Samuel Johnson's only play / SAT 10-13-12 / 1950s American Bandstand dance / Early idol of Warhol / Harp's home key / Six women at Penn programmed it / Roll in ze hay enthusiast / New model of 1999 / Concept in Hinduism Buddhism / King Gorm Old

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: none

Word of the Day: THE STROLL (47A: 1950s "American Bandstand" dance) —
The Stroll was both a slow rock 'n' roll dance and a song that was popular in late 1950s. The dance called the Stroll began in black communities to the songs "C. C. Rider" and "Betty and Dupree" by Chuck Willis. Willis was known as "The King of the Stroll" prior to the release of the song of that name.
Billboard first reported that "The Stroll" may herald a new dance craze similar to the "Big Apple" in December 1957. Based on a suggestion by Dick Clark, who felt that there was no specific song for the dance, "The Stroll" was written by Clyde Otis and Nancy Lee and was recorded by the Canadian group The Diamonds (Mercury 71242).
The original version of the song reached number four on the Billboard pop charts, number five on the R&B charts, and number one on the Cashbox charts.
In the dance, two lines of dancers, men on one side and women on the other, face each other, moving in place to the music. Each paired couple then steps out and does a more elabarate dance up and down between the rows of dancers. Dick Clark noted the similarity of the dance to the Virginia reel.
It was first performed to "C. C. Rider" by Chuck Willis on American BandstandLink Wray's "Rumble" was also a popular tune for doing the Stroll. (wikipedia)

• • •

I solved this in 5:39. If I do a Saturday in the 7s, that is Fast for me, so 5:39 is what I'd call a super-outlier. Times being posted at the NYT site look pretty normal, so I have no idea what happened. I just Knew Everything. BUBBLE UP went straight in (1A: Come to the surface), as did four crosses, so inside of, say, 20 seconds, I had a good chunk of the NW done. I wrote in BUNT for [Certain squeeze], but I fixed that little hiccup pretty quickly. Then it's all kind of a blur. SNARE DRUM to FRIAR (10D: Romeo's adviser, for one) to ADMAN (which TTOP changed to ADREP) (14D: Datsun 280ZX option). SPERM DONOR (12D: One making a bank deposit?) to SECRET / SANTA (46A: With 34-Across, company's present occasion?), with SANTA opening up the middle very nicely. The two Beatles 15s followed very quickly and ... well ... everything just fell. Fell fell fell. DHARMA (44D: Concept in Hinduism and Buddhism)! PENALTY BOX (27D: Enforcer's place, often)! It was like I was freestyling the grid, writing down whatever came to mind, and it was all just right. Wish I'd had a lot more resistance, but I can't fault the grid—it's very nice-looking indeed. A sweet 70-worder with lots of cool fill. I'm gonna jump right to the Bullets so I can catch the end of the Cards/Nats game (which wasn't much of a game when I left it to come upstairs and solve, but maybe that's changed...). I'd love to hear where the tough spots were in this one, 'cause I just didn't see them. Sorry. Write-ups are always a lot more interesting when I fall on my face at least a few times.


I like how the pop music vibe of the 15s is complemented by the SNARE DRUM (23A: Backbeat keeper) and THE STROLL (47A: 1950s "American Bandstand" dance) and the HIFI (52A: 1950s living room feature). In my imagined version of this musical mash-up, BRYAN Adams is just watching (50A: Grammy winner Adams), and STARSHIP is just a STARSHIP (17A: Sci-fi vehicle). It's just easier on my imaginary ears that way.


Bullets:
  • 15A: Light work on a stage (OPERETTA) — as I was working out the BUNT/BEAU kink, I was fairly sure this answer would have to do with actual lighting. Like, you know, KLIEG lights or whatever.
  • 33A: Former big player in trading cards (FLEER) — I collected as a kid. Right up my alley. God I loved the wax paper and the rock hard panes of bubble gum and the thrill of seeing what players you got. 
  • 40A: One of Ptolemy's 48 constellations (ARA) — may as well just write [One of them there constellations] because at three letters, there aren't many to choose from.
  • 31D: Samuel Johnson's only play ("IRENE") — OK, this was hard, but the crosses were not, and since IRENE is the most common five-letter woman's name in all of crosswords, my instincts took me there pretty readily.
  • 7D: The Pioneers of the N.C.A.A. (UTICA) — tricky, both because no one outside UTICA knows what the UTICA team is called, and because getting that first U makes you think U ... CONN? PITT? TENN? But once I got UTI-, the jig was up.
  • 25D: Harp's home key (C FLAT) — FLAT, not hard. C, harder. But there aren't many potential Warhol idols ending in -OTE, so, again, even though I encountered a stumper, it just didn't do any damage, time-wise (25A: Early idol of Warhol = CAPOTE).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

61 comments:

jae 12:12 AM  

Doesn't get much better than this.  I know Ringo had a solid backbeat on PAPERBACKWRITER but I'm almost certain no one was doing THESTROLL to it.  NW and SE easy,  SW medium, and NE took a while.  Although looking back I'm not sure why.  Euro for EIRE didn't help and ODD, DINERO, and OFFSET were elusive for some reason.  So, was SPERMDONOR...need to get my mind back in the gutter...tried SeruM(?) and wanted BLOOD.  So, easy-medium works for me if I just ignore my NE brain freeze. 

Noticed Barry worked in SMOOTH.  He was right!

Jim Walker 1:15 AM  

Easy puzzle until the Beatles cross. Stared at that for much of the Cards / Nats last two innings. ( which DID turn into quite a game) DHARMA and Greg was one of the best written shows on TV. She was no DITZ. Depositing DIRT and other stuff was a little much. THESTROLL figured prominently at my HS junior prom. And RESTEASY was my favorite command at Ft. Benning. A good trans-generational puzzle indeed. Thank you.

jae 1:20 AM  

And, if you have the chance to visit NYC, the Picasso exhibit at the Guggenheim is a fascinating spiral history in black and white. (Letterman was not the only attraction).

Best wishes Deb.

retired_chemist 1:54 AM  

Never heard of Lennon/McCartney's PAPERBACK WRITER but each was clearly THE answer after a number of crosses. CAPOTE - same story as @Rex. Who else fits _APO_E? CAPONE? Nah......

A perfect Saturday. Not as easy for me as for Rex - there was enough resistance that finishing felt good.

41A was a LOT of names before HOOKE. In fact, wrong answers there and the concomitant head scratching on the crosses was a major slowdown.

All to the good. Thank you, Mr. Silk.

mrbreen 1:59 AM  

So.... How did you enjoy that Nats/Cards matchup?

I cannot believe how clutch the Cards have been these last two seasons. Hell of a game.

Great, fluid puzzle too.

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Great puzzle. Not nearly as easy for me as for Rex -- I'd call it normal for a Saturday, which is to say "challenging." But doable. Got nothing in the NW the first time. Worked up from the SE (after I corrected urge on to EGG ON). Good (and very fair) Saturday cluing. Lots of ancient facts emerged slowly from the mist of my memory (THE STROLL). Sports haters will hate ALOMAR, PENALTY BOX. I'm a sports fan, but neither of those leapt instantly to mind!

The Bard 8:35 AM  

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3

ROMEO
I'll tell thee, ere thou ask it me again.
I have been feasting with mine enemy,
Where on a sudden one hath wounded me,
That's by me wounded: both our remedies
Within thy help and holy physic lies:
I bear no hatred, blessed man, for, lo,
My intercession likewise steads my foe.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Be plain, good son, and homely in thy drift;
Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift.

ROMEO
Then plainly know my heart's dear love is set
On the fair daughter of rich Capulet:
As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine;
And all combined, save what thou must combine
By holy marriage: when and where and how
We met, we woo'd and made exchange of vow,
I'll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray,
That thou consent to marry us to-day.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
So soon forsaken? young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.
Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine
Hath wash'd thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!
How much salt water thrown away in waste,
To season love, that of it doth not taste!
The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,
Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears;
Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Of an old tear that is not wash'd off yet:
If e'er thou wast thyself and these woes thine,
Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline:
And art thou changed? pronounce this sentence then,
Women may fall, when there's no strength in men.

ROMEO
Thou chid'st me oft for loving Rosaline.

FRIAR LAURENCE
For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.

ROMEO
And bad'st me bury love.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Not in a grave,
To lay one in, another out to have.

ROMEO
I pray thee, chide not; she whom I love now
Doth grace for grace and love for love allow;
The other did not so.

FRIAR LAURENCE
O, she knew well
Thy love did read by rote and could not spell.
But come, young waverer, come, go with me,
In one respect I'll thy assistant be;
For this alliance may so happy prove,
To turn your households' rancour to pure love.

ROMEO
O, let us hence; I stand on sudden haste.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

Danp 8:54 AM  

NE was hard for me, as I wanted Ort for Odd (leftover) and blood (then serum after I got the snare drum) for sperm.

Also never heard of Robert Hooke, and it took me a while to give up Average Joe, even though the J couldn't possibly be right.

Evan 9:23 AM  

I am no Puzzle Hulk -- merely a Puzzle Bruce Banner. I had several write-overs which made this a tougher ordeal than it probably should have been:

* BaAl instead of BRAT, which crossed....
* aUthor instead of RUBRIC, which crossed....
* brAhMA instead of DHARMA -- basically that whole southwest corner was one big wrong-fest.
* till instead of UP TO, which crossed....
* slot instead of HOUR.
* organ DONOR instead of SPERM -- though I changed that one almost immediately.
* DOe instead of DOW.
* mOOrE instead of HOOKE -- this one almost proved disastrous. When I spotted PAPERBACK WRITER, I left it as mOOKE at first, thinking that the crossing STROm was perfectly reasonable. I went back and figured HOOKE was a little better, then remembered STROH's beer in the process.

Despite all of those initial mistakes, I still had an easier of time of it than I normally do on a Saturday. I normally click pretty well with Barry Silk's puzzles and today was no exception. Pretty much everything about it is solid. Even though I expect most people will rightly admire the long answers, my favorite clue/answer combos were "Not in the minority" (OF AGE) and "Light work on a stage" (OPERETTA).

My only quibble was the clue for BOSH. It's not wrong, but I would have preferred something other than a synonym for "Baloney" or "Poppycock" or "Claptrap" since it feels like outdated speech. The NYT should consider referring to seven-time NBA all-star Chris Bosh at least once, yet there's been no mention of him in the past six years, even though they had his teammate Dwyane Wade in a Saturday puzzle last month.

Evan 9:26 AM  

@Deb:

Sending belated good vibes your way.

jackj 9:36 AM  

Lots of wild guesses to get started on this poser, notably SNAREDRUM, ETHANE, DINERO, TTOP and CAPOTE (and a few others that didn’t work out quite as well), but enough to get me going.

Being an ardent Mac loyalist, the Apple clues seemed like they should have been obvious but took much too much time and effort (to no avail). Even when I thought PAPERBACK WRITER would fit for the” Apple products output”, I didn’t enter it since I couldn’t believe for a second that Barry would have that weird an answer for a Mac’s printer output.

But, Ah the misdirects!! When I finally saw the light it triggered a head slap that registered an 8 on the Richter scale as LENNONMCCARTNEY reminded me that all Apples aren’t computer related. Double doh.

The grid was replete with keepers and SECRET SANTA, FONDUE, SÉANCE, DHARMA and SPERM DONOR were particular highlights, to name but a few.

As a rabid pro hockey fan, (suffering mightily as a labor dispute has put this year’s games on hold), it was encouraging to get a reminder of what I’m missing by imagining Boston Bruin enforcer Shawn Thornton rearranging his uniform in the PENALTYBOX while serving a 5-minute fighting major after thoroughly thrashing the opponent’s bad guy. Come on home, NHL!

Barry Silk has given us a lot of enjoyment since he first became a Times contributor in 2003 (70 puzzles to be exact) and today’s has to be one of his best.

Thanks, Barry, you da man!

joho 9:43 AM  

@Rex, this was one of your best write-ups ever! Perhaps your good mood due to super speedy solve, or because it's a great puzzle. No matter, you nailed it.

You took the words right out of mouth with your comments: "I like how the pop music vibe of the 15s is complemented by the SNARE DRUM (23A: Backbeat keeper) and THE STROLL (47A: 1950s "American Bandstand" dance) and the HIFI (52A: 1950s living room feature). In my imagined version of this musical mash-up, BRYAN Adams is just watching (50A: Grammy winner Adams), and STARSHIP is just a STARSHIP (17A: Sci-fi vehicle). It's just easier on my imaginary ears that way." Plus featuring the Beatles with the double 15 cross smack dab in the middle is brilliant!

@jae, you said it already but I don't remember when Barry has actually included SMOOTH in the puzzle, a really nice touch.

A little easier than most Saturdays for me, not the walk in the park it was for @Rex, but a wonderful puzzle all the way around!

Bill from FL 9:46 AM  

I didn't know there could be a key of C FLAT, because a half tone below C is B natural. But it turns out, according to Wikipedia, "C♭ major is the only major or minor key, other than theoretical keys, which has "flat" or "sharp" in its name, but whose tonic note is the enharmonic equivalent of a natural note (a white key on a keyboard instrument)."

loren muse smith 9:58 AM  

The whole time I was staring at a largely empty grid, I felt panic that everyone was going to say this was pretty easy. (Grateful to @Glimmerglass, retired_chemist, et al who said it wasn’t so easy.)

I guess my four death blows were confidently having “Bacon” for HOOKE (who is HE?), never questioning “sales” for SANTA, ridiculously entertaining only “frau” for BEAU, and totally buying the computer misdirect for the theme.

Fiendish that 6D ends in TER, screaming “computer.” My experience was the exact opposite of Rex’ - *nothing* was obvious to me except BRRR, UP TO, ODD, TRYST, ZIT, and DITZ/ZANY (nice cross!) Also – TRYST/SECRET cross – cool.

Even with BRAT and RULE in place, I could have poked at the SW all day and never figured it out. And I knew that 48D was that stalwart entry, but I’ve never committed to remembering exactly what it is. I always think there's an o involved. Shame on me.

@Danp – I had every single one of your thoughts.

Most of the time when a puzzle has beaten me so badly, I look at the filled grid and kick myself that I should have been more patient. Not today. The cluing for TOLD, OPERETTA, SÉANCE, SPERM DONOR, DATA, RUBRIC, and AD REP was, for me, Saturday Stumper hard. So with the WOEs of FLEER, ARPEL, INGA, DHARMA, BOSH, IRENE, and ALOMAR, this one was beyond my ken.

Nice 15x15 cross, Mr. Silk. Fun that SMOOTH is in the grid!

JC66 10:03 AM  

Just curious why having two related crossing 15s isn't considered a theme.

Sir Hillary 10:08 AM  

DNF, completing a lousy last 12 hours. All four baseball teams I was rooting for lost their playoff series, culminating with the hated Yankees moving on and the Nationals' gag job late last night. (Side note to Rex: I am now throwing all my support behind the Tigers.) Could not get the SW despite two sports clues crossing each other. Got PENAL but kept thinking of prisons. For the 1990 A.L. Rookie of the Year, I went through the good teams in the early 90s, thought a lot about the Blue Jays (champs in '92 and '93) and still couldn't come up with Robbie ALOMAR. For a sports nut like me, that's a worse gag job than the Nats pulled. GRRRRR.

Fabulous puzzle though. A true gem of brutal cluing.

shaunreen 10:12 AM  

Going with your musical thoughts, STARSHIP could be a reference to JEFFERSON STARSHIP a later version of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. I'm glad that this puzzle was easy for some readers but for me it was no STROLL down any street no less a SECRET or SANTA street. I must have some sort of writers block but now I can REST EASY til tomorrow when I must BUBBLE UP and stop being such a DITZ.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:31 AM  

Very pleasant Saturday puzzle.

I took my time (translation - I'm slow), pondered the tricky clues, and finished with only one letter over-written: At 41 A, considered but didn't enter HOBBS, then actually entered HOOKS before correcting to HOOKE (and I have to look him up also.)

jberg 10:39 AM  

I never read the Shortz remarks people have been discussing, but I guess this Saturday mini-theme is part of the changes discussed. I fell for both of the traps - Ort for ODD (which gave me retorT at 15A and messed up everything), and looking for computer stuff for the theme answers (not to mention thinking there must be a way to fit Cupertino into 46/34 A). Also Igor for INGA at 54D, only because I never saw the movie and knew only one character.

But harp players, please weigh in here! Can it be true? Of course there is a key of C-FLAT, and I guess before modern tuning it was even different from B. But the home key of an instrument? Really? Why? There's not much music in that key - is it just easier to reach all the other keys from there on a harp? (Sure wouldn't be on anything I play). Please, someone enlighten me!

Milford 11:03 AM  

I am lining up behind those who found this a challenge.

The NW that filled itself in for Rex et al. was a problem because I cleverly thought the type of squeeze was main before BEAU, and I thought the chilly remark was "I see"="icy". I finally erased that entire area, and my 15-year old looked over my shoulder and said, "Wouldn't a chilly remark be BRRR?". Oh my goodness, I'm an idiot.

Had the same blood/SeruM/SPERM DONOR issues. Also had jOe/DOe/DOW. These triple writeovers really gummed me up for awhile.

I liked the cluing, it made me work hard on this one. Maybe someday a Saturday will feel easy, but for now I just enjoy working the grey cells like this!

Go Tigers! Belated good vibes going toward @Deb.

syndy 11:04 AM  

On my first passe I got four answers-some of them right!Then picking at the scab things started to move-a little at first-then ORR-TRYST-PEONS!Gave me LENNONMCARTNEY and the whole enchilada came sliding down.Actually I think my home key was TEC-thamks barry for that free gift!

Sandy K 11:10 AM  

So much to like in this puzzle, as has been mentioned- the crossing of LENNON MCCARTNEY and PAPERBACK WRITER, SECRET SANTA, THE STROLL, etal.

Adrienne ARPEL was selling her make-up on HSN, so that fell in SMOOTHly.

Rex asked what were the trouble spots- for me, ADREP, ODD, and RUBRIC.

Otherwise, a great Saturday FuN-
DO!

@Deb Best wishes go out to you!

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Mr. Shortz is getting ever more sloppy. Paperback Writer wasn't an Apple product. It was published by Capitol in the U.S. and Parlophone in The U.K.

Michael Hanko 12:55 PM  

I'm a singer, not harpist, but I'll try to explain the harp c-flat issue. Modern concert harps have two pedals, which raise the pitches of the strings by a half-step and a whole step. Since in c flat every note is flatted, you have any flatted pitch when no pedals are depressed. You get all the naturals by depressing one pedal and then all the sharps by depressing the other. Thus you have access to every possible pitch. Ingenious, I think, and makes me realize just how difficult it must be to play melodies and chords on this splendid instrument.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:00 PM  

@Deb--lots of well-wishes to U, darlin'.

Did this puz relay-style. Wherein I do three answers, then pass it to the PuzEatingSpouse who fixes my three, gets three more, and passes it back faster than I can scratch my ttop. No 5:39-type times were harmed in the makin' of such a solution. Dang, 31... One's gotta stop to smell the U's.

Fave fillins: BUBBLEUP, STARSHIP, THESTROLL. None of which were Beatles tunes. What WAS the flipside of Paperback Writer? Got to think...
Fave clew: Early idol of Warhol. Thought surely MONROE. PuzEatingSpouse snarled, as she unsnagged that false start.

Michael Hanko 1:01 PM  

Actually, it's a little more complicated than I'd remembered: there are SIX pedals on a harp, but I got the basic concept correct. Even more astounding to imagine that people can actually play those things!

Evan 1:03 PM  

@Anon 12:30 pm:

"Paperback Writer" was released as a single in 1966 by Capitol, but also on the 1970 album Hey Jude, the label of which was Apple Records.

Susan McConnell 1:09 PM  

Tough for me. Got LENNONMCCARTNEY and PAPERBACKWRITER easily enough, but the rest was a struggle. To add insult to injury, I had seen Rex's Facebook head's up that it was gonna be an easy one, so felt like a goober the whole way through. Oh, well. It was a typical Saturday for me in terms of time and difficulty, and I liked it.

ImFromJersey 1:11 PM  

Solved the puzzle this afternoon, I was at the Nats/Cards game, devastating loss and still recovering from the lack of sleep. My vote for clue of the year has to be 37A. Found the puzzle challenging but not impossible. Kudos to Barry Silk!

Anoidymous 1:13 PM  

@Anonymous 12:30 and @Evan:

I would suggest that you take a closer look at the clues. 37 A asks for the *names* *on* some Apple products. 8 D asks for a part of the output of 37 A (who are those *names*, not the label.)

Thus the clues are correct as written.

Susan McConnell 1:15 PM  

@jberg I hope you will make time to watch Young Frankenstein....It truly is one of the funniest flicks ever!

"Oooooh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you..."

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@ M&A

Acc. to Wiki. it was "Rain".

Evan 1:21 PM  

@Anoidymous:

Fair enough. I wasn't criticizing the cluing of 37A/8D. Just pointing out that "Paperback Writer" has a connection to an Apple album, after all.

M and A also 1:26 PM  

@maskless Anonymous dude 1:20--"Rain" sounds right to me. Cannot believe the Silkmeister didn't work that into the puz.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Evan, I had forgotten ( almost certainly willfully) Hey Jude. Thanks for the reminder.
As for the poor soul who posted immediately after you, I have little doubt that you are in fact annoying.

Two Ponies 1:29 PM  

I found this to be a typical Saturday challenge, but in a fun way.
Loved the Apple misdirect. Great Aha moment there.
Fantastic clues for seance and of age.
I was relieved that the communal dish was fondue and not some church thing.
Finishing this was very satisfying like a fudge sundae. Thanks Barry.

mac 1:43 PM  

Medium for me, with the SW the toughest, or at least last area to be filled in. Was convinced of the computer connection, until Paperback Writer came clearly into view.

Nice one!

quilter1 1:58 PM  

Busy morning so finished over lunch. Always enjoy Mr. Silk and his cluing. Much fun.

John V 2:07 PM  

Challenging for me, until I got the apple/Beatles crossed 15s.

It is plain that the absence of stacked 15s makes a puzzle much more difficult. The step up from yesterday was pretty dramatic.

Any time I can complete a Saturday with no errors I can say that life is good.

The apple mis-direct was splendid; liked Average Name -- wanted DOE; wanted CAPONE as Warhol idol.

So, many, but not too many, write-overs. Great puzzle, Barry, perfect for a Saturday and thank you!

Lewis 2:34 PM  

Grade A cluing. Barry, you are a wonder.

The puzzle fell faster than my normal Saturday, but I had to Google thrice. I can't wait to just get rid of that crutch!

joho 2:51 PM  

@Deb ... adding my well wishes to you,too! Scary stuff, but I had one of those once and it turned out to be nothing. Hopefully it'll be the same for you.

Carola 3:24 PM  

Took me a lo-o-o-ng time to finish, and I enjoyed every moment. Loved THE STROLL, which I learned from those SMOOTH teens on American Bandstand but never played on a HIFI - just a portable record player that played only 45's. So many pleasures in this puzzle, in both clues and answers - a real Saturday treat.

@Rex - On tought spots - the last letter I filled in was the C in UTICA/ACES, after trying to think of every possible meaning of hand (sailor, body part, applause...) and Univ. of Texas at...? and running the alphabet three times.

@loren - Robert HOOKE is a fascinating figure. I got to know him through fiction - Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver (which I recommend).

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

So glad that nowhere was an ONO to be seen- to break up Lennon and McCartney!

Davis 4:33 PM  

Ugh. I was on track for my best-ever Saturday time, and then I got jammed up in the NE — I spent as much time on that corner as I did the entire rest of the puzzle. I had SERUM DONOR to mess me up for a while, and even when I realized that was wrong it just took me ages to get each of those entries.

Good puzzle though, so no complaints from me; just frustration at my inexplicable seize-up at the end.

JFe 5:44 PM  

@Deb

Well wishes to you!

sanfranman59 6:25 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 6:08, 6:47, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Tue 8:57, 8:57, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 8:15, 11:49, 0.70, 1%, Easy (lowest median solve time of 169 Wednesdays)
Thu 15:08, 18:50, 0.80, 18%, Easy
Fri 25:46, 24:29, 1.05, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 24:55, 29:12, 0.85, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:13, 4:40, 1.12, 84%, Challenging
Wed 4:41, 5:56, 0.79, 7%, Easy
Thu 7:53, 9:22, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:34, 12:11, 1.03, 60%, Medium
Sat 14:40, 16:33, 0.89, 29%, Easy-Medium

Bob Snead 7:27 PM  

So Rex gives a thumbs up and then hardly anyone says anything negative.

Well, i hated this puzzle.

Dirigonzo 8:10 PM  

Weekend puzzle partner arrived early to give me a hand with this one, and we knocked it out in about an hour flat - that about equals Rex's 5:39 with our handicap figured in. I had to explain to her that with Barry Silk's puzzles the answers are easy, it's the clues that are hard and that was mostly true of this one.

Z 11:06 PM  

This was probably in the easy-medium range for me. I had nothing on my first pass through the acrosses. First word in was SEANCE, then IRENE and TRYST to finally find purchase. From there it was steady progress. I was a little surprised to learn that BRYAN Adams won a Grammy.

Go Tigers.

michael 11:10 PM  

This seemed to me of typical Saturday difficulty. It took my a lot longer than Rex, but in the end I got it all. Went a lot fast after I figured out lennonmccartney/paperbac writer.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

I must be missing something. The Monday NYT puzzle, called "super easy" here, was just that for me. Fifteen squares across and down, and I filled in the empty ones just about as fast as I can write -- in nineteen minutes.

Rex, though, knocked off this typical Saturday toughie in five minutes and thirty-nine seconds. I couldn't mark an X in each square in that little time.

Is there some way to fill in the blanks that I don't know about? Does anyone else out there marvel at such superhuman speed?

paulfahn 12:48 AM  

Why does Rex insist on calling Fri, Sat puzzles "theme less"? This one obviously has a Beatles theme.

Spacecraft 12:48 PM  

I must be careful here lest I gush. Let's say solving this was an extremely gratifying experience. To begin, a la @loren muse smith, I stared for quite a while before making an entry. When I saw the clue for 47a, I was immediately taken back to those wonderful years when I couldn't wait to get home after school to turn on Bandstand. "I wonder if it's THESTROLL," I thought, but of course it was too early to fill that in.

No, I began in the SE, with another bit of nostalgia--though far less pleasant--ZIT, which yielded TANZANIA, and I was in. The HIFI/OFAGE cross didn't come easy; I was stuck on some kind of TV for the 50's furniture, and the misdirect of "not in the minority" took a while to aha! out. But when HIFI gave me SLINGS I could resist no longer; just off the OL I put in THESTROLL ("Stro-o-o-o-olin'").

Surprise factoid of the day: six women at Penn really programmed ENIAC? Wow. You go, girls!

Forgetting STROH for the moment and not knowing the _flat harp key, I had _APO_E for the Warhol idol and thought CAPONE? Could it be? I mean, Andy was decidedly off-center (OFFSET?) but I don't know. Then after recalling STROH (duh!) I realized there's only one letter difference between CAPOnE and CAPOTE. Weird.

All around, it took some work and lots of little aha!'s to get the solution. More pleasant nostalgia ensued with the 15's, and with the surprisingly straightforward clued STARSHIP. Barry, this puzzle was ACES!

OFL, why so surprised that BRYAN Adams should get a Grammy? If he heard you, he'd say that "Cuts Like a Knife!"

DMGrandma 3:35 PM  

After an almost non-beginning, I got DITZ, and INGA. (Never saw the movie, but had heard that Its Igor was a she.) From these two, I branched out and got a goodly part of the answers, but fell short of finishing. Having ARdEn for ARPEL and DOe for DOW didn't help. Also American Bandstand and Beatles' records are not in my memory bank, tho I could name the two Beatles called for here. Rubric was a new word for me. Have heard it, but would have called it a rule, so wrong there. And, I still don't get CRO. If it means Croasia, shouldn't the clue indicated an abbreviation?

@Waxy. Thanks for the explanation yesterday. I do remember the Singing Nun, but only translation!

Ginger 5:14 PM  

UNCLE, I cry UNCLE. So many things I didn't know that even after coming here, I couldn't parse it at all. Did not know that apple was a label, never heard of PAPERBACKWRITER until I played Rex's clip, though it then sounded familiar. I did get the SE corner, but the rest totally eluded me.

@DMGrandma - 'Young Frankenstein' is hilarious. Teri Garr plays INGA, Marty Feldman is Igor. It's worth the rental.

rain forest 5:24 PM  

A fine, fine puzzle. No dreck anywhere; clever/devilish cluing, highlighted by the Apple clues. Like Rex, I just popped in BUBBLE UP and that almost took care of the entire NW in one fell swoop. I KNEW that SEANCE was right and that put a C where I was trying to get Jobs/Wozniak in, and then it dawned what was up. After that, I dashed through everything except the NE where I KNEW that SERUMDONOR was right, until it wasn't, and spent half my time (way longer than 5:39) in that section. But solving what I consider a difficult puzzle is an accomplishment for me, plus I loved this one.

de Coubertain 8:33 PM  

@DMGrandma - Balkan land, in the Olympics : CRO


The "in the Olympics" part of the clue indicates the use of CRO for Croatia.

Pierre de Coubertin 8:36 PM  

Sorry, so blasted drunk I can't spell my own name!

Waxy in Montreal 8:43 PM  

Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play? Or, other than the NE corner, how was today's puzzle? Just great!

Seriously, ADREP, ODD and DINERO turned what had been an enjoyable and rather easy Sat. into a bit of a nightmare though I also pondered for the longest time about why Andy Warhol's early idol was Al Capone.

Normally, PEONS like me would be tuning-in Hockey Night in Canada about this HOUR on a Sat. evening. Time to put NHL Commish Gary Bettman in the PENALTYBOX - maybe bring in that skater with many trophies, Bobby ORR, to solve the NHL lockout. Might have a few ACES up his sleeve.

Andrew 2:32 AM  

I started doing this puzzle while watching a George Harrison Bio on TV. Still took me ages to twig on to the Apple misdirect. Now I feel silly!

Anonyrat 6:24 AM  

Would have thought it relatively easy for a Saturday, except for getting Nedicked at the cross of 41A (obscure 17th century philosopher) and 23D (19th century founder of regional brewery, now defunct). The only Brewers I know of play for Milwaukee. I could see expecting people to know Adolph Coors, but Bernhard Stroh? I've never even seen a can/bottle of Stroh's in real life. Lone Star was popular in my younger days, but until Googling Stroh just now I had no idea they owned it. Guess it's a regional thing.

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