Looped handles — FRIDAY, Oct. 30 2009 — Bookie's charge for short / Anthropomorphic film villain / One of Steinbeck's twins

Friday, October 30, 2009

Constructor: David Levinson Wilk

Relative difficulty:
THEME: none

Word of the Day:
VIG (30A: Bookie's charge, for short) — from VIGORISH:
n. Slang

    1. A charge taken on bets, as by a bookie or gambling establishment.
    2. The rate or amount of such a charge.
  1. Interest, especially excessive interest, paid to a moneylender.

[Yiddish slang, from Russian vyigrysh, winnings : vy-, out + igrat', to play.]


[38A: Im-ho-_____, Boris Karloff's role in "The Mummy"]

This grid is all about showiness. Its impact is visual. Look at all the different kinds of symmetry. Look at the (count 'em) 12 grid-spanning answers. Pretty cool. Solving the thing isn't as cool. There are NO ANSWERS of any length between 6 and 14 letters. To be more specific: answers are 15 letters long, or they are 5 letters long, or (way way too often) they are 3 letters long. Again, this grid looks good on the page, but it's no joy when filled out. Nothing with that many 3s can be. INA, INE, IND, and INN all live here, and that's not even the worst of it. Plus the 15s aren't very interesting or colloquial or fresh. Just there. Perhaps this is the best anyone could fill a grid like this. It's not terrible. But the shape of the grid here radically compromises the quality of the fill, and I'm against that. Really against it.

If you don't think short fill can be a problem, I give you this heap of words (in addition to the four IN- words, above): ANSAE, OIS, TEP, LER, FIL, CEN, VIG, OOX, SSS, TOONE, EDM, RPS. That's not all of it; that's just the yuck. On the other hand, the Stones are pretty cool.

The 15s:

  • 17A: Whitney Houston hit recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics ("One Moment in Time")
  • 24A: 1974 Rolling Stones hit ("Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo")
  • 31A: Home for an addax and dorcas gazelle (The Sahara Desert)
  • 41A: Maisonette (duplex apartment)
  • 48A: André Gide novel whose title comes from Matthew 7:14 ("Strait is the Gate") — my big "WTF!" of the day.
  • 58A: Big newsstand seller for some magazines (swimsuit edition) — wasn't aware that anyone but "S.I." had one.
  • 3D: Bailiwick (area of expertise)
  • 5D: Sweet little things with points to them (chocolate Kisses)
  • 6D: Soil water saturation limits (field capacities)
  • 8D: Country music (national anthems)
  • 9D: Taken things a bit too far (gone over the line)
  • 11D: Like grandchildren (third generation)
Lots of German: DER EINES TOD!

Even more French: NON, FIL OIS FRANC TOI!

My favorite line in the grid: EEK! CAN HER!

Least favorite line: FIL CEN VIG!

I enjoyed "Bull Durham" but had no idea who directed it. RON sounded right, and was (35D: "Bull Durham" director Shelton). VIG was a novelty to me (not a big pony player), though I'm almost positive I've seen it in a grid before. Reminds me of Abe VIGoda (who makes an appearance in another, non-NYT puzzle today). VIGoda = "Godfather" = mob = organized crime = bookies. Makes sense. As I said, never heard of the Gide novel. The biblical part of the clue helped a little. Matthew 7:14 reads: "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Real title of the Gide novel is "La porte étroite," and it sounds horribly depressing. Don't know what "O'ER" has to do with "canto" (26D: Canto contraction). "Canto" = Italian for song. Also a division of Dante's "Divine Comedy." O'ER is a contraction of the *English* word "over." Must confess to having no clue about what Steinbeck novel features twins (21A: One of Steinbeck's twins). I see that it's "East of Eden" (never read or seen it!). Other twin is ARON. Probably good to know that for xwords.


  • 39A: Celtic sea god (Ler) — one of my most hated bits of crosswordese. Did you know that LAR is also an ancient deity? Yeah, I hate that guy too.
  • 47A: "_____ Town Too" (1981 hit) — recalling this song was perhaps my favorite part of the solving experience.

  • 56A: Anthropomorphic film villain (Hal) — "MORPH"ic implies shape to me, but I see how HAL is generally humanlike, so OK.
  • 62A: Looped handles (ansae) — you know who likes ANSAE? LER.
  • 1D: Mil. base until 1994 (Ft. Ord) — a near gimme. Forts you need to know: ORD, DIX.
  • 10D: Diamond figure on a 2006 postage stamp (Ott) — nice-ish new clue for this old standby.
  • 18D: He said "Learn from the masses, and then teach them" (Mao) — I guess "and then starve them" got edited out.
  • 31D: Death, in Deutschland (Tod) — I know TOD from such compositions as "TOD und Verklärung"

  • 50D: Cross character (tau) — Thought maybe Amanda CROSS or some other writer had a famous character I should know. But no. CROSS is the name of the (really really) bad guy in "Chinatown," played by John Huston.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 7:42 AM  

I was so bowled over by the construction of this puzzle that I hardly even noted the yucky fill. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to complete the thing, what with all those 15 letter answers everywhere you looked. Once I got a few of the 3 letter answers in, however, a 15 letter answer would fall. That would give me a few more short answers and then another 15 letter answer would fall. This kept happening all around the grid and before I knew it, Across Lite dinged to tell me that I had completed the puzzle. I had great fun with this one despite some of the compromises that Rex points out. Great start to the weekend for me.

MsCarrera 8:15 AM  

chocolate kisses, not chocolate chips

treedweller 8:23 AM  

and not Hershey's kisses.

Like @Greene, I thought this would be impossible but then made it through. Unlike @Greene, I noticed that it was largely because of so many 3's and 5's that gave good footholds. Though certainly not all the 3's were so easy. I won't list them since Rex did it already.

I put myself in the middle--I enjoyed solving a Friday in a reasonable time, but felt a little dirty for getting it this way.

The Corgi of Mystery 8:36 AM  

Getting 12 15-letter answers to interlock like that is pretty amazing (I believe it's a NYT record), but 44 (!) 3-letter answers is kind of a high price to pay. I often feel that only constructors and real aficionados appreciate the beauty of puzzles like these, which makes me wonder if there shouldn't be another (independent?) outlet for creations that are sound and technically brilliant, but perhaps clunkier/not as fun to solve. The high point of this puzzle for me was DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO, whereupon it was all downhill until beholding the finished product.

joho 8:42 AM  

I was really happy to finish correctly as, at first glance, I thought it would be impossible.

Too bad DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO couldn't have fit into our potty humor puzzle a few days back.

I only got VIG because I figured it had to be OIS.

@Rex, there's also "Tod in Venedig."

Off to buy some CHOCOLATE KISSES and Reese's Peanut Butter cups!

Orange 8:44 AM  

I learned via one of my commenters that LIR is a solid spelling for the Celtic sea god, and indeed it looks better than LER on the Google. Gotta love it when crosswordese and reality part ways—LIR looks wrong to me just because the crosswordese has rewired my neurons.

nanpilla 8:44 AM  

I was ready to label this one easy until I got to the last 15, and STRAIT IS THE GATE took forever to convince myself was right, and TO ONE just didn't want to parse. If I could just remember my french pronouns, this would have been easier. I think I spent half the time in that one spot. At least I got it right.
Watching the Phillies get beat may have soured my solving experience a little, too.

ArtLvr 8:48 AM  

Nearly insane grid, but Mr. Wilt pulled it off. Like Greene, I thought I wasn't going to get it, but after picking away here and there the sense emerged.

STRAIT for "narrow" is the trickiest... Total wow!


GoYanks 8:52 AM  

New XWord paradigm - When you're solving watching the baseball game, the quality of the puzzle is directly proportional to whether your team is winning or not. Probably not merely proportional, but directly caused by.
Great Puzzle!

Leslie 8:56 AM  

I really liked it. I guess I have a higher tolerance for clunky fill when it serves a higher cause.

I was all proud of myself because "area of expertise" was the first thing I filled in. Gave me confidence!

Frank Price 9:39 AM  

It took me a long time to convince myself that the Stone's song was really titled "Doo Doo .." and not "Waiting on a Friend." That's the right one, isn't it?

I also really wanted Hersheys Kisses and got all frazzled when it wouldn't fit.

I liked the longs but there were too many abbreviations in the shorts. I really hate abbrs.

Denise 9:47 AM  

Thanks for the James Taylor.

The puzzle took me about half an hour, and I mostly struggled with spots here and there. I finally accepted STRAIT because I couldn't come up with an altenative.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:58 AM  

Very interesting grid. Had to depend on long answers to get some of the three letters: FIL for French thread? Also means "son", non?


Peter Noone 10:04 AM  

OK, great, Mick Jagger, and James Taylor, and that Tod fellow (pretty gloomy, whatever his full name is), but what about me?

CoolPapaD 10:08 AM  

The first time through the entire puzzle, I had no more than a half-dozen or so answers, and was positively livid, cursing at the number of abbreviated and foreign clues / answers. I had never seen many of the words in the clues, including Maisonette and Bailiwick, and was about to give up for the night, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep well. I was a huge Stones fan in high school, and I stared at 24A for ever, seeing a few random O’s and D’s, and then it hit me (DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO – Heartbreaker is a great song). From then on, it was slow to be sure, but quite doable, and I got the “proud to finish a Friday” feeling, which, at this point, is still quite nice and novel. I therefore ended up really liking it, and have tremendous respect for the construction involved in fitting so many 15-letter answers in the grid. I thought 31A was going to be a Dr. Seuss-related answer! ANSAE was only recognized after most of the downs were filled in – the ansa cervicalis is a nerve complex in the neck that has a looped configuration.

Ulrich 10:08 AM  

I was so in awe of the geometry of the grid--all possible xword symmetries and a dense pattern of long answers forming a tartan grid--that I was ready to accept anything just to see how it feels to move through such a field. For me, too, it turned out easier than expected--those German words really helped and I knew all the French ones, too. But, like others, I had a hard time with "strait" being used as an adjective--never encountered it, consciously.

So, I'm grateful for the experience, even if I'm not sure that I want to do it again.

@joho: You beat me to Der Tod in Venedig:-)

Here's Dürer's "Ritter, Tod und Teufel" (Knight, Death and Devil)

Rex Parker 10:10 AM  

Whoops, right, KISSES. It's correct in the grid. I changed CHIPS to KISSES in the write-up. I wanted chips because the candy is HERSHEY'S KISSES (TM). They are indeed made of chocolate, but they are not (officially) called "CHOCOLATE KISSES."

Hershey's Kisses Brand Chocolates


Jeffrey 10:15 AM  

I am very forgiving of yucky fill if it results in a good puzzle but FIL/CEN/VIG over OOX/TEP/LER/NON is too much even for me.

Stan 10:16 AM  

@fhp: Actually it's "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" -- the one with the horn section.

I'm such a Boomer. Also wrote in Noone without crosses.

edith b 10:18 AM  

Like @Greene, I was intimidated by all the 15s as I always am but I knew there had to be a trade-off and there was with all the 3s and 5s. Ironically, once I got started, the 15s helped me develop the more obscure 3s and 5s which hardly ever happens but so many of the 15s were made up of such short common words that momemtum was an all important part of the solving experience.

It didn't hurt that I remembered the Andre Gide novel from a French literature course I had taken in Junior year at college. @fergus might be the person who would know this one.

This was just the opposite of the Joe K puzzle from yesterday as the cluing was Wednesday level, in my opinion, which led to the all-important momentum.

Rex Parker 10:18 AM  

I have decided that OOXTEPLERNON is the official God of Bad Short Fill.

I think I have my Halloween costume idea now ...


Tony from Charm City 10:26 AM  

The only icky fill I liked was the cluing for Mel OTT at 10-D. I don't recall seeing it clued that way ever before, even though it was stilla gimme, given that there aren't too many HOF ballplayers with a three-letter last name. My major stumbling block was FIELDCAPACITIES/CEN/OER since I had EON at 29-A until the very end.

william e emba 10:26 AM  

VIG shows up enough in crime novels.

A few years ago there was a puzzle that had IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO in the grid, from ABBA.

Thereason the Andre Gide clue drove me nuts was because I kept thinking of Andre Malraux. I ended up staring at TOO-E for "Odds' end?" way too long. No way was I going to guess the singer NOO-E.

Back in the 90s Marvel Comics came out with an annual SWIMSUIT EDITION, with She-Hulk and Rogue and the like on the cover. Here's a cover, for example, with Susan Richards and the Submariner posing together.

DC has never come out with swimsuit specials, although many of the smaller publishers have.

dk 10:30 AM  

Rex, nice shout out to Acme with the Stones clip :):).

No, really I'm over it.

Ok, you smarty pants can fuss about the grid, the fill count and Andre Gide all you want. I confidently put in key for skate part and it took me 30 minutes to change it to tip. I stared at pATIONALANTHEMS repeating the chant to the puzzle gods DOODOODOODOODOO and wondered if tIELDCAPACITIES was correct.... after 10 minutes VIG caused me to think of slang terms for money and only then did FIN appear.

Man what a start to the weekend.

Off to a costume party tonight with my boy band construction. Thank you again @sethg. Maybe I will rename them Ken and the IM-HO-TEPS. That should give all of lovely wife's english prof cohorts something to think about. I decided (I know you are all interested in this) I would have the Kens play one song, picked this one:


Steve 10:36 AM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle: I believe the French for "son" is "fils" with an "s".

If I weren't functional in German and didn't remember enough of my very rusty French, I wouldn't have stood a chance on this puzzle. But those clues gave me enough crosses to start getting the long clues, and things started falling into place (other than "strait ..."). Went from hating this puzzle to at least enjoying that I tackled it without having to google anything.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:39 AM  

Man: "you know who likes ANSAE? LER." and "I have decided that OOXTEPLERNON is the official God of Bad Short Fill." You're killing me!

Heather 10:48 AM  

Yuck. Didn't like this one at all. The most annoying clue for me (and the reason I had to come here to complete the puzzle) was LER. I had LIR, because the only Irish sea god I know is Mannanan Mac Lir. Never heard of LER...

cromulent 10:48 AM  

I think it's TAU because that Greek letter is in the form of a cross. Not sure what TAU has to do with Chinatown, but it's a good movie anyway...

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

Apology to new commenter Peter Noone but knowing your name without crosses (like Stan did) was an embarrassing moment. I hated that band. Herman's Hermits were some of the worst of the British invasion. The Stones are another story and have stood the test of time.
Considering that I did not know the Whitney Houston song or Gide novel I cannot believe I finished this. The puzzle wasn't even in English! Oh, in English we did have dis and gotta. BFD.
Impressive grid but not much fun.
A year ago this would have been impossible for me.

mac 10:53 AM  

When I opened the newspaper my first thought was: never seen so many 3-letter words! Pretty grid, and I enjoyed it.

I had some trouble with the can/PAs crossing, and the Meg/Her one. Thought the latter might be a
new version of "Our Town", sorry Greene.

My knowledge of German and French definitely helped today, plus the generous amount of crosswordese. One of my quicker Friday solves, but I enjoyed it.

mac 10:55 AM  

@Rex: Ler likes ansae - LOL!

slypett 10:56 AM  

Like many others, I was dumfounded till I found myself filling-in squares almost at random till suddenly
THESAHARADESERT came hazilly into view (with almost no crosses, it was a desert indeed). Was it an ILLUSION? NON! After that, it was just trekking through the ever-shifting sands till the end, the L in FIELDCAPACITIES. From drought to flood.

The manifold types of symmetry are very impressive.

MsCarrera 11:37 AM  

I am in the dark as to why Ler likes ansae is such a laugh riot. Can someone please enlighten me? Thanks.

Smitty 11:39 AM  

@Rex I wasn't much better off with CAL. I could see James Dean on the ferris wheel with Julie Harris, and I knew his name was CA something but I thought it was more unusual than plain ol' CAL... I think his real name was CALEB and it was pronounced CALE
It was one of those excellent but morbidly depressing B&W films of that era like Death of a Salesman and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Ulrich 11:50 AM  

East of Eden, the novel, traces the good/bad brother theme through several generations, with the good guy's name always starting with an A (as in Abel) and the bad one's always starting with a C (as in Cain). The movie focuses on the last pair. It was in color as far as I remember, and I was so impressed by it when I saw it as a teenager (James Dean was our hero after all--the misunderstood sensitive guy) that I actually read the novel afterwards--you may skip it...

James Dean 11:57 AM  

@Smitty - My name in the film was Cal, not Kale.

Smitty 11:58 AM  

@Ulrich, I'll be darned you're right. It wasn't in B&W - just felt like it!

Karen from the Cape 12:15 PM  

I liked this puzzle myself. I saw Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits at the county fair this summer happily; otherwise I might have put NOONE at 52D and had STRAIT IS THE LANE, which makes more sense to me than THE GATE (I was also tempted by THE LAKE). Thank you David Wilk.

Elaine 12:24 PM  

@Smitty and all
Read the book--vastly more depth than the movie. Ulrich has already explained the names--though at one point the father of the twins thinks of naming them "Cain and Abel," he is dissuaded by the Chinese household-major-domo. Cal (not Cale) is by far the most interesting character.

As for the puzzle, I got almost all of the 15's fairly easily, but I had odd spots that were personal Naticks--44D and 47A (Did not know either show nor song...put in OUR, leaving MUP for the sister, as I originally had PATH for the strait trail. Finally I googled NOONE, which I did not know despite my Extreme Boominess.

FIN--yes, could be a $5 bill, BUT I thought SKATE was the fish, so a fin would be a body part; how is that a slang money term??

Since I googled, I did not feel pleased by completing the puzzle, but thanks to pednsg, I will remember ANSAE next time (having seen it recently but unable to recall last night.)

Hope for a super Saturday! I am dressing as an old, broken-down special ed teacher for Halloween.

Jim in Chicago 12:25 PM  

As far as I know, the phrase is Swimsuit ISSUE - I've never heard of a single incarnation of a magazine being called an edition - always issue.

Greene 12:26 PM  

@Smitty: In the novel East of Eden Cal's given name is Caleb Trask.

@Ulrich: I think you might be giving East of Eden (the novel) short shrift. I just had the pleasure of rereading that book and I think Steinbeck has a lot more on his mind than just tracing a good brother/bad brother theme through several generations. I realize that the book has been critically reviled in some quarters and commenters on this blog have not generally been friendly towards Steinbeck, but I think the novel is magnificent. Just the opening chapter with its lush and vivid description of the Salinas Valley makes it worth reading. And if all else fails, you've always got Cathy Ames (aka Kate) around for entertainment, certainly one of literature's most celebrated sociopaths.

Ulrich 12:40 PM  

@Greene: You may well be right. It's 50+ years ago, and all I remember is that I found the central ploy kind of mechanical. But at least in the final pair, the "bad" guy is really the "good" guy and vice-versa--so, it isn't that simple-minded.

Is Kate the madam played by Jo van Fleet in the movie? And didn't she get an Oscar for it?

Matt 12:46 PM  

Being a young guy, I didn't know the Rolling Stones hit, so I had to Google it. I looked at all their songs from 1974 and couldn't find anything that fit. That's because DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO was released in 1973.

It's not fair to clue a song with a date that's not right.

jae 1:00 PM  

Easy-medium for me and I had pretty much the same reaction as Rex did. Add me to the boomers that got NOONE with no help. I know EDD is an ed. degree but EDM? It is a master's designation?

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

@Matt - It may have been released in 1973, but wasn't a hit until 1974.

Greene 1:15 PM  

@Ulrich: You're good. Jo van Fleet played Kate in the 1955 film version of East of Eden and she got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it too. It's a terrific role. Who doesn't want to play a baddie? James Dean made a startling good film debut and was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Ernest Borgnine for Marty.

Useless trivia: East of Eden was also adapted as a Broadway stage musical in 1968. Called Here's Where I Belong, it lasted a grand total of one performance. James Coco was in it, but that's about all I can remember about it.

mccoll 1:24 PM  

Looked hard. Wasn't.
Ground it out without having to shout.
Thanks DLW and all.

Doc John 1:44 PM  

I thought the puzzle was a cryptic when i first looked at it. Pretty ambitious grid, actually, although it did call for a lot of 3-letter answers.
I was pleased to have finished pretty quickly for a Friday although I ended up with "strait AS the gate"- didn't bother to check my crosses- d'oh!

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Am I the only one tired of having Mel Ott in a crossword puzzle every week? Whether as a "Giant" or catcher or whatever - he needs to go!

Susan 1:54 PM  

"Strait is the Gate" was as big a WTF for me as for y'all and I have my doctorate in French lit. Ouch. The French title is "La Porte étroite," which (if you weren't specifically taking it from the King James version Matthew 7:14) would be "The Narrow Door" or maybe "The Narrow Gate." It is a reasonable translation, given Gide's protestantism, but I didn't see it or (even with GATE in place) associate it with "La Porte étroite..." (Did not help that as I ran through Gide titles in my head, I mis-remembered that one as "Les Portes étroites" in the plural.)

DOO DOO, etc. Naticked me with the mil. base. I wanted it to be VOO DOO something and since the other thing was an abbreviation, why not?

Respectfully disagree with Rex. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

DOODOODOODOO started out as HOODOOMANBLUES until I realized it didn't fit. And now I have that damn Whitney Houston song stuck in my brain. Somehow I didn't get "swimsuit edition" at all -- just not part of my worldview I guess. So the day I can complete the Friday crossword without looking anything up has yet to arrive.

Oh, and ANSAE? Please.

william e emba 2:18 PM  

I had STRAIT IS THE GA-E, and in guessing what New Testament reference that could be, the fact that there are several famous ancient GATEs in Jerusalem, told me it must be GATE.

In fact, I was thinking the clue might be referring to the famous camel through the eye of a needle passage, which is often "explained" as referring to an alleged narrow/low gate that camels had to be unburdened in order to get through. I was wrong.

slypett 2:27 PM  

willie e.: They occupy the same metaphorical territory.

Clark 2:30 PM  

Loved the grid. Happy to finish a Friday without cheating.

The clue for RONDO should have been something like 'Concerto component, often'. There. Somebody had to say it.

John in CT 2:57 PM  


I'm sick of these foreign articles. These annoying three and four-lettered articles are killing me. If French and German are so ****ing great, write a crossword in those languages for people who live in those countries.

MsCarrera 3:13 PM  

@mac - I am still hoping someone will explain the Ler Ansae thing that you think is so funny. Does it have something to do with the word "answer?" I just don't get it.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

@Ulrich said '... But, like others, I had a hard time with "strait" being used as an adjective--never encountered it, consciously.'

In fact you may well have encountered it unconsciously, in the homophonic compound adjective "straight and narrow."

Google "strait and narrow" to see what comes up, including a smarmy "Did you mean: straight and narrow"! No, I didn't, dammit, and you owe me a question mark.

Lots of interesting philological discussion of this phrase. But my favorite is Strait And Narrow Gospel Bluegrass -- "Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: But strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13-14

@Susan: Re "La Porte étroite," the modern translation is of course "The Narrow Gate." But the etymology of the cognates E. "strait" and F. "étroite" can be traced through O.F. "estreit" to L. "strictus" -- tight.

Whew. Now back to lurking on the "strait [archaic] and narrow" path to my lair.

GO BEARS!!! Beat the Sun Devils!

Lurking Larry, the Golden Bear

ArtLvr 3:26 PM  

p.s. When times are tough, one may find oneself in straitened circumstances -- i.e. pinching pennies!


chefwen 3:28 PM  

I always start Friday and Saturday puzzles with negative thoughts (gotta quit doing that) but I found this one quite delightful. Although, I will admit to consulting Herr Google a couple of times, just the mere fact that I finished this without a meltdown was a very good feeling.

I thought 6 across was referring to a fish part also, don't know how it was money related. Anyone?

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Out of 72 total words in the grid, 44 were 3-letter words.
That's over 50%. Ugh.

treedweller 3:34 PM  

OK, so there really is a guy named NOONE? I considered parsing it no one, as in, the title is not really valid. I'm glad I didn't rant about the inclusion of TO ONE and NO ONE in the same puzzle.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

@John in CT said...

I'm sick of these foreign articles. These annoying three and four-lettered articles are killing me.


John, you forgot the five-lettered "German indefinite article" 53D EINES. Anyone for six?


mac 3:41 PM  

@MsCarrera: Ansa(e), Lar and Ler, and after today Lir, are real crosswordese, I have never used the words anywhere else. I thought it very funny when Rex connected the god to the ansae. Sorry, just a geeky wordplay.

mac 3:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamik 3:54 PM  

@Rex: Favorite line of the month:

# 62A: Looped handles (ansae) — you know who likes ANSAE? LER.

It made my accurately solved 20:52 slog worth it.

@MsCarrera: Actually, LER likes ANSAE is hysterical. A truly LOL MOMENTINTIME in the purest sense. First, there's the obscurity of LER and only an obscurity would love an ANSAE obscurity.

I also knew LER as LIR.

Now I'm off to Tar-jhay to seek a purse with some ANSAE. I will look for the Svedish checkout girl named MEG FILCENVIG to see if finding it is within her AREAOFEXPERTISE. LER likes ANSAE. That's just the TOD of me! LOL LOL

Glitch 4:02 PM  

@chefwen & @Elaine

A skate has a FIN (actually 2), and in that context it has nothing to do ith money.

I think @dk was just indicating his aha moment when he previous non-fishy answers didn't work.

Almost a malapop?

.../Anyone (aka Glitch)

PS: I found this a perfectly adaquate puzzle.

Pete M 4:03 PM  

Could I have Crossword Puzzles in English for $200, Alex?

Glitch 4:03 PM  

Thats "With money"

Gotta get the W key fixed on this computer.


MsCarrera 4:07 PM  

@mac & Shamik: Thank you. Some things amuse some more than others. As "they" say, "That's what makes the world go 'round."

sanfranman59 4:08 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 22:59, 25:58, 0.89, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:40, 12:23, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Odd numbers today. Relative to normal Friday solve times, all solvers are having a much easier time with today's puzzle than the top 100. If the typical pattern holds, at least some of this disparity will probably abate by the end of the day.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

I want a tee shirt that says






Mock me at your peril! ANOA is luring!

Glitch 4:59 PM  


Given the previous discussions of a possible [mechanical] "floor" effect, I wonder if the top solvers times might be due, in part, to the large number of short words today.

So far, they're only :17 "off the pace".

And thanks for sharing your "hobby" with us!


Humbled 5:37 PM  


I offer thee eel, oreos and XII ani baked into a pie to atone for my transgressions . . .


OOPS 5:41 PM  

Make that IX and XX ani's

Meg 5:43 PM  

This puzzle was not fun, even if it had my name in it.

The only bright point was when my 17-year old daughter actually knew the French word for "thread". What a kid!

edith b 5:46 PM  

During the British Invasion of the early 60s, Peter NOONE of Herman's Hermits was a "dreamy" young man and was often presented as a wholesome alternative to bands like The Rolling Stones and, to a lesser extent, The Beatles.

I remember watching them on The Mike Douglas Show which showed them in just such a light and, as a result, they seemed less threatening to the parents of the day.

As a child of the 60s, I remember Peter NOONE well.

hazel 6:15 PM  

This grid DOES have a lot of visual impact, which is not something to sneeze at. And getting those spanners to fall WAS pretty satisfying.

BUT, looking back on those long answers, it seemed they had the taint of "autofill" on them. Compounded with the fact that they then had to be knitted together with a bunch of dreck - well, it lessened the appeal of the puzzle.

VIG is pretty good for dreck though - made me nostalgic for Sunday nights watching The Sopranos.

Aviatrix 6:45 PM  

I had a "they can do that?" moment when I saw all the 15s, but just kept going and did the whole puzzle in an hour, good for my Friday. My one cheat was on 48A, because I was lying in a hotel bed and the Gideon Bible was right there to check. Didn't do me much good though, as it was the New International translation.

I had GLACE for 1A, thinking it was pretty clever, 'cause the Seine stops circulating at freeze up, see? But then it occurred to me that GLACE isn't one of the usual amis de crosswords americains and it was holding up the corner.

I agree that Hal isn't anthropomorphic and my other quibble is why is TNT not clued as an abbreviation? That's the second time this week that I've tripped over that.

I liked 'deflation indicator' and wondered if this week's puzzles were sponsored by Sports Illustrated.

Elaine 7:40 PM  

I ust ought ou ad a typing impediment.

@Anony 1:48
And guess what? Mel OTT was in the LAT today, too! He's the go-to baseball guy. Apparently was really good, was nicknamed Little Giant, is on a postage stamp, had some record or other for a long time, and..... fits into 3 or 6 spaces as filler. The paths of glory lead but to the crossword.....

PlantieBea 8:03 PM  

Whew...I had to solve this puzzle in three sittings, but I did it without help. The things you learn doing this puzzle never cease to amaze and amuse me. Heartbreaker wasn't the name of the Stones' hit? ANSAE? LER? EEK! Funny comments today.

I got hung up with the maisonette as a FRENCH APARTMENT for a while. Never knew VIG. My favorite clue was for the country music. And what a grid! I really enjoyed this puzzle.

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

hard for me, but got it. Worked from right to left and DooDooDooDooDoo was the last one i put in. Duh!

Shoudn't be "straight is the gate?

My bible actually has 'small is the gate and narrow is the road"

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

hard for me, but got it. Worked from right to left and DooDooDooDooDoo was the last one i put in. Duh!

Shoudn't be "straight is the gate?

My bible actually has 'small is the gate and narrow is the road"

michael 10:20 PM  

Even though I remember the song (too) well, I had no idea who sang "I'm Henry VIII, I am." "No one" seemed right to me.

And I agree with the commenter who said that it's the "swimsuit issue" "Swimsuit edition" is just plain wrong, I think (though I'm sure someone will prove me wrong).

kate 11:00 PM  

I'm with cromulent, I don't see what TAU has to do with the character of Noah Cross in the greatest movie ever made, "Chinatown." Are you just being random or am I missing something?

sanfranman59 11:13 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)

Thu 23:02, 18:31, 1.24, 95%, Challenging
Fri 23:20, 25:59, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:34, 8:56, 1.18, 86%, Challenging
Fri 12:12, 12:22, 0.99, 51%, Medium

slypett 12:15 AM  

I have an important question about the proper pronunciation of OOXTEPLERON. Should it be produced with an umlaut over the second O (oh ahx tepleron) or with a long OO? I think the latter is more attractive, but the first may be thr more accurate transliteration. I mean, when addressing a god, you've gotta get the name STRAIT.

andrea oox michaels 1:01 AM  

Nothing left to be said, but someone has given me a crossword puzzle book called Fleches mini...in French!
It was going out in the intervention/clearance but I will happily send it to anyone who sends me their address first:

Hate "On the scoreboard..." clues and didn't like the SSS at the bottom.
Lazzzy, but my god, twelve 15s!!!!!!
I did ONE that had FOUR 15s and it almost killed me...

Temped at Time, Inc. yesterday and it's both The Swimsuit Issue and the Swimsuit Edition. But will ask again...

(Two hugs and a chocolate kiss)

I think DER was a shout out to Kevin...where did that boy go to?

edith b 1:10 AM  

The course I took on French Literature, coincidentally enough, focused on La Porte étroite as the introduction to the novels of Andre Gide and I remember the instructor showing how the passage from Matthew informed the title.

Little did I know this piece of information would come in handy years later in solving a crossword puzzle!

paleolith 8:57 PM  

Guess we just ignore Rex when he says he doesn't like a puzzle. He does an awful lot of puzzles for the complaints. ;-)

"Strait" is perhaps best known in the combination "straitjacket", though that's often misspelled. Similar to "constraint".

I knew Strauss wrote operettas (and waltzes) but I was looking for the name of a specific work, duh.

East of Eden is worth reading. At least that's what I remember, it was over 40 years ago for me.

I wonder if DOODOODOODOODOO should actually count as five 3-letter answers ...

I recently learned that TOD is also the abbreviation for Transfer On Death. One learns that when one's parents die ... nice self-reference.

Chinatown ... huh? Tau is just the Greek letter.

Singer 12:53 PM  

From syndiland:
Not much to say about the puzzle - it was a terrific bit of construction with a lot of unsatisfying fill. But I solved it relatively painlessly and actually pretty much enjoyed it.

I got CHOCOLATE KISSES off of *hoco****. I knew CAL from East of Eden, even though it has been over 20 years since I read it. It is a wonderful book filled with commentary on religion and the nature of good and evil. Wrote over RPm with RPS, guessed right on LER, had 'our' instead of HER. Biggest problem was FIELD CAPACITIES. I wanted it to end with "tion", and had FIELD CAPAtaTIon. This gave me STRAIT aS THE GATE, which seemed probable, oDM which is a likely in my mind as EDM - don't know what that is (I guess Master of Education?) and "nSS" (I thought maybe some goofy abbreviation for a government measure of monetary deflation). I certainly wasn't comfortable with any of those, and didn't know what "field capatation" might be, plus thought that it should be "capitation" if it was a real word, but I have worked with hydrologists before and they do have some weird words. Did finally give up on "capatation" and went with CAPACITIES.

Go Ducks!!

Anonymous 3:51 PM  


Swimsuit Edition, not Swimsuit Issue, is the official title at the SI website. Complain all you want.

Nullifidian 3:54 AM  

In late from syndication land. I did the crossword while listening to late night classical music on the local public radio station.

Frankly, I loved this puzzle. I was tremendously impressed by Wilk's ability to cross 12 15-letter phrases, and the smaller fill might look nonsensical when it's laid out in lists, but I don't think any of it was too difficult to get from the clues or crosses. My only difficulty was Lir/LER. A three letter German article could be die or DER, and Lir or LER worked for either, so I needed the R in DUPLEX APARTMENT to finish up the crossword.

Like the rest of the solvers, I found that the three and five letter answers opened up the 15 letter clues, with two exceptions: I remembered Whitney Houston's ONE MOMENT IN TIME from the '88 Olympics (God only knows how, because I hate sports) and I got STRAIT IS THE GATE almost immediately.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Just finishing off some old business: looking up "ansae" from this puzzle. But I did want to add to the masses applauding: "You know who likes ANSAE? LER."

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