FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2007 - Patrick Berry

Friday, December 7, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Flew through this in under 10 but had a Mistake. A painful, horrible, stupid mistake. Just blanked on a square, and then failed to bother to run every possible letter in the alphabet to figure it out. If I'd persisted all the way to "W," all would have been well.

  • 11D: TV host who told viewers "Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls!" (Dan Rowan)
  • 26A: Big tier? (twine)

Of course TWINE is the only English word besides THINE that goes there, but because I was entertaining only ROMAN and ROGAN as plausible last names for TV host guy, my brain never even picked up TWINE, despite the fact that I figured out the the "tier" part of that clue must refer to tying something up with something. In the end I went with what, in retrospect, seems like one of the least plausible letters of the alphabet to go there: "L!" "Perhaps you tie something up with a T-LINE," I reasoned. And ROLAN is almost a last name... Now I know very well that ROWAN AND MARTIN were the "hosts" of "Laugh-In," but I had no idea that guy's name was DAN, and ... well, I'm out of excuses as to why I crashed and burned here. I just did.

I'm surprised by how easy I found this puzzle, now that I look back at it and see how many answers were unknown to me. Lots and lots of names that I either didn't know, or that I couldn't get readily from their clues. The NW alone has a host of them:

  • 1D: Radar's radio contact on "M*A*S*H" (Sparky) - thankfully, I had the "K" from KNEE (21A: "Oh! Susanna" closer). SPARKY just came to me, and I honestly don't know why. Maybe I watched a lot more "M*A*S*H" than I remember. This seems a particularly brutal clue. I love it, but ... it's in my pop cultural sweet spot, so of course I love it.
  • 2D: Longtime "What's My Line?" name (Arlene) - had a huge exchange many months ago on this blog about the two ARLENEs who appeared on this show (Dahl and, much much more often, Francis) so this one was easy.
  • 3D: Brando's "On the Waterfront" co-star (Malden) - how have I never seen this movie?? Thankfully, I saw many American Express commercials in the 70s, so I know who Karl MALDEN is.
  • 7D: Noted English portraitist (Reynolds) - nope, not ringing a bell. My favorite portraitist = John Singer Sargent, who is responsible for the single most mesmerizing painting I've ever seen close up.

Impossibly soft, beautiful, and alive. Never in a million years would have thought a portrait painting could have arrested me for a full 20 minutes or so while paintings by Dégas and Cézanne were so close by, perhaps in the same room. Another reason to love Edinburgh.

Other, more mysterious (or otherwise surprising) names in the puzzle include:

  • 9D: Playwright Ayckbourn (Alan) - I'm almost certain I've blogged about not knowing him before. Yet here I am, not knowing him again. For shame.
  • 36A: Frequent Styne collaborator (Cahn) - no idea who either Styne or CAHN is. Apparently they collaborated on many mid-century Broadway songs.
  • 47D: Celebrity who testified at the 2005 Michael Jackson trial (Leno) - Got this off the "L" - why do I know this?

I had many false starts today. Here are some of them:

  • 8A: Affecting the heart (cardiac) - I wrote in CORDIAL (!?), which must be related etymologically to the Latin word for heart ("cor"), but why I passed by the much more readily available CARDIAC, I don't know.
  • 18A: Matching accessory for a slicker (rain hat) - I had RUBBERS ... that's a British word for "rain boots," right? Please tell me I'm right.
  • 23A: Podiatric problem, for some (odor) - gross. I had CORN.
  • 55A: They hold at least two cups each (tea sets) - I had TEA POTS.
Serious question marks:

  • 16A: Two-character Mamet play (Oleanna) - I believe I knew of this play at one point, perhaps because (I think) it was made into a movie some time in the 90s. But so badly had I lost it in my memory that for a while I had it as OLEONNA (back when I had DON RO-AN as the TV host of 11D - see above).
  • 19A: Traditional Monday meal in Creole cuisine (red beans and rice) - no idea about the Creoleness of it all, but got it with just a few crosses in place.
  • 13D: Montana county seat named for a nonnative creature (Anaconda) - that's just ... weird.
  • 42D: Palais Garnier offerings (operas) - No idea what that Palais is, but the answer here was pretty easy to get with just a crossing or two in place.
  • 50A: Underground nesters (hornets) - had the -ETS and kept thinking birds. Why wouldn't OWLETS fit!?

Finally, on to the good stuff:

  • 1A: Confectioner's offering (sampler)
  • 15A: Item in a 1-Across (praline)
  • 17A: Cause of overreactions? (allergy) - I like the three of these together, one atop the other atop the other. You know, because if someone offered you a SAMPLER you might take a PRALINE, unless you had an ALLERGY to, let's say, nuts.
  • 29A: First major-league team to sign Satchel Paige (Indians) - love the Olde Tymey baseball. Didn't know this straight off, but got it off the -ANS.
  • 46A: He said "How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 kinds of cheese?" (Charles de Gaulle) - too easy, but I do love the quote.
  • 51A: Required reading for 007 (dossier) - great clue, got it easily. It's timely, too, in that Bond was the subject of the weekly Thursday quiz at this site I like - I haven't looked yet, but I'm pretty sure I got the best score on that quiz, in that I'm pretty sure I answered it perfectly.
  • 52A: Offering just the right amount of resistance (al dente) - "Resistance!?" I want to groan, but this was pretty clever.
  • 53A: Wire, at times (antenna) - if you are watching TV in the 70's, or at Homer Simpson's house, then yes, this makes sense.
  • 26D: 1982 film and arcade game ("Tron") - a surprisingly popular crossword answer. I'm going to get early 80's arcade game clues almost every time, fyi.
  • 32D: Site site (internet) - nice-ish clue.
  • 34D: 1976 Hall & Oates hit ("She's Gone") - this will be the song I can't get out of my head all day. I may as well just put it on iTunes now and succumb to the inevitable ... ah, there it is.
  • 38D: Dog breed whose name literally means "rather low" (Basset) - in French? Must be related in some way to French "bas" ("low").
  • 40D: Ocelot, for one (feline) - In a battle of BASSET vs. Ocelot, my money is on the FELINE.
  • 49D: Four-legged Hammett character (Asta) - Former President of the Crossword Pantheon. [Four-legged] is a bit lazy here, and, Asta would have you know, at least slightly undignified. At least he got "character" status, and wasn't clued as, say, "creature."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I almost forgot. Two weird things happened yesterday. One, an article about me appeared in my University's "Inside" magazine - actually, I'm not sure it's actually a magazine. Appears to be more E-ZINE. Anyway, it's the least painful interview of myself that I've ever read, though that is not saying much. The second weird thing to happen was a Full-Scale response to said article at another academic's blog, posted not more than a handful of hours after the article on me first appeared. The webiverse sometimes moves so quickly that it makes me a bit queasy. In the end, the blog response was friendly enough, and it's worth reading, if only for the Comments section, in which you can watch Orange freak out that she wasn't the one getting recognition. Still, scrutiny is weird - and slightly discomfiting - to me. There's a reason I've written this thing under a pseudonym for so long.


Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Growing up on the east coast, I wore rubbers when it rained. They weren't boots, though, as they just came up to my ankles.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, many great old show tunes.
Anaconda, Montana, is now nearly a ghost town, but notable for the fact that Jack Nicklaus built a golf course there on an old Superfund site (where the mines were) and filled the bunkers with Black Slag. Unique.
And the Brits call them GUM BOOTS. Rubbers is Merkn for...either rain boots or condoms.
Finally, my last bit of pedantry for the's beans and rice north of the Rio Grande, rice and beans in Mexico.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

oh, and worst groaner of December...RANDR for time off. Got it from crosses, couldn't grok it for minutes after completion.

wendy 9:24 AM  

OLEANNA was about a (problem) relationship between a college professor and his student. And yes, it was made into a movie later with William H. Macy in both.

Today's puzzle sure had me hearing the old tv actors in my head. I finally got SPARKY because I just kept calling up scenes from MASH with Radar in them and finally it oozed out. But I swear to God it was Dick Martin who routinely delivered that Funk & Wagnalls line. I watched Laugh-In religiously and my mind will not allow DAN ROWAN to appear saying that.

My biggest beef was AFRO for the Hendrix clue. That's just wrong. I mean, it's right, but c'mon. His 'style' was incendiary guitar playing.

I always thought of ASTA as a female, and according to wikipedia, it was a female in the book. I guess since I read The Thin Man before I saw the film, that must be why!

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

This was probably my fastest Friday ever (11:04 on the applet, which docked me 15 seconds before it opened up), and I wasn't even really trying for a record time--it's the first time I've ever seen my entry in the top 100 (#65, though destined to fall, I'm sure). Please excuse my braggadocio, but it's terribly important to me that you all know how clever I am. (If knowing Radar's radio-mate right off the bat exemplifies cleverness, that is. The whole puzzle came from that for me.)

Rex Parker 9:36 AM  


Yes, movies changed ASTA from a female Schnauzer to a male wire-haired terrier.



Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I thought it was the Smothers Brothers, had lectured for talked at, and rock instead of Afro as my initial guesses. Red beans and rice came in a flash when somehow Sparky came into my head.

I have been missing Asta and was happy to see her again.

I love the cheeses quote.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Having lived there - gum boots is used but infrequently as are rubbers (though in these times, this mostly refers to condoms) - the main words used are wellingtons and galoshes - both words I love - my sister had a Prize Bull Mastiff whose show name was Wellington and everyday name was Boot!

Orange 10:02 AM  

I have three things to say about the '70s:

1. I'm disappointed to learn that DAN ROWAN's the one with the goofy 'stache, and not the one I found charming as a kid. Dick Martin is not a crushworthy name at all. And back then

2. Rex, you must've been just a smidge too young to remember Karl Malden on The Streets of San Francisco with a young Michael Douglas.

3. My dad wore rubbers on rainy days. They were shoe-shaped and slipped on right over his shoes.

It appears you're right about cordial's etymology. Did not know that!

Alex S. 10:03 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and for once was able to reason/correctly guess my way through crossings where I didn't actually know either involved word.

My only complaint, really is with ANACONDA being clued as "Montana county seat named for a nonnative creature." The town is named for the Anaconda Mining Company which opened its first mine there and then the town grew up around it. The mining company is named after the South American snake but is actually a reference/tribute to the Union Army during the Civil War.

From page 2 of Anaconda Montana: Copper Smelting Boomtown on the Western Frontier by Patrick F. Morris (man, I love Amazon's "Search Inside" feature):

The two men who had most to do with providing her name were an obscure Irish immigrant named Thomas Hickey and the famous Horace Greeley, who, besides saying "Go west, young man" also wrote in the New York Herald newspaper (of which he was editor) predicting that the Union armies would "encircle Lee's forces and crush them like a giant anaconda." Young Hickey, who was a Union soldier in the Civil War, recalled this powerful image and also heeded Greeley's advice about going west. He carried the name west with him after the war and in 1875 gave it to one of his numerous mining claims on a hill that was later to be called Butte.

A quibble but one that frequently annoys me with place name etymologies. It's like saying I was named after Alexander the Great when I wouldn't be surprised if my mom had never heard of him when I was born; I was named after my grandfather, and if chase that train far enough then you do get someone named after Alexander the Great, I'm sure.

But it was also an excuse to put out an explanation on the name.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Also had CORNS and TEAPOTS but for some reason RAINHAT came right to me.

Also had trouble with TWINE. Got the tier part but just could not see the word. I finally got it from ROWAN.

SPARKY or sparks used to be the nickname of any radio operator in the military.

Alex S. 10:52 AM  

Didn't know that. So through all those seasons of MASH we weren't supposed to think that Radar and then Klinger were actually talking to the same guy?

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

I still don't get 28A RANDR. Filled it from the crosses, and can't see it. Help.

wendy 11:07 AM  

victor - try looking at it this way: Rest and Relaxation ;)

I'm with you, chip-off-the-old-Alexander-the-Great block, how disconcerting to realize that SPARKY was many guys. Funny.

Hydromann 11:26 AM  

Rex, I think I can go you one better on a “duh” mistake. I was totally convinced the 8A was “cardial” so, of course, I had a big problem with 14D! Convinced that my error was elsewhere than the last letter of 8A, I totally fanned on what probably was the easiest of all the answers, “caterers”! Duh, duh, duh!

“Creoleness” <==> “red beans and rice” mystery? Spend a bit of time in New Orleans and the mystery will be cleared up!

What’s with “hornets” and “underground nests”? Hornets build their papery nest above ground--usually under my eaves! Certain wasps, like yellowjackets, go underground, but not hornets.

Actually, Rex, applying the term “wire” to old non-cable, non-satellite TVs is a stretch. (Rabbit ears and roof antennas were not made of “wire.”) It is more appropriately applied to an even earlier era, to radios, to be precise, from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, when long wires, usually strung outdoors between buildings, were used as antennas on those big ol’ Amos and Andy floor models.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Other than REDBEANSANDRICE I didn't find this one very easy at all. Several areas of difficulty --

Sticking too long with chitCHAT in IDLECHAT's spot gave me fits identifying Satchel Paige's first major league team. Tried Chicago, then StLouis in INDIANS' spot. At least I kept the juices jangling gently....

I guessed wrong on the OLEANNA / ALAN Ayckbourn crossing. ALAN seemed like the best bet, but I had no idea.

TESTOUT gave me KATO (instead of LENO) at the MJackson trial. I only knew the one four-letter celebrity trial testifier ending in "O". I don't watch much Court TV since they dumped Clarence Darrow as an anchor.

Didn't waste a lot of time on it, but initially tried to forcefit "Sara Smile" into SHESGONE's spot.

I agree with Wendy on the AFRO cluing (my only complaint about a terrific puzzle). Big star, something identifiable about his style? Oh yeah, the same hair-do as millions of other people. It might as just well been his Thom McCan shoes, or the Brooks Bothers rep tie he wore under his cape, down at Monterey.

flyingpig 11:56 AM  

R and R= rest and recreation

Hobbyist 11:59 AM  

Took me ages but did get it. Loved al dente and the slight french/creole theme...pralines, red beans and rice, de Gaulle. May cook gumbo tonight.

pete1123 12:00 PM  


Did you notice there were no three-letter entries in Patrick's puzzle? Now that's impressive.

Orange 12:39 PM  

Rex, did you ever have a stereo with a flimsy T-shaped wire FM antenna that you taped to the wall or draped across the stereo? Something like this? That's what I thought of.

The lack of 3-letter entries that Peter points out is indeed impressive. Low word count (64) usually means "odd jobs" and other clunky fill, and Patrick Berry managed to fill this challenging grid with good-quality fill and no 3-letter junk at all.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Great puzzle! I also found this pretty easy. SPARKY, ARLENE, MALDEN, REDBEANS..., and DANROWAN were gimmies so the North went quickly. The South went a little more slowly as I had trouble placing the DEGAULLE quote and had TEAPOTS for while.

Didn't OLEANNA have something to do with the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill contraversy?

Hydroman is right about HORNETS, see Orange's blog.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I had my lowest Friday time on this one too, despite missing the DONROWAN/OLEONNA crossing. Good clues throughout.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

More like a Thursday puzzle, perhaps.

Rob G. 1:29 PM  

Agree this was more like a Thursday in terms of difficulty, but the actual construction, not to mention the lack of theme, make it a pretty clear-cut Friday puzzle.

I cruised on this one, due in no small part to the number of long clues that I knew with no context at all DANROWAN, INDIANS, CHARLESDEGAULLE, and, showing my new Hampshire pride, TSONGAS. I also magically came up with NAILHOLE and DULLARDS from just two crosses, which surprised me.

A little trouble in the NW, but I got there once I had finished the NE and was able to figure out REDBEANSANDRICE.

Great puzzle! This week really came around after a slow start.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

FYI - Radiomen were traditionally nicknamed "Sparky" or "Sparks," stemming from their early use of spark-gap transmitters.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

OLEANNA is a David Mamet play about a small college professor who is accused by one of his female students of sexual harassment. The play jumps back and forth from his to her point of view. Is he an ogre? Is she a blackmailer? We never know for sure. It was made into a small movie starring William H. Macy that is quite well done, if you like Mamet dialog, since that's all there is.

klochner 2:05 PM  

i thought this puzzle was easier than yesterdays. sometimes it just clicks i guess, but I really flew through this one.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

[trembling at the thought of 6500 viewers] No comments about getting a look behind the Rex curtain? Not what I expected – though I didn’t really have expectations. The cocksure attitude of University Diaries site put me off – despite agreeing with her in large measure.
A pleasant esteem building Friday intellectual/mental exercise. Had TSONGAS with a U until TWINE came along. And beach shops shouldn’t sell CORALS – we don’t need industry fueling their already rapid destruction. (This refers to the coral reef corals right? Otherwise nevermind!)
Seriously Rex – 65 freakin’ hundred? [pees a little bit and logs off]

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

[trembling at the thought of 6500 viewers] No comments about getting a look behind the Rex curtain? Not what I expected – though I didn’t really have expectations. The cocksure attitude of University Diaries site put me off – despite agreeing with her in large measure.
A pleasant esteem building Friday intellectual/mental exercise. Had TSONGAS with a U until TWINE came along. And beach shops shouldn’t sell CORALS – we don’t need industry fueling their already rapid destruction. (This refers to the coral reef corals right? Otherwise nevermind!)
Seriously Rex – 65 freakin’ hundred? [pees a little bit and logs off]

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Emmmm... I don't know?!?!?

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

I have a radio tuner hooked to my computer which uses a long wire running along the baseboard for an antenna.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I loved the pairing of "red beans and rice" and "Charles DeGaulle" on the two long, horizotals. What a combo!

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

I flew through 90% of the puzzle after writing in REDBEANSANDRICE and CHARLESDEGAULLE before I had anything else, giving me tons to work off. Those both seemed like gimmes for a Friday.

I also fell into the same pot of tea as others, but as I wrote it in I actually thought "there must be teapots that only hold a single cup, the times is slipping" turns out I was the one with the problem!

I wanted DANROWAN to be DANRATHER, which of course doesn't fit, since the clue sort of fits with the stupid phrases Mr. Rather came up with all the time.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Easy Friday.
Liked the Hendrix misread. I had acid at first.
Also, One on one for She's gone, until it didn't test out. Especially after Tsongas.

fergus 3:53 PM  

Had a little stumble with the Hall & Oates song, thinking it was RICH GIRL, which may or may not have been a song title, but stuck in the mind as one of their annoying chirps, just like SHE'S GOOOOOOO-OOONE. No fan of H&O, obviously.

Growing up in the Midwest with British parents had me translating all the time, so I would have to say that Rubbers = Galoshes. Took me the longest time, however, to truly understand the (Shaw?) observation about "two cultures separated by a common language."

The Synagogue cabinets, ARKS, was something I learned just a few weeks ago in a NYT puzzle!

Just in case Rex was mistaken, J.S. Sargent was an American though he spent a lot of time in Europe. When I was trying to learn to paint, I chose Sargent and Manet as the best examples for emulation. Totally absorbing exercise trying to copy their portraits of remote, yet accessible women.

NAIL HOLE clue needed another couple of ??s for Board opening? This was the lamest, most nonsensical Clue/ANSWER pairing I've seen in a long while.

Someone mentioned Kato and I recalled the celebrated houseguest. Wonder where he's lurking these days?

Le Capeur 4:16 PM  

This must have been an easy Friday puzzle, because I finished in an under an hour for the first time ever, which obliterates any previous Friday record. However, I got the same letter wrong as you did, Rex. I couldn't stop reading tier as the word pronounced "teer," and in fact I didn't get that it was tie-er until I read your blog. So I had "tnine," thinking a large tier in some famous stadium I didn't know might be known as t-nine, as in tier nine. Talk about over-thinking a clue!

Nice article about you, by the way. What the hell is that woman's problem in the response blog? What an unpleasant person...

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Same thoughts as most people. Sailed through in record time for a Friday except for the NE corner. Finally gave in and Googled Tsongas and everything else fell in to place. Had guessed Oleanna and Reid. As a Brit, I was too busy trying to find a synonym for sou'wester to even think about footwear - which I would always call wellingtons or wellies!! Finally realized it was rain hat. Was amazed that I knew Reynolds, Cahn, Sparky, and Malden. It is surprising what stays in one's elderly brain when one can't remember where one put one's keys ten minutes previously!!

Rex Parker 4:35 PM  

RE: Sargent. I didn't know where he was from, and I didn't make any claims today. When I said "Another reason to love Edinburgh," that was because the painting in question has its home there, in the National Gallery (if I remember correctly).


Anonymous 4:36 PM  

if you happen to own a portable music player with an fm radio (ie, not an ipod), then you use a device whose antenna is a WIRE -- the headphone wire, to be exact.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

hmm, i suppose i should have written whose ANTENNA is a wire...

Unknown 4:39 PM  

Rex--Loved your upload of the 1893 Sargent portrait of Gertrude Vernon (1865-1932), aka Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. I was not familiar with Sargent, but was moved by the Lady to check him out. Thanks!
Great observation by Peter on the absence of three-letter words, elaborated upon well by Amy.
As to the query about what kind of coral might be sold at beach shops, I'm not sure either although I also presume that to be the coral of coral reefs. On the subject of protecting the world's coral reefs, I saw a recent indie movie promoting the classification of sharks as an endangered species. The primary argument was that sharks have been and continue to be overfished and that there are dramatic eco- and economic consequences of which most of us are unaware. Specifically, by disproportionately removing sharks from the water a disproportionately large population of grouper remains and the grouper eat all of the smaller fish that would normally consume bacteria and other organisms that are destructive to the health of coral reefs. The coral reef in the regions of shark depletion have decayed dramatically, with significant long term environmental cost, and the communities that thrived on the tourism spawned by the coral are also decaying economically. I thought the argument was a good example of the interdependence of all things in nature, as well as a warning for the future. Of course, part of me just thought, why don't we start overfishing the grouper and stop the coral decay that way.

Hi all.


randis mcgee 4:48 PM  

Incredible. "Rex" is outed. And all of the comments talk about an (admittedly good) Friday puzzle. But, again REX IS OUTED! I, as did many of the silent masses, thought Rex to be a prisoner. That's how one gets enough time on her hands to write such a blog, watch the Red Sox, love one's family, blah blah! Plus, the whole prison class thing is just kinda weird and this would explain it.

And Ms. Soltan displays some form of jealous rage...postmodern angset...for not getting credit for her Sunday ink-ly solving.

Rex, glad you're out of prison. Sure you're a future recidivist.

Unknown 4:52 PM  

RE SARGENT--Rex, you are indeed right that "Lady Agnew of Lochnaw" is at the National Gallery in Edinburgh. Found a great site with all of Sargent's work at, and you can buy a print of "Lady Agnew" in plenty of time for Christmas at


Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Whee! A nice way to start the weekend by finishing the puzzle in about 30 minutes! I did miss one, though- the dratted ALAN/OLEANNA crossing. Initially had the L there but changed it to a C at the last minute. :( (Hey, with a last name like Ayckbourn, his name could have been Acan, right?)

For [Affecting the heart] I initially considered something starting with SENT (as in sentimental) as that would have crossed with SHELLS (instead of CORALS) but then all that stuff I learned in med school kicked in and I came up with CARDIAC.

Not a big fan of the [Hendrix] clue for AFRO but I guess if you think about it, the constructor picked a good representative of someone with an afro. And confusing it with Hendrix's other style, it at least wasn't a gimme. OK, maybe I'm more a fan of the clue now!

I was happy that INTERNET actually fit this time (as opposed to last week's ON THE NET).

And more kudos to Steely Dan, this time for RED BEANS AND RICE which is part of a line from their song, "Pearl of the Quarter" on the album Countdown to Ecstasy-
Red beans and rice for a quarter...
(And now I have that great song in my head instead of something by H&O.)

Happy weekend, everybody!

Mike 5:36 PM  

Speaker wire makes a very good antenna.

Hungry Bird 5:58 PM  

I am among the acid/afro complainers.

Way before that I had samples for sampler (too many visits to our local See's store, one thing I gained by moving to the left coast). That made for a very oddly named artist as I got the crosses. Sheesh.

I also struggled to understand RANDR. That never would have happened ten years ago and is an example of what drove me to re-start my puzzling.

Rex, any thoughts about whether being a prisoner and being a professor are mutually exclusive?

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Pretty easy for me too, the top half fell in place in minutes, and finished the whole puzzle between getting my seat and wheels leaving the ground. Thought about "rubbers" for a matching accessory but realized the clue was not plural and rain hat came right after.

Unknown 6:05 PM  

I finished this puzzle in one hour and fifteen minutes (sans Mr. google).I'm quite proud of myself.

Michael Chibnik 6:33 PM  

This might be the easiest Friday I've ever done. More like a Wednesday, I think.

Why is red beans and rice a Monday Creole dish? Isn't this a Creole dish every day?

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

Still don't fathom TWINE for "Big tier?".

Anonymous 7:24 PM  

Twine, as in heavy string. Tie-er.

PuzzleGirl 7:24 PM  

Second day in a row I finished in a decent amount of time without Googling, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now.

Many missteps along the way: CHITCAT for IDLECHAT made me guess CHICAGO for INDIANS. For the foot thing I had CORN then SPUR and finally ODOR. TICK for BEEP. LIZA for LENO (she's a friend of Jacko's, right?). But it all came together eventually.

I guess I'm in the minority thinking the AFRO clue was tricky in a good way.

SPARKY was my favorite answer of the day. Man I loved that show. I'd pay the devil to replace it ....

@kim: TWINE is something relatively big that one ties with. Hey! It kind of goes with 38A, BALE. Huh.

fergus 7:26 PM  

I guess tier would have to be considered an odd-job. Why the modifier, Big, though?

This week most likely yielded the lowest cumulative solving time. Though I don't really keep track of my times, I would reckon that those who do would probably find their cumulative totals the lowest ever, since many comments seem to indicate unusual alacrity, especially for Thursday and Friday.

Anonymous 7:44 PM  


An average or small tier would be string, big, as a modifier, would give you twine. Very big would give you rope. Hugh would give you cable.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

I think AFRO was tricky in a good way also, I originally had ACID as someone else above did (my favorite memory of the '60s)

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

actually flew thru this one faster than monday's of this week. weird!

Rex Parker 8:12 PM  

@puzzlegirl - thank you for making me laugh out loud. I'd pay the devil to replace you (if I didn't care about my soul and its ultimate fate, that is).


Rex Parker 8:15 PM  

PS, @tier modifier: Who is Hugh, and what would I have to do to get him to give me cable?


Anonymous 8:24 PM  

I think I might have meant huge, and to get cable I think you might have to go through Margaret Soltan

Orange 8:26 PM  

Hugh Hefner, Playboy Channel on cable—it all ties together, Rex. With twine. Twine for bondage. Maybe offer him some nice twine in exchange for cable?

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

Orange and Rex,

Hugh Cable is the originator of cable television, it's named after him.

One of the things that he really does not like is "nitpicking and quibbles"

He is a twine and bondage fan though, and will randomly use rope and cable.

fergus 8:55 PM  

TWINE is also a tangle, or a knot, apparently. It's quite a versatile verb, as well, I've discovered. The intransitive sense has the twining thing going on a winding, twisted course. How appropriate, which I suppose Hugh has already recognized.

Rex Parker 8:58 PM  

Apologies to all commenters today if any of you happened to get weird returned mail messages after posting at my blog. Problem should be fixed now. I hope.


Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Jules Styne and Sammy Cahn, ah yes. My favorite version of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is by T-Bone Burnett. "Let's rock again!" (And that's why I don't have to worry about "She's Gone." And like you, Ty, I wanted "Sara Smile" to fit.)

The top half of this puzzle FLEW by. From SPARKY to DAN ROWAN, it just came so easily. I wasn't even fooled by MALDEN when my first instinct was STEIGER.

I was intrigued by the film of OLEANNA, but my lovely wife hated, hated, HATED it. And she loves William H. Macy.

But the bottom half took much longer. I couldn't place the DeGaulle quote, and other fills in the South just weren't coming. I felt like such a DULLARD. Finally, though, I got it all - and without googling.

Congrats on the publicity, Rex!

Anonymous 10:17 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Everything about it...its low word count and chunks of 6-10 letter words instead of those brutal 15-letter ones in the usual Friday... and the fact that I finished it in record time for me. There were a lot of clues I didn't know on the first pass which amused me and gave me something to look forward to in uncovering the answers via crosses (e.g. teasets, dossier, charlesdegaulle). I liked the Jimi Hendrix misdirection. And I had no idea Asta was a schnauzer. Great dogs.

Rex... Sargent is one of my favorite artists and I've had a book of his art (with Lady Agnew on the cover) sitting on the coffee table for 25 years. The MFA in Boston had a great exhibition of his works some years back with the painting "The Daughters of Edward Boit," which is always there, but sitting next to the picture were the original 6-foot Wedgewood vases that are in the painting. Really fun. Madame X is also fabulous and was quite a scandal at the time he showed it in Paris in the 1880s. He painted one strap of her gown down off her shoulder, and Paris society was so outraged (times have changed a la Monsieur Heffner) that he took the painting down and repainted the strap back up on the shoulder (early airbrushing?), but he renamed the painting Madame X to give it intrigue.

In passing, if anyone talks about the "real" (purposeful quotes) Rex Parker, I block my ears and go "woop, woop, woop." Rex is the king with the funny hat and none other.

On to Saturday.

wendy 10:43 PM  

Ah Rex, you even have the "You’d think a medievalist would have known ... " critics over at that academic's blog!

It just goes to show, no good deed goes unpunished.

Don't ever change.

Orange 12:11 AM  

Definitely better to waft through life with only a bachelor's degree. The Ph.D. types are impressed if you're not a gibbering idiot, and nobody hollers at you for not amassing the world's knowledge inside your head.

Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Really wanted 55A "two cups each" to be Brasierre or some variant. That would've been cool!

Unknown 8:56 PM  

Red beans and rice became the Creole (or Cajun?)meal for Monday because that was the traditional day to do laundry and the dish was easy to prepare.

Anonymous 5:49 AM  

I'm thoroughly impressed at your under-10 time. It too me 10 minutes to get 3 words....using the internet for help. I'm 20 years old, just saw Word Play (great movie) and started doing crosswords. Perhaps one day I'll be the 166th Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver in the Universe!

Waxy in Montreal 11:38 PM  

6 weeks later: was so proud of the fact that I successfully completed a Friday puzzle sans Google for the first time...until the comments in this blog from the past confirmed this was probably akin to regular Wednesday fare, not Friday. Rats!

Kudos though to Patrick Berry for a particularly well-crafted puzzle in which every unknown could be inferred from its crosses. And imagine returning the late Paul Tsongas to an otherwise almost empty pantheon - politicians who won an election against Bill Clinton.

Alice 1:20 AM  

I found this puzzle rather easy, but blanked on the same box! I had "N"--I was like, "T-Nine... that's a thing, right?" And Ronan is sort of a name.

Aviatrix 5:36 PM  

I was doing this puzzle while cleaning, so taking one clue away and thinking about it until I had the perfect answer, so the predominance of no-chance American culture was *annoying*. Two different clues on defunct American game shows? Two US politicians? Too many trivia questions. I prefer words to names.

I hated SAMPLER. Why a confectioner rather than any other manufacturer? What does candy have to do with it? Anything can have samples. I was looking at TRUFFLE but an "item" in a truffle? FILLING isn't really an item.

Karl Malden I remembered as that guy from the American Express commercials, but I never knew who he was. In fact, those commercials were so long ago for me that I though that was the point. No one knows who the hell you are, so you need a card that tells them.

I thought 39A was just fine. The whole point was that you were so distracted by him having a musical style that you forgot he had a hairstyle. For me 24A was the weak one. I thought of it on first reading but chided myself "this is the NYT: it's not going to clue yens as urges any more than they're going to have anything to do with a three-toed sloth."

I was also stuck on the COR- vibe for 8A. Weird.

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