FRIDAY, Jun 5 2009 — 1912 headline name / Billy the Kid used one for his nickname / Part of backwoods mix-up

Friday, June 5, 2009

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Exordium (50A: It may begin with an exordium — ORATION)n., pl. -di·ums or -di·a (-dē-ə).

A beginning or introductory part, especially of a speech or treatise.

[Latin, from exōrdīrī, to begin : ex-, intensive pref.; see ex– + ōrdīrī, to begin.] (

This was more challenging than a typical Friday for me. Very poky time. Got held up by two very sloppy mistakes in the north. First, I opened with INHERIT (2D: Be a willing participant?) and then crossed it with the almost correct THEORUM (17A: Something to prove). This led me to believe for more than a few seconds that the answer to 6D: Loving leader? (ever) could be EVUH ... you know, like in the Cole Porter song "Did You EVUH?" Oh, that's actually EVAH. Dang. Anyway, mistake one. Mistake two was right around the corner, as my eyes did not properly process the clue 11D: They often mean "I see" (ahs), and so I wrote down the most common crossword synonym for "I see" — AHA. Thus I ended up with a fictional psychiatrist with the improbable vowel combination "AAIE" in the middle of his name. Most of the rest of the puzzle I just sort of plodded through — broke through to the bottom with the very cute DEFINITE ARTICLE (8D: Billy the Kid used one for his nickname) and then experienced no real stoppages until I hit the SW, where I threw down TITANIC off just the "C" (54A: 1912 headline name) and then, nothing. Then I saw the EDT clue (49A: Regional setting for almost eight months per yr.), and things began to loosen up a bit. The real killer down there was SONIA (46D: "Peter and the Wolf" duck). I was looking only for an instrument, and neither FLUTE nor CELLO wanted to play ball. The duck, it turns out, is the OBOE.

What's most impressive here is not impressive at all — that is, the fill is astonishingly smooth, with hardly any clunkers in the lot. Real words and phrases, actual, identifiable people (yes, for today, I'm willing to extend that concept even to whoever CRISS Angel is — 45A: Street magician _____ Angel) [correction: after further review, it has been decided that EDA Reiss Merin (34D: _____ Reiss Merin, babysitter player in "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead") does not, in fact, qualify as an actual, identifiable person. The movie's star, crossword puzzle fan Christina Applegate, would have qualified]. MISTUNE is an apt word today, as it's the only answer in the grid that sounds bad to me (40D: Make a B instead of an A?). And I don't think it's so bad. I realized when I woke up this morning that the grid-spanning fifteens look a bit like crossing railroad tracks, which kind of adds life and interest to the central Across answer RAIL HEADS (35A: Termini). And the NORTH in NORTHEAST points due north (21D: One between two cardinals?). And there are two head doctors (FRASIER and Erich FROMM — 23A: Psychoanalyst Fromm). And ASCETIC (36D: Like some monks) and MINSTER (1A: Important church) are related in that MINSTERS were historically often monasteries, i.e. homes to monks. And ... and "ONE LOVE" (15A: Bob Marley classic) is a great, feel-good song:


  • 26A: It may be worn on a sneaker (tread) — I only just this second got the sense of "worn" here. I was going to complain that no one thinks "hey, I think I'll wear a TREAD on my sneaker this morning." But "worn" here of course means "worn down from frequent use."
  • 28A: Phnom Penh cash (riel) - wanted BAHT, but that's THAI.
  • 31A: Works in the Uffizi (arte) - Italian for ART. Nice (somewhat) ambiguous use of "works" here.
  • 32A: Poorhouse bedding (straw mattresses) - the first long answer I got, though STRAW came well before MATTRESSES, I think.
  • 50A: It may begin with an exordium (oration) - in retrospect, I don't know why this was hard for me to see, but it was. For --ATION, all I could think of was K-RATION. Seemed unlikely that a K-RATION would contain an "exordium."
  • 59A: Pole position or pool position (lane one) - clever clue
  • 1D: They deliver (mothers) - not, as you might have suspected, DOMINO'S.
  • 9D: Jane Rochester's maiden name (Eyre) - a very useful gimme in the NE. Helped me get EYEHOLE very quickly (16A: It lets you see who's calling).
  • 27D: Part of a backwoods mix-up (rassler) - love it. Maybe my favorite clue/answer pairing of the day.
  • 37D: Subway rider during rush hour, metaphorically (sardine) - only phrase I could come up with at first was STRAP-HANGER.
  • 52D: North African harbor site (Oran) - a place I know of only from crosswords
  • 55D: Bad _____, Mich, (seat of Huron County) - lived in Mich. for eight years and couldn't come up with this. Considered ASS.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

My write-up of today's LAT puzzle is here.


nanpilla 8:15 AM  

This was one of those that took me 45 minutes, and seemed hard, but then when I looked back, everything was reasonable and gettable. Thank goodness for good old Jane EYRE and the TITANIC, because very few other things stood out my first time through. I thought the duck was the oboe, but I couldn't figure out what to put there. Needed every cross to get SONIA. GENTLE AS A LAMB was my first long answer. DEFINITE ARTICLE was my last. That took way too long. I kept thinking it would end in TITLE which gave me
TR_P___. I thought tripped? for got high gradually. That seemed unlikely! Putting the C in there opened up CREPT UP, which gave me that corner.
I don't understand ELEVATE for up. Seems like the wrong part of speech.
I would like to meet ERICH VON TREAD!

Karen 8:24 AM  

This one ground me up and spit me out. No good toeholds for me. And it's really all due to tricky clues rather than made up words. Well, except for MINSTER.

It seems that both AAIER and DRAAIER are Dutch names, but no prominent psychiatrists.

Looking back in Jim's archives, MAS made lots of Fri/Sat puzzles 1995-2005, but hasn't been in the NYT much the past four years. I hope he writes more.

joho 8:25 AM  

I had the same THEORuM as Rex for a while. Other temporary mistakes were bit for ATE, crush for TORCH and shove for STARE. I agree with @nanpilla that this is the kind of puzzle that when you just keep at it, it's reasonable and solvable. I was happy to finish it with no mistakes.

Thanks Martin Ashwood-Smith for a satisfying Friday puzzle!

And thanks @rex for Marley's "One Love." Great,upbeat way to get Friday going with no MISTUNEs.

Oh, one thing I didn't like was Peruvian capital? PEE.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

#%&%$@$... total fail.

I don't even want to say how I tried to spell "Buddhist", that crossed with "Tamales" (and "DST"... I always screw that up. Can anyone give a good reason while we still need to change the clocks?).

Things got worse from there on... and who is "Ethan" Fromm?

My synapses have headed northeast in exile..

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

@Anon 8:31 Ethan Fromm is the title character in an Edith Warton book, and in my mind, a noted Psychoanalyst.

A absolutely knew that DEFINATEARTICLE was that grammatical term that you all argue about here, you know, that bit of grammar I don't know the term for, but you guys argue about whether it's the DEFINITE or INDEFINITE article which makes clue NND wrong. For about 10 minutes.

miguel 8:49 AM  

You makin' fun of BAD ASS, MI? You want some of this? Let's step outside!
Ethan Fromm for me too. Fictional English guy, I am guessing. Is there a real Erich Von Tread?
Last letter was the L in RILL which I guess makes it a Bad Moon Rising. Is Lane ONE and ONE Love generally acceptable or can you call it a one on one solving experience?

Dough 8:55 AM  

Beautiful Friday puzzle! The "railroad" crossing 15's made for a whole different solving challenge. All (read as almost all) of the words are common and terrific. I knew SONIA from previous crosswords. The clues were tricky and fair. I note that between 1 Down and 2 Down we experience the full life cycle, from birth (MOTHERS) to death (INHERIT) — pretty economic! I wonder if there was an Eastminster Abbey at some point in London? More from Martin Ashwood-Smith would be welcome!

Jeffrey 9:07 AM  

DEFINITE ARTICLE in a puzzle? Really? After that incident 10 years ago when The cheated on And? Or barely recovered from the shame. I can't believe The is being glorified this way.

And this puzzle is symmetric. Who wants to see that before breakfast?

NORTHEAST isn't facing northeast. A good constructor would have fixed that. And what kind of editor thinks INHERIT is a word? It's English, for goodness sake!

TITANIC? Can't we include a ship that sunk this century?

I can't even find a theme in this puzzle. How lazy is that!


imsdave 9:09 AM  

Put me in the THEORUM camp.

A fine puzzle that I struggled with for over 40 minutes, but loved avery minute of it. RAILSTOPS slowed me down quite a bit, and while RAILHEAD looks odd to me, it is most certainly accurate given the clue.

Kudos to Mr. Ashwood-Smith

ArtLvr 9:19 AM  

I got LANE ONE as it related to a swimming pool, but was hoping someone would explain the "pole" part of the clue -- boating? pole vault?

Like Rex, I took a long time to work all this out, even thought of Sausage rather than SARDINE for people stuffed into the subway, with the second S for Standard time. TITANIC cured that SW corner. Yet I found it very satisfying, an excellent challenge!


Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Straw mattresses were popular in medieval England.
Medieval beds would have been a better clue.

JC66 9:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 9:40 AM  

For pole positon think Indy 500.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Karen said; "rather than made up words. Well, except for MINSTER."

Sorry, but I gotta disagree. MINSTER is not a made up word. Check the dictionary/Wikipedia or Google it. Also, I can think of at least two churches in England that use the word as a "stand-alone" word: York Minster, and Beverly Minster. York Minster, BTW, is one of the most important cathedrals in England.

jeff in chicago 9:55 AM  

Crushed. CRUSHED! Just as Fridays seeemed to be getting easier. It didn't help that I threw in ENDPOINTS for RAILHEADS and PEPPERS for CEREALS making a whole lot of crosses hard to parse. I hated MISTUNE. Oh well...moving on.

Opus2 10:01 AM  

On a redundant note.. one of the best know churches in the world is Westminster Abbey, which serves the area of Westminster which was named after the West Minster, which was the major church (the Minster) serving the western part of Middlesex. So is the church named after the borough, or is the borough named after the church?

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

nanpilla -- elevate and up here are both verbs. I can't think of an example where these words are used synonymously but they're in the same ballpark.

joho -- the capital letter P (pee) leads off Peruvian

It took a while but I was able to solve this without cheating, which isn't always the case on Friday. I was surprised CRISS wasn't clued with a reference to the Kiss drummer.

Ulrich 10:03 AM  

I, for one, got immediately into a groove when I saw the grid, which has all the symmetries a square grid can have. EYRE was the name that got me started, too. Got held up by putting in TRAMP for BEAST and NEEDING for NEEDIER--to literal here in matching clue and answer. Had to guess the crossing of SONIA and CRISS. Aside from that, a steady solve in two sessions, as opposed to other Fridays I could name.

Do they still have straw mattresses in poor houses? The thing survives in German: if your spouse is away temporarily, you're a straw widow/widower, i.e. not a real widow/widower, but alone on the straw.

@fikink (as per yesterday): I get it (couldn't answer then--was 3-and-out, which one MUST observe in a baseball-themed puzzle). But if this is one of these unwritten rules that exist only in WS's head, it's in dire need to be broken!

@anonymous: How about Westminster?

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

@anonymous: How about Westminster?

Yeah, I thought about that, but,
I wanted to give two examples of MINSTER being used as a separate word.

nanpilla 10:19 AM  

@twangster - I guess up can be used as a verb in slang, like
"Up the ante". But you're right, "elevate the ante" just sounds stupid!

JannieB 10:22 AM  

Well not knowing Mr. Angel, my duck was named Tonia - htf was I to know the difference?

Other than that, it was a great solving experience - and a good workout. We have a great grid, wonderful clues and unforced fill - now that's a trifecta!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:25 AM  

Oddly enough, got MOTHERS immediately, partially because I'd used a similar clue before. Took way too long to get through this one, but again, right level of ambiguity in the cluing. And, like you mentioned, nothing sloppy in the fill. Had DR MALFI for a while at 18-A, which made the whole NE really hairy. Approved.

retired_chemist 10:29 AM  

Fun. Kudos to Mr. Ashwood-Smith. Easy for a Friday. Some classy cluing – among the examples not yet mentioned, 1D MOTHERS: they deliver was my favorite. 60A CEREALS: some like them hot was second. Still puzzling whether Billy the Kid used a definite article FOR or IN his nickname. I vote for IN. Reminded of a poor college joke: What is Smoky The Bear’s middle name? Ans: The.

Cheated once – asked Michigander wife (Michigoose? We’ve been there….) about BAD ___ , MI, which she knew (55D, AXE). Had desperately wanted BAD ASS, MI, but no luck. The A got rid of LEOPOLD (wrong anyway – Leopold and Loeb murdered Bobby Franks in 1924, per Wikipedia, not 1912). The X gave me 58A IN EXILE (who knew?) so her contribution was key.

Left 22A as _VI, knowing it was either C or L, and let the cross confirm the L eventually. Proud of getting 39D AVIATOR (Wiley POST) with no crosses, redeeming myself in early 20th century American history.

45A CRIS_/46D _ONIA was a true Natick, except that there aren’t too many letters that could give two plausible names: S, T, I, H in decreasing likelihood. S was my guess and it worked. I was actually trying to think of the instrument associated with the duck but got far enough into SONIA I decided that it wasn’t that. Thought “bass clarinet,” which is a tad more than five letters. Actually oboe.

Embarrassed to need 6(!) crosses for 18A FRASIER. Tend to think of fictional as implying non-TV, which, if generalizable, speaks volumes about the tube and society.

PlantieBea 10:32 AM  

A very doable Friday puzzle for me and a smooth solving experience except in the SW where I originally entered CLIMBED and MISTYPE.

I really liked the long sprawly answers and I was ready for a themeless puzzle like this.

Old matresses were also stuffed with milkweed fluff or Spanish moss. The latter material, however, is often infested with red bugs or chiggers. Ouch.

New words were exordium and MINSTER which I didn't know could stand alone.

Glitch 10:35 AM  

First pass gave SOS, Torch, Eyre, Tramp, Sardine and a sigh when Chris wouldn't play nice with the sardines.

Second pass, (and second cup) things started falling together and corrections made, continued on to a satisfying finish.

Today is a "happy day" in MY xword world, a refreshing change.


SethG 10:39 AM  

The "Abbey" part of Westminster Abbey implies church to me, so no help there. I struggled for a while with MINxTER. ILO is an agency, right, not a warnin? Well, it's as much a warnin as SLO is. SLOw, along with "painful", would describe my solve, though.

As a mathematician, I couldn't think of THEOREM. I tried to fit in "postulate". Had CEREALS for a while for Post, only at the very end for CEREALS. Couldn't decide whether Hugo was SIXTEEN or SEVENTY when he finished the book. NO WOMAN. SPYHOLE, ETHAN Fromm. ENROLED, DST, AS FOR. Lots more. Spent a long time staring at xExATED and DExIxES. DERIVATIVE works with a lot of the same crosses as DEFINITE... I tried to fit in STRAPER. I mean, ?. I might have had OVATION/VILL. I did know Bad AXE, but the abbrev. for Mich. sloed me down.

I need more sleep.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

"The "Abbey" part of Westminster Abbey implies church to me, so no help there."

Confusing, I agree. But "Westminster" is in fact a borough of London in which the famous abbey is located.

Anne 10:55 AM  

I did my first Friday puzzle in January of this year and the main thing that has changed is that I'm not intimidated by them anymore. When I began to read through the clues this morning, I thought as usual that I knew nothing. But then I saw Erich and torch in the NW and Criss and Bad Axe (I'm from Michigan) in the NE and I slowly began to make progress with some help from my dictionary (no googles) and more time than I will admit. But in the end it was quite doable, not easy, but doable.

joho 11:00 AM  

@twangster ... what I was getting at in my comment was that I don't like clues that are referring to the first letter of a word i.e. Peruvian. I think they're lame. Plus, for obvious reasons, PEE didn't look to me at breakfast.

ArtLvr 11:03 AM  

p.s. I chuckled at AVIATOR because I just found out yesterday that the young man who mows my lawn is joining the Air Force in the fall. I exclaimed "Wow, you're going to be a pilot?" and he replied "No, I'm too tall." That left me speechless, but he was serious! Learn something new every day...


fikink 11:12 AM  

Held onto "climbed" for CREPTUP for far too long.
at one point wanted "ensue" for ARISE.
I really enjoyed the challenge.
Nice to see you again, Miguel!
LOL! LOL! Crosscan!
@Ulrich, glad you saw my question. Not sure my thinking is correct; it is just the only way I can explain it to myself. Still pondering...;)
@PlantieBea, milkweed fluff is so poetic! Love it.
@BEQ, your fictional thoughts are truly scary...but may lay the foundation for a written piece. thanks;)

Two Ponies 11:22 AM  

Fun returns to Puzzleland!
A little on the easy side but enjoyable misdirections kept it lively for me.
Now off to the kitchen to pinch some salt.

retired_chemist 11:28 AM  

I like the connection of MINSTER to the German Münster. (No, not a typo for Herman Munster). Wikipedia relates Münster to the Latin monasterium. Seems, from the entry for Ulmer Münster, that a Münster has virtual cathedral status except it never was the seat of a bishopric.

I hope Ulrich will be able to confirm.

fikink 11:28 AM  

Correction: Last comment to BEQ should have been directed to Retired Chemist. Sorry, BEQ.
R_C, thanks for the VERY interesting thing to ponder!!!

slypett 11:49 AM  

When I first encountered it, and had only ERICH and TORCH, I quietly paniced. Googled early and often, but still had to fight it out. Very satisfied with the result. Like having a good meal at my favorite Indian joint (yo to Spice n' Hot, Melrose, Mass.).

A fine puzzle.

Ulrich 11:59 AM  

@R_C: Confirmed. The connection was clear to me, but I try not to overdo this German stuff in my comments--given the choice, I opted for the straw widower, perhaps b/c I am one right now. (I needed a super-human effort yesterday not to comment on the Erlking:-)

mac 12:10 PM  

GreatFriday puzzle! I enjoyed every minute, and happy there were many, although I had quite a few slowdowns:

dune for rill
tamales for cereals
"usher at" for inherit
cleat for tread
mistype for mistune
and Munster in Germany has a very important cathedral... (I know, Ulrich, it should be Muenster).

Erich and Criss/Sonia were pure guesses. I also had the "straw" way before the mattresses. At 58A I wondered if Victor Hugo was decapitated; I held my breath until "in exile" formed.

Could someone explain what a rassler is, and what the cardinals/Northeast q/a means?

@Karen: funny re the Dutch names. An aaier would be someone stroking a pet or a baby's head, and a draaier a turner.

I would love to see more of MAS's puzzles!

imsdave 12:16 PM  

Hi Mac - rassler is hillbilly for wrestler.

Anne 12:23 PM  

@Cross Can - Very funny.

@ArtLvr - When I went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio, the tour guide told us that Pearl Harbor starring Ben Afleck (sp?) was ridiculous because Afleck is much too tall to be a pilot. Tom Cruise would have been a better choice. I could hardly believe it.

dk 12:25 PM  

I was following the psychology theme and wanted ASGENTLEASALAMB to be some type of asylum but...

Had Sasha for the duck and trapist for the monk. They were felled when lovely wife was asked if she knew of a Mich town called Bad something... she knew.

@mac, rasslin is what a RASSLER does.

A good one, thanks Martin.

Two Ponies 12:34 PM  

@ mac, I don't understand the cardinal/northeast connection either.
Anyone care to make me feel silly and explain it?

poc 12:34 PM  

An excellent puzzle. Solid fill everywhere, no irrelevant theme, no sports figures, and a minimum of placenames (though I wonder if anyone could be expected to get EDA except from crosses). I took me ages but I got it all with no Googling, so I'm pleased today :-)

HudsonHawk 12:38 PM  

@mac and TwoPonies, the four cardinal directions are North, East, South and West.

Loved this puzzle, but I crawled through the Northern half. Once I got the long downs, the South fell much more quickly.

My bad spelling of THEORoM did not look right at all, but I really like AMOR for the "Loving leader". Once ONE LOVE came to me, things started clicking.

PuzzleGirl 12:44 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. Read through the acrosses and didn't have a single gimme until ... well, I'm not sure I even had an across gimme. I had the same mistakes others have mentioned: tamales for CEREALS, DST for EDT. I did not have Domino's for MOTHERS but that's pretty funny.

@mac: You already got your answer for RASSLER (Rex, I could have provided you a perfect picture for that clue!). North and East are cardinal directions, so Northeast is between two cardinals.

dk 12:44 PM  

Sauce fans from yesterday. I added crushed fresh rosemary to the capers, lemons salt and peppah. Wrapped the salmon in foil threw it on the bar-b and in 10 minutes... yum.

Used dried mustard in the salad dressing per one of your posts. It all came together with some Black Box Cab, they do not have a CLARET

Hey Acme.... guess who I carry a TORCH for :).

Yes, yes I should not be posting about food> It could be worse... let me show you.

A great joke: Take a pinch of SALT and throw it at some unwitting child (they all are) when the parents are not looking and then say: "Hah, you have been a-salted." With any luck milk will come out of their nose.

DJG 1:10 PM  

Good puzzle. Not any jaw-droppingly, great fill and not a lot of cool letters (0 - Q, Z, K, J and 1 - X), but the wide-openness of the grid, particularly in the center and the almost complete lack of iffy fill made of up for this.

Being in math grad school I've spelled THEOREM hundreds of times in my life, so no problem there. I needed the 'H' before I felt comfortable filling it in, though, primarily because I tend to think of a theorem as already being proved. A theorem is what you get after you prove a conjecture. No gripe with the clue though, common-usage-wise it's fine.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:18 PM  

Very nice Fiday puzzle.

As sometimes happens, Rex's very first fill was my very last. For 2 D, Be a willing participant?, I had GOFORIT, and it took every cross to convince me that the right answer was INHERIT. (Actually, I could raise a slight objection, in that to INHERIT seems more like being a Willed participant.)

mac 1:25 PM  

@HudsonHawk, PuzzleGirl, dk and imsdave, thank you for the explanations. I was thinking in that direction re. NW, but I don't think I have ever heard the word cardinal used this way. Hope you can give us a link to the rassling, PG!

Sara 1:34 PM  

Who thinks EDA was a deliberate homage to Christina Applegate?

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Sorry to joho -- I misread your comment as you didn't get it, not that you didn't like it.

archaeoprof 1:59 PM  

I had twenty-six writeovers today! One for each of those state abbreviations...

Clark 2:02 PM  

Fun puzzle. I had to take a break and come back and chip away at it, but it was all fair and solvable. Yeah! My last letter was the S in MINSTER. I didn't know this was an English word (Westminster? Hello!?). But I knew Münster and that brought me home.

@Bob Kerfuffle -- In answer to the slight objection you could have raised: You can't be forced to inherit; you have to accept it. So you do have to be willing in your participation in the willing.

fergus 2:10 PM  

I too was thinking about a church in MUNSTER, with the corresponding Down being UNHIRED for the willing participant. I also considered MONSTER from one one those Rick Warren style mega-churches, but figured that might be too much editorial content. SAGGY Mattresses was in the running for a bit, too.

Friday makes me cautious, so TITANIC seemed a little too obvious, as did EERIE. I was on to the Sneaker wear, but first went for UPPER. Do sneakers have uppers? Back and forth on VAN, VON and even wondered about DEN, but that's a definite article, not a preposition.

This was a very empty puzzle for about ten minutes, but then the switch from KEYHOLE set everything in motion, yielding that great satisfaction when the huge matrix of crossing possibilities gets sorted out in a single stroke. Kinda mathematical, but I forget what it's called when you get that magic vector to cross-multiply and the ungainly matrix is elegantly simplified. Math guys, feel free to revise my analogy.

fikink 2:42 PM  

I had GO FOR IT, too, initially, but that would have precluded the ? in the clue. "willing" had little to do with intent or desire, IMO, and everything to do with wordplay; hence, the ?

william e emba 2:48 PM  

SONIA was the duck's name in the Disney version of Peter and the Wolf, not the original Prokofiev, where it was unnamed.

Unknown 2:49 PM  

solid, a difficult (for me) Friday puzzle. 'One Love' and 'Theorem' helped me in the NW. I got "Strawmattresses' pretty quicky. The paired, "Erase" and "Remove all traces' helped quite a bit. Had 'Mistype' and 'Line up' in the SE.

Loved the cluing on 'Northeast', 'Mothers' and 'eyehole'.

foodie 2:57 PM  

what is wrong with me? Huron River is practically in my backyard, and I didn't know BAD AXE, Mi! It turns out it's in the thumb of Michigan, right near the crescent of the fingernail. Acme, I think the old Michiganders needed your help, between BAD AXE and HELL, Michigan...

Another thing I should have known and didn't is that IN EXILE business about Hugo.. In general, I was inspired in the North (thank you ERICH Fromm for starting me up) and stumped in the south. CRESTED in lieu of CREPT UP, and ENSUE in lieu of ARISE held things back in the southeast, and by the time I got to the Southwest I had a headache AND needed to get some real work done. So, like Rex said, Medium-Challenging for Friday.

edith b 3:25 PM  

I was able to move down the West Coast in short order thru the NEEDIER/THEOREM cross as I saw MOTHERS early on and was complete thru STRAWMATTRESSES but I made a big mess in the SE that turned this one into an overnighter.

I had to blank out the entire corner, stare for a while until I was finally able to parse POST correctly and finish this one. I didn't like MISTUNE at all and found the puzzle to be unsatifying.

I don't like to criticize the constructer but I found this one lacked something. No sizzle between the 2 referenced clues at 7D and 30D and a 15 letter clue just to indicate "the"? And I didn't like the clue at 36A. I may be wrong but this one did not sing to me.

Alex S. 3:32 PM  

Some early daring guesses slowed me down.

WOULDNT HURT A FLY in place of GENTLE AS A LAMB felt so right that I discarded other right answers for a while to preserve it. It didn't help that once I realized my mistake I truly brainfarted and put in AS GENTLE AS A LEAF (I know, WFT?).

Finally fixed that and put in ADVISOR for Post based on the A----OR. As in Emily, no idea who the aviator is.

For Billy the Kid, D--IN-T--- had me putting in DIMINUTIVE as the start.

I initially went for full redneck with RASSLIN' instead of RASSLER.

But an eminently fair puzzle in that I was able to eventually (if slowly) get it all straightened out.

chefbea 4:05 PM  

Tough puzzle for me today. Had to come here to finally finnish.

Can someone explain why character lineup= rst ???

retired_chemist 4:11 PM  

@ chefbea - 3 consecutive (lined up) characters in the alphabet.

chefbea 4:16 PM  

@R_C doh!!!!


jae 4:30 PM  

Not flashy but a very solid Fri. which I liked a lot. To me this is what a Fri. should be, on the tough side but very doable. I too had the TRAMP, RASSLIN, CHRIS, and ENROLED missteps (and I was pretty sure ENROLED was not a real word) but it was all fixable. Nice puzzle MAS.

@chefbea -- I read RST as a line up of alphabet characters. I hesitated putting it in a first because it seemed to obvious.

Susan 6:32 PM  

I did it! I did a Friday without Googling!

slypett 6:34 PM  

To Susan: Congratulations (from one who googled).

michael 7:42 PM  

Unlike most of the other commentators (and Rex), I found this easy for a Friday. I also liked the puzzle, good clues and answer. The only problem I had came from my bad penmanship, when I kept wondering who "trasier" was until I saw that my supposed "t" was an "f."

fergus 8:22 PM  

While this puzzle was really pretty good, for the well plotted solving confusion, Edith's comment about the emptiness of those referential Clues showed how the layout was slightly mistuned.

I don't recall seeing this constructor's name before, but Mr. Martin A-S, there is a great deal to commend for your efforts here. And like many of us regulars at the method-one clinic, I hope to hear from you after you've Proceeded (from) all these observations.

joho 8:38 PM  

Hey @Susan ... congratulations!

@edith b ... it's funny how differently we react to the puzzle. My favorite clue and answer was 36A "Totally benign" "ASGENTLEASALAMB." I think that's what makes us and these puzzles and constructors so interesting.

Hate us or love us, we crossword people are not boring.

3 and out. Happy Friday evening everybody.

sanfranman59 9:30 PM  

I'm rethinking excluding times above 1 hour in coming up with a median solve time. The idea was to try and restrict it to people who solve the puzzle in one sitting. But there were so many 1 hour+ solve times yesterday and especially today, that I now feel compelled to include them. I assume there will be even more for the Saturday puzzle. So here are this week's daily median solve times, with two values for today's puzzle: one including only solve times less than an hour and one including all solve times (with the number of solvers in parentheses).

Mon 7:10 (800)
Tue 8:20 (807)
Wed 9:51 (754)
Thu 15:36 (489)
Fri (< 1 hr) 28:53 (334)
Fri (all) 33:08 (428)

humorlesstwit 9:45 PM  

@Rex & Whoever else was involved.
I've been reading Alice Munro, totally enchanted, and trying to figure out where I first heard of her. I finally remembered it was here, and wanted to say thanks.

mac 9:52 PM  

@humorlesstwit: If you like Alice Munro, you might also like Mavis Gallant. She's a Canadian writer living in France, and I heard about her just recently. I've read just a few of her short stories and I love them.

P.S. I seem to read short stories more since I found Rex's blog and started spending more time on xword puzzles.....

fergus 12:21 AM  

Alice Munro love is universal, but the beloved Green Mantis put the affection into print so well, some time about a year ago, so that all I could do was second her emotion, in a trite repetition.

(There's a beautiful picture of her in the current Newsweek in connection with winning a major British literary prize.)

Ellen 3:31 AM  

For those who liked this Martin Ashwood-Smith puzzle, he has a few books out. Just use your favorite search engine at your favorite bookseller, and enjoy.

Stan 10:19 AM  

Happy (and somewhat amazed) to have finished this one. Correctly, despite lots of ink on the page. My mind kept trying to find a connection between 'Lamb' and 'Kid' -- so DEFINITE ARTICLE was the revelatory moment...

Hard but fun!

Will 12:23 AM  

Tough, but ultimately doable. my entries were Eyre, Titanic and sardines and for some reason got "definite article" from fairly few letters which helped a lot. Love that clue for it.

Minster? New to me.

Waxy in Montreal 8:25 PM  

Connecting yesterday's baseball theme to today's puzzle is that another 1912 headline name (54A) was Fenway, the Red Sox home park opening just a few days after the Titanic sank.

shrub5 1:02 AM  

@retired_chemist: Thanks for clearing up 39D Post, for one = AVIATOR. Now I recall that Will (never met a man I didn't like) Rogers died while on an around the world trip in a small plane piloted by Post which crashed in the Alaska Territory.
@Greene: I learned about aviator Wiley Post from the musical "The Will Rogers Follies", one of my favorites. Very funny and great songs.
Well, this beast of a puzzle took me more than an hour with a few Googles. I liked CRONIES for gang members. EYEHOLE sounds weird to me; I've only used peephole (a very tiny nit). I think "got into a pickle" is the funniest clue ever for plain ol' ATE.

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