Lee of silent films / FRI 4-26-13 / No-handed skateboarding trick / Marshal Dillon portrayer / Band leader of 1960s / 1985 Dennis Quaid sci-fi film

Friday, April 26, 2013

Constructor: Michael Ashley

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LILA Lee (11D: Lee of silent films) —
Lila Lee (July 25, 1901 – November 13, 1973) was a prominent screen actress of the early silent film era. [...] In 1918, she was chosen for a film contract by Hollywood film mogul Jesse Lasky for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, which later became Paramount Pictures. Her first feature The Cruise of the Make-Believes garnered the seventeen-year-old starlet much public acclaim and Lasky quickly sent Lee on an arduous publicity campaign. Critics lauded Lila for her wholesome persona and sympathetic character parts. Lee quickly rose to the ranks of leading lady and often starred opposite such matinee heavies as Conrad NagelGloria SwansonWallace ReidRoscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, and Rudolph Valentino.

In 1922 Lee was cast as Carmen in the enormously popular film Blood and Sand, opposite matinee idol Rudolph Valentino and silent screen vamp Nita Naldi; Lee subsequently won the first WAMPAS Baby Stars award that year. Lee continued to be a highly popular leading lady throughout the 1920s and made scores of critically praised and widely watched films. (wikipedia)
• • •

Jumped all over this one. The pop culture was mostly in my sweet spot, and the stuff that wasn't (e.g. LILA Lee) I somehow managed to work around. Weirdly, unlike every other time I've encountered him in my solving history, James ARNESS *helped* me today (3D: Marshal Dillon portrayer). I remembered this name, and he solved my E/A problem at RIELS (19A: Cash in Cambodia). Never saw "The Book of Eli," but know very well who MILA KUNIS is (51A: "The Book of Eli" actress). Don't remember much about "Enemy Mine" except that Louis Gossett Jr. is in it. But I did remember it. Thought of about half a dozen names that could go in 1A: Onetime co-host of "The View," but it turns out I'd completely forgotten about STAR JONES. Seems like a decade since I've heard her name. But, once again, her name was in the database (i.e. my brain), and so the "J" from JAMS alone was enough to get her out onto the grid. Only had two moments of struggle in the puzzle, and they were both brief. Got worried that I wouldn't get into the SW corner—having first two letters of those longer Acrosses didn't dislodge anything. Had to reboot deeper in that corner with SKYE and SRTAS, but then it all came together. Had another brief scare up in the NE, where I finished. Did not know ASH CAKES (though I eventually guessed it once I got the "K") (20A: Some cornbreads), and initially botched two of those three longer Downs. Specifically, went with FLIED OUT and READ ONLY instead of the correct SKIED OUT (?) and EYES ONLY. But the "K" from ALL KINDS gave me ASH CAKES gave me BMOCS (10D: Quad standouts). Then OLLIE was kind of a gimme (18A: No-handed skateboarding trick), and I pieced things together from there. All told, just over 6 minutes of work. As I say, Easy.

This is a very clean grid, as it should be—it's the maximum word count for themelesses (72), and generally, the higher the word count, the easier the grid is to fill cleanly. There's nothing here that really blows me away or makes me laugh or otherwise stands out as fantastic, but the net effect is good—bouncy answers from a wide variety of knowledge bases, a contemporary feel, and a bare minimum of junk. My one big stupid error of the day was dropping TASMANIA off the TA- at 33D: Land on the Indian Ocean (TANZANIA). For the record, TASMANIA is not "on the India Ocean," but in the heat of the moment, after having dropped the other two long Downs in that corner off just *their* first two letters, TASMANIA felt right. Ballparkish. Wrong, ultimately. But very fixable.

  • 30A: "Forever Your Girl" singer, 1989 (ABDUL) — as in Paula. You may know her only as a former judge on "American Idol." I know her as the singer whose songs *dominated* the charts when I was in college. I have a soft spot for the "Forever Your Girl" album. 
  • 46A: It might be spun around a campfire (TALE) — just finished (re-)reading Charles Burns' "Black Hole," which is a dark comic about adolescence and isolation and contagion. Anyway, there are kids and campfires and an overall slasher-film vibe in many parts of the comic. It is very much worth reading. 
  • 57A: "Band" leader of the 1960s (SGT. PEPPER) — should've gotten this much more quickly (given that I had the SG- beginning), but I was thinking the "Band" was in quotes because it wasn't a musical band, but some other metaphorical kind of band. SGT. SNORKEL came to mind. I think that's from "Beetle Bailey." And doesn't fit. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Easy-medium for me. West side very easy, east more medium with NE the toughest.

Erasures: lens for IN ON, flIED for SKIED, ionIC for DORIC, MIned for MILKY, YarnS for TALES, and SEries for SEASON.

No obvious iffy crosses unless you don't know ARNESS, but he shows up in puzzles every now and then.

The two stacked nines were terrific. Plus the scrabbly Viagra maker, a couple of Beatles clues, a bit of PORN, the obligatory obscure actress, a clue that avoided The Donald...   Liked it a lot!  My only regret is that @ED 42d wasn't clued using Seinfeld (the HBO series VEEP is worth a look). 

okanaganer 12:20 AM  

57A "Band" leader of the 60's: why, (Robbie) ROBERTSON, of course!

Despite all that, my fastest Friday yet! Clean, no googles, no mistakes.

syndy 12:24 AM  

i flIEDOUT,HAD iOnIC columns,was of twomINDS but that was all readily fixable.I Never heard of:OLLIE MILAKUNIS LILA LEE,ASHCAKES but crosses made everything very easy for a friday! Alot of high scoring words.

Adjusted CBattery Mazes 12:28 AM  

a DNF for me at Marbles.

The combo of OLLIE, SKIEDOUT and ASHCAKES did me in. :(

I think it's really interesting that TAsmANIA and TAnzANIA are but two letters different! never noticed that!
@Rex, your mistake is the most interesting thing about the puzzle for me, and what I will remember long after the other things fade.

But I loved all the JKXZ action:
pretty crunchy Scrabbly fun!!!

And, of course I like that women's names got full play... STARJONES over ANNEMEARA, MILAKUNIS
(those would all be hard to get, but less so for women I'd bet)
a little ABDUL here, DERN there and a mysterious LILA Lee...a classical ELAINE. And I put in daughter Judy before JANE for Jetson.

And ending with SGT PEPPER!
That's CATNIP for me!

The more I look at this, the more I love it... and James ARNESS is from Minnesota!!!!
(Peter Graves brother, trivia always worth repeating!)

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

Skied out?? Really? Does anyone use that? A few weeks ago some were unhappy with "hot corner" as baseball jargon but that seems downright mainstream compared to "skied out". Never ever heard that.

retired_chemist 12:56 AM  

Hand up for FLIED OUT and thinking SKIED OUT is very much NOT in the language. LILA/OLLIE was a true Natick IMO. My Viagra was made by SEARLE first. MILA KUNIS and ENEMY MINE were beyond my ken. ASH CAKES, at its far reaches.

SKYE terrier pretty much made the SE, especially since TRUMP was at best obscure and at worst just wrong.

TRUMP is not a synonym for supersede. The latter involves coming later, the former involves being better.

The rest was solid and gettable, but the aforementioned did me in - poor time, but fun.

Greg Charles 2:02 AM  

I knew Paula Abdul as Tracey Ullman's choreographer and I remember she had a popular song during that time ... popular not because of the song of course, but because of her sexy dance in the video. I'm glad to hear she's still around and still working. American Idol is a long fall from The Tracey Ullman Show, but better than starving. (Barely.)

Brendan McNamara 2:14 AM  

Wanted Bob Dylan (too short) or Robbie Robertson for Band leader, then when I dropped down the SG I thought something must be wrong. Then I had the "oh right" moment.

This one was not in my wheelhouse, so it was slow going. But it was very reasonable.

bento 2:21 AM  

Also never heard SKIEDOUT, and I used to play baseball for years. (In the Hot Corner!)
MILAKUNIS is more familiar to most people through that 70s show and Family Guy, but her best work was in The Black Swan. If you haven't seen it, you should. Everything director Darren Aronofsky touches is dark gold (Jared LETO, from a couple puzzles ago, starred in his great Requiem for a Dream).
Wanted Dreamscape for the 80s sci-fi starring Dennis Quaid. Was a great flick, but didn't fit.
A decent Friday, all in all.

Benko 2:21 AM  

benko, not bento box!

I skip M-W 2:25 AM  

"skied out"? Why not "skyed", as that seems closer to what is meant. No snow needed. In any event , though I've witnessed many an ollie, not knowing the name, and never having heard of Lila Lee, I dnf. Everything else came out in crosses eventually. Lots of good stuff: Tanzania and Arness came right away. Watched Gunsmoke in 50's, later admired Nyerere — both upright figures.

jae 3:59 AM  

@r_c & I Skip -- You're right about that cross.  I've been suppling Vans to a skateboarding grandson for half a decade so OLLIE was a major gimme.  But, unless you've been down a similar road, it's gotta be a WOE.  I should have realized it's Natick potential  when coupled with LILA.

Z 7:23 AM  

Hand up for having to change flIED OUT to SKIED OUT. "SKIED" is a term I've heard in basketball and ultimate when players jump high. Baseball - not so much (I.e. never).

Otherwise my solve was very close to @Rex's. UTZ is a total unknown and TENOR and DARNED as clued make no sense to me, so the SW has no writeovers but lots of ?s dancing around.

I also wanted Robertson at 57A. LESSER and then FRAMES stopped me. I also considered A village before ALL KINDS. OLLIE had to be right, though.

Five letter columns? -O-IC and wait for the crosses.

Leon 7:34 AM  

I would think "skyed out" would have been appropriate in Toronto when the stadium was called the Skydome.

A search of skied out brings mostly skiing references.

A search of [ "skied out" baseball ] shows that the term is out there:

"Thursday was Rivera's first apperance since 2011, and it started with a walk to Dustin Pedroia. Mike Napoli skied out to right field before Jonny Gomes ripped a double, putting two on for Middlebrooks with the Sox down 4-1." (04/04/2013)

Gill I. P. 7:43 AM  

@Z I too don't understand the TENOR clue. My other head scratcher was SEASON for TV sets.
I had to look up ASH CAKES since I've never heard of them. GAAACK, I wish I hadn't. They must have been invented by some drunk cowboy who tipped his smokin skillet into the fire, causing his pone to sit in the ashes. Not to be one who throws away any food, picks up his vittles and just blows the ashes away, plops it on his plate and digs in.
I really wish I could say that this puzzle sang to me but it didn't. I did know all the names though and that made me smile but I had the same TAsmANIA mistake. My Opals were lilly and my QUADS were blocs. UTZ is a chip I've never heard of. "Honey don't forget to pick up a bag of UTZ." Ugh....PATOIS and JINXING were my two bestest words.

Baseball Fan 7:51 AM  

I think whether you're familiar with SKIED OUT depends on what baseball commentary you read/watch/listen to. I read it in the Times accounts of games, and John Sterling uses it occasionally on radio, but if you stick to TV coverage you probably never hear it. That said, I too had to erase FLIED OUT.

orangeblossomspecial 8:10 AM  

Never heard of STAR JONES, although I have heard of AMALFI. Couldn't get ASH CAKES for wanting hoe CAKES, as in "Boil that cabbage down, boys. Turn, turn the hoe cakes 'round".

Z 8:17 AM  

@Gill I.P. - SEASON as in buying the SEASON 1 box "set."

I hate Captchas 8:18 AM  

Just used "42" for the captcha word that looked like an image. It worked

Sir Hillary 8:32 AM  

SKIEDOUT -- really? I've been watching/listening to baseball for over 40 years, and cannot remember hearing that term. The *only* time I can remember the word "sky" being used in relation to a batted ball is in the case of a towering fly ball or a moonshot pop-up straight up in the air (the kind the would hit the ceiling in Tampa Bay). But a "lazy pop-up" is typically a more looping ball, not one up to the stratosphere. So that whole entry doesn't work for me.

Other than that, a nifty puzzle. SKIEDOUT aside, the big corners are beautiful.

Airymom 8:34 AM  

Great puzzle. Never heard of ash cakes, but why would a girl from NYC know this? Now, I do. I liked the clue for "ajar." Imaginative change from "slightly open" and I appreciated this second Beatles reference. Just read that Viagra won't go off patent until 2020. Guess Pfizer will be in business for a while. Delightful Friday.

Milford 8:37 AM  

Pretty easy Friday... in other words I finished it with no errors!

NW was slow to come - "The View" clue was a little old, and I was trying to think of a child actress for the Archie Bunker clue - wasn't there a cute little orphan on that show to warm Archie's heart? Also, thought the "undercover" clue was a misdirect to being in bed. But once SWARMS came to me the NW fell quickly.

No clue about SKIES OUT, but the rest of that corner was filled in without much thought, although like @Z I had A village before ALL KINDS. I think they describe ASH CAKES in the Little House books.

I think of UTZ more as the pretzels.

Always a toss-up between DORIC and ionIC. Does Corinthian, the prettiest column, ever get a chance?

Worked at Upjohn for my senior thesis, which later got bought out by PFIZER.

Agreed that the scrabbly nature of the puzzle was the best part - fun to solve.

jackj 8:43 AM  

Friday New York Times puzzles have established their reputation as the best of the week in Times puzzle quarters and today Michael Ashley joins in with an exclamation point of a puzzle!

Leading off with STARJONES, segueing comfortably as a connector to James ARNESS and ANNEMEARA and waltzing down to Ms. ABDUL and MILAKUNIS, these were names with which we could contend.

The real tests (and fun) came with clues like “TV set?” a sparkling bit of wordplay for SEASON and an equally brilliant question seeking “Creole, e.g.” and delivering the wonderful, rarely used word, PATOIS.

More on my best of show list include, “Some Spanish dates: Abbr.” and we aren’t looking for LUNES or ABRIL, it’s a more interesting kind of date, SRTAS; cross that with TRUMP for “Supersede”, (leaving “The Donald” out of it), throw in some ACTIONS, a few UTZ chips (had their Baked BBQ’s at lunch) and things are really cooking.

But, the most fun came in the upper right quadrant that desperately wanted to be BLASÉ but also wanted to be FLIEDOUT at 13 down, though they were clearly oil and water.

Finally, LILA Lee seemed a strong enough memory to have me opt for BLASÉ and with the pop-up first reaching for the moon as it SKIEDOUT, the “Dossier stamp” became EYESONLY and the BMOCS jumped in to help complete the crossings for two total unknowns, ASHCAKES and OLLIE.

Thank you, Michael Ashley!

lawprof 8:50 AM  

Hand up for flIEDOUT first. SKIEDOUT implies a high fly ball, maybe a "towering" fly ball. A lazy pop-up is more of a blooper.

Seemed pretty easy for a Friday, but finished with an error with the never-heard-of STARJonES, and equally obscure(for me)crossing (7D) mIA Peeples. That left me with aWE at 6D, which looked fine because I failed to double check the clue. The rest went smoothly enough, albeit with an iOnIC/DORIC writeover.

So...a big head slap to start the weekend.

Kris in ABCA 8:50 AM  

Confidently filled in "a village" for "what it often takes", slowing down the NE for a while. Fun and fast Friday.

oldbizmark 8:56 AM  

A whole hell of a lot easier for me than yesterday's puzzle which I DNFed. A bit too heavy on the pop-culture references for my taste but happy that I was able to get OLLIE off the bat. Otherwise, uneventful Friday but at least I was able to finish. Yesterday's, on the other hand, was a mess. I haven't been that flummoxed by a puzzle in a while. Not sure why it seemed to be so easy for everyone else.

lawprof 8:58 AM  

Correction: I had STARJamES at 1A. And apologies to @Sir Hillary, who beat me to the punch in describing a pop-up. You posted as I was writing my comment.

Susan McConnell 9:00 AM  

Like so many others, SKIED OUT along with OLLIE and ASHCAKES slowed me down but good. Not much of a reward to this one, other than thensightnof all of those high point tiles.

Mohair Sam 9:02 AM  

Fun Friday that hit me in my sweet spot I guess, filled in too quickly even though OLLIE, ASHCAKES, and MILAKUNIS were as foreign to me as SKIEDOUT is to @Sir Hillary and many others.

btw, "SKIEDOUT" is indeed used frequently by John Sterling, as it is by Vin Scully. It usually describes a high lazy pop-up or fly ball as in "Mays skied out to Snider last time up," or "Mays skied out to Reese." Perfectly valid clue, and answer. Get away from your TV's baseball fans, radio guys use "skied" all the time.

@Milford - try UTZ chips, good stuff. Especially since they gave me TANZANIA.

Carola 9:03 AM  

I found this one a real treat - agree with @acme on all of the CATNIPpy words. Loved all the J, X, and Z ACTION. However, DNF - I had STAR JamES crossing aWE (which didn't make sense, but I talked myself into it) and mIA.

@Z and @Gill I.P. - For TENOR, I thought of the phrase "The TENOR of someone's remarks," although I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. Just checked the dictionary: "The general sense or meaning of a document, speech, etc.; substance, purport, import, effect, drift."

From yesterday - Thank you for all the good wishes about my new granddaughter. It was a wonderful moment to hold her in my arms for the first time.

joho 9:15 AM  

I got the NW corner ridicuously fast for me on a Friday so thought this might be a breeze. I was also immediately struck by all the people gathered in that corner: STARJONES, ANNEMEARA, James ARNESS and NIA Peeples. More people ensued but I didn't mind, after all it takes ALLKINDS. I thought MILAKUNIS was Justin Bieber's girlfriend but have her confused with Selena Gomez.

Somehow starting with STARJONES and ending with SGTPEPPER made me smile.

I loved all the J's!

Pretty easy but still interesting and the unknowns were gettable by crosses which makes this an excellent puzzle in my book.

Thanks, Michael ASHCAKES, uh, Ashley!

FearlessKim 9:19 AM  

Loved all the improbable letter combinations, which upped the head-scratching quotient of this puzzle considerably:


Plus (tip of the hat to @ACME, who loves those high-point letters!) I had to stop in the heartland, after PFIZER went in at 39A, to sit back and enjoy all the Js that had just emerged in the grid. Nice.

I also have a soft spot for MILAKUNIS, still tender after all these years since "That 70's Show" went off the air. What fun that was!

Like @jae, OLLIE was a big fat gimme, as my son, now 23, was huge into skateboarding for many years. An OLLIE is DARNED hard to master, let me tell you.

Like many others, kind of a guess at the ARNESS/RIELS cross. Flied before SKIED (I have loved, attended, and watched baseball for almost 50 years, and I've never heard that term, although @Baseball Fan makes a good point that it may be a matter of who's doing the commentary...)

Coulda had a mini-theme with 38A JANE if 48D had been clued with JUDY, GEORGE, ASTRO... Or it could have been linked with 30A ABDUL: didn't she dance with a TOON back in the 80's? Yup -- "Opposites Attract": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaZOoj2ahq8


Notsofast 9:35 AM  

Like Kim, above, I really appreciated all the strange letter combos. A fun, fast Friday. Nice work, M.A.

Cheerio 9:50 AM  

Utz potato chips are indeed very good. They have a classic image, nothing fancy, but they are better than Lays. Look for the red and white bags.

Eric 10:09 AM  

High Point: MILA KUNIS. Anything that puts her face in my head is a high point.

Low Point: SKIED OUT. Ugh. "Flied Out" is the expression. Everyone knows that.

Prettiest Word: PATOIS. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Ugliest word: DORIC. Instead of thinking about column types, I'm thinking, "DO RIC Flair and Hulk Hogan have plans tonight?" Uhhhh, I dunno.

Z 10:15 AM  

@Carola and @Gill I.P. - Learned something today - I've never thought of "purport" as a noun, before. Reading it as a verb caused my confusion.

SKIED OUT must be a coastal term. Listened to Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey for years. Still listen to Dan Dickerson and Jim Price (especially when the Tigers are being nationally broadcast). Also have watched the likes of Al Kaline, George Kell, Kirk Gibson, and Rod Allen (former players all) on the TV Set. If SKIED OUT has ever been used by any of these announcers (three of whom are in the baseball Hall of Fame (not the MONTY Hall)) I have missed it. It's been a long time since I've seen Vin Sculley on a national broadcast, so it is possible that I've run into the term there years ago. But, again, not enough to stick in the remotest of memory cell.

Mohair Sam 10:29 AM  

@Z Maybe "Skied" is a New York term. Vin Scully started in NYC (first with the Yankees). I can almost here Red Barber (or was it Mel Allen?) using the term now. Very descriptive term in my mind. Anyhow, Maybe it started with Red.

btw - as kids we always wondered how two guys with deep Southern accents (Barber and Allen) ended up in the "Yankee" broadcast booth.

Rob C 10:36 AM  

SKIED OUT - It's a legit term -I've certainly heard it used before. But, my first thought was baseball announcers USED to say that.

@Cheerio - UTZ, Snyder's, and Herr's are all located in the same general area of Penn (Lancaster area). And I agree that UTZ (and the others for that matter) are better than Lay's.

Carola 10:39 AM  

@Z - Your remark on noun v. verb sent me back to the dictionary, as I was curious about whether the pronunciation is different. Learned that the noun is PURport and the verb purPORT.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

I can't believe I breezed through this. Gunsmoke, Jetsons, Beatles (X2) are pop culture I can nail but daytime TV, Idol, and two movies I've never seen should have slowed me down more. Perhaps that shows what a well-written puzzle should be.
BTW was Mila in That 70s Show?
Loved the unusual letters and interesting words. Thanks Mr. Ashley.

aaron 10:46 AM  

is BMOCS legit. plural would still be BMOC right?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

Felt Challenging to me. Much of the pop culture/sports was at the far edge of my knowledge base.

Still, finished with just one write-over, a malapop of sorts, with 4d as CELLS before REELS, and of course 41 A, CEL.

And nice to see one of the stars of yesterday's opera at 48 D!

jberg 10:55 AM  

Really discouraging reading all the comments about how easy this was; I found it very tough, even though I have heard/read SKIED OUT many times. I don't think it quite fits the clue -- it means a really high popup, not a "lazy" one, and tends to mean it went to the outfield. So I resisted it until I got the K.

But once I had it, it gave me the confidence to put in SKYE terrier, which gave me SRTAS and showed that mEanER should be LESSER.

But I just noticed an error -- TENOn for TENOR, pEnNS for DERNS (who are they? Never heard of either), and the nonsensical pARNED that I just didn't notice. Sigh.

Eric 10:55 AM  

Wow, good point, aaron.

Big MEN on Campus, not big man on campuses. Unless, that is, BMOC is now a phrase unto itself.

Reminds me of the Princess Bride...R.O.U.S. Buttercup asks, "But what about the R.O.U.S.es?" Wesley answers, "RodentS(!) of unusual size? I don't even think they exist."

It should have been RsOUS. Silly, Buttercup.

I'm hungry.

quilter1 11:14 AM  

I had to guess in the NE on the OLLIE/LILA/SKIEDOUT cross but guessed right. UTZ is not a brand sold here so never heard of it. Our alternative to Lays is Old Dutch, which are pretty good.
This puzzle was medium for me, and I liked it fine.

Gill I. P. 11:27 AM  

@Z and @CAROLA. Thanks for the explanation. And, @Carola you're a GRANDMOTHER....The best is yet to come!!!
@FearlessKim. Thank YOU - now I like the puzzle better.

R. Duke 11:34 AM  

jberg - the Derns are Bruce and Laura. He's been in a lot of films, although nothing leaps to mind. She may be best known for her role in Jurassic Park.

Pretty easy for me, but like many others, I can't go for 'skied out'. Tried Levon Helm for 'Band' leader....

OISK 11:42 AM  

20 minutes for me, which is a fast Friday, but too much pop culture for me to really enjoy it. When I look at the first clue "Co-host of The View", a program that I have studiously avoided, I just want to throw the paper at the wall. Then we get Archie Bunker's place (??) a skateboarding trick (???) Book of Eli (???) actress...

A very fine puzzle, despite it being outside my wheelhouse. ( skied out was no problem, although I did think of "flied" first, of course, but I LOVE baseball)

chefbea 11:44 AM  

too many things I never heard of..eye only, ash cakes, patois,ollie,purport,Mila Kunis...I could go on.

Lots of corn bread down here..will have to ask my southern friends about it.

I did notice lots of J's...DNF

Bob Kerfuffle 11:49 AM  

@jberg - To me at least, the name of Bruce DERN will forever be linked to the film Silent Running, a beautiful if illogical space ballad (if I were trying to preserve Earth flora, I wouldn't park my space dome anywhere near Saturn!)

It was the kind of film best seen in a very mellow mood, however achieved.

Sandy K 12:06 PM  

Good Friday!

ALL KINDS of scrabbly letters, UTZ potato chips, SGT. PEPPER, Rex's Tasmania, and BLASE and MILKY saved me from being flIED OUT.

Eric 12:07 PM  

Re: DERNS, and out of boredom, I'm re-configuring a portion of the SW....

45A: Blasted = BURNED (it works as well and "darned" just seems....i dont know...hokey)

39D: Way to Stay = PUT (change "stand" to "stay" and you basically have the exact same expression).

45D: Steakhouse with the world's largest wine collection = BERNS


Mel Ott 12:34 PM  

SKIED OUT is venerable sportswriter-speak. Used also by old radio announcers (I bet Ernie Harwell used the term when he called the NY Giant games in the early 50's). Used somewhat less by TV announcers who don't have to convey "word pictures" like radio guys.

Seems to me that it is a YARN that is SPUN, a coherent metaphor where verb and noun are really related. A SPUN TALE is legit, but it feels like a mixed metaphor to me.

I love UTZ sourdough pretzels. Gotta try the chips.

Two Ponies 1:17 PM  

@ Mel Ott, I agree on tale/yarn. In fact, I had yarn first. So I guess the word spun was not a hint but a misdirect.

chefbea 1:21 PM  

I too had yarn

Bird 1:48 PM  

All the pop culture allowed me to complete today’s puzzle, but not in record time. I refused to change FLIED OUT as a lazy pop-up does not go high enough to touch the sky. SKIED (or if you prefer SKYED) OUT is generally used when the batter is attempting to hit a home run and does not make square contact with the ball sending it a mile up. And why do we have SKIED OUT and SKYE terrier in the same grid?

That plural BMOCS looks ugly.


John V 2:12 PM  

Last greetings from Rexville's pop culture nitwit. Got it, no errors, even that bitchy SE. MILA who/what? Happy to have it, challenging for me for stated limitation. SKIDEDOUT looks like something the cat brougt home, is what I'm saying.

loren muse smith 2:13 PM  

@Z – I started with “a village,” too.

@jberg – sorry – but I thought this was easy, too. And I usually think Fridays and Saturdays are hard.

And I couldn’t believe it was actually RYAN’S Hope! I used to love that show! How ‘bout RYAN over ORION. . .

CEL, TOON, FRAMES, REEL. And the Jetsons clued for JANE. Mini cartoon theme! That @acme and @rex picked up on with their Tasmanian (devil). . .!

I had a wicked crush on James ARNESS when I was a kid.

Yesterday HER. Today HIS.

Especially liked PFIZER.

Nice job, Michael. Good one!

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

As a child of the 80s, warmed my heat to see OLLIE. In junior high was v. fashionable to have the scuffed outer shoe (from dragging one's foot over griptape) that marked one as an ollier, although to my pain , my olllies could hardly ever clear a curb. I may even have been branded a "nonskate," briefly the worse slander in my San Jose neighborhood.

retired_chemist 2:35 PM  

OMG! OLLIE is in the dictionary!

John V 2:35 PM  

Meant late and brought, of course :(

Sandy K 3:18 PM  

PS- Just had a bag of UTZ Sour Cream and Onion potato chips.

A gazillion calories, but soooo yummy!

MetaRex 4:12 PM  

I loved it. Got tripped up by three nice misdirections in the clues...the story is at Appreciating My Stupidity

sanfranman59 4:19 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 17:24, 21:35, 0.81, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:54, 12:19, 0.80, 18%, Easy

chefwen 5:25 PM  

I knew STAR JONES from Celebrity Apprentice, yeah, I know, I can't believe I watch it either. What a biach she was.

Found the puzzle very easy for a Friday (I might have said that only once or twice before) My hang was up in the NE again, with MILKY/mined, OLLIE ???, husband cried bullshyt at SKIED OUT and I had never heard of ASH CAKES, yuck.

Managed to get through without Googling so I'm a happy camper.

From the comments I gather UTZ chips are a regional thing, never heard of them.

jackj 5:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackj 5:49 PM  

Much as I didn't like OLLIE, (as the skate boarding clue), it could have been worse.

In a 2011 Friday puzzle, Paula Gamache used the following clue for OLLIE:

"Disney animator Johnston who received the National Medal of Arts"

No doubt it was on the tip of everyone's tongue.

chefbea 5:50 PM  

How bout Kukla, Fran and..... for the clue

Hedda Hopper 6:02 PM  

Bruce Dern was recently in Django Unchained.  He also did a stint on HBO's addictive Big Love.  Laura was/is also on HBO in the less addictive Enlightened.  Blue Velvet and Citizen Ruth are a couple of her more well known movies in addition to Jurassic Park (she dated Jeff Goldblum for a while after that film was made).  She was later engaged to Billy Bob Thornton when he left her for Angelina Jolie.

retired_chemist 6:15 PM  

Chefbea's clue for OLLIE appeals to geezers like me, and thus will cause a different subset of us to complain. How about Iran-Contra figure North. Might split the difference.....

Sparky 6:52 PM  

Managed about half, the right side. Couldn't remember STAR JONES first name. Love ANNEMERA. OLLIE and ASHCAKES complete mysteries. Thanks @Hedda Hopper.

It's been a while @I skip, hasn't it?

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

Pedantic point - 53D "Electrical unit" would have been more properly clued as "Elec. unit", as AMP is an abbreviation of ampere.

Lane 8:18 PM  

Easy my foot! I suppose LET refers to tennis but between erring on JuNE for JANE and completely spacing on ASHCAKES, it all ended in failure. Get 'em next time.

Anonymous 5:05 AM  

That is a great post...yes, improves the appreciation of the puzzle retroactively. That's the best part of blogging!

And i left out NIA in the parade of women. NIA was M.I.A.

Acme 5:07 AM  

Oops anon 5:05 is me, acme

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Sharon NYC 5:51 PM  

Tenor for purport? Still don't get that.

Darned for blasted? Well...I guess, but it's a contortionist movie.

Spacecraft 11:35 AM  

"That's another fine MESS you've gotten us into, OLLIE."
"Whadda you mean, 'us?' I don't see STAN anywhere in here."
"I was just here a couple of days ago, though as an 'Asian country suffix.' But it was still me."

What fun! HIS parsed as a plural, a NON-wedding clue for IDO, "Zoom____" instead of "privy to" for INON, a great Beatles lyric for AJAR: never mind the Doors. And to finish off, a Beatles double. Priceless.

This one's a bit namey--and not exactly with A-listers, either, but pretty clean and unforcedly scrabbly. Yet another hand up for flIEDOUT, but I don't mind SKIED. Baseball is a rather restricted set of events, so announcers are driven to variety of speech to alleviate boredom. If you can have at least a dozen ways to call a home run ("Gone!", "Outa here!" "Touch 'em all!", etc.) you can surely sky out on occasion.

I did have one other writeover: my claims pro (that word should have given it away) was a mere ADJUSTeR at first. Professionalism demands the E be changed to an O. I guess.

More fun: PORN and AXIS are certainly TOXINS of a sort. Plus: PORN down to PFIZER down to MILAKUNIS...hmmm.

Never heard of ASH CAKES. Doesn't sound tasty; I'd rename that one. UTZ, on the other hand, is a good old Pennsylvania Dutch name, my wheelhouse. Outen the light.

Syndi Solver 1:15 PM  

@Spacecraft, loved the STAN and OLLIE routine. :-)

@Sharon NYC (assuming you read syndi-land comments), the clue for TENOR may be a stretch but it seems valid to me. From an online thesaurus--

"the general tenor of his speech": sense, meaning, theme, drift, thread, import, purport, intent, ...

I managed to finish this one without help so I knew it would be rated easy. I had a bit of trouble around DBACK and CBATTERY. After the solve I had to look up DBACK -- that nickname means about as much as 'STRO did in that puzzle a while back.

I had another bit of trouble in the NE. I knew it had to be MILKY so I just accepted that SKIED OUT was a thing. So there's a case where not knowing about sports is helpful. But then I wondered how to abbreviate "for your EYES ONLY" to fit into that space. (maybe "for your eyes" is FYES??) Finally figured out it was just EYES. :-)

And, "Straight up, now tell me..." who else thought ABDUL was a gimme?

Syndi Solver 1:34 PM  

One more post after reading more of the comments. My nephew has shown me some of his skateboarding moves. So even though I'm middle aged I still knew OLLIE (vaguely) since I'd seen the trick done right in front of me, not just on TV.

However, I do like the idea posted by @retired_chemist of referring to the Iran Contra hearings. Continuing the theme, a Sullivan entry could be clued as the lawyer who said, "I'm not a potted plant."

DMGrandma 2:11 PM  

So many names! So many unfamiliar words. Somehow got through them, with the last fill bing the L in LET-thanks to ongoing tennis season? Biggest slow down along the way was "zoom lens", but eventually everything worked out. or so I thought! Had a one square DNF with a misspelled nation crossing UTs chips. Never heard of the brand (eastern?), but there's really no excuse for misspelling TANZANIA. Must remember to proofread!

Waxy in Montreal 2:39 PM  

Cheerful Friday puzzle seemingly designed to be solved on a beautiful day like today as the hot weather begins to take hold here in the northeast. Only real
slowdown was the TENOR/TOON/RYANS region though the LILA/OLLIE cross was pure guesswork. Like @DMG, never heard of UTZ chips but it had to be correct given its crosses.

Liked TANZANIA, which must be one of the few countries with a portmanteau name, derived from its constituent former colonies Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Also enjoyed PATOIS - here in Quebec, the term JOUAL is often used synonymously, taken from the way certain folks in the boonies pronounce CHEVAL (horse).

rain forest 2:49 PM  

In retrospect, I should have got MILKY for the opal clue, and putting in TASMANIA was quite stupid, I even thought, "hey, that's not on the Indian Ocean", but thought "Jase" for the Jetson was short for Jason. Of course OLLIE, LILA, and SKIED (not like!) were not in the mental repertoire, so a fat DNF. However, a bouncy romp through the cruciverbial field today.

Dirigonzo 4:31 PM  

Once I stopped questioning all the un likely letter combinations and just waited to see what filled in around them things went pretty smoothly. I had no idea that STARJONES and ENEMYMINE were lurking somewhere in the depths of my brain but I managed to drag them out with a few crosses. MILAKUNIS needed all the crosses.

Ginger 5:46 PM  

Lots of comments about SKIEDOUT, but I think @mohair Sam's post reflects my take on it. Many times I've heard the erudite Vin Scully use the term.

Surprised that Ben's mom was in 'Archie Bunker's Place', but I did remember STAR JONES and the brouhaha when she left 'The View'. One of my undoings was misspelling JAMESARNaSS, and since RIaLS looked fine, I didn't fix it. I believe that Paula ABDUL started her career as a Laker girl.

The film I most associate with Bruce Dern is 'Coming Home', also starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight. They're back playing tennis today, but the brisk conditions (wind and brrrrr cold) make for some interesting shots. @DMG, hope you can catch some of it this weekend.

@Diri - Thought of you yesterday when my first entry was lobster pot. You live in some beautiful county there!

This puzzle must have been easy for a Friday, because I almost got it. Fun solve, thanks Michael!

GeoNerd 6:36 PM  

@Waxy - Not exactly a portmanteau. but are you aware that

The name Pakistan literally means "Land of the Pure" in Urdu and Persian. It was coined in 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never, using it as an acronym ("thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN") referring to the names of the five northern regions of the Indian subcontinent: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan". The letter i was incorporated to ease pronunciation and form the linguistically correct and meaningful name.

Waxy in Montreal 7:37 PM  

Who knew?

Syndi Solver 9:04 PM  

@GeoNerd said, The name Pakistan literally means "Land of the Pure" in Urdu and Persian.

I actually knew that part (my husband is from India) but I did not know the rest of the details. Thanks for posting.

websfilm 4:23 AM  

Nice blog

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