Tannhäuser for one / FRI 7-6-12 / Voice actor Gary / What happened "at the Movies" 1965 Pauline Kael title / Irish whiskey brand / "Mountain Music" band

Friday, July 6, 2012

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: KIKI DEE (40D: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" singer, 1976) —
Kiki Dee (born Pauline Matthews, 6 March 1947, Little HortonBradfordWest Riding of Yorkshire, England)[1] is an English singer with a career spanning more than 40 years.
She is best known for her 1976 duet with Elton John, entitled "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", which went to Number 1 both in the UK Singles Chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. (wikipedia)
• • •

Started out in the northeast corner, plunking down NITPICK (8A: Go after little things), and after a few missteps - NPR for NBC (8D: Airer of "Dr. Kildare" and "Mr. Novak") and IT'S RARE for IT'S HERE (12D: Sign at a store with a hard-to-find item) - broke into the middle. I swear, this grid is going to give me nightmares about being in a trash compactor. Or that level from "Crystal Crazy" where you collect all the bonuses. Anyone? No?

The point is, this was like doing five mini puzzles, and four of them were fairly easy. One of them was extremely not. You know the one I'm talking about. It took me longer to fill in the southeast corner as it did the rest of the puzzle combined, and that's not counting the time it took to cry myself to sleep and get an adrenaline shot a la UMA (53: Actress Thurman) in "Pulp Fiction." Gary OWENS, Ms. Dee, Dr. DENTON'S, and I LOST IT are all from at least a decade before I was born. Eventually it was Apple's iKid that saved me from a DNF.

But if you average it all out, you get a pleasantly tricky Friday offering. Very few, if any, OOXTEPLERNON offerings. Good stuff, Mr. Wentz.

[Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes]:
  • 1A: Popular gifts that make a distinctive sound when shaken (JIGSAWS) — I can see a jigsaw making a great Father's Day gift, but shaking it just sounds like a bad idea. Especially if it's on.
  • 19A: Kemper of "The Office" (ELLIE)  — Just saw her in the "21 Jump Street" movie. She played a science teacher with a crush on Channing Tatum's character. I can't imagine why...
  • 48A: Tap, as for luck (KNOCK ON) — Like wood, or if you're Richard Nixon, a phone. 
  • 57A: "Mountain Music" band (ALABAMA) — Did you know? Alabama is also the name of a state. I'm dropping all kinds of knowledge over here.
  • 37D: Just make the cut  (SNEAK BY) — I wanted SCALPEL, but that would be "JUST MAKE THE CUT!!," I guess.
  • 41D: What happened "at the Movies" in a 1965 Pauline Kael title (I LOST IT) — It's country music takeover on the blog today. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Thanks for having me! I leave you in capable hands for Saturday's puzzle. Until then, BREATHE!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours, Erik Agard, [Flickertail St. secedes from a golfer's hazard (6)] of CrossWorld

74 comments:

Tobias Duncan 12:32 AM  

Great (albeit brief)write up. Exactly my experience, four easy puzzles and one very tough one.SPEEDTO did not help, just does not feel very "in the language" as you folks are fond of saying.I love that old EJ song but I have never heard of this KIKI person.

Even with the tough corner though I think this one is Medium at most, the rest went really fast for a Friday.
SILENTK usually gets me but not today.

Good stuff.

jae 12:41 AM  

Fortunately the SE corner was age appropriate for me. KIKI and DRDENTONS were both gimmes.  The only thing that held me UP in SE was letting go of Sgt for SFC.  The rest of this went very quickly.

I remember Gary OWENS from Laugh-In. 

Seemed like more than the usual quota for UP.  M&A should be happy.

Solid and interesting grid with some zippy stuff...IKID,  the SMITE-HACKSUP-CASKETS trio, JAMESONs of course...just a tad too easy for Friday.  Nice write up Erik.

retired_chemist 1:20 AM  

Hard for me. Had to Google for an answer in both the NE and SE. Those broke the logjams but I was going nowhere otherwise.

Tannhaüser is, of course, an OPERA, and I bet more than half of us put that in and kept it for a good while, as did I.

Hoyle's forte was CARDS and GAMES before WHIST.

(Random letter) STAR is getting as irritating as LEO (random Roman numeral). Bah.

In general, however, it was a nice puzzle with some clever clues. Not much 3 letter fill. As noted, OOXTEPLERNON would not like this puzzle.

Thanks, Messrs. Wentz and Agard, for the puzzle and the writeup respectively.

syndy 1:43 AM  

This puzzle was definitely on the UP and UP!Maybe HACKED UP into 5 puzzles but not KEYED UP as was yesterday'S.I wanted squeeked by but couldn;t fit it and just sayin for 39 across and really couldn't fit it.but I don't want tp NITPICK!Since KIKIDEE was a Gimmee my time was more medium.

r.alphbunker 1:50 AM  

The minipuzzle that gave me trouble was the NE. I threw in NITPICK and IRA within first 15 seconds. JARHEAD came later but then nothing.

The way I snapped out of it was to erase NITPICK and IRA even though I was sure they were right (I "killed my darlings" a la Faulkner).

Then I saw PATCHUP. Why I could not see it when the P of NITPICK was there is a mystery to me. After that the corner fell rapidly.

It didn't help that I thought that Tannhauser was a beer (lager?) and that I cannot recall having seen a store with a sign proclaiming ITSHERE.

dog training brisbane 1:50 AM  

Hi. Crossword puzzle hypes me up. It's a killer for boredom. When I have nothing to do I'll grab a newspaper and answers the crossword puzzle of the day.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

Started off quickly with slamming down JIGSAWS AND JAMESON without batting an eyelash. @Tinbeni taught me well when he used to hang around here. "Toast at sunset" Tinbeni, I miss you, still catch you occasionally at Crossword Corner.

Filled in Stellar at 4D which I liked better than SALIENT but, Oh well! At 8A plopped down baby sit, which I thought was pretty damn cute too but, Oh well.

Vagabond husband is home for a few days and helped me out in the NE WHIlST I was off making dinner and we slammed dunked this puppy with nary a Google. Yeah us!

@Chefbea - Shout out to your husband and his colleagues at 17A.

Great Friday puzzle, thank you Mr. Wentz.

Anonymous 2:18 AM  

Great writeup. I loved "I swear, this grid is going to give me nightmares about being in a trash compactor." I had the exact same feeling at first. Worse, it then made me feel like I was in a movie where I was being tortured and all the walls were closing in on me. I'd have to hide in that corner created by the two crosses. Then I couldn't BREATHE....

jfc

Areaman Cstar-la Mailmen 4:54 AM  

I always love Pete Wentz puzzles, so much snap, crackle and pop!
This time 7Ks, 2 Js, 10 Ps!!!!

Loved the IMALIVE trivia...

And the two word prepositional phrases didn't repeat...
KEYEDUP, KNOCKON, HACKSUP, SNEAKBY.

Well done!
POPPA PEEP PEA.

JARHEAD/Leatherneck is screaming to be a theme!

Only arched eyebrow is the cross of MAILMEN/ADMEN...and yet another MAN, in AREAMAN.
(Plus AREAMAN seemed odd, sitting there on his own, but I guess they do say that on the news, "A local area man...", right?)

Throw in JAMESON, SON, POPPA and you either have a mini theme, or too many boys.

Mini malapop...I did a re-right on TVSPOTS, bec I didn't trust the
-----TK.
So I changed it to adSPOTS...then it appeared right above in ADMEN.

Since I no longer fully get the writeups any more, even to know if he's kidding about the JIGSAWS, I'll just guess yes, he is.

jncody 7:41 AM  

Lucky me, had a few gimmes to start: IMALIVE, ELLIE Kemper, KIKIDEE, ALABAMA and Pauline Kael. I must be living in the center of Peter Wentz’s cultural Venn diagram. Lots of fun, fresh answers as well. Especially liked HACKSUP, AREAMAN and JETPACK. Biggest head scratcher was TVSPOTS. Overall a happy end to the work week.

Sue McC 8:03 AM  

@ACM "And the two word prepositional phrases didn't repeat...
KEYEDUP, KNOCKON, HACKSUP, SNEAKBY."

True, but after a while (FENCEIN, SPEEDTO, PATCHUP, INCHECK) I got a little annoyed. Though it was a fun Friday overall.

Off to pick some basil and weed before it gets too terribly hot.

Sue McC 8:06 AM  

Hahahaha! Off to pick some basil and DO SOME weeding! Omg.

jackj 8:40 AM  

Here a K, there a K, every section with a prominent K, even had a SILENTK and also some double K’s like KIKIDEE and KNOCKON and a final K word, CASKETS, that some will undoubtedly rebel against by loudly spouting the precious, if specious, “breakfast rule”. (All those K’s are a bit unusual, maybe, but not distracting when solving the puzzle).

Any themeless puzzle featuring Dr. DENTONS and DRSEUSS; JIGSAWS and JETPACKS; MAILMEN, ADMEN and AREAMAN, with POPPA leading that ragtag group, is signaling there’s fun to be had today. And, Peter lives up to the promise.

JARHEAD was a little bit jarring, since it is one of those words usually used only between kindred beings and, if Peter isn’t a Marine, he’s got some ‘splainin to do to those who are.

Favorites run rampant through the puzzle but three that standout are PIPES, BREATHE and LOAN, with honorable mentions for Ms. Kael’s “ILOSTIT (at the Movies”) and another “K” answer that “Just make(s) the cut”, SNEAKBY.

This is one of those charming puzzles where almost every word has a smile waiting for you.

Thanks, Peter!

Sir Hillary 8:45 AM  

Yeah, no way to solve this one except one "quintile" at a time. For me, from easiest to hardest: NW, center, SE, SW, NE (by far).

66 total words, of which 36 are seven letters. Impressive.

obdurodon 8:52 AM  

"Jigsaws" are surely jigsaw puzzles.

evil doug 9:04 AM  

If you're going to have all those 'up' answers, then you oughtta go with 'knock up'. And maybe put a 'u' and a 'p' in opposite corners....

evil

loren muse smith 9:07 AM  

My power is back! My daughter and I were about to go to a friend’s house to do some laundry when I noticed the refrigerator light was on. We just looked at each other and started jumping up and down and screaming.

@Sue McC - are you good and stoned now? Too funny!

I’m really, really surprised that Andrea is the only one talking about the MEN/MAN triumvirate.

My toe hold was SILENT K, KIMONO, and then URDU. Being a huge Onion fan, I immediately saw AREA MAN and was hugely pleased.

Because the crosses were fair enough, this not-comfortable -with-astronomy solver won’t whine about the CSTAR/URSAE cross.

This has to set some kind of 15x15 record for more -than -one word entries (yeah, yeah – enough with the hyphens):

CAN’T SAY
AM RADIO
SILENT K
DR SEUSS
KNOCK ON
C STAR
SPEED TO
HACKS UP
PER YEAR
FENCE IN
I’M ALIVE
PATCH UP
KEYED UP
OLD CHAP
FOR SALE
FAST CAR
SNEAK BY
TV SPOTS
AREA MAN
IN CHECK
KIKI DEE
I LOST IT
IT’S HERE
ONE AM

Wow. I-liked-it.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Mr. Wentz: Don't be comin round these parts or this jarhead will nut ya.

joho 9:24 AM  

@AMC & @Loren, I, too, saw all the MEN. I wrote in the margin: POPPA, OLDCHAP, AREAMAN, MAILMEN, ADMEN.

As already mentioned, the MAILMEN/ADMEN crossing was the most jarring.

I also saw the mini ad theme with, of course the ADMEN, TVSPOTS and AMRADIO. (I had the same re-right with AD before TVSPOTS.)

The first thing I don't think of regarding horror movies is CASKETS.

I hestitated putting in JIGSAWS because I've never heard it used that way. I'm used to hearing puzzle with it.

All in all a fun Friday ... thanks, Peter Wentz!

Z 9:28 AM  

VIPER was my first word in, a sign that I've lived in Detroit too long. Working out from the middle helped avoid some traps. Having -TK made SILENT K a gimme. JARHEAD made TENOR a gimme (even though I know far less about opera than, say, Pixar movies). The two southern corners were a little tougher for me. UMA to ALABAMA and PER YEAR opened the SW and then it fell quickly. I fell into the Sgt trap, so the SE was my toughest as well.

Traveling to grandma's for the Fourth on Wednesday evening, we stopped at Zeus' Greek Restaurant in Holt, MI. As seems to be the standard for diners, the music was 70's pop. The 15 year old is familiar with Elton John, but needed some help from dad to identify KIKI DEE as the woman singing along. 40D was the gimme that got me going in the SE. The couple sitting behind my son were exemplars of the NITPICK. She complained about the condensation on her glass of ice water. He complained about the ketchup - the bottle wasn't full. I think they would have benefited from Sue McC's basil and weed spicing up their food.

@Areaman Cstar-la Mailmen - It might help to understand the humor if one realizes that JIGSAWS can be either puzzles or tools.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Lots of UP and MEN

Z 9:31 AM  

@AMC, LMS, and Joho - MEN/MAN/UP/KNOCK ON (wood) - I detect a GAYBAR sub-theme here.

chefbea 10:04 AM  

Tough puzzle .Had to google a lot.

@Chefwen Yes many shout outs to my husband 17 24 and 48Across. Our last name. Nowadays the people who deliver the mail are Mail carriers!!!

Who are Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes??? mentioned in the write up.

GLR 10:29 AM  

@Sue McC - that first post had me laughing at just what kind of "herb" garden you are tending!

@joho - I'm with you on 1A. Jigsaw *puzzles* make a distinctive sound when shaken. JIGSAWS are found in the power tool aisle at Home Depot.

@chefbea - Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes are well-known former professional basketball players. I believe Unseld played for the Baltimore "Bullets" and Hayes was a "Point" guard. Thus "Unseld Hayes" = "Bullet Points."

quilter1 10:34 AM  

Hard for me. DNF in the NW and SE but I enjoyed what I did. I had rules for Hoyle's specialty for a long time and could not see WHIST for anything, even with the IST in place. Had Sgt at 55D and wanted caddies at first for MAILMEN.

Keep cool everyone.

GLR 10:41 AM  

@chefbea - My bad. Hayes wasn't a point guard, but he did play for the Bullets, so Unseld and Hayes are "Bullets."

jberg 10:44 AM  

DNF, DN come close - whole North side was a mystery to me. I actually thought of NITPICK at 32A, but it never occurred to me for its proper place - I ended up guessing. MAGNIFY. I wasn't helped by opera, then opfer, at 10 D either. So I had the bottom and the middle, but neither NE or NW.

This is my last puzzle until July 19, as I'll be in Spain and Portugal - wish I'd solved it to go off with a better feeling!

Matthew G. 10:50 AM  

Great puzzle, but definitely brutal in the southeast. I knew that "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was a duet half-sung by Elton John, but I had no clue who the female half was. Also had no idea on DR. DENTONS. What in the world are those? Wikipedia tells me they're a brand of "blanket sleepers." I also have no idea what those are. Okay, they're those full-body pajama things. What a bizarre brand name for that type of product. I can't tell you how long I stared at Dr. DEN____ trying to say it aloud and hear something familiar. Nothing.

And as for Edmund Hoyle, I knew who he was, but I was thinking in far too general terms. Kept trying things like CARDS, RULES, and GAMES.

No clue on I LOST IT at the Movies either. There was just too much flat-out-never-heard-of-it stuff in that corner. The only way I was able to finally crack the southeast was to get SFC and then find FENCE IN.

Beautiful puzzle overall, though. Only quibble outside the southeast -- since a JIGSAW is a thing in itself, I don't think it works as shorthand for jigsaw puzzle, at least not as clued.

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

Nice Friday with just the right amount of crunch.
Also learned a bit of Dr. Seuss trivia. I wonder what story nerd came from.
Never heard of a snuggery but I love it. Very cozy sounding.

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

Oh, one more thing. Is that the oddest clue for ochre?

Carola 10:55 AM  

What a fabulous Friday workout! I CAN'T SAY enough about the great, original answers and the clever cluing

The grid was looking like a barren landscape until I got around to Pauline Kael's book and the delightful DR DENTONS - such a great match for DR SEUSS. Also love PIPES - the SALIENT feature for TOSCA and Tannhäuser.

@loren muse smith - I had the same thought about AREA MAN :)

Thank you, Peter Wentz!

Tita 10:58 AM  

Still have most of the NE & SE enpty, but had to drop in to say how much I love the clue and andwer at 1A.
Jigsaw puzzles are another passion of my mom's - one is always going on the dining room table. I knew the answer right away, because it is a regular gift in our family. No shaking of boxes allowed!!
Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, Bananagrams, Scrabble - she swears they all help keep the brain agile. At 89, I think she's right!

(Last night I was on the phone with her helping her solve two puzzles from one of Will's books.)

BTW - is Peter a portmanteau constructor - Will Weng and Will Shortz?

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Nice puzzle, short but sweet write-up!
Clue for 1A obviously meant JIGSAW puzzles...or else answer could have been used for 60A.

Liked the DR SEUSS clue! In which story did he coin the word "nerd"?

Zed 11:36 AM  

Origin of NERD

Tita 11:42 AM  

Oh - and my father made a few JIGSAW puzzles - though not by shaking the saw...
And a huge volume of Hoyle's is a fixture on our shelf.
Loved learning about nerd.

games, closein, & paddock made the SE impenetrable, till I finally erased them all. Once I did that, was shocked to be able to finish!

@r.alph - one of the reasons I objecte to tie-ins is because ofparents fighting at stores that proclaim "ITSHERE" when the latest, planned Hard-to-find toy is released.

@Sue McC - I hope that's medicinal basil!!?

@jberg - need any tips re: Portugal? email me! Have a great time.

Thanks for an awesome puzzle, Mr. Wentz, and a hilarious write-up, Mr. Agard (a xword-worthy name, to be sure.)

chefbea 12:17 PM  

@GLR thanx

@SueMcC enjoy your basil and your weed. If you need a recipe for either...let me know.

mac 12:33 PM  

I sailed through this puzzle until I hit the SE..... Chess for Mr. Hoyle, never heard of Dr. Dentons, forgot about Kiki Dee.

Ochre was surprising, really funny. Noticed the "men" crossing,
but loved "pipes"!

Good Friday puzzle, and fun write-up!

hazel 12:38 PM  

I'm not a fan of the claustrophobic grid style. Bad feng shui. And while the words in the grid tried to breathe life back into the puzzle (for the most part), i thought the cluing sucked it right back out (with a few exceptions). Ditto @matthewg on jigsaws, plus Ones left holding their bags seems kind of lame for MAILMEN; and hit hard for SMITE? An IRA is really more than a bit of financial planning. Etc etc.

So i like the completed grid, but i didn't much like getting there.

@two ponies - “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo. And Bring Back an IT-KUTCH, a PREEP and a PROO, a NERKLE, a NERD, and a SEERSUCKER, too!” from If I Ran The Zoo - had to look it up last night.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

This (or anyone else) but I find these guest writeups refreshing. We shall see what the rest bring but so far they've been entertaining....

JFC

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Sctach prior post. Should read:

This is not intended as a KNOCK ON Rex (or anyone else) but I find these guest writeups refreshing. We shall see what the rest bring but so far they've been entertaining....

JFC

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Scratch sctach....

JFC

ClifDC 2:37 PM  

Jigsaws? I've never heard anyone call a "jigsaw puzzle" a "jigsaw," much less use the plural. And a "popular gift"? Can you even buy them anymore??

quilter1 2:50 PM  

@CliffDC: of course you can buy them. Look in any toy department or old folks home.

loren muse smith 2:58 PM  

@JFC, It's awful to have fun at someone else's expense, but your three posts almost had me spewing my selter. I was expecting such posts my Sue McC today!

loren muse smith 2:58 PM  

orps. Make that "seltzer."

loren muse smith 2:59 PM  

oops.

Clueless in Texas 3:00 PM  

Either this was an easy week or I am just becoming better at doing these puzzles.

Knew KIKI DEE but never heard of WHIST... Loved all those prepositions--just taught my niece not to end sentences with them when she writes her papers, so this felt a bit irreverent. Lots of fun!

Lewis 3:59 PM  

Needed a few Googles, then had a wonderful solve, where things just opened up again and again. Thanks Peter!

sanfranman59 4:02 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 21:50, 24:43, 0.88, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:03, 12:15, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

JohnV 4:30 PM  

Yep SE was a bitch. Got all the other puzzles just fine, easy, in fact, but DNF 'cause of SE. Gotta love having Tosa and the marines in the same puzzle.

JohnV 4:31 PM  

Make that Marines

Marvin 4:36 PM  

SATRAP, ha.

I'm in with everyone else sunk by the SE; also had Blue NotE in for NILE, which probably kept me from getting anywhere beyond IKID/INCHECK/KNOCKON. The pop culture references were well out of my personal range, so I'm pretty sure I had no chance of guessing anything else in that corner.

The fight through the rest of the grid was pretty entertaining, though.

DigitalDan 4:41 PM  

The Baby Bard said:

And then just to show them
I'll sail to Katroo,
And bring back an it-Kutch,
A Preep and a Proo,
A Nerkle,
A Nerd,
And a Seersucker too!

If I Ran the Zoo, 1950
Dr. Seuss
Groundbreaking literature

fergus 5:25 PM  

My problem in the SE was recalling Hoyle as SCI-FI (Fred), then discounting cards because the master of games is Foyle, and WHIST couldn't be another's domain as well?

MAILMEN lame, even with ? Almost non-sensical.

So many prepositions, indeed, yet that is just a PEEP of a NITPICK.

Sparky 5:26 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Last night It was impossible, my only entry being UMA. This morning it just started to fall into place. I felt that I was on Peter Wentz' wavelength or he on mine.

Hand up for opera and left out NITPICK till late because I thought it too easy. Had rules before WHIST. Solved in order (more or less) NE, SE, NW, Middle, then finally, SW. Noticed 3 UPs, 2 MEN but even with those was delighted to finish a Friday.

JARHEAD is the name of a movie so I doubt it can be exclusive any more. Thanks @GLR. Glad the electricity is back on @Loren. What are you all smoking around 2 p.m.? Great start to weekend for me. Thanks Peter Wentz and for the fine write up Eric Agard.

Martin 7:38 PM  

"Jigsaw", from the Why Is It In the Dictionary If Nobody Says It? file.

JenCT 8:12 PM  

I spent quite a while with just UMA, DENTONS, and KIKI DEE filled in, but nothing else.

@Sue McC: I knew exactly what you meant, but I like the "oops" meaning even better!

SILENT K got me again! When will I learn???

Had to walk away & come back to it, but then was able to finish.

Lately it seems that Friday puzzles are giving me a harder time than Saturdays...

Z 8:12 PM  

Regarding JIGSAW and quoting a very wise man from a few days ago, "Why use four syllables when two will do?"

@SueMcC - You win today's award for Best Typographical Error in the Comment Thread. Congratulations and thank you.

Pete 8:21 PM  

@Martin - Because half of dictionary's raison_d'être is to help people who speak properly understand people who spout nonsense. It explains nonsense, it doesn't give credence to it.

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

Good job, writer- upper. Thank you.

Got NW easily, almost quit on the NE. Finally cracked it and the rest was easy. I guess I was in sync by the time I got to the SE. Go figure.

hazel 8:46 PM  

@martin - did your point really need that dash of smarty pants on the side? really?

I was raised by a chatty mother (why use 2 words when 4 will do?) but I still never heard anyone refer to a jigsaw puzzle as a jigsaw. Puzzle yes. Jigsaw no.

Kind of a letter of the law/spirit of the law thing for me....

fergus 9:18 PM  

Martin -- do you know everything? I know enough to take a stab at anything, but I don't pretend to have your authority. The swank know-it-all swagger, along with its frills, has been lost ... depuis les trois annes passes.

Seth 11:37 PM  

A golfer's hazard is SANDTRAP, yes? And you remove RD which is another abbreviation for ST? But what is SANTAP? A flickertail is a kind of squirrel...

sanfranman59 2:25 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:56, 6:50, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:18, 8:57, 0.82, 5%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 158 Tuesdays)
Wed 14:09, 11:47, 1.20, 91%, Challenging
Thu 17:52, 18:54, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Fri 22:05, 24:43, 0.89, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:27, 3:41, 1.21, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 157 Mondays)
Tue 4:06, 4:38, 0.89, 15%, Easy
Wed 6:47, 5:53, 1.15, 88%, Challenging
Thu 10:54, 9:21, 1.17, 82%, Challenging
Fri 10:58, 12:15, 0.90, 33%, Easy-Medium

Martin 3:44 AM  

@Seth,

North Dakota is the Flickertail State. SA(ND)TRAP. CrossWorld has a satrap.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

How about some criticism. Two intersecting answers containing "men", "spots" is never paired with "TV in popular usage, too many answers with "up", "to", or someother two-letter word. I would put it in the easy category at best.

Spacecraft 2:27 PM  

Challenging enough for me, thankyew. Gimme KIKIDEE got me into the SE, VIPER pried open the center, Gimme #2 ALABAMA the SW. Now the north. Forgot about JARHEAD for the longest time, and took another forever to suss out SILENTK (big GRRRR!), so it came very slowly.

I object to the clue for 1a; the shaky gift (son once gave me TWO in the same box!) is a jigsaw puzzle, while JIGSAWS are used to create them.

Fun fact I never knew: DRSEUSS invented the nerd!

@Solving in Seattle (from yesterday): to say that one "cheats" by working on the theme clue first is puzzling; I thought we were free to start anywhere we wanted. E.G.: if I don't know anything about 1a or 1d, I glance about for a "gimme" and go from there. Is that "cheating?" I hope not, 'cause I cheat left and right if it is. In fact, today the NW was the very LAST area I did--but I sought no Google help and didn't even have a writeover. Finished, with NO cheating.

DMGrandma 2:49 PM  

Got some KicKs from this puzzle. There were some musical things out of my ballpark, but it was all pretty do-able until I hit the SE. Then it strucK me that this corner, too, should be "K" full. That gave IKID and from there it was a matter of figuring which rank of Sgt and which of Hoyle's fortes was involved. Never heard of KICKIDEE, but with all those K's it had to be right! I did a Friday! suppose tomorrow will take me back to reality.

Solving in Seattle 5:07 PM  

This puzzle stands out to me as having almost no cheap fill. I suppose the five mini-puzzles makes that easier, but still hat's off to Peter Wentz.

As a NITPICKer, my only complaint is "Platoon V.I.P." as a clue for SFC. PFC, yes. SGT, yes. SFC (Sargeant First Class), no. Find a better clue.

51A, I had cards, then rules, finally got WHIST on crosses.

@Spacecraft, I don't use emoticons, but if I did I would have finished my inappropriate comment yesterday with one of those smiley faces that conveys that one is kidding. My apologies.

Great weather in the PacNW. Off to the golf course.

Catte 7:59 PM  

Guess there are few who come late to the party from the syndicated boonies, but I just had to express my opinion this time.

First, I can't complain too much since I've only recently improved to the point where I have any chance at all of getting through a Friday, and now it's happened several week in a row so I'm not familiar with what standards might apply. BUT, I'm really surprised that while some mentioned it, there was really no criticism of multiple "UP"s, and the several MAN/MEN (including two crossing each other). I think I recall many a commenter over the years finding such fill annoying (or maybe they were just being "nitpicky"?

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

Area Man Completes Crossword Puzzle After Nap
FREMONT, CA - After breezing through four fifths of this morning's New York Times crossword, liquor store owner Ed Evans suddenly found himself struggling in the northwest section of the puzzle.

"I had TRUST ME at 16 across," says Evans, "and that messed me up for a good longs time. Plus I was totally drawing a blank on the clue 'Leatherneck."

Not one to give in, Evans pored over all of the unsolved clues covering that area several times, hoping inspiration would strike, but nothing jumped out at him. Eventually he just nodded off.

When he awoke after an hour or so he fumbled around for his pen and neatly folded newspaper section, took one groggy look at the incomplete JA--E--, and announced to himself: "JARHEAD".

"After that, allthe answers came. NITPICK came from out of nowhere. I got KEYED UP and PATCH UP within seconds. It was just 'bing-bang-boom, done--let's go to the blog'."

Evans regularly checks his answers by visiting a popular blog called Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword, often chiming in with a comment anonymously, or making up fictitious names such as Ed Evans.

"I made a note in the margin today to post a link to the Buzzcocks 'Fast Cars' video on Youtube so people could see how cool I am, but I messed up and linked to this page instead."

Evans plans to do tomorrow's crossword in his boxer shorts over an early morning cup of coffee, before his wife wakes up and puts him to work in the yard.

Dirigonzo 8:49 PM  

@Anony 8:32pm - What, Ed Evans is a fictitious name?! Damn, I thought I knew him! Great post, and if you adopt a name (fictitious or otherwise) to use here I'll be sure to read your future posts.

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

Phony News Story Above Riddled With Errors, Area Man Admits

@ Dirigonzo 8:49 PM
OK, from now on I'll be posting under the name "Dirigonzo".

Scotch 11:14 AM  

Easiest in a long time, for me -- zipped through everything but the upper left corner in about 30 minutes. I come from a long line of blacksmiths, mechanics and farmers and have never heard of an "oven" associated in any way with a forge and mailmen don't hold their bags, they sling them over their shoulder. And couldn't even begin to guess the title of any song that Diamond, Dion and ELO would have in common.

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