FRIDAY, Aug. 21 2009 — Zither with buttons / Rap devotee in slang / 1984 superstate dominated by Neo-Bolshevism / Cuban-born jazz great Sandoval

Friday, August 21, 2009

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Premonish (9D: Premonish => WARN) —


transitive verb

archaic : forewarn

intransitive verb

archaic : to give warning in advance (M-W online)


Very short write-up, as I have a NYC-bound bus to catch.

This one took me longer than my usual Friday, but I fell into two stupid traps (of my own making). When all was said and done, the smoke had cleared, and other cliches, the puzzle looked like a pretty normal Friday in terms of difficulty. My problem (today): I pounced on 7D: Director of "Meatballs" and "Stripes" ... by writing in HAROLD RAMIS (which, ugh, fits). This led to ILLY at 40A: As bad luck would have it and then ... not a lot else. What is semi-fascinating about my escape from this "trap" is the fact that the escape caused me to fall straight into another, more credible "trap." I wanted 43A: Hitch to be SNAG (which it is). Entertaining this idea caused me to ditch HAROLD RAMIS and almost immediately remember IVAN REITMAN (the correct answer). But SNAG also gave me the "G" in 22D: Goes from first to third, say — a "G" perfectly positioned for ... SHIFTS GEARS. I thought shifting from first to third directly was a little odd, but I figured it had probably been done. Look, it fit, I wasn't asking a lot of questions. How in the world do my first guesses on Long answers both end up fitting?? Man. Anyway, therein lies the story of why this puzzle took me longer than normal. Once I extricated myself from the stupid hole, the puzzle felt very normal for a Friday, and in some places (most of the south) felt even a little easy (again, for a Friday).

Slightly embarrassed that I was rescued in the beginning of the puzzle by IVAN REITMAN, and at the end by Jim Carrey. Somehow, solving my puzzle via long pop culture gimmes like that feels a bit cheap. Like when you win a point in tennis on a net ball. You'll take it, but you kinda half-heartedly apologize to your opponent. I don't know what I would've done with the NW if I hadn't (finally) picked up LIAR, LIAR (16A: 1997 Jim Carrey film) (which, by the way, is rotationally symmetrical with TALL TALE today — brilliant — 50A: It's unbelievable). None of the Acrosses except -ENT would fall at first. Had GASP (24A: Swimmer's sound) but was very unsure of it. Only after LIAR LIAR went across (I had the back end of it by then) did AT LARGE (1D: Loose) come into view, allowing me to hack my way to the finish line from there.


  • 1A: Feature of Psalm 119 (acrostic) — my big idea: PANEGYRIC. So proud ... until it came up one letter short.
  • 15A: Call on the carpet (haul up) — I had MAUL UP because of having MASH instead of HASH at 15D: Jumble.
  • 19A: Tracked vehicle (sno-cat) — off the "S"; a very crosswordy vehicle.
  • 20A: City where French kings were crowned (Reims) — ugh. Couldn't remember. Had ARLES or ROUEN or some bull@#$#.
  • 25A: Onetime popular musician ... or a radio station where he might be heard? (Welk) — OMG I only *just* noticed the question mark in this clue. I thought WELK was a real radio station. Seemed believable.
  • 26A: "Ella and _____!" (1963 jazz album) ("Basie")

  • 32A: First athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine (Jack Dempsey) — two catastrophic long Down answers ran through this one, so it wasn't until SKELETON fell (yay, "K") (30D: One hanging around med school?) that I saw the right answer.
  • 39A: Ungentle giants (ogres) — and grizzlies.
  • 42A: Caspian Sea feeder (Ural) — had ARAL.
  • 49A: Coffee-mate producer (Nestle) — so many "Wheel of Fortune" letters, I shoulda known.
  • 3D: Dreamer's opposite (realist) — OK. A REALIST can dream, but I see what you mean.
  • 4D: It's designed for quick entrances (on ramp) — not always
  • 29D: Disappointing R.S.V.P.'s (noes) — not always
  • 6D: Chad Mitchell _____ (1960s folk band) (Trio) — Ne-eh-eh-ver heard of 'em.

  • 8D: Post boxes' contents (cereals) — clever. Awkward syntax (well, missing "office") gave the trick away (Post is a CEREAL co., in case that wasn't clear to you).
  • 10D: Zither with buttons (autoharp) — I have a student who is a professional zither player. I'm sure I've said that before, but I like saying it.
  • 12D: "1984" superstate dominated by Neo-Bolshevism (Eurasia) — wanted OCEANIA, which doesn't fit the clue, but is always the first "1984" place name that pops to mind.
  • 26D: Rap devotee, in slang (b-boy) — you know something a rap devotee would never call himself? A rap devotee. Thus, I love this clue.
  • 35D: Part of a caterer's display (platter) — without DEMPSEY and his juicy "P" (?), I just couldn't see this. Had to back into it from the far SE corner.
  • 48D: Chemical used to cure animal skins (alum) — also a graduate, also a ... no, damn it, ARUM is the lily.

OK, that's all. "Treedweller" has tomorrow's write-up, and then PuzzleGirl and I will bring you Sunday's write-up live (?) from NYC. Depending on internet access, we may bring you updates / photos from tomorrow's xword tournament in Queens.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. nice mention of this site yesterday at the mental_floss blog. Check it out.


toothdoc 8:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
toothdoc 8:26 AM  

Really, I get first comment - the pressure.

I got lucky on this, realized in reading Rex's writeup that I was picturing Harold Ramis in my mind but calling him Ivan Reitman.

Nice Friday solve with no help.

Have a great weekend and good luck at the tournament.

dls 8:28 AM  


Leslie 8:30 AM  

LOVED today's puzzle. I really wanted "Basie" to be "Louis" (Armstrong), but got my pride back when I got "Jack Dempsey" and "Arturo" Sandoval pretty easily. "Autoharp" took me the longest, as did the entire NE corner.

Don't get "acrostic." To me, that's a type of word puzzle.

dk 8:36 AM  

My top trap was omen for WARN and staring at _NRAMP for too long before the O rolled up.

Starting a puzzle with ACROSTIC is way cool (as we say in the hood).

Good Luck all of those bound for NYC

Greene 8:39 AM  

I got snaggled because I had JESSIE OWENS instead of JACK DEMPSEY. So proud of myself because JOURNAL was right. Of course, the SW corner would not work at all with JESSIE so out he went. AGREES TO went in and then JACK DEMPSEY appeared.

Other than this glitch, a fairly smooth and easy Friday. I was actually shocked at how rapidly I filled in the NE corner. Probably got that in about 60 seconds. The NW slowed me down considerably because I could not remember IVAN REITMAN's name to save my life. Even LIAR LIAR was slow to come.

This was a real confidence booster for me. Can't wait for Saturday. Thanks PB!

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

I loved this puzzle. A few fortuitous entries (or, as I like to call them, wild guesses) turned out to be ... right! LIARLIAR, ARTURO (one of my go-to names) HOST, BASIE. Then, 28D: RNAS (not even close) and I like BANANABREAD myself. Took a bit to sort out. Last, too way to long to figure out 15A: HAULUP because I had 10D: ALTOharp. In all, good Friday. Off to work.

retired_chemist 8:51 AM  

A splendid Patrick Berry puzzle. Who knew that psalm 119 was an acrostic? Probably lots of us – but not I.

Stared at a lot of white space for about 5 min – then things started to click. The SE was my first full quadrant. I got there from 35D PLATTER and the cleverly clued SKIPS A GRADE (for which I needed a few crosses) @ 22D.

When REALIST (3D) crossed my tentative ALL ALONE @ 18A, the NW started to fall. When ARTURO (blind guess) turned out to be right @ 17A, as did SNO-CAT @ 19A, HASH emerged @ 15D, and the gimmes GLUCOSE @ 11D and EURASIA @ 12D appeared (could have been OCEANIA except I had the R), the NE became a mop-up job.

The SW was greatly simplified with 53A LORNE, 42A URAL, and 45D RESECT being gimmes. 49A NESTLE was a lucky guess, and the SW fell quickly.

PhillySolver 8:58 AM  

I had a nice discussion with myself about putting in altoharp or autoharp and bash or mash giving me Bawl, ball, maul, mall choices instead of HAULUP. You could say I was in a zither. Droller for CRASSER was another one that offered many alternatives for the crosses. More often than not, our classroom skeleton had a cigarette in his mouth...lots of laughs in HS anatomy.

See you in Queens (day trip for me).

imsdave 9:04 AM  

Good puzzle, but I always expect great from PB. Knowing TRIO and IVANREITMAN threw me into overdrive mode and I screamed through this one. Fairly unusual Friday for me completing the LAT and NYT in less than 20 minutes combined.

Good luck at the tourney Rex, and please say hi to Mac and Philly for me.

re: yesterday - what the hell was that all about? Nice to see Gennesee in the comments though. Brings back my Binghamton bartender days selling 50 cent Genny drafts that chased 75 cent shots of Corby's at Fitzy's Irish Pub (the three beers on tap were: Gennesee, Harp, and Guiness - how's that for an odd trio?). Is Fitzy's still there Rex?

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Hand up for 'shiftgears' trap, but knew IVANREITMAN.

Googled 'psalm 119 acrostic', and resulting wikipedia page was interesting reading. ACROSTIC is also a verse form, in which usually the first letters of each line can be read in sequence.


joho 9:11 AM  

The first answer I filled in was SKELETON which gave me JACKDEMPSEY. After that the entire lower half fell pretty quickly. I love SKIPSAGRADE. I thought RESECT might be the word of the day, but I didn't know that or PREMONISH. The NE was the last to fall. I've never heard the term HAULUP.

This really was a lovely Friday puzzle, thanks Patrick Berry!

Good luck to everybody at the tournament, @Rex those updates sound fantastic, make it happen!

JannieB 9:15 AM  

@anon - thanks - was also wondering about acrostic.

I was definitely on PB's wavelength today - loved his cluing, I was throwing down the long fill without even counting letters! Went pretty much clockwise from the NW without too many hiccups. Did want Oceania in the NE but abandoned it quickly. in the SW, I kept reading "exercise an option" so resect took too long. Memo - get eyes checked.

Good luck to all at the Puzzlepalooza - make us proud.

Ulrich 9:19 AM  

If you knew none of the names/titles in the NW corner (except for REIMS, which I managed to pull somehow out of long-term memory, based on the I in REALIST), it was a really, really tough area to fill. In desperation, I opened my bible (took an xword puzzle to make me do it!) and saw that each part of the psalm is headed by a Hebrew letter, which, of course, was no help at all. But it did prepare me to accept ACROSTIC when it finally emerged, and then, the corner finally yielded.

Really good Friday puzzle, I agree, even if I forgot to retune my ALTO HARP, though, in the end--duh!

@imsdave: What was yesterday about? The usual--some people just cannot let go when they do not have the last word--it's a personality disorder, and I'm sure dk can give us the name...

Have fun in New York!

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

I found it very easy - my fastest time ever for a Friday.

Elaine 9:37 AM  

Argh! I feel defeated if I have to Google, but Ivan Reitman? You mean someone ADMITS he directed those movies?
My hubby the Jazz Fan did not know Sandoval's name, so the NE just sat there until I googled it, since I had PAINTED instead of SPOTTED for "pinto beans." Made sense, and it fit.....

Old teachers always get autoharp, educates, and tall tale...but I had GROSSER for a while, til I decided NObody named Jagk would have been on the cover of Time Magazine.

Then there was my attempt to fit a baseball answer into 22D; then I had SLIPS A GRADE...which works. Sorta.
I agree--easy for a Patrick Berry puzzle. But will no one protest OPENEST?

alanrichard 9:46 AM  

Jack Dempsey and Ivan Reitman. It's always good to know 2 long ones immediately. Every time Kings of The Rings is on I watch it.

fikink 9:56 AM  

The Chad Mitchell Trio was NOT a "band." None of the three of them played instruments!
Unlike the Kingston Trio or PP&M, the CM Trio sang with accompanists seated behind them.
They gave us some great songs like "The John Birch Society" and, more importantly, "Barry's Boys" -

"We're the bright, young men who wanna go back to 1910,
We're Barry's Boys..."

This song figured largely in Barry Goldwater's challenge and was banned on some radio stations in the run-up to that election. It also raised its head again last year when McCain challenged Obama. (McCain taking the profile of Goldwater.)

Calling CMT a band is a misnomer.
Is that being nit-picky?

treedweller 9:58 AM  

I was on the shifting wavelength, but had the crosses to give me SKIPSAGear--except that isn't long enough. I could not make myself see a different context. Finally had to peek at Rex's solution to find WEEP (not wail) and slowly filled the SE to finish. With amistake at mAULUP/mASH, unfortunately.

I found myself wondering how 51A would have been clued on BEQ's site, and now every time I look back at it I think, "Can they put that in the NYT?"

Looking forward to my first turn in the driver's seat. Those of you frustrated by seeing "I automatically dropped in xenomorph from the E, of course," should get a little vindication, since I may not finish the Sat. puzzle even with google. I'm just hoping this won't be one of those days where I stall out with two right answers and a couple of bad guesses.

Denise 9:59 AM  

The puzzle was fun, but KUDOS to the BLOG -- hearing ELLA SCAT!! I love the Chad Mitchell Trio (I was a folkie rather than a rocker in the 60s), but the very best part was seeing the TV "techniques" -- a four year old today would produce a more polished video.

And, yet . . . there is a sweetness to what used to be, and what a great show -- real talent.

I hope the tournament is fun for everyone, but I have to be on Cape Cod -- hosting a clambake tonight.

Could someone explain HOW the psalm is an acrostic?

Doc John 10:03 AM  

Nice write up, Rex. Good luck at the tournament.

Two stupid mistakes for me in this one. L instead of K for WELK and was wondering why slips a grade was from first to third and not second. And Ella and Masie instead of BASIE. -BOY could have been any letter to me.
Otherwise I flew through it, even with the Harold Ramis mistake. I could swear I've seen a picture of him sitting on the "Aunt Jemima treatment" stove talking to Bill Murray.

Hey, I'm allowed some slips today. My dad died yesterday after a long illness. :(

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:06 AM  

Funny how LIAR LIAR was the first entry I put in, and also the first entry I took out as I too was convinced of HAROLD RAMIS.

pednsg 10:07 AM  

Put me in the "loved it" camp. I suspect that times today will be much faster than a typical Friday, and was sure Rex was going to give this an easy rating, if only because it was one of my fastest times for a post-Wednesday puzzle, and I can only finish Fridays without help or errors about half the time!

I, too, fell into the HAROLD RAMIS trap - was 99.6% sure it was right. I put SKIPS SECOND for 22D, imagining a baseball player using the hypotenuse as a means of scoring in a more efficient manner - neither cars nor elementary school entered my mind for a while. I wouldn't know Jack Dempsey if he walked into the room, but the name popped into my head as soon as I got the JA at 32A.

I think it is so cool that, as one types rex into Google, Rex Parker automatically pops up first!

Great weekend, all!

Glitch 10:11 AM  


Think Robinhood and his BAND of merrymen if it helps :)


See @Anon /RT 9:07am


Anne 10:12 AM  

This was an easy Friday for me (no googles @HudsonHawk) and I finished with a respectable time -for me. I laughed when I saw 3A because I think I am a realist and my husband a dreamer. He says I am too negative and that he is only being optimistic. It makes for a never-ending discussion.

I watched Liar Liar on a long flight to somewhere and I thought it had the potential to be a good movie but it fell flat in the second half.

And I read somewhere the other day that "1984" is one of the books that people most often lie about having read. I read it a long, long ago - I think.

Ruth 10:13 AM  

@imsdave: one "N" in GENESEE
(coming to you from Rochester, on the banks of the not-very-lovely Genesee River)
I didn't read the late posts from yesterday--guess I'll have to go back and see what "happened."

fikink 10:20 AM  

@glitch, that is a sweet gesture!

Btw, speaking of the Chad Mitchell Trio: whence commeth John Denver!

edith b 10:20 AM  

It looked like 1A was going to be ACROSTIC from the crosses as the NW corner fell almost at once. It's funny, I once confused Harold Ramos with IVANREITMAN on a Sunday puzzle a couple of years ago and I never forgot it.

The Chad Mitchell TRIO was a kind of folksy group that was popular with the White Bucks crowd about the time of the British Invasion and, of course, was swept away. A sort of "Up with People" for the terminally unhip. Thank you, fikink, for the additional information.

I had all my problems in the SE which took me as long a time as the rest of the puzzle. I pieced that corner together from WEEP and WEDGE and BEDMATE was my last entry.

A very schizophrenic puzzle for me.

Anne 10:23 AM  

I just read all the comments from yesterday and if I had to give the whole lot a name, I would call it Hot and Steamy Antecedents.

retired_chemist 10:24 AM  

Amazing to me that HAROLD RAMIS (of whom I have never heard) was the entry du jour for 7D. At least Reitman I have heard of...

jeff in chicago 10:26 AM  

A great Friday for me. I feel like I'm finally getting in a Friday groove. Getting LIARLIAR, IVANREITMAN and ATLARGE in the NW right away gave me a good foothold to push through the rest of the puzzle. Tried SATCH for BASIE at first, but GLUCOSE showed me that was wrong. Really liked SKIPSAGRADE and RAISINBREAD as fill.

imsdave 10:31 AM  

@Ruth - my bad - guess I picked up the double N from the LAT today :). I've lived in Owego, Elmira, Binghamton, Endwell, Vestal, Potsdam, and Pittsford (we were neighbors if you were there in 1964-1966). I remember the ads saying the Genny (Geny?) was made from 'Pure Hemlock Lake Water'

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Had the "J" "D" and "M" in the the athlete clue, did anyone else have Joe DiMaggio which fits with the position of these letters. Quickly fixed it tho.

PurpleGuy 10:53 AM  

What a really fun, easy Friday puzzle.The NW fell fast, knowing Psalm 119 from my seminary days.Only mistake up there was ROUEN for REIMS,until I remembered that ROUEN is where they burned the saint(Joan)!
The SW was the last to fall.Brain wanted pal instead of BRO. Otherwise,my besat and fastest time for a Friday.
Great puzzleMr.Berry. What a nice way to start the weekend.
Have fun at the tournament,everyone.

@Doc John - please acceptmy sympathy for the loss of your dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time.

Glitch 11:08 AM  

@edith b

The Chad Mitchell Trio was hardly in the genre of Pat Boone and Up w/ People "White Bucks".

From Wiki: The group became known for their willingness to perform both serious and satirical songs that criticized current events and news-makers, unlike the typical 'folk music' groups of their time.

As a "long hair and sandals" guy of the '60s, they were in same the category as Tom Lehrer, The Brothers Four, Kingston Trio, PPM, Janice Ian, etc.

Neither Paul Revere and the Raiders, Herman's Hermits, nor Pat Boone were performers my "group" identified with ;-)


Trivia: Although it's Genessee beer, it's referred to as Genny in their ads, unless the spokesmodel is present, then it's Jenny.


Susan 11:13 AM  

My best Friday time ever! And I was even interrupted by a student. Nine months ago I couldn't even start a Friday. I credit you savvy puzzlers for EDUCATing me.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I must be getting better! This is the second Friday in a row that I completed the puzzle -- with no help from anybody! (Husband usually helps.) I'm going to the competition next year!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I missed the SHIFTSGEARS trap, but instead fell into it as STEALSABASE, which seemed plausible to me, not knowing too much about the rules of baseball. Other than that, no real problems and I'm happy to say, my first finished Friday puzzle ever!! Whoo-hoo!!

joho 11:22 AM  

@Doc John ... please accept my condolences on the loss of your dad.

JannieB 11:24 AM  

I'm guessing all the confusion with Ivan Reitman is caused by the fact that Harold Ramis was Bill Murray's costar in Stripes.

imsdave 11:25 AM  

@anonymous (any time) - get a blogger ID - so many of you have so much to add to this blog and I like to have a name to go with the comment. And I'd like to meet folks like 11:16 at the ACPT.

Three and out.

Doc John 11:30 AM  

Thanks to all for your kind words. I really appreciate it. :)

@jannieb- so that must be why I remember that photo the way I did. Forgot that Harold Ramis was actually in the movie!

Mac Becket 11:56 AM  

Goes from first to third: I didn't come up with SHIFTSGEARS, STEALSABASE or SKIPSSECOND - instead I figured STEALSBASES fit perfectly, until it didn't and I finally saw SKIPSAGRADE. Fun clue (should have got it sooner - I went from second to fourth in 1958).

tedequity 12:18 PM  

Please explain 44D WILCO for "Consider it done."

Elaine2 12:23 PM  

Hi: Answer about Psalm 119 -- it's an acrostic in Hebrew (not in any English translation I know of...) and an usual one at that. The verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order (aleph, bet, gimel...)

What makes this unusual is that there are 8 verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet: first there are 8 verses starting with aleph, then 8 with bet, the end of the psalm.

Another Friday I finished with no help! Getting to be a pattern -- I love it!

Happy weekend, everyone

fikink 12:27 PM  

@tedequity, short for "will comply" in radio-speak.

Deb Amlen 12:35 PM  

mental_floss is a fabulous magazine for anyone who loves trivia. Congrats on the mention, Rex. But her mention of you as 'condescending'? You???

PlantieBea 12:44 PM  

Always happy for a Friday completion without too many problems; thanks Patrick Berry for this puzzle.

I don't get WILCO? Oh, see the answer was just posted. Thanks Fikink. Had IVAN DEITMAN/DASH instead of REITMAN--must be one of the only commenters who doesn't know of him.

We just received a copy of 1984 for class reading; it has been a few years since I read it, but I did not remember the superstate was Eurasia.

I'm sorry for your loss, Doc John.

Good luck to all this weekend, and I look forward to the updates as well as Treedwellers write-up.

Bill from NJ 12:46 PM  


My condolences on the loss of your father.

mac 12:46 PM  

Very good Friday puzzle! I got through it pretty smoothly except for the NE: that autoharp was a long time coming,and I also had omen instead of warn.

When I got Jack D... I actually thought: Demsey! Of course that didn't fit, and it took some doing to figure out he needed a p.
Amazing, but I thought baseball, too, with 22D.

@DocJohn: I'm very sorry for your loss.

Hope to see a lot of you tonight and tomorrow!

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I still don't get the "... or radio station where he might be heard?" clue for WELK?

mac 12:48 PM  

P.S. what did Rex mean with WELK and the question mark, the radio station?

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

WELK could be the call-letters of a radio station.

SethG 1:05 PM  

Is Patrick Berry from West Virginia? 'Cause maybe Lawrence Welk did appear on WELK in Elkins, WV. More importantly, it's part of the Steelers Radio Network.

I filled in ENT (well, aNT but I fixed it) right away with the absorb clue, but thought that ING would be an awesome answer for that. Does the zitherist go zithering?

Awesome coincidence: when I guested I tried forever to find an excuse to include one of my favorite songs. And I maybe did in a comment once, but it just came up on my Pandora feed while I was writing this note so I'm gonna give it again. By WILCO! (Now on Pandora is Wanted Dead or Alive...good luck, treedweller.)

Yeah, my fastest Friday ever too.

Chefian 1:16 PM  

Laurence WELK heard on a fictional Puplic Broadcasting station, WELK, as all PBS station begin with the letter W. Ours here in SW Ontario is WNED, Buffalo/Toronto. Fun puzzle, Mr. Barry on the by-line always scares me, but managed to finish with no real problems, getting better all the time, with help from this blog.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:23 PM  

Very nice Friday puzzle. Just one write-over for me: 26 A, "Ella and _____!", I threw in FRANK (as in Sinatra) before getting BASIE. In part this was because BBOY was totally unfamiliar and seemed a quasi-Natick. F for "fan" seemed reasonable, but a quick google shows that the B stands for "breakdance", apparently.

@ Chefian - Generally, radio stations to the east of the Mississippi have call letters beginning with "W"; those to the west start with "K".

Sincere sympathy to DocJohn.

Z.J. Mugildny 1:23 PM  

Faster than yesterday for me. Guessed IVANREITMAN correctly because I knew he did "Ghostbusters".

I don't like the b-boy clue. It's way too narrow. I don't think of b-boys as being devotees of rap, but rather devotees of hip-hop culture in general. In fact, I associate them much more with break dancing than rap.

HudsonHawk 1:24 PM  

Solid Friday fare. I also wanted HAROLD RAMIS but didn't put it in the grid because I also knew it wasn't right. He did direct Bill Murray in Caddyshack and Groundhog Day, however.

Weird bit of deja clue, or whatever the proper term is. Just last night, a friend and I were talking about the latest Cuban baeball phenom to defect to the U.S. Of course, I asked if he'd seen the HBO movie from some years back about ARTURO Sandoval. Interesting and enjoyable flick, with Andy Garcia in the title role.

XMAN 1:25 PM  

Bitter, bitter, bitter. An ill wind needs a doctor (but only if he can pay on the public option). It was easy, yeah, until I got up to the NW. I didn't know REITMAN, LIARLIAR, nor REIMS. I (blush) googled the director and the movie. After that (alas! too late!) the rest fell into place.

DocJohn: I'm sorry for your loss.

jae 1:25 PM  

Even though I fell into both the SHIFTSGEARS and HAROLDRAMIS traps I thought this was pretty easy for a Fri. Fun puzzle.

Condolences Doc John.

Campesite 1:25 PM  

Really killed this one--every answer was known to me and fell quickly. Loved it. Good to see one of my favorite bands, Wilco, in the puzzle.

Clark 1:27 PM  

Nice smooth Friday. I even turned down help on IVAN REITMAN from semi-puzzle partner, getting it with a few crosses. (I knew it had to be the Ghostbusters guy.)

@treedweller -- Good luck tomorrow. Not all of us are Saturday-no-google puzzlers, so, I would say, Relax and enjoy the write.

@Doc John -- Sorry about your dad.

Karen from the Cape 3:02 PM  

I have no remorse that LIAR LIAR was the first answer I put in the grid. I also have no remorse that I've never watched the movie.

I actually looked at W*LK and couldn't figure out the proper vowel until after I'd hit the done button.

Ulrich, I would classify last-word-neediness as narcissistic personality disorder.

Elaine 3:11 PM  

I posted early, so I just came back to see more comments-- (as in, did anyone else try to make 22D a baseball clue?)

Doc John, that is sad news re your father. My dad's death (cancer) was finally a welcome release for him, but I still miss him 5 years later, as when I read a book he would have liked. I once found an old family letter written by my great-great grandfather to his son, telling him, "Father died yesterday. It is a hard thing to lose a father." When I checked the dates, I saw that the writer was himself 60 at the time--so his own father's death must have been quite expected...but it was still a sad shock.

sanfranman59 3:47 PM  

Friday midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 19:06, 25:25, 0.75, 5%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:21, 11:56, 0.78, 12%, Easy

edmcan 3:54 PM  

A thrillingly easy puzzle today! Condolences as well, Doc John.

Stan 4:35 PM  

Really excellent puzzle. Loved the blog, too, which I could not have said yesterday.

@Treedweller: You're going to do just fine. There's really no way to make a mistake.

@DocJohn: Let me echo condolences.

Greene 4:41 PM  

@DocJohn: Please accept my condolences for your loss as well. I'm sure the world just lost another great person.

Are you by chance familiar with the song cycle Elegies by Bill Finn? It's a powerful theatrical work written to celebrate the lives of people close to Finn who had passed on. I pull it out from time to time and listen during times of loss and I find it very cathartic.

The song "The Day The Earth Stopped Turning" eulogizes Finn's mother in a very personal way, but is incredibly universal and celebratory at the same time. I would send you this recording immediately if I had your contact information. E-mail me if you like. Alternatively, the Lincoln Center recording is available at Amazon.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

jae 4:43 PM  

Re: ARAL vs. URAL. I had ARAL as a river in a previous puzzle and had to change it to URAL. I then checked my atlas and apparently there is no ARAL river, only the sea.

Ruth 4:46 PM  

@imsdave (may I call you im?) I've been in Rochester since 1982 so no overlap. Hemlock Lake is still quite pristine as they've prevented development on its shores--but even so I don't think "Hemlock" is a good word to see in an ad for a comestible!
And Glitch wants 2 S's in Genesee. Nope. I used to work at Genesee Hospital and finally learned to spell it--but it's being demolished this week. :(

thebubbreport 4:47 PM  

I started off with HAROLD RAMIS as the first thing I wrote in, even though it was nagging at me that he probably did not start directing until Ghostbusters or later.

thebubbreport 4:48 PM  

P.S. BBOY was my favorite clue/answer in awhile. It's making "YEAAAAHHHH BOOOOOYYYY" go through my head.

Elaine 4:55 PM  

Oh, I am SO PLEASED that there are TWO Elaines!

You don't see that name too often these days.

Keep puzzling; keep posting!

fergus 5:09 PM  

JACK NIKLAUS? First to third had me thinking baseball and courtship before elementary school. Not much misdirection confusion today.

SethG 5:20 PM  

In addition to co-starring in Stripes, Harold Ramis co-wrote both Meatballs and Stripes. And he co-wrote and directed Caddyshack, which came out between those two. So, you Ramisers, it's a perfectly reasonable error. No need to make up excuses...


chefwen 5:23 PM  

Thought this puzzle was, by far, a lot easier than Thursdays. I will admit (head hanging in shame) to a couple of Googles, never heard of IVAN REITMAN as I don't really pay attention to directors. Also, was pretty proud of myself when I filled in alto harp, oh well. Shrugged my shoulders at ACROSTIC, but thought OK, whatever.

Doc John, my deepest sympathy for the loss of your Father.

Rex 5:37 PM  

Arrived in Manhattan. Staying in some swank CPW apt that PuzzleGirl managed to score thru family connections. About to dine with several xword folks.

No idea how an apparently "easy" Friday took me 12 min. Oh, no, wait. I do know. I already wrote about it.

Should a college graduate not know what a "statistician" is, or who Ralph Nader is? Bec. on the bus I sat in front of a college graduate (very recent) who knew neither. She also said "like" so much I started counting and my fingers couldn't keep up. Actually, I used one hand for "like" and the other for "whatever." The "like" hand eventually just gave out. It's useless now. But it gave its life in a good cause.


mac 5:38 PM  

The Dutch national anthem is acrostic. Nobody knows more than the first 3 couplets(is that a word in English?).

@Treedweller: I bet Amy/Orange will help you out if necessary!

chefbea 5:42 PM  

Hi everyone!! I'm back from the tar heel state. Closed on our house and as soon as we sell condo here we will move.

Sorry I missed out on all the food comments. I did do Monday's puzzle which had a beet in it but missed all the other food

Also missed Secret Garden - one of my favorite books as a child.

Good luck to everyone going to the tournament in Queens and @Doc John - sorry for your loss.

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

did the same thing on skipagrade and put in shiftsgears. when that didn't fit also thought of stealsbases.

Doc John 6:35 PM  

Thanks again to everyone for your kind comments. :)

foodie 7:21 PM  

I loved the puzzle. But as I said on Orange's blog last night, it had a sad vibe, at least to me (e.g. WEEP, ALL ALONE and others...). May be an echo to Doc John's loss.

@Doc John, I too am sorry about your loss. I was thinking that you have shared with us two big events in your life, your marriage and your father's death, and we have rejoiced and been sad along with you. Thank you for sharing. It makes this community so much more real than arguing about antecedent parallelograms...

@Rex, I'm envious that you're in NYC, even though I'm not the competition type. But you're hanging out with such wonderful people! Good luck!

treedweller 8:30 PM  

@Doc John

@everyone else
Thanks for your support. I'll do my best.

retired_chemist 9:00 PM  

@ Doc John - my condolences also.

@ treedweller - you will do well.

edith b 9:18 PM  

I commented earlier and was very snide about the Chad Mitchell Trio, lumping them in with anti-British Invasion crowd and said they were part of the reaaction against the "Counter Culture."

It turns out my memory failed me on this one as the Chad Mitchell Trio were none of those things and I should have checked my facts before making such statements. Sorry.

treedweller 9:23 PM  

I want to say, Yes, she should know. But I wonder where we draw the line between "should" and "everyone our age would". I think I may have reached a midlife crisis. I have a few years on you, so you should not feel obligated to follow suit.

No, wait, any college graduate should damn well know both.

joho 9:25 PM  

@treedweller ... did I ever tell you about the tree's birthday party? Well, nobody came so they had to cut it short.

A little tree humor to make you understand that you'll be just fine. Break a twig!

andrea poop michaels 9:33 PM  

Now I understand WILCO...I had heard of Roger Wilco...but didn't know what it stood for. I get the band confused with Will Call.

yes, sad. hug.

@Rex, PuzzleGirl, Orange
do send pix and updates.

Stan 9:40 PM  

Read Rex's comment about the bus and I was like, "What's he talking about?" But, whatever...

michael 10:00 PM  

Not hard -- but I had to come here to figure out what "acrostic" was about.

Bill from NJ 10:00 PM  


When I was younger, I used to hear things like "30% of the population can't tell you who the President is."

When I see things like "Jaywalking" on the Tonite show or "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?", I can believe almost anything.

Elaine 10:11 PM  

Well, I hate to add to the general gloom about the educational level of the Younger Generations, but I just read this novel, _Tomato Rhapsody_ (planning to torment Michael5000 with a review) and in this novel--written by one Adam Schell w/ a Master's in Creative Writing from Antioch (so he claims)-- is the scene in which one character "saddled up" to another. Maybe he will try to blame his editor for not knowing the difference between "sidled" and "saddled," but c'mon. Did he not proof the galleys?
And besides, he had also written of eggplants growing on vines.

God only knows what he would say in answer to a question about Ralph Nader.

(Exit, shaking head sadly.)

fikink 10:47 PM  

@Edith,: I am happy to write that nurturing my pacifistic impulses (what few there are of them) paid off today.
I read your initial comment about the Chad Mitchell Trio and decided that you knew of them long before I did, for they did appear with Pat Boone in their earliest days. I also inferred from your comment that I hadn't been very clear about just which side they (CMT) were on. (The lyrics to Barry's Boys settles all this.)
As I wrote to @Bill from NJ, we resurrected parts of "Barry's Boys" in demonstrations against Nixon.
(At some point, I mentioned that on this blog last year when I thought "Tippecanoe and Nixon, too" was part of the fill. I believe, however, TYLER was the answer then.)

Chad later went off on his own and John Denver joined them for a while when they sang under the name, The Mitchell Trio...not too long after that, Chad Mitchell was busted for cocaine and John Denver became a household name.
We, of course, were following The Dead by then.

sanfranman59 3:23 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:32, 7:02, 1.07, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:57, 8:32, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:48, 12:36, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:43, 18:47, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 19:15, 25:26, 0.76, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:43, 1.02, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:12, 4:24, 0.95, 43%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:08, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:12, 9:06, 1.23, 91%, Challenging
Fri 8:57, 11:54, 0.75, 8%, Easy

phantom fingers 4:00 AM  

I just wanted to see who else thought Jeff Tweedy's band could've been referenced for 44D. Faster than normal friday for me. Also had maulup for 15A though.

Singer 1:03 PM  

@phantom fingers: So an obscure (to an old guy like my) pop band is a better clue for WILCO than a military code word? I guess it would have made the puzzle harder for me and easier for the young crowd.

Whitney 3:04 PM  

Count me in for the MASH/HASH MAULUP/HAULUP mashup. I put CABLEGUY right off the bat for 16A. But quickly realized it was wrong when I glanced at my boyfriend's puzzle :) Stalled on WILCO (know that from the band only, would like to see them in a puzzle - clued as such), really wanted ALLGO but gave up on that when I committed to EDUCATE. Giggled like a school child when I wrote POOP.

Naomi 4:00 PM  

I get the puzzle in syndication, so I'll always be late to the party.

re:15A haul up/ maul up confusion - the expression is "haul up on charges".

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