FRIDAY, Jun. 6, 2008 - Ashish Vengsarkar (OLDEN OINTMENT)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

So excited to see Ashish's name on the puzzle - I wish he'd publish more, as he is one of the more careful, thoughtful, inventive puzzle writers out there. Excitement turned briefly to consternation as the puzzle smacked me around like no Friday has smacked me around in a while. All those 15s (which, perhaps counterintuitively, normally make a puzzle easier) and I still got hung up a lot. Trouble started right away at 1A: R.B.I. or E.R.A. where I fell straight into the STAT pit (answer = far more generic ABBR.). After getting flustered that I couldn't make any of the NW Downs work with STAT, I guess my eyes just started roaming the clues randomly, because eventually I ended up starting with a strange semi-guess way on the other end of the puzzle. Why do I know that the "Titanic" composer's name is HORNER (45D: Oscar-winning "Titanic" score composer)? And more importantly, why wasn't the 90s movies part of my brain working this well when it came time for 37A: Movie line spoken by Renee Zellweger after "Just shut up" ("You had me at 'Hello'")? I could think only of "Bridget Jones' Diary," for some sad reason. But back to HORNER. I wrote it in tentatively and then got the "H" cross with ease: 44A: They often cross (paths). Then I was so proud of myself for knowing that 46D: Heroin, slangily was SNOW (my crime fiction reading, finally paying off!) ... only it was SCAG, which is about the ugliest word in the English language.

Speaking of ugly: ETHNIC CLEANSING!?!?! (11D: Heinous war crime) - I assume this means we've dropped All restrictions on unpleasantness in the puzzle. Slightly less unpleasant: THIOL (12D: Compound added to natural gas to give it an odor). Holy moly that word looks made-up. This puzzle was actually chock full of things I simply didn't know. Embarrassingly, one of these things is SELAH (7D: Psalm ender). Another: O GOD (67A: Psalm starter). I'm apparently not a big Psalm reader. Plus, I tend to spell OH thusly, as in "Oh God, You Devil." Still not sure how SHOAL is the right answer for 31D: Spit, e.g. The only "spit" I know, besides the saliva kind, is the stick you stick through a roasting pig, and possibly a card game. Aha, here it means some kind of coastal landform. Yeah, I grew up ... inland. I live closer now to a major body of water than I ever have in my life, and that body is the Susquehanna River, so ... yeah, inland. I remember NARD (un-) fondly from earlier puzzles, but I'm guessing it's going to flummox a few people today (24D: Olden ointment). However, if I had to bet on the most popular train-wreck site of the day, I'm going to put my money on "West Virginia," where PICON (34A: Molly of early stage and screen) comes screaming through ALPH (25D: Fictional river of verse) and MAIER (26D: Three-time skiing world champion Hermann). I knew ... none of those. It's astonishing to me that three weird proper nouns were allowed to collide like this. When ALPH is the Best known word in a three-way collision, Something Is Wrong. I guessed the first two letters of PICON ... and was right. I was Sure I was wrong. PICON ... isn't that a print measure? It sounds oddly familiar. Anyway, throw in the wonderfully-yet-oddly-clued AFLAC (29A: Fortune 500 company whose toll-free number ends with 23522) and you've got a minor disaster on your hands.

Once again - second day in a row - the NE was the hardest part of the puzzle for me. 8A: Zeroes is RESETS!? It's a verb!? Ugh. I had LOSERS, and I was Confident. Ish. And AGATHA means good?? (16A: Saint whose name means "good"). Is that Greek? Yes, it seems so: agathos. Yeesh. And 13D: Flip is SASSY? These one-word enigmatic clues are more Saturday Newsday than Friday NYT. Loved (in that I hated it, then loved it) EGG clued as 9D: Graded item. Took way too long, but the answer was good enough to make my frustration disappear. Anyway, that corner was a nightmare, and it was awfully close to the PICON train wreck. I still can't quite believe I finished this puzzle with no errors.

Oh, and I'm sure I was supposed to like TRY GOOGLING THIS (17A: Mean crossword clue writer's challenge to solvers?), but man oh man I Did Not. It's a cute insidery thing to include, but that is Not A Phrase. Has anyone written that phrase anywhere before? Is it the title of something I haven't read? I'm just at a loss ... stunned that this got beyond the "Inspired Idea" stage.

Things I DUG (47A: Considered groovy):

  • 58D: Kind of band (jug) - hee hee. Why this came to me quickly, I don't know, but man, that "J" helped a lot with 57A: Event starting on 08/08/08 at 08:08:08 p.m. (Beijing Olympics).
  • 41A: "Scandalized Masks" painter, 1883 (Ensor) - I feel like we've had this exact clue before. Anyway, ENSOR is fabulous, freaky, funny, scary ... and They Might Be Giants wrote a song about him.
  • 6D: Very desirous person's sacrifice (right arm) - fabulous. I was looking for EYETEETH, but that was in last week's puzzle.

Things that made me say "...?"

  • 55A: 1970s tennis star Ramirez (Raul) - Wha? I thought I knew all the 70s tennis "stars."
  • 39D: Fahd's successor in Saudi Arabia (Abdullah) - yee haw, that looks great in the grid.
  • 48D: Texas senator succeeded by Cornyn (Gramm) - Misread name in clue as "Comyn." Whoops. I know GRAMM, but I needed crosses to remember him.
  • 62A: "Charley's Aunt" star Chaplin (Syd) - uh ... guh ... er ... who?
  • 53D: Neighbor of Helsinki (Espoo) - I have so many things to say, but they are all childish and probably do not pass the breakfast test (though with ETHNIC CLEANSING in the puzzle, the breakfast test would seem to have been suspended temporarily).


  • 15D: Interior designer's creation (motif) - I like this a lot. Appropriate, but not easy.
  • 22D: Turn red, maybe (redye) - ooh I do Not like this. But you knew that.
  • 33D: Chlorure de sodium (sel) - briefly got my languages confused and wrote SAL.
  • 36D: Best Actor nominee of 1991 and 1998 (Nolte) - he is now probably best known, sadly, for one of the greatest mugshots in celebrity history.
  • 52D: 1980s-'90s New York governor (Cuomo) - it goes him, Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson. It's weird how quickly the Spitzer story went away. I guess insane election seasons trump everything else.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

I knew PICON. Very little else. So we're doing penance for the laydowns of Wednesday and Thursday.
No, this falls into the Life Is Too Short category.
Waiting for some weekend sanity.

evil doug 9:10 AM  

Proper Etiquette and Technique
for the New York Times Crossword Puzzle

1. Dance with the puzzle mano e mano. That means solving the crossword as it is actually published in the Times---not in some impersonal computer (the term “personal computer” is an oxymoron). Direct contact with the newsprint is as a safecracker caressing the dial and sensing the movement of the tumblers.
2. The Times doesn’t appreciate that the puzzle itself should always be published in a quadrant of the newspaper that doesn’t require reversing the crease of the main vertical spine when that (typically) four-page piece is slid out from the rest of the section. Such a maneuver almost invariably comes out uneven after the necessary origami is attempted, so be careful. However, bending the paper across the horizontal fold and then creating a new crease to produce a comfortable quarter-page work area containing the crossword are not problematic.
3. Use pen, not pencil. I recommend the Tūl retractable gel pens available at Office Max; smooth and effortless, even when working in a horizontal position that requires the pen to defy gravity somewhat. [Those pressurized “astronaut pens” are unreliable and may create messy globs.] The inexpensive Zebra F-301 is inarguably the best simple ballpoint on the market, at any price. Since erasing is not an option, carefully crafting small letters permits incorrect entries to be inked over and replaced four to five times as necessary. If you find more corrections than that are regularly required, you should avoid puzzling beyond Monday or Tuesday. Perhaps Word Search is your game.
4. Double entendres, suggestive language and politically incorrect terms are always appropriate. To apply some sort of “breakfast test” or otherwise artificially limit clues and answers simply contributes to uninteresting and repetitive puzzles.
5. Put away the stopwatch. Savor the puzzle. Work on it for a while, put it aside, come back to it when your mind is refreshed. Just as zapping text messages and whipping out e-mail have destroyed the joy of handwritten correspondence, so does racing through the grid eliminate the quiet pleasure of carefully shaping your letters into their cells. “Slow-hand” puzzling extends the satisfaction.
6. Under no circumstances should outside sources of any kind be employed. If a spouse or friends want to team up, gently request that they procure their own puzzle. Once this boundary has been established, any attempt by you to obtain assistance from the rebuffed party will likely be met---as it should be---with contempt. The use of computers, dictionaries or a thesaurus to solve difficult clues is cowardly. Do your best, and if your ultimate solution contains errors or even unfilled blanks take it like a grown-up. There is no honor is solving a puzzle with artificial intelligence. But when you spend several hours---even days!---on a particularly rough Saturday grid and complete it perfectly through your own knowledge and guile, there is no greater achievement known to man.

Megan P 9:16 AM  

I so did like TRY GOOGLING THIS! Very sassy! And right up there near the beginning of the puzzle.

Going through the rest, I thought smugly (but not unsympathetically) of some who might not remember Molly Picon and the Yiddish Theatre, or that Syd Chaplin was Charley's son.

I did the puzzle quickly (for me) but struggled with the Zellweger quote which, for some reason, took on a K at one point. . . and that Horner guy. Titanic movie music is to me what the Yiddish theatre is to lots of others, I'm guessing.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Meet James Ensor
Belgium's famous painter
Dig him up and shake his hand
Appreciate the man

Parshutr 9:27 AM  

@doug...I'm so glad you've laid down the law [SARCASM].
The puzzles are there for enjoyment, nothing else. I'll continue to do them online, and on newsprint, in pen or ballpoint (there is a difference).

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

OMG! I have been waiting for this day for a looooong time. I actually found a puzzle easy, relatively speaking that is, while the esteemed Rex rated it as "Challenging". Meaning I finished it just as I reached my desk after taking the 8:05 from Maplewood to Penn. And, I read most of the feature article about the city's playgrounds before starting the puzzle to boot. I am sure Rex and many of the commenters on this site still whooped me on time...but, this still feels GOOD.

Making a broad assumption that he hails from the Indian subcontintent, perhaps it comes from spending 5 of of my formative years in India? Either way,
something just clicked, and I was on the same wavelength as Mr. Vengsarkar.

SethG 9:32 AM  

Yeah, this killed me. I wish I knew more.

Yes for SELAH. Yes for THIOL. Yes for PICON. (She played YENTE! But when one's Wikipedia entry includes the line "[her] most famous film, Yidl Mit'n Fidl (1936)...", you can be pretty much guaranteed I'm not ecstatic to find them in a puzzle.) Yes on NARD. For me, add in ENSOR (but never again, which I probably said the last time you mentioned him) and UNION (union catalog? if you say so), and I'm not sure I like how BRR relates to its clue. But yes on just about everything else you said.

I strangely knew ESPOO from ultimate frisbee, was ready for OLEIC and MAD MONEY this time, and AFLAC came to me immediately. But this took me forever, and my overall feeling while working on it was O GOD.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@Megan P - Charlie Chaplin did have a son named Syd, but the Syd in "Charley's Aunt" was his half-brother.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

@doug - i'm with ya' on solving the puzzle as it appears in the pen...i love how when stumped you can put a puzzle down and pick it back up again the a few hours later...or even better the following morning and 'see' things you had not been able to pick up before....also i'm mostly with you on the 'no help' thingie, though i am prone to moments of weakness, where i lean on resources like the wife or an atlas, though i do try to resist googling if I can.

...oh, and BTW, on being able to solve the puzzle rather quickly it did not hurt that guesses like ESPOO and ALPH turned out to be correct.

..sorry for posting so much, i'm still a little giddy.

AV 9:48 AM  

Ethnic Cleansing was tough to get rid off - I just posted a comment on Orange's blog and here's a quick cut and paste:

"Ethnic Cleansing was a tough one - I had pinged the cruciverb cru-list if this would be acceptable, and there was a resounding "Don't even think about it". As I was about to junk the grid, I got a belated email from Will saying that if it were clued in a bland way, it may be alright. (Of course, with the unsaid adder that if the grid is reworkable, I would have to take it out)"

ALPH/MAEIR/PICON was tough to avoid without adding another block where the N from PICON sits. And I was hell-bent on keeping AFLAC in, for the toll-free number clue!

I guess once my mind was set on keeping the interlocking 15-ers and avoiding cheater blocks (and keeping AFLAC), there weren't too many other levers to pull.

Will, as an aside, added the "Mean" to the googling clue!


p.s.: To follow your espoo line of thinking, I could have clued one of the 15-ers - "Mom, Dad, kids have diarrhea" - but didn't want to fail the breakfast test! :-)

jubjub 9:53 AM  

I liked the long answers in this puzzle. They mostly took a couple crosses, then seemed sensible when filled in.

I couldn't finish the puzzle (correctly), as I ended up with Saint uGATrA instead of AGATHA. I started with RuNOFF instead of RANOFF and, forced to guess what letter makes T_IOL a word, I went with R. Also ended up with aICaN instead of PICON.

My first answer: CREAMPIE. Boston cream pie = greatest pie of all time. No crust, chocolate, custard = yum. Also got AFLAC with no crosses. I rule :).

I had __DYE, and refused to put in the RE for a while, since I figured they would not put RED in the answer as well as the clue. I guess that was the trick.

Never heard of a UNION card or catalog. I debated whether oNION catalog or UNION catalog seemed more reasonable. PS somehow, the TA union at my former university got linked with the United Auto Workers, hence in grad school I was a member of the UAW. All the emails were signed "In solidarity,", which I found incredibly entertaining. I am easily amused.

I didn't know that MADMONEY meant contingency fund. It's the name of a show on like CNBC, right? I thought it was called MADMONEY cuz the host is manic, or something.

My line of thinking for 57A: who would be cutesy enough to start their even at 08/08 ... 08? The IOC, of course.

ABDULLAH = Paula + Abdul. Almost.

EsPOO. Hee hee.

Unknown 9:54 AM  

Interesting and super puzzle. Actually, it seemed like three puzzles in one. The bottom third was easy for me starting with the Olympics although I tried Summer first. The middle third had the PICON challenge, but I was lucky to remember the downs although I only had the phonetics for MAIER and tried a few combinations.

The Top third started with stat and as I entered it, I thought that's likely a trick clue. I corrected it but RAGAS didn't come until the end and the Google fill was the very last thing. Why? Losers fit too well where RESET went and THIOL (pronounced 'Thigh Oil'?) could be Rhiol as far as I knew. I had ore for EGG and runoff for RANOFF. If I had a Ubangi Dictionary, I probably could have justified the resulting mess, but I erased it all and started over. I had to try it, so when you enter THIS in Google you get some interesting stuff and if you haven't looked at the YouTube video of Ms. South Carolina (second hit on my Google response) then do so. Then remember, her vote will count the same as yours in November.

Thanks Ashish.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  


runs in the family? espoo? LOL


Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Brilliant puzzle today. Just arranging the seven (!) 15's was an accomplishment. Then surrounding it with reasonable fill was the icing ...

Favorite clues: "Something about Mary?"(20A)=HALO; and "Turn red, maybe"(22D)=REDYE (ultimate cleverness that the answer does not contain the word "red"); and cluing AFLAC at 29A by its phone number.

A bit of Times cynicism at 35Down. "Dear Solvers: The go-to acid is now OLEIC. Just memorize it. Don't worry your heads about what it is."

I thought 12D should have been "mercaptan". Oh well, maybe mercaptan is a THIOL.

I saw Molly Picon on stage in about 1960. Her much more famous work was the play "A Majority of One". No need to go back to 1936. And it was in English.

And Doug, my feelings about Saturday puzzles is much like yours. I sometimes give the Stumper 2 or 3 days.

Happy weekend, everybody.

jubjub 10:05 AM  

@doug - i only solve the xword online, since (a) i don't get the paper and (b) only chumps line up the clue and the answer themselves, i let java do that for me :) (c) it makes googling when i'm stuck ever so much easier :).

in my brain, asking people around me for help is fair game (tho there is no one around at 6am when i solve the puzzle), but i feel a little bit dirty if i google. which i do, often.

later, chumps and chumpettes :)

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I (as I often do with words like this) misspelled OCCURRENCE to read OCCURRANCE, which made the city near Helsinki even more of a Breakfast Test failure.

I knew Hermann MAIER ("The Hermannator"), so that saved me over there, but had to guess on the P in PICON.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Fell right into STAT like Rex did but then I got YOU HAD ME AT HELLO without crosses; not sure if I've ever gotten a 15-letter like that before.

This puzzle is why Friday is my favorite day - challenging but ultimately gettable. My only error was ASPOO.

I could go on one of my rants about random cities but I won't because:

1) I should know how to spell OCCURANCE

2) I have seen ESPOO before so should remember it

3) You can remember it by the alternate clue: Abbr. for Tony Esposito shutout?

4) ESPOO crosses ASS.

5) I like saying ESPOO and will try to work it into a sentence today. Don't worry, my staff already know I'm weird.


Pete M 10:26 AM  

I remembered Hermann MAIER. Unfortunately, I settled on my second attempt to spell it (MAHER, then MAYER). PYCON looks just as good or better to me than PICON; both are more reasonable than PHCON.

As for the puzzle, you had me at you had me at hello. Great fill!

RodeoToad 10:30 AM  

Yeah, challenging. I got lots of meaty answers on the first pass and the puzzle just smirked at me. I teased out all the fifteen letter answers early, felt real proud of myself, dived into the crosses, and the puzzle sighed, yawned, looked away, tapped its fingers. (It took me forever to get BEIJING when I had OLYMPICS, and I had OCCURRENCE with only one C for a long time. I used to be a great speller, but that skill has atrophied. So has my handwriting. I used to be very vain about my effortlessly beautiful handwriting. Now even when I concentrate I can't write a legible word. I bet I can type faster than you, though. Yeah, puzzlegirl, I'm talking to you.)

I didn't finish the puzzle at the ALPH/PICON/MAIER crossing. Took me a long time to get REEL from the two EE's, which gave me NOLTE, and that was as far as I could get up there, leaving two blank squares.

I thought MADMONEY was money you could blow however you wanted, not rainy day or continency money.

I too thought I knew all seventies tennis stars (happy birthday to Bjorn Borg and me today.) Sorry, Raul, I never knew ye.

Speaking of reading psalms, I had mine read yesterday by Madame Alora. She, um, er, ripped me off.

Gary 10:43 AM  

SHOAL works for "Spit" because one definition of spit is a narrow strip of land that juts out into the sea. A SHOAL is a sandbank in a stretch of water. I think it works.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

isn't it SKAG? not SCAG?

archaeoprof 10:45 AM  

Never had so much fun with a puzzle I couldn't finish. Didn't get the P in PICON/ALPH. But what fabulous cluing, from "What a scene is seen in" to "event starting on 08/08/08 at 08:08:08pm." "Psalm ender/starter" was a nice pair, too. All in all, a delight, either in pen or online!

Rex Parker 10:46 AM  


Get your own website if you want to pontificate like that. For the record, I agree with virtually none of what you said. Nobody but nobody wants to be told the "proper" way to solve.

You appear to have no idea what solving on computer means or entails. Nor do you appear to know what "oxymoron" means.

Pen is for posers who like to show off in cafes and make snide comments about people who do Word Searches.

Or maybe you meant all that pompous, condescending nonsense ironically. I can't tell.


Ben Hassenger 10:53 AM  

Sheesh, just when I was starting to get the hang of Friday puzzles...

jae 11:05 AM  

Four squares!! Well two out of four isn't bad but it still makes a failed puzzle. I guessed right on the final O in ESPOO, the O in THIOL, but missed the I in MAIER (had an H). The PPG for MAIER allowed me to correct ALAH to ALPH. Great puzzle though fun and challenging!!

BTW Phil Gramm is pretty much the guy responsible for the deregulation that caused the current mortgage crisis and he's one of McCain's economic advisors.

@Rex -- thanks for the reply to doug, I couldn't agree more!

Shamik 11:07 AM  

GREAT puzzle and I was feeling so smug until checking with Rex & Co. to find that it's ESPOO and not ESPOA.

I also started smugly with STAT and then realized it just had to be AVGS. But then there's no V-- that has anything to do with any kind of cold.

The whole puzzle again looked like a Dalmation with spots filled in hither, thither and yon. BEYOND SUSPICION was one of the final 15'ers.

@Doug...Your comments would be far more appreciated if you stated them as YOUR opinion and not generalized etiquette for the rest of us. Thank goodness we all get to solve the puzzles any old way we choose to. Each individual has her/his own tolerance for what is cheating, ie., asking others, googling, waiting 'til tomorrow to check the answer.

Personally...I solve in a way to maximize the time it takes to solve. Why? Because I like to. And if I ask my husband or google, it's because I'm comfortable with it.

I understand that husbands, Google, the answer sheet, or even Rex are not allowed in the Crossword Tournaments. Last I noticed as I sit here in the motor home in rural Colorado, no one was watching my time or my methods. Whew! So glad the Crossword Police didn't catch me! ; )

Despite ESPOO, this was one of the most enjoyable Friday puzzles. Great one!

ArtLvr 11:12 AM  

Wonderful puzzle, lots to savor -- even if I think of MAD MONEY as something I can have a little splurge with, rather than funds to save for a rainy day. And it's storming in upstate NY, so I didn't hurry. Couldn't, anyway...

I began in the lower half, where things went well, except Rex's first fill was my last with Saul/Hosner getting corrected to RAUL and HORNER. The 3D "...picion" gave me BEYOND SUSPICION, and thus the top three lines and most of the far right followed, though I had to google for NOLTE.

My worst problem was 22A where I had the nice fit "genetic heredity" -- confirming many crosses from SELAH, ILEA and SASSY to the long ETHNIC CLEANSING. Grr. Took out the letters not working, changed it to RUNS IN THE FAMILY, and then went with 6D "rig..." into RIGHT ARM -- shades of yesterday's LIFT A FINGER!

Back on track with NARD and ALPH (which is read aloud several times by a giggling student to a governess in a film I've seen often -- was it Jane Eyre?). I finally got the whole line at 37A, YOU HAD ME AT HELLO (assuming that was in "Chicago", a film I've also enjoyed more than once).

When SHOAL appeared for "Spit" -- that was my greatest Aha -- fabulous should-have-known clue! Thanks, Ashish...


JannieB 11:17 AM  

What a satisfying puzzle - fun, clever and ultimately gettable. Molly Picon played the Yenta in the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof - sneaky! I got the Zellweger quote without any crosses and it gave me my foothold on the puzzle. But my favorite quote from that movie was, "That's not a dress. It's an Audrey Hepburn movie." Love that!

Runs in the family took the longest of the 15's which were all quite wonderful. Lots of new names - Ensor, Raul, Alph, Maier, Espoo (a clue I never saw, fortunately) - but fair and gettable. Last fill was in Nevada - diss/shoal/Ensor etc.

Not familiar with this constructor, but hope to see more of his work! Great puzzle.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@artlvr: YOU HAD ME AT HELLO is from Jerry Maguire

JannieB 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:25 AM  

IMDB doesn't list Nolte as being a nominee in either 1991 or 1998. So i tried 1990 and 1997 and he's not a nominee those years either. Who's wrong here? My money is on the puzzle. It always aggravates me when the clue and the answer don't match!

dk 11:30 AM  

I hate to PICON poor @doug but we have a small cell (sorry group) that may need to consider some ETHNICCLEANSING. So word to the wise if anyone named @chef...1 hands you a tripe taco take the CREAMPIE which is BEYONDSUSPICION.

"I got all the big ones and was killed on the little ones" said Tom seismicly. I could not even spell ABBR until I saw it as a clue. And, DEBAR - gee whiz or ESPOO.

In short, A good spanking on a warm Friday morning or as a certain duck might quack: AFLAC.

I would be remiss in not reporting that the using the word AROUSE in a puzzle will not win you any HALOs.

My inner 12 year old can not wait to extend a certain digit (note to all I said digit) and say TRYGOOGLINGTHIS.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

My first answer was 29A. I just looked at the telephone in front of me for my smug moment of joy. That moment was quickly punctured.
Yes Ashish you beat me fair and square. Thank you for appearing here with your comments. I did not object to Ethnic Cleansing at all. If I can read about it on the front page why not in my puzzle?
I also loved the teasing of 17A.
@ doug, if you are a frequent visitor to this site you should have known that Rex would not agree with you. While your rather dry narrative did drag on a bit I agree with you. I truly enjoy folding my paper just like I like it and doing it in pen. I only read this blog (now as necessary in the morning as my cup of coffee) after I am done or hopelessly stuck. I fell into the bottomless pit of Picon and Maier (two uncommon common names) but beyond that loved all of the long answers. Thanks Ashish!
Two Ponies (Can't sign in again!)

Margaret 11:30 AM  

This definitely beat me up but was fun. I fell into the STAT trap right off the bat but knew the movie quote immediately.

Crosswords are fascinating, not just on the conscious solving level but also on the subconsious. I read the clue about the "river of verse" and the very first thing that jumped into my mind was the Coleridge poem -- except that I couldn't even think of the name of the poem, much less the river mentioned in it. In fact, I wasn't even completely sure a river ran through it. I had to work on the poem in my head for several minutes before I could get the opening lines but once I did, sure enough, there was ALPH and, with the H from Hello, I knew it was right. But my subconscious knew it well before my conscious did. I find that fascinating; I guess that's why I love Oliver Saks books!

One big quibble with today's puzzle: I know the phrases ABOVE SUSPICION and BEYOND REPROACH. but BEYOND SUSPICION just doesn't ring true. I expected Rex to be all over that one!

Glad to be back. Just returned from a 11-day trip to Morocco, including RABAT (which still didn't help!)

Margaret 11:34 AM  

@ Anonymous

Go the other direction on the Nolte awards: 1992 and 1999. The Oscars are given in the year following the movie's release. He was nominated for Prince of Tides (1991) and Affliction (1998.)

cartzero 11:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
cartzero 11:39 AM  

BTW-the guy in that mug shot was named People magazine's sexiest man of the year in 1992...a long way to fall.

Joon 11:39 AM  

great puzzle. i don't mind a little ETHNICCLEANSING in my puzzle--infinitely preferable to GYP, in my opinion, because at least we can agree with the constructor that it's heinous. sure, it's a bit of a downer, but if you don't want to be reminded about how messed-up our world is, then you probably don't have a newspaper subscription anyway. now a whole puzzle whose theme was ethnic cleansing would be a little much, but as a single answer it doesn't bother me.

i fell into the same STAT trap at 1A (but shamik, it can't be AVGS because RBI is a counting stat), and in fact couldn't get anything going in the NW. i live in boston but could think of only BAKEDBEANS and CLAMCHOWDAH, neither of which fit. (nor did KICKASSSPORTSTEAMS.) but moved on and found the rest of the puzzle outside the NW pretty tractable. figuring out AFLAC from the phone number was a lot of fun. ironically, my first break was SELAH, which gave me... well, nothing of use, but that + ILEA and HALO and AFLAC and i was off and running.

titanic is pretty schmaltzy, but james HORNER's music is extremely good.

ALPH--i'm a little surprised rex didn't know this one. "kubla khan" is one of my favorite poems, and there was a time not so long ago when i could recite it all from memory. i had No Idea about MAIER or PICON but i was able to to guess the I so... go me.

i agree with margaret--i wanted it to be ABOVESUSPICION.

MADMONEY amused me because i still have never heard of that word outside of the puzzle and this blog. but we had this exact same discussion a month ago about whether "contingency funds" is an apt clue. keeping on the "this puzzle refers to itself" theme, OCCURRENCE was one of the 10 most commonly misspelled words, according to oliver hill's sunday puzzle a few weeks ago (in which it appeared as OCCURENCE) so i got a good chuckle reading about how so many people had a hard time spelling it in the grid today.

finally, YOUHADMEATHELLO is probably the most unlikely answer that i knew only from crosswords, even more so than DATEMYMOM or MADMONEY. it showed up in a saturday LAT sometime recently. this time i was ready for it.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Yeah, Doug, only people who run their own blogs are entitled to pompous, condescending nonsensical pontification.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Re 34A:PICON -- the print measure Rex remembers is _pica_ = about 1/6 of an inch, according to

The same source confirms that 53D:ESPOO rhymes with EXPO, not the "runs in the family" kind of poo. (I hope the latter is not a "daily occurrence").


Scott 11:44 AM  

Loved all the 15-letter answers in this grid and the fairly unusual way that they were spread. Some solvers really like scrabbly letters, some love great themes, some enjoy low black square count or low word count; I'm a sucker for 15 letter answers, so some of the sketchy fill (that I didn't get) I give a pass to.

@Doug: I have never understood people who say that there is a proper way to do something of leisure. Do people suggest that a book must be read in paperback, on a breezy Sunday afternoon, in the park, and one must only take books out of the library? One of the greatest things about crosswords is that you can do it anywhere, w/ minimal resources and work on it for any period of time that you have to spare. To create an artificial rule set for yourself is one thing, to suggest that your artificial rule set is proper etiquette is just silly.

ArtLvr 11:46 AM  

@ crosscan -- Thanks for the note about the film "Jerry Maguire"... Hadn't heard of that one, but then my cinema experience is very spotty! I might sign up for Netflix one of these days..


sonofdad 11:51 AM  

Maybe it's that I watch a ton of sports on TV, but AFLAC was a borderline gimme, given the assumption that the phone number spells out the company name. After that, there really aren't many companies that you can spell with those constraints.

Mercaptans and thiols are the same thing. Thiol is the more "scientific" name while mercaptan is more traditional/informal. For common compounds, you'll still see the mercapto- root popping up (e.g., beta-mercaptoethanol), but if you're naming a compound by IUPAC standards you'll always see thiol.

Also, snow generally refers to cocaine. Years of listening to rap have taught me not to confuse my drug slang.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

@artlvr - Jerry Maguire is the Tom Cruise movie likely best known for the phrase "Show Me the Money" - 14letters long, for future reference.

It was a big hit in ESPOO.

evil doug 12:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 12:09 PM  

Scott wrote: "@Doug: To create an artificial rule set for yourself is one thing, to suggest that your artificial rule set is proper etiquette is just silly."

Of course it is. So is the idea that there is "no greater achievement known to man" than solving the puzzle. Really, is the discussion on this site always so mirthless? Did my diatribe on where the Times should actually place the puzzle ring that true? For the record: I believe in freedom of choice when it comes to crossword solving methodology.

But be fair and balanced in your somber assessment; don't forget to tell Rex that it's also "silly" for him to attack those who choose to be pen-wielding "posers" in cafes....

As he himself says: "Nobody but nobody wants to be told the "proper" way to solve."

Unless it's by him. Hey, it's his website. If he wants your opinion, he'll give it to you.

Pen on paper really is nice....

PuzzleGirl 12:10 PM  

This was an awesome puzzle. I couldn't finish it correctly, but it was still a ton of fun. I liked TRY GOOGLING THIS. I pictured Merl Reagle sitting at a table constructing a puzzle with only pencil and paper, his hair all messed up, eyes bugged out (sorta the mad scientist look) -- jumping up with his puzzle in one hand and pencil in the other shouting "Try googling THIS...!" Of course, there was a curse word at the end of that, but I'll censor him here.

I was disappointed to see the heroin term only had four letters. I wanted HORSE. As in "Pure horse. Book him." (Did I just date myself?)

My only quibble with the puzzle is BEYOND SUSPICION. I'm with Margaret on that one.

And is it possible that someone seriously claimed the ability to type faster than me? Don't. Make. Me. Laugh.

dk 12:28 PM  

@wade, I hear the sound of a glove dropping.

@puzzlegirl, thats "Book-em Dano"

@doug, I use pen and my wife always tells me I am a poser, therefore all who use pens are posers.

Let the typed CREAMPIES fly!

Do you think NOLTE takes OLEIC?

@orange, ran into a slight hiccup with the nanotubes and the tattoed grid. It seems we need a Satphone for it to work on a plane, perhaps a link into the back of the seat TV's.

@anon-o-mice, if you think wry humor is not a DAILYOCCURENCE at this site perhaps you also think your ESPOO has no THIOL.

Sorry way to much caffine this AM.

RodeoToad 12:31 PM  

"Spit, e.g." threw me, too. Couldn't figure out how to spell loogy. (Yeah, yeah, breakfast test and all, I know.)

Doug, you're right about everything except the pen. Typewriter, baby, typewriter. IBM Selectric, the only typewriter that matters--14 point Courier. (Puzzlegirl--me, you, two manual Underwoods. Dawn tomorrow.)

Jae, you are correct that Phil Gramm, along with every other Texas politician since Ralph Yarborough and Sam Rayburn, deserves a daily butt-kicking.

Margaret, you say Morocco, and that makes me smile. (Anybody else go through a Jackson Browne phase? Yeah? Feel like slapping Darryl Hannah around a bit?)

And does anybody have any ideas about what can be done about Leo Sayer? He keeps telling me I make him feel like dancing.

I turned 41 today. Right after I get these damn kids out of my yard I'm going to the grocery store in my house shoes.

Rex Parker 12:54 PM  

For the record, "snow" can be used to refer to heroin as well as cocaine and amphetamine. Or so I read.


Orange 1:08 PM  

Wade, your best bet is to get a restraining order against Mr. Sayer. You have to take a hard line with him or he is apt to dance the night away, trespassing on your property. (Happy birthday! Welcome to 41.)

DK, I laughed (OL! For reals!) when I read your "think your ESPOO has no THIOL" line. Is there anything finer than nerd humor?

Will Shortz has written this: A question I am asked often is this: "Is it cheating to use references?" In reply I always quote Will Weng, one of my predecessors as Times crossword editor: "It's your puzzle. Solve it any way you want." And is it cheating to call The Times's 900 number to get answers? Well, of course! But what nobody knows won't hurt you. (This was in 2001, before it was so easy to Google crossword clues.) Doug's in the slow-hand group but me? I can't solve a non-killer puzzle slowly. It would be like using 10 really slooooow strokes per tooth when brushing my teeth—pointless to draw it out unnaturally.

ArtLvr 1:14 PM  

re: "BEYOND SUSPICION" -- I agree that we more often say "above suspicion', but note that there was made-for-TV film by that title in 1993, based on a true story. It's about a dentist whose wife tells police he confessed to murder, etc. The cast included Corbin Bernsen, one of sexiest lawyers in long-running L A Law, who in real life got accused of patting a nanny on the fanny.....


JannieB 1:22 PM  

@Wade - Happy Birthday - this blog will never be mirthless as long as we have you amongst our posters.

janie 1:25 PM  

"stat" trap -- yep. but looooooved this puzzle. complex, satisfying and no googling required -- until after, to learn about "espoo," f'rinstance!

snow=heroin? i'd always thought it was another word for cocaine. seems it can be used for either:


and there i was tryin' to make "smak" [sic] work...

love the susquehanna. there's a particularly beautiful crossing in maryland on amtrak which provides a view both of old "erector set"-type bridges and the upper reaches of the chesapeake bay. sigh........



Anonymous 1:27 PM  

"Mad money" is not quite as dated as "Picon" but almost. It is the extra bit a money that a girl would take with her on a date that would enable her to get home if she and her date had some sort of disagreement.

janie 1:27 PM  

rp -- apparently, i was writing as you were posting.


foodie 1:29 PM  

Great, great puzzle! I got the long answers, missed some fill, but no matter. Genetics, ethnic cleansing, olympics, googling, sex, money, saints and psalms, all fit madly in this 15x15 little patch. Wow!

@wade, next step in your progression: pajama pants with a hoodie sweater. You might even want to wear that as you carry your Underwood. Happy Birthday!

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Fabulous puzzle, I learned so much from one puzzle!
(ENSOR, ESPOO, the meaning of AGATHA, THIOL, Union Catalog? GOt OLEIC from last week)

Loved figuring out the phone #!
I live for phone mnemonics (recently a friend pointed out that my cel phone doesn't have to be XXX-DUMP, it's also FUNQ (so now I say "That's Funky with a Q")

I misspelled OCCURRENCE bec I had SKAG (I used to wonder if Boz Skaggs name was some sort of code for heroin)

Had ALLAH for SELAH (wrong psalm?!)

Syd is indeed not son but older half-brother who wrote one of the best bios on Charlie Chaplin if you ever have the chance to read it.

I didn't know the whole 08/08/08 thing, so cool!

I'm a bit miffed that PeteM beat me to saying, "Ashish, you had me at hello!" so let me say "You had me at RIGHTARM"

Pythia 2:26 PM  

This was looking like it would fun, even as a blank puzzle with 7 15s. And it was, with only one so-so area -- ALPH, OLEIC -- which is pretty amazing for a grid like this. The 23 3-letters words weren't even distracting. Challenging, but fair.

Was loving the long answers, until I at last got to 11D and kept resisting the obvious. Was so sad to have to give in and complete ETHNIC CLEANSING. Am still sad. What happened to the "crosswords are supposed to be fun and uplifting" mantra? Even the clue seems defensive -- Heinous war crime. Are there war crimes that aren't heinous? If there are, I think I'd rather see those in the puzzle.

foodie 2:29 PM  

Indiana University has an interesting website that has in it all the street drug slang.

Just google "Street Drug Slang Dictionary"

I think it's fascinating what people have made up to talk about drugs.

janie 2:35 PM  

foodie -- that's the exact site i posted above as junk!

great minds, same gutter....



PuzzleGirl 2:58 PM  

@dk: But I was referring to The Mod Squad, not Hawaii Five-0! I can't find any reference for that line anywhere on the internet, though. I'm pretty sure I didn't make it up.

A couple more random thoughts triggered by the puzzle. (1) 48 Hours is one of my favorite movies of all time. I didn't ever see Affliction, but it was a very good book. (2) I met and shook hands with an Olympic gold medalist last week! It was quite a thrill. (It was Tom Brands, the coach of a certain collegiate national champion wrestling team.)

And, wade: Happy birthday, baby.

dk 3:12 PM  

Drugs and dating

Songs about drugs:

@wade, a song for you

miriam b 3:17 PM  

@wade: Happy birthday! Does your daddy still call you "baby?"

Very incisive humor, doug, if that's your intent.

I too tried ABOVESUSPICION, which gave me the uneasy feeling that some of the answers might contain a blank space. And though I did realize (with the help of the gimmees CREAMPIE and ENSOR) that it had to be BEYONBDSUSPICION, I agree with all who disliked it.

This puzzle was a wonderful workout. I thought at first glance that I'd have to throw n the towel, but I soldiered on. Very satisfying.

My hiatus will start soon. Today I gave the cat sitter a key and then went out and bought enough food and litter to keep the beasts happy for 2 weeks. What I hate is having to use up human food before leaving on a trip.

Doug 3:20 PM  

Look for the trustworthy Cooper Hockey Puck avatar as a mark of "apolitical Doug." I don't want to be on the receiving end of the Wrath of Rex.

This one clobbered me, got about a third then did the People cross in about 30 seconds (in pen) to make myself feel better.

I did get BEIJING OLYMPICS though. The number 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture, hence the start date and time. When I lived in Hong Kong, it was pretty common to see a lot of things decided by fortune tellers and numbers, e.g. the wedding day was almost always done this way. It's sensible too: The reception halls have 7 days of availablity instead of mainly Saturday. Also, book your August 8 caesarean section WELL in advance. In the good zodiac years there is an uptake in births, and the last Golden Dragon year in 2000 (every fifth cycle of the 12 animals) was a huge year for births. The poor health care workers were probably on serious OT in August, and I'm sure many couples were being encouraged by parents to hit the sheets 9 months before August 8, 2000.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

THEOLYMPICGAMES also has the right number of letters for 57A - that's what I tried first, but I quickly took it out as it was obviously wrong.

The last of the 15 letter answers that I entered in the grid was TRYGOOGLINGTHIS. It really surprised me that that was the correct answer as it is an obvious contrivance and probably shouldn't have been allowed. Having said that, I actually thought it was clever and I enjoyed it, but I imagine that there are quite a few old-school solvers out there today scratching their collective heads and wondering what the heck it means! It's a no from me.

Thanks Mr. Vengsarkar, keep 'em coming. This was an outstanding puzzle - the intersecting 15s were lovely. I was ultimately defeated... but if I'd known Molly PICON I would've made it!

evil doug 4:14 PM  

The other (real) Doug wrote: "Look for the trustworthy Cooper Hockey Puck avatar as a mark of "apolitical Doug." I don't want to be on the receiving end of the Wrath of Rex."

C'mon! Don't be a wuss, Doug. Guys named Doug are the coolest. Rex won't hurt you---as long as you're not a "cafe poser", puzzling in pen. Just bow to him when he slips in little ego moments like today's "I still can't quite believe I finished this puzzle with no errors," and you'll be just fine.

The Unreal Doug
Posing, Ohio

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

For some reason I feel compelled to note that I got the Jerry Maguire quote easily because even thought I never saw the movie I saw the SNL sketch with Jimmy Fallon a couple of times.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

What an awesome puzzle. My brain hurts and I love it. Thanks Asish!

@PhillySolver - following up on your last post of yesterday, I'm afraid you'll have to seek out a prison guard to French Kiss. Oh, and thanks, I think, for the Ms. South Carolina link. How depressing.

@PuzzleGirl - girl, you are a riot! That Merl Reagle vignette put me on the floor.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

What an awesome puzzle. My brain hurts and I love it. Thanks Asish!

@PhillySolver - following up on your last post of yesterday, I'm afraid you'll have to seek out a prison guard to French Kiss. Oh, and thanks, I think, for the Ms. South Carolina link. How depressing.

@PuzzleGirl - girl, you are a riot! That Merl Reagle vignette put me on the floor.

RodeoToad 4:47 PM  

Hi, my name is Wade and I'm an alcoholic. I have 33 days of sobriety, and I gotta tell you that Good Doug/Evil Doug showing up together at the same time on the board is kind of freaking me out, man. (And please please please somebody do something about Leo Sayer.)

Unknown 4:56 PM  


Couldn't agree more on all counts. Nothing betting than the satisfaction of completing a Saturday puzzle in pen (whether it is on saturday or a few days later)

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

You make me feel like dancing.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Doug, I didn't take offense to your comments. I thought it was an amusing piece. I print out the puzzles every day and solve them in pencil. I erase and rewrite Friday answers constantly.

Googling is off-limits for me, but sometimes I have to Wikipedia some obscure answer. But only it it has stumped me beyond all hope. People in the room is fair game, but I usually get blank looks.

I did find Rex's "poser" comment funny and ironic to make a judgement on solving preference! I assume it was his intent to be satirical.

Ultimately, nobody really sees me solve my puzzles and as soon as I finish them, they go in the trash. Kind of sad in a way after so much work, but what else am I to do with them?

I loved the TRYGOOGLINGTHIS answer. When I finally figured it out I actually laughed out loud!

Thanks Ashish for a really fun puzzle!

Middle Doug

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

Wade, won't you dance with me?

Feel the rhythm in your heart! Experience the joy!

RodeoToad 6:42 PM  

Damn you, Leo Sayer! Damn you, I say!

Howard B 6:50 PM  

Same here, Ashish, I had a good laugh at finding TRY GOOGLING THIS. Although PICON was pretty brutal, Hermann Maier and good old ALPH helped to bail me out there.
Looking forward to your next creation.

fergus 7:07 PM  

I'm getting more than a trice of mirth here. First of all I thought it was hockey puck (Don Rickles?)Doug both times with tongue firmly in cheek -- to have such cheek. Now I reckon the Rules were not so much a parody of Form by Ohio Doug. Weren't there some other Dougs lambasted a mere a few months past?

Anyhow, I found this one very entertaining, though it mostly fell into place pretty snappily. However, I left the puzzle wrongly completed by TRY BOOGYING THIS, not knowing Eastern music or my Psalms very well. That seemed extra mean since it seemed to be on the outlying fringe of the BOOGY (boogie?) meaning. Had SAITH for a while to end my Psalm, assuming the Lord might saith something conclusively?

Bruce Springsteen sings about a UNION card in "Racing in the Streets" and probably elsewhere.

Anyone who might take a wander outside San Francisco would be well-advised to take a trip to Point Reyes. One of the many brilliant hikes to take is the several miles up the Limantour SPIT, where you can nestle in the dunes if it gets too windy, or proceed to the end where you're likely to find a colony of seals. One time there with the full moon rising at sunset ...

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

I would also recommend Chimney Rock, south end of the Point Reyes peninsula, water on three sides, across the road from the lighthouse, brilliant in wildflower season, inspiring and beautiful.

Whoops, off-topic travelogue.

green mantis 7:26 PM  

Tasty puzzle, although i did get my Asok's beak in a twist over West Virginia. I'm usually a pretty fair guesser when it comes to those crossings, but today's bested me. There was something expansive and gymnastic about the long answer stretches and the way they crossed--just felt exhilarating.

I'm sort of bummed about the rise in the asshole quotient here. I know it's probably inevitable, but I so value the community and the level of discourse; ie, the regard and humor and courtesy we've known. I hope it continues with only minor slips for a long time.

Orange 7:45 PM  

TRY BOOGYING THIS? Omigod. Leo Sayer has gotten to Fergus. Be strong, Wade! You're our last line of defense.

Michael Chibnik 7:45 PM  

I really liked this puzzle and didn't find it particularly hard. Unlike Rex, I was amused by "trygooglingthis."

Why not pontificate about puzzles? Nobody should take pontification about such a topic seriously. I'd much rather read puzzle pontification than the academic and political and religious pontification that I am exposed to daily...

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

This puzzle wasn't for me at all. At the very least it should have been run on a Saturday - ALPH / PICON / MAIER area, NARD, SEL, SCAG, GRAMM, RAGAS, ENSOR, THIOL?? are all obscure. Fridays should have at most a couple of these.

I cannot believe that ETHNIC CLEANSING was allowed. It really doesn't matter that it makes the across 15's work, do not put genocide in the puzzle.

Finally, TRY GOOGLING THIS is a completely made-up phrase. You would never hear or say this in real life.

fergus 8:15 PM  

Karma - 'twas around there I built my best sand sculpture ever, the sand being so conducive to form. A mighty sphinx, trampled by my two year-old moments after proud completion.

On "Moonlight Mile" I wonder which sort of snow Mick Jagger's head is full of?

No -- I will neither admit nor submit to Leo Sayer.

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

This one took a long time, and I missed two letters. I didn't get the PI in "PICON"...but I love a puzzle that makes me work and has just the right level of frustration and ah-ha moments, of which, I had several though out the day as I snuck a couple minutes here and there at work to peck away at this fine puzzle.

Doc John 10:58 PM  

Nice to see RIGHT ARM in the puzzle again. The last time it was in the puzzle, it led me to this blog!

An earlier poster asked about BRR. It's evidence of cold temperatures when someone says it.

A THIOL is like an alcohol but with sulfur in the place of oxygen.

Had a 50% guess quotient today- got the I but missed the P.

Bjorn 10:44 PM  

Hi, did anyone pick up the politics of Beijing Olympics crossing Ethnic Cleansing and Beyond Suspicion? Or Ethnic Cleansing with Try Googling This, Runs In The Family, and Daily Occurrence?
For more fun, "try googling" beyond suspicion or ethnic cleansing.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Glad I did this in pencil so I could erase my misspelling of occurrence. I guess doug stuck to the topic at any rate, enough of the scolding of Americans for one week.
Creative to google the mean crossword clue writer.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Mr. Parker, sir:
Your 6 week syndication button seems to be off by one day. Gratefully, your humble Seattle Post-Intelligencer puzzle-solving fan.

Anonymous 2:41 AM  

I am new to puzzle working and I have worked the puzzle in pen but do not know what to do when I make a typo--or excuse me, a peno??
Or, when I just enter an outright incorrect word or phrase. Should I use an eraseable pen or just use pencil. You professional puzzle workers will never convince me that you enter the corrrect thing all the time. What do you do in that case and you are using a pen?

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

11D: ETHNIC CLEANSING is a term some people don't understand. This term is neutral. I think it should be called rape & murder!

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

46D: Heroin. Scag is Canadian slang.

Cocaine slang is snow.

Our current President has previous experience with that!

cody.riggs 12:04 PM  

I like Doug's solving style. Amen! How else to solve on bus commute?

Loved this puzzle, and can't believe that I had no errors. The "P" in PICON/ALPH was my only guess, last letter I filled (what else could it have reasonably been, though?)

Fell into the STAT trap early too, but knowing too much chem also did me in: I wrote "H TWO S" as my first answer (Hydrogen Sulfide) instead of THIOL. Couldn't believe it was wrong!

For a very long time, I had "YOU BAD MEAT JELLO" as the movie was the last answer I got before "ALPH." Very hard to parse.

I knew I'd love this puzzle when I saw seven 15-letter answers, and got "TRY GOOGLING THIS" right away by guessing. Kudos!

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Just to show, the very first clue I got was MEIER ("Hermann the German"). ALPH was my very last solution.

Loved the puzzle, my favorite in ages. I really liked TRY GOOGLING THIS and have no objections to ETHNIC CLEANSING. Personally, I'd prefer more serious clues in puzzles and less trivia, especially brand names, advertising slogans and the like.

Keep up the great work. Love your blog.

Prune 5:03 PM  

This is where Mr. Rex and I diverge on methods. For me, the giveaways were RESETS/EGG, ALPH (in "Xanadu"), YOU HAD ME AT HELLO, and OAT. THIOL is a perfectly good chemical term, seen stand-alone far more commonly than some of the dreck appearing in puzzles.

However, I agree with the general complaints. TRY GOOGLING THIS is a cute insight, although harder to find for those of us who started with STAT. The PICON/MAIER cross should be taken out behind the barn and put out of our misery. UNION came only from crosses -- and I barely recognized that library science term (union catalog) since I recently finished the excellent book, "Word by Word".

BTW, not knowing NARD at all, I filled in ELS for the commuting choices, yielding the annoyingly lovely pun for 6D: RIGHT ALM !!

gdaddywinz 6:47 PM  

Interesting 3-way Natick. Rest was good

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP