Friday, June 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Had frustrating false starts in both the NW and the SE (CBS for CNN - 4D: "Reliable Sources" broadcaster - BELLS for BIKES - 1D: Exercise room lineup - PRESS AGENT for SALES AGENT - 58A: Pitcher?), and a similar snafu in the far west, where my first stabs at 33D: Ripley who wrote the "Gone With the Wind" sequel "Scarlett" (Alexandra) and 34D: Abuses (ill-treats) were CASSANDRA and MISTREATS, respectively. But I sliced through the rest of the puzzle very smoothly and somehow finished in just over 7 minutes, which is pretty good for me on a Friday. I wish it had been slightly more challenging, as it was wildly entertaining, and I like good puzzles to last ... well, not as long as possible, but longer than 7 minutes. Lots of good mid-range fill today, particularly in the name department. Any puzzle that starts with BELCH (1A: Shakespeare's Sir Toby _____) and ends with MERTZ (61A: 1950s sitcom family name) is A-OK in my book. The MERTZ / KURTZ crossing is especially delicious (47D: Literary character whose last words are "The horror! The horror!"). KURTZ is from Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and the quoted line was uttered in "Apocalypse Now" and has recently been used on "The Colbert Report" segment, "Democralypse Now"; here's an example:

I have a friend visiting from out of town, and I am meeting her in, oh, 1 hr, so it's time for a quick, all-bullet version of my write-up. Ready: Go!

  • 6A: Italian architect Rossi (Aldo) - who? I ask the same question of, let's see ... 57A: Baseball team owner Moreno (Arte) and 10D: Opera impresario Caldwell (Sarah).
  • 16A: Part of the view in "A Room With a View" (Arno) - Haven't seen this movie in 20 years (and no, I never read the book). ARNO is crossword gold, though - most popular O-ending European river ... besides the EBRO.
  • 20A: Vengeful Quaker of literature (Ahab) - one of my most favorite clues ... ever. Just the phrase "Vengeful Quaker" makes me giddy.
  • 21A: Pal, in Pau (ami) - where? Oh, the Pyrenees ... I see.
  • 22A: Highest-scoring Scrabble word that doesn't use A, E, I, O or U (syzygy) - we just passed the 6-wk anniversary of the Tuesday SYZYGY puzzle that did me in, and since I monitor both same-day and syndication traffic to my site, this word was fresh in my mind.
  • 25A: Cryogenic refrigerant (ethane) - is the cryogenics industry somehow infiltrating the puzzle? This is two cryogenics-related clues in one week. That's a lot.
  • 32A: They have people eating in a lot (tailgate parties) - very awesome clue, introducing a string of three great 15-letter answers in the middle of the puzzle. The others: 37A: 1972 #1 hit for the Staple Singers ("I'll Take You There"); and 38A: Sentence fragments often beginning with "wh-" words (relative clauses).
  • 39A: Nos. pressed after getting through (ext) - as in "extension"; I had RST at first, figuring it was some phone keypad-related thing I didn't understand.
  • 42A: Dorothy Lamour's trademark garment (sarong) - "Trademark?" I challenge! I honestly had no idea who this woman was. I know the name very well ... but she's just a name to me. Here she is showing off her "trademark garment":
  • 48A: Org. that gives out Jazz Masters Awards (NEA) - National Endowment for the Arts
  • 49A: Something to do in a virtual room (chat) - what else can you do? Lurk, I guess.
  • 2D: "Politics is the _____ of the imagination": Ian McEwan ("enemy") - When did this guy become a political philosopher?
  • 3D: Walter who created Woody Woodpecker (Lantz) - the third of your Z-ending five letter names today. Is that a record?
  • 9D: Divining device, in sci-fi (orb) - I need an example. I did a [SPOCK ORB] Google search: nothing. (30D: Son of Sarek => SPOCK)
  • 15D: QB's talent (play-making) - just a fantastic answer
  • 23D: Big Three locale (Yalta) - speaking of Big Three ... Lakers blew a 20+ point lead last night to go down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to Boston and their "Big Three" of KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
  • 24D: Unit of explosive force (gigaton) - another great, lively answer.
  • 25D: Dress uniform adornments (epaulettes) - very military ... favored by many a dictator.
  • 26D: Golden Horde members (Tartars) - I just learned that TATARS and TARTARS ... are the same thing.
  • 36D: Dull sound ("thunk!") - as in "who'da thunk that was a word?"
  • 50D: Album after "Beatles VI" ("Help!") - HELP! indeed. "HELP, BEATLES VII won't fit!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I pre-guessed your title clue!

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Thought it was pretty easy for a Friday except for the syzygy

I had Maltreat, mistreat before
winding up w/correct illtreat
which finally led me to the great
answer tailparties.

thanks Rex


SethG 9:05 AM  

I had problems at three name crossings: Figured APU/KURTZ, but I think I had both TARTAnS/KEnN and BEnCH/NAnTZ initially.

Wasn't as impressed with PLAY MAKING...somehow I expected more, and when I got it I said "that's it?". (No idea what more I could have asked for...) But liked SPIT, liked AHAB a lot, and _loved_ TAILGATE PARTIES.

And no problems with SYZYGY--in fact, I leave shortly to play ultimate at a chicken festival in Ohio. Have a great weekend all and back Monday, PhillySolver.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

thought it was clever that the (sort of) vowel-less SYZYGY was symmetrical to the vowel-less TSKTSK.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

In addition to wondering "Sarah who?" I had a problem with impresario being a female, since this is a word borrowed from Italian in its masculine form. What's wrong with the English word "promoter," which is all an impresario is, anyway?

Unknown 9:28 AM  

I am going to report that Wade is now a superhero from the movie the Master of Disguise and has dropped his sage stuffed trout persona. Best of luck at the tournament Seth.

I enjoyed the puzzle and the fact that I had one of my best Friday times. I am not trying for speed, but I am measuring my progress against my past.

As to the mystery entry, think sci-fi games such as this Orb

janie 9:33 AM  

steve -- in the opera world, ms. caldwell (who is most famously associated with the opera company of boston as a founding director) was a major conductor, director and administrator. and at least one of her obits refers to her as an "impresario." to me, (gender issue aside) "impresario" is far more evocative in capsulizing her impressive range of talents than the more generic "promoter." imoo... ;-)

and dr. rex (yes, i'll take the challenge...) -- here's ms. lamour on herself:

"I made 60 motion pictures and only wore the sarong in about six pictures, but it did become a kind of trademark."

probably because those six were so very popular in their day.

soooo beautiful here in the east this a.m. hope the same's true for the resta yas!



Bill from NJ 9:44 AM  

Dorothy Lamour was in the old Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road to . . . series of movies in the 30s, I think. They commented on her sarong on several occassions.

I guessed SYZYGY for the Scrabble clue because I had read an article about Scrabble tournaments and I recalled the word from a puzzle we had not too long ago.

This puzzle was in my wheelhouse and I knew every name in it. This allowed me to blow through the NW straightaway and I am always energized when I can start at 1A and make steady progress

I brought this puzzle in at just under 10 minutes which is amazing for me on a Friday!

jubjub 9:55 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I thought all the long answers were great. I think PLAYMAKING took me the longest, just cuz it doesn't seem specific enough.

I made similar mistakes to sethg above, TARTAnS/KEnN and BErCH/rANTZ. Good to know I'm not alone!

OASES gave me pause, partly cuz I though SARONG was spelled SARaNG, then because I thought to myself oase? What's an oase?

Beatles VI? All these weird old US releases are confusing to me.

"ALEXANDRettA! Of course! On the pilgrim trail from the Eastern Empire!"

Dwight 10:20 AM  

I had KURTZ so I figured 61A was ARNAZ. Right series, wrong couple. Quickly figured I was wrong, but also marveled at the names ending in Z.

ArtLvr 10:20 AM  

Egads, Rex did this in 7 minutes! My time, with getting second cup of java, about 30 more than that -- but never mind. I was happy to finish with only two googles to confirm going in the right direction... I knew SARAH and SARONG, but not some of the more recent references.

Putting "clunk" instead of THUNK at 26D was still helpful in filling in the whole right coast, and then fixing that to get TAILGATE PARTIES rather than "drive-in" (somethings) was a turning point. The solving of the long stacks in the midsection got me the rest, though the EYE in the center had been an "ess" at the start.

Great long vertical stacks in NE and SW too, on top of all the across stacks! Putting INSINCERE next to PRIMARIES was bittersweet, and the "ill" crossing I'LL in 34D and 37A caused a little chill: I'LL TAKE YOU THERE and ILLTREAT!

After SPIT as a clue for "shoal" recently, my favorite today was having that appear as the answer to the "hot rod" clue. Isn't there also a kids' card game called SPIT? This also went well with BELCH, TSK TSK and HELP! Fab puzzle.


Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Fun puzzle today. I like the longer answers. The answers I didn't know immediately, were pieced together with crosses pretty quickly. Have a great weekend all!

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Rex - Thanks for, in addition to the xword stuff, the sports update. I hadn't dared even check.

Shamik 10:32 AM  

This is one of those days when the age of the solver has a lot to do with ease. SARAH was known as was SARONG. Guess that means I've made it into the elderly category. : (

Loved seeing SPOCK clued as it was. Also loved EPAULETTES.

Hated OASES. I just didn't like it.

Didn't know the origin of ORB divining anything so thanks phillysolver!

Finally I wanted PLAYCALLING for PLAYMAKING, but it didn't fit. So had PLAY for awhile until the fill helped. Good puzzle, but fairly easy for a Friday.

dk 10:39 AM  

When I think orb, I think Sleeper.

I impressed my lovely wife by knowing LANTZ, KURTZ, MERTZ and SYZYGY

She got ILLTAKEYOUTHERE,ARNO and AHAB (aka VQ) we sailed through in under 10 minutes.

@SETH have fun and if you see any chickens in SARONGS capture them on film.

Parshutr 10:43 AM  

I set a PR for speed (for a Friday) even with spelling EPAULETTES without the TE and rejecting it, then putting in those letters.
I know that APES is in the Pantheon, but I hate it.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

It's taken me a long time, and a lot of hard questions had to be asked, but I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm a trout. I'm a trout stuffed with sage.

I'm not sure I think the clue for RELATIVECLAUSES is cricket. A relative clause isn't necessarily a fragment, right? It can just be part of a sentence, which isn't to say it's a fragment (i.e., I think "fragment" in a grammatical sense is a phrase that starts with a capital letter and has a period at the end of it but no verb betwixt the two.) It might be a sentence fragment sometimes, but no more often than anything else.

I kept wanting PLAYACTION instead of -making.

Pythia 10:47 AM  

Breezy puzzle and a breeze to solve. One BELCH at the start, but no hiccups, happily. Adored TAILGATE PARTIES (and its clue) and the center stack of 15s. PRIMARIES, INSINCERE, ILLTREATS all kind of dull for long answers.

Clue for RDAS is suspect. Cereal box nos. are % Daily Value, and have been for a while. They are, it appears, based on RDI -- Reference Daily Intake -- of which RDA is now one component.

Loved the clues for CSI, SPIT, and TIRES.

jae 10:49 AM  

I love a puzzle full of gimmies for geezers. 60's & 70's music, 50's TV, 50's cartoon characters, road movies, WWII meeting sites, Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse now quotes, its all here. Great puzzle!! Minor hiccups were trying to fit CAUSUSES in and MEGA briefly for GIGA.

Much thanks to this blog for SYZYGY. Not only was it discussed 6 weeks ago, the scrabbliness (sp?) of the word was mentioned more than once in the comments. Nice gimmie.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

@jls--The following is from the Wikipedia article: Sarah Caldwell (March 6, 1924 – March 23, 2006) was a notable American opera conductor, impresario, and opera company director. Thus, conductor and director are considered separate from impresario, which is much in line with their definition of impresario, which does not mention conducting or directing events. I think of impresario as mainly an opera term, maybe because of the influence of Italian on the opera world, and as such, Wikipedia lists Rudolf Bing as an example, and I have never heard of Sir Rudolf as anything but an impresario. However, it also lists Bill Graham, who to me, was a rock promoter. I freely admit that I'm not a big opera fan, and it seems that impresario skews toward opera. However, I am a language person, and impresario is definitely a masculine word.

janie 11:06 AM  

hi, steve -- don't wanna get overly pedantic here, but do find it interesting that masculine "impresario" is derived from the feminine "impresa." wouldn'ta known that tho, had i not just looked it up! ;-)

two in one?

cheers --


PuzzleGirl 11:09 AM  

Great puzzle today. Like others, I wanted play-CALLING, MIStreats, and CLunk at first. I did end up with the BEnCH/nANTZ and TARTAnS/KEnN mistakes. I guess SethG and I are on the same wavelength today. I guessed the U in KURTZ. I knew it was "Heart of Darkness" but man! college was a long time ago. I know this puzzle was pretty easy (for a Friday) but I also choose to believe that I'm getting much better as a solver.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Kurtz and Lantz were my first entries but I also tried Arnaz. Do two people make a family? Ricky, Lucy, and little Ricky are a family. Fred and Ethel are a couple. Minor point in a fun puzzle. The clue for 38A had me thinking it would be a reference to the elements of a news article - as in who, what, where, when, and why.
I got thrown by gigaton as I was expecting megaton (which worked for a while). I only knows giga-something in computer terms. Wanted paper mache for my pinata but had to settle for wrapping it in crepe paper.
Having Walter and Woody bubble up from the depths of my brain made me happy but also old.
Two Ponies

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I've been at a seminar the last two days, which threw off my internal calendar. As I worked this puzzle, in the back of my mind I kept thinking "kinda slow for Thursday." But once I realized it was Friday, I was pleased to finish in the top third among solvers at the NYT web site. Especially since I was at the office with an assortment of distractions as I worked on it. I wonder if it was the fact that I thought it was Thursday that kept me from giving up when I got stuck in the middle--often, I expect not to complete Fri/Sat puzzles, and I don't (until I google, that is). Self-fulfilling prophecy?

I thought it was strange that TAILGATEPARTIES was clued as "people eating in", when they are clearly "out". When I saw all the raves here, I went back and grokked the "a lot" part of the clue. Nice misdirection there.

On a side note, I just went to the library for some Richard Stark/Donald Westlake books. I took home one of each. My hackles went up when he was compared here to Elmore Leonard--how dare anyone suggest there was a better writer in the genre?!--but given the source(s), I suspended judgment, and I'm glad I did. I plowed through the Stark in an evening. The Westlake didn't grab me as quickly, but I find myself looking forward to getting back to it tonight. Given how prolific he is, Westlake should keep me happily reading for quite a while. Thanks, Rex, and other commentors, for the recommendation.

poc 11:34 AM  

@bill from nj: "Like Webster's Dictionary we're Morocco-bound" from Road to Morocco, rather neat for a crossword :-)

GlennCY 11:57 AM  

Just one note on SYZYGY - I believe it cannot be done in Scrabble without a blank - only 2 Ys in the game.

k-sa d-ya 12:00 PM  

I'm such an amateur at this I shouldn't even be COMMENTING, but loved this Friday puzzle. The cultural references were all over the place. I also get a kick out of puzzles that manage to repeat uncommon letters - K was a big one today. And Vengeful Quacker is on my top ten list of favorite clues. So, now that my word geek needs have been met, I can continue with the rest of the day :-)

ArtLvr 12:02 PM  

@ steve I et al -- Impresario does indeed mainly refer to major promoters in the musical end of the entainment industry, though earlier showmen like Wild Bill Cody, Barnum, and the Ringling Brothers are sometimes included. Florenz Ziegfeld was a flamboyant notable (what a great name for a crossword), and of George M Cohan it's said:
"George M. Cohan was America's first show business superstar, known coast to coast as a successful actor, singer, dancer, playwright, composer, librettist, director and producer. Once known as "The Man Who Owned Broadway," most of his work is forgotten today..."

@ jls -- That the word "impresario" derives from the Italian feminine 'impresa" (meaning enterprise) has no more significance than any other fem. noun, e.g. "la strada" (street). Macho guys, almost all of them.


Anonymous 12:23 PM  

My fastest Friday puzzle ever. I got it done in a couple hours! I've only been solving puzzles for about 6 months, so either this was a pretty easy one, or I'm improving.

Joon 12:37 PM  

i think i loved everything about this puzzle, but like rex i almost wish it had lasted longer. i did this so fast i didn't even have time to register the delicious "eating in a lot" clue. but boy, this was a sweet puzzle. i'm a sucker for literature clues, and this one had BELCH and AHAB and KURTZ right in the wheelhouse. (and, er, ALEXANDRA ripley, somewhat less in the wheelhouse.)

last night i attended a performance of twelfth night given by the 8th-grade class taught by a friend of mine. the kid who played sir toby BELCH was one of the few boys who could really act. (the girls, by and large, were very good. i think there's just a big difference in maturity level between 8th-grade girls and boys.)

SYZYGY cracked me up. what, no FERULE today? but yes, it'd only be worth 21 points, since you'd have to use a blank for the third Y. still, that looks like the top score, although SPHYNX is also 21. XYLYLS is 19. in fact, if you did count the Y for full value, the answer wouldn't be SYZYGY any more--it would be ZZZ (30). incidentally, the longest such word seems to be a tie between TSKTSKS, GLYCYLS, and RHYTHMS.

we had ILLTREAT recently, but without the S you can (and will did) choose to clue it as ["This one's on me!"]. ILLTREATS, though, does not have that luxury.

ILLTAKEYOUTHERE doesn't ring a bell as a song, but it's definitely a lyric from madonna's "like a prayer." which really wasn't bad as far as 80s music goes.

that ENEMY quote looked familiar, and damned if it wasn't the exact same clue used in a puzzle by the same author in december! (friday, december 21, to be precise.) i wonder what's up with that?

Joon 12:48 PM  

okay, i take that back: i don't love everything about this puzzle. i just noticed the clue for MASS, [Force divided by acceleration]. as a physics teacher, i can only cringe at this. force and acceleration are both vectors, and you can't divide by a vector. [Magnitude of force divided by the magnitude of acceleration] would be correct, but ... yuck.

[Energy divided by the speed of light squared] would have been a perfectly correct, and still quite gettable, clue; i would say that's the one physics equation everybody knows, even if they don't know what the letters stand for.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  


That clue (59A) actually confused me for awhile, because I misread it as asking for "A force that is divided by acceleration". From what I remember in physics, there are a lot of forces/equations in which acceleration is the denominator. Then I got MA-- from crosses and all became clear.

I did not know/had never heard of the word SYZYGY (although being an amateur Scrabble player, I will definitely have to remember it), so I didn't get 23D at first. I kept thinking "Which Big Three is he referring to"? and kept going back to the Big Three Automakers (GE, Ford, Chrysler) and the Big Three TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS). The Big Three allies from WWII did not cross my mind until later.

Overall a very good puzzle. I also fell into the ARNEZ-instead-MERTZ trap. Also really liked the cluing for SPIT, TIRES, TAILGATE PARTIES, KENNEL CLUB, and IMPS.

Oh, and speaking of SPOCK and the Star Trek Universe, a perfect example of the use of the word ORB in sci-fi lingo was demonstrated by a re-broadcast of the first two episodes of "Star Trek- Deep Space Nine" on Spike TV. The episode(s) is a two-parter titled "Emissary" in which Cmdr. Ben Sisko arrives at DS9 and soon finds himself declared the emissary to the Bajoran people, and undertakes a mission to discover where a mysterious ORB came from that could help unite the Bajorans against the Cardassian threat. The ORB leads him to discover a wormhole near the station that transforms the nearby planet of Bajor into a major military and commercial asset.

Okay, I'll stop geeking out now. :-)


Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@Two Ponies,

"Do two people make a family? Ricky, Lucy, and little Ricky are a family. Fred and Ethel are a couple. Minor point in a fun puzzle."

sur·name (sûr'nām')
A name shared in common to identify the members of a family, as distinguished from each member's given name. Also called family name, last name.

fergus 1:33 PM  

I too CLUNKED, but in no way was this a clunker. Having whizzed through the right half, I was wondering why the puzzles seem so easy lately. Then a long, slow, plodding stretch west of the Mississippi. Kind of leaning toward a shorter version of TUPPERWARE PARTIES? Stuck on OUT HERE rather than (Y)OU THERE so the song wouldn't reveal itself. Finally it all got sorted out at YALTA, though that felt tentative.

Very minor quibble with this puzzle would be that too many of the Clues were so direct. Friday usually has a few more twists.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Almost had a valid personal best with this puzzle but got tripped up on a single error. KERTZ instead of KURTZ, giving me "The APE Trilogy" as the cross, which is certainly plausible. KURTZ crosses APU. Hmmmph.


Anonymous 1:43 PM  

This is completely off topic, but after doing the NYTimes puzzle semi-regularly for awhile I wanted to ask something. Does the NYTimes ever publish crosswords that are not 15x15 squares (except, of course, for Sunday)? In other words, except for the occasional weird rebus answers, you should never see an answer longer than 15 letters except on Sundays, right?

-ronathan :-)

janie 1:49 PM  

uh, maybe i've missed the point, but apropos of:

@ jls -- That the word "impresario" derives from the Italian feminine 'impresa" (meaning enterprise) has no more significance than any other fem. noun, e.g. "la strada" (street).

i don't recall saying it did. i did say i found it interesting that the masculine noun had a feminine root.


Macho guys, almost all of them.

you probably know this already, but ms. sarah could hold her own with the best of 'em!

if anyone else wants to pursue this, be my guest, as i'm loathe to extend this thread beyond its questionable welcome...



Doug 1:54 PM  

Growing up in Wisconsin I saw TAILGAITING in the extreme at the Brewers and Packers games. I didn't know one could recreate an entire backyard, complete with bbq, lawnchairs, hammocks, fat guys, etc. until I went to a game.

I really liked this one (particularly because I could finish it) but couldn't nail Clinton/Kerry territory and had to google SARAH. After that it fell in short order. Thought it was really solid clueing as well, right in my sweet spot. Maybe I'll finish my 2nd Saturday tomorrow as Will has let some easy ones through this week.

Doug 1:56 PM  


I'm sure the odd non 15x15 grid appears. I think there was one already this year? The heavyweights will chime in promptly.

James F 2:14 PM  

Today and when it appeared +/- six weeks ago, no one pointed out an interesting aspect of SYZYGY. So here is one (perhaps) final SYZYGY factoid:

When written cursively, you get five loops below the line in a row.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Am I the only one bugged by the clue for syzygy? The only time one plays a single word in Scrabble is the first play of the game and I guarantee that the highest scoring word is going to have at least seven letters (50-point bonus). For example, Joon's suggestion of "rhythms" would have a much higher total once you tacked on the bonus. The clue should have been something like: word made from Scrabble tiles,excluding the A, E, I, O, U, with the highest point total.

I think Rex was in too much of a hurry to protest this one.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  


I think when you signed off your gender comment with "Two in one?" it implied that there was both a masculine and feminine aspect to "impresario" beyond what the etymology would suggest.

I took away the same sense of your post as artlvr did.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Strange one today. I thought it was going to give me real trouble, as none of the answers in the north were coming to me right away. I just took a wild guess with "Syzygy" (also recalling the incident from 6 weeks ago), easily got "Yalta" from there, and the rest of the puzzle somehow just fell into place. I came back later to finish the NW. I don't time myself but I'm pretty sure this was my fastest Friday ever -- after thinking I was going to struggle mightily.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

loved this friday, but was lucky to get the BELCH / LANTZ crossing, the last letter i filled in. both clues are on the esoteric side (i didn't know either) and it easily could have been BENCH / NANTZ and a few other possibilities. BELCH should have been clued some other way, livelier.

had trouble with the middle (even after YALTA, GIGATON, and PLAYMAKING, could not bust the 15 stack until TAILGATE PARTIES came out of the blue (crossing the lovely related PLAYMAKING) and then things were rolling from there. the SW was stunningly easy though.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  


Tried HEEP for AHAB at first, but they don't have quakers in England do they?


TIRES was very nice for "Street Contacts"

Joon 3:41 PM  

kevin: livelier than sir toby BELCH? impossible, i say! he's one of the greatest characters in the entire shakespearean canon.

Orange 3:42 PM  

There have been a small handful of odd-sized daily-size NYT crosswords. I remember for sure a 14x15, but there may have been a couple 15x16s too. The New York Sun uses the 15x16 grid more often than other newspapers. Today's LA Times puzzle was a wide 16x15 with a really cool theme.

Rex, the Arno was indeed more popular than the Ebro in my recent crossword rivers poll. I suspect you meant it was more popular because it appears in the grid more, but people do seem to like that Arno. A friend of mine just enjoyed the Arno during her Italian vacation...sigh. I want to go, too.

ArtLvr 3:44 PM  

@ jls -- Sorry, your observation sounded a bit off, but if you don't know much about foreign languages that's understandable.... Some languages have masc. and fem. nouns, some have three with neuter added. The nouns tend to require agreement in adjective endings, example in French: beaux yeux (beautiful eyes) and belles mains (beautiful hands). We have dropped those changing forms.

Verbs in foreign languages can also be more complicated: most have "you" in singular and plural forms, while we have dropped the singular (thou shouldst, thou wert). Often, there are patterns with the nouns as with the verbs -- most fruit trees in French are masculine, example: "olivier". Has nothing to do with anything like gender in English translation....( and we don't change our surnames' endings to show the sex of a person as Russian does!)


Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Just a sad note to my friends (no paper anywhere in central CT, so no comment on the puzzle). Watching the US Open and they just announced that Tim Russert has died of a heart attack. One of the good guys.

ArtLvr 4:32 PM  

Yes, it's very sad to hear of Tim Russert's sudden death... he was only 58! And as you say, one of the good guys.


Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Tim Russert just returned from visiting the Arno. :(

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

I've been on my feet in the lab all day, and haven't been near any kind of news source. Do you mean Tim Russert from "Meet the Press"? He's dead? When did that happen?

Geez, he was so young. That's really a shame. I liked him a lot. Truly sad.

Not to be morbid, but does anyone know what happened? I'm assuming he died of natural causes?


Rex Parker 5:22 PM  

Russert appears to have died of a massive heart attack. I just watched about an hour of the biggest names at NBC trying to discuss his legacy / friendship without completely dissolving into tears. They were mostly successful.


Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Any thoughts on today's Tony-themed NYSun? Certainly more difficult than today's NYT.

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

22A caught my eye first of all, and i was pleased/shocked to realize that i knew it straight away w/o having to cross it. probably because of all the online scrabble i've been playing lately.

rex, i agree. vengeful quaker is just awesome.

mac 5:47 PM  

I just heard Tim Russert died - we talked to him, met him just two years ago and he was bright and funny and charming. So sorry for his wife and son, who just graduated from college, his father was so proud of him.
I couldn't finish the puzzle today, we were watching soccer games and cooking dinner at the same time.
@orange, sorry you lost your avatar but your son is charming! Don't give me a hard time about zwarte piet, the Dutch are politically correct to a fault. We take very good care of anyone moving into our country. This is just about a Spanish or maybe middle-eastern saint who had some Morish servants.

Anonymous 5:59 PM  

Sarong was the first thing I filled in. Dorothy Lamour was indeed one of a set of "actresses" (quotes used on purpose) featured in a string of backlot movies in the mid 1940s. "Star Spangled Rhythm" of 1942 featured three of them and contains the famous song "Sweater Number" where Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake were all lined up crooning:

"A sweater, a sarong, and a peekaboo bang".

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

I'm confused by the clue for tailgate parties because those are almost always held outside, in parking lots, before sporting events. How can "they have people eating IN a lot"? What am I missing?

By the way, I love this blog and its many regular commenters. The only problem RexWorld presents me with [and I know others share this] is when to ditch a Friday/Saturday and go to Rex for the answers and the comedy.

PuzzleGirl 6:12 PM  

@anon 6:10: Welcome to CrossWorld. You've got the stress on the wrong word in that clue. Try "eating in a LOT" (like parking lot). There, that's better.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

This one was going pretty smoothly for me until I hit a pocket of what must have been some kind of sedative vapor in my room and promptly passed out for an hour right in the middle of the puzzle. Then, I kid you not, I had a dream in which Barack Obama, dressed in rust-colored jeans and looking kind of stoned, spoke with respect and fondness of Tim Russert.

Then woke up and finished the puzzle, turned on the t.v., and saw Obama giving his regards. I swear. That's weird right? On so many levels. It was my first Obama dream (while unconscious).

I had already heard of Russert's untimely death before the nap, lest of any of you now believe me to be magic. More magic.

I think I forgot my google password. Back to black. Happy Friday everyone.

Leon 6:58 PM  

RIP Tim Russert.

AHAB/KURTZ made me think of AHAB's last lines:
..from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I SPIT my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!

The Bold part being Khan's last words in The Wrath of Kahn (not KLAHN.)

foodie 7:17 PM  

Woohoo! Did this on the plane, in record time, no help from any source, real or imagined, and I felt this lovely little bubble of elation! I knew it was relatively easy for Friday, but it did have a stack of 15mers*-- so happy I am. Thank you Mr. Berry, and thanks to Rex and all of you out there. I would have never thought it possible a year ago!

Wade, it's very sage of you to be okay with who you are-- we all strive for that.

* As Orange undoubtedly knows, the "X-mer" nomenclature is used in molecular biology for the length short stretches of DNA, called oligomers. So, you can get 12mers, 15mers, etc... I think it might be good terminology for length of answers in crosswords.

foodie 7:18 PM  

Correction: The "X-mer" nomenclature is used in molecular biology to indicate the length OF short stretches of DNA, called oligomers.

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

Apocalypse Now

Kurtz Dies

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

Loved AHAB, BELCH, and KURTZ--in fact, romped around this puzzle happily thinking I might finish a Friday grid before everything fell apart with TAILGATEPARTIES. I kept wanting TUPPERWARE, too, as someone mentioned, and GROSSTON really wasn't helping in there. SYZYGY was the first thing I wrote in, so you'd think YALTA might follow--all sorts of nonsense there, YORBA, YERBA...ay.

Anyway, like anon 6:10, there's always the option to give over and see what's happening in RexWorld.

Anonymous 10:09 PM  

I had an unbelievably unfortunate crossing...had the
-------YOU--E-- for the Staple Singers, and had to google it because "RESPECT YOURSELF" (another hit from the same) fit perfectly in there as well. I was sure it wasn't accidental!

Michael Chibnik 10:39 PM  

I had a lot of trouble with the last Patrick Berry puzzle and wondered if he would prove to be a hard constructor for me. But I found this one easy (for a Friday). That's a good thing -- I'm toast from sandbagging yesterday and moving library books today as the Iowa River ominously rises.

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

Very solid puzzle. Truly enjoyed the TAILGATE misdirection. Berry-licious!

Like the Sage Trout, wanted PLAYACTION. Thought PLAYMAKING was a bit weak.

Richard NIXON was a rather VENGEFUL QUAKER.


Anonymous 11:48 PM  

had "Politics is the ENEMA of the imagination" until 22A denied the vowel.

fergus 12:01 AM  

offbeat comment:

at 17 I played a lot at Torrey Pines
barefoot with a scarred golf ball
on summer evenings after high school
stopping after three or four holes
to drift into the Pacific sunset

RodeoToad 12:36 AM  

Fergus, Janis Ian ripped you off, man.

fergus 12:57 AM  

I wasn't sure whether I was following her cadence at 17.

alanrichard 5:56 AM  

The NW and SW were gimmies but I put in Cassandra for Alexandra and Mistreat for illtreat which threw me off for a bit. I knew I'll take you there so I corrected myself . I also put in Stone instead of Mertz but taper enabled me to correct that. This was challenging for me because I had those errors to correct. It was also challenging because I started it at 11:30 while i was watching the Marx Brothers in A Night In Casablanca, which had an adverse affect on my concentration. i love the opening of the movie: when a gendarme orders Harpo to move away from a building that Harpo is leaning on. The officer says, "What do you think you're doing, holding the building up". Harpo nods, is pulled away by the gendarme - and the building falls down.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

One mistake, guessed wrong in the crossing of Belch and Lantz, had Bench and Nantz. Otherwise, always a confidence booster when a friday puzzle goes so well.

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