Creation director Jon / SAT 11-10-12 / Friday Night Beauty airer / Protein powder purveyor / Council city 1545-63 / TV title role for Toni Collette / 1997 Spielberg epic /

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Constructor: David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: none

Word of the Day: Jon AMIEL (62A: "Creation" director Jon) —
Jon Amiel (born 20 May 1948) is an English film director who has since the early 1980s worked in film and television in both the UK and the US. [...] After having worked as a story editor for the BBC, he directed the documentary The Silent Twins, and was chosen to direct the Dennis Potter serial The Singing Detective. He made his feature film debut in 1989 with Queen of Hearts. (wikipedia)
• • •

The grid is great, but the puzzle was really annoying to me for one big reason—nearly all of it was way too easy, except the SW corner, which was nearly impossible. Just a *huge* discrepancy in difficulty level between the vast majority of the puzzle and that little corner (both little corners, actually, but TRENT [Council city of 1545-63] was a gimme in the NE, so I didn't get nearly so bogged down there). I have no memory of this puzzle now. The only thing I remember is the roughly 4x5 section in the SW, which took me much longer than the entire rest of the puzzle. Only way in was through two answers that start and end with "E," respectively. Not a lot to go on. Further, both answers had "?" clues. Ugh. Es and "?" clues on both!? And then it was a combination of vagueness, obscurity, and (I think) inaccuracy. Do real dealers say "YOU IN?" (50D: Dealer's query) Sounds like something you'd ask your roommate i.e. getting a pizza. Jon AMIEL is who now? KREME!? The clue on KREME is ridiculous (49D: Part of some sundae shoppe names). I've literally never seen that word on a "sundae shoppe." Ugh. Krispy KREME is a thing, but "sundae shoppe?" Is that a thing? "I'm going to the sundae shoppe, pa." No. Ice cream shoppe, maybe. Go ahead and Google ["sundae shoppe"]. The results are Dismal. TROI or SULU? Maybe KIRK? Who can say? (54A: Name on the Enterprise)  Why is EPIPEN clued with a "?" (45D: Shot of adrenaline?). Seems pretty literal. I had REUPS (58A: Avoids a service interruption) and SLY (59D: Feline) written in, and kept entertaining the idea of PENNY (64A: Copper), but couldn't pull the trigger because it made all the Downs look wrong. *Finally* got SKYPE after just mulling the clue over and over and over (48A: Make a call to see someone nowadays?). That seems to be the key to that corner: SKYPE.


The rest of the puzzle—5 minutes, tops. A gimme at 1A: Facebook purchase of 2012 (INSTAGRAMand hardly a hiccup thereafter. Felt like a Wednesday.

Bullets:
  • 10A: Site of the world's largest single reservoir of natural gas (QATAR) — I live on top of the Marcellus Shale here in the NE. Lots of natural gas just waiting to be fracked. Very controversial issue. Pro-fracking County Executive just won re-election in a landslide.
  • 15A: Subject of a civil-rights investigation (HATE CRIME) — Good clue. Having INSTAGRAM, I threw down TEN, ACOW, and GRAIN in quick succession, and those crosses made HATE CRIME obvious.
  • 34A: Protein powder purveyor (GNC) — never saw the clue—not a common occurrence in a Saturday puzzle. Tells you how fast I was blowing through it. 
  • 53A: TV title role for Toni Collette (TARA) — We are currently watching (and loving) this show on Netflix. She's an exceptional actor.
  • 9D: ___ mal (tort reform topic, briefly) (MED) — what an ugly way to clue MED. Thankfully, never saw the clue. 
  • 8D: 1997 Spielberg epic ("AMISTAD") — future constructors of Spielberg tribute puzzles, take note: "AMISTAD" has the same number of letters as "LINCOLN."
  • 36D: Singer with the double-platinum album "Measure of a Man" (CLAY AIKEN) — would've been tough had I not had the -KEN part before reading the clue. Given that, CLAY AIKEN was the first and only answer to cross my mind.
  • 10D: "Friday Night Beauty" airer (QVC) — impossible without the "Q," piece of cake with it.
  • 11D: Literary sextet (AEIOUY) — erp. Didn't like. Not without ANDSOMETIMES.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

52 comments:

jae 12:09 AM  

Long time no Quarfoot!  Nice to have a new one.   Easy-medium for me.  It helps when 1a is a gimme.   Smooth and pretty zippy, especially the NW.  Unlike Rex, SW was not a problem. SKYPE was my first entry there.

Having played a lot of poker where alcohol was consumed it was not uncommon to hear the dealer ask "YOU IN?"

Only erasure:  Cereal for CREPES.

Tough crosses:  Not sure.  The United States of TARA is pretty obscure but the crosses seem OK except for maybe RICCI.   Obscurity is also true for Jon AMIEL (a WOE for me).  But, again, the crosses seem gettable.

Nice to see the ZORA part of Neale Hurston.

I was in NYC a couple of weeks ago and went to the Letterman show.  To get tickets you have to answer a trivia question about the show.  I watch it nightly  but I'm anal so I did a little studying/research and came across the term RICTUS.  Serendipity is nice.  My question was "What color are the note cards Dave uses".  Yes, I was over prepared.

Very Disappointed Guy 12:30 AM  

The only way the three phrases 'Clay Aikens', 'Measure of a Man' and 'Double Platinum' should ever appear in the same sentence is if there is some measurement system I'm unaware of where 1 Platinum = 4.83 Centimeters.

David Quarfoot 1:45 AM  

Rex, my original clue on 11D (AEIOUY) was "Sextet seen in many New York night clubs?". I was saddened to see Will change it - this took Forever to dream up. Also, my original clue on KREME was "Commercial additive" - which seems insane in retrospect. I put CLAYAIKEN in because he should have won Idol - at least now he'll get the fame he deserves.

Anonymous 2:14 AM  

Saturday in under an hour is easy for me. SW did go last. SKYPE was a gimme so that got me in. SCREW instead of STRAP for "Leave in a bad place, say" caused all kinds of trouble. Didn't know AMI?L / EPEIN?N. Narrowed to A or E and guessed wrong.

Also missed with YARA instead of TARA. Put STAY for "Assists, say" because hanging around when things hit the fan is a good assist I'd say.

So, -2. F...

Anonymous 2:16 AM  

Meant AMI?L / EPIP?N. Oops.

syndy 2:21 AM  

Not as easy as Rex... or as hard.Medium all over-faster than yesterday.A few answers I had to retro google as I did not understandthem yeah ANATOLE I'm talking about you!Nice puzzle but the Mets song sounds really lame

Anatole Crepe(lach) Mets 2:59 AM  

I'm in!!!!
Such a great constructor!!!
Love David Quarfoot with his ZZZ buildups, Qs without Us and always something super fresh like INSTAGRAM and SKYPE.
He has such a distinct style, etched in stone...
So if I get stuck, i can guess ZORA or LEIPZIG, knowing it's Quarfoot.

Only minor complaint is a spate of obscure English directors of late...AMIEL today, and someone I've already forgotten earlier this week. Then again, I got AMOSOZ by using my own little Quarfoot Heuristic Principle (feel free to patent that, @Evan)

(speaking of Israelis, AMIEL is the name of my old beau's oldest son, I believe it means godloving)

Evan 5:08 AM  

This is really fine-looking puzzle. Lots of fun, fresh phrases to pick from. Rex has mentioned this many times before, but higher word counts really do make a huge difference in the fill. This is a 72-worder, the max for a NYT themeless. The worst offenders are probably LII, LST, A COW, ONE-D, AMIEL, and RICTUS, but pretty much everything else is solid -- the northeast corner is especially golden.

The southwest corner was tricky, but I think the northeast was tougher. I didn't know if the council city was TRENT or ghENT. CUTEY seemed wrong because I figured CUTie is the more common spelling. I had ArRay before AGREE. I know almost nothing about QVC -- I don't have Comcast at the moment, and when I did, I never watched that channel. I know even less about the CIERA, so of course I went with the Olds puzzle staple aleRo. And I was completely stumped on AEIOUY for a long time because I had no idea what group of characters in popular literature could end with ----UY. Kudos for @David checking in to give us his original, awesome clue on that.

Besides the aleRo/CUTie/ArRay set, my other write-overs were:

* cat before SLY -- erased it immediately because that seemed too easy.
* evitE before SKYPE -- that held me up for a while. Slightly ashamed that I didn't get SKYPE sooner since I used it last night for maybe the second time in the last two years.
* WayS before WITS
* crEOLE before OLE OLE -- okay, I can chalk that one up to laziness. Once I had the last four letters, I just dropped it in without reading the clue.

Please, someone else tell me that I'm not the only one who initially thought of something to do with the DEA or narcs when he saw the clue "Growing concern?" I must still be stunned that Colorado and Washington legalized weed.

Evan 5:43 AM  

@acme:

I'm not entirely sure, but as best I can understand it, your Quarfoot Heuristic is: When you're stuck in David Quarfoot's puzzles, look for J's, Q's, X's, and Z's. Do I have that right? If so, that actually helped me out of a jam in this one since the T of TRENT gave me QATAR.

I actually do have a similar rule-of-thumb that I think others have stated before: Clean fill always trumps obscurity, but all else being equal, the NYT will pick the letter with the highest Scrabble score. Observe in this puzzle: WITS/A COW instead of PITS/A-COP (Scrabble score of W=4, P=3). Or TEEM/METS instead of TEES/SETS (M=3, S=1). They could have gone with CARA/STAC instead of TARA/STAT (C=3, T=1), but STAC is an annoying abbreviation whereas STAT is cleaner, so those two potential crossings aren't equal.

It's more of a useful rule for constructors than solvers. Most of the time you'll never run into a situation where you'd need to use it to resolve a tough crossing (because PITS instead of WITS just doesn't make sense given the clue). But in the rare scenario that two letters could work and make sense, go with the more Scrabbly letter. So it's kind of a loser cousin to my other rule-of-thumb on resolving potential Naticks.

(Hmmm....now that I realize it, I can totally Scrabble up the southern part of the grid! GRIM instead of GRIT, ORIOLE instead of OLE OLE, MARK instead of TALC, TIOS instead of TEEM, SETS instead of METS, and you get former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie KOSAR instead of CESAR. Basically you swap two foreign words (OLE OLE and CESAR) for one foreign word and a half-decent, maybe obscure sports figure (TIOS and KOSAR). But on the letters, you trade away a T/L/C/E/E/M set (Scrabble score = 10) for M/R/K/I/O/S (score = 12). Where's my crossword consulting gig, New York Times?!!)

pauer 7:01 AM  

Nice one, DQ. Guess this one didn't sit around too long!

@evan: To "Scrabble up" a puzzle is my new favorite phrase.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard, I'm taking preorders for my latest Puzzlefest (an interconnected set of crosswords with a final answer and prizes). More details at http://patrickblindauer.com/shop.html

dk 7:43 AM  

Good lord it's post's puzzle nerds for breakfast hour :).

Not so easy for me. I had to revel a letter to get thec Q for QVC and as a result the NE.

NINARICCI was a flier. I thought she was the soap opera star who pined for an Emmy.

Scrabble up will be my phrase meaning to purposely confound.

Watching old Bon films and despite my love for Diana Rigg -- On Her blah blah Service is so bad.

*** (3 Stars) One hour of fun.

Michael Collins 8:55 AM  

Puzzle had a number of nice false alternatives, e.g. UTAH or ZION, PALME or CESAR, KEBAB or SATAY.

Lindsay 8:59 AM  

I didn't find this quite so easy; on the other hand, I solved it in the bleary pre-dawn a.m. because that's when the dog decided she just had to get up and go out.

Still don't understand 48D STRAP??? I went with STRiP, thinking that if you've been abducted, STRIPped of your clothing, and pitched out of a moving car into a ditch, then you're left in a bad place.

Writeovers: WIle >> WITS and the previously mentioned alERo >> CIERA and ghENT >> TRENT.

Have a good weekend.

Shamik 9:08 AM  

Whoohooooooo....an easy Saturday at 11:47. Lots of fresh fun stuff: INSTAGRAM, HATECRIME, NAMENAMES, NOZZLE, EPIPEN.

Have never seen a sundae or ice cream shoppe with KREME in the name. Never ever. And I didn't care for AEIOUY...alphabetic maybe. Literary? Not so much. Perhaps "Letterary"

Toughest area by far: northeast. And yes, I'll blame it on AEIOUY. As far as it being part of New York night clubs? Glad the clue was changed to something that made slightly more sense.

Good puzzle, DQ.

Z 9:29 AM  

A fun Saturday. All over medium for me. Getting SKYPE seems to be the key in the SW. That A in AMIEL was purely because STRAP was the least nonsensical answer for me. STRAPped for cash is my guess as to the "bad place."

I also tried TOPiary before TOP SOIL. Too clever by half there. I am happy that there are so many spellings for kabob, that kept me from writing anything at 47a, and thus making SATAY easy to see once I replaced omElEt with CREPES.

Didn't remembered ghENT, so I am glad that TRENT is correct, which made QATAR and the QVC obvious. A quick review of my channel guide shows that I have at least three shopping channels that I don't watch, QVC, HSN, and Jewelry Television.

Favorite clue for me was "Pint-size collectible?"

jackj 9:38 AM  

Quarfoot puzzles always seem to me to be produced to impress other constructors more than to entertain eager solvers. A case in point is offered by the constructor himself as he posted earlier:

“Rex, my original clue on 11D (AEIOUY) was "Sextet seen in many New York night clubs?". I was saddened to see Will change it - this took Forever to dream up”

I suppose the “nightclub” clue makes sense to someone, but not to this mere mortal.

Better for us if the Quarfoot quirk of including a signature “Q” word in his puzzles continues, (his last puzzle also had QATAR), as it makes it easier for the solver if we can expect a “Q” word that will help reveal what would otherwise be a stumper (QVC for example).

Skating by the AMIEL, EPIPEN entries to get to the troublesome YOU IN in that same corner, having been involved in my weekly poker game last night, ALL IN was frequently heard, as dealers tried to get everyone to initially ante up; YOU IN, never crossed any dealer’s lips.

Ah well, there were a couple of gems, OLEOLE clued as “Encouraging words” and “Gaping grin” for RICTUS.

The latter is a word seen often in mystery novels, (as the author has a field day describing the corpse’s RICTUS), but it never seems to be used for living things. However, if we think back to the VP debate and the eerie grin displayed by Joe Biden, we get as good a word picture of this condition as we could hope for.

Thanks, David. I’ll STICKTOIT and hopefully, with the next Quarfoot, I’ll be able to get through it without having ACOW.

Merle 9:52 AM  

Challenging, and not fun. I'm too 20th century -- or maybe too 16th century -- Council of Trent a gimme, but I don't watch American Idol, never heard of Tara other than the Erin go Bragh Tara, so Clay Aiken and Toni Colette are "who?' to me. But Zora also a gimme -- for those of us who are more comfortable with the 20th century and the Harlem Renaissance than with trite 21st century TV. Great to see Amos Oz in a puzzle, though. Now, tht's literature! Old Olds, Ciera -- okay, I guess that's 20th century, but I don't know diddly about cars, and I don't care. Re the AEIOU and sometimes Y clue, Quarfoot's clue is wittier than Shortz's clue. In fact, Shortz's clue is misleading -- AEIOUY is not "literary" -- it is elementary, my dear Shortz -- knowing one's vowels doesn't mean knowing literature. And very challenging -- but amusing. Clue for Skype also was clever -- even if it is very 21st century. Thought kabob, waited, pen hovering, until satay claimed it's rightful place.

Sir Hillary 9:56 AM  

First off, the really important stuff...@dk: You and I may have to go to the mat regarding OHMSS. You may have guessed by my "nom de Rex" that it is my favorite Bond film. By a mile, I should add. Lazenby was much better than he gets credit for being, and I believe that had he stuck with the franchise he would have evolved into the definitive 007 portrayer. Ah well, horses for courses. Off to see Skyfall this afternoon -- can't wait!

As for the puzzle, I am really surprised that so may here found it relatively easy. I cannot remember being as proud to have finished a NYT puzzle -- that's how hard I found it. I found the clues to be very obtuse -- not misleading, just super-minimalist. Examples include 17A, 22A, 27A, 33A, 43D and especially 46D. That made the solving experience more interesting, because I felt like even the more mundane entries became cool reveals. But it sure was difficult.

The grid is really good, with NAMENAMES being my favorite (I let out an audible "Hah!" when I finally got it). My only gripe would be that ZION crossing both AMOSOZ and ZORA is a bit harsh. Only after ruling out -IAN as a place could I rule out ZARA, and then I had to guess that ZION was the place. However, maybe it was a Natick only for me, who is unfamiliar with both AMOSOZ and ZORA Hurston.

Great puzzle, but I do need a nap.

Wes Davidson 9:56 AM  

Sorry...I don't get Quarfoot's clue for AIEOUY ?

Sir Hillary 10:03 AM  

@jackj 9:38am and Wes Davidson 9:56am:

My read on the DQ's original AEIOUY clue is that all six letters appear in the phrase "many New York nightclubs". Would have been more elegant without the repeating Y (Newport instead of New York, perhaps?) but I am guessing the WS changed it because it's a bit too cryptic-like.

Alan Jacobs 10:12 AM  

I had the most trouble with "strap," because I thought "scrap" could also be leaving in a bad place (like a garbage dump) and I did not know "troi" or "epi pen".

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Nice puzzle.

One write-over at 16 A, MARGE before VERGE. I blame Robert Service _

The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Etc.

joho 10:25 AM  

David Quarfoot's puZZles always smack of freshness, this one included. It was not as easy for me as @Rex, but I had enough filled in quicker than usual to accept the medium rating.

The SW was definitely the toughest part of the puzzle which didn't become clear until I saw that feline was SLY.

I can't be the only one with alERo before CIERA, can I?

Got it all in the end and loved every minute!

More Quarfoot, please!

quilter1 10:26 AM  

CUTie, kabob, bobby (64A) all took me awhile to straighten out, but filling in the NW and SE was smooth and fun. Good puzzle.

JC66 10:46 AM  

Easy for me for a Saturday, especially considering it's a DQ puzzle. He usually gives me fits (in a good way).

@ACME I neglected to mention after this Thursday MAN rebus puzzle that you might want to consider constructing a puzzle using the rebus HER or SHE.

Tita 11:03 AM  

@David Q - I like your KREME klue better...

Same reaction as @Rex - though teh NE was nearly as hard as SW - the unlikely letter combos at QVC and AEIOUY kept success there at bay.

Had to ask puzspouse for ZION, then after much staring, SKYPE replaced evitE, but not knowing TROI or AMIEL gave me a 2-square DNF at S_R_P.

@Lindsay - that puzzled me too - think of it in the context of "STRAPped for cash".

IHADABALL. Thanks.

jackj 11:15 AM  

Oops! In my 9:38AM comment I mentioned my "weekly" poker game when I meant to type "monthly".

To keep up with the game's aggressive banter as frequently as once a week, all of the players would likely need to arrive attached to IV drips of testosterone.

Susan McConnell 11:22 AM  

Great fun! Was feeling really good about myself for a while there. INSTAGRAM! Boom! HATECRIME! Bang! IHADABALL! Pow! And so on, until the SW corner, where my experience mirrored Rex's to the letter. SKYPE took waaaay too long. Oh well.

I LOVE the original clue for AEIOUY! And I love knowing that Will came up with the dud of a clue for KREME. Would love to know why he went with that.

Also loved the ZZZ cluster. Fun,fun morning,

Gill I. P. 11:23 AM  

This was a little darling that took lots of WITS on my part. But, I soldier(ed) on and decided it was an awesome party.
I alway like me a DQ and I always learn a new word... RICTUS ? - it looked so wrong but by golly it was right.
My treaty was also Ghent but I knew it was nuch later than the 1500's. NINA RICCI was my first gimme since I wore L'Air du Temps until I nauseated myself. My Iglesias song was Hero or did his son sing that? LEIPZIG, AMOS OZ and ZION drove me NUTS to get but eventually the PENNY dropped.
CLAY AIKEN didn't win Idol????

OISK 12:01 PM  

Oh, somebody else who can quote Robert Service! I memorized "Dan McGrew" (sp?) as a child, and love The Cremation...(and there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar...) Like Joho, I had Alero, and then when I got a down clue, changed it to Alera, and ended up with two incorrect squares. There is a station called QVC?? Yesterday's puzzle took me much longer, but I finished it correctly. Today's went in half an hour, but with two wrong letters. I don't like the clue for AEIOUY , but the New York night club clue makes no sense to me at all. Still, a very fine puzzle, and certainly Saturday worthy.

Sandy K 12:05 PM  

QVC was the first thing I put in- watched "Friday Night Beauty" last night!

Then watched Letterman- he uses blue cards, right? I should know...

Was on the VERGE of a fast solve with CUTEYS like CLAY AIKEN- he was runner-up, NINA RICCI, SKYPE, INSTAGRAM, ANATOLE France, to NAME NAMES.

Trouble with RICTUS, AMIEL, SATAY, EPI-PEN, and AMOSOZ til I remembered to parse.

Had to STICK TO IT, and then ALL AT ONCE, they fell in. For me, medium-challenging, but as Saturday puzzles go- this was not a bad PENNY.

Still don't get the nightclub clue for AEIOUY ??

jberg 12:56 PM  

The SW wasn't so bad for me - I had to guess AMIEL, TROI was only a vague memory, and I think of felines as more ShY than SLY -- but it all came out rihgt. And I loved the big corners: INSTAGRAM/HATE CRIME/AMINO ACID is such an unlikely trio, and then we get such ordinary words in the SE. But the NE killed me, mostly because of "Literary" in the clue for 12D. "Literal" would have been OK, but literary sent me to literature, so I kept thinking it must be some expanded version of 'trilogy.' I finally did get it when I saw VERGE, wrote over ArRay with AGREE, and went back to my original ONE-D.

But: in a senior moment, I could visualize but not remember the word for SATAY, and didn't know TARA or CLAY AIKEN and therefore guessed SARK and CLARK IKEN. So I finished with errors.

I did like it, though - and I seldome complain that even the easy parts are too easy!

jae 12:57 PM  

@joho -- I forgot I also had to erase aleRo. I dumped it almost immediately because USA was the only airer I could think of that fit and it wasn't going to work.

Evan 1:02 PM  

@Sir Hillary:

Good point about the extra Y. Maybe it would have been better as "Sextet seen in a New York night club?"

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Wow. I agree with medium but I got the SW corner first thought the NE was a bear. Like yesterday must be an age thing Rex. Nice workout for a saturday

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

What Rex said. But...why the question mark in the SKYPE clue? Clue works without it, no?

Lewis 3:32 PM  

I had to Google 35D and 62A and then it seemed I was off to the races. Well, not exactly. Took me close to an hour. But enjoyed the solve.

Matthew G. 3:51 PM  

Mostly agree, except I found the NE to be the one really hard spot, not the SW. SKYPE jumped right out at me, so the SW was okay (although I share Rex's total bafflement at the clue on KREME).

But the NE, oy. I naturally tried ALERO instead of CIERA, which really slowed me down, and CUTIE instead of CUTEY, the latter spelling being one I've never seen (a search for CUTIE gets 198 million Google hits while CUTEY gets fewer than 6 million). So that corner was a mess for a long time.

Evan 3:57 PM  

Correction to my first comment. I meant to say:

"the northWEST corner is especially golden."

Charlene 4:33 PM  

That was hellishly hard. Jon Amiel (who????) when the infinitely better-known Barbara is available? Ugh!

michael 5:38 PM  

average (medium) Saturday for me except for the Natick Tara/Nina Ricci though the r was guessable.

Dirigonzo 1:10 PM  

There is no shame for me in having to sleep on a Saturday puzzle before I manage to finish it. I was way too tired to keep up with the cleverness of the cluing last night but a fresh look this morning produced lots of AHA! moments and a very self-satisfying solve, which is why I do these puzzles in the first place.

Now back to the (syndicated) Friday puzzle which is still kicking my butt, but I'll STICKTOIT until I prevail, then it's on to BEQ's Sunday grid (it's a good thing tomorrow is a holiday - I may need extra time).

Please take a little time out of your day to remember and honor our nation's veterans.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

this is the first saturday i've tried. while it isn't as easy as a wednesday rex (i usually finish those) i did really make a dent in it but the ne and nw were a bit too difficult for me. i dont get the x y axis answer. anyone still there????

Dirigonzo 3:58 PM  

@Anony 2:54 PM - the x and y axes are lines, which are one-dimensional or ONE D for short.

Ellen S 10:21 AM  

@sandy k and others, the ones who got 11D AEIOUY keep alluding to the trick without explaining -- it's. a phrase ("many New York night clubs") in which all the vowels appear. @Evan's suggestion to change it to "a New York night club" is a good one, getting rid of the extra "y" in the phrase, and either is better than Shortz's "literary sextet."
Lucky me, I never even saw that clue when solving, filled in the crosses and fled that corner. Hand up here for alERo before CIERA, but much gratitude to my alma mater for preparing me to fill in TRENT, these many years later.

Spacecraft 12:15 PM  

I opened my mouth yesterday: "I must be getting better at this." Yeah. When will I learn? I am jaw-droppingly aghast that anyone called any part of this puzzle "easy." After more than an hour of headache-generating toil, I finally was able to get the NW-SE corridor. And that only after having to write over TOPiary with TOPSOIL. But the NE and SW nooks? No way. I pondered over the "Literary sextet" clue a long while, and the vowels entered my mind, but I rejected that idea, because it's SO BAD that no self-respecting constructor would do it. And QVC? Since I'm not a fiftyish woman with twelve jewelry boxes I had no shot. "Line up" is a sadistic clue for AGREE. Not wrong, not even unfair...just sadistic.

And the other corner! AMIEL: that's a name familiar to people--both of them. YOUIN is ridiculous. There was no hope for that corner. I was glad that the name at 54a turned out to be TROI (God, she's hot!) but OFL forgot at least two other possibilities: Worf and Data.

DMGrandma 2:45 PM  

Well, I got the bottom half, but the top was more spaces than letters when I threw in the towel. Tough clues combined with stuff known by the younger crew left me hanging. Once I came here and "borrowed" INSTAGRAM, a lot more of the NW fell, but not all. Didn't know the author or where the musician was born. For the NE, I wanted my literary sextet to be names, like the Five Little Peppers or the Four Horsemen, but no 6 anythings came to mind. Also don't watch shopping channels and "felt" the natural gas source was somewhere in the US. Ah well, I spent a fun/frustrating hour, and will be back to try again on Monday.

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

Thank you, thank you, Spacecraft. Now I don't have to say a thing. The cluing was absolutely outrageous. Ron Diego

Waxy in Montreal 9:51 PM  

Funnily enough, I found the SW corner almost Wednesday-like with SKYPE, TROI (love that woman), REUPS and PENNY quickly revealing the obscure (Jon) AMIEL. Should have probably stopped then because, never having heard of QVC, the NE incorrectly contained AMC and MARGE (even with the gimme TRENT) and needed Googling to resolve.

Elsewhere, found the Quarfoot cluing most uneven. For example, LST from E.T.O. craft and SALARY from Pay were so easy, I thought they must be wrong! On the other hand, ZORA, GNC, SATAY, TARA, AMISTAD and RICTUS were never going to emerge, no matter how creative I became.

Even outsmarted myself cleverly putting down RECYCLING from the L in LII for Refuse aid (obvious trash thinking).

Time now to put that pint-size collectible to good use...

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

I often read the comments but never comment myself. I am writing in from Syndiland so I am weeks behind the other posts. I agree with Rex's rating of medium but unlike everyone else, the NW was the hardest for me and the last to fall. I had three quarters of the puzzle complete and was unable to get any traction considering that I am unfamiliar with the words rictus, Leipzig and don't know who Amos Oz is. The NW killed me but I loved the mental workout.

Lennie Augustine 12:40 PM  

To the suggestion of "a New York night club" for DQ's original clue, the problem with that is that the 'Y' in that phrase is not a vowel.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Agree with Lennie, DQ's clue is perfect just as it is. Sometimes Y is a vowel (as it is in "many"). Sometimes not ("York")! Every other vowel is in the phrase just once. So the phrase is genius, and I'm impressed.

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