Automaker Bugatti / FRI 6-20-14 / First stabber of Caesar / Business bigwig Blavatnik / Eponymous German physicist / Top ten hit for Eminem 3 Doors Down / Tenor Vickers / Romance novelist Leigh / 1930 tariff act co-sponsor / Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave / She played Detective Sasha Monroe on Third Watch / Hug Shel Silverstein poem / Composition of Accent seasoning

Friday, June 20, 2014

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Challenging



THEME: none

Word of the Day: ST. AFFA (whoops, nope, that's one word: STAFFA) (40D: Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave) —
Staffa (Scottish GaelicStafapronounced [s̪t̪afa]) from the Old Norse for stave or pillar island, is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Argyll and ButeScotland. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basaltreminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.
Staffa lies about 10 kilometres (6 mi) west of the Isle of Mull. The area is 33 hectares (82 acres) and the highest point is 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level.
The island came to prominence in the late 18th century after a visit by Sir Joseph Banks. He and his fellow-travellers extolled the natural beauty of the basalt columns in general and of the island's main sea cavern, which Banks renamed 'Fingal's Cave'. Their visit was followed by those of many other prominent personalities throughout the next two centuries, including Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn. The latter'sHebrides Overture brought further fame to the island, which was by then uninhabited. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. (wikipedia)
• • •

I know at this point my not liking a quad stack puzzle is not remarkable, but this one really is terribly put together. There's just no concern for pleasure or (in parts) even general do-ability. A ton of people are just going to get trounced by the absurd proper nouns in this puzzle, mainly the names LETTS and (esp.) ETTORE (!?!). Honestly, both the "R" and the "E" in TRE (20A: ___ cord (piano direction)), were, for me, an out-and-out guess. Cross your fingers, hope for the best. It's just an obscure proper noun / foreign word train wreck right there. Also, who is LORA Leigh? What is "Hug O'WAR"? What is "A DOSE of Rock 'n' Roll"? If the fill in any of these cases was actually interesting and not the kind of horrid compromises we always see in quad stack crosses, maybe. But … wow. Even making allowances for my own personal anti-stack predilection, I found this miserable. Honestly, when I saw that there were not one but two ONE'S phrases in the first stack, I just stopped trying / caring. When we invent *joke* 15s, that is the kind of crap we make up—random phrases with ONE'S in them. ONE'S is now such a huge, obvious, joke of a crutch, that unless you can make a stack without resorting to such a phrase, just give up. Give. Up. See also REAL ESTATE SALES, a flimsy answer that exists solely to provide a long string of very common letters (54A: Focus of GHTV's "House Hunters").


HES, THES, THEE, AT ME … the absurd Scrabble-f***king in the east and west … the laughably obscure STAFFA … it's beyond me. You can have it. Good + night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

150 comments:

George Barany 12:08 AM  

Rex, let's just agree to disagree. Martin's constructor notes on xwordinfo.com are highly instructive, and anticipated most of your concerns.

Since I suspect many of the readers of this blog enjoy Martin's quad stacks and may be clamoring for more, allow me to recommend 62 Word Stackup, which comes complete with a mid rash.

Steve J 12:11 AM  

Stacks just aren't my thing, and I rarely click with MAS's puzzles. This was no different. Lots of stuff crossing the long acrosses that was completely unknown to me on top of it. No fun here.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

And here I thought I knew the names of all the 82 square acre rocks in the North Atlantic... And that Ettore/Tre crossing should be taken out and shot.

wreck 12:17 AM  

The quad stacks were the easiest parts for me, it was the middle section that gave me fits. At least with the quad stacks completed, the down answers flowed despite some questionable fill. I do agree with Rex about so many strained answers, but I did finish a little faster than normal ( but with a few googles).

Zeke 12:31 AM  

@Rex - You're just wrong, and I don't say this lightly.

Back in grad school I got into a discussion as to which was the greatest hero in all of literature. I contended it was Dr. Frankenstein, a position I maintain. Of all the heroic things a man can do is be willing to die to correct his own mistake has got to be the ultimate. Any chump can act nobley, be willing to die for their family or country, but to be willing to die to kill your own horrible creation is unique in all of literature.

That has to be what MAS was doing here, to drive a stake through (sorry for mixing monster metaphors) heart of the beast that is quad-stacks. Stacking ONES atop ONES to give you ROMS / OREO / ETTORE / THEE / OLIOS/ ATME /THES? How can this not be a heartbreakingly desperate attempt to prove the horror that is the quad-stack? What other reason could there be?

Martin, my hat's off to you. Let's just pray that you succeeded.

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

Hmm, is it just me, or did Rex not like my puzzle?

-MAS

JFC 1:00 AM  

AW GEE, this was one of the easier MA-S quad stacks for me and now Rex has gone off and spoiled my fun.

@Rex, You don't know ETTORE Bugatti?!

I am reminded of when I was at a Northwestern football game (when ARA Parseghian was their coach) in my college days and my wife to be (she was then dating one of my frat brothers) didn't know who George Halas was and I leaped up and exclaimed: "You don't know who George Halas is!? We will soon be celebrating our 50th and she now knows who George Halas was.

chefwen 1:21 AM  

@wreck and I seem to be joined at the hip the past few days. Same solving experience so I have little to add.

My heart fell a little when I saw MAS as the constructor and all that snowy white expanse, but when I slapped down 1A without a second thought I figured out that "this can be done" and it was. Like @wreck, there was a little Google assistance.

@JFC - I bet she knew who Vince Lombardi was. Sorry, just stirring the pot.

Casco Kid 1:21 AM  

I'll give myself credit (pat, pat, pat) for seeing M A-S's name and going straight to google. 65 minutes later (with some error correcting at the end) I emerged with the solution, having googled for 14 clues
Tracy LETTS
ESSEN Westphalia
NEONTETRA
ETTORE Bugatti
TRE corde
NIALONG (knockout)
SNERD dummy
Hug OWAR poem
SMOOT Tariff Act of 1930
STAFFA island
ADOSE of Rock 'n' Roll
GAUSS the "eponymous" (ugh) physicist
WISDOMOFSOLOMON
Accent MSG

With these in place, I only had to deal with a few rabbit holes:
CASio before CASCA
wAr before RAJ
rON before JON
jungE before SOHNE
xyS before HES
H_RcHEddAR before HERSHEYBAR
WISDOMOFSOLON__ before WISDOMOFSOLOMON
and after seeing the complete puzzle fail to be accepted, I had to fix INBOcES/EcO to INBOXES/EXO and spell MARMALADE correctly.

In short, I was a DNF within 10 seconds rather than an hour, and so my state of mind is much better than usual after an M A-S.

Did I learn anything I care to know? Hmm. Reminders of who CASCA, SNERD, SMOOT were and what RAJ was. But for the most part, the trivial was pretty trivial.

Casco Kid 1:51 AM  

@Zeke, Phenomenal commentary. Light yet rueful, a withering inversion of Antony's "honorable men" speech. I'd offer a deeper analysis, but there's always a chance I missed a layer of sarcastic reversal. Besides, I'm TOOTIREDTOTHINK.

Billy 3:06 AM  

Billy the beginner here, never gotten past a Wednesday but I don't understand the fuss here, I got many parts pretty fast before I had to resort to Google. I guess I'm lucky to both race and play the piano, as Ettore Bugatti and tre corde were both gimmes.
I'd agree with some of Rex's gripes and repeat my oft-stated complaint that names from pop culture (and niche literature) should stay out of crosswords.

Moly Shu 3:29 AM  

@MAS, imagine my surprise at coming here and finding out @Rex didn't like your offering. I liked it well enough, keep em coming.

DNF at _ED and _ANIE. Should have got JANIE, but made an alphabet run that skipped J and settled on T. And just when I got my heavy metal card back. Dang, I hate messing up clues/answers that should be in my wheelhouse. I did get WHENIMGONE, however.

Like @Wreck, got the stacks and struggled in the middle. Joe CAMEL, ha, favorite entry. Simple yet devious.

jae 3:31 AM  

Very tough Fri.  I got it without google, but the ETTORE/TRE @Rex was a lucky guess.  

I'm with Zeke and Rex on this ONE.  Not fun!  I'm sorry MAS, but this was just painful. LORA, really?

Note to BEQ, please don't try a quad stack. Please!

Anonymous 3:50 AM  

What @Rex said.

Also, I'm sure everyone immediately knew the 24d "eponymous German physicist" was GAUSS, since we all learned in grade school that the centimeter-gram-second unit of magnetic induction is named after him.

GZA 5:08 AM  

Ben Stein taught me everything I know about tariff acts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhiCFdWeQfA).

Supposedly John Hughes asked Stein to talk about any subject, and Smoot Hawley / supply side economics was his choice. Love it.

DNF due to: 1) not knowing/remembering that German plurals can take many forms; 2) not being musically inclined. First DNF in months. Ah well ...

Jim Finder 5:24 AM  

Most enjoyable puzzle.

The obscurity of some short answers in the stacks is unimportant, given the simplicity of the long 15s. All Times puzzles have some obscure short answers, and sometimes they even cross, at Natick, or at Leonia.

It's not clear to me why some of you find the word "one's" to be so offensive; is it an allergy-type thing that you just have and can't get over?

Now, off to learn about Aerosmith.

Gill I. P. 5:31 AM  

Yikes MAS! This was TRE hard for moi although I like your AMATEUR as opposed to my AMATure.
Well, I did get SOHNE thanks to Danke Sohne sung by what's his name.
I did like RESTORE TO HEALTH which didn't take me too long but all the names in this here puzzle had me scratching the old head. I wonder what @Leapdedo will make of RAINHAT?

Sir Hillary 7:09 AM  

Couldn't stand this one. But in fairness, the least I can do is give some reasons:
-- Five of the eight 15s felt forced.
-- THES, ROMS, EMTS, HIS (clued that way???), BENTS...POC hell.
-- 16 proper names by my count (excluding the snacks)...almost a quarter of the entries.
-- The TRE/ETTORE/SOHNE crosses.
-- ATME, OWAR, ADOSE, AWGEE, STAFFA.
-- Whole thing feels oldish...can't find any reference newer than 2005.

On the plus side:
-- Nice to see NIALONG's full name, not just her first.
-- Nice clue for ALES (I was thinking reel for a while).
-- My first girlfriend was named LORA.

Writeovers: THou for THEE and soar for RISE.

Hartley70 7:14 AM  

I would have given this an "easy" for Friday. I put in the stack answers very early on and my first guesses were correct on each one. Everything else fell into place with one exception, I wanted "exo" to be "eco" for a while. This is not my typical Friday experience!

Muscato 7:15 AM  

Oh, dear. I liked it, and (aided by two Googles in the final stretch) it went remarkably fast for a Friday. i don't mind "ONE'S" at all (and even still use it conversation), and it was fun to have the WISDOM OF SOLOMON FINISH it all off and send off on my Friday morning feeling as if I shared just a dash of admirable quality.

Sir Hillary 7:19 AM  

I take back my previous comment about 2005 being the most recent reference point. "August: Osage County" debuted in 2008. Puzzle still feels way more than a DAY OLD to me, though.

loren muse smith 7:25 AM  

For me, the puzzle-solving process of slowly revealing letters here and there, of squinting at said letters to try to see the emergent word/phrase, of that aha moment of finally seeing it… all this is even more satisfying and entertaining with 15 stacks. Such is my focus that the LORAs and STAFFAs slip beneath my radar (or they did before I found this place). I completely see what Rex is saying, I really do, and I enjoy his critical takes on grids (which never strike me as ad hominem), kinda like understanding a food critic's informed complaint of a dish that I manage to consume and enjoy anyway.

I don't know if Martin's putting OWAR the grid to achieve the stack is akin to my stabbing MSG into a roast with a fork before cooking to achieve "tenderness" – is it cheating? I guess it's subjective. This MSG-stabbing, corn starch-adding cook always enjoys the challenge of unveiling all the 15's.

Rex – I noticed all the pronouns, too, but of course (news flash here) they pleased me. No idea why. Inexplicably, pronouns have always interested me. I heard once that American Sign Language tackles third-person pronouns something like this: the speaker introduces a name (antecedent),by spelling it and pointing to a location in a quadrant near his body. From then on, pointing to that quadrant is the pronoun for that person, eliminating the need to cumbersomely spell out the name every single time. I'm sure I'm not explaining this right, that there's more to it, but regardless, the idea of pronouns fascinates me. (And don't even get me started on the lengths that some Japanese speakers go to to avoid saying a form of "you.")

Japanese "you"

Considered "men" before HES but thought, well, maybe some ganders are not very manly (I really had that thought), so I resisted. Surely there are some weenie he-geese out there? The ones flying safely at the back of the V – the ones who're first to leave the ground when my dogs take chase?

Because of Haydn, I always want to take away HANDEL's E, too. That, and interference from an old friend, Friedl. (Grüß Gott!)

@Gil I.P. – me, too, for "amature" first! Sheesh!

"Bar" before CAM, wondering what the formal word for "bar" would be.

So, Martin, I knew this one was coming, and I was looking forward to it. Two crosses dealt me a dnf: ETTORE/TRE (I never considered an E) and JANIE/JED (HI, @Moly Shu -I never considered a J, either).

In the end, I'll go stand next to @Jim Finder and @Muscato. Enjoyed it!

CFXK 7:32 AM  

Two problems:
1. It's Hershey's Bar, not Hersey Bar.
2. Eponymous is used incorrectly.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Wow you're in a bad mood. I thought I wouldn't be able to fill a single square, then finished it with difficulty and enjoyment. Love the aha! moment when a long phrase in a stack comes together from only three letters. Staffa was bad, I agree. Lighten up.

AliasZ 7:44 AM  


The only thing better than one double-quad-stack puzzle is two of them. @George Barany, thanks for your offering. That was great fun too, and even better than this one.

@MAS, don't listen to Rex. Just keep doing what you do so well. He doesn't like question marks either. Actually, there is not much Rex likes.

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

Where is the Bard when we need him? CASCA: "Speak hands for me! [stabs Caesar]" Couple of errors (I should have guessed SSN), but not a hard puzzle for a Saturday.

Andrew Morrison 8:10 AM  

I was shocked to see RP rated this challenging. I sailed through it and thought, 'Hey, where's the challenge for a Friday?' Then again, unusually for me the long answers really popped into my head quite easily. Why? I dunno. Maybe it's the coffee. I will agree that there are a bunch of obscurities that, but for the crosses, might have thwarted me. I think I was lucky, rather than good, today.

IPad solvers- what's the skinny on the upgrade? Should I? Looks like one can access the archives again. I don't really care about my score history, but those archive puzzles fill a lot of downtime for me.

Carola 8:24 AM  

For me, an unusually fast Friday. Confirmed 1A with Tracy LETTS and ESSEN and mowed line by line through the rest. Pleasures along the way were HERSHEY BARS, being reminded of the non-AMATEUR JON Vickers, and WISDOM OF SOLOMON.

I agree with @Rex about the DAY-OLD quality of the ONE'S entries, along with messrs. SNERD and SMOOT, OREO and the NEON TETRA (do they really exist outside crosswords?).

@Glimmerglass - Draped in a bedsheet, I played CASCA in a high school English class "production" of Julius Caesar (first act only, thankfully), so "Speak, hands, for me" is indelibly imprinted.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:31 AM  

1. Open newspaper

2. Glance at grid

3. Imagine Rex's review, quite accurately

4. Solve puzzle in Easy - Medium time (for me), no write-overs (those few scribbled-over letters? No, that's where I had the right answer but started putting it in the wrong place; that doesn't count.)

(LETTS was a gimme for me, too. But with the HE, thought 11 D was going to be some kind of HEATH BAR!)

Mohair Sam 8:38 AM  

@MAS - Keep 'em coming, love your stack puzzles. Like @wreck and @MolyShu we got the stacks first and then staggered in the middle. And like @lms we naticked on JED and JANIE - got a nice chuckle when my wife wise-cracked "Of course it's "J", O'Donnell would naturally give his Prex a Biblical name."

HANDEL and SMOOT were gimmes here, so sirEdmOndhilary fit nicely and cost us a bunch of time.

@lms - Agree 100% with your comments today. I wanted to post the same thoughts, only not quite so politely.

Hey Will Shortz: Apparently speed solvers are slowed by the different approach necessary to solve stack puzzles. Please don't let their baying influence your choices - for an awful lot of us stacks are a fun change of pace.

Nice to see a rap artist as a clue and hear nobody complain! And what a brutal clue for Mortimer SNERD - but we got it off the "N" in dinner, how 'bout that!?

Who's in What Language? 8:39 AM  

@CFXK _ By golly, you are right!

The Wikipedia entry shows a HERSHEY BAR in a wrapper that says "Hershey's", and even says that the candy is "(commonly called the "Hershey's Bar")", but I have never in my life called it that or heard it called that.

Is this regional? Is it age related? Is this a Wikipedia joke? Anyone?

chefbea 8:42 AM  

Too tough for me. DNF..Don't think I have ever used Accent seasoning!!

retired_chemist 8:43 AM  

Medium-challenging here, and a quad stack puzzle I enjoyed. They provide a particular challenge for me, since for some reason I don't see the long answers as quickly as some of you. When the crosses are less obscure I get them easily once several letters are in place. Today it took some doing, and some back-and-forth. Had a lot of partial phrases in the 15s, then some crosses, etc. finally I finished wit a sense of satisfaction and the pleasure of learning some new words.

Why do a quad stack? As Hillary (I think) said about the ASCENT OF EvEREST, because it is there.

Thanks, Martin.

mac 8:44 AM  

Easy-medium Friday for me, with the first 4 acrosses coming in very easily.

At this point I wouldn't be surprised if MAS put in the ONES just to get a rise out of us! As usual, I was a little surprised at "amateur" used as an adjective, in Dutch it's only a noun. No amateurs on the soccer team.

I can handle another stack or so, on to George's link.

joho 8:53 AM  

I took the overwhelmingly white puzzle up to bed last night but was obviously TOOTIREDTOTHINK (I'm starting to love this phrase!) with the only answer written in being "yew" which became ELM this morning.

With fresh eyes and a cup of Joe this ONE fell slowly and left me feeling very satisfied in the end. I enjoy quad stacks. They are always a challenge to me which is just what I'm looking for on a Friday.

I do agree that the TRE/SOHNE cross was wicked. Having studied German gave me the "E" on SOHNE which made my guess at TRE a lot easier. Still, a bad cross.

I watch a lot of HGTV and REALESTATESALES is not the term I'd use to describe "House Hunters" but it is a true description.

Rex's critique was predictable, so no surprise there. My being able to solve this was a surprise so I was very happy to get it done.

Thanks, MAS, not only for the puzzle but also for stopping by. I love that you show up after reading a bad review --which happens every single time you give us a quad stack. You've got spunk!



Generic Solver 8:59 AM  

The puzzle itself was actually not that difficult, except there seemed to be way too many clues looking for the first name of some relatively obscure person. Never seen so many in one puzzle before. For me, that lessened the overall feel of the quality of the puzzle, as in "look at these great quad stacks, no biggie that I had to use some lower quality fill to make it fly".

mathguy 9:03 AM  

@CFXK: I thought that eponymous was used incorrectly too. It's usually used in a different way. But the Merrian-Webster definition I found allows this meaning as well.

Do you remember the story about Gauss when he was a schoolboy? As a punishment, his teacher assigned his misbehaving class the assignment of computing 1+2+3+ ...+100. It usually took a long time. Young Freddy came up with the answer almost immediately by deducing that the answer was half of the product of 100 and 101.

r.alphbunker 9:03 AM  

Full disclosure: On a recent trip to Europe the only book I brought with me was "Triple-Stack Crosswords" by MAS. A multi-stack crossword has the charm of playing "Wheel of Fortune" with a Pat Sajak that occasionally lies.

What is remarkable about this puzzle is that in spite of all the unknown names I finished with only one error, guessing wrong on SOHNi/TRi (this is the i before e problem again). But there was even some satisfaction there because at least I had the foresight to drop SOHNs to get something that made sense for the piano direction.

Perhaps multi-stack puzzles could be called dancing bear puzzles. What is remarkable is not that the bear dances well but that it dances at all.

@CFXK
The "s" of Hershey's Bar might be termed a possessive of inconvenience. Wikipedia plants its feet firmly on both sides of this issue. The title of the article is "Hershey Bar" but the opening sentence starts with "The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar (commonly called the "Hershey's Bar")." Perhaps this will be fixed by someone here before the day is over.

Worst POC ever: A multi-stack puzzle with
WHEELOFFORTUNES clued as {Pat Sajek game shows}.

George Mallory 9:07 AM  

@retired_chemist -

Per Wikipedia, George Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?" with the retort "Because it's there", which has been called "the most famous three words in mountaineering".

Arlene 9:08 AM  

I had fun with this one - maybe because I don't fret about Googling things when stuck. And on Fridays, that can happen!

Thanks, MAS! Keep them coming - I used to be afraid of those 15er stacks - no more!

Casco Kid 9:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Casco Kid 9:15 AM  

@AndrewMorrison @MolyShu as I'm separated from my regular iPad, I've gone to my Gen1 BTEAM backup, which I have updated to 2.1. I'd call it usable, but I'm missing the Magmic circle notator, which hels me keep track of googles, WOES, etc.

2.1 highlights cross-referenced clues, which is nice. The archive is acessible serially by month, not month and year as in 1.x, which gets cumbersome quickly. That should change quickly.

I probably won't upgrade my new iPad just yet.

RnRGhost57 9:16 AM  

Thanks MAS, for a very pleasant start to Friday.

And to quote the immortal New Left revisionist historian, William Appleman Williams: "Don't let the bastards get you down."

r.alphbunker 9:19 AM  

@M and A

Do you know how many SMOOTs there are in a mile?

Orange 9:26 AM  

I have never, ever heard anyone call it a "Hershey's bar." Not at all in-the-language. The Hershey's milk chocolate bar is a HERSHEY BAR.

Appreciated @Zeke's kill-the-beast comment.

NCA President 9:28 AM  

Wow, just wow. I don't consider myself an expert at the NYT puzzles in the least, though I have been doing them for a long time. But this puzzle was easy for me. I did not Google once, I made one spelling mistake I caught (MARMeLADE), and for some reason known only to the Gods of the Crossword Puzzle, I got "CLEARONESTHROAT" and "ORANGEMARMeLADE" right off the bat and the rest just fell into place, proper names be damned.

I don't say this to brag (though I am amazed how easy this Friday was for me), but only to point out how wide the swing is from "challenging" to "easy (for a Friday)."

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

This puzzle represents the laziest kind of construction. Proper nouns have a place in crosswords, but when the entire grid seems to be a collection of little-known, oddly-spelled names, the puzzle is a failure.

Maruchka 9:32 AM  

Easy-medium here. North filled sweetly, then some googles for pop references, and slid home in the south.

@JFC - Bugatti looms large in an Isadora Duncan bio-pic from the 60s. V. Redgrave croons 'Bugatti!' whenever spotting a mysterious car and driver. Ends with death by strangulation (true) in said Bugatti (false). I guess it scans better than 'Amilcar!' And congrats on your anniversary!

Une petite snack-ette. Merci, MAS.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

@George Barany ... you should not have to read the constructor's blog post to make a puzzle understandable or enjoyable. Puzzles should stand on their own. This one does not.

Z 9:39 AM  

I can never seem to remember whether it is TETRA or pETRA, so a three letter failure at TRE. Otherwise, a fun tussle.

Norm 9:42 AM  

Ugh.

jberg 9:48 AM  

I was utterly stumped on this one -- except for 29A/35D, where I had 'old hat,' half wrong and half in the wrong place, and 30A where I had 'yew,' the wrong kind of bow. But staring at 41D for a minute or so suddenly dredged up CASCA -- 50 years since I've read or seen that play, and he doesn't have many lines -- and the rest clickly fell into place. Medium at worst.

The fun of triple and quad stacks, for those of us who enjoy them, is suddenly seeing the long entry. That's wroth something.

As for ETTORE, I didn't know it, but it's pretty gettable from the crosses. AW GE_ pretty much has to end in E, and if you follow the common sense principle that most names in Western languages are variants of each other, you see that he's really Hector, which gives you the R.

On eponymity: as clued, I thought it meant someone whose name meant 'physics.' "German physicist with an eponymous unit" would have been fine.

37A is wrong though. The NSA is not part of the Defense Department .

Never mind the ONE'Ses -- the best part for me was the stacked OFs at the bottom, enabling SMOOT and STAFFA.

Doctor John 9:52 AM  

@r.alphbunker
There are 945.671642 Smoots in one mile.

Enjoyed the puzzle despite the proper names.

Captain G. Piecost 10:01 AM  

The way one across is clued, the proper answer should be "clear YOUR throat".

retired_chemist 10:05 AM  

@ George Mallory - thanks. I wish I could say I will remember that. But at my age.....

OISK 10:13 AM  

I finished it, no errors, and I LIKED the quad stacks. They were not the problem. Too much pop garbage was my problem. Got the Jed-Janie cross by trying every letter, and liking Jed better than Ted. Who the heck is "Janie." (don't bother, I don't know who or what "Aerosmith" is, and just Googled to find out Janie is part of a song title. Terrible to cross that with a TV character.) If you need to clue "owar", how about, "Race horse man?" Never heard of hugowar. Never heard of a dose of Rock and Roll, but a small dose is about all I can take. Never watched third watch, and have no idea who Nia Long is, but I think I have seen the first name in a puzzle, so I got it. Anyone else start out with Knabe instead of Sohne? Knabe is "boy", though and not the plural. I never heard of "When I'm Gone, either by eminem or 3 doors down. Including Jon Vickers, whose singing I HAVE heard, almost makes up for that, but not quite. I have been to Mull, and while we didn't go to Staffa, I have heard of it. Obscure to Rex, perhaps, but I love geographical clues, even when I don't know them. Despite a couple of near pop-culture Naticks, a good, challenging, interesting, well constructed puzzle. Thanks, MAS.

retired_chemist 10:15 AM  

The Smoot as a unit of measurement. I was there when it happened.....

Steve J 10:24 AM  

@Jim Finder: The objection some have to ONES is that they're virtually ubiquitous in triple- and quad-stack puzzles. It's the heavy reliance on them, and the fact they seem to appear in the majority of such puzzles, that rankles some. Add in that many of the resulting phrases sound a little stilted and not really in the language.

@Loren: Stabbing MSG into a roast to make it tender isn't cheating, but it's totally ineffective. MSG is a flavor enhancer, and will be as (in)effective at tenderizing the meat as stabbing it with pepper.

@Mohair Sam: It's a bit of a leap to say that speed solvers don't like stacks because they slow them down. I don't recall some other speedy solvers here disliking them. And it's possible to dislike them for reasons that have nothing to do with speed. I'm not a speed solver, but I personally don't like the sacrifices in fill quality that stacks usually require. Others don't mind that and like how things fit together. Different tastes. Nobody's going to like everything. Well, almost nobody.

Masked and AnonymoUs 10:28 AM  

@r.alph: A smoot is 67 inches. Fortunately, DJ has already performed the prerequisite math.
Does anyone know what .671642 of a smoot is?

M&A and a stack short of a puz.

Benko 10:29 AM  

How dare they put things I don't know into the NYT crossword puzzle! It should only be things I have heard of. I will make a list of the limits of my narrow knowledge and send it to the NYT so they can avoid all bad, obscure, unfair stuff I don't know in the future. I don't like to learn new things. I only do the NYT to show off how smart I am. If it is too hard, it makes me look bad, and I get angry and call the puzzle stupid and unfair.

Maruchka 10:31 AM  

@Chefbea - And a good thing, too. I was of the era when Accent was added to almost everything that was cooked. Abajo con MSG! 'Course, now, coarse salt aplenty...

dls 10:33 AM  

Agreed with Rex about the enjoyability of this puzzle (with apologies to fellow-Vancouverite @MAS), but have to say that Tracy LETTS is absolutely fair game for the puzzle. Rex, I think after looking him up you should have decided that that one was on you.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I'm no professional, but I'm amazed that any solver would have to resort to Google to finish a puzzle. It's like taking an exam with crib notes written in your palm. Where's the fun in that?

Questinia 10:44 AM  

There's something formal and academic about these quad stacks that I like.

LETTS ESSEN ATOP ROMS OREO NEONTETRA

r.alphbunker 10:59 AM  

@retired_chemist

I am sure that the irony of Smoot serving as the chairman of ANSI did not escape you.

@Benko
I completely agree. I am currently working on an xword app that lets the solver enter all the things they don't know and these will be automatically filled in when they display the puzzle. I don't know when the app will be done.

Benko 11:03 AM  

@Ralph. Brilliant. Sign me up.

M and A Help Desk 11:10 AM  

.671642 SMOOT = 1 SMO and an extra quarter. (source: future runtpuz)

M&A

Zeke 11:13 AM  

Forgive me for another diatribe, but I just looked at that picture @Rex posted of NIALONG, and found it patently offensive. Not that it's a beautiful semi-naked woman, but that it's a beautiful semi-naked black woman who's been Photo-Shopped to look as if she's white.

P.E.T.A - How about you first focus on ethical treatment of black folk?

Casco Kid 11:16 AM  

@benko @r.alph @anonymous 10:43 the joy is in the suss, I agree, but there has to be a point of entry, and there has to be some sense of confidence that solutions are correct, or the process is just futile. With MAS, I achieve that through google. I'm simply not as smart as you are. Maybe that was your point.

Can we agree that a 100% Cyrillic puzzle would not be much fun? ( OK, @AliasZ , I'm sure you'd ACE it. )

The R&D question (@retired_chemis! @george barany) is this: what's the gimme density that makes a puzzle sussable? It is more than zero. 30%? With MAS, my unassisted gimme is 10% and I google for the other 20% and solve for the rest. No apologies. I only wish the factoids were more interesting

AliasZ 11:18 AM  


There is plenty to love in this puzzle whether you like quad-stacks or not. MAS usually brings a touch of class to the crossworld. His creations are definitely not meant for AMATEUR hour, and this one is no exception.

It starts innocuously enough with a reference to Italo Montemezzi's opera L'amore dei TRE re, conductor ETTORE Gracis, writer IAN Fleming, Russian composer RAINHAT Glière and mezzo-soprano RISË Stevens, but then it gets real heavy with Mendelssohn's The Hebrides Overture, also called Fingal's Cave, then with the oratorio man G.F. HANDEL himself and his SOLOMON, and his opera Giulio Cesare whose first stabber was Servilius CASCA (hi @CASCA Kid). Then composer/conductor LEN Bernstein, and on the lighter side CAB Calloway, and the pièce de résistance, JON Vickers singing Comfort ye from HANDEL's Messiah.

A regular smörgåsbord of culture. So who cares if we have THES and HES, CAB, CAM and CAMEL, OREO and OLIOS, and ADOSE of ALES coming ATME and at my Mercedes BENTS.

Oh I almost forgot writers Umberto EXO and James AWGEE.

PS. On the LENny Bernstein video he seems to have more fun than the trumpet player with that sour note in the first seconds of the clip.

TGIF!

retired_chemist 11:19 AM  

@r.alph - loved that....

loren muse smith 11:24 AM  

@Ralph – meant to say I liked your latest runt! Just like your first – small and elegant. And thanks for all the work you do here.

@Numinous – congrats on your debut! Didn’t know 6A or 21A. Glad to learn Australia's "liquid laugh!" Not sure I got the theme. . .

@M&A –I got a kick out of your latest mind-bender. Cool! And you should be heartened by your letter from Anna. At least it was encouraging! My letters always stop after, "… just didn't excite Will." Nothing further. Kinda like "just lie down before you hurt yourself…" Revise, retweak, and resend!!

While our runts enjoy their grass-root status(read – no pesky standards)...

My Small Runt, 'tis of thee
Sweet incongruity
Of thee I sing

Grids where no rules exist
"Words" with a desperate twist
Unchecked squares, and yet no one's pissed??!
Let freedom ring!

What? Here's a random string!
No person, place, or thing?
Just find some letters that it fits between. . .
Let freedom ring!

Tenth rejected theme idea
To Will it wasn't cleah
I'll just shrink it and redo it heah
Let freedom ring!

Oh. And here's one:
www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=4340&id2=536

Mohair Sam 11:27 AM  

@benko - I was going to offer kudos to you for your post, but @r.alph took it a step forward so he gets most of the kudos, you're stuck with one kudo.

@steve j - I see your point. I guess the "speed solvers" was a bridge too far, I meant speed solver Rex. He seems to dislike any puzzle format outside of his comfort zone (see yesterday's blog), stacks in particular - I am really concerned that Will may be influenced by this and run less of a variety of puzzles.

pmdm 11:28 AM  

Interesting that as a person who dislikes proper nouns in crosswords, I wasn't bothered by this puzzle. Perhaps because I concentrate on the long answers. I guess some speed solvers should practice up on acrostics. (I'm not being entirely serious.)

I think I see a pattern in the criticism. Take today's write up as an example. It seems to me that if a puzzle's proper names are unknown to someone, they will give a thumbs down to the puzzle. If a different puzzle has equally obscure names but more familiar to the person, more favorable comments will result.

If you looked at the filled grid by itself, without regard to cluing, there is actually relatively little to complain about. None of the 15 letter answers, read by themselves, seems forced. "OWAR" is a perfectly fine answer that could make it into a Monady puzzle if clued "Portuguese man ..." or "famous thoroughbred Man ..." or the like. (As a piano player, I know that the default way of playing the instrument is using "tre cord" but "tre" could be clued less obscurely." I would have preferred 2D to have been clued "Doctor Who producer Barry" but that's me. So for me the grid is an excellent grid.

My reaction to 11D. Use of the possessive case when combining a manufacturer with its product is inconsistent. With software, the possessive is never used. I think that usually when an article precedes the manufacturer's name (a, an or the), the possessive is not used; otherwise it is. For example, if an office had an Epsom printer and an HP printer (no possessive used there) a worker might declare "I prefer HP's line of printers to Epsom's" (no product endorsement intended). So if you go to, for example, www.candywrapperarchive.com you will clearly see the original wrappers all had "Hershey's" on them, yet the text begins "The Hershey bar was first introduced ...". Importantly, the word "bar" is not on the label, which only says "Hershey's Milk Chocolate." So referring to Hershey's Milk Chocolate as a Hershey['s] bar is a colloquialism, and I guess all existing colloquialisms are acceptable.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:36 AM  

@lms - 3:39, no cheats!

Outstanding puzzle, or should I say encircling? Very soundly constructed!

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Isn't it PHILISTINE to not know LETTS after a Pulitzer for writing and a Tony for acting?

Two Ponies 11:41 AM  

I don't usually mind quad stacks but if the only way to make it work is by employing obscure proper names then maybe it's time to rethink the whole thing.

Benko 11:43 AM  

@casco: No, that wasn't my point. There are many different kinds of intelligence (perhaps an infinite number) and although I may be crossword-smart there are plenty of areas where I am stupid. My problem isn't that people don't know things--even the most knowledgeable person has tons of gaps in his/her knowledge. It's that people complain about not knowing things and say it's unfair, too obscure, not good enough, not worth knowing, etc. There is very little in this world I consider "not worth learning about".
@mohair: One kudo is almost as good as one kudu.

Leapfinger 11:49 AM  

@Rex, love your NIA LONG poster, great caption. Am dispensing with the rest.

@Barany: in my Milon, 'mid rash' is one word, Dermit!

@Jim: Finder's keepers!

@r.alph: it's the old story -- I before E except after N

@Sir Hillary: Ure very unassuming today

@Carola: Yes indeed for the NEON TETRAS! Browse the aquarium section of any petstore for the little darting fish decor8ed in dayglo stripes.

@Maruchka: Amn't a dancer, but I always tie up my scarf when riding in convertibles. Thanks for providing the not-a-Bugatti make.

@GillIP: Never mind your AMATure, I like your (and @lms') ARMATURE!. I thought of you also, adding your IP initials to ADOSE, to make ADIPOSE...Nothing personal, eh?

Beest THEE/THOU throwing down ye olde gauntlet to 'Leapdedo'? (Yeesh) To tell truth, Leapdedo didn't make too much of RAINHAT, just had a Big Mac attack, and Boots on the Ground, you know. Don't ever really need a RAINHAT, since I have, ahem, naturally curly hair and tend to drip-dry. Most of the time, anyway, I walk between the raindrops. Can't get any slicker than that.

Also had to laugh at yer 'Danke Sohne'. Don't forget the Töchter!

Re the puzzle:
Wonder whether it was cheating to be aware of myself clearing my ONE and only throat as I started the solve? In general, I found the smooth 15s helped iron out any Bugattis. Only real problem was trying for OKEEFENOKEE SWAM, where no swimming is allowed.

re the ONEs: Pronouns are a lot like money, an agreed-upon construct. Money also has no intinsic value, only the more or less agreed-upon value of what it can be traded for. Although I personally have no problem with ONEs, and actually think they lend a certain jenny say coy at times, I don't mind meeting the ONEophobes halfway. Hence shall cash in my ONEs and trade all my Washingtons for Thomas Jeffersons, if I can find them

Didn't mind OWAR *one bit*, on account of Shel Silverstein's delightfully turned "Hug o War".

For all that and more, thanks, MA-S.

mathguy 11:52 AM  

@Benko. Good one!

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@M&A, according to Wikipedia, an ell was a unit of length used in the English tailoring business equal to 45 inches which also equals 0.671642 Smoot. So 1ell = 1 SMO, give or take an extra quarter.

Georgia 12:10 PM  

I enjoyed it, though left Ettore and Tre cross blank.

Mand Also 12:10 PM  

Crossword folks are the smartest peoples.

@muse: Positively stirrin runtpuz national anthem (proposed).
Primo "Surround Sound"-er. Took m&e an iotial fraction of the time spent rasslin with numinousruntpuz. Did keep hopin against hope for a "Pulled finger outcome?" clue, tho. Touched by the affection of yer 4-A clue [18-D].

Speakin of the proper respect...

The Heartache When U Is Gone
By M&A (with Bonnie Tyler on gee-tar)

It's a heartache,
Nothin but a har break.
Hits yah when no U’s late,
Hits yah at 23-Down.

It's a nerd’s game,
Nothin but a words game:
Standin in the cold rain,
Feelin like U’ll drown.

It's a heartache,
Nothing but a heartache.
Love Muse till yer arms break,
Then she lets U down.

It ain't right
With a runtpuz to share,
When you find
She doesn't care..
For U’s.

It ain't wise
To solve this runt
As much as I depended on yoo-oo-U’s…

Oh, it's a heartache,
Nothin but a har break.
Hits yah when no U’s late,
Hits yah when yer down.

It's no MAS game,
Nothin but a-cross game:
Standin in that word rain,
Feelin like a clown...

M&A

Gene 12:10 PM  

I liked this one, no Googling needed. And with all the only-slightly-puzzle-related comments, I decided to throw in my own: many years ago, I read an Army magazine published by (then) Redstone Arsenal, in which Werner Von Braun (like @retired_chemist above) quoted Edmund Hillary as saying "Because it's there", analogizing that as to why we were going to travel into space. I wrote a letter to the magazine correcting him (as @George Mallory above). Von Braun had an answer printed below my letter in which he essentially said "well, Hillary said it, too".

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

I know this is incongruous but does anyone else HATE the new version on the iPad? Any hacks on how to make it work better? I fill in a clue and it stays on the clue - I have to hit the advance key to move to the next clue. So much slower......

jdv 12:28 PM  

Challenging w/3 errors. gRANdEMARMALADE & TRi. I decided to wait an hour before posting . I almost gave up looking for the errors, but after 28 minutes, I noticed the Eminem song could be 'Whenimgone' instead of 'Whenimdone'. I knew it was either TRI or TRE; like usual I guessed wrong. I refuse to google. If I can't figure it out by myself, I won't post a time.

A lot of my trouble occurred in the SE. I had REALESTATE, but couldn't figure out the remaining 5 letters. I had SITES for awhile. REALESTATESALES is not good.

Too many compromises in fill were made in order to support the quad stacks. On a positive note, ASCENTOFEVEREST is great.

Mohair Sam 12:29 PM  

@Benko - Freaking African antelopes, only a cruciverbalist could appreciate. Googling teaches us that there is a lesser kudu and a greater kudu, so maybe it should be kudus, not kudu.

John V 12:31 PM  

Briefly, not having read all: I liked this one a lot and found it pretty easy for this idiom. Didn't get 53A and has WAR for RAJ re Ghandi.

Wanted hug OMAR, not OWAR which is what tripped me up for 53A.

Nice one, MAS.

Steve J 12:32 PM  

@Anon 12.16 p.m.: When you're in a puzzle, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen. There's an option in there to move to the next clue when you finish filling in an answer. Turn that on, and it'll advance.

With the update for the app released earlier this week, I'm happy with it now. They addressed my couple biggest issues, and the archives are back. I'd still be curious to know where my time fits against the universe of solvers, but that's a nice-to-have, not a need.

@Mohair Sam: I got a good laugh out of your fear about Will's being influenced by sentiment here.

Leapfinger 12:36 PM  

Love the variety here. Put me firmly in the Benko-Bunker.

@pmdm: I saw another pattern.Early comments are largely cons, later comments kick in with the pros. Are early commenters faster, and later ones slower, more thoughtful?

@lms, you dropped my mandible for me today...For a change.

@Questinia: Snacking while riding on a gypsy man's shoulders? How quirky! Have heard of Eohippus, but EoNEONTETRA is new to me. Am wondering whether that 'Dawn Fish' is also small, or whether a Big catch.

@A.Lacy: THOU passeth all understanding, but am glad you LETT Wagner's LORA lie. [Perhaps you can insert insert instructions for me sometime.] I'm offering you the relatively unknown epilogue to Gulliver's Travels, WHENIM GONE

Fridays are rarely this good.

Lewis 12:51 PM  

MAS wrote in his comments that this puzzle was constructed two years ago before there were complaints about using ONES in the long answers, and that he is more prone to avoid that now. Personally, the ONES never bothered me.

I need to Google a couple of times, there was just too much I didn't know. But it is fun to slap down a 15 with just one or two letters, or no letters as I did with ORANGEMARMELADE.

@M&A -- am I right in that there is not a single U in this puzzle?????

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP™): From three of the eight grid spanners, common words can be distilled by following a certain rule. One of the common words could be clued "place to rest". A second could be clued "grime producer". Write a clue for the third.

Lewis 12:57 PM  

Just to clarify, each of those three fruitful grid spanners will produce one word following the certain rule.

M and A Outlaw Help Desk 12:58 PM  

@Lewis: yep.
MASpuz 1. museruntpuz 0.

jdv 1:10 PM  

@Mathguy. You're right, but you omitted where 101 came from; 100+1, 99+2, 98+3,...,51+50.

david kulko 1:11 PM  

i did not think this was particularly challenging although i did not finish.

"tre corde" intersected with "ettore" and that killed me. not knowing my german plurals i wrote "sohns"

then a dumb mistake (i was on the 2 train to work" by misspelling "soloman" which blew my ability to get ringo's song as "dose." "dash" nope. ACK

i do like italian names that are derived from other languages Ettore= Hector

lastly, "aw gee" for "bummer" is wholly wrong. if anything it should have been "aw man."

Pete 1:12 PM  

@Benko - While your comment was probably fun to write, the complaint about the existance of entries in the puzzle they don't know. The complaint is about the plethor of crap.

Look at the top of the puzzle, downs only. With the excepts of CRASS, NEONTETRA & HERSHEYBAR it's all crap. Proper nouns and crosswordese, with some German thrown in. 80% crap. That's a lot of crap. So yes, I hated LETTS, not because I didn't know LETTS but because LETTS was part of the 80%.

But, you probably knew all this, just wanted to insult those who disagreed with you.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Liked it a lot and found it fun and an easy Friday. Orange marmalade cracked me up. Dr. P.

Everett Wolf 1:32 PM  

One of my favorite sport quotes, by Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot:

"75% of the earth is covered by water; the rest is covered by Smoot"

What does that do to you Smoot calculators?? ;-)

DigitalDan 1:48 PM  

JED/JANIE was a Natick for me. Never got into the West Wing (too much competence compared to the real thing, which was too depressing), and somehow missed the entire metal era entirely.

Gill I. P. 2:33 PM  

Good lord @Leapdedo and @Lorena - if you two ever got together I'd probably lose 10 lbs laughing.
Well, I'd add M&A for an additional 5.
I just finished BEQ's BAND ON THE PUN. It's a goodie!!! Now I'm on to @George's MAS production. I need a boost after England's elimination. GO USA!

Lois 2:39 PM  

Captain G. Piecost at 10:01 AM:

You're right only if you read the clue to 1a as an imperative. If you read it as an ordinary verb, "one's" is perfectly all right, and "your" would not be as good. Most crossword verbs are not construed as imperatives.

Enjoyed the puzzle. I'm not really a Friday solver, so there was a lot I didn't know, and a lot I did.

I Usually don't get mad 3:19 PM  

@Pete

How xenophobic does one have to be to label anything Not-English as 'crap'? Just remember, In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately plethor dome decree... So do_me the plethor of deciding for my own self exactly what, if anything, is 'crap' [a term which refers, in most cases, to a matter of opinion]

tyvm

Pete 3:28 PM  

@I Usually..

SOHNE was in there because it fit, not because anyone thought that SOHNE would look good in an American puzzle. Foreign words are a crutch, not an asset to a puzzle. Something generally undesireable in a puzzle jammed in there due to necessity rather than art is, in a word, crap.

Leapfinger 3:35 PM  

Hey, @Lorena, wanna get together and see if we can make people diet laughing? We'd probably be safer than Fen-Phen, no pulmonary hypertension, you know...

Young @GillIP could handle the MAS production aspects for us.

mac 3:46 PM  

@lewis: latin thing.

chefbea 3:59 PM  

@Leapfinger - if you and @Lorena want to make people diet laughing.... I'll be glad to provide the recipes...maybe even using MSG

Susan McConnell 4:30 PM  

I should have known better than to read the review once I saw that this was a MAS puzzle. I think it was one of his easiest ones...almost too easy for a Friday. Very surprised that Rex thought LETTS would cause problems....his name is everywhere since the play and movie got so much attention. I was glad @George Barany showed up early in the comments to offset some of the Rexiness.

Leapfinger 4:33 PM  

Good one, @chefbea, but you know, in an hour, they'd be hungry again!

Z 4:42 PM  

@Casco Kid - In the north I started with ESSEN (read clue as "five letter German city often seen in xword puzzles), OREO (four letter food often found in crossword puzzles), RATTED, and THES. That was enough of a foothold to make the north easy (except for pis where TRE belonged). In the south I had RISE, MOVE, and maybe DINNER SET (which turned out to be right). I worried over the south for quite awhile before ASCENT OF EVEREST appeared from the little I had, which returned "Bass" to England and showed me that the "paddle" was part of an AED unit.

My strategy with stacks is to see if any of the 15's seem obvious and try to verify with some crosses. Otherwise, I work from the fill to try to get enough to make the 15's appear. Get one 15 and the rest usually follow fairly quickly. Looking at my gimmes today, three of the seven come directly from doing puzzles. I couldn't find Westphalia nor ESSEN on a map, nor did I know when OREOs copied Hydrox, but they turned out to be important seed letters.

I Usually don't get mad 4:45 PM  

You know, @Pete, if you look around, you'll find that in many of the world's countries, people learn English just to be au courant. Right here, we've seen NYT puzzles constructed by people who've grown up in China and India, and I have a Brazilian friend who was enormously pleased when she was able to complete the NYT puzzle in ink, though I admit I don't remember which day of the week it was.

It indicates a certain rigidity to be unable to accept a little foreign verbiage creeping into your fun, and smacks uncomfortably of the UGLI American. I hope that, if you travel to foreign countries, you don't make yourself understood by speaking English slowly and in louder tones.

To give you some due, I spoke German before I spoke English, yet had to scrabble a bit for the plural of SOHN.

The inability to accept

Gill I. P. 4:58 PM  

@I Usually don't get mad....Can I have your phone number? ;-)
Yay France!

Pete 5:01 PM  

@I Usually ...

I don't know where you came up with the idea that I don't know any foreign languages, that I'm rigid or have the inability to accept (what, I don't know).

What I said explicitly, and that's all I can answer to, is that foreign words are not preferred in the puzzles. Where do I get this? From Will himself:

"Do not use partial phrases longer than five letters (ONE TO A, A STITCH IN, etc.), uninteresting obscurity (a Bulgarian village, a water bug genus, etc.) or uncommon abbreviations or foreign words. " Ref here.


PS: English, Lithuanian, Spanish and a smattering of Kinyarwanda.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

I am starting to enjoy Rex's blog mostly for his childish tantrums. This was a great puzzle, and I am very proud to have finished it without cheating. Rex has become a petulant toddler.
Here's Tracy Letts guest-starring on Seinfeld:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xddv_ep86Cs

Haooy festivus!

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

I mean "happy" festivus, of course...

Z 5:14 PM  

@Pete - "uncommon" refers to both "abbreviations" and "foreign words." As we get later in the week the definition of "common" moves from "familiar to those who read the paper" on Monday to "those with an undergraduate major in the language" by Saturday.

@Zeke - I forgot to mention - Not knowing NIA LONG from Nia Peeples, I thought she was probably just light-skinned and you must be over-reacting, so I googled images of NIA LONG. Other than "minor" changes to her skin tone and hips they "barely" retouched her image. Wow. What were they thinking?

I'm not mad any more 5:15 PM  

Oh, @Pete! The reference you cite to back up your argument is Will Shortz. And yet, and yet, the ONE who put HIS Seal of Approval on this delightful construction is...let me think...was it Will Shortz?

Seems U don't need me to knock your pins out from under U.

You can laugh @me when I can't unscramble the Lithuanian/ Kinyarwandan entries.

@GIP, the number is unlisted, for security purposes.

Lewis 5:18 PM  

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) solution:


The words were distilled by using the first letters of the words in the answer. Thus CLEARONESTHROAT yielded COT, and STEPSONONESTOES made SOOT. There are two possible third answers, either OM (for ORANGEMARMELADE) or RES (for REALESTATESALES).

Most people have heard of OM, and RES is a well used crossword answer.

@mac -- I'm assuming your clue was for RES, so you got it!

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Missed out on "tre" but managed the rest. Definitely challenging but unlike last Friday no dreaded rappers (pun not intended) or pop songs to know

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

The only way I can do quad stacks is to work with the verticals first and then see if phrases will pop into my mind by seeing what I have across. (It helps to know that at least one of the phrases is probably going to contain the obligatory ONES. And I knew that the piano direction had to be either UNA or TRE.) That worked very well for the top half of the puzzle, but the bottom was a disaster. I could see ORANGEMARMALADE and ASCENTOFEVEREST and REALESTATE_AL_S but I tried to make the latter REALESTATETALKS or REALESTATEWALKS, both of which were ridiculous. The real disaster was starting out thinking 52-A was MINDOFASTEELTRAP. That was both too long and ridiculous, since it should be MINDLIKEASTEELTRAP. Then I worked with MINDOF_____OM_N and thought MINDOF(something)WOMAN???? Never could straighten out that mess, so DNF. Obviously I didn't have (THE)WISDOMOFSOLOMON. But I don't think Solomon had to worry about too many proper names and too much pop culture. He was renowned for shrewd judgment rather than knowing a lot of trivia (though he was probably pretty good at that, too).

OISK 5:31 PM  

@Benko - You may or may not have been addressing me in your discussion of those who dislike the unfamiliar, but I need to point out that an overdose of pop-culture is annoying TO ME. In this morning's post, while I listed those things that I don't know and don't care about ( brand names and rock-hiphop-rap), my overall verdict on the puzzle was quite positive.

Lois 5:44 PM  

I think that an interest in foreign languages is disparaged in these blogs unduly in comparison to cars and other brand names, schools, minor TV characters and the like. Why can't those of us who enjoy those usually not-too-difficult words get our jollies too? "Sons" is not a very difficult word for Friday, though I put in Knabe first.

jae 6:14 PM  

Looking back over this in the cold light of day, I realize what made this tough for me were the TRE crosses.  I was pretty sure about TRE but crosses just didn't look right.   Luckily TRE turned out to be right.   The rest of it was mostly medium for me. 

That said, the reasons I didn't like the puzzle had nothing to do with being a fast solver (I'm not) who had to slow down.   My problems had more to do with with a lack of zip and a general clunkiness almost entirely due to the quad stacks.   I have no problems with foreign words, unknown (to me) authors, obscure islands...in fact one of the things that makes crosswords fun is learning new stuff.   In this puzzle, however,  the "new stuff" seemed a tad excessive and, for want of a better word, clunky.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

The hilarity of Rex's commons and the tenor of the comments has made my day and I read the best stuff out loud to my husband during a long car trip. So thanks, everybody! I found today's stacks a tour de force, and was really happy when I was able to pull JED out of my memory--that last J was a tough one. LETTS, SNERD, Eminem are all part of our cultural and historical landscape and so are fair game. If we don't have proper names, we're playing Scrabble, people! Drove right through NATICK on my way home....

Grammar Nazi 7:02 PM  

@z - I am sure that Mr. Shortz knows enough grammar to, if he wished, have uncommon reference to both abbreviations and foreign words he would have used and rather than or.

Z 7:34 PM  

@Grammar Nazi - The absence of any commas in the sentence (Oxford or otherwise) makes it debatable whether or not the "uncommon" applies to both abbreviations and foreign words. However, since common foreign words are clearly allowed in the puzzle, one may infer that "uncommon" is a shared adjective in this case.

Also, you might want to rethink your nom de blog.

Anonymous 7:43 PM  

Thanks for all the feedback, both good and not-so-good folks!

re Jae's comment about the obscurity of STAFFA. I think it's fair game for a hard puzzle, not because it's a tiny island, but because it has a lot of literary and musical significance. Not only did Mendelssohn base his Hebrides Overture on it (Fingal's Cave to be exact). But several major poets wrote about it too. For example:

Cave of Staffa
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

Thanks for the lessons of this spot, fit school
For the presumptuous thoughts that would assign
Mechanic laws to agency divine,
And, measuring heaven by earth, would overrule
Infinite power. The pillared vestibule, 5
Expanding yet precise, the roof embowed,
Might seem designed to humble man, when proud
Of his best workmanship by plan and tool.
Down-bearing with his whole Atlantic weight
Of tide and tempest on the structure’s base, 10
And flashing upwards to its topmost height,
Ocean has proved its strength, and of its grace
In calms is conscious, finding for his freight
Of softest music some responsive place.



The thing that bothers me a bit I s how anyone can declare what is worth learning about and what is not.

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

michael 9:13 PM  

I found this about average in terms of Friday difficult. Had to google ettore to finish, but my time was normal for this day of the week.

Got slowed down by thinking that Gandhi hated "war" but maybe that's too easy for Friday.

Rex's comments of course were not unexpected. For what it is worth, I am with those who liked the puzzle.

Hershey's bar??? Really? Most surprising criticism of the day.

I had to drag Tracy Letts from a corner of my brain, but it strikes me as a completely fair answer. Less happy about Staffa and o'war, but they're easily gettable from crosses.

Questinia 9:52 PM  

@ Leapy, "Snacking while riding on a gypsy man's shoulders?" Yes, exactly, or a phosphorescent troll.

@ MAS "The thing that bothers me a bit I s how anyone can declare what is worth learning about and what is not" That sentiment comes through in your puzzles and is a reason why I am a fan. Also I am stone quad-freak.
@Z ... yep.

mac 10:28 PM  

I just quietly take advantage of the foreign words to get footholds or toe-holds in tough puzzles.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

@MAS - Late to the party here, but just had to say I love all your puzzles, and this was no exception. STAFFA went right in, no crosses - big Mendelssohn fan here.

Charles Flaster 12:26 AM  

Medium-hard because of such obscure,difficult to infer, proper names.Who is Bugatti? What is Cam?
French came in handy again as health followed THES.
DID NOT LIKE THE EVEREST ANSWER.
In general I enjoyed the challenge.

sburgernutr 8:00 AM  

Hahaha, whenever Rex really hates a puzzle it is always one I like. This was an instafill for the 15s and I'm really a neophyte. I usually google a lot towards the end if the week and I was shocked that I hardly googled at all for this Friday's puzzle.

Laurence Katz 2:52 PM  

Tracey Letts also is a regular on TV in "Homeland." With a Pulitzer and Tony, too, he's far from obscure at this point.

Cheerio 6:32 AM  

Doesn't look like anyone commented about LORA Leigh sounding like Lorelei. Too obvious? I enjoyed it anyway. I was recently driving around Ch'ville VA where my folks live and spotted a Loralei vanity license plate. That's a university town for you. :-)

Naveen Sharma 2:18 AM  

We manufacture and export physics lab equipment / instruments for school, college and teaching laboratory since 1954.We are based in Ambala.click more

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

I know I'm late to this party but I can't reason how STEPSONONESTOES makes any sense an as expression. Expressions using 'ONES' like this are typically reflexive, they are things that belong to one's self or are done to one's self. One does not step on one's own toes. One steps on another's toes. Or one puts one's foot in one's own mouth. But stepping on one's own toes is not how the expression is used imo.

Obat Leukemia 11:26 PM  

I like your style

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

The most (by far!) rewarding part of solving today's puzzle (which by some miracle I did) was seeing the lovely Ms. Long astride that subway pole. Lucky pole!

Besides a ton of obscurities--are we REALLY supposed to know Bugatti's first name, or who LORA Leigh is, or have heard of Fingal's Cave, never mind STAFFA??--the cluing was in spots sadistic. Take me now on that convoluted journey that starts with "Philistine" and ends with CRASS. Wait till I pack a lunch.

I thought for a while that this was some kind of rebus with different letters in the same square. I mean, Gandhi opposed wAr, right? [RON was fine for me for yet another obscurity: Vickers] But then the slicker go-with has to be RAINHAT, yes? Not wAINHAT. What to do? Put in the R and run the alphabet for RA_. RAD? Did he oppose radicalism? No.o.o..he WAS one! Or maybe RADs, units of radiation from those uber-violent bombs. This is the crap I went through before finally--on the FOURTH run-through--I paused on J. Hmmm, the RAJ, which he certainly opposed, and JON is a viable first name. Sold!

Further problems with the song title: soon as you mention Eminem, my eyes glaze over. I had WHENIMdONE, which for the longest time prevented me from parsing out ORANGEMARMALADE, even with most of those letters in place. I'm a Beatles fan, and I never heard of "A DOSE of Rock 'n' Roll." Changing dONE to GONE was the final (mercifully!) aha moment.

'Scuse me, I have a brainache. 174 is no good. I'm outta here.

rondo 12:33 PM  

42d clue should have been "Petticoat Junction conductor Floyd". Then the answer would have been instantaneous for me.
NIALONG - a real "yeah baby"

412 - AWGEE not the worst

Speckled Chief 12:38 PM  

The question is, when will m&m be gone?

Speckled Chief

DMG 1:50 PM  

Too much trivia for me. With this type of puzzle, I always try the downs first, but there were so many unknown-to-me clues there, that I just got TOOTIREDTOTHINK. Did fiddle around long enough to fill my jam jar and make an ASSENTOFEVEREST, and decided I could Google like mad or move on with my day.

Captcha is Photo Sphere once again. Guess that might be a product of some sort, but hesitate to look it up for fear of computer infection! Anyone know?

ecanarensis 1:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ecanarensis 2:09 PM  

I love being weeks behind.
i'm with Rex; hated this one, for many of the same reasons.
My biggest gripe: NEON TETRAs have only one iridescent blue stripe! Unless you're willing to say 1 stripe per side times two sides of the fish = "stripes." Which I'm not! I actually know my fish & was excited to see a fish clue. So to have a clue which should be easy for me turn out to not be easy because it's WRONG is just really annoying. It'd be like describing a Belted Galloway as "a black cow with white stripes." (try google image if you're not familiar with the beasts: they're pretty nifty looking).

@anonymous 9:32...I gots to agree. if you have to read the constructor's notes to "get" a puzzle, it ain't good. It's like saying a movie is great, but only if you read the director's explanatory book, or check out the scriptwriter's memoirs or something. The thing should stand on its own.
"Hey Mom, I'm getting married to this great guy I met! He's loathsome if you just meet and talk to him. You have to meet his whole family and talk to his childhood psychologists...then you'll understand him."
Not good.

Red Valerian 3:23 PM  

What is that "Photo Sphere" thing? Is that what I'm supposed to type in? Yes, I know it's stupid to be asking you, as I'll have to figure it out for you to be able to see this!
Anyhow, I liked the puzzle well enough, though I found it difficult. And I agree with @Anonymous 12.19 "steps on one's toes" does NOT work. The locution does imply reflexivity. If one performs CPR, one does not clear one's throat, for heaven's sake. Unless one is performing CPR on oneself, which seems highly unlikely.
But it's hard for me to get too worked up, unlike @Rex, who seems to take things personally. But I guess you'd have to feel pretty strongly to write a daily blog! Thanks, @Rex!

Dirigonzo 3:50 PM  

I saw the constructor's name, then the quad stacks and I thought, "I'll bet this isn't as hard as it looks". So I proceeded to plug in the top like of both stacks with no crosses whatsoever (but with a lot of blind faith in my luck) and they were both right! That let me get a few down answers to see the rest of the long answers and letting the crosswords so the rest - it's Friday so some of the clues are going to be dubious; I can handle that. Of course I needed an informed guess at ETTORE/TRE but "tre corde" seemed like a plausible piano direction.

12540 - nothing to see here, just move along.

lonbeachlee 5:16 PM  

@JFC, were we in the same place at the same time? I was at the Rose Bowl 1/1/1949 watching Pappy's Bears get edged out by Ara's Wildcats. I still feel the pain, and being a Bear hasn't gotten any better since.

Waxy in Montreal 6:00 PM  

As others have commented, thought both sets of quad stacks were actually quite easy. Otherwise, found the ETTORE/TRE/SOHNE nexus beyond the pale and had to guess (correctly) at the JANIE/NIA cross.

On balance, a fun Friday puzzle.

rain forest 6:06 PM  

Hard to add anything that is novel or redolent of smug prolixity here, but--I liked this one, and finished it, having the same problem with the Gandhi clue as @Spacey for awhile. Btw, @Spacey, you were on a roll today. Packing a lunch, I began to see PHILISTINE as an adjective. I don't know that usage, but if that is in one's vocabulary (oops, I said ONE'S), I think you could get to CRASS before dessert.

Like @Diri, I just threw down 1A and 46A, and they worked! I actually knew ETTORE, and the other "trouble" spots were inferrable.

The challenge of quad stacks either grabs or repels you, I guess. Count me in the grabbee group.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

You're amazed??? Well not all of us breathe the rarefied air of a know-it-all and must resort to Google when hopelessly stuck. You should call Mensa immediately!!
: p

Shax 8:18 PM  

R.alph Bunker would like to contact you re runt puz. How do I do that? I just cannot excite Will!

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