Boito's Mefistofele eg / FRI 4-10-15 / Roman general who defeated Hannibal / City between Citrus Springs Silver Springs / Yogi's utterances / Locks Great Lakes connectors / Red Scare target / Rossini's final opera / Old Italian nobles / Movie genre parodied in 2011's Rango

Friday, April 10, 2015

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: "SABOTEUR" (16A: 1942 Hitchcock thriller) —
Saboteur is a 1942 Universal spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock with a screenplay written by Peter ViertelJoan Harrison and Dorothy Parker. The film stars Priscilla LaneRobert Cummings and Norman Lloyd.
This film should not be confused with an earlier Hitchcock film with a similar title, Sabotage(also known as The Woman Alone) from 1936[too late] (wikipedia)
• • •

Grid seems competent enough, but there were too many long giveaways in this one, which made the whole solving experience a not-terribly-interesting walk in the park. One of those parks that maybe has a trail around a large pond. A few trees. Some old barbecues and park benches. And that's about it. Fine, if your needs are limited, but not somewhere you'd go to truly enjoy yourself. EDIE FALCO = massive gimme. IRENE CARA = same. You could've stopped the 36-Across clue at [Ricky Martin hit…] and I'd've gotten "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA." That's too much territory to just give away so easily. And it's not like the grid has any scintillating parts to recommend it. It handles its longish answers pretty smoothly, that's true, but no one's writing home about CONTESSAS and PERMALLOY (whatever that is).

I had this thing pegged as easy and overly straightforward from the beginning, when I guessed BASSO / OATER, and then filled in all the first Downs in the NW, in order, off of just their last letters—like so:

I like blowing through a Friday as much as the next person—makes you feel powerful!—but I like to at least have a few moments where I ooh and aah at the scenery, no matter how fast it's going by. Today, there was no real scenery (though the staggerstack of long Downs in the middle is quite nice). The only bumps in the road were entirely self-made. Presented with SABOT- I immediately wrote in "SABOTAGE" for the Hitchcock film. Not sure if this was an intentional trap, but it's a good one, as Hitchcock directed both "SABOTAGE" (1936) and (today's correct answer) "SABOTEUR" (1942). But I hung on to the wrong answer only briefly, as it was Clearly wrong. Took me longer than it ought to have to get MUHAMMAD ALI (14D: Who said "My only fault is that I don't realize how great I really am"). I even had the MUHA- and could think only of MUHA … TMA GHANDI? Hmmm, doesn't seem like something he'd say. MUHA… RAJAH? Not even sure that's a thing. Made things worse for myself by going with ELLES instead of MLLES at 26A: Misses in Marseille: Abbr. If I'd just stuck around long enough to read the end of that damned clue … but no matter. All this was worked out easily enough, and nothing else in the puzzle offered much resistance. Well, PERMALLOY, a little, but just a little. 


  • 21A: ___ Brickowski ("The Lego Movie" protagonist) (EMMET) — A reader tweeted at me that choosing this clue over sad hobo clown Kelly was very 21st century. I noted that their names are actually spelled differently (two Ts for Emmett Kelly). Not that many famous one-T Kellys. Just this guy, I think:
"Emmet Fox (July 30, 1886 – August 13, 1951) was a New Thought spiritual leader of the early 20th century, famous for his large Divine Science church services held in New York City during the Great Depression." 
  • 37D: 2019 Pan American Games site (LIMA) — I had them in LAOS. You develop certain reflexive tendencies when you solve a ton of puzzles over many decades. I knew LAOS felt a little too … large … to be a "site," but my fingers didn't care. In it went.
  • 10D: Magnetizable nickel-iron combo (PERMALLOY) — Turns out you can pronounce it both ways, in case you're wondering, though perm-ALLoy seems to be preferred. I can't even believe "PERma-loy" is allowed. My guess is that people just couldn't stop themselves saying it (by analogy with permafrost, perma soft, perma shave, etc.), and it stuck as an acceptable variant. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS if you do the puzzle online right when it comes out, feel free to tell me what you think needs discussing (via Twitter @rexparker) (#heyrex)


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me only because I got hung up on spelling MUHAMMAD which slowed down seeing LIVIN LA VIDA LOCA.  The rest went quickly.  Yesterday's was tougher as was BEQ's Thursday medium (still staring at a square or two on that one). 

This was off to a promising start with BOOGIE but never mustered up much steam after that except for maybe LIVIN LA... , or what @Rex said.


Fun Fact:  The Beach Boys "Fun, Fun, Fun" has exactly the same guitar intro as "Johnny B. GOODE" but I don't think anyone got sued.  Maybe because Chuck Berry stole the intro from Louis Jordan's  "Ain't That Just Like a Woman" and nobody got sued there either?

Liked it but it needed more crunch, or what @Rex said.

wreck 12:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:10 AM  

Perma shave? Nyuk nyuk nyuk.......

Easy. Really easy. Played like a really hard Tuesday IMO. Rex this time is spot on. Not a lot to be thrilled by but a competently dome walk in the park.

Anyone else have raHm eMAnuel for 14D? Didn't think so......

Florida city - OCALA. Who cares what it's between? It's the only Florida crossword city - like ESSEN in Germany.

Thanks, Mr. Phillips.

wreck 12:12 AM  

I agree that perhaps this was too easy for a Friday, but I need to feel "powerful" every once in awhile! I only had a glitch in the SW, as I had to get Alger Hiss with the crosses and I had SNITS, instead of SNIPS (I somehow thought you could be a "snit"). For 1A I had ALIGHT until 44A turned out to be ALIT.
I thought this one was well made and fun.

Carola 12:18 AM  

I'm with @Rex and @jae - On this walk in the park I encountered a couple of MOLEHILLS of resistance (IRENE CARA, PERMALLOY x EMMET), but it was over too soon.

For me, WIRE FENCE has a green paint tinge. I liked LIMA + BEANO.

Whirred Whacks 12:26 AM  

Fast indeed: Less than half the time as yesterday's "Who's on first?" puzzle.

"SABOTEUR" was just on TCM. ALGER HISS and SCIPIO were gimmes for me.

Liked ACRONYM and BOTCH as answers, and "peer group" as a clue for EYES.

@OISK will hate BEANO and ORBIT as answers (product names).

Zeke 12:30 AM  

I wanted SNOTS for 43D. Seriously, when was the last time someone called a genuinely snotty kid a SNIP? They're SNOTS, universally. The clue for 7A, ONSPEC was wrong in every conceivable way save for that pesky one, that of being factually correct. All work performed ONSPEC is, of course, without a contract. Nonetheless, that misses the whole point of its being done ONSPEC, i.e. without a client.

Moly Shu 1:31 AM  

Yep, very easy for a Friday, ALI, FALCO, CARA, LOCA, even ACRONYM and ONSPEC, straight in, no crosses. Liked it.

@RetiredChemist, boca and raton may slightly disagree with you.

@Rex, thank you, thank you for the Beastie Boys video starring Nathan Wind as Cochise, aka MCA, may he rest in peace. Made my day.

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

I really really wanted BARACK OBAMA for 14D.

Steve J 2:28 AM  

Agreed this was easy for a Friday, although I got stuck for a while in the NE because I drew an inexplicable blank on EDIE FALCO.

Nothing thrilling in this one, but there was also nothing that was questionable or painful. Solid if unexciting.

@Moly Shu: Agreed. One of my favorite videos ever.

@Z from yesterday: Sometimes, the tar baby is irresistible.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

@anon 1:44 funny!

Have to agree with Rex on the rating, any Friday puzzle that I can finish without cheating has to be easy.

Liked the clue 34A many of our anons are guilty of this, I'm looking at you grammer nazi.

George Barany 2:47 AM  

Kudos to @David Phillips on his 7th New York Times puzzle overall, and 3rd Friday, in the roughly year and a half since his debut. I had to laugh at @Rex's description of my neighborhood (Falcon Heights, Minnesota) park, in which I go for leisurely walks several times a week once the snow is completely gone (i.e., fingers crossed, starting next week).

Despite being a chemist, PERMALLOY was a personal WOE, especially given that it crossed another WOE: a character in a movie that is no longer on my "must-take-children-to" list, given that they are both grown young adults. Off the A and the fact it was four letters, I had a brief hiccough (remember the Tuesday theme?) on 37-Down: IOWA (insert joke about the Gophers' Big Ten rivals from the Hawkeye State) before LIMA (makes more sense for Pan American Games, and it's hard enough to remember venues of past sporting events, let alone ones that are scheduled for the future).

To @jae, you raise a fascinating point. This relatively short clip compares the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" with Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" -- that one actually went to court, and resulted in Chuck getting composer credit and considerable royalties for the later song. Plenty more about this particular song combo, and others that are "too similar to be a coincidence," on the internet.

chefwen 2:47 AM  

Oops! That left me wide open for correction , try grammar. Damn auto correct.

chefwen 2:51 AM  

O.k. It wasn't auto correct, it was me. If I had a tail, it would between legs.

Ellen S 3:23 AM  

Agree with Rex et al (or alia, or alii, or whatever). I did this with no cheats of any kind - no Googles, no "check word". Needed crosses for the clues I never heard of, like the lego movie. Enjoyed the feeling of power, as noted, however undeserved.

Tomorrow will surely bring me down to earth.

jae 3:28 AM  

@George - Knew about the "Surfin USA" duplication. Brian Wilson said it was an homage to Berry. I didn't mention that Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven", best known for The Beatles cover, has the same intro. Apparently, he borrowed it from himself.

Thomaso808 3:28 AM  

I pretty much agree with Rex on this one in that the puzzle was a walk in the park. But that was ok today because yesterday's puzzle beat me up pretty bad. The grid is really good with some nice long answers and no dreck at all.

I liked the clues for ALCATRAZ and MOLEHILLS.

I got stuck on the cross of SNIPS and SCIPIO, I really wanted SNotS, but gave in to INDIES. Based on that I then wanted SNItS. Really would have helped to know that SCIPIO guy!

Probably would have been a better Friday with some more misdirection and subtlety on the clues, but all in all it was a good grid and a fun solve.

Loren Muse Smith 4:39 AM  

I have to disagree with everyone and say this was hardish for me. I even had a dnf in the southwest with "snits" crossing "Sciti_/S_o." I'm no history buff, so that Roman general crossing Soo Locks was my coup de grâce.

I also choked at ILO – I got it with the crosses – but it had me staring off into space vaguely trying to remember when the League of Nations became the UN or did it become the UN and did the agencies stay the same and who cares because I had it correct anyway, so, okay, is a "shad" really something you ride on behind a horse because "dodo" feels pretty assish to me? I finally sorted all that out, figuring 10D had to end in ALLOY.

Then I considered PERMALLOY, briefly recalling some ghastly botched perms I had in the '70s that had me running around proudly under WIRE hair, winced, and moved on.

I never, ever can remember what "laser" and "radar" stand for. Ever. Acronym – Abbreviated Common Rendition Of Names You Misremember.

So if David Sedaris calls me and it comes in on line three, does it move to LINE ONE because he's David Sedaris? I guess I have to add switchboard operations to the history and Great Lakes connectors group of things I don't understand. And, David, when you call me, just ask to be switched to LINE ONE. Talk to ya soon.

@Carola – great catch, as usual, on LIMA BEAN.

Couldn't post yesterday; I was terrified because I was being observed by a principal and was busy overthinking everything. Add me to the group of those who didn’t remember who was on third.

David – loved the clue for EYES. No complaints here on the level of difficulty, and I thought the grid looked cool.

Danp 5:41 AM  

#Rex - Did you know Laos is not in America? Not even Pan-America?

Thomaso808 5:56 AM  

@LMS agree ILO was a WOE and I only got it from PERMALLOY leading to YOYOS. At first I tried IMF, for International Monetary Fund (not Impossible Missions Force - sorry Tom Cruise). I looked up "UN ILO" afterwords and found International Labour Organization, probably the polar opposite of the IMF, and thereby confirmed the WOE category.

Thomaso808 6:05 AM  

@chefwen no need to try to get your story straight. Most of us here sympathize and are appreciative of your comments!

Z 6:28 AM  

@Danp - You beat me to it. Probably not too big, but definitely the wrong continent.

Caused myself some problems with ALeF and wasTED. I paused to flip a weighted coin at SCIPIO, but SCItIO looked wrong.

@LMS - SOO Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, I'm wondering how tough turning that from written to pronounced is for new English speakers.

@jae - There's homage and there's copying. Where the first becomes the second is where you find lawyers.

Hartley70 7:41 AM  

I know I'm in easy territory when I can fill in the blanks just by looking at the grid instead of the clues. I like to start the puzzle by filling in the across and down lists in the app before I go to the grid. There were a lot of obvious answers looking back at me once I did. My favorite clue was the pen and I happily filled in fountain before I rechecked the grid and saw the A and the Z of ALCATRAZ. I'm with everyone who found PERMALLOY just from the crosses. I filled it in sure that I had invented a word that matched @lms' description.

So all in all, I don't need to suffer every Friday. This was like walking into class and seeing a sub in the teacher's chair, or even better, a projector and a big fat film reel. Woohoo!

Mike 7:55 AM  

Ugh. Ashamed to say that after tearing thru this, I got stuck at PERMALLOY/ILO/YOYOS/SHAY. Couldn't get them. Ruined my 39 day streak (my longest)! Maybe I should've given my brain a few more hours before checking the solution. Ah well.

joho 8:16 AM  

I thought the cluing raised the cleverness and fun of this one by quite a bit. I especially liked the clues for SLIDESHOW, STIRIN, ALCATRAZ -- and my fave: EYES.

I was a little surprised at seeing both ROLLOVERIRA and OVERDIDIT.

Doesn't SMARM sound just like what it means?

I join the crowd who DNF with SNItS.

I enjoyed it, thank you, David Phillips!

Generic Solver 8:28 AM  

MUHAMMAD ALI should have been a gimme, but I parsed it wrong and kept seeing "DALI" and was thinking this must be referring to some significant person in the life of the artist Salvador Dali I've never heard of.

Intersting that Rex began in the NW, but to me that was the hardest and last section to fall.

Rhino 8:29 AM  

I found it harder than most and really struggled through the SW.

On a sad note, found out yesterday that my wife has been cheating on me with a commentator from a crossword blog. She doesn't even do crosswords! It was a tough day. But she assured me it was over. (And apparently @evildoug has a micropenis.)


AliasZ 8:43 AM  

This was the easiest Friday puzzle for me. Ever. And I did not like it. At all. So much of the prime real estate is taken up by full names that there was virtually no space left for interesting, long (7+) common English words or crunchy, clever phrases. WIRE FENCE, ROLLOVER IRA, OVERDID IT, PERMALLOY and LINE ONE are not it. About whatever Ricky Martin did, I don't give a darn (shortstop). I give you SLIDE SHOW, ALCATRAZ (proper name) and SABOTEUR. GREAT IDEA too, but this puzzle didn't seem like one to me.

The grid looks impressive at first view. Some sort of grid art, I thought: a continuous flow of YOYOS walking down two staircases, half of them upside down, and two hammers swinging over their heads bopping them if they stop.

The symmetrically placed ALIF and ALIT, SNIPS and SKIMS seemed cute enough, but I thought MAKEDO was a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. Favorite entry of the day: WILLIAM TELL.

Today being Good Friday in the Eastern Orthodox world, let's listen to a Russian hymn with some serious BASSO profundo underpinning.

jberg 8:46 AM  

This one seemed harder to me than it did to most of you. Working down the across clues, I drew blanks all the way to 22A, thought "OATER, but that's too corny," checked 1D and at last had a definite BASSO. After that, it wasn't too bad except for having no idea about @Rex's gimmes. We all come to the puzzle with our own strengths, and while I may be pretty good at knowing which continent Laos is in, I'm terrible at remembering EDIE FALCO's first name (it took about 20 puzzle appearances to get her surname fixed in my mind), and have only vaguely heard of IRENE CARA and the Ricky Martin song. I knew it as a phrase, more commonly in the form of 'that's my VIDA LOCA, so it wasn't hard from the crosses.

After that, my only trouble was seeing ALG at 29D and remembering the man as ALGERnon HISS, leading me to look for a rebus.

Reading the comments, I'm glad a couple people complained about SCIPIO, because it gives me the chance to point out that Machiavelli described him as 'famous not just for his own time, but for all times.' Of course that was 500 years ago, but still.

quilter1 9:15 AM  

What makes CONTESSAS particularly Italian? Never heard the term PERMALLOY. Yes, easy, gettable, doable, but it felt clunky to me.

Nancy 9:17 AM  

I, too, found this very easy for a Friday and the only question is: Is my reaction to that fact more like those of @wreck, @Moly Shu and @Thomaso808 (i.e. enjoy an easy Friday once in a while) or more like those of @jae and @Alias Z (disappointed and wanted more crunch)? It's definitely the latter.

"Crunch" and "crunchy", btw, are terms I only saw applied to a crossword puzzle when I came here. Up till then, I only saw it applied to cereal and nuts.

Perhaps there was one pitfall awaiting in the puzzle: the G of GOODE leading to writing in aliGht instead of BOOGIE. But when nothing would cross, I avoided the trap and bided my time until BASSO and INTER gave me BOOGIE.

Hoping for more "crunch" tomorrow.

Steve M 9:22 AM  

Fast Friday

evil doug 9:33 AM  

Rhino, you actually made me spit my coffee out of my nose with your comment. And I do NOT have a micropenis. Your wife just has a huge vagina:

Curb Your Enthusiasm Big Vagina

JC66 9:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roo Monster 9:54 AM  

Hey All !
DNF cause of the SW. Never heard of ALGER HISS or SCIPIO. Was trying AL GERsomething, didn't help I had gETSTO. Also went with SNItS. Did get SOO, however, from the railroad line of the same name. (Into model trains if anyone cares)

Agree about the easiness for a FriPuz rating. No writovers! The ones where I wasn't sure of a letter, like ALIF, I waited for the cross.

Lots of double L's. Six of em. Also double S's. Wonder if @Lewis will comment on that. Steelers fan here, so natch 50A a gimmie! Got ALI, CARA, and FALCO easily enough. (Eno? Enuff? Enow? >:) ) Just HISS was an unknown. So, liked overall. Almost like 5 separate puzs.


Lewis 9:57 AM  

It's a really cool looking grid, and there were some terrific clues: EYES, STIRIN, SAFE, ALCATRAZ, and CRANE. I wish HEINZ was two rows down; then it would have been HEINZ 57.

As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I feel obliged to tell you that this puzzle has an abnormally high double letter count, at 17. Anything over 12 is high, so this is quite high, though not approaching the record (23).

Even if a puzzle is easy -- and this one for me was medium for a Friday -- it doesn't make me feel powerful. It might have me hungering for some more bite. I don't even know if I ever want to feel powerful.

Rather than easy, the puzzle felt like it had an elegant simplicity to it -- and simplicity can have any level of difficulty. I enjoyed it a lot.

Lewis 9:59 AM  

@roo -- great minds think alike. We commented simultaneously.

mathguy 10:00 AM  

Like @Generic Solver, I can't believe the trouble I had with MUHAMMADALI. I was sure that it was someone associated with Salvador. And when I handed it over to The Closer, I planted that dud seed in her mind and it screwed up her thinking as well.

Very nice puzzle. Also enjoyed today's comments.

Rex Porker 10:04 AM  

This puzzle was really easy. It played more like a Monday in Highlights magazine than a Friday New York Times. Given my enormous fund of knowledge, every answer was a gimmee. (I am not familiar with common things like BEARTRAP or the most famous comedy routine in the history of the world, but SCIPIO and PERMALLOY are words I use in conversation most days.) To those of you who found this puzzle interesting or challenging, I'm glad it met your obviously limited needs.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

Easium. Liked it overall.

With Rex on ELLE before MLLE.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Hey @rhino,
You should try an amazing spellcaster to get your wife back!

Mohair Sam 10:30 AM  

I should be with the crowd laughing at how I aced this Friday puzz - but I join LMS with a dnf at SCIPIO (had "t" for "P") and could not for the life of me think of PERmALLOY - nor have I seen the Lego Movie. We have a young Emett in the family, hence the obvious EMMET never registered (I guess).

Add to Rex's gimmes MUHAMMADALI (although he probably said that when he was Cassius Clay) and WILLIAMTELL which led to a quick SABATEUR and ALCATRAZ and this should have been a lark. But nooooo . . . .

SNIPS so much better than SNItS in there, and EMMET so obvious. I'm suitably humbled, at least until Saturday's challenge.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:33 AM  

Very hard for me. Never saw Shrek, or whatever Cara and Falco are in. Had rollover IRA inverted. Practically the only gimme was William Tell.

pfb 10:33 AM  

This went too fast for a Friday, and that was after taking several minutes to get a foothold. Yes, there were too many long gimmes for a Friday.

dk 10:36 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Reading about the early 1900s and the fights against labor union development. One can easily see the foundation (lego blocks) for the war on "terrorism." I seem to recall a folks song from the 60s… when will they ever learn…

Anyway my literary exploits gave me 2 choices for 27d (dray and SHAY). Also had snits for SNIPES and I think that is a much better answer other than the fact that it messes with 57a.

Easy for a Friday and I always enjoy a smooth ride.

Seeing the abundance of fake posts I am thinking of creating antagonistic acme…. except that after my Blessing Way I am focused on the good. OOOOOMMMMMM.

grammar nazi 11:10 AM  

dk is clearly drunk or maybe on LSD. But "folks music?"

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I really want people like you to find another country to live in but, we can't always get what we want.

old timer 11:19 AM  

Wasn't easy for me. I know a lot of Hitchcock movie titles, but not that one. Never heard of IRENECARA. But my big problem in the SE corner was this: Everyone knows that Line 2 is the line with the secret number available only to those with priority calls. Not LINEONE. I was rescued by my BEANO pill, right next to the obvious OCTET.

The SW was easy for me, though. Remembered ALGERHISS as soon as I got AWOKE from the obvious KIA. Certainly knew SCIPIO, though did he defeat Hannibal or Hasdrubal? Those Carthaginians are hard to sort out, which is why that Roman guy who spoke Old Latin said over and over, "Cartago delenda est". Remembering their names was a royal pain, so better eliminate them.

I wanted "salve" where SMARM is, because when I think of "unction" I think of that sacrament called Extramunction. It involves annointing a moriturus with oil to ease his passage to Heaven.

Ludyjynn 11:20 AM  

Lots of popular culture made this puzz. right in my wheelhouse. My favorite CONTESSA is not Italian, but happens to be a nice Jewish girl named Ina Garten. Her recipes are so GOODE you won't need BEANO after indulging.

Favorite guilty pleasure cable tv show at the moment is "BOTCHed", about 2 Hollywood plastic surgeons repairing the messed-up surgeries of less skilled docs. Wacky patients (some are true YOYOS) get re-SNIPped and all is made right!

Is it just me or has "NCIS" 'jumped the shark'? Mark Harmon is really starting to look like he is sleep walking through each episode.

Unlike Rex, I enjoyed this pleasant walk in the park, esp. after yesterday's nice challenge.
Thanks, DP and WS.

Andrew Heinegg 11:21 AM  

Me too; added a lot more solving time to a easy puzzle.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

You have made the journey from obnoxious to just flat out boring. Why not take your nastiness elsewhere than this blog, which is supposed to be a forum for pleasant discussion and opinion. Your endless ad hominem attacks are neither accurate nor interesting.

Andrew Heinegg 11:29 AM  

Me too; added a lot more solving time to a easy puzzle.

ChemProf 11:39 AM  

Add me to the list of chemists who've never heard of PERMALLOY. I do organic, so it's not exactly up my alley, but still you'd think for it to qualify as fair it should be common enough that someone in my job would at least have heard of it.

John Child 12:24 PM  

@grammar nazi: Have you anything to say about the puzzle today, or any other day?

mathguy 12:24 PM  

One of the big reasons I do the puzzle is to learn words and phrases. But why learn a word like PERMALLOY which professionals in allied fields don't know? Perhaps this discussion will move Shortz to ban it.

Lewis 12:27 PM  

@Factoid: People with blue EYES tend to have a higher tolerance for alcohol.

@Quotoid: "Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a GREAT IDEA hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it." -- Rex Harrison

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Anon@1127: Way to feed the troll! I have to say, though, that the blog, and it's comments aren't "supposed to be" anything in particular. I happen to find Porker hilarious and pretty much spot on. He nailed Rex's SMARMy "fine, if your needs are limited" analysis of the puzzle, which managed to be arrogant and insulting at the same time. Just ignore him if you don't like him. I suspect he enjoys getting your GOAT.

GILL I. 12:56 PM  

I want to know who in the world came up with the word BEANO! O...I just ate a BEAN - whoops, sorry.
I enjoyed this FRIDAY'S puzzle because I whizzed through it. Well, except for ALGER HISS, SCIPIO and the SNIPS part of west Baja.
What a Feeling IRENE CARA...Love her but I don't think she should sit on top of ALCATRAZ.
@retired-c. You forgot to add that olde English standby, ESSEX.
Where did the Mountain go to when MOLE HILLS were invented?
Good Friday, David Phillips.

grammar nazi 1:06 PM  

Hi @ (the real of the fake?) John Child @ 12:24, thanks for asking, again: I thought the grammar in the puzzle was most excellent today. I sometimes BOOGIE ON SPEC when the occasion arises. I also liked the reference to the headline at the University of Milan regarding a problem at one of their sororities last week: CONTESSAS HAZED!
Remember: to write with bad grammar is not a GREAT IDEA, YOYOS!

PS--GILL I.: Excellent apostrophe use. Well done!

AZPETE 1:08 PM  

I wanted Mitt Romney but he's too short! NYUK.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Donald Trump fit perfectly--the quote and the grid!

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

WIRE FENCE? We call them chain link fences here in NJ.

Leapfinger 1:31 PM  

@ret_chem, me too for PERMA Shave! Where you been?

@Z, funny about it being tough for new English speakers, since the SOO pronunciation of Sault Ste. Marie is French, dontcha know. Comme on dit: Harre!

Thought this was harder than yesterdays', and not as much fun, but its' harder to make themelesses be fun, it seems, since that boils down only to the cumulative enjoyment of the individual components. No overarching tie-in, y'know; is that too obvious?

Had my NW similar to @Nancy: ALIGHT seemed perfect for [Get down], and was confirmed by GOODE, soo that whole corner stayed pretty blank till I could re-attack with a pincer movement.
Also have to say I never have seen SMARM without its Y. Anone?
And I remember EDIE's surname only because a college boyfriend drove a FALCOn.

Most confusion came in the SW. We spoke German at home when I was a kid, so [Time, in German] made me think of how I would've asked the time: Wie viel uhr ist es? SOO, that kind of cleaned my clock, but it all worked out in HEINZ ZEIT.

My hands-down favourite entry came at 29D; a while ago, I started collecting names that overlap to create possible confusion, such as Upton Sinclair Lewis and Hara Kiri Te Kanawa. That all began because I couldn't sort the boy hero from the alleged spy without pausing to figure it out. Which is why I call that collection my Horatio ALGER HISS File.

We have the West INDIES, almost had EMMET and aNTS, almost had SPECs ON EYES. And Yes, @Alias, I too heard the STIRIN strains of G&S' MAKEDO. (ps, you fooled me; I thought it'd be Chaliapin.)

This Friday xwp had a real fillip; I'm OATER but wiser than when I AWOKE.

Y'all have a GOODE Friday.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

@grammar nazi 11:10AM
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

Cass Trader 1:46 PM  

Anon 1:43, call me for the Rocky Mountain Oysters Festival.

grammar nazi 1:55 PM  

Hey anon @ 1:43--I've been to that festival. It's an awesome festival for folks, featuring folk music. I also love me some good RMO's.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Agree anon @ 1:23: I think we should use some green paint to paint that WIREFENCE.

Z 2:00 PM  

@Leapy - Bien sûr. That Sault Ste. Marie is in Michigan and Ontario, not Quebec, means pronunciation becomes an English issue. English would be a whole lot easier if we picked one Romance language to steal words from. Curiouser still, why is it never Sault Sainte Marie?

Lora 2:03 PM  

When I sat down with my coffee this morning my husband had filled in the long gimmies already, but we slowed down considerably after that. I am not familiar with BASSO SCIPIO OATER and I thought LINE ONE shoulda been hot line and I stuck with that for a while.

Wheel of Fortune is one of my fave tarot cards and we are fans of the Lego movie over here, so it was nice to see Emmet.

Masked and Anonymous 2:33 PM  

NW: Easy, thanx to GOODE, INTER, SABATEUR startup.

SE: Easy, thanx to IRENECARA, ALCATRAZ, NCIS, BEANO going in, lick-spit.

Middle: Measium. Knew it was "yadda yadda + somethin like VITA + LOCA" That plus MLLES gave me WILLIAMTELL, plus NW had helped me see ALI dude and that IRA dealy.

SW: Tense, at SNI?S/SCI?IO. Somehow vaguely recalled SCIPIO from some puz of the distant past, that I evidently re-digressed. Was not proud of either SNIPS or SETSTO, so lots of second guessin, tho.

NE: Trouble brewin. Veeery similar experience to @muse, except of course M&A has no principles. Ferociously wanted DODOS. Proposed addin to the rotation by SPININ or SPITIN. PERMALLOY was never on the table. Thought NAPO the Great sounded pretty good. Never saw "Lego Movie". @muse: U need to do some runtz for @r.alph, while I am gone for a few weeks. I ask U, becuz U have soo much talent and soo many principles.

@63: Watched yer recommended "Hudson Hawk" flick last night. Had to do some spitin and scratching on the dvd, to get er to play. Weren't hardly worth the spit, tho.

Mighty fun solve, overall. Luv the grid design -- Looks like two giant vacuum cleaner nozzles, suckin up darn near all the U's in the grid. Fortunately, they didn't get ALIF, ENTS, MLLES and SMARM, as they were able to desperately suck back. Like.

SOO loong …


** gruntz **

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Exact same DALI problem as Generic Solver. Duh!!! Even after I had it filled in I was stuck wondering who MUHAMMA DALI was!

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Heh grammar nazi: CONTESSAS HAZED! Good one!

Charles Flaster 4:02 PM  

Very EZ but well constructed especially the downs.
Enjoyed cluing for ALCATRAZ, MOLE HILLS and LINE ONE which meant the boss is coming in the school I worked in.
The only proper name I was stumped on was EMMET.
Thanks DP

Trombone Tom 4:03 PM  

Hands up for M****** DALI. Fast, but enjoyable puzzle.

crosswordese 4:18 PM  

Crossword cities: ESSEN, OCALA
Crossword authors: INGE
Crossword plant: ALOE
Crossword fish: EEL
Crossword river: AARE
Crossword mountain range: URAL
Crossword battle site: STLO
Crossword movie stars: UMA, OONA

I'm sure I missed plenty.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

@Crosswordese - OONA wasn't a movie star. She married one, was mother to one, but she never appeared in a movie.

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

Hey anon @ 6:08: Glad someone is still here reading while I'm bored at work. I guess you're not a Game of Thrones fan:

Oona, born 1986, is Charlie's grand-daughter and has been used multiple times in clues over the past year.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

She's been in a handful of movies, but I suppose you are correct that she can't really be called a "star."

The Angel City Kid 6:20 PM  

37D not so hard if you know the PanAm games are in the western hemisphere.

Teedmn 6:34 PM  

DNF today due to the SW and MoHAMMAD ALI (yes, I know that SABOTEoR is wrong went the argument with myself). Hands up for wanting DALI.

Needed both Ms to get SMARM because I was also thinking Extreme Unction. But the "three SCIPIO" corner got me the most because I never thought to change SETS in to TO. Even with SNIPS. Sooo, SOO was SON Locks (never heard of that for a reason!) and ZEIT was either ZEpi or ZEIi depending on whether I put in SCIPIO, which looked right, or SCIPpO.

So "SOO me if I play too long". Thanks, David Phillips.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

Angel City @620--Rex got confused and saw the clue as the "Pan Nam games."

The Angel City Kid 6:55 PM  

Good one!

Other Prof. 7:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:04 PM  

Am I the only one NATE-icked by the crossing of NATE and EMMET? I could, I suppose, feel bad about not knowing SCIPIO, but I don't see any need to reserve brain space for either of those.

Other Prof. 7:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Other Prof. 7:11 PM  

I'm new to this blog. Is "green paint" actually the great Sherlock Holmes reference I think it is?

David Phillips 8:01 PM  

@Other Prof.:
I believe a "green paint" entry, in constructor-speak, is a multi-word (usually adjective + noun) "phrase" that feels/sounds more like an arbitrary collection of words than a cohesive phrase. For example, the entry GREENLIGHT is good, because (1) green lights exist in the wild and (2) it could even be used as a verb phrase (i.e. "green-light a project"). On the flip side, the entry GREENBIRD is much worse, because, even though green birds exist, we wouldn't really refer to green birds as "green birds." We would just say the species's name.

You can also check out one of Rex's earlier posts if I didn't explain that adequately enough:

kitshef 8:35 PM  

My least favorite puzzle experience is one that is easy as pie, except where it is impossible.
Natick in SW with SCIPIO/SOO, with tentative guesses of SNITS (incorrectly) and ZEIT (correctly).
Complete breakdown in NE with PERMALLOY/EMMET/NATE/STIR IN, with tentative SKIMS.
So overall, my worst fail in a month, on a puzzle commonly being described as easy.
The rest of the grid was Tuesday easy, with nothing that made me think 'how clever' - a big contrast to yesterday's where everything was clever. Also calls come in on whatever line they come in on - important call no more likely to be on LINE ONE than any other.
Sorry to vent.

Lee 10:07 PM  

Laos couldn't be an answer for Pan AMERICAN Games site, for the obvious reason.
Love your comments, learn a lot from you and your observations. I am not as good as most posters, but with your help have been doing Fridays and Saturdays with relative ease and only a few 'cheats'. Also, went to SUNY/B, say hello to Vestal for me!

Leapfinger 1:04 AM  

A nice extra to have Author, Author stop by.

Guess it doesn't pay to be too subtle, but then HEINZ-ZEIT is always 20:20

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Ez, each answer is the most famous person, title etc to each clue...R.Martin...Edie Falco...Irene Cara, can anyone name others from Fame or other songs from Ricky?

David A. Bedford 3:00 PM  

Contessa è proprio italiano, non inglese!

How I Got My Ex Husband Back 9:19 AM  

Hello everyone, My name is Morgan Jackson, a citizen of USA; am 42 years of age..we got married for more than 11 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Brave casted on him that make him come back to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Brave ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: or you can contact him through his website and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

How I Got My Ex Husband Back 12:06 AM  

Hello everyone, My name is Morgan Jackson, a citizen of UK, am 42 years of age..we got married for more than 11 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Brave casted on him that make him come back to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Brave ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: or you can contact him through his website and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

rondo 9:40 AM  

Sad, sad day, now that The Thrill is Gone. You music fans will know.

Much easier than yesterday. One dumb write-over at MmLES, got carried away with the m somehow. Agree that there were a lot of big gimmes that filled up the grid quickly. But that’s OK after yesterday’s punishment. Did not seem like a Friday puz, though.


I believe that in yesterday’s puz one answer was MOURN. That’s what I’ll do today. The King is dead. Long live the blues.

rondo 9:57 AM  

How do I keep forgettin'? EDIEFALCO and IRENECARA both yeah babies, in a certain light.

Burma Shave 10:37 AM  


The CONTESSAS GOODE cooking is always a GREATIDEA,
No HEINZ does she EER STIRIN with her macaroni.
It would BOTCH the whole entrée, she’s no SABOTEUR,
It’s SAFE to MAKEDO with a recipe from her.


not “perma shave” per OFL

eastsacgirl 1:09 PM  

Hand up for pretty easy Friday. Missed a couple letters in SW corner but by that time I didn't care. Probably going to be a toughie tomorrow.

spacecraft 1:16 PM  

Who shuffled the weekdays? First, a bear with fearsome teeth on Thursday, now this cream puff on a Friday??? I went through this like Grant through Richmond. A Wedensday slot would be doing this one a favor.

Not that I didn't like it. I enjoyed the Berry connection, GOODE and ROLLOVER (Beethoven). I admire all the wide-open space typical of a Friday, and as for the fill, only SMARM made me wince a bit; I've never seen this without a -y ending.

Agree that the King's passing is to mourn. Oh yeah, says Mellencamp, life goes on, long after the thrill is gone.

1213, going downhill.

rain forest 1:45 PM  

Much easier than yesterday's, but still medium, for me. I discovered that I really didn't know how to spell ALI's first name which made SABOTEUR hard to see. I also thought that song was LIVINg the ... for awhile, but all was resolved. The NE was the hardest section, but I knew PERMALLOY!

Anyway, I certainly don't mind a Friday that I finish. I like a challenge, but I don't need a puzzle that is virtually impossible.

530 THIS is possible.

DMG 3:09 PM  

A pretty typical Friday-almost for me. Combination of YahoOS and CONTESSeS made the unknown PERMA?... and pop song impossible to dredge up. So a two word DNF here. Sadly, I couldn't even complete video FEE? I was surprised as I typed this entry and the computer elf immediately filled in PERMALLOY off the first letters! Maybe I should let him do the whole thing- but I guess that wouldn't be any fun.

Hey @Ron Diego: How about all this rain? amazing how little it takes to send this dry area into overdrive. at any rate, we are catching what we can, though, sadly it won't make a dent in what is needed. We have lost not only our lawn and several trees, but those in the adjacent Preserve are slowly succumbing. Let's hope predictions of an El Niño return are right!

1166 I lose

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