FRIDAY, Feb. 20, 2009 - P Gamache (2003 memoir of a TV executive / Big Daddy player on 1950s Broadway / Decoy accompanier)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RAREE (36A: Street show) - this word is not in the Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary. Not on its own, at any rate. The term is "RAREE-show" (the entire first page of Google search returns for "RAREE" reveals the same thing). Definition: "1. a show carried about in a box: PEEP SHOW, 2. a cheap street show: CARNIVAL"

A very doable puzzle, but one that threw tacks in my way at every turn. I haven't seen a puzzle with so many answers, especially big answers, that I'd simply never heard of before:

  • 1A: Aids in artful deception (weasel words) - not a phrase in my vocabulary. Took me forever to see it, mainly because I had -RIT and still couldn't see WRIT (1D: Bailiff's concern). I don't think I knew WRITs had anything to do with bailiffs.
  • 6D: Square, in 1950s slang, indicated visually by a two-hand gesture (L-seven) - Not alive in 50s. Never, ever heard of this (though I can visualize it, which is nice). There is a girl band from the 90s called L7. I can't believe this phrase is the inspiration for their name . . . and yet, it's' true. Wikipedia!

The band took its name from a 1950s slang phrase meaning "square," but is often mistaken as a reference to the sex position, "69". The slang phrase "L7" can be heard in the classic Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs song "Wooly Bully" ("Let's not be L7, come and learn to dance..."), and in the Rick James song "Bustin' Out" ("L7- just a little too damn straight...").

  • 26D: Extension of the terms of a marine insurance policy (shore cover) - "marine insurance policy?" I couldn't even imagine what that phrase meant, let alone what the answer to the clue could be.
  • 20A: Big Daddy player on 1950s Broadway (Ives) - no idea. None. Burl IVES? Actually, yes. And here I thought he was just a chubby avuncular crooner of songs of yore.
  • 25D: Measure of a newborn's health, named for its developer (Apgar Score) - Again, no clue. Just ... none. I had up to -GAR SCORE and was hoping to discover that legendary comics artist E.C. SEGAR had secondary career as a studier of newborns. The "P" in APGAR was the very last letter I filled in. PHIAL (29A: _____ of Galadriel (gift to Frodo Baggins))!!? Really? That's a thing I'm supposed to know. Well, I knew PHIAL was a word, and that was enough.
  • 13D: Big Apple excursion operation (Circle Line) - a gimme if you live in NYC, I'm guessing, but I needed many, many crosses to make it inferrrable. My big problem, solving-time-wise, was having NSA for CIA for a very, very long time (16A: Org. in the 1982 film "Enigma"). I know a song called "Circle Line," but I don't know who sings it ... aha, Rodney Allen. Any music/video? Let me see ... nope. But here's a completely unrelated song I found while noodling around at lastfm. It has a great title.

  • 45D: _____ Rivera, Calif. (Pico) - usually nail the Calif. place names. Not today.
  • 52A: Loch _____, on the River Shannon (Ree) - Not to be confused with the RAREE.
  • 34A: Year of the last known Roman gladiator competition (CDIV) - now That's how you clue a random Roman numeral. More inferrable than I thought, actually, since Rome's fall is traditionally dated to 476 (making a 5c. date guess a good one). I was not thinking so clearly when I actually solved this, so vague knowledge of Roman history helped not at all.

Fridays rarely smack me around like this. Oh, there are usually a few smacks, but this one was unrelenting. But, thankfully, they were smacks and not full-fledged punches, and so, slightly achy and red about the head and shoulders, I finished the puzzle.

Along the way, there was some joy. KISS MY GRITS! (49A: 1970s-'80s sitcom put-down/catchphrase - that clue was really hard to type). Who doesn't love Flo? And grits? Actually, I don't think I've ever had grits. Closest I ever got was, let's say, Cream of Wheat. I own many a Mike SHAYNE novel (40D: Private detective Mike of Brett Halliday novels), so it was nice to see him today - also nice to get any answer easily today. Usually my favorite answers of the day are among the long answers, but today it's the rotationally symmetrical pair of DUCK CALL (10D: Decoy accompanier) and TAX EXILE (33D: Wealthy Cayman Islands resident, maybe). There's something quirky and charming about both of them - which I guess I'd say about any answer with two Xs in it. I also have a certain admiration for the poetic-sounding stacking of

KLATCH (21A: Gabfest)
SCUTTLE (24A: Sink)
SHANTIES (28A: Crude dwellings)

AS A MAN seemed a bit forced (25A: How Viola is disguised in "Twelfth Night"), as did I MAY (23D: Words after "if" or before "as well"). "I MAY as well?" The "MAY as well" part hangs together, but the pronoun is arbitrary. A WALK, while fine, had an annoyingly vague clue: 30A: Go for _____. The real down side of the puzzle, one that is somewhat excusable in puzzles with four blocks of long answers, is the abundance of abbrevs: AGCY, ORS, SCH, ELO, CIA, SSNS, RMS, PSS, RIT (39D: Slowing, in mus.), BSMT. Real estate ad abbrevs. are among my most hated of abbrevs., so seeing two today was no joy.


  • 33A: Antigen attacker (T cell) - a gimme that helped me reboot the puzzle in the center after I'd died in both top corners.
  • 37A: 2003 memoir of a TV executive ("Roone") - Arledge. Former chairman of ABC News. Died in '02.
  • 44A: Switch (beat) - is this a verb? As in "go get me a switch so I can BEAT you, son."
  • 53A: Recyclable (aluminum can) - cute. It's a noun, not an adjective.
  • 2D: Strauss's "_____ Nacht in Venedig" ("Eine") - a gimme. Weird, as I know almost no German and have never heard of this Strauss piece. Must be German or "One Night in Bangkok"

  • 4D: "The Tudors" airer, briefly (SHO) - gimme, though I've never seen it. You'd think that frequently teaching Renaissance literature would make me desperate to see it, and yet ... no.
  • 11D: Cave (spelunk) - a verb?
  • 12D: Pet with short legs and a hard coat, informally (Scottie Dog) - went looking for something in an armadillo.
  • 24D: Slate, originally (shale) - wanted something to do with EMAGs.
  • 34D: Juniper product (cone) - I had SLOE, which makes no sense, and yet kind of does.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS The "Chicago Tribune" published a little article yesterday about this blog.


Jeffrey 7:49 AM  

Well I'm glad you saw it as challenging. I saw it as "maybe I should cancel my tournament reservation". A complete wipeout in the SW and NE and trouble in the NW. Never heard of CIRCLE LINE (tried LITTLE LINE) had VALUES OVER??? for HASHES OVER. APGAR SCORE? I tried ADDAR SCALE. SEA RECOVER for SHORE COVER. And so on.

I am tempted to shout "Paula, KISS MY GRITS!"

I'M OK for I MAY. But I'm not OK after this one. Just a lot of INCOHERENCE.

On a positive note, I got (and liked) TAX EXILE, KISS MY GRITS and SCOTTIE DOG.

Not a bad puzzle, once you see the solution. Just a disastrous day on my end. Constructor 1, Crosscan 0.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Having recently popped out a baby, APGAR SCORE was one of my only gimmes! I've been doing the NYTimes crossword every day for about a year now, and I still dread Friday (and Saturday) puzzles. I found this one easier than some, though I still needed a little help to get it completely done.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

This one left my cortex in a state of incoherence. Got it all but with beaucoup googling. I agree there's a warning here to tournament goers. Is it too late to cancel?

Megan P 8:27 AM  

I too was gratified to see the "challenging" assessment. All went well for me (this means I got the rest in under 30 minutes - not exactly "going well" for Rex, I know) until I got to those 3 long phrases in the lower right. Almost drowned in the South China Sea down there.
You'll get lots of grits recipes, I predict. Go for one with lots of garlic, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Rex, a little typo in your writeup --
You've got Roone Alredge for Roone Arledge.


ArtLvr 8:57 AM  

I'm surprised you didn't mention the spelling of REBEKAH, (unless I missed it). I had Rebecca for quite a while, which slowed the SE solving a bit.

On the other hand, RAREE was a gimme to an xword fan as old as I am, and APGAR SCORE was probably much easier for the parous females here unless you're in a medical field.

KLATCH was especially amusing and gave me the CIRCLE LINE and SCOTTIE DOG in spite of the odd "hard coat" in the latter's clue. I thought A Hog was what was "fit to be tied", why else the phrase hog-tied? -- It turned out to be a pedestrian word, SHOE.

I was after a Mugger who might be backed up, rather than a SINGER right on top of the SHOE! So SHAYNE was my one google, darn it. And the single error I had left at the end was the wrong choice of Pico-paco-poco (whatever) Rivera, in Calif. But I still did a lot better today than I expected at the start!


Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I was expecting the 'artful deception' to be some type of forgery. Very happy for the (to me) gimme of APGAR SCORE, opened up the whole southwest.

The PHIAL of Galadriel was the little glass bottle filled with starlight that the Queen of the Elves in Lothlorien (aka Cate Blanchett) gave to Frodo. He used it to frighten off the giant spider at the end of the second movie (or the beginning of the sixth book if you're a purist).

SCOTTIE DOG sounded weird to me, I thought it was a scottish terrier or a scottie.

Kurt 9:08 AM  

I'm with Doctor Crosscan. This one beat me to death. I got nailed by the APGARSCORE/PHIAL cross. Never heard if either of them. And P seemed like a pretty obscure guess. I went with a G.

In the NW, I had TEASER instead of WEASEL. RSEVEN makes as much sense as LSEVEN. And WRIT never occurred to me, I thought that just maybe TRIB (from tribunal) might be possible.

Constructor 2, Crosscan 0, Kurt 0

imsdave 9:30 AM  

@Kurt - constructor 3


@Crosscan - I had the same thought about the tournament.

Enjoyed my hour working on this one, even with my eventual failure.

Jim Finder 9:32 AM  

Don't bother with "The Tudors," Rex. As with other soft-porn, the history parts are just filler to tie together the scenes where the king and his friends have sex with bimbos. I'm sure you can get better history films elsewhere.

RodeoToad 9:34 AM  

ROONE was my first entry, other than the occasional S-ending, and I was amazed that it turned out to be right. KISS MY GRITS was next, after trying SIT ON IT, POTSIE.

I did most of the puzzle last night and came back to finish up the NW and CA area this morning, but I still wound up with two errors due to guessing Apgar SCALE instead of SCORE. It still looks okay to me--AVI-duct looks as good as OVI-duct, and you can name an Irish river anything you want to as far as I'm concerned.

Grits are definitely worth checking out. There not real common in most of the places I've lived, so I hadn't tried them more than a few times, but now I have them pretty frequently. You can put almost anything in or with them, and their unique consistency makes them adaptable to a lot of . . . shapes, I guess. You can make squares out of them, which is somehow appealing to me. I like eating things you can pick and that are square.

Some people object to Simpsons clues; I object to Tolkien clues. I can't stand that hobbit stuff.

Shamik 9:34 AM  

Medium-challenging for me with one wrong letter which I shall cry Natick! RICO/RSS brought me down. Time was 20:25...and even though it was a tough puzzle...I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Still don't know why a SCOTTIEDOG has a hard coat. But when I was a kid, that's what people called those dogs. CIRCLELINE, APGARSCORE and AIRCARRIER fell nicely. I imagine SHORECOVER means the ship is covered while docked, or in port, or whatever the sea-going world calls it. I can live without ever hearing that shrill KISSMYGRITS. Ever. Ever!

Learned one thing...always thought Murray Head was black. Surprise. And, for some corny reason, I still like the song although the 80's hair-dos can go. And having to endure the entire song to find out the "...Penelope" title. Ugh!

truly wishing I could go to ACPT....

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

A lot not to like in this puzzle. A lot of phrases that are obscure or even non-existent. The worst is SHORE COVER. In the write-up, Rex put -AGE at the end of it, which would make sense. Googling it shows only irrelevant uses, like cover bands at the shore, or a cover of a magazine with Dinah Shore on it. But LSEVEN (practically nothing on Google except for the band and some business names) was pretty out there, too. REBEKAH should have had a (var.) on it, since it's an alternate form. (If the idea was that this spelling is more Biblical, sorry. The original name in Hebrew is RIVKAH.) Lots of other things were rare but fair. I got stuck on APGARSCORE because I wanted -SCALE for a while, but I knew that OVIduct was more likely than AVI-, even on a Fri.

BTW, if you or your spouse ever had a baby, APGAR should be a name you've heard of. Every baby is tested this way at birth.

Too many huhs, in my opinion.

treedweller 9:35 AM  

But, thankfully, they were smacks and not full-fledged punches, and so, slightly achy and red about the head and shoulders, I finished the puzzle.
I had a similar experience, except my nose was broken, I had cuts on both cheeks, my eyes were swollen shut, and I was missing a few teeth.

Even things I sort of knew, I couldn't get. I saw IVES as Big Daddy in the Hollywood version, but it never occurred to me he was also in the Broadway version. I'm a dog person, but I misread the clue as "formally", so I never got close to SCOTTIEDOG. EINE seemed a logical guess, but when I couldn't make it work with any crosses, I took it out.

On the up side, I did manage to dredge up CIRCLELINE, despite only a few visits to NYC. I knew and liked KISSMYGRITS instantly, and also enjoyed KLATCH and SPELUNK.

Constructor 4, Crosscan 0, Kurt 0, imsdave 0, treedweller 0

treedweller 9:39 AM  

I tried "Sit on it, Potsie" first, too.

Orange 9:43 AM  

I liked this puzzle, but it does seem like Saturday fare more than Friday.

ACPT-goers, fear not! The tournament puzzles are mostly easy to medium ones. The only themeless one is the finals puzzle, which only nine finalists grapple with (and only the three in the A division get the killer clues). The only hard puzzle for all contestants is themed puzzle #5, and while it was a killer two years ago (only a few dozen people finished correctly in time), it was a lot easier last year.

Orange 9:44 AM  

@Wade, treedweller: And UPYOURNOSEWITHARUBBERHOSE was way too long.

RodeoToad 9:53 AM  

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Orange?

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

After the absolute pleasure of yesterday's puzzle, today's certainly brought me back to reality. The saving graces were KISSMYGRITS and the fantastic "One Night in Bangkok" video! And you say you don't like musicals....

Jeffrey 10:10 AM  

Darn! Orange was quicker than me at (every crossword ever invented and) UP YOUR NOSE...

However, her memory may not be perfect. Two years ago puzzle #5 was by Merl Reagle and even I solved it. I have repressed the memory of 2008's puzzle #5.

Did I do th-a-a-a-a-t?!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

My Scottish grandfather was once given a RAREE dog as a young man. As puppies, they are the cutest thing in the world, but the grow rapidly to an enormous size. Think cattle here.
Anyway, he loved this dog but it was just too expensive. He tried to give it away, but a dog that eats about 50lbs of food a day, and does nothing of any use is hard to give it away. Everyone in his village new he was desparate to get rid of it. One person suggested just shooting it, but he couldn't do that. He tried to loose the dog in the mountains dozens of times, but the dog always found his way back.
Finally, he broke down and asked the village elders what to do.
The told him the only way to get rid of a RAREE was to rent a dump truck, drive to the White Hills of dover, back the truck up, and dump him over.
Grandpa's Reply: All the way to Dover? That's a long way to tip a RAREE

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Plunged in happily with APGARSCORE, but couldn't get the SW to open up beyond CORTEX. Googled some, plunked in a few nonstarters like EZINE for Slate, NSA; others like ELO which I had no confidence in. Somehow HEATSENSORS and ALUMINUMCAN materialized and...gagh. Wanted something like SMOKEANDMIRRORS, TRAPDOORS? for aids in artful deception. Weasel words? ok. It's Friday. Googling Juniper brought up some corporate software producer so that would be an operating system? no no, a CONE. Right.

Love the 70s/80s phrases!

Mark Murphy 10:34 AM  

Burl IVES also played Big Daddy in the movie version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," which also features Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. The movie shows up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.

Jeffrey 10:37 AM  


My late WWII-vet father would always start to sing "That's a long way to tickle Mary..." and stop because he said we were too young to hear that version of the lyrics. This went on for years. Finally, one day, I asked him how old he was when he learned the song. Around 21, he guessed. Well, I replied, I'm your youngest child and I'm now 22. Aren't we finally old enough?
You are, he said, but after 35 years of avoiding them I've forgotten what they are!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Really Good Grits

1 C Quick-cooking grits (not instant!)

3 C water

1 stick butter

1 C (or more) grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 can diced rotel tomatoes (regular or spicy, depending on your taste), drained

2-3 (or more) cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-3 T fresh snipped chives

Salt to taste

1 cup whole milk (or ½ and ½)

2 eggs

Chili powder, paprika, red pepper

Cook grits according to package directions. Stir to remove any lumps. Remove from heat.

Add butter and cheese and cover until melted. Stir well.

Add tomatoes, garlic, chives and salt. Stir well.

Beat the two eggs into the milk.

Add to grits and stir well.

Pour into 9x13 baking dish.

Dust top with remaining spices.

Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes. Check…continue cooking if it’s not completely set in the middle.

Serve hot.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

A T cell technically doesn't attack an antigen. A T cell antigen is generally just a bit of chopped up protein, so it wouldn't make much sense to attack that. Cytotoxic T cells have receptors specific to an antigen (more specifically, an antigen-MHC I complex) that they use to identify cells that harbor a pathogen, which the T cells then kill. More simply, a T cell uses an antigen to recognize its target, but the target itself is a cell. I had B cell for a long time since, even though not completely correct, (plasma) B cells' main purpose is to secrete antibodies that bind to antigens and either neutralize them or prime the cells harboring them for attack. The clue is a little bit more on target for B cell, IMO.

I've already established over the course of a few years that Shortz tends to elide over the details when it comes to biology (worst cases being the allele fiasco of summer 2008 and the few times he's shortened amino acid to amino, which NO ONE DOES,'s a good clue for amino: "_____ terminus" or "Protein terminus"), so I guess I shouldn't have gotten to technical in my thought process. Still, it would be nice if Shortz would show the same attention to detail to biology as he does to other areas of knowledge.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Not that anyone cares, but here's how sentence 3 in my post above should've read:

"Cytotoxic T cells have receptors specific to an antigen (more specifically, an antigen-MHC I complex) that they use to identify cells that harbor a pathogen, and the T cells then kill the cell harboring the pathogen."

So cytotoxic T cells actually kill (attack, I guess) your own cells. Interestingly, they force attacked cells to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death, or cell suicide if you want), so they're kind of like your body's resident Dr. Kevorkians. There are other subsets of T cells that do different stuff, but we'll cover that as need arises. Thus concludes your daily biology lesson.

Two Ponies 11:09 AM  

Today I felt like a visitor to the alien planet of Gamache.

Ulrich 11:10 AM  

I also want to call "foul" re. the Rebekah spelling--had Rebecca for a while, changed to K's on account of "Kiss..." and then was hopelessly stuck. Only when I finally put in "beat" for switch, which generated "bsmt" at 44D, did the final "h" and the variant spelling become clear.

I also hesitated with "klatch" b/c it's spelled "klatsch" in German, but that's my problem--just one more instance where knowing too much can be a disadvantage (biologists appear to be particularly challenged in this respect).

The "p" of "phial" remained unresolvable since having had a baby could not help me here. In general, I do not like clues/answers in late-week puzzles that are either gimmies for people who know, giving them an "unfair" advantage, or totally unkowns to others, especially if two of them cross.

As to the ACPT, I can only repeat what orange has been saying all along: If you are not competing in the top 100, the only pressure put on you is the one you put there yourself--"Relax and have fun" should be your motto.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:11 AM  

Am I allowed to post today? I GAVE UP!

But here's the song I remembered immediately when I saw 28 A, SHANTIES.

I had put in APGARSCORE for some reason and confidently worked from there through three-quarters of the puzzle. But I had also put in REBECCA as a guess, and couldn't imagine anything else, so the whole SE diagonally from 34A to 56A just wouldn't yield anything. (I had 50 D as PER rather than SUA, 46D as REIN rather than STAR, so even with 47D correct as SSNS and 33D correct as TAXEXILE, there was no way out. Life's too short!

zeitguy 11:12 AM  

I never would have filled out northwest corner. Ever. Wouldn't even want to, now that I see the answers. "LSEVEN" ?

Otherwise a fun challenge.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

The first time I'd heard the term L7 was in Clueless. I had no idea its roots traced back to the 1950's. This puzzle had too many abbvs. and semi-real phrases for my liking, but at least I learned a new factoid.

Kelly Groucutt, the bassist from ELO died today. RIP.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

If that guy in the tub is VIOLA, I'd say they did a great job of disguising her.

To mix generational references:

"TMI on Burl IVES" with that pic!

Tony O.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Never had Grits? Good way to ingest butter and salt. Common in the South. Must cook real, not instant grits.

PuzzleGirl 11:36 AM  

Really enjoyed this one, even though I ended up with an error — APGAR SCALE. I guess Wade and I are on the same wavelength. Of course I already knew that.

Don't like WEASEL WORDS, but since it's Paula and she's fabulous, I'll just let it go.

CIRCLE LINE and L-SEVEN were gimmes for me and I did enter APGAR SCALE with no crosses (at least I was half right!). I don't recall ever learning that term when my son was born, but my daughter was born at home (not on purpose) and the EMTs had a cheat sheet to help them determine that number, which I recall was very important to them. (Me, I was just happy they were there.)

joho 11:36 AM  

I wanted "Stifle yourself" but, of course, it didn't fit.

I started out quickly with CIRCLELINE and SCOTTIEDOG and then slogged from then on. I got most everything but became hopelessly lost after writing in Rebecca .. and then I stopped caring what the 70's/80's phrase was, what was recyclable and what components of alarms might be.

I didn't care, which is really the worst thing I can say about a puzzle.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Having been alive in the fifties didn't help.

jeff in chicago 11:40 AM  

Well...someone has a man-crush on Burl Ives. This is a bromance I would not have predicted.

This was a toughie for me, but I managed to push through. I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies, but I got APGARSCORE because some local attorney here is running an ad on TV every 5 minutes wanting to sue every doctor involved in a birth with "low Apgar scores."

And SHORECOVER is just made up. It Googles badly, with lots of "She did a Dinah Shore cover on the album..." stuff. Didn't like that one bit.

When I think SCOTTIEDOG I think Australia. Let me explain. Look at a map of Australia. That continent is shaped like a Scottie dog looking west. Seriously. It's amazingly detailed. You can see his ears, his bushy eyebrows, his squarish nose, even his furry chin. Google "Australia" and look at that map on the right. You will see a Scotty dog looking west. And you'll see it for the rest of your life.

jeff in chicago 11:41 AM  

oops...I meant look at the Wikipedia map of Australia. But any map will do. It's a Scottie dog I tell you!!!

JHHESQ 11:45 AM  

Did no one have CHOSENWORDS for 1A? I felt the cluing as "artful" lent itself better to a more cerebreal form of double-talk, rather than WEASELWORDS which is more dastardly and malicious.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

This is one of those puzzles that eventually wears me out enough to where I simply give up. Then when I look at the answers, I wish I hadn't wasted as much time struggling with is as I did. Some of those answers are so obscure that I would have never gotten them.

I think I like tricky Friday puzzles best when you have to figure out something relatively common by deciphering clever clues. They can be hard, but more creative. Sometimes I think constructors just go through a dictionary and find bizarre references with the ultimate hope that most people won't solve their puzzles. Yay! I'm a constructer! I beat you! That'll teach ya to try my puzzles again! Hoo-yah!

Kurt 11:57 AM  

@Jeff in Chicago

By golly, you're right. Australia is a Scottie dog. And I will undoubtedly see it for the rest of my life too.

There's a great Saturday clue in there somewhere!

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

When you "go for" BROKE, remembering your aunt REBECA, and you used to own a SCOTTIE, this puzzle should be rated "VICIOUS". A new to denote those puzzles you will never get, even with the answer grid in front of you.

Thrown in the lack of "---age" in 26D, and this puzzle becomes totally 32A.

edith b 12:01 PM  

This is the most difficult Friday I have ever done. I guess I'm realy thick where Ms Gamache is concerned because I had problems with a Sunday puzzle of hers before Christmas last year.

Every corner was a struggle particularly the SW which, ironically enough, is where I got my foothold or maybe I should say toehold, turning the Shakespearean ASAMAN and most of the short acrosses from chaff into gold even though I didn't understand what I had when I finally got it.

Most of my neons were in Flyover country which I bled into, North and South,from the SW. The IMAY/ICED cross got me started in the NW as I moved North from the TEY IVES KLATCH line.

I eventually solved the SE in a pincers movement, getting REBEKAH and SSNS and squeezing out KISSMYGRITS through Mike SHAYNE.

RIOTGUN was a most fortuitous guess as it got me SCOTTIEDOG and being a native New-Yawkah, CIRCLELINE, which led to the end of this puzzle which took me about an hour and a half.

As I find Friday and Saturday puzzles the most challenging and therefore the most fun, I like to write about them the most. I don't have much to say during the week but I dearly love my Fridays and Saturdays.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Is it too much to ask for real words and expressions to be used as answers?

Orange 12:09 PM  

Hereinfranklin's grits recipe sounds terrible. It has no beets in it at all.

Three and out.

SethG 12:18 PM  

Paula is fabulous; today, SethG was not.

I don't like the abbreviations, I don't like the generic fill-in-the-blanks, I don't like the long stuff I would never use, I really don't like the horrible clue for REAR EXIT.

I might have learned APGAR from Atul Gawande here. Kinda long, but Gawande rocks.

No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

First word I got in this (after 30 minutes of poring) was RAREE. It was all downhill from there. I came of age in the 50s, and though I've been (rightly) accused of being out of it wrt contemporary popcult, I was into it then, and never, never once, never ever, heard of "L7" as a synonym for "square." This is the kind of puzzle -- as they increasingly are, these days -- that makes me think seriously about giving up the NYT's puzzles once and for all after more than fifty-plus years of doing them.

Doug 1:17 PM  

After 4 kids, and seeing the OBGYN do the tests, APGAR was a gimmee.

I might have to flag this site to Google for the lewd pic of Burl IVES. John/Yoko were fine, but I haven't seen something like that since the Shelley Winters Playboy spread.

Got clobbered, see the above above 47 comments for all the reasons...

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Blue Stater: This is exactly what I was getting at in my previous post. I see an increasing amount of basically "who could possibly know this" answers. I understand that many answers need to be arrived at through the crosses, but when you DO fill in those blanks, it's nice to have an answer that is remotely understandable. Maybe one that makes you say, "oh yeah! Now I get it!" Today's puzzle represents nothing more than tedium. It's a puzzle: there should be a certain amount of fun and enjoyment to it!

janie 1:36 PM  

juniper signaled SLOE for me, too. here's some dictionary support for *that* misdirection.

one tough friday!!


Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Why do I NOT know something at 8:00and then know it at 9:00? I started this puzzle as I generally do at 8 and then came back about every hour and ran through it again, adding a few answers each time. It took a long time to even get a foothold in the middle with acrid. It was incredibly hard and I ended with two errors - phial and tey. I am getting more and more resistant to googling. I'm not sure why. I feel as if I'm cheating. For some reason, I can use the dictionary. Go figure. Anyway, I am Southern and I love grits. I never cook them at home but I always get them when we go out for one of those down home breakfasts that I have no business eating but love anyway because that's how my mother cooked.

Margaret 1:49 PM  

This puzzle absolutely bludgeoned me. One of the only gimmes in it for me, the Tolkien freak, was the LIGHT of Galadrial. Oops. Guess my freak isn't what it used to be. I was so certain LIGHT was right that I took out the actually correct AS A MAN. But that didn't really matter because there were too many other things that eluded me that I wouldn't have finished anyway.

Rex, chances are you *have* had grits, it was just called polenta. It's basically the same thing. The grind is a little coarser with grits (@ Seth G., as a self-respecting southerner I only use stone ground grits). You can get hominy grits (as opposed to corn grits) which is more like a first cousin than a sibling to polenta. But it's all corn meal mush.

Sue 2:02 PM  

The only gift I could remember Frodo getting was that chain mail that glowed when an orc was near--so, ARMOR instead of PHIAL messed me up for quite a while.
And, I thought PSS was definitely a mistake, knowing that a second PS is a PPS....but I guess the reference is for several PS(S)....sigh...

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

1a WEASEL WORDS about sums it up for me. I liked the puzzle, but I fell for the oldest trick in the book. Couldn't think that Aids in the clue could be a noun. :-(

had C DRIVE for 40A until the crosses said no. 30A was BROKE and A RIDE until the crosses said A WALK.

@ BLUE STATER - I am of the 50s too and NEVER heard L SEVEN - it didn't even make sense until I Googled it.

But my one gripe is 35A ARC. Why an arc is a plot line I do not understand. It is a segment of a circle or other smooth curve. You might try a regression (straight) line, or a spline fit, or a lot of other things, but I have NEVER seen anything fitted to an arc.

PlantieBea 2:21 PM  

Tough, tough, tough. I got this thing solved, but the process wasn't pretty. Apgar, Cone, T-cell were in my first pass. In the end, I had to look up a few in the SE to get a foothold there, but it sure took lots of staring and guessing to finish this, even with the items that were googleable. Kiss my grits? Just plain old nasty answer. And I do like grits--try fried garlic cheese grits with the leftovers from hereinfranklin.

JannieB 2:26 PM  

This puzzle took a long time, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Managed to finish without googling and enjoyed the struggle. I agree there were too many abbreviations, Rebekah should come with a var warning, and shore cover??? But somehow it all came together for me.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

OK, at the risk of showing my total dorkness, let me say that the Phial of Galadriel was the FIRST clue I filled in today. Karen - to be technical (and I know I am showing my dorkiness here) - the scene with Shelob was near the end of the 4th book (2nd book of the Two Towers) or nearly halfway through the 3rd movie. I could go into how the Phial embodied the light and beauty of the Simirails and the light of the Two Trees of Valinor but that would REALLY bore everyone.

To redeem myself - little bit of trivia. Rick James was in a band very early in his career called the Myna Birds with another very famous artist - Neil Young. Probably will be usefull someday.

chefbea 2:38 PM  

Worst Friday puzzle I can remember. Knew raree right away. Havent seen that word for a while. Googled a bit and then gave up and came here.

I'm from the 50's era and never heard of L seven

@hereinfranklin - sounds like a great recipe. I love grits but I'm with Orange - add the beets.

HudsonHawk 2:45 PM  

@RetiredChemist, replace "plot" with "story" and it will make more sense to you.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

When I went to school in southern Indiana we used to go caving fairly often. The verb 'cave' means the same as 'spelunk'. It is probably used most often as a present participle (or gerund) but it can appear in other forms as well, though context will need to do some work to keep the meaning clear. (One is more likely to hear "We went caving" than "We caved.")

deerfencer 2:55 PM  

Took one look at the clues and walked. Picked up Friday's WSJ puzzle and had a grand old time instead. Some days the brain strain just aint worth it, especially first thing in the morning.

joho 3:15 PM  

The more I read everybody's comments the more I realize why I didn't like this puzzle ... or, as I said before, I just didn't care. It wasn't fun. Challenging by far. But the fun factor was absent. I admire Paul Gamache immensely but I never want to have to be a solving situation that leaves me feeling beaten and bruised rather than exhilarated and amused. Now yesterday's puzzle did that in spades!

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

born 1959...
LSEVEN was my first and initially ONLY answer!
As a non-breeder, had-to-prop-my-eyes-open-with-a-toothpick viewer of "Lord of the Rings" the P in APGAR was last...

Like Jannie B, struggled thru...and too tired to tell if I am happy about it or not.
I think it took more than a half an hour. Not a fan of SO many abrvs.

Maybe this puzzle killed Kelly.
How would you like to be summed up by "If you Leave me now"?

Unknown 3:26 PM  

I have been away from Philly and the crosswords for a week. Should have stayed away...or maybe as someone mentioned above, I landed on the planet Gamache and haven't learned how to communicate. I like reading about the answers. Tomorrow if we aren't writing about how it is easier than yesterday's puzzle, we will be in new territory. I wouldn't worry about the ACPT though. Paula is only doing four of the puzzles...;)

TDavis 3:34 PM  

When I saw Paul McCartney in concert a few years ago he played one of my favorite B-Sides: "C-Moon". It includes the lyrics "Don't want to be L-Seven/Or I'll never get to Heaven".
I've loved that song for years without ever understanding the title. Paul graciously explained that "C-Moon" was the opposite of "L-Seven". "L" + "7" = Square.
"C" + "(Crescent) Moon" = Circle!

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

I know I know I have to learn to embed, but did you all see this article in Wired about Young Tyler?

Paula's puzzle was sort of like a date that ends with a slap!
I've got some stories to repeat!

edith b 4:01 PM  

I guess I am different from a significant number of Commenters today. I saw this puzzle as challenging in the extreme but ultimately doable.

There certainly was enough "meat" to chew on to lead to a solve IF YOU ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE.

For the record, there was a lot I didn't know, including LSEVEN, but I was able to puzzle it out from the crosses.

In my previous post, I said how the SW corner was full of things I did not know but was able to puzzle out.

I'm certainly not trying to say how smart I am. I just persevered.

( I thin I'm in trouble.)

retired_chemist 4:04 PM  

@ Hudson Hawk - OK, after googling story arc I get it, but nothing in my life would have led me to that connection absent google or kind tutors such as you. It's even more foreign to me than L 7, which [@ACME, Tim et al.] I think must have been a coastal term (east, west, both?) because I believe it was NOT used in the heartland. Not my part of the heartland anyway...

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Thought this was a bear. Struggled in the ne because I had oss instead of cia. Didn't think the cia, which was est. in late 40's had anything to do with the enigma...I haven't seen the movie it must be something in the movie story line. Also I didn't care for the pico pss cross. I had oath for 1 down and it stymied that area for a log time...why is a writ a bailiff's concern? anyone J

retired_chemist 4:11 PM  

@ edith b -

Sure you're smart, as well as tenacious. You figured out a toughie. I'd wager that ALL the posters to this blog are quite smart.

FWIW I felt like you after I had finished. It was a lot of fun but it did take a lot of effort from me to finish it.

archaeoprof 4:14 PM  

@chefbea and Orange: here in SC you can put whatever you want in your grits. I find I solve better after a breakfast that includes grits.

chefwen 4:19 PM  

Got an email from one of my neighbors a couple days ago. She said that she made my chocolate souffle recipe and her daughter Rebekah esp. enjoyed it. That was my only gimme, googled a couple of things, also knew raree for some obscure reason, but I too gave up early in the game. Hopeful that Saturday will be a tad bit easier, probably not but one should always be hopeful.

jae 4:25 PM  

I liked this one and it was medium (SW/NE)-challenging (NW/SE) for me also. APGAR was a gimme as I was there when my grandkids were born but I did have SCALE at first (AVI just looked wrong). I also made the REBECCA error which made SE very tough. I walked away from it for a couple of hours after getting everything except SE. Thought of PICO in the interval which helped a lot. Never heard of SHAYNE or LSEVEN (I was a kid in the heartland in the 50s) both of which I needed all the crosses for.

I'm with edith b on perseverance, but you've got to be able/willing to invest the time.

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

I don't really keep track of constructors, but Paula Gamache is a name I'll remember in the future...and to avoid her puzzles at all cost!

This has to be the worst puzzle in a long time. I hate puzzles that try their darndest to make me feel inferior. I'd like to think I'm not so dumb, but there wasn't anything really fun about this one. I'm glad I didn't spend any more time on it than I did.


Doug 4:39 PM  

I almost gave up twice, but by banging my head against the table loosened enough random neurons to make the connections. APGAR was easy (3 kids) but INCOHERENCE was a problem (I had INELOQUENCE) for quite a while. Good ol' Burl IVES actually helped. Though I never saw him perform, I had a black and white photo of him in the role stuck in the recesses of my CORTEX.
As an occasional puzzler, this level of difficulty usually leaves me Googling, but today... Today I am a man.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Wow, some real harsh words for the puzzle (and constructor and editor) on this blog.

I just did a little tour around the crossword blogs and noticed that everybody is so polite and complimentary on Wordplay, a little more technical (perhaps) on the Orange blog, and no-holds-barred here at Rex's. Why is that? Is this the place to vent? I wonder.


Kurisu 4:54 PM  

Am I the only one who had ERS instead of ORS for the gown-wearing place? That made the dog impossible to get.

I had APGARSCALE; I didn't even realize it was wrong until I read the comments here (AVIDUCT and LOCH REE both seemed plausible to me).

foodie 5:01 PM  

I have mixed feelings about this one. In terms of solving, I tore through the Oregon/California region and through the center and then came to a screeching halt. The North killed me.

But my inadequacies aside, after the fact I find some elements great (that KLATCH,SCUTTLE, SHANTIES stack that Rex admired) and others lacking (e.g. the stack of random 3 letter abbreviations in the NE). But also the cluing was annoying as pointed out by many, and that sucked the joy out of the puzzle.

Finally, I agree with @ a dork re the biology cluing. TCELL is not quite right. And CORTEX clued as "Center of Learning" is not quite right either. I will spare you the GORY details, but WS may be could use a good biology consultant?

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Should I use fresh beets or pickled in the grits? :)

Two Ponies 5:21 PM  

When it comes to nitpicking technical clues/answers I always ask myself "Did the small inaccurancy prevent me from knowing or guessing the answer?" If the answer in No then I just move on.

Bill from NJ 5:21 PM  

Jeez, my dad owned that very Burl Ives album. There was a sliver of time when Ives was a big deal on Broadway and the movies and in popular music. Then he sort of disappeared. Or died. Or something.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

L7 was still a hot term in the 60's as well as the 50's. It was the only thing that got me going in the NW corner. I thought this puzzle was HARD, meaning any puzzle I can't finish in 2 hours.

FaithdoesAsia 5:31 PM  

I kinda liked you better as "Rex" than as Michael, the English teacher, says the rather mundane English teacher herself...

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

To continue on the Tolkein commentary: @spyguy, I realized my mistake about a half hour after posting it; I remembered the movies handled the split between the 2nd and 3rd sections differently than the books, and messed up which was which. I applaud you for your geekiness!
@sue, Frodo was given the sword Sting which glowed around orcs, and the mithril armor (which didn't glow), from his uncle Bilbo. But I can see your reasoning.

non-Tolkein, blog-on-blog commentary: @JohnG, the difference may be the tone of the original blogs. Orange and Jim seem to concentrate on the more positive aspects of the puzzle, Rex (and many of the commenters) look more at the pitfalls and their own knowledge gaps. They all have their uses; to me, Rex's blog is more entertaining, but I like snark.

Bill from NJ 6:12 PM  

Brava Karen!

Here in Philly, we call it atty-tude and it is why I like it here.

And I tend to find that my knowledge gaps get filled here rather than the other way around.

foodie 6:12 PM  

@Two Ponies, I agree with you that there is no point to nitpicking just for the sake of it. But slightly incorrect cluing does get in the way of solving if you know an area well (e.g. it certainly slowed me down today). More importantly, it spreads that misleading information. I for one learn a great deal from solving the puzzle in areas I know little about. I feel that if a solver came away from this puzzle thinking that the CORTEX is the learning center, they would have acquired incorrect information. A slight rephrasing (e.g. adding an "A" to Center of Learning) would not be hard. And I also think that science deserves that level of precision as much as the arts, food, sports or comics.

Shamik 6:48 PM  

Jimmy D, Jimmy many have been beaten up by the puzzle today. Do not choose to feel inferior.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Shamik: I don't really feel inferior. But I'll bet the constructor is having a good laugh at us suckers!


Orange 7:08 PM  

Popping back in with a fourth and final comment to say two things:

1. I don't actually advocate adding beets to anything. I was being snarky. (One exception: If you're having mashed potatoes and there are beets on the table, take one little diced piece and mash it into your spuds to make them a lovely shade of pink. You won't even taste the beet at all...which is pretty much as it should be.)

2. I really enjoyed this puzzle. I do tend to enjoy the tougher themelesses the most.

Unknown 7:51 PM  

I had SAUSAGEDOG until the last possible moment. I never even considered it could be wrong! Is that even a thing in the US?
For some reason I managed the SW corner fairly quickly, and I also knew LSEVEN because I have McCartney's 'C Moon' on a compilation DVD.
I was only about half-way finished when I turned to google, which is pretty bad for me. Never heard of 'KISSMYGRITS', 'ROONE', 'CIRCLELINE', 'RAREE', 'SHAYNE', etc etc.
Once I'd found a couple of those I managed to finish and thought the puzzle was quite fun. Sort of.

Two Ponies 7:52 PM  

@ foodie, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I do learn many things from this puzzle but do not take it as a reference tool as much as an entertainment. I guess that any dabbling in a technical or scientific topic is bound to bring out the devotees of that specialty. It's all good and I am always delighted to hear from all of focused fans of the puzzle. The Tolkein fans today are a good example. I ate those books and movies up but never in a million years could spout the knowledge we have read today.

Ulrich 8:13 PM  

@foodie: I applaud your altruism, even if I cannot match it. For you, an off clue is worse for the misinformation it is spreading than for the problem it poses for the expert. Being not an altruist, it's the other way around for me--I hate it when an off clue slows me down, especially in a puzzle that gives me fits to begin with. In fact, bitching about off clues in connection with German answers was the original motivation for me to pipe up here.

BTW The situation in this particular regard has improved since, no doubt as a result of my bitching:-)

Howard B 8:18 PM  

A little late to the show here, just wanted to say not to feel bad at all.

This puzzle smacked me around like one of those weighted inflatable kiddie punching bags... as soon as I got through one difficult word, I'd pop back up, ready for the next, then Splat!(or choose your own Batman effect) SHORE COVER or some other esoterica would blindside me.

It didn't help that I initially decided to go with IN DRAG istead of AS A MAN, getting the concept right but unfortunately not the gender(s). It was just one of those puzzles.

Time to dust ourselves off and take on Saturday, right?

Doc John 8:23 PM  

I'm with Foodie and A Dork on the T/B cell thing. I had B in that square for the longest time but had a feeling they really meant T, knowing that the NYT hasn't got the best track record in that field. And CORTEX is, like, the opposite of center. (And if you want to use "center" as in "area of locality", there are many such "centers" in the cerebral cortex.) All it would have taken was a question mark to make this clue almost workable. At least they got APGAR SCORE right!

Another mis-step for me was "swell" for SWEET. Fortunately, a re-think on that gave me RAREE.

Burl IVES also played Big Daddy in the movie version.

Last fill was WEASEL WORDS. Can't imagine why I couldn't get that one right away!

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

Even though its late I have to chime in because this puzzle really pissed me off. Obscure references (phial? Tey? Ree? raree? sua? lseven?) and a ton of vague clues and abbrs. made this very frustrating.

Now Fridays Im Google-free only 33% of time, so I expect to struggle.

But one of the few answers that I knew today, and with absolute certainty: REBECCA!


Take this one and shove it in the rear exit.

----> Joe in NYC

Greene 8:52 PM  

@Bill in NJ: Ah, an arcane Broadway clue...just what it takes to draw me out of lurker status. I wouldn't say that Burl Ives was ever a "big deal" on Broadway, but he did work fairly steadily in the 1950s, mostly in supporting musical roles. His biggest success came (oddly, in a straight dramatic part) as Big Daddy in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1955), a role which was well suited to his status as a minor celebrity. Big Daddy is a supporting character who basically dominates the second act of Cat and chews a fair amount of scenery, but is reduced to offstage moans and death from cancer in the third act. If you cast too big a celebrity in this part, it shifts the dramatic focus off leads Brick and Maggie and the whole show gets thrown off kilter.

This is pretty much what happened when James Earl Jones was cast as Big Daddy in the recent Broadway revival of Cat (2008). He sizzled, crackled, and completely dominated the proceedings, through no fault of his own (he's Darth Vader for heaven's sake!), in a way that ultimately did not benefit the play. As one might expect, audiences lost interest in Brick and Maggie's plight because they kept hoping Big Daddy would reappear and ignite the flagging third act.

@Edith B: I agree with your assessment of this puzzle as tough, but ultimately doable. I thought there was much to enjoy despite the difficulty involved. Gamache has lost none of her luster in my eyes.

And a word about The Tudors, or as I like to call it The Sexy Tudors: Has there ever been a more libidinous television program? It is little more than an excuse for a cast of extremely attractive actors clad (and often unclad) in stunning costumes to freely copulate and kill one another as they merrily go about the business of rewriting English history. It is indecent! It is an outrage! It is...alas, one of my guiltiest pleasures.

SethG 8:53 PM  

So I actually like beets, and eat them not infrequently. (I never seem to discuss them, though, except here for some reason.)

And grits aren't bad, or polenta, ugali, posho or the like.

I would never even think about putting beets in my grits for any reason other than that which Orange mentioned.

And time hasn't improved my feelings for this puzzle. It was not fun.

mac 9:32 PM  

Do you have any idea how long it took me to read all these comments? And it took about 20 minutes, then a trip 20 miles away and many hours doing other things to get back and (almost) finish this baby. Had to peek at the spelling of Rebekah to get that corner done.

I had a couple of pleasant Aha moments, but most of this puzzle was a little grim. For Big Daddy I kept thinking of Marlon Brando, the juniper brought up sloe as well, although I thought it was wrong, Klatsch is definitely spelled Klatsch, some form of armadillo was required for this hard coat, and Scottie dog is a term I have never heard, and I like those little guys. I really wanted to go for "broke". @Karen: yes, I thought it was something to do with forgery, too. I was thinking Big Buss Company instead of Circle Line, the locals don't do this stuff. Do we know which "Enigma" movie Paula talks about? Not the one that we brought up just days ago?

Love spelunk! Got it right away.

@Bill from NJ: I agree, I learn a
lot here.

@spyguy: good info

@a dork: we do care

@Orange: I agree, nothing like a tough themeless.

mac 9:53 PM  

I only ate grits once, and that was because a friend, Southern but in CT, cooked salty ham and added COFFEE! to the drippings and poured that over the mush. Interesting taste.
In general I don't like mush, grits, polenta or Dutch grutjes, give me potatoes in any form any day.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

I was feel bad for having to google Mike Shayne to finish the puzzle, but now see that I was not alone in finding this challenging. But not impossible -- when I look at the crosses, I shouldn't have had to google there.

I was a child in the 50s but sure don't remember L-seven. But when I drew L7 at least I was sure the answer was right, weird as it seemed.

Isn't "raree" a classic crossword puzzle answer?

JannieB 10:02 PM  

@mac, that was red-eye gravy!

mac 10:04 PM  

That's right, JannieB, and I loved both the name and the taste!

liquid el lay 10:42 PM  

Very difficult puzzle

maybe I can blame the unfortunate venue- a tire store lobby.

Plus, the only giveme was PICO. PICO Blvd. went nowhere today.

SHALE was too good to be wrong, and it accumulated a few neighboring layers, but it remained an unconnected outcropping.

And the WEINERDOGS weren't long enough..

had to take A WALK

fikink 12:28 AM  

This puzzle body-slammed me, on and off, all day long, which put me in a very foul mood. That seems counterproductive.

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

I liked this puzzle, challenging, took perseverance, only one google.

Found it enjoyable to figure out the tough answers.

Kathy D.

Anonymous 2:44 AM  

I \saw Burl Ives as Big Daddy as an adult in the movie...but wasn't he also the voice of Rudolph or somehow presented Christmas or Disney movies on TV in the early sixties? I think that's how I remember him from childhood, but I may be mixing him up with Al Hirt singing "sugar Lips" somehow. they either looked alike or something but are conflated in my failing memory.
but what the heck, it's almost midnight here and everyone is on to Sat which is Byron AND nothnagel! HA!!!!!!!

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

ok ok
Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas season. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast (the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman)
* Sam The Snowman - The narrator, voiced by and styled to resemble folk Singer Burl Ives, who also contributes several tunes throughout the show. Among the most famous numbers from the special is Johnny Marks' 1962 "A Holly Jolly Christmas", which became a Christmas standard in its own right.

Bill Petkanas 8:45 AM  

On "Raree" - In the Maleska age, raree was quite common. I started doing the NTY CW in the 1970s so it was like an old friend returning. Haven't seen it in years. Like "Amah," never seen it in real life.

xyz 9:27 AM  


I'm new to taking these things on seriously, struggling past the Thursday puzzles which take me 1-2 hrs. - if I finish them at all.

To my feeble skills this was rated "impossible". Just goes to show how good the best puzzlers among you really are.

I'm guessing that experience probably helped an inestimable amount with this particular puzzle. Then again, I've probably tackled no more than a dozen Fridays and Saturdays in toto, so I'm talking out my a**, I suppose. :-)

When Orange "Really likes it" I know I'm out of my depths.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Awesome Videos, thanks for sharing.

poc 2:42 PM  

It's frustrating when an answer is obscure, as were quite a few in this puzzle, but it's infuriating when it's plain wrong. The CIA had *nothing* to do with Enigma, firstly because it didn't exist at the time of the story and secondly because the plot (from the novel by Robert Harris) revolves around the British codebreaking operation at Bletchley Park.

Rex Parker 4:47 PM  


The only one "plain wrong" is you.

I wish people would check their facts before they go accusing the puzzle of wrongness. I would say that for every valid correction I hear, I hear 50 that are manifestly, patently invalid.


Anonymous 3:36 PM  

I had APGARS CODE instead of APGAR SCORE for the baby. They have a River DEE up in Scotland, so I went with that for the Loch fill-in. It did not occur to me that "Shannon" was of course Irish. Wikipedia says the preferred spelling is Lough Ree or Loch Ri.

Other than that, a perfectly fine challenging Friday.

Daryl 11:00 PM  

Great challenging Friday, except for RAREE, which I got and still had to look up once I finished.

L-SEVEN is one of those phrases I've always wanted to see in a puzzle, and today I got the payoff. The L-SEVEN episode of the Flintstones, the band L7 in the 1990s, the Pulp Fiction scene where Uma Thurman draws the L7 sign in the air (which is a direct Flintstones reference, I think, considering how it's done)... it's enough of a pop-culture thing that it was a gimme.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

5 weeks later and this is still rank(le)s as about as obtuse a crossword puzzle as can be. No fun or joy.

Wife and I both grew up in the fifties and although we both used the "two-hand gesture" often, neither of us ever heard it described as L7. Wonder if the Fonz or Kookie Edd Byrnes (cool 50's guys) would know of it either.

Wife's a nurse so knew Apgar but other than IVES, ASAMAN and INCOHERENCE the rest was a blur. Shore cover time.

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