Lost category - FRIDAY, May 29 2009 - R Ross (Introducer of 45's in '49 / Derby dry-goods dealer / Finnish pentathlete Lehtonen / Adidas alternative)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Herb CAEN (26D: Columnist who wrote "Don't Call It Frisco," 1953) - Herbert Eugene Caen (April 3, 1916February 1, 1997) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist working in San Francisco. Born in Sacramento, California, Caen worked for the San Francisco Chronicle from the late 1930s until his death, with an interruption from 1950 to 1958 during which he wrote for the San Francisco Examiner. His collection of essays titled Baghdad-by-the-Bay was published in 1949 and in 1953 he published the book "Don't Call It Frisco" after a 1918 Examiner news item of the same name.[1] Caen died of lung cancer in San Francisco and his funeral was one of the best-attended events in recent city history.

He also coined the term "beatnik" and popularized the term "hippie" during the 1967 "Summer of Love" (wikipedia)

A pretty straightforward Friday puzzle, though I finished with an error - and if I'm the only one with this error, I'm going to be surprised. I had ASPERTAME / TEV, not the correct ASPARTAME / TAV. I have never seen "TAV" in a puzzle [whoops, I'm wrong - see here]. Ever. TOV, yes. TAV, no. I had TEV, which sounded adequately Hebraic to me. I don't eat / drink anything with ARTIFICIAL sweeteners (except maybe gum, sometimes), so ASPARTAME (16A: Equal, essentially - good clue) is not something I think about a lot. "E" seemed as good as "A" there. ASPERA has Latin going for it, though guess you wouldn't use the Latin word for "difficulties" as the root of your name, if you were thinking. Anyway, failure. Boo hoo.

Could do nothing with the NW at first - threw down TETE (5D: Head of Notre Dame) and then A FLAT (17A: G neighbor) and then nothing. By the way, speaking of TETE - there were far too many (two too many, in fact) of these tricksy "it's a foreign word for ..." clues. First TETE, then TAV (9D: Torah's beginning - my first answer there was TEE), then CENTRE (26A: Middle of the British Isles?). All right at the top of the puzzle. Yuck. OK, moving on. I bailed on the NW and went to the NE, where I wrote down TEE (yay), then WARM (yay - real answer = ETCH, 11D: Prepare a plate, perhaps), then I was saved by NATE / THE GREAT (12D: With 20-Down, kiddie-lit counterpart of Sherlock Holmes). Yesterday, Magilla Gorilla, today, NATE THE GREAT. NATE gave me THE GO (21A: What busy people are on) and from there, things took off.

I don't watch (in fact, refuse to watch) "Lost," and today I (briefly) paid the price for that, as PAST TENSE made no sense to me (6A: "Lost" category). The last time I caved in and started watching some culty, nerdy, "you gotta watch it!" show, I wound up watching "Heroes." Oh to have those hours back. [OK, correction ... apparently the clue refers simply to the fact that the word "Lost" is in the PAST TENSE - if indeed this clue has zero to do with the TV show "Lost," then the cheapness of this clue - and the quotation marks in particular - will some day be legendary] Staying in the NE for a bit, loved the clue on RCA VICTOR (18A: Introducer of 45's in '49), not so fond of SPARERS (8D: They let people off). After finishing that quadrant, I tried to get back into the NW, but it was having none of me. Got DOG'S AGE (31A: Long while) and ATTUNES (37A: Gets in sync) to go across, but with just three widely spaced out letters in place, the long Downs all still refused to fall. The key here was RED LETTER (19A: Memorable). I stared at ----ETTER for what felt like a long time before that term came to me. Once RED LETTER went down, all the Downs went down.

Today's odd couple: LIN-Manuel Miranda (25A: "In the Heights" Tony winner _____-Manuel Miranda) and EERO Lehtonen (14D: Finnish pentathlete Lehtonen). Never heard of these folks. The Tony Awards no longer mean anything to anyone outside of the island of Manhattan. I'd appreciate it if we could stop acting as if anyone who wins a Tony is fair game.

Once I got out of the NW, the rest was pretty easy. Had a little trouble backing easily into the SW, but PENN took care of that (47D: State-founding Friend), and the SE was, in general, supremely easy compared to the rest of the puzzle.


  • 15A: Online message (e-note) - e-not. Please strive to keep all e-answers that aren't e-mail out of your puzzles, thanks. How is an E-NOTE different from an E-MAIL??? I like E-LOAN better than I like E-NOTE (that's for BEQ)
  • 33A: Allied landing site of September 1943 (Salerno) - got it off of SAL-, and it opened the whole SE right up.
  • 35A: Derby dry-goods dealer (draper) - news to me. Does he sell drapes specifically, or ...?
  • 39A: Kennel clamor (woofing) - daughter calls our chocolab "woofie," so this answer amuses me.
  • 41A: Charcoal wood sources (alders) - again, news to me. I know that the ALDER is a tree, and that is all I know about the ALDER.
  • 43A: Backwoods pro? (fer) - fantastic clue. "I ain't FER it, I'm agin it!" - Abraham Simpson
  • 50A: Producers of some bold words (typefaces) - OK, I guess. Something weird to me about the typeface "producing" the words. Maybe too literal.
  • 58D: Where some sunflowers were painted (Arles) - easy. Van Gogh. ARLES is a not-uncommon place name in xwords.
  • 3D: Sir Francis Drake discovery of 1579 (Golden Gate) - me: "But ... that bridge was built in the 20th century ..."
  • 10D: Singer of the #1 country hit "Foolish Pride" (Tritt) - no good versions on youtube, so ... I'll just dip into the 80s vault here. First, a completely different "Foolish Pride" (1986):

and now, here's "Foolish Heart," just ... 'cause (1984):

  • 49D: The Ilek is one of its tributaries (Ural) - ouch, lower case "L"s and upper case "I"s are indistinguishable in Across Lite printouts, especially right next to each other, making this river's name look like ... well, a razor brand, frankly.
  • 51D: Adidas alternative (Fila)

["Rock my Adidas / Never rock Fila..."]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


imsdave 8:48 AM  

You are not alone - TEV here too. Not sure why, but it was definitely more of a challenging for me.

Liked the symmetry of DOGSAGE and WOOFING.

Eric Berlin 8:59 AM  

I still don't get the "Lost"/PAST TENSE thing.

Joni 9:05 AM  

I wasn't wild about this one -- woofing and slating and sparers seemed unnatural to me somehow. And I had a dickens of a time in NE because I insisted on "game one" instead of "part one". Oh well.

Dough 9:06 AM  

I too got off to a slow start. And I too am clueless about the "Lost" reference. I thought I'd be toast with "Lost" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" writer, and "In the Heights" and a kiddle-lit clue, but it all worked out the way it should for a nicely balanced challenging Friday offering. Randolph Ross does really nice work and this was a worthy offering. I knew how to spell Aspartame (for no good reason, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool sugar lover), so didn't even notice the crossing. But, in the SW the Ayatollah went through three stages: 1. Imam (ok, so nothing worked with that), 2. Shah (I know he wasn't the Shah, but starting with SH, who knows!), 3. Shia — a word that certainly I never saw in a puzzle before the War on Terror began. All I knew were the Shiite, who, with the Shih Tzu, were always good for a snicker. Anyway, some nice fresh long words and challenging new angles on repeaters (Eero, Oreo, Lin, Ural). I guessed at the crossing of Ivins and Fila, knowing neither.

John 9:11 AM  

"Medium" for some, but impossible for me. I found this puzzle VERY challenging. I did not have ANY answers before resorting to the Google... Eesh...

eze666 9:15 AM  

"Lost" as in past tense of "lose" - could have been any past tense of any verb, the show name was tricky because it seemed like a reference to the show, but was not

John 9:15 AM  

Oh, one more thing... I'd like to know if anyone has ever used DRY ICE in a picnic cooler? Not only have I never used it for a picnic, I've never even seen it used at a picnic.

Denise 9:16 AM  

Thirty minutes, but I had "tev" -- that part was weird. I wanted "GEN" and then I had "LEV."

The story of "In the Heights" was on PBS last night -- a great play. You will be hearing about Lin-Manuel Miranda (a Wesleyan grad) in the future.

PuzzleGirl 9:40 AM  

TEV here too. Started with TEE, so when ASPERTAME popped in, it didn't look wrong.

I can't stand it that I can never remember Patricia HEATON's last name. Fun fact: She's married to Brad Whitford (the Brad Whitford who played Josh on "The West Wing," not the Brad Whitford who plays guitar for Aerosmith).

I also object to SPARERS, TYPEFACES and E-NOTE (e-gads!). But ya know what? Seeing my boy Travis TRITT in the puzzle made it all better. He is so under-rated. Really awesome performer. Love him!

JannieB 9:50 AM  

@PG - Brad Whitford is married to Jane Kazmarek(sp?) from Malcolm in the Middle.

I agree with @eze666 about Lost=past tense. But why the quotes? Seems unfairly misdirectional.

This was more challenging that medium, but did manage to finish without google or errors. The SE was first, then the SW, the NE and finally that nasty NW quadrant. I don't buy "e-note" as a legitimate entry - it's either email or an IM - never have heard anyone refer to sending or receiving an Enote.

Otherwise, a very enjoyable solve.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Six across was unforgivable. Ish.

John 9:52 AM  

SPARERS! What is this? The Spanish Inquisition??? They could've used some sort of bowling clue. It'd made as much sense.

Jim Weed 10:00 AM  

i like and watch LOST (and dislike heroes) but was lost with the six across clue. whether it refers to the show or the verb, fail.

Rex Parker 10:05 AM  

Wait, I'm sorry, are you telling me that the clue for PAST TENSE has nothing to do with the show "Lost"? Why is "Lost" in quotation marks!?!?!? Because if we're doing the "it's in quotation marks because we're talking about it as a word, not using it as a part of speech," then why isn't "Torah" in quotation marks in the TAV clue. Isn't TAV the first letter in the word "Torah?" I am confused.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Lost = past tense? I am lost.

Rex Parker 10:29 AM  

Ah, I see now that "Torah's beginning?" as the "?" on the end. So, that's how it tells you it's tricky. So ignore my earlier comment about TAV.

But ["Lost" category]!?!? - even though I got the answer w/o much problem, through crosses, I am booing at this one. Loudly. Those quotation marks are cheap. ADJECTIVE fit here. Why not that?


DanaJ 10:36 AM  

@John - Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

joho 10:51 AM  

@rex ... I couldn't agree with you more about "Lost" category: PASTTENSE.

I also agree with those you thought this challenging ... at least half of it was for me.

All in all it just didn't leave me feeling very happy in the end. Somethings were just off. I guess this puzzle was "lost" on me.

Cathartic Priest 10:56 AM  

@DanaJ - I live in daily, dread fear of the Spanish Inquisition.

ArtLvr 10:58 AM  

I found the lower two-thirds easier than the NE and NW, with Dish where ETCH was the word -- as in plating up an entree or dishing it up... but TAV was a good guess as analogous to Tau. I still needed to google EERO and TRITT to get the NE, so NATE finally came with crosses. My only gimmes were ASCENT and SMOG in that section!

Then there remained the tough NW. I thought I had the brilliant framework with IA as Orbit for Place holder, plus Orchestras for 1D fitting nicely with 37A ATTUNES... Oops! Sadly hard to rework, but RED LETTER saved my day.

Did anyone go for Stud Poker rather than a SPUR? Hah. I had CAEN, but only because it wasn't quite the critic Kael, just close -- glad that Rex filled us in on him. I adored Molly Ivins, happy to see her.

It was a clock-stopper, well done though and challenging in a good way.


Anonymous 11:01 AM  

I too know nothing about the show "Lost", and thus crosses creating PASTTENSE simply formed a valid Enghlish phrase, good enough for me. I assumed there was a relevance to the TV show.
But, lost is not specifically PASTTENSE, so the clue is simultaneously tenuous and incorrect.

jae 11:18 AM  

More medium-challenging for me. Bottom half medium, top challenging.
I parsed lost as PASTTENSE of lose but didn't get the quotes. I also didn't get the ?s for 13d and 1a. SMOG and DIGIT were among my first thoughts but the ?s had me doubting. On the other hand, the ? for 32d made me pretty sure STUD wasn't going to work. Overall I liked this one (with the exception of SPARERS), although after my first pass I thought I probably would not be able to finish it. Funny how perseverance and some gettable cross can work for you.

Oh, and for some reason this crappy speller sort of knew how to spell ASPARTAME (although I tried it with an "N" at first).

Steve in Boston 11:26 AM  

Harsh words about the Tony Awards. I would say that the Tonys mean more to those outside of Manhattan (i.e., the tourists who go to the most-awarded shows, or the Broadway-mad, "theatrical," pre-teen boy who lives, by cruel twist of fate, in rural Virginia) than to true New Yorkers, who wouldn't be caught dead anywhere near 42nd Street.

And at least this is a current reference. Anne Meara circa 1993, not so much.

You'll be hearing a lot from Lin-Manuel Miranda in the future as well. He wrote the Spanish language lyrics for the current "West Side Story" revival and is working with Stephen Schwartz ("Pippin," "Godspell," "Wicked") on a new version of "Working." And he's teaching a whole generation of kids about silent E on the new "Electric Company." Gotta love a man who does public television.

Tony from Charm City 11:27 AM  

I'm taking a shot here since I may be the only fan of "Lost" here, but several of the characters from this past season were time-warped back to 1977.

As for the puzzle itself, I had the most trouble in the NE as I had GAMEONE instead of PARTONE for a while. Once I had TRITT , ETCH, and NATE, I was able to fix things.

Anytime I see a NATE THE GREAT answer/clue, I always wonder what ever happened to Encyclopedia Brown?

Two Ponies 11:27 AM  

Medium? Not for this solver.
I think Mr. Ross needs to stop by and explain Past Tense. It was nonsense to me.
Sparer? "Nice to meet you. What do you do for a living?" "Oh, I'm a sparer." Yeah, right.
None of you baseball fans wanted to dust off that plate?
Isn't Eero usually an architect? Never heard of this Finn.
Really too bad about the NE because it spoiled what would have been a red letter puzzle.

lawlady 11:30 AM  

Hated this puzzle except for Lin-Manuel Miranda who went to my elementary and high schools (many, many, many decades after I did). And, I love Broadway so the Tonys are a big part of my consciousness!

Patch 11:45 AM  

Hello Rex! Long time listener, first time caller. This one was a googler for me. Woh woh woh. Please NYT, no more long obscure clues from "Lost". Thank you.

PhillySolver 11:52 AM  

I just stopped by to see if anyone was "Lost." I thought this was a very challenging Friday puzzle and in the end I had an artificial sweetener error, too. My error, however, bypassed the TAV/TEV controversy and had me wondering about, but accepting 'snog' as the cause of a bad hair day. It could happen, you know. Lots of stumbles and nearly double my Friday solve time. I think it was a good puzzle and I am not a complainer, but I think Rex is right, "Lost" will go down as a legendary trick. When I had the fill, I wondered (never have watched it) if the show was "tense" because of something in the "Past." Maybe?

fikink 11:52 AM  

HERETOFOR and HEREAFTER before finally entering ANYLONGER.
Blank SLATES before Blank STARES.
SPOUT, then SPURT, then SPOUT.
GOLDEN HIND before GOLDEN GATE (I think the Hind was his ship.)
And worst of all, REMINGTON (I know nothing about guns) before RCAEDISON...we used to have an Edison...changed to RCAVICTOR.
TEE went to TAU, and finally TAV.
All this to say, I now can only solve these things online, because with pencil and paper this puzzle would have been confetti by the end.
I DOFF my hat to you paper-solvers (and the FIL).
Really enjoyed my anguish, tho', Mr. Ross!

p.s. Molly IVINS was for Wade, I am sure.

chris 11:53 AM  

The top half of this'n was pretty tough, and the bottom was pretty easy. Overall the tough part dominated my experience.

I'm with everyone else on the 6A business (terrible clue, "Lost" the show sucks), but I also want to reiterate what one person said before about the ?'s in the clues for digit and smog. They seem unnecessary to me and are part of a trend of questionable ?'s in late-week puzzles. I think it was last week that there was a clue for antipasto that was something like "First Italian course?" The ? there isn't necessary either; it just adds unnecessary confusion. There've been more examples in the past few weeks that I'm forgetting.

Aspartame is a dipeptide made up of the amino acids aspartate and phenylalanine, with a methyl ester group at the C-terminus. Knowing that made the e/a choice pretty easy. I'm one of the few people I know who likes diet soda more than regular soda.

Is Fila still around? I always thought of it as kind of off-brand when I was a kid. Their only big endorsed athlete that I can remember was Grant Hill, and that was a long time ago.

archaeoprof 11:56 AM  

Add me to the list of those who thought this was hard. Bottom half was reasonable, but the top half -- ouch. As they say down here in SC, it laid a serious whuppin' on me.

joaniejaya 11:56 AM  

I see that today we get LAIC as an adjective (27A), not the noun that caused such consternation a few weeks ago.

@phillysolver: Bad AIR day (not HAIR day)

HudsonHawk 11:59 AM  

Closer to the challenging level for me, but I made it through without any help. I also had GAME ONE for awhile, which really made the NE tough. Pretty cool grid, with only four 3-letter answers.

And they were way too long to be right, but I wanted ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN for 12D/20D and SUNDANCE KID for the "Place holder?"

Shamik 12:04 PM  

Bah to medium! At 52:22 it gave me a lot to do and I still had a wrong letter with SHOA/ONBALANCE. So, challenging and ultimately, failure.

Boo, Hiss and rotten tomatoes to those quotes around Lost. RR or Will need to show up and explain this. By now, someone would have come up with a good reason and we all seem at sea.

So many entries were in, then out, then in, then out. A true hokey pokey. But except for those quotes, a definitely challenging and delightful puzzle.

Myriad mis-starts:

PlantieBea 12:11 PM  

Didn't like it at all. Woof. Took a Dog's Age. Too many unknowns for me. Challenging.

Greene 12:33 PM  

This one left me bruised and bloody. Couldn't finish last night and had to work on it some more this morning. Only now just finished the beast. I share some of the same gripes as listed above. I just don't understand PAST TENSE at all. Still, there was some fine fill, what with DEAR OLD DAD, HENRY VIII, RED LETTER. And what about WOOFING? That's just a terrific word.

I have to hand it to Lin-Manuel Miranda. I didn't intend to see In The Heights when it first opened because what could a Latino, hip-hop, rapping musical possibly have to say to me? Then I saw a number from the show on the Tony broadcast and I was intrigued. I think, however, it was when Mr. Miranda received his Tony and did his entire acceptance speech as a rap (complete with homage to Stephen Sondheim) that I decided I had to see his show. I was not disappointed.

I never thought I would see a musical on Broadway that would put hip hop and rap elements to such fine theatrical use. Here they exist not as isolated pop spectacles, but instead serve to define character and situation, i.e. they are used dramatically (and humorously too, I might add). In short, Mr. Miranda places rap in the service of an intelligent and moving story and thereby validates it as true theatre music, every bit as worthy as what has come before him. This is no small feat and I think the recognition of his triumph by the Tony committee speaks volumes about the future of theatre music and has repercussions far beyond the island of Manhatten. At least that's how I see it.

I know I'm the "theatre cultist" of the blog, but I have often thought In The Heights might actually be a musical that even Rex could like.

Orange 12:35 PM  

What's with all the hyped-up grumbling about ["Lost" category]? I think it's a brilliant clue. The rough grammatical category for the word "lost" is PAST TENSE, but since it's the capitalized first word in the clue, there's a great mislead that it's about Lost, the show. (Capitalized first letter mislead = one of my favorite Friday/Saturday cluing tricks.) The resonance between PAST TENSE and the show's time travel is a bonus, but not why I loved the clue.

Clark 12:37 PM  

This puzzle defeated me! I am still in training I guess. But I don't get the fuss about 6A. It was a hard clue because of the TV show. I get that. But without the quotes the clue would have appeared to mean 'a category that has gone missing' or something like that. The quotes signal that the word is meant rather than its meaning. The ordinary rules about signaling that the word is meant rather than its meaning (which rules call for double quotes, single quotes or italics, depending on style manual and discipline) are, I suppose, seriously relaxed in crosswords. (I'm going to have to pay closer attention to that.) But is the crossword rule that the ordinary rule is never to be followed? That seems wrong. The principle parts of lose are lose, lost, lost. So "lost" belongs to the category PAST TENSE.

ArtLvr 12:41 PM  

Thanks to Steve in Boston and others who noted the ongoing value of Tony Awards -- and not just in NYC. They may be erratic in some years, but overall such recognition is highly important to a multitude of careers, box office results, backers, and theater lovers as well. They have helped my son-in law Bob Falls, who is based at the Goodman in Chicago as Artistic Director since 1986, move stellar productions to Broadway, London's West End, even all over the world.


Denise 12:44 PM  

I am lost -- present tense. I am with my daughter who says that a lot of the action in the TV show takes place in the past. Is it tense in their pasts? I was wondering if the show was over -- "past tense" as in dead, but my daughter says there is one more season. I won't be watching.

We are in New Haven -- her 15th college reunion &, on Sunday the baptism of her niece, my grand-daughter, Lucia.

Rex Parker 12:47 PM  


I said as much about the likely reasoon for the use of quot. marks around "Lost" (see comment above), and yet that "rule" (from ordinary written English) has no precedent that I can recall in crossword cluing. I guess I'd like an example of when - in crossword cluing - quot. marks have ever been put around a word to refer to it *as a word*. That's not a convention I've ever known xwords to follow. That's the (or at least my) issue here - seemingly arbitrary use of quot. marks to achieve misdirection (and misdirection that was clearly lost !! on most solvers replying today).

Jeffrey 12:58 PM  

FELA/EVANS anyone? That's what "lost" me.

fikink 1:03 PM  

@Lurker0, if you are reading:

On Saturday you wrote:

"Finally, a question about solving technique: I hate entering anything into the grid without at least one confirming cross, to avoid overwrites. But many here -- and apparently all the speed solvers -- seem to prefer scanning and entering the acrosses and then the downs, leading IMO to lots of blind guessing. Has this issue been discussed before, and with what conclusions?"

Today's puzzle clarified for me the reason I like solving on-line. It opens up all kinds of possibilities in thinking for me, precisely due to the opposite approach you state - I do not like to confirm anything through the crosses. It too often weds me to an incorrect fill. Yeah, I suppose, at least starting off, it leads to alot of "blind guessing" (THE STORY OF O for BLACK BEAUTY, e.g.), but the vistas it opens up are highly entertaining. This is not to say that everything becomes a wild guess. The guesses which pan out become the warp and weft from which to weave. (And I am obviously not a speed solver.)

@Rex, I see you doing the same thing...sometimes. Does it help in your writing? It certainly explains to me why you found test-solving an impairment to your blogging.

@Orange, I agree with your assessment of "Lost" clue. Clever! (but then, I am heavily into Cryptics right now).

@shamik: "a true hokey pokey" - priceless!

@artlvr, also had "dish" before ETCH (which I loved...eventually)

Clark 1:14 PM  

@Rex - OK. Now you've got me interested in keeping close watch on whether this " 'rule' (from ordinary written English)" ever shows up in crosswords. You may very well be right that it never does, but that is interesting in itself. I was demoralized by my failure to do this puzzle; now you have me raring to go again. Thanks.

@Denise -- The "lost" in "I am lost" is not the past tense (second principle part) but the past participle (third principle part). They happen to be the same. In your sentence the past participle is being used not as a perfect (as in "I have lost all perspective since I started doing crossword puzzles") but as an adjective in a present tense sentence. Yesterday I lost my date book, I lost my head, and then I seemingly lost my ability to do crossword puzzles (past tense).

Blue Stater 1:20 PM  

No way, José, on this one for me. I got maybe six answers, then resorted to Google, then came here, and once I saw the answers had to restrain myself from tossing the whole paper into the fireplace before I had finished reading it. I agree with Rex on "Lost," even though I got it (I thought it was a plain old garden-variety pointless curveball, in which this puzzle abounds). But to pile two long answers on one exquisitely marginal insight (16A, 28D) was completely over the top. Never heard of an ENOTE; FER was unfair (or un-fer), I thought; likewise the clue for 1A. The clue for 50A, "Producers of some bold words," was illegitimate, seems to me -- words are *in* a typeface; I can't imagine a sense in which they are *produced* by one. And so on. Dreadful.

Mike 1:25 PM  

Chock another one up for dang hard, even though I knew enough random stuff to make this not too thorny. I don't have much of an issue with the "Lost" clue, mainly because I got it pretty quickly for whatever reason, but I can see how if I was stuck there, it would have been maddening.

I did love a couple of the clues, in particular Flat piece of paper for LEASE, which is one of my favorites in a while.

Oh, and I know no one but possibly the other Mike cares about this, but I've added an avatar to distinguish us. I'm the Mike from LA/NY. :)

foodie 1:26 PM  

Challenging for me too, mostly in the northwest. STARES started me in the South.

It's interesting to me that no one mentioned "homeostatic" as a clue. We use the term all the time in biology, but I didn't think it was commonly used otherwise. But then this is a very sophisticated group...

I thought parts of this were very cool, HENRY VIII for example, looked so confusing when coming at it from east to west and seeing the stack of III emerge.

When I got PAST TENSE, it made me smile. Like Rex, I refuse to watch this show, and thought to myself I wish I had even a vague idea what this might refer to. But then I took it to be a combination of misdirection re the verb form and an allusion to the fact that the show has something to do with a confused past... It would be nice to hear from the constructor what his intent was.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:47 PM  

Challenging but fun, I thought. Took some time, but worked my way through it with only two write-overs. Starting with only the I from IVINS, had 51 D as NIKE before FILA, and almost my last fill, had tried DIVOT (I'm no golfer) for DIGIT at 1 A. Really a lot of interesting answers in this puzzle, but I will now quietly take my seat with foodie et al and await an explanation/expiation of 6 A from Mr. Ross or Mr. Shortz.

Wheres NDE when we need him? 2:35 PM  

TAV is indeed the beginning of תּוֹרָה, which is translated into English as Torah. TEE is the beginning of Torah however.

sanfranman59 2:36 PM  

This puzzle kicked my butt (almost 37 minutes to solve even with help). The lower half fell relatively easily, the northeast was more of a struggle and the northwest I couldn't complete without help. I've been on a history of San Francisco kick for the last couple of years and have read a good bit about Drake. I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think he actually missed the Golden Gate and continued up the coast to the Point Reyes area. According to Wikipedia & Britannica.com, the GG was probably seen by Drake, but the European discovery is credited to Francisco de Ortega almost 200 years after later. I entered Nova Albion (Drake's name for this area), which totally led me down the wrong path for this section. I entered Nova Albion (Drake's name for this area), which totally led me down the wrong path for this section.

slypett 2:39 PM  

I got lost in the W-NW. Come to think if it, that's where Drake explored. Had REDLETTER, ITALO, DEAROLDman, DOGSAGE, LIN, OREO, ENOTE and still couldn't get out of the hole.

Why is a "Derby dry-goods dealer" a DRAPER?

chefbea 2:40 PM  

I agree. A very tough puzzle. Had to google alot and still couldn't finish.

I too will wait for an explanation for the "lost" question.

I wanted to prepare a plate of something for everyone.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

@XMan et al Derby is a city in England, and dry goods dealers are called DRAPERs in England.

Tom Mc 2:55 PM  

I agree with Orange about the "Lost" clue. Certainly the quotation marks were misleading, but this is similar in spirit other Fri/Sat misdirections such as [It's in doubt] for SILENTB. The clue fooled me: still thinking of the show, I had SUSPEENSE there for a bit, not initially noticing the misspelling.

For the record, I am a big fan of the show Lost (or "Lost"?), so not all crossworders hate it. In some ways PAST TENSE does make sense as a description of the show: A lot of it involves flashbacks into the PAST, and there are some very TENSE things that happen in those scenes, so ....

@X Man asked about DRAPER: according to http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/draper it is another British English term meaning "someone who sells cloth and things made of cloth". So it sort of goes with CENTRE.

poc 2:58 PM  

Just awful. As with many people, the South was doable but the NE and NW were terrible. What the heck is an ENOTE? Not to mention WOOFING and SPARERS. Spare us more like.

After throwing in the towel and heading for Google (which still wasn't enough) I read extensively on Drake and 1579. Not a single reference I looked at mentions the GOLDEN GATE, but they all agree that no-one knows where Drake landed. It could even have been British Columbia. That plus the fact that both CALIFORNIA and NOVA ALBION fit in the space made this way more than Medium in my book.

Rex Parker 3:00 PM  

@ Tom Mc,

If you'd put quotation marks around "doubt" in your example, I'd agree with you (that it provides precedent for today's "Lost" clue). That you didn't shows *precisely* what is wrong with the "Lost" clue.


edith b 3:03 PM  

I've been doing puzzles for the better part of 30 years without being aware of a "rule of thumb" about quotation marks. Like Rex, Lost in quotes seemed like meaningless misdirection and even though I "got" the answer via crosses, I still had a bad taste in my mouth..

For the longest time I stared at CAEN, HEATON and IVINS without gaining a foothold anywhere then, a flash of insight HENRYVIII brought down the entire SW, allowed me to move eastward across the south, then up the East Coast.

A neat peice of irony - I was reading a friend's blog about his fathers WWII activity and the post dealt with the September 1943 invasion of Italy through SALERNO which moved me into the NE where the double entries NATE/THEGREAT opened up the rest of the puzzle.

REDLETTER was the answer that led to endgame but I don't wish to leave the impression that this was smooth sailing becauses it wasn't.

I spent an inordinate amount of time working out the tricks of this one TAV CENTRE PASTTENSE were all anti-neons to me but eventually led to the solution. Good Saturday workout on a Friday for this poor old woman.

Noam D. Elkies 3:06 PM  

Yes, TAV is a good approximation to the modern Hebrew pronunciation of the name of the letter ת that starts the Hebrew word תורה (Torah) -- as opposed to the letter BET(H), ב, that starts its first word בראשית (B'reishit = in the beginning). Curiously m-w.com does not recognize the spelling TAV, giving only "taw", though it lists "ˈtäv" as one of four pronunciations. Also amusing that the previous instance of TAV which Rex cites had the same constructor (as well as the same clue and the same weekday).

TAV is also the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which makes possible some other cluing directions analogous to familiar routes to OMEGA or ZED (22nd in a series, Aleph's opposite, etc.).


slypett 3:06 PM  

By George, I think I've got it! '"Lost" category' should have been followed with a ?(!). Thus "Lost" category?

Susan 3:16 PM  

@Poc, I had exactly the same Francis Drake experience as you!

@PuzzleGirl, Bradley Whitford is a celebrity crush of mine. (Why, yes, yes I am a supergeek.) Anyway, because I am such a goober I know that he's NOT married to Patricia Heaton but to another sit-com mom, Jane Kaczmarek (who played on Malcolm in the Middle).

I couldn't finish this one, even with help and that was sad, because I thought I was improving!

George NYC 3:25 PM  

I think quotation marks around Lost when there is a popular TV show of that name makes the clue bogus.

For years, I thought the Golden Gate Bridge was so named because the bridge itself is "golden" in color (or at least sort of, compared to the usual gray). But then, I also thought it was the Umpire State Building.

sanfranman59 3:35 PM  

@George NYC, the GGB is definitely not golden in color. It's decidedly orange (actually, "international" orange).

fergus 3:47 PM  

Yeah, I thought Sir Francis sailed right by the befogged Golden Gate and landed on POINT REYES to fix his ship. Or so said some little plaque up there.

This was a real grinder -- well over and hour, for sure. I still don't get the DRAPER, and really question the ? for the SMOG Clue.

I remember lots of picnics with DRY ICE. Way cooler than regular old watery ice.

poc 4:23 PM  

@Fergus: a DRAPER is a seller of cloth, sewing materials etc. Other good ones are Milliner (hats) and Haberdasher (men's clothing). Milliner is derived from Milan apparently.

fergus 4:35 PM  

It's the Derby part I don't understand. In England, related to the Louisville horse race, hat-like?

Two Ponies 4:42 PM  
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retired_chemist 5:10 PM  

Wow. Laissez les bon temps rouler.

A fine Friday challenge. Lots of fun stuff. The far SE was 3 gimmes with IVINS, LEASE, and ARLES. And then…. And then…. A LOT of slogging, terrible time (maybe an hour), but never a thought vacuum – i.e., I always thought I was ALMOST on to something. And pretty much actually was. The 3X10 and 3X9 blocks were tough. Made some headway in Delmarva with LAIC and HEATON, plus knowing 39A was some variant of BARKing, YIPPing, … et voilà! WOOFING fit with LEAF for 27D and that was that.

On to New England, where the tie of 16A to ARTIFICIAL (28D) instantly led to SWEETENER. Was SO sure of it – I blush not to have discovered MUCH sooner that it was actually my favorite dipeptide ASPARTAME. Cursed because 9D TEE (Torah’s beginning?) had fit and was so obvious. If Mr. Ross weighs in, I hope he comments on whether the TEE /SWEETENER and TAV/ASPARTAME alternatives comprised a diabolical plot. Brilliant if so…. hbAnyway, the NE fell ere long.

The West was a trek. EMAIL for 15A was a problem, as were MERCER and HATTER @ 35A and RETUNES @37A. All fit and all were wrong. Never heard the term DOG’S AGE and Google is not exactly hot for it either. Finally posited ENOTE for 15A, and then ITALO for 4D, and the mysterious clue for 17A revealed itself to be musical - ???AT became AFLAT, 1D and 2D fell, and I was left with a WTF for Sir Francis Drake’s 1579 activity. Knew he made it to the Pacific – voilà! GOLDEN GATE.

Much hard work but well worth it in the end.

Two Ponies 5:22 PM  

I'm still trying to make sense of Lost.
If you used some other irregular verb that was not also a TV show would it still work?
Left catagory?
( putting the ? after catagory as someone else suggested)
@ foodie, I also loved homeostatic.

retired_chemist 6:35 PM  

@ fergus - Derby is a city in England. DRAPER, per others here, is the term for a cloth or dry-goods dealer in England. No horses involved.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

I rise in defense of "e-note." The word "mail" is a collective noun and the mail consists of various items such as notes, letters, cards and other items less worthy of note. It is natural, when appending the prefix "e-" to "mail" to append to these others as well. And it sounds better too. Indeed, compare the following two exchanges and ask which sounds better and is easier to understand:

1. "What's in the mail? A letter from your sister."

2. "What's in the e-mail? An e-mail from your sister."

The second one sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it? Surely one reason that the terms "note, "letter," etc. never fell into disuse as our language evolved is that they reflected useful distinctions, were easy to use and made the language more euphonius. With an "e-", they can do the same in relation to "e-mail."

None of this applies to horrors like "e-tail," which bears no such relation to "retail." This was obviously invented by someone who thought it was clever to remove the "r" and sound like "e-mail." He was wrong.


Anonymous 6:49 PM  

I went the horse-race route on 35A, and entered OSTLER, someone who provides supplies for horses! Eventually, the down crossings rescued me, but I had to come here to find out what Derby they were talking about.

JannieB 6:53 PM  

As a fan of Lost, I first tried "The Others" at 6A - that slowed my time down considerably. The explanations referencing the flashbacks and fast forwards used in the program seem like a real stretch to me. I think the quotes were there to purposely misdirect us, and I really don't think that was fair.

Leon 7:14 PM  

Great puzzle Mr. Ross.

Aretha did a fantastic cover of Walk on By . You really feel the pain and anger.

Isaac Hayes also did a great cover (12 minutes on Hot Buttered Soul.)

mac 7:14 PM  

I had a pretty tough time with this, mostly in the NW. Tee, then Tev for 9D, game one etc. Aspertane (I know, Aspartane) made that area possible at all.
Love "Dear old dad" but it took some time getting it. I had grocer for draper. Thought the river was called Llek (there is a Lek river, I think at the end of the Maas/Meuse, ending up in the North Sea, but no luck here.
I don't like slating and woofing, but otherwise there were plenty of good clues and answers. I have to admit 6A clue immediately made me think of the tv-show, although I have never seen it; without the quotes I would probably have been even farther "at sea".

@Dough: what is that avatar of yours?

@Phillisolver: LOL! I'm trying not to envision your snog and your hair all mussed.....!

Patricia Heaton is married to an Englishman.

SethG 7:21 PM  

At least with E-NOTE you can guess on the E. A FLAT makes sense, but half the time musical note things that make sense to me are wrong. Turns out, A minor=C major, for example. I was prepared for it to be [any note] FLAT.

Add in other stuff I'd never heard of, like LIN, DOGS AGE, and DRAPER, and I had lotsa trouble parsing DEAR OLD DAD.

No problem with "Lost" (or at least not with Lost), though. Or with FILA.


PuzzleGirl 7:24 PM  

Thanks, JannieB and Susan for setting me straight on BW's wife. I have those two shows confused in my mind and I knew his wife was on one of them. I'm guessing we won't see Ms. Kaczamarek in the puzzle anytime soon.

I'm going to join the The-"Lost"-clue-was-unfair group. Until someone finds another example of quotation marks used in that way. Then I'll try to just forget the whole thing. (@JannieB: I thought of THE OTHERS, too, but already had some crosses that I was pretty sure were good. And for those of you arguing that PAST TENSE works as a category for the show, I'm sorry, but it does not. Says PuzzleGirl.)

Overall, I still liked the puzzle though. Glancing at the grid again, the end of CONGRESSES sure looks freaky.

edith b 7:25 PM  

Being a good guesser is, I think, fundamental to a good solver. I had *OL*E*G**E at 3D and, knowing Drake went up the California coast, I guessed GOLDENGATE, knowing of course that the bridge didn't exist at the time but it looked good as a guess.

I used the information at hand to lead me to a solve.

Anne 7:30 PM  

I really envy all of the discussion. At this point on Friday (and Saturday), I am barely coherent. For me it's start, erase, start again, google, go do a chore or a errand, and repeat until I am finally done. But I did finish and had only three errors.

I do like a phrase I read in the comments describing this puzzle "this is a googler." That's a keeper.

poc 7:31 PM  

@Anonymous: Your argument is a straw man. "What's in the email? A letter from your sister."

Would you say "an e-letter from your sister?" If not, why say "e-note". It's a note. It may be written on paper or sent electronically, but functionally it's a note.

BTW, in the circles I move in more and more people are just saying mail for email. I predict the electronic sense will eventually displace the earlier meaning of mail (which will remain as snail-mail or similar).

I agree with you re e-tail. That's what happens when journalists try to get cute.

sanfranman59 7:47 PM  

In case it needs clarification, the Golden Gate is actually the name of the strait between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay (and the GGB is the bridge over said strait). So there's not necessarily a problem in saying that someone "discovered" the Golden Gate long before the bridge was there. Except in this case, I think it's wrong to say that Drake discovered it since he seems to have missed it (Wikipedia says that the strait is not recorded by Drake on his voyage up the coast). Anyone who's been to foggy San Francisco in the summer will not be at all surprised that he didn't see the Gate.

andrea woofing michaels 7:52 PM  

As a pen on paper person, I almost want to frame this one...I only had FOUR words I didn't have an initial mistake in!!!!!

HEATON was first, as my friend Amy Aquino was on "Raymond" with her (as the mean girlscout leader), and they became close, so I've met her at parties etc.
She is a TINY little thing, has FOUR kids, all boys (!), totally unpretentious, husband is named David...Handsome enough to be an actor but I think he runs their production company or something...

Love that you conflated her with Jane K (whose last name you won;t see any time soon???!!? Gauntlet thrown!)
(Not to me, but those young boys)
So conflate away...As I attested yesterday, conflate is my new favorite word/concept!!!

(p.s. Ms Heaton is a bit odd for Hollywood, as she is quite rightwing politically, and I think even stumped for McCain...yecch.)

As for freaky, I agree, but come to think of it, CONGRESSES was the only non-name word I got first try.

Hey, who are you? Let's lunch!
I love how the usual TOO much knowledge got you in trouble.
Of course, I got CAEN, but was clueless who/what/where Drake went, despite all those hotels and Marin County streets named for him.

This is truly THE messiest grid I've ever had...and, as has happened almost every day this week, one letter wrong, unrealized till I came here.

Oops, TWO letters wrong, as I went from TEE to TEN, deciding that the Torah must start with the TEN commandments!!!!!

Weird that the m-w doesn't have TAV...it's very common in Scrabble.

SO even tho REMINGTON got changed one messy letter at a time (I had the T from NATE and the O from smog, but EENO seemed ok to me, etc.) I ended up with RCANICTOR
which I parsed as R.C. Anictor, or R. Canictor. Quel embarrrasssment.

And yes, ick for having so many of those lame mislead type barely-cryptic clues for 5D, 6A, 9D
I'd almost throw Derby into the ring as well...

Speaking of ick,
@Anon 9:52am you wrote "ish"!!!?? Are you from Minnesota???!

My other Minnesota memory is triggered by STYLO. Still remember the first day of French class circa 1969...Northrop Collegiate School (for girls)
Mme Reynolds holding up a pen...
"Il a un stylo. Repetez! Il a un stylo."
(Clearly, SethG, you weren't there or your whole life would be different now!)

So in Fi-sync with you, today. Take every misstep you made + half the ones others have mentioned (Shamik, et al) = my puzzle...
(e.g. Did no one else have BEAN for LEAF? Jack and the BEANstalk!)

Never been so wrong about so much
(except, of course, about men) but in the end, I loved that I finished... And I have the scars to prove it!

mac 8:17 PM  

Another funny comment! What's up tonight? The LAT Confidential blog had me laughing out loud as well!


Anonymous 8:27 PM  

@ poc -- I take your point. But I still see some value in "e-note," as a word which describes both the source and style of the communication in an era when no source is yet dominant. I also agree that the whole question will become moot -- the terms "mail," "letter," etc. will soon come to refer primarily to the electronic versions, with special emphasis needed instead for the paper variety. In fact, I had intended to make the same point in my comment, but forgot to. That said, I still find it ugly when people say such things as "I got an e-mail from her." It is not much harder to say "a letter from her" or "a letter from her in e-mail" or even "an e-mail letter from her." And, to my ear at least, it sounds vastly better.


treedweller 9:10 PM  

Oh, the humanity! I won't even go into all my missteps (most of them already mentioned here, anyway), but suffice it to say they were well scattered throughout the grid, making every corner a mystery to me. My one novel mistake was "scoot" for SPOUT, which kept me from PENN and URAL.

Even google led me astray, twice. First, the aforementioned California/Nova Albion disaster, then I figured the Finnish name was so odd that it would be enough on its own. Which led me to another Finn, KARI. I clearly had a problem up there with the two adjacent downs, but since I got it on google, I didn't question it for a long time.

Also, I really wanted to "wash" the plate (though somehow I resisted ever typing it in--small victories are all I have here).

But I'm forgiving everything because it included IVINS. We miss you, Molly.

treedweller 9:28 PM  

Dang it! I meant to sign off with "Gotta jet" to explain my bizarre mistake.

But I'm glad for the opportunity to join the anti-ENOTE chorus. As I've said, I'm anti-e-anything. I suppose I will go along with Rex and grant e-mail. But, as much as I appreciate BEQ's efforts, I still oppose e-loan.

fikink 9:43 PM  

Andrea, Can't believe that you tried REMINGTON, too.
THE FIL says we think alike because you are "the one who knows Bucky Pizzarelli's son, too" - try following that logic! :)

michael 9:59 PM  

For whatever reason, I found this easier than most of you and enjoyed the "lost" clue, which did misdirect me to a TV show I don't watch.

aspartame/tav was a Natick for me, which I guessed correctly.

Liked the puzzle, which may put me in the minority...

slypett 10:31 PM  

The misuse of the nym "Natick" is almost worse than the correct use. A Natick, as i understand it, is a cross between two obscure placenames. Surely, some form of linguistic (or neo-linguistic) rectitude should apply.

{Should anyone still be reading Friday.}

Stan 10:50 PM  

Should be happy for finishing--my 4th Friday ever--but I didn't enjoy this one.

For a while I had SPUD for 32D (Variety of poker played by Mr. Potato-Head?)

michael 11:58 PM  

@xman My understanding is that a Natick is a cross between two obscure answers, not necessarily place names...

Doc John 11:59 PM  

Finally finished! ASPARTAME was one of the last things I filled in, which for me is ridiculous because I've known since it first came out what the composition of Equal was. (Call it nerdiness.) Lots of missteps in the NE.
4-letter shoe companies: Nike, Puma, FILA, Avia. I went with Nike so at least that gave me the I.
Fave answer: DEAR OLD DAD
Fun puzzle overall and don't really have anything else to add to what Rex already said.

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

This is "lurker0." For some reason, I can't get the system to accept my Google account name today.

@fikink - Thanks for sharing your personal approach to solving (without seeking confirmation via crosses). Without doubt this works better on-line than on paper. You are more of a "free spirit" than I am.

Using old-fashioned ink, I hate getting everything messy, as I did today with SUCRALOSE for ASPARTAME (led astray by DORA/[the] EXPLORER, entered without crosses instead of NATE/THE GREAT). Add to that PLUME instead of STYLO for 44D, and 44A starts with a reasonable PR---. NIKE crossing IVINS instead of FILA made another blot, so connnectivity led me to an incorrect fill (as you say), but I wasn't wedded to it when it didn't work with ARLES. So my solution is an embarrassing mess, despite relying on crosses. :-(

@anon at 2:35 PM: "תּוֹרָה, which is translated into English as Torah" -- nope, it is translITERated that way. About translation, one could write volumes (and many have). Here is a lead from the awesome Wiki on Torah.

Back to my lair now...

Larry the Lurker

michael 12:11 AM  


from Rex:

"I call it: The NATICK Principle. And here it is: If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names."

Brendan Emmett Quigley 12:44 PM  

ENOTE... had EMAIL for a while. On the whole an okay puzzle with nothing particularly amazing, just solid all the way around.

Am I an ass to think "B-Boy Bouilaibaise" is the only winner on "Paul's Boutique?"

Will 1:19 PM  
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Will 1:23 PM  

Good thing about this puzzle is it lead me to this page (first visit here) after I Googled "derby dry goods dealer". I tried "habber" and "hatter", and finally "drater" because I had "stud" for the poker clue. (although the question mark worried me)

Learned a lot about Francis Drake as well trying to figure out that clue.

Overall, the bottom was much easier than the top, and I also had "Tev". Probably a subliminal connection to "Tevye" from "Fiddler on the Roof".

But I glad to discover other NYT crossword addicts out there like myself. I won't feel so guilty about all the time I spend on the Friday puzzle now.

Daryl 6:42 AM  

I had ON PAR WITH for ASPARTAME, which oddly enough shared the PAR, but a fairly reasonable puzzle. Started with HEATON. For some reason couldn't get NATE THE GREAT, and kept thinking of Encyclopedia Brown, or even McGurk (did anyone else read the McGurk books?)...

Waxy in Montreal 10:29 PM  

Syndi-enote: For me, almost two separate puzzles. Found the SW, centre and NE areas Tuesday-like but was completely stymied by the rest.

And thought I'd never heard of FILA til I glanced at the sports socks I'm wearing and read FILA clearly printed on them. From now on, you betcha I'm studying all the labels on my clothes - never know when it'll come in handy.

Tim M 10:33 AM  

Hi- I'm new to this forum. Quite a few "power-puzzlers" here.

I found this to be a very challenging puzzle, and felt there were many unfair and/or obscure clues. Hardly got any of it done.

"Lost" really got me when I finally saw the answer on Rex's blog. Torah's beginning (Tav) is the first letter of the word in the Hebrew alphabet. How could I have missed that! (yeah right).

The clue that really angered me was the Ilek tributary one (URAL). Ural is a mountain range, not a body of water!

Anyway, good blog- it is my resource for puzzling.

Tim from Winterpeg

fritz 3:34 PM  

Yeah, too many question and quotation marks. Confusers! That's what they are!

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