Vultures were sacred to him — FRIDAY, Jul. 31 2009 — It contains 613 mitzvot / Oscar-nominated portrayer of Frida Kahlo / TV commentator Timex ads

Friday, July 31, 2009

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Mitzvot (10D: It contains 613 mitzvot => TORAH) — pl. of MITZVAH n., pl. -voth (-vōt', -vōs') or -vahs.

    1. A commandment of the Jewish law.
    2. The fulfillment of such a commandment.
  1. A worthy deed.

[Hebrew miswâ, from siwwâ, to command.]


Another even shorter write-up today. Today's early morning errand: car to garage for new front brakes, alignment, oil/filter change, etc. Bah.

A mostly enjoyable Friday puzzle pitched to just the right level of difficulty. Maybe *slightly* on the easy side, but not significantly. This grid is less wide open than most late-week grids — no daunting stacks of long words, no harrowing blocks of white. And yet the puzzle still proved thorny, and still entertained. Had a little trouble getting started, but then I saw 17A: Oscar-nominated portrayer of Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek), a nice long gimme that opened things right up. Before that, the only thing I had in the grid was ARM (4D: The Adriatic vis-a-vis the Mediterranean), and I wasn't very sure of that. SALMA HAYEK plays Jack's (Alec Baldwin's) girlfriend on "30 Rock" and is hilarious. I've never liked her more than on that show. HAYEK turned AMIN to SHAH (14D: Onetime C.I.A.-backed foreign leader), and the NW went down fairly easily, with only DOYENNE (6D: Helen Thomas in the White House press corps). I do not like the word DOYENNE. Or MAVEN. Or MAUVE, for that matter, but that's not really relevant here.

After escaping the NW, I ran into only one more trouble spot: LEYDEN JAR (32D: It might store an electric charge). Turns out ... I don't know what that is. This probably should have been the word of the day, but I don't have time to change things at this point:

Leyden jar ('dən) , form of capacitor invented at the Univ. of Leiden in the 18th cent. It consists of a narrow-necked glass jar coated over part of its inner and outer surfaces with conductive metal foil; a conducting rod or wire passes through an insulating stopper in the neck of the jar and contacts the inner foil layer, which is separated from the outer layer by the glass wall. By modern standards, the Leyden jar is cumbersome and inefficient. It is rarely used except in laboratory demonstrations of capacitance.

So I had to hack my way through the SE, getting most of LEYDEN JAR through crosses. Then we came to the bitter end, where I had the weird experience of having not one but two single-letter shoot-outs at the end: one minor, one major. First, there was the "C" at the intersection of CHAIRS (43A: Heads up) / CELLED (43D: Single-_____). I had to back that "C" into a corner before it would show itself. But the even squirmier letter in the south, and my final letter overall, was the "W" in BOW (56D: It comes after the last number) / WED (62A: Bond). Had to run through the alphabet for that one — and like FA, that's a long long way to run.


  • 6A: Factory staple (die) — Friday cluing. Felt like it could have been anything.
  • 21A: What a player may mean by knocking on the table ("I pass") — poker, I presume. Not my game.
  • 26A: Subject of the 1955 film "The Last Command" (Alamo) — more Friday cluing. If ALAMO gets a film clue, it's usually as the title of the John Wayne movie.

["The $12-million epic!"]

  • 29A: Band members with long necks? (sitars) — never think of these being part of a "band."
  • 31A: Many students on "Gilmore Girls" (Elis) — never seen it, but knew it had something to do with Yale.
  • 32A: It's 11 miles NNW of JFK (LGA) — sure seemed longer by car.
  • 37A: Roll top? (schmear) — great clue. Very difficult to make sense of.
  • 42A: Early TV news commentator famous for doing Timex ads (Swayze) — I remember a Timex ad with Shari Belafonte (from my childhood) where she referred to Swayze and I had No idea what she was talking about.

  • 56A: Comics character with a "gang" (Bazooka Joe) — he always looks good in the grid.
  • 60A: Passage enabler ("open sesame") — more tough cluing. I thought the answer would have something to do with passing legislation.
  • 63A: City in 1917 headlines (Ypres) — Site of WWI battle.
  • 15D: Plumber seen in an arcade (Mario) — got his start in Donkey Kong, but then ended up in all kinds of Mario Bros. games for Nintendo.
  • 23D: Computer debut of 1998 (iMac) — just read article about all the free advertising Apple is giving NYT in its iPhone ads. Beginning to think Apple's products are also given crossword friendly names so that they have yet another way to keep their product names in front of people on a regular basis. Really, how often do you see ZUNE in the puzzle? Now IPOD? See what I mean? Sinister.
  • 27D: Slimming option, for short (lipo) — -suction
  • 30D: Fast Eddie's girlfriend in "The Hustler" (Sarah) — about the most obscure clue on SARAH that I've ever seen.
  • 34D: Vultures were sacred to him (Ares) — why "were?" Why not "are?" If he's a god, and immortal, then he still likes his vultures.
  • 58D: "My baby at my breast," in Shakespeare (asp) — HA ha, gruesome. Love it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. my write-up of today's Scrabbletastic LAT puzzle is here.


John 7:35 AM  

Second day I couldn't finish without coming here. The've had some REALLY obtuse cluing lately. For me it takes a lot of the fun out of solving.

I did know LEYDEN JAR right off the bat.

JannieB 7:50 AM  

This was more challenging for me - over 30 minutes is a very slow Friday. It was all about the cluing - some really tough stuff (bow, cellec/chairs, schmear). I had a malapop there- kept trying to put sesame on that roll. (Also tried sea salt for a bit). I put my schmear on a bagel, not a roll.

Always enjoy a Nothnagel challenge. It's been awhile - glad he's back!

treedweller 8:29 AM  

I got through this one pretty well, and was feeling pretty proud of my progress--not that long since I looked at Friday grids for an hour or so, then threw up my hands in exasperation. But I had an error. I searched and searched, until finally I just wandered The Net until Orange posted the answer. Turns out I abbreviated association ASSc instead of ASSN, giving me cOR for NOR. I was thinking "corollary," and was good and ready to complain about how close that was to "correlative," but I could not see the error of my ways. Alas!

I don't remember the newsman, his commercials, or the one mentioned by Rex that referred to him, but managed to guess right there. I also struggled with SALMA's name, as I wanted a's where the e's go and vice versa, but that came together, as well. With these plus words like YPRES in the grid, it stings a little to be brought down by NOR. I should have paid more attention to School House Rock.

nanpilla 8:49 AM  

Thank goodness for SALMA HAYEK, she opened the grid up for me and got me going. The W in BOW was my last letter also, a very long way to run, and obvious once I got there. THERES MORE makes me think of infomercials - but wait....
Loved how the long answers really are in the language: DEAD TO RIGHTS was my favorite one. Agree with @JannieB - my schmears always go on bagels - good misdirection. Solid Friday Puzzle. Thanks, Mike!

ArtLvr 8:51 AM  

I'm with JannieB -- medium/challenging. It was like pulling teeth, but I got there! Thank heavens for IRISH WHISKEY, as I'd taken out HIDES but put it back, and that got me LEYDEN JAR and the rest of the lower right quadrant, last AREA to fall.


Eric 9:06 AM  

I'm with Rex on LEYDEN JAR - never heard of it. Also had to look at CHAIR for several seconds to even get why that was the answer. Too early in the am I guess. Good challenging puzzle. I had to put it down and run some errands before I started to get traction. Also had issues with SALMA's a's and e's

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:09 AM  

Oddly enough, I got LEYDEN JAR really early. After NHL (a gimme) and BAZOOKA JOE fell, that NJ was enough to get LEYDEN JAR. Overall solid puzzle. FREE THROW LINE and clue was the jam. A-

fikink 9:16 AM  

@jannieB, I, too, tried to put sesame seeds on the roll. Had to be abandoned when OPEN SESAME emerged. Agreed, SCHMEARs go on bagels.

@treedweller, better to be brought down by NOR than by ONESIES, as I was.

@Artlvr, "pulling teeth" describes my experience with this one, too, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Had no idea I knew what a LEYDEN JAR was.

Way to go, Mike Nothnagel !

edith b 9:21 AM  

Ah, the early days of TV. John Cameron SWAYZE was to commercial TV what those cavemen are today. Ubiquitous.

I always like a Nothnagel puzzle. The cluing is always a workout for me but today the long ones were semi-neons for me, I got IRISHWHISKEY off the W in SWAYZE, BAZOOKAJOE off the J in LEYDENJAR and guessed FREETHROWLINE off the I in IRISHWHISKEY. Sort of a backwards-solve for me.

Ruth 9:26 AM  

I'm not much of a bridge player, but in some groups I've played with, it's the custom to knock to indicate "I pass."
@JannieB, same exact thought on the malapop.

PlantieBea 9:33 AM  

About 3/4 of this puzzle I could solve without a lot of trouble. Had to adjust the SALMA HAYEK spelling several times. She was good as Frida and I'm a fan of hers for 30 Rock. I also spelled SCHMEaR incorrectly at first with an E in the A spot.

The SE corner was the last to fall. I'm not wild about WED for bond. I also cringed to think that the performer might receive a BOO after his last number. I'm happy it turned into a BOW. BAZOOKA JOE and the gang came back to me, along with the smell of the pink bubble gum.

I enjoyed it, Mike Nothnagel!

PuzzleGirl 9:51 AM  

This has been a good puzzle week, hasn't it? Add to that a Friday Nothnagel and, wow! Love love love seeing his byline and this puzzle didn't disappoint. I had loads of trouble in the SW. Like Eric, I'm all, "It's gotta be CHAIRS, but what the ... ?"

Tried FLAT for DYED, OVAL and BAIL for OPAL, REPLY for REPAY, and on and on. But it finally came together and I was a happy girl to finish. Wasn't all that long ago that a complete Friday wasn't anywhere in the picture for me. Thanks, Rex and everyone!

Pinky 10:05 AM  

Can someone explain what's square things about repay?

Or why LEES is remains?

Never heard of Dead to Rights. And had Leaden for Leyden cause I figure batteries are made of lead.

I agree with Rex about SITARS.

Otherwise, I did it without pre-or post-googling, but would still rate it Medium-Challenging for moi.

Bryan 10:07 AM  

Very odd to read the comments -- I breezed through this one with the exception of SE, which I got after a few minutes of rasslin'.

Then again, "breezed" is a relative term.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

@Pinky: colloquial phrase "to square things up" / to blance things out / to repay

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

@Pinky: LEES are, for example, the dregs in the bottom of a bottle of wine and thus the "remains" or what's left over.

Pinky 10:13 AM  

@Anonymous. Thanks. I can see REPAY now. LEES is still a new one on me.

Norm 10:13 AM  

Tough puzzle. Did not know SALMAHAYEK and had nothing until FREETHROWLINE. Guessed on LGA and LEYDENJAR was then close to gimme. Had to fight my through the rest of it, but it was very enjoyable task. Thanks, MN

joho 10:15 AM  

I, too, wanted sesames for SCHMEAR. In fact, I made a smear at SCHMEAR with not one, but two re-rights. OPEN SESAME made it clear that it was not SCHMEAR. I love saying SCHMEAR. And I do agree, it goes on a bagel.

Lovely Friday puzzle, Mr. Nothnagel ... hey, does you name rhyme with bagel?

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I found this surprisingly easy, with the exception of the SWAYZE / LEYDEN crossing, which I didn't get. I vaguely remember the Timex commercial but couldn't figure out how to spell it -- I mistakenly assumed it would be different than the actor (SWEAZE?) or the actor would have been the clue.

Susan 10:44 AM  

Swayze / Leyden was impossible for me. Also, I really wish I could spell, because "Salma Hayek" made a lot more sense in the grid than "Selma Hayak..."

PurpleGuy 10:50 AM  

"Takes a licking, and keeps on ticking !"
Boy do I remember those commercials.

Agree with others that this was a bit of a challenge for me.
The NW came fairly easy,thanks to Salma Hayek.but then I tanked in the SE.

Can someone explain the answer to 21d Mayo sauce?and the answer IRISH WHISKEY ?

Good solid Friday puzzle.
Hats off to Mr.Nothnagel(rhymes with bagel !)

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

Some pretty tough misdirection from our friend Mr. Nothnagel.
When all I had was the -ine of free throw line I thought maybe the player was going somewhere to whine.
I loved remembering John Cameron Swayze. It made me think of watching TV with my grandparents. He did some cool things to those watches.
Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Agree with Rex about the asp clue. Gruesome and cool at the same time.
All-in-all more on the tough side for me until I got some traction but definitely fair.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  


Patrick Swayze spells it the same way. Just Friday cluing I guess.

SALMAHAYEK started me off and running, but got stuck in NE until TORAH helped resolve, and in CA, I needed FJORD to get that corner.

Real good puzzle.


Anonymous 10:56 AM  


County Mayo is one of a few Ireland counties that appear occasionally in the puzzle - Sligo and Down are two more.


Anonymous 10:59 AM  

for PurpleGuy, Mayo is a county in Ireland. Sauce, of course, is a slang term for alcoholic drink.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

RT-Yes, I know. I was trying to say that since the actor spells it SWAYZE the news guy must have spelled it differently.

Denise 11:08 AM  

What if you are SURE that the actress was PENELOPE CRUZ, but the letters don't fit so there has to be a TRICK? What could UZ stand for? I got myself tied up in knots!

I learned LEYDEN JAR the same way I have learned so many things -- a daughter's Chem class.

Loved SWAYZE -- IRISH WHISKEY was a no-brainer for me. Thanks for both videos.

A nice puzzle.

PurpleGuy 11:10 AM  

@Anonymous10:56- thank you for the explanation.
Knew about sauce,but am unfamiliar with my Irish counties. Should brush up, since my great grandparents on my mother's side came from Ireland ! Her maiden name-Dunn.

John in CT 11:14 AM  

Ok, I still don't understand how "head's up" = CHAIRS. Can anyone explain please?

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

@JohninCT someone may head up a committee, as in chairs the committee.

John in CT 11:25 AM  


Jane 11:30 AM  

I seem to have stumped myself in a unique way on SCHMEAR. "Roll" didn't bring "bagel" to mind; I finally guessed it was SCHOLAR, i.e. head of the class list. Eventually realized that wouldn't work with LGA, and I knew what a Leyden jar was, so worked backwards to SCHMEAR.

retired_chemist 11:31 AM  

I was (for me) moving right along, finished but for 2 squares, at the 22 minute mark, and could not get them to save my life.

Had ON(E)_IE @28A (I was beginning to doubt EELS @ 24D), E(L)_S @ 31A, and A_ _ CS @ 25D. Never watched Gilmore Girls even once. Never heard of any NIKE rival with those letters. Googled AWACS and found out it was a plane, not a missile, so not a Nike competitor even if the missile and neither the shoe nor the winged goddess of victory was the referent. Considered ONE PIE as a baby shower gift. I have never been to one, first wife never had one for our kids, and wondered if it was somehow a good luck symbol in mère nouvelle culture I Just. Hadn’t. Heard. Of. Went through the alphabet hastily (missing the correct answer, alas) and decided that ELKS was a possibility for the GG students. Had the image of middle aged (and up) members of the Elks lodge and wondered what they might have been studying. Recalled my favorite S. J. Perelman line about someone middle aged, “Afflicted like the rest of us with bunions, flatulence, and presbyopia…” and imagined it might be some senior health thing at a community college. That gave me APKCS for the Nike rival, which didn’t sound like a government acronym. I was at my ALAMO.

Gave up at 30 min, called OPEN SESAME to non-puzzle wife and asked about the baby shower present. The immediate response was ONESIE – OK, she was sure, but WTF. I took EELS as correct then. That left me with EL_S @ 31A and AS_CS @25D. ELOS? Were they in a crossword-friendly rock band? Googled nike asocs and found the right answer ASICS. Still WTF.

Can’t complain about the puzzle – suitably tough for Friday, yet doable. I have met the enemy, and he is me.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  


I should have read your first post more carefully.


john farmer 11:45 AM  

Good to see the MN byline again. The puzzle was full of lively stuff. Sort of a breezy solve for me, with SALMA HAYEK, FREE THROW LINE, and BAZOOKA JOE all falling on the first pass.

Rex: This grid is less wide open than most late-week grids...

FYI, among the stats that Jim Horne tracks at his site is a new one for "openness." Mon-Thurs grids typically score in the 60s or thereabouts, themelesses often in the 90s or above. The most wide-open grids in the 120s. This one was a 76.

Anne 11:50 AM  

I'm always happy when I get here before 12 on Friday, and today it was because of Salma, as Rex noted. With that I was off and running and thankfully the fill flowed into each other, rather than separate little puzzles as happens on some Fri/Sats. My only real trouble, again as Rex noted, was with LeydenJar and Schmear/Swayze. I was also very iffy about onesie, which I have never heard of but the rest of it looked right. I have never heard of Mitzvot but got it through crosses. Good doable Friday.

demit 12:06 PM  

'Lees' for 'remains' is new to me too. I KNEW someone here would know why! Thanks!

(I was thinking 'lies' for remains and wondering if Bazooka Joe had a French cousin (Joi), or something.)

Elaine 12:09 PM  

My husband (aged 68) gave me Swayze (I recalled John Cameron when he gave me the last name) and Leyden Jar. He was flabbergasted when I said, "THat's IT!"
But schmear? I live too far from New York, I guess! You will never meet that word in NE Ohio or Arkansas.
Ultimately I ran out of time and just gave up on the NE--I had Irish whiskey and then took Irish out during my fruitless struggle. Disappointed in myself after yesterday's humiliation, but Nothnagel (isn't that a synonym for Killer Nail?) is a tough puzzler.

HudsonHawk 12:21 PM  

Solid Puzzle, MN. I moved pretty freely through the grid, but slowed down to finish in the SE.

I remember John Cameron SWAYZE, but I was starting to doubt my spelling, because it gave me LEYDE___ for 32D, and I didn't know LEYDEN JAR. It didn't help that I really wanted YALTA for 63A, although the downs just weren't going to work. Plus, it's the wrong World War. ASP broke it open, finally.

Crosscan 12:26 PM  

Identical time to Rex today. Maybe I should start blogging...

Mike the Wino 1:04 PM  

Hi everyone!

Enjoyed today's puzzle, but my preference (aside from libations of grape) is bourbon, not IRISHWHISKEY, which by the way was my very first entry, though I don't know why. About half way through I thought it had to be a Mike N puzzle, only to look up and see I was right. I've only recently been able to that...associate a certain style of puzzle to its constructor. Cool!

Sorry I missed yesterday's later comments...

...Just exactly where is the potluck going to be? If it's at PurpleGuy's place, and he's still in Arizona, I(might have to)PASS. Here in the Pacific NW, it's been scorching hot for us the last week or so, and we're not acclimated. It's finally cooled off today (will be in the low 80's), so we're going to enjoy the respite. Arizona's just too hot for me this time of year......especially if SALMAHAYEK is gonna be there.

BTW, thanks for wondering where if I'm still around. It's not much of an excuse, but you know that oft delayed 787 airplane that a major aircraft maker is trying to get into the air? I've been so busy doing everything I can to avoid getting on that program that I just haven't had much time to chime in. But I'm still within EARSHOT!


still_learnin 1:16 PM  

Great puzzle. Loved the cluing for SCHMEAR and IRISHWHISKEY. I even knew LEYDENJAR. This puzzle took much longer than it should have because even though I had a clear picture of SALMAHAYEK in my mind (from 30 Rock), I couldn't for the life of me come up with her name! I hate when that happens.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Couldn't finish it without help from the blog, but still, my thoughts are ... "Eh. Not so much." Just wasn't that interesting, I thought. Puzzle of the week goes to Thursday, by a long shot.

THE GOOD: "band members with long necks?" (SITARS) -- thought that was pretty clever. Rex, don't tell any Beatles fans the Fab Four wasn't a band. Also liked 56A, "It comes after the last number" (BOW). Thought that was very clever. I wanted it to be RING (i.e., it comes after you dial the last digit of a phone number.)

THE BAD: If you have knowledge enough to know a table knock in poker means "I pass," you also know it's termed "CHECK." (21A). Boo. Thought I nailed that right off the bat. VERY poor answer. "Roll top?" (37A) I get it, but you don't put schmear on a roll; you put it on an H&H "bagel." Booo!

THE UGLY: Thought I had 46A pinned down with EMERGENCY ROOM (a stretch, I know; I play in some violent basketball games, I guess.) That pretty much cooked me. I *still* don't get 43A "heads up" (CHAIRS). I guess it's clever and I'm not....

I'll seek revenge next week.

Orange 1:18 PM  

Now, why can't those genius engineers at Apple come up with a portable music device that siphons off your body fat? The LiPod would sell like hotcakes.

hazel 1:21 PM  

While I did finish this puzzle, thought it was a tough workout, blah blah blah, I can't say I much liked it.

Does "Friday cluing" mean "really vague"? For my taste, there were WAY too many clues that could have been WAY too many things for me to really like it. I just tried to list them, but its just too many. I mean "_____better be!", "Not _____!" single-_____" I could go on. Without the long-answer toe hold in each sector, you're toast - and a couple of those toe hold phrases also had a high vague factor to me. By my rough estimation there are about 30% "facts" (real people/places/things) in the puzzle and much of the rest for me was genuine vagueness, which is of course gettable, but for me, the gettin' just wasn't fun.

Maybe I'm just not on the Nothnagle wavelength - this seems like a true puzzler's puzzle in the sense that there were so few GIMMES - but for me it was just puzzling, and not in the fun way.

Yesterday's puzzle was also a puzzlers' puzzle but the cleverness and the precision of the cluing gave it that extra SCHMEAR of puzzliness that makes a puzzle so much fun to solve.

I hope that's clear as mud!

P.S. Go Orange! I like that!

poc 1:27 PM  

ONESIE and ASICS are Naticks for me, plus I never heard of Mr. SWAYZE. That was enough to keep me becalmed for a good while.

mac 1:44 PM  

Three quarters medium, on quarter challenging for me today, but I enjoyed the struggle! Great puzzle. My favorite word is onesie, had to laugh when that appeared. Second, "doyenne", Helen Thomas deserves the title! Swayze, Leyden jar were unknown to me, and I too started out with Yalta, Hudson Hawk...

It was the Soutch that gave me the most trouble. I was convinced that 46D was Flood, and the clue for opal was awfully broad. In the end, the c for 43A chairs was my last letter to fill in.

Gotta pack.

Stan 2:03 PM  

HOME and LEES were total guesses. I've since looked up "typing" and "home position" and learned about the dents (or ridges) on the F and J keys. How did I not know this?

Loved the Bazooka Joe/Open Sesame stack.

Ulrich 2:10 PM  

In spite of putting down SALMA HAYEK immediately and correctly spelled, the puzzle was on the challenging side for me, too--too many unfamiliar cultural references--needed help in the end from puzzle wife to complete the SE.

@Elaine: Here's more than you ever want to know about a Not[h]nagel.

Timmy 2:32 PM  

Long time follower, rare commenter.

I have to chime in and say that I solve BEQ's puzzles every week (on his website), and I appreciate his stopping in here with his grading system. Hope this becomes a regular feature!

[Back to lurking]

Blanche 2:34 PM  

But surely a bagel is a type of roll.

Ruth 2:54 PM  

@Orange: LiPod! Love it! I'm gonna use that around the salt mines (hospital).

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

In my family, everyone tells me I am looking better and must be losing weight, despite the contraindication seen on the scale display. I had dinner with them on the weekend and called them the LiePod.


retired_chemist 3:31 PM  

@ Hazel - what you didn't like about this puzzle is what I like most about Friday/Saturday puzzles. The challenge of figuring it all out despite ambiguous cluing turns me on. I do understand where you are coming from though.

chefbea 4:01 PM  

@Orange loved LiPod lol

I remember John Cameron Swayze and his ads . Use to go to Sun Valley as a child and skated on that ice rink right there at the Lodge.

Why is typist position=home

chefbea 4:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Two Ponies 4:09 PM  

@ hazel, I agree completely. Very ambiguous and not much fun. Perhaps coming on the heels of yesterday's sparkler it just seem dull. I think there is a difference between misdirection and not being able to read a constructor's mind. That is nearly what it took today.
@ Orange and mee, LiPod and LiePod are both hilarious. Can't wait to work those into a conversation.
@ Ulrich, I actually was thinking about you during this one and wondered how you would fare with some of the cultural obscurity.
I'm still saying fair but not fun.
On to Saturday!

Stan 4:10 PM  

@chefbea: Let me share my newfound knowledge. In typing, the 'home' position is with the left fingers resting on 'asdf' and the right ones on ';lkj'.

JannieB 4:12 PM  

@Anonymous 1:18 - knocking on the table is a bridge thing, as Ruth pointed out earlier. It defnitely means "I pass".

And think of "chairs" as a verbal form of Chairman, who would head a committee.

@mike the wino - welcome back!

chefbea 4:14 PM  

@Stan thanks. I took typing many years ago and I don't remember the teacher calling that "home position". Of course I can't remember what I had for dinner last night either!!!

bookmark 4:51 PM  

Didn't enjoy this puzzle as much as I did yesterday's.
"The chase" wasn't much fun.

My first solves: Salma Hayek, Swayze, Alamo, sitars, doyenne.

Never heard of SCHMEAR. Also wanted Sesame. Loved IRISH WHISKEY.

retired_chemist 4:51 PM  

@ Chefbea -

"can't remember what I had for dinner last night either"

I waited more than 30 minutes to see who was going to ask whether it might have been beets.....

PurpleGuy 4:52 PM  

@Mike theWino-Welome Back. Yes,I'm still in AZ.
The air-conditioning is fine and cool. SALMA HAYEK called, and said she was unavailable do to her work schedule.
We could always do it in the cooler months ahead.

@chefbea is bringing beets. I was thinking of osso buco, steak tartare, and of course tacos for REX !

PurpleGuy 5:04 PM  

@Mike the Wino- My PLEASURE is also bourbon. I'm well stocked with Jim Beam !!!!

andrea swoon michaels 5:11 PM  

@chef bea
I'm guessing you had, um, cumquats.
(And if you are looking for other food clues today, I spot SMORE in 13A!)

Made the same problems as many: YALTA which only made it as far as YARES...damn! One letter off again (I decided ASA was a Shakespearean character I didn't know :( )

I would have had TWO empty squares,
but I guessed I for EL-S and still don't know what ASICS is, are we talking sneakers or goddesses?
(HAs someone said? if so, forgive me, I try and read all 70+ but I only have X amount of time today)

Also FLOES to FJORD took an ice age to unravel for me. Thank god for global warming!

(Actually doing some stand up tonight and will tell the tale of "Dinner Impossible"

Speaking of which, I just heard a minor explosion in the kitchen!
I had meant to boil an egg about an hour ago and forgot it was still on the stove. Hmmmm, wonder if I can make that into something slightly amusing to add in to tonight! But have to first wait for the smoke to clear...

Count me in for the alphabet recitation for C-hairs and bo-W.

Great work out, tho so unknown was LEYDEN that I decided SWAYZE, which I DID know must spell it SWAAZE and that it was a LEADEN JAR that held, like, a firefly in it.

(It is amazing the lengths one will go to to rationalize mistakes.)

I too had SCHOLAR thinking it was the top of an honor roll, and then spent five minutes trying to decide if THAT kind of ROLL was spelled ROLE.
It's a side effect of spending too much time making punny clues, that after awhile you really can't remember which is the real thing and which thing you are making a spin on! Yikes.

For those of you that think Mr. Noth-angel is the Angel of Death,
he did have DIE, DYED, DEAD in the puzzle today...I took that as a mini-scary subtheme!

Oh! And looking at the grid, SCHM crossing with SHW is cool.

Looking at the grid again I see ARESO and ARES and ARSHO all in the East. Maybe that's also a secret message.

JannieB 5:22 PM  

@Andrea - ASICS are sneakers

mac 5:53 PM  

Break a leg, Andrea!

hazel 5:53 PM  

@retired chemist - i'm with you. you like ambiguity in your friday and saturday puzzles. i like something else - which i've been trying to define ever since i started being able to complete friday/saturday puzzles (less than a year).

I almost always find them challenging, but some are definitely more enjoyable than others. this one was just not fun and i think its related to this vagueness factor concept - which I'm going to keep track of over the next few weeks and I'll see if i see a correlation!!

@two ponies - excellent point about misdirection. there is a huge difference between clever misdirection and general ambiguity - particularly when a tremendous number of the clues fall into the latter category!!

HudsonHawk 5:57 PM  

ASICS is a very big Japanese athletic shoe company, originally known as Tiger, and primarily known in the U.S. for their running shoes.

Phil Knight started Nike after he had been selling Tiger shoes out of the trunk of his car to track teams, as he viewed Tigers as a superior and lighter alternative to the typical running shoe available in the 1960s. Together with his University of Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, Knight created Nike, originally with an emphasis on running. Now you know the rest of the story....good day!

Hobbyist 6:02 PM  

I didn't think it was dull, just hard. Very clever and witty and obscure and over my mental head. Got most but...Tough. Of late Fridays seem harder than Sats.
Maybe it's just me...

Glitch 6:24 PM  


Generalizing, over many years, I find Friday the hardest day of the week.

Factoid of the day:

John Cameron Swayze and the actor Patrick Swayze are distant cousins. Both are descendants by 7 or 8 generations of Judge Samuel Swayze (1688/1689-1759) and his wife Penelope Horton (1689/1690-1746).

Shucks, didn't quite make "6 degrees of separation".


Doc John 6:35 PM  

I'm too late to make any real comment that hasn't been said so I'll just say that when I was in college I spent two afternoons doing some modeling for the ASICS catalog. It was the early 80s and they were a fledgling company at the time. (The only time I've ever done anything like that.)

andrea asp michaels 7:28 PM  

@Doc John
That's wild!!!!!!!!!!
Do you have nice ankles?
I can't believe I've NEVER heard of them even in passing.

Thanks! I hope not to break anything...except into a smile...
Safe journey!

By the way, just got my Sept 09 Games and Mike Nothnagel has a
25 x 25 in there (!) called, appropriately enough "The World's Most Ornery Crossword". It has TWO sets of clues, "hard" and (allegedly) "easy".

OK, it's official...between doing this puzzle and reading/commenting on the blog, I've gotten nothing done today, except exploding an egg. :(

acme 7:43 PM  

ps speaking of standup/stoodup
JILTEE (from yesterday) is not good in Scrabble.

Orange 8:10 PM  

And Jeff in Chicago has a smaller crossword in that same issue of Games. It's on page 12.

chefbea 8:13 PM  

@rc lol

@purple guy... i'll take scotch

@Andrea I love s'mores

edith b 8:30 PM  


Obscure stuff I can handle - when I was little my father used to tell me my head was "chock-block full of useless information", which, to my way of thinking, is a good place to start, if you want to do crossword puzzles.

My complaint centers on the "could be anything" clues, today it was 43D: Single-______.

I realize one can mostly get them via crosses but I still don't like that style of cluing.

PurpleGuy 8:35 PM  

@chefbea- you've got it !! That was my mom's drink. I'm well stocked with scotch also !

Anyone for gin martinis ???

Mike the Wino 8:35 PM  


I've got some '98 Cabernet Sauvignon that would go nicely with the other fixings...and if Rex's tacos are made with chicken, we did a really nice dry Riesling in 2007 that simply kicks ass. Is Salma available in, say, March?

I like Jim just fine, but I really go for Buffalo Trace, or Old Crow (believe it or not!), two completely different price points, but both nice whiskeys for their respective divisions.

PurpleGuy 8:38 PM  

@andrea (ACME)- I would put you with one of my
"wicked" cosmopolitans.

Mike the Wino 8:38 PM  


Oh, and my wife LOVES gin martinis made with Quintessential! But she's not so keen on Salma.

PurpleGuy 8:45 PM  

@Mike the Wino- no problem. How about you and I share a bottle of Bookers ?

Mike the Wino 9:07 PM  

@PurpleGuy- I'm in, but just one? Three (or four) and out!! (Posts, I mean!)

Two Ponies 9:10 PM  

@ Purple Guy, Any Oban in stock? Yum.
@ Mike the Wino, Sorry I misremembered you yesterday as Dave. I guess I'm headed down the same path as chefbea! :) The Riesling sounds delicious.
Between you two it won't matter what is on the menu.

michael 9:14 PM  

I liked it and (as usual) was on the same wavelength as Nothnagel. Got Salam Hayek, Swayze, and free throw line quickly.

Never hear of Asics, though...had to get it from the cross.

hazel 10:22 PM  

@edith b - actually Single _____ was one that irritated me! - had handed, then minded before i finally got to celled. That's a good way to describe - could be anything clues. Don't like 'em.

On the other hand, I have owned many pairs of Asics. They're good for narrow feet!!

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

@ Blanche, A bagel is in no way any kind of roll in NY.
@Stan, Are you aware of the ridge on the number 5 on a calculator?
@ Purple Guy, 7 posts?

Stan 11:13 PM  

@Anonymous 10:56: No I didn't know that, but I checked my calculator and you're right! There's also one on the Numeric Keypad part of my computer keyboard. Same logic. Thanks.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

@ Stan, Yes, I meant to mention on the number keypad on the keyboard as well. How else can one type/calculate without looking? Now, guess what you have to go look at next? Your TELEPHONES. Yes indeed. Many phones also have the little "dimple" on the digit 5.

fikink 11:41 PM  

My remote for the satellite also has a dimple on the 5 - it is the way I can change channels in the dark. ;)

Anonymous 11:53 PM  

@ fikink, Nice catch, I forgot about the remotes. Third post - over and out.
(Misstrish by the way)

Nothnagel 11:17 AM  

Hello all,

I know it's officially Saturday as I write this, but thanks nonetheless for all the kudos and anti-kudos for my puzzle. Glad to be back on a Friday!

Until next time,

Will 11:09 PM  

This is the first puzzle I haven't been able to solve in months. Maybe I should have come back tomorrow, but I found the whole right side impossible.

I don't see how you can rate Thursday's as harder ( although it was harder than a usual Thursday).

Leyden Jar? Swayze? Bazooka Joe? Onesie? What is a onesie? And rolltop? All I could think of was a desk.

Maybe I'm tired.

Ed 3:28 PM  

Witty take on Monday. Agree with everything and laughed out loud. Enjoy the puzzle so more since I found this site. Thanks.

Ben 10:11 PM  

51 across -- what are "noes"?

WilsonCPU 11:43 AM  

Ben@10:11 -
A belated answer from SyndicationLand - "NOES" is the plural of "NO", as in voting "NO". Enough NOES block the passage of a bill, hence "Passage blockers" = "NOES". Whew...

Singer 12:43 PM  

Well, I thought it was challenging. I agree that a lot of the clues were just vague and not misdirective as would be expected in a good Friday or Saturday puzzle. I still liked the puzzle. I got SALMAHAYEK off the bat, but misspelled her name as SeLMA. I had 'check' instead of IPASS for a long time. Fortunately I am old enough to remember John Cameron Swayze because I learned about LEiDEN JARS in my science class. Never saw it spelled LEYDEN before today. Oh, and nev3er heard of ASICS, maybe because I live in Nike Town. I do have a it of an objection to LGA as a New York centric answer. Most of us who do this puzzle are from the rest of the country. However SCHMEAR goes on bagels in Portland, Oregon too. For me the most difficult part of this puzzle was the south - it took me well over half the time to do the bottom three rows.

jimbob 11:37 PM  

I agree with the guy who said the obtuse nature of the puzzles is beginning to take the fun out of solving. I agree. It's almost as if the puzzlemaker is afraid that people will actually solve the puzzles. Yes, I'm not from New York, and realize the fallback logic for defenders, but the NYT is read nationally, so cut us some slack. I'm not looking for easier puzzles, rather, perhaps even tougher but not so "obtuse" as the man said. (E.g., "Heads up" was "Chairs"? Puh-lease...There was very little pride in solving that one.)

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