FRIDAY, Nov. 14, 2008-Brad Wilber (Ken McLaughlin's filly / Star of old horse operas / Mercutio speech subject / A&W offering)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

This puzzle is built around four sets of triple eights [correction: two sets of triple eights, two sets of triple nines], each of which (if you start in the NE) increases in loveliness as you move clockwise around the puzzle. The NW corner is the real gem - I love DORSAL FIN (15A: Worrisome sight at a beach) swimming in between CREAM SODA (1A: A&W offering) and COOP BOARD (17A: Screeners of would-be buyers), though I don't find DORSAL FIN "worrisome" - I've seen a DORSAL FIN at the beach before, a couple in fact; they belonged to porpoises. Very, very cool. CREAM SODA was tough to uncover, as its overly general clue could have been virtual any comestible (do drinks count as comestibles, and further, when will I see COMESTIBLE in a puzzle?). COOP BOARD seems quite original, and any answer that can work in an unusual consonant combo (here "PB") is alright by me.


My biggest struggle was definitely in the SW, where I learned a new word ... the hard way. What's the hard way, you ask? Well, that's when you are certain of a completely different word, and then crosses force you to realize that not only were you wrong, but the actual answer is not even in your vocabulary, you moron. In this case, when confronted with the clue 34D: "Lost Horizon" setting, I confidently, swiftly, even cockily (!) wrote in SHANGRI-LA. Why? Because it's right. What I didn't know - that SHANGRI-LA wasn't just some general location. The second sentence of the Wikipedia entry on "Lost Horizon" (novel) reads as follows:

It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet.

LAMASERY!! It is hard to believe that is a word. It looks like Lame-assery, which is, I suppose, one way you could describe my attempts to fill this portion of the grid correctly. Then again, when I look at MONASTERY, I see the rather obvious correlation. A community of LAMAs, a community of monks. It wasn't all bad for me in this quadrant, however. FLAT IRON (33D: Monopoly token) was a real joy to uncover. Usually, I think of the Monopoly token in question simply as an IRON. But no, not here. Full name, bam. Very cool. The rest of this quadrant was highly doable, except FLICKA, which eluded me even after I had the "K" (33A: Ken McLaughlin's filly).

The SE had its own issues, with the very dated 1960s-70s-era throwback TV CONSOLE (59A: Piece of den furniture). Man, I remember when friends of mine had TVs in their family rooms / dens that were these enormous, self-standing, wooden monstrosities that housed the television (back when there were only 5 or so channels and no cable). Now, it seems, "console" simply refers to whatever piece of furniture you happen to keep your TV on. Anyhow, the CONSOLE option didn't occur to me until I had many crosses in place. And A.E. HOUSMAN (61A: Poet who's the subject of Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love")? Forget about it. I had, thankfully, heard of him, but never read him, not the Stoppard play about him. As HOUS(E)MANs go, I'm more of a John man, myself. Had a little trouble uncovering TAILGATER (55A: Menace in the mirror), as 1. I was imagining a hand mirror or floor-length mirror, and 2. the primary meaning of TAILGATER in my mind is "one drinking beer and eating hot dogs in the vicinity of their pick-up's TAILGATE before the beginning of a football game." Oh, and further, I realized that when I originally learned the term as a kid, I must have imagined that "GATER" was "GATOR," because that's the image I see when I think of the word. Two mysterious crosses down here - LOO (56D: Drawing-room game in "Pride and Prejudice") and ANGELA (44D: Pianist Hewitt who recorded the complete keyboard works of Bach) - mad kept this quadrant interesting. I have read "Pride and Prejudice" many times, and I own Bach keyboard works, and yet ... no help today.

The NE had the odd but interesting TRAWL NET (14D: A sole might get caught in it), but was otherwise fairly easy to unravel. I had one huge clue objection in this area, though. How in the world is a LULL a "gift" (26A: Gift to an overworked salesperson)? I can't wrap it? I can't buy it? Is it a "gift" ... from God? Maybe [Boon for an overworked salesperson] or [Relief to an overworked salesperson]. "Gift" does not compute.

Remainder run-down:

  • 18A: March site mentioned in "Eve of Destruction" (Selma) - couldn't recall anything but the chorus of this song, but that didn't matter, as SELMA was the site of one of the most famous "marches" in American history.

  • 31A: He wrote "Hell is other people" (Sartre) - I'm not generally a quotes kind of guy. You know how some people just love quotes, and like saying quotes to you, and collect them, and put them in the sig files of their emails, etc.? I'm generally not that guy. But I love this quote - it's short, memorable, and neatly encompasses a certain atheistic vision of the world. Not my vision. A vision. One I occasionally sympathize with. The original quote: "L'enfer, c'est les autres" (from the play Huis clos ("No Exit")).
  • 36A: "Eden Concert" artist (Seurat) - well, he's an artist, so I got him from crosses. Don't know this painting drawing. It's kind of haunting.

  • 37A: Locale for an outdoor party (lanai) - in Hawaii, or on an episode of "The Golden Girls," OK.
  • 38A: _____ ripper (Historical romance) (bodice) - one of the great literary coinages of all time
  • 50A: Land that's around 16% Muslim: Abbr. (Isr.) - I got this one instantly, knowing next to nothing about the Muslim population of ISR. Just a hunch.
  • 52A: Eccles. dignitary (msgr.) - ugh, this one. I read "Eccles." as an abbreviation of Ecclesiastes, so the answer did not compute well. The answer is an abbrev. of "monsignor."
  • 4D: Edible mold (aspic) - I'd rather eat mold, thanks.
  • 5D: Mercutio speech subject (Mab) - just read "R&J" and still didn't get this right away.
  • 26D: Star of old horse operas (Larue) - Lash LARUE. Hurray for Oaters!
  • 29D: Legis. introduced into every session of Congress from 1923 to 1970 (E.R.A.) - a gimme. Something about "1970" tipped me off.
  • 38D: Big pistol maker (Beretta) - BERETTA: Maker of oversized novelty pistols since 1877. Does BARETTA spell his name that way because the TV show producers were worried about accusations of copyright infringement?
  • 51D: Cooper's co-star in "The Wedding Night," 1935 (Sten) - like the BERETTA, STEN is a gun to me.
  • 54D: Sino-Japanese War statesman (Ito) - poor Judge ITO, passed over for some actual historical figure.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

By an odd little bit of serendipity, Angela Hewitt was interviewd on Performance Today" today! Otherwise, even though I'm a piano/organ teacher, I probably wouldn't even have gotten started for quite a while. Lamasery threw me too, although when it actually fell into place, I remembered the world. Did manage to get the whole puzzle without having to look anything up - pretty good for a Friday.

Orange 9:24 AM  

What kind of illiterate philistine has never read A.E. Housman?!? (Raise your hand if that's you. I'll bet we'll have a lot of hands up. Mine's up.)

Rex, I have a cookbook with illustrated recipes for molded Jell-O entrees and salads. (ASPICs are gelled by some more direct meat product, I think.) I got it from my grandma's bookshelf after she died. The food in that book gives me the chills, and not the good chills.

I Googled that Seurat work last night—it's not a painting but a...(hang on, re-Googling)...drawing: "Conté crayon, gouache, chalk, and ink on paper." Looking at it, I want to shout "Focus!" to the projectionist.

imsdave 9:27 AM  

I liked this one. Did some odd things though. Put in patio for LANAI giving me shako instead of KHAKI. Shako is some kind of military hat if I recall previous puzzles? Dumped in cabinet for CONSOLE forcing GNU into ebo - another vague remembrance from puzzledom. Really wanted some kind of greek name for the poet after seeing the AE, and I made up quite a few before figuring it out.

@fikink and greene - posted the image for you two. Not so veiled reference to one of Rex's least favorite subjects.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

CDCASE = Record Holder? They hold CDs. Which may contain recordings.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

According to Orange, I am now officially an illiterate philistine. I'm proud to be in such austere company.

Angela Hewitt lived in my home town (Ottawa) and is around the same age as I, so I grew up reading in the local paper how she had won yet another Kiwanis music festival or some such thing. Nice to see she's finally hit the big time. ("Carnegie Hall be damned. I'm in the puzzle!!")


Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Can anyone tell me what is a MAB?

JannieB 9:48 AM  

The SE killed me. I had deja do with TV console at least 3 times because I was playing name the Greek Poet along with IMSDAVE. Guess that puts me intot he illiterate Philistine category too.

I kept trying to believe LAMASERY was wrong, and at one point swapped it out for Lima, Peru thinking that's where the film might have been shot. The crosses soon convinced me of my error.

Otherwise a nice hard slog for a Friday. Thanks Brad!

JannieB 9:50 AM  

Oh, and all I could think of while working on the Menace in the Mirror clue was one of Obama's last tv spots -

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@ mexgirl: MAB = Queen Mab of the fairies I believe. Rex?

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

And, CDCASE for RECORD HOLDER? Bad clue, in my opinion. Had to fight myself to put it in. Didn't care much for A&W OFFERING either. The best thing to get at an A&W is a ROOT BEER FLOAT. I think I'll have one this weekend. Happy Friday, all!

Orange 10:11 AM  

IMOO, record no longer means only a vinyl record. People speak of, say, "Eminem's new record" even if nearly everybody is buying a CD or download and not a vinyl record. I liked the mislead myself.

@imsdave, you may be thinking of IBO. Would you believe I have a neighbor who's Ibo? (It's one of the cultures in Nigeria.)

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

I agree about CDCASE. I wanted it to be sleeve.

The SE brought me to my knees.

I loved the freshness of the answers in this puzzle. And I learned some new words which I always appreciate.

Great job, Brad Wilber!

ArtLvr 10:14 AM  

Quenn Mab, a tiny fairy who in Mercutio's speech "gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love"

The puzzle was great fun, especially BODICE ripper and EROTIC and Shangri-la's LAMASERY, plus MAB. Also SARTRE, my friend FLICKA and Lash LARUE.

Gimmes I didn't trust at first -- ASPIC, OINK, PECOS and TAOS... I thought of the Sleeve we had recently for [record holder], but CDCASE appeared later. Loved a TAILGATER in the rear-view mirror..

I think "gift" = LULL is okay metaphorically, as a boon is also a blessing. Yes, the SEURAT wasn't an oil painting, but what we call "mixed media" -- a bit too obscure for a crossword clue, probably!


HudsonHawk 10:37 AM  

My hand is up, orange. And I will join the chorus of objections to CD CASE. Otherwise, I enjoyed this puzzle. It took me a long time to get some traction, but once I did, it all came together.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Great, great song but odd video of Eve of Destruction.
OK, here's me, a 4th grader on an ocean liner with his grandparents in the mid-60s. I find the "teen hangout" with a jukebox containing that song. I played it over and over again (my friends) and it's still in regular rotation on my iPod. It still rings so true.
"...Hate your next-door neighbor but don't forget to say grace..."
Thanks again Rex for providing the visuals.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

imsdave 10:53 AM  

@orange - your neighbor doesn't have a white beard by any chance?

Margaret 11:13 AM  

It seemed like a lot of the clues in this puzzle were either surprisingly easy for a Friday (did "____ ripper" really need additional cluing?) or really difficult (DISTICH, LAMASERY). Not a lot of middling clues -- which is fine.

In a coincicross, I watched an episode of West Wing last night in which Will Bailey quoted the "Hell is other people" line to Toby Zeigler. (For any Wing nuts who care, I just read recently that Rahm Emanuel was one of the inspirations for Josh Lyman.)

But my big question for Rex is: How did you put in SHANGRILA (9 letters) for LAMASERY (8 letters)?? I tried Shangri-La first and thought for a split second it might be a rebus. Then I realized it had to be HIMALAYA which fit nicely and gave me correct crosses a the M and A. REMIT finally forced me to admit it was wrong. It killed me to miss that clue because Lost Horizon was one of my favorite books as a teen.

I was also certain that A&W offered ROOTBEERS which meant that I got nowhere in the NW. I finally had to give up and come here.

Another teenage literary recollection... I leave you with a lovely bit of A.E. Housman whom I first encountered in Sister Ricarda's 11th grade English class:

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

Ulrich 11:25 AM  

I also managed to do this w/o outside help, which meant I had to trust that my crosses were correct as some unknown/unremembered words emerged. Had to come here to finally solve the riddle of LAMASERY. For MAB (a non-word as far as I'm concerned), I went to the other Will and found the speech--it's definitely too long: Mercutio obviously loves to hear himself talk. I agree with Romeo:

Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace-
thou talk'st of nothing.

Two Ponies 11:27 AM  

What a great Friday puzzle. My experience was quite different from Rex's as the NW was my slowest area. Could not convince myself of aspic (isn't it made with unflavored gelatin?) or the too-easy asti.
Loved dorsal fin, semolina, and tailgater.
Just right for finishing the week.
Whitaker was great as Amin.
Count me as a non-Housman-reading heathen.

dk 11:30 AM  

And now for something completely different:

I had carbs instead of WAIST and tried to fit a pasta brand name instead of SEMOLINA. Spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to remember the words to Eve of D. Thus I died in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Oh yeah, wanted seine net not TRAWLNET so parts of me are in Maine as well.

The rest went well except for misspelling CONSOLE.

Great work Brad much needed new fill and just thinking of BODICE ripping has me uttering a squeal and OINK. Off to James Bond tonight.

@Evil d, did you get a prize for a good check-up. It always made me laugh that our dentist would give us candy, I accused him of wanting to rot my teeth.

dk 11:30 AM  
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dk 11:31 AM  

My trash can is back: woo woo!

archaeoprof 11:52 AM  

Tried "Pacino" instead of DENIRO for 42A. Now that's a great movie, Godfather II. "You can have my answer now, Senator, if you like."

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Very nice puzzle. I completed it with no outside help, but in more like a Saturday time.

Three mis-steps: ALE for 11D ADE; CLUBBOARD for 17A COOPBOARD; and, LAMASARY for 34D LAMASERY; all corrected before coming here.

And now off for a week's vacation. Oddly enough, I will miss coming here each day.

Bob Kerfuffle

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Totally split down the middle, left side of the puzzle ten minutes, right side: 40 minutes!
Tried about 386 spellings of AESYCHLUS (?) till it came together.
Loved "Menace in the Mirror" kept thinking Michael Jackson's "I'm looking at the man in the mirror..." (insert unkind remark here)
One of those write-ups that I felt was my thought process word for word, till LAME-ASSERY! Hee hee!!!
That's the kind of thing that makes me live for this blog.

Also, merci for the original Sartre quote!

I'll bet WILL SHortz will love "The other Will" ref! I did!

This was awfully hard to type with one hand in the air!

beat me to the same query!

fikink 12:32 PM  

Hats off to Brad Wilber. I had to holler "uncle"!
Got LAMASERY, but didn't know what it was.
Orange, my hand is raised also.
Really liked the clue for TAILGATER and never got URLS because I insisted on DYPTICH, which I thought had a variant spelling.
Isn't it odd that we place signs near schools that read SLO?
@imsdave, the Seurat was the first thing that caught my eye when I pulled up the comments. Thank you. Did you know that you used to be able to walk right up to it and view it with nothing covering it (and touch it when the guard's head was turned)? Now it is under Lucite, I think - Orange?

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

I am quite irate about the clue to 9D. Andante is an absolute term, not a comparative one like ritardando or accelerando. An andante tempo marking instructs the musician to play the music in a "flowing" or a "moving" tempo. The tempo speed lies somewhere between fast and slow. If you are playing an adagio and get to an andante marking, you need to speed up the tempo.

Shame on Mr. Shortz for letting this get through. And I'm somewhat surprised I am the first one to complain about this on this blog.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

I've got both hands up, because I haven't heard of HOUSMAN or SEURAT. I couldn't solve this one on my own; I looked up both LOO and MAB. For the mirror clue I wanted Evil Twin, which didn't fit; and tv tray wouldn't fit in the den. I rated this onecas challenging.

Orange 1:16 PM  

No, my Ibo neighbor does not have a white beard. Neither do her children. The jury's out on her husband, though, because I've never seen him.

Unknown 1:28 PM  

@fikink - Do your signs really read SLO? I resisted putting it in a long time because as far as I know, ours (Ontario) read SLOW, and I can't imagine what the rational would be to leave off the W. Very curious.

When I worked in retail, after a long rush, a LULL to me was most certainly viewed as a gift.

Loved DORSALFIN and FLATIRON, among others. Honorable mention to ROOSTS for 'out on a limb'.

I briefly considered vulcan for 'capable of generating heat' but EROTIC was fun too.

dk 1:33 PM  

@Anon at 1 PM: Thank you for your post. I always learn something new here.

@andrea (not carla) and @Rex, I cannot wait to say: Get thee to a lame assery!

yesterday catch-up

@sethg, love the shoe (another Monopoly Token)

@joho, a virtual bunch-o-flowers 2u

Back to today

@orange, I, err, well, shuffle... Shoot! My hand is up.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

a propos to almost nothing...(except 56D)
it's odd there are card games named LOO and SKAT and poker has a royal FLUSH...and that that dice thing is called CRAPS.
I guess they are alternate ways to sneak things into the puzzle?

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

I to dum fer dis pahzul. Inky inky inky. I lost all morning! Lotsa fixes from here. Brad a sly dupie. I keeps eye on him.

jae 2:30 PM  

Delightful Fri., thanks Brad! My biggest problem was holding on to SLEEVE for too long. When CDCASE finally emerged I was ready to rant about CDs not being records. Then it occurred to me that I back up my computer files (records) on CDs which made my rant a "never mind."

I also briefly had PATIO and ALE. I got HOUSMAN off the AE but my hand is also up. In that same vein I'm only vaguely familiar with SEURAT and never heard of ANGELA. LARUE and SARTRE, however, were gimmies.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Someone tangentially involved in the theme of this Sunday's puzzle is going around giving interviews about it! If I already know the theme, that takes alot of the fun out of it for me. I can't believe the NYT is letting him do this - although I understand he is trying to promote something - I call shenanigans!

Doug 2:41 PM  

SEURAT is my favorite pointillist painter. Thankfully there are only three of them and the fad died out, because staring at all those dots leads to dizziness.

Had FROSTYMUG for CREAMSODA, and wouldn't that be a much nice answer. My Asia background lead to SINgapore not ISRael. And like Rex, my Wisconsin background associates TAILGATER only with beer and sports games. No wonder our kidz cant read right--SLO?

Got clobbered, tough puzzle for me.

JoefromMtVernon 3:05 PM  


A CD is a CD. I can't help if people call them records. Records = vinyl. Most under 21 have never bought a record. I too wanted sleeve.

I too am a philistine (and, as you know, one who doesn't speak french). This also didn't help with Sartre and Seurat.

I googled AE Housman. Wanted Sasparilla for A&W. Had coopboard; then thought it was wrong (see sleeve = record; cdcase = cd or disk). Wanted "First Skyscraper" for 33 Down; lots of DOH moments today.


evil doug 3:06 PM  
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evil doug 3:10 PM  

The real Houseman---John---was fun in Paper Chase. After the movie, they made a short-lived series with some of the same cast. My favorite episode was "The Scavenger Hunt", with all the law students scrambling over each other to find obscure legal materials in the library---and then hiding them from competing groups. Bell, the study group's buffoon, found his niche as a fact-scrounging bulldog....

@dk: No candy. Had to buy my own: Good and Plenty sounded good. Also plenty. I want your dentist. Although as one sits in the chair the common prayer is "I promise I'll do better if I get through this with no cavities/root canals/crowns....", about five minutes out the door all hell breaks loose at the quick-stop candy counter. Wash it down with a non-diet Mountain Dew. Try to break a tooth with popcorn after that. Good times! For six months, anyway....


foodie 3:14 PM  

Like Rex, I love Sartre's quote "L'enfer, c'est les autres". But I have it in my French brain file and the translation did not pull it up at all. Instead, I had -AR---, and I wrote CARLIN... as in George. Can't you imagine him saying it?

I clawed my way through most of this puzzle but the Northwest killed me. I tried COLAFLOAT for the A&W offering which was particularly confusing because the C--A where both in the right place...

Oh and COOPBOARD... How could I have missed that! We were helping our son purchase a coop in NYC (a shoebox actually), and we got interviewed by the COOPBOARD. My husband had to fill page upon page of questions about our income, expenses, etc. So at the interview, this twenty something board member says: "Are you sure about the amount you spend on food per month?" I know my husband has no clue what the amount is and could not recall what he had made up, but he said bravely: "it's pretty close". And the diligent young man says: "Your letters of recommendation (yes you have to have those) say you throw wonderful dinner parties. How can you do that on $100/month?" Busted!

Chip Hilton 3:16 PM  

@andrea carla michaels
Thank you for making me feel better about AEHOUSMAN. I had the AE and was convinced it had to be some ancient Greek guy, just didn't know the spellings of said Greeks. Finally, bit the bullet and Googled it, something I never do.

For that matter, the whole SE corner had me beaten. Thought TAILGATER was spelled with an -OR, no clue on LOO, even SAUNA didn't appear when I had S-U-A! I must be slipping.

Check out Seurat's works. They really are something to behold, up close and at a distance.

foodie 3:45 PM  

@evil doug: best dentist ever was one I had in northern california, who offered you (good) wine while you waited in a reception room with walls and ceiling painted like a tropical forest..

chefbea 4:05 PM  

I grew up on A&W root beer. Never had a cream soda there. So the NW was pretty tough. Wanted sleeve also. However - watching the CMA the other night, all the winners thanked everyone for buying their records!!!

Aspic has appeared several times this year and yes made with unflavored gelatin.

miriam b 4:39 PM  

I swear I oce saw this sign:
Police Department

@fikink: When I was about 4, I surreptitiously touched a Van Gogh at MOMA. During that same visit I launched into a running commentary on the various artworks. A red-haired gentleman nearby commented, "I think I'll follow this little girl around. She seems to know more than the guides." My aunt almost plotzed, because she recognized the man: Sinclair ("Red") Lewis.

And I love A Shropshire Lad.

green mantis 4:43 PM  

I'm too ashamed to tell you that I didn't understand Tailgater even after I filled it in. I was utterly stuck in the bathroom, staring at the mirror and trying to figure out what would be so scary. Grey hairs? Flesh-eating virus?

Also had bee for gnu for a lil bit. Doesn't that pretend African menace have some sort of supercharged, Rambo-type appearance? I'm seeing a Chuck Norris beard and little Popeye muscles on its wee black arms. It's calling out a caricatured war cry as it comes to eat all the fragile caucasians and their arugula.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

I'm tired of people saying that CD's aren't records. Records are any recorded material. Your school transcript is a record, it's just not a sound recording. Any recording of sound is a record, even if it is not a piece of vinyl. Why can't people understand the extension of a meaning to new iterations of an object? Isn't your cell phone still a phone, even though Bell wouldn't know what to do with it? Does your stove look like the one in Lincoln's log cabin? Is your car anything Henry Ford would recognize?

Greene 4:51 PM  

@imsdave: So what's with the Seurat painting for an avitar? Did somebody write a show about a painting? It couldn't have been very good. Probably won a Pulitzer or something. :)

Judging by the comments, I'm probably the only person on the blog who actually saw "The Invention of Love." Incredible play, but dense with a "capital D." It actually starts with the dead Houseman standing on the banks of the river Styx. He comments throughout the play and talks with some of the characters, including his younger self and...well, you get the idea.

Stoppard is a difficult, difficult playwright. To make you feel extra stupid, he crams in many, many, many historical, academic, and artistic references which catalog the entire late Victorian period. It's one of those plays with an insert in the Playbill to explain all the historical figures you're about to see (actually more like a book than an insert, it must have been 20-30 pages long) -- never a good sign.

I confess to being pretty much lost for great swaths of it. It's what theatre people used to call a "snob-hit," meaning a successful play (almost always English) which attracts an audience who claim to love it while being completely bewildered by it. Me? Well, let's just say I'd rather see the musical about the Seurat painting.

dk 4:51 PM  

@foodie and Evil Doug, don't you think flossing takes all the excitement out of the dental experience.

@rafeal... LOL

whoops, One post over the line.

Wait my trash can is gone, was it something I discarded?????

Unknown 4:53 PM  

I don't see why aspic is right. I guess I could look it up. I'm trying to figure out if Rex actually wrong in Shangril, or if he counted letters first.
"Malt does more than Milton can/To justify God's ways to man"

HudsonHawk 4:55 PM  

I was pretty sure of DE NIRO in the open grid, but my brain went through all of the other 6-lettered surnames in the first two Godfather movies:

BRANDO (only in the first movie, of course)

Just for fun, I went to IMDb and found a few others in the primary credits:

Sterling HAYDEN as Capt. McCluskey and John MARLEY as Jack Woltz.

Two Ponies 5:09 PM  

I just figured out the edible mold/aspic connection. Aspic is usually allowed to "set" in a mold (usually a decorative shape), inverted onto a plate, and then the mold is removed.
I feel so much better now.

Ulrich 5:09 PM  

Re. Houseman: I must have read a poem or two in an anthology, but can't remember one. Nevertheless, I did not raise may hand (although my typing with only one would have made this really easy for me, as opposed to others I could mention): I have used a quote of his on countless occasions in seminars when I tried to debunk some BS disguised in high-faluting language (very common in certain arch. circles): "Three minutes' thought would suffice to find this out; but thought is irksome and three minutes is a long time."

mac 5:21 PM  

@steve l: you ok?

This was a great, medium-challenging Friday for me. Lots of unexpected answers, like 60A nylon, which of course I wanted to be sisal, cream soda instead of (husbands answer) rootbeer, semolina, illhumor and hereto, Flicka, which is "girl" in Swedish, I think, and the name of my parents' little dog, and Conte, a great crayon for shading by changing the pressure you put on it.

The "slo" reminded me of signs in Norwalk, CT, designed by kids, that say: "Slow down. That means you."

Loved the lame-assery, another new word!

@Andrea: isn't the Andrea Yeager you mentioned yesterday a nun now?

@Sethg: love your pink shoes, mine aren't quite so fuchsia.

I was very sad to read, first thing in the morning, that Barack Obama does not like beets. Wonder what he thinks of Xword puzzles.

mac 5:27 PM  

PS AEHousman came with just the AE, but for the life of me I cannot remember whether I ever read a poem by him. I think I know him better, like Ulrich, from quotations.

PS: edible mold's relative, truffles, are in season. This is a good year, the white ones shouldn't be as expensive as they were last year. Skipped them then.

Orange 5:37 PM  

Barack Obama probably eats arugula, and he's not Caucasian. Not all the way, anyway. Green Mantis, why does it sound like you are casting aspersions on arugula-eaters? Are you not a leaf-eater yourself?

Damn. You're not. Wikipedia says: Mantises are exclusively predatory and their diet usually consists of living insects; larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents. Most mantises are ambush predators, waiting for prey to stray too near. The mantis then lashes out at remarkable speed. I didn't know you were such a bad-ass!

Four comments and counting.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

I read somewhere recently that vinyl records ... yes, real breakable, scratchable records ... are in big demand among younger people and that they're spending a fortune on them and their SLEEVES.

PuzzleGirl 5:55 PM  

I totally dug this puzzle. Didn't finish it correctly, but totally dug it nonetheless.

I had AN-ELA for the piano playing person and couldn't come up with it. Totally embarrassing since Angela is, ya know, my actual name and everything. Argh. I also spelled SEURAT wrong even though I was really into pointillism (sp?) in junior high for some bizarre reason.

I love love love it when people call CDs records. It cracks me up and I think it's totally cool. Like dialing a phone. And, shoot ... PuzzleHusband and I were just talking about this the other night and we had another one but I can't come up with it now. Speaking of PuzzleHusband, I believe he's in complete agreement with Sartre.

Ulrich 5:56 PM  

@orange: Since you raised the issue of BO's food preferences: This is from the mouth of his body guard, Reggie Love:

...when it comes to food, Senator Obama "eats pretty much anything, from chicken wings and barbecue and ribs to grilled fish and steamed broccoli." But when he is campaigning in a small town with limited options, a cheeseburger is always a good bet. ("Cheddar is the cheese of choice," Mr. Love added.)

He knows that "the boss," as he calls Mr. Obama, likes MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew -- Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. He keeps a supply of both on hand.

Now we know of at least one difference between BO and Bush père, and I'm with the latter here--who coulda thunk it?

PuzzleGirl 5:56 PM  

Oh yeah, rolling up the window. Like in a car. Ha!

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

I rather enjoy reading BODICE rippers. I recently read a historical-romance-novel in which the protagonist was a (closeted) gay nobleman whose exploits were described in some detail. I think this genre could be described as a "codpiece ripper."

Anonymous 6:33 PM  

Rex writes "This puzzle is built around four sets of triple-eights" -- but I count triple-nines in the NW and SE. I thought that this must explain the confusion between 34D:LAMASERY and Shangri-La, but no, that goes the wrong way (it would convert an eight to yet another nine). There are three kinds of people in the world...

The plural of "LAMASERY!!" is "lamaseries!!", which looks like the topic of Ogden Nash's classic bit of light verse "The Lama" :-)


SethG 6:44 PM  

Yup, multiple hands up. (And I don't even live in the 313!)

Got JOHN HOUSMAN, but entirely from the crosses. I went with SERRAT/LARRE, because I'm am Philistinic and if there's a Lorre there could be a Larre...never even considered a U.

Never changed my ALE to an ADE, and figured I just wasn't seeing how ILLER fit the clue. And I don't know the horse, and with only a vague notion of Lost Horizon I was totally torn between the Tibetan Buddhist LAMASERY and the Nepali Hindu RAMASERY. Don't remember which I chose, lots of switching back and forth to try to find my errors.

And I probably spent minutes trying to fit "INGER" at the end of BERxxx, confusing the general from WarGames with Henry Deringer.

Thanks to all my footwear fans!

Bill from NJ 7:04 PM  


The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the marketplace;
Man and boy stood cheering by
And home we brought you shoulder high

When I was in high school, I had an enlightened football coach who "assigned" us A E Housman's
To an athlete dying young to remind us there was more to life than winning a football game.

As most of my education is tangentital, I developed an interest in Housman in particular and on through
poets like Wilfred Owen who were a big part of the morbid fascination with World War I as the ultimate proving
ground for athletes dying young and in my fascintion with World War I.

About ten years ago. my wife and I were Mr and Mrs First Nighters at the Wilma Theater (me in my tuxedo and
her in an evening dress) in Philadelphia for the opening of "The Invention of Love" by way of tickets provided by
Mr Lenny Haas - an old friend of ours and a member of the cast.

I still remember that multi-page insert !

I appreciate this blog for the opportunity it provides for folks like me to share memories that I cherish with folks like
you through something as simple as a crossword puzzle.

I had just the opposite of Andrea with this puzzle. I was able to sweep down the East Coast and through the Midlands
but had all kinds of trouble in the West. This one turned into an overnighter. DORSALFIN broke this one open for me
and I enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks to Steve L for delivering us from the literal minded. I still refer to the music I own - regradless of media type - as

Bill from NJ 7:05 PM  

Oh, and my trash can is back.

On to Saturday!

green mantis 7:32 PM  

@orange: Honestly, I didn't know I was such a bad ass either. Good stuff.

I do apologize to all elitist greens and their champions, but my main message remains: Irrational terror is the new...rational terror.

fergus 7:37 PM  

Really got kicked around in the SE, since I started with POLICE CAR, which then got switched to PATROL CAR for the Menace in the mirror. On the Couplet, I came up with DISYLAB, then figured it could be DISTAFF as one of the pair in a Couplet? I figured INDia has roughly 16% Muslim population. And I was thinking about squeal as in a rat maybe starting to sing? OF A SORT was a painful letter by letter procedure. Didn't really like this puzzle, because maybe it was too hard.

I also had the FROSTY MUG as the top entry, and wouldn't mind one right about now.

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

I have long wondered if LARUE was intended to be an adaptation (corruption?) of the French L'Heureaux -- which would have made my childhood favorite cowboy Lash Happy!
Seems strangely appropriate.

chefbea 8:21 PM  

shall we invite Obama to our beet dinner??
Good to hear from you again Bill from nj

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

A Shropshire Lad. 1896.

XIII. When I was one-and-twenty

WHEN I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;

Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.’
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
‘The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.’
And I am two-and-twenty,

And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

The secret gimmick on this Sunday's NY Times Simpsons theme puzzle is revealed on a few interviews found easily by Googling. I guess nonsolvers aren't familiar with the term "spoiler."

mac 8:36 PM  

@Orange: do you have your trash can back? Just use it on the earlier posts and keep going.


Great to see Bill back!

@puzzlegirl: you had me going, thinking of another one of those..... things, and when you added the "rolling up the car window" I remembered hearing that one as well.

What's wrong, are we afraid to use the dreaded red word?

@Doc John: come and do it all over again in Connecticut!

Michael Chibnik 8:56 PM  

I hardly ever remember lyrics, but...

This one has stuck in my head since I first heard it many, many years ago ...[I probably don't have it quite right]

"Think of all the hate there is in Red China...Turn around and look at Selma, Alabama"

Now there's a lyric that can be dated easily!

davko 9:25 PM  

While not falling for the all-too-obvious "Shangri-La"(34D), I suffered a similar bout of swift confidence with "Himalaya" for the same clue. I mean, how could it be otherwise, with the elegant AMFM (41A) and TAOS (46A) firmly in place? The correct LAMASERY absolutely blindsided me... Learning the hard way can be humbling, indeed.

edith b 9:41 PM  

Orange - I've heard of Housman but never read him and, on the second issue of the day, I am familiar with Seurat.

Had both in my grid early on, not that it did me a lot of good. Took me forever to unravel the Great Southwest but did manage to come up with Lamasery at last, roughly at the same time as Flatiron to get that corner.

Like Bill from NJ, Dorsal fin was the key to the NW, which I solved last.

It took a while, but I was able to get this puzzle without help as I got most of the West and Flyover Country in relatively short order which I (wrongly) assumed would make this one a quick solve - at least for a Friday.

Except for a few sticky wickets. I agree with Rex's assessment of Medium. I think I am finally catching on to this "relative difficulty" business.

foodie 10:15 PM  

Doc John, I think Mac has a good idea there for you (oh dear, I'm starting to talk like Sarah P., sticking "there" in the middle of everything!).

I got married against all kinds of rules (religious, cultural, parental etc) and my solution was to do it multiple times, a civil one, two different religious ones across 3 states, ranging from the South to California. Truly. It would be quite an undertaking to get a divorce.

The Rexites can plan a fantastic menu for you. Chef Bea might sneak some beets into it, Orange some arugula. And (nevertheless?) it would be the best potluck ever. I hear Rex makes a mean Tom & Jerry. And Frances seems to have some interesting after dinner ideas.

PS. edith b, as I mentioned in a previous post, I think that you and Bill from NJ sorta think alike. Glad to see you here Bill! Amazing how enlightened your coach was!

mac 10:29 PM  

@foodie: How about some fresh pasta with white truffles?

We had a bad experience with a co-op / pre-war building in NY. After all the forms and letters of recommendation (I felt like a child asking friends and business acquaintances to write them....), we were invited to come to an appartment in the building in question. Going up, I told my husband: One wrong word and we leave. Imagine my surprise when we were handed a glass of wine, were asked some low-ball questions and were told they expected a check by Monday...

This system is undemocratic and nasty, I'll never be a part of it again. Moving out was another bad experience, with perfectly fine candidates blackballed because a former inhabitant was coming back months later.

Anonymous 11:28 PM  

Yeah, despite Rex's evaluation, this was not a medium Friday, but a hard one. I fail to finish one puzzle every month or two, and I could not finish the SE corner until I got help from my wife. Today's Weekend Warrior, for example, gave me much less trouble.

Doc John 11:46 PM  

@ mac & foodie: Thanks for the invites but I'm sticking by my guns here in CA. There's still a chance that the h8ful proposition will be overturned in the courts. Tomorrow I'm participating in the nationwide demonstration in support of our rights. (And later, my band has a concert at the Neurosciences Center in La Jolla.) But, like foodie, there will be multiple ceremonies as we were married in a short civil ceremony with just a couple witnesses but we both want a big shindig, too. Hey, any chance to party!

As for the puzzle, I thought it was a toughie but did finally fill the whole grid with nary a mistake (even though I got LAMASERY and DISTICH through crosses and even then had to guess at the H).

I knew that Pacino didn't get an Oscar until "Scent of a Woman" so it had to be DENIRO in "Godfather II". I just saw that movie for the first time just a couple weeks ago. (Shameful, I know.)

ANDANTE as a tempo is not so fast.

If my ER were busy, I'd consider a LULL to be a gift.

So who can name all the Monopoly tokens? I came up with race car, top hat, steamship, dog, cannon and wheelbarrow. FLATIRON had to reveal itself through the crosses.

And finally- fave clue/answer: 3A. [Capable of generating heat]=EROTIC. I kept trying to fit in something like "exothermic"!

edith b 1:55 AM  


I didn't see your post referencing Bill from NJ and I so I looked it up and found it.

I don't quite know what to say aside from the fact that he occassionally posts and, when he does, some people greet him like a lost comrade in arms and I have wondered what that means.

It's just a coincidence that I mentioned him today as we were thinking long the same lines, I guess.

foodie 2:30 AM  

@mac, yes I agree about the system in NY. You can luck into a nice building (my son has) but it can really be crazy too. I've been involved with one unfortunate set-up as well, and was happy to get out. No more.

@ Doc John, I'm glad about the protest. It really is crazy to agree to rights and then take them away. We passed one hurdle but stumbled in another way. Good luck tomorrow!

For a minute my two worlds collided when you talked about the Neuroscience Center in La Jolla where I have many friends and colleagues.

Mac's suggestion of fresh pasta with white truffles sounds lovely, don't you think? May be you could keep it in mind for your big shindig! (Some of us on this blog could go into the wedding planning business, but only for elite clients).

@edith b, Bill from NJ used to post daily, but he has a health problem and recently things have gotten worse and made it hard for him to post regularly. We're always happy when he's doing well enough to join into the discussion.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

I have 2 Points to share:

1) Didn't know of Dick Lester or Barry McGuire? Where were you in 1964 and '65! Lots of fascinating 'iconic trivia' and links related to these major guys...e.g., the Beatles, folk rock music, social change.

And 2) With '1984' and '2001' already history, time to think science news rather than science fiction.

So a toast - Here's to life on Mars..And to H2O as we don't know it!

crackup 12:40 PM  

So, just to show my age, a "sleeve" holds a record; a cd case holds a disc!

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