Title bird in Rimsky-Korsakov opéra / FRI 12-5-14 / Old show horse / Umami source briefly / Furry oyster cracker / Social even in no no nanette / French soliloquy starter / 2002 Denzel Washington thriller / Ancient game much studied in game theory

Friday, December 5, 2014

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging, though maybe closer to Medium if I'd been less stubborn ...



THEME: none

Word of the Day: Victor Herbert (53D: "___ Modiste" (Victor Herbert operetta)) 
Victor August Herbert (February 1, 1859 – May 26, 1924) was an Irish-born, German-raised American composercellist and conductor. Although Herbert enjoyed important careers as a cello soloist and conductor, he is best known for composing many successful operettas that premiered on Broadway from the 1890s to World War I. He was also prominent among the tin pan alley composers and was later a founder of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). A prolific composer, Herbert produced two operas, a cantata, 43 operettas, incidental music to 10 plays, 31 compositions for orchestra, nine band compositions, nine cello compositions, five violin compositions with piano or orchestra, 22 piano compositions and numerous songs, choral compositions and orchestrations of works by other composers, among other music.
In the early 1880s, Herbert began a career as a cellist in Vienna, Austria, and Stuttgart, Germany, during which he began to compose orchestral music. Herbert and his opera singer wife, Therese Förster, moved to the U.S. in 1886 when both were engaged by the Metropolitan Opera. In the U.S., Herbert continued his performing career, while also teaching at the National Conservatory of Music, conducting and composing. His most notable instrumental compositions were his Cello Concerto No. 2 in E minor, Op. 30 (1894), which entered the standard repertoire, and his Auditorium Festival March (1901). He led the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1898 to 1904 and then founded the Victor Herbert Orchestra, which he conducted throughout the rest of his life.
Herbert began to compose operettas in 1894, producing several successes, including The Serenade (1897) and The Fortune Teller (1898). Even more successful were some of the operettas that he wrote after the turn of the 20th century: Babes in Toyland (1903), Mlle. Modiste(1905), The Red Mill (1906), Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913) and Eileen (1917). After World War I, with the change of popular musical tastes, Herbert began to compose musicals and contributed music to other composers' shows. While some of these were well-received, he never again achieved the level of success that he had enjoyed with his most popular operettas.
• • •

Pretty ordinary except for the SE, where I floundered quite a bit. In retrospect, it really looks like I could've pulled myself out of the SE quicksand much faster if I'd just looked up—I had TURNED THE TA- in place in the central answer. Surely that would've been enough to see TURNED THE TABLES, which would've given me BR- at the head of 38D: Showed signs of life, which, when coupled with the smattering of crosses I think I already had, would most certainly have given me BREATHED and thus gone a long way toward opening up that corner. But I did not do that for some reason, and so BREATHED remained hidden, as did EEL (Gulper? Yeesh, no way) and MLLE. (…? I don't think I've ever even heard of Victor Herbert before today, let alone his opera with an abbr. in its title; again, yeesh, no way). BBGUNS, really hard to see. DIE LAUGHING, also Really hard to see with that clue (57A: Totally break up). So I pieced things together somewhat slowly, from OSAKA (off the "S") to OBLAST (a guess … I just know that word as a term relevant to Russian geography). So many common letters in that corner (mainly "E"s and "L"s) that the "K" from OSAKA and the "H" (!) from BREATHED ended up being really important just to get some kind of grip on how to parse those long Acrosses. Sadly, there was little that was entertaining about this struggle-corner. It is an adequate corner. Nothing wrong. But nothing great (except possibly the phrase DIE LAUGHING, whose clue I didn't really like). I felt this about most of the puzzle, actually, even though the rest of the puzzle was much easier for me—mostly adequate, partly interesting, only occasionally enjoyable.

[I saw this in the theater. I was roughly ten. I am seeing parts of it again right now for the first time in 34 years. Pretty sure it scarred me. Feels like a repressed traumatic memory. By 1980, my Bud Cort movie exposure was dangerously high. I have no idea what my mom was thinking.]

There's some gold-medal Scrabble-f***ing in the middle of this grid. When I wrote in that "Q" from COQ and then saw that the "Q" had a symmetrical "J" as its counterpart, I think I literally laughed out loud. Way to cram in those high-value tiles! That does … well, nothing to the quality of the grid. It has this superficially showy look, but the answers involved are pretty blah, even "JOHN Q" (27D: 2002 Denzel Washington thriller), a movie no one will remember but for crosswords. So depressing that STEVE CARELL gets a sad, already dated Maxwell Smart clue. He's done much better work *and* is currently an awards-season favorite for his portrayal of philanthropist / philatelist / naturalist / murderer John Eleuthère Du Pont in "Foxcatcher." He deserves better than a 2008 Maxwell Smart clue, is what I'm saying. "Daily Show"? "Crazy, Stupid, Love"? "Anchorman"? "Over the Hedge"? Holy crap, how is "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" about to turn 10 Years Old!?!? That just came out!


Otherwise, let's see … I really enjoyed 1A: "Perish the thought!" ("GOD, I HOPE NOT!").  While the rest of the grid is not bad, it's a bit dull in the long stuff and a bit creaky in the short stuff (ENE, XESIN, BIS, NOE, ATEN, NIM, ITE, TRE, IRREG, ETRE-TETE-COQ-MLLE, etc.) for my tastes.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. clue on SUN TAN OIL is quite good (31D: Browning selection?)
P.P.S. "acid"  in clues (33A), ACID- in the grid (13D)  :(

85 comments:

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

SUN screen is a much better entry than SUN TAN OIL, if only because no one's used the term sun tan oil since they all became lotions.

jae 12:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:36 AM  

This played medium-tough for me too. NE took the longest (putRIFIED?).  Plus spelling CARELL with two Rs vs. two Ls at first didn't help.  Neither did ToNEr before TENET, a couple of stabs at KNIEVEL,  and wondering why Saffron OIL wouldn't fit. 

Fun cross: OSAKA/OBLAST

WOE: BIS

Plenty of zip and Fri. tough for a change.  Liked it!  Nice on Tim!

Casco Kid 12:53 AM  

Off the chart undoable. 104 minutes until I conceded as the NE could not be entered. NW was 15 minutes, but gettable. Then 45 minutes of staring, with lots of bad guesses. Union Ward for WIFE blocked the NE. I started googling at 60 mnutes, but even that was hard.

UMass is part of MAC. Goigle was no help for getting ATEN. Wonder woman foe? i spent 10 minutes reading Wonder Woman factoids without finding a list of her enemies. Finally, I found a web site dedicated to her top 10 foes. Only one had four letters. There it is: ARES, and it knocked out [It may drop in disbelief] doW.

ARES gave me a moment of existential pause. What is this exercise for, exactly?

delivery participant: gyn, mom, nmw. DAD not clued.
traffic slower: jam, cop. ICE not really clued.
energy: VIv, erg. VIM is OK
absolutely: YESsir, YESyes, YESIDO not clued.

And the corresponding downs were teally obscure. ACIDIFIED from soured? maybe. DIVISIBLE from a number by itself? Unclued, for all intents and purposes. DEMONESS from Succubus was clued, but i couldnt see it while working with my best guess crosses.

No traction. Nothing to suss with. No fun at all.

Tim Croce reminds me of the 15 year old David Steinberg insofar as he can drive a database. There's more to constructing than that. David learned that at 16. You, Tim?

Brett Chappell 12:54 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. Took me 18 minutes, and i found the clues rather refreshing. A much better slog than Tuesday's catastrophe.

Joel Altre-Kerber 1:05 AM  

I was completely screwed by the ATEN/NIM cross. I. had. nothing.

As far as I knew, in crosswordese, ATEN was an Egyptian sun god. Pfft.

Ellen S 1:33 AM  

First puzzle in like eleventy-seven years with no cheating, period. No checking, no googling, no digging the atlas out of the recycling bin. It just fell into place for me. I needed all the crosses for ATEN, but I got them, so that's fine. DEMONESS took me a little while, I have no idea of Connecticut geography, so I needed the initial "E" but that gave me the final "E", and I refused to fill in the answer for "Gulper", but let the crosses take care of that (EEL two days in a row, very bad sign).

Very nice way to go into the weekend.

Rex needs to go to the operetta more often. Never heard of Victor Herbert? Yipes.

Moly Shu 1:48 AM  

Like @Ste. Jae, spelled STEVE's last name wrong and finished on the unknown BIS. Medium mostly, main footholds were gimmies THEO, ATEN and OSAKA (thank you useless sports knowledge), and educated guesses ORLY, ROSINS and MRED. Tried one six and Ten before BTWO.

EVELKNIEVEL was being interviewed on the Jim Rome show and the discussion was about the Snake River canyon jump. EVEL said that before the jump he figured his chances of surviving were 50-50. Jim then asked him " if you thought your chances of survival were 50-50, why do it?" EVEL's response "You know who the hell I am?"

jae 2:57 AM  

That should have been "nice one Tim"  sheesh, not sure if it's my eyes or my iPad fingers.

@Casco - Not sure if you are saying Tim relied on a computer to fill this one, but here's what he said on Xwordinfo 


Tim Croce notes: I did this one the (sort-of) good old-fashioned way — by hand. I say "sort of" because I didn't quite use pencil and graph paper, but Microsoft Excel. I think I might have singlehandedly crashed onelook.com at one point during the construction process, if not worn out the "?" key on my keyboard. This had been one of the odder crossword goals of mine, to get a freestyle hand-constructed puzzle published. I'm glad I did it, because I have gained a completely new respect for those folks who did this before computers were a thing … and for the few of those who still don't use them. It's hard to keep away from crosswordese when doing it this way.
I'd be pointing out the obvious by saying that the whole thing started with 1-Across; when you're building these things manually, you really have to have a definitive seed answer at a definitive position. Happily, Will loved the answer I put there. It progressed (slowly) from NW to NE, through the center to the SW, and then to the SE.
As the hand-constructing process goes, the black square arrangement went through myriad changes to make this thing work; I wasn't even originally planning on having a grid-spanning entry in the middle, but it just kinda worked out that way after building the NE. The SE was the painstaking part — I had to do it twice. There was one particular entry (BADASS) that I thought may have been OK for the Times, but Will didn't quite feel the same way. (There were a few other iffy entries in that corner that pushed it over the edge, too.) So, true to form, I revised it the same way (it took another four weeks, on and off) until I got it into its final form.
(Shameless plug: I'm gonna be doing my own crosswordy thing at least once a week. It's like I've given myself my own playground now!)

Anonymous 3:15 AM  

Can some one explain how "BIS" is the answer for "encore"?

jae 3:33 AM  

As long as I'm doing copy and paste tonight here goes:

@Anon3:15

Though the word encore derives from French, encore was traditionally not used this way in French, nor ancora in Italian. French speakers commonly use instead either une autre (‘another’), un rappel (‘a return, curtain call’) or the Latin bis (‘second time’) in the same circumstances. Italians also use bis and, formerly, da capo (‘from the beginning’).

Casco Kid 4:35 AM  

@jae thanks for quoting Tim's comments in xwordinfo. In retrospect, I was unfair in my criticism. Tim didn't use rappers names or lyrics with constructor friendly spellings. He used a lot of foreign laguage (Russian, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Sanskrit) but that's all fair. JOHNQ is the only made-up name. The high density of esoteric content made it unsussable for me. Google helped a lot. I used 13 googles before the ungooglable NE shut me down.

Tuesdays ZEBU and friends were sussable without googles in 25 min. This one? DOA.

It cost me nearly two hours of waking time, and now at least as much of sleep. I need to care less.

George Barany 5:06 AM  

Congratulations to my friend @Tim Croce not only on this New York Times puzzle, but also on the launch of his own crossword site.

As @Rex has slyly hinted, @Tim took a circuitous route to clue the rather simple MLLE. Many of you will be surprised by how many Victor Herbert tunes you've already heard. I've been poking around the internet for the past half hour trying without success to find a free video clip of the torture scene from Woody Allen's "Bananas" -- this is where the bound prisoner finally spills the secrets after being forced to listen over and over to "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life" from "Naughty Marietta." So here's the next best I can offer, a clip of the same song from a Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald film.

Finally, the chemist in me needs to point out a missed cross-cluing opportunity with BORIC and ACIDIFIED. But overall, kudos @Tim on an eclectic combination of words and phrases, along with some particularly tough cluing.

Anonymous 5:42 AM  

Excellent. Only two head scratchers: mlle/msg and coq/johnq crosses. Mostly, the clues were way above average.

I enjoyed reading the constructor's comments about handmade puzzles. Thanks for posting that. Not that 1 is an adequate sample size but we can see the difference between a handmade puzzle and the computer generated puzzles we have been accustomed to playing. No dreck, no CMI.

A memorable week. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something!

Zippy.

GILL I. 6:26 AM  

I miss Berke BREATHED. Where are you now John Cutter and Opus? thanks for the reminder @Rex...and George...I must have seen that movie a million times. I was in LOVE with that ANIMAL Nelson Eddy! Thanks for the link!
I rather enjoyed the puzzle. I also, like my pal @Ellen S, was able to complete without a Google. There were lots of guesses like ITUNESSTORE and DAD and a few oops like MARE instead of MRED and VEDIC instead of SHIVA but I finished feeling all COQ(y)... and happy.
I enjoy Tim's cluing and just loved his OTTER...YES I DO. BIS, BIS to you!

Danp 7:00 AM  

I have never understood umami. Soy? tomatoes? meat? mushrooms? I just can't find the common taste element. So I could only laugh at MSG. We're talking Accent here, right? Doesn't that have a salty taste?

GILL I. 7:05 AM  

@Danp....I think the source of umami could very well be Madison Square Gardens!

Conrad 7:17 AM  

I kept trying to figure how "chris christie" could fit in 16A.

Janna 7:32 AM  

This puzzle kicked our butts but we didn't cheat. Interesting and challenging.

Danield 8:34 AM  

Had to work for this one! Agree with anonymous 5:42...tough 6 days after some complaints about prior weeks' cream puff puzzles. Worry what tomorrow will bring. Liked Rex's tangential rant about Steve Carell and the Maxwell Smart clue--whatever.

Carola 8:40 AM  

Tough and fun. In haste, as we must again hit the road, heading back from the warm Southeast to the land of ICE....was happy to see Russian novel reading pay off with OBLAST, was surprised at BIS (have read it, but to people really say it?), had to erase Sesame OIL. Doing the puzzle online instead of in the newspaper showed me I had a DNF (NOa x STEVE CARRaLL - shoulda known that). Seemed like lots of French today - ETRE, NOE, BIS, TETE, COQ, MLLE, even NON :)

AliasZ 8:40 AM  


I had great fun with this one, as I usually do with Tim Croce puzzles.

What on earth is a TEADANCEr?
When the phone rings, have to answer
After two rings - TREERINGS irk us -
"Let's go see a three-ring circus."

"Why not? Hurry, get there orly,
Take a flight from Paris, ORLY."
"A-TEN, B-TWO, which gate is it
For the flight, our circus visit?"

'Twas my first time, and I hope last.
Before we crashed, I yelled: "OBLAST!"
ROSINS, WIT, VIM and SUNTAN OIL
Saved my skin, and that of my goil.

Say what, you ask? I said if I'd
Croaked, we'd be both ACIDIFIED.
When we got to Coral Gables,
We'd already TURNED THE TABLES.

Since then we're in-DIVISIBLE,
Even our scars: invisible.
Later on we tied the (loop) knot,
But forever? -- GOD, I HOPE NOT.

Then we saw, at last, this EVEL
(Named for rhyming with KNIEVEL)
Do his bike tricks that were daring
To a song by Bobby DARIN.

Should have been the suite "Le COQ d'or"
By Rimsky, which we all adore,
And Korsakov,
Of course-akov.

Enough! No more of this gaffing,
I don't want you to DIE LAUGHING.
Thank you Tim, and happy Friday!
I want my eggs to be fried, eh?

Generic Solver 8:50 AM  

Finally, a good old slug-it-out traditional, somewhat challenging crossword with lots of interesting words and no annoying gimmicks such as Scrabble combinations to cycle through, grids that are themselves meaningful "pictures" that somehow justify a mediocre puzzle, etc.. Call me a purist, but for me, it's puzzles such as this one, where the focus is totally on the words themselves and deciphering clever cluing, that are the most gratifying to solve.

John Child 9:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 9:15 AM  

Lol @AliasZ, you misspelled DIE GROANING. A bit on the tough side here. I wrestled hard with the SE and then filled in the last blank up top, the C is oscine and Carell. I was pleased to get the victory melody.

So many lovely clues: [Old show horse] begging for stud, [Part of a large kingdom], [Causing street rumbles], long jumper, coming-out day, [Early text messager], and the best, [Furry oyster cracker]. Nothing could have made me dislike this puzzle after that. Thanks Mr Croce.

Josh 9:30 AM  

This one was tough to crack and ended up taking me ten minutes longer than a Friday typically does. The NW went down in under a minute, and I was foolishly thinking to myself, "I'm going to crush this thing!" Worked my way through the middle, had XESIN and WIFE, and just froze.

Had the D-----GHING for 57-Across and thought for sure it must be a mistake, since I could think of no word that could possibly end in those letters.

I really liked the big NW and SE corners.

Mr. Croce's first themeless on his site is, overall, a better puzzle. Definitely worth checking out. I love that there will be one more good puzzle to do every week.

indivisible 9:32 AM  

Is zero DIVISIBLE by itself? Clue should be "almost" any number. Better clue, more accurate answer.
Very enjoyable Friday--challenging but doable, some great long answers. Much appreciated.

Sir Hillary 9:34 AM  

@John Child just beat me to it...the clue for OTTER is wonderful.

I dropped in ITUNESSTORE and STEVECARELL right away, so the NW fell quick. But the rest was Friday-hard and then some. Like @Rex, I dredged up OBLAST from my brain's nether regions, but I was doubting how -B-UN- could be anything. Just couldn't see it.

The NE was the last to fall, and it took forever. I ran the alphabet three times on SE- [Secure, with "up] before finally realizing it was SEW -- yikes! The BIS / DEMONESS cross with the last letter in.

I'm calling this one a winner.

Joseph Welling 9:48 AM  

@ Danp:

The salty taste of MSG is the sodium part. Umami is the glutamate taste. (If you can imagine the taste of MSG minus the saltiness.)

Charles Flaster 9:49 AM  

Big time DNF.Love TC puzzles but this one was very good or very bad.
Loved clues for DIE LAUGHING, TREE RINGS ,DIVISIBLE, TURNED THE TABLES, and OTTER.
Had issues with ATEN as the football team is in the MAC.
XES IN, YES I DO, and RELEASE DATE (did not need need the ? ) all did not sit well with me.
Missed OSAKA and that really would have helped. I do not GOOGLE so it was a disastrous ride all the way through.
DIVISIBLE was the perfect misdirection and loved it as stated before.
Thanks T C.

quilter1 9:54 AM  

Toughish for me but I worked it all out. One of those go away and come back and aha puzzles.

jberg 10:01 AM  

Good point, @indivisible.

I swear, looking at the space for 2D, some unconscious part of my mind had me thinking OTTER before I realized that it worked as an answer. That's why I liked this puzzle so much, I think.

But really ... you pretty much had to know French, I guess; and I don't think OBLASTs have anything near the autonomy of Canadian provinces.

Lots of great clues, but some pretty obscure ones, too (yeah, ARES, and you too, OSCINE).

@Casco, you were channeling @Rex there, on one of his negative days, for a bit. It's true that there were multiple possible answers for many clues, but that's what the crosses are for, right? I had TEA party before DANCE, but was saved by CIGs, and validated by Bobby DARIN. All part of the fun.

@George Barany, thanks for the video clip! When I was maybe 10 years old (early 1950s), there were a lot of jokes about the ubiquity of Nelson Eddy, but I don't think I've ever heard or seen him before.

As for Victor Herbert, I'm very familiar with his work, but not with MLLE Modiste. Fortunately, I misread the clue as Victor Hugo, so I knew I was looking for something French!

Nancy 10:14 AM  

I agree with everyone who found it tough, challenging and enjoyable and who found the NE toughest of all. Wanted MOM for 12A, but couldn't get her to fit. Then went to UPS, thinking that 12D was UN-something-or-other and that 13D was therefore PUTRIFIED instead of ACIDIFIED. That gave me YESIRE (an awful answer, but one you sometimes do find in puzzles) instead of YES I DO. Eventually worked it all out in that section.
Other sections: never heard of JOHN Q, but got it with the help of JAW, GOWNS and COQ. Took me forever to figure out RELEASE DATE (a great opaque clue). Agree with those who don't think MSG is remotely umami. In fact I would clue MSG: "Unhealthy, pointless flavoring agent."

Maruchka 10:18 AM  

Mon dieu, quel difficile! (Hi @Carola) Et OBLAST, M. Croce.

Liked a lot, tho solving involved do-overs and MLLE. Google. Early YOU BET for YES I DO, SATVA for SHIVA, who's THEO Fleury? and what's NIM? Wanted 'go' but DNF.

Fav of the day - GIST. Tres beau.

@Sir Hillary, @John Child - 2D made me tee-HEE, too. Did Nabisco add a new texture?

@Alias Z - I could DIE LAUGHING. Tanks!

Bobby Darin popularized Tim Hardin's song, but Tim did the better version (altho 'Reason to Believe' is a finer ballad). Here's a link to Tim at Woodstock:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93f7vSt70hM

BTW: Don't know why my links aren't highlighted and clickable. Do I need to add sumpin'?

picking nit 10:18 AM  

Yeah I agree that zero is not divisible by itself. Otherwise great puzzle.

Casco Kid 10:35 AM  

@jberg I had volvo for NADER. Then honda. I guessed DARIN off the D, but nissan wouldn't fit, so I got rid of DARIN. japan for OSAKA. sovieT was as close as I came to OBLAST, but it couldn't be that. maa(?)c for ATEN. I wanted to smoke out a rat, not a BEE, and I guessed Shakespeare's comparison referred to hair on a bat, not WIT. A sixth of diciotto =ToE (?!) had me thinking about 6-toed Maine coons. When TRE came out on the 3rd time running the alphabet, giving me diciotto=18 (in Italian, probably!) I considered it a massive victory. OTTER was fun, but needed most crosses that were contingent on lucky guesses.

I had my A game going, and it was way short. Hence the existential riff and a lingering anomie that carries to the this moment. I am in the wrong room.

Questinia 10:43 AM  

Oh, the phenomenology of doing a crossword puzzle!

Flew through until I hit the south. Like an air-water interface, the OSAKA, OBLAST, MLLE, DIE LAUGHING, etc... area kept drowning me.

I do the puzzle when it comes out 10PM, 11Pm-ish NY time. Because I allow myself to get timed and placed on the scoreboard I see myself routinely go from double digits to triple and beyond into the imaginary numbers. Fridays generally take me from 10- 20 minutes. That's when there was no available scoreboard or when I do archived puzzles and don't think of the scoreboard. This took 23:21. So I guess that would mean challenging? Or choking?

I TOTALLY understand @ Casco's *existential pause*, but mine would be more *existential guilt*. Maybe they're the same.

Hopefully it's just a phase and I will learn to drop the clock and pick up the compass like I do elsewhere.

@ chefwen, have meant to thank you for those wonderful cake recipes from a while back.

OK, feeling better.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

Good puzzle.

Took me almost an hour. Almost gave up with a lot of white space in the SE, but then decided to press on, ultimately finished with just one write-over at 49 D, SWAMI before SHIVA.

rutterj2 10:59 AM  

Casco Kid sounds awfully bitter, ha! You'll get'em next time.

Maruchka 11:08 AM  

@Casco - I have a polydactyl, black and white, non-Maine coon. She's smaller and less puffy but, can she use all twelve! Cat-cher's mitts, indeed.

Anoa Bob 11:16 AM  

Re 14 Down "Succubus, e.g.", I always thought of her as more of a seductress rather than a DEMONESS, having first heard of her as a spirit that visits males during their sleep and causes nocturnal emissions. (Would "Succubus" be a good brand name for a new erectile dysfunction med? How about "Incubus" to treat female sexual arousal dysfunction?)

Solid puzzle, though I'm not sure I agree with anon@5:42 that puzzles constructed manually are inherently superior, fill-wise, to those done using computer software. I think it's more a matter of time, effort and dedication, and a willingness to work and rework areas of the grid, rather than how it was constructed, that determines the overall quality of the final product.

mac 11:31 AM  

Good Friday, I enjoyed the puzzle, although almost impossible in some little spots.

Now I have the earworm "If I were a carpenter...".

I have a tube of Umami paste in front of me, which was made of:
tomato paste, garlic, anchovy paste, black olives, balsamic vinegar, dehydrated Porcini mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, citric acid, olive oil, wine vinegar, sugar, salt.

I ordered it online about a year ago, haven't it opened it yet.

pb 11:37 AM  

Challenging and fun. I felt it was Friday-worthy.

Leapfinger 12:05 PM  

I looked up images of "the auspicious one" and was confirmed in my suspicions: while some depictions show him standing or dancing, most are of the sitting SHIVA.

OISK 12:08 PM  

Really enjoyed the challenge, although I expected some folks to grouse over the "excessive" use of French and Italian - Tete, Noe, Orly, Tre, all in the NW. Not a problem for me, but had the clues required Spanish, it might have defeated me. The first answer I wrote in was "MLLE." Glad to see Victor Herbert mentioned, and since the most famous tune from "No no Nanette" was "Tea for two," I eventually got "Tea Dance." (I wrote "Tea party" first!) And an opera reference (Le Coq D'or) too! I don't like product clues, but I used "complete my album" on I Tunes yesterday, so I got that one. (The album was Diana Damrau, if anyone is interested - singing mostly operetta)

It was the SE that stumped me for a long time, making this my slowest Friday in months. Osaka? Oh, A Japanese baseball team. I had tried Omaha, and Sitka. Tried Skeets instead of BBguns. Didn't recall how to spell Evelknievel, got really stymied by the clever clue for "camel," didn't know "Oblast," DID know "Gie" (Would some pow'r the giftie gie us…) And then, the way it happens in the best and most rewarding of puzzles, it all fell in! Thanks, Mr. Croce!!

old timer 12:33 PM  

Ah, comme je voudrais ETRE a ORLY pour manger un COQ au vin au restaurant. "BIS, BIS!" je dirais.

The puzzle struck me as more French than it actually was, thanks to the two French words in the NE. I thought it was about medium for a Friday. Guesswork took the place of Googling today. But it was actually a DNF for me, because I forgot to write in that Q in COQ (and had forgotten about JOHNQ -- SUSIEQ I would have gotten easily. Probably I would have gotten that Q if I had gone through the alphabet a second time.

Leapfinger 12:41 PM  

@AliasZ, Close, but NON-CIGar!! I see that somewhere between the RO SINS and the XE SIN, you found the ICE to come up with some riming SINS. Today's effort could result in an eviction notice, you know, so you might begin looking for a RE-LEASE DATE.

BIS to wit, at least you aren't BORIC us!

Lewis 12:59 PM  

Great workout, with terrific cluing, such as those for GOWNS, MRED, TREERINGS, XESIN, DIVISIBLE, DIELAUGHING, and SUNTANOIL. I love the bunching of I's in 12D and 13D. Learned OSCINE and OBLAST. Rex has pointed out the grid gruel, and there's more of that than ideal, IMO. But there are some lively answers too: GODIHOPENOT, TURNEDTHETABLES, DIELAUGHING. Solid, Mr. Tim. BIS!

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Tea for Two is by Victor Youmans.

r.alphbunker 1:29 PM  

@Leapfinger
You might be interested in M&A's latest.

@Mac
Had the earworm during the solve. I associate Darin with the fifties and knew this song was after that which made it hard for me to put his name on the person singing in my head.

RooMonster 1:36 PM  

Hey All !
Tough Fripuz over here. Had only white space in the SE and only STEVE CARreL and a smattering of answers in the NW. Had the SW and middle done, NE mostly, ACIDI__E_ only one not complete. So a large marge type of DNF.

Wanted for riboflavin, vitb, then Bvit, then Bsix, which gave me veilS. Finally sussed GOWNS, which led to BTWO, which led to DOC, which is what I wanted for that answer but couldn't make it fit.

@EllenS, EEL three days in a row. PB 2 had one in his Wednesday Puz.

Looking forward to ample use of the Check Puzzle feature tomorrow!!

With VIM and swaths of whiteness
RooMonster
DarrinV

Fred Romagnolo 1:44 PM  

What's the diff between resin and rosin? Or are they simply interchangeable? I was thinking of a performer for "made a comeback." e.g. Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard." Norma Desmond resented the term and insisted it was a "return." I loved all the French and Italian and "bis,"not so crazy about the names of the various avatars of Vishnu. I wanted ToNEr for TENET, and didn't know the Hockey player so a DNF. I agree with @Rex about Carell, why pick a loser nobody remembers when he's done more memorable work, I'd say the same for Denzel Washington.

Fred Romagnolo 2:06 PM  

@Mathguy: as for yesterday, @Anon 5:16 pretty much sums up my feelings. I enjoy crosswords, but don't want to have to do all kinds of extra thinking, like anagrams, etc., especially 3-way ones. It's just a question of personal preference.

Leapfinger 2:09 PM  

Lovely solve (for a themeless).

Ran it in the classic Steinberg Z-formation, with an OTTER start that had me DIE LAUGHING, and a SE finish when all the remaining blanks unexploded pretty much simultaneously. Did try DONT[even]THINKIT for GODIHOPENOT, and waffled on TEE vs HEE. Also agree that the ATEN-BTWO combo should have been DpSIXed ...Almost Naticked on square 43. [Tho that's NADER here nor there.]

I think it was 'passerine' that made me enter OSSINE at first, but then I realized the unknown-to-me STEVE SARELL was probably the somewhat-known STEVE CARELL. Didn't he play the 40-year-old who'd never taken a WIFE, as well as a modern-day NOE who built an Arche for le COQ et touts les ANIMAux? So, a minor subtheme, NON?

Anyway, that all led me to check out passerine, and I discovered that 'a notable feature of passerine [birds] is the arrangement of their toes which facilitates perching.'(Wiki) So a NENE would not be a passerine.

Liked the 'Show/Showed signs of life' clues, and, like Berke BREATHED's Bill the Cat [hi @Gilly!] went Aack! at the Gulper EEL -- very impressive JAWS!

At an ORLY age, I began reading a lot of Alexandre Dumas (pere), a most prolific writer; his son, Dumas fils, wrote little, and never did complete the middle Eastern version of his major opus, La Dame aux CAMEL.

Another nice surprise in the grid: after the recent discussion here of The Imitation Game, it was a pleasure to see TURiNgED THE TABLES crossing Alan TuREERING. IMO, a movie worth seeing.

Back to the reel world now.

mathguy 2:15 PM  

A better (i.e. correct) clue for DIVISIBLE might be "Like any negative number by itself." It's a little bit of a curve ball because positive numbers have the same property.

Lewis 2:20 PM  

Factoid: In Japan, until 1898, when a woman became a WIFE, all of her property such as land or money passed to her husband except for personal clothing and a mirror stand.

Quotoid: "This country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies." -- Ralph NADER

OISK 2:24 PM  

Anonymous said...
Tea for Two is by Victor Youmans.

1:22 PM

Thanks for adding that. My earlier post may have given the impression that I thought it was by Victor Herbert, who wrote Mlle Modiste . (and The Red Mill, a personal favorite.) Not the case, of course, and No No Nanette is a much more "modern" musical than the Herbert operettas are. I have a record of "Tea for Two" sung in German, but the lyric to "Tea for two and two for tea" is "Wenn ein Madel 'Ja' gesagt" which translated to "If a girl said 'Yes' "

mathguy 2:45 PM  

It just occurred to me that I've never seen NIM (43D) discussed in my (limited) study of game theory. I just pulled A Gentle Introduction to Game Theory by Saul Stahl out of my book shelf. It doesn't consider Nim. The games considered in game theory aren't games in the normal sense. Game theory doesn't analyze checkers, chess, Monopoly, or Scrabble, for example. The games studied in game theory are represented by matrices where one player chooses a row and the other a column. They are the sort of thing that John Nash studied in A Beautiful Mind.

I taught Nim in 8th grade using the first of the New Math textbooks. There is a winning strategy based on writing the number of coins in the two piles in base two.

Z 2:49 PM  

I was there for the births of all three of my sons, including the emergency c-section of the first, and would not presume to call myself a "participant." "A highly interested bystander" or maybe even "moral support." Maybe. I get this urge to slap couples who insist on saying things like "when we deliver." Of course, it then occurs to me that life will deliver its own rude awakening without any help from me and the urge goes where it belongs.

@indivisible - Hmm.... Is "zero" a number, then?

BORI CARLOFF 3:09 PM  

@Moly Shu, sounds as if you need to buy o' tin of B-Complex vitamins!

@Anoa Bob, I don't think any ED drug should start with Succu-anything, tyvm.

Kosonom

AliasZ 3:30 PM  


@ leapy,

Forgive my verse, as it defied
Logic, fresh or ACIDIFIED.

I agree, "The Imitation Game" is a special must see movie that we have not stopped thinking and talking about since we saw it.

ROSINS to fiddlesticks are what chalks are to cue sticks. Here are two fiddles plus basso continuo playing one of the many Sonate a TRE by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713).


Masked and Anonymo3Us 4:26 PM  

Just a brief note for those of U that depend on my mostly-daily U-count stats. har

Best weeject: Tough, tough call. Either GIE or NOE. Honrable mention to COQ DOC combo.

Best medium-range desperation: XESIN. Absolutely necessary, to rescue the DEMONESS.

Best long-range desperation: TEADANCE. A weeny price to pay for ENE, ATEN, and CIG. I want a TOMTIT at my TEADANCE, btw. [Said with left pinkie elevated slightly.] I am so over PEWIT.

Fun, hand-made FriPuz. themelessthUmbsUp.

M&A

**gruntz meta series -- turn back, before it is too late**

Leapfinger 6:21 PM  

@r.alph, which M&A puzzle are you referring to? I've been away and haven't had a chance to visit the runtz this past week; there's a nUmber of nU ones.

You know I find them all intrigUing.

GILL I. 6:53 PM  

@Z....The one that makes me go No Way In Hell is "WE are pregnant"...I wish!

Teedmn 6:56 PM  

Loved this puzzle - a classic Friday solve with plenty of aha moments, head-slaps and appreciative murmurs at the clever clues.

With GIE, I wanted DIE LAUGHING right away but the M of MSG made me take both of those out. When I made my circuitous way back to that corner, I had the aha on MLLE. and got to put them both back in.

My downfall was DylaN for DARIN. So the SW was hardest for me. But no Googles today so very satisfying. Thanks, Tim Croce!

RAD2626 7:59 PM  

Wicked hard as they would say in Boston. Liked that DIE LAUGHING ( would "humorous demise maybe?" be too easy?) crossed with LIVE, GUNS, and SHIVA. OTTER was a clever clue I would not have gotten as a standalone in a MLLEnium.

Nancy 8:29 PM  

@OISK -- re TEA FOR TWO lyrics. I assume they were written first in English and then translated (very loosely) into German. Or was it vice versa? Because the English lyrics have always struck me as pretty lame and the German version you quoted seems much spicier. Just curious.

Nancy 8:30 PM  

@OISK -- re TEA FOR TWO lyrics. I assume they were written first in English and then translated (very loosely) into German. Or was it vice versa? Because the English lyrics have always struck me as pretty lame and the German version you quoted seems much spicier. Just curious.

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

@Z, I get the same urge, which doesn't always go away. Have heard delivery described as similar to pulling your lower lip up over the top of you head. Think about it.
Happy Labor Day!

Is 'wicked hard particular to the Boston area? I've heard it often enough, and never lived aroun there.

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

I never do a Friday puzzle in less than an hour.

Except this one (59 minutes).

Except I misspelled Steve Carell's name (never heard of Orly, yeah I should have gotten Noe).

So DNF, but I still feel some pride at getting what I got.

shari 9:25 PM  

Well, now I know. (Snarky me).

Hartley70 12:23 AM  

Ended the day with this torture chamber. I'm with @Casco all the way. It was beyond googling in the NE.

@Anonymous 9pm Yes, "wicked" is used in the Boston area and also in RI. Thankfully I haven't heard it in CT or VT. That leaves Maine and NH and my guess is that NH has been contaminated, at least the southern part. @Casco can answer for Maine.

Hartley70 12:33 AM  

Oh wait, LLBean uses it in their catalogue so Maine is a goner too. Can you tell how much it irritates me? Actually more than today's puzzle.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Perhaps I am being dense, but can anyone explain IRREG as an appropriate answer for 24 down (like "come" and "go"; Abbr.)

Bob Kerfuffle 1:12 PM  

Both are IRREGular verbs.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

Thank you Bob.

Amelia 4:46 PM  

So let me get this straight. Professors of English no longer have to have a body of knowledge that includes cultural or literary examples from before their time. I've lost track of the number of gaps in your knowledge. At least you admit it. I'll give you that.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Hope you feel less grouchy after this holiday season!C

spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Do I find this tough and challenging? YESIDO. Enjoyable? Not so much. Couple clues that bother me:

-->"Get A (emphasis mine) share of" for INVEST. No. You might, if you're a VERY small-time dabbler, get 100 shares of something. A share? Uh-uh. Bad clue.

--> "NATIONAL (again, emphasis mine) coming-out day?" for RELEASEDATE. What about this clue/answer has to do with "national?" Word does not belong in the clue; serves only to misdirect.

Either of these two is flag-worthy. Ah, but there's more. Never a big fan of single letters combined with written-out numbers, I had to endure ATEN and BTWO in one grid (!), to say nothing of the horrid XESIN!

Still, I finished all but two squares in the NW (even letting the headscratching BIS (?) in place). I was never going to get the French soliloquy starter or that weird boat (I see now it must be "Noah's ark" in some foreign tongue), and ITUNESShaRE seemed reasonable. Never thought of "STORE," a word that evokes in me brick-and-mortar.

Ugly, ugly, ugly. And though GODIHOPENOT--the exact line said by Audrey Hepburn as Regina Lampert when Cary Grant as...well, whoever at the moment...asked if there was more than one Mr. Lampert in the first scene of "Charade"--was a cool entry, it's not nearly enough. D-.

170. Close!

rondo 2:05 PM  

This is the kind of challenge I like. Everything sussable one way or another. Yeah, a few clues were maybe not quite where they should have been, but close enough for me.
Not many write-overs except that I was doing this during lunch and put 17a STEVECARELL on the 15a line so things look messier than they shoould have.
Since the WIFE is from Russia, OBLAST was a gimmee.
Last letter to go in was the M of MLLE, which almost became an E for eLLE, until I recalled the French abbr. And of course what's eSG??
Anyway, I will take a puz like this any Friday. Please.

I'm DARIN to say I won't get a number today:
YESIDO!!! 132 - won't beat @spacey

P.S. Poor Casco Kid.

eastsacgirl 2:58 PM  

Toughie for me especially parts of NE & SE. Left with a few incomplete squares but not as bad as I thought was going to be at first glance. Is Saturday going to be harder? GODIHOPENOT

DMG 3:03 PM  

This one beat me. Just couldn't do the North, West and East! Hampered in the West by misspelling Steve's last name and thinking maybe the Ark held a tOr(ah). Anyway, I never got 1A. In the East I tried UPS, jam, and YESsir, all of which led to a mess in the upper 9 squares. Sometimes it's just time to quit!

103 No luck here, either!

rain forest 5:19 PM  

I just about gave up after getting all the NW, but soldiered on, slowly, nipping away one letter at a time until it just--unfolded. Love when that happens.

I know some French, but I would never have got BIS on its own. Needed every cross, as I did for OSCINE, but those crosses were easy.

I liked this challenge a lot.

Captcha has my number(s), cuz I sure don't.

leftcoastTAM 6:42 PM  

Tough, but got 95% of it. Best clue: "Browning selection," SUN TAN OIL. Worst clue: "Chuckle bit." HEE, as in tee-hee, really a bit of a giggle, not a bit of a chuckle, heh or hah. Questionable: No "abbr." in clue for MLLE.

KariSeattle 8:28 PM  

Sheesh! I sucked at this one!
Only the nw was doable for me.
Sunday will be my reprieve, I hope.
Go Hawks!

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