FRIDAY, Feb. 13, 2009 - D Peterson (Locale of Krypton in the Superman saga / "The Wonder Years" teen who loved Winnie / Flavor of Calvados brandy)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: IDEOGRAM - A character or symbol representing an idea or a thing without expressing the pronunciation of a particular word or words for it, as in the traffic sign commonly used for “no parking” or “parking prohibited.” Also called ideograph. (

I don't care what they say about Airborne, that !@#@ works. Rest + fluids + Airborne = cold virtually destroyed. I might be speaking too soon and jinxing the whole thing, but I feel 10 times better than I did last night. By way of example, I torched this puzzle. 9:05 on paper. That's over two minutes faster than yesterday's puzzle. Felt like I got off to a clunky start in the NW - went right to NELSON (4D: "The Simpsons" bully) and OLIO (23A: Gallimaufry), but then sort of poked and hacked around. That clue on MORN was tough (27A: Even's counterpart). But then all of a sudden the NW was done and while I blanked on the Superman clue at first, a very lucky stab at ARMOR (28A: It's hard to penetrate) gave me the "M" I needed to see ANDROMEDA. I then tentatively wrote in GALAXY, which either ALDO (39A: Ray in pictures) or AGGIE (41A: Cat's-eye alternative) confirmed. ANDROMEDA GALAXY! (8D: Locale of Krypton in the Superman saga) - very hot. Much hotter than ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (32A: Big draw of early Broadway), a grid-spanning answer I've seen fairly recently. Not that that "Z" isn't lovely.

Edgar Allan Poe, who turned 200 recently, I hear, makes a splashy appearance in the grid today with his seldom-seen poem "EL DORADO" (34D: Poe poem about a knight's lifelong quest). Like its neighbor IDEOGRAM (33D: "No smoking" symbol, e.g.), I pieced it together before I'd even glanced at the clue. BRAVO, WADER! (53A: Indication of a job well done + 58A: Crane, e.g.) I have never read said poem. I don't know if I've even heard of it before just now. I have read many ODES (37D: Expressions of praise) and many a PAEAN (10A: Expression of praise), so that helped. Other related words in the puzzle are DELL (26D: Hollow) and GLENS (31A: Out-of-the-way places). In fact, I refused to put in DELL at first because my brain said "DELL's already in the puzzle." But my brain was thinking of GLENS. I was going to put in DULL for 26D, but UDIE seemed an improbable name for a Desperate Housewife (29A: "Desperate Housewives" housewife -> EDIE).

That NE corner was the only part of the puzzle that offered any resistance. I had MUSEO at 10D: Madrid's _____ del Prado (Paseo) and never questioned it until I couldn't make the top two Acrosses up there work. Just as UDIE seemed improbable, so too did a flavor of brandy starting with "U." Turned out to be plain old APPLE (16A: Flavor of Calvados brandy). I knew that 12D: Series kickoff was "something I" (as in "Part I"), but it wasn't 'til I changed BAD to SAD (22A: Wretched) that EPISODE I came into view. I assume that's generic, because EPISODE I of "Star Wars" kicked off nothing and is best forgotten. I go about as far as the EWOKs with "Star Wars" and then I jump ship (43A: Furry sci-fi figure).


  • 20A: Potential sucker (rube) - fantastic clue. I went looking for some kind of insect. I like this definition of "sucker" much more.
  • 40A: Dispensary stock, for short (meds) - wife is currently on Vicodin for giant hole she has in her mouth where a tooth with rotting nerves used to be. Root canal next week. It's OK that I tell people this stuff, right honey?
  • 51A: Small dabbler (teal) - I think crosswords taught me this meaning of "dabble"
  • 47A: Self-starter's equipment? (bootstraps) - again, just great
  • 52A: Grinder in an Italian restaurant (dente) - I assume this is Italian for "tooth"
  • 61A: Merrie Melodies regular (Sylvester) - funny, I just did a puzzle with "I TAW" in it, as in "I tawt I TAW a pwutty cat!"
  • 2D: Thick-skinned fruit (pomelo) - never seen one. If my grocery store carries them, I haven't noticed.
  • 13D: 1955 A.L. batting champ (Al Kaline) - I was think it was somebody KLINE, but I realize the name I was trying to retrieve was a completely different Al - AL ROSEN. He was never A.L. batting champ, but he won the A.L. MVP award in 1953.
  • 25D: City liberated during the Battle of Kursk (Orel) - in the puzzle recently, so no problem. I think I had the -REL before I ever saw the clue.
  • 31D: _____ Worm (1980s light-up toy) (Glo) - what else was it going to be? A worm that lights up is a ... and now switch to commercial spelling, and you've got ...
  • 32D: Victoria Falls forms part of its border (Zimbabwe) - I was thinking UGANDA, but that's wrong. And doesn't fit. The other country involved is Zambia.
  • 56D: Person in the fourth grade: Abbr. (Cpl) - I assume that's a military grade, and that CPL = corporal.

I'm off to somewhere near the Canadian border for the weekend. I assume they have internet access there, so nothing should change, blog-wise.

Signed, Captain Rex Parker, Clone of Crossworld (that's for Ben)


edith b 12:33 AM  

I did this one in fits and starts as I had about 6 or 8 entries, none of them contiguous and things were looking a little bleak.

The Z in ZIMBABWE got the ball rolling as that gave me ZIEGFELDFOLLIES, the first movie I remember seeing and liking on my own - about 6 years old. All the girls swirling with flowing dresses and the guys in black and white stiffly acting as poles for the girls to swirl around- lovely images and it began my love affair with movies.

This got the ball rolling in the SE and ELDORADO and IDEOGRAM fell 1, 2 and I moved briskly thru southern Fly-over country and veered into the North, alternating between the NW and NE, getting APPLE, then SPINALTAP, back to NELSON.

Funny in a way that a mistake helped me break open the North as QUAKE for SPIKE got me Al Kaline. Funny about him too. When I was about 12 I read a book about Ty Cobb and became a Detroit Tigers fan (behind the Yanks, ofcourse}. I remember the K boys - Al Kaline and Harvey Kuenn. I had a love affair with language even then.

I worked from NE to NW, discovering my mistake when I got AMPLITUDE and moved into northern Fly-over country as VOODOODOLL crossing ANDROMEDAGALAXY moved me into the SE where I chipped away at this last section where I found two quirky clues crossing one another EVENTS/DENTE when both of them dawned on me and I thought - Cute -and I slid over to S*ORE/*EAL as my last entry.

I went back and forth between BRAVA and BRAVO where I finally settled on BRAVO and accepted STORE for "Browser settings", going with shopping over computers and finished up in just under 45 minutes.

The Ziegfeld answer was my only true neon so I am doing better with the wordplay aspect of late week puzzles as I vaguely remembered Doug Peterson as being a quirky constructor. That is the single most important thing that Rex has taught me - recognizing styles of individual constructors, starting with Karen M Tracey.

Anonymous 1:54 AM  

@Doug Swedish-sounding Peterson!

Yikes! I had EWOK, GLO, IFS/ISEE, ALDO, WINGIT and that was it!!!!!

(Altho in my heart I wanted to guess ZIMBABWE and I would've gotten TAU if I hadn't miscounted on my fingers and accidentally stopped at 14th)

ALDO Ray I only know as the priest in "The Flying Nun", so I guess he was a movie star beforehand...must be like Lily Munster.

Batting champs, Simpson bullies, Superman locales, Kursk battles, I plead femaleness.
("Desperate Housewives", not withstanding)

@Silicon Valley Day, Byron W made a wonderful point: a finished puzzle is not a dead thing, so I went back, Googled about 99 things, finished and tried to learn as much as possible.

While in Canada, let them know Obama won and they can come home now.

liquid el lay 2:55 AM  

I don’t know whether I will do today’s puzzle or not but I thought I would post early to ask a question.

I do the puzzle occasionally in the evening over a drink of absinthe at a local seaside bar (the pen name is meant to refer to the sea itself, and not the little green sea swirling around the icecubes.) I use ink on paper because pencils bug me. Except carpenter’s pencils, which are cool. I’ve been known to mark cuts on wood with pen, though, too.

It’s not fair to google or use dictionaries, but the bartender is good for sports questions, and, in general, there is a wealth of information and perspective up and down the bar. Sometimes I avail, sometimes not. Sometimes the availing is put on me, and one must not be selfish. Crosswords are fun.

The question is, I’m wondering what others’ puzzling habits are. Where and when do you do the puzzle? In what form? What are your rules of conduct?

I’d really like to know! I hope this question isn’t a distraction.

jae 4:19 AM  

This was medium for me. NE and SW easy, SE medium and NW challenging = medium. I also went with MUESO at first, as well as PANNE for DENTE thinking an Italian version of hero, sub, po boy, etc., and EMT for VET. Oh, and I too flashed on the BEQ TAW puzzle.

Very much liked this one. Wish SPINALTAP could have been clued via the movie but stuff like ALKALINE, SYLVESTER, and NELSON (my first entry) were worth the ride.

@liquid -- As Will has said "Its your puzzle to do with as you like" (OK he didn't say exactly that but it's sorta the gist). That said, there is a progression in solving expertise where at first you need to look a lot of stuff up, then not so much but you still rely on asking folks you know for help (social interaction in puzzle solving is a good thing!), finally you get to a point where its only you against the puzzle, but it takes a while (years not months). Good luck and enjoy the process.

imsdave 6:56 AM  

MUSEO - first word in the grid. Poked around to see GLO ALDO ODES. Looked at the clue for 32A off the OL and off to the races. Not knowing NELSON slowed me down a bit in the NW. APPLE finally got rid of MUSEO and my proudest moment of the day was ALKALINE off the L and E.

Super puzzle. Finished with one error, BRAVA/STARE. I really talked myself into that thinking that there was some sliding scale of browsing that started with glimpse and worked its way up to STARE. Oh well.

@JAE - nice explanation of solving evolution. These things are entertainment and should be enjoyed in whatever way one wants to.

Glad you're feeling better Rex.

Greene 7:25 AM  

Wow! This puzzle seemed to be a custom fit for me. I have never completed a Friday puzzle with such speed or ease. It's got medical references, cartoons, Broadway, Poe, movies, and really snappy fill -- what's not to like?

I got NELSON and ANDROMEDA GALAXY immediately, which led to SPINAL TAP (should clue that "activity involving a very big needle!"). Then I got ZIEGFELD FOLLIES only off the D in ANDROMEDA and the whole grid just opened up.

I apologize for the shameless crowing, but this never happens to me on a Friday puzzle. Usually I plod along for an hour and then seek assistance, but this thing fell in 20 minutes.

For those interested in things theatrical, I highly recommend Ethan Mordden's "Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business" which is an exceedingly well written and highly entertaining biography of the master showman who spent his career "Glorifying the American Girl" in every sense of the word (talk about casting couch!). Also, in honor of 30D, IFS, check out the Kristen Chenoweth link on my blog to "If You Hadn't, But You Did" the mother of all "If" songs.

edith b 7:40 AM  


I'm just a girl who liked boy things like war movies where I first saw ALDO Ray, a gravelly voiced actor who was in just about every WWII war movie I ever saw. "Battle Cry" was my particular favorite.

Speaking of particular favorites, you are my favorite "Monday girl", your protestations about Ms Lempel notwithstanding.

Deborah 7:44 AM  

I agree with Liquid about using Google. What's the point? It's like taking an open book, true/false test sans the false option. I also only use pen, although I've gone through my share of Wite-Out (no buzz there, Rex, unlike your wife's Vicodin). However, taking answers from bar mates? Social, yes; still, it's the equivalent of human Googling. Thanks for asking!

Jeffrey 8:07 AM  

Slow going for me today, but I made it through. I know everything there is to know about Superman - except ANDROMEDA GALAXY, it seems.
Couldn't recall NELSON or AL KALINE and put ELMER FUDD for SYLVESTER. All in my pop culture area of EXPERTISE but nothing was clicking. Call me OBTUSE.


Weird that some clues are part of answers today - Needle - NEEDLESS; Even - EVENTS

I vaguely recall that Montreal's Expo '67 was the first widespread use of IDEOGRAMS in North America, but given my track record today, I could be wrong again.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

That meaning of "dabble" seems to be the original one, of which the more familiar usage is a metaphor. No, I didn't know that before any more than Rex did.

13D:ALKALINE is a kind of battery, or a chemical base like potash, ultimately from the Arabic for a kind of ash. Naming your child Al when your surname is Kaline seems like a form of child abuse.

--NDE (about to fly back home after a week's tropical break from the Febrrruary weather of Cambrrridge)

P.S. Typo: thick-skinned, not thick-skinner (2D clue)

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Easy for me too, in spite of wildly wrong guesses at first, i.e. "tattooing" at the top. A very fun puzzle.

We do the puzzle 2 ways: alone without help (most of the time), and as a group activity when with house guests - or in bars. Both are fun and fun is good.

Chorister 8:47 AM  

That top left just killed me, but the rest was very enjoyably do-able, yes, even easy.

I'm a girl and I knew Al Kaline & Andromeda Galaxy but not the Simpsons bully. I don't think knowing stuff has to do with gender. More exposure & what your brain decides to hang onto.

For heavens sake, people, this is supposed to be fun. Newbies, oldies, whoever, if you don't know:look it up, ask around, check the blog. Learn something new, be exasperated, be exhilerated. Use pen, use pencil, use crayon, use the computer (but never use white out on the computer screen.)

Kurt 8:56 AM  

Easy??? I must be on a different wave length than most of you. I thought that the puzzle was really challenging. Ten times harder than yesterday which I breezed through and harder than almost all of the recent Friday puzzles.

I thought of may correct answers early - AL KALINE, PACKINGUP and AMPLITUDE, for example - but I had a hard time getting enough crosses or neighbors to confirm them.

I'm not complaining. I thought that it was a great puzzle. Just not an easy puzzle.

Maybe I'm living in an alternate universe....

JannieB 9:01 AM  

What's not to love about this puzzle? Some really great fill and some excellent cluing. I am definitely a conver to the "stare at and it will come" theory - that's how I finally got amplitude! The NW was a bear while the NE & SW were very easy. Surprising myself no end, I got Al Kaline with only the LK in place. I'm big on sports names, couldn't match them to teams, positions, or awards in any way.

Learned a new word - gallimaufry (love it!) - and yet another piece of Simpson lore.

@Andrea, interesting you got Aldo Ray from the Flying Nun. He was never in it. That actor was Alejandro Rey - close but...

JannieB 9:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Al Kaline - never played a day in the minors - reminds me of the era when they played the World Series during the day and we got to watch the Tigers and Kaline in the 1968 Series at school. Ah, those were the days.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

joho 9:33 AM  

@Chorister: hear! hear!

I loved this puzzle although it was anything but easy for me. Some great cluing and answers BOOTSTRAPS being my favorite.

Great job Doug Peterson!

Xavier 9:40 AM  

I tend to struggle with Friday puzzles. I can rarely fill the grid with reasonable guesses and almost never with correct answers. Today though I did manage to fill the grid.

Didn't know Ziegfeld or his Follies so that caused me some trouble at the end. I had OREN for OREL. I guess I was thinking of ORAN. I also put in FEAT for GEST which seemed eminently reasonable to me, though I knew in my gut that Zieffend had to be wrong.

Other than a couple of Across Lite typos, though those were the only mistakes! I felt very accomplished.

@liquid, I work the dailies on my own until I "give up" and need to ask friends. When all else fails, I finish by Googling. Sometimes my dad and I will sit down and do a crossword together. I also work through crossword books at night before going to bed. It helps my mind wander into that land of random association that is perfect for dreaming.


PuzzleGirl 9:42 AM  

Excellent, excellent puzzle. Although I'm apparently a denizen of Kurt's alternate universe — it was not easy for me. I was going to start writing about all the things I love about this puzzle, but I realize you probably don't have the time to sit around reading the details of my random thoughts for the next several hours, so I'll just say: Doug is definitely on my Top Ten List! Excellent puzzle!

@Jeff in Chicago: I wanted 24A to be BRENT METCALF'S OPPONENT. Brent, of course, is Iowa's 149-pound, #1 ranked returning champion and 2008 Hodge Trophy winner. (Go Hawks!)

nuzzle put 9:46 AM  


One man's puzzle is another's delight, so to speak... i, a lifetime sufferer of ADD, who began puzzling with no Google and a pocket dictionary and no idea what OED stood for, find, as my last resort, that Googling is aok for the clueless. For a Friday entry, which i usually dread, to be easy for me was a huge ego boost for me!

treedweller 9:56 AM  

Someday, I'll learn not to gloat. Karma got me back for yesterday with this one. I didn't think I gave up too fast, but I only had six or eight answers in the grid when I started googling (including "mark" instead of RUBE, which clearly didn't help).

And this was not one of those times when google gives me an answer or two and then I gain traction and finish up pretty quickly. I slogged through it all the way. When I had GALAXY, I still had no idea about ANDROMEDA (I never read comics much, but I have seen most of the movies, and still don't remember this tidbit--google).

Never heard of ELDORADO (google). Tried agate for AGGIE. I kept trying to make the thick-skinned fruit orange (now I'm expecting these little shout-outs. it seems). ALKALINE I know as a battery or a quality of soil, but never heard of the ballplayer (google). Thought I saw ZIEGFELDFOLLIES, but tried to spell it Ziegfield, so I took it out.

I confirmed my knowledge of cartoons--got SYLVESTER and NELSON (does EWOK count?). Toss in a few short answers, and that's what I knew today. Oh, the humanity.

ArtLvr 9:56 AM  

I was very happy last night on completing the puzzle fairly easily, the exception being the NW where I had misstarts Weaken for IMPAIR and Stew crossing this for OLIO. SPINALTAP fixed that area. Then I peek in here.. had an error left, UDIE. Arrg.

janie 9:59 AM  

felt like i had a rex moment when i got ZIEGFELDFOLLIES off the F of IFS, my one gimme.... (brava, edith, for getting it off the Z!) my solving swath was then sw, ne, nw sw. found the puzzle to be (friday-appropriate) challenging and with all that peppy fill, rewarding, too.

glad yer feelin' so much better, rex!



JoefromMtVernon 10:00 AM  

When getting the puzzle from the Times, I noticed the obituary for Shirley Jean Rickert. She was a member of Our Gang when it moved from silents to talkies. She was with the group with Jackie Cooper, Mary Ann Jackson, Alan (Farina) Hoskins, etc.
Why mention this? Whenever I hear Zigfeld Follies, I think of the Our Gang Follies, when Alfalfa wants to give up crooning to sing opera.

Only error - the pomelo/morn cross (had pomela, after looking long enough, I figured the morn clue).


Anonymous 10:05 AM  

I can often get most or all of Friday puzzles but I found this one extremely difficult ... could only get the bottom right corner. Seemed like there so many clues with multiple possibilities in meaning it was hard to get much nailed down.

I don't really understand the debate about google. Obviously it's better to solve the puzzle on your own. But sometimes you can't. My own habit is to get as much as I can and then go through every clue 3 times. If you're still stuck at that point, what are you supposed to do -- just crumple it up and toss it in the trash? At that point I'm curious about the answers.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Hi -- I also found this completely un-doable -- got a few answers (including Al Kaline, I'm proud to say -- I've been a baseball fan for a long time....) but just couldn't get moving.

Oh well, some times the magic works and sometimes it doesn't...

In terms of Google -- I only Google after I've "given up" in my own mind, just out of curiosity (like twangster) to see the answers.

Happy long weekend, everyone.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Easy, he says. Not exactly. Fridays are still tough for me, but I got a toehold with the flavor of Calvados. My husband drank too much of this stuff one time and was sick as a dog. I never forgot that (and neither has he). I also know Al Kaline because he's from my area. So with apple and Kaline, I made my way through Ziegfeld and completed the bottom. But it took forever to do the NW section even with lots of help. From this you may not be able to tell, but I liked it a lot.

@Rex - I'm glad you're feeling better. Have a good trip.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

My downfall was confusing Victoria Falls with Lake Victoria -- thus I confidently penciled in Tanzania, which fits, in 32D. Threw me off completely.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I thought this was a perfect Friday puzzle. I had only the SE and not much more until ZIEGFELDFOLLIES popped into place.

@Greene: I haven't read his Ziegfeld book, but I love Ethan Morrden's series on the history of Broadway. So catty!

And I still can't believe that AL KALINE is a realy person and not someone out of Lil' Abner.

hazel 10:46 AM  

@Kurt, PG, and Anne - I'm also a citizen of the alternative universe. I really liked the puzzle, but i found it very very difficult. It took me longer to complete this one than the previous 4 combined!

@Twangster - well said! There's just no way I can do some of the puzzles on my own - I don't have the data stores, but I do have a never say die attitude....

Re the puzzle, v. clever cluing - to the point that after the first pass I was just sitting with one or 2 knowns (AL KALINE and the GLO worm) and a big fat pile of uncertainty elsewhere - most of which turned out to be incorrect.

I eventually finished up, with a very long series of AHAs, and as a reward, brought out the baseball card collection my brother left me, which has a ton of Al Kaline cards starting in '58. He looks sort of old even from the beginning.

@liquid - on the NYT website (link below) Jim H. has been collecting people's crosswording stories - how and why they do them - might be of interest to you?

There's also an interview with the constructor today, which I think you should be able to get to from here.

SethG 10:50 AM  

I'm with edith b on the ZIMB.../ZIEG... early. And with Rex on changing MUSEO 'cause of the U. Except with xNA in place I assumed it was RNA/ANISE brandy. Finally switched BAD to SAD for the EPISODE, which I wanted all along, and worked my way out from there.

Some trouble in the SE, where I had HOGIE. And I was sure I was right, because apparantly I cannot spel. So that took a while to clear up. MRES for MEDS for a bit and not being able to remember the word 'agriculture' slowed me, too, but nothing too bad and still relatively quick for a Friday.

2pm Sunday (CST), PuzzleGirl. It, as they say, is on.


Jeffrey 11:03 AM  

I was thinking of pictographs at Expo '67. Scroll down to the September 1 entry on this page (sorry I'm having link issues)

Two Ponies 11:21 AM  

Absolutely adored this puzzle! Lots of clever clues, my favorite style.
I run away from all things baseball (exceeded in tedium only by cricket IMHO) so like steve in boston I could not believe anyone with the last name of Kaline would name their son AL??! A chemistry clue would have been more up my alley.
Boughpot is a cool word and new to me.
Loved remembering Wonder Years.
As for solving techniques - I gave up Googling when I discovered this blog. I tough it out and if I am defeated then I get over it and move on. If there is a hockey question that does not involve the usual suspects I might ask Hockey Husband (but really it's just to make him feel included.)
This blog has opened my eyes to the different styles of constructors. I used to feel I had a daily battle with Will but now I have an appreciation for the real artists behind the puzzles. Thanks Rex and glad you're better.

HudsonHawk 11:26 AM  

Put me in the medium-challenging crowd. I hope I'n not sitting next to Rex at ACPT, since I was still staring at large white spaces after nine minutes. I had a few short, unconnected answers (GLO, EWOK, BOR) when I caught the clue for 40A and filled in MEDS. My first thought for 32D was NAMIBIA, but it didn't fit, and ZIMBABWE came into view. From that, ZIEGFELD FOLLIES dropped in, and the SW and NE fell pretty quickly. Then the SE and finally the NW, but not without some effort. I had two mis-starts, the already mentioned MUSEO for PASEO, and EMAILS for EVENTS.

All in all, an enjoyable challenge for me, DP!

Ulrich 11:35 AM  

A note from another alternate-universer to chorister et al: Don't allow other people to tell you how to lead your life!--I sometimes google just to annoy the people who try to prevent me from doing it (just kidding).

I have a real problem with the Zimbabwe clue. Would anybody say that the Niagara Falls are part of the Canadian/US border? To me, they straddle it, which does not make them a part. Same with the Victoria Falls: The Falls straddle the border. Believe me, I've been there.

BTW it's an unbelievable experience: The Falls are about a mile wide, and thunder into a narrow, parallel gorge with a footpath on the other side so that one can get close to falls and walk along over an extended distance. The air is so filled with spray that it is as if you're walking into a rain shower--you're immediately drenched to the skin--pity your camera if you didn't bring a plastic bag to shield it (I almost destroyed mine)

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

@acme - With Rex under the weather, I half-expected to see you or PuzzleGirl blogging today's puzzle. Sorry for all the "boy" clues. Some of them were "nerd" clues, and you're just not nerdy enough to know them!

I remember discovering the AL KALINE/ALKALINE thing when I was a kid and being really excited. I guess I was always a word nerd.

Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments!

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

OLE, DP! Because that's what I had at 37D, an error I didn't notice until coming here (and not picking up on Aldo Ray. Allo sounded just as good to me.)

Other mistake I didn't know about--having NOISE instead of SPIKE, which gave me Al Saline instead of Alkaline (I know about as much about baseball as I do about salt or batteries, which is not much.) 10A and 10D and 11D were no-shows for me.

I owned a bottle of Calvados for years, a gift from an old girlfriend who studied in France. I finally drank it, along with everything else that would run downhill.

Ha! I just now got the Jim Croce connection! I'm onto you, Rex Parker! You, Doug Peterson, not so much.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@Rex - not only do some parts of Canada have internet access, the government recently announced that by 2012, a full 60% of Canadian homes are expected have flush toilets.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

I'm also in the in the medium-challenging crowd. Took a snow day today (6-10" forecast) and relaxed doing this enjoyable puzzle while watching the snow pile up. SE came first, SW second, NE third. NW was last, I was stuck till SPINAL TAP came to me, then it all fell into place. I also wish SPINAL TAP would have been clued with a reference to the fantastic movie of the same name.
Highly recommended to those who have not seen it - provided you like rock music, 70's rock in particular.

Shamik 12:14 PM  

@Chorister: Bravo!!!

Solid medium puzzle for me today and quite an enjoyable puzzle. Was happy it was a medium since it looked all spotty for quite awhile. First corner to fall was the SE. Happy happy happy for ZIEGFELDFOLLIES.

Knew CALVADOS from recipes that say: "Add calvados or apple juice"

Where do I solve the puzzle on my laptop because I live in the hinterlands (compared to NYC). I solve it with my morning coffee if possible. And I would prefer to be wrong than Google. MY PREFERENCE ONLY...and it's 'cause I'm ANAL. Just ask my husband.

Had similar mis-starts to many and a couple new ones:
ACCORD for SHALOM...not a lot of SHALOM'ing in the hinterlands.

Finally, glad you're feeling better, Rex...but Sandy gets ALL of my sympathy this morning. Teeth (shudder)!

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Great puzzle, but I side with those who found it challenging. I got AMPLITUDE and SPIKE and TAU and PSEUDO almost instantly, but then put in MUSEE (not even MUSEO) which killed the NE forever and I couldn't think of anything for the NW.

I too first thought of TANZANIA, then ZIMBABWE. But I tried spelling it ZIEGFIELD, not ZIEGFELD. That hurt. I almost died in the SE, because I had PACKINGUP and SYLVESTER, but in between, for "Command" I had SUPERVISE, not EXPERTISE. I knew something was wrong, but I was stuck. I should have twigged on the Britishness of that -ISE as being something that must be hinted at in the clue. And I only entered EVENTS with great reluctance, thinking somewhere there is the concept of an "EVENT chain", just not seeing the obvious "chain of EVENTS". Aargh.

And that "Indication of a job well done". First I wanted RAISE, then BONUS.

I am also astonished, after decades of reading the comics, to finally learn that Krypton is in the ANDROMEDA GALAXY. I mean, I knew it orbited a red star named Rao and more, but Andromeda??

Thank you, Wikipedia, now I see, it was revealed in the Waid/Yu Superman: Birthright miniseries a few years ago, which I skipped. And it looks like DC is going to retcon that series out anyway, so hahaha, maybe this clue will self-destruct in the near future. Seriously, there's lots of great comic book trivia out there that's fair game for Friday/Saturday cluing, but this one is ridiculous, no matter how gettable it was.

In other news, while googling up information on bioengineering spider genes, I came across the following eyepopping sentence: "With that genetic information, scientists at the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command in Natick, Mass., the University of Wyoming and chemical maker DuPont Co. tried to use genetic engineering to produce large amounts of spider silk protein."

Now I know. We have a U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command. And in an emergency, I will know exactly where to find it.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

RE liquid's inquiry: my husband and I started doing the NYT crossword a few years ago and on the tough ones I really enjoyed doing them together with my hubby. Our data sets intersect very nicely: he knows math, engineering and sports, I know medicine, nature and some music, art and literature. As we both got better he began to resist the "joint efforts" and now we pretty much do them solo except we'll ask each other things when we get stuck. I wish there were "pairs" crossword contests! I haven't seen a puzzle the two of us couldn't do together in quite some time. Sound proofing would be an issue in such a contest, and how embarrassing if one of us gets mad and walks off in a huff. . .

Doug 12:43 PM  

Pretty well clobbered, enough said. After 4 years in Thailand, the POMELO was a gimmee. Foreign fruit never tastes as good as it does near the origin, so the ones here aren't as good.

NE and MUSEO did me in. Struggled to think of a French word starting with U for "apple" and was ready for some arcana like "Uclot, a small village in Bordeaux known for its prized local apple variety." And I know every African country but unfortunately didn't know exactly where the Vic Falls are!

Had GRATE (as in "cheese") for Italian restaurant DENTE and this killed the SE.

However, all in all a great puzzle and would have been better only if I had a few other fills to unlock the whole thing!

chefbea 1:02 PM  

This was a lulu for me. Needed lots of help. Knew pomelo (large grapefruit). Wanted irons for putters. Never heard of boughpot. Worked in a flower shop eons ago - all we had were vases and cachepots.

@liquid I like to do the puzzle in the morning or with lunch. Do it in ink and goggle, use the dictionary, whatever.

fikink 1:20 PM  

I was married to TOMATO, and then STITCHING for too long up top (can't imagine why - I really must get out more!). Kept reading AL KALINE as alkaline and never understood why he was. Many DELLS (and farmers in them) around here, so I enjoyed that cross with GLENS.
Overall, very enjoyable puzzle and enlightening comments today.

evil doug 1:49 PM  

@Shamik: "I'm ANAL. Just ask my husband."

You trying to get us put on double secret probation again?

Happy Valentine's Day to him....

Yoko, OH

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

I'm with Kurt: one of the hardest in recent memory for me. Lots to complain about: "Even's counterpart" = MORE? "Feigned" = PSEUDO? "Browser setting" = STORE? For the last one, indeed, even after I saw the answer by coming here I still have no idea what the constructor had in mind. And "Grinder in an Italian restaurant" = DENTE? If "dente" is the uninflected Italian word for "tooth," and the idea is that the teeth grind, that nonetheless seems to me to be a far too indirect connection, even for a Friday. Ecchhh.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

@liquid - My solving techniques are quite certainly unique in the world. I have the privilege of being Executive Producer of the mobile version of NY Times Crosswords (at Magmic Games). I've been solving daily on my Blackberry for some months (, and now have a pre-release version of the game on my iPhone. Daily, I'm torn between doing the puzzle on my BB, my iPod Touch, or with the ACPT tournament looming, on good 'ol pen and paper.

mac 2:05 PM  

What a fantastic puzzle. Except for my husbunds input on Al Kaline (@Noam: agree with you re poor Al's parents) I did it with no googles and other outside help.

My first word was "apple", now what does that say. Very fruity puzzle, with apples, pomelos and grapes. Because I was sure about apple, the paseo followed easily. I got galaxy first, then slowly built up the "andromeda" part, sort of familiar. I also thought of some Love Gallimaufrey, but I'm happy the clue/answer wasn't the other way around.

I am going to have to see some more of these Simpsons' dvd's.....

@PuzzleGirl: you are always 6 degrees from Iowa wrestling!

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Am I the only one who thinks Liquid is putting us on? I'm struck by how earnest some of your answers are. Maybe I'm wrong. I know I'm cynical.

archaeoprof 2:27 PM  

The alternate universe is getting crowded. I thought this one was hard, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Super cluing on TEAL, MORN, SPINALTAP, WADER, DENTE, and TAU.

@Rex: glad you're feeling better. Thanks for the Jim Croce link.

fergus 2:27 PM  

Had a sample slice of POMELO at the Farmers' Market the other day, and carted one home. Glad they weren't sold by the pound.

Calvados is a good alternative to Grappa, maybe even preferable.

If this were a tournament I wonder how much I would have fussed over ODES and OLES?

There was an excellent baseball player called Chuck KLEIN, who I believe won a batting title or two, but that would have been in the 1930s, most likely.

I was thinking ROGUE for the unusually high wave, but that's because I live in a surf-town, and you always hear the warning about them on stormy days like today.

Still don't see the Cat's-eye AGGIE connection?

A very cool puzzle, but Clued a bit too obviously for a Friday, I thought.

SethG 2:34 PM  

blue stater, bless you.

Even means evening. It's poetic, or at least archaic. Like MORN, with an 'n', for morning.

Feigned means "not real; pretended". Pseudo is "false or counterfeit; fake". Those are primary meanings. I'm not sure what your problem is here.

"May I help you?"
"No thanks, just browsing."

And it's not just that teeth grind, grinders are teeth.

Seems like plenty of people found this hard, but you're the only one with lots of complaints so far.

hazel 2:36 PM  

@Anne - who cares about liquid's motives? i'm relatively new to the site and am still trying to figure out who's who - so I'm happy to read people's descriptions of their solving habits!

Two Ponies 2:38 PM  

@Anne, If he/she is we certainly took the bait!
@Evil Doug, I had the same thought but bit my tongue.
@bluestater, the poetic opposite of even is morn. You just must have been on a different amplitude today :)

fikink 2:51 PM  

@fergus, aren't cat's-eyes and aggies marbles?
(I had a cat once named Marbles; it had everything to do with his eyes;-)

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

SethG, bless you, too, and thank you for the insights, which had entirely escaped me. Maybe, as Two Ponies suggests, I was really on a different amplitude today.

The reason I was specific about my complaints with this puzzle is that I've been harshly criticized on other blogs for lack of specificity when I'm critical of a puzzle, which is often. This one was long on tricks and popcult, neither of which I care for in a puzzle, whilst realizing that they appeal to others. De gustibus, &c.

Ulrich 2:53 PM  

@william e e: The Natick bit was the needle in the haystack of your comment--thx...

@sethg as per last night: Did you serve frozen yoghurt to the mayor (whom I saw occasionally on the street b/c she lived in an apartment building at the end of my street) in a place on Murray Ave? If so, you may have served me, too, but not frozen yoghurt--small world!

SethG 3:22 PM  

No, the TCBY on Forbes, between Murray and Shady. Where Bagel Nosh used to be, though both are long gone now. But I'm definitely from your (and Mr. Rogers') neighborhood.

fikink 3:32 PM  

@btw, SethG, nice avatar/IDEOGRAM!
Are you against being or nothingness?

HudsonHawk 3:38 PM  

@fikink and SethG, I was going to ask if you're anti-golf or pro-range balls?

JannieB 3:40 PM  

@Opus2 - Any chance there will be mobile version available on the Kindle? My husband helped you guys beta test the Blackberry version and it's really gotten him started in the xworld. Since the NYT is available by subscription on the Kindle, I'm hoping someday the puzzle will be too.

(Sorry if this is slightly off topic - there's a link to my email via my profile so you can respond privately. Thanks!)

Orange 3:59 PM  

Chorister is absolutely right about Wite-out and screens. I found that out the hard way.

Thanks for the shout-out to clonetrooper Ben, Rex! He's out for the day, but I'll show him your sign-off when he returns. He's getting a shout-out in the acknowledgments in one of BEQ's books—he's gonna have a higher profile in the crossword world than any other third-grader with the possible exception of Rex's daughter.

Oh, is this a crossword blog? Yeah. As I've said elsewhere, I really enjoyed this puzzle. I'd put it in the easy-to-medium range, personally.

fergus 4:53 PM  

Thanks Fikink,

The only Cat's-eye I could think of was the lane marker on a rural road, on which a Texas A&M alum might be traveling while plying his ranching trade. That would be a truly obscure Friday connection.

Time to stroll down to the beach to check out the amplitude of the waves, retaining the image of giving a VOODOO DOLL a SPINAL TAP.

chefwen 6:01 PM  

Puzzle too difficult for the likes of me today, only got 1/4 finished when I had to throw in the towel. Had line instead to vibe, as in pick up line, had Bree instead of Edie. I could go on.
@liguid - My routine of paper, pen, liquid paper and a glass of Rombauer Chardonnay the night before was horribly interrupted when one of our dogs went missing as he was trying to catch up to my husband driving to the Post Office. Drove around for hours looking and putting up posters. Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't even see the puzzle throuogh my tears. Poured that night and thought of his poor little body in some ditch. Called the Humane Society and discovered that some kind family found him running down the middle of the highway, cars swerving, some stopping, well one family actually picked him up and took him home. They called the Humane Society and told them that they had picked up a dog with a Green Bay Packer collar and if anyone should call, they had him. We called the next morning and they gave us the information, phone #, etc. The address to pick him up was in the high rent district so out of curiousity I went with husband to pick up the not so bright, but good looking Toby. The caretaker was just going to turn him over to us, but the family wanted to meet us. Turns out that Toby's rescuer was non other than Ben Stiller and family who had just flown over from the mainland for a couple of weeks. So whilst I was crying in my soup Toby was hobnobbing with movie stars, getting treats from the kids, even sleeping in Ben's and Christine's bed. They couldn't have been nicer and more kind.
I was pretty sure that Toby wouldn't have minded staying there.
We have given them visitation rights, and I will be making them a chefwen specialty cheesecake.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Oh! Good catch! To think I've been thinking Alejandro Rey and Aldo Ray were the same person all these years!

@Megan P
I also had 1A TATTOOING and could not let it go, even tho E.R. was on in the background while I was solving last night and they were talking about SPINAL stuff!

Yes, Cat's-eye is a marble...
When I lived in LA I had a dog named Aggie (it also means "baby" in Korean).

@Swedish-sounding Doug
Thank god Rex didn't tap me, as I couldn't solve this fabulous puzzle at all!
Even stuff I knew I didn't know
(like I thought it was ZIEGFIELD with an extra "i", etc.)

Oh yes, I wanted to ask one balked (pun intended) when you used A.L. in the clue for AL KALINE?

I still contend I'm as nerdy as they come, just not a boy.

(insert fabulous Beyonce song "If I were a Boy"...I wish I knew how to embed!)

HudsonHawk 6:13 PM  

@chefwen, thanks for the happy ending and glad that Toby is safe and healthy. Can't wait to tell Ms. HH as she will love the story.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

This puzzle was so hard for me I was proud to get what I got: NW, NE, and SE.

I had an inkling about ziegfeld (or however it's spelled), didn't trust it. No clue about Victoria Falls.

And I still don't get "teal" as a "small dabbler"--I had "store" but erased it.

davko 6:32 PM  

With only the NW corner left, I was cruising toward a "perfect game" (no errors, no overwrites), a rare personal achievement, until I rushed IMPEDE in place of IMPAIR for 3D. Should have taken care of business with the obvious LEAST (19A), which I'd made a mental note of on first glance of the grid.

ArtLvr 6:58 PM  

@ chefwen -- Glad Toby was so lucky, you too! We had a similar story last summer with a cat missing in a vacation area and a departure time to meet -- Checked with all the vets for miles around, and through one we found our missing gentleman ensconced in throne-like splendor surrounded by mounds of tuna, not ten doors away from us. The two families sharing the rental there might not have let him go, except for the spat which had developed among their youngsters over who would get to keep him permanently! We solved that, happily.

Ulrich 7:05 PM  

@chefwen: That is some story! If you would read about it in a novel, you would say: "yea, not in real life!" I also know soemone who will love it.

@anonymous at 6:32: Had to look this up myself b/c I had to rely totally on crosses--2nd meaning for "dabbler" is "freshwater duck"--my word of the day.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

You got that right!

Toby or not Toby! What a tail!!!

Future Tip: in order to appear that you've stayed on topic, you could insert your husband went to the PO to pick up a coil of stamps!

PGubanc 7:50 PM  

Easy!? Oh, Rex....Clearly, I'm a failure. I had to *google* a number of clues. [sigh] In answer to Liquid El Lay, I *hate* to resort to Google-ing, and have rules for what I'm permitted to seek out. Only "concrete" answers, such as names, geographic locations, that kind of thing. And only after staring blankly at too many missing entries for far too long. I love to print out the puzzle and scurry off to a sofa, where I sit, sharpened pencil in paw, surrounded by a few cats.

Bill from NJ 8:09 PM  

@liquid el lay-

Well, as you can see from the reponses you got that, in the words of that old southern comedian Brother Dave Gardner - Everybody to their own kick.

When I came to this blog, I, too, had rigorous "rules" in place but I learned a lot from the various Commenters and came to the general conclusion that This is my puzzle and acted accordingly.

joho 8:34 PM  

chefwen: so happy that Toby is happily home. I am an animal nut and can't bear the thought of them being lost or hurt. I have always liked Ben Stiller and his parents because they seem like such regular people .. it's so nice to know that he and his wife are.

I loved the discussion of this puzzle today ... it was more interesting and at a higher level than usual because the puzzle was, too.

I wonder if tomorrow's will be filled with Valentine's ... ????

foodie 9:52 PM  

By the time I usually get here, most will have been said and the rough spots well described. And I am left with the error that is uniquely mine. Today: The first answer I confidently put in about the origins of Balsamic vinegar: MODENA. It fit, and it seemed like a perfect Friday answer. It took for ever to get the easy stuff. Not only GRAPES but PACKING (something I am doing today and still could not figure out). So, not easy for me either.

@chefwen, I love a tail with a happy ending!

@NDE, I have the same thought about the AL KALINE combo, but doesn't seem to have hurt. Maybe it even helped (a la "A Boy Named Sue").

@ william e emba, your story and Ulrich's comment, reminded me of the definition of serendipity: "looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer's daughter"

mac 9:59 PM  

@acme: Today I had a conversation with a girl who just adores her two new kittens (who are, at 3 months, 15 lbs apiece) and who told me that, when she has them in the car to go to the hairdresser's, they really hate it when Beyonce sings! I'm not sure I would recognize it.... Those cats are way ahead of me.

For Valentine's I'm cooking my husband one of his favorites: spaghetti with clam sauce, with lots of garlic, hot peppers, parsley and both canned (for the juice) and fresh clams.

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

Al Kaline was one of my first answers -- I've known about him for decades and never once thought about the chemical aspect of his name...

Glad to be able to do this puzzle after struggling (unsuccessfully so far) with the the 6 by 6 kenken. Perhaps I should stick to my well-developed crossword brain...

PlantieBea 10:30 PM  

Wow, I started this last night thinking it would be easy, and could only finish it tonight after lots of staring. I'm visiting family on the island of Captiva, and had help with the last word, PAEAN. But no googling, whew. Sometimes I wonder if long solve times are worth no googling.

foodie 12:26 AM  

@Opus 2, I forgot to say that I was very happy to hear about the iphone version arriving. I was envious of my kids who use BB's because I knew one could get the NYTimes on them. I hope it gets released soon!

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Blue Stater ...
Even's counterpart (MORN) is a terrible clue. Even is not poetic ... it's archaic.
Unfair and unjustified.

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

100% with no hints of any kind today!!!! Aside from that super-easy Saturday a couple weeks back, this is my first late-week perfect solve!

And it feels even better given the unfamiliar subject matter in many of the clues and answers.* 16, 23, 39, 41, and 51 Across; and 2, 10, 24, 25, 34, and 35 Down were all brand-new for me. Additionally, many of the 3- and 4-letter answers were very reluctant to reveal themselves to me, especially 27 Across and 7 and 57 Down.

But the real trouble was the area from the AGGIEs' home in Goodwell, Oklahoma down to the X in Texas. It absolutely drove me insane. I knew my answers were correct in the surrounding regions, but when I became convinced that GALAXY had to fit in there somewhere it started making even less sense.

I moved to other areas, and through some great guesses** and more head-scratching I was able to tackle the NE. With that confidence boost, the Lone Star State and the Louisiana Purchase were mine. A quick jaunt up the Oregon Trail was all that was left.

And that's how the west was won.

*Major props to Doug Peterson. I loved it.
**ZIEGFELD..., ZIMBABWE, IDEOGRAM, AMPLITUDE, and ALKALINE (like the battery!) were all first-glance gimmes. All the 6-letter words in the corners, with the exception of POMELO, were in after just a couple letters were revealed. You and I, Doug, we're on the same wavelength.

liquid el lay 3:24 AM  

Thank you All, who might read this, for your responses to my questions.

Dear Anne, I'm not putting you on. I am sincere (for instance) when I say pencils bug me- I don't like them; and also sincere about wondering about the environment in which you all solve the puzzle.

I just like using pen on paper. I enjoy that. And although I can solve without help, I enjoy sharing, too. It's fun to bring people in. And, it's nice to have a place and time for this activity- a sort of routine.

And that's what got me to my questions- The environment, the circumstances of when and where and how are significant to my pleasure in the solving- and I got to wondering about others experiences in this regard.

Thanks again.

liquid el lay 4:03 AM  

I had an unexpected head start today because I saw the answer SPINALTAP when I made the early post to ask about everyone's solving habits.

I had no problem getting the NW and the SE.

The other corners took some time.

The bartender wanted to help so I gave him the '55 hitter. He didn't know it. There's a bartender's question so I gave him that. He thought PEACH.

I struggled in the SW with ZAMBIBIA or something weird like that.. the crosswords, very slow in coming, eventually had me see ZIMBABWE.

In the NE PEACH was wrong (would have worked in the SE, down around georgia, but not up there) APPLE was right.

This was a hard one for me.
Words I had to fill completely by crosses:


SHALOM isn't an american word, so I wondered at the cluing

TAU I thought was clever

and GRAPES bugged me because balsamic seems arbitarily specific.

had BONUS for BRAVO for a while

wanted IDEOGLPH for IDEOGRAM forgetting about the Y, and it probably means carved in stone, anyway.. but you're trying to make things fit

but my favorite was the sublimly clued EMOTE. "Act" works, "Act professionally" turns it; but turns it to the same answer!

liquid el lay 4:18 AM  

meant to say- "Act unprofessionally" turns it to the same answer!

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Difficult puzzle, had to google and haven't had problems on Friday puzzles for a long time.

Got lower half, hard to get upper half.

Spent lots of time staring at it.

Kathy D.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Funny thing about puzzles. I can usually do Fridays with little diffuculty, sat with more difficulty. This friday was IMPOSSIBLE for me so I was shocked to see it rated "easy" -- I almost never visit this site, but I wanted to see what this puzzle was rated(I expected IMPOSSIBLE). Ha ha, my bad luck. I think sometimes the force is just not with me, but even when looking at the solutions, I still can't say "oh, i would have known that" because I wouldn't've. Live and learn.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Had dinner with Al Kaline back in the 70's. A true gentleman Al. golfballman.

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