Shelter dug into hillside / FRI 7-5-13 / Cornish knight of Round Table / Jet wing warning / Bud of Nancy / I Ching figures / Ghost character Brown / 1980s TV outfit / Epithet for computer whiz

Friday, July 5, 2013

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Challenging



THEME: no — if it had run yesterday, maybe

Word of the Day: TAMLA (26D: Record label for the Miracles and Stevie Wonder) —

Motown is an American record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959 in DetroitMichigan in the United States. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit. Motown played an important role in the racial integrationof popular music by achieving a crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as "The Motown Sound", a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.
Gordy originally set up two nominally-separate labels (Tamla Records and Motown Records) in 1959, in order to avoid accusations of payola should DJs play too many records from one label. The two labels featured the same writers, producers and artists, and they were both formally incorporated together as Motown Record Corporation (commonly referred to simply as "Motown") on April 14, 1960. (wikipedia—TAMLA does not even have its own wikipedia entry)
• • •

What an almost-timely puzzle!

If you love Roman numerals, have I got a puzzle for you. This one!

Clearly I am historically / numerically / music label-ly challenged, because I have never and/or barely heard of TAMLA and I had TAMCA, which put me 50 years too late on the Statue of Liberty date. O well. I knew I had an error, and I just figured it *had* to be MESIAL. First of all ... MESIAL? Look at it. Keep looking. Keep looking. It's messed up, right? That's not a word, it's a typo. Allow me to elaborate—here is the clue for MESIAL:

41A: Situated near the middle line of the body

Now here is a dictionary definition of MEDIAL:

"Situated toward the median plane or midline of the body or a structure."

As a result of the ridiculous and apparently redundant MESIAL, I spent several seconds wondering how LODEFACE could be a thing (37D: Eat crow). Sigh. Even before the error, I was thinking that this is a below average themeless—I now see that it isn't really a themeless at all, though neither is it themed. It's stuck in a kind of no-man's land. Fill is not strong enough to support a themeless. The entire puzzle is built around that central answer, which is manifestly terrible on its own (Roman numerals?!), but is possibly redeemable if it's in the service of a theme. Only there's no theme. I could keep going around in circles like this, but I won't. I will say that I quite enjoyed the NE corner (IHRE and NO STEP notwithstanding), and the long Downs toward the middle are not bad at all. NW and SE corners are just so-so. Never heard of the WASATCH Range, but I'm probably in the minority there. My only Utah range is UINTA, and my geographical knowledge has never been terribly strong. As for OTTO II, he's pushing his luck in this puzzle—we've got quite enough Roman numerals already, buddy. Thanks but no thanks.


Hurray for the IKETTES (61A: Turner backers), but I feel bad for them, buried under the uber-ridiculousness that is the ABRI (!?) / RECURVE (!?!?) junction (51D: Shelter dug into a hillside / 59A: Bend backward). Owch. Double-over-and-grimace-in-pain Owch.


Ironically, it took me Forever to get 17A: What a blog provides (SOAP BOX). You have no idea how much I love this clue. I am quite sincere when I say it fills my heart with joy.

I just finished reading Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte Darthur" so TRISTAN ("Tristram" in Malory) was fresh on my mind (18A: Cornish knight of the Round Table). This may be the first time AGFA didn't trip me up. I recently complained about never remembering AGFA—and so, of course, this time, I did. [Bud of Nancy] is brilliantly insidious cluing for AMI (Nancy is a city in France). Can't say I like ODA MAE any more than I normally like seeing ODA (or MAE) (20A: "Ghost" character Brown). Went looking for the French word for "ATM" at 23A: Euro dispenser (BANCO). That BANCO / COTY / TABOO part came very, very late in the game. Couldn't remember what kind of -grams were ["I Ching" figures]. Finally guessing HEXA- was the thing that finally allowed me to see SOAPBOX. Really wish DR. T could've been MR. T, seeing as how it's sitting on top of "THE A-TEAM" and all (31A: 1980s TV outfit).* But MEVAL isn't a thing. And yet somehow MESIAL is. What a world.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    *Note: "TV" probably shouldn't appear in a clue, since it's also part of an answer in the puzzle—PLASMA TV—but we'll just overlook that.

    91 comments:

    Anonymous 12:16 AM  

    I was throwing darts all over the place with this one. Started out okay, but then had these Islands of Doom.

    I didn't know ABRI or IKETTES, and guessed wrong with an 'O'.

    Didn't know TAMLA, so guessed YiPS AT and had 'C' for 'L' in the date. Two more misses.

    I've never seen Mad Men, so had to guess on the early invaders. My chances were 1 in 3. Another miss.

    'CH' seemed like candidates for the end of WASAT??. Though I did get that, I still wound up -7, the most mistakes I've had on a Friday since I don't know when. My time was pretty good, but I'd expect the mines to take out a whole lot of people today.



    "*Note: "TV" probably shouldn't appear in a clue, since it's also part of an answer in the puzzle— . . ."

    Anonymous 12:17 AM  

    Oops. 'TV in a clue'. Don't make no nevermind to me, that.

    Aroma CCLXXVI Mesials 12:26 AM  

    One wrong square, same word as @Rex but different letter. i had MESIAn, as DEVAn seems more of a name than DEVAL.

    Proper names made this super hard...but they burbled to the surface...TESS, ODAMAE, JON Hamm.

    I really liked the roman numeral...I had to struggle one letter at atime till the fact it was 1776 came into view. Head slap.
    I loved that crazy middle 15 across and thought it just right for the day after, esp because I solved ot the day of.
    (fireworks going off as I write this, but had to stay home to comfort BlackJack"..
    Blue Angels, Chinese New Years and 4th of July tough day for scaredy-cats. Poor kitty.

    Never heard of TAMLA nor WASATCH either, but I liked piecing this together...every WASABI, HIHAT and HEXAGRAM very satisfying.

    Love saying MAUMAU and liked AROMAS and ROMA.

    Only downer was Mel gibsON very close letterwise to MATTDAMON...but even that was fun to contemplate.

    IKETTES final answer and confirmed UBERGEEK.
    What a great puzzle! Even if you hate RRN, that was one phenomenal Roman numeral, not random at ALL and the fill in this is spectacular!

    ECCENTRIC, BEARCAT, SHOOFLY, SOAPBOX, HEXAGRAMS, MAUMAU,WASABI, HIHAT, LOSEFACE, UBERGEEK.
    WOW!!!!'m

    Questinia 12:45 AM  

    Loved this puzzle. Thought it was elegantly themeless in a shoofly cocktail dress. Knew MESIAL cause of med school where I'd sometimes skip the first lecture to savor a coffee and the NYT puzzle...
    Favorite puzzle in a long time. Thanks Paula!

    Evan 1:05 AM  

    I don't mind the big Roman numeral because it's at least something one can figure out based on the common knowledge of Independence Day -- in fact, I think the puzzle started going much faster once I got it -- but seeing OTTO II kinda cheapens the uniqueness of JULY IV MDCCLXXVI. Beyond that.....COTY, ABRI, TAMLA, MAUMAU, JUTES, IHRE, WASATCH, and MESIAL were all complete mysteries to me. I imagine that the AGFA/ABRI crossing is really going to mess up a lot of grids. And why go with a J in the JON/JUTES cross when LON/LUTES and even MON/MUTES would be a lot more inferable?

    Even though I admire some of the longer answers and their clues (UBERGEEK is my favorite), I just wasn't a fan of this one because of all of those aforementioned bizarre words, to say nothing of things like KSTAR and RECURVE and the three-partial team of DO I/IS SO/I TO.

    Welcome back Rex and happy belated America Day, all.

    Anonymous 1:09 AM  

    Since I live in Germany and am retired Air Force, IHRE and NOSTEP were gimmes--wrote 'em in with nothing but the final E in IHRE and never questioned it.

    Refrained from writing in an uncrossed THEATEAM (31A) for some reason--gotta get better at trusting my instincts.

    For some reason, clues like 53D always trip me up. Perhaps I'm repressing my middle school ACNE.

    23A BANCO held me up for a bit (even though I had 5D TABOO from the git-go) because of where I live. The world over, ATM is almost universally understood. Germans will look at you like you have two heads if you ask for an ATM. It's a Geldautomat.

    Challenging? I dunno. I found it a medium. 41A MESIAL and 51D ABRI were atrocious, but the prevalence of bad fill (completely agree, but 36D UBERGEEK and 17A SOAPBOX were sweet) doesn't increase the rating in my book. Paula has done better, but I enjoyed this one more than some of her other wicked puzzles.

    Cheers,
    Brennan

    chefwen 2:41 AM  

    @EllenS - Breaking news! Fighting Eel Boutique Waikiki is having a grand opening July 20th. Just in case you are in the neighborhood.

    Loved the puzzle until I arrived in the San Diego area. Was undone by RECURVE and IKETTES. Epic fail and a big DNF. We did get 35A, but it took forever.

    @Andrea - MAUMAU, great name for a cat, no?

    jae 3:14 AM  

    Mixed feelings about this one.  Lots to like...SOAP BOX, SHOO FLY,  AFTER SIX, SATAN, UBER GEEK, IKETTES, MATT DAMON...but lots of cringy stuff...the ABRI/AGFA cross (I've seen AFGA before in crosswords or it would have been a progressive vowel coin flip), IHRE, RECURVE, MESIAL (I started with TORSAL and then MEDIAL until LODE FACE appeared), TAMLA (considered @anon YiPs and changed the C to L after taking the time to parse the RN).

    @Evan -- I've got to defend JON as a legit Fri. clue/answer.  The series is a    major cable phenomenon plus the guy has been on beaucoup talk shows and magazine covers.  And, he did a very funny run on 30 Rock.  Not to mention 8 Emmy nominations. 

    So, medium-tough for me and I'm going with liked it.  Crunchy is good!

    Gareth Bain 5:30 AM  

    MESIAL tripped me up too; although I think MEDIAL is used in a slightly different manner, I'm becoming less certain of what that distinction is the more I think about it... MESIAL is used only in the mouth, maybe?

    Consider that anatomists also use MIDDLE (the one in the middle of 3 or 5 things whereas the outer ones are labeled medial and lateral) and AXIAL (towards an axis that is not the midline) and you can see why I found such joy in the two years of undergraduate anatomy I studied!

    I mentioned it elsewhere, but the MAUMAU have a rather bloody history... I'm not sure that I'd personally use them in a crossword.

    Questinia 7:31 AM  

    @ Brian. I think you're right that mesial is used to describe structures in the head including the brain. Otherwise, medial and mesial are fairly synonymous.

    Glimmerglass 7:55 AM  

    Three wrong letters, and lots of lucky guesses. This was hard.

    ArtO 8:00 AM  

    Pitching stat is not a single SAVE. It takes more than one to be a statistic. Just sayin'.

    evil doug 8:11 AM  

    The Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, UT, offers "Polygamy Porter"---the label urges you to "Take Some Home to the Wives"....

    Love the 'no step'---you usually can walk on certain parts of wings (hence, over-wing exits), but not others.

    One of Tom Wolfe's best titles: "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers". A couple of essays on black rage vs. white guilt. The first is about Leonard Bernstein and a bunch of rich NYC socialites hosting Black Panthers at his Park Avenue apartment. The 'Mau-Mauing' follower addresses the Office of Economic Opportunity in San Francisco---intended to run anti-poverty programs for minorities but corrupted like so many gov't plans into worse than a waste.

    Evil

    Rob C 8:50 AM  

    Really tough Friday for me. I had radIAL for MESIAL at first. Made sense to me.

    RECURVE is just plain ugly.

    Enjoyed SATAN crossing ANGELS. For some reason I got a kick out of SATAN being next to SUNTAN oil too.

    I thought I was so clever figuring out 60A (J, F, or K) was (NYC subway) IRT LINE in no time. But it wasn't. In any case, the IRT lines are the ones designated with numbers. The letters are the BMT. Also, I don't think there's a K.

    34A - yes, I suppose Lance ITO is to blame to some extent for the OJ acquittal.

    David Levy 8:50 AM  

    I finally got cornered the "R" in ABRI by getting everything else around it.

    And yeah, the date on the Statute of Liberty could have been either 1776 or 1876. and who knew TAMLA wasn't TAMCA.

    But we all should know that the great Oscar Robinson was a BEARCAT!

    Decent Friday puzzle.

    Evan 9:08 AM  

    @jae:

    I wasn't objecting to JON, but JUTES -- that's not a term I've ever encountered. JUTES strikes me as way more obscure of a term than either LUTES or MUTES. The only reason I got that crossing right was because I had heard of JON Hamm, otherwise I might have thought DON/DUTES or RON/RUTES were equally likely to be correct.

    Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  

    First dnf in a while. Southwest whupped me. Never heard of ABRI, locked in SAlE for SAVE, and loved nerd for GEEK. I was buried.

    Fun Friday, and sunny Friday too. Think I'll salve the pain at The Shore.

    chefbea 9:45 AM  

    too tough for me especially the south west..abri? Ikettes? recurve?

    Had shoofly pie in Lancaster Pa. Was pretty good.

    Happy day after!!

    joho 9:49 AM  

    JULYIVMDCCLXXVI is taking the Roman numeral to an elevated, spectacular place smack dab in the middle of the puzzle! Audacious! And not random at all.

    I thought I'd finished correctly till I came here. I had YiPSAT a perfectly valid answer. If only I had actually figured out the RN. I also had MESIAn thinking, like @Acme, DEVAn a morely likely name than DEVAL.

    I think Yips/YAPS is a "ruff" spot in the puzzle. :)

    RECURVE should be thrown somewhere where it doesn't ever come back!

    One of my stepsons is a BEARCAT!

    In the end a fun Friday solve which just proves that Paula Gamache is definitely a member of THEATEAM!

    jackj 9:59 AM  

    Being MAU-MAU(ed) AFTERSIX by an UBERGEEK on JULYIVMDCCLXXVI is as much fun as waiting for SATAN and TRISTAN to crawl out of their ABRI to get a SUNTAN.

    Makes more sense for DRT to swap his CRT for a PLASMATV while he and COTY relax and enjoy the AROMAS of DOI TOI ITO ISSO ABO AMI and IHRE and watch as ODAMAE and DEVAL forego the box step for the NOSTEP as they JAM with the AGFA sponsored IKETTES.

    All things considered, I’d rather grab my ASP at an ARTSALE in the RCADOME.

    jberg 10:04 AM  

    @Rex, you could clue MEVAL as "What Ms. Harper said when she met Tarzan." But I live in Massachusetts, so DEVAL was a gimme.

    I saw "20 Feet from Stardom" last night, so the IKETTES were on my mind. But even though Stevie Wonder was interviewed at length in the movie, I never heard of TAMLA - so I went with YiPS AT, which sounds shriller than YAPS to me, and was thinking the date might be the date the statue was made, so I put in a C there to get it into the 18th cent, ending up with TiMcA for an equally plausible record label.

    NO STEP was easy - OFL must fly either first-class or on the aisle, but if you're in a window seat in the middle of the plane, just look out you're window and you'll see it.

    But ABRI? That's just the French word for shelter, so specifying that it be dug into a hillside kept me from seeing it until I had every cross by the R, and even then I considered dECURVE as an alternative.

    Not much joy in this one, even when I thought I'd finished with no errors. Certainly hard, though.

    Lindsay 10:05 AM  

    I absolutely adored the central answer. Imaginative & topical & history to boot. Working from right to left, I couldn't imagine how the date would stretch out to 15 letters, so finding the JULY IV was fun.

    I had YiPS AT/TiMLA, but the "c" in the roman numeral was obvious enough as the choice is between 1776 and 1826, not 1876 as has been asserted.

    Also had UsERGEEK/AsO (I avoid blood whenever possible & know nothing about it).

    Got lucky on the JON/JUTES guess. Writeovers at ARTShow/tOte. Wrong kind of "lug".

    Very hot here.

    Pete 10:09 AM  

    RECURVE is actually a real thing, not some made up word. Before compound bows overtook archery, the standard was a RECURVE bow.

    RECURVE isn't recarve.

    Z 10:15 AM  

    SOAPBOX time. An XI letter Random Roman Numeral. Give me an effing break. I got it immediately and put the paper down. Has to be a joke, right? Nope. Infuckingcredible. So maybe the puzzle will be charming and light-hearted and the XI letter RRN will be used to create a lively and fun puzzle. Nope. We get trivial trivia like TAMLA, and DEVAL. GARrrrrrrrrrrrr. I guess it could be worse, the tablet could read VII/IV/MDCCLXXVI.

    I actually enjoyed most of the solving experience, but the trivial trivia did me in in the NW and SW. Started with UBERnerd, but worked most of that out. The IKETTES and BEARCAT really helped me with ABRI and changing my nerd to a GEEK. Confused JON Hamm with dON Draper and never looked again at dUTES, so an error there. In the NW it took forever to change tote to CLOD. But I finished with TABus crossing uDAMAE and BANCs, so two more wrong squares.

    Benko 10:16 AM  

    Am surprised at the lack of interest/knowledge in TAMLA--I'm a record collector who was born in Detroit. We often refer to their early releases as "TAMLA-Motown".
    AFGA was a big deal in a puzzle a couple of weeks ago--Rex put a picture of their logo on the blog. So that was easy.
    The hardest space by far for me was the ABRI/RECURVE crossing--had to go through the alphabet for the most likely letter, and still thought it might be a "B".

    Anonymous 10:17 AM  

    I don't want to spoil everyone's fun, but has anyone noticed that Rex doesn't seem to like ANY of the puzzles? Why keep doing them if they are such a chore? The commenters here seem to like them much more than he does. It's time for me to look for another NYT Crossword discussion blog.

    Z 10:26 AM  

    @Evil- we should always remember that government is a necessary evil. Some minimize the "necessary" part while other minimize the "evil" part. Petty corruption in an anti-poverty program bothers me far less than wholesale spying on us by those we employ to protect us, but both are fine examples of the "evil" part. Meanwhile, I'll try the Polygamy Porter but take a pass on the POC spouses.

    Lindsay 10:27 AM  

    The roman numeral isn't random.

    Also, I don't understand the upset with DEVAL Patrick. He's governor of Natick, after all.

    Anonymous 10:30 AM  

    I don't get where some people say Rex dislikes every puzzle, unless you translate criticism with dislike? But if his reviewing irks you you can head on to www.crosswordfiend.com/blog or www.wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com. The latter blogger is contractually prohibited from saying what she really feels about the puzzles so that might be perfect for some people...

    Mike in DC 10:39 AM  

    Lindsay for the win: "governor of Natick." Hilarious!

    This puzzle was what a Friday should be: challenging. Enjoyed it.

    Z 10:40 AM  

    @Lindsay- technically, RRNs are never "random." They are always specifically clued with an OTTO here or a LEO there or everywhere a pope, pope. What makes them random is that the solver often is picking a letter from the small set of possible letters, a random guess. Today's comments about TAMLA vs. TAMcA or "JULY IV coming into view" are examples of the randomness of the solving experience. Contrast that with today's Nancy clue. I put in Sid first and had a nice little aha moment when I grokked the misdirection.

    In case it isn't obvious, I'm one of those people Rex was referring to regarding hating Roman Numerals in puzzles. I'll be reading with great interest the syndicated solvers responses in five weeks, when the holiday tip-off is but a memory.

    Three and done.

    Gill I. P. 10:43 AM  

    We've been hiding in San Diego where we ran away to get away from the god-awful heat in Sacramento. When I win the lottery, I shall buy a home here!
    I actually found this puzzle on the easier side. Except for the same mistake with MESIAn/DEVAn as @Acme and @joho which obviously made this a DNF. WAAAAH
    Had the same thought as @Gareth re the MAU MAU. I learned all about them when I read Robert Ruark's "Something of Value" - or maybe it was "Uhuru." They certainly weren't ANGELS nor were the Brits for that matter.
    Paula always entertains with fresh, sassy words. I really like WASATCH/WASABI. UBERGEEK and IKETTES. The zillion Roman numerals didn't bother too much either since it really was inferable.
    I've seen "Ghost" a ton of times because I love Whoopi and yet I couldn't remember ODAMAE. (I had Odetta at first and Tom Cruise was the sexiest man alive) Wrong! but I caught on and changed it and finished albeit at a SNAILs pace.
    @Loren from yesterday. I'm still laughing at the image of your mom helping herself to the bar patrons paid for snack. Hmmm that gives me an idea....

    Anonymous 10:43 AM  

    I have no idea who Oscar Robinson is/was. However, Oscar "The Big O" Robertson was a Bearcat.

    Silasxl

    Rex Parker 10:48 AM  

    "True story. About 25 years ago, my dentist referred me to this insufferably pompous, self-important gum disease specialist, who insisted on dictating notes to her assistant/stenographer as she examined my mouth. She is the only person I ever heard use the term "mesial." I hated her so much that I never bothered to ask her what it meant, although I figured it had something to do with location. She kept warning me that, if I didn't do exactly as she said, I was in imminent danger of losing my teeth. I finally couldn't take her attitude anymore so I stopped seeing her, and I've still got all my teeth. The only thing she did for me was to use a word that helped me on a crossword more than two decades later." — a letter I got today

    RP

    Rex Parker 10:50 AM  

    I own a good half dozen Stevie Wonder CDs and they are all on TAMLA so I really should open my eyes once in a while. If I'd owned them on vinyl, I'm pretty sure the logo would've etched itself into my mind. But CDs ... convenient-ish, but ugh. There's a reason I've gone back.

    RP

    jae 10:54 AM  

    @Evan -- Sorry about the mix up. JUTES is one of those things I only know from crosswords so it was kind of a gimme for me off the J.

    Rookie 11:11 AM  

    Chacun à son goût! I loved that central date! As a long-ago French teacher, I knew that the date had to be either 1776 or 1876 (because the French gave us the Statue of Liberty for the centennial). It was so much fun to fill in the date going backwards. The extra C needed for 1876 wouldn't fit, so that solved the problem.

    Where my French caused me a problem was with 'abri.' Having a couple of the letters, 'abri' came to mind. I initially discounted it, even though it does mean 'shelter' in French. I just couldn't believe that the word existed in English. Eventually, I just conceded to what I was sure was a wrong answer, and voilà, I had it!

    Carola 11:18 AM  

    DNF. Became enmired in the MESIAL area and couldn't extricate myself. Still, I really enjoyed working on this one. I loved writing in the date - having visited Liberty Island, I could visualize her tablet - and the small moments of triumph of getting AMI, IKETTES, UBERGEEK and NO STEP without crosses. Feel kinda dumb for not rejecting MEdIAL when I was looking at LOdEF_ _E; feel UBER dumb for looking at _UNT_N and seeing neither SUNTAN nor ACNE!

    @Rob C - I think you're onto something with SATAN right by SUNTAN oil. How else to explain those years of careless UBER tanning with baby oil....now resulting in what a bygone TV ad used to call "horrid age spots"?

    (Captcha - nyesne. Okay, I know esne, now need to remember ABRI and MESIAL.)

    Rookie 11:27 AM  

    Hah, Rex! Except that the dates are wrong, I might have been the one entering the insufferable gum specialist's description on your dental chart. That was SOP.

    I worked my way through college by working as a dental assistant. The first thing I had to learn when I started as a senior in high school was the various surfaces of the teeth: occlusal (the top), lingual (near the tongue), labial (near the cheek...no comments, Evil Doug, please!), distal (toward the back) and mesial (toward the front or mid-part of the mouth.). Even then, as a French and Latin student and budding linguist (and there is that Latin root, lingua, tongue, again), I loved these words. I haven't seen or used 'mesial' in such a long time. It brought back such happy memories of that time in my life!

    Matthew G. 11:37 AM  

    Another Paula Gamache puzzle, another disaster solve for me.

    Thing in this puzzle I just flat-out have never heard of: SHOOFLY pie (!?), TESS the "Working Girl," DR. T, MESIAL (!??), JON Hamm, AGFA (!?!?), the IKETTES, ABRI, TAMLA (!?!?!).

    Paula is my anti-wheelhouse.

    Anonymous 11:38 AM  

    There is a pretty big error in this puzzle. 29D refers to the America's Cup and the clue says it is an "annual competition", which is wrong. The first one was held in 1851 but it is not held every year. This year's version, which just began, is the 34th.

    Sandy K 11:40 AM  

    Mixed emotions about this one too.
    Liked that it was challenging and had some interesting fill- faves were IKETTES and UBERGEEK.

    But I was IN A RUT with ABRI, IHRE, NO STEP, RECURVE and TAMLA.
    Worked it all out except for TAMLA-cuz YiPS AT looked better than YAPS AT. Not a good decision, obviously, since TiMLA IS SO bad.

    Spelling Gov. Patrick's name was X-TRA hard, since I hear it pronounced on the news as DuVAL- but THE A-TEAM SAVEd that.

    So DNF because of TAMLA- which shudda been DECCA.137

    Sandy K 11:43 AM  

    Make that DECCA. Period. 137 was my captcha, not some ECCENTRIC record label.

    Mr. Benson 11:59 AM  

    Maybe it's a sign I'm getting better at this crossword thingie, but this is two days in a row I'd have scored as "way way way too easy for this day of the week." No idea how this got a "challenging" label; the only thing keeping me from record time was my refusal to admit that ABRI and AGFA were things.

    mac 12:03 PM  

    @Lindsey: priceless!

    Beautiful puzzle to me, but I got MIRED in the SW, not knowing the bearcats and recurve. Also am a little rushed. Have to finish packing and have to find my Euros, on the way to Holland this evening, until August 12. Apparently summer is finally starting there. The Dutch have developed a verb for getting money out of the machine: pinnen.

    I agree that MauMau is pretty gruesome. I started out with Massai.

    dk 12:05 PM  

    Those of you in the MESIAL. Ski Patrol comes through for this fill.

    Rex's specialist is alive and well in some outdoor rescue training instructors. Take @rookies, text from above and insert injuries to the upper body. Eg. The branch was protruding from…. Most of us stare dumbfounded exclaiming does he/she mean the middle… I mean if you hand fallen off a cliff and heard this type of speech your response might be: "Distal this Mo-FO."

    I penned in THEATEAM but was sure it was in the 70. Had oscar as the orange dwarf as those muppets are kinda small. And, wanted triple beam balance for 62A as I love illicit drug references.

    Victor B. has a great SNAIL joke: FYI.

    Could not warm up to this puzzle. My problem not Paula's

    ���� (2 Birthday cakes for the USA)

    dk 12:06 PM  

    had fallen

    Anonymous 12:13 PM  

    Governor of Natick -- funny!

    I liked everything about this puzzle, not least the fact that it apparently was harder for Rex than for me. I don't EVER do a puzzle in seven minutes, so when I can actually do one pretty easily that the "King of CrossWorld" rates as "challenging," well, that's a rare ego trip.

    I don't mind Rex being crabby all the time. It's one of the big reasons I come to this blog. I'm usually thinking: "What an impressive & amazing work, I wonder what weird reasons Rex will think of now to hate on it." Yes, he almost always finds something nasty to say, and for me this is amusing. He has absolutely no regard for the feelings of the constructors, also amusing. Call me perverse. Sort of my daily dose of insult comedy.

    As for this particular puzzle, since I rarely watch TV or listen to the latest hip hop or whatever, I don't know the latest pop trivia. But I do know my geography, I follow politics, I know who Deval Patrick, is even though I'm not from Massachusetts, I know what the Mau Mau rebellion was (hey -- it was recently in the news, with the Brits having to pay buco bucks for torturing Kenyans in colonial concentration camps back in the day), I've heard of a shoofly pie and the Wasatch Range, I know a little crosswordese (K Star). So, as Rex would say, this one happened to be in my "wheelhouse." (Now THAT'S a weird word!)

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:13 PM  

    Christmas time in July. A RRN with a U in it. thUmbsUp.

    ODAMAE - got her cold, with no letters showin.

    TAMLA - ditto. Used to come in light blue or pink labels, plus white for the DJ samples. Then they went to a sorta yellow one. ILL BE DOGGONE by Marvin Gaye, best R&Ber ever, was on it. Good to hear U went back to vinyl, 4-Oh. M&A never left.

    WASABI - Sounds like Conye West greetin old bro Aunt Bee.

    Ellen S 12:29 PM  

    What a week, too many easies and then this! Finished with massive cheating. With R.alphh Bunker's program I can't see the correct words, only that I have a wrong letter, e.g., that I put a "d" where it should have been an "s." Sometimes, if there are a million of the wrong letter, and they all involve obscure clues, it's not so easy to tell which one is correct. But eventually (if nothing else, by trial and error!) I limped home.

    I knew the Statue of Liberty was "something" -- dedicated, it turns out -- in 1886. Lots of important stuff happened that year: dedication of the Statue, the Haymarket Massacre, the Santa Clara v Southern Pacific RR Supreme Ct. decision that started corporations on the road to Personhood -- but I figured the inscription was probably 1776. Still, it took a while to get "JULY IV" so I could see where to start the year, and then I totally messed it up, repeatedly. I get lost in the subtraction/addition in long RRNs, I mean RNs. God Bless the Arabs.

    I also had oScAR for a while, then oSTAR crossing odDNAPS. Sounded a bit strange, as "snatches" doesn't necessarily mean "snatches a little bit of sleep" but heck, in crosswords anything goes, right? Okay, wrong.

    Thank you @chefwen. I'll be in Pittsburgh, of all places, for the opening of the Fighting Eel Boutique. I deputize you to tell me all about it.

    I'll close with this zen thing: Anon 10:17 doesn't like Rex's criitiques so he/she/it is going to another blog. Question is, if an anonymous poster leaves a blog, will anyone know?

    Anonymous 12:41 PM  

    @Matthew G -- I guess it takes an old geezer like me to remember Dinah Shore singing "Shoofly pie and apple pandowdy/makes your eyes light up, your tummy say howdy" (or something close to that -- I'm quoting from memory).

    When I counted the number of squares for 35-A I immediately wrote in THEFOURTHOFJULY (it fits) only to find none of the crosses worked. Turned out it was right in a way. Realizing that it must be Roman numerals gave me half of the answer right away.

    Lewis 12:49 PM  

    Lots not in my wheelhouse. IKETTLES, ODAMAE, RECURVE, MESIAL, COTY, OTTOII for starters. I didn't Google but I did check some of my answers, finally finishing. I did like the challenge. Some puzzles require a lot of thinking due to tricky cluing. Others can be solved without a lot of thinking if you have the knowledge in your memory, and this puzzle seems like the latter. Many of the clues were very straightforward because the challenge was in the knowing.

    I wanted WINEGLASS for "port vessel".

    I prefer the former type puzzles, the type I can tangle with using my thinking. But that's just me.

    M and A recurvingly 12:57 PM  

    p.s.
    Corner of Nope: SW. AGFA/ABRI in particular. Kinda liked the sweaty beads of desperation on RE-CURVE, tho. Had the DUTCH, then the DUDES, invadin Britain early, so that didn't help the cause, either. Wrong again, M&A breath.

    MAUMAU - mm-mm. Bet those dudes coulda taken them early Brits... snort.

    OISK 1:04 PM  

    First errors in a month. Never heard of the Ikettes, nor Abri, and had decurve ( commonly used to describe the bills of some birds), so it was ABDO and Okettes, two wrong boxes. Also didn't know Deval, never heard of a movie "DrT", but guessed correctly. Never owned a Miracles nor a Stevie Wonder record, so Talma was meaningless, but got it from the across clues. "Abri" with "Ikettes" is just an unpardonable (to me) crossing. So, despite some nice clues, like for "soapbox" this gets a C- from me. While I am nit-picking, I don't like the clue "Addresses shrilly" for "yaps at." Never thought of yapping as shrill. Liked the date across the middle though.

    Notsofast 1:08 PM  

    (Smacks forehead) Aaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!! I can't believe I didn't get IKETTES!!!!!! But IMHO a very good puzzle. Props to Ms. Gamache.

    Carola 1:37 PM  

    @Sandy K -
    Back to that WSJ cryptic and the clue for 9D and a cry for help. Sleeping on it didn't cause the way to parse it to POP into my head, and I'm tired of BANGing my head against the wall. I'm sure I've got the right side-kick....

    Anonymous 2:18 PM  

    Went down not one, but two wrong roads for "Turner backers". Originally thought it had something to do with the painter (as in, "Picasso enclosers" might be FRAMES), so spent a lot of time trying to think of a word for something that's put on the back of an oil painting before it's framed. Gave up on that, then thought "Turner backers" might be the opposite of "goer forwarders", so tried to fit RETREATERS into the space. Gave up on that, gave up on the puzzle, came here hoping to find someone else had gone down the same roads. No one?

    Ellen S 2:41 PM  

    Hi, @anon 2:18 -- I was thinking Nat Turner, like, who would back a slave rebellion? Nobody, I guess, however much I hoped to find someone, preferably describable in seven letters. Had to get all the crosses before I realized it was Ike.

    Acme 2:45 PM  

    @anon 2:18
    My road was thinking it was TED Turner or NAT Turner...
    Absolute last entry realizing it was IKE, which brought huge smile. Lots of Ahas!
    (altho @anoa bob will probably say I can't pluralize AHA!)

    MAUMAU was one of the few answers I got right on "Win Ben Stein's Money" which prompted cohost Jimmy Kimmell to say I wasn't as blonde as I looked!

    It's interesting to me that it's a just fun word to say, but for those in Africa, like @Gareth, MAUMAU conjures a serious and bloody mess, like IDI Amin. That is one of the consequences of puzzles and I suppose ultimate trivialization.

    K9doc 3:02 PM  

    As someone who uses the word MESIAL daily, I would say the clue is inaccurate. I have only seen it in a dental context, never medical or anatomical. In dentistry, mesial means toward the midline, not near the midline. So, this one tripped me up for a while -- I had medial for a while until I saw the error.

    M and A's Last Silver Recurvy Bullet 3:08 PM  

    @Gareth and Acme. Looked up MAUMAU. Yikes. I'd always thought they were just some real nice tribe of fierce African warriors. Nope. Wrong again, MesialBrain. Learned somethin. Typical, from a Fri/SatPuz solve. Thanx for the discussion.

    Too bad, cuz like Andrea darlin says, MAUMAU is so fun lookin and soundin. Interestin variation: M&A & U X 2.

    Headin to the bijou, this PM, to see the premiere of that Tonto flick. Couldn't wait.

    Sandy K 3:12 PM  

    @Carola-

    I put in TONTO, but can't justify where the high fashion comes in.
    I went over every letter last night- thought only the 2nd O could be wrong, so TaNTO, TeNTO, TiNTO, TunTO?? Nope.

    Could the high fashion mean the T (as in T-shirt) is up on top?

    John V 3:19 PM  

    Epithet for my experience? UBERTRAINWRECK. Too many misses to run though. Challenging, indeed.

    Por favor? Do not ask me to know of MATTDAMON and People magazine. Thank you.

    Delaware 3:25 PM  

    Was so happy to see Rex's challenging rating as this was a big DNF for me. I also thought of Turner as Nat Turner. Should have known Oda Mae as I was a huge acting-like-adolescent fan of Patrick Swayze's and saw the movie numerous times, but it just didn't connect. The whole southwest corner was a mess for me.I got 53 down, but only after a long time. How many times am I going to fall for that particular misdirection? Hoping tomorrow is more doable for me. And count me as one who is happy to have Rex back, snark and all.

    Sandy K 3:36 PM  

    @Carola-

    I got it! Had to google. Acc. to Wiki. TON is a term commonly used to refer to Britain's high society, meaning "in the fashionable mode", short for LE BON TON.

    So, TON + TO (in the opinion of ) = TONTO

    LaneB 3:52 PM  

    Words like MESIAL, RECURVE , ABO, AGFA and JUTES, all occurring in the SW corner [which, of course resulted in a DNF for me and many others] lead me to believe that the constructor found herself with a lot of holes in her fill, threw in some letters by way of testing, then looked up the mishmash on Google until something plausible was found .I googled the hell out of that corner AFTER the fact and found definitions buried way down in the pages. Really impossible for us rookies, but gives hope when constructing one of these things that some of the fill one comes up with isn't so absurd, though real clunky, after all.
    I'm trying my hand at construction [a shaky hand at that] and am still left with words like ASNE [short for American Society of Newspaper Editors], EVISU [Japanese maker of jeans],ESAI [Morales the Mexican actor], AGAL [a black cord worn by arab men] ENNS [a tributary of the Danube] and ASID [a designer industry org.]. I figure that my submission to the NYT will fail because of such stuff. Well, maybe not-- unless the veterans get a break not given to us amateurs and first-timers.

    Davis 3:57 PM  

    Some serious ups and downs in this puzzle. UBERGEEK for the win; SOAP BOX, SHOOFLY, ECCENTRIC, WASABI, and MAUMAU were some other fun entries. For some reason the term "RECURVE bow" comes to mind quickly, so no problem with that entry. In my high school days I worked at a one-hour photo shop where AGFA film was our store brand, so the only thing tricky there was that I thought the company had shut down altogether.

    But the unpleasant fill really stood out to me: MESIAL, TAMLA, IHRE, and ABRI all looked wrong to me even when I had them correct (I needed LOSE FACE to rectify the common MEdIAL error on the first). I think NO STEP was familiar from playing with G.I. Joe toys when I was a kid, but knowing it didn't make that entry seem any less ugly.

    All told, the bad fill outweighed the good here, making this a below-average puzzle.

    LaneB 4:06 PM  

    @Anonymous in Germany
    Is Brennan a signature? I ask because that happens to be my last [not terribly uncommon one] name, and perhaps I have a distant relative out therI enjoyed your post, and it appears you are pretty good at this kind of thing. I would like to be but am relatively new to the game and older than hell to boot.

    'Cheers to yuou.

    retired_chemist 4:14 PM  

    No prob with MESIAL - I have had enough dental work done over the years that I know the lingo. Agree with k9doc that it seems to be largely a dental term, but the clue is correct. Slamming it just because the more familiar MEDIAL fits and is kind of a synonym seems to me just snarky.

    Medium-challenging here. Nothing that killed me but enough headscratchers to keep the entertainment value high. YAPS AT/TAMLA was a quasi-Natick I guessed right on (wrong: YiPS AT/TiMLA). Def: quasi-Natick is a cross in which there are two or more correct alternatives for one answer and the other is a WTF. MESIAL/MEDIAL does not qualify since, as Rex pointed out, only LOSE FACE makes sense.

    Spent time trying to figure out the date the French gave us the SOL (sometime in the latter half of the 19th century I think). Soon, enough of the correct answer appeared that I saw my efforts were a big waste of time.

    Fun answers: WASATCH, SHOOFLY, BEARCATS, IKETTES. Less fun: ODA MAE, RECURVE,RCA DOME. IMO nothing ugly.

    Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

    Nancy 4:15 PM  

    Think RECURVE is ridiculous and not a word. I had RECLINE instead, which kept me from finishing the SW corner. (Got NW by looking up WASATCH. Ba-a-a-ad girl!) And I guessed HIHAT, but it's not in the dictionary. Why not? And what is it? Got TAMLA but never heard of it, even though I own a lot of vinyl. A toughie, and not completely fair, I think.

    acme 4:18 PM  

    btw, after watching the video (thanks @rex for digging up these gems! often my fave part of the blog) I think they should have been called the TINETTES.
    Tina's do may have inspired Michelle O's bangs coif!

    Carola 4:37 PM  

    @Sandy K - Wow, thank you! N-e-v-e-r would have come up with that. Thanks also for the wikipedia reference - interesting article! I wouldn't have belonged :) So, two new words for me - this one and LONGERON.

    Susan McConnell 5:01 PM  

    Given my druthers, I prefer a tougher challenge like today to a gimme like yesterday. Though MESIAL had me snorting furiously.

    Best part of this is that I just downloaded some old Stevie and will be cranking it in the camper tonight!

    Nameless 5:54 PM  

    Boo hiss. Sorry, but didn't like this one. And such a letdown after seeing the byline, too.

    Uh, the stat is SAVES. Mariano got a SAVE in today's game, which raises his total SAVES for the season to 31.

    Other crap to complain about in this dreadful puzzle include, aside from the way too obscure cluing/answer/crossing combinations . . .

    YAPS AT (YIPS AT is better, like a small lap dog)
    13D should be plural (any respecting sports bar is going to have a multitude of TVs)
    DR T crossing DEVAL crossing MESIAL (mesian seems just as reasonable and DEVAN seems more reasonable if you didn't know the guv of Mass.)
    RECURVE = WTF
    UBER GEEK? Really?

    My ports go in decanters.

    sanfranman59 5:57 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 22:31, 21:03, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 15:05, 12:19, 1.22, 82%, Challenging

    Paul Keller 7:34 PM  

    Mostly had fun with this one. Lot's I didn't know but was able to coax out. Finally admitted defeat in the SW leaving four blanks (AG of AGFA and IK of IKETTES) and one wrong anwer. If RECURVE, why not DECURVE?

    I always though of eating crow as having to admit being wrong. I'm not convinced that is the same as losing face.

    michael 7:54 PM  

    Really surprised by all the problems most people found with this one. I found it easy for a Friday, but then I usually don't have difficulty with Paula Gamache puzzles.

    Surprised to see July mixed in with the Roman numerals, but I guess the Romans would have done it that way. (Have to go to the internet to check out the origins of "July.")

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:36 PM  

    No time to read right now, but hand up for finishing with TIMLA/YAPS AT, apparently common and within the original definition of Natick.

    Also two write-overs, at 24 D, had FOCH before COTY; my Find function doesn't show that anyone else mentioned that, and I'll have to Google Foch to see if he's a real person. And of course, MEDIAL before MESIAL.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:39 PM  

    Sorry, finished with TIMLA/YIPS AT.

    acme 4:47 AM  

    @LaneB
    Keep at it...no one gets a break! But fwiw, ESAI is in a million puzzles and is fine fill...but he is not Mexican! He was born in Brooklyn with parents from Puerto Rico.
    (Used to know him a million and a half years ago).

    acme 4:51 AM  

    PS LAne B and other newish constructors, I would be happy to look at your fill and point out the trouble spots and perhaps save you some time, rejection-wise.
    (If you see this, you can always write to me full name at gmail.)

    Bob Kerfuffle 12:28 PM  

    Finally got to read all the comments, and

    (1) Surprised no one posted a link to this image of the Statue of Liberty's tablet.

    (2) The Mau Mau uprising was truly horrible, but for every death of a British combatant, from 60 to 100 Mau Mau combatants died. And how many British civilians were killed? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Actually, 32. (Too many, of course . . .)

    (3) The Jutes came from the Jutland peninsula, where Denmark is, another group of Scandinavian raiders to seek treasure in Britain.

    Anonymous 11:46 PM  

    Ok I'm new to more challenging crosswords but this one was stupid. I do use aids like google and Wikipedia when especially stumped. The online dictionary does show that mesial is a proper word for the middle but it is actually the middle part of the lower jaw. According to IMDB.com the Internet movie data base the character is Don Hamm not Jon Hamm.

    Someone is wrong and I've never watched Mad Men so I don't know. Thanks for your help.

    Marvin 12:39 AM  

    Looks like Jon Hamm to me. And if you read the comments above I think you find out all you need about MESIAL.

    spacecraft 12:30 PM  

    After finishing (!!!) this one--still can't believe I did it--I was pleased to find a straight "challenging" rating by OFL, and that's a rare sight. But like him I was twisted into a pretzel trying to think what LODEFACE meant. I had medical training, and I NEVER! EVER! heard the term "MESIAL." Doesn't even sound right. I don't care if a couple of you recognize it. I'm throwing the flag anyway. That's just awful. 99.9999% of solvers would put a D in there and forget about it.

    Well, if you love ROMAnumerals this is your Nirvana! Oop, wrong mythset. Give me your tired (ACNE), your poor (RECURVE? Really?), etc. I yearned to breathe free from this baby and at last parsed out THEATEAM--one of my all-time faves--as being the "outfit" of 31a, not clothes. Wanted DuVAL for the longest time, but I had the guv mixed up with 59-shooting David of the PGA.

    I agree with @Benko: I can still remember the DJ's saying "TAMLA-Motown" all in one. Never knew the bit about declumping payola, though. Makes sense. Come here, learn something new every day.

    MESIAL. Sheesh!

    rain forest 1:08 PM  

    Got it! Yahoo!

    After running into roadblocks up North, I went South and immediately got IKETTES,RECURVE, and BEARCAT. My son took archery lessons, where they use RECURVE bows, and they do bend backwards at the tips. Getting this section gave me LOSEFACE, and so MESIAL, which of course I didn't know had to be the answer.

    Actually the entire bottom part of the puzzle was much easier than the top, and working up enabled me to trash ARTshop, and either DOPEY or HAPPY for the dwarf (hey, it was possible). My last square was the D at the DEVAL/DRT cross, and that was just an educated guess because I just knew that Richard Gere was not Mr.T.

    I actually like this puzzle except for MESIAL, but it is a word which I now know.

    BedfordBob 1:25 PM  

    Just when I thought I was getting good at Friday puzzles this one humbled me. Got the NW and SE OK but drew a blank on the rest.

    Put in IKETTES because I saw them years ago (one of the best sexy shows I ever attended) but resorted to a bunch of Googles to fill it in.

    Big DNF for me.

    DMGrandma 2:57 PM  

    Sure didn't finish this one, all those names! Did get WASATCH somehow from associating the name with what I recalled sounded like "sawtooth"-can't explain that kind of thing. ABRI, which stumped so many, was a write-in for me. I learned it from puzzles, must have been in the Maleska days. However, stuck thinking Nat or Ted, I couldn't come up with Ike, and was actually wondering if the turner clue referred to pancake turners or some such. So DNF the SW, and really DNF the NE. Nothing came there. Know one German pronoun, "mien", never saw "Working Girl" or "Ghost" and KIDNAP did not occur to me. Guess this makes up for yesterday's romp!

    Just ran across, and smiled at, the term "seminal Natick researcher". Seems made for some of our ilk!

    And I have the Captcha that defines captchas: gemsthey.

    Cary in Boulder 5:44 PM  

    @Rex's "Owch. Double-over-and-grimace-in-pain Owch" comment about 59A was especially meaningful to me. Trying to recover from very painful medical procedure, that's where I pretty much was at when I started the puzzle. Vicodin wasn't helping, so I dove in to at least try and distract my mind.

    It seemed like every answer had to be slowly teased out, but I persevered since I couldn't think of anything better to be doing. Being an old blues/R&B guy, I actually knew TAMLA. Yet, I expected the date to be 1886, which is when the statue was dedicated. Took some head scratching to realize that this was going to be Independence Day (less obvious since I'm doing this on August 9).

    My knowledge of German pronouns is less than zero, so I guessed at IHRs, which left me at long last with ODAMAs. Since ODA MAE meant nothing to me, that's how it stayed.

    For a long time I had LASALLE instead of WASATCH, since I've actually bicycled thru the LaSalles near Moab. Finally let go of that one, but then had IDEOGRAMS, which is technically correct for the I Ching. At last WASABI brought that corner into focus.

    By now isn't CRT an archaic term for a video screen? I guess they're still used somewhere, just not in my house. That whole southwest was a MESIAL mess, with the ridiculous ABRI-RECURVE cross. R? D? Coin toss.

    The rest was still work, albeit more rewarding. At least it kept me occupied.

    And now back to my Vicodin vacation.

    Waxy in Montreal 6:14 PM  

    The WAShington State area and in particular its WASABI and WASATCH components did me in. Otherwise slowly evolved the rest of the puzzle though was sure MESIAL (huh?) was wrong til I arrived here.

    But how can one not be impressed with JULYIV... tour de force across the middle? Wow!

    Dirigonzo 8:52 PM  

    Chiming in a day late even by syndi-time standards because a lightning strike caused a power outage that delay publication of the local paper - what's up with these tropical-storm conditions in Maine, anyway?

    Finished with the same error as Rex(!) plus a blank square at the (J)on/(J)utes cross. Ron/Don/Jon all seemed equally plausible and the early British invaders were a mystery.

      © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

    Back to TOP