43.359 kg — FRIDAY, Sep. 11 2009 — Old sitcom mechanic with the / Lithograph Mustache Hat / Domain of King Tyndareus / Pantheonic queen

Friday, September 11, 2009

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FESS Parker (10A: Parker of "Old Yeller") Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. (born August 16, 1924) is an American film and television actor best known for his 1950s portrayals of Davy Crockett for Walt Disney and of Daniel Boone in the late 1960s. He is also known as a wine maker and resort owner-operator. (wikipedia)

[no relation]


Fun, fast puzzle today from Mr. Madison. Full disclosure, I've been working on a puzzle with him off and an this summer (we just finished), so I probably had an unfair wavelength advantage today. My favorite thing about the puzzle is the unusual grid shape. It's got a crazy horizontality with that one central 15 (TRAINED ASSASSIN — 32A: One who has practiced his hitting skills) flanked by the longest blocks of black I think I've ever seen in a 15x15 grid, which are each in turn flanked by a 14 (CAR COMMERCIALS — 27A: They may convince people to get rides); and "SCHINDLER'S LIST" — 41A: Highest-grossing black-and-white film of all time). The white parts in the NW and SE appear to have been eaten into a bit by the black (there are a LOT more black squares here than we usually see on a Friday ... more even than we see in the vast majority of themed / early-week puzzles), so the challenge of conquering wide open spaces wasn't really there today. But the fill is buttery smooth and lively. I chipped my tooth on SAR (34D: Mediterranean isl.), and I guess I could do without SSS (56D: Indication of tire trouble) and CWT (27D: 43.359 kg.), but other than those answers the puzzle was a real pleasure to fill. No EUPHORIA (3D: High), but no annoyed exasperation either. Oh, except with ETAIL (30D: Business involving clicking), which I have a personal vendetta against. But that's none of your concern.

As is typical with late-week puzzles, this started slow. First thing that went in was the handy-dandy double-shot of Vitamin Z: BOYZ II MEN (21A: "I'll Make Love to You" Grammy winners) and BALZAC (9D: "La Cousine Bette" novelist). Nice crossing: sadly, in the novel, no one makes love to Bette and she turns, uh, vengeful. But back to the puzzle — I couldn't get the north at first, even after throwing BALZAC up there. Wanted GPS for MAP (5D: It might tell you where you stand) and CLEO (!?!?!) for JUNO (7D: Pantheonic queen). The latter idiocy is especially odd since I've been lecturing on JUNO all week. Aeneas is a good OBEYER (8D: One who's not refractory) of every god but JUNO, who keeps trying to crush him. The pairing of "Cousin Bette" and JUNO up there in the N is pretty apt — it's as if BOYZ II MEN is trying to appease the wrathful women. I assume they are failing, as that song is embarrassing.

Once I got CAR COMMERCIALS, I somehow figured out the N and then whipped through the first half of the puzzle. Had trouble rounding the corner on "SCHINDLER'S LIST because I had (again, mind-blowingly, idiotically) ALIA for ALSO (35D: "See" follower in a footnote), and so couldn't see the movie title at all with that incorrect "I" in there. That "I" really tripped in the other direction where I (a trained medievalist) had no idea what to make of 48A: Word on many medieval signs). A-DE?? AIDE? FIRSTE AIDE? WTF? Eventually rebooted in the SW with HALS (again, WTY? what is the likelihood of regaining your foothold with HALS? I was botching easy stuff but nailing weird stuff today) (61A: "Lucas de Clercq" portraitist, ca. 1635). Eventually got the Spielberg title and changed AIDE to OLDE, which probably wasn't as on as many medieval signs as people think (for one thing, the Middle Ages weren't "OLDE" to the people living in them). SW corner went down fast, and then the S, which I feared (thought it might be like the N), put up no fight at all. Done.


  • 15A: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba) — I had PALAU here at first, to give you an idea of how my N started out.
  • 17A: The lithograph "Mustache Hat" and others (Arps) — best lithograph name ever.
  • 23A: Brickmaking mixture (loam) — I did not know that's what LOAM was for.
  • 26A: Churchgoing times for many nonchurchgoers (Easters) — Part of the Mandatory Minimum for many Christians (see ALSO Christmas).
  • 49A: Two-time Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo) – good to see him in a puzzle whose marquee answer is about hitting people (32A).
  • 57A: Either of two opposing war emblems (rose) — white/red, York/Lancaster. War of the Roses (the one that *didn't* star Danny DeVito).

  • 63A: Old sitcom mechanic, with "the" (Fonz) — that is a Great clue, in that I idolized the FONZ for a couple years (ca. 1976-78) and yet the clue (which turns out to be perfect) made me draw a huge blank at first.
  • 2D: Noted coward player (Bert Lahr) — usu. it's just the LAHR we see.
  • 4D: Plays a sophomoric prank on, informally (TPs) — toilet papers. We did this as kids. My sisters did worse, but I won't say exactly what.
  • 13D: Group of "nine-and-fifty" in a Yeats poem (swans) — didn't know it. Never read Yeats, and I doubt that fact will ever change.
  • 25D: Big name in faucetry (Moen) — "faucetry" is a funny word.
  • 39D: Jimmy Dorsey's "_____ Mine" ("Not") — wanted "I ME"; can't find this song, but here's one where Jimmy plays clarinet at a happy white Christian girl who then tells us how things are done in Harlem. Enjoy!

  • 41D: Domain of King Tyndareus (Sparta) — I'm sure I knew this once, but not today. Needed a few crosses.
  • 47D: Bomb's opposite (smash) — the answer that confirmed HALS.
  • 53D: Maker of the 1923 "Teardrop" racer (Benz) — shares a terminal "Z" with FONZ. So much better than sharing a terminal "S."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Leslie 8:24 AM  

I loved this puzzle. TRAINED ASSASSINS? Too much fun. I was frightened of Friday toughness, but agree with RP that this was easy and fresh.

HudsonHawk 8:26 AM  

Great write-up, Rex and a fun puzzle. I also felt like I was on C-Mad's wavelength, as this was a faster than usual Friday for me.

I counted the squares for SCHINDLER'S LIST and decided it had to be right, just on the CEREAL and I DO crosses. The South fell in a hurry. I wanted 32A to be some longer variation of LOUNGE LIZZARD, but TRAINED ASSASSIN was good, too.

Jon 8:29 AM  

Loved loved loved this. Everything was zippy and bright--REUP & MCJOB and other little glittery fill. Just fantastic. Madison is ascending my personal favorite constructor rankings.

retired_chemist 8:42 AM  

Nice puzzle. Bet I am not the only one who put INDIAN @ 45D and had to change it to NEPALI.

Karen from the Cape 8:43 AM  

I finally figured out how to do google docs and get my average times for each day, and this one fell right on my average Friday time. So I'm calling it medium. There were few easy or impossible spots for me. The only sitcom mechanic I was remembering was Goober Pyle from Andy Griffith; did they ever actually call him The GOOB? I'd forgotten that SCHINDLERS LIST was b&w. I loved the CAR COMMERCIAL and the TRAINED ASSASSIN clues.

NYC 9:01 AM  

My City of Ruins

Never forget.

mmorowitz 9:16 AM  

I had my best-ever Friday time (17:28) and felt proud of myself. Then, I thought "I bet Rex calls this 'easy', which will take some wind out of my sails".

Still, very good puzzle.

Bryan 9:27 AM  

Had same thought with GPS/MAP. Wonder what that says about us (as a society, natch)? Love it.

retired_chemist 9:36 AM  

Not for a minute doubting the use of loam to make Loam brick, I did want to find out what it was. Click for the story, and for a German analogue of Pedro Carolino's English As She Is Spoke.

nanpilla 9:38 AM  

I also thought of loam as gardening or potting soil.
A second day of two identical clues for synonyms. Joe for JAVA and MUD. The troublesome north made this a medium for me. Kept GPS for too long, and I can never seem to remember BOYZ II MEN. That double I in the middle had me puzzled for a while.
The clue for LURES was great!

imsdave 9:41 AM  

I am just so relieved that SCHINDLERSLIST wasn't clued as "film in black and white, with a touch of red". I will remember that scene for the rest of my life.

Great work Caleb.

ArtLvr 9:51 AM  

This may be a themeless, officially, but I sensed black vibes recalling 9/11/01 angst throughout, besides the obvious TRAINED ASSASSINS. See my LIST over at Orange's...


Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:57 AM  

Had BOYZ II MEN and SCHINDLER'S LIST immediately, which, pretty much gave me enough footholds to crush this puzzle. A+ on the fill. Really, the only minus is that the overall shape of it was compartmentalized. Still, good stuff. Approved.

Caleb: Go Young! You can do it! Go Younger!

dk 10:03 AM  

Note to self: Do not play scrabble with Caleb.

I just do not think of Happy Days as an old (OLDE) sitcom. Now Our Miss Brooks thats old.

All the coffee fill helped fend off the Zs in this great Friday puzzle. I love the fact that we covered many eras SPARTA, ARP, FESS, PUZO, FONZ, BOYZIIMEN and the always popular IPODS.

FYI: Fess Parker's wine has a coonskin cap on the cork.

I may move from what has become a MCJOB. When I explain the profiling work I do and reference my analysis of the text in this blog and its posts, interviewers look at me as if I were a TRAINEDASSASSIN. Perhaps I will suggest that if they do not hire me they should think of the MARIOPUZO scene with the horse...

Gotta go, working a great piece of fiction tentatively titled "resume and cover letter."

dk 10:05 AM  

that is not thats... sorry apostrophe police.

Susan 10:06 AM  

I loved seeing the FONZ but wished it were clued, "The coolest man in America c. 1977."

This was a super-fast Friday for me. In fact, WAY faster than yesterday.

Jeffrey 10:10 AM  

Not fast for me. Struggled in the SW for a long time.

SCHLINDERS LIST & TRAINED ASSASSINS make for one cheery puzzle.

But saved in the end by the FONZ! Ayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!! Man, that's groovy!

Spencer 10:26 AM  

No trouble with MAP, and got ARUBA from the A. I had MAJ (Majorca) for a while, which didn't help with SCHINDLERSLIST at all! At one point I had ----IIM-N and didn't like the II bit. Finally BOYZIIMEN jumped out at me.

I agree, it was a quick one for a Friday.

Unknown 10:28 AM  

Held on to GPS until the last. All the long stuff came fairly easily, but this common little 3-letter word just killed me.

Rex Parker 10:36 AM  

A fine and good thing to remember 9/11. A horrible and ridiculous thing to make lists of how this puzzle evokes 9/11. Caleb doesn't deserve it, and frankly you could find answers in virtually any puzzle that evoke dark things.

Poor Caleb had the 9/11 puzzle last year as well. Maybe give him next year off :)


johnpag 10:38 AM  

That "happy white Christian girl" is Patti Page - a great singer.

Greene 10:40 AM  

Was I the only one who had BIRTH OF A NATION instead of SCHINDLER'S LIST? I guess black and white film makes me think old film.

This was another terrific puzzle which served to remind me why I love Friday: relatively difficult + themeless = happy Greene.

McJOB was the best answer in the puzzle for me. I couldn't parse it correctly at first. What the heck is a M.C. JOB? I s that something Joel Grey would do? Then had the AHA and a good laugh.

Bravo Caleb. Things are looking up in puzzleland.

johnpag 10:43 AM  

Oops. I'm wrong. It's Helen O'Connell

fikink 10:57 AM  

Dynamite puzzle!
@Two Ponies, Artlvr: thanks for your response yesterday. Guess my thinking is muddled on this, as Caleb did the same thing with "Joe" today, though I would have preferred MAC instead of MUD.

This was, to me, just a really solid puzzle with fresh fill great clueing (appreciated the new clue for ARPS); and great pauses over things like the tricky double-i in BOYZIIMEN (since I didn't know the song) .

From the War of the ROSEs to iPODS, "Who could ask for anything more?"

"See ALSO Christmas" - LOL, Rex!

@dk, LOVED Our Miss Brooks!

Thanks, Caleb - well done!

Two Ponies 10:58 AM  

Even getting some of the long answers didn't help unlock all of the mini-puzzles isolated within.
I struggled in the N because I thought it was Boys 2 Men so that double I had me doubting myself.
Maab was the queen I was thinking of.
@ nanpilla, I noticed that repeat synonym trick from yesterday as well.
Good to see Bert Lahr in full for once.
The clue for Ares was nice.
Never a Happy Days fan but I figured it out. I only remember Fonzie fixing the juke box.
Nice original clue for Moe. I'm assuming the shorts here meant short films?
I had a crush on Fess Parker as a very young girl (along with Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Errol Flynn.)
Costume fetish in the making? Hmm.
Thanks to all for the nice thoughts yesterday. I think I'm over the worst of this flu and ready to return to the outside world.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:10 AM  

Easy!?! Not for me -- fun, and fair, but not easy. Slowed down much by one write-over - had HERA before JUNO in that difficult upper Midwest; not so much slowed by having ICONS instead of IPODS down in Louisiana. (Everybody knows that that string of icons either at the side or top or bottom of your computer screen is called a dock, right?)

Didn't put it in, but at one point I had MAR_OP__O, and wondered if there was a screen writer using the nom de plume MARCOPOLO!

Campesite 11:12 AM  

Loved the puzzle, Did a quadruple take with the adjacent II's, but once the boyband appeared the puzzle fell.
Great MCJOB on this fine puzzle.

LEH 11:15 AM  

Cool puzzle but perplexed by RP's almost proud indifference to Yeats, especially given that he's an English teacher?!? Shame on you, sir.

In fact I'll take this complaint one step further along similar lines and admit to a pet peeve re the younger "cool" (see BEQ) constructors' proclivity for leaning WAY too heavily on names from the contemporary rap music world (talk about evanescent forgetabilia) while classic rock/pop references seem for the most part to go unused: when's the last time you saw Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell used in a puzzle? Woody Guthrie? Neil Young? Van Morrison?

Excuse my cranky fogeyness here (I'm all of 55 and a former English major myself) but I seriously doubt 90% of the rappers BEQ references will be remembered in a few short years. Yeats and Dylan OTOH will. Rant over.

All 'Classical' was popular once 11:21 AM  

@LEH - That's exactly what my parents said about Dylan 40 years ago. And probably what my great great .. great grandparents said about Yeats.

Jim in Chicago 11:30 AM  

A great puzzle that made my bus trip very enjoyable this morning. A bit on the easy side, but it made me want to stay on the bus extra stops so I could finish it.

slypett 11:56 AM  

I'm with the small, but select, company that found this puzzle difficult. Especially in the N. Had to fish in McGoogle's Pool to get BOYZIIMEN. It could have been worse: could have abandoned the puzzle, as I was temted to once or twice.

Daryl 12:03 PM  

Easy one today but very fresh fill (and I know that's getting to be a stale comment but he deserves the kudos).

Since Yeats has been mentioned, I have to say I loved the reference. I actually had to memorise The Wild Swans at Coole for my O levels, about 15 years ago. Lovely poem.

Stan 12:05 PM  

For me, BOYZIIMEN was one of the most enjoyable revelations ever, with PUZO/ZERO and BENZ/FONZ almost as good.

Do feel that 'medieval' maybe should have been set off with quotation marks.

Excellent work, Caleb!

mac 12:18 PM  

This was a solid Medium for me, but this is my kind of puzzle! Enjoyed it almost the whole way, got fatally stick in the North.

Where do I begin? SAT for 5D (knew Caleb is young...), Tajine for the Fajita (I know, I know it is Tagine), Bob instead of Moe (sponge Bob square pants?).

Loooved amens, drum up, white-out and Rose! Didn't remember those Boyz... Loam for brick?

Thanks, Caleb, great job!

PlantieBea 12:18 PM  

Great Friday puzzle Caleb! For me, this was a normal Friday solve since I didn't have much after the first pass, but once I got the foothold with Euphoria the rest fell steadily. The cluing and fill today felt fresh. Favorites were the ASSASSINs with MARIO PUZO.

fergus 12:41 PM  

Give "Prayer for My Daughter" a try. Not a big fan of Yeats, but it's hard not to like that one.

Made a big mess of the CAR Clue since I was thinking of all the things that can go awry with car travel. (Due to BOB, rather than MOE for the guy with the funny shorts.) Had to tease out McJOB letter by letter, but otherwise whizzed through.

No bleed-over today, apparently?

Ulrich 12:42 PM  

I'm in the "difficult crowd"--and in good company, too! Resisted googling several times and nailed it in the end.

What's striking, to me, is that those that found the puzzle difficult don't appear to agree on where the difficulties were. In my case, the long horizontal answers fell relatively fast, but the odd form of the grid, duly noticed by Rex, produced an extreme degree of compartmentalization and eddies everywhere, and it's in those pockets that I got stuck, especially in the SE, where HUGE for A TON held me up for a while...I'm not complaining, though--it was a good workout.

Jackie 1:00 PM  

This one was great fun!

My only gripes: medieval really should have been written as "mediaeval" -- or the clue should have been given as "common sign at Renaissance Faires" or the like. As RP pointed out, medieval signs (the few authentic ones that survive) don't use the word "Olde"; medievalizing signs, esp. in touristy areas of England, do.

This next one is quite specifically an art historian's gripe, but clues whose answers are an artist's name followed by an -s really rub me the wrong way. "The lithograph 'Mustache Hat' [awesome] and others" are not ARPS; they're lithographs by Arp. Reifying the artist and his works in that way sounds so gauche ("Oh yes, you should see my faboo collection of Dalis; and the new Ernst just looks smashing with my Dior curtains!"). One wouldn't say that "'Cousin Bette' and others" are BALZACS or that "Eine kleine Nachtmusik and others" are MOZARTS; why do this to pictures (unless the assumption is that they're just collectibles)?

fikink 1:02 PM  

I cannot resist, it seems timely:

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(I will count this as two, Rex. Three and out.)

foodie 1:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
foodie 1:16 PM  

Not easy, but very enjoyable. For convincing people to get rides I kept wanting something along the lines of hitchhikers ... For Hitting skills I kept thinking of drug taking : ) But it all eventually emerged.

To me, a great puzzle is one that is not overly idiosyncratic to either the constructor or a subset of the solving population-- for young people or old, for men or women, for sports lovers or opera buffs. But rather one that has enough diversity and freshness that it keeps everyone on their toes. I learn a great deal from the puzzles because of this diversity-- from expressions I hadn't heard of to the names of rappers to various factoids. And I admire the fact that CM has such a wonderful range. Younger stuff is great, as long as it expands that range.

1:15 PM

The Big E 1:39 PM  

The term "McJob" is an offensive, obnoxious term that not only was McDonalds extremely irked about, but (rightfully so) so were and are the thousands of people who work there.
The current CEO (or Chairman, I forget which) started his career at McDonalds cooking french fries.
Particularly in this economy where finding a job has become an ordeal for 9.5% of the US Population, no one should be laughing or belittling those who have the good fortune to even HAVE a job, wherever that job might be.
My apologies for standing on the pulpit, but I have worked at a number of jobs where my prospects for advancement were far worse than working at McDonalds. And bottom line, it's something on a resume. Period.

jae 1:40 PM  

Easy for me also. Stumbled briefly on the II in BOYZIIMEN but other than that a smooth solve. Excellent Fri., thanks Caleb!

william e emba 1:53 PM  

Wow, it started off easy, and then I just froze all over the place. A mixture of gimmes and dammes and gimmes I couldn't get, but slowly the pieces came out. Way too slowly. As an example of stupidity, I immediately thought FESS Parker, but I was thinking, no way, that's a Monday clue, maybe Parker is a character in the film, now that's Friday cluing. Aaargh! I mean, at least I didn't guess it was Rexx.

And then when I got the BOYZ from crosses, I was happy, I actually knew it was BOYZ2MEN, but that 2 didn't fit, and it took me forever to get II.

So while I found the puzzle Challenging, I think Rex's rating is spot-on correct.

Using a visual artist's name as a substitute for his work, both singular and plural, is in the language. As an art historian, do you cringe over Arp's own made up name for the original "Mustache Hat" and others: "Arpaden Portfolio"?

Morgan 2:13 PM  

Easy peasy (for a Friday). I had a 15:14 time, which I think has to be my best Friday ever. I enjoyed the puzzle too--it wasn't so easy that it wasn't fun. Lots of great/tricky clues.

Orange 2:28 PM  

I am envisioning an antique store in medieval England: Ye Olde Shoppe of Rockes and Other Blunte Thynges.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

It's not Caleb's fault for running a crossword with the centerpiece
TRAINED ASSASSIN on 9/11 in a New York City newspaper. It's the editor's fault. Blame him.

Ulrich 2:41 PM  

@WEE: I'm with you; i.e. the logic behind the art historian's gripe escapes me. I cannot see, for the life of me, how usage specific to a particular art form could be denigrating for no other reason than that it is an exception. To demand consistency in language usage is like demanding no rain during the US Open: It can't be done, and that's the end of it.

@fikink: Much appreciated the Yeats!!!

Anne 2:51 PM  

It's always amazing to me how differently people view puzzles and how almost any word can end in controversy. Lighten up, people, we're having fun here.

I liked the puzzle even though it wasn't easy, and for once I don't feel worn out from having finished it. And now to Saturday.

Jeffrey 2:57 PM  

I just walked by Ye Olde Tattoo Parlour. (For real.)

nanpilla 3:08 PM  

@ulrich - Wish we COULD do something about the rain!! I'm in withdrawal here!

Stan 3:35 PM  

@Orange & @Crosscan: Hilarious

--Stan in Ye Olde Newe England

sanfranman59 3:48 PM  

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 21:57, 25:42, 0.85, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:35, 12:06, 0.96, 42%, Medium

LEH 4:14 PM  

Yes, bravo re "The Second Coming" post--timely and classic indeed. (And now Rex can say he's read Yeats.)

Re 99% of rappers being destined for the same pantheon as Yeats and Dylan, yeah, sure--in a pig's eye. As far as I can see the "great themes" in rap mostly revolve around misogyny, drug dealing, and macho-posturing bluster.

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Did someone say "straw man"?

treedweller 4:26 PM  

It must be pretty foggy where you are.

I got through this one with no real problems, which means three consecutive hard puzzles (last Fri, last Sat, and this Fri) that I finished (I did have one google last Friday). For several F/S before that, as I recall, I got slaughtered. Which brings me to a question: Does the relative difficulty of each day's puzzle scale up through the month? That is, are first-Friday puzzles easier than fourth-Friday ones?

Anyway, I had fun even though I knew this would get an "easy" rating.

Rex Parker 4:29 PM  

LEH, "as far as you can see" is nowhere. You know nothing about rap. Just as I know next to nothing about ballet. Accept it. But don't blather on – it just makes you look old and ignorant.

Some people would laugh you out of the room for putting Yeats and Dylan in the same sentence. And you'd react to those people the way I'm reacting to you right now.

More for you to chew on (from imdb):

"Despite rumors that he hates rap music, Dylan cites several rappers as having "brilliant minds" and, in his "Chronicles" states that he is a big fan of several Old School rappers, particularly Public Enemy, who were one of his favorite artists. Many see an early connection to rap in Dylan's music, particularly the song "Subterranean Homesick Blues"."


PS I didn't read the Yeats.

Unknown 5:17 PM  


You sound pretty defensive.

LEH, "as far as you can see" is nowhere.

"Never read Yeats, and I doubt that fact will ever change."

WBY may have been the greatest poet of the 20th century. Give him a try. If you don't like his work. You will still have to appreciate a true master of the English language.

All "Classical" ... 5:17 PM  

@LEH - The point wasn't that 99% of current popular culture will survive the ages, but that at any point in history, old farts decried current popular culture. I'm of the age of Dylan, and listened to my parents decrying the music of the 60s as crap. Sure, 99% of it was. Just as 99% of that which was current to them was, going back throughout the ages. If we never read, listened to, watched, admired anything but that which had survived the ages before us there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, to read, watch, listen to.

You may then be complaining about relative frequency in the crosswords. Care to guess the relative number of people who've bought a Woody Guthrie vs Rhianna CD in the past year? People who've read Yeats vs Harry Potter? People who've watched Masterpiece Theatre vs The Simpsons? I absolutely guarantee that the ratio would be miniscule, totally out of proportion with their appearances in the crossword puzzles.

Bob 5:32 PM  

In the dime stores and bus stations,
people will tell of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.

Some speak of the future.
My love, she speaks softly.
She knows there's no success like failure
and that failure's no success at all.

SethG 5:42 PM  

Robert, LEH didn't sound as offensive as Rex sounded defensive? "Shame on you, sir." "(And now Rex can say he's read Yeats.)" Then LEH took a 90% statistic s/he made up, turned it to 99%, and "Re"plied to something no one said about it.

sfranman59, the Top 100 solvers are having relatively more difficulty with the puzzle than All solvers because I'm in the group, dragging us down. My fastest Friday ever by almost two minutes. And fun, too!

Still, I've got to admit that when I had the whole puzzle completed except _anything_ in the north central, my first guess at xxxxIIMEN was HAWAII MEN? (I knew the BOYZ, just not the song.) Finally figured out who the xxxxAC author was (French!), then finished up with PANEL/JUNO instead of my original WHEEL/CLEO. If I admit I didn't know who Queen JUNO is am I gonna have to read some mythology?

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Every time someone opines on rap Rex gets all bent out of shape. I don't get it. Any lyrics I hear or billboards I see do seem degrading to women,full of weapons, and sensational towards blatent materialism. Why defend it? To appear to be hip because it's not cool to be white anymore?
Each to his own, even those who disagree.
The fad I'm waiting to pass to the wayside it the ridiculous amount of underwear showing over droopy pants. Defend that!

andrea II michaels 5:51 PM  

Before this turns into a rap war, I'm going to chime in with my love of young MC...I mean CM...
(Did you ever settle upon a nickname? I'd like to propose MCCM or Young CM...)

Caleb = fabulous...
but I'm tempted to ignore the constructor's name before I start, bec I confidently put in 1A YEAH for IBET and so thought 1D was YALE!
( and it was some sort of weird inside joke bec I think Young CM goes there...like it was some subdivision of one of those secret society things that are so secret we hear about them all the time!
Imagine my surpise when the answer turned out to be IRAN!)

That would have been wild if SAR (my only dislike in this puzzle, sort of like my COR) was MAJ for Majorca! Then it would be FOUR days of MAJOR bleedover!!!!

Yes, INDIAN here too...
I've read a TON of mythology and, like you and Rex, I still put CLEO for JUNO (Juno = Hera) and had a struggle with the II in Boyz.
Loved all the ZZZZZZZZZZs

That three letter word for MAP was the hardest thing in the puzzle for me...
With the --P in place, I considered about 100 things, the most prominent was LAP...
I decided that LAP is the part of you that determines if you are sitting or "Where you stand"!!???!!!

@Bob K
That MARCOPOLO/MARIOPUZO is amazing in its overlap! I live for things like that! It seems to scream for some sort of puzzle, but I don't know what kind...

why don't you come out for our little Alameda tournament tomorrow and check out the McJobs here???

Appreciate your perspective about the whole McJob thing, but I think that was started by Douglas Coupland (sp?) in GenX, no?
I mean I'm writing this from a temp receptionist job today...bec my OTHER McJob (writing puzzles for the NY Times) doesn't pay a proper wage!
Here, Will...you want Z's with that?

Glitch 6:39 PM  

@Urich said "What's striking, to me, is that those that found the puzzle difficult don't appear to agree on where the difficulties were"

I find that fact a sign of a well constructed, late week puzzle. (kudos Caleb).
Rap artists are current, in the news, thus fair fodder for crosswords --- I know not nor care for their music, but acknowledge their right to exist ;).
However, what their music represents (and it's worth) is as pointlessly debatable as recent discussions of Idi Amin, Michael Jackson, and Pete Rose. Inclusion in the puzzle should not be considered an endorsement.

As @Anne said: Lighten up, people, we're having fun here.


@acm is almost correct (good memory tho), "McJob" was coined by sociologist Amitai Etzioni, and appeared in the Washington Post on August 24, 1986 in the article "McJobs are Bad for Kids".

The term was popularized by Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, described therein as "a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one."

Not complimentary, and I'm sure McD's is unhappy with the association, but IMHO, the kid behind the counter has as much chance of becoming the CEO as becoming President --- but it could happen.


Jeffrey 6:48 PM  

@Glitch - Agree this is a well constructed puzzle but I think another reason difficulties were in different areas is the grid structure. One or two unknowns cut off whole quadrants.

Glitch 7:10 PM  


Yup :-)


LEH 7:12 PM  

Gee, Rex, at least I listened to rap for a few years before deciding it wasn't my cup of tea, while you refuse to even read a line of Yeats. And you're a liberal arts/English teacher at the college level? I don't get it.

a-pat 7:17 PM  

LEH, why did this even come up? Please, just stop...

Karen from the Cape 7:21 PM  

I'm once again reminded of Sturgeon's Law, which has gotten me through several rough times: "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud."

PuzzleGirl 7:30 PM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle. And I swear I'm not just saying that because Caleb is the most adorable boy ever.

I originally had SCRUB for MCJOB, so GPS wasn't on my radar. I laughed when I got ENAMEL (I was sitting in the dentist's office at the time). Also had YEMENI (?!?) for NEPALI. And BLACK ICE for WHITEOUT. Super super enjoyable solve.

Never read Yeats either, but as someone who loves art that twists and turns words into delightful surprises, I'm not ashamed to say I'm a huge fan of the brilliant Eminem.

fergus 7:34 PM  

Wasn't Yeats's "Long-Legged Fly" generally understood to be the real precursor to, if not progenitor of, rap when it appeared in 1939?

Looking forward to seeing anyone who can make it to Alameda tomorrow.

Rex Parker 7:37 PM  

When old white guys rant ignorantly about (predominantly) black music, yeah, that doesn't sit well. Same thing with old white guys heckling black president. No one could make such ignorant, disparaging claims about ALL rap who had listened to it in any variety for even one month, let alone two years.

I won't read Yeats, but notice how I don't go on about what a violent, flash-in-the-pan misogynist he was. Because I know what I know and I know what I *don't* know.

Otherwise ... what Karen from the Cape said.


PuzzleGirl 7:37 PM  

And one more thing. I just want to thank Rex for letting us into the extremely personal world of his crossword solving experience. To publicly write about everything he doesn't know on a daily basis for any old idiot to judge is something that I'm sure would be very difficult for most of us.

Stan 7:58 PM  

Some really good comments here. I'm proud of the blog today.

foodie 8:01 PM  

Though I am among the older readers, I'm also interested in understanding human emotions. So, I find passages like this both telling and touching:

"Whether willing or unwillingly, you still agree
As long as there's still this hunger, and will in me
Then expect a longer life expectancy
I'd be a savage beast if I ain't had this outlet to salvage me
Inside, I'd be exploding soaked in self loathing
And mourning so I'm warning you don't coax me
It's silly, but really its sheep in wolves clothing
Who only reacts when he gets pushed don't we
Fool, the press blows up this whole thing
It's stupid, they don't know cuz they don't see
That I'm wounded, all they did was ballooned it..."

sanfranman59 8:03 PM  

Re Yeats, I'm a big fan of Loreena McKennitt and she has put at least a couple of Yeats' works to music. The Stolen Child is on her "Elemental" album and "The Two Trees" is on "The Mask and the Mirror". The latter is one of my favorite McKennitt songs on my favorite McKennitt album. Haunting is the adjective that comes to mind. If you're not familiar with her work, I highly recommend giving her a listen.

edith b 8:08 PM  

@Two Ponies-

I had such a crush on Errol Flynn when his autobiography "My Wicked, Wicked Ways" came out in paperback in 1959. My mother was horrified to find I had spent some of my baby-sitting money on a copy of it.

I like puzzles like this that are free-wheeling and cover a wide range of subject matter, BALZAC crossing BOYZIIMEN being a perfect example of what I am saying and also where I got my start.

As other have said, this one had to be solved in quadrents. MARIOPUZO was the neon that got me started in the SW and SPARTA HEISTS produced SHINDLERSLIST that broke this ones back.

A nice combination of Received Knowledge to Wordplay and Caleb Madison is fast becoming one of my favorite constructors.

Leslie 8:09 PM  

Okay, at the risk of continuing something that perhaps should be allowed to die: Rex, for pity's sake, why in the world are you being so obstinate about not reading Yeats? Is it just because a couple of people have urged you to, and you're reacting by being stubborn?

I mean, I get "I haven't read Yeats," but not "I won't read Yeats." If he didn't shoot your dog or burn your house down, what the heck's the problem?

Rex Parker 8:12 PM  

@Leslie, very good question.

A. I have a stack of comics a foot high. They aren't going to read themselves. Plus I teach two lit courses, and I have novels and reading galore backed up from here to eternity. I have priorities. Yeats is not among them.

B. That f@#ker killed my dog.


Orange 8:17 PM  

I haven't read Yeats nor listened to Eminem. (I listen to very little current music. What? Is it no longer the '80s or the '90s? I did not get the memo.) So I was reading foodie's comment with a poem excerpt in it and was surprised to see that Yeats felt so contemporary. Then I got to the part about the press blowing things up and realized it was rap, and Googled to find out it was Eminem.

I bet Yeats doesn't have as propulsive a beat as most rap.

The Big E 8:24 PM  

@Glitch - thanks for the history, as I was unaware of just how long the term had been used, or when it ws originally coined (I was 12 in 1986!). :-)
That said, I think as we all know, language evolves, words and terms come and go, and people come to realize that certain words or slang should be removed.
At least working for McDonalds you get some benefits, which is a lot more than being a delivery boy at most of the local restaurants who bring your food and get a $2 tip in return.
I just think that when people make the effort to go out and find employment and are fortunate to get it, we shouldn't laugh at them or make fun of the "type" of job they have. (You have a McJob - no where to go but nowhere for you!)
Just my opinion, and as I said, I apologize for pontificating, but I am having one of those days!

On a totally separate note, a question for the masses....

Who the heck is this YEATS guy everyone keeps babbling about???

Jeffrey 8:27 PM  

Forget Yates and rap. The most quotable entry today is The Fonz:



Sit On It

Live fast, love hard, and don't let anybody else use your comb!

When you're this cool, they're out to get you.

Don't fool with the cool 'cause the cool don't fool.

fergus 9:01 PM  

Ain't no way I's a card-carryin' intellekyul,

but they's a sniff atrouble
'bout my cuz who got it his skull

Don't really give a shit 'bout dude
called Yates,

But I know the fukka gotta lotta cool dates.


andrea italiana michaels 9:10 PM  

Netflix Eminem's 8 Mile and you'll see what the fuss is about...
(Divert your son's eyes from the sex scenes...some of the most real-feeling I've seen/felt in film).
Coincidentally, Eminem's real name is Marshall Yeats Mathers III

foodie 9:13 PM  

@Orange, Crosscan & Fergus: LOL... truly!!

What a trio of comments : )

sanfranman59 9:15 PM  

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 6:54, 6:55, 1.00, 55%, Medium
Tue 7:31, 8:25, 0.89, 20%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:38, 12:15, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Thu 18:43, 18:41, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Fri 22:24, 25:44, 0.87, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:41, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:12, 4:22, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 5:43, 5:59, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Thu 9:30, 9:10, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 10:01, 11:59, 0.84, 14%, Easy

Sandy 9:23 PM  

Rex doesn't just react to rants about rap. He also gets annoyed when people say "shame on you, sir." I wouldn't like it either. What Puzzle Girl said.

Anonymous 9:31 PM  




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fergus 9:39 PM  

I fear the last post is alien contact that has confused Ken Ken with the Crossword .... ?

andrea not yet michaels 9:51 PM  

Whenever someone asks me something like "Have you been to CHina?" I always answer "Not yet!"
Makes me feel like there is a possibility astir.

So now I'm thinking this all could have been solved (like ALL problems in the world) with a simple anagram.

Have you read YEATS?

fergus 10:09 PM  


I've made attempts at enticing my Bay Area casual solver friends -- probably to no avail for tomorrow. Hope you'll have better success in encouraging participants. Regardless of our recruitment, I'm finally getting stoked about the confluence of "a blank adjective and a plural noun" who enjoy a similar divertissement.

A demain,

The Big E 11:03 PM  

@Andrea - Eminem's (a.k.a. The Real Slim Shady) middle name is Bruce, not Yeats! :-)
Marshall Bruce Mathers III

fergus 11:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 11:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 11:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calmad 12:27 AM  


So glad you liked the puzzle and... if any crossword-lover rejects rap music, they obviously haven't listened to the wordplay of, say, the Wu-Tang Clan, Black Star or MF Doom.

Thanks again!


Doc John 12:31 AM  

I'm arriving late after a long work day and after reading all the comments I'm surprised that nobody mentioned the twin towers that were in the grid. First thing I noticed when I looked at the puzzle. Kind of explains the crazy grid shape.

LEH 1:09 AM  

Putting rap music aside for a moment, I have to say I'm glad for raising such a ruckus after reading all the great comments but still wonder what Rex has against reading one of the great poets of the 20th century, namely WB Yeats.

Re Rex's comment to me about being "laughed out of the room" in lumping Dylan with Yeats, methinks he's dead wrong. Many fine, established and well-regarded contemporary poets have called Dylan among the very finest poets of his generation, and have written articles and books that say the same. Go back to the Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 period and
tell me differently--and Dylan continues to do it now.

My overall point remains--anyone purporting to be a contemporary English literature teacher should have at least a passing knowledge of Yeats--and Dylan. I'll give it a rest now.

fergus 1:35 AM  

LEH - your overall point remains. The other night we went to sleep to "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" and how troubling is that?

fergus 2:00 AM  

Calmad -- you're a cool young chap. Since I've sent so many comments your way, I hope that they'll turn out tomorrow morning no worse than a mix of Dylan and Yeats, and that you'll be be wise enough to understand ....

fergus 2:29 AM  

... any Philosophy classes

which ought to bewilder one

schmidtenor 3:26 AM  

I guess this was an "easy" puzzle for anyone who already knew that Aruba is part of the Netherlands, Juno was a queen, Balzac wrote "La Cousine Bette", and BoyzIIMen performed "I'll Make Love to You." I knew exactly none of those, which pretty much rendered the NE unsolvable for me. You can't solve an entire quadrant from the "crosses", when it is so heavily dependent on proper names. This drives me crazy. I think I have a pretty good vocabulary, but apparently only a sparse knowledge of literary figures, geography, and pop culture; at least as far as crossword friendly names are concerned. Perhaps after a few more decades of slogging through puzzles like this, I'll have famous people like "Hals" committed to memory. Hooray. Until then, I might as well just start using Google, since no amount of time spent staring at a puzzle is going to make me suddenly realize that Tyndareus was the king of Sparta. I suppose after a lifetime devoted to puzzle solving, you've all probably seen a word like "Sparta" clued just about every way in which it can be. "Arps'?, give me a break.

jae 5:07 AM  

Better to post this late than tomorrow. Historical perspective: the last time there was a "rap flap" on this blog Evil Doug went away. I didn't agree with ED then and I kinda with Rex on the same issue now (yes I might be a sycophant). Rap, like any other genre, has good stuff and not so good stuff. The point is don't generalize/stereotype. Its part of our culture, embrace what you like and ignore what you don't, but for me the most "pop"ular stuff is fair game for crosswords.

SethG 9:29 AM  

schmidtenor, I knew exactly none of those things you mentioned, I haven't been solving for decades, and I finished this faster than I'd ever finished a Friday before.

Keep in mind that everyone (well, at least most people, and for sure Rex) is actually saying that it's relatively easy. Easy for a Friday NYT puzzle.

LEH, Lil Wayne won the grammy last year. By one measure, he's the best rap star today. Are you familiar with his work? Or have you heard enough rap to know that you have no interest in hearing more? Do you think rap critics need a passing familiarity with opera to be competent? Do you think opera critics need the same familiarity with rap?

And finally, why am I even bothering? On to Saturday, like everyone else is already...

Sam H 9:48 AM  

I was wondering if there might have been a typo in the clue for CWT (27D). How about 45.359 kg equals 100 pounds?

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@Sam H - CWT means a hundred weight which means a hundred pounds.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@Sam H - CWT means a hundred weight which means a hundred pounds.

Sam H 11:50 AM  

Yes ,but 43.359 kg is not 100 pounds, 45.359 is. Thus my question about the typo.

The Big E 12:13 PM  

@Sam H - You're dead on accurate. Nice Catch!

archaeoprof 3:08 PM  

I'm very late to the party here. Really, the party's over.

But I still want to compliment Caleb Madison on a fine puzzle.

And to say that I look forward to enjoying his work as his skills develop and mature. Working his puzzles feels like watching a young genius: there is much more to come!

chasread 3:10 PM  

this puzzle was indeed great fun but I have a question - anyone (like me) confused that the clue for "linear" was ONED? I remember being taught in geometry that a point in space = 1 dimension, a line = 2 dimension, and a cube = 3 dimensions... did I get that right? or is there another way to look at this?

Leslie 5:40 PM  

Hey, chasread, think of the more practical "length, width, height" sense of dimensions. In those terms, a line has one dimension, length. But you're correct in your geometric definitions of dimension.

Singer 12:02 PM  

This is another of those times when I rue doing this in syndication time. The arguments about rap and Yeats would have been fun to participate in in real time. As a musician, I have a hard time accepting rap as music. I see it as poetry to a rhythm section, kind of like the beats did in the 50's. I see LEH's point about the majority of it being ultimately forgettable, but I think that is true of all forms of art - music, painting, literature, poetry, playwriting, etc. Most of the art that is created in any era is less than genius, and doesn't stand the test of time. Most of the music written in the time of Bach and Mozart isn't performed today, and the same will be true for rappers. Some of the works that they produce will still be admired in the future because they have a timeless quality and an insight into the human condition that will translate to future generations. That doesn't mean I have to like this art form, nor does it mean that I have to subject myself to listening to hours of drivel on the off chance that something evocative will suddenly show itself.

As to Yeats, I enjoyed seeing 'The Second Coming' - thanks fikink. I have performed a wonderful choral setting of that poem. We did a tour of Slovenia and Croatia with that song in the mix, then hopped into France. Gives me an opportunity to say that Dubrovnik is a beautiful city.

Back to the puzzle - I made the GPS error also, and didn't want to give it up. MAP was too easy. But I couldn't make GC**B work at all, nor did PR**A or SA**L make any sense. I finally put in MAP, which made ARUBA pop out (I was just there last October) and the rest fell into place. I did the puzzle in about 17 minutes, but bet I spent at least 5 or 6 minutes staring at that little block in the north.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Can a film really be truly black & white when the appearance of red is so important.

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