FRIDAY, Oct. 3, 2008 - Harvey Estes (Nero's buyer / Western costume accessory / City noted for its campanile)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Very short write-up today. Why I scheduled so much for Friday, I don't know.

What to say - stacks of 15s can often be bad news when it comes to the elegance of the fill in the Downs, but this puzzle felt just fine in that respect. Very few groans, lots of interesting fill. I had only a few missteps, including COCAINE for CODEINE (31A: Opium product) - which, yes, was a dumb mistake, but drugs + CO- prefix = COCAINE in my mind. It's a reflex.

As for the 15s. Something about the lack of an "A" before DISH FIT FOR A KING (1A: Unforgettable edible) is jarring to my ears. Phrase feels incomplete without it. You could go the whole Frankenstein's monster diction route and have DISH FIT FOR KING! I mean, you couldn't, but I could at least hear someone (namely Frankenstein's monster) saying it. INTERNAL REVENUE (16A: Concern of a certain federal commissioner) is a fine answer for the clue, though it misses its SERVICE. ATOMIC SUBMARINE (17A: Fission boat?) is fresh and lively. IN CONSIDERATION (58A: On account (of)) I like TO A LESSER EXTENT (62A: Not so much). Lastly, though STREET ADDRESSES is over half E's and S's, its clue is very nicely phrased (63A: They're usually even on one side).

Here's an interesting phenomenon in this puzzle:

  • IN TIME (2D: One day)
  • INNIES (47D: They're below some chests)
  • INT (20A: 1040 amt.)
  • INITIALS (13D: You might exchange words with them)
  • INCUR (6D: Rack up)

Lightning round:

  • 18D: Capital on the Rimac River (Lima) - I should remember this. Luckily, there aren't that many "capitals" that were likely to fit here (I may or may not have had RIGA for a while).
  • 21A: Nero's buyer (emptor) - first reaction = "somebody bought Nero?" Then "buyer beware" phrase caveat EMPTOR came to mind.
  • 23A: Vehicle for an annual round-the world trip (sleigh) - very cute. HO HO HO.
  • 37A: Be in the red for black and tans? (run a tab) - another nice clue.
  • 39A: Registration agcy. (SSS) - One "S" less than yesterday's "SSSS."
  • 40A: His chariot was drawn by four fire-breathing horses (Ares) - why does ARES get written about in the past tense? He's a god, and thus immortal. Don't make him angry.
  • 42A: Neighbor of Sunnyside in New York (Astoria) - I'll take your word for it. Between ASTORIA and the ALCOTTS (43D: 19th-century literary family in Massachusetts), this puzzle had a very Northeastern feel.
  • 53A: Large copier (ape) - I think an APE would find this clue demeaning.
  • 54A: Tropical fruit, in Toledo (piña) - pineapple in Sp.
  • 8D: Drawing device (flue) - mmm, tricky
  • 28D: Western costume accessory (riata) - a word I learned from xwords. All cowboys had lassos, as far as I knew, when I was a kid (or when anyone was a kid).
  • 32D: N.F.L. cornerback Starks (Duane) - I forgot about him, if I ever knew him.
  • 35D: Unlikely number at a rock concert (aria) - I know: ether! (number ... number ... it's a common crossword clue trick ... oh, never mind)
  • 38D: Actress Andersson of "Persona" (Bibi) - not registering
  • 48D: 2002 Al Pacino film ("Simone") - no thanks. This film will have a much longer name recognition life than it should because of crosswords.
  • 51D: Longtime "Days of Our Lives" actress Jones (Renee) - no offense, but DUANE, BIBI, and RENEE are not exactly inspired extras in this crossword drama.
  • 54D: City noted for its campanile (Pisa) - don't know what that is. If it's a food, I'm sure I'll find out in Comments.
  • 59D: Kidder's word (not) - [Kidder's word circa 1991], maybe.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 4:14 AM  

It would be a grand challenge to eat the campanile of Pisa, as it is the famous leaning bell tower.

RodeoToad 7:54 AM  

I think a campanile is the famous bell pepper they put on their pizzas in Italy.

I was thinking "nuclear" submarine and inter"state" something or other and thought you might exchange words with a "nup"tial and anyway I couldn't finish the top third of the puzzle and I'm rubber and you're glue and whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

"Lara's Theme" made me think Christopher Cross and "Young and the Restless" (you know, that damn song your sister played incessantly on the piano.) Don't know what it was doing back in 1966, though.

Who still reads "Mad," by the way? That's not a facetious question; I'm glad somebody does. But who does? Not teenage boys still? Their dads?

Orange 8:43 AM  

Rex, you idiot! COCAINE comes from the coca plant and not opium. Although they do call it a narcotic (don't they?), which in my head equates to opiates, so I started out with COCAINE in that spot too. Idiots in the hizzouse!

Joon 9:06 AM  

i third the COCAINE, although i quickly fixed it when i found the DUANE starks clue. which, by the way, was pretty darn surprising--he's not a star or anything. he's not even really any good. i remember watching him get torched over and over when he was with the patriots several years ago.

NOT is a word i used to associate with wayne's world, but now it's more of a borat thing.

ArtLvr 9:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 9:29 AM  

Very happy to finish this -- odd that the long answers all came before that small island in the middle! I had to replace cusp with NEAP and guess at ASTORIA before ending with CODEINE/DUANE (who?)

Good thing we'd had variations of corn/ears rather frequently lately, to uncover KERNELS, and the NUN couldn't be of the order of Elks... BLISS, WINK and PICNIC were fun, but the leaning campanile of PISA and the SLEIGH careening off on its annual world tour were my favorites... shades of wild rides in the stock markets and political arenas!


@ orange -- hope your brother-in-law is better

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I was surprised how quickly I was able to finish after seeing all the white squares sweeping from left to right.

I liked this puzzle except for 34D... Head pieces ... wha? Toupees fits better than JAWS. A shark clue would have been more appropriate here.

I'm not familiar with Harvey Estes but thank him for a solid Friday.

Alex S. 9:55 AM  

Bibi Andersson is the kind of obscure I like. Yes, definitely not in general knowledge but if you know a fair bit about a certain area (in this case Ingmar Bergman films) then you can get it -- they did about a dozen films together. Better that than the ones where I'm pretty sure the person's mother would still have trouble.

I immediately went to submarines with Fission boat? but the atomic part is so out of usage it took a terribly long time for it to come to me. Good thing nuclear submarine didn't fit.

Count me among the COCAINE crowd, though I did quickly fix it I then spelled CODEINE wrong broke the middle for a long time.

Twangster 9:58 AM  

My only problem was that I was set on GROS instead of GRAS and couldn't figure out what SLO_ could be for PANS (SLOW, SLOG, SLOT?) Finally sorted it out.

imsdave1 10:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fikink 10:10 AM  

A surprisingly fast Friday puzzle for me this morning. Art history always seems to come in handy when there are Italian derivations in the clues.
CODIENE was my first entry, probably thanks to living with Mr. Fikink. Loved the clues for SLAM, FLUE and SPEAR.
Oh, and dear constructors, I was in mind of a perfect crossword puzzle word while watching the debate last night, a beautiful word with the requisite alternating combination of consonants and vowels: INSIPID.
And did anyone notice that WINK was in today's puzzle?

Rex Parker 10:27 AM  


I'm not deleting your post, but why in the world would you make such a comment here, knowing how I feel about non-crossword-related stuff and how I feel (generally) about angry political rhetoric?

And please don't ask me to weep for insurance companies. I only have so many tears to give away.

If your comment had xword relevance, I didn't see it, and you are free to ignore the above.


Spencer 10:36 AM  

I don't see the need for SERVICE with INTERNAL REVENUE. A concern of the IRS commissioner is the INTERNAL REVENUE, no?

Orange 10:40 AM  

artlvr, he's fine now. Thanks for asking.

foodie 10:46 AM  

I felt inspired solving most of this puzzle, but got stuck in the BLISS on top of PICNIC area (a nice juxtaposition BTW). I had AGENTS instead of SCENTS for "trackers aids" which did not help. Otherwise, it felt like a breeze.

For a bit, I had GROS in lieu of GRAS (both correct translations of "fat" although used differently in French).

As soon as I saw CO, I guessed most people would think COCAINE instead of CODEINE. But I work on drug abuse (among other human ills) so that's one trap I avoided. I guess a lot of people think of codeine as innocuous because it's prescribed, and don't associate it with opium.

@fikink, I have a collection of old drug paraphernalia from various cultures (China, Middle East, etc) that Mr. Fikink would probably find amusing because, beyond the pipes and hookahs, it includes handy scales, grinders, etc to prepare and trade the goods. My kids' friends used to think I was cool because of all that weird stuff sitting around the house.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

I tried this one last night without success. I managed all but the top third before dozing off in front of the computer.

I came back to it this morning. Still struggled to get any traction, though I did find a couple of extra fills. Finally, I had to cheat. When I tried to click back to the puzzle tab, I accidentally hit the 'close' button. Took that as a sign and gave up (puzzle karma is brutal sometimes). I see now that I was stymied by 'gros' for GRAS, 'tromps' for STOMPS and 'elk' for NUN. SLEIGH came to mind, but I didn't figure out how it could make sense until I saw it here as the correct answer.

I did avoid the 'cocaine' trap, since I came at that one from the end and my last two letters were the CO.

Like Fikink, TV (not the debate) left me hoping for a puzzle that would use a particular word. Please, someone, give me GOBSMACKED.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

The middle came together quickly, but then the rest of this puzzle just absolutely STOMPed me.

paul 11:54 AM  

Shouldn't the clue to 60 D be abbreviated when the 3 letter answer is short for super sonic transport?

chefbea 11:56 AM  

worst friday puzzle I can remember. My first go round I had five words. Went out and when I came back still couldnt do it so a lot of googling then finally gave up.

Another drawing word. How many have we had this week.

Of course all my edibles are fit for a king - especially the delicious chicken I made last night

Shamik 12:34 PM  

Phooey. Have to call this one challenging since I kept GROS for GRAS and thought of all the skits I'd seen that the role called for HAGS. Just figured SLOG was some new pop culture word for SLAM.

Other misstarts:
ELK for NUN (now there's a visual)

ATOMIC SUBMARINE fell early. Now does anyone else cringe when they hear nuclear pronounced new-kew-lar? WINK

Any time you want to put Wayne's World up there, is ok with me. Mornings should start out with a big laugh. Thanks, Rex!

fikink 12:51 PM  


chefbea 12:57 PM  

@shamik new-kew-lar had me thinkin' and wonderin'

Unknown 1:00 PM  

"why does ARES get written about in the past tense? He's a god, and thus immortal. Don't make him angry." Ha! I got a chuckle out of that.

imsdave1 1:04 PM  

@shamik - ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto on your misstarts. Not sure why it makes me think of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. I'm always a fan of beer references in a puzzle and loved the colorful cluing for RUNATAB.

p.s. to those of you here earlier, I apologize for my political rant.

dk 1:19 PM  

Great friday fare IMHO

ATOMICSUBMARINE was my first fill and DISHFITFORAKING one of the last.

I liked the combination of DROP, CODEINE and BLISS (WINK,WINK)

We were not allowed to read MAD as kids so of course we read every issue. The extraterrestrial mens room and Furd Foulcar pieces were some favorites.

I had a crush on BIBI Anderson in my Bergman days so that was easy. I had sloe instead of PINA as I was thinking of past puzzles.

Now goshdarnitjoe if I would just stop this backwards thinking my puzzling will improve along with the economy, as I have been lead to believe.

(@imsdave, now that is away to slip in a snarky political comment, related to the puzzle. I suggest you leave the snarkys to the professionals :);0)

JoefromMtVernon 1:58 PM  

This one took almost 1/2 hour. 11 and 12 D brain froze me (would help if I could remember its revenue and not revinue). Groaned when I got sleigh.

Enjoyed the Queens reference; Astoria is north of Sunnyside. I'm happy to see either town in the puzzle.


Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Besides the aforementioned CUSP/NEAP and the whole GROS/GRAS I also had NAST/TASS and SPRIG/ SPEAR for a while...

My biggest problem was INNERS for INNIES (which I now realize should prob have been INNARDS in any case and not something Will prob would have stomached!)

Glad you pointed out the whole
IN IN IN (x 10) thing or I would have seemed like bitter constructor gal.

And yes, while names like DUANE are hopelessly obscure for me, BIBI is right up my alley due to the whole age/Bergman/Swedish angst sort of thing :)

Doug 2:31 PM  

Is it Saturday already?

My kids actually read MAD, and it's still as cheeky as ever. While in a lengthy border crossing from Vancouver to Washington I saw a bearded, GROS guy in the backseat of a car, being driven by his parents, while he was engrossed in MAD. Note to self: Forget to renew boys' MAD subscription and buy them razors.

Was nice to see HAMS and not EMOTERS. But NEAP? Along with the puzzle I get the NYT online and read an article yesterday about Good poll preditor. @imsdave: Note how I cunningly added this in so the ed won't delete my comment. :)

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

GOBSMACKED I think has outed you (ok, me) as a Bachelor watcher when the English guy was on and he used it, like, every other word (ick! to be it sounds like geting spit, or worse, on the forehead!)

of course, you may have been joking, so risking erring on the literal side today, I'll surmise1966 must be when Dr. Zhivago came out, (one of my fave movies and I swear one day I'll read the book!) "Lara's Theme" is of course the movie's beautiful theme score.

PhillySolver 3:01 PM  

I am sure this is is a demo of 44A
@ foodie you are STILL cool
@ wade bell pepper lol
@ billfromnj still missing you
@ chefb below is the finding of a seminal study on G dropping.
"Today, nearly all English speakers drop g's sometimes, but in a given speech community, the proportion varies systematically depending on formality, social class, sex, and other variables as well.
Bill Labov's formal study found that in casual conversation, g-dropping varied with social class as follows:
-------------------------------> Lower class.....Working class.....Lower middle class.....Upper middle class
Percentage of g-dropping _____80%___________49%____________32%____________5%"

Perhaps more relevant is this followup study, but it does raise a question. Another study of, this time in Los Angeles, compared males and females of similar socio-economic status. For both males and females, the percentage of g-dropping was greater in joking than in arguing:
Males..... 46%.....24%
Females.. 28%.....21%
This may explain the debate more than any analysis in that maybe one was joking and one was arguing.

miriam b 3:38 PM  

I wanted 1A to be ELEPHANTCUTLET or MOMSAPPLEPIE, but neither would fit, so I went elsewhere and found all sorts of gimmes: LARA, BIBI, ALCOTTS, EMPTOR, GRAS etc. One answer was news to me:

An ARIA's something we sing.
But Pacino's SIMONE?
I don't think I'm alone
In my DENSE ignorance of the thing.

OK, the last line's weak and doesn't scan perfectly. I'm too busy to stew over this - have a newly adopted adult polydactyl cat to socialize. Her name? Polly.

evil doug 3:54 PM  

Electric Light Orchestra:


Good tune, interesting group.


imsdave1 3:59 PM  



SIMONE was a wonderful thought
And Pacino's as good as we've got
But the premise was bogus
And the film lost it's focus
'Cause the writer's lost track of the plot

Sometimes I SLEIGH me.

Actually, a fun movie that just didn't quite work.

Dave, off work, and in limerick land.


archaeoprof 4:05 PM  

It took me a long time to get off COCAINE.

miriam b 4:11 PM  

Dave, I freely acknowledge that you're il miglior fabbro. \

Too bad the film didn't make SCENYS to you. Apparently it would be a waste of time to AVAIL oneself of one's PARER ORBS to watch this movie. Thanks for the warning.

Jeffrey 4:31 PM  

This limerick trend is cute
Reading them all is a hoot
But no more I say
It must end today
Or Rex will give us the boot

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

All I have to say today is that I liked the puzzle but enjoyed everybody's comments even more. Also, I like to serve my campanile with a garlic, wine butter sauce. Absolutely delicious.


barbara 4:58 PM  

A campanile is a bell tower. Not edible but beautiful.

jeff in chicago 7:14 PM  

It's Friday, and I tried, I really did, but...

What's the deal? I've got to the point where I can do Thursdays will minimal trouble. Is there that sharp a tipping point between Thursday and Friday?

@Orange - (6:26?!?! grrrrrr) does your book come with a guarantee?

green mantis 7:15 PM  

Ooh campanile--I got this one. My school has a very old one designed by Julia Morgan, who I am assured was a very important architect. I have not tasted it, but it looks delicious.

Must be brief; still recovering from my Sarah Palin drinking game hangover. It's my own fault; I should have specified swigs of beer over shots of vodka for each time she said Maverick. I still can't find my shoes or my dignity.

Ulrich 7:22 PM  

I finished this too late to have anything to add to what has been said. But I didn't find any explanation why INT is a 1040 amt.--I won't be able to sleep tonight until I know...

Jeffrey 7:30 PM  

INTerest reported on an IRS 1040 form

fergus 7:40 PM  

Ms Palin also seems to have caught the "nucular" bug. I wonder it's fashionable in some quarters to use the word "amotic" for its correlative?

Anyway I had many of the same misdirections, even firmly inking in NUPTIALS, but sat with RIGA for far too long, and spelled TASS with two Cs, like you see it in Cyrillic. Which led to ACTS instead of USES.

Rex noticed a bunch of INs, but what I saw was so many ONs. And only just now do I see that KERNELS was dropped in as one of the best groaner-Clued answers ever.

Joon 7:51 PM  

ulrich, [1099 amt.] would have been a nicer clue. but i do think the 1040 has a line for interest.

jeff in chicago, i think that yes, there is that steep a divide from thursdays to fridays. i'm now something of a speed freak, so i can pretty much always get thursdays in 5-7 minutes. but fridays ... sometimes (like today), i'm fast, in the 6-7 minute range. other weeks it takes me 20+. mid-week puzzles occasionally have one area i get stuck on; fridays almost always have one, and sometimes have several. i think the thursday-friday gap is bigger than the friday-saturday gap. saturdays are harder on average, but the variance is so high that it's tough to tell--if i just get on the same wavelength as the puzzle, i can sail through one. if that doesn't happen, it can be really tough.

imsdave1 7:58 PM  

@joon - not sure which tax form you're reading, but as I recall, mine has many lines for interest income. I would love to see yours if it doesn't and learn your magical secret.

chefbea 8:17 PM  

@crosscan great limerick

Anonymous 9:55 PM  

three hours and two missed squares.

no, hemotic is not a word, and neither is diamer.

geography not my strong suit, but i thought mimo was maybe the place where the mimosa was first created.

foodie 10:04 PM  

@Philly, I always knew you were a man of great discrimination and judgment


You know we’re skatin on the brink
Debatin the meaning of winks
The g’s we’re likely to lose
The missin dignity and shoes,
Our end is near, methinks

fergus 11:20 PM  

Foodie, et al.,

Lacking the colloquial gerund end
I include the g on which I depend
to distinguish my speech
from a hayseed's reach
and not feel I like condescend.


This silly little art form is harder than it looks.

mac 12:49 AM  

I'm only now checking in and I can't believe what got into you all! Do I need to burst into poetry now? I did the puzzle this afternoon, had some major trouble in the upper regions but enjoyed it.I also found a mistake when I checked in with Rex: I had mar/maw around 34A/D. I loved the large copier, but that maybe because I'm still punchy after..... Oh no, let's not go there again.

@green mantis: know how you feel. Am a little punchy myself.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

thought this one was tough. so, i'm surpried that all of you wizards confused cocaine with codeine. surely, you've all heard of coca.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

I found this interesting because I had more trouble with the center than with the outside, whereas the long phrases are usually harder for me.
I'm not quite sure I get 13 down. Does exchange words as initials refer to text messaging? Or is it a more abstract clue, that we use initials instead of words at times, in which case the "with" of the clue is somewhat off? Or am I missing something more obvious?

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