Cartoonist Foster / FRI 1-25-13 / Game with forks pins / Mid 13th-century pope / Dynasty after Qin / Cote call

Friday, January 25, 2013

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: none

Word of the Day: SEVE Trophy (44A: ___ Trophy (golf tourney)) —
The Seve Trophy is a biennial golf tournament between teams of professional male golfers representing Great Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe. It is named after five times major winner Seve Ballesteros, the most successful golfer ever from Continental Europe who was one of the key instigators of the tournament. He made an exceptional contribution to the European Ryder Cup successes of the 1980s and 1990s, and came to be regarded as an exceptionally keen team man in a usually individualistic sport. A sponsorship deal with the French media conglomerate Vivendi meant that the 2009 was known as The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros and the 2011 event was the Vivendi Seve Trophy.
• • •

Had one of a seemingly unending but hopefully now ended series of dental appointments today, and while I didn't feel that stressed about it all, my body is now acting like I ran a marathon earlier today, i.e. I'm exhausted. I took the puzzle to bed with me and solved on paper, so I have no idea what my time was, but it all felt quite normal. Tough but doable. I'd say it leaned a little tough, maybe, but who knows? I keep wrestling with Fridays and breezing through Saturdays, so I'm loath to trust my judgment on Fridays at the moment. I like the shape of this grid—makes for an interesting distribution of long answers—but I thought the fill just so-so. Stuff like STEALS BASES and THREE-FOR-ONE, while valid, just doesn't pop. Also not a big ONESELF fan. STRUCK A NOTE? Where I'm from, we usually strike the whole chord, not just a note. Loved MORTAL SIN across the middle, and POWER OUTAGE and RAINBOW ROOM (17A: Former New York City attraction with a revolving dance floor) are awesomely dark and bright, respectively. Overall, SORTA liked it, SORTA didn't.


First answer: SCOT (1A: Automaker David Dunbar Buick, by birth)Last answer: THERAPY. I initially thought THERAPY was TOURNEY (35D: Couples may be in it), because I was thinking of Fred Couples, who is a golfer. But then I noticed that "tourney" was actually in the clue for SEVE, and while clue / fill dupes sometimes occur in the NYX, "tourney" seemed rather unlikely to have escaped notice. Speaking of SEVE, that SEVE / URBAN IV crossing is at least mildly brutal, in that the only way I got it was by knowing that SEVE Ballesteros was a golfer. Never heard of the eponymous trophy. Also, SEIE Trophy and (especially) SEXE Trophy seemed highly unlikely. I'm guessing < 5  percent of solvers could've told you when URBAN IV (24D: Mid 13th-century pope) was pope (even +/- 50 years). I have a Ph.D. in medieval literature, and I sure couldn't.


Had no idea CHESS had forks and pins (40A: Game with forks and pins). I don't even care enough to look up what those are. Part of my slowness on trigger with URBAN IV was I thought he was something like OTHO III because I had first letter "O" with ROSS instead of RUSS at 23A: Football Hall-of-Famer Grimm. I managed to guess dead on with HAN, though (50A: Dynasty after the Qin). Sadly had to think a bit to remember which animal went in a cote (7D: Cote call). Had the "C" and thought "...CAW?...no, crows aren't domesticated ... wait, are they? ... noooo..." Doves are, or can be, and they COO. I went through a P.J. O'ROURKE phase in college—encountered his essay "Among the Euro-Weenies" while I was studying in Europe, and it resonated. My college yearbook quote is from O'ROURKE. This is to say, I got 11D: "Parliament of Whores" humorist easily. Didn't get HAL Foster fast, which is embarrassing, as he is responsible for one of the crosswordiest of comic strips: "Prince Valiant."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

72 comments:

jae 12:05 AM  

Damn fine Fri.  I had to work for this, as should be the case on Fri.  Either the cold I currently have is slowing me down or this was medium-tough.   NW was medium once I erased SMEARED.  NE and center were tough.  Tony to Emmy to OBIE finally which gave me the elusive DOUBLEBOGEY.  The south was a tad easier especially after changing STEALSaBASE to BASES.

Zippy with a lot of sports/games stuff...ALLEY, ARI, CHESS, TEE, DOUBLEBOGEY, ORIOLES, SEMI, RUSS, GINS, SEVE (this is a relatively new tourney which no one should know unless they follow golf), STEALSBASES , and CAAN (if you count Brian's Song)...

Oh, and I finally got NewsWeek on the phone.  Apparently, they canceled my subscription and are sending me a refund.  I'm now less pissed.

jackj 12:10 AM  

A lot of good stuff today from Joe DiPietro and a few reminders not to over think these puzzles, especially with a constructor like Cakey, who is trying to make you work, (and maybe smile while you’re at it), but isn’t trying to steer you towards a “Fail” for his puzzle.

Case in point for me (who should know better) came when battling with the entries for the lower left area, working initially only with DYE as the bottom entry and, having finally deduced that the golf trophy next door at 44 across must be named after the greatest European golfer ever, SEVE Ballesteros, then with pro golf on my mind it was a “Eureka” moment for 35 down.

Putting myself in Joe’s shoes, with the “T” of STRUCKANOTE at the top, the “Y” of DYE at the bottom and the “R” of TRICKY in the middle and a clue of “Couples may be in it”, what else could it be but a brilliant misdirection for TOURNEY.

“Couples”, of course, is Fred Couples, long-time star on the Pro golf circuit, past winner of the Masters tournament and tapped as the number one golfer in the world earlier in his career. Why, he’s in a TOURNEY every week when the PGA is touring. What a brilliant entry, Joe!!

Oops, this Di Pietro guy is going to drive me into THERAPY, if not immediately then INTHEFUTURE. Talk about a mental POWEROUTAGE! Why, I’ve been SCYTHED and with (P.J.) O’ROURKE looking on as I play out my SADSONG and fret about this DOUBLEBOGEY I conjured up, good grief. “Say it ain’t so, Joe”.

Never mind, this was another sterling piece of work from Joe DiP.; may he honor us again soon with another of his clever creations! It was great fun today with his extra special cluing.

Pete 12:19 AM  

I've never understood gauging my present position relative to someone else's misfortune or good fortune. Like when I was moaning about having a broken leg, someone would tell me to shut up, there are people out there without legs. All I knew was that my leg hurt, and it bothered me. It was worse than when it wasn't broken, was probably better that only one and not both was broken. What difference did the other two non-existant realties have to do with this real one?

Why would I say this? Perhaps I am wrong in my feelings, as described above. Perhaps someone is feeling down about their performance on this puzzle. Well, I'm the guy without any legs but who still has phantom pain in both of them to provide you a basis against which to gauge your pain.

See, I've used the word STRIATEd about 100 times a day for the past 40 days. That's got to put me in the top 0.0001% of people who use the word STRIATEd. Perhaps of all time. Have any of you used the word STRIATEd 4,000 times in your life? I think not. I've explained, and given photographic exemplars, of STRIATion to people within the past 24 hours. I'll write a report on using the word STRIATEd another 40 times tomorrow, the day after, and the day after.

I was at a total loss at 1D.

There, feel better about struggling on this puzzle one and all, courtesy of me.

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

I also fell for the Couples "trap", if it was an intentional one, but tossed in THEopen instead of THERAPY.

syndy 2:48 AM  

So far out of my wheelhouse I never stood a chance.I just I'll just SOB a SAD SONG

chefwen 3:01 AM  

I'm seeing a late week pattern for me, and I DON'T like it. Got totally hung up in the SW. Again, I won't go into detail, it's too embarrassing. DANG!

MetaRex 4:02 AM  

Beaten up in the SW...ATTACK A NOTE and ACCRUED were my key mistakes...had DYE but it seemed too easy..if SASS wasn't right, DYE can't be right, right?

TOURNEY never occurred to me, maybe because I was set on CHESS. Forks and pins are pretty, btw. MetaRex is tempted to suggest that RealRex, fine aesthete that he is, look them up, but you sorta gotta understand chess to get why they're pretty. Ah...the usual problem for those of us who find beauty in math/logic...verbal and artistic and musical beauty, although not necessarily transparent, can be, while mathematical/logical beauty just ain't.

More at Tricky

Alley Carouse Matures 5:05 AM  

struggled for an hour but loved it...

@rex,
I grew up as a chess player, till I found Scrabble, my true calling...but that clue stumped me for far longer than it should have!
you fork two pieces with your knight, eg, like check the King while attacking a rook at the same time...
or you pin a piece against the King, eg if they move their queen, they expose the king to mate...yesss!

I liked that random pieces of info were floating around...
ie knowing there have been popes named URBAN, having heard of SEVE B, once gave a PJ OROURKE book to a friend, etc.

Hardest part was atTeNAE/RETINAE.
blasphemy/MORTALSIN, and saSS/KISS.

BIGEASY timely...PORK/OINKS fun echo.

Could not parse COSTAR, thinking it was like a COSTeR, one who figures out a bill??

SORTA sportsy: TEE, ARI, SEVE, ALLEY, DOUBLEBOGEY, ORIOLES, STEALSBASES, RUSS Grimm, SEMI,
(and to lesser extent CHESS, GINS)
but I'll bet Joe DiPietro doesn't notice or doesn't care.

TRICKY, but all gettable in the end.

YETI always brings back a nice memory of an add-an-i Sunday puzzle I made with Tony O, who came up with the winner...ARE WE THERE YETI?

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

For non-crossword-solvers, RUSS / URBANIV could just as easily be ROSS / ORBANIV, but it's Friday so there's no harm done.

I liked a lot about this grid. As mentioned, a lot of tennis and baseball plus some other games. I'm too lazy to go back through the clues, but I have the sense that there were at least a few misleading or hidden plurals, which is always nice as the weekend draws near.

I disagree with ofl that STEALSBASES is a problem. Having a dangerous base-stealer aboard makes a catcher's job significantly more complicated. Off-speed pitches, while important for generating outs, become a liability. In addition, stolen base attempts/successes are one of the rare statistics that are used when evaluating catchers.

THREEFORONE, though, is a clunker. While it is correct and easily solvable from crosses, it isn't something that anyone actually says except when advertising tchotchkes. The google test on "three for one" confirms its blah-ness.

Overall, an enjoyable solve.

Jim Walker 6:56 AM  

Easy to look for a golf clue with COUPLES when DYE, TEE, SEVE, and DOUBLEBOGEY are already there. And in my case Di Pietro included SOB and SADSONG for when I miss a TRICKY putt. Gotta love the guy.

C. Ross Word 6:59 AM  

I usually try to get my first foothold in a late-week puzzle with a "fill in the blank" answer. When I failed to come up with one from today's selection of four blanks, my eye was drawn to the center of the grid where I instantly plunked down "sacrilege." Certain of that bit of brilliant solving, I continued on. Needless to say, things around the center took quite a while to resolve. All's well that ends well. A nice, fun, TRICKY Friday!

OTD 6:59 AM  

Medium for me, too. Liked all the sports fill and the long answers from DOUBLE BOGEY to STEALS BASES. Trickiest was the SW. Took a bit of thought. All in all a decent Friday workout for the little grey cells.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

I may be wrong, but would the phrase be sell one's self? Otherwise it sounds like selling a self. Pedantry of a rather high degree perhaps, but sometimes its fun to be picky.

webwinger 7:22 AM  

Almost but not quite able to finish this one—got stuck in the NW. Know the term STRIATE from med school anatomy, but couldn’t let go of striped. Didn’t see the CHARLIE Delta sequence; clung to the belief that this would have something to do with math, or Greece, or be a proper name. Clue for ALLEY very cute—would have smiled if I’d gotten it, but was thinking there must be some kind of electronic gizmo (with, you know, male and female ends) involved. Can’t imagine anyone getting EES from the clue, though it made sense after the fact, assuming the reference was to electrical engineers. Elsewhere went pretty smoothly for a Friday, with a typical amount of googling. Nicely clued overall. Two long answers particularly resonant for me: The Rainbow Room was absolutely one of my favorite places in Manhattan, truly a magical setting; have been pining to go back for years, teased by occasional mentions in the media of plans to reopen it. P. J. O’Rourke went to my high school in Toledo and based some of his best early work (National Lampoon yearbook parody) heavily and personally (down to using real names of actual students) on his experience there in the 1960s.

Evan 7:46 AM  

This started as really tough at first -- couldn't get much of a toe-hold anywhere -- but then became way easier once I cracked one of the long answers, so I guess it was medium overall. I think IN THE FUTURE was my first breakthrough, and that basically helped take care of the entire southeast corner. My favorite clue was "Tool time?" for IRON AGE.

Other observations:

1. I too thought they were going for the golf route with the Couples misdirection. I also figured they wanted a San Francisco Giant of legend, but MEL OTT wouldn't fit and I don't think any of the ALOU family would necessarily qualify as a "legend."

2. I really don't care for TENNER. I've heard of a FIVER, but definitely not TENNER. It's possible that it's more common in British slang, so maybe I'd be okay with it if they clued it as such.

3. I had no idea that STRIATE was also an adjective. In fact, I get the red squiggly line underneath STRIATE when I type it, but not STRIATED.

4. Easy way to Scrabble up the grid! WORE/WORK instead of PORE/PORK.

5. For as long as I live, I may never be able to parse THERAPY in a crossword puzzle as anything but THE RAPY -- which, as I've noted once before, sounds like something that Sean Connery on SNL Celebrity Jeopardy would say. I'm quite glad that couples are not in THE RAPY, thank you. Yeesh.

Tita 7:54 AM  

Wow - finished this in 2 shortish sittings - the second of which was during a rare insomnial CAROUSing.
So it musta been easy. In spite of all that golf of which/whom I have no idea, or with
_YNTH/_E_E/URBANI a near 3-way natick - needed an alphabet run to see SYNTH.
A technical DNF, since I didn't notice that COSTeR made STEALBeSES even more stupid of an answer than COSTeR.

Liked Tool time? for IRONAGE.

(Said lack of golf knowledge actually might have helped, since i popped in THERAPY without hesitation.

Yes, I really hate those clue/fill dupes too...

Oh - hadn;t noticed PORK/OINKS - ha! Thanks ACME!

@Anon - no - you parsed it wrong - it's SELL ONE'S ELF. My strategy in all job interviews.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Yup, had Ross for Russ..

Glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

My, don't we all have a lot to say today? Nice Friday puzzle, hard but doable.

Danp 8:44 AM  

For solvers who love double entendres far more than esoteric trivia, this was a great puzzle. I never heard of the Rainbow Room, Cora, or Chase Field. And some of the long ones (3 for 1/in the future) seemed a bit clunky, but they were all gettable without a PhD in medieval linguistics.

Susan McConnell 8:52 AM  

This was toughish for me, which means its a Good Friday puzzle. LOL @Evan re: Sean Connery skit on SNL... They are classic!

Andrea, do you play Scrabble on isc.ro?

Michael Hanko 8:53 AM  

For this solver, the clue for 10-Down does not work. Tears are not numbed, they are dried. Besides, don't you listen to a SADSONG in order to revel in your misery, not quell it?

Trying too hard for cleverness, IMO.

But I enjoyed this puzzle, which made me work hard, especially in the NE, where I was treating my cold with a TISANE for the longest time. Loved the +2 clue, cuz numbers make me happy. (Just not tear-numbers.)

joho 8:54 AM  

eIeio before OINKS, anybody else? Loved OINKS!

I started this last night but got nowhere fast so turned out the light. It all came together steadily this morning one aha moment after the next. A fantastic Friday puzzle!

My writeovers besided eIeio were RoSS to RUSS, saSS to KISS and stICKY to TRICKY.

Loved underlying golf theme.

Oh, @Rex, I too, wanted it to be STRUCKAchord but had to cut it short when it didn't fit.

Thanks, Joe DiPietro, this was a real treat!

Elle54 9:23 AM  

Haha Coo was the first thing I got. Sadly, googled 2words when I got stuck. And then was running the alphabet for Seve when I gave up before "V". Power outage was a surprise...thought it was a celebratory event.

wordie 9:48 AM  

Very hard for me, HTG, but it was fun. I know very little about golf, having only played it once and managing to dislocate my shoulder on the last hole, but Seve B. died recently and it was amazing what people said about him, so it stuck with me. Got 44A off _E_E.

I liked the other topic, MUSIC! But for 58A I wanted clef instead of REST. Liked STRUCK A NOTE and SAD SONG.

I had trouble with some of the long answers. Wanted IN THE offing for 51A, and venal SIN for 33A.

Milford 9:49 AM  

@Michael Hanko - think of "numbers" as songs, not something that numbs. As in "and for the band's next number, we will play..." Hope that helps!

James D. Cormier 9:52 AM  

I was also missing the "D" in STRIATE.

Thought this was medium-challenging.

Milford 9:58 AM  

Was a tough Friday for me, too. Catholicism and golf are not my strong suits, but I don't think that's even what really got me. It was more the phrases that felt TRICKY, like STEALS BASES (plural is weird) and STRUCK A NOTE (I think more of hits a note, and struck a chord).

SYNTH-pop took way too long to see, as that was all I listened to in the '80s.

Gill I. P. 10:09 AM  

I've yet to meet a DiPietro I didn't like though he always has me scurrying to the dictionary or Google to look things up.
I've never seen the word "hostilely" before (clue for 18A) but got DOG because that one corner (SADSONG OROURKE and BIGEASY) were my first entries)
SYNTH was SYNcH (var. of cinch?) which made my catchers (55A) Scroll Balls. CAROUSE and MATURES came to the rescue.
Good work-out and fun. Took a couple of hours but I managed to finish all by my SHELF.

Sir Hullary 10:09 AM  

Fun fun fun one today! The sports angle helped, although I horribly overthought things by entering STEALSSIGNS before -- duh! -- figuring out that is was BASES being pilfered.

With DOUBLEBOGEY, TEE and SEVE, I was thinking Fred Couples also, although it wasn't TOURNEY that was in my head but rather MASTERS. Thank goodness I didn't write that in -- that would have been a MORTALSIN.

Confusing my contemporary humorists, I had TRILLIN instead of OROURKE. Also had APR instead of EPA for a while

All in all, a great Friday -- not a BIGEASY, but not a SADSONG either, just SORTA SEMI-TRICKY in the right places. Now I will REST until Saturday and look forward to more DiPietros INTHEFUTURE.

Sir Hillary 10:10 AM  

And I can't even type my own name correctly!

Milford 10:16 AM  

Sorry for the many posts, but did anyone else at first think 25D's modesty was referring to dressing provocatively for the job interview? "Dress to kill" does fit...

jberg 10:39 AM  

I had two strokes of luck today - first, I don't know anything about golf, so even though I noticed the plethora of golf clues, Fred Couples did not occur to me. It still took me too long to get THERAPY, and way too long to get CHESS, which I used to play avidly. Also too long to get ALLEY, since I had actually tried and rejected lanes. Secondly, I was saved at 2D by remembering what @Rex put in his FAQ - that if you think there's an error in the puzzle, you are undoubtedly wrong. I really wanted to think it was EPSILON, and that Will Shortz had said precede when he meant succeed - but I just couldn't write it in, and soon realized that Mr. Buick was a SCOT, not a Serb, despite that ending on his name.

But that wasn't lucky enough, because SEVE was another golf term I didn't know, and I mixed up my Urbans, going for II rather than IV.

Writeovers: hOlE before PORE, clef before REST, CHAnnel before CHARLIE (I mean, a river runs through its channel before it reaches its delta, right? Coulda been.)

Things I hoped wouldn't be right, and weren't: M.Ott instead of YETI.

@Evan, remember the musical "Lend Me a Tenor?" The title only worked because to someone, somewhere, "TENNER" was colloquial.

But how about a little love for the Stone Age? They made tools then, already.

Evan 10:58 AM  

@jberg:

Yes, I've seen "Lend Me A Tenor" -- in fact, the guy who wrote it is an alumni of my alma mater (Haverford). Thanks for the reminder, but I still don't think of TENNER as that common of a colloquial phrase.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

Tough but fair. Great misdirection in the clues esp. number and strains for song and music.
Only eyebrow-raiser was sell oneself. Is that really correct?
The only Cora on my mind presently is the lady of the house in Downton Abbey.
BTW, tenner is very common in Brit-speak.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:20 AM  

Medium-challenging for me, but since I proceeded slowly, only had one write-over: TWENTY before TENNER. In my case, I think that would be because I think of money in cold, hard terms of numbers, not cutesy nicknames like "Benjamins" etc. And speaking of "numbers", like @Michael Hanko I initially wanted to object that SADSONGS were evokers of tears, not numbers -- another example of overthinking things, based on one of the great crossword tricks. (Number of people? for anaesthesia, anyone?)

Sandy K 11:50 AM  

Very tough, but struggled thru it and happily did not get naticked by SEVE and SYNTH!

@Milford- Thanks for mentioning SYNTH-pop. I had NO idea what I had! Just guessed at SEVE- hoped a trophy was named for him...

SAD SONG, DOUBLE BOGEY and CHARLIE were SEMI-SORTA guesses too. OINKS was my fave.

Glad I miraculously finished. Very TRICKY and not a BIG EASY-peasy for me.

John V 11:59 AM  

Got absolutely no traction with this one. I usually connect with Joe's puzzles, but not today.

I got nothing.

Carola 12:02 PM  

Absolutely loved it. Great TRICKY clues, very fun to finally see the light - for the Delta preceder, tears number, bill splitter...

Love the SAD SONG - SOB - TISSUE intersect. Had not seen the PORK - OINK pair - very choice!

Plenty of do-overs; I see I'm a "me, too" on some:
Still life - SHELF life
what-not - what-IFS
clef - REST
tony - OBIE
wINS - GINS
OhIoanS - ORIOLES
CHAnnel - CHARLIE

Stared at K _ OT for an eternity - wanted it to be something related to kilometers. Running the alphabet did not avail, as I saw K-NOT and rejected it.

@webwinger - I thought of EES right away (thanks solely to doing crosswords) but thought it was wrong until I corrected CHAnnel to CHARLIE.

Merle 12:19 PM  

Didn't even bother to check Rex's blog all week because the other puzzles were all easy, full of gimmes. And then today I was stymied, so here I am....

Yes, should be "sell one's self", not "sell one self" -- like I have a warehouse full of selves, but I only sold one self today?

I don't follow any sports, so the golf and baseball and what-all stuff was pretty dull and sometimes baffling. Got "steals bases" and "tee", though. Those are commonplace references, even for non-sports fans.

"Game with forks and pins was a jim-dandy clue, though. I got too literal about it. I wondered if it were a children's game, perhaps a board game like "Clue", with forks and pins either as images on the board or little objects to move around, bowling ball pins, of course, not dangerous pointy objects. So although I knew about forks and pins in chess, I never got there.

The "sad song" and "sob" was a neat cross. I got the "sob", and finally, with the song part, got the sad. And with that, I finally understood, since I had all the "Ari" letters from crosses, that Chase Field must be in Arizona, where some Arizona team plays -- but, which sport, I have no idea.

51 A, "In the future", I hope there are fewer sports clues and more literary clues. I know "The Last of the Mohicans" girl, Cora -- but not personally, of course. "Thought "tool time" was a great clue for "Iron Age". Didn't have a "clue" at first, but eventually, got it, and felt good about getting it. And since I am a New Yorker of a certain age, although I never could have afforded to go dancing at the Rainbow Room, and wouldn't have wanted to anyway, I knew about it. An easy gimme.

12 D was a "Big Easy" answer.

Kinda fun but challenging puzzle for me....

mac 12:36 PM  

Very good Friday, loved it!
I needed all the crosses for SYNTH. I enjoyed the clues a lot.
I thought of Couples the golfer too, but forgot about poor Seve. I was a little surprised at Urbanis instead of Urbanus, but did't look hard enough in that area to fix the mistake.

Masked and Anonymo7Us 12:42 PM  

7 U's. Deal me In.

Finally got CHESS, mainly from the "pins" clue part. Not as familiar with the "forks" concept. Up til then, wanted RASSLERSPIEEATIN', a top drawer event at our local county fairs.

Extra fun puz, for a themeless. Some gimmes, some false leads, some big arhar moments. Just like readin' the whodunnits. This time, Joe dunnit. And well played, Joe.

DBlock 1:06 PM  

Boy, you must all have perfect marriages. Therapy was my first fill. And I am not ignorant of sports--Orioles was my second.

dblock

Michael Hanko 1:06 PM  

@Milford:

I am having a big D'oh! moment right now. I've been burned so many times by numb-er as a misdirection that I can't see it straightforward any more, I guess! (It's doubly embarrassing that I missed the musical implications since I'm a professional singer.)

In my defense, the clue is still not so great. Nobody would say numbers OF tears...perhaps numbers WITH tears. But now I'm just desperately attempting to rationalize my silly error, so I'll stop.

Thank you for the explanation!

lawprof 1:37 PM  

I got no traction on this one. Part of what put me off my feed was the fact that it contained two relatively common clues that I find particularly off-putting.

First, a pope clue. You just know that it's going to end in some Roman numeral, which could occupy anywhere from one to maybe six (e.g. XLVIII - Pope Leo the 48th?) squares, so unless you're a scholar of the papacy, you're left to guess among the Piuses, and Leoses and Urbanses of history. (Monarch clues - especially those pesky Nordic ones - I find to be equally frustrating).

Second, a commercially-named sports arena or stadium. Who can keep track? Moreover, who'd want to? Chase, Safeco, ATT. Gimme Yankee Stadium any day. Now there's a proper name for a sports venue.

Sorry...'nother gripe: "Giant of legend"? How can that not be Mays? Never occurred to me that Yeti was a giant. Kinda big, bigger than a breadbox, maybe about human sized, but not as big as his cousin Sasquatch who, I'd agree, is a giant.

Gave up and came here. Now I see that this was a really terrific puzzle and that a lot of people finished it and enjoyed it. I feel all better now.

M and A also 1:51 PM  

(Now, I already entered this once, but nothin' happened. Many would say, "Pretty much how we'd describe most of M&A's comments". So pardon me, if this produces an echo effect...)
p.s. Almost forgot:

Fave Fillins: SCOT (Wanted briT), KNOTS (Wanted KLIKS), BIGEASY (which lived up to its name), HAL (Prince Val! Like.), OINKS (wanted e-I-e-i'S).

Fave Clues:
The CHESS one. This one really forked me up.
The "Tool time?" one. Dejavu-ed me of "Cow Tools" cartoons, all over again.
The "Bill add-ons" one. Pinned me down with TIPS.

ConTRA-reversal clue: "Streaked". STRIATE needs an endin' D, to come out soundin' right. Or is it one of them "forked" words?

DigitalDan 2:38 PM  

Law Prof:

Don't forget Pope Pius XII, and (the all-time winner?) John XXIII. Both within my lifetime.

Bird 2:43 PM  

Today’s offering was a good challenging puzzle. I needed to sessions to complete – this cold is driving me nuts. I liked all the sports related entries and the TRICKY cluing that went with some of them.

Hand up for thinking STRUCK A NOTE s/b STRUCK A CHORD, which slowed me a bit.

Yes, TENNER seems off.

Is Keith URBAN related to this long-gone Pope?

TGIF!

Sandy K 2:47 PM  

@Rex

Re: your puzzle

Didn't want to be a spoiler, so did not mention yesterday- excellent clues- Bee's charge, Teen's conflict, AWOL, Lassie's "In a pig's eye!"

My fave- DEY TRIPPER
Love your use of songs in your puzzles- always adds more sparkle!

Lewis 3:00 PM  

M&A -- notice the 7 U's?

I wanted FAIRWAY for my Couples answer, and BLASPHEMY for the serious offense (on my mind, just finished Salman Rushdie's bio).

This puzzle had great cluing and some good pop, it was a tough but enjoyable solve.

Looks like no PAUL REANs today.

acme 3:01 PM  

@Susan McConnell
can't play on l line, too addictive! Tried FB Scrabble and got zero else done, checking every two minutes. But thanks for asking! Yikes, indeed!

Sparky 4:08 PM  

Managed about two thirds. Got most of the long answers. sass before KISS, eiyos before OINKS

Hesitated at HAL Forester because I think he is a comics illustrator not a cartoonist. Put it in, humph.

Nice puzzle. I should have given it more time. Thanks for Kermit @Rex. I tear up every time I listen to that song.

On to the weekend. Could we have a rebus or fun thing on Sunday, please?

Ellen S 4:29 PM  

Stuck nearly forever because I had Smeared before STRIATE (thanks, @Pete; it does make me feel better that you didn't get it), and not knowing names of any large fictitious giant creatures except maybe Paul Bunyan, I figured Willie Mays for a loooong time before YETI. (@lawprof--I also didn't know YETIs are giants, but, then, everything's big compared to me.)

I only ever wanted couples THERAPY, but Willie Mays was in the way. @Tita and @R.alph's app tells me that I have wrong letters, but not which ones; that is, it said for something that should have been a "T", I had put a "Y" (among many other errors). But I was so in love with all my Ys!!! Which could I throw overboard? SYNTH-pop? (I don't even know what that is, but StNTH pop, well, I'm pretty sure there's no sucha thing.). I'm a complete sports ignoramus, so DOUBLE BOGEY was my proudest moment: you'd have to pry that "Y" out of my cold, dead hands. And I never even thought to question Mays.... (@jberg, I did briefly try to fit Ott, but somehow three doesn't equal four.) Finally I erased Mays, put in --T- and YETI appeared, as out of the mists.

I wanted to say yesterday that I knew those little images on the browser address bar, but never knew what they were called. I had put "nAVICON," thinking they are navigation icons, telling you which sites are shown on which tabs. Once I got FAVICON, and then knew what to search on I wandered off to find out how to make my own. But not before seeing @Evil Doug's post. Evil, I agree with everything you said; are you not feeling well?

sanfranman59 4:42 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Fri 24:40, 20:49, 1.18, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 15:09, 11:47, 1.29, 87%, Challenging

M and A's Forked Tongue 4:49 PM  

@Lewis: Well counted. U are a natural at that. But do not attempt a SunPuz count yet at home, until ready. Might hurt somethin'.

@31: Just reread yer writeup. Excellent display of correct sorta usage. And special Thanx for reminding me about URBAN IV. We don't seem to get enough of those RMN-numbered pope dudes in the puz lately. Last one I can remember is FROZENBANANA III, back before Christmas sometime.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

Had wORK instead of PORK. Can someone please explain it "bill add ons"?

Evan 5:33 PM  

@Anonymous 5:28:

Think PORK barrel spending in Congress, adding PORK to a bill for a Congressman's district, etc.

Milford 8:08 PM  

@Michael - you're welcome, and if it makes you feel better, I kept reading "tears" as several rips in fabric! Sometimes I think it's a wonder people can learn English as a second language!

Judith Koveleskie 8:23 PM  

I don't often feel triumphant, but I got Russ Grimm right away, probably because he was originally from Western Pennsylvania.

Notsofast 9:11 PM  

The agony of defeat. JP outsmarted me. Didn't get NE corner. No excuses. Beaten. Whipped. Cried "uncle". Tucked my tail between my legs. Drubbed. Humiliated. KO'd. All hail JP.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 17%, Easy
Tue 8:31, 8:37, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Wed 10:47, 11:44, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:04, 17:02, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 24:49, 20:49, 1.19, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:39, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Tue 5:04, 5:01, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Wed 6:22, 6:29, 0.98, 43%, Medium
Thu 8:48, 9:34, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Fri 14:42, 11:47, 1.25, 84%, Challenging

ANON B 10:06 PM  

I don't read all the comments so I
may have missed this. In an old
Benny Hill show he had a sign
outside of his office:

Dr. Hill
The-
rapist



Bad Hair Day 10:49 PM  

DNF for me. Couldn't get the SW. Tried FANTASY and ECSTASY for 35 down. THERAPY never entered my mind. Guess I'm just a romantic at heart.

PoetLaurie 11:57 AM  

 About those pins and forks -- in the game of chess, sometimes a player is "pinned" because if he is moved, he will open up the king to being in check.  This is also called a hidden check.  Since it is illegal to move in such a way that the king will be in check, the player is "pinned" until the king can move out of danger, or another player can move to protect him.  
Sometimes the term "pin" is used when moving a piece will jeopardize another player, e.g., the queen.  Though moving a "pinned" piece in this case is not illegal, a player noticing the pin would not want to do it.
   A fork is a situation in which a piece is threatening two of the opponent's pieces at once.  Knights are good at this.  So the player against whom the fork is used probably has to sacrifice one piece to save the other.

Z 4:02 PM  

MORTAL SIN was the first word in. Quite an evil start.

epsilon gave me troubles in the NW. At least it is next to delta, even if it doesn't actually precede it.

Spacecraft 10:12 AM  

Oh, what a mess my SE is in! Had saSS for KISS, then STEALSabase; when that didn't fly I changed it to STEALSthird...finally got it all straightened out and finished correctly. Overthought the "Hit the bars, say" clue. I was thinking MUSIC. Nice, tough but gettable Friday, sprinkled with golf which I like.

But: how exactly does a SADSONG numb tears? Joe, you got some 'splainin' to do on that one.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

First may I say, if only Rex would spend two months studying and memorizing the Popes, he would be a better leader. Ha. Secondly, Mr. Spacecraft: The misdirect "Number" refers to a song. You've heard the expression, "And for our next number...." Come on now, you're better than that.
Boastfully, I found this puzz easy for a Friday. Thank you Joe Di.
Ron Diego 3/1/13

Tao Jones 3:56 PM  

I sold one elf. Santa

Dirigonzo 4:53 PM  

According to the American Heritage Dictionary that I stole from the office ages ago, "oneself" is a perfectly good word meaning "one's own self" and it was used correctly in the grid - but the Santa remark is cute. While I'm pretending to be a grammarian, which I most certainly am not, YETI is a "Giant of legend", Mays was a "legendary Giant". On Friday subtle distinctions can make big differences and today I was all over that one. Last letter in was the p in THERAPY - I would get some but I can't find anybody to go with me.

rain forest 5:21 PM  

I can't add much to what has been already stated, so I'm only posting to brag a bit. I actually found this easy, especially when compared to the last two Fridays which I DNF'd. Small hold-up in the SE where I was about to enter INTHEMAKING but realized I couldn't see any cross possiblities. What-IFS solved that for me. Even though I say STRUCKACHORD, this one STRUCKANOTE.

Waxy in Montreal 9:22 PM  

DNF mostly because, playing along with the golf/sports mini-theme, I had (Fred) Couples in the MASTERS at 35D and also stuck with EIEIO at 29A. But overall a very fun Friday. Coo-dos to Mr. DiPietro.

Ginger 12:28 AM  

Sailed through the NW, then whoa, nada, nothing else. I love STRIATE, it reminds me of rocky geologic outcrops, with interesting colors and stripes. Even though I follow golf, and of course knew SEVE, I could not think of him and the Couples mis-direct got me good.

Really great puzzle, but it sure got the better of me. Next time I see Joe DiP's byline, I'm gonna work harder at it. The payoff is definitely worth it.

Anonyrat 8:22 AM  

Totally with Rex's logic on the pope/SEVE crossing - didn't know either, but having vague knowledge of a golfer named Seve kept me from what could have been a Natick. I just want to know when Pope Suburban will have his day in the sun. Or one of my favorite old-time baseball player names, Urban Shocker? Or my other favorite old-time baseball player name, Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown? I like Mel Ott, but give some of the other guys a chance.
@ Evan 7:46 AM - Thanks to SNL, I too cannot see the word therapist without parsing it that way.
@ Michael Hanko - I read the clue as number (#) of tears. Either way, it still barely makes sense to me too.
@ Merle 12:19 PM - "In the future", I hope there are fewer literary clues and more sports clues. (Even though it was a sports clue that almost got me in this one.)

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