FRIDAY, May 2, 2008 - Barry C. Silk (1972 top 10 hit that's seven minutes long)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

How does a puzzle manage to work in two Zs, a Q and a K, and still manage to be kind of ho-hum? Answer: RLSTNE density. OVERSEERS, SLOGANEER, ENTERED IN, EELERS, HENNAS (38A: Leatherworking dyes), EROSE, and on and on. The Zs were effectively neutered - after their exciting CHEEZWHIZ (28D: Kraft brand) start, by being crossed by short proper nouns. Ditto the Q. The puzzle is actually quite solid, with no real weak spots, only one or two icky stretches, and a genuinely compelling NE corner. But I was surprised by how monotonous most of the fill felt. Not that it was easy. I nearly rated this Medium-Challenging; RAL, TANIA, GWEN, IMIDE, and ANEMO all gave me fits at some point, as did the NEWS part of CBS NEWS (!?) (28A: "See It Now" producer of 1950s TV), and I couldn't decide between BRACHIA and TRACHEA (21D: Bronchoscopist's view) for little while (yeah, I got BRACHIA - the upper parts of your arms - confused with BRONCHIAL, I think). After giving the completed puzzle a once-over, however, I thought it was pretty close to average difficulty for a Friday.

My first two answers in the grid were QUITO (42A: Capital just south of the Equator) and ON END (46D: Without a break), after STOP SHORT failed to pan out for 51A: Declare "I will go no further than this" (draw a line). But due to the high density of stuff I've never heard of before down there in the SE, I had to abandon that corner in search of warmer and more hospitable climes. The SE ended up being the penultimate quadrant that I solved - I finished the puzzle somewhere in the NW, possibly with the "V" in PAVER (2D: One of a lot of workers?). I have no memory of ever seeing two of the long Across clues up there, as MANHATTAN (15A: Cousin of a Rob Roy) became obvious before I ever saw its clue, and OVERSEERS (17A: Heads) came together as I fought for Downs up there. I really should have looked at those Acrosses. They're ... long. Very inefficient of me. Oh well.

The rough stuff:

  • 24A: 1960s Elvis-style singer _____ Donner (Ral) - never ever ever ever ... ever heard of this preposterously named person. "Elvis-style?" (here's video => "Hey, nice hat" - HA ha).
  • 44D: Ammonia derivative (imide) - another word I've never seen; not surprising, given my chemistry-deprived education.
  • 45D: "Lost" actress Raymonde (Tania) - I know I've seen her in xwords before, but ... I resent having to know anything about "Lost"; we get it, you're Lost, now get off the @#$#@$ing island, Gilligan.
  • 49D: "Jubilee Trail" novelist Bristow (Gwen) - had OWEN. Thinking OWEN Wister ("The Virginian"). At least I think that's what I was thinking.
  • 40A: Philosopher Mo-_____ (Tze) - wanted MONEY or SZYSLAK.
  • 3D: Wind: Prefix (anemo-) - so ANEMOnes are full of ... wind? Weird prefix that applies to no common or semi-common words. ANEMOMETER measures wind speed.
  • 30D: "I Wish" rapper _____-Lo (Skee) - a gimme for me, but I'm guessing not for many of you.


  • 10A: Showing shock (agasp) - had AGAPE (4.9 million Google hits, vs. 14.4K for AGASP, ugh).
  • 20A: Charge (tutelage) - love it. One of my favorite words in this grid.
  • 15A: Cousin of a Rob Roy (Manhattan) - Bart Simpson makes a killer MANHATTAN during the brief period wherein he works for the mob.
  • 16A: 1972 top 10 hit that's seven minutes long ("Layla") - the radio version tended to be abridged. Nice to have this title lady in the puzzle with RHONDA (25A: Beach Boys title girl).
  • 18A: Purification process, briefly (decon) - as in DECONtamination. I think of "Silkwood," though I've never actually seen that movie.
  • 23A: "And their lies caused them _____": Amos 2:4 ("to err") - flirted with TO DIE and TO END.
  • 33A: Couple seen in a restaurant (Shakers) - and I thought they just made furniture.
  • 34A: Ice relative (sherbet) - I like ice cream. Every other frozen dessert treat is a sham.
  • 36A: Sonata that might not sound good (used car) - "... perhaps"; I see the cutesy play on "sonata" that you're going for here, but the clue - answer relationship is a mess.
  • 47A: Famous finger-pointer's declaration ("I Want You") - Uncle Sam! My third favorite Sam, after Toucan Sam and Sam I Am. Oh, and Sam Malone. So fourth favorite. Wait, no, forgot Sam the butcher from "The Brady Bunch" ...
  • 49A: Torpedo (gunman) - I'm not familiar with this weapon-to-human transformation.
  • 53A: _____ Wafers (Nilla) - have strange urge to sing this word to the tune of "LAYLA"...
  • 55A: George _____, longtime Cleveland Orchestra conductor (Szell) - gimme for me, which is weird, as few classical music clues have achieved gimme status in my brain. I just put on R. Strauss's "Sinfonia Domestica," conducted by Szell. The opening is very ... horny. You know what I mean.
  • 1D: Gooey goody (s'more) - loved these, but am not exactly sure when I had them, as it's not as if we camped much when I was a kid ... I'm pretty sure these are traditionally made with HERSHEY's (26D: City where Chocolate Avenue crosses Cocoa Avenue) chocolate bars.
  • 4D: Rock on a stage (Chris) - he's funny. Can he please do a routine about all this Jeremiah Wright nonsense, like, now? Please, Chris. Please.
  • 5D: Bay Stater of Garden Stater (easterner) - was expecting a much more provincial / strange word.
  • 7D: Took sides? (ate) - cluing = :(
  • 10D: Tree with catkins (alder) - My "MRS. MINIVER" moment ("3M") of the day - I could barely remember what "catkins" were and yet ALDER was the only answer I wanted.
  • 11D: Iona College athlete (Gael) - fool me once, shame on you, etc. GAEL was not going to pwn me a second time.
  • 12D: "Sheesh!," south of the border ("Ay Caramba!") - I'd have preferred [Bygone Bart Simpson exclamation]
  • 13D: One whose work may be catchy (sloganeer) - yay, best part of the puzzle. Move that damned word into the grid! Brilliant.
  • 29D: Great Seal image (bald eagle) - weird, but "Great Seal" sounds so papal to me that I did not expect an American frame of reference here.
  • 32D: Kazan Cathedral locale (Red Square) - no idea. None. Elia Kazan directed "On the Waterfront," that's what I know about "Kazan."
  • 36D: Still "well," but not beyond (unburnt) - everything here makes me go "ugh."
  • 41D: Diamond datum (steal) - why use the boring, dusty, vague, pulled-it-out-of-the-attic clue for such an infinitely cluable word? Even within baseball, you could have had a lot more fun with this one.
  • 48D: 1994 Jodie Foster title role ("Nell") - I'm sure I'm going to hell for this, but everything about this movie makes me laugh. Here's a trailer. It contains the word "HERSHEY," coincidentally.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete M 9:14 AM  

I hit the ground running on this one, nailing SMORE/CHRIS/RTES/ATE/CARTON to break open the NW almost instantly. The SE, well there's another story. The GUNMAN/IMIDE cross was the last letter entered.

ENTERED IN (54a: Participated in) feels forced to me. Isn't ENTERED enough? Do you ever ENTER OUT?

@Rex: I would have to add Sam Gamgee to any list of favorite Sams.

Finally, I loved the CHEEZ WHIZ entry. Reminds me of an old Jay Leno stand-up routine (paraphrasing from memory): "I don't know about you, but when I see a product called 'Cheez Whiz' I look very carefully at the ingredients... exactly how much 'whiz' is in this?"

Still makes me laugh. :)

- Pete M

Bill from NJ 9:18 AM  

If I had thought generally rather than in specific terms, I would have cleaned this puzzle up a whole lot quicker.

I wanted which "What's my Line" participant, which "See it Now" producer and what Massachusetts and New Jersey had in common rather than PANELIST CBSNEWS EASTERNER.

No Googles this Friday even though I had no idea who Ral Donner was at 24A or what an Iona College athlete was at 11D.

I really liked this puzzle, especially the twin towers of CHEEZWHIZ BALDEAGLE along the Cailifornia coast and the triple stack of simple multiple words in the Florida Keys.

Ulrich 9:19 AM  

A medium for me, too, according to my personal definition: doable w/o googling, if in spits and spirts--but then it wasn't. The last square I filled in was the crossing of shakers and skee, and that's where I should have googled. I guessed "r", which turned the couple at the restaurant into "sharers", which, in turn, goes to show that I have a very romantic notion of a couple. Googling the rapper I have never heard of would have set me straight. Ah well...sometimes it may be better to be romantic than right.

Unknown 9:23 AM  

I hope the movie NELL received a Golden Raspberry because it looks ridiculous...Yale grad as Helen Keller type.

Some trivia...Our Lady of KAZAN is a famous and often imitated Russian Icon of the Virgin Mary discovered in the city of Kazan. It is believed to have saved Russia from a series of Invasions the most famous of which is the defeat of Napoleon. A Cathedral was built to house and memorialize it. If you see a picture (like the series on Google if you enter Kazan and hit images) you will recognize it.

I looked up torpedo late last night and discovered that around definition four it says a gunman or hit man in Mafia lingo. I guess it is in some Goodfella movie somewhere. I, too, never heard of it and was looking for a deli related word. Other than questioning my own entries, the puzzle was easier to me than most Fridays.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I think TORPEDO as gunman dates back to Sam Spade/Dashiell Hammett times.

Orange 9:27 AM  

When Wordplay had its Sundance premiere, Merl Reagle informed Glenn Close that RHONDA anagrams to hard-on.

Which is worse: sherbet itself or the way people spell/pronounce it with an extra R? I say it's a tie.

I Googled Jubilee Trail while blogging. It's a Western romance. Rex, why haven't I seen many Western romances on your paperback site? "Ride 'em, cowboy!"

Orange 9:28 AM  

P.S. NELL! My husband, his sister, and I can all crack ourselves and one another up with our Nell impressions.

Wendy Laubach 9:31 AM  

Of course "Nell" made you laugh, Rex -- the wonderful blend of preposterous earnestness. Give me Werner Herzog instead any day: "Every Man for Himself and God Against All."

"GUNMAN" was last for me, too. I fell into the "OWEN" Wister/"GWEN" Bristow trap along with Rex. "The Virginian," yes. A bunch of Southern gothic or whatever, no, never heard of her.

I actually liked "UNBURNT" very much, as well as "ATE" for "took sides."

"Unled" made me think of George Smiley, who realizes that he is "unled, perhaps unleadable."

"IMIDE"? "RAL"???

Love the cheezwhiz joke.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

All this ridicule of "Nell"... I don't know whether I can come back here again. As Mercutio aptly put it, "Ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me over at the Pete M blog, reading the boobie jokes."

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

I did not read yesterday's comments until now, so I am adding my observations about recognizing a rebus puzzle here.

It's true that almost all puzzles with rebuses appear on Sunday or Thursday in the NY Times. One of yesterday's comments explained how to visually recognize a Thursday rebus puzzle. Indeed, as soon as I looked at the grid and scanned the clues, I was 99% sure that the puzzle would include rebus squares. I'd like to expound on this method.

It's almost universally true that only the Friday and Saturday puzzles are themeless. Monday through Friday, there are almost always at least three clues relating to the theme. Usually the answers are arranged symmetrically in the grid and have significantly more letters (usually nine or more) than the other answers. (Usually three or four long theme answers march across the grid OR two answers march across the grid and two answers march down the grid.)

Sometimes the themed answers are not arranged symmetrically and and not necessarily long. For example, if the theme were "movies directed by Hitchcock" some of the answers could be short (Rope or Psycho or Birds, for examples). However, the clues in this type of puzzle are worded to identify where the themed answers lie in the grid.

Neither yesterday's puzzles' clues nor the grid suggested where all the themed answers lie on the grid. There were two long answers marching down the grid, but there are always more than two themed answers. I inferred that some of the across themed answers probably contained at least one rebus.

Of course, some Thursday puzzles look normal yet still contain rebuses in the grid. Ditto any Sunday puzzle that contains a rebus. Sometimes one of the gimmes (such as yesterday's sn[ick] and snee) can't possibly fit into the grid. Otherwise, it can take a while before catching on.

I hope this comment helps the person yesterday who asked the question about how to recognize a rebus puzzle.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Boredom with the puzzle kept me from exploring all the "torpedo" answer possibilities. As a result, I never parsed the answer with a G and stuck with the O (for Owen), which got me to "OUTMAN." I guess I should have figured out anarchic was UNLED, but I just didn't see it, and UTLED made as much sense to me as anything at the time.

No love from you varmints for Yosemite Sam?

JannieB 9:50 AM  

For all the fill that I got without a thought (Manhattan, draw a line, anemo, panelist, shakers) the short stuff gave me a fit. I read the clues filling in as I went and got a toehold in every quadrant. Had the Western hemisphere done, then the NE, and finally the SE - Gwen??? Imide??? Ral?? same stumbling blocks as the rest of you. Missed our Ezra de jour, and what is it about the SE this week?? Usually I stare at the NW for much of the day.

JC66 9:57 AM  


I did the same think with SREE/SHARERS.

Also completely unfamiliar with RAL and IMIDE. And what's the deal with UNLED for anarchic?

Unknown 9:57 AM  

Oops, have to enter 'Kazan icon' to get the images on Google.or click on THis Icon

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

My solving was like Ulrich's, with "sharers" at the restaurant and no googles to clear that up. I was helped by recent puzzles that included NELL and HENNAS, got hungry with NILLA, HERSHEY, SMORE and SHERBET... but not tempted by CHEEZWHIZ!

Names came out mostly right except for that pesky SKEE, and also LAYLA, where I had an "I" in the middle, crossing "Ai Caramba", Oy! And I think catkins come out on many trees so I ran through abeles and aspens before settling on ALDER because TOERR looked odd! (thinking "tears")..

I liked SPACE RACE, PANELIST, I WANT YOU and other competition words, though ENTERED IN was a bit weak. And I'd note that our New York State's Great Seal has an eagle crammed on top of a bunch of other figures and stuff, even including a shield with a view of sailing ships on the Hudson River -- nearly enough various symbols to fill a crossword!


Anonymous 10:20 AM  

p.s. CHEEZ WHIZ -- ICK! Thanks to pete m for the Leno laugh....

Barbara Bolsen 10:33 AM  

I went for BRACHIA, too. I think bronchi and trachea must have crossed in my brain. Never caught that one.

Got stuck for awhile on OWEN instead of GWEN, too. And misspelled CHEEZWHIZ twice, catching only the first error, leadering to Mo-TSE instead of TZE.

ANON, thanks for the rebus exlanation. I didn't finish yesterday, and didn't have time to read the blog.

Barbara Bolsen 10:33 AM  

I went for BRACHIA, too. I think bronchi and trachea must have crossed in my brain. Never caught that one.

Got stuck for awhile on OWEN instead of GWEN, too. And misspelled CHEEZWHIZ twice, catching only the first error, leadering to Mo-TSE instead of TZE.

ANON, thanks for the rebus exlanation. I didn't finish yesterday, and didn't have time to read the blog.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

As often happens with a Friday puzzle, I found this one much easier than Thursday this week, and even easier than Wednesday's (still upset over DISSEVER and MINIMI). Can anyone explain why I can usually make my way through a Friday puzzle as long as I can get a purchase on one quadrant, while Weds and Thurs will often stump me at one turn or another. Anyone?

The only wind: Prefix I know is AEOLIAN (from geology), but it wouldn't fit. And I thought it was funny that HYUNDAI fits for "Sonata that might not sound good". And I kept it for a while because it fit with AYCARAMBA for 12D... got rid of it finally when I got UNBURNT. Otherwise, everything went quite (not QUITO) smoothly.

jae 10:49 AM  

I liked this one. The Beach Boys clue biased me. Anyone who got in my car in the late 70's/early 80's had to listen to my home made "best of" tape. Plus ya gotta like any puzzle with both STONEDEAD and CHEEZWHIZ.

My first entries were SMORE, CHRIS and MANHATTAN so NW went quickly. I also had AGAPE and OWEN for a while and was looking for a GRINDER or the like for torpedo. I did know the GUNMAN connotation, however, so it was fixable.

Lots of pretty obscure stuff. I thought sure Rex's clue of the day would be 24a RAL and Wiki has SKEELO as a moderately successful 90s rapper. How deep into the bowels of music arcana is the NYT willing to go?

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

I dont know Rex, first you're a Red Sox fan, and now you're putting down LOST? Dem's fighting words. In retaliation, I will set up my own crossword blog to steal hits from yours. It will be called "Park Rexer Tries But Probably Fails To Even Get Halfway Through The NYT Crossword Puzzle". Not as catchy, but damn it, it'll be mine.

(And P.S. they are already off the island. In the future. Some of them. Kind of. They might not be. Its...complicated.)

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Re: anemo - there is a flower called an anemone which has another name, wind flower.

Rex Parker 11:08 AM  

Oh, Zach-hopper, clearly I have not taught you as well as I should have. Just tell me you aren't (still?) watching "Smallville."


Bill D 11:11 AM  

My first down fills were ANEMO and CHRIS, which gave me a good start on the top of the puzzle. Played around with variations of AY CARAMBA until it finally hepled conquer the NE, even though "DETOX" temporarily threw me off course.

First across fills were QUITO, I WANT YOU, and NILLA (my favorite!), so I worked the rest of the puzzle from them. Used crosswordese in places - saw "Jagged" and thought EROSE (thanks, Rex); saw "Some fisherman" and thought "EELERS". Filled the back half "'See It Now' producer" with NEWS, and used Sudoku logic to fill the "B" in - it had to be ABC, NBC, or CBS. This eventually allowed me to get BALD EAGLE readily.

Some awkward stuff was more than offset by the likes of SPACE RACE, STONE DEAD, CHEEZ WHIZ (you can't make a real Philly cheesesteak without it!), I WANT YOU crossing BALD EAGLE, and PANELIST & SLOGANEER parallel.

I cannot prove this, but I think I have derived the link between "TORPEDO" and GUNMAN; actually "HIT MAN" would have been a more accurate answer, as "Torpedo" is old Mafia slang for a hit man. I believe the way this came about was because an Italian term for a "tough guy" is torbido. So when the mafioso were gathered around their conference table breaking pencils, when a hit came up the Silicians mumbled something about calling in the "torbido". The new worlders heard it as torPEdo, thus torpedo became underworld slang for a hit man. Whaddya think? If you like that one, someday I'll tell you my story about why Jimmy Olsen is called a "cub" reporter!

Pythia 11:43 AM  

Good Friday level. I'm with Rex today on the ho-hum-nity, although there were some fun encounters; fortunately, there was enough pizzazz in the clues to make the difference, so overall a thumbs-up.

CHEEZ WHIZ -- to borrow a clue from yesterday's opus, "That's repulsive!"

SethG 12:04 PM  

With friends like these...

My first answer (and a great idea for tonight) was MANHATTAN. HYUNDAI was second, then QUITO. Count me in with the TUBELAGE/SREE gang. I still know nothing about Lost.

I can't stand sherbet (the ice with milk or eggs or some other fat), especially that orange crap that my dad used to like. But a nice fruit sorbet can be a fantastic palate cleanser--especially the citruses.

I can't remember if the ACCA gives negative as well as positive awards (Downies?), but the clue for PAVER is a special kind of bad. Luckily, letting the (BALD) EAGLE soar never fails to bring me joy.

Doug 12:07 PM  

I was off to a confident start with RUSTYNAIL for Rob Roy and REDDIWHIP for Kraft. Needless to say, I got buttwhipped with the rest due to completely wrong long fill. I was in Conagra's office last week in Toronto and thought I recalled seeing a can of Reddiwhip in their display case along with some other novelty brands like Jiffy Pop (an oldie but a goodie, and if ever a clue about it comes up, I am poised and ready.)

I just saw Clapton last year (awesome show) and he brought down the house with LAYLA.

And I'm still wondering what the heck that oily, cheesy thing is that Rex has pictured. If ever you wonder why we're all so fat...look no further! "Hey, all this sausage and white bread is...well, it's almost vegetarian for Chrissakes! Get some Cheezwhiz in the microwave and dress this schoolgirl up."

miriam b 12:09 PM  

Pass the SHERBET. I need to cleanse my palate. Then I'll have a MANHATTAN (bourbon please).

I thought at first of RUSTYNAIL for Cousin of Rob Roy; can't really explain why, as I don't like Scotch at all.

Troubling to me: EROSE and ERODES in the same puzzle.

Nice puzzle - not hard for me despite liberal sprinkling of pop culture. All in all, a good mix.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

sethg, I agree about the ugliness of paver's cluing and Rex's view of the clunkiness of the "clever" clues especially (the clue for UNBURNT in particular.) It was kind of like watching a drunk guy play charades.

Doc John 12:17 PM  

I slowly and consistently made my way through this but did have to resort to pencil for the NW. Of course, once I picked up the pencil, every previously unknown clue flowed into my head and I was finished within minutes! Much better than yesterday.

I did like the USED CAR clue and also considered Hyundai for a while. I'm surprised Rex didn't have more to say about SLOGANEER, though.

I also considered "alveoli" (a stretch) or "bronchi" (unlikely given the cluing) before finally settling on TRACHEA.

For "See It Now" I was trying to fit in C Barris (of Gong Show fame) but I already had HERSHEY so that was that.

This is the SZELL with whom I'm familiar!

Finally, thanks to sethg for that ICKy and creepy video. I had a feeling that was what it was even before clicking on the link!

Mike 12:30 PM  

From now on, every time I want to moan about some 1940's broadway actress I will imagine someone who knows those names trying to figure out SKEE-Lo, NAS or some other rapper's name and I will smile and laugh a little.

FYI, there's also a more talented rapper named Cee-Lo.

dk 12:59 PM  

I started off with a bang as well. I had necco for NILLA and dreams of Rex's picture of necco wafers dancing in my head.

Then I had tense issues with heads, stonecold instead of STONEDEAD and osage instead of ALDERS... AYCARAMBA.

Agree with the comments on PAVER and UNBURNT. Loved IWANTYOU.

On to Saturday.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Made a few wrong turns at first:

Aspen instead of alder as I had a quivering aspen in my backyard with lots of catkins. Actually associate catkins with aspens. Also had "it was you" picturing somebody in a murder mystery pointing to the butler before I realized it was "I want you" and Uncle Sam doing the pointing. This error led me to Jodie Foster' role as Anna insted of Nell. I believe she was in the remake of The KIng and I: Anna and the King of Siam. Bald Eagle forced me to reconsider and correct the SW. Thought gunman was wrong but left it in as best answer. Suprised to see that I had only one wrong letter in the end tSe instead of tZe. As I had never had cheezwhiz and only heard of it via commercials, I did not know it was spelled with a Z, I therefore had chee S whiz. One letter off for a Friday without Googling is great for me.


Doc John 1:03 PM  

Oh, and in keeping with the rock n roll clues, there's I WANT YOU (To Want Me) by Cheap Trick.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Well, I WHIZZED through the western half of this puzzle, thinking this one will rate an "easy" from Rex! Then I stumbled hard on the eastern half. First I had AMINE, then AMIDE, finally IMIDE-sometimes you can know too much chemistry. And I didn't trust myself on AY CARAMBA-took it out and put in O DIO MADRE because I really wanted the record clue to be BSIDES for a while. That on top of AGAPE instead of AGASP, and that whole side of the puzzle was just a mess for a good long time.

PuzzleGirl 1:28 PM  

I think it's funny when wrong answers lead to right answers. I initially put in AGAPE for AGASP, which gave me the A for what I thought was the brilliant AY DIOS MIO. I realized that couldn't be right when I got down to the Sonata clue and wanted HYUNDAI there, which gave me AY CARAMBA, but I didn't fix HYUNDAI until I saw CIRC. Whew -- it was a whirlwind! I ended up with one wrong letter. I don't remember ever seeing EROSE and guessed ERISE.

Saw a comment on the Tuesday thread about today's puzzle before I had solved it. Focus, people, focus! I choose to believe I would have figured out the SE corner even without the help.

Kids and I just made s'mores earlier this week. We roasted the marshmallows over the flame on the stove. (What can I say? The boy really wanted s'mores and I wasn't going to go build a fire in the backyard.)

Two years ago for Mother's Day I asked my husband to watch the Lost DVDs with me. We watched 13 episodes in 2 days and have been hooked ever since.

doc john: Thanks for mentioning Cheap Trick. I love them. My friend Rachel developed her permanent tinnitus at a Cheap Trick show in Baltimore many years ago.

Doc John 1:38 PM  

At least she got hers in a fun way! I also have tinnitus but got it from a really bad ear infection. :(

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention who my Szell was- that was the evil character played by Sir Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man".

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Rex -

That was a different student of yours/friend of mine who watches Smallville. I still contend that any true Superman fan wouldn't watch.

But yeah, Lost, woo!

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Would somebody explain SHAKERS?

JannieB 2:18 PM  

@joe - the salt and pepper shakers

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Chris Rock on Jeremiah Wright: "[He's a] 75-year-old black man who doesn't like white people. Is there any other kind of 75-year-old black man?". When asked to respond to the quote at his National Press
Club speech, Wright retorted "I think it's just like the media. I'm not 75."


Wendy Laubach 2:28 PM  

I assumed it meant salt and pepper shakers on the restaurant table.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Could someone please explain PAVER? Closest I can get is people who work paving parking lots? Sheesh.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

@ joe: as in salt and pepper shakers
It's odd, that was my very first thought with no letters in, but I decided to see which way the clue "shook" out before I put in any letters...yet, by the time I finished the puzzle I had put in SHARERS too! ANd didn't realize my mistake till the blog!
(Maybe we should dine again some time, Ulrich!)
Re: Cheap Trick...I guess it IS generational, bec the whole time I was staring at the IWANTYOU all I could hear in my head is John Lennon pleading, "I Want you...(bum bum bum) I want you so bad(bum bum bum) I want yoooooooou
it's driving me mad it's driving me mad

jubjub 2:45 PM  

I'm confused about "One of a lot of workers?" = PAVER. What does the question mark mean? Is it a pun having to do with "lot"?

LAYLA was my first answer, as I was just making fun of the never-ending sugary sequence of riffs at the end of the song the other day, and it was the first song to pop into my head in relation to long songs (second was "Hey Jude").

@orange, as a liberal elitist, I spell sherbet "sorbet" and pronounce it "sherbet", never "sore-bay" or "sherbert". However, I come down on the side of it being the word's fault; in fact, I vote it most messed up word in the English language.

I thought the USEDCAR=Sonata clue was quite the burn on Sonatas. I wouldn't want to work Hyundai right now. Zing!

Woo Lost!

Rex Parker 2:45 PM  

from "peter" (who posted this to the wrong day's entry ...):

I am truly amazed that you didn’t comment on the 43D Anarchic answer: Unled. I think that’s the damndest stretch for a clue/answer I’ve ever seen. And frankly “Imide” instead of amide or omide makes me nuts. I totally bombed out in the SE corner and did not get Gunman at all, because I got hung up on Owen instead of Gwen. Unlike you, I couldn’t let it go – bad me – but should have just Googled the damn name and gotten on with it. With the GU and the final N, I’m sure I would have eventually gotten to Gunman. But Geez!!

Rex Parker 2:46 PM  


I only just now noticed your avatar. Awe+some.


kate 2:51 PM  

My first fill was LAYLA, and it amazes me that I pulled that out of my, er, hat. I think I had a split second string of associations run through my head from 'bands that played long songs in the 70s' (Creem) to 'who was in the band' (Clapton) to 'hm, 5 letters, well, LAYLA fits might as well slap it in there.'

I kept expecting answers in this puzzle to be something trickier than they were, e.g. CARTON, BALDEAGLE, SHERBET. It ended up being a pretty easy Friday for me, with some fun fill - had to like CHEEZWHIZ, SPACERACE and STONEDEAD.

mac 2:58 PM  

Worked all around this puzzle at first, but got through the whole thing with only one google: Kazan cathedral locale.
I had ....whip for 28 down for a while and was looking for a competitor for Miracle Whip, but didn't think of Reddi, thank goodness. I was also trying to think of a form of aeolian, but anemo was not unknown either.

Here's another Sam, Rex: Szell.
I was expecting more of a reaction out of you when I got "sloganeer"!

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Is anybody working on a master list of "crossword-only" words (sloganeer, bygone, cager . . .)? Rex has pantheonic words catalogued, but I don't see a catalog of crossword-only words. I think of EELER as crossword-only. Am I wrong? Do people who catch eels (and I guess there are such people) really refer to themselves as "eelers"? No disrespect to the proud and noble calling of eeling, but the term evokes unsettling imagery.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Early into solving i had STOPSHORT (for 51A) a la rex.. as well as SHORTSTOP (for 13D - One whose work may be catchy). Thought i was on to something.

Also.. went through CHAMPS and CHIMES before arriving at CRIMES (31A - Record listings?).

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

docjohn is a Cartwright. Who knew?

Michael Chibnik 3:52 PM  

Could someone explain took sides=ate? I'm sure it's obvious and maybe I missed the explanation somewhere, but I just can't seem to get it.

I worked my way through this puzzle ok, but had to give up with two blank cells with torpedo -gun--n crossing i-ide and t-nia. I probably should have guessed tania and then gunman would have come by default.

Michael Chibnik 3:54 PM  

took sides=ate.

This wouldn't be side dishes, would it?

Leon 3:56 PM  

Mr. Silk - nice puzzle.

Mr. Silk likes his cheesesteaks. CHEEZWHIZ being an essential ingredient. This is the same constructor who on Mar 28, 2008 had the following at 51 across: Where to order a cheesesteak "wit" or "witout" : SOUTHPHILLY.

Re:Manhattans. They are making a comeback and bartenders are using Bourbon.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

@bill d
no dice on your explaination of "torbido" in italian=tough guy in english: torbido is an adjective meaning cloudy or murky (same base as the english word "turbid")--maybe descriptive of the water in which you deposit the body?

Jim on the left coast 4:19 PM  

following has nothing to do with blog really, sorry for the intrusion:
anybody have time to explain how you attach an avatar to your signature?

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

I liked the crossing of CHEEZWHIZ and NILLA [wafers], although the very thought of that combination makes my stomach hurt!

Wendy Laubach 4:49 PM  

When I signed up on Google, it had me fill in my name and so on, and there's a little box where you can add a picture by linking either to a website or to a picture file on your hard drive (it asks which you prefer). Whatever picture you drop in there will become your avatar.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Re: EELER (lifesaver for a constructor)
There is a fabulous Imamura film called "The Eel" (1997)about a man who gets out of prison after killing his wife whom he had found in bed with another man (an EELER?) and then takes up with a pet eel.
Trust me, it's better than it sounds!
But I don't know if he would be considered an EELER, and heck, it was in Japanese!

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

Nobody ought to have to do time for killing a wife who's cheating on him with an eeler. Or a sloganeer, for that matter.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Today I made many of the mistakes described (Agape, tubelage, tse) though I got shakers right off. But may be my most original error was in response to 2D: One of a lot of workers. I put "Valet" (for parking lot). It fit "Manhattan" and "remit" and therefore was very hard to shake...

As to the food aspects of today's puzzle, it makes the breadsticks of yesterday seem downright elegant...

I'm thinking I would like to see Wade get together with Ulrich at a real bar, and hear them discuss their ideas on romance and the right to kill one's wife if she cheats with an eeler (or a sloganeer).

Bill from NJ 7:23 PM  

@mike -

From now on, every time I catch a snide whiff about "pop culture", I will think of your 40s broadway actress and those rappers. Thank you for a truly spot on comment that made me grin.


A line from a Joni Mitchell song
- "They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot" - brought PAVERS to mind for me - a parking lot.

@ docjohn -

This may be a D'oh moment, but is your avatar Pernell Roberts? Thanx to Wade and Rex.

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

Sam Spade would be number one on my Sam list, which is probably why I had little trouble with "Torpedo" which reminded me of "gunsel" and then "gunman."

Still waiting for a clear explanation of "paver," which seems to be a broken clue, even with the weak allusion to a "lot" which might be covered with paving stones. And am I the only one who boldly wrote in "TRACKS" for "record listings" and then put poor Kitty "Carlilse" through all sorts of contortions, trying to get her to fit with "What's My Line"? SHERBERT finally saved me from that, even though Layla did nothing to deter me. (Free Bird and InnaGaddadaVida being too long to play in this space - or on the radio for that matter).

fergus 8:26 PM  

Of course I wanted to put in AY CARAMBA -- there was a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley by that name -- but the only Purifications I could come up with were DETOX and possibly DESAL (for ocean water), but as everything else dropped into place it had to be DECON. Looked askance for a while because I had never heard that term for decontaminate despite having written a number of articles about environmental remediation. So it seemed too artificial, though I'm sure the term has some currency somewhere.

Also the Heads as OVERSEERS didn't seem like a good match. Isn't an overseer strictly middle-management? I did like the precise and limited way Charge and TUTELAGE fit together, though. And good misdirection on Record listings.

Bill D 8:30 PM  

@anon 4:15 - I have a picture of a peg-legged witch or something like that with the title "La Torbida" which was translated as "The Tough One". I assumed the masculine would have to be used for a male character. Perhaps the translation was incorrect, or the word is slang in Italian already.

Howard B 9:17 PM  

Stuck in my head as a result of this puzzle: (Thanks, Skee-Lo)
"I wish I was a little bit taller.
I wish I was a baller.*
I wish...something something rabbit in a hat..
..something something Impala."**

Why is even that much still swimming around in my head?!? Any idea, Rex? I'm stumped.
It was catchy, though.

* (basket, not melon)
** (paw-la?)

Joon 9:20 PM  

liked this puzzle; didn't love it. i agree with rex that CHEEZWHIZ, as great as it is, was defanged by TZE and SZELL. i mean, who cares about TZE and SZELL? not me.

pete m (way back in comment 1): ENTERED isn't the same as [Became a participant]; ENTEREDIN is. you can ENTER a building, but not a partnership or a project. that's how i see it, anyway.

i'll join the chorus of general dissent against the PAVER clue. but i liked ATE, SHAKERS, IWANTYOU, and USEDCAR (i also had HYUNDAI off the A)... but i admit there was a missing ", perhaps" in that clue.

mac 10:54 PM  

Where is everybody? It's Friday Night!

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

Hi Mac -- Extra spring cleaning tonight, as the refrigerator conked out yesterday. Had a new one delivered today, but most of the food stuff had to be chucked out. Terrible shame that most I saw were too tall by 2 inches or more! Write me at ArtLvr911 at aol dot com


Joearf 11:51 PM  

If you're interested in a tie-in between "anemo" and "alder". Catkins [the clue that given us for alders] are wind-pollinated or "anemophilous" flowers

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

Super, joe arf -- I love those kinds of connections! I didn't think of a catkiin as the flower itself, more as a kind of pod resulting from fertilization? I'll do some more reading on catkins. Thanks....


xwd_fiend 7:36 AM  

Had a mighty battle with this as an occasional NYT solver. Unfortunate initial guess at Decathlon for 1A, not having seen the significance of 'missions'. Time to remember that in a good clue, every word is there for a reason! So blew the top left corner, though ANEMO and REMITS had at least come into the frame by the end. For more 'horny' Strauss, check out the Rosenkavalier prelude - poor sound but good band & conductor at ...

Unknown 11:56 AM  

Could someone please explain STEAL?

Bill D 1:36 PM  

Noah - "diamond" is often a crosswordese misdirection to "baseball". And since baseball has data for everything that happens on the "diamond", including stolen bases or "steals", a single STEAL can be construed as a "Diamond datum". It's especially cruel as "carat" is also five letters.

Doc John 4:45 PM  

Sorry I didn't get back but left for the afternoon and evening to attend a Springsteen concert. He was great, as usual, and ended the concert with "Kitty's Back", my fave of all his songs.

Thanks for all the comments on my avatar. It is indeed Pernell Roberts. As for being a Cartwright, I'll certainly settle for being Adam but growing up I really wanted to be Hoss!

I'll post this again in Saturday's comment section where people might actually see it!

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I agree with Rex - medium, on the easy end of medium.

55A was Solti for too long - CHI, not CLE. Oh well, all these AL Central cities are indistiguishable....

Had OWEN for 49D like many, and the W luckily being right was the key to the SE, as it gave me 51A, DRAW A LINE.

@ Miriam B - I top didn't like ERODES and EROSE in the same puzzle. I'd guess the PP of erodere in Latin is erosus, and that is the tie - any of you who are philologists, whether professional or amateur, feel free to clue me in.

42A was either QUITO or SUCRE (Ecuadorean currency) and IMIDE (44D) was the deciding cross.

@Rex - AMIDE, IMIDE yes, OMIDE no as far as I know.

@Puzzle Girl - AGAPE was my hardest to give up error for the day - which made 13D and 14D tougher than they should have been.

kas 3:48 PM  

Thanks for clarifying torpedo=gunman, Norm. Just couldn't put that together

Unknown 6:32 PM  

Other Sams just as good
Yosemite Sam

You probably all ready know were SKEE comes from... Think Lil John rap

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

For 33A "Couple seen in a restaurant", I got stuck on 'Hooters' ...

embien 11:47 PM  

Wanted JOHN DALY (the host/moderator) for 14d "What's My Line" participant. The notable PANELISTs were Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf and Henry Morgan??? (a humorist).

The show can be seen in it's full black and white glory late, late night on GSN.

Never did get GUNMAN, since ON END never meant Without a break to me. Oh well.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

@ pete m: Isn't "Sam Gamgee" one of the characters in "Bored of the Rings" by the Harvard Lampoon? I can't find my copy, so I can't say for sure.

Oops, just found my copy. It's Spam Gangree – along with the other memorable characters: Frito and Dildo Bugger; Moxie and Pepsi; and the wizard, Goodgulf.

Anonymous 3:25 AM  

My roommate and I are so aggravated after slogging through this crossword puzzle. If we hadn't found your blog, we would have driven to Mr. Shortz's house and banged on the door, demanding an explanation for these ridiculous clues and even more ridiculous answers. Eeler??! Unled?! CanI? This is not a question of hard or easy; it is a matter of puzzle integrity! Okay, so we almost wet ourselves laughing at some of these answers. Not because they were clever, but because Shortz was just making up words to fit his goofy clues. It is called a crossWORD puzzle, after all.

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