FRIDAY, Jun. 20, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (OLD-TIME COMIC ED)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

A more than decent puzzle that was marred for me by an impossible crossing - I've heard of a PANSY, but not a TANSY (38D: Member of the aster family). And MAIER (42A: Two-time gold medal skier of the 1998 Olympics) could have spelled his name a billion ways (I went with MEIER) - If you google MAIER, this particular MAIER (Hermann) doesn't even come up on the first page. For god's sake, there are other, more famous skiiers named MAHRE. Other near-MAIERs of note include Bill MAHER, the comedian, MAIJER the supermarket, MEYER the wiener guy, etc. Few things I hate more than obscure words intersecting at a vowel. And TANSY ... ugh, that was basically the epicenter of the one part of the puzzle that gave me any trouble. I wasn't that fond of HESSE either (52A: State bordering Lower Saxony), but at least I could guess that one with reasonable accuracy. Side note: Congratulations to Germany on their (ultimately) exciting win over Portugal in yesterday's UEFA quarterfinals.

I didn't really understand that way DUNGEON MASTER was being used in this puzzle (15D: Underground movement leader?). I'm assuming it's a Dungeons & Dragons-specific reference, but I'm not sure how people who were not nerdy boys between 1977 and the present would know that. If the clue is not D&D-specific, then how in the world does 11D: A 15-Down might have control over them (warlocks) work? The clue that gave me the most trouble for what in retrospect appears to be no good reason was 43D: Ballpark (inexact) - I had the -ACT and could do Nothing with it. I think this is because "ballpark" expresses a degree of closeness, where INEXACT emphasizes non-closeness. In short, "ballpark" appears a positive assessment, and INEXACT a negative. Still ... I should have gotten it sooner. Not that many plausible answers in seven letters ending in -ACT.


  • 14A: Head of an alley? (one pin) - good one. I think the NW was the second-hardest section for me. I had REUNED (3D: Came back together), TRUE TO (16A: Not forsaking), OP-ED (22A: Kind of column) and not a lot else. Nothing else, in fact, until I retro-fitted SPEED IT UP (4D: "I haven't got all day!") into the NW after piecing it together from its tail end.
  • 19A: Old-time comic Ed (Wynn) - uh ... no idea. I like how he's on top of old-time comic-writer SEGAR, though (23A: A National Cartoonists Society award is named for him). SEGAR did "Popeye," and he is probably the most prominent cartoonist in the world of crosswords after CHAS. Addams. Oh, and NAST, who did political cartoons.
  • 27A: City on the Trans-Canada Highway (Medicine Hat) - a great entry
  • 30A: Nashville-based awards org. (CMA) - way outside my wheelhouse, but got it quickly anyway. Guess I've seen that initialism a lot without paying it much mind.
  • 31A: So much, on a score (tanto) - sidekick of the Lone Ronger
  • 32A: Carter's second secretary of state (Muskie) - oh, his second secretary of state. Gotcha (i.e. I got some crosses and vaguely remembered a guy with this name from when I was a kid).
  • 44A: Using devices (sly) - enigmatic clue that is yet precise. I like it.
  • 45A: 1990 Grammy winner for her album "Days of Open Hand" (Suzanne Vega) - woo hoo! A great triumph for me, this one. Got it off the "SU-" Recall that I was in college when this won a Grammy, and that this period of time (1987-91) was the lowest point in pop music history. Example, the year before Ms. Vega (who is not horrible) won her Grammy (for "Best Recording Package"??), Michael Bolton won Best Male Vocalist for "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" (suffer!), and crossword fans the Indigo Girls ... lost the Best New Artist Grammy to ... (wait for it) .... (drum roll) .... Milli Vanilli! I blamed it on the rain.
  • 53A: Film role for Russell in 1993 and Costner in 1994 (Earp) - an excellent clue, in that it makes you think there's some film series at issue (Batman?), when in fact, no, there just happened to be two EARPy films released within a year of each other ("Tombstone" and "Wyatt Earp"). Coincidence.
  • 56A: Course for the dead? (Styx) - Brains? "Brains! Must ... have ... brains!"
  • 57A: Exciting experience, in slang (trip) - is this slang current anymore? Feels very Arsenio-era to me. Oh, unless you mean *drug* experience ... then I guess it's still used. I wouldn't know.
  • 65A: Craft often utilizing rubber bands (tie dye) - fashion that only someone on a 57A could love
  • 7D: Title role in a 1986 Woody Allen film (Hannah) - total gimme ... horrifies me that this movie is 22 years old. The clue felt contemporary to me, HA ha.
  • 8D: Loser to Audrey for the 1953 Best Actress Oscar (Ava) - in three letters, really, who else is it going to be? CHE? LON? EMU?
  • 12D: Provision for holding certain jobs (age limit) - good answer. Feels fresh.
  • 20D: Dirt spreader (yenta) - I thought I killed this word and its variants? Oh, Dungeon Master! I got something for you...
  • 26D: Gretna Green rebuffs (naes) - when I first read this clue, literally none of it made sense to me. And I've visited / lived in Scotland on multiple occasions. Gretna Green is "small but thriving," according to Wikipedia. I managed to miss it.
  • 28D: Miami team, informally ('Canes) - good clue. Most folks'll think pro teams first. I know I did.
  • 29D: Classless one? (tutee) - TUTEE is a horrible word, but this clue livens it up a bit.
  • 36D: Teens' escapades (joy rides) - "Teens?" How about "felons'"? I think you can JOY RIDE at any age. As a final sadistic gesture, allow me to tie this all back to the aforementioned worst period in pop music history (1987-91) by referring you to this gem by supergroup Roxette. That's right, my college years were probably the only period in music history wherein Roxette could become a supergroup. Four #1 singles, two #2 singles ... and that was weak by comparison with their success in Europe. Any sociological / astrological / epidemiological explanations for their astonishing success would be most welcome.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Someone named Brad Arington seems to have accidentally posted his response to yesterday's puzzle ("LIES") as a private message to me instead of as a comment on the site, so I thought I'd do him the favor of posting it here for all to see. I'll leave it to you all to answer his final question - although I can tell you now that given my options, I choose (a.). Here you go: "Cheers!"

You have to be kidding! Not a single theme answer was something that anyone would ever LIE about. At best, even reasonably intelligent folk might confuse, say, EST for EDT, depending on the time of year, or acute for obtuse, or Esau for Isaac. But lie about it? And not even an idiot would confuse 9 a.m. for 5 p.m. And only a deranged person would intentionally lie about Els being a tennis player or Agassi being a golfer -- what end would they gain? These aren't lies and this puzzle is far from clever -- and certainly not the best of the year. So what does that make you -- deranged or an idiot? Cheers.


Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Boy I was pretty 'unawares' about alot of the answers so had to resort to googling. Alot I got w/o
doing so were clever. Have to disagree w/you Rex re joy rides
as in my youth (before you) that
was a common term altho one could
do so in their dotage I suppose.

Rex Parker 8:36 AM  


You have a great crossword name, so you can say whatever you want, as far as I'm concerned.

UNAWARES is such a weird word. I'm going to have to look up why it's got an "S" on it ... right now ... huh, not clear. Can't think of another word where adding "s" to an adjective makes the adverb.


Unknown 8:38 AM  

What's with the Notepad comment "The following clues have errors, etc." and then naming an Across clue and a Down clue which did not exist?

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I'm glad Rex finished today's post with Brad's comment about yesterday's puzzle, because I also didn't feel the way many did that it was "puzzle of the year" caliber. Actually, I thought it was a little hokey and gimmicky. Brad was able to put his finger on what bothered me--that and staring at the word "lies" in the grid before I began--it looked accusatory! Also, they just ran a puzzle with the same general idea, executed much better. ("I didn't do it," "Just what I wanted," "It's in the mail," last Wed. 6/11.) I felt that yesterday's puzzle was a bonbon, along the lines of a People Magazine or TV Guide crossword, not really what I expect to see in the NYT. Today's puzzle, on the other hand, was a main course par escellence, with some really tough stuff, and a lot of great cluing. I also finished up with dead center, having put in "Yente" and "Pansy," wondering what the h "ENP" was. I figured that "Yente" (the correct word in Yiddish) should be "-a" and the farm unit was an "ANT," so in spite of not ever having heard of "TANSY," I figured it must have been a word. I had no problem with the Miami team because "Fish" (Dolphins, Marlins) didn't fit. The Heat, as far as I know, don't have an informal name. Maybe I was tired yesterday, but I thought this one was harder than "moderate."

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Rex, I'm with you on your final comment. If I must choose between "deranged" and "idiot" then I'd definitely choose "deranged." That sounds much more fun.

TANSY is indeed a very ugly word, but I really had no idea across the middle. Even having seen that "Farm unit?" is "ANT", I just don't like that clue/fill pairing. But otherwise a nice puzzle. I like "UNAWARES" with its sibilance.

ArtLvr 9:09 AM  
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ArtLvr 9:11 AM  
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Alex S. 9:25 AM  

HURRY IT UP instead of SPEED IT UP destroyed any possibility I had of finishing the puzzle.

ArtLvr 9:27 AM  

@ Michael -- the notepad comment was for 6-19, not today.

As for today, great puzzle -- but I had to google SUZANNE VEGA and SEGAR. With the latter I got the long down DUNGEON MASTER and the rest went okay. In the NW, I wanted "Tinpan Alley" for ONE PIN, which gave me TAT rather than TIT. Got that section squared away last, after finding MEDICINE HAT, BOTTOM and BURSTS. You ask what other column besides OPED is possible at 22A? Obit.

Ulrich did a survey of Maiers and variants a while ago, so that was gettable, and HESSE we'd also discussed as source of HESSIANS who were not mercenaries voluntarily. They were units rented out by their overlord to bolster his own income.

Loved a lot of the words here, even WARLOCKS. The ONE-LINER on top of WEST END theater district was good, and TIE-DYE was clever as well as ANT farm... and BRIE baked -- that took a few moments! 1.0 for D-AVERAGE was like a clue we had recently. Also, it was amusing to have Gretna Green in a different clue from ELOPED.


mac 9:41 AM  

Well, Rex you seem to be in a great mood today! Did your summer vacation start?
I bet this Brad character is one of our grousing anonymice, deranged or otherwise.
I wasn't able to get the newspaper yesterday and I'm not happy that I may have missed one of the best puzzles of the year! Instead I did an early 70's Sunday puzzle by Frank Nosoff (I know, I should have looked at the dates in the book before I bought it...).

I had a tough time with this puzzle, but that's the way I like them. I'm a little surprises that you all find bursts for flurries acceptable, don't you think of the latter as much more gentle?
I also jumped to very wrong conclusions in 11d and 15d: after warlo--- I filled in warlords and was looking for an Al Qaeda / Taliban sort of answer for 15d. 14a really got me thinking in a different direction: head = loo, in an alley, ash can or tin pan....
Also 56a: I had anat..... Strange logic this morning, must be the daily doses of pasta (and I mean doses).
Tomorrow evening the Sat. NYT will be waiting for me in CT! Until then.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Herbalists know TANSY for its many healing properties (in herbal lore); I'd think modern young daughters would know Tansy from Cicely Mary Barker's ubiquitous Flower Fairies -- she's the one who does the mending. Ask Sahra and see.

Unknown 9:55 AM  

Answers to questions...I guessed Liz (Taylor) for AVA. The reason Roxette was popular is that the entire record industry was away on a metaphorical TRIP, caught UNAWARES of any talent and the core buying public was mostly underground playing D&D. I hope everyone read Joe's late night post to Rex yesterday, which actually demonstrates that he is neither A. nor B., but in the "Do you still beat your wife?' category, A) Deranged is a great crossword answer.

As to the puzzle, I agree with Steve in that I, too, found it a bit harder than a Friday usually is for me. I made a number of errors to start, but felt very lucky that I figured them out when crosses could not confirm the bad fill. My last correction was replacing Reused for REUNED, but I almost convinced myself that Tise could work. Mike N has real talent, but I hope his next puzzle is a Tuesday.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

I'm with Brad.

I just couldn't figure out why I didn't like the puzzle and he was able to articulate it.

Even though I was able to complete much more of it than any other Thursday puzzle so far I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I feel I need to point out that the clue for 39A is wrong (championship cricet matches=TESTS). Tests are international matches or 5 day matches, not "championship matches".
And Hermann Maier is prety famous, probably the most famous skier between Tomba and Miller.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

So if the clues that are called lies are not lies, then calling them lies is a lie. Another level of brilliance for Thursday's puzzle.

Deranged is writing about the New York Times Crossword puzzle every single day. An idiot is someone who comments about the opinions of said writer.

I once drove the Trans-Canada ALL ALONE with the radio playing SUZANNE VEGA and STYX, and when I was more than HALFWAY, broke down in MEDICINE HAT. I could not SPEED IT UP and this was no longer a JOY RIDE. I started humming "Home, home on de-range..."

Unknown 10:35 AM  


I think SIDEWAYS can be an adverb although 'sideway' probably has a different meaning.

I checked out the Olympics postings on Maier to see his story and just read that he had a team mate who also placed in a ski event whose last name was Mayer.

dk 10:38 AM  

This one was hard for me as well. TIEDYE took forevery as I spelled KOI with a y. When I finally finished I was wishing for a flashback from a 57A.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that TIT in a puzzle brings us all ONEPIN closer to a ride on the river STYX.

My last day in sin city. I walked through the casino early this morning when they were unloading the money from the slots and caught one of the guards UNAWARES. Suffice to say, while he looked like Ed WYNN he had no sense of humor when in response to his challange I said "what do ya think, I'm gonna stick you up with a soy latte and a NYT."

Don't taze me bro!

Brad (from yesterday) I will ask @zach m to send you all the medication he has been forgetting to take and wish you the best of luck with your anger management program.

Rex Parker 10:46 AM  

Brad sent me a nice note today. Everything's cool.


Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Hannah and Her Sisters makes you feel old, dating back to 1986?
I had already given up on Woody Allen being funny by 1986.
Makes me feel really old.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Is Milli really Vanilli?

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

This was more brilliance from Mike Nothnagel. He's becoming one of my favorite constructors.

The SE corner was the toughest for me. I got down there and just spun the wheels for ages. If I'd been able to come up with SUZANNEVEGA more quickly it would have been incredibly helpful - I was trying to think of a SUSAN_____ there. I actually had STYX and AKINTO/KOI, but couldn't see INEXACT and so erased all those entries. Finally I got EARP and slowly fought my way through, but it was *tough* down there!

Anyone else notice that Mr. Nothnagel seems to have a penchant for using those misdirectional clues that end in question marks? I count 10 here, out of 70 clues total. Pretty high ratio; I wonder what the record is.

Fantastic puzzle! More please!

Margaret 11:34 AM  

My favorite clue by far: "Left unceremoniously?"
Very clever cluing for a very common (cross)word.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Tough but fair puzzle today.

I live in the Pacific Northwest woods where TANSY is a noxious weed that springs up every time you clear land (like nettles and thistle and blackberries and scotch broom)

It's poisonous to deer and other animals (like horses) and it's resin smells icky.

So it stinks just as bad in real life as it does in the crossword grid (I had PANSY too)

Parshutr 12:14 PM  

Two days in a row, a puzzle like a ping-pong ball...brittle and hard to get into, but once you pierce that outer layer, no resistance.
The Sunday puzzles, by contrast, seem to be like marshmallows with a solid steel center...lots of easy fill, but requiring lots of thought and effort to complete successfully.
Oh yeah, I enjoyed this one, almost as much as yesterday's, and that's NO LIE.

Shamik 12:37 PM  

LOL...if Rex wasn't delightfully deranged, we wouldn't all come here on a daily basis to agree/disagree with him.

TANSY was just in an old puzzle I did recently, so was pretty much a gimme. And loved MEDICINEHAT even if I did start with MEDICINEBOW. Don't ask.

If you've never TIEDYE'd, you'd know it really is a TRIP. But then if you have, you might know Ed WYNN from "Mary Poppins" if not earlier.

NE corner was by far my last to fill.

Bill from NJ 12:38 PM  

I had most of the East done before I got anything in the West. I don't know how I knew Gretna Green was Scottish but I did. NAES was a gimme and I don't know why. MAIER was in a puzzle not too long ago and, for that reason, was a gimme. I remember Ulrich pontificating (in a nice way) on the subject.

MEDICINEHAT WYNN SEGAR helped me break open the west. I had to chip chip chip away at it and it took twice as long as the East to fall.

TARS was the key to the SW which was the last quadrent to be completed

Joon 12:47 PM  

a sweet puzzle, but marred for me by two errors: TAT for TIT (and i couldn't figure out what ONEPAN was referring to), and SEGAL for SEGAR (even though LAM doesn't mean anything like "butt"). i suppose those are both classified as "careless." but check out the staid old new york times, first printing LIES and now baring a TIT.

while we're here, ONEPIN is a nice answer, but isn't it more the [Head of a lane?] than an alley? i thought the alley was the entire premises, consisting of many lanes, each with its own ONEPIN.

mac, BURSTS for [Flurries] bothered me 0%. both of them can refer to a sudden and rapidly repeated occurrence of something.

CMA, on the other hand, bugged me a bit, because "awards" was in the clue, so i put in CMT, which is actually the "org." that gives out the CMAs. i changed it when the crossing word was clearly not NTES, but i still think it's a faulty clue. however, i can appreciate the fact that it's difficult to clue CMA without using "country," "music," or "awards."

MEDICINEHAT may be my favorite place name in north america. at any rate, it's certainly up there, along with walla walla and perhaps intercourse. (*juvenile snicker*)

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Rex, you are the reason 20-somethings all over the world are putting down their video games and doing crosswords. Where would we be without you? Your clever superpowers are much revered (and appreciated). Plus you're probably way cuter than Will Shortz (sorry Will).

We <3 you.

-A 20-something fan from Amsterdam

Unknown 1:08 PM  

For you over 30's the <3 above is a representation of a HEART which represents the word LOVE. Anyone know what the word for that third degree of separation in language is?

Scott 1:08 PM  

I had two huge issues w/ today's puzzle. First is an excess of old names; SUZANNEVEGA, MUSKIE, WYNN, SEGAR, HANNAH, AVA. Many of these could be clued in fresher ways. Second is inexact cluing in order to utilize a clever question mark. DUNGEON MASTERs (assuming this is a D&D reference) lead no 'movement' - the word movement adds nothing to the clue. WARLOCK is equally awkwardly clued. ELOPED and STYX also seem to lose accuracy for the sake of a clever question mark. I'd say TARS fits in this category too, but i don't get the connection, so I am holding out hope that it is really clever and I am dense.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

@joon--As a serious country music fan, I must correct you. CMT (the TV station) does have a self-named awards show, but the premier award show in country music is the CMA's, which is given by the Country Music Association, a trade organization for the country music industry. It is, of course, headquartered in Nashville.

Pete M 1:16 PM  

@rex: I'm guessing the overlap of people who do crosswords and people who were nerdy boys sometime between 1977 and now is actually pretty high. :)

@scott: I don't think D&D would have been very popular if there was no movement. (DM: "Okay, you've been standing in this tunnel for 6 days and nothing has happened...").

Joon 1:54 PM  

steve L,

you seem to be correct! in that case, the clue is just fine as is, as CMA can stand for Country Music Association. my mistake.

Ladel 2:15 PM  


tit for tat, chicken soup, try crawling out from pro, as in quid pro quo. Thinking that something for something should be even up.

fergus 2:28 PM  

Liked the way SNOWS IN falls down from the end of the Flurries clue. Unfortunately I had SPATES instead.

Still don't understand SMELT for Get the lead out? Other than the fish and the past tense of smell? I'm waiting for the DUH moment.

janie 2:29 PM  

learned of a new "cma" in reading a new yorker "talk of the town" piece: certified movement analyst...

not just for country music anymore...

loved this puzzle, and like john reid, found the se to be the most difficult quadrant. but great fill and clues throughout, imoo.

have never taken to the sound of "reune" as a verb -- but see why it's useful in puzzleland. ditto "enthuse." no rational reason...

doesn't gretna green show up in pride and prejudice as an elopment site for one of the bennett sisters? elkton, md, used to be the quickie wedding site of choice *decades* ago -- but it's near my home turf, so i was aware of it.

ed wynn a/k/a "the perfect fool" -- a seriously funny, rubber-faced comedian of the old school:

check 'im out

cheers, all --



janie 2:30 PM  

smelt -- think "metal processing"...




Anonymous 2:37 PM  

@jls re reune. It's not really a word. The word comes, of course, as a back formation from "reunion," but the verb is "reunite." "Reune" is not only wrong, it looks and sounds funny. It should be clued as "slangily."

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

@jls--Enthuse, on the other hand, is a real verb.

janie 2:54 PM  

hi, steve -- looks like there's at least one (online) dictionary that gives credence to "reune" -- but it ain't exactly what ya'd call a definitive source:


(which is probably why you're suggesting "slangily" be part of the clue...)

best --


Anonymous 2:59 PM  

For the D&D uninformed: Dungeon Master is the title given to the person who creates the story line and setting for a game of D&D. As Dungeon Master he controls the creatures and other non-player characters, some of which can be warlocks. Vundabar.

@scott: D&D wouldn't be an underground movement if everyone knew about it, no? Besides its a ? clue which I always thought meant not to take the clue too literally and sometimes completely literally.. Maybe I just don't get those clues..

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

I thought I had it without googling, even though it took me more than an hour, but got the dreaded "incorrect" message when I clicked "Done!" Like many of you, it was pansy/tansy that did me in. I spend almost another hour checking every answer for typos, whatever, and the only one that troubled me was Farm unit? I had anp, which made no sense, but it never occurred to me that pansy was the problem. I kept messing with the first letter (at the end of yenta) and finally gave up and searched for a completed grid elsewhere on the web. (sigh)

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

This puzzle left me grumpy. I was fine until DungeonMaster, which seems wrong for a couple of reasons. Perhaps my dissatisfaction stems from the fact that the correct answer never occurred to me, despite having a son who spends hours leading his friends around various D&D worlds of his own creation. I kept trying to fit "tunnel" into the space to no avail. I get it now, but I would point out that D&D is not always played in an underground setting and that the DM does not "lead the movement," but rather creates the environment in which the players have free will. On the other hand, my son just told me he thought it was a great clue, so maybe I'll just follow his lead and bury my objections.

fergus 3:43 PM  

Thanks jls. D'oh indeed. Must have expended all brain fuel on recalling the Carter cabinetry.

jae 3:50 PM  

I love MN's puzzles! The only problem I had with this one was the MAIER/SUZANNEVEGA/HESSE stack. Fortunately both MAIER and VEGA seemed vaguely familiar so I guessed right. I asked my bride about TANSY when I finished and she confirmed it was a flower that can be made into a tea. I wonder if MEDICINEHAT has ever been in a puzzle before? Great answer!

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

@Reid and @Scott
There are far too many clues ending in a question mark. It is my feeling that these should be used sparingly and in cases where the answer is especially pun-ny, etc. Otherwise why not add a few more: BENCH WARMER? PART OF AN EVEN EXCHANGE? USING DEVICES? and so on. Actually, now that I look at it, some of these are better than some of those question-marked in the puzzle. HELPLESSLY? Why that needs a -?- I cannot say.

I do not Google for answers. I actually sit there and stare at the page until I get everything done (or sometimes not). Therefore, when I finish and I still am like "huh?" I find it especially distressing. Dungeon Master? Yes, I get it; I was a DM circa 1982 (Nerdfest!). It is just a poor clue right at the heart of the puzzle.

Usually, I finish a tough puzzle and feel some satisfaction. Maybe there are are a couple of new words to look up, which I actually enjoy. But for some reason this puzzle left me feeling crabby and unsatisfied.

OK. Venting's done. Off to get some Korean BBQ.


Anonymous 4:34 PM  

I solved today's puzzle whilst "serving time"... I wasn't in prison but I was in the can.

Rex, I think the supermarket is spelled Meijer...

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

No way out beloved Rexie is an idiot. He knocks these things off in the time it takes me to find my pen (ok, pencil). I respect him and while I think he'd be insufferable on a long car ride, I think he would be a dream lifeline on "Who Want's To Be a Millionaire."

Having said that...yesterday's "Lies" puzzle was more silly than smart. When I was reading the clues aloud my wife hit the nail on the head "These are not things people lie about."

She's right you know.

Rex Parker 5:24 PM  

Requesting permission to go off topic ...

Permission granted.

Great: is anyone watching the soccer match? Is soccer always like this? I just find myself saying "No WAY" over and over and over ... Croatia and Turkey go 120 minutes (!?!?!?!) without scoring a single goal, and then, when everyone is visibly bone tired, they *trade* goals inside of 90 *seconds* of stoppage time!?!? It all seems Impossible.

Also, what is the deal with yellow cards. I'm being told that huge swaths of the Turkish team won't be available to play if they make it through because of yellow cards ...

Gotta go watch the penalty kicks.


Anonymous 5:42 PM  

I misread the Woody Allen clue and kept trying to figure out a title role HE played. If Zelig had been the right number of letters, I would have been in big trouble (even though I was pretty sure it was not from 1986, I tried really hard to make it work). Not that I was in great shape otherwise--my google factor was very high today.

PuzzleGirl 5:53 PM  

Rex: Your enthusiasm almost -- ALMOST -- makes me want to go watch soccer.

Unknown 5:55 PM  

Yes, soccer at the International level is like this...poor Croatia, but Turkey have heart. A yellow card is a warning and a red card gets you put out of the game and your team has to play without replacing you. It varies from tournament to tournament these days, but two yellow cards in a span of games also means you can't play,, but you can be replaced. We make up these rules to confuse people, but have you noted the changes in football from year to year?

The next two matches will be exciting too. I follow the game and could not have predicted the out come of the last two games. So far the two second place finishers have won and Italy could make it three. I still hope the Dutch are crowned the champions. Go Orange (the Dutch, not a certain vacationing crossword specialist).

Pythia 6:55 PM  

Not my favorite, but okay. Had to stare down DUNGEON MASTER (DUNG EON MASTER?)and dig in the memory bank for what it meant. Then applied the "Do/should I care?" test. It failed, and it's the centerpiece. The most interesting thing about Suzanne Vega is the Z in her name.

A bunch of other, more fun stuff, including the clues for SMELT, STYX, and LIMB, saved the day.

I think it's finally summer. Yeah!

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

With respect to the complaint by Brad Arington posted on the main page: The composer! HE lied about ALL of those things! So there!

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

Could someone please substantiate the validity of the word "reuned" (3-down) in the Friday puzzle? I cannot find a definition in my Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary or online.

Until then, I do not like this answer "one bit".

green mantis 9:24 PM  

I didn't need to have yesterday's incorrect clues be plausible as things people would lie about; I just accepted that they were lies. I don't really get the resistance. But I love it when people end a barrage of insults on a sweet note.

Unless it was all a joke. Eh.

I enjoyed the possibility that the age limit--job provision pairing was a subtle reference to a certain seasoned presidential nominee. From the website Things Younger Than John McCain, we have: duct tape, penicillin, the Lincoln Tunnel, and zip codes, to name only a few.

No offense to any similarly seasoned friends here. I'm sure you all taste delicious.

Joseph Brick 9:31 PM  

On the comment you posted about yesterday's puzzle, I have to agree with the complainer. (That the puzzle was not the best of the year, not that you are deranged or an idiot.) Any puzzle so reliant on abbreviations (nine!), acronyms (three), and prefixes/suffixes (two) really can't be considered masterfully crafted.

I've never created a puzzle, but I'm guessing the challenge is diminished when you don't have to use actual words!

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

Hey folks.

For what it's worth, I thought my clue for DUNGEON MASTER was one of the best ones I've ever come up with. Oh well.

Thanks, as usual. See you next time.


Anonymous 10:12 PM  

I liked this puzzle, of course any time I can do a Friday puzzle in a reasonable amount of time without a mistake is a good way to start my day.

Michael Chibnik 11:00 PM  

Usually, I do Nothnagel puzzles quickly. Not this one, though. I was really stumped for a while, got interrupted by a long phone call, and when I got back was able to finish quickly.

Except for the anp/pansy cross of course. anp was nonsensical, but if I had gotten "ant" I would just have stared at "tansy" in bewilderment.

David 12:42 AM  

I agree with the comments already made---the puzzle did feel like it had a lot of question marks, some of them seeming unnecessary. And I think a few of them suffered because they still had non-? connections.

SMELT was probably one of the better ones, using an idiom as the clue, and with an answer that matches a literal interpretation of that idiom. It works because the there's such a sharp contrast between the two meanings. It's clever.

But ALL ALONE and its clue can't pull that off. It seems to have a question mark because the clue means "without assistance" rather than a more traditional "futilely." But the contrast here isn't as sharp. "Helpless" and "all alone" do seem to have something in common, at least. They're far enough apart to not work as a regular clue, but close enough to make you second guess the ?, and too close to be a strong pun. I think that's why the clue felt imprecise, rather than clever.

Also, I have some pretty strong nerd credentials, including a few brief attempts at D&D. But I had the same problem with the clue for DUNGEON MASTER. (Or DM, as the cool kids say.) It doesn't bode well that, even after figuring out the answer, and even after placing it in context, we're still not sure what the clue meant.

For a clever clue on that one, I would have enjoyed something like "Every party needs one". It opens with a bunch of possibilities, but once you have the answer, I think it's a precise and natural fit. Then again, people who aren't familiar with D&D at all might still dislike the obscurity of that clue. (Maybe I'm just bitter that HARRIET TUBMAN wasn't the answer for 15D.)

Then, on WARLOCKS, I love the word/answer. In any other puzzle it'd made me happy. But once it was tied to the DM answer, I started nitpicking. There are all sorts of terms these game have for magical people---WARLOCKS is not a term that I normally associated with D&D. Wizard, mage, cleric, but not really warlock. It looks like there most recent edition does have a class with that name, but because it's not traditional, it compounded the weirdness of the clue/answer pair for me.

Last gripes, is a one-liner really something that gets created? Quipped, coined, came up with...but created? Doesn't really work for me. Same with MOW down meaning overwhelm, I can see where it came from, and I see that it matches a dictionary definition, but I stubbornly don't think it means that. To me, MOW down is something more like "slaguther." My understanding of the phrase _includes_ overwhelm, but isn't interchangeable.

J-Dub 3:17 AM  

Can someone explain TARS to me? As Rex might say, I don't understand it At All. I'm probably missing something simple.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

@j-dub "tar" is slang for a sailor. Remember this one, you'll see it again, guaranteed.

alanrichard 8:43 AM  

This was the most!!!! difficult puzzle for me all year.. I guess if you put in enough incorrect answers that you can contexturally support it gets virtually impossible. I had spurts for flurries and tit and snowsin to indicate I was correct. I had deegrade for 1.0 and dungeonmaster to confirm that. I had yenta and wynn so I figured I was going throught this pretty quickly - I was wrong! I had Ness for the film role and assess for put side by side. I got up early this morning (6/21) and just started over. I took about 45 minutes and i only put in dungeon master and warlock and built off of those answers. This reminds me of when i used to do the times puzzles that my mother-in-law started; if you have enough wrong answers - it makes it very difficult.

alanrichard 8:51 AM  

The last time I watched professional soccer was when Pele & Chinaglia & Messing played for the Cosmos. The laast time I watched amateur soccer was when my kids played as little kids. Of course if I was born anywhere other than the US I would probably appreciate Soccer more!

Kimbopolo 12:16 PM  


Are you, in fact, insufferable on long car trips?

I feel this is something your fans have a right to know.

The Cat's Meow 2:39 PM  

Hated REUNED, got TINE, but due to fact reune was not any of my dictionaries did not want to put the "N" in... Also had OARS instead of TARS, so had to visit Rex to get the final letters - WARLOCK gave me DUNGEONMASTER, but missed the meaning - figured "underground" meant basement and went with TRIP and TIEDYE... sigh

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

AARGH! one (re)learns SO MUCH about one's life limitations from doing these infernal things. 14A in my mind starting life as TINPAN, with 5D clearly being TAT, never resolved completely. I got as far as ONEPAN and thought WTF - I will just have to see what ONEPAN is when I check in with Rex. So the life lesson is to go back and check everything (TAT -> TIT) you weren't totally certain of. Per Descartes, "It is only that which I perceive clearly and distinctly that has the power to convince me, for knowledge is not won in any other way." OK, it's 50 years since I read Descartes as a freshman, and I still recall it. Just not always, :-(

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

If those who knew what D&D was (is?) had trouble with the clue, think of those who never had any acquaintance with the game. Mine was a precomputer age family gone from home before the game came out. Thus I was vainly looking for someone who worked where? Maybe the sewers, the subway, the ??? Seems like this puzzle was too oriented to the 40ish crowd. And that includes the music clue-Suzanne who?
Guess I'm grumpy because the puzzle so clearly shut my age group (think OLD) out by too many generation specific clues. Oh, well, I"ll try again tomorrow, and I have this site to try and teach me to get with the times!

Unknown 12:25 AM  

The list of alternatives to Ava left out Ida, Miss Lupino -- here are her stellar performances in the relevant time frame:
# On Dangerous Ground (1952)
# Beware, My Lovely (1952)
# The Bigamist (1953) (also directed)
# Private Hell 36 (1954) (also co-wrote)
# The Big Knife (1955)
# While the City Sleeps (1956)

She was undeservedly neglected when it came to Oscar nominations.
Aloha ~~~ Ozzie Maland ~~~ San Diego

Anonymous 8:33 PM  

If anyone is still reading - for complete accuracy, AVA (Gardner, "Mogambo") did not lose to Audrey (Hepburn, "Roman Holiday") in the 1953 Oscars. The Oscar year was 1954, for films released in 1953!

Prune 3:43 PM  

Short item first: Ed Wynn is probably best known as the laughing uncle in "Mary Poppins".

As former head of an 80-member D&D club, I have no problem with the clue for DUNGEON MASTER as either technical or as a solver. A dungeon is traditionally underground; you can refer to the overall activity as a "movement", or give the DM credit as "leader" of the characters' progression through the dungeon.

Before you marginalize the activity, please check the market penetration: look up the revenues for the fantasy role-playing market. Remember that D&D is the launching point; in fact, the world creator/moderator is often referred to as "dungeon master" even when there is no actual dungeon in the adventure. ("Game master" is the usual generic term.)

However, like other posters, the clue for WARLOCK gives me some heartburn. The term literally means "oath-breaker", one reason that "warlock" wasn't used in D&D for many years, until we had used up the more appropriate terms. Until then, it was occasionally a technical epithet for an evil mage, but still rarely used in practice.

Since you blithely accept niche-market references in many other places, such as curling terminology, local celebrities, 1940s inductees to a sports hall of fame, etc., I'm dismayed that your inexperience with FRP gaming prompts you to include a nicely clued long answer in your above-the-line complaints. I expect better of myself, and expect better of self-appointed experts (or, in your case, a certified expert who is a self-appointed columnist).

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