FRIDAY, Mar. 20, 2009 - D. L. Wilk (Royal from the planet Alderaan / Faline's mother in "Bambi" / " - Warning" ("Das Rheingold" aria))

Friday, March 20, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CESTA (63A: Basket on a court) - A scoop-shaped wicker basket that is worn over the hand and used to catch and throw the ball in jai alai. (

Despite some insane-looking fill - ERDA'S (5A: "_____ Warning" ("Das Rheingold" aria))!? KOL?!, this puzzle was very easy to take down. Puzzle with lots of 15s are usually not that hard compared to ones with lots of 6s and 7s. Today, if you are an answer between 6 and 14 letters long, you are out of luck. No room at the inn. Aside from the 15s, everything is 5 and shorter. And 15s only look tough - the truth is, you often need no more than a few crosses to take the whole damn answer down. For instance, I got DRESS TO THE NINES (7D: Get all dapper) off of the two letters provided by the TORCH (15A: It goes a long way before the Olympics) and TSO (21A: Name on a Chinese menu) crosses, respectively. -R-S- = DRESS = DRESS TO THE NINES, which fits, then check that terminal "S" to see if you're right, yep, there's CESTA (63A: Basket on a court) - and we're on our way.

This puzzle has a zillion kinds of symmetry, but no Scrabbliness. A smattering of Ks in the middle, and that is all. Speaking of which, KOL!? (33D: _____ Nidre (Yom Kippur prayer)). That would have been brutal had the 15s not been unimpeachable.

If you ATE (23A: Took a course?) your way through the NW corner, you could make yourself very sick. Actually, a PO' BOY (20A: Hero, to some) and a COLA (14A: Cherry _____) sounds like a decent lunch, and I guess I could handle a HOHO (2D: Chocolaty treat) for dessert. It's the ALABAMA SLAMMERS afterward that would get me (3D: They include amaretto and sloe gin). Oh, I just got that last clue. I was thinking that amaretto and sloe gin were supposed to be examples of ALABAMA SLAMMERS - two terms in the larger category. But that made no sense. Now I see they're just ingredients. Well that should have been obvious.

The 15s are all multiple-word phrases, many of which have a preposition+"the" phrase somewhere in their innards:

  • SOAKED TO THE SKIN (32A: Not merely having wet clothes) - I malapopped this one, writing in BONE for SKIN, only to have BONES show up in a later 15 - FEEL IN ONE'S BONES (56A: Just know).
  • FILL IN THE BLANKS (40A: Provide what's missing)
  • ROTTEN TO THE CORE (6D: As bad as bad can be)
  • ACROSS THE STREET (8D: Very close, in a way)

In addition to TSO and TORCH, today's straight-up gimmes include:

  • "ERL" (37D: Schubert's "The _____ King")
  • HEB. (36D: Likud lang.)
  • TAROT (4D: The Emperor, The Empress or The High Priest)
  • OLMOS (50A: Oscar nominee for "Stand and Deliver," 1988)
  • "STOP MAKING SENSE" (11D: 1984 Talking Heads concert film and hit album)

  • ENA (41A: Faline's mother in "Bambi")
  • "A NEST" (31D: "_____ of traitors": Shak.)
What else?:

  • 28A: Some Windows systems (NTs) - I have No Idea what this means. I see that it is an operating system from the 90s. OK.
  • 48A: One of a pair of mice in "Cinderella" (Gus) - I think the "G" in this guy's name was the last thing I filled in, GOB (48D: Lot) not being a word I use a lot. It's like WAD, in that it sounds gross to me.
  • 61A: Dreaded letters for a procrastinator? (ASAP) - as an inveterate procrastinator, I would like to dispute this. I LOVE when something is urgent, because then I feel compelled to do it. It's when something needs to be done ... soon. Next week. Eventually. Then I'm in big, big trouble.
  • 1D: Letters on old Russian maps (CCCP) - learned these letters from old Russian Olympics uniforms.
  • 13D: Utter guilt, with "up" (fess) - cute verbal use of "utter"
  • 26D: "_____ Place," 1971 Orson Welles movie ("A Safe") - Neeeeever heard of it. "A SAFE" makes a nice book end with "A NEST"
  • 27D: Gun-_____ (like Yosemite Sam) (Totin') - by far, by very far, my favorite thing about this puzzle.

  • 45D: Crop-damaging animals (voles) - when I take my dogs to the woods, I get them all riled up by promising them that they're going to get to chase the "stoats and VOLES and weasels and slerriuqs." I do it in my dog-talk voice, which is more-than-vaguely cartoonish and only heard when dogs are about.
  • 51D: Royal from the planet Alderaan (Leia) - went from "?????" to "Oh, of course" pretty quickly.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

SYNDICATED SOLVERS: PLEASE READ: If you are doing the puzzle in syndication (yes, you), listen up. It's actually April 24, now, and I have two announcements you might be interested in now. Like, today. One for L.A., one for NY.

  • L.A. - the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is tomorrow. It's a charity tournament. It's cheap. You will have fun. Go.
  • N.Y. - artist Emily Cureton, whose NYT crossword drawings are legendary, would like you to know that the Morgan Fine Arts Building is having a Spring Studio Open House tomorrow, 5-10pm. She writes, "My studio will be open to the public and decked out in my most recent work, plus a trashcan full of ice cold beer. Hope you can make it." You should go.


fikink 8:47 AM  

Overall, quite brisk for a Friday.
Much speed was in getting the long answers immediately. STOP MAKING SENSE made too much sense for this to be very challenging. I must be the right AGE or RACE or GENDER.

Or at the right place at the right time.

Had COONS, at first, for crop-damagers, beginning in my own backyard.

Best clue, IMO, in a long time: "Condensation indication." Nice.

Kurisu 8:54 AM  

Being a Wagner fan, ERDAS wasn't too hard although Das Rheingold doesn't have any "arias".

PlantieBea 8:54 AM  

This was easy for me--for a Friday. The only place I struggled even the tiniest bit was in the lower left where I didn't know OLMOS or the sloe gin concoction. So I guessed the slammer and it worked out fine. An Alabama Slammer has not only sloe gin and amaretto, but orange or peach juice and Southern Comfort. This mixture isn't passing my breakfast test, but maybe it tastes better than it sounds?
I'm glad the word of the day is CESTA--it's new for me.

dk 9:06 AM  

Had Limka for Simka... sigh.

For some reason I got FILLINTHEBLANKS ASAP. The other 15s fell like dominos.

I went to many Jai Alai fan tans with my Grand Ps so CESTA was recognizable.

Agree with the easy rating. The fun factor was 10.

I admire the construction of this puzzle both for the fill and the design. Thank you Mr. Wilk (not to be confused with a-aone a-two Welk)

nanpilla 9:11 AM  

CESTA was new for me, too. I looked it up, and it has been used a lot over the years, and I don't know how I missed it, but it made that one square difficult - NFL or NFC? Knowing little about football, either looked fine to me. Luckily, I guessed correctly.
By far my fastest Friday ever. Felt more like a Thursday. The clues were easy to guess, like Rex said. I have a question for all of you long time solvers:Is this a Friday because of all of the long answers? Even though they were easy to get? I'm not sure how that works. I should think that difficulty alone should determine the day of the week, but maybe the grid shape and construction also have something to do with it? Just wondering. I was impressed with the number of 15 letter words.

Megan P 9:17 AM  

I've never heard of CESTA either, and actually ended up with LESTA, since NFL looked plausible. Dang!

I bet KOL didn't present too much of a problem for most of Rex's audience. There is the prayer, and hasn't it been set to music - Leonard Bernstein? Ernest Bloch?

Rex, you're so right about long fills - I love them because they look really hard but aren't.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

One man's WTF is another man's gimme. For me, KOL (Nidre) is a gimme because I hear it in synagogue every year. It's one of the most important prayers in Judaism, and it is sung solemnly by the cantor, so it is his/her aria, so to speak, and people arrive on time Yom Kippur evening because it occurs within five minutes of the start of the service, and if you arrive after it begins, you listen to it through a loudspeaker while standing in the lobby. (Reform tradition, at least.) It is a beautiful melody which has been recorded by the old Jewish opera great Richard Tucker as well as Neil Diamond and Al Jolson (each in their version of The Jazz Singer), and even Johnny Mathis and Perry Como. So it's not all that obscure.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

@Megan P.--You were close. The composer is Max Bruch (not Bloch.) And the melody is wedded to the prayer itself; in Judaism, many prayers are sung to different melodies, but Kol Nidre is always the same one. And it's never spoken; always sung.

And CESTA, btw, is just the Spanish word for basket.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I cringed when I saw the long ones
but managed to get them by working
Knew cesta but couldn't get the CCCP tho I knew USSR was wrong.
a fun Friday puzzle all in all.

Alex S. 9:37 AM  

TORCH gave me DRESSED TO THE NINES, which was correct and WORST OF THE BUNCH instead of ROTTEN TO THE CORE.

Fortunately General TSO almost immediately straightened me out or it could have been a problem.

Liked that every central 15 had its THE present in the middle common area, even the one without a THE (AT SOME OTHER TIME).

Did cause some difficulty with the outer 15s since I was looking for where the THE would go before getting CHARACTER ACTOR and realizing that the THE wasn't actually a theme.

NFL and NFC are equally valid answers and L/CESTA was a toss-up choice. LESTA sounded like a name (perhaps LESTA Basket was a basketball player in '40s or something) so that didn't work otu for me too well.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Wow, a Friday puzzle I could actually finish by myself!!! And with only one wrong square (the aforementioned "LESTA" flub)!

I had a nice mistake for 3d: with the letters __A__MASL____RS filled in, I guessed GRANDMASLIQUORS, thinking maybe it was a brand of booze I'd never heard of before.

Truly a great feeling to finish a Friday, even an "easy" one.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

I rather liked the diagonal lines of letters in the middle - Es, Hs, and Ts.

Rex Parker 9:50 AM  

Really? "Most of my audience" is familiar with KOL? Take the Jewish folks out of the equation, and I really, really doubt that. Maybe a good chunk. But not "most."

It's a fine term, and I don't disupte its crossworthiness. But widely familiar outside of Jewish contexts? I doubt it. Diamond, Jolson, Mathis, Como ... that pretty much says everything I need to know about the term's (lack of) currency in the general culture.

Here's the #1 Google hit for [Kol]:

Kingdom of Loathing

hazel 9:52 AM  

I thought this puzzle was a beautiful tribute to the word THE, one of the very few words in the English language that have survived from Old English.

Of all the words in the OED, 99% are taken from other languages, but the few that trace back to Old English are used more than 60% of the time. This factoid is from a very cool book called The Power of Babel by John McWhorter.

So, I very much liked this tribute to THE - particularly the way the THEs dance across the middle of the grid, and the long diagonals of Ts, Hs, and particularly Es.

Cool concept, beautiful execution in my opinion.

@Rex - was hoping for a reference to the Crossword Cagers - up to 13 in the group! but its still early and we're all knotted up within a few points of each other and this is a crossword blog....But still, thanks again for setting up the group!!

joho 9:53 AM  

I managed to FILLINTHEBLANKS pretty quickly today so was expecting to see Rex's easy rating. But, easy or not, it was fun and made it a great way to start off a Friday.

At one point I did have SPA for DEN and MEN for HES but those mistakes were shortlived.

Thank you David Levinson Wilk for an enjoyable Friday solving experience!

Unknown 10:06 AM  

CESTA was an answer (question, whatever) on Jeopardy on Wednesday. I thought to myself, "Now that's a good crossword word. I'll have to remember that."

This morning I sit staring at -ESTA for 20 minutes, then finally give up and put it LESTA. D'oh!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I couldn't get a foothold on this puzzle for an eternity, though I can see why others found it relatively easy.

I was (embarassingly) 15 minutes in before I got my first long answer. Then I saw that Dan Feyer Winner Of The B Division submitted his solution at 10:03 last evening. There's "faster than me" and there's "just sick".

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

I also agree with the "Easy" rating.

The NW took a little extra time because I started with SSRS at 1D. Which led to SULLY (and an appreciative smile to Will) as the "hero, to some."

Being Jewish, KOL was a gimme.

And CESTA has been in too many puzzles not to know, even if one has never been to a jai alai game.

All-in-all, although the 15-worders are intimidating at first glance, I thought this was too easy to be a Friday puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Very impressive grid, fun if easy puzzle. Just three write-overs:


BTW, CESTA reminds me that although MAI TAI was in (last week's?) "EYE" puzzle, no one mentioned JAI ALAI.

Jeffrey 10:19 AM  

A procrastinating solver is the theme - FILL IN THE BLANKS AT SOME OTHER TIME.

Record fast Friday for me by nearly a minute. KOL a gimme for reasons cited above. CESTA a gimme if you do enough crosswords. CCCP a gimme if you remember Canada-Russia hockey series. TOTIN a gimme to all varmits. LEIA a gimme to all Jedis. Maybe the theme is ABBA - Gimme, gimme, gimme!

STOP MAKING SENSE? When did I start making sense?

Parshutr 10:20 AM  

I got DRESSED TO THE NINES as a gimme - no crosses, what else could it be? Wanted ROTTEN...CORE to be BADTOTHEBONE, but no fit.
As to CCCP, "C" in the Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian tranliterates to the English "S", and "P" stands for our "R". So it would be SSSR, and three of the four words are Soviet Socialist Republic...the first one is "Soyuz" [Union] so the whole thing is Union of Soviet Socialist Republic...or USSR!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

@Rex--But what happens when you Google NIDRE?

Belvoir 10:24 AM  

Can someone explain 19 & 46 Down?

CHI PSI ? Are these Greek letters?

Parshutr 10:31 AM  

Rex...why the picture of the Greatest Hitter Ever? He was never series MVP.

ArtLvr 10:32 AM  

Add me to those who know the Kol Nidre, though not of Jewish descent myself... I did become an honorary Jew in the early '70's thanks to visits to the CCCP for scientific conferences, which led to helping the Jewish family of a Russian scientist emigrate successfully. A generation later, they and over 100 of their children, friends and relations are proud US citizens! Probably the most gratifying undertaking of my lifetime...


jae 10:32 AM  

Impressive puzzle! Liked it a lot and it was easy for me also. This one gave me some insight into what’s in my head. Musically I didn’t know the aria or the Talking Heads album/movie. I’ve also never heard of ALABAMASLAMMERS, probably because I only drink straight stuff on the rocks. So, I needed the crosses plus some educated guessing to get the aria plus those two 15s. The rest of the 15s were pretty much gimmies, although my first pass at FEELIN… was YOUR vs. ONES. The two things I entered with confidence were TOTIN and SIMKA which gets me back to my head = pop culture minus most of the music created after 1980. Not proud but not really embarrassed either. Nice word Mr. Wilk!

Oh, and I you got me with 5d where I went with DEW initially.

And, my last entry was to change MOB to GOB.

@Belvoir - yes.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  


You're correct, they are Greek letters.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@ Belvoir -- yes, they are. In order as they appear in the Greek alphabet.

This is the first Friday I've finished without lookups in a REALLY long time--although I did have two mistakes :-( LESTA and MOLES. No excuse for MOLES, since "MMP" doesn't really make sense! Got to remember to check when I'm done...

Happy Friday!

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@Belvoir - Exactly.

Is everyone sure that it's not the LTNE Independent Press Awards? Altos are just as much jam ingredients as are autos, and I so prefer jazz jams to traffic jams I'm sticking with it.

Why, why would anyone drink a concoction that contained amaretto AND sloe gin? I never understood drinking either, but both?

Parshutr 10:33 AM  

@Belvoir...yes, chi and psi are letters that appear in sequence in the Greek alphabet.

Jeffrey 10:34 AM  

@Belvoir - Belvoir answered this.

@Parshutr - He is DRESSED TO THE NINES

Unknown 10:37 AM  

2;56 for DanF with Amy R, Howard B and two well known constructors in less than five minutes. I did it in less than a day. I didn't know if I should put in NFL or NHL do I entered N_L and went on my way. Got the F from FREER and almost blew it.
BTW, ERDA was right and WOTAN should have listened. She told him not to accept the big bonus because there will be consequences.

fikink 10:51 AM  

@Phillysolver, there have should been a few more ERDAs at AIG. ;)

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

I really enjoyed this one. It was easy for a Friday but a lot of fun.
My only mistake was leaving Altos (thinking musical jam) and never really questioning the the press awards were just some acronym I'd never heard of. Oh well, Utne seems obvious in hind sight.
Is this a new constructor?

edith b 10:59 AM  

I knocked out the NE in a hot New York minute, meandered into the NW and, on the way, knocked out all of the center long vertical 15s which, in turn, produced the horizontal 15s.

I found the SE as hospitable as the NE and shot into the SW, picking up the 15s that bisected the South and I was done.

Did I mention I shot down Interstate 95 with the Talking Heads as my first answer?

This was one of those puzzles that was both a feat of construction and easy at the same time, not two things that fit together most of the time.

I can only describe this one as comfortable which is damning it with faint praise.

SethG 11:32 AM  

Dem bones dem bones? I tried both SOAKED and ROTTEN TO THE BONE before FEELing it. AT SOME TIME LATER, then LATER TIME, before OTHER TIME. I wasn't sure which of the 15s would have THE and which would have ONES. And I had PCS and MEN instead of NTS and HES. It was all relatively quick, but I felt like I spent a lot of my time juggling the details of phrases I essentially knew.

Learned the liquor from Tom Cruise here (o qui, se preferite).

HOHOs rule.

mccoll 11:54 AM  

Even though I got soaked to the skin and dressed to the nines immediately I still took nearly 40 minutes, BUT, no googles were needed and no errors were made.Yosemite Sam is one of my favourites (along with MaGoo)so TOTIN was great! I don't understand EMI for virgin's parent, however. CCCP and CESTA were giime's for me. This was fun but not very hard. Thanks, Mr. Levinson Wilk.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

I couldn't get this one because I started with OREO for 2-down, then switched it to ROLO, and thought that had to be right.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

My only hiccup was having OREO instead of HOHO for the "Chocolaty treat" at first. But yes, the puzzle was way easy.

CESTA is supposed to be well-known crosswordese. But for those who missed it, the NFL does not have divisions. It has two conferences, the AFC and the NFC. Each conference has an East and a West (and a North and a South) Division.

hazel 12:20 PM  

@Seth G - thanks for the reminder of why I dislike Tom Cruise so much. What possessed me to bite?

And Moonpies trump HoHos any day.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  


EMI is the parent company of Virgin Records.

Shamik 12:22 PM  

Easy one here for me for a Friday at 8:52. Initially, all those long answers looked daunting. It almost felt like I was channeling someone or something at how fast some of them fell.

DRESSTOTHENINES from the R in TORCH., etc., etc., etc. But it was fun and finishing faster means I get to go hiking sooner.

And any day with a Talking Heads song in it is a good day.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Friday confession time - I googled Erda and Olmos and ended with one mistake, Lesta. So I must conclude this was easy because I usually take much longer. I have never heard of alabama slammer and would have never guessed it. I did not know Kol (as well as some other things) but got it with fill.

I agree with @fikink that condensation indication is one of the best clues ever. And thanks to @Hazel for the tribute to "the." I was conscious of it but never thought to mention it.
And thanks to @Parshuta for CCCP; I did not know and tried to keep USSR for way too long.

Also I've started doing Quigley puzzles. Suffice it to say that many times they do not pass the breakfast test - at least so far. Fun though.

evil doug 12:41 PM  

Who do I see to get my 10 minutes and $1.50 back?

I was spoiled a couple weeks ago when every day's puzzle was a worthy foe. That ship has sailed.


Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Having RSVP instead of ASAP was the only slowdown for me. It had me wondering if "abort" was a word for a German diver.

It was a revelation to me when I figured out (about the age of 8 or 9) the connection between Yosemite Sam and the word I'd always silently pronounced as "Yose-might" in books I read about living off the land.

Ulrich 1:12 PM  

@phillysolver: How right you are. And @Shin etc., you are right, too: There are no arias in the traditional sense in Das Reingold. And UBOAT is not German.

Before I go on with one of my pet peeves, let me say that I also liked the puzzle overall, not the least b/c the grid has all the "eight symmetries of the square": 4 reflections (about the 2 diagonals and 2 center lines), and 4 rotations (by 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees).

Now to the peeve: As it has been pointed out, CCCP in the abbreviation of the name of the former Soviet Union are not letters from the Latin alphabet, but from the Cyrillic. If I have complained about the omission of diacritical marks, I have to complain even more about mixing letters from different alphabets in a puzzle, unless, of course, "Ulrich's rule" applies, i.e. the crosses use the same letters. It's a poor excuse IMHO to claim that in this particular case, the Cyrillic letters look like Latin ones--they aren't, and that's what counts for me.

Parshutr 1:20 PM  

@Ulrich...agree with you that CCCP = USSR. I try never to eat Coup at Pestorants. But the Russians have some very interesting words:
Washing machine in English becomes "benDIX"; Typewriter is "AhnderVOOD". I don't know, because my Russian is very 20th Century, but I wouldn't be surprised if "Computer" is "DELL" (or "APfel")
Not as clever as the German term for French fries..."pommes frites".

chefbea 1:23 PM  

What a fun Friday puzzle that I could finnish. Loved etc. and autos for jam - I knew it wouldnt be food related. Had moles and oreo and hogey for hero, but then realized my mistakes.

Parshutr 1:26 PM  

@Ulrich...Unterseeboot = U-BOAT (and they were named U-nnn, as in U-571).
So, yes, U-Boat did refer to German submarines.

allan 1:29 PM  

A nice Friday puzzle. It looked very daunting at first, but in the end I agree with the rating. It's funny how we solve in different ways. Rex got dressed to the nines off crosses (torch and tso). I got torch off dressed to the nines. Other long gimmes were rotten to the core, fill in the blanks and feel in ones bones.

Did anyone else want ell at 25a instead of ism? I thought that in light of 24a being ess, ell would have been surreal.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@allan--Not sure if it would be surreal, but it would be par-ell-ell.

liquid el lay 1:55 PM  

The central 3-square? SYMMETRICALMATRIX!

I noticed that myself, but it took a poster's comment for me to see the T3, H4, E5 diagonal stack. Nice. So the diagonal stack is T1, O2, T3, H4, E5.- A tribute "TO THE", as Hazel said.

Also, the grid's high degree of symmetry is appealing. It kind of looks like the floor plan of a museum or other public building.

ETC and INRE were twin demons hiding in plain sight.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as NFC, so it was LESTA for me.

And the NW... Thought CCCP was China, for some reason.. so even with the middle Cs, and knowing this was wrong, I gave the assembly ALEs for AYEs... so A. NOBEL could be a hero to some for helping out our chemist and physicist friends; I locked up the Empress, the Emperor, and the Priest in a poorly constructed GARET, put SCCN on the map in Russia, and, well, ... for a "bit of back-and-forth"... Oh, never mind.

Ulrich 2:09 PM  

@parshutr: What I hinted at was that the German abbreviation is "U-Boot" (yes, short for Unterseeboot--"under-sea-boat"). I had to wait for the crossing A to find out if the English or German version was called for. But it wasn't a peeve, only an observation: Ambiguities like this are to be expected in a Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

I loved this puzzle! For one thing, it was a Friday I could finish without googling anything, which made me happy.

I regularly do David Levinson Wilks' puzzles in my alternative weekly paper, but they aren't nearly as interesting as this one was, so I say, keep it up David!

Bill from NJ 3:03 PM  

I agree with Rex about "most of his audience" vis vis KOL. I am a part of his Jewish audience and don't think KOL would be recognizable to non-Jews - for wont of a better expression - and I don't think most of his audience is Jewish. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

@Evil - Do you buy the paper solely for the crossword? - because yesterday it seemed like you actually read it - didn't you complain about some article?

Just saying - the $1.50 goes for more than the puzzle that didn't meet your standards.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

This puzzle was a fun surprise for me too - I rarely attempt the Fri./Sat. puzzles. I only erred on "LESTA", hoping for the existence of some obscure U.S. circuit judge named Lesta Basket.

Ellen 4:24 PM  

@Evil Doug - this puzzle took me 5:19 and I didn't find it to be an egregious waste of time. It was a lovely construction and fun solve all the way. In fact, I don't feel my time is wasted on Mondays or Tuesdays. I guess I'm too dumb for words, by your standards (yet somehow I made the ACPT finals 14 times - have you?).

Sorry, I just needed to vent (again - see

I don't see answers to questions earlier in the thread:

@nanpilla - this puzzle is a themeless so could not run Monday-Thursday, which always have themes.

@two ponies - David is not new, but still young (early 30s). This is his 12th NYT puzzle (the first was in 1996, when he was in college), and he's also had a few in the NYS and LAT. His main outlet is a crossword in weekly alternative newspapers; these have been collected in 2 Sterling books of "Really Clever Crosswords." His day job is writing for game shows, where I worked with him for a few years.

miriam b 4:31 PM  

@Parsutr: CCCP = SSSR (Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik).

My local ATM offers English, Spanish, Chinese (I think) and Russian options. I noticw that the Russian word for ATM is Bankomat, which I think is also used in other European countries.

The word I love is piloSOS (vacuum cleaner), literally, dust sucker.

JannieB 4:43 PM  

@dk - jai alai is played in a fronton - fan tan is a card game!

Great grid, loved the 15's. No real problems once I realized USSR should be CCCP. The NW corner was last to fall.

fikink 5:14 PM  

Gee, dk, I just thought you were being hip, saying that you watched jai alai events in the open air (whereupon you got a tan) and to which you drove in your Grand Prix. Made sense to me!

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

Although easier than many a Friday, a remarkable puzzle, fun to do and gorgeous to behold.

evil doug 5:36 PM  


Wow. Fourteen times. I hope you got a trophy so you can impress your friends.

I say nothing about your intelligence---your commentary pretty well establishes that. But my time is obviously worth more than yours.

And given the details you relate, you seem to be friendly with the creator; maybe your bias is showing?

Sorry; I just needed to vent....


The whole paper---minus the crossword---is available free on-line. Or my friends at Starbucks let me read it and return it---like a lending library with caffeine. I pay if I put ink to newsprint.

But this story actually must have been picked up by other news sites, because that's where I saw it. And I wasn't "complaining"; I was lamenting how this special moment (and that's about how long it was) for their basketball team was being diluted by the alleged problem.


Anonymous 5:45 PM  

@Evil - thanks for the details on your freeloading habits. It says a lot.

I see you're a retired Delta pilot. I know they have been making deep cuts for years, but didn't realize they left their pilots so penniless? I thought you guys made out pretty well.

Either way, seeing how your time is worth so much, you should be happy that you wasted so little of it on today's puzzle!

miguel 5:50 PM  

Is it hiding your head in the sand to say I wish I could see no evil? Loved the puzzle and the thirty minutes it took to solve.

Jai-alai means something like 'merry fiesta' but as noted, cesta is simply the word for basket in Spanish.

evil doug 6:01 PM  


Airline pilots are indeed notoriously cheap---we used to prefer scrounging used newspapers with scrambled egg stains rather than put down a handful of change for a fresh one.

And thank you for your concern. Since Delta terminated pilot pensions and their promise of lifetime medical care, I'm especially frugal these days. Sometimes when I help my baristas set up their patio furniture they give me a free cup of Pike Place, which I gratefully accept.

Part Scottish

allan 6:11 PM  

@ ellen & todd: He calls himself evil for a reason. You 2 silly gooses bit.

@evil: Can you feel the love?

Football 102: The National Football League (NFL), is divided into 2 Conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC), and the National Football Conference (NFC). After I post Football 103, there will be a test, so study.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

n000a xx555! apwoiern paa!

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

@Nutcracker - I wonder, if they can't read, how do they know they're bad typists? Or are you just being judgemental?

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

@Nutcracker - Another question. If they're aboriginal (aboriginal to where is I guess a third question) can they really be secessionists, or do they just want to kick us whiteys out?

mac 6:59 PM  

I thought this a fun Friday puzzle, where the long answers came surprisingly easily. I had noticed there were many "the's" is the answers, but only after finishing did I find that in the central 15s the down "the's" shared their t with the across "the's". Very clever.

@Fikink: Agree with you, Condensation indications is fantastic. About AIG: they wouldn't have listened anyway...
I also envisioned a fan getting a tan watching a game of some sort!

@mccoll: In that order, I hope.
Also, you mentioned Magoo, and I just read that his creator died recently.

joho 7:01 PM  

Where's all this negativity coming from? C'mon everybody, can't we just get along?

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Started when I got on the bus this morning, finished before I got off the train -- easily my quickest Friday solve ever. Only one mistake, at the cross of 29A and 30D. A LA/LIMKA sounded good enough, but now that I see it should be AS A, my answer is clearly incorrect. Never seen "Taxi," by the way.

10D got me pretty good, I kept thinking of the food, and I had a little trouble with the last word in 32A, going through BONE, CORE, and TOES. Similar trouble with 56A and 6D, mostly because they can't have the same word in them. "SOAKED TO THE SKIN" still sounds off to me.

davidb 7:08 PM  

Great Horny Toads!, as Yosemite Sam would say (and is incidentally 15 letters), this one was easy. I totally TORCHed my previous Friday record. There was absolutely nowhere where I got slowed up, which has never ever happened to me on a Friday.

I should probably say that by my standards this means that I finished in just under 15 minutes, which I realize is an eternity for others in this community.

Strangely, KOL Nidre came instantly to me but I had think for a little while before getting HEB.

chefwen 7:12 PM  

Rarely do I finish a Friday puzzle but after a few mistarts and just a minimum amount of googling, I finished quickly so I was pretty sure Captain Rex would rate this easy, but it sure was fun.

I had major VOLE issues when living in California; to solve the problem I shoved my cat's waste down their little hidey holes, apparently, if they think that kitties are in the neighborhood they move on to the neighbors yard. Problem solved.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Tom Cruise had something to do with Alabama Slammers??? No Wonder Katie Holmes Fell Under his SPELL!!!

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

I did have to look up four or five answers, but this is the first time I've completed a Friday puzzle. I agree that having the long answers is a big help and I got all those on my own. I think reading this blog is really helping me. I only wish it came out earlier (I do the puzzle on the eve).

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

I really like M at square 48 instead of G. MUS is the genus name for mouse, and MOB is as good as GOB for "Lot" (better than, IMHO).

nanpilla 9:41 PM  

@ellen Thanks! I'd forgotten about that. DOH!

Pythia 10:53 PM  

May Evil and Ellen hug it out.

Was this easy -- yes. Was this enjoyable -- yes! Loved the diagram and every snappy 15-letter answer. A pleasure all around.


PS Was sorry to read that Michelle is not planting beets.

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

Given that the (awesome) Battlestar Galactica finale just aired, I was pleased to see that OLMOS was in today's puzzle (a gimmie for me, and my first answer).

+wordphan 3:44 AM  

Yes, I remember Simka, and who can forget the incomparable Latka, Andy Kaufman, talk about "surreal" for real.
And my brother drove a Simca, the only one I ever saw, ever. Would have been nice to have a chip with the "po-boy" but who can eat just one? "Ho-ho" goes great for dessert, crossing nicely and "across the street" from the "Alabama slammer."
This puzzle made me hungry. Fun Friday, Mr. Wilk.

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

Bizarrely easy puzzle but sweet, somehow. I wondered the same thing about why it was a Friday, and had to come HERE to be reminded that Mondays have themes!

So now I do think they need one of those in-between days where the construction level is super-tough but the solving is super-easy... Didn't someone once propose that?

I just wrote a really long thing about how to remember the Greek letters, but it sounded so pedantic I've just erased it. But if we ever meet and you have 5 minutes, remind me to teach you the Greek Alphabet it's super simple and fun and much easier to learn than folks think!)

I totally agree with Ulrich's Rule about CCCP, tho it looks so similar I think it should be acceptable in puzzles...wait, no, I don't! Hmmmm, I'm all confused about how I feel about this!

I know I'm not making not making sense, Rex, but the Talking Heads clip was fab!
VERY nostalgic...has it really been 25+ years???!!! Just saw DB on TV (Letterman?) and had long discussion if he had gone gray or is doing a bleached blond thing!?

sillygoose 4:18 AM  

Solved it. No help! I don't really consider NFL/LESTA to be an error, maybe more like a half error.

I got the long 15's first, which gave me a small feeling of elation. AUTOS/UTNE was my last entry.

This puzzle was really very fun.

liquid el lay 4:28 AM  

I just like looking at this completed puzzle for its high symmetry and solidity, and then the breaking of the symmetry by the NW pointing 5 x 5 delta (itself diagonally symmetrical) centered on the central T. Really nice looking.

The words are good too:
characteractors feelinonesbones;
alabamaslammers stopmakingsense.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Evil and Ellen - thanks for making today's blog the best in a long time, I love some good trash talking. I don't see enough of it here. I loved it. Very Entertaining. BTW - easy puzzle and KOL was a WTF for me.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  


anyone still here? I do not get ETC for "condensation indication" 5D. Nor SRA for "tabasco title:abbr" 58D.

- - Robert

PuzzleGirl 4:14 PM  

Hey, Anon: ETC is an abbreviation that indicates a list has been shortened (or condensed).

Tabasco is a state in Mexico. SRA is an abbreviation for senora, a courtesty title meaning Mrs. in Spanish.

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