Children's author Eleanor / FRI 6-1-12 / German composer palindromic name / Superlawyer Gerry / Singer Morse with 1952 hit Blacksmith Blues / Grapefruit taste-alike

Friday, June 1, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: REGER (45A: German composer with a palindromic name) —
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger (19 March 1873 – 11 May 1916) was a Germancomposerconductorpianistorganist, and academic teacher. [...] Reger produced an enormous output over little more than 25 years, nearly always in abstract forms. Few of his compositions are well known in the 21st century. (wikipedia) [this was my WOTD on Christmas of last year, but clearly I didn't remember, so maybe I will this time ... ?]
• • •

Wow. Epic. Do I even have to do a write-up here. You can probably predict every damn thing I have to say because it's all so obvious. Seriously, it's like a parody of an over-reaching stunt puzzle. I was laughing out loud as I solved it (my wife wondered aloud from the next room what the hell was going on ... SEDATER got me started and then RECHOSE put me over the top). It's a 52-worder. That is obscenely low, and virtually no one can fill such a grid well (below 60 and basically it's Patrick Berry and no one else). I took one look (seriously, one) at the grid, and thought "oh, he can't fill *that*. That's hard." Doesn't look so daunting, actually, but huge chunks of intersecting 7s are borderline impossible to fill with anything but forced, odd fill (at best). And the results (future or otherwise) are predictable: heavy reliance of RE- and -ER (and -ERS, and -ERED), heavy reliance on RLSTNE, odd plurals, virtually nothing of any real interest (I'll give polite applause to "IT'S HERE!" and "YES IT IS" (and then back off the applause slightly when I realize "IT'S ELEMENTARY" puts us into excessive IT territory).

If you liked this a lot, I don't know what to say. No, I do—imagine it was much harder. Would you still like it? People tend to cut (relatively) easy puzzles a Lot of slack. Actually, if you did like it, I would love to hear why. I have certainly done worse puzzles—this one just gave me that dejected "oh, man, *this* again?" feeling. Fellow xword enthusiasts / constructors I know were already excoriating this thing in our Facebook group before I'd even finished, though one accomplished (some might say 'studly') constructor put up a valiant defense of it (as did one very accomplished solver). It's very, very hard to fill a 52-worder, and this one ... is filled. So that's ... something. Anyhoo, I don't like saying critical things about botched stunt puzzles any more than you like reading them, I'm sure. I can only deal with the grids I see before me. I have no reason to love or hate any one constructor's puzzles more than another's. Well, actually, there's one constructor (*not* Krozel, whom I don't know) who's a Total asshole, whose puzzles I do enjoy dismantling—but *only* when they call for it; sometimes they don't.

Why was this one easy? Well, for me 2D: Eisenstein who directed "The Battleship Potemkin" (SERGEI) was a gimme (the remake of this movie is currently in theaters—you should totally go see it). Then I crossed it with MEAGER (11A: Opposite of ample). Then I tried IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE (too many letters) and IT'S NOT BRAIN SURGERY (ditto) for 21A: "This doesn't exactly require a Ph.D." (IT'S ELEMENTARY), which was wrong but the correct IT'S got me TAOISTS (3D: Some Asian believers), and thus the NW was broken open. Once you break open a grid like this, with big answers linking the different quadrants, things move rather quickly. O'LEARY (9D: Last name in Chicago lore) was a gimme from the get-go, so everything up there in the NE fell fast. Slight pause trying to move south of the equator, but only slight. TIN STAR (35A: Wild West symbol of authority) and FIESTA (33D: Piñata-hitting occasion) got me restarted, and then slid right into the SE to finish things up (with the forgotten REGER). I can't say it wasn't smooth, in that I had no trouble. I'm familiar with this constructor's style, so that helped. I don't know. The puzzle's harmless, but I'd really like to encourage constructors (yet again) to put the quality of the fill and the entertainment value of the puzzle above the stunt. Your stunt has to work. You must stick the landing. Please. Please.

  • 1A: Children's author Eleanor (ESTES) — I was in ESTES Park, CO two days ago. Gorgeous. Not familiar with this ESTES, but knowing this constructor, and seeing this grid, her name was not that hard to infer from a cross or two.
  • 13A: Grapefruit taste-alike (POMELO) — marking the first time I've ever seen the word "taste-alike."
  • 31D: Singer Morse with the 1952 hit "The Blacksmith Blues" (ELLAMAE) — no idea. Crossing REGER could've been dangerous, but somehow "E" seemed the only realistic option. 
  • 34D: Superlawyer Gerry who wrote "How to Argue and Win Every Time" (SPENCE) — I seem to remember some book of his (or books, possibly) around the house when mom was in law school (the '80s). I know his name, anyway.
  • 37D: "Old Time Rock & Roll" rocker (SEGER) — now imagining what a SEGER/REGER collaboration would sound like. Probably like a MANATEE (39A: SeaWorld attraction).
  • 25D: Things people "do" in the early afternoon (LUNCHES) — and not, as I'd hoped, NOONERS.
  • 1D: Enclose in a recess (EMBAY) — appropriately, an anagram of MAYBE, as in "MAYBE that's a word ... MAYBE ..."
This puzzle notwithstanding, it's good to be back. I'm untanned, rested, and ready. Millions of thanks to PuzzleGirl, treedweller, and Doug Peterson for sitting in for me while I was gone.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:14 AM  

Interesting grid but way too easy (hope this does not signal the return of easy Fridays) for my taste.  Add in the clunkers ...RECHOSE, RUNNIER, MASKERS, the odd plurals and lack of zip and this was not a winner for me.  So, basically what Rex said.  I liked Joe's last one a lot better.

Potential tough cross in an otherwise easy puzzle:  POMELO/PAVANE

retired_chemist 12:15 AM  

Loved it. Didn't find it as easy as Rex did (never do), but it was a very satisfying solve. Not much if any trite fill.

The NE was full of gimmes (4) and that gave me a foothold. ROSES ARE RED, TIN STAR, SEANCE, and REGER gave me starts elsewhere, and nice answer after nice answer started to appear.

However, HEN COOP for BROODER, SCANTY for MEAGER, AGASP for TASED, and FUTURE RETURNS for FUTURE RESULTS slowed me down a bit.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

pk 12:42 AM  

Well, Rex is right - it's natural for us less-accomplished solvers to *like* a Friday puzzle we can actually solve.

Having said that, and having seen Rex's FB post saying this puzz was really easy, I couldn't do anything with the NW. At All. Gave up on 4D when narcissist didn't fit. Was on the right track as it turned out. Just gave up too easily.

So I started backwards. First with 43A Seance crossing 34D Spence. Okay, that was easy. Bottom half sort of filled itself in, except for Reger, which also filled itself in except for the G which was the last letter to go in.

Personal WOD "Agitato." 17A. I say this all the time, but had no idea it was a real musical term. Is it? As in "Rex is all agitato over the look of the grid today."

Ok, I had lots of other margin notes (sign of an interesting puzz) but I won't bore you with them. Except for 6D. Yuck! Boo! Think of something else to put there.

pk 12:44 AM  

P.S. from P.K. Welcome back Rex! Your subs were great, but I am glad you are home.

Gill I. P. 12:46 AM  

Welcome back @Rex and you are in fine form as usual.
Boy, do I agree with you. First, I looked at the grid and thought "Oh my, hummm, well I'll be, and then I gave up on things to say. I couldn't help but wonder if this was constructed purely for it's architectural design. None of the answers were really impressive; the grid was, and so I do applaud that endeavor.
I did have trouble in the SE and stalled at ELLAMAE and SPENCE which I had to look up, but other than that, it was just a one glass of wine Friday.
Banks underwent STRESS TESTS in 2009? What happened to all the bankers on Wall Street and their nifty bonuses not to mention the bailouts. Sheesh. 13A a Grapefruit *IS* a POMELO in my world.
Now I'm off to bed to wonder who the asshole might be.....

foodie 12:49 AM  

Yes, Easy. And yes, heavy on the common letters. So Rex, I understand the basis for your critique.

But I personally liked the fact that it does not have a ton of abbreviations, obscure names and cramped corners. Nothing feels trapped, squeezed or uncomfortable. Some words are definitely a stretch, but all in all, I liked it better than Rex. It was not amazing fun,but it was a pleasant, relatively brief, interlude.

Welcome back, oh rested and untanned one!

SethG 1:00 AM  

I don't care that this had 52 words, the whole NE quadrant needed to be rebuilt, and the cluing definitely needed to be amped up.

Noam D. Elkies 1:01 AM  

Everything's 5 letters or longer except for one 3-letter entry (24A:ATO isn't really a "word") in the middle. Not all RESTLESSNESS either (no JXQZ, but some midrange Scrabble® scorers (BFKMPY, some multiple). Anyway it doesn't seem fair to call it "botched" unless there was some major unforced error — this one aimed at an extreme task and achieved it with roughly the level of compromise that one would expect.

@PK: Wow you really use 17A:AGITATO in non-musical English conversation? "Agita", sure, but "agitato" is a surprise.

Happy June,

I skip Mon-Wed 1:02 AM  

My fastest time since I started noting times. Thus a certain pleasure in mere smoothness. Sergei, roses are red, come to terms, some sort of star , stress tests— it all just fell into place, even Ella Mae Morse, not before my time but unknown to me, along with palindromic and thus easy Reger. And who' s Seger? It all seems meager.

Anoa Bob 1:32 AM  

The thing that hit me first was the grid design; 44 black squares (is that a record for a Fri. puzz?) but with ultra symmetry. Reminds me of a 4-jaw lathe chuck. Was disappointed the design didn't relate the the rest of the puzzle.

Not very scrabbly but still some good stuff such as TAOIST alongside EGOTIST crossed in the middle by AGITATO. Also liked PAVANE and TIN STAR.

YESITIS looks like some kind of inflammation of Broca's area in a sycophant's cortex..

Pete 1:34 AM  

If the intersection of 25A & 25D were simply changed from an "L" to a "W", the clue for 25A changed my merely adding "to Elmer Fudd", 25D left alone, this would have been a much more fun puzzle.

Would say more, but I've got to get ready for a costume party tomorrow where I will be one, of presumably many, TOGOERS.

pk 1:52 AM  

@NDE - I think I picked up agitato from a Kinky Friedman novel and have been saying it ever since, so yes, I think it is in everyday American English vernacular at this point - am glad to know it is a real musical term. No idea what "agita" is, so maybe you will tell me! If I can prove that I am not a robot.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

AGITATO is really fun to say, new word for me and I like it.

Friend stopped by for a couple of glasses of wine and I thought that there would be no I would be able to finish a Friday puzzle after imbibing. But after one or two Googles, ESTES and SERGEI, I was able to pull this one off. Pretty happy about it.

My neighbor grows POMELO's in his orchard, tasty but kind of dry.

Favorite clues were 16A round numbers and 43A Attempt to recall the passed. Clever.

Thought of emailing @Jen in CT (I know that's not right, but maybe close) to get 14A.

Welcome back Rex.

Octavian 3:44 AM  

I think Rex has fallen victim to a sort of Stockholm Syndrome in which he is much more concerned about the way constructors view the puzzles than the way ordinary solvers view the puzzles.

Speaking for myself as an ordinary solver, I thought this was a fun puzzle. A little easier than most Fridays, but there was nothing super-crazy outside of "embay" and "maskers." The latter I thought would have been better clued in the sense of painting (i.e. setting down masking tape).

My only mistake in the end was "Maoists" as Asian believers instead of "Taoists." Not knowing the real name of the children's author, I thought I had solved the puzzle until seeing the actual solution here.

In terms of simply enjoying a 20-minute respite from the real world and stretching my brain a bit, I thought this was excellent. Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

JenCT 3:49 AM  

@chefwen: anytime! We made our own BROODER - it's basically an enclosed area with a heat lamp, and enough room so that the chicks can move away from the lamp if they get too warm. We keep a thermometer in there, but you can tell if the temp's right by how the chicks act - if they're huddled under the lamp, it's too cold; if as far away from the lamp as possible, it's too warm; if they're spread out evenly, it's just right. Reminds me of Goldilocks...

As usual, didn't find the puzzle as easy as @Rex, and didn't dilike it as much.

Some of us solvers are just happy to finish a Friday! But I understand the criticisms, too.

JenCT 3:51 AM  

I meant dislike, of course.

Insomnia is a bitch...

Charles in Austin 4:08 AM  

"Please. Please."

I'm remind of Anders, the critic in Tobias Wolff's masterful short story "Bullet in the Brain."

Poor guy.

r.alphbunker 4:44 AM  

Were the four black birds in the puzzle Joe Krozel's response to RP's commentary?

And would it be correct to say that RP was molested by this puzzle?

mac 6:55 AM  

This is the neatest looking Friday grid I've ever produced. No erasure until I checked here and found I had Maoists and Esmes.

I woke up early and got up when I heard the paper delivered. It's still early! This went by too fast.

Plenty of very nice words, though. Love pavane, caliber, runnier and sliming.

Welcome back, Rex!

The Bard 7:14 AM  

Othello > Act II, scene I

MONTANO: If that the Turkish fleet
Be not enshelter'd and embay'd, they are drown'd:
It is impossible they bear it out.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

Oh, Bard. That's a different meaning of EMBAY. Your search function let you down. I found this a bit harder than Rex did, but still in the "easy" range. It was disappointing for a Friday. When I saw the grid, I was hoping to find that the pattern might be clued in the puzzle. Maybe some strange medical x-ray or laser. Pistons in a machine of some kind? "Four birds" would be funny, but probably wouldn't get by WS.

Z 7:40 AM  

Everything south of STRESS TESTS was super easy. The northeast was a medium for me, with -OMELO/-AVANE requiring a guess.

The NW, on the other hand, was a big fat DNF for me. SErenER didn't help. My first stab at 19A was i knew it (ROSES ARE RED showed me I was wrong but didn't help otherwise). I sussed out MEAGER which suggested EMBed. What to do do with E-TES, B-OOrER and e-ITrTO and d-SInIS? Just too much there that I will have to remember for next time.

captcha is d{blob}ter and a mailbox. Hmmm, I think I will reload. And add a 2 as suggested yesterday.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

right on octavian. rex has ,to quote bob marley in no woman no cry, gotten lost "along the way". c'mon rex this is fun and there is a world of us who successfully solve the puzzle each day FOR THE FUN OF IT. fortunately we don't feel the need to boast about how fast we finished, nor to harp on bad fills. this puzzle for me was fun and that's all i cared about. thank you WS and Mr. Krozel. I appreciate your efforts to make my day a little more enjoyable.

John V 8:08 AM  

If there is one thing have I learned from coming here for these past couple of years is wide open grid probably means easy. This did not disappoint.

Only hitches were initially having GAVOTE for 13D and SHERIFF for 35A. That was it.

So, VERY easy, but welcome after the late night flight from CLT yesterday.

Anyone think the blanks on the bottom look like a hoisted middle digit?

Welcome back, @Rex. Maybe have DEBEERS at LUNCHES this weekend?

evil doug 8:18 AM  

"Well, actually, there's one constructor (*not* Krozel, whom I don't know) who's a Total asshole, whose puzzles I do enjoy dismantling—but *only* when they call for it; sometimes they don't."

Even thought she's used that epithet on me, I don't think it's nice for you to apply it to ACME.


Bay Me 8:21 AM  

Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press:

1 force (a boat) into a bay.

2 chiefly Geology enclose in a recess or hollow.

3 (as adj. embayed) formed into bays.

FearlessK 8:23 AM  

@pk, my father-in-law used this word all the time, to convey a feeling of anxiety mixed with irritation -- like the feeling you get when your teenage-driver child is out past curfew and hasn't checked in. Hope that helps!

joho 8:26 AM  

At first glance I said, "Hmmm, wonder why the grid is shaped like a butterfly?" Actually it turned out for no reason.

And, even with the odd grid which I thought would be daunting, this was pretty easy for me.

In the margin I wrote: REs and ERs evERywhERe! In the front and back of words, even in the middle! Plus weird plurals like LITERATURES. And, who the hella knows ELLA?

The worst was RECHOSE. I would have liked SEDATER better clued as, "One who can really put you out."

I think Joe Krozel is brilliant and applaud him for being able to fill this grid, but, I look forward to his better FUTURERESULTS!

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

evil doug, maybe if you stopped being an asshole to her, she wouldn't call you an asshole any more?

jackj 8:49 AM  

I’m a big fan of Joe Krozel puzzles but, c’mon, this was a Mondayish Friday!

Each quadrant was essentially a stand-alone but there were at least two easy entries in each one to make this puzzle fly by.

In the upper left, there were SERGEI and AGITATO with BROODER and EGOTIST close on their heels.

The upper right gave up OLEARY and DEBEERS with no pushback.


Lower right bore even more fruit with SPENCE, SEGER, USUALS, SLIMING and STATING.

For the connectors, STRESSTESTS and FUTURERESULTS were rather obvious and the do-or-die middle of the puzzle connector entry is ATO, clued by, “___B (initial step)”? Now, that’s an embarrassment.

So, then, what else is left but cleaning up?

This easy Friday fetish of Will’s has gone too far. Can we hit the reset button and get back to themeless Fridays with a bit of a bite?

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

I see this is going to be a great day for comments here. The jobs numbers are horrible, the markets are opening sharply down and the long knives have been drawn here. It makes all the fun I had in solving the puzzle merely an appetizer for what's to come.

Can someone explain why Rex keeps changing the captchas?


jberg 9:04 AM  

I'm basically with @Rex on this one - sure, I do the puzzle for fun, but it's just not that much fun writing in RECHOSE, etc.

What is fun is watching that video of the Reger fantasy! I missed the first minute or so because I thought it was just an audio, but then I caught a flicker of motion as I scrolled up to check something, and -- wow! Three manuals plus a pedal keyboard, about 8 gazillion stops and other knobs and buttons, and that guy's limbs are flying. Some of the best shots are when the camera pulls back and you see the organist's upper body remaining relatively still while his feet swing rapidly back and forth. Amazing.

But STERES? Is that the metric equivalent of a cord? I've certainly never heard it applied to firewood!

My first answer was going to be 'sparse' at 11A, but fortunately I checked the crosses, and SERGEI took that away. After that it was easy until I had to guess the ELLA MAE/SLIMING cross (since I never saw the movie), but the M was the obvious guess.

In the NE, though, I think with that clue it had to be MASquERS, and while there are maybe 8 different ways to spell PAVANE (including PADUANE - is that where it comes from?), this one seemed odd.

@Gill - the STRESS TESTS came after the bailout. Banks had to prove they had the capital to withstand a certain level of crisis or the regulators would close them down. It was supposed to make us all feel safer.

Sir Hillary 9:05 AM  

52 words, 46 black squares...felt like 2/3 of a puzzle. For you speed-solvers out there, is it even relevant to count this one?

Pretty cool that JK could populate this grid. I was less bothered by the fill than Rex, more bothered by the low word count and lack of zippy clues. MASKERS, USUALS and LITERATURES were the only entries that had me holding my nose.

Having a hard time banishing the yucky visual of a MANATEE SLIMING.

@r.alphbunker - four birds...brilliant!

archaeoprof 9:10 AM  

What @Foodie said.

One writeover today: serener/SEDATER.

Good reading in today's NYT: an obituary for Jack Twyman, NBA star who spent years caring for his injured teammate Maurice Stokes.

Texas Momma 9:15 AM  

I liked it. The only "gimmees" for me were Oleary and Seger. But still able to complete most of the puzzle anyway so a nice way to start the day.

lymank 9:25 AM  

Speaking as one who is only recently beginning to gather up the courage to tackle Fridays and Saturdays and occasionally succeed, it was refreshing to cruise through the puzzle in less than 20 minutes! It's a real confidence booster..

orangeblossomspecial 9:39 AM  

@Rex is correct about Estes Park - a beautiful location. We had two family reunions at Rocky Mountain NP and everyone loved the setting.

31D ELLA MAE Morse became famous as a big band singer. This is her recording of "The Blacksmith Blues" as a soloist.

I agree with @chefwen that 16A was cutely clued. I can't think of songs involving calibers, but here is "All right Louie, drop the gun".

Bobby Vinton had a hit with 15D "ROSES ARE RED my love".

Norm 9:51 AM  

I thought Rex was rather kind to this one, although I did like STRESS TESTS. Overall, it was kind of boring. SMIRK AT seemed odd to me, since I think of people smirking more in a general sense rather than directing it at another person, but the usage is in the OED so I'll have to accept it.

geezerette 9:52 AM  

I was going to complain that I'd like a Friday puzzle to be more of a STRESS TEST, but then I realized that I'd also fallen into mAOIST error.

@Rex, thank you for the Reger B-A-C-H organ fantasy. For those who might not know, in German the letters in Bach's name are all names of musical notes - B-flat, A, C, and B natural, so his name lends itself to musical tributes. Liszt also wrote an organ fantasy on B-A-C-H.

Rex Parker 9:55 AM  

To be fair, ALL solvers, regardless of skill level, tend to have a reservoir of good will for puzzles that they ace, esp. late-week puzzles. I have to give myself a moment to reflect on the superhard and the supereasy to make sure my speed-solver ego isn't clouding my judgment.


quilter1 10:01 AM  

Agree with most that this was easy, grid seemed promising at first sight, but was finished too soon for Friday satisfaction. I like a tussle at the end of the week. I appreciated the definitions of EMBAY but I really don't think this is a common word and conjures up visions of captives being walled in alive.

I also had REtUrnS before RESULTS which slowed me down a little in the SE. I wanted two N's in PAVANE.

Yes, ESTES Park is so beautiful. We saw a fox family, mother and kits, in the snow, bright red against the white, just breathtaking. Welcome back from R&R, Rex.

Ack! had to refresh the captchas three time before I got one clear enough to read. Who do we complain to?

Rex Parker 10:03 AM  


I'd say the opposite. To quote myself elsewhere, this is the kind of puzzle designed to impress other constructors, not to be enjoyable to the average solver.

The fact that it ties (or so I hear) a record-low NYT word count (albeit with far more black squares) will likely be lost on most "ordinary" solvers. Because most solvers don't count words and don't care about such things. Nor should they. But you liked it, and so did some others, and as a short, quirky diversion, like I said, I think it's harmless.

If this had been clued to, say, normal Saturday levels, people would've had a lot less tolerance for SEDATER et al, I'd bet. So the decision to run it on Friday and simplify the clues to Wed./Thur. level was a smart one. That way, the puzzle gets a very generous look from most folks.


loren muse smith 10:27 AM  

I was initially intimidated by the grid, and with only two fill-in-the-blanks (one of which the only three letter answer that I, stupidly, didn’t see), I poked around and got nowhere. My first attempt was “scarce” like @jberg for MEAGER. Near malapop for Ghostbusters activity. Had culTURES for a while before I saw LITERATURES. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the plural. But then before I knew it, I had finished.

I liked ROSES ARE RED, the cluing for CALIBER, and the cluing for SÉANCE.

@jae – you always have my number. Didn’t know the P in the POMELO/PAVANE cross, so I was Natickled pink to have guessed right!

@Tita – maybe one for your hall of fame – for a while I had “infects” for “really bothers,” thinking MASKERS could be “mockers.” I also had, strangely, “snark” AT before SMIRK. Jeez Louis.

@Octavian – I had dAOISTS before TAOISTS, too, and I do this Every. Single. Time.

“They may be studied along with languages.” May be studied?? As a double language major, and as someone who is completely missing the chip that understands the butterfly represents her desire for freedom, I struggled mightily with Hesse, Flaubert, Nathalie- are- you- KIDDING -me?? –Sarraute, et al. I really wish universities had two tracks for language majors: literary or linguistic. My first “Explication du Texte” was an analysis of Gide’s pronouns in L’Immoraliste.. My professor was kind enough not to fail me but to let me try again for a proper Explication.

@ Anoa Bob -“YESITIS looks like some kind of inflammation of Broca’s area in a sycophant’s cortex.” One of the cleverest things I’ve read on this blog. My Broca’s region is alive and kicking, but my Brecht region is nonexistent.

Noam D. Elkies 10:46 AM  

@pk - as puts it, agita = " feeling of agitation or anxiety", though the claimed etymology is unrelated to "agitato": "S Italian dialect pron. of Italian *acido*, literally, heartburn, *acidus*".

Yes, Anoa Bob's gloss on 19A:YESITIS is hilarious.


foodie 10:47 AM  

@loren muse smith, where did you go to school? This sounds like cruel and unusual punishment! I did languages both ways-- growing up with French as a second language and becoming introduced to French literature along the way, at the same pace a French kid would; and taking on English in college and trying to swallow the whole shooting match (before emigrating to the US). I can attest to the fact that it's incredibly different-- and a lot less stressful-- to do it the gradual way.

@ Anoa Bob - I too laughed at your “YESITIS" quip. Makes a neuroscientists heart skip a beat :)

Crosscan 10:51 AM  

Yes, most ordinary solvers won't know or care about the low word count. It can also be said that most ordinary solvers don't know or care about symmetry or repeated words or any other standard.
(Actually, most ordinary solvers can't do a Friday.)

However, I think most solvers can sense something is different in a puzzle like this. The design of the grid, the white spaces, something.

Disney parks are different than other amusement parks because of the incredible attention to detail. Most of that detail is unnoticed by the majority of guests. (Did you know that the pavement and even the style of garbage cans changes to match the Land you are in?) But you do get the sense of the whole and can "feel" the impact.

You may still choose to dislike a puzzle due to perceived compromises in the fill. Indeed, this wasn't my favorite Krozel by any means. But I appreciate the effort in trying to take crosswords beyond the usual.


Matthew G. 10:54 AM  

Ninety-nine-point-nine percent easy, and a near-record Friday time for me -- except that I finished with an error. Total Natick at the crossing of POMELO and PAVANE, as jae correctly predicted might happen to some solvers. Never heard of either of those things -- POMELO sounds like it should be a basketball player's nickname and PAVANE sounds like an exercise coach or spaghetti western star. I don't even remember what letter I put in that box, but I know it wasn't a P.

Otherwise, what Rex said. Easy but with too many that's-barely-a-word words to be satisfying.

Two Ponies 10:58 AM  

I liked this one OK but I am much more amused by the comments.
@ Anoa Bob, Love your Broca's joke.
The grid seems to be some sort of inkblot test. Some see "the finger" but @ joho sees a butterfly. Cool.
Welcome back Rex.

efrex 11:02 AM  

Back in the day, seeing Joe Krozel's name inspired dread. Now that I've gotten more comfortable with open grids, they've become much more accessible.

I'm still at the point where a solvable Friday makes me happy, rather than complain about the easiness, but I pretty much predicted Rex's writeup as I was doing it. The entire bottom filled up in record time (ROSESARERED got thrown down with only 1 cross), and the NE came crashing down fairly quickly after that. The NW, though: THERE was a challenge, especially since I pencilled in SCHERZO fore AGITATO. figuring out RETILED saved me from a DNF, but it was a close thing. EMBAY is the only really yucky word in the puzzle, far as I'm concerned, but had it not been the last word to finally get put in, I probably wouldn't have remembered it at all.

had to refresh through 4 captchas before I found a legible one. What a mess...

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Bad clue on STRESS TESTS. The year in the clue implies something specific to 2009, whereas stress testing happens constantly at banks.

DigitalDan 11:29 AM  

I like 'em all.

Ulrich 11:33 AM  

From geezer to @geezerette: Musical rumor in Germany has it that the B-A-C-H variations were created, as an idea, by Frederic II (the Great) of Prussia, who, while playing the flute with his musician buddies at his residence in Potsdam near Berlin (a must see), was informed that "old Bach" had arrived (whom he had invited). The king stepped to the harpsichord, played the 4 notes, and invited Bach to improvise on them.

chefbea 11:47 AM  

No time for the puzzle today...getting ready for a neighborhood yard sale which is tomorrow. So probably won't be around tomorrow either.

Hopefully I will sell a lot of tissue box covers!!!

@Rex welcome back!!

Andy 11:53 AM  

I started doing NYTimes crosswords a little over a year ago. It takes time to advance from Monday puzzles being the only reliable solve for the week to - well - anything else. I found that you need the occasional "easy for a [pick a day]" to break through. Today was my first Friday solve, and while it didn't just fall into place for me, I was surprised how the fill kept coming in drips from a modest 4-clue start (ATO, MEAGER, SERGEI, SEGER).

Ordinarily I'll have a peek at Friday, maybe scratch in a word or 3, but end up moving on to the KenKen pretty quickly (I'm a paper solver). Today was my breakthrough that will now have me looking more carefully at Fridays.

So, Rex... While I generally find your write-ups to be negative in tone, try to remember we're not all Kings of Crossworld.

notsofast 12:10 PM  

FUN! Lots of Es and Rs. Had to leave P in pomelo and pavane blank. I think that was a bad cross. This felt more like a wed or thurs puzzle to me.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Microsoft has never embraced TAR, that's a Unix thing. There is no MS-TAR.

geezerette 12:17 PM  

@Ulrich - thank you, I didn't know that. A lovely story! If only we could hear what Bach may have improvised. I see that Liszt's B-A-C-H piece is actually a "fantasy and fugue" - appropriate! Now I've got to go listen to it.

Tita 12:28 PM  

First glance, thought it was a tribute to the Knights Templar. Sure enough, today is the 884th anniversary of their recognition by pope Honorious II. That must be it...

I am not clever enough to recognize the construction significance of a 60 word threshold or any of the other things Rex points out (though I like to learn about them here.)

I struggled, but then ultimately got it. Ergo, a good Friday for me.

My solve chart shows it was really easy in the SE and the middleish, but I have lots of big stair-step jumps where I sat and stared before getting an AHA. Or, more accurately, a D'OH. (Like MANATEE - just couldn't not think past MANtaray

Sure, didn't want to believe things like EMBAY or RECHOSE, but was offset by the activity of SLIMING, RUNNIER, and 'Things people "Do"'.
Hated the plethora of proper names in the SE.

LOVED ROSESARERED on behalf of my Mom, which starts every poem she writes with those lines, and on behalf of @JenCT and my namesake chick,.., love BROODERS, though I was almost going to email you, because I could not come up with it! (I had 3 wrong answers up there - spArER, bragger, and rElAxEd!)

So @Rex, there you have it - I liked it because
a) I finished it with a suitable struggle (sans google), and
b) It had fun references that evoked personal stories.

Thanks Mr. Krozel, and welcome back Rex.

Oh - same natick at [P]OMELO and [P]AVANE. Last letter.

(@LMS - Natickled pink, @Anoa Bob - YESITIS def. - fabulous!)

Mel Ott 12:47 PM  

Like @retired chemist I liked this more than @Rex even though (perhaps because) I found it harder than he did.

I seem to like low word counts more than @Rex. I looked at the grid and thought, "Oh boy. Only one word less than 5 letters. That means almost no 3-letter crap fill." Of course we get a few crummy 'RE' prefixes and 'ER' suffixes, but I'll take that tradeoff anytime.

EMBAY was a WTF? for me.

Is 24 a record for cheater squares?

The new captchas still suck.

Maskers and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 1:31 PM  

Good to have old @#31*! back in the saddle. This pup played like two different puzs, at my house:

- Easiest part: ATO. In a gorgeously open grid like this, I head straight for the 3-letter word gimme.

- Gentler, kinder half: The Southern Hemisphere. Lots of blind gimmes down there, like ITSHERE, USUALS, RUNLAPS, FIESTA, TINSTAR. Interestingly, all of the puz's 6 U's reside down here.

- Nasty half: The Northern Hemisphere. MSTAR, along with ROSES+ and COMET+, poked its head up into it, but then... nothin'. Jest squat. Tried SPARSE at 11-A. This led, in some wretchedly indefensible rush of logic, to ASIDE at 1-D. Followed by such made-up 1-D gems as ASEAL, ASTOW, and ASLOT. Was almost ready to holler "rebus!"
Finally got OVEREAT. Then called in the big guns (PuzKillingSpouse) to chew up PAVANE and DEBEERS. After that, managed to figure out the rest.

Fave fillins: EMBAY. Good as any of my other futile wild guesses, I suppose. Sounds more like the name of the bad guy in a mummy schlock flick... The Curse of Aghah em Bay, or whatnot.
MASKERS. Har. Hard not to luv a word that's so perfectly...abstract. Wanted to twist it somehow into M&A-ERS. ["Rebus!"]

Ulrich 2:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird 2:14 PM  

Welcome back Rex. Kudos to PuzzleGirl, treedweller, and Doug Peterson.

I mostly (some RSTLNE and a few clunkers) enjoyed this one as it was a good challenge. I needed an assist for 1A, which allowed me to finish the NW, and for the tough crossing at 13A/13D, which allowed me to complete the puzzle.

The SE looks a mess because of all the writeovers – LIBERAL ARTS for 25A, FUTURE RESULTS then RETURNS then RESULTS again for 33A, and SPRINTS for 36A.


PS. Captchas s-u-c-k

Ulrich 2:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 2:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 2:21 PM  

@Tita: Kudos for ferreting out the deep meaning of the grid--so much for those who see birds everywhere!!!!

@geezerette: Frederic (known to his subjects affectionally as "der alte Fritz" (Old Fritz)) was an accomplished flutist:ötenkonzert_Friedrichs_des_Großen_in_Sanssouci_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&filetimestamp=20110911083349
The comment mentions that the painting also shows one of Bach's sons, Philip Emmanuel, at the harpsichord.

After several attempts, I have given up trying to include a hot link directly in my text.

syndy 2:23 PM  

I like a little crunch on my friday puzzles-this was a little fluffy for my taste.Never heard of REGER but didn't need to.anyway the comments were much more entertaining than the puzzle(mostly)

agitato caliber molests 2:29 PM  

YESITIS is also the Beatles' tune we just had a couple of weeks back :)

The only thing I didn't like so much was RUNLAPS crossing RUNNIER.

MEAGER SEGER REGER. The palindrome in the clue helped me get REGER.
DEBEERS always reminds me of Da Bears.

I printed it out last night and showed my new roommate/catsitter who had asked about symmetry in puzzles. He was wowed by the grid and I explained that this was a constructor who was always experimenting and late-week puzzles tended to be really hard.
So the upside to this being the easiest Friday ever was it inadvertently impressed the hell out of him when I did it so quickly!

Not an a**hole 2:39 PM  

I wonder why ACME is such an asshole. I always thought she was very nice. Now ED on the other hand . . .

Lewis 2:52 PM  

Found the bottom half very easy and the top half medium. Didn't like SEDATER, what an ugly word! Learned BROODER.

I think there are 19 Rs in the puzzle! Rex has helped me to understand why.

Evan 3:03 PM  

I set a new Friday personal record with this puzzle -- on paper. Meaning, I solved this on paper faster than any Friday NYT I've solved on a computer. I can only imagine what my time would have been if I solved it on screen. Like others, I had to guess at that POMELO/PAVANE crossing but fortunately I guessed correctly.

Also, in defense of @Rex, in case anyone should think that he holds some personal animus towards constructors for his critical'll recall that he lavished praise on Joe Krozel's famous "Lies" puzzle of June 2008, saying that it was "the best puzzle of the year so far. In fact, I'm not sure it's even close."

I remember reading a couple of Joe's comments elsewhere about how he decided to give up reading most popular crossword blogs because he felt their criticisms were overly abusive. Obviously it's never pleasing to hear if people disliked or even strongly disliked your puzzle, but the fact that @Rex can deem any constructor's puzzles as either great or not great on its merits should prove that his critiques are not personal and shouldn't be taken as such.

(Now, maybe that's different for whomever this unnamed Total Asshole constructor is, but I'd say that would still depend on what the content of his criticisms were.)

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Well, actually, there's one constructor (*not* Krozel, whom I don't know) who's a Total asshole, whose puzzles I do enjoy dismantling—but *only* when they call for it; sometimes they don't."

Come on Rex give us a hint...
is the a-hole a man or a woman?
Right now there's probably 10 constructors thinking it's them. :-)

PuzzleGirl 3:20 PM  

I know some people noted that Rex's subs this week were too nice, but I tell you what. If I had blogged this puzzle, you would have seen something very different from me. When I saw the clue "Enclose in a recess," I honestly thought there was a good chance the answer was ENAPSE. That would have fit right in, IMO.

Ulrich 4:25 PM  

From my personal correspondence with the lovely Andrea, who is as far removed from being an asshole as a human being can be, I have a pretty good idea who the constructor in question is, which is another way of saying it's NOT her!

R. McGeddon 4:26 PM  

I can see Rex's point about the cluing. The ones for SERGEI, DEBEERS, OLEARY and a few others were such gimmes that I felt as though they were letting me win.

Still, enjoyed overall. Agree that the absence of Ott- and NNE-type stuff made up for some of the clunkers.

sanfranman59 4:45 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 13:32, 24:43, 0.55, 1%, Very Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 6:50, 12:14, 0.56, 1%, Very Easy

I almost feel like I need a new category for this one. Like Natan Last's Friday puzzle of 3 weeks ago, this one's in the extreme tail of the distribution of Friday solve times. These numbers would place it in the low end of the Thursday Easy range and in the low end of the Wednesday Challenging range.

Sergio Leone 4:45 PM  


The bad: POMELO crossing PAVANE, RUNNIER crossing RUN LAPS

The ugly: SEDATER, A TO, M-STAR, RECHOSE, captchas

Martin 4:55 PM  


The format for an HTML link (called an anchor tag) is:
<a href="url">text</a>

So you would type:
<a href="ötenkonzert_Friedrichs_des_Großen_in_Sanssouci_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&filetimestamp=20110911083349">Ulrich's link</a>

to create Ulrich's link.

The quotes are important and you usually paste a link between them.

I've played a bunch of Frederick the Great's flute compositions. They're not bad and a lot of fun.

Wood 5:00 PM  

Record Friday time. Almost exactly my average Wednesday time. Wrinkled my nose at all the not-really-words but I'm OK with them in the service of a grid like this. I do prefer more of a challenge at week's end. Liked the creative clue on SLIMING.

Bill Murray 5:07 PM  

Never heard of the word SLIMING outside of my movie

Stevlb1 5:07 PM  

WOW...............We have WAY too much time on our hands!!!

Z 5:24 PM  

@sanfranman59 - way to make me feel bad about my DNF.

geezerette 5:27 PM  

@Ulrich and @Martin, thank you - the painting is a treat. What a lovely "chamber" for this chamber music concert. It's worth zooming in on the individual audience members - wonderful expressions, whether attentive or wandering.

Stevlb1 5:29 PM  

WOW...............We have WAY too much time on our hands!!!

Ulrich 5:36 PM  

@Martin: I have done this a million times, but suddenly, the link was dropped--I tried this three times (all those "comment deleted by author" posts) and gave up...

I may have had a typo each time and not seen it b/c preview is also completely screwed up at my end...well, thanks anyway!

Martin 5:59 PM  


Don't give up. Try it in three steps.

1) Copy your link. You need the entire link, starting with http.

2) type this in the comment box:
<a href="">text</a>
where text is what you want to appear in blue.

3) position the mouse between the quotes and copy the link (CTRL-V).

This will minimize the chances of making an error, like forgetting the quotes or the closing tag.

Martin 6:00 PM  


Don't give up. Try it in three steps.

1) Copy your link. You need the entire link, starting with http.

2) type this in the comment box:
<a href="">text</a>
where text is what you want to appear in blue.

3) position the mouse between the quotes and copy the link (CTRL-V).

This will minimize the chances of making an error, like forgetting the quotes or the closing tag.

treedweller 6:44 PM  

@PuzzleGirl me, too. I might have opted to focus on the positive this week, but I would have struggled to find much to say if I had tried that strategy here. I wouldn't have even noticed the stunt, leaving only clunky semi-words to discuss.

Jp 6:44 PM  

It is not often that I can solve a Friday puzzle so easily. I just neded to google ESTES in the NW corner to finish the puzzle. So on this I agree with Rex.
But complaining about SEDATER or RECHOSE is I think nit picking (with all due respect to Rex). Give me these words anytime instead of some baseball star from the 30's, third grade pop singer or minor screen TV actor with a crosswordy kind of name.

michael 7:01 PM  

Very easy. Liked it. Knew what Rex was going to say.

ksquare 7:29 PM  

Didn't anyone else consider this a 2-star puzzle? i.e. TIN STAR & M STAR.

Tita 8:01 PM  

Now wait just a minute...
I noticed, and shrugged off, RUNNIER/RUNLAPS.

But @ksquare - 2 stars??? That seems contrary to all that Will holds sacred... ??

chefwen 9:03 PM  

@Martin & @Ulrich - WOW! That is beautiful. Thank you!

skua76 9:07 PM  

Welcome back Rex! I was duly warned by your FB post but still solved it in the evening before bed, despite its foibles. If the puzzle is hard, I end up yawning and setting it aside for the morning.
@PuzzleGirl, I too thought seriously about Enapse but after a cross or two I got EMBAY, I've read a few nautical books.

sanfranman59 10:20 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 6:25, 6:50, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:27, 8:54, 1.17, 89%, Challenging
Wed 10:09, 11:48, 0.86, 20%, Easy
Thu 18:20, 18:57, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Fri 13:31, 24:43, 0.55, 1%, Very Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 154 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:44, 4:36, 1.25, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 154 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:29, 5:53, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Thu 10:03, 9:21, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 6:39, 12:14, 0.54, 1%, Very Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 153 Fridays)

Sorry @Z. Your feeling is all too familiar to me.

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

Had no problem with POMELO and PAVANE, words which fit into my personal experience. Pomelo is ome of my favorite fruits, and a favorite piano piece is Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess. Liked the symmetry of the construction.

crossgirl 2:01 AM  

Ghostbusters activity: SLIMING made all the pain go away. :-)

Waxy in Montreal 9:41 AM  

From syncity - not a Krozel classic IMHO. MSTAR and TINSTAR? RUNLAPS and RUNNIER? EMBAY? The POMELO/PAVANE intersection? SLIMING? Only saving grace is that it's left me with most of a beautiful July Friday to enjoy with the grandkids...

Spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Okay, I see the point of the curmodgeonly criticism. "RSTLNE...Vanna, if you would?" But at the same time, what's missing is bad fill. Actually, there's no real "fill" at all in this grid, defining the word as all the "connective tissue" between major areas, and the little 3x4 cul-de-sacs in corners and such.

Well, all right, I concede that the center cross (the closest this comes to "fill") is STAR with an arbitrary letter stuck in front of it, plus the rather ugly partial of ATO, but still. Joe deserves a break for that nice NE, where he sprinkled in some decent letters. (I don't know that MASKERS is totally legitimate, but there is worse not far away, so I'll be SEDATER (ugh!).

Hey. It's a Friday, and I solved it with no help. What's not to like?

Solving in Seattle 1:53 PM  

She TASED me and I became SEDATER. She then asked me to dance the PAVANE. I avoided SLIMING her as I fed her a POMELO over a couple of DEBEERS. At first she said no, then RECHOSE to have me EMBAY the MEAGER USUALS with TRUST. As for the rest, ITSELEMENTARY, and we hope there are no FUTURERESULTS.

(With apologies, I'm on cold meds.)

Capcha: raathe. What I'm going to receive from god?

DMGrandma 2:35 PM  

This puzzle full of sort-of-words finally got the best of me in the NW where I didn't know the author and couldn't come up with embay. It didn't help that with regard to baby chicks, the only thing I could think of was the incubator I saw at the SF World's Fair back in the 30's. Funny how some things stick.
@Diri. Surprised anyone say my last post. The M got lost where I often lose things. I hit the space bar by mistake. Love my IPad, but am a better typist on a regular keyboard.

Spacecraft 2:59 PM  

@SiS: rofl! A hearty well-done, and get better soon (those summer colds are the worst)!

Ginger 3:14 PM  

@SIS - Fun Post...What kind of cold meds? must be good stuff LOL

As Rex said, it's easy to like a puzzle you can finish in record time, however I understand the complaints about this one.

Wanted blank-culTURES at 25A, and sparse at 14A, but these mis-entries were soon corrected.

Wishing all in the TWIlightzone of Syndiland a fine week-end.

captcha hyhdra

Solving in Seattle 3:27 PM  

@Ginger & @Spaceecraft, thanks for the good words. Doc said to play golf, take antihistamines and hyhdra(te).

Gorgeous weather here in the PacNW. Sorry we can't export it to the rest of North America.

Capcha: nsystems. Now that's not funny!

Dirigonzo 7:48 PM  

Puzzle left me with a smile on my face and some free time on a gorgeous summer evening - what's not to like? In another instance of "syndication synchronicity" I was thinking about my early computing days and MSDOS earlier today - I could never remember all those damned commands that had to be typed in to get anything done.

"Round number" was classic. MOLESTS should be banned forever.

@DM Grandma - we who have a google identitym (the ones with an avatar) can opt to receive email notifications of all subsequent comments, so even "late" comments are read by many (including prime-timers).

@SiS - after reading your post I can only say that I hope you feel better and get off those meds REAL soon (but it was pretty funny).

@Ginger - "TWIlightzone" - love it!

Eastsacgirl 10:40 PM  

Knew when I breezed through most of this it was going to be rated easy. NW was a little tricky and officially a DNF by only a few letters. Really didn't like SEDATER but the rest was OK by me.

Beautiful, warm night out here on the west coast of Cali.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

As a novice solver only just beginning to complete Fridays, I kept thinking there must be some Big Trick I must be missing. Nope, this one just happened to be in my sweet spot today. Inelegant, but we all have off days.

Dirigonzo 12:19 AM  

@Eastsacgirl - It's a beautiful, warm night on the east coast of Maine, too. Don't you just love a warm summer night wherever you live?

Unknown 12:49 PM  

I think it is the first Friday I've completed. I usually don't even look at them. So I have a more charitable attitude about this puzzle than most, I guess.

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