Ruined rose-red city of Jordan / FRI 6-27-14 / Weapons inspector Blix / Singer John with 1984 #1 hit Missing You / Language in which talofa means hello / Its bottles feature red triangles / Dreidel letter / Barnacle James Joyce's wife muse

Friday, June 27, 2014

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: GIMEL (25A: Dreidel letter) —
The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 

[Hebrew gîmel, of Phoenician origin.]

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A pretty nice puzzle that started out breezy and then got very bumpy toward the end. This is an interesting grid shape, with three grid-spanners going Across and one going Down, and then sizable banks of mid-length answers in the corners. This results in a grid that feels paradoxically both wide open and very choppy. There were probably more crosswordy answers than I normally like—not crosswordese, exactly, but stuff (mostly proper nouns) that I know only because I've done a million crosswords: UGARTE and ELY and PETRA and (esp.) EL ORO (24D: Ecuadorean province named for its gold production), the last of which I technically only vaguely remembered. "Ecuadorean province" is pretty much quintessential Maleska-era clue language, i.e. rank arcana. But these are spaced out and not too offensive. I'd say the cluing was as much the source of pleasure in this puzzle as the words themselves. [Celebrates wordlessly] had me thinking "silence"—wrong (APPLAUDS). I couldn't get my head around what part of speech "Cry" was in [Cry when rubbing it in], so TOLD YA came as a nice surprise (one I figured out only after going "wait, nothing ends in '-DYA'…"). Even ET TU got a decent, surprising clue (31A: Surprising words from Shakespeare?), though the words are more "surprised" than "surprising" (which is, I guess, why the clue has a "?").

The most unfortunate part of my solve was that the answer that held me up the most, that caused me to stall out the longest, was also manifestly the worst answer in the grid: ITHAS (41A: "___ to be!"). I see how this works as a partial. Now. But not then. It's pretty tortured as partials go. And I just stared at "-HAS" for what felt like ever. Because I couldn't imagine an answer there, the whole lower middle got held up. The other problem was that HOT AS BLUE BLAZES was not coming to me (47A: Sizzling)—that phrase happens to be weirdest right in the middle, i.e. right in the place where I was having trouble because of nearby ITHAS. I could see BLAZES were probably involved because I had the "Z," and I got HOT pretty easily, but I wanted HOTTER THAN BLAZES (doesn't fit). So between ITHAS and the middle of the BLAZES phrase and the tough clue on TOLDYA, I got bogged down. But I still like the grid, for the most part, and thought it was clued with a good Friday amount of difficulty and cleverness.

Oh, and DRS / RENI was a total guess. Probably had to be the "R" because who else but DRS develop therapies? But RENI? (12D: "Crucifixion of St. Peter" painter) Yipes. No clue. John WAITE, however, I remembered. Pays to be an '80s adolescent. I just looked, and I can sing every word to every #1 song of 1984. No sweat. 30 years ago today, this was #1. And yep, every word (though I think I'm making some of the words up):

Wrong answers: DUNS (?) for BUMS (7A: Borrows without intending to repay) … I think that's it. I had some terrible *ideas* (SCRIBE for SCREEN, ICBM for STEN, EXE for ELY) but I didn't actually write any of them in.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:07 AM  

This was right in my wheelhouse with the exception of the North. I had BEGS for BUMS and had no idea of UGARTE and MENDEL. Also no idea for PNC Park, but got it with crosses. Very enjoyable for me!

SenorLynn 12:31 AM  

Is that a GIMEL in your pocket, or are you just glad to solve me?
Great baseball clues, that I sussed right away. But had to Google RENI, & check spelling of Will ARNETT.
37 min. Now I'll have me a TASTY BASS ALE.

jae 12:37 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Lots to like here.  Fun/zippy 15s, low dreck count, plus...SNAFU, TOLD YA, ARNETT (who could have been cued with Arrested Development, but its Fri.), UGARTE, NAKED EYE, BASS ALE... a fine Fri.

Erasure: eLe before ALT

@Rex me too for guessing on the DRS/RENI cross.

Casco Kid 12:46 AM  

Killed me. I needed a half dozen googles to get close to a complete grid, but the SE was just unsolvable. Googles didn't help with STEN, the Archie clue or the Italian industrialists clue. When I cheated to finish (BarS for BIBS had shut out IMPORTS and BEANIE, and made OLMEC totally ungettable) I discovered errors all over. Challenging Friday.

mdS for DRS
goya then dalI then google giving Caravaggio and Michelangelo, for RENI. WTF!?
Successful googles for UGARTE, PETRA, WAITE, GIMEL.

Tough clue for STRIKEZONE, but I did get that one.

Boats are docked in slips and moored in harbors. Mooring in a slip? That's just stupid.

60 minutes to the first google. 90 minutes to quit. Puzzles are a study in patience, and this one broke mine. Or maybe my patience is ok, and the problem lies elsewhere.

If anyone solved this puzzle without googles or cheats in >90 minutes, I'd like to hear about it. I'm not able to put my finger on my biggest problem. More patience? Maybe a change-of-brain simulated by taking many breaks.

This was a good puzzle with useful factoids and really tough cluing.

Benko 12:56 AM  

I don't think PETRA is something you should know just from crosswords. And if you've ever been to any major art museum which has Italian Renaissance art, you've seen a painting by Guido RENI. I've seen dozens, but I make a point of going to the big local art museum when I visit a city.
This is classical humanities stuff. I guess it's not in some people's wheelhouse?

chefwen 2:59 AM  

Thought we were off to a flying start when I got TAKE MY WORD FOR IT right out of the gate. Got the top third done in record time. Things went downhill from there. The middle took some thought. Didn't know WAITE or GIMEL (shame on Jewish me) Pretty much tanked on the southeast, again! incan before OLMEC, eurs as an attachment for a restaurant, and I thought I was being super clever, NOT! Had to take that whole section out and redo. Finally finished with one Google at 32A PETRA.

Good one Mr. Collins, thanks.

Moly Shu 3:15 AM  

@Casco, 45 mins, no google no cheat. Challenging but do-able for me. First pass yielded my only 2 gimmies, PNC and SAMOAN. ANTEUP and CROC were next as educated guesses and the struggle began. Had ONBASE 3 times and erased all three. ashore before MOORED, aleph before GIMEL, soilED before IRONED, and both INCAN and MAYAN before OLMEC. Whew, that's a lot of missteps. Just knew the battery clue had to be baseball related, but what? Batters box, home plate, pitchers mound, resin bag, arghhhh. Finally the K in OKAY got me through. Knew I was naticked at D_S/_ENI so I left it undone as I finished in the SE intending to do an alphabet run, but when I finished, the R just popped into my head. A true "aha" moment for me.

I think my dad use to say "hotter n blue blazes" so that helped.

@Benko, PETRA was a first for me, and you lost me at "classical humanities". My wheelhouse doesn't include either of those words, although I will agree with you that it should.

Loved the clue for NAKEDEYE. Loved the puzzle. Great challenge.

Anonymous 4:32 AM  

Liked it as well. No SNAFUs here.

@Casco, I did it in 53:09. Your problem - TAKE MY WORD FOR IT - is you're not old enough to appreciate Mae West or to have seen Casablanca so many times you have it memorized.

Loved the pea-brained clue for MENDEL.

jae 5:12 AM  

I knew PETRA because my sister did a stint in Jordan with USAID.  Did not know RENI, but I have been in enough museums (including ones in Italy?) so that I probably should have.  Will ARNETT, OTOH, I would have known even if he'd been clued with the short lived (and not that funny) sitcom "Up All Night" (a waste of the delightful Christina Applegate's talents)...different wheelhouses...

@Casco - maybe you should be more willing to abandon your first choices, especially on Fri. and Sat.?  A lot of getting good at this is subconscious pattern recognition which you only acquire by doing a s**t load of puzzles.  And, @anon 4:32 you need to have a brain capable of storing a s**t load of mostly useless trivia (see above comment about ARNETT). 

Gill I. P. 6:18 AM  

The only Will I could think of was misspelled FERELL...! Husband chimed in "TAKE MY WORD FOR IT" and I changed it to ARNETT...
Ah, yes The Adventures of BARON MUNCHAUSEN...Would have screamed with delight if Peter had added Bucephalus.
PETRA - right up there with Angor Wat and Pompeii.
Great Friday puzzle and great write-up Rex.
Hey I even got STRIKE ZONE.
p.s. @Casco: I feel your pain. GIMEL and WAITE were my Googles and I'm proud to admit it!

Danp 6:23 AM  

Any puzzle that crosses Mae West with Munchausen gets applause from me, despite a big fat DNF.

@Benko - I took a class at the Prado years back, but I never heard of RENI. You're right, though. There is one of his paintings there, and I have seen it.

PETRA and PNC Naticked me. I had crab in the mangroves and ITHAD to be. What a mess.

Benko 6:25 AM  

Hey, even if you don't know PETRA, you've probably seen it. The canyon and temple facade from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the place where they keep the Holy Grail--that's Petra, So it has pop cultural significance as well.

James Dean 7:14 AM  

Pretty average Friday time but more enjoyable than most. Any puzzle that mentions Mae West is fine by me. Have a not to pick with AGENCIES and RANALONG, which were boring. And although I love the idea of using "battery" in a baseball sense, and STRIKEZONE is a solid answer, this cluing and tjat answer together seemed like a stretch. But stretch is what ,any umpires do with the strike zone.

Susan McConnell 7:42 AM  

Petra is also a popular side-trip offered to folks touring Israel. Have not been there myself but the clue worked for me. DRS/RENI was the tough spot for me, too...though looking back DRS seems so obvious!

Davidph 7:42 AM  

I was sure that the Mae West answer had something to do with inNuENDoES instead of ENTENDRES. I had the six, count 'em, six letters that match, and none of the others. I was absolutely stuck. Looked up WAITE finally and that broke it open.

Doris 8:13 AM  

From the poem "Petra" by John William Burgon (21 August 1813 – 4 August 1888), who was an English Anglican divine who became the Dean of Chichester Cathedral in 1876:

It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.

He was not mainly known as a poet, except for this one. Most English majors, an increasingly rare breed, know this last line.

Arlene 8:14 AM  

This one was challenging for me - looked a bit hopeless for a while, even with Googling. I did know PETRA and GIMEL. The fun is in the journey, though - so struggling to finish does give a feeling of satisfaction when there are no more squares to fill in!

NCA President 8:17 AM  

Two naticks for me: RUNALONG/UGARTE crossing (I had no idea about UGARTE, and "Hit the road" could either be past or present, so UGuRTE looked just as good to me as UGARTE...I chose RaNALONG).

The second one was the PETRA/PNC crossing. ?NC could be anything and ?etra could have been tETRA, mETRA, or really anything at all since it was Jordanian and who the hell knows what Jordanian cities could be named.

Sure, I could've Googled them, but I chose not to this time.

Otherwise, I got TOLDYA and APPLAUDS miraculously right off the bat.

I liked BOOKRETURN, NAKEDEYE, HOTASBLUEBLAZES (my dad used to say that).

Wanted OKed for "Approved" and soilED for "Like many garments..."

This was difficult, but naticks aside, not impossible.

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

I must've slept through 1984 because I had no idea who John WAITE was, and never heard his #1 hit "Missing You". After I finished the puzzle, I listened to it on YouTube but I still have no idea. Unmemorable song. Unmemorable singer. If the clue had said he was born on the 4th of July, maybe then. Or maybe not. Why not Ralph WAITE? And Will ARNETT who? I Binged him and recognized the face but couldn't tie it to the name, or vice-versa. And probably won't two months from now.

And so it goes with pop culture stuff.

Classic humanities, on the other hand... ETTU, PETRA? Sunny Italy, where it's almost never RENI. BARON von MÜNCHHAUSEN. The ELY Cathedral. OLMEC. UGARTE played by László Löwenstein. Howie MENDEL, and Felix, MENDEL's sohn.

I absolutely loved this puzzle. Started at the SW because I somehow remembered HANS Blix, knew who OPAH Winfrey was and ate plenty of TASTY carne ASADA and washed it down with BASS ALE and tenor 12 Armagnacs. From there, I slowly CLOPPED my way, but never took a TRANE, through some ITHAS, MADATs, RTS, BUMS, SNAFU and ONAPARs to get to NORA Barnacle and EDDY Arnold. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, I also have been known to drop a few DOUBLE ENTENDRES in my life.

My ONBASE percentage in this puzzle was pretty impressive. I was HOT AS BLUE BLAZES because I only swung at pitches in the STRIKE ZONE and ended up with a home run.

As did Peter Collins.

Here is the less-well known but equally delightful Concerto for Violin and Strings in D minor composed by the 13-year-old Felix MENDELssohn.


joho 8:37 AM  

Loved how this puzzle s l o w l y unraveled giving me many aha moments and finally a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

This is such an eclectic mix of interesting words and phrases ... just beautiful. And, yes, the cluing is wicked and perfectly pitched for a Friday.

Thank you, Peter Collins, your creativity continues to amaze me!

loren muse smith 8:44 AM  

I finished this in regular Friday fashion for me (no cheating, about 45 minutes). Funny, Rex, I try to do the fill-in-the-blanks first, and IT HAS was one of my first entries. I had no problem with the DRS/RENI cross – doctors, therapy – I guess it was a guess, but I didn't really question it. (Hi, @Susan McConnell)

Me, too, for immediately thinking "silent" for that APPLAUDS clue. Wonder if applause is a universal thing? Think people in the Maasai applaud each other? If not, what do they do? Man, I would love to know stuff like that.

Agreed – good clues with two whose type always pleases me – the old "this tense is not what it may seem" clue:

"Hit the road" - I had "run" ALONG first (Morning, @NCA President)
"Approved" - not past tense but rather an adjective, so I had "oked" first

"Many" for TONS messed up the west there, with a mysterious "madam" and "Bay Sale." Sheesh.

SNAFU is some kind of impolite acronym, right? Like "fubar?" I usually hit a SNAFU on Friday grids, but my Saturdays can go from zero to fubar in about 20 seconds.

Fortunately, UGARTE was oozing around in my reptilian crossword brain, so I cleaned up "Ugurto" with no trouble. That UGARTE/GIMEL cross could be tough for some, though.

Speaking of names, BARON MUNCHAUSEN looked NAKED to me without the "von." Kinda like Ludwig Beethoven, Captain Trapp, or Diane Fürstenberg. (I've said before, I have an acquaintance whose last name is von Ludwig, and he goes by "Von." Can you imagine if Portia de Rossi went that route? "Hi. I'm De." I need to let that one go.)

The "Ely" near and dear to my heart is on the Boundary Waters. Sigh. Hi, Paul Schurke.

By far, the southeast was the hardest part for me. I still don't get STRIKE ZONE and its clue, but I figured it couldn't be anything else. That and BIBS finally allowed me to break through.

Isn't it hard to see the World Cup score/time left with the NAKED EYE? I have to go stand right at my TV to see it half the time.

I have a request for anyone who cares. It's called the "Times New Roman" font. Can't someone switch the font for these puzzles to that? Today for 46A, I didn’t know if it was capital I or lower case L. I get all messed up in acrostics, too, because of this.

Hey, Peter – great puz, as usual. Happy Friday, everyone. It's HOT AS BLAZES here in beautiful downtown West Virginia. My TRANE is the single most important thing in my life right now.

Andrew Morrison 8:48 AM  

Easy med for me, although I have never knowingly encountered Reni. I am sure is is a swell artist, but that is not one of my areas of interest. Some challenges (UGARTE, RENI) but all caught with the crosses. This puzzle was on my wavelength, so I had a good start to the weekend.

Sir Hillary 9:00 AM  

Great puzzle. As others have said, it's a wonderful mix of topics. Anything I didn't know outright (MENDEL, RENI, ELORO, ELY) was either inferrable or gettable with crosses -- exactly as it should be.

Hadn't thought of Hans BLIX in about ten years. Ah, the bad old days of WMD searches.

For those of us listening to pop radio back then, John Waite's "Missing You" was absolutely ubiquitous in the summer of 1984. It finally gave way to "Dancing in the Dark" and a whole bunch more from Springsteen's Born in the USA album.

My only (minor) gripe is the clue for STRIKEZONE. Hard for me to imagine the STRIKEZONE as something tangible enough to have something "next to" it. Inside, outside, above, below -- yes. I get that the catcher is right there, but it just feels weird to me.

Michael Collins 9:00 AM  

Pea-brained researcher MENDEL is a Hall of Fame clue, surprised you didn't mention it.

In the 19th C, RENI was widely considered the greatest painter of all time. Tastes change.

jberg 9:20 AM  

DNF -- neglected to guess at the DRS/RENI cross, and if I'd run the alphabet I probably would have gone with DRS (think of them as applying therapies, not developing them, but still). I should have recalled RENI, anyway, seen his paintings often enough.

Worse, though, my carne was ASADo. I wanted ASADA as sounding right, but my sense of logic told me it should have a masculine ending, and I forgot to check the cross.

That Burgon poem won the Newdigate prize in 1845, the Tony of its day, so it's legitimate, right? More to the point, though, PETRA is a famous ancient tourist attraction, and famous party for being red, so it's guessable.

Hyperion's daughter, though! Wow! Fortunately I had the EO already, and EOd just didn't sound Greek (IT HAd to be would have been fine).

CROCs in mangroves, really? Don't they get stuck in all those roots? I know alligators more than crocs, but the former seem to be animals of open water and grassy swamps. Or did this clue refer to those shoes, which might cause you to slip and fall while climbing around in a mangrove?

What I learned today (not for the first time): the river Ouse is not in France. That must be the Oise?

Despite my problems, I really, really enjoyed this one. I think it was the 15s, all brilliant.

bwalker 9:30 AM  

This puzzle was much more enjoyable than yesterday's. I felt ON BASE for much of it. Jokes I treasure helped solve. Why did they put windows in the restrooms at the Pirate's stadium? So you can "PNC." Awful!

Better was DOUBLE ENTENDRES. At a pool party in Hollywood, Will Rogers is reputed to have bobbed up in front of May West's ample bosom and said, "I shore would like to duck you." Her instant reply: "You talk funny with them new teeth."

Also got BARON MUNCHAUSEN, GIMEL, and the DRS/RENI cross, but A BUMBLEBEE caused a SNAFU where BLUE BLAZES should have gone.

For once, I didn't have to Google, so I'm going to reward myself with a CARNE ASADA breakfast taco.

Casco Kid 9:35 AM  

@jae Curiously, I had [Cross] interpreted as MADAT and [Dress down] interpreted as get-casual. A bit more patience would have sorted that out. Same with DIOR making a thousand times more sense than mIOR, and I probably would have guessed right at DRS/RENI.

While I did abandon mci, ele, SNAFU, AGENCIES, SSGT (looked ugly next to the surrealist dalI) PSAT, I never considered abandoning BarS, as they are attached in/to restaurants. That and ORMEC and STEN were my truly fatal, truly blind spots.

One thing about this puzzle that makes me happy: no clues like [First two words of a song on a Ringo Starr album released after his musical relevance had expired.] Knowledge of that kind of trivia should never be put ONAPAR with sands-of-time surviivors like PETRA and RENI. Yes, I judge, with my little [Pea-brain] and all.

@moly Thx for the description of your solve. Hugely enlightening, including familiar (mayan) and unfamiliar (soiled) missteps. So, SAMOAN was a gimme huh? I'll add that to my mental picture of you! ;)

FWIW, I continue to resist the ipad upgrade because I make active use of Circles to mark my googles, etc. No such marking feature in 2.1 yet, but 2.1 auto-flags erroneous entries after submitting, which is an improvement over 1.x for postmortems. The puzzle-locked-for-24-hours feature seems to be gone, too. If you don't need circles, stats and can tolerate clunky access to the archive, then go ahead with the upgrade. I'm waiting for 2.2 at least.

In a departure from custom, I had no prob with the longer clues. Mae West was INNUENDO a few weeks ago, when I put entendre. This time it was an easy score here.

Numinous 9:49 AM  

I had all but one letter in 43 min, then spent 6 minutes deciding on the R in RENI. I don't usually pay attention to details like that but for some reason today I noticed. Completed the SE first though I had excursions around the grid looking for anything that would ring a bell whilst doing it. I had naive for TASTY at first and soilED for IRONED. GIMEL was gimme, used to play dreidel in that period before Christmas, at least until all the chocolate gelt was eaten up (that wife was Jewish). CROC bothered me. All I could clearly think of was the mangrove swamps in the southern US where there are gators. In spite of having lived there, I totally forgot about Australian mangroves, the third largest mangrove area in the world, where there are indeed CROCs in abundance. One of the guys I worked with at the Australian Broadcasting Commission used to hund CROCs in the Northern Territory and Queensland before he decided to become a film editor.

Gradually, everything filled itself in with a bunch of groovy aha moments. I really liked the spanners with the exception of TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. I didn't like that clue. At first, I wanted MUNCHAUSEN to be Geoffrey Chaucer but the S in APPLAUDS ruined that little aspiration.

Overall, I liked ths one TONS. For me, it was a pretty easy Friday in under an hour and no googles.

RnRGhost57 9:59 AM  

Peter Collins demonstrates an amazing range of knowledge in his answers. Fine, enjoyable puzz.

Numinous 10:00 AM  

@Casco Kid, I'm still using Magmic too, waiting, I guess for 2.2 as well. I suppose if I were really desperate for statistics I could go to xwordinfo but that can be such a PITA. All my tabs in Safari are crossword related and I always have a long row down the right hand side if I click on the . . .

Z 10:02 AM  

This was classic Friday, challenging until it wasn't. I tried mdS/dalI before getting DIOR to clean it up. Tried aleph before getting GIMEL, elv before ALT, and OKed before OKAY. Getting those grid spanners really helped. DOUBLE ENTENDRES opened up the NW which made TAKE MY WORD FOR IT appear which got me enough for BARON MUNCHAUSEN and finally HOT AS BLUE BLAZES. I have Mae to thank for my solve.

I always have to re-remember how to spell UGARTE, so he is a weird non-gimme gimme. Every time he appears I have an "oh, right, that's right" moment.

I had --RIKEZ--- before I grokked that the battery wasn't in a Ferrari. Nice. Julius Caesar, Mae West, John WAITE, Archie, the long forgotten (by me) RENI, and UGARTE - Here's looking at you Peter A. Collins. Nicely done.

C. Y. Hollander 10:18 AM  

GIMEL is related to Greek gamma (aleph, beth, gimel/alpha, beta, gamma). PETRA, meaning "rock" in Latin, is related to the English "petrify" (turn to stone).

Maruchka 10:22 AM  

Agree (!) with Rex today re: difficulty level. Breezed through the northern clime, then hit middle-mess. Made me HEET (isn't it HET-UP? Heet's for feets).

Liked the phrases a lot. Could not suss SE for the longest. Also wanted BARS, and thought Archie wore a RED- or BOW- tie, not a BEANIE. Sigh, shoulda noted the " marks.

ET TU, Mr. Collins! TGIF to all.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:26 AM  

Re: RENI - You're making that up. All of you. That Wikipedia entry is bogus, a joke. In my entire life I have Never, Ever heard of RENI.

And a four common-letter name that I have never seen in a crossword before? Can't be. If he were real, he would be right up there with EELS, BEETS, and ASSESSES.

Slightly more seriously, I would take issue with 58 A, "Bald-eagle link," AS AN. Bald as an eagle? No one says that. For one thing, they're not bald. They just look that way because of white feathers on top of their heads. Bald as a bowling ball, maybe, or bald as a baby's bottom, or others.

Fine puzzle otherwise!

Carola 10:27 AM  

Easy, "please-y" in clues and answers. Many pleasures. One sticky spot - the DRS/ RENI cross - I made myself resist dali; needed CLOPPED before AGENCIES and finishing. I didn't know ARNETT or WAITE, but was lucky with crosses.

I especially liked the cross of tall-tale-telling BARON MUNCHAUSEN with "TAKE MY WORD FOR IT."

Also being at the ballpark (PNC, thank goodness for crosses) with the BUMS ON BASE, a DOUBLE, and STRIKE ZONE.

@loren - I really liked what you said about UGARTE and the crossword reptilian brain. That was me, too, coaxing, "Come on out, boy, I know you're in there, Umberto, no, Udarto, no...."

@casco - This was a faster than BLUE BLAZES Friday for me - about 15 minutes. A combination of just happening to know stuff (PETRA, GIMEL), clicking immediately with clues (DOUBLE ENTENDRES, BOOK RETURN) that gave me a lot to work with, and luck on crosses

Steve J 10:30 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle throughout, even considering that I got myself stuck in a couple spots and couldn't see my way out without a couple lookups. Liked the grid spanners, although as @Loren said, BARON MUNCHHAUSEN looks very weird without his von.

@Benko: It's possible to be well-versed in classical humanities and not remember some particulars. Especially someone like RENI, who is hardly a household name compared to his contemporaries, like Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Vermeer. I needed every cross to get him, and even then, while his name had a vague ring of familiarity to it, I could not remember him.

Leapfinger 10:35 AM  

Some people have an unreasonable aversion to sibilant little Peter Lorre, and always will. They also forget that Abbots were celibate (I think).

@SenorLynn, I enjoyed the GIMEL in your pocket. Muy divertido.

This puzzle was full of MOOREDant wit for me. Can't/won't reprise it all, but mostly it was infamous for my grasping entries firmly by the tail-end, struggling to reach the prow. BLAZES -- Hotasthe, Hotasall, Hottern --- HOTASBLUE? What are we talking, acetylene torches? Thought 18A would end in GOING, 19A would be something like cross my HEART. Somehow, had no trouble with DOUBLE ENTENDRE.

Occasionally, ONE plumps for the right OLMEC by chance, and immediately on thinking I've bloxed Blix's first name, the old brain shouts 'HANS!'. So some things just CLOPPED into place, like no way I wasn't getting GIMEL and ETTU, but like @Danp, I thought crabs were eating up the mangroves, and ITHAD kept EOS from dawning on me.

My best mess was North Central, with BEGS for BUMS and the 'real mess' being a SIGHT. My Casablanca brain ran the usual suspects, kept turning up ?Duarte, and 9D had me in Dr Frankensteen/EYEgor mode. At the last moment, I almost went for that Scottish-Hungarian researcher, McGregor GUNDEL. [Is this the time to mention my MSc in Genetics?]

Gotta say that when it's HOT AS any colour BLAZES in NC, the NAKED I may sport only a BEANIE; gives added IMPORTance to some kinda SCREEN.

Leaving y'all now with SAMOAN interesting mental imagery to process.

Thanks, ET PsETRA, Peter, it was marvelous!

Anne Meilof 10:38 AM  

This was a perfect one-hour brain workout, and only one wrong square.

The best part? The Randy Travis clip (aww). Thanks.

Maruchka 10:46 AM  

OOPS! Just reviewed the answers. Had HEET (old Dutch variation on hot - who knew?) and HAD AT, instead of MEET and MAD AT.

Me old eyes.. tricksy. Mea culpa.

Leapfinger 10:53 AM  

@loren -- In ALite, go to Options'; Customize AcrossLite has a tab for Fonts. I picked Arial, which works for me. [if this has been answered in the meantime, scusi]

My ONE nit du jour: Planes have ALTitude, base camps are at ALTitudes, but my Mtns have ELEVation. Tried to settle for HGT, without ARRAY of hope

retired_chemist 11:04 AM  

A medium-challenging tour de force. Much good stuff, the MENDEL clue and the STRIKE ZONE clue high on the list.

Lucked into TRANE (35D) which was a big help for several of its crosses.

No idea what park the Pirates play in, PETRA locking in the P being my only leg up initially, so I started with Ppg(Pittsburgh Plate Glass), went to PNg, and finally PNw when I figured a CROw somehow menaced mangrove trees. Last letter was figuring out CROC.

Well done, Mr. Collins. Always a pleasure. Thanks.

Dolgoruky 11:25 AM  

Pretty easy for me. Not many three-letter English cities. Other guesses included El Oro. The long entries were pretty obvious. I kinda like puns in the puzzles, so pea-brained researcher made me chuckle!

Leapfinger 11:56 AM  

Having some classically comic times this midsummer day, thinking of Howie MENDELssohn (BarTOLDYA). Fun to throw Gundel, Grendel and Lendl into the mix, and for midsummer wear, can't hold a kendl to the all-purpose CROC sendl.

Hope this won't offendl oughts of folks; I s'pose it'll dependlike on what ONE can absorb.

Trendl back now to my Ruth Rendl.

That's #3, I believe, So... a demain, mes vieux.

Z 12:02 PM  

Regarding RENI - What are they all looking at?

{feel free to google Reni images if you don't understand my question}

Ellen S 12:04 PM  

I've never been to Petra, but I did visit Chichester Cathedral about 100 years after Burgon wrote the poem.

Lewis 12:05 PM  

ITHAS fell right away for me, so for me, it was easily not the worst answer in the grid, much less "manifestly" the worst. I loved the range of this puzzle, had trouble in the SW. Never heard of HOTASBLUEBLAZES, or RENI or ASADA. I had soilED for IRONED and getgoiNG for RANALONG, which caused some problems. Excellent workout, high quality Friday puzzle.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP™): One of the answers, which is not a verb, can be turned into a verb by replacing the first letter with another letter from the alphabet, and there are two letters that will work in this endeavor. Those two letters happen to be in alphabetical order. If you take the letter that precedes these two letters, and the one that follows them, you get a word. What is it?

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

YOUCANBELIEVEME fit nicely as my first try - except it turns out that every letter was wrong...

Anoa Bob 12:15 PM  

BARON von MÜNCHAUSEN is not only famed in his own right, he is the eponynm for one of the most fascinating of all psychiatric disorders, actually two of them, Münchausen syndrome and Münchausen syndrome by proxy.

Sad to say, the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-V, no longer uses those terms as official disorders. They're now just called Factitious Disorders. Maybe there's medical or scientific justification for ditching Münchausen for Factitious, but it certainly isn't as colorful or evocative.

Mr. Benson 12:17 PM  

Mostly easy for me, but I got stuck in the mid-Atlantic region, going with TASed for TASTY at 29D (thinking of "taken in" as in taken into the police office; a taser is supposed to make it easy to do that). That made me feel solid with OKed for OKAY (note the past-tense clue "Approved" there). So that section took several minutes of me just staring at it to see what I had done wrong; I wanted ARENA, the right answer, at 28D but just couldn't make it work. I don't get the clue "It's often compounded: Abbr." for INT.

AliasZ 12:22 PM  

@Leapy, I'm glad that Felix MENDEL's sohn BarTOLDYA dawned on you before EOS.

UGARTE be kidding me. As I am writing this, I am listening to his Violin Concerto in E-minor on Bartók Rádió on the Internet, I swear!

jdv 12:26 PM  

Easy-Medium. I was fully expecting to have errors. Filled everything in except for two squares: MENDE_ and _ENI. All I could think of was Mendeleev, but MENDEL looked right. Spent 1-2 minutes on the last square running through the alphabet to convince myself there wasn't wordplay on 'Therapy Developers'. DRS was the only thing it could be. The NE is an eyesore compared to the rest of the puzzle. Really liked HOTASBLUEBLAZES. Tough clues for NORA, ELY and HANS.

Sir Hillary 12:44 PM  

@Lewis - Re the PPP, the word you're looking for is synonymous with "spot".

Hopthumb 12:53 PM  

@Lewis, I get AD, but had to overlook P and T as confounders while getting there.

@Anoa Bob, 'MUNCHAUSEN by proxy' always struck me as the most horrific entity, iatrogenic disorders almost as inexcusable.

@Alias, I spose you'll say you had already thought of 'BarTOLDYA'.
Shall have to see can I czech into
Bartók Rádió; I think I've mentioned that Bartok is the majority surname in my family, me being part of the minority, but still having a proprietary INTerest.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

The word you get is BE.

David Cole 1:01 PM  

@Lewis and @Sir Hillary, can we offer up answers? I have one that seems to work and isn't synonymous with "spot", but IS something "Spot" might be fond of...

David Cole 1:03 PM  

oh, I included the two middle letters from the original word, and ended up with BONE

AliasZ 1:15 PM  

The historical person Hieronymus Carl Friedrich Baron von Münchhausen (1720-1797) spelled his name with 2 H's. It is a compound word, the first part of which is Münch meaning "monk" (as in Charles Münch or Edvard Munch; see also München) and the second "hausen" as in houses, thus Münch-hausen or "monastery." In English usage one H seems to have disappeared for some unknown reason.

Lewis 1:23 PM  

@Sir Hillary and @hopthumb -- Ah, I think I figured out how you got your answer, and it is certainly correct by how I worded the puzzle -- bravo! My answer was different, and what I should have stated was that the two letters that turned the word into a verb were the only two letters in the alphabet that worked. I'm thinking, @hopthumb, that F and M would also have confounded you?

@DavidCole and @K -- Yes, that was my answer!

Robso 1:35 PM  

Liked the "Book Return" clue.
For the record, in the history of the universe no one has ever said "He's as bald as an eagle." Nobody.

Mette 1:40 PM  

Agree with @joho. Such a satisfying feeling when it fell into place. Rex is right - the clues made it. @loren SNAFU is an acronym for situaion normal all f--ked up.

Charles Flaster 1:40 PM  

Easy to medium.Twenty two minutes to complete. Only mistake was the "s" in it has. Knew of Eos but not as Hyperion's daughter.Loved the puzzle . Gimel was a Gimme from Hebrew school days.53 A had a unique clue for me. Loved it. Thanks PAC.

Sir Hillary 1:41 PM  

@Lewis and PPP fans - I went through the downs first, top to bottom, left to right. Needless to say I didn't have to go far. Started running the alphabet, and again didn't have to go far. Submitted my answer and never looked at anything else. Having now done so, I see the intended answer, which is much cleaner. Great find by you, Lewis!

Hopthumb 1:53 PM  

@Lewis, yes, F'n'M would have confounded, in the statistical sense. Have to watch one's words carefully in this crowd.

Hmm. Perhaps English tends to withhold DOUBLE Hs. Welcome to Vonnegut's Münch-haus.

DigitalDan 2:12 PM  

Anyone else have ORNOT to be? Hamlet, not Caesar. That held me up for a good long time.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

I thought I was going to be able o finish a Friday without Googling anything, and almost did. My undoing was persisting in reading the clue for 43-A ("Approved") as a past-tense verb instead of an adjective. So I convinced myself that 29-D was TASED, which made good sense to me -- if you're tased, you certainly are easily taken in to the police station. I even had STRIKEZONE going down and knew that 28-D couldn't possibly be ARENE, but I still couldn't see OKAY. So close to the finish line, and I couldn't stumble across it.

paleolith 2:40 PM  

MENDEL and DOUBLEENTENDRES were easy for me. So was UGARTE, because I've seen the movie several times. Got ELORO as soon as I saw the middle letter -- never heard of it, but the mention of gold in the clue made it easy. Based on other comments, it appears I should know more about PETRA. I had AZTEC for OLMEC, messing me up for quite a while. Got the BARON after a few crosses, but I agree with others that it should have HH. No problem putting in IT before HAS. Like others, I had DOCKED, but dictionaries support mooring in a slip ("fastened in a place with ropes or anchor").

dk 2:48 PM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons)

Softy for TASTY messed me up for a while. Otherwise a good time. Wanted photog instead of screen but…. I understand SCREEN is SAMOAN for photog.

LaneB 3:01 PM  

Fine and dandy until I hit the SE corner where I finally gave up and cheated my way to the end. Even had the Z but the expression HOT AS BLUE BLAZES was not one I'd ever used or heard of. Ah well--not bad for a Friday and a "challenging" one at that. Hard to believe anyone found it "easy". But the quality and speed of many of the solvers never ceases to amaze me. Sort of like watching that 11 year old golfer who inspires in this hacker a blend of admiration, envy and, eventually, hatred.

Steve J 3:20 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle and @Robso: "Bald as an eagle" is a real thing. An uncommon thing, but a real one.

Notes from the underground 3:35 PM  

You may not think you know Reni, but google 'guido reni images' and you'll probly recognize a bunch. He seems to favor subjects looking off-camera, many gazing upward.

My favorite:

The triad: SNAFU, fubar, figmo...
I've got my orders

mac 3:40 PM  

Real Friday puzzle, I enjoyed it.

Ran into trouble with oked/tased. I think perps are easily taken in after you've tased them, no?

@Maruchka: not old Dutch, heet is the translation in Dutch of hot.

Notes from the underground 3:56 PM  

Ah, I now see that Z saw as I saw.

OISK 4:10 PM  

Nice one! Finished it on the Q train between Avenue J and 14th Street - about a half hour I guess, fast for a Friday (for me). Never heard of Reni nor Waite, but have been to PNC park several times (one of the nicest major league ballparks), didn't get to Petra last time I was in Israel, but thought about it. (It is just over the border in Jordan). Others may have had trouble with gimel; I had nun…
Plenty of very clever Friday-type cluing here, nakedeye, strike zone, for example. I generally enjoy Mr. Collins's puzzles, really liked this one.

SenorLynn 5:01 PM  

For those of you with sensitive AURICLES:
Situation Normal All Fouled Up=SNAFU

jae 5:10 PM  

@Digital Dan - ORNOT crossed my mind but TRANE was a gimme and ruled it out.

Lewis 6:17 PM  

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) solution:

There are two solutions.
1. TONS, which can be made a verb by replacing the T with a C or D, with the solution BE.
2. HANS, using B or C, with the solution AD.

Fred Romagnolo 8:52 PM  

@Benko is absolutely right; classical humanities used to be taken for granted among the educated. Mangroves bothered me, too, cause I didn't know about Australia; I wanted gator, not CROC. I do have a cavil with UGARTE, he's clued as a "crook;" he stole from Nazis, shouldn't he be a hero?

Wednesday's Child 9:16 PM  

I was certain that an artist ending with and "i" was Dali.

I was certain that Archie wore a bowtie.

I went to school with SAMOANs and recognized the flavor of the language.

I grew up with baseball and clued in early to the "battery" clue.


I tapped into grade 7 spanish for EL ORO.

I loved jae's "subconcsious pattern recognition" and, likewise, lms's "oozing around in my reptilian crossword brain."

Great puzzle. Yeah, it's Friday.

Anonymous 3:15 AM  

here's how you can remember the dreidel letters and how to play:
Shin: put one in
Nun: Nun for me
Gimel: Gim'em all to me
Hay/Heh: HA-lf

Anonymous 3:15 AM  

here's how you can remember the dreidel letters and how to play:
Shin: put one in
Nun: Nun for me
Gimel: Gim'em all to me
Hay/Heh: HA-lf

Anonymous 4:24 AM  

Missed the gimel/ugarte cross.

Otherwise, took about three hours to get the rest.

Very proud of myself as it looked very,, very hopeless for about 90 minutes.

57 across actually got the momentum going for me, of all things, as for a long time I wanted a three-letter magazine title.

I also stuck with Haier for way too long on the heating/AC clue. It's a minor miracle that I remembered Trane, and that also helped tremendously.

So, while on Friday's I often have more than one square wrong, I don't usually spend three hours on a puzzle. This one gets the challenging stamp from me.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Some wonderful cluing here, puzzle would have been great if not for all the trivia and proper nouns. Nearly all today's posters admitted that they had to do googling, often extensive googling, and a well written puzzle should require little or none. I'm amazed that most of you didn't know Mendel, the founder of genetics -- don't they teach anything in school now except pop culture? "Missing you" was a gimmee for me, my longtime #2 on my all-time favorites of the rock n roll era.

Randall Clark 3:40 PM  

Had RuNALONG for hit the road, don't know Casablanca, so UGURTE looked okay to me.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Thanks Peter Collins for a zippy puzzle. I have to disagree with Parker's rating it Med-Chal. I think it should be rated Easy/Medium or Medium at best. Everything seemed to fall into place when I got enough "downs" to figure out the long "acrosses." Fast for a Friday.

Ron Diego

rain forest 1:32 PM  

Very nice puzzle with cluing that challenged but was gettable. I had to guess at the I and E in GIMEL, although the "I" was almost obvious, and the "R" in the DRS/RENI cross, thinking that Therapy was a video game developed by someone. I don't think doctors develop therapies, actually. They implement or apply them, but what the hey.

Other than those three squares, the puzzle was delightful.

10188. This is either 9 or 8 or I don't care.

spacecraft 1:36 PM  

toughie. Took me all morning, but I prevailed in the end. First 2 times through the clue list: nada. Then I remembered--from just last week--carne ASADA. The whole thing slowly radiated from there. As one blogger said, "A series of aha! moments." Wound up with just a couple of w/os in the east, OKed for approvED instead of OKAY, and TeSTY, though that didn't really feel like "easily taken in?". Then I saw that a city name is more likely to end in A than E, and TASTY was the final aha!

Yes, me too on the DRS/RENI MEET; I just decided to not overthink it and trust my DRS. [Hey, if you're not gonna trust your DRS., who you gonna trust?]

I certainly called this challenging for the first...oh, I dunno...hour or so, and yet once it started to open up I thought, why did I think this was so undoable? ITHAd to be (not a w/o because it coulda been either S or D and I waited for the down).

The Archie thing had me thinking Bowtie at first. Who wore a BEANIE? Jughead? Yeah, I guess, Jughead. Wasn't Archie, and it SURE wasn't Moose.

I liked it, and not just because it was a tough solve done. Good, fresh long entries and solid fill, DRS and SSGT aside. Grade: A.


Waxy in Montreal 2:06 PM  

A sizzler. My mother-in-law would always use the expression HOTTER THAN HADES at this time of year so that was my 47A. And my STRIKEZONE was SPARKPLUGS for way too long.

Eventually needed Google for the MENDEL / GIMEL / UGARTE region to finish as my BUMS was a BEGS. And guess I should have selected SAMOAN as a college option.

Great Friday challenge. Thanks Mr. Collins.

DMG 2:25 PM  

To much for me. Worked most of it out, but don't know WAITE and, even with CHAUSEN staring at me would never have guessed the BARON, I associate him with some kind of medical something, not tale telling. Anyway pretty total failure in the North Central area. Did not get BUM because I don't associate it in any way with borrowing, but, rather with cadging. And, while I got it, I think clothes at the cleaners are pressed in a machine, not IRONED the way was does at home.

Back I. Photo Sphere land, so I can't join the game, but I warn the players not to take @Spacy's word. He needs a new adding machine.

sdcheezhd 2:50 PM  

BLUEBLAZES also tough for me; I have always heard hot as the blazes so thought I had it right away until the number didn't work out. I am older than an 80s person so John Prine for WAITE caused problems and I thought the restaurant attachments might be -eurs and am glad they weren't. Embarrassing to need crosses for NORA and UGARTE but at least I didn't need them all.

sdcheezhd 2:52 PM  

BTW one of my favorite movie lines ever is after Ugarte asks Rick "You despise me, don't you" Rick responds "If I gave you any thought I probably would."

LongBeachLee 4:49 PM  

@leapfinger, You're not alone on the elev vs hgt nit. It irritated me too. Also missed the petra/pnc natick, and I don't care. i give myself 100 when they throw such junk at me.

Dirigonzo 5:07 PM  

I destroyed any hope of finishing when I settled on couNCIlS as the Government groups - it had just enough right letters to make me stick with it even when nothing else would work. I nailed the rest of the grid, though.

241 - sounds like the sale pricing at the local quik-mart.

spacecraft 7:17 PM  

@DMG & other players: more failure to proofread; I was gettin tired. Can't believe I typed 5 instead of 9...what was my finger doing way over there? Anyway, that's why I typed 19a.

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