FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Gwynne's co-star on "The Munsters" / Omphalos variety / Wellsian race / Younger sister Netherlands' Queen Beatrix)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

I have no clear perspective on today's puzzle. I just did it, and it seemed easy, and then I looked at the test-solving copy I did two weeks ago, and it's marked "Saturday-hard." Sometimes I try to do puzzles under very poor solving conditions and then get frustrated when they won't crack. That must have been what happened with the test-solving. Anyway, I'm splitting the difference and calling it "Medium." I have very little to say about this puzzle. Seems highly unremarkable. No serious junk, nothing terribly memorable. A fine, solid puzzle. A bit low on the open spaces and fabulous long fill that I like to see in late-week puzzles, but fine.

EARFLAP, eh? (41D: Certain hat feature) - I wondered where that "F" had got to last week...

Any difficulty in this puzzle is created by the cluing. There are only a handful of answers that might be completely beyond the ken of a regular solver. For instance, I probably haven't seen the word NUGATORY (32D: Inconsequential) since high school, but at least it looked familiar once all the letters were in place. I tend to avoid nougat and all things that sound like it, so my tanking this answer isn't terribly surprising. There's not another term in this puzzle I'm not reasonably familiar with. Oh, that Netherlands chick - didn't know her (63A: Younger sister of the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix). But it's not like her name was BLARBA or something. IRENE is the most common five-letter woman's name in puzzle history, for obvious reasons.

Seemed to be a lot of multiple-word phrases today, which normally I like. Today's were a little tepid, and EDGES IN (24A: Manages to add) doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Trying to imagine a context. An elevator? Who knows? EDGES IN intersects BOUND TO (8D: Almost certainly gonna), which has a way slangier clue than it does answer. So one answer ending in IN, another ending in TO, and then in the opposite corner, an answer ending in INTO - 35D: Take up enthusiastically (leap into). Sometimes you really have to work to find interesting connections and patterns.

Had the most trouble getting into the SE. Embarrassingly, BETTER just killed me (47D: Sound again). I wanted a RE- prefix, and when that was clearly wrong, I wanted "Sound" to be a verb, I think, as in BLOW ... something. BEEP BEEP. I don't know. Despite my poor military knowledge, MARINE (48D: Devil dog) came to me instantly, but SMILES (49D: Prepares to be shot?) ... again, should've been easy, but I think I wanted something having to do with SITTING (as in "posing") ... I don't remember. Also, I would never have put "aviator" and G-SUIT in same sentence before, because I associated the latter exclusively with astronauts. Mistake. Also, the clue on NRA is awesomely vexing in its faux-footballness (61D: Packers' org.?).


  • 13A: They may run home, informally (men on) - a fine baseball phrase
  • 16A: Mario Bros. brother (Luigi) - he's the brother I more closely resemble
  • 19A: Scene starter (fade in) - cool. Unexpected. I was thinking of a play and wondering what unit is smaller than a scene? Play ... Act ... Scene ...
  • 26A: Wellsian race (Eloi) - iconic crossword answer. From "The Time Machine." I like the authorial adjective in the clue. Sounds like Wesleyan. I wonder what the answer to [Wesleyan race] would be? Probably some shade of white. Hmm, it only just occurred to me that Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds" radio production was an adaptation of the H.G. Wells story.
  • 30A: Reconsideration declaration (maybe not) - nice. "Reconsideration declaration" has the goofy rhyming quality of "Emancipation proclamation" or "taxation without representation."
  • 36A: 1989-90 Broadway play ("Tru") - in three letter, a play is almost always "TRU." Unless it's "R.U.R." They are Very different plays.
  • 45A: Letters of patent? (T.A.E.) - as in Thomas Alva Edison. I had TMS, as in trademarks :(
  • 62A: Fraternity cry ("let's party!") - is that an actual cry from "Animal House"? "Animal House" is about as interesting and appealing and amusing as I have ever found fraternities.
  • 1D: Cry from the White Rabbit ("Feed Your Head!" - wait, that was the dormouse ... only it wasn't ... man those guys were high; actual answer: I'M LATE)

  • 4D: Celebration libation (nog) - on to my list of ugliest words in the language! The very word makes my breakfast start coming back up. The word "celebrate" and "NOG" have nothing to do with each other in my world.
  • 7D: Omphalos variety (innie) - there's a word I didn't know. Thought "Omphalos" must be some kind of flower, like an orchid.
  • 9D: Minute, to Macdonald (sma) - not WEE, which a Scot might also say
  • 14D: Lenders' banes (bad debts) - this was made far easier by the change of clue from the original [Collectors' banes] to [Lenders' banes]. I had the wrong kind of "collector" in mind and kept imagining what would be a "bane" to me. "Fading ... tears ... scuffing ... chipping?" I might have entertained BAD DEALS there for a while.
  • 20D: British royal, informally (Andy) - had ANNE at first and thought "well, that's not very informal."
  • 39D: Gwynne's co-star on "The Munsters" (De Carlo) - Fred Gwynne was Mr. Munster, and Yvonne DE CARLO was his wife ... Cruella Munster, or whatever her name was. Lily, actually.

  • 44D: Hitchhikers' hopes (lifts) - like the way this word is slanged up here
  • 52A: Ring pair (tag team) - didn't see that coming. Thought jewelry, then boxing. Here's a little Tag Team for you (if you are not fond of early 90s pop culture, you are advised not to play the following video):

  • 56D: Hotel hunter's concern (rate) - Soon it will be time to make my hotel reservations for 2009's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (more info on that as it becomes available)
  • 29A: Former Ford (Torino) - Oh, OK, so there is something in this puzzle that I didn't know at all. I can see the faint penciling of DE SOTO (!?!?) underneath TORINO. At some point I likely thought, "They don't make TAURUSes any more?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


SethG 9:00 AM  

Whoomp! "Let's party" is not from Animal House, which I know a lot about even though I went to C. in part because it had no fraternities.

You say you haven't seen NUGATORY since high school, and I'll tell you that that area was significantly harder if you haven't ever heard of NUGATORY. The A was a complete guess--didn't understand that it was initials until a few hours later.

Letters of patent? Are you serious? That indicates the initials of someone who had a lot of patents? Maybe for an ELOI, but not in my world. That is just a horrible clue.

SE killed me. Took forever to see BETTER, the clue for which was wonderful. In my case, MARINE stayed hidden but SMILES came right away. I probably spent fifteen minutes just in this SMA area.

Only the NW was easy, but my troubles in other areas weren't as severe. Glad I somehow remembered the TORINO, and wonder why MEER was a gimme (though I started with MIER).


imsdave 9:06 AM  

Definitely challenging for me - almost an hour. Deja vu all over again reading the blog - absolutely every misstep Rex cited applied to my solving experience. Oh, except I had TRETS for TARES for a long time.

Unknown 9:07 AM  

We eat Devil Dogs at baseball games in AZ. They say one should worry about the actual ingredients of hot dogs...

Ulrich 9:41 AM  

It was also challenging for me, even though I got the area south of the NW-SE diagonal realtively quickly. But since I had never heard of "nugatory" or "dibs", the other half took forever--I also had SIDE LINE instead of SAFE SIDE for too long in that region, and "omphalos" was another word I had to learn from context. I'm glad I finally got through this, and it feels like it's Saturday already.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

In much the same way Rex can't explain why he doesn't get excited about this one, I can't explain why I liked it so much. I just kept filling in perfectly good answers, then figuring out they were wrong, then getting the (just as good or better) right answers and being thoroughly amused by them. I tried rides (well, after seeing the plural and taking out "aride") for LIFTS, and . . . well, I can't seem to remember any others, but I liked them. I really liked TAGTEAM and its clue; I also liked the way the highly improbable series of O'g and the G and T led to GOTOSEED.

On the down side, I agree TAE was a stretch and I thought TRI was awful, but that's a very small part of the puzzle.

There were a few areas where I was totally stuck, then finally a moment of insight would give me an answer and break the whole sector, which is one of my favorite parts of solving.

Great fun--thanks, JK and WS.

Alex S. 9:45 AM  

When I was 15 I learned to parallel park in a Torino station wagon. Once you have that mastered you will never in your life have any trouble parallel parking again.

Fortunately, my parents got a new car before I was 16 so I never suffered the humiliation of driving that thing to school.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Wanted TOGAPARTY for 62A, and had APRON for 31D. Those were about my only missteps, although it still took a fair amount of time to wade through it. Kind of an "eh" puzzle. Nothing that really made me smile.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@Alex: Ha! I would have loved driving a Torino wagon rather than my family's Oldsmobile F85 gigantomobile.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

A faster solve for me than yesterday's, but also more fun. No idea what 13 across is. MENON? Could somebody help me out?

I thought TAE was clever, though I didn't "get it" until after the letters were all inked in.

A lot of the answers ended up being the first one's I thought of, like FURORS and TORINO, but it was challenging trying to make those hunches all fit. The hardest area for me was the NE, as I had entered "wee" instead of SMA, and spent a while trying to figure out what claim exclamation would end with W.

FADE IN had me puzzled for a while, but was satisfying when it appeared. And that was the best clue for AERIE I've seen. Likewise the clue for EPEE.

Ready for tomorrow's puzzler!

edith b 10:11 AM  

My first entry was LUIGI, crossing IMLATE and I was off and running. I cherry-picked throughout the North and SOI produced ONELINER, crossing TORINO and I was able to complete all of the puzzle down to the DEW line.

As Rex said, there are only a couple of three-letter plays and TRU helped me see NUGATORY, an inconsequential word I remembered from high school. The irony is that it stuck in my head because of Nougat which was a memory key. Imagine my surprise when I saw the Nougat bar when I came here this morning.

What neons I had were strategically placed and in the SE ETALIA crossed LIFTS, crossed ASIF and I guessed at RENTALCAR which produced DECARLO and the SE was in my pocket, er purse.

I had an easy time of it in the SW and the puzzle dropped inside of 15minutes.

I like the kinds of puzzle that are long on wordplay and short on specific information and I liked this puzzle a lot.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

MENON is a baseball clue ... "men on" base may run home if the next better drives them in.

RodeoToad 10:20 AM  

I think Medium was the right rating. I liked this puzzle for the creative cluing, most of which Rex cited (Packers' org. is especially great.) "One not coming to a stag party?" is pretty lame, though. Not much payoff for that joke.

Nog doesn't gross me out but "snog" does. The British are just awful at coming up with appropriate slang terms. My wife makes "bacon butties" for the kids, which are little sandwiches with butter and bacon. I can't stand the phrase and refuse to say it.

Nugatory is another gross word. I've heard it only in one place, the same Constitutional Law class I referred to earlier this week. There were several cases in which the court used the word in its opinions. I remember thinking, "Do they mean 'negatory'? As in CB lingo?" Negatory, good buddy.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

When I found myself looking at inni for omphalos I figured it had to be innie and the heretofore unknown omphalos had to be a navel (belly-button). checked it after I was done and sure enough, so it was. They skipped that one in anatomy class .......if I can remember sternocleidomastoid and patella, I would have retained omphalos if they had told me about it. LOL
There was a point where I thought I'd never finish this puzzle. I finally managed to slog my way through with only the u in nugatory missing. Never heard of nugatory, only negatory, but Tru seemed so right I had to go with it.
My eraser is worn to a nub at this point and so am I.

Unknown 10:32 AM  

Would you like some celebration libation? Nogatory
I want to complain about TRI, but shoot, I don't even know what it means and it could be really clever. I forgot I had the TMS for TAE, too. TAE for two? I still doubt that EDGES IN fits the clue very well, but Rex's usage at least gets it close. FURORS looks funny...could I add another R or a W to make it BETTER?

Jeffrey 10:39 AM  

I’m with treedweller. Loved it, loved it, loved it, but not sure why at first.

I think it is because this put me through all the stages I loved about puzzle solving, including my running conversation with Will Shortz.

1 – Excitement at starting a fresh puzzle - Bring it on, Will!
2- Dread at getting that first word in – C’mon, Will!
3- Satisfaction at getting a lot of answers quickly – I’m onto you, Will!
4 – Confusion when crossings don’t seem to work – What have you done, Will?
5 – Frustration when things come to a crashing halt –I hate you, Shortz!
6 – Happiness when that “a-ha” moment comes and you correct a wrong answer – Clever one, Will!
7 – Excitement as you come close to completion – Look out, Will!!
8 – Self-hatred as you struggle with that last letter – C’mon, Crosscan!
9- Elation as you complete the puzzle – Great fun, Will!

A less than great puzzle will include:
Disbelief at a poor answer – You’ve got to be kidding, Shortz!

No disbelief, here. Great fun, Will (and Joe).

Unknown 10:40 AM  

@SethG: Agreed on the clue for BETTER. I sat there staring at "RET-E-" for about 20 minutes before I realized I'd been had. I even considered ARMS for "some laptops" (arms sit on top of laps sometimes...right???)

HudsonHawk 10:43 AM  

@Philly, TRI-state area, as the newscasters refer to the NYC metro area (NY, CT, NJ).

I rocked through this puzzle until I got to the SE, and then I just stalled. I had EDIT, IBMS and MARINE, but the rest came sloooowwwly. I was confident about MARINE and therefore IBMS, but couldn't figure what the B word could be on the Sound again clue. For 49D, I wanted a basketball reference, and couldn't figure the non-S plural for TAGTEAM (was thinking boxing).

Fun JK puzzle, overall, but not spectacular.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Rex...many thanks for the Python clip...everytime he sees a rabbit, my husbands says "e's just a l'ttle bu-ne rabbit." (apologies the lame attempt at capturing the dialect.)

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Happy to have finished a Friday puzzle! But I don't get Sound Again: BETTER. What am I missing?

imsdave 11:05 AM  

@Steve - sound as in hale or healthy. Recovered from an illness.

jubjub 11:13 AM  

@Steve -- I am here because I did not understand the BETTER clue either. So, you are not alone :).

Like many others, I had a lot of trouble with the SE -- never heard of NUGATORY -- had NUG***RY, and was confident there had to be a mistake somewhere. Overall, I liked the puzzle -- it was fun for me to solve, as I'd heard of most of the answers, and the clues were tricky enough that it took piecing together for me to solve. I like all the multi-word answers -- true that none of them are particularly zany, but they were fun for me to come up with.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

SE was a major slowdown after getting top half in fairly short order. I had ESS instead of TRI for the longest time for 'Head of state?'. A valid answer that fit the cluing cleverly, I thought, vut
starting with the I from EDIT, what else could laptops be, except IBMS, and turning Florida into a true Okefenokee Swamp.

With Rex on 47D, thinking REECHO, or anything beginning RE.

Kept trying to force VISOR for 53D, but did not think FURORI could possibly be an acceptable plural of FUROR.

Stared at MENON forever, and still did not parse to 2 words until visiting the site of all knowledge.

Good write-up - Monty is always welcome on Fridays!


Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Here's my take on this puzzle--Started out guns ablaze in NW; then hit a wall. The rest of it was like a Saturday after doing a Monday corner. I'm not complaining, though. I didn't think the puzzle was unfair, just challenging. Didn't see EDGESIN as a great answer; also I am surprised no one picked on IBMS, since they seemed to have farmed out their laptops and desktops to Lenovo in the last few years. EPEE's clue was great; MENON was clever; I would have liked to have seen the harder original clue about collectors for BADDEBTS. At first I thought it was Yvonne DICARLO, and I wondered why the Italian name for Italy was in footnotes, but then I corrected it. DEW's clue (not a kiddie show) was very clever, as was the one for DEM. SOI, however, could have been "Oneself, to Watteau" (in other words, the French word for...) And DOE could've been cleverly clued as "Spellings is its sec'y" (Department of Education)

I'm at the point that I need to be challenged, as all these sound substitution and bad-pun themed puzzles are getting a little redundant to me. I don't mind if a puzzle takes me a half-hour like this one did, as long as my mind is stimulated. And I like getting a few new items into my repository of crossword knowledge (like yesterday's "poor Letterman routine" with those obscure vowel-laden proper names.)

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

The three-letter play I kept thinking of was the 1980 Obie-winning FOB, from the slang long time immigrants use to refer to newbie immigrants, as in "Fresh Off the Boat".

For "Flight takeoff and landing spot" I first had APRON, which agreed with two letters of AERIE.

Frankly, I love NUGATORY. I don't know why everyone else doesn't. It's that rare word, always all dressed up, catching your attention. In this case, in a clown-suit. I sort of imagine it and "Emunctory" going on a date together, neither one figuring out why they are getting all those stares and laughs.

G-SUITs were invented in WWII. It took forever to convince pilots they wanted to wear them. But once they did, they discovered they could do tighter turns than the enemy, who would pass out imitating them.

Just yesterday I was commenting on a blog about Simon van der MEER's Nobel prize cowinner Carlo Rubbia. So that was all too easy.

I figured out EDIT from the clue tie-in with DELE, which I hadn't yet figured out yet. Then I got DELE. I'm not sure if this proves I'm smart or proves I'm stupid.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

What I like best about this puzzle was the fresh cluing. Although "Letters of patent" which you can make sense of after seeing T.A.E. (I also had TMS) should be called a Natick with the NUGATORY crossing, shouldn't it? NUGATORY was new to me. The SE was brutal. "Sound again" is another of the fresh cluing which I really liked, both the clue and the answer once I got it. It was the SE that made this puzzle challenging for me, defintitely not medium

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

In reference to: "I have no clear perspective on today's puzzle. I just did it, and it seemed easy, and then I looked at the test-solving copy I did two weeks ago, and it's marked "Saturday-hard." Obviously, when one "solves" a puzzle for the second time, it's going to be easier. Doh!

Megan P 11:48 AM  

I thought this puzzle was pretty hard for a Friday. And fun, too.

Rex, please PLEASE don't be offended by this question (you are the household god here) but, was the puzzle possibly easier for you this time around because you'd done it two weeks ago? I know there's an obvious - but not to me - negative answer. . .um, what is it?

Just askin.

SethG 11:48 AM  

Forgot to mention I started 14D with BAD DEBIT. Which is nontensical, but that led me to RETICENT instead of RESIGNED. And it was a relatively slow recovery from there, though I do like that answer.

Just kicking it like Tae-Bo,

Rex Parker 12:03 PM  

Definition of the NATICK principle is narrow. Crosses pretty much have to be proper nouns, both have to be not terribly famous, and the intersection has to be something you can't easily infer easily. In the original "Natick" crossing, NC WYETH was one of the words. Now, he is famousish, so the last name was gettable ... but those initials ... yeesh. That "N" could have been anything as far as I was concerned - and ended up being the first letter in NATICK.

I don't see how anything but an "A" could have gone at the crossing of T.A.E. and NUGATORY (though "The NUGATORY Principle" has a nice ring to it).


PS It's always easier the second time you do a puzzle (obviously?), but usually it's easy to tell where the hang-ups were, if there were any. This time, I just couldn't see them. Had to look at my original notes to see what held me up.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Omphaloskepsis is the practice of navel gazing. I vaguely remember the omphalic artery and vein from my anatomy classes.

I don't remember hearing MARINES called devil dogs before. Hopefully that one will stick.

Good puzzle.

RodeoToad 12:35 PM  

I just wrote a song about the Third Amendment (no quartering of soldiers in citizens' houses) in which I tried to incorporate every military rank and nickname I could think of. Devil-dog might have been a handy addition.

Pythia 12:50 PM  

The puzzle felt easy and breezy. Fun, even if not too memorable. This sort of fill allows for clever cluing. Slight hiccup at BETTER (fine clue), but otherwise no snags.

NUGATORY is a great word.

Thought the clue for IBM was (incorrectly) misleading by the omission of old/older. Lenovo now.


jae 12:55 PM  

Add me to the throng that found SE tough. The rest was relatively easy so medium makes sense. Took me forever to see TAGTEAM and SMILE which finally broke it open for me. Wanted NFC or NFL for Packers, had a re-right with TARES, had ESS for 57a, and kept trying to find the vowel to start 53d with. For the record, I'm with treedweller and crosscan in liking this one, including the head slapping moment when I figured out SE.

dk 1:03 PM  

I echo @wade and @sethg's earlier comments.

As a poser who does the puzzle ININK I was off to a great start.

But then...

I cross filled BETTER and it took some whiles to get what it meant.

NUGATORY only came in fills and despite the fact that my life is patents and I have a poster of the patent for the light bulb on my office wall TAE took forever.

I think Starsky or Hutch had a TORINO. I do know that you see a lot of them rusting on blocks (along with Cameros)in rural Maine.

A cold and sleepy morning here in MPLS. Just right for a puzzle. Thank you Joe.

Rex, The Monty P clip made me want to get small and rent the disc. (well not in that order if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge) Hmmm, where did I leave that sleeping parrot.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Now I understand where the Spanish word for belly button comes from.


Anonymous 1:59 PM  

@mexgirl--And in English, Umbilical (cord).

chefbea 2:06 PM  

I thought this puzzle was pretty hard. Didnt get to start it til an hour ago and have to go out again so I didnt finnish. Just came here to see what everyone said. Hope Saturday is easier.

ArtLvr 2:09 PM  

Like yesterday, I'm reacting in the minority on this puzzle, not caring for short phrases like NOWISEE which could as well be ISEENOW or even INOWSEE, and hohum, who cares?

There were a few bright spots in the NUGATORY. which used to be seen in College Boards' prep sessions, and Omphalus which I knew from the omphalocele or lack of closing in a newborn, a developmental failure analogous to a cleft palate.

On that cheery note, wishing a nice weekend to all!


Orange 2:17 PM  

@Steve L: Well put. And I never noticed that ITALIA and ET ALIA share 5 letters!

I learned to drive in a forest green Plymouth Volare station wagon. Then when my folks wanted a third car (the Mazda 626 was embargoed from me), they bought my uncle's harvest gold matching Dodge Aspen station wagon. Yes, my sister and I were stylin'.

nanpilla 3:13 PM  

I started this puzzle thinking it was going to be my fastest Friday ever. Then I hit the bottom half and had to slog my way through. but agree that all of the clues made sense once you saw where he was going.
Rex, two of my favorite movie lines in one clip!
It IS the rabbit!
Run away!!

evil doug 3:29 PM  

G-suit, aka "fast pants":

In high g(ravity) flying maneuvers---pulling hard on the stick in a rapid change of altitude or tight turns---blood tends to pool in the lower extremities and can lead to a black-out as the blood leaves the brain. The g-suit straps over the pilot's legs and is pressurized automatically as necessary to force the blood back toward the head. Pilots are also taught to "grunt" to assist in maintaining consciousness.

Fighter pilots obviously use them. When I was a USAF student we wore them occasionally in the final phases of our higher performance training.

I prefer "slow pants".

Shamik 3:32 PM  

Fairly straightforward until the SW. Then ditto to everyone. Found it challenging, though finished it.

ART for TRU 'til I saw 18A
AFC and NFC for NRA
ASCOT for GSUIT...see how old i am?

Happily anticipating the Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

I am naming my next child BLARBA.

green mantis 4:07 PM  

Ga. My grid is so ugly with screw ups, plus I had to change pens midstream when the first one started hemorrhaging (my god that was hard to spell) black ink all over me. Carried on with green pen. So, um, now you know?

Could not not not understand Better til I got here, and am lodging formal complaint against Edges In. Just, no.

Had horrible nightmares last night: first I got pulled over by a Boss Hogg type evil cop and then got mauled by wildcats, then later a crazy lady tried to steal my car and when I wrestled with her she stabbed me all over my hands with a tiny pair of scissors. When she pulled out the carving knife I grabbed it and killed her really, really dead.

Sorry, I know other people's dreams are sooo boring, but I mention them as an excuse for how difficult this puzzle was for me. I'm deeply rattled is what I'm saying.

And to make things worse, the puzzle seemed full of negativity, nugatoration, by no meansativity, maybe notness, general darkness. I must go now and harvest some kitten mews and hopedelions to begin the healing process.

Ulrich 4:18 PM  

@green mantis: A few days ago, I mentioned St. Anthony (the Great) and what he had to go through. I think you should feel lucky for getting away easy--I wish I had more interesting dreams.

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

I'll steal RP's term - tepid. Didn't raise any rankles and still satisfied. No serious over ink - just a couple of WTF? Oooohhhhs!

@evildoug: I loves me the G LOC - when not in the cockpit anyway! The devil dog's OxyContin!

green mantis 4:57 PM  

@Ulrich: yikes. Okay, perspective.

mac 5:00 PM  

@green mantis: no muscular men to help you out in your dream?

I found the puzzle a medium most of the way, than some small areas super-challenging, for an average of chalenging for me. Got way-layed by ART, Anne, tms, furies, wee, ess, prior and probably a few more. Resigned was erased at least three times...

I'm meeting a lot of countrymen in the puzzles these days; of course Irene (pronounced similar to the Greek way) was a gimme, she who talks to trees.

I get what "dibs" means, but I've never heard it as an exclamation.

I have no clue about the ring pair/tag team clue/answer, could someone explain?

Today is Sinterklaas, and I celebrated it this morning with 16 Dutch friends, with traditional holiday pastries and foods, and the exchanging of the worst gifts we could find with long, funny rhymes.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Ring pair is a reference to pro wrestling, where two guys (or gals) make up a team and the wrestler who's out tags the wrestler who's in before they trade places. I used to watch it on Sunday mornings many years ago.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Not to be annoyingly highbrow (although we're all crossword fiends, after all) but "omphalos" appears in Joyce's Ulysses and is an important symbol in terms of the novel's structure. Never thought I'd see it again!

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

@mexican girl

Maybe that's why navel gazers say "ommmmmm"


Your bad dreams are clearly related to your finding that magnificent piece of furniture yesterday

So am I not in sync with Joek that I had to leave the right side of the grid incomplete. Got TAGTEAM as my first instinct but gave up when I saw GS--- going down.

fergus 5:30 PM  

I was liking this puzzle so much that I didn't want to finish -- like a good novel that you want to last a bit longer. Sad to end on IBM crossing MARINE, but that's OK. Joe K., I'm totally impressed with this one, especially the high quality of the Clues. Were it not for a number of lucky guesses, I wouldn't still be sitting on my porch in shorts on a glorious sunny afternoon.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone recall the Scarecrow's lines when the Wizard bestows upon him the power of thought? Finally today, one of my young math students made the connection, and even pointed out the redundancy.

mac 5:44 PM  

@twangster: thank you!

@ulrich: it's freezing in CT! Do you have one of these heating lamps?

fergus 6:04 PM  

Glee, Let's Party, Celebratory libation, Smiles -- these are not so dark. Dr. Freud will see you now.

EDGES IN bugged me too. That has to be one of the loosest connections from the Clue I've seen in a long time.

I 'learned' to drive on a brick-lined slope of a street in wintertime in Illinois with a Triumph Herald convertible, which may explain why I didn't own my own car until I was 31.

Vega 6:10 PM  

This was a typical Friday for me in that I was able to slowly complete most of the puzzle and then left one part undone: the dreaded SE. I too had furies instead of FURORS and must have written and erased RESIGNED a dozen times. Really, that's a synonym for "submissive"? I didn't know NUGATORY, that a MARINE is a devil dog, TARES, IRENE, or TRI (still don't). Thanks, Twangster, for explaining "ring pair;" I didn't understand that either.

I give myself props for tossing TORINO right in there. Though I drove my parents' brown Plymouth Volare, myself.

I did think some of the clues (already commented on by others) were among the cleverest I've seen. And there were none that were especially bad. Loved Crosscan's Analysis of a Crossword Experience.

Hungry Bird 6:40 PM  

I immediately put in "is so" for "claim exclamation" and "bronco" for "former ford" for longer than I should have. This resulted in much banging-of-head against the crossing clues. I knew the car had to end in "o" from "I see now." I think my family's prediliction for Buicks and Chevvies hurt me here. (Learned to parallel park in a Skylark and got my first ticket in a speeding Malibu.)

Sometimes I cleave to wrong answers longer than is reasonable due to misplaced hubris at (not) getting the clue the first time through.

My mother used to sing the, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date," song from the animated Alice in Wonderland movie. I heard that a lot when I was a kid, waiting by the door to go somewhere. This was the first time the song was welcome.

I work at the VA. Last week one of my patients came in wearing a baseball cap that said, "Devil Dog." Since I asked him about it, that clue slid in easily. However, that assistance proved nugatory. The rest of SE was tough slogging until (before?) "TRI" came to mind.

I also remembered the omphalic artery from anatomy. A gimme innie. Say that three times fast and call me in the morning.

JannieB 8:03 PM  

This was tough for me, but ultimately solvable. I thought omphalos were some sort of cartoon characters at first - my first fill was smurf - but that was quickly fixed.

The SE took two attempts - finally "smile" broke it open. I was trying to edge in (okay I tried it, still feels awkward) some form of pose there too.

While there were no big "aha" moment, it was an enjoyable challenge. Thanks, Joe.

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

@Vega -- I had the same re-right at RESIGNED ... my problem was I was unsure of the "G" in NUGATORY. RESIGNED felt right, but that NUG did not. Rex set me straight about this not being a Natick ... but, still, this was a tough spot to solve.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Excuse me, what I thought was a Natick was not at that crossing but just below it at TAE.

Orange 8:22 PM  

Martin came up with an equivalency sentence where EDGES IN and "manages to add" can be interchanged. It's posted here at the Crossword Fiend Cru Crossword Forum.

green mantis 8:32 PM  

Mm, Mac, no--in the night terrorscape you are On. Your. Own.

So Acme, the universe has to correct after giving me magic by sending me to the loony bin? That just seems mean. Or maybe there's another connection I can't see. Scheherezade's enchanted cupboard of tales unleashed?

You're right Fergus. Now that I've cleansed myself of the night (salt and soda baths are highly recommended for, well, everything) I can see the other side.

PlantieBea 8:32 PM  

I had fun with this puzzle until the SE corner where I did not know what a devil dog was--thought it was a chocolate twinkie-like treat.
Thanks for the Grail/Bunny clip. Our family loves this movie.

ArtLvr 8:34 PM  

@ anon 5:04 -- The symbolism of the omphalus in Joyce's Ulysses?? Wow... ! It's going to have to be a really long winter to get into that, but thanks for the heads-up.


Anonymous 9:26 PM  

I was just kidding! Of course there is no connection. I'm always looking for synchronicity, coincidence, conspiracies, interconnection, ubermeaning (that's a word I just made up for my German love Ulrich) etc. and everyone always gives me long, boring, scientific reasons for why these totally magical moments that I live my life for are things that can be "explained"...
so when you were wondering why the horrifying dreams, I just thought I'd tease you. You probably just ate pizza after 10pm...
But I'm being misunderstood more than not these last few days, so I think I'll take a break!

Altho, with my dying gasp of a post, I will say "AMC Pacer"

fergus 10:00 PM  

Scheherezade is girl
I would like to see
in a puzzle, no matter
how the Arabic transposition
becomes English.


Deja vu on dirait, a
ma chere amie de la Syrie

Michael Chibnik 10:51 PM  

I wasn't getting anywhere on the puzzle and then went to a student art exhibit (in a former Menard's, where the artists had to go after summer floods ruined their old space, followed by pizza and beer). When I came back, I zipped through the puzzle. I don't know if I should attribute to the art, the pizza, the beer, or (most likely) just a little time away from the puzzle which enabled me to think differently upon my return.

I liked this puzzle a lot -- can't say exactly why but both the clues and answers seemed fresh.

mac 11:04 PM  

@foodie: shout-out! And a really nice one..... Go back two comments.

green mantis 11:53 PM  

I don't see why we can't be skeptics and magical thinkers at the same time. Well maybe I Can see why, but I'm going to find a way to work some synthesis of the two if it's the last thing I do.

That was a nice one, Fergus.

Anonymous 5:16 AM  

This one was tough for me. Only four mistakes, though, and at some point I had the correct letter for two of them.

-3D/26A: INITIA/ELAI. I chalk this one up to my unfamiliarity with crosswordese, as I know I've seen ELOI before. I first put in ASTRIS for 3D, which means something completely different, only because that always seems to me the natural follower of "ab." I have no idea where I picked that up, though.

-21A/29A/11D: DETE/TORIMO/ONETIMER. I wanted ONETIMER in there so bad, I just left it. For those that don't know, a one-timer is a hockey term for a slap shot on a puck still moving from a pass. Hockey's version of an alley-oop, essentially. It's a bit of a stretch for the clue, but in my world it fits. I quickly identified the correct car in 29A, but I dismissed it because I thought it was spelled "Toreno." I just assumed that a TORIMO was another failed Ford. As for 21A, I was nowhere close until I got 38D. Even then, I never hit upon DELE, because at that point I was too enamored with ONETIMER to change the third letter. I was also tempted to put in JETE, but I know ELDER is a word, unlike ELJER. Anyway, there needs to be more hockey-themed clues.

-36A/32D: TRE/NEGATORY. I have heard of TRU (but only int he context of crossword puzzles), but I have never heard of NUGATORY. I have heard of NEGATORY, however, and my knowledge of Broadway plays not written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber is small enough to allow for the existence of a play called TRE.

I liked:

-6A: DIBS. Had me guessing until the end.
-33A: DEW. Got it right off the bat. It looks harder than it is.
-39A: DOE. Probably would've been better without the question mark, but still clever.
-52A: TAGTEAM. I had no idea what the clue was referring to until it was filled in. WAGNERS was my best guess.
-2D: NEURAL. All that Star Trek: The Next Generation paid off.
-41D: EARFLAP. The F gave it away, but it still didn't come easy. This word needs to be included more often.
-51D: BONBON and ECLAIR didn't fit, so I had to move on to other sweet French words.
-53D: GSUIT. SUNGLASSESCASE, CANOPY, and FLAKJACKET didn't fit, but I like the real answer just as much.

I had no clue (they GOTME):

-21A, 26A, 11D, 32D. See above.
-43A/3D: ETALIA/INITIO. I know what both of them mean in Latin, but I can't recall seeing them in their given contexts. I still don't know where I got "Ab astris" from...
-45A: TAE. No idea until Rex explained it.
-57A: TRI. "Head of" never translated to "prefix" until it was too late.
63A: IRENE. Fortunately it's a common name. GSUIT and MARINE were the only crosses I had.
-6D: DYNE. I guess I never got far enough in Physics class for this one. Newton, joule, horsepower and foot-pounds didn't fit, so I had WATT for a while.
-7D: INNIE. I was thinking of Greek foods.
-9D: SMA. WEE was all I could think of.
-20D: ANDY. CHAS was my first guess, then I tried to think of the name of Harry's brother. Once I got ANDY I incorrectly assumed that's who was being referred to.
-39D: DECARLO. Initially I had DICARLO to go with ITALIC. But ITALIA was obviously wrong.
-47D: BETTER. I just now figured this out. Very tricky.
-49D: SMILES. I first thought of a firing squad, giving me SMOKES (his last cigarette).
-61D: NRA. After ruling out NFL and NFC, I started on labor unions. AFL would've been a good choice, I think.

I didn't like:

-13A: MENON. How is this informal?
-34A: GLEE. I don't think of glee and pleasure like that. ECSTASY, yes.
-60A: UNTIL. Once again, similar but not close enough. "Before you leave" and "Until you leave" have different meanings.
-65A: EPEE. I get what the clue is supposed to mean, but it just doesn't work.
-59D: APE. Like the clue for EPEE, it's close but no cigar.

Anonymous 5:43 AM  

Missed two squares after working on the thing during lunch, getting nowhere, and then again tonight for another hour or so.

Had Dicarlo instead of Decarlo, also Negatory instead of the heretofore unknown Nugatory.

i really didn't get anywhere for a good hour (lunchtime), but finally broke though in the northeast corner.

a puzzle with lots of small epiphanies ("nra," "by no means," "maybe not," and "in ink" were my favorite answers/clues). nothing incredibly clever, but less reliant on old crossword saws, it seemed to me.

i liked it.

ianmoodie 9:27 AM  

Could someone please explain-in plain, standard, simple English, how

Sound again=BETTER?


ianmoodie 9:33 AM  

Oooh, sneaky. I just got it. Love brains and how they work sometimes even without consciously trying.

Since no one else said it:

Sound again to = BETTER, sound must mean 'mentally stable' which I am again after it came to me.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

I solved this one much like @crosscan minus the part where I actually solved it. I ended up shaking fist in air, shouting "damn you Shortz!"
For some reason, I decided REITER (as in reiterate)was the answer to sound again. It seemed plausible at the time. Anyway, I was unable to finish.
Just when I start thinking I'm finally going to finish a Friday with no mistakes I go and screw it up. I choose to blame Mr. Shortz.

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