FRIDAY, Nov. 28, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Judah's house, in a Lew Wallace title / Commandant's outfit: Abbr. / It makes pot potent: Abbr.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Today's puzzle provides an illustrative contrast to yesterday's puzzle. Yesterday's puzzle was astonishingly smooth from stem to stern. Only a couple of abbreviations, almost no forced fill at all. Magical. The theme, while imaginative, wasn't an excessive burden on the grid, so the constructor could fill it gracefully. But because today's puzzle has a very high degree of architectural difficulty - ten 15-letter answers in one grid! - the non-15-letter fill is severely constrained, often painfully so. When you are locked into an ambitious concept like the one on display today, short answers suffer. I've rarely seen such a large and unappealing group of abbreviations in one place at one time. It's one thing to need a few abbreviations to fill out your grid, quite another to rely on TMI (55D: 1979 nuclear accident site: Abbr.) and IGN (56D: Engine starter: Abbr.) (ugh, side by side) and MEM (19A: Part of a grp.) and VISC (37D: Baron's superior: Abbr.), not to mention the seriously wince-inducing suffixes -IER (46D: Occupational suffix) and, especially, -ATIVE (40A: Talk ender). But perhaps the worst construction offense in the whole puzzle was the inexplicable decision to cross ASEC (23D: "Be there in _____") and PSEC (28A: Tiny fraction of a min.). I don't want those two answers in the same grid together at all, let alone crossing. Just ... no. No. No. In both cases, SEC is an abbrev. of second ("picosecond," "a second"). Therefore ... come on! This obscenity alone practically negates the magnificent achievement of the five up / five down 15-letter answers. Don't even get me started on the proximity of SECY (29A: Dept. head) to this whole mess. Weirdly enough, just last night, right before I solved this puzzle, I threw aside (in disgust) a puzzle that contained both ERA (clued [Elizabethan or Victorian]) and AN ERA (clued [End of _____]). And those answers didn't even intersect. Bah! This is a marquee puzzle - if last year is any indication, more people solve the puzzle today than any day of the year (Black Friday refugees). The puzzle should really put on a better face (though its relative easiness will probably make it appealing to many)

Your 15-letter answers:

  • 16A: Cry on a corsair ("Shiver me timbers!") - a fine answer, but one sadly upstaged by the appearance of its identical twin very recently (in the "Talk Like a Pirate" Day puzzle)
  • 22A: Something exercised by artists (creative license)
  • 34A: It's high in Manhattan (the cost of living)
  • 44A: Music theory subject (pentatonic scale) - my favorite long answer
  • 52A: Plans to nail suspects (sting operations) - cool that it intersects ...
  • 2D: Goal of a neighborhood watch (crime prevention)
  • 5D: Island locales (service stations) - not the kind of island you were thinking of ...
  • 6D: Coaching cliché ("There's no 'I' in 'team'")
  • 8D: Great all-around reviews (critical acclaim)
  • 10D: Is totally apathetic (doesn't give a hoot)
Once again, exotic clothing helps me get some of my initial traction in a puzzle. TAM is clued as a "topper" an awful lot, perhaps because of the alliteration (30A: Topper around a loch). I haven't (or haven't much) seen today's clue for SARI (42A: Bollywood cover-up). Gives SARI a nice, modern, pop cultural feel. I was helped along today by two short answers that I first learned as a result of screwing them up early in my blogging career. I was unaware of the existence of GOA (33A: State whose capital is Panaji) until it appeared in a puzzle and I went "?" and some people told me that it's well known as a vacation destination (for whom, I forget). Anyway, I got GOA today pretty easily (three-letter Indian state ... I don't know any but GOA, although I can't say that I knew GOA was a "state" until today). I also got TONI easily (49A: _____ Twins (pair in old ads for home perm kits)), mainly because when it first appeared in a puzzle a while back, I looked it up and ended up posting a picture of the "Twins" in question. Nice to see that some things stick.


  • 6A: It makes pot potent: Abbr. (THC) - an abbrev. I actually liked. Fresh, rarely seen, slightly risqué for the NYT.
  • 14A: Judah's house, in a Lew Wallace title (Hur) - I would like to thank Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons" for making a vanity biopic of his life, "A Burns for All Seasons" (directed by Señor Spielbergo), and then entering it in the Springfield Film Festival. A quote from that "movie" is the only reason this answer was a gimme for me. Here is the movie plot (synopsis taken from here):

The first scene opens with Mr. Burns atop a horse wearing a sombrero, rounds of machine gun ammunition draped across his chest. "Simple villagers," he says to a group of people, "I promise you I will close plants in America and bring work here!" Chespirito cries, "Viva Senor Burns!" and the assembled villagers cry, "Viva! Viva!" Burns' horse gallops off, but Burns doesn't manage to stay in the saddle, instead getting dragged back and forth along the ground.

The next scene features Mr. Burns saying, "Remember, Elliot, I'll be right here," on one knee to a child. The tip of his finger lights up briefly; he then enters a spaceship, its door spiraling closed, which takes off into the crimson sky.

The next scene shows a Roman centurion on a horse leading a group of shackled prisoners across the desert. The last prisoner, who bears a striking resemblance to Charlton Heston, collapses from exhaustion. A shadow appears over him: a man kneels in front of him, strokes his hair, and hands him a bottle of spring water. "Drink up, Judah Ben Hur," exhorts Mr. Burns. Ben Hur does so, then looks up gratefully and says, "You truly are the king of kings." A heavenly light shines down upon Burns, and he says "Excellent."

  • 21A: St. Anthony's crosses (taus) - it's like the top part of the cross broke off
  • 38A: Yom _____ (Tov) - I know Yom Kippur, and I know Mazel Tov. I do not know Yom TOV.
  • 39A: Laotian language group (Tai) - one of those Friday/Saturday-level three-letter answers I can never quite remember.
  • 57A: Potential lockdown preceder (riot) - there is a hateful show on MSNBC, I think, called "Lockdown" (actually, now that I think about it, it's "Lockup") where you get to gawk at "real life" inside a prison. Maybe I'm in the minority on this, but ... I just don't think suffering shouldn't be a spectator sport. OK, so we don't sell our prisoners' organs on the black market like ... some countries ... but I'm not sure it's a good idea to exploit human misery ... ever.
  • 60A: 365 giorni (anno) - a good guess
  • 61A: Friend of Frodo (Sam) - is that anything like a "Friend of Dorothy"?
  • 1D: Part of O.M.H.S. (On her ...) - Bond. James Bond.
  • 13D: Commandant's outfit: Abbr. (USMC) - United States Marine Corps. "Comandant" sounds awfully foreign.
  • 25D: First name in New World exploration (Leif) - wife liked this. Not sure why. Here's some LEIF for you:

  • 26D: River through Mâcon (Saone) - one of the ugliest river names there is. I swear to god that I just typo'd "names" as THAMES. HA ha.
  • 27D: Hi-tech read (e-mag) - the internets are no longer "hi-tech"
  • 35D: Hawaiian staple (nene)*
  • 45D: Fictional faithful friend (Tonto) - unlike SAM, who is, of course, real.
  • 47D: Montana who played Luca Brasi in "The Godfather" (Lenny) - news to me. Wife had LINNY, as she could not, for the life of her, figure out 51A: Gents (hes). I told her I understood. Nobody likes / uses / wants to see HES.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*just kidding, it's TARO


evil doug 9:07 AM  

Based on the costume, I'm guessing ammunition belts, but probably not machine gun ammo.

Y'know, as much as I like the show I think this blog is making me sick of the Simpsons. Is there no other pop symbol that we can tap into? South Park? Family Guy? SpongeBob?


JoefromMtVernon 9:10 AM  


No, medium to difficult...

The O cross of 33A/26 down...NEVER HEARD OF EITHER.

Who says I'M GONE?

Psec? PICA second...stop the insanity.

The Tau cross is Franciscan; St. Anthony (15 years younger than St. Francis) became Franciscan later in I guess Saturday some unknown Franciscan will be the clue for Tau.

I'm seeing a pattern: On Friday, we get non-sense clues that few have ever heard of; on Saturday, the clues are hard, but at the end you bang your head and say "I should've known that.

I guess turkey makes me cranky...


Anonymous 9:13 AM  

For a Friday Very easy. usually groan when I see these long answers but whatever was in the turkey (tripothane-sp?) worked for
me this am.
I don't do Black Friday so what to do rest of day?

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

I thought this the easiest Friday I've ever encountered, with the exception of the GOA/SAONE cross.
I had all but the 'O', and frankly thought there 20-26 equally viable options.

Since when is a VCR a component of a Camcorder? A camcorder can act as a VCR, but a component?

JannieB 10:01 AM  

I agree - a very easy Friday. I was on Joe's wave length and those lovely 15's just kept jumping onto the keyboard. I even say "I'm gone". Too bad the short stuff marred an otherwise delightful solve.

Best way to take advantage of Black Friday is online - some good deals, no crowds!

Greene 10:06 AM  

I gotta say this puzzle scared me a bit at first. Ten 15-letter clues? That's a pretty impressive construction feat. Fortunately, they were pretty gettable. I'm not skilled enough to call this an easy puzzle; it kept me pretty busy last night. I gotta agree with Rex about the fill. Some of those abbreviations just seem completely arbitrary.

I see we get "Pippin" again. It's nice to remember IRENE Ryan in this context. Most of you probably know her as Granny from "The Beverly Hillbillies," but she ended her career playing Pippin's exiled grandmother, Bertha, in this Bob Fosse spectacle. She had but one number called "No Time At All" which, if I recall, turned into something of an audience sing-a-long, complete with lyrics illuminated by a bouncing ball (on a screen which descended from the Imperial's fly space). It was extremely corny, yet oddly endearing; audiences adored her. Sadly, she died in 1973, about six months into the run.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

I wanted Yom TUM soup in the puzzle. THERESNOIINTEAM looks strange all run together. I did know GOA, since I once read a book with that title. ONHER threw me, I kept trying to read it as one word.

For the occupation suffix, thanks to Rex's sloganeer, I immediately put in -EER. That error took a while to find, since the lovely PENTATONE SCALE isn't in my mental vocabulary. I had Rex's reaction to the PSEC/ASEC cross also.

Easy-medium for Friday.

Alex S. 10:19 AM  

I too went with EER (after failing with IST) instead of IER and then couldn't find it in my attempt to figure out why it wouldn't submit since in my musical ignorance PENTATONE C SCALE seemed reasonable enough and IER wasn't crossing my mind as a possibility.

I did resist ASEC for a long time since I was sure it couldn't possibly be crossing PSEC.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

At first I had NSEC, but erased it only to write in again PSEC ...not axactly a re-right but close. I agree that the ASEC/PSEC cross was awful.

This was the easiest Friday puzzle I've done in a while ... did not need any help. The 15's weren't that hard to get when there were just a few letters filled in.

@rex: loved you NENE joke!

Ulrich 11:01 AM  

I started by looking in puzzlement at the strange distribution of black squares that didn't form so much of a pattern than a collection of fly specs. And then I saw the reason: those 10 15-letter answers, and my heart sank, only to rise again when I discovered that they were easy to get. The only exception for me: 6D b/c I had "shiver MY timbers" initially and held on for too long.

Since I had fun guessing the 15-letter phrases from a few crosses that I didn't even notice the problems with the fill that Rex mentioned, except, of course, for the crossing of ASEC with PSEC.

For non-catholics: There a two St. Anthonies: A very early saint who lived in the desert in Egypt as a hermit, and St Anthony of Padua, the one referred to by Joe from Mt. Vernon. I'm partial to the first one b/c the temptations of the flesh he had to suffer in the desert are depicted often in art in the most outlandish fashion: It really makes you want to pack your stuff and head to the desert pronto!

Pythia 11:22 AM  

Easy easy easy. Nice set of 10 long answers (except THE in 34A seems gratuitous). Ugh-liest fill award -evah - goes to this puzzle. 28 three-letter words, all those abbrs. and partial phrases, two secs -- any one of these should have been a deal-breaker. Was more bugged than blown away by this construction.


Anonymous 11:25 AM  

I agree this was easy for a Friday, but I also agree SAONE/GOA was foul. My last square was that O. I tried two or three letters there before giving up and googling the Indian state. Afterward, I remembered seeing SAONE before, as I always do.

An unsatisfying end, but a fun puzzle for me. I'm like others who enjoyed getting the long ones enough to forgive the sketchy short ones. Never noticed the PSEC/ASEC cross, though I did start with nsec for the P.

Campesite 11:29 AM  

I glanced at corsair and saw Corvair and tried to force into the grid "unsafe at any speed" until I regained my senses. The nsec/psec crossing was jarring to me, but the crosswordese and abbreviations in this puzzle didn't bother me too much (perhaps due to the relative ease).

Jeffrey 11:31 AM  

I am more forgiving of iffy fill when we get cool stuff like all these interlocking 15-letter answers.

Although I did think Wait a SEC! to the interSECting SEC's and reluctantly enterered them in.

I had SERVICES NATIONS for Island locales which I strangely like in all its wrongness.

Had GIA/SAINE - 2 obscure locations crossing each other - we have a name for that...

Was hoping for my favorite baseball reference with Expos'd.

Hmmm, I'm becoming less forgiving as I type this.


Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I put in THC for 6A right away, then decided it was too out there, and erased it in favor of ENT (pot + ent = potent). Way too clever, as it turned out.

Unknown 11:52 AM  

Well, as if I didn't feel moronic enough for not agreeing with your EASY characterization for this puzzle. Apparently, a lot of other people agreed with you! Oh well, I shall do my best to rise to corsswording level that would have me consider today's puzzle easy.

That said, let me shed some light on YOM TOV. Yom Tov is a Hebrew term used to mean Holiday. Literally meaning "good day", it is generally more in use for those who are not native Hebrew speakers. Those living or born in Israel usually refer to a holiday as a Chag. Those who grew up outside of Israel and lean toward a more Ashkenazik bent refer to them as Yom Tov.

So, if you are in Israel on a Holiday, you would greet someone with Chag Sameach (sah-may-ach). Anywhere else, you can get away with a Good Yom Tov!

edith b 12:00 PM  

I played hopscotch with this one early on, flitting from the NE, down the East Coast, into the SW, picking up pieces of the 15s as I went STING and then SCALE.

I had roughly a quarter of the puzzle complete when, as JannieB said, CRITICALACCLAIM jumped onto the keyboard, followed by DOESNTGIVEAHOOT which seemed to just shimmer out of the mist.

I had a problem at 2Down where I thought I had both ends of it without the middle, plugging in CRIME and REDUCTION, creating a large mess in Northern California and empty spaces where both SECs should have been but weren't because I didn't think the puzzle would allow it. By the time I realized both SECs were correct, I was able to see CRIMEPREVENTION and settle the hash of Northern California.

I agree with Rex's easy rating as the amount of time I spent on this one were because of my mistakes not the difficulty of the puzzle

Ulrich 12:14 PM  

I just found out that THC can also stand for "Texas Hemp Campaign", an outfit apparently working toward the legalization of the stuff in some form. I wonder if they had more than one reason to select their name and acronym...

Doug 12:48 PM  

Glad to be back home and reading my favourite blog again. I found out how large Canada is yesterday when I flew from Moncton, New Brunswick, to Vancouver. 7 hours in the air plus delays = 14 hours door to door. Hands up if you've done unfillled AcrossLite puzzles in the Moncton airport for 4 hours.

I really, really liked this one, save the awkward abbreviations ("IGN" is about as forced as you can get.) Any guitar player knows the PENTATONIC SCALE which is usually the first one you learn, and makes up let's say half of the rock/blues music you hear. If you like Clapton, you like the P.S.

My dad lived in Delhi from 1988-1990 and they would go to GOA where all-beef hamburger/steak vacations were common in a country where beef is not eaten. Waiting in traffic while sacred cows crossed the street back in Delhi just made the thought of strip loin that much better!

Not being a pot smoker, I had TCH not THC, so HUT was COT for a while, but I persevered.

I'm cool with as much Simpsons as Rex can throw at us. That's to be expected with Evil Doug, and "plain" Doug! Hope all the Americans are enjoying a holiday, game and bird, and that your respective teams are winning. We'll hold down the fort while y'all chow.

Jeffrey 12:56 PM  

@Doug - Moncton, no. St John's and Saskatoon, yes.

And three hours of panic in Toronto during a snowstorm that nearly made me miss the tournament this past February.

Shamik 1:13 PM  

Agree. Agree. Agree. This one was my easiest Friday of all time. Long answers fell neatly. Short answers had a good bit of ugh factor.

Husband spent 6 weeks in India a couple of years ago, so knew GOA but not SAONE.

Only mis-start was DANNY for LENNY as a guess before the crosses made Gents=HAS which made no sense. HES was pretty lame for Gents.

Doug 1:19 PM  

@Crosscan You're in Vancouver or Toronto? Would be nice to grab a coffee if you're amenable. This weather makes me want to reach for a beer at 11am, but I can wait!

Jeffrey 1:23 PM  

@doug - I'm in Victoria. Lest we face the rath of Rex, you can contact me through my email link and perhaps we can hook up next time I'm over there.

Ray Greenberg 1:24 PM  

Maybe I'm naive but I think anything that reminds us of the millions of Americans locked up, is a service both to the prisoners and the society that locks up more of its people than any other. Unless there is a riot this does not make the news, so a weekly series seems pretty cool to me. Now, two socialites stuck on a farm, that seems exploitative. I'm sure many farm folk were horrified....

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Gee, I'm glad Rex liked this puzzle. I was afraid he would find fault with the cross of 41A and 31D, OPE and IHOPE!

Bob Kerfuffle

chefbea 1:31 PM  

@Adam I agree with you. I found this puzzle to be rather difficult.

wanted 6A to be ent. makes pot pot-ent.

Agree with all the asec/psec discussion.

barbara 1:40 PM  

I had to pull the puzzle out of the trash to see how I missed nene, (didn't notice the asterisk) and was briefly totally confused until I saw the joke! That was the hardest part of the puzzle!

JoefromMtVernon 1:44 PM  

@adam and Chefbea - Thanks for concurring with me...was beginning to feel im-pot-ent.

The easiest Friday was 7/4 this year...the fourth theme made it ridiculously easy for a Friday.


jae 2:08 PM  

Yep, easy and flawed. Only missteps were UNIF (uniform) for USMC and TONNY (2ns?) for LENNY. The thing that slowed me down was convincing myself that the PSEC/ASEC cross was right. A couple of years ago the SAONE/GOA cross would have killed me but I've seen both in puzzles more than once. The trick is you need to do a lot of puzzles.

mac 2:11 PM  

I completely agree with Rex's "concerns" re the puzzle. It took me longer than it should have because of the fill. Even I noticed the 3 secs in the same area. I was lucky to know the Saone and also Goa. Since our son is in India (New Delhi, thank goodness) I've been looking at the map a bit more, and my husband once went there for a few days. I had backed out of the trip, and when he arrived, he called and said: "Im so glad you didn't come". Because it was hot, sticky and tacky, all things he knows I dislike.

I did like Wishful thinking/I hope, although I thought it was going to be "dream", and I thought this "ope" was cute.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I was convinced corsair was only a person, not a boat, so I couldn't figure out what could be meant by "on." Of course, it was telling me something obvious - it is a thing too - just accept it - a boat.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

To Adam's explanation of "Yom Tov" I'll add only that it's often pronounced more like "yontef/yontif", rhyming with "Pontiff" of all things. So you might have heard the expression "a gut yontef" and still not recognized the second word as "Yom Tov".

Some years ago I noticed that the coaching cliché 6D:THERESNO"I"IN"TEAM" has the anagrammatic riposte "There's a ME in it, no?" (Well ME had to be in TEAM for the anagram to work.) I've also heard "But there's an I in WIN!".

33A:GOA was under Portuguese control all the way till 1961, which helps account for its prominence out of proportion to its size (Wikipedia says smallest area and fourth-smallest population). Its attractions to tourists can't hurt either -- and of course there's the useful letter combination for crosswords :-) I've run across it in Indian restaurants, and vaguely recall it was the setting for the start of one of the Bourne films.

Still giving thanks for yesterday's elegant 15x16 puzzle,

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Ha ha ha! I fell completely for the nene joke.

Being fairly new at attempting Friday puzzles, I was very pleased to find I could get most of the long answers (yaaay!)

At the beginning of "The Bourne Supremacy", Jason and his german girlfriend are enjoying some quiet time in Goa, where very soon there is some classical car-chasing-through-crowded-pitureque-market scene that ends up with the killing of said girlfriend. I don't think Goans will see this type of action in quite some time.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Ditto on easy, for me the easiest Friday in several months. The long answers popped out with very few crosses and that was fun. But, as Rex and others mentioned, answers like SECx2, HES, VCR, IGN were not very pleasing. I did not like MEM either. And even though UNROBE is in the dictionary, I haven't heard it in use: DISROBE yes, but UNROBE? perhaps there's an example of use that I'm missing?

JannieB 3:15 PM  

@nde - thanks - my grandfather's pronunciation was "gut yontiff" and I never knew until today what the correct spelling was - When I saw the first explanation, I thought the problem was my hearing/memory. Thanks for setting things right again.

alanrichard 3:45 PM  

I agree, this was a very easy Friday puzzle. The long ones came quickly and once you get the long ones the rest is usually rright there through contextural analysis.
The hardest part of the puzzle was getting my cat, Socrates, to get off the paper. I think she thinks she's helping me. If 6D was Take MEOW to the ballgame instead of There is no I in team, she would have been more of an asset.

fikink 3:46 PM  

@Adam and NDE, thanks for the explanation of Yom Tov.

I am starting to do these puzzles with a side game of guessing what Rex would write about it. When I came across the SECs crossing, I knew Joe would get an earful! Before this blog, I would have thought I was just asking too much of my puzzle.

The guys we used to play cards with in St. Louis insisted that "friend of Dorothy" was a reference to Judy Garland. But they were pretty young. I found the expression originating with Dorothy Parker more convincing. Thanks for the insight Rex.

fergus 4:25 PM  

Even the ordering of Rex's points was exactly the same critical (what's the opposite of acclaim?) that I was ready to throw at this one.

The long answers seem to make a puzzle easier if they're spread apart instead of being stacked, where you get more possibilities dancing around.

Was SHIVER ME TIMBERS part of the Pirate Day puzzle? Maybe as a Clue?

misterarthur 4:35 PM  

Goa was a Portuguese part of India - and the home state of Pork Vindaloo. It's also where Bourne was hiding out in the second Bourne movie. "T-Top" is getting pretty stale - I can't think of a single car that comes with T-Tops any more.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Once again feat of construction trumping all notions of good fill. :(
Happened last Friday, too, if I recall.
Give 'em Hell, Rex!

To the 20+ abbrevs that were awful, I would add TENO!

TENO anyone?

While I'm at it, what is HOV?

And UNROBE left me totally DIS-DRESSED

@adam, nde
The puzzle was made worthwhile today (for me) by Rex's wit and your YOM TOV/YONTIF explanation!

May I speak purely AS A SOLVER, not as a constructor???

Shocked on top of everything else (the whole ASEC, PSEC, SECY disaster, plus MEM, IGN, VISC, HOV, MCV, IER, ATIVE, HES, seriously, to me unforgivable) that there would be a Hebrew fill-in- the-blank, barely known/used by Jews even.

How would anyone non-Jewish/non-NY get "Yom ___?"! I feel like this is another example of not having the feel of what is used/not used and how.

At least I had a malapop: When I saw 14A "Judah's house..." (Three letters starting with an H) and not first understanding the reference, I put in HUT only to have that be the 7D answer crossing it at the U.

thanks for the FOD link.
Interesting that it might be an earlier ref to Dorothy Parker.
Arched my eyebrow at the Wikipedia's writer's coy phrase that it was probably "potentially spreading the phrase through oral history"!!!

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

I'm thinking of working on a name for FORs...
(Friends Of Rex), which we can use to secretly identify ourselves at the next (to-be-renamed) ACPT "outing"!

Jeffrey 5:29 PM  

@andrea: Rexites, Rexperts, Rechristians [long timers will remember this reference], Parkerville, Natickians, Dorks, Subjects of CrossWorld

Naming is hard. I hope you are paid well for doing this.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

@andrea--High Occupancy Vehicle; that is to say, the carpool lane. Don't they have those out in Cali?

mac 5:37 PM  

@Andrea: HOV is High Occupancy Vehicles, the ones with the inflatable dolls in the back.

FOR looks good. Let's design a great logo!

fergus 5:52 PM  

They had a special on Parker House Rolls today at my local bakery. Never heard of them until a puzzle a few months ago. Anyway, Rex was using PHR for something, but now I don't see the reference on the home page.

foodie 6:41 PM  

Well, y'all pretty much said it all.

Saone was easy for me, since it's the major tributary to the Rhone and I think they meet in Lyons. I had French geography pounded into me by the French nuns. I can draw the map of France with my eyes closed, put in the rivers, mountains and major cities. So far, it has gotten me zilch. So, today felt like a highly overdue, albeit tiny, reward...

Interestingly, Saone is also a castle in Syria-- It is very ancient, and verrry cool, it and has had many names, including Saladin's Castle. So, if someone wants to be really mean on a Saturday...

Rex or others, I have a question: Is there a place where the rules of NYTimes crossword construction can be found-- e.g. the answer word cannot appear in the clue, or no answer less than 3 letters? I literally thought that ASEC/PSEC would be illegal and it totally slowed me down. Was this an actual or is it just pushing the envelope of what's allowed?

Bill from New Jersey, how wonderful to hear from you. Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Hungry Bird 6:50 PM  

Rex-a-crucians! Kings of the Cross!

I had a Joey Nickles-esque uncle (Woody Allen's nickle-from-behind-your-ear-pulling uncle) who loved to greet us on Pesach by saying, "Gut yontiff, Pontiff!" Whadda guy. He was also an inveterate cheek pincher.

A vote from a forensic psychiatrist for the lockdown clue. By the way, at least in the federal and state prisons I've worked in, lockdown is prison-speak for when the entire population is locked in their cells for purposes of institutional security (ie, following a riot.) Lockup is what happens to somewhere between roughly one to five inmates behaving badly and may involve Ad Seg (Administrative Segregation aka "The Hole.")

SethG 6:51 PM  

You know, TEN also makes pot potent, and I did consider it when I had the T in place.

I agree with what everyone's said about everything. IGN.=UGH.

Off to recarve our turkey, and
There's no I in

fikink 7:03 PM  

Rex-a-crucians! Kings of the Cross!
You got my vote.

alanrichard 7:16 PM  

Goa & Saone. Hmmm.... isn't that like your Natick principle. Only I had no problem with Natick because I've been there. Unfortunately I never learned anything from French Nuns, especially in Hebrew School but I did learn of Yom Tov. When the puzzle gives you enough cross reference clues or goes into your fields of knowlege, then its a piece of cake - and today was a very easy Friday.
Maybe someday the old quiz shows will come back and Dr. Joyce Brothers can answer questions on boxing. I'm just waiting for a Marx Brothers theme on a Friday.

fergus 7:33 PM  

I must have glanced by the reference to the 9/19/08 puzzle in the write-up; and there was SHIVER ME TIMBERS cascading down, in a better context, as Rex implied.

All criticism aside though, Joe K., I did find this puzzle entertaining to solve, for two reasons. First, I felt like I was right on your trail by nailing all the long answers with just a few letters in place -- it's kinda fun to reverse engineer the puzzle when you're on the wavelength. And second, the plethora of abbrevs. and shorthand, by its excess became entertaining, in the way that a bad joke, repeated too many times, finally brings you around to good laugh.

mac 7:50 PM  

I think we've learned this week that a gimmick- and theme-free puzzle with fantastic medium size words (fill sounds negative to me) is what most of us enjoy. Some like unusual, fresh clues, others quirky letter combinations, others again like anagrams, puns, quotes or rebuses, but I don't think the non-constructors are really fond of the long, long answers just for the sake of that. I'm always happy to see a clue or an answer that I haven't seen before, whether it's 5 or 11 letters long. But..... in the end we all admire the feats of these constructors, because we know it would take us an awfully long time to do something similar, if ever (and it wouldn't be paid very well).

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict
Rexacrucians! How cool!
I didn't exactly know what a Rosicrucian was so I looked it up and this would fit beautifully!
There is even a sort of nod to Ulrich!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Rosicrucian)

The term Rosicrucian (symbol: the Rose Cross) describes a secret society of mystics, allegedly formed in late mediaeval Germany, holding a doctrine "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm. " [1]

We could call ourselves Rexacrucians and where a little rose to identify ourselves (or two crossing ones!!)
(as opposed to the green-and-yellow ones that the Friends of Oscar Wilde wore...
this is getting more gay by the minute...not that there's anything wrong with that!)

I'm all (FOR) Rexacrucian!

They prob have HOVs here in "Cali" (isn't that near Bogota?), I thought they were just called car pool lanes, but then again, I don't own a car...(just doing my part!)
I looked at HOV and was guessing High Octane Vehicles and was hoping I couldn't be right!

Michael Chibnik 8:26 PM  

I enjoyed the long answers a lot but have to agree with Rex about the fill. Asec crossing with psec (never heard of this) was especially bad. Still, for me the good outweighed the bad here, which does not seem to be the consensus here.

fergus 8:38 PM  

Mac -- that's a most eloquent statement of disparate tastes.

Acme -- I wonder if Rudolf Steiner channeled the Rosicrucians, what with the esoteric appeal and all?

Hungry Bird 9:19 PM  

Mac, so you remember Eugene T. Maleska? I cut my x-word teeth when he edited the NYT puzzle. You never forget your first. No gimmicks, wonderful themes, wonderfully loose associations. Sigh.

Doc John 9:40 PM  

I wasn't thrilled with GOA and SOANE, either. I had an R at that cross. Will have to add these words to the list of those I need to remember.

Lots of fun, interesting fill. Also not thrilled about the A SEC/PSEC crossing.

Best coaster name EVER! (It's crossword-related, I swear!)

Jordan 9:50 PM  

The problem with "emag" isn't just that, as Rex notes, simply having something to do with the Internet no longer qualifies something as "high tech". The problem is that "emag" isn't a word! I don't mean that in the "it wasn't a word when I was growing up" sense, I mean nobody in the "high tech" world uses it. E-zine, sure, e-mail, of course, but e-mag? I've been in this business for decades and I've never heard it.

Check Wikipedia's article. Note that "e-mag" or "emag" doesn't actually show up anywhere except the URL.


Chip Hilton 10:32 PM  

@andrea carla michaels
TENO really annoyed me as well. Such a forced fill! As everyone seems to agree today, just part of a bevy of lame short answers.

Didn't get to this until quite late (family get-together delayed a day since many of them attended the parade in NYC), but felt it was quite easy for a Friday. I plan of my weekly helping of humility tomorrow.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Hey, wait a minute, why is everyone accepting "O.M.H.S." for a James Bond Title? The correct abbreviation is O.H.M.S.S. = On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Google each one and see whether the movie comes up. Even if we accept the awful idea that the "O" can stand for "On Her", it would still be OMSS not OMHS. Sorry, but OMHS is Oak Mountain High School or Old Milwaukee High School or who knows what but it ain't the abbreviation for a James Bond title.

Waxy in Montreal 5:43 PM  

@anon 11:47 am -

Ian Fleming's On Her Majesty's Secret Service (OHMSS) was an imaginative expansion of the original On Her/His Majesty's Service used among other things to avoid having to put stamps on letters sent to / received from British government offices.

Goa was extremely well known in the early 1960's when the Indian Army marched in and unilaterally "liberated" it from Portugal. There was something quite hypocritical about the champion of pacifism Nehru invading a peaceful enclave.

embien 6:11 PM  

From syndicationland:

@anonymous 11:47. Rex transposed the letters in the clue. If you check 1d you'll see it's actualy O.H.M.S. (and not OMHS as Rex wrote).

So, "On Her Majesty's Service" works for me.

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