French novelist Pierre / FRI 8-24-12 / Giant bronze man in Greek myth / Sea fan colonists / Reduce through retirement / Gentle giant of Steinbeck's Of Mice Men / Eureka Excelsior

Friday, August 24, 2012

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: 8

Word of the Day: PINNA (26D: Outer ear) —
n., pl., pin·nae (pĭn'ē), or pin·nas.
  1. Botany. A leaflet or primary division of a pinnately compound leaf.
  2. Zoology. A feather, wing, fin, or similar appendage.
  3. Anatomy. See auricle (sense ). [AURICLE = "The outer projecting portion of the ear. Also called pinna."]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/pinna#ixzz24QVZHMjx
• • •

First of all, Love the grid shape. A giant "8"—for August, I assume [actually, as you can see, there are at least three 8-related answers in the grid—EIGHT-TRACK, OCTAGONAL, SPIDER]. Who cares what it's for, it just looks fantastic. The trouble with the shape is that it gives us So Many little crosses in the Downs. The grid is all about showcasing the Acrosses—essentially, three stacks of three: one up top, one in the middle, one at the bottom. GAG RULE is a nice Down (1D: Discussion stopper), but mostly the Downs are just holding the Acrosses in place, and I guess, in the end, the long Acrosses are good enough to justify some of the dreck we get in the Downs (PINNA, TALOS, LOTI, not to mention the more common stuff) (26D: Outer ear + 28D: Giant bronze man in Greek myth + 9D: French novelist Pierre). Never heard of SPIDER SOLITAIRE (50A: Microsoft Windows game), but the rest of the Acrosses are solid, vivid, interesting. The top is especially clean (LOTI notwithstanding). Puzzle was very easy given that it was not hard to get a bunch of short crosses and then see very clearly where the long Across answers were going. Up top, I tentatively wrote in RITE, and then more firmly wrote in ATTA, SPCA, ARKS, and EVAN, all of which proved more than enough to take out all those Acrosses (except GARAGE SALES, which proved a little bit more tenacious) (1A: Category on Craigslist). Middle section took the longest, but only because of PINNA and TALOS. I was lucky enough to know ARTIE even though I stopped watching "Glee" over a year ago (23D: ___ Abrams, character on "Glee"). That certainly helped. Down below, I got the SE very quickly, and then hammered my way into the SW. Converged upon a scary place where I didn't know a bunch of stuff (POLYPS, PYRITES, ATTRITE, SPIDER ...), but I just threw in my best guesses as fast as I could, stood back, looked it over, and realized it all had to be right. And it was. (32D: Sea fan colonists + 41A: Sulfide-containing group + 33D: Reduce through retirement)

ATTRITE is my new least favorite word, replacing MULCT. So I got that from this puzzle, if nothing else.

All in all, an enjoyable, easy puzzle, with just a few rough patches along the way.

Bullets:
  • 25A: Subject of the book "Red Moon Rising" (SPUTNIK) — first thought was something Chinese (Mao's Red Book?) or Japanese (the flag?), but -IK seemed an unlikely ending for anything from those two places. Then the "moon" part led me to space, and bam, SPUTNIK.
  • 29A: Early "cure" for tuberculosis (DESERT CLIMATE) — did the climate not "cure" anyone? Cursory online research shows people sure *thought* it did. One quote I read: "There is no question: tuberculosis put Palm Springs on the map."
  • 36A: "Eureka" and "Excelsior" (MOTTOES) — got it pretty easily, since I knew "Eureka" was California's motto. "Excelsior" is New York's. I grew up in CA. I now live in NY. Neither of these facts explains why the "E" In MOTTOES looks so horrible.
[WARNING: much profanity]
  • 13D: Gentle giant of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" (LENNIE) — big fat gimme for anyone who had 9th grade English. LENNIE's unintentional murderousness was one of my first "holy #$^&!" literary experiences.
  • 42D: Target of a Fox hunt? (IDOL) — very clever clue, even though the capital "F" made the answer pretty obvious.
  • 43D: One singing "Fight, fight, fight for Maryland" (TERP) — one of the crosswordesiest of the college mascots. Flat-out gimme.
  • 44D: "Aunt" with a 1979 best seller (ERMA) — as in Bombeck. The best seller is "Aunt ERMA's Cope Book" (a title I learned from xwords). Cope book??? I still don't quite get what that is or what phrase it's playing on. Cook book?
  • 47D: Old comics dog (TIGE) — Buster Brown's dog. You've seen him recently—in my July 31, 2012 puzzle. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

76 comments:

JFC 12:01 AM  

I did not like this puzzle because it went from easy to ridiculously hard for me. I knew TIE ROD because I used to spend lots of money replacing them. The only long answer I got without help was EIGHT TRACK TAPE. POLYPS are what my gastroenterologist removes during my colonoscopy. That says it all.

jae 12:03 AM  

Interesting grid.  Let's see. Big letter 8, EIGHTTRACKTAPES, OCTAGONAL, and SPIDERs have 8 legs.  A theme perhaps?  

Another very easy Fri.  with out much zip unless you count the "theme." I mean, SPUTNIK, STAX,  and STROMTHEGATES are about it. (Maybe ARTIE if you're a Gleek).   That said, I liked it. 

We had TALOS missiles on USS Galveston.  Takes me back to '66.  Interesting year. 

JFC 12:06 AM  

This is for Anon who is rooting for me. There is no way Rex likes this puzzle. He likes it. Rex can be aggravating sometimes. Now that I see Rex likes it I hate it.

I am doing this only because Rex hates anons....

JFC

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

@JFC Comment, then drink. In that order.

syndy 12:17 AM  

Not a bad friday..except tricky cluing is one thing but I have lived 50 years ,15 miles from LAX in the major flight path and man those SST's must be really stealth! not only have I never heard a thing about them being here but neither has Auntie Google. where were they going? Europe? Which way?

retired_chemist 12:27 AM  

Medium-challenging here.

My easy ones were different from Rex's (PINNA, PYRITES, RECTO e.g.). 3D was SODA or COLA before RITE - bet that is common.

Guesed right on 39A ALT (ESC, CMD, DEL, RET,.... are alternatives), them tried Google MAPS. Led to MOTTOES, which I erased a couple of times but it kept getting confirmed (POLYPS, ATTRISH [sic]).

Did the N and S pretty much as Rex did - enough short downs and the long answers appeared.

All in all, a truly fun puzzle to solve. It felt impossible about 5 minutes in but keeping at it was really rewarding.

Thanks,Mr. Diehl.

A Concord 12:29 AM  

My visit to LA

ClifDC 1:03 AM  

The Concorde landed only once at LAX on October 24, 1974. Thus the plural clue "onetime landers" and the plural answer "SSTs" are both incorrect even if you read onetime as once and not former.

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/4942316/

Achy Cgi Mottoes 2:48 AM  

@jae
I'll bet you're right!!! Figure 8, EIGHTTRACK, OCTAGONAL, SPIDER... And POLYPI is Italian for Octopus!
Too bad ASININE wasn't ASIEIGHT!
Plus there is desertclimATE!!!

agree with @Rex re: MOTTOES ...freaky looking.

Also weird that LENNIE didn't end in "y"... Tho ARTIE would look wrong with one.
So wait, there is an EVA Longoria AND an EVAN Longoria?! Is there a relationship between the two.

For IDOL I tried LEFT, too political?

chefwen 2:52 AM  

Not easy, by far, while I was doing it. Now that I look at the finished product I can see the EASY part. Had Sierras for the Toyota car, that totally messed me up, TIE pin for TIE ROD, I know nothing about steering systems. Got SOLITAIRE, but had never heard SPIDER SOLITAIRE, POLYPS are something I don't want to think about.

35D FLOURS before you bake??? Maybe before you fry, but bake? Chefbea, help me out on this. I add flour to something I bake but have never coated anything with flour to bake it.

C'mon Saturday lift my spirits.

jae 4:42 AM  
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jae 4:48 AM  

@achy cgi mottoes -- that's what I'm sayin', all this is missing is "Spot on the Thames"...

loren muse smith 7:29 AM  

I had the same experience as JFC – very, very easy, and then, boom, very, very hard.

EIGHT TRACK TAPES was my second entry, and it didn’t even cross anything. Could be because I just watched Armegeddon again, and bringing EIGHT TRACK TAPES back was one of the driller’s requests. Fun movie if you like that kind of stuff.

I mysteriously accessed POLYPS, PYRITES, EPPS, and SAPIENT without much trouble, and that pleased me.

This Tar Heel briefly entertained “Rick” for “Fox hunt.”

SLOOP was fiendishly clued, as was SPCA. Bravo!

I always have to erase “Snee” and change it to SMEE.

@jae – thanks for pointing out all the eights! You have to be right.

@Andrea – I was astonished, too, that there’s an Evan Longoria!

@Chefwen – you flour a cake pan after greasing it, right?

Thanks, Mr. Diehl. Greightly appreciate it!

johnranta 7:31 AM  

Got it pretty quickly, but I have no idea why "ene" is a needle point. I had "enn" for a while, but "senk" wasn't much of a curry. So, how does ene mean needle point?

Milford 7:40 AM  

First thought: The grid is a giant 8!
Second thought: oh crap, better do the Downs first, they're short.

Fridays won't be easy for me for awhile I'm sure, but I managed this one ok. Feel like if I had known SPIDER SOLATAIRE things would have gone much quicker. Also, never having seen the words ATTRITE, RECTO, or PASSELS didn't help.

Favorite clue was 7D with Afghan and Persian assistance - I smiled at the misdirect.

Glimmerglass 8:04 AM  

Evan is Eva's son who plays for the Rays. Cope means "deal with." Bombeck's funny book is how to deal with life (as a housewife). Peg Bracken had the "I hate to Housekeep Book." Same idea. I liked the 8s, and I thought the cluing was typical Friday. Medium for me.

dk 8:06 AM  

Jethro Tulls Stand-Up was the first EIGHTTRACKTAPE I purchased. I had a 55 VW Beatle and with the help of a kindly TV/HiFI repair guy we significantly altered the sound system (aka radio). First we had a device that played 45RPM records. Suffice to say the inside of a black car in the summer does not bode well for records. Next we tried a small reel to reel, then EUREKA - innovation: an eight track. Eventually replaced the speakers with jacks for Koss Pro Headphones. FYI, listening to Jefferson Airplanes' version of Wooden Ships while driving in a chemically altered state causes the pavement to melt and the colors to flow into the surrounding landscape. Yes, I know it is illegal to drive with headphones on --that was the least of my crimes.

Tip for the kids: a cigarette lighter coupled with a soda straw makes a great hash cooker - so I am told. ��

The puzzle grid reminded me of a Navajo blanket pattern. My comments are similar to our dear leaders. I have wasted enough cyber space.

������ (3 Stars) Great grid.

ps. Rush to the post office and buy Homer Simpson stamps. They are not selling and the USPS is getting a bunch of crap for printing so many. Think of Lisa's sax lessons, Bart's chalk, the contributions to our grids -- pony up for the stamps. Put the O in DOH.

Milford 8:07 AM  

@lms - I didn't get a chance yesterday to say how much I loved your story with the inmates and crosswords. Keep em coming!

@chefwen - I don't bake much, but I do flour my counter to knead and roll out my pizza dough, does that count as baking?

john wood 8:15 AM  

I am also very much fond of puzzle game especially scrabble. Cheat In Scrabble is very common and a source of winning games.

joho 8:31 AM  

Well, everything I was going to say has already been said, right down to flouring a greased cake pan.

@jae, great take on the eights! And that has to be the reason that OCTAGONAL is smack dab in the middle.

Fun grid. Ok, I'll repeat: MOTTOES is freaky looking.

I loved SEEK being the answer for Curry.

Thank you, Mark Diehl, really enjoyed this one!

Beadola 8:31 AM  

@johnranta. Think compass needle pointing to the direction east by northeast

jackj 8:50 AM  

Crossworld’s favorite dentist forgoes his drills and curettes today as the kinder, gentler Dr. Diehl produces a puzzle as friendly as a routine “Look Ma, no cavities” exam.

As ever, it’s best to forego the 11’s, 13’s and 15’s until a few of the easier crosses are entered and in this puzzle, ATTA, SPCA, ARKS, EVAN and EPPS quickly accommodate the solver and open things up for the likes of ASININE, EIGHTTRACKTAPES and GARAGESALES.

Favorite answers were SAPIENT, GAGRULE, PASSELS, CGI and even ATTRITE as a back-formation of attrition but SSTS at LAX? "Lander"-si; "Lander(s)"-non.

Boston area folks will easily suss out PRU for the Boston landmark (the 52 story Prudential Building) and the “Campus near the J.F.K. Library” is obviously looking for UMASS, though locals would qualify their answer by telling you it is UMASS-Boston not “The” UMass. The major facility, the one known to locals as UMass is the campus at Amherst, in the western part of the state.

A friendly puzzle to ease us into the weekend; thanks Dr. D.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

According to wikipedia and the announcers for the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan and Eva Longoria are not related. Too bad, though. Good names for twins. I liked the puzzle, but needed google.
Jlb

so fla solver 8:55 AM  

I got myself into a world of trouble with 20 across because I entered "Siennas" instead of "Solaras" and refused to believe it was wrong. This may be because the last Solara was built in 2009 (2008 model year), and while "some Toyotas" are Solaras, some Fords are Edsels, I suppose. I think the clue should in some way imply "former Toyota model".

Michael Hanko 9:04 AM  

Captcha apparently did not stop spam from being posted at 8:15.

And the subject of the spam is going to elicit a mini-rant from me: Cheating at Scrabble!--I do not understand the point of "winning" with unfair assistance. Do people who do this really feel good when reflecting on their I'll-won "victories"?

Jim Walker 9:04 AM  

I know the "mini-theme is eights, with OCTAGONAL in the center and EIGHTTRACKTAPES but I think the grid looks more like a robot face (think "The Day The World Stood Still"). Really liked this one. 56 minutes here.

Michael Hanko 9:05 AM  

Oops! *Ill-won

evil doug 9:20 AM  

Like EPA next to SPCA---environmental and animal watchdogs (no pun intended).

Also SPCA next to ark---pets in pairs.

'Storm the gates' has nice visual value. I was looking for some ocean creature for 'sea fan colonists', but had never heard of polyps except for the (I hope, for theme symmetry) eight that JFC had yanked.

Ditto on everybody's 'mottoes'. Scratched it out twice before I bought in. That 'e'---but it works for potatoes and tomatoes. Almost went with Google Math for lack of a better idea---never heard of Spider Solitaire, and never caught the ocho connection until here.

Gag rule, ferries, Stax, Sputnik, attrite, passels---good stuff.

Tige Andrews played Captain Adam Greer on Mod Squad---the best TV show title ever. Let's off the comic dog.

What does perspicacious mean? Sapient. What does sapient mean? Perspicacious. In other words, I have no idea. I'd look it up, but I don't care.

Evil

Cheerio 9:37 AM  

This was really hard for me. I know a lot of crosswordese by now, but knowing still more might have made the difference based on Rex's write up. The cluing seemed to toe close to the line between acceptable misdirect and just off. I don't think the same person would be likely to say both "I'm history" and "tata." That one was easy to get, but it doesn't seem right. Another gripe: it's getting really hard to read the letters that you need to prove you're not a robot.

Night Owl 9:44 AM  

I was going to post last night that if one rotates the grid 90 degrees, the figure then becomes one of boobs with really odd areola. I was confused about whether they were areola or aureola, so looked up the two. I then spent a half hour wondering whether the two really do have different etymology, or if in the distant past one or the other was bowlderized. Maybe too many Popes giggled when an astronomer was talking about the aureola around the moon and they realized they needed to make them too many words. Anyway, I decided not to post.

I'm much, much wiser at night than in the morning.

chefbea 9:56 AM  

Too tough for me to finish.

I look at Craigs list all the time to find garage sales.

@chefwen @lms is right. always flour the pan after you grease it.

Now to go make some tarts for tomorrow night's dinner and of course will follow the above directions

captcha is imixr...that would be me, making the tarts








orangeblossomspecial 10:09 AM  

Is anyone old enough to remember the early ads when Toyotas came to the US? One featured a couple discussing a crossword puzzle: "Honey, what's a toyotac orolla?" As I recall, they were available for under $2,000.

Here is Miley's dad doing 2D "ACHY breaky heart" from 20 years ago.

Several artists recorded 25D "SLOOP John B. This is the Beach Boys' version. The song has an interesting provenance, if you wish to look it up on Wikipedia.

Duke Ellington's classic 46D "I LET a song go out of my heart".

orangeblossomspecial 10:12 AM  

@Cheerio at 9:37. I agree about the difficulty reading the secret letters. If you can't read the ones showing, you can get a new set of letters by clicking on the circular arrow next to the blank space. Go through the cycle until you find a set you can almost read.

Crazy [over] 8s 10:19 AM  

Somehow I seem to remember another puzzle whose grid resembled an eight. Could it have been published on 8/8/08 somewhere? (The NY Times puzzle that day had nothing to do with 8/8/08.) Could it have been a diagramless I solved sometime? I can't remember

Somehow I have a feeling that Mark Diehl constructed this puzzle to be published on 8/8 of some year. (Could he have constructed it as long ago as 2008 but never had it accepted back then?) Perhaps Shotz has been hanging onto it but got fired of waiting for 8/8 to fall on a Friday, which won't happen again until 2014. (And it is clearly a Friday puzzle.)

This puzlle certainly does have a theme: the number eight. And the three theme related answers (which are referred to in the write-up) are symmetrically placed. Three eights, as in 8/8/08. If we could only turn back the clock.

Interestingly enough, I didn't even notice the 8 in the grid until reading this blog.

Not a legislator 10:37 AM  

Patted myself on back for dropping in CLOTURE at 1D off the U in PRU, even though TIEROD and CLOTURE didn't play well together.

Found this more of a medium-difficult puzzle - eventually made my through it, helped by the light shining through the open tops of SOLARAS, which finally caused me to put the GAG RULE on CLOTURE.

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

First pass didn't yield much but slowly the clouds parted.
My computer at work is a PC and I am addicted to Spider Solitaire.
@ LMS, I used to have the same snee/smee trouble but now I remember "snick and snee" so Smee must be the pirate.
@ dk, My VW with melting doors was a '66. Once while driving with headphones on we entered a stretch of road where a tornado had passed about 30 min. before. Man were confused. Why is all this junk in the road?

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

@JFC

One down, one more to go!

By the way, I am NOT anon@12:12

I signed your anon friend, because you once rooted for me...even tho I was anonymous.

Merle 11:16 AM  

I found the puzzle difficult -- but fun. Had Sahara instead of Solara -- Toyota has a number of six-letter vehicles ending in "a". The foundation of the puzzle -- the total south of the puzzle -- fell into place easily -- the rest was a struggle.

Vocabulary never a problem. Perspicacious, pinna,polyps, pyrites, sapient, all seem like basic literacy words to me. Again, this is cultural framework stuff -- colonoscopy and polyps is not the only association one might have with polyps. Garage sales and eight track tapes represent another kind of cultural literacy, don't they.... Prepares for baking -- well, Mark Diehl did say "in a way" -- and the "ours" should lead to flours -- I don't bake, but once upon a time I did, and I floured the board, and my hands, to keep the wet raw dough from sticking.

I didn't get the "eights" theme. Clever, and way clever for Rex to pick up on it.

lawprof 11:24 AM  

After a daunting start (virtually nothing first time through), a few downs got me a couple of toeholds and then things fell into place pretty quickly -- at least for a Friday.

Writeovers: pill/RITE; corals/POLYPS; titan/TALOS; stars/STATS; o'er (as in Francis Scott Key)/ALT; ivan/EVAN; emma/ERMA. Wanted "understanding" (which fits) at 12A, but held off, so no writeover.

Attrite? I get that it's a verb form of attrition. But attrite!? Just try using that in a sentence: "We're going to attrite our work force." If you said that at a press conference, your boss might attrite YOU.

But all in all, a satisfying Friday puzzle.

Carola 11:37 AM  

Challenging for me. I had to work my way north from EL PASO TEXAS, which had been revealed to me by never-so-happy-to-see-them trio of TERP, ERMA and SSTS. Slow going but enjoyable all the way and very satisfying to finish. Thanks to @Rex and all for pointing out everything relating to 8's - I'd completely missed it.

Small triumphs along the way - getting that the Afghans and Persians were animals and that the needle point belonged to a compass - were outnumbered by words I had no idea about (TALOS) or that I couldn't see for far too long (SA_IENT). I need to get Omar EPPS to stick around with Yma and Esai.

@Chefwen and others -
I've noticed on cooking blogs that the old "Grease and FLOUR a cake pan" is being replaced by "Spray a cake pan with baking spray" or "Butter a cake pan."

@orangeblossomspecial-
Thanks for the reference to the Wikipedia article on "SLOOP John B," one of my favorite tracks on Pet Sounds.

jberg 11:58 AM  

I was playing SPIDER SOLITAIRE (@Rex, it comes free w/ Windows and is what you do when you don't want to work and you're bored with Freecell because it's become too easy) just before I did the puzzle, so I got that off the first S; and as a Bostonian, PRU was a gimme. So it would have been easy, had I not written in coronAS afor the Toyota, and EFX for the Avatar big budget item. That took me quite a while to resolve.

@johnranta, ENE is a compass heading, which the needle on the compass may point to. I thought of ENn as well, but the clue specifies "abbr." so that doesn't work. I only got it from the crosses.

And POLYPS seems puzzling to many - those are the animals whose shells become coral after they stick them together. The shells stay after they die, which is how the reefs grow.

Yesterday was such a fiasco for me I didn't even post - guess I'll go look at it now to see what the trick was.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:02 PM  

...2...

thUmbsUp for themed FriPuzs. Acrosses were outstanding. Fave downer = POLYPS. Fave upper = APE (Its got its standards).

hazel 12:06 PM  

Gr8t puzzle eve though i didnt notice the 8s until i read @rex's writeup - but seeing @jae's post (and the early comments) it seems he had the initial insight - though there is no attribution from @rex, just a different typeface from the rest of the post - which seems weird. Good eye (i think) @jae!

Perfect friday in my book. Have never watched glee but i think we had ARTIE recently. Considered alpineCLIMATE before DESERTCLIMATE thks to Magic Mountain. Agree that cluing TATA with i'm history seems ridiculous.

Kind of a sad day in the cycling world.

jae 12:14 PM  
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jae 12:25 PM  

@lms -- My SNEE/SMEE solution is that the N in SNEE stands for kNife. Not elegant but it works for me.

Oh, and that should have been STORM not STROM (still hung up on my STRUM to STURM erasure from Wed.?)

And, @hazel -- Thanks, your observation is chronologically correct. I also commented as John Ellis on Amy's blog around 8:30last night.

CruxLogger 12:34 PM  

Yes attrite is quirky. Yet I 4 1 find (some) quirkiness (and groan) a virtue -- especially later in the week.

chefbea 12:48 PM  

@Carola I use pam to spray my cake pans..or tart pans as the case may be.

Gareth Bain 12:57 PM  

Just because you don't know a word doesn't make it bad!! What's wrong with PINNA esp. on a Friday??? Perfectly normal anatomical terminology. MULCT does have a weird ring to it, though that doesn't make me hate it. Sounds a bit like MILCH, another weirdly "un-English" word....

Acme 1:14 PM  

@jae
One worse... Before getting GATES, I had SwaRM THE ?!
Guess I had a bee in my bonnet!

And to clear up the EVA/N Longoria issue, I actually googled (gasp) which I should have done in the first place... No relation, just a coincidence.

Seems like you'd know one not the other depending on your sex....and level of desperateness :)

JFC 1:23 PM  

@anon not anon@12:12 - You might have noticed that Rex has little use for anons. There was a time that people here routinely referred to anons as anonymice, in a pejorative manner to indicate cowardice. That doesn't occur so much these days, but it still lurks out there. Obviously people who don't appreciate anonymous don't care about identity theft.

SPOiLER ALERT: The following contains TMI and may be viewed as graphic.

@ED - When I was a college senior I ended my intramural football with a hit that rendered me immobile (they had a tough intramural program at NU in those days) and afterward while showering I coughed up some blood. That landed me in the hospital for a week. They found no cause for the blood, which I attribute to a bloody nose that trickled into my bronchial passages. During that stay they discovered a polyp on my vocal chords and suggested I have it removed. After a few months I had it checked out and, for whatever good reason, it was no longer there. I am now due to return for another session with my gastroenterologist, a very nice doctor, but not an experience I look forward to. I am one of the few who needs a general anesthesia for the "procedure" and my hospital doesn't believe in the virtual kind. This could explain my disdain for this puzzle....

JFC

Andrew Smith 1:35 PM  

Can someone explain Recto? It doesn't seem to be a word.

Sparky 1:51 PM  

Of course, I am so happy to finish by 12:30 P.M. and Rex says Easy. Last night had ROM and corals which was replaced by POLYPS today. Almost chucked it but decided to chip away which worked. At one point has SenecAS for the car.

Google Plus before MAPS, Teri before GARR, but it finally filled in. Vaguely noticed the eights but it didn't really register.

As has already been noted Spider Solitaire comes with a Dell PC. Also Mahjong which I play. Ta Ta.

r.alphbunker 2:00 PM  

Try the query "define recto" in google.

fergus 2:42 PM  

RECTO - verso are sides in printing.

Trouble for me with One-master. Thought SLAVE. Entered TUFTS, had a TITAN. And with no idea about PINNA, that area was an inky mess.

Just a tad annoyed when I write Pretty Tough on my grid and then see the Rex rating as Easy.

Bird 3:14 PM  

Liked the grid, but this was too hard for me, even though I got the longest Acrosses easily.

For some reason I couldn’t put in ATTRITE for ATTRITION. I mean who uses that? Had BUSHELS, but SLOOP changed the B to P and that was that. PINNU? TALOH? OK. Sure.

Hand up for thinking LENNIE was LENNY.

Didn’t know the SSTs flew to LAX. Thought it was Heathrow, JFK and Orly or Charles de Gaulle.

If RECTO is page one (start), why is the end of our digestive track a RECTUM?

TGIF and on vacation next week. Yahoo!

Carola 3:28 PM  

@chefbea - Somehow I find it so satisfying to knock flour around in a greased pan to get that perfectly even dusted layer. Part of that is probably the connection with my mom teaching me to bake.

@Acme - Me, too, for "en masse" + S _ _ RM = SwaRM.

mac 3:43 PM  

I finally got it done without help, but definitely not easy for me.

It is a beautiful grid, with a clear 8 and plenty of related words. There were so many things in it I didn't know that it's a miracle I finished it. Just had to keep plugging away.

I also thought Alpine climate, kids with asthma were sent to Switzerland when I was a child.

chefwen 3:50 PM  

Don't know where my brain was last night, probably deeply embedded in a glass of Chardonnay. I was thinking flour a food item not a pan. God knows I have buttered and floured enough cake pans to sink the Bismarck. DOH!!!

Chip Hilton 4:51 PM  

Rex - Because you've never heard of SPIDERSOLITAIRE, it is therefore not solid, not vivid, not interesting? Millions of folks who should be working instead of playing might disagree.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

And Spier Solitaire is not just for PCs. There are a few Apps for I-Phones and Androids as well.

Is there an App for reading captchas?

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

@ chefwen - how do you use buttered and floured cake pans to sink the Bismarck? :-)

acme 6:18 PM  

@chefwen,
did you mean "D'OUGH!"?

Carola 7:07 PM  

@acme - Too good!

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

I'm new at NYT crosswords. Subscribed to the online version when I got an iPad as a gift and read that doing crosswords helped prevent brains from deteriorating. I am a septuagenarian, so long words are appealing!
I find all of the NYT puzzles hard (while I breeze through the one in Boston Globe online), but this one was oddly easy, especially for a Friday. I got half of the long words partially or completely right away. Eight track tapes, desert climate-- that one due to the old E.G. Robinson movie, Dr. Ehrlick's Magic Bullet and having grown up when TB was very much a threat. But garage sales held out to the end. The hard part for me was the short words! Tige and Tata were easy but even though I lived in Boston for 20+ years, UMass stymied me. UMass, as said above, is in Amherst, not Boston.

Kerry 8:56 PM  

I consider myself a master of Spider solitaire, but that only hindered me in getting the answer. I was playing Spider (with two *actual* card decks) years before I had my first computer... Microsoft certainly didn't invent the game, and having Microsoft in the clue kept me off the right track. Sort of like if the clue were "Apple OS program" and the answer was CLOCK, you know?

(For the record, according to Wikipedia the first software implementation of Spider was developed by Sun in 1989 for Unix.)

Janet Pole (PAZ) 9:02 PM  

You flour a pan before you bake something in it.

chefwen 9:05 PM  

@retired_chemist - By the sheer weight of all of them.

@acme - That was very clever, wish I would have come up with that.

Blog etiquette police 9:05 PM  

@janet
You read the comments before adding a comment

Z 9:14 PM  

reel to reel TAPES anyone? Anyone? Google Plus and Siennas didn't help, either.

Spider Solitaire was my first entry (not solving for time, I decided to start and 1A to see what would happen), giving me enough downs to fill in EL PASO TEXAS and finish the south except for that pluS area.

EVAN and LENNIE were enough to suggest TAPES and when cassette was too short reel-to-reel came to mind before EIGHT TRACK. This resulted in the 9 hour work interlude between start and finish.

Neat puzzle with lots of great words. I've never been on Craigs List, but the free classified ads is probably the single most damaging thing the internet ever did to print papers.

Some of the late comments last night led me back to the NATICK comments. On that day Rex posted in the comments his dislike for monitoring off-topic comments. It is fascinating to re-read. Some names we never see anymore, some that drop by on occasion, some we still see. I might just have to go back to those blogs and see if I can identify my comments. I was one of the anonymice back then.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Never heard of spider solitaire? It's the best!!

Solving in Seattle 2:35 PM  

All the Real Timers beat us to the comment punch. My big nit with this very fun puzzle was "Onetime lander at LAX." I knew he wanted SSTS, but I also knew they didn't fly there. I was surprised that one SST did land there - once.

Wish I could remember how to spell POLoPS.

SLOOP was my first entry at 25D. Cutter was too long. Clue was a given for sailors.

SAPIENT sounds like something you don't want to be at a party.

I googled RECTO after finishing because I had no idea what it meant. I still don't, but if you're curious, look it up yourself and see what google produces.

BTW, yesterday's Yiddish puzzle kicked my butt. I got HCLIZ!

Have a nice weekend, Syndylanders.

DMGrandma 3:46 PM  

Got a goodly portion of this one, but clearly couldn't finish. Now that I've looked it up and read the comments, there is still stuff I don't understand. Curry = SEEK? ATTRITE? The dictionaries I consulted define it as meaning something about repentance. What is CGI? Beyond these, my biggest blank was not seeing OCTAGONAL even with about 5 letters filled from the crosses.

Overall, however, it was a good brain exercise, and, as always, I was pleased ar how many unknowns (e.g. EVAN and PYRITES) filled themselves from the crosses.

Sudden afterthought, is that SEEK as in Seek favor?

Spacecraft 5:00 PM  

I could not be more diametrically opposite from OFL if I were the negative to his photo. First of all: EASY?? And several regulars AGREE??? Holy cow, am I dumb! The 15er that gave him the most trouble (SPIDERSOLITAIRE) was a gimme after only IDOL and TERP. The South fell much more quickly than in the 1860s--but from then on: uh-oh!

The middle gave me headaches because I'd put barrELS in where PASSELS belong. I wound up having to Google the bronze guy TALOS, and finally worked out the center.

But the top? No way. To begin, I saw the clue for 7d and salivated. "Aha, I know you, Will!" I thought. "You don't mean people, you mean animals!" and forthwith proudly inked in PETA. SPCA just simply never occurred. This is going to be another two-way situation for me, like SCAB/SCAR. Which is it? This time my wrong guess proved fatal, and I never could get past the idea of some kind of gAmES for 14a: "rarely played nowadays."

Add to this the total obscurity of LOTI and the clue for ACHY: "acting up, in a way" and it just wouldn't come. That's an extremely obtuse clue; I get it: "Waal, mah knee is actin' up; I bet it's gonna rain." But really. I'm gonna go ahead and put that in the UNFAIR category.

My abject apologies to Terri Garr, of whom I'm a huge fan, for forgetting that she was in "Oh, God." The rest of the movie was so forgettable that she just got caught up in it.

I'm still shaking my head over how ANYBODY could call this "easy."

Dirigonzo 9:27 PM  

It took me about an hour to go from, "this is impossible" to, "maybe I can finish", and another hour to get down to one blank square: MOTT_ES. I ran the alphabet but nothing seemed to work, so I left it blank. That's just humiliating.

@DMGrandma - CGI = Computer Generated Imagry, or special effects in modern movie making. I like the clay figure creatures in movies of old better. As a retired beaurocrat I have actually heard the word ATTRITE used in conversation but until today I ahd no idea how it was spelled (I tried ATTRITt first) - it's how you make the workforce smaller without having to fire anyone.

Dirigonzo 9:37 PM  

I was just on craigslist and the category listed there is GARAGESALE (no S). Am I the only one who noticed this?

HC Visigoth 12:43 PM  

Clearly this is the secret puzzle that They put in the paper to freak me out, as i own a SOLARA and SPIDER SOLITAIRE is my favorite timewaster (on my iPhone, though, not on Winders these days).

That being said, it took an embarrassingly long time for SOLARA to actually fall.

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