmett Quigley, and Byron Walden), two bonus crosswords (by Andrea Carla Michaels and Doug Peterson), and a clever team game (by John Schiff). As always, proceeds from puzzle pack sales are donated to charity.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:12 AM  

This was a little tougher than the last few Fridays but still came in at easy-medium for me.   Not sure if it would have been tougher if the very zippy and Evil Doug oriented 34a hadn't been a gimme?  Also zippy MMMBOP, OMERTA, STONED, MISFIT... I'm pretty sure there is a narrative in this one somewhere. 

Lively and fun.  Excellent Fri.!

r.alphbunker 12:20 AM  

Loved the puzzle. It was like having a lively conversation with someone. Did not notice the anagramming but did notice that OTERI appeared twice in the puzzle.

Octavian 2:03 AM  

Great puzzle -- hard but fair. Some excellent cluing for calories, omerta, finance, zeds.

Funny how certain things jump out at you. A watch was the first thing I thought of when I saw "ticker," and then when X Games was a gimme the answer Rolex came in a flash.

Never really thought of Kramer as a hipster. Doofus for sure. The one regular "Seinfeld" character that could have been subtracted without ruining the show.

I needed this after Thursday, which killed me and was the first puzzle I have not finished in months.

Thank you Mr. Parrish.

Anonymous 2:22 AM  

Fun, good clues. Got wedged in SW because I instantly wrote in UEY. But no .. UIE? Really? Despite a bunch of excellent clues as Rex and others remarked, there were some unnecessary clunkers: SIDE TRIP? and is a MARKER a tool?

Anoa Bob 2:22 AM  

Tried Conan Obrien at first for 34A "TV's 'doofus hipster'". Hey, it fit, and it gave me CALORIES for 34D "What water lacks".

I got more tools than you can shake a stick at but would never think of a PERMANENT MARKER as being one of them (Bad tool for a toddler to find).

I know it's a Fri., but can't see how the Venn diagram circles for 39A "Wish" and PLEASE would have any overlap. Seems like a MISFIT to me.

I bet I'm not the only one who had a totally different take on 11A "Many a bugger".

Atmost Calories Maizes 2:24 AM  

Hmmm, is this not an untricky Tuesday anagram theme, suddenly given Friday clues? Is there a name for that? A TuFri? Can someone submit a 15 x 13 x 15 puzzle and just make the clues kinda tricky, kinda vague?

There's not even one word in the grid that wouldn't be at home in a Tuesday puzzle, is there?
I'm in total agreement with @rex 's first sentence.

Other than putting Apexes for 1D (making 20A Xrated???REMARK) and trying LIthER for WIRIER
I didnt really have any Friday sort of struggle.

Makes me sort of grumpy but i can't quite put my finger on why I'd care that it's a TuFri. Maybe just tired.

I still don't get WISH = PLEASE.

jae 2:40 AM  

I didn't get the anagram either.  Nice touch.

As you wish...*

As you please...*

*Lifted from Amy's blog.

foodie 4:51 AM  

Shows you the power of expectations (again). I was not expecting a theme because it's a Friday, so I did not see one. Had I noticed it, it would have helped coming up with COSMO KRAMER, definitely my favorite theme answer.

Had trouble coming up with MMMBOP, PETCO and COLIN, and the SW was tough for exactly the reasons that Rex explained.

I loved the clue for CALORIES! At one point I had CoLORIng... Water also lacks that!!! And COTERIE was cool.

So Medium feels right...

Talha bin hamid 6:06 AM  

No fair. "Wish" can be same as 'Desire' (my initial answer) but PLEASE? No way. Same goes for "Watch it" - wouldn't the answer be 'mind it' or something? "SPECTATE" is more fitting for 'watch'. I wouldn't have gotten 'side trip' for a life of me since it is NOT a bonus.

No fair!

Gareth Bain 6:31 AM  

41 Letters used to be an acceptable amount for an early week theme! Someone moved the goalposts! (It's still possible to sell a 41-letter puzzle as described, merely very difficult)

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

The word TRIFLE appears in the script for the movie Casablanca three times. That makes it another flimsy theme all by itself or you can say that's a trifle bit of trivia....


optionsgeek 7:37 AM  

MMMBOP and COSMO KRAMER in the same puzzle? Talk about being in my wheelhouse. Best puzzle of the month for me.

SethG 7:58 AM  

CALORIES with no crosses and not knowing any of the French articles made the SW less annoying, and having REMARK and MARKER in place made KRAMER kinda obvious.

Names on the SE and SPECTATE/PLEASE, yup.

Don't need the theme, but very good cluing will let me enjoy any puzzle.

Z 8:01 AM  

MMMBOP gave me the entire upper midwest and I thought "another super easy Friday." Then nothing. Finally clawed my way out with DONUTS and ROLEX leading the way. The last to fall was Texas and I was mildly surprised that I was done. Medium seems about right despite the slow start.

If I knew nothing about the typical puzzles for the days of the week, this would be just fine. Meaty but still doable before heading into the office on a Friday. The cluing made it hard enough to be a Friday instead of a Tuesday. That's fine by me.

Zed 8:30 AM  

i am so embarrassed that i knew MMMBOP from just the ****OP. i did start to wonder if it was two or three Ms in the's not like that title makes any sense or that i've seen it in print very often.

i had no idea about the theme...and i have no idea who Mr. Rake is...even after googling it.

and could someone help me understand how "Reading letters from the end" is "ZEDS?" pretty cryptic. is "Reading" a (very) veiled reference to somewhere in the UK? and even so, wouldn't it be better to say "Reading letters *AT* the end?" "FROM" the end seems to indicate movement, like ZYX or something like that. did not like.

jberg 8:35 AM  

This is embarrassing - but now that the semester is over and we're on vacation, I half forgot it was Friday, so saw the theme as soon as I got PERMANENT MARKER. Good thing because (also embarrassing) I have never seen Seinfeld, which I gather is the home of COSMO KRAMER - so I got KRAMER from the theme and gradually worked out COSMO from the crosses.

Writeovers: soLidIty before CALORIES, aNiL before ENOL.

For a long time the only gimmes for me were all in Romance languages: OMERTA, TIO, MISE.

I liked it because of the clever cluing, but I'm noticing the constructors here think it's flawed. Even ACME!!! So I guess they're right.

Rob C 8:44 AM  


Anagrams of MR RAKE is Rex's humor. No such thing. (Although I'm sure someone will find a Mr. Rake somewhere)

Bob Kerfuffle 9:10 AM  

Never saw the theme, which helps in part to explain my one write-over: Had PERMANENT MAGNET before PERMANENT MARKER, where my answer could be a swallowing hazard for a toddler, especially if it collects other swallowed metal objects.

joho 9:21 AM  

@Rex, thanks for MMMBOP. That was long time ago, all three in Hansen are grown up and married with kids.

I did notice REMARK and MARKER but KRAMER didn't click as the third anagram for some reason because now it looks obvious.

I was wondering if MRSPAUL has ever met MRED.

The only way I could make sense of PLEASE for wish was somebody saying: "You wish!" meaning "Puhleeze!" Kind of a stretch, though.

Did seem pretty easy for a Friday.

quilter1 9:24 AM  

Medium here as well. I kept thinking I was done then would spot a blank or two. I didn't know most of the names but they were gettable with crosses. Had fun with it--although the idea of a toddler with a PERMANENT MARKER gives me the willies.

evil doug 9:35 AM  
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evil doug 9:37 AM  


I'm somewhat troubled that you know that much about the Hansen boys....


evil doug 9:39 AM  
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evil doug 9:41 AM  

Well-described, Michael: The thin line separating annoyingly vague from cleverly multi-directional clues. "Sprung thing", "having the lead?", "code that's dangerous to break", "one seen in a shower", "endpoint of pilgrims' progress?" and "baker's dozen, maybe" offer a variety of vivid, contrasting paths.

My watch is made of rubber, not platinum, so Timex was the first to pop into my head. Cachet? Not so much.

Octavian: You couldn't be more wrong. The beauty of Seinfeld was that none of the four leads was expendable, and every episode included threads involving the entire quartet.
ELAINE: I've got such a headache. Oh, that's another symptom!

KRAMER: Of what?

JERRY: Rabies.

KRAMER: Oh that's fatal, you don't want that!

(Elaine runs over to Kramer and starts screaming again)

ELAINE: I know I don't want it! I don't need you to tell me what I don't want, you stupid hipster doofus!


chefbea 9:51 AM  

Tough puzzle for me. Didn't realize there was an anagram theme.

Mrs. Paul's fish sticks are fish out of water. Guess they are a misfit...they don't fit in my diet.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Friday puzzles [very] rarely have themed entries, so I don't even bother to look for a theme. After completing today's puzzle, I did not even realize there indeed was a theme. I wonder how many others did not recognize the theme until reading this blog. And I wonder if this isn't the point. Tends to make me like today's theme.

jackj 9:54 AM  

Allan Parrish is primarily a Monday/Tuesday constructor and, in that vein, it seems he couldn’t help himself when he decided to include REMARK, KRAMER, MARKER in his longest answers, giving us an unusual Friday mini-theme. (But, hey, relax, it’s not really much of a theme!)

Allan’s fill was lively, thanks to the likes of METEOR and MECCA; fun, as provided by PIERCED and OMERTA and elegant, courtesy of TETHERED and COTERIE.

One mini-nit was the entry MCAN for “Big name in footwear”; even for Friday level cluing it’s hard to see how it works without THOM. Would we clue “Big name in running shoes” as BALANCE?

It was nice to see an old friend, COLIN Higgins, getting a nod today, though he might be better remembered as the creator of “Harold and Maude”.

COLIN wrote the “Harold and Maude” screenplay as part of his MFA program in film at UCLA, earning second place in a UCLA screenwriting competition. (Makes one wonder what was number one!)

The script found its way to Paramount, charming all who read it and “Harold and Maude” was produced in the early 1970’s, with Ruth Gordon in the lead and Hal Ashby directing.

COLIN’s “little” film has since achieved cult status and is recognized as one of the all-time great comedies of American cinema. (Sadly, Colin died in 1988).

Thanks for the puzzle and the memory, Allan.

baja 10:07 AM  

I'm not able to finish many fridays, so finishing this one made it an automatic like. Thought the anagrams meh. Thought the cluing was clever had me smiling repeatedly - which is what its all about.

John V 10:37 AM  

DNF. North and center never happened. MMMBPO,COSMCRAMER about as far from my wheelhouse as possible. North for me just one big Natick/Meriden MR. RAKE? WTF? Why should I go looking for a six letter theme on a Friday?


Not on my short list of fav Fridays.

Perhaps the nickel word we want for this one is INCHOATE. Bah.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

The only "bop" song I know is Cyndi Lauper's She Bop. That teen boy group is so far off my radar that they might as well not exist.
Kramer, on the other hand, went in with no crosses.

Cheerio 10:39 AM  

@ Rob C, thanks for explaining that Mr. Rake is Rex humor.

I enjoyed the challenges in this. I'm still on the fence as to whether I'm a fan of Krozel puzzles, because those clues yesterday gave me brain freezes, whereas the tricky ones today were on my wavelength. Maybe they were just easier also. But I think there is a difference between being on or off the constructors way of thinking. Of course, that's also a plus for the Krozel puzzles, that I'm not on his wavelength. But I enjoyed this one more overall.

Mel Ott 10:50 AM  

Add me to the list of those who did not see the anagrams. Also did not expect a theme on Friday.

Somehow I managed to get through the entire year 1997 without encountering MMMBOP.

Matthew G. 10:58 AM  

Well, I liked this very much, and I didn't even notice the theme until I came here. I normally hate it when a themed puzzle shows up on Friday or Saturday, since themelesses are my bag, but this one was great because it had a light theme but hard clues on familiar words (except MRS. PAUL, which I'm not familiar with). When the difficulty comes from cluing, not from obscurity, I'm a happy man.

Like Rex, I found the SW the hardest, and largely for the same reasons (I had an X and was sure I was looking for a stock exchange, and then I tried TELEX). But my worst misstep was trying CoLORIng before CALORIES. So many of the letters were correct that I accepted it, and then struggled mightily, especially when I had to try to find a French article ending in G . . .

Great work, Allan!

@jberg: I'm amused that you were embarrassed to notice the theme. I was embarrassed NOT to!

Acme 11:02 AM  

From what I remember, MRSPAUL was married to MRED, divorced him because of her affair with MR DRAKE.

Not that@jackj prob ever even reads @rex first, or other commenters, but I did appreciate his ringing in about COLIN Higgins.
We have had him before because i remember writing in a long story about crashing his memorial service in LA many moons ago, as an homage to "Harold and Maude".
My old beau Tom and I sat behind Barbra Streisand ( COLIN must have directed her in something and I was shocked that she couldn't have been more than 5'2".
He was one of many who died too young from AIDS in the late 80s :(

Wood 11:09 AM  

Nice Friday with just the right amount of resistance. Some great tricky clues, though I agree "wish" <> PLEASE.

I don't get why people are upset with the theme. Ignore it, and you have a nice theme less with 3 sparkling long acrosses. The anagrams are a bonus.

Wood 11:12 AM  

Themeless. Damn you autocorrect!

Z 11:14 AM  

@Mel Ott - Were you out of the country in 1997? I can't imagine how else you managed not to encounter it.

I have to wonder if Mr. Parrish is sending a little love @Evil's way with the MR ED shout out and a beloved Seinfeld character across the middle.

Did anyone else try sara lee before MRS PAUL?

archaeoprof 11:42 AM  

@Z: I was out of the country in 1997, and I still heard MMMBOP, in a shishah cafe in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was a "so this is globalization" moment for me.

Howard B 11:46 AM  

This was a lively 'themeless'-style puzzle with the min-theme as a subtle bonus. It helped a little bit to see it while solving, but was not integral to the experience. That with the cluing style makes it a nice fit for a Friday.

@Mel: MMMBOP existed mostly within two spheres in 1997: Top 40 radio and MTV/VH1 videos. In those areas, it was unavoidable. If you spend that year outside of those pop culture arenas, you likely could miss it. Whether or not to search it out now, I leave as an exercise to the reader.

Dan 12:05 PM  

I noticed the MARK in the two long answers and the KRAM in the middle, but missed the RE/ER. So my theory on the theme was "Mark of Zorro", because MARK goes left to right on top, then back right to left through the middle, then left to right again on the bottom. :-)

mac 12:09 PM  

Nice one! Never noticed the anagram, since I don't expect a theme on a Friday. I could have used it for 34A!

Nice words and good clues, my favorite kind of puzzle. Lots of names piled in.

For some reason the clue for 5A made me think of Achy Breaky Heart. Now that's my earworm.

I ordered the LA puzzles a couple of days ago, but I only just found them. In my spam folder.

Campesite 12:32 PM  

I like this theme, but only because I like the word Mark.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Rex - Try thinking of the MR. RAKE mini-theme as a side trip on a cruise.

Masked and Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Very serviceable FriPuz. Put up a fight at the front door (probably the sneaky cluing's fault), but once we kicked that down (at ENOL/DUKES/DONUTS), was pretty smooth sailing upstream.

Fave clues: 39-A, "Wish"; 33-A, "Reading letters from the end?"; 56-A, "One seen in a shower" (wanted SCARLETJOHANSSON).

FAVE fillins: The excuse-me theme ones. Kinda liked MMMBOP, too -- One of those deals where I needed every cross, but once I had it all, said "Oh, yeah, sure..." Sorta like when I can't remember if I locked the @#*! car doors.

Fave @#31*! mrrake: "Do a real themed puzzle or do a themeless?" Har. The ?-mark makes me wonder, if he's even convinced about his own rule. Better rule: "Do a themeless puzzle and throw in a theme, whenever it works out". This one worked out just fine, Mr. Parrish. thUmbsUp.

John V 1:16 PM  

I see that I said "MMMBPO" earlier. No auto correct to blame there.

Not to continue to flog this one but for me MMMBOP is so terribly obscure that, even on a Friday, the crosses might have been a touch easier. MOWS down is not quite routs; MMII -- well, that makes a pile of MMMMM; Adidas/Reebok family tree grows in Natick, MA, as I recall. With the North in place, this solver might have been able to traverse to row 8, hope to get DUKES and have a chance as COSMOKRAMER. OOTH, if MMBOP were not in the first row, that also could make the grid more flexible.

FWIW, I just Goggled MMMBOP, played it and I assure you this is the first time I've ever heard it. Now I can die happy, fulfilled, not INCHOATE.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

I still don't get the connection between bugger and spy - please explain

Masked and a Bugger 1:27 PM  

@Anonymous 1:18PM--A spy might plant a bug in yer phone. That potentially makes him/her a bugger.


acme 1:40 PM  

Mark of Zorro subtheme! Love it!!!

Perfect example how much more creative the solvers are than the constructors! And how our minds stretch to make sense of what we encounter. Am I right @foodie?!

And yes, once again about expectations. Since the theme jumped out at me, I felt let down somehow that this wasn't a "real" Friday, or a full-enough Tuesday.
I should have just ignored the theme (!!!???!!!) and taken it as a cleverly clued puzzle.

It's amazing what a little sleep can do, too.

now go listen to SHE BOP and your life will be complete!

Not happy with this one 1:42 PM  

@Rex was spot on with description of vague cluing. I had the same experience - I think I know the possible answers, but I need some crosses. Wait, the crosses are also vague?! WTF!

I needed a lot of help from Uncle Google: 17A, 34A, 50A, 57A, 60A and 13D.

Oh, there was a theme??

UEY, UWE, UIE, EWY, UWI - too many variations for this pathetic fill answer. May we never see anymore U-Turn crap.


Best parts were 20A and 51A.

See ya . . .

Tita 1:43 PM  

56A reminded me...
Saw an awesome METEOR in the eastern sky while driving Rt 6 on Cape Cod on May appeared like a comet for just an instant - far larger than the usual pinpoints of light.
@Dirigonzo - did you see it?? I have found no record of it anywhere.

Had lIthER-->fIrmER...caused a near DNF, but once I got WIRIER, finally got MOWS et alia.
Technical DNF due to stupid ENRAvE, the 'v' being vestigial fill from OLav.

Never noticed the theme either.

Thought there was truly awesome clueing and fill throughout. A good Friday puzzle.
(Except a MARKER ain't a tool!)

archaeoprof 1:45 PM  

BTW, the clue and answer for 51A made me think of the children's book, _Harold and the Purple Crayon_.

JenCT 1:46 PM  

@Howard B: Don't forget another arena for MMMBOP; namely, every talk show, morning news program, etc. etc. It seemed like every time I turned on the TV, Hansen was performing that song!

@John V: so much for Friday themeless....???

Found the clues very tough, but enjoyable.

I inherited my ROLEX - for me, it's sentimental, not an item with CACHET.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

can someone please explain 25A? How is TETHERED "having the lead"? As verified by dictionary, doesn't tethered mean to be tied to?

Sir Hillary 1:48 PM  

Didn't notice the anagram/theme until I came here. Not a bad grid altogether. UIE is annoying, but what are you going to do? Most of my trouble was self-inflicted (SMIDGE at 2D, LEAK at 31D). I love the stack of 6's in the north, and also enjoy COLIN, SARA and OLEG hanging out together in the Florida-like peninsula down there. Clue for 59A is fabulous, but the one for 39A makes no sense to me. Also, is a PERMANANT MARKER really a tool?

Tita 1:48 PM  

@Jen - how are my chicks doing? All grown up yet?

@Quilter1 - absolutely stunning quilt in your profile pic.

Mel Ott 1:56 PM  

@Z et al: At my age one is more likely to know nonsense titles like SHBOOM from the 50's than MMMBOP from the 70's.

M and A's Last Silver Bullet 2:08 PM  

@Anonymous 1:47PM-- The "lead" definition in my funky little dictionary that seems to fit:
"a leash for a dog or other animal"
@Sir Hillary, etal--I reckon a permanent marker might be considered a "tool" in a destructive kid's hands. Bid of a stretch, I'd hafta admit. Somehow, I got it right away, tho.
@Anyone who doesn't quite get "Reading" in 33-A-- Reading is a city in S. England, pop. 123,000. On the Kennet river.
@"Anonymous" folks--Recommend using a more cooler anonymous name. Example: "Rex Parker"

Bob Kerfuffle 2:08 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:47 - If you have the lead tied around your neck, you are TETHERED.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Whoa! Just googled "bugger". Didn't say anything about a spy.

R.C. Kent 2:19 PM  

Rex is such a crybaby.

There is no practical difference between the two examples of vagueness given, both of which add to the challenge of a puzzle by asking the solver to consider several potential answers---answers that s/he generally is able to conjure up (this as opposed to esoterica).

Z 2:33 PM  

@Mel and @John V - Old Jerusalem, morning news, top 40 radio, MTV, I'm quite sure you would have heard MMMBOP as you strolled along the Kennet River in Reading - that song was as pervasive as the Macarena. It is not a criticism, but simple amazement that you were able to tune it out.

I do believe that "tool" encompasses anything people use to complete a task. If you use a bug to spy on your future ex-wife or google to find out what "bugger" means, you are using a tool (and, in the first example, being a tool). Permanent Markers, whether in the hands of toddlers or graffiti artists, are definitely inside the circle in our Tool Venn Diagram.

Three and out (and someone else used Zed today, so I can't even cheat and sneak in a fourth)

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

@Masked and a Bugger - Thanks for the explanation, kind of a doh moment, but I just could not get my head out of a homosexual reference

Bird 2:41 PM  

Meh. This puzzle would have been more enjoyable if there weren't so many extra-vague clues. I didn't like having to wait until I get a couple answers in the neighborhood before I could decide which answer might be correct, especially if the neighbor hood grows with multiple vague clues.

Hand up for WISH <> PLEASE (too much of a stretch). I guess there was a lot of "out-of-the-box" thinking during construction.


Merle 2:55 PM  

Like Rex, I too thought of Maynard G. Krebs at first, rather than of Cosmo Kramer -- who ever remembers Kramer's first name anyway? -- but I had the K cross from dukes, so the K came in the wrong part of the across line. SW corner was the sticking point. I got Rolex easily, but the X didn't help with X-games -- never heard of X-games -- know diddly about snowboarding. Is Tom Mcan still a big name in footwear? "Tom Mcan is the shoe to wear" was the catchy jingle back in the day. Interesting trivia -- Jay Black of Jay and the Americans worked as a Tom Mcan shoe salesman -- also back in the day. Article in the Louvre -- had to be "les", because no way 37 down, big name in frozen food, was going to end with "u", as it would have had to had the answer to the article clue were "une". Okay puzzle, a bit baffling in the SW -- but not inspiring....

Stevlb1 3:01 PM  

Great Friday puzzle! Just the right difficulty level(which means that I was able to complete it, with no mistakes) You guys are great..........way smarter than me!

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Has anyone actually seen a gymnast in the past 20 years? No way in hell are they WIRIER than I. They're tough, muscled athletes.

jae 3:27 PM  

Let me try this one more time.

"It makes no difference to me, you may do whatever you WISH."

"It makes no difference to me, You may do whatever you PLEASE."

Again, stolen from Amy.

@Merle -- That's Thom MCAN. His first name shows up on occasion.

As to vague clueing, its Friday folks not Tuesday!

Two Ponies 4:09 PM  

A few people here are mentioning the vague clues like that's a bad thing. Isn't what we expect on a Friday?
As you please or as you wish works for me. It might be the only example I can think of but maybe that's all it takes.
I don't think of a marker as a "tool" either but there always is one in my tool kit.

Sue McC 4:12 PM  

Medium Friday on the fun and challenge scale. MCAN makes me mad, but COSMOKRAMER makes up for it.

Late getting puzzle finished, but front gardens are planted.

quilter1 4:27 PM  

@Tita: Thanks so much. It is my best work ever. Just finishing another.

Forgot to mention that I smiled while entering DUKES. So cute.

@Rex was joking.

sanfranman59 4:27 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 21:44, 24:46, 0.88, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:01, 12:15, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

@Rex ... There were really only three options for 55A: N.L. West team, on scoreboards: ARI, COL and LAD. The Giants and Padres are always SF and SD on scoreboards. This helped me in the SW.

Bird 4:29 PM  

@jae - I understand Friday = vague cluing, but there was an awful lot of it and the ballpark was larger. I know that others got it and enjoyed it, but a lot of this wasn't even in my ballpark. Then again maybe I'm just tired from a long week at work because once I Googled a couple times and got a foot in the door, the answers came. Slowly.

North Beach 4:53 PM  

A "cruise bonus" is a SHORE EXCURSION which @Rex rightly points out you pay for, perhaps bonus in the sense of extra. A SIDE TRIP would be something you do on your own, veering off from a guided tour, say.

"On our tour of Captcha, the main group went on to Mpbleme, while we took a SIDE TRIP to Asuepe and caught up with them later".

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

As you wish. (As in princess bride). Means the same as as you please. Best I could manage.

Shamik 7:00 PM  

Go a week without solving a puzzle and your time shows it. Found this one challenging. Best thing I can say about it is that I finished it without any errors. Pffffft. Not enjoyable, though.

OISK 7:28 PM  

Fastest Friday ever for me. (after a very slow Thursday) Never saw the anagrams until I came here, and never heard of mmmbop, which makes my fast time more rewarding.

JenCT 8:14 PM  

@Tita (and @Sparky & @mac) check your junk folder; I sent you some chick pix.

mac 8:32 PM  

Got them, Jen, you obviously are taking very good care of Tita, Sparky and Kip! I want to visit them.

Tita 11:22 PM  

@Jen...I want to learn your chicken-rearing techniques!

sanfranman59 1:42 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, 6:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:00, 8:52, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:09, 11:50, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 21:11, 19:00, 1.12, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 21:48, 24:46, 0.88, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02, 4:35, 1.10, 80%, Challenging
Wed 6:04, 5:53, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:04, 9:22, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 10:34, 12:15, 0.86, 30%, Easy-Medium

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Ron Diego 12:17 PM  

For everyone's consideration: Is not "permanent marker" a writing tool? Don't understand all the ballyhooing and consternation about same. If the constructor had said "Bad writing tool for a...., it would have been too easy. Puuuleease, folks, get a grip. Don't tell me you've never heard the expression "writing tool." Tsk, tsk, tsk, and one for good measure. I now hate everybody on this blog, except me. lol

Idahoconnie 2:13 PM  

Thanks for clarifying tethered. Please for wish bothers me. Someone mentioned oteri appearing twice in the puzzle. I don't see that and isn't that a no no? Yes, a permanent marker in the hands of a child is scary. Let me tell you about another tool. While I was absorbed in my computer ( just for a few minutes) my grandchild ran into the rec room, grabbed a container of white-out (wite-out?) and "painted" whatever he could in that short period of time: the rug, the end tables, the couch, the lamp and it's shade, coffee table books, the big screen TV, etc. Maybe it was more than a few minutes. Anyway, the good news is that I got new furniture and a new HD TV. The room was my woman cave "for a few minutes" until it was converted into a man cave starting with March Madness. My grandson has given up painting and is now into catching snakes.

rain forest 2:18 PM  

I hate no-one on this blog except for maybe Ron Diego.

I liked this puzzle a lot--slow but steady progress throughout. I was able to get "calories" and "coterie" before I looked at the crosses, so "ari", "uie" and "les" were easy, which was good because I have no idea who or what "Mrs. Paul", or "Mr. Spaul" is.

Good to see "zeds" in there, of course.

Solving in Seattle 4:20 PM  

@IdahoConnie, 38D cOTERIe.

The SW was tough for me cause of CoLORIng instead of CALORIES. I just wouldn't let it go. MCAN was iffily clued. Finally worked it all out with MRSPAUL's help and her COTERIE of friends.


I liked STONED and XGAMES crossing, and SLICE and TIGER in proximity.

Hand up for not seeing the theme until coming to Rexville. And, for never hearing of MMMBOP or the group, so the North was tough.

Thank you Mr. Parrish. Assuming you wrote the clues, good job.

Capcha (really): mmsunto. Followup song to MMMBOP.

DMGrandma 5:10 PM  

Slowly solved this, and then came here to see what was wrong with MMMBOP. Surprisingly, nothing. Some of the names had to come from crosses. Am I the only one who doesn't ( didn't ) watch Sienfield? The one name I did recall was MCAN. He was the one who gave Debbie Reynolds so much grief
This is a second attempt to post as the robot master refused to let me sign in, even though I got the Captcha. This one I note is threeffi. Hope that three isn't a message,

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

Prior to the episode quoted above...

(Kramer enters)

Jerry: What's the matter?

Kramer: It's over!

Jerry: What's over?

Kramer: Me and Lola....

George: The woman we bought the wheelchair for?

Kramer: Yeah, she dumped me!

Jerry: She dumped you?

Kramer: She dumped me! She rolled right over me! Said I was a hipster dufus. Am I a hipster dufus?

Jerry & George (hesitatingly): ... no...

Kramer: Said I'm not good looking enough for her. Not good looking! Jerry, look at me, look at my
face, huh, am I beautiful? George, am I beautiful?

George:'re very attractive...

Kramer: yeah... she says she doesn't wanna see me again. Told me to drop dead!

Jerry: Drop dead?

George: Boy, even I never heard that one...

Ginger 5:32 PM  

Amazing how quickly wrong answers can really mess up a grid. Confidently put in moguls at 41D, then of course nothing worked. Another glitch was I've never heard of MMMBOP, never. I played the clip, and it still rings no bells whatsoever. However, this was my problem, not the fault of the puzzle, which I think was an honest challenge. A challenge I was not up to today.

@Idahoconnie - your story gives me shivers! Little Imps can do an incredible amount of damage in a very short period of time. There is a reason children normally happen to young people. It's a good thing they're so cute so we can forgive them! Now...beware of the snakes.

@SIS thanks for the exploration of OTERI/COTERIE.

Happy POETS day syndilanders... P*** On Everyone Tommorrow's Saturday

Ginger 5:36 PM  

@SIS That's explanation....Sorry

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

This sure seemed easy for a Friday. Got ATMS, TRIP (though SIDE came much later)and SPEECH right off the bat, then saw the gimme COSMO KRAMER clue and pretty much worked my way from top to bottom after that. Only hangup was in SW where I had COLORING throwing me off. UIE (or UEY) was hollering "wrong!!" but I just couldn't see another word there until I finally wrote out C_LORIE_ horizontally at the top of my page.

Finished with an empty square at 13, NY locale jumped out at me on the first pass, and I forgot to revisit. I come here and say to myself "huh...why don't I remember coming up with SPY and/or YONKERS?" Doh!

Now I know how Al Sanders felt at the end of Wordplay. Sort of.

Mrs Paul 7:57 PM  

Cosmo Kramer is 100%-based on real-like doofus Kenny Kramer who used to be in a relationship with a Jewish comedienne named Andrea but not our ACME!

Dirigonzo 11:39 PM  

A dear friend joined me in solving this puzzle - I'm always telling her how much fun it is to solve a cleverly clued puzzle and this one was a great example for her to work on. She was pretty impressed when I put in TORSOS for "Some Rodin pieces" with only the T in place - I didn't tell her the same word was similarly clued here a few days ago. We even liked the clue for the otherwise despicable UIE - some of the wrong answers we considered were pretty funny in themselves.

@Tita - 5 weeks after you asked, no I didn't see any strange lights in the sky. There was a beautiful rainbow today, though. I just set a screenhouse up in the back yard so I can watch the night sky without being eaten alive by the skeeters - I'll let you know if I see anything interesting.

Spacecraft 2:26 AM  

I know this'll be too late for anybody to read, but I had to put this in: this might be the best puzzle I ever solved! I did it, with no help and no errors, but it took me literally all day. I'd be stuck somewhwere, put it aside and come back later, only to have another flashbulb go off in my head!

Finally found a gimme to start: MRED. Nope, nothing more there. Then found TIO and got a foothold in the NE. Needed every cross for MMMBOP (never heard of it)--but STRANGEly, when I saw it spelled out, I somehow didn't think it was wrong!

The cluing is what Friday cluing is supposed to be: anything but straightforward. However, a couple of these went beyond the pale: "wish" for PLEASE and "Having the lead?" for TETHERED.

The one blemish is UIE--and in so pristine a grid this stands out horribly. But the theme? Calling it "Mr. Rake" is just silly. Sandwiched between ...REMARK and ...MARKER is: REMARK backwards! You know who would LOVE that? Right! COSMOKRAMER. WTG Allan!

Dirigonzo 6:23 AM  

@Spacecraft - it's "never too late for anybody to read". Many of the regulars here (including me, obviously) get email updates of new comments no matter how late they come. Glad to see that you enjoyed the cluing on this puzzle as much as we did - it made the solve a whole lot of fun.

Mo 2:52 AM  

I'm very late with this comment (and new at commenting, and while I am at it, thank you so much for your blog), but I had to say that "Macarena" isn't strictly a nonsense title - it's a Spanish woman's name. No more nonsensical than Oleg!

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