Greek hunter trained by Chiron / FRI 3-7-14 / Merino Suffolk Dorset / Word on biblical wall / TV show that debuted on 9/22/04 11/3/94 1/5/70 / Container for Rip Van Winkle / King of terrors per Job 18

Friday, March 7, 2014

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: imagined "parent's distressed cry" composed entirely of TV shows for some reason —


Word of the Day: ACTAEON (47A: Greek hunter trained by Chiron) —
Actaeon (/ækˈtən/Ancient GreekἈκταίων), in Greek mythology, son of the priestly herdsmanAristaeus and Autonoe in Boeotia, was a famous Theban hero. Like Achilles in a later generation, he was trained by the centaur Chiron.
He fell to the fatal wrath of Artemis, but the surviving details of his transgression vary: "the only certainty is in what Aktaion suffered, his pathos, and what Artemis did: the hunter became the hunted; he was transformed into a stag, and his raging hounds, struck with a 'wolf's frenzy' (Lyssa), tore him apart as they would a stag." This is the iconic motif by which Actaeon is recognized, both in ancient art and in Renaissance and post-Renaissance depictions. (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't quite understand the concept. Why would you make an imagined parental distress cry out of the titles of unrelated TV shows? Is there a connection? Also, why is the symmetry … non-existent? I'd think maybe, for some high concept, you could break convention, but I'm failing to see what warrants it here. Mainly, the gag just seems corny to me. Puzzle just wasn't on my wavelength humor-wise, cluing-wise, or any-wise. Seems solid enough, there are good answers here and there, but conceptually, I don't get it. I'd much MUCH rather have a good themeless (what I expect from a Friday) than this.

A 72-worder on a Friday should simply be much, much cleaner than this, but I guess theme constraints (to some extent) made that difficult. SHMO (!?), CRAN, ETTE, ALIA, ESSE, ATTN, RLS, TALI, CHIA, SWEE, ENISLE, MENE, EARED, NICHT, KETT, SYNE, ERSE, FTC … Too much subpar stuff. Fridays should be for bold, clean grids. HAZMAT SUIT (29D: Requirement for special handling?) and SCHADENFREUDE (27A: Guilty pleasure?) are of course great, but nothing else is. This may just be one of those days where some people are "tickled" by this sort of "joke." So if the "joke" was worth it to you, then I guess it worked. And if not, not.

I will either have a sub tomorrow or I will be live-blogging the puzzle from PuzzleGirl's suite at the Marriott in Brooklyn. Either way, something will get written. Take care,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Susan McConnell 8:30 AM  

Didn't do much for me, for the reasons Rex mentioned. I did like HAZMAT SUIT and SCHADENFREUDE, but the weirdness of the theme made the whole thing feel weird.

John V 8:36 AM  

Impossibly difficult here. Only ever heard of ALL MY CHILDREN of the theme. Much to much pop/film/TV references for me to ever get a hold. I'd probably even do better with a cryptic -- not.

Off to Brooklyn! Stay well, @Rex.

Gubdude 8:37 AM  

I confidently wrote in "Conjugal Visit" for 27A: Guilty Pleasure?


joho 8:38 AM  

Interesting write-up, @Rex. And I agree with you, this is an odd theme that solvers will either find amusing or not.

I was slightly amused at how the LODESTAR or "Guiding Light," another soap opera, crossed ALLMYCHILDREN.

I also think that maybe ICKINESS/ITCH got me started off on the wrong foot!

evil doug 8:38 AM  

For those of you who praise every puzzle--or feel obliged to defend your own--If you can find something positive here then you're a good--no, the best--Samaritan.

Strohs extra light over melting ice in a dirty glass, Z.


Carola 8:47 AM  

I'd rate the parental distress "theme" as NOT GREAT, and SCHADENFREUDE was a little tainted for me when read as a possible reaction to it ("theme" symmetry). Otherwise I enjoyed the puzzle, finding it pleasingly challenging. Especially liked FLAGON and TATAMI.

Some pairs: German NICHT SCHADENFREUDE, mythic ERATO and ACTAEON, the apples CRAB and CRAN, the CLEANER in a HAZMAT SUIT, bears and sheep as BRUINS and OVINES, ENISLE next to SNOW IN, septet and nonet in the clues

Casco Kid 8:55 AM  

An hour. Bit of traction in the middle thanks to google. But only 25 of 72 clues responded to, and half were wrong. None of the theme clues, but they didn't seem particularly interesting. I spent time investigating General Mills cereals for an alternative to Trix. I found chex. Yeah. Inter-play. Yeah. To transfer wine is decant it. Ok, pour it? Crate-n-ship it? Septet was Chick Corea related. The Shining setting MA__ ? I would not have pulled MAZE out for anything as there are so many other ways to describe The Shining's setting. I'd have tossed out the correct crosses first. But a second hour didn't seem justified.

justokAy for NOTGREAT gives the sense that I was 1 for 8, which is about right -- so much worse than NOTGREAT.
Is this my worst Friday showing ever? Oh, I don't know. Probably not even in recent memory.

I did get SCHADENFREUDE off the SC, appropriately. So, you know, "Enjoy!"

Casco Kid 9:03 AM  

This puzzle does one service to the community. It raises the question, when do you quit a puzzle? What's your decision-point metric for declaring failure? My stick-to-it-iveness is expensive on many levels: time, psyche. Do you guys have an 8-minute-or-bust rule? Something else?

And I'd ask the constructor for his take on the same question. When does Matt think solvers should quit his puzzles?

retired_chemist 9:04 AM  

I just enjoy matching my (not particularly potent) crossword chops against the puzzle and improving them with time and experience. I thus like most puzzles since there is something to learn each time. The only ones I dislike are those with obscure word/proper name after obscure word/proper name, particularly when they cross. What I LIKE is when I say "Oh yeah, I could have seen that a LOT quicker if I were sharper.

With that preamble, I pretty much liked this one. Several clues that sent me off in the wrong direction at first (clues for TATAMI and CLEANER particularly). Some things I didn't know: ACTAEON, the quote @ 22A (wanted satan or DEvil). As everyone, liked SCHADENFEUDE and HAZMAT SUIT.

Had CRAB @ 28D but forgot it, trying it @ 52D also. Since bOT GREAT didn't work, it was quickly fixed. Loked for something anatomical @ 42A - not.

Thanks, Mr. Ginsberg.

Ludyjynn 9:17 AM  

Theme was ok. I liked the use of a popular comedy, highly rated drama and long-running soap opera (all of them easily gettable) to communicate the clever message.

My only problem was the TALI/ENISLE cross, which caused a DNF. I refuse to Gooogle...ever. How much time did I spend? Enough to go away, read the rest of the NY Times, come back and still not see it. That's when I went to Rex for the solve.

Sir Hillary 9:19 AM  

For me, this played Saturday-hard and then some. Sorta fun, but sorta not.

For some reason, the interesting long answers (SCHADENFREUDE, HAZMATSUIT, ALLMYCHILDREN, GARAGEDOOR) blinded me to all the short fill ICKINESS that @Rex pointed out. ENISLE was the only one I noticed enough to actually groan about.

But the "theme" struck me as quite odd -- almost as if he was making a themeless and then noticed partway through that he could cobble together a phrase from three entries. It would be interesting to read his notes on this one.

jberg 9:23 AM  

One thing I liked about this puzzle was the reminder of this photo of OVINES being ENILEd. The same two answers were what I disliked the most, of course. The rest wasn't too bad (oh yes, TALI), and I did like FLAGON, Jackie CHAN, and TATAMI. Also the nonet-septet subtheme. Mostly, I was glad that finally finished it.

@cascokid, my rule is to keep at it until I conclude that I'm just not going to succeed. Sometimes, like today, that involves doing something else for awhile and then coming back to it. I did that for the SW, and then later for the NW. As @retired_chemist saya, it's a good workout.

jberg 9:24 AM  

I meant ENISLEd,of course.

Andrew Morrison 9:30 AM  

ENISLE? Seriously? You can't just make $4it up and put it in a puzzle. The NYT is supposed to be better than that.

NW was a struggle but yielded at last when somehow my brain linked ''gift' to a CITATION.

AnnieD 9:36 AM  

Perhaps the real theme was defined by the first and last across answers. Not a fan of this one at all. I also found the cluing more annoying than enjoyably clever. But they all can't be winners...this isn't Lake Woebegone.

Z 9:46 AM  

SCHADENFREUDE is a word and a concept that I love. I hear an onomatopoeic quality to it that just tickles my fancy.

Otherwise, a real tussle for me, especially in three of the four corners. TATAMI was only ever going to fill by the crosses for me. Since 9D might as well have been clued, "three letters," FLAGON took a long time. Add in that linking "DEATH" to terror just doesn't work for me and it was a slow go.

In the opposite corner I had to let go of the Greeks to see USC/UCLA. ARBOR Day celebrates ARBORs - D'OH. Lots of things sprung to mind on the Rubio clue, many unprintable. Finally, it wasn't until after I had CLEANER filled that I realized we were doing house cleaning, not joining a frat. ACTAEON was a WOE.

But what gave me the most trouble? The NW. ICKINESS makes one wrinkle their nose, not squirm, so I had a hard time seeing it. Starting with yorE before SYNE also made me think it would end in -ity. As I came back to the corner for the last time all I had was NAT and iNISLE. IN A STATE made me consider going to ---INESS which led to the too timely SNOW IN to THE NANNY to ITCH to ICK----- to KETT (finally dredged up from the deepest corner of my crossword only knowledge). Last letter in was the A in CHIA/HATS. Double D'OH.

@Casco Kid - I quit whenever I feel like it - if I decided I just can't or I don't like the puzzle. Three years ago Friday's were rare and Saturday's were "forgetaboutit." Coming here after my DNFs have helped me develop my crossword muscle so that now DNFs are the rarity. If I'm spending too much time I'll put the puzzle down and come back later, now.

The dreck didn't bother me in the least, the "theme" is chuckle worthy, a couple of new words, and SCHADENFREUDE. A fine Friday offering.

mac 9:48 AM  

Medium until I hit the NW, itch/ickiness/chia was challenging. The clues, of course.

The most fun was what @joho mentioned: Guiding Light crossing All My Children.

I prefer a Friday themeless.

chefbea 9:49 AM  

Didn't like the puzzle and DNF

@all who are in Brooklyn. Have fun. Looking forward to hearing all about it...and seeing pics!!!

retired_chemist 9:51 AM  

@ ludyjynn - Googling judiciously is a way to learn and improve. If I am stuck, and several answers I can't get depend on one other I could Google, I often do it and then sweat out the others. Helps me get the most out of each puzzle....

wreck 10:08 AM  

To me, Googling is a learning process and not really cheating. I only do it at the very last resort. Cheating to me is peeking at the answers. I'm doing the puzzles for me alone - if I was in competition, it would be another story.

lawprof 10:09 AM  

Got it, but didn't "get it." How is a CITATION an officer's "gift?" Does ATTN usually appear in the subject line? Is OMG really the equivalent of "No way?" Somehow CARVE and chisel don't seem synonymous. I don't think of PLEDGE so much as a cleaner as a waxy finish for furniture. All of the foregoing are "close" but they don't light my cigar.

On the other hand, how can one be overly critical when the fill contains such gems as SCHADENFREUDE, FLAGON, TTAMI, AROMATIC, GARAGEDOOR, HAZMATSUIT and LATINO?

Started to enter Greeks as the Trojan rivals (actually had the top half of the "G" written in) when a little voice whispered, "It's a trick," so I held off. Thought it might be BRUINS, but the down crosses didn't confirm that for me until late in the game.

Despite the nits, a good Friday workout.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Solves as though some one pulled out a trivia handbook and encased it in a grid. Felt like I was brushing away cobwebs much of the time.

retired_chemist 10:20 AM  

@ lawprof - that's what the quotation marks around "gift" tell you. Irony. That he gives it to you is fact. But it is a "present" in the same sense as a puppy leaving a "present" in the middle of the living room floor.

John Child 10:27 AM  

I'm pretty sure that if I submitted this puzzle I would get a reply like this:

"Must send regrets on your ICKINESS 15x. While ENISLES and ALONGST are words, I can find no examples of them in contemporary usage. But there is lots of good stuff here. Consider reworking the top portion and resubmitting the puzzle. Best regards, Will"

Moly Shu 10:40 AM  

Difficult for me, agree with the odd theme, non-symmetrical camp. Lots of stuff I didn't know. KETT, ACTAEON, TALI, PAYNE, being the main offenders. I think of pledge as a polish, not a CLEANER, another snag. The top third of the puzzle was very slow, SNOWIN and ENISLE helping. Liked the clue for CHAN.

@Cascokid, what @Jberg said. I stop and start and try to finish. Today that was 3 stops and 3 starts. My clock said 56:57 when it was over. I would have given 1 more attempt and then begrudgingly submitted, so I guess 4 stops is my limit, at least for this not-so-enjoyable puzzle.

I do like the workout, but the end result left me INASTATE, of what, I'm not sure.

@Evil, well put.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Sorry, but I don't see how someone other than Rip Van Winkle could have never heard of the show Lost. I'm calling BS.

RnRGhost57 10:59 AM  

A little . . . off-kilter, for a Friday. Theme not as strong as usual and I normally like MG's puzzles.

A fine batting average for a major league ballplayer is .300; a good free throw percentage for a hoopster is about 80-85%. What percentage of solid puzzles does a constructor need to be considered outstanding?

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Thanks @ Rex for the hazmat suit tie-in with Breaking Bad. Very funny.

Was there a particular reason Rip Van W. had a flagon?

Having citrus instead of citric really messed up the NE corner.

Agree that this would have been better as a themeless. The theme is just stupid and the quote is not funny at all.

ArtO 11:05 AM  

A certain amount of SCHADENFREUDE is what I try not to feel when thinking about my friends in the northeast as I bask in the warmth of Florida sunshine.

Nobody rebottles wine! You either drink it up, recork it or use a vacuvin to remove the air from what's left in the bottle to preserve it.

Bond 11:17 AM  

@ Rex-You will eat only at A-rated
restaurants this year, right, Rex? The letters are the city's sanitation rating...Look for the big sign in the window.
Why spend another Brooklyn weekend in your room?

Steve J 11:22 AM  

Agreed with others that this was odd. I have no objection to a theme on a Friday - it's nice to shake things up once in a while, and I'd also like to see the occasional Wednesday-level themeless - but this one was just weird. I kept looking for an in-the-language phrase, not just one that could be made grammatically and conceptually correct.

Liked what others liked - SCHADENFREUDE, HAZMAT - didn't like the high levels of obscurity and high levels of awkwardness. There was some enjoyable cluing. Definitely not one of my favorites.

@Casco Kid: I don't literally give up on a puzzle in the sense of not finishing it. I will give in and Google after a while. It's not a time threshold but a progress/frustration threshold. If i've made a few laps through the clues and nothing new has come to me, I'll Google a bit of short fill to see if that helps me get some other things to fall into place. Last resort, I look up an answer or two in order to finish. Like @retired_chemist said, I've found that that's helped me develop my skills over time, as I learn how words can fit with different types of cluing, learn to recognize patterns better, etc. I have to do less and less of it as time goes by.

@John Child: The answer was AMONGST, not AlONGST. The former is indeed in contemporary usage.

@ArtO: Winemakers will actually REBOTTLE from time to time. I was visiting with a winemaker a couple summers ago who brought out some 30-year old stuff to sample, and he was mentioning how they had recently rebottled it as they had noticed a lot of the corks were starting to degrade. The wine itself was still in fine condition, so they rebottled using a bottling line that kept everything under a blanket of inert gas so the wine wouldn't oxidize. It's definitely not something an individual would ever do, aside from decanting and then pouring back into the bottle to serve.

Kim Scudera 11:31 AM  

@CascoKid: what everyone else said, with particular emphasis on setting the puzzle aside and coming back to it with fresh eyes.

Experience matters: for example, today we had the common clue "Literary initials" which nearly always points us to TSE ( for T. S. Eliot) or RLS (for Robert Louis Stevenson) -- today it was the latter.

Also, with time you do get used to the style of a puzzle (WaPo has a different feel from Fireball, etc.), and you get more accustomed to the way individual constructors think, so your solve gets smoother and shorter.

Meanwhile, thanks for your posts, and particularly for sharing your experience.

Meanwhile, like OFL had trouble with the lack of symmetry. Puzzle felt unfinished, like the constructor had run out of theme or something. Like they wrote in yesterday's Home section in the Post, don't just wallpaper one wall in a room -- it ends up looking like your paper hanger walked out in the middle of the job.

Loved some of the fill, especially SCHADENFREUDE, which is a great word if not a great concept. Fun song in "Avenue Q", too!

Jisvan 11:35 AM  

Agree with all of the above.
@cascokid: I know what you mean. I work, keep a house in semi-order, socialize with friends on and off the bike, and give full attention to my husband once in awhile, which pretty much means my puzzle time comes out of my sleep hours! (This doesn't make me any sharper.)
This puzzle took about an hour with heavy googling. It was 50 minutes of "I hate this!" to 10 minutes of "wheeeee!" I've been doing the puzzle on my ipad for a year, which I know because I just had to pay again. It was with great angst that I found myself locked out yesterday, and I couldn't give them the money fast enough! (Yes, yes, let it renew automatically for eternity, whatever you want, just let me back in to the golden halls of real time solvers...) So far, it's worth it to me. And now I'm not sure if I can ever stop!
--subscriber for life, apparently

Kim Scudera 11:37 AM  

Here's a link to "SCHADENFREUDE":

Speaking of which, enjoy your trip, @CascoKid, and for all of you headed to Brooklyn, may everything you eat be A-rated and may your puzzles be challenging yet within reach!

NCA President 12:06 PM  

I am always amazed at the variety of responses to puzzles and their difficulty. Today was Friday-level difficult, pretty solidly so, and yet I see here that many DNF or who ended up taking a very long time to finish. There are other days when I come here, battered and beaten, only to find out that Rex has done it in record time or others seem to talk about how easy peasy it was.

And since we're in the mood to ask/answer meta questions: I wonder what criteria are used to determine the difficulty of a puzzle. Is there a standard? Is the difficulty determined by the obscurity of the words in the puzzle or by the opaqueness of the clues? For some, pop culture is a gimme. For others, literature. It seems like establishing difficulty levels, given the wide spectrum of the abilities of solvers, would be nearly impossible to guess until someone has done the puzzle.

As for when I "quit," not too awfully long ago, the NYT wouldn't give you the answer to a AcrossLite puzzle until the next day...they'd publish a code you'd enter and find out if you've won the happy pencil prize. I would quit those puzzles much earlier than these days when you can quickly find out where your mistakes are. I'm kinda busy with my life...and when a puzzle seems to be taking up too much of my time, or if my frustration level reaches "I don't give a f*&#," now i can just find out where my mistakes are and go from there. I do consider that a concession, but "quitting" is when I truly couldn't care any less and just hit the reveal for a letter here and there.

I seem to do that lot when the boy-man gets his puzzles published (I'm looking at you, David S.)

The Court Jester 12:07 PM  

Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?

Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the FLAGON with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the FLAGON with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.

Griselda: Just remember that.

Z 12:08 PM  

"heavy googling" - Is that what they call it now?

On a more serious note - I don't always report my DNFs, but consider (for me) googling a DNF. I'm also in the "'finish with OWS' or 'finish with an alternate solution' is not a 'DNF'" camp.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I actually finished before Rex posted, last night in Northern Cal. I liked ickiness but the clue could have been better. Ie: " something that makes u gag."

Funny about the theme. By the time I filled in the last letter, I had totally forgotten there even was a theme. Only this a.m. when I went to the blog, did I remember it.

I disagree with rex about "mene". Old testament, Belshazzar, king of Babylonia,writing on the wall from Jehovah: "mene mene tekel upharshin" (my spelling is probably off). "You are weighed in the balance and found wanting." For those of us who have these kinds of useless trivia bouncing around their brains, being able to get this clue on the drop of a hat causes a gratifying sense of complacency.

Listen to William walton's oratorio "Belshazzar's feast"

Masked and Anonymo2Us 12:11 PM  

MG says his original intent was for this to be a themeless, with the bit about the nanny eatin the kids bein just a hidden Easter egg. Mighta been the way to go, judgin by the comments. Anyhoo, any puz that opens with ICKINESS , heads to the bottom in a HAZMATSUIT, and finishes with NOTGREAT, can't be all bad.

@CKid: I never ever quit a NYT puz. But will ask if an answer is wrong, if things get gummed up for too many nanoseconds. Full-out research done only if desperate, like if the answer is somethin like PEWIT.

@4-Oh. Confuses the M&A. Are U a regular contestant in the tourney this year? Usually you are more forthright about just sayin so. Just passin thru? Hangin out in the PuzGirl suite? Does she have cinnamon rolls?! I could come down there.


Kim Scudera 12:16 PM  

@M&A: "MG says his original intent was for this to be a themeless, with the bit about the nanny eatin the kids bein just a hidden Easter egg"

Thanks! sUUper helpfUl info. Have fUn in Brooklyn!

Blue Stater 12:19 PM  

What, pray, is 2D, CHIA, "pet project"? I looked it up in the MW online dictionary and none of the definitions fitted the "clue" in the slightest.

Awful puzzle, of course. But this has been a bad stretch.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

An early example of SCHADENFREUDE? when the israekites saw the writing on the wall and found out that Belshazzar was slain

Google 12:29 PM  

@Blue Stater - Try googling CHIA pet

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

ReBottle. WTF?? I've been drinking wine forever and have never heard the term used.

Not great is all I can say.

Lewis 12:43 PM  

I don't think you need "somehow" in the clue for SNOWIN. I loved the clue for ITCH, but at first I thought the answer might be more racy. Lots of grid gruel.

I don't like every puzzle, though I do appreciate every constructor's effort. This one I did like. It seemed to me that it came from a mind that knows an awful lot.

Lewis 12:44 PM  

Oh, and Matt's comments on Xword are funny and give good insight to his late week puzzles.

Glimmerglass 1:02 PM  

I don't Google until I have quit trying to solve the puzzle. I don't care if any else does. It's a choice. For me, it's the same as checking the answer (with the NYT or here). I do sometimes pursue an interesting word or idea on Google or elsewhere on the net, but always after the fact, after the puzzling is over. I don't give up easily. Usually it's when there's just a letter or two, and I make my guess and go check the answer. The most satisfying solves for me are the ones that take a long time. Patrick Berry's are often like that. Occasionally, a corner defeats me, and I have a clear sense that no amount of time will help me. Then I quit.

Laurence Katz 1:09 PM  

Never heard of - and don't at all like - "enisle." But while checking to see if it's a real word, which it is, I learned that it also answers the clue ("isolate, somehow") for the adjacent answer, "snow in." If intentional, exceptionally clever. But still never want to see "enisle" in a puzzle again.

Fred Romagnolo 1:13 PM  

As for re-bottleing: Jesus referred to putting new wine in old bottles; so it's wrong to say nobody ever says that. Had a bit of a problem with hazmatsuit: figured it was some kind of abbr. but clue gave no hint, and I had never heard the term. Amusingly, for Bruins I had the i & s and sheiks fit for Trojan's rivals; threw me for a while.

dk 1:19 PM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) A bunch of fill that is confusingly clued couple with tortured usage.

I call your attention to SNOWIN. That happens to you it is not done to you as the clue suggests.

Point two: REBOTTLE. This only happens when you are serving box wine and have an empty Chateau Margaux bottle and you know your guests…. otherwise one decants.

And then all these words I have never heard of --OMG is this a Friday puzzle.

And, err... SCHADENFREUDE is actually pleasure derived from the misfortune of others but I bet Matt knew that.

Nice work Matt now where is that FLAGON

LaneB 1:26 PM  

As expected a fat DNF although managed the lower 3/4 with plenty of googling. Total wipeout in NE and NW. ICKINESS?, ENISLE?, CHIA?, SYNE?, SNOWIN? WTF!! That kind of stuff pats me in a foul mood since there's nothing really clever here. JuSt obscure and humorless.

Stevlb1 1:43 PM  

FCC and CATAMA.......I'm an idiot!

jae 2:02 PM  

I'm a big fan of whimsy so I liked what Mat was trying to do. I second M&A and Lewis. You need to read his comments an xwordinfo to appreciate this puzzle.

Medium for me with NE being the tough spot. Also, Eggo before ETTE thinking breakfast food @Casco instead of feminine endings.

SAHDEN FREUDE (spelling it took some effort), HAZMAT SUIT, I ROBOT, FLAGON, a Breaking Bad clue... all good stuff! Liked it!

Notsofast 2:14 PM  

Ridiculouly arcane to me. I just want to forget this puzzle as soon as I can. Bring on Saturday!

OISK 2:21 PM  

Finished it correctly. Difficult, but not much pop-hiphop slop, and I usually finish. Easy, but overly pop infested (Wednesday) can result in an unpleasant DNF. I don't text, but even I have heard of OMG. I also have never watched ANY of the three TV shows, but at least I have heard of all of them. Liked the clues for hetero, roost, Bruins, have heard of the word "enisle" (although my computer keeps trying to change it) so this is a good Friday in my book. I had "Crab" apple for a while like some others, but when I got "crab" for 28 down…they wouldn't use the same word twice, would they? So I fixed it. I confess that I looked up "TATAMI" after I finished the puzzle. Anyone else write "acidic" before "Citric"?
Thanks, Mr. Ginsberg. Difficult but fair.

Danp 2:46 PM  

Two things I loved today. 1) Rex's review was late. 2) IROBOT. That reminded me of the Devil's Cross meta puzzle by Evan (and recommended by Rex) from a couple weeks ago, and gave me time to go find out what I missed there.

Spoiler alert: One reason I am not wearing a really cool T-shirt today is that I, Robot was NOT the answer. But it may have been the cleverest puzzle I've done. Thanks, Evan.

Jim Pauley 3:26 PM  

CONJUGALVISIT is a much better 13-letter answer for "Guilty pleasure?".

Mohair Sam 3:31 PM  

I'm with @Rex on the theme. ICKINESS is ValleySpeak not English, REBOTTLE?, ENISLE? I shouldn't like this thing - but it put up a great fight, had some very clever clues, and SCHADENFREUDE! Couldn't hate it. Had auld for SYNE for the longest time, completely blocked that corner. Cannot believe I remembered Etta KETT.

@cascoKid: When do we (solve as a couple) quit? Never, or not until after dinner. Note time of this posting, about 5 or 6 hours after normal, this one was tough. Walked away after about an hour and came back after lunch and finished. It always amazes me how your mind clears when you change the pace. btw - Any Googling or reference books denote a DNF here. But we have the advantage of two minds which is more valuable than most would think. Seems like my wife is better at shorter answers (ERATO, MAZE, LOST today) and I'm better at stacks and things like SCHADENFREUDE. Is that a dude/dudette thing?

Blue Stater 3:43 PM  

ENISLE has been rattling around in my head all day, because I knew I had seen it. Found it, thanks to Teh Google: from Matthew Arnold, "To Marguerite." "In the sea of life enisled." Pretty obscure, and, given the utter obscurity of four, maybe five, of the six crosses, might well qualify as a Natick. Or at least a Newton Lower Falls.

Z 3:44 PM  

My first thought at "Lemony" was "Snicket." The Series of Unfortunate Events got the family through many a long drive. We'd pop in the book on CD, read by Tim Curry of Rocky Horror fame, and we would have three enrapt boys (well, four counting me).

sanfranman59 3:59 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 23:55, 21:06, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:50, 12:15, 1.21, 81%, Challenging

Ludyjynn 4:04 PM  

@Retired Chemist and @Wreck, thank you for your comments re Googling being an educational tool, but for me, the ICKINESS factor precludes me from pursuing it! Feels like cheating/DNF territory, somehow, as some others have also noted. Reading Rex is more fun and usually just as informative for me.

Ellen S 4:14 PM  

@Evil, good to see you're back. I guess there were those who were glad to see your back, but I'm not AMONGST them.

@Z, at least you didn't leave your boys ENISLEd if they got worked up INASTATE. @Blue Stater, doesn't matter if Matthew Arnold used ENISLED, or Jesus REBOTTLEd wine two millennia ago. These are crossword puzzle words. In the case of the former, i thought, hoped, the word itself had been ENISLED, never to be seen again. But I guess it swam to shore, or maybe assisted by some EELS, who will probably start infesting our puzzles again.

I never set the clock when I'm solving. I stop if the phone rings and it's my brother calling; I do pay attention to the duration of HIS calls (interminable). I just go til I'm finished or get bored. Often recently I finish so late that there's no point posting, but I see a few people are still hanging around today.

As for cheating, if you're not in a tournament, who's business is it? I sometimes press the thing in Puzzazz that removes wrong letters from a word; mostly that confirms that I got it right (Oh, no, surely this answer isn't ENISLE!) so I consider that less cheating than when letters get erased and I receive an unearned clue that I have the wrong answer. I Google on occasion because I no longer have my husband to share knowledge (I did puns, he did sports). Last Friday's Martin Ashwood-Smith puzzle was a true DNF. I answered about 10 clues, possibly not correctly, and then couldn't even find anything to Google.

But I try not to complain about the puzzles unless they're really airline-magazine stupid. I had a friend who knew everything, and found some crossword-constructing software, so figured he could create a work of genius. Haha. He couldn't get words to intersect -- his grid looked like a Scrabble game -- and the clues were lame. I enjoyed some Schadenfreude at his failure, I must say (and I don't feel particularly guilty about that). But if the World's Greatest Genius couldn't make a first-class (or ninth-class) puzzle, then I'm not going to carp at those who do.

Tracy Bennett 4:29 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I do have a dark sense of humor, so the theme made me smile, but I liked the puzzle in other ways too. 18 minutes, no googlng, and it felt "different" to me, refreshingly so. I fully expected to come to the blogs and see more positive comments! This puzzle had me at Schadenfreude, the spelling of which I might finally have down now.

Phil 5:21 PM  

Didn't know lodestar but put it in and jarred me loose up to the final square.... kett....had to google the etta kett because ichiness was so hard to correct to ...ickiness?

And rebottle! gimme a break you transfer to barrels or decant but you bottle cork and store wine period.

Mamasan 6:31 PM  

I got off to a roaring start with CHAN and then it was a mess. I put torn rather than RENT for 32A and HALL for 36A ( a lot of The Shining took place in the hallway, didn't it?)
I really wanted lead-in to Apple to be Next. That would have amused my computer geek husband.

bswein99 6:45 PM  

It's hard to imagine a worse clue than the very first one: "cause for squirming: ickiness."


Ann Heil 8:10 PM  

This one wasn't to my taste. I finished, but had an error in the MENE/SCHADENFREUDE cross. Had MANE for the writing on the wall.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

Please explain RENT for "having a gaping hole, say". Maybe i'm not seeing the obvious, but I don't get it???

Z 8:47 PM  

Not the RENT you pay, the past tense of the verb, rend, meaning to tear.

Nancy 9:10 PM  

To Anonymous at 8:40 p.m.: RENT means torn.
To Glimmerglass: I also refuse to Google. What's the point? I do, however, allow myself one kind of cheat if I'm really stuck--I look up geographic questions in an analogue Atlas. Geography is my nemesis, has always been, and I won't let it spoil my puzzle-solving prowess.
To OISK: I also had acidic for CITRIC for a very long time.
To lawprof: I agree that CITATION, OMG and ATTN are badly and lainstorninaccurately clued.
And finally, DNF because I had SiMp for SHMO and didn't know 47A.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

Medium? Are you kidding me?

This bastard took me one hour and 15 minutes to complete. The Northwest alone took me almost half an hour. For ICKINESS? Yikes.

mac 10:59 PM  

Good start at the Brooklyn tournament. Bob Kerfuffle, Dave, KarenfromtheCape and her mother Julie, Nanpilla and her sister Beth and Loren and I had a good time in the afternoon and evening. Getting ready for the really big day, tomorrow!

Jisvan 12:52 AM  

Loved all the google confessions and denials. Almost like a church service, confessional-like. @Nancy: what is the difference in using an "analog atlas" presumably made from dead trees and Googling, say, the capitals on the Danube? Are you afraid you will get too much info too easily? We can choose which links to pursue. It is almost always informative... for me, anyway. On to Saturday!

Elle54 2:52 AM  

Best part of the write up was the pic of the Breaking Bad guys. Oh how I miss Walt and Jesse.

Riley Cooper 8:59 AM  

Got within two letters then went to Rex. Very tough to start, and when I figured out "ickiness", I knew this puzzle could go anywhere. Has anyone used "enisle" in conversation or print - ever?!? Also, the use of only three across clues for the theme rather than four was kind of strange. I guess ickiness was being demonstrated for us.

Debby Weinstein 10:22 AM  

"Rent" is another word for "torn". The verb would be "rend" as in to rend one's clothing in grief.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

As one who normally does the most complaining here about NYT puzzles, I’m surprised to be defending this one against the consensus that it’s a bad one. The theme isn’t as weird as you folks are making it, and I don’t see where all the Googling comes in – I didn’t Google any of my answers. “Enisle” may be an obscure word, but it was very easy to reason out. The hard areas were eased by gimmees all over the place. (One commentor never heard of “Etta Kett” – how is that possible, it’s been standard crossword fill for many decades.) My big complaint was too many gimmees for a Friday: Across 18, 20, 22, 31, 32, 37, 41, 49, 50, 51, 53, 61, 63, DOWN 2, 3, 5, 8, 26, 34, 45, 55. Don’t understand the complaints about “citation”, which is a perfectly common alternative word for a traffic ticket in New York City, it’s no stretch. OK, I could understand that people who didn’t live through the 1970s might not have heard of a “Chia Pet”. I do agree that “shmo” for “chucklehead” is mis-spelled!!!! “ATTN” is NOT NOT NOT on a subject line, very inaccurate clue, and (as many of you pointed out) “Pledge” is NOT a cleaner. The editor should have picked up those three. But three bad clues for a puzzle isn’t much. Hey, I finished the puzzle despite never having heard the term “Schadenfreude”, which most of you already seemed familiar with.

Dave 6:20 PM  

Yes, loved schadenfreude, but got it so quickly it wasn't *that* satisfying.

My major beef is that who possibly knows (or cares) about when shows debuted? Really? I'd rather have some reasonable cluing if one is going to insist on this sort of theme.

Ana T. Garcia 3:19 PM  

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spacecraft 10:55 AM  

I agree with @Dave about debut dates; I am the world's worst timeline guesser. The theme elicited a squirm from me, so I validate its ICKINESS. Hand up for noticing the "Guiding light" cross. The asymmetry is certainly understandable; that doesn't condemn it per se, but it doesn't thrill, either.

Is Pledge a "CLEANER," really? I always thought it was more of a wax, though maybe a "cleaning wax," whatever that is. Know how I can tell I'm getting to be a veteran at these NYT puzzles? I saw "Dreaded sort?" and immediately entered RASTA.

Difficulty commensurate with a Friday, but since I finished it with no w/os and didn't take all bleeping morning to do it, I go along with the medium rating. I liked it better than OFL did; there's lots of GREAT fill here, which outweighs the occasional NOTGREAT stuff, IMO.

I used to Google as a solving aid, but abandoned that in the face of purist standards encountered here--and the wish to ramp up the challenge to my brain. I do occasionally quit, as I have faithfully recorded here, most often when I find some disgusting (to me) entry in a grid I already know I have little chance of getting. Hit me with a ridiculous partial or some absurd letter-string in one of those, and I just say, nevermind. It ain't worth it. REBOTTLE? Yecch. But not worth a quit. Maybe Will can make a sequel about a Coke factory machine: "I, REBOTTLE."

Captcha: the UKanagi...long-LOST tribe of England?

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

This will be the last puzzle i EVEN START if I see it's from Matt Ginsberg....what a terrible waste of my time this puzzle was....I am so offended that this puzzle was published. Sorry.....didn't go to Yale.....what a jerk.

rain forest 1:22 PM  

I didn't mind this one as much as some, but agree it was kind of weird with that TV show "quote".

I put in KETT and ICKINESS was my first thought (kind of eponymous), and mostly enjoyed the rest, with some fine misdirective cluing. My first septet was SINS, eventually corrected. ACTAEON came completely on crosses.

I make wine with some friends, from California grapes, and we routinely REBOTTLE if the wine is good and gets to 5 years old. Unfortunately, there have been times when ALLMYCHILDREN have surreptitiously invaded my collection.

NOTGREAT, but not bad.
4's full of 9's.

Solving in Seattle 2:18 PM  

It was worth it to work this puz, then read Spacey's post. "IREBOTTLE" had me spewing coffee. Easier to clean up than red wine.

9D. My govt career started at the gsa, progessed to FcC, and finally ended at the FTC.

Other than the aforementioned 59A, I enjoyed this fripuz that had a minimum of crosswordese. Thanks, Matt.

Can't top Rainy's hand. Fold.

Dirigonzo 4:49 PM  

Seeing a TV-related theme (on Friday?) concerned me because I don't watch it anymore, but in the end I had heard of them (watching LOST with my younger son was a weekly ritual) and all ended well despite the ICKINESS (which I really wanted to be itchiness but I ran out of squares - at least I got my ITCH scratched in the crossword). Now I'm off to google TATAMI.

Four deuces might just be good enough.

Longbeachlee 5:30 PM  

Help me with trix and ette

Mary in Oregon 6:21 PM  

Will someone please explain the connection between "Trix" and "ette"??? Much appreciated!

DMG 6:25 PM  

A bunch of words I had to work out, but eventually got it once I realized the distressed parent wasn't screaming at some misbehaving child. Got the ending ..NY of 15A and was looking for something along the lines of "How many times have I...." I've never watched any of the cited shows, but they seem to be common knowledge. Enjoyed the fun words everyone else has already cited, even of I did have to let the crosses help with the spelling!

Another tossed in hand.

rain forest 7:05 PM  

"trix" and "ette" are both feminine suffixes, as in "aviatrix" and "majorette".

Dirigonzo 7:09 PM  

@rainy - I was thinking more along the lines of "dominatrix" and "cigarette" but your examples are probably better.

Six deuces - what kind of deck is this, anyway?!

Syndicate Bob 7:15 PM  


-trix and -ette are feminine suffixes.

Longbeachlee 1:08 AM  

Those ette and trix words are arguably French

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