Waldorf-Astoria muralist / FRI 6-8-12 / Singer Lovich / Iceland star 1942 / Five 1950s million-selling doo-wop group / Class Notes subject / Norman with legendary swing / Edibles food shop on Facts of Life / Southeast Asian soarer / Coastal plunger

Friday, June 8, 2012

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EURE (48D: River at Chartres) —
The Eure is a river in northern France, left tributary of the Seine. It rises at Marchainville in theOrne département and joins the Seine near Pont-de-l'Arche. Two départements are named after the Eure, namely Eure and Eure-et-Loir. (wikipedia)
• • •

Indulge your 15 fetish if you've got one. I don't, but if you do ... have some.

No idea what TRACTION ENGINES are (36A: Road locomotives) or what a PHILIPPINE EAGLE looks like (10D: Southeast Asian soarer), and I generally just call BINOCULAR VISION "vision" (3D: Aid in judging distances). I like ERIC THE RED on DINAH SHORE (14A: Icelandic saga subject + 17A: "Chantez-Chantez" singer, 1957), but there's not much interesting about the rest. Impressive grid, ordinary fill (with some dips into less-than-ordinary). I am making a ton of costly mistakes lately. Today's was GMAT for LSAT (a very, very stupid mistake, given letter likelihood) (21A: It's taken by some coll. seniors). This kept both long Downs in the east hidden for too long. Also could do nothing with the central 15s, despite having first five letters of each in place. AIR CONDITIONERS should've been obvious (37A: Runners often seen in windows). No idea what was going on there. The other two I understand, but AIR CONDITIONERS ... that should've fallen. Couldn't remember SATINS (23D: The Five ___, 1950s million-selling doo-wop group), couldn't get HENIE (29D: "Iceland" star, 1942) or PETE (33D: Rose family member) from the clues, initially. Bah, this should've been much easier than it was. Not much else to say.

  • 1A: "I'm a Survivor" sitcom ("REBA") — is that the theme song. I've never seen even a second of that show.
  • 5A: "West Side Story" girlfriend (ANITA) — if not MARIA, then, ANITA.

  • 25A: Class Notes subject, informally (ALUM) — no idea what "Class Notes" is. Google is no help and I don't really care.
  • 27A: "___ Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein" (Bach cantata) ("ACH") — never heard of it. Guessed it eventually.
  • 40A: Idaho motto opener (ESTO) — gotta love the state motto opener clues.
  • 43A: Norman with a legendary swing (GREG) — Like AIR CONDITIONERS, this is one I really should've gotten much more quickly.
  • 2D: Journalist Burnett of 55-Down (ERIN) — got it from crosses. Heard of her. Had the ERI- and ruled out ERIC (which this answer crosses). Never looked at 55-Down (CNN).
  • 1D: Hester Prynne's stigma (RED A) — pretty sure it's scarlet, but OK.
  • 34D: Waldorf-Astoria muralist (SERT) — wrote in ERTE then realized I'd confused my crosswordesey mid-century artists.
  • 42D: Spyder rival (MIATA) — so the Spyder's a car ... I'm guessing. Yes. Actually, lots of cars.
  • 15D: Director Angelopoulos who won the 1988 Palme d'Or (THEO) — The film was "Eternity and a Day." Yeah, I haven't seen it either. THEO is also Kojak's first name.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

What in the world was the IIII clue?

jae 12:25 AM  

Another pretty easy Fri.  I don't know, maybe I'm just getting used to looking for the familiar answer for a WTF clue.  For example, REDA was a gimme and a four letter crossword sitcom beginning with R = REBA no matter how obscure the clue.  Same with NEHI, all you need is the N, and four letter muralist starting with S has to be SERT.  Plus had BINOCULAR...off the B and RAISE.... with 3 crosses.  So, not much of a fight.  That said, I've never heard of TRACTIONENGINE.

Anyway erasures: ALES to ADES,  OFLITTLE to TOLITTLE, LENTO to LARGO, and GRES to LSAT.  

Problem area(s):  No big ones that I can spot but the EURE/SLUICE (tough to spell correctly)/DIDI  intersection could be tricky.  RHEE/HALAL/LENE might be also if you didn't remember HALAL clued the same way in a recent puzzle.

I liked this one fine.  Again, not much zip but a solid Fri. grid.

@anon ^ -- The IIII (IV) is 180 degrees from the X on a roman numeral clock face.

Sammy Davis, Jr. 12:26 AM  

Binocular vision = vision? I should be so lucky.

pk 12:58 AM  

I am still not worthy of late-week puzzles. Had lottsa traction early on, but not enough for traction engines, whatever those are. Tractor-trailers went confidently into those spaces. Roll On!

I think 4D is a shout-out to Rex.

Glad to see Lord Nelson make an appearance during Jubilee.

syndy 1:20 AM  

yup the 15's fell pretty easy I had a little trouble in the bottom center but once the SLUICES open that was all she wrote!.

Mike 1:54 AM  

Yes, it makes sense that 4 is opposite of 10 on the clock, but I officially declare Shenanigans on IIII.

Greg Charles 2:01 AM  

Clocks use IIII instead of IV for four. I'm not sure why.

I had Erik The Red, which messed me up for awhile. I still think that's the preferred spelling.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Got the top and bottom third portions without too much trouble. The middle had me flummoxed. Never heard of TRACTION ENGINES, had the engine part but little else. 37A had me seeing hamsters running on their little wheelie thingies in a pet store window, had the ERS in place, so what the hey, couldn't make it work! DANG!

HTG and a big DNF here. Impatience got the better of me again. Part time puzzle partner returning home tomorrow, he's always good at filling in a few holes and telling me to "put it down and go back to it later".

Maybe tomorrow...

Jakarta Dan 2:26 AM  

No problem with the crossing REDs at 1D and 14A?

I paused before filling those in because I thought it wasn't halal to have the repeated word, especially so close.

Anoa Bob 3:29 AM  

If you think BINOCULAR VISION is just vision, close one eye and try dropping a carpenter's NAIL held at arm's length into the top of an open NEHI bottle 20 times. Keep score of hits and misses. Then try it with both eyes open. Compare scores. You'll literally see what's meant by stereopsis.

Really liked that one and SLUICE GATE too. ATTA boy MAS!

Ted 3:30 AM  

Ugh, not a pretty one today, Fridays are not my days...yet

ahsieh 4:36 AM  

My toddler is a fan of Thomas and Friends. Otherwise probably wouldn't have known what a traction engine is either.

Class Notes are the blurbs at the end of college alumni magazines, where you learn that the guy who smoked pot down the hall freshman year is now the CEO of Facebook, etc.

foodie 5:04 AM  


Last night, I stared at this for the longest time... I did not know or could not summon any of these names, and I could not get A TOE in. Some cheating ensued... That gave me some TRACTION (even though I have nooo idea what TRACTION ENGINES are). Once I got going, it fell into place. I admire the constructions, but it was not a fun solve.


foodie 5:19 AM  

Quick & Dirty Index: Easy-Medium

Gareth Bain 6:44 AM  

If you're into zoology, you wouldn't think of binocular vision as all vision... Most prey species have monoucular vision so they can see a predator coming no matter what. Try sneaking up on a cow (or an anoa presumably!) They have 350 degree vision!

ArtO 7:30 AM  

"class notes" are a standard section in most alumni magazines, Rex

Z 7:31 AM  

I like Crossbird TERN crossing DINAH SHORE.

For all my complaining about names in crosswords, ANITA opened up the NW (after checking crosses to see if it would really be MARIA on a FRIDAY) and GREG opened up the SE and east.

The west gave me more of a fight as -PURPOSE, -ENGINES, and -IONERS just weren't helping me much. Finally believing EMIRS gave me enough to finish BINOCULAR VISION and ACADEMIC CIRCLES. I have to agree with everyone else about TRACTION ENGINES being a WTF answer. As was Rose family member PETE until I saw the picture of Mr. Rose. Thanks for that, REX. I had sussed out the meaning of IIII. While legit, I still agree that it is shenanigans.

A two letter DNF for me. I always want ERIN Burnett to be ERIc Burnett and AcODE seemed plausible. And ESTO seemed too Spanish to be part of Idaho's motto so I tried ESaO. Doesn't look very Latin, either, but what do I know? Apparently not quite enough.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

IIII = shenanigans? The "IIII" four is actually more common on clocks using Roman numerals than "IV".

From Wiki:

Clock faces that are labeled using Roman numerals conventionally show IIII for four o'clock and IX for nine o'clock, using the subtractive principle in one case and not the other. There are many suggested explanations for this:

Many clocks use IIII because that was the tradition established by the earliest surviving clock, the Wells Cathedral clock built between 1386 and 1392. It used IIII because that was the typical method used to denote 4 in contemporary manuscripts (as iiij or iiii). That clock had an asymmetrical 24-hour dial and used Arabic numerals for a minute dial and a moon dial, so theories depending on a symmetrical 12-hour clock face do not apply.[22]
Perhaps IV was avoided because IV represented the Roman god Jupiter, whose Latin name, IVPPITER, begins with IV. This suggestion has been attributed to Isaac Asimov.[23]
Louis XIV, king of France, who preferred IIII over IV, ordered his clockmakers to produce clocks with IIII and not IV, and thus it has remained.[24]
Using standard numerals, two sets of figures would be similar and therefore confusable by children and others unused to reading clockfaces: IV and VI are similar, as are IX and XI. As the first pair are upside down on the face, an additional level of confusion would be introduced—a confusion avoided by using IIII to provide a clear distinction from VI.
The four-character form IIII creates a visual symmetry with the VIII on the other side, which the two-character IV would not.
With IIII, the number of symbols on the clock totals twenty Is, four Vs, and four Xs,[25] so clock makers need only a single mould with a V, five Is, and an X in order to make the correct number of numerals for their clocks: VIIIIIX. This is cast four times for each clock and the twelve required numerals are separated:

The IIX and one of the IXs are rotated 180° to form XI and XII. The alternative with IV uses seventeen Is, five Vs, and four Xs, requiring the clock maker to have several different patterns.

Only the I symbol would be seen in the first four hours of the clock, the V symbol would only appear in the next four hours, and the X symbol only in the last four hours. This would add to the clock's radial symmetry.


Anonymous 7:42 AM  

A Major DNF for me. My LENTO at 24D totally blocked me in that area.

rd 7:49 AM  

Too much obscure fact-based fill for my taste. I can't help but say "who gives a f---" when I see clues like "Iceland" Star, 1942. Thus, I hereby name all obscure fact-based clues WGAF clues.


mac 7:59 AM  

I had almost the same experience solving as @jae. Also wondered if the two reds were acceptable.

I liked this one a lot, and found it easy medium at the bottom and the top, with a little struggle with the traction engines (tractor trailers fits!).

@Gareth: fun facts!

@Z: I think we would have had Maria on a Tuesday.

I'm spending most of the day at a Dutch coffee/luncheon, on the water. Hostess is a good cook!

Glimmerglass 8:08 AM  

A Friday or Saturday clue is a name you don't know but can guess at with enough crosses. For example, I never heard of "Iceland" (presumably a 1942 movie), but *ENIE suggested 1930s-40s ice skater Sonia. I dimly membered that she made some movies. Could ACH Gott be the first words in a title? Sure. It worked for George Burns.

joho 8:08 AM  

The most fun part of this puzzle for me was seeing ERICTHERED getting together with DINAHSHORE.

I always want THEO to be clued as Vincent's brother.

AIRCONDITIONERS just aren't that interesting. Come to think of it, neither are TRACTIONENGINES.

The most elegant answer was ACADEMICCIRCLES.

This wasn't a terribly difficult Friday but I did end up with one error at HALAg/gENE. I knew HALAg couldn't be right but gENE is at least a real name. LENE?

Ben Franklin 8:09 AM  

The US $100 bill has the numeral four on the clock face incorrectly written as IV whereas the real Independence Hall clock face has IIII.

daftasadingo 8:11 AM  

ATTA baby? maybe ATTA boy, or ATTA girl, or ITSA baby, but not ATTA baby...

rose family member = PETE. ugh.

long way to walk = HALL? double ugh.

cabinet maker (PRES), Class Notes (is that a title of something?...ALUM), and hester prynne's stigma...all of them, ugh.

for me, this puzzle's fill was so bad, it was the cluing. overall it seemed very forced.

and you may know the Philippine Eagle by it's more common name: the monkey eating eagle. nice.

btw, i've never done that bach cantata, but i bet singing the word "ACH" isn't very pretty.

daftasadingo 8:12 AM  


"for me, this puzzle's fill WASN'T so bad, it was the cluing."

mac 8:18 AM  

P.S.: I checked four clocks with Roman numerals in our house, and the 4 is IIII in every case. I never noticed it, thought it was only on sun dials!

Z 8:47 AM  

Merriam-Websters Online says *shenanigan* means "a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose."

Devious? check
Trick? check
Underhanded Purpose? Even if you thought 'clock' you still wondered why IV wouldn't fit. Check

But Look - not one complaint yet about a RRN appearing in the puzzle. Well done shenaningan.

Bored 9:05 AM  

This is the type of puzzle that probably hits you in one of two ways. You may know all the obscure proper names that are clued, in which case the puzzle in a breeze. Or you don't know them, in which case there are so many you probably can't finish without looking up some of the names, in which case the puzzle becomes easy. And since it has no theme, there really isn't much to admire about it when you're done. Long intersecting answers in puzzles are pretty common, so unless they interlock in a thematic way, they aren't too impressive. So, at least for me, I feel I pretty much wasted my time today.

jberg 9:20 AM  

@Anonymous 7:42 (the first one) - your comment made my day! One of the reasons I do puzzles is that I learn so much about unexpected subjects, I love it.

REBA may have been a gimme for some, but as a non-TV watcher, the REBA/ERIN cross was a guess, just based on the probability's being greater than ROBA/ORIN. MIATA/DISC almost a guess - what is a flying DISC, another name for a Frisbee?

As the Thomas the Tank Engine ref above indicates, traction engines are used on railroads - so does the "Road" in the clue mean railroad? A little too devious for my taste.

Other holdups were four before IIII, looking for a swinger with Norman for a first name, mariA before ANITA (whose name I had to guess), Indy before TAPS. It all came right in the end, though, and it was nice to get BINOCULAR VISION off the B_N.

"Class Notes" is a section in most alumni magazines - brief reports of the doings of alumni and alumnae, grouped by the year in which they graduated. Still took me a long time to see it.

Minitheme: big shots at 22A, 38A, 41A.

Sue McC 9:25 AM  

After filling in REDA, ERICTHERED, and REBA, a redhead, I emitted an audible groan at the thought of RED as a theme. That ended soon enough. Seemed easy for a Friday, though the middle stack's TRACTIONENGINE cost me some time. Still falls into the "Meh" category.

jackj 9:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackj 9:31 AM  

King of the stacked 15’s, Martin A-S, treats us to some, (surprise!), stacked 15’s (and other assorted goodies).

While the puzzle leans toward an “easy” tag, there is enough knottiness in the seven 15’s, the four 10’s and in the cleverly clued thirty-eight 4’s to make this a fun challenge and a cut above the recent difficulty level of the Times Friday puzzles.

As often happens with “in the language” 15 letter thingies, they are eminently gettable on their own, (or with the help of the crossing entries) but, atypically for a puzzle featuring stacked 15’s, there are only four 3 letter answers in this puzzle and none are crucial in sorting out the lengthy stacked answers. That helps to toughen up the solve.

After ACADEMICCIRCLES, the best of the longer entries is the ten letter SLUICEGATE, but the smile inducing entries were triggered by some of Martin’s shorter, devious clues, like the floral treat of PETE for the “Rose family member”; CEOS, whose clue seemed plural and thus wanted to be SUIT; HALL, whose clue cleverly seemed to signal TALL but, hands down, his best clue in the puzzle was the inspired “Took home courses?” for ATEIN.

Good stuff; an excellent outing from British Columbia’s favorite cab driver!

Thanks, Martin.

Joe The Juggler 9:32 AM  

I didn't care for ATTA baby.

And I still don't understand HALL for "A long way to walk?"

The composer wasn't perhaps thinking of HAUL as in "a long haul"?

Or am I missing something else. HALL (as in a corridor) doesn't seem like an answer to a question-marked clue.

Geometricus 9:40 AM  

This one totally kicked my butt. Even after cheating and "accidentally" seeing AIRCONDITIONERS and SATINS when I pushed the wrong tab and got Rex's site, I still got AthletICCoursES instead of ACADEMICCIRCLES. Totally made sense to me.

And I had been doing so well lately with 15's puzzles. Rex taught me not to be afraid of them, they are easier than you think.

Just not today. For me. Others had fewer problems, it appears.

Tita 9:49 AM  

REDs/sNODE (Dumb mistake - guess I had Scarlet on the brain as I typed in R-E-D-_, and figured an s-NODE was fine.

BINOCULARVISION was the first thing in the grid - it is indeed 'in the language'.
@Anoa Bob - I love your illustration of hte concept!

Like saying SLUICEGATE...
Clue for HENIE was tricky - that was one of the last things in the grid. I mostly remember her from Click & Clack.

What is Flying DISC?

Who says ATTA baby?

Unknown 10:05 AM  

Things I learned:

- it's "Philippine" not "Phillipine" or "Phillippine"

- schools have "academic circles" and not "traffiic circles" ; yes, there was the "i" in "little" already in the grid, but I filled in another one

- IIII also pronounced "oy-oy-oy-oy!"

- Erik the Red spells his name differently in English

plus things I learned that are wrong:

- Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a book called "The Red Letter"

quilter1 10:08 AM  

What most others said, except I didn't hate it. I got lots of short stuff, and DINAH SHORE floated into view. Had AlES before ADES for awhile so ERIC didn't pop in right away as I was thinking it was some crazy verse form I never heard of. Oh, well, I had fun anyway.

Going this morning to see if I have carpal tunnel.

Howard B 10:10 AM  

@Joe - You're just overthinking the HALL clue. It's just a tricky way of implying that a hall can be a 'long' room (used as a passageway to walk from one area to another).

It's subtle wordplay on 'long', that is all. Can be easy to miss such clues, and often I stare at those after solving and still wonder what the heck they mean. Once explained, the head-slap moment usually occurs. All part of the experience :).

Mike Rees 10:44 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Google is my friend. My only complaint was the IIII answer. I have never seen four I's used on a clock face. I thought that might be the answer and then decided that the constructor wouldn't want to cheapen the puzzle experience with a bad clue for a worse answer.

I was wrong.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

During my time as a NYC school teacher, according to the official math curriculum, we had to teach IV to mean 4.
Writing IIII would have been considered a big mistake!

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

I can never remember Sert. If I had that part of my grid wouldn't have been the scribbled mess it is.
Four-letter artists - Erte, Miro, and whats-his-name. Drat.
Atta baby? Ain't buyin' it.

Smitty 10:51 AM  

@Rex said - no idea what "Class Notes" is. Google is no help and I don't really care.

That about sums it up for me. This puzzle took every opportunity to box me into a corner and beat me up.

A joyless finish punching every letter on the keyboard for the last letter of HALAL/first letter of LENE

RI Squasher 10:54 AM  


You say there are two options, either you know the obscure names or you don't and if you don't you have to look them up. Seems to me the point of a crossword is that if you don't know something you use the crosses to help you figure it out. I didn't know DINAHSHORE sang that song and had never heard of a PHILIPPINEEAGLE but after doing some work on the crosses I was able to get them both.

Matthew G. 10:57 AM  

This might be an objectively fine puzzle, but I hated it all the same, mainly because of the beastly amount of proper-name knowledge required. I also agree with Two Ponies that "ATTA Baby" is not a thing people say, I think {Runners} is a clunky word when used to refer to AIR CONDITIONERS, I have no idea what a TRACTION ENGINE is ... yeah, this wasn't my cup of tea.

Finished with an error, the lower-right-hand-most square of the puzzle. Couldn't decide between ESME/LENE and ESMA/LENA. Decided that although neither ESMA nor LENE looked plausible, the latter was more implausible. Shows what I know.

DigitalDan 11:00 AM  

Traction means "pulling." A traction engine is one designed for pulling. That reasonably characterizes a locomotive. Or the "tractor" of a modern semi. A "tractor trailer", of course, would logically be the thing that is pulled, although colloquially it's normally used to describe the entire rig.

The electric motors in emerging battery-electric vehicles are typically referred to as traction motors, and the large high-capacity batteries as traction batteries, to distinguish them from such things as fans and auxiliary batteries.

DigitalDan 11:03 AM  

And for those of us old enough to remember pre-TV radio, Dinah Shore was a premiere chanteuse of the day, with her own daily half-hour show.

Joe The Juggler 11:04 AM  

"@Joe - You're just overthinking the HALL clue. It's just a tricky way of implying that a hall can be a 'long' room (used as a passageway to walk from one area to another).

It's subtle wordplay on 'long', that is all."

You mean using "long" to mean long is a play on words?

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. The question mark seems unjustified.

(In fact, my initial line of thinking on the clue was to treat Long as someone's name. . . )

Joe The Juggler 11:06 AM  

And I don't understand the helpfulness of thinking of a corridor as a long room.

Mel Ott 11:10 AM  

"ATTA Baby" used to be a common baseball chatter phrase. Don't know whether it still is.

Stevlb1 11:17 AM  

I made one letter mistake: I had HALAR/RENE, instead of HALAL/LENE. I don't know how you guys/gals do it!

Tita 11:25 AM  

@anon...wow more than I ever thought I would know about rn clock faces!
I had a used 1974 Fiat Spider (with an I). had fun fun fun till it rusted away. The spYder clue was weird, because a Miata is a specific model...
@mac...sounds delightful!


Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I would have clued 18A, IIII as "Kid with glasses, maybe."

Masked and Anonymous 12:08 PM  

As for many, traction engine light came on at HALA?/?ENE. So, I DNFWOE. (W/O error)

Fave fillins: DINAHSHORE. Burt Reynold's girlfriend. Drove chevys. Five SATINS did "In the Still of the Nite". Primo belly-rubbin' song. Liked ERIC THE REDA's dejavuosity.

Fave clue: Rose family member. Kept pesterin' PuzKillingSpouse for flower names, til she came up with the non-flower answer. Doh. Snort.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Not so much a puzzle as an annoying and arbitrary trivia quiz.

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  

P.S. @31: Nice set of bullets, dude. Silvery.

Possible RED/RED bail-out(?): BABA instead of REBA. SPODE instead of ANODE. Gives you the excellent down partial ARIP. ("Took ___ at oragami".) Probably somethin' wrong with it. Hey -- better yet, just make every letter in the grid an E. Harder to clue, but easier to fill...

@31: Are U still rolling yer own crosswords? Been missing yer fine work. Publish some here. Don't be bashful. Can't be any worse than my all-E's opus.

Lewis 1:12 PM  

@unknown -- excellent post
@anonymous 11:58 -- don't get it

Needed UG to solve this, had minor aha's at AIRCONDITIONERS, PRESS, and ACADEMIC CIRCLES, SLUICEGATE is an ugly word.

Where have Acme and ED been?

Tita 1:13 PM  

@M&A.. you should start work on your next oeuvre...a puzzle with all "I"s.
Anon @11:58 gave you your first clue!

@quilter...good luck...hope it's non-existant or at least easily treatable. Wouldn't want to see your creativity at all affected!
3rd and out.

Bird 1:21 PM  

Let's see . . . tons of (obscure for me) proper nouns and "not-on-same-page" cluing = D-N-F. I did like 4D and 11D.

Anyway, TGIF!

I think the true purpose of captchas is to create an alphanumeric database for kidnappers so they don't have to cut numbers and letters from newspapers and magazines for their ransom notes.

Masked and Anonymous'll Have Another 1:23 PM  

@Tita--Yeah, can tell that Ashwood-Smith was considering that project, at 18-A. Trouble with all I's is that it ain't reminiscent of any sounds. Leaned on that heavy, in my E's one:
EEEEEE="Noise made by a buzz saw"
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE="Noise made by a buzz saw with a really long board"

syndy 1:32 PM  

Dear @RD at 7;49,bite your tongue!Facts are good things-start collecting them you'll see!

Flying Disc 1:33 PM  

@Tita - Flying disc is the generic name for the toy you play Ultimate or Kan Jam with or try to sling for distance. Otherwise known by the brand name Frisbee.

jae 1:34 PM  

@Two Ponies -- The key to SERT being a gimme was "muralist" if the clue had read "Waldorf-Astoria artist" I would have had no idea.

Another good one to remember is any four letter answer beginning with S with puppets in the clue = SARG even though the guy has been dead for 70 years.

geezerette 1:41 PM  

This was challenging for me, but I enjoyed working my way through it, though I DNF.
@Z and @Two Ponies - SERT/ESTO was also my downfall. Time for me to finally learn SERT - I think I've resisted having to know another 4-letter muralist besides Miro :)

I liked seeing ERIC THE RED surrounded by his circle of girl friends ANITA, DINAH SHORE, REBA, ERIN, and, by implication, Hester.

I'm surprised at the doubts about ATTA baby! - one of the first things I filled in. I heard it often growing up (in Wisconsin).

Others have made the point about BINOCULAR VISION, a term our family knows well. Our daughter's strabismus couldn't be completely corrected, so she doesn't have binocular vison For her its mainly a problem when she's driving at night; it's very hard for her to judge distances (oncoming cars, turn-offs, etc.).

@Masked and Anonymous, I was glad to see you mention "In the Still of the Night" - yes, such a great slow-dance song. For anyone needing a blast from the past, here are the Five SATINS
SATINS performing it.

geezerette 1:43 PM  

(Sorry about the extra SATINS.)

quilter1 1:50 PM  

OK, I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome. I have arthritis and now a wristful of cortisone and a custom brace. I must "brace myself" to do crossword puzzles with a pen or on the computer. Quiltmaking is not threatened.

Martin 2:13 PM  


The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a specific model too, and a direct competitor with the Miata. (The Miata is officially the MX-5 Miata, so the partial names are consistent too). You're right that a clue like "Roadster rival" wouldn't be kosher.

As has been mentioned, predators have binocular vision with eyes facing forward while prey species have eyes on the sides of their heads and independent fields. It's for better ranging versus better awareness.

Prey species are wired to perceive front facing eyes as terrifying. It's a pattern that is ingrained in a very ancient part of our brain. Some researchers think that the brain's programming to respond to this facial characteristic with revulsion is the basis of our concept of ugliness.

Two Ponies 2:27 PM  

@ jae, Thanks, maybe it will stick this time. You're right about Sarg too.

Philippine Monkey 2:56 PM  

I'm a prey species (see: Philippine Eagle), I only eat fruits and I've got front facing eyes. Binocular vision comes in handy in any number of situations; say leaping from tree to tree. Also, there's this hot yearling in the next group over who's got front facing eyes that's anything but revulsive.

Tita 3:08 PM  

@Martin...didn't know their was a Mitsubishi Spyder...guess I still think it's slightly non-halal because it is comparing a single, very specific model, the Miata, with a much-used term that is more like a designation - like Gran Touring, GT... There are Alfa Syders, Fiat Spyders, etc. - there are no Fiat Miatas, however...

@Philippine Monkey - did you notice near ISLA Luzón PHILIPPINEEAGLE?

Also am liking the BINOCULARVISION discussions.

So much so that I had to post the 4th time... So sorry!

Tita 3:10 PM  

Good grief - meant ISLA Luzón near PHILIPPINEEAGLE...

Tita 3:11 PM  

@Philippine Monkey - is it true the monkeys in Zamboanga have no tails?

6th and out - really...

Z 3:40 PM  

@Flying Disc - No self-respecting Ultimate player has used a Frisbee since at least the early 80's. Since Discraft invented flight rings, their Westland Mold 175 gram disc has been the approved ultimate disc.

Where I live every restaurant advertises HALAL meat, even McDonalds.

Martin 3:56 PM  


Both "Miata" and "Spyder" are specific models in the context of the clue. If Spyder weren't, the clue would be wrong. BTW, there are no Alfa Romeo Spyders or Fiat Spyders. Both used the model name "Spider." You can say that the Fiat Spider is a spyder (another word for roadster), which is your point. But only a few spyders were name "Spyder" (starting with the sainted Porsche 550 Spyder in 1953). The fact that one, by Mitsubishi, competes with the Mazda Miata, is what makes the clue work.

BTW, the notion of repulsive ugliness is wired into our limbic system -- an ancient part of the brain that we inherited from reptiles. Humans don't perceive front-facing eyes as ugly. Many of our ancestors did. We inherited the concept that a specific geometric arrangement can be terrifying. And yes, some non-predators, mostly primates and bats, have stereoscopic vision, but they're the exception to the rule, along with the predatory cetaceans that have eyes on the sides of their heads.

Flying Disc 4:05 PM  

@Z - I haven't played Ultimate since college and not to give too much away, I graduated in the 80's. BTW - I checked the site and Frisbees are still acceptable for recreational and minor league games, which is my type of play.

jackj 4:30 PM  

M&A and Tita-

A thought to get your "I" puzzle started:

I, I, I, I, I = Intro to corn chip commercial?

(Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, I_____ am the Frito Bandito)

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Test Pinecone 4:36 PM  

Still peeved about RED/RED!

Tried reworking the corner and the BABA, ARIP, BEDS, SPODE suggestion seems most elegant, and certainly better than having two non-themed "RED" answers.

Especially since, as other commenters have suggested, the cluing today was very trivia-inclined.

Still a fun Friday!

pk 4:47 PM  

@M&A: "Dejavuosity!" And good point about needing a new puzz from Rex!

mac 4:52 PM  

Interesting about the inherent fear of front-facing eyes. I once knew a woman who looked odd to me, but someone else had to point out that her eyes were slightly placed sideways.

joho 5:43 PM  

Great comments today!

@quilter 1 ... I hope that's good news as in no operation needed. And, hey, shouldn't you have to "brace yourself" before you take on any crossword puzzle!

mikeametrics 5:59 PM  

"chantez chantez" by Dinah shore has got to be the only song in existence without a YouTube video...

The Amadou and miriam version is kickin though!

SethG 7:39 PM  

There are a host of discs approved for various sports, mostly disc golf, by WFDF, the World FLYING DISC Federation. But if you play Ultimate with anything but an Ultra-Star, everyone will look at you funny.

See you in Sakai!

Cheerio 8:46 PM  

Lol with all the clock discussion. I love this blog for this. I can just imagine many of us checking our clocks.

I liked the shout out to Erin Burnett. CNN is generally unwatchable for me, but I like her shows. She seems surprisingly very sharp. And she is also sort of adorable.

johnranta 8:54 PM  

Can i just say that "traction engines" is absolute garbage? there is no such phrase in the Emglish language. No human being has ever uttered the phrase "traction engines". It's gibberish.

Rob C 8:58 PM  

Who is Philip Pine Eagle? Native American perhaps?

retired_chemist 9:21 PM  

Meh plus. Not great,and there are too many little irritations ( A TOE, IIII, EEN. But I liked the long fill.

Finished with two errors - wanted ERIK @ 2D, AKODE WAS A WTF. HAD SIT-INS @ 23D, ICH for the Bach piece. SIT-INS was a shout-out to the sixties however, and not the fifties,so my bad.

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

"Can i just say that "traction engines" is absolute garbage? there is no such phrase in the Emglish language"

You can say it, but you can also check the dictionary before commenting. Better yet, since you're using a computer, check Google. There you'll find hundreds of pictures of those non-existent traction engines.

michael 9:51 PM  

Lots of stuff I didn't know, but somehow I got this easily without google. The whole time I was doing the puzzle, I was convinced that I wouldn't finish.

John V 9:59 PM  

Late but just to say NW a bummer.

Z 12:20 AM  

@Flying Disc - When one starts seeing obscure details like which mold is the approved mold, the weight of the disc, that some discs have flight rings, that the Westland mold is preferred over the Web mold by elite players, that the Westland mold name refers to the small print in the raised ring with Discraft's original address and that the Web mold refers to the fact that the ring now has their website rather than the current Wixom address of Discraft, one should realize that one is dealing with an Ultimate obsessive personality. One should nod their head with feigned interest and then go on with one's life.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

"Class Notes" are at the end (usually) of your alumni magazine or newsletter.

sanfranman59 3:47 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 6:39, 6:49, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Tue 10:00, 8:54, 1.12, 82%, Challenging
Wed 10:44, 11:47, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:12, 18:57, 0.91, 35%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:10, 24:42, 0.86, 25%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:40, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:05, 4:36, 1.10, 81%, Challenging
Wed 5:48, 5:53, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Thu 8:31, 9:21, 0.91, 38%, Easy-Medium
Fri 11:08, 12:14, 0.91, 35%, Easy-Medium

Better late than never?

Solving in Seattle 1:36 PM  

@Anon 7:42am, thanks for your post on the Roman numerals on clocks. Fascinating!


Did anyone else have TOLITTLEtoolatE and not let go?

I still don't get "Long way to walk?" Can someone help me put the clue together with "HALL?"

@Tita, hand up for REDs/sNODE.

I still miss ERIN Burnett and Mark Haines on CNBC in the morning. It was a delightful way to begin the day.

I took the LSAT twice. The first time was during my senior year of college, a Saturday morning, totally hung over, hardly able to see the paper. The second time was several years later after having taken a prep course. I was totally fresh, having lots of sleep and no beer the night before... and came within 5 points of having the same score as the first test. Go figure.

Capcha: lexuryv. The new Lincoln sedan?

DMGrandma 1:58 PM  

This one tripped me up. Had HAUL and couldn't see an alternative even though I knew 13D was that little boy's name that I couldn't remember, and would never have gotten IIII! Other miss was SiTINS. Guess I don't know ICH from ACH. Still don't understand the use of HALL, but there it is.

@SIS; I started with TOLITTLE...., but then realized it would have to be TOoLITTLE...which sent me in the right direction, which I got off the U in TUNING, the first word I had entered.

Captcha: sensedK, whoever he is.

connie in seattle 3:07 PM  

I was solving this puzzle during a horrific thunder storm. Unfortunately, I was also dog-sitting a German Shepherd who is terrified by loud noises. His owner gives him beer & valium on the 4th of July (just a little - PETA don't call). Having neither at hand, I turned on my hair dryer and aimed it at him (after he tried to jump in bed with me) and he melted into a puddle and fell asleep. Yay me!! Just a tip for you dog owners out there.
Oh, the puzzle. I threw down "close but no cigar" at 31A and felt quite clever. Not.
My husband is in a band with IIII other guys, all on heart medication. I call them the "Five Statins".
Going to the MD this afternoon to see if I have a torn retina. Probably from doing too many NYT puzzles.
Right now, off to check my clocks.

Ginger 6:09 PM  

Interesting discussions on clocks faces. I would have sworn my 'grandfather' had a IV; it actually is IIII. What does that say about my powers of observation? Not much.

@connie in Seattle - wish you luck with your eye!

I had a rosy glow when the northwest and southwest corner went in easy, then reality hit me in the center section. Could not gain TRACTION, and eventually had to check in here to fill it in. My hat's off to you all who seem able to ace Fridays and Saturdays. However, I am getting closer, thank you. And I mean that, THANK YOU

Mighty Nisden 6:27 PM  

Hey syndi landers. As you may have forgotten I moved to prime time a while ago. One thing that I didn't like was that when there is an announcement we would all get it too late. So, because I remember how sucky that was, here was what announced today.

[Hey, everybody! PuzzleGirl here checking in with a quick announcement. You all know about Lollapuzzoola, right? It's a really fun annual tournament held in New York. This year it will take place on August 4 (that's a Saturday in August). If you can't make it to the tournament, you might be interested in the "compete from home" division. You can find all the info you need at the Lollapuzzoola 5 website, including how to register, some details on prizes, and the list of really unbelievably top-notch constructors who are contributing puzzles to this adventure. Go check it out right now!]

connie in seattle 8:05 PM  

@ginger - thanks for the good luck wishes - needed them on Friday the
13th! It was a torn retina and he did laser surgery on the spot. Ouch. He did say, however, that it was not caused by too much puzzling!

Solving in Seattle 8:35 PM  

@Connie, good to hear your eye will be fine. T-storms in Seattle have been epic last few days. Dogs are all huddling.

Dirigonzo 8:59 PM  

@Mighty Nisden - thanks for thinking of your old syndi-compatriots and sending us the heads up on Lollapuzzoola.

@connie - the laser surgery they do these days is truly miraculous! Speedy recovery from yours. Hope the severe weather out there doesn't affect you, @SiS and all the other Seattleites (see yesterday's comments) too harshly.

I checked the pendulum clock on my wall (it hasn't run for years) and sure enough "IIII" is opposite "X".

DNF because I left box 50 blank, but I didn't know until I came here that I also had an error with rENE at 52d. Other than that, I loved thge puzzle for all of its "AHA" moments. SLUICEGATE and LORDNELSON were the last long answers in, just as I toasted the sunset.

Spacecraft 9:27 PM  

Tough one. Got through it,but there were many unsatisfying moments: ATTA (baby?), TRACTIONENGINE (as opposed to that old slippery engine that just won't do any work?), IIII. On the last, though, I must thank anon 7:42 for a wonderfully enlightening post.

Proudest moment: sussing out HENIE just from the movie title and year. I didn't have ANY of those letters.

Tell you what...just give me more lively 10's (liked all 4 in this one; the gimme LORDNELSON got me started). You include 15's TOLITTLEPURPOSE, IMHO.

Almost had a mistake in my finished grid, as I didn't know whether to have SLITS or SLaTS; the across never did make sense till I read the blogs. Just guessed "I" and quit.

Dirigonzo 9:54 PM  

Afterthought: Anita O'Day whose video of "peanut Vendor" appears in @Rex's write-up, DINAHSHORE, and Peggy Lee were contemporaries in American pop music. Yesterday I devoted a post on my blog to a Peggy Lee song that had a profound effect on me as a pre-teen in 1958; today the other two show up in Rexworld - syndication synchronicity?

Angela 3:49 PM  

Got it, but it was not fun, and certainly there was no satisfaction to it. Puzzles can be difficult without being "Hunh? What the heck is that supposed to be?"

scoregetter 12:28 AM  

nice post..keep updating. we are GMAT in chennai and gmat coaching training classes in chennai .

Unknown 11:54 PM  

The word tractor comes from "traction motor." As far as I know traction motor was only ever used to refer to the kind of tractor used on a farm. "Traction engine" is an incredible stretch.

HatcreekRedneck 12:53 AM  

I hated this puzzle. But then I though about all of the Traction Engines I run into on the way to market and taking my kiddies to school.

HatcreekRedneck 12:55 AM  

I hated this puzzle. But after some reflection I recalled the joy it brings my family when we spot a Traction Engine aka Road Locomotive hauling its goods through our fair streets.

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