Campus VIP / Stylized drama —FRI, Nov 6 2009— Far Eastern pilgrimage destination / Tall Roman column named after him / Future Lies Ahead comedian 1958

Friday, November 6, 2009

Constructor: Doug Peterson

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TRAJAN (5D: A tall Roman column is named after him)Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus, commonly known as Trajan (18 September 538 August 117), was a Roman Emperor who reigned from AD 98 until his death in AD 117. [...] As a civilian administrator, Trajan is best known for his extensive public building program, which reshaped the city of Rome and left multiple enduring landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column. It was as a military commander however that Trajan celebrated his greatest triumphs. [...] After a period of relative peace within the Empire, he launched his final campaign in 113 against Parthia, advancing as far as the city of Susa in 116, and expanding the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. (wikipedia)


Well that was easy. I have found that the easiest themeless puzzles for me tend to be those with a central 15-letter Down answer that is a flat-out gimme. Today, JULIETTE BINOCHE (8D: "The English Patient" Oscar winner). Would have gotten that with no crosses, but had the "-ULI-" in place before I ever saw it. Actually, I had the "-ULS-" in place, thinking JOSIE (19A: "The Ballad of _____," 1967 comedy western) was JESSE, but JULIETTE helped me fix that. After JULIETTE B. went down, the rest of the puzzle went up in flames, with only three points of heavy hesitation. First, there was the PIZ / ZESTY crossing. PIZ was entirely unknown to me (28A: _____ Bernina (highest peak in the Eastern Alps)). Actually, looking at it now, I feel as if I've seen it in some crossword before, but I definitely had to run a lot of other letters at the front end of -ESTY at 29D: Vivacious before I was certain the answer was ZESTY. Next slowing down point was at another far corner of the puzzle — the FDA / FILE crossing. Had to run the alphabet there too bec. 48A: Occasional medicine dropper?: Abbr. was not making any sense to me. I was thinking "drop" in terms of dropping a name, or an album's dropping, but here I guess it means that the FDA can yank (drop) a medicine from the market if it's deemed unsafe. As soon as I ran the alphabet and hit "F" and got FILE for 48D: Cabinet member? I probably exclaimed "D'oh!" Of course. You don't see intersecting "?" clues that often, do you?

Last bit of struggle ran the entire length of ACETIC ACID (24D: Wood distillation product). Once I got ACET... I thought "OK, this could be a billion ACET-y things and I'm just going to have to get all the crossees until I see the answer." That didn't happen until the very last square — the "D," which stayed blank for many seconds while I stared at it. At that point I was reading ACETICACI- as one word, and I was still not hip to the fact that the "Best" in 56A: Best in shows (Edna) was a person. Only after getting EDNA did I then look up at ACETIC ACID and parse it correctly. And yet, for all that, this puzzle was done in well under average Friday time.


  • 1A: Far Eastern pilgrimage destination (Mount Fuji) — sacred in both Shinto and Buddhist religions.
  • 10A: Page with convictions (Op-Ed) — couldn't see that "Best" was a person at 56A, but was sure "Page" was a person here at 10A. Bah!
  • 36A: Subject of the 2005 biography "iCon" (Steve Jobs) — total gimme, even never having heard of the book. "iAnything" = Apple = JOBS.
  • 39A: City in San Joaquin County (Lodi) — This is the LODI I know. I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • 44A: William McKinley's Ohio birthplace (Niles) — probably learned this in a puzzle some time back. Did not help me today. Needed all the crosses.
  • 54A: They had C-shaped sound holes (viols) — big in Baroque music. VIOL always looks like it's desperately searching for a suffix to make it whole.
  • 4D: Stylized drama (Noh) — Gimme; why, I'm not sure. Nice Japanese pairing up there with the NOH / MOUNT FUJI intersection.
  • 9D: Comment when following someone ("I see") — great misdirection with "following" there. At first I was imagining trying to (physically) follow someone while saying "I SEE" "Wouldn't that person hear you?"
  • 22D: "The Future Lies Ahead" comedian, 1958 (Sahl) — I'm pretty sure you could learn everything you'd want to know about the entirety of Mort SAHL's career just from reading crossword clues about him. He's very common, and late-week constructors are constantly mining his bio for more data to make new clues about him. Despite never having heard of the title in question, I wrote SAHL in right away (four-letter comedian = good bet).
  • 31D: Baseball nickname that's a portmanteau (A-Rod) — seems wrong. "A" stands for "Alex" and "ROD" stands for Rodriguez. There's no blending. And I've never heard of "portmanteau" applied to names before, just objects, e.g. "spork" or "Brangelina" (OK, that's a name, but a name that represents a *fusion* of different people). I can't say the clue is out-and-out wrong. Just feels tenuous to me.
  • 32D: Fibula neighbor (talus) — I got "tibia" and "tarsus" into my head and needed crossings to help me sort my anatomical confusion out.
  • 43D: Kipling's "great gray Lone Wolf" (Akela) — known to me Only from crosswords. There is also a recent movie out there called "AKELA and the Bee."
  • 45D: More terrific, to a hip-hopper (iller) — if you Absolutely Must have this word in your grid, hip-hop cluing is the only way to go.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. if anyone else has switched to the Snow Leopard Mac OS recently and found that YouTube is wonky, let me know (esp. if you have a fix). The interface/player keeps fritzing — really inconsistent, both with embedded videos and (occasionally) at the YouTube site itself. If you're having trouble loading embedded videos on my site, just be patient please. Thx. [this problem is with Firefox 3.5.4 specifically]


John 7:33 AM  

Not easy for me. 55 minutes. But a lot of fun nevertheless.

Wanted something along the line of RAPSHEET for 10A but wouldnt fit.

joho 7:43 AM  

I'm always surprised to be the first to comment ... I don't get up that early!

I was sure PIZ Bernina would be the word of the day. I remember TRAJAN from sometime earlier this year. The last part of the puzzle to fall for me involved PIZ, ZESTY and LENT. Took me forever to get the clue "Spotted."

I really enjoyed this puzzle because I did not feel like an IGNORAMUS while solving.

@Rex, thanks for the "Best In Show" clip, I am going to have to rent that movie this weekend.

Thanks, Doug Peterson, for a fun Friday!

SethG 7:48 AM  

The shin bone's connected to the ankle bone, but so is the calf bone. I'm quite familiar with the ankular anatomy.

The puzzle was much harder if you had ANTHONY MING(H)ELLA. Or if you fixated on AT THAT TIME, stuck with DRUIDS, or don't speak Hamburgian.

And...PREXY? I've never heard of PREXY. I don't like PREXY.

Denise Ann 8:14 AM  

Spotted = LENT ????? And, no explanation from Rex?

It took me nearly 30 minutes, but I did conquer this puzzle. I didn't know the actress, and there were other pieces that just took me time to figure out.

I do love Fridays though -- almost as much as Saturdays.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I also found this one very difficult, especially on the left side.

Unknown 8:17 AM  

@Denise Ann: Joe spotted (lent) me ten bucks to buy the shirt.

Leslie 8:28 AM  

I feel a little sad that I didn't know there was a day set aside to remember MIAs. My other unknowns were AKELA and the CHEVROLET AVALANCHE.

I really liked LENT for "spotted," once I got it!

At one point I wanted to put "Dorian" where TRAJAN went, because I've heard of Doric columns. I figured Dorian MAY have been someone from Roman times and that's why the name appeared in "The Picture of Dorian Gray." Live and learn.

I agree it was easy--for a Friday. Very enjoyable!

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

This was a beast. Ugh. Salad dressings are ZESTY. Have you ever referred to anyone as zesty? I haven't.

treedweller 8:42 AM  

This is the first one in awhile that I felt like Rex was reading my mind. PIZ/ZESTY? check. FDA/FILE? check. BEST is a person? check. ixxx = JOBS? check. But we went off the rails after that--ACETICACID came to me fairly quickly with a few crosses. And . . .

JULIETTEBINOCHE? Not a gimme for me. I always feel like Elaine Benes when that movie comes up. I never saw it, but I know the kind of movie the Academy loves, and I could just tell this one was Not For Me. Seeing her rant about it on Seinfeld just confirmed my suspicions. My apologies to those involved who may be thinking, "That pri** never even saw it and hates it?!" But, yeah. Anyway, Juliette was obvious very early, and the B gave me the rest.

Two Fridays in a row I finished without google. Either I'm making progress, or WS has been generous. I suspect a little of both. Still fun to succeed. Thanks, Mr. Peterson.

@SethG Agreed--I don't like PREXY, either. Still not sure what PREXY is, even.

Rex Parker 8:45 AM  

BINOCHE won Supporting Actress the year that Everyone was Certain that Lauren Bacall would win for that Streisand movie, "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (I think that's it). BINOCHE herself was visibly shocked. I felt a little bad for her, actually.


edith b 8:51 AM  

Knew "The English Patient" actress, knew Dr J's alma mater afor a reason unknown to me which allowed me to see MOUNTFUJI and cut thru the NW is short order.

"The Ballad of JOSIE" was one of those weird Doris Day movies from the cusp of early modern feminism in the mid 60s that truly gave women a bad name, a movie that made our straight-laced parents upset about the direction of the country.

I made steady progress until I reached the SE where I bogged down. My last entry was the DIVE/EDNA cross I had to get first thing in the morning although I do agree with Rex's general assessment of this puzzle. STEVEJOBS was a neon for me for the same reason it was for Rex.

ArtLvr 9:04 AM  

I didn't see the movie (book is probably in my pile of things to read)... but I remembered the name because it sounds like something yummy from a bakery: brioche.

Loved having TRAJAN and I, CLAUDIUS along with the PAGANS and Pilgrims to MOUNT FUJI! We could have had AGAPE clued as a Greek kind of love too.

I wasn't aware of the MIAS' day, good to know. Very happy with the puzzle!


treedweller 9:07 AM  

OK, two reasons I maybe should have known JB. If it wasn't plain above, I simply cannot muster any interest in the Oscars. Along with opera, auto racing, and professional poker players, they are a topic I have resigned myself to getting from crosses in puzzles and otherwise about which I will never have anything interesting to say.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:09 AM  

A+ grid construction with just the right amount of trivia to make this one fun, fun, fun. So many great entries throughout. Approved.

Dough 9:10 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle a lot. However, for me the rating goes from EASY to MEDIUM because I never heard of JULIETTE BINOCHE. But, that's on me, apparently. The clues were very Friday and I thought it was terrific.

retired_chemist 9:13 AM  

LENT was a mystery until I hit the blogosphere.

Objection to the clue for ACETIC ACID. It is certainly not produced in any useful quantity by wood distillation. There are several commercial processes, but not that. As a minor product in destructive distillation of wood, maybe. Still never heard of that. But that would fit a LOT of compounds.

Hand up for DRUIDS @ 23A, TRUSS @ 21A, and BITTE @ 46A. DANKE is better though. Also FLYER @ 45D. EXERCYCLE @ 12D is one I am not proud of. Stayed with that one much too long.

Mr. Peterson's puzzle was a challenge for me, but an OK puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:31 AM  

Ultimately doable, but not Easy for me.

Went all the way down to ICLAUDIUS before I had the confidence to put pen to paper. Last fill was the L in LENT = Spotted.

All in all, just the kind of puzzle I like on a Friday!

Ulrich 9:41 AM  

Nothing to add to the general appreciation of the puzzle, so let me pick a nit:

I did not find any definition of "member" as part of the CONTENT of something. I wanted to say this already some weeks ago when the citizen of a country was referred to as its member: A citizen of the US is not one of its members--the states are members, i.e. parts of it. Same for file: It's IN a cabinet, which does not make it a part of it--the same way in which the cereal in my bowl is not a part or a member of the it seems at least to me.

Elaine 9:42 AM  

I had TURPENTINE for "Wood distillation product"--it fit, and I thought it was more accurate than the ACETIC ACID that finally, finally emerged.
JulietteB- was a gimme, as was I,CLAUDIUS and EXPERIMENT. Rex, you're right--getting a long answer right away is a big help!

I enjoyed the puzzle, but felt amazed that I kept getting answers. Seemed easier than many Fridays :0)

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Thanks (from yesterday) for the imaginative and/or helpful deconstructions of OOXTERPLERNON. We can all use something (-one?) to blame things on!!

Elaine 9:43 AM  

Ooops, I mean "as WERE.."
Bad night, should have just gotten on up at 3 and done the puzzle!

nanpilla 10:01 AM  

Definitely an easy for me (which means about 20 minutes). Turpentine would have been a much better answer than ACETIC ACID, but other than that and druids, very smooth sailing. I do the puzzle on paper in pencil, and this has to be the cleanest Friday in a long time.
Never heard PREXY used in all my years of school, but wikipedia definitely confirms it.

Matt 10:02 AM  

I made the EXACT same mistakes that SethG did, including the Mingella misspelling at one point. The bigger problem with DRUIDS is that it crosses perfectly with that other 4-letter Pope, Pius. Add in TIBIA for TALUS, and the fact that I have no idea what a PREXY is, and I had a tough time with this one.

Best visual of the day was "Hamburger Acknowledgement". I'm chuckling every time, picturing my double cheeseburger responding to my query.

dk 10:07 AM  

Not much to add. Not on Doug's wavelength this AM. My early fills were IGNORAMUS, CRUSTY and ICIER. Then stuck in LODI again.

Happy Birthday (tomorrow) to Johnny Rivers:

Use to make REELTOREELTAPES so my clumsy friends could not screw up my LPs, and it allowed me to study when I was a college radio dj. I did not take requests. Given my air time was from about midnight to 4AM I did not get many. And, those who did call were to stoned to remember when I blew them off.

HudsonHawk 10:22 AM  

Great Friday romp. The only slowdown came in the SW, so Easy-Medium for me. I wanted I'M UP for I SEE, and I also fell into the TIBIA trap. I figured the "Best in shows" was a person, but I could only think of PETE Best.

When I see "Campus V.I.P.", it's usually DEAN or PREXY. I only recall seeing the latter in crossword grids.

slypett 10:24 AM  

Frances: You risk enslavement by the god! It is most unpleasant. First, he makes you look for and memorize all the three-letter words in Webster's; then he makes you send them out to all the crossword constructors (and to insert them in all auto-fill programs). This occurs without bathroom breaks--but you can eat your fill. The proper way to address this deity is as OOXTEPLERNON not OOXTErPLERON. Remember this and be safe!

As for the puzzle, first it looked impossible, then it was a romp till I got to the NE, where I stalled before I gave in and found PIZ in Auntie Google's cupboard. (She is obese and, truly, black South African, wears a voluminous skirt, speaks (as you know) many languages fluently and has a vast store of knowledge, if not wisdom.)

Stan 10:29 AM  

Embarrassing, but I had never heard of Trajan (my knowledge of Roman history is strictly limited to the "I, Claudius" mini-series). So thanks for the WOD, Rex.

And thanks to Doug for a zesty puzzle!

Norm 10:34 AM  

I like PREXY. It's classic liberal arts college talk. Reed has a building named Prexy -- the one-time president's house.

CoolPapaD 10:50 AM  

Rex - LOVE the pic of Trajan Langdon - I love all that is Blue Devil basketball. Period.

This was by no means easy for me, but I really enjoyed it. Had to leave the P in PREXY/PARAPET blank before coming here - had zero idea. I've never seen The English Patient, and probably won't, after Elaine's bad experiences with the film (Seinfeld). I have heard of Juliette Binoche, but would not know her if she showed up at my home later today.

INAWE for AGAPE slowed me down tremendously in the NE.

Luckily, I remembered NILES from 7th grade Ohio history class.

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

Not so easy for me. Took forever to get a firm start.
Knowing that actress would have made a big difference.
I count only 6 three letter fills. Nice grid Mr. Peterson.

mccoll 11:03 AM  

No googles and no errors. One write over was ALPHAWOLF for ALPHAMALEbut when i got to ISEE i saw. I could remember JULIETTE but not BINOCHE and made a brilliant guess at NILES which could have been MILES for all of me.There were quite a few "AHA" moments IGNORAMUS PEACEPIPES and CHEVROLET come to mind.
Great puzzle for Friday; easy/medium.
Thanks all, especially DP and RP.

Janet Camp 11:16 AM  

It's my birthday and I wanted to do the puzzle with no Googles, but I found it harder than you did, especially on the left (as some others said).

Thanks for explaining "lent" for "spotted" to those above. That was making me nuts--seems obvious now that I see the explanation--doh!

I agree about "zesty"--have you ever said to anyone, "oh she's so zesty!"? It's a food term.

In the end, I had to look up "prexy" (yes, I went to college) as I thought something HAD to be wrong with that answer.

This was a typical Friday difficulty for me, but I enjoyed it and found several clues quite clever. I don't know how Will Shortz manages to rate the puzzles as so many here often disagree, but he's pretty accurate in my case.

Jeffrey 11:20 AM  

Goldilocks puzzle today. Not too easy, not too hard, just right.

Good thing I already had some crossings, because EIGHT TRACK TAPES shares 7 letters with REEL TO REEL TAPES.

JOSIE should always be clued in relation to Pussycats.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Hey Rex! A San Jauquin Valley guy! Whodda thunk. Great puzzler you are.

Liz 11:22 AM  

@ Rex

Try running Safari in 32 bit mode for problems with video on web sites. Access via Command-I after selecting Safari in the Finder. Under General will be a button to open Safari in 32 bit mode. Takes effect after relaunching Safari. Firefox is a 32 bit application and doesn't have these problems.

Liz 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Parker 11:24 AM  

I run Firefox. Safari actually seems not to have the same problem.


PlantieBea 11:28 AM  

Fun Friday but not so easy for me. Hand up for DRUIDS which left me stuck with PIUS V for a long while. Fortunately acetic acid saved the day. Sheesh, it seems like there are many better ways to clue that... I'm a liberal arts grad and currently have two liberal arts college students, but didn't know PREXY. That's my word of the day.

Thanks Doug Peterson for this fun, not so easy, but gettable Friday.

Happy Birthday Anthro.

Sandy 11:29 AM  

pius v
the list of my wrong guesses goes on. Probably shouldn't do the puzzle while watching someone else teach.

Shamik 11:34 AM  

Whew! Lovely grid. Lovely cluing. Nice and challenging. And what? Come here and find it labeled as EASY? Yeesh. Solved correctly and I always choose errors over Googling, but it was a delicious 28:22 of aha moments.

Oodles of mis-starts:
DIVE to DIVA back to DIVE

No wonder it took over 28 minutes. But ah, they were good minutes.

william e emba 11:44 AM  

Disney gave AKELA short shrift. And Rex, the movie is "Akeelah and the Bee", with two Es and an H. This was meant as irony, right?

"PIZ Bernina" has been used as a clue for "Alp" in the past.

I must have been half-dead trying to solve this, taking about twice my usual time. When I stare at a pope --ULV, and can't for ages on end think of PAULV (let alone get over the fact that I'm supposed to know that particular pope anyway, unlike those scads of random popes we usually see), something just isn't working. What's the word? Ah, yes, IGNORAMUS. Why thank you puzzle, you're talking to me on one level at least!

Off the initial I of I CLAUDIUS, I knew it was the word "I", but I blanked out on the emperor. Aaargh. I kept trying to fill out I CALIGULA, which of course was illegal. And no, I never saw Caligula, but no doubt that "classic" influenced me. Not once did it occur to me to just go down the list of early Roman emperors.

I wanted DISH or FORK for "Cabinet member?" I went with DISH, thinking the D goes with DDS or DVM. (I'm perfectly satisfied with this use of "member".)

I wanted DER for the Kafka pronoun. I am a little unnerved by this error. I now feel that perhaps I missed the entire point of the story to have not noticed that he was indefinite.

I couldn't stop thinking of "The Ballad of Cat Ballou", but it wouldn't fit, and besides, that's the name of the song, not the movie.

But the only real TRAP I fell into, which required rewriting, was I put in TIBIA for fibula neighbor. That final A crossed with the five letter Ohio City ending in A, why, of course, what a great piece of crossword triva: Xenia!!!

Well, I solved the puzzle, but I think it's time I take a PAUSE. Maybe I'll visit MOUNT FUJI.

joho 11:51 AM  

@Shamik ... your AGAPE to INAWE to AGAPE and DIVE to DIVA to DIVE is a perfect example of what I call a "reright."

When a person does something with zest, I guess you could call them ZESTY, no?

@Anthro ... happy birthday!

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

The use of present tense in "They go round on reservations" struck me as date -- probably racist. At least the product of somebody who has seen too many Westerns or read too many comic books.

I rather doubt that many peace pipes are smoked on reservations these days.

willam e emba 12:06 PM  

Ah, the RETURN!

Anonymous 11:54AM: Is an April 2009 PEACE PIPE ceremony too ancient for you?

Van55 12:42 PM  

As I found this one much easier than yesterday's puzzle, I suppose I would have to agree that it was on the easy side for a Friday offering. As others did, though, I found it more on the medium side, much for the reasons Rex expresses in is write-up: PIZ/ZESTY, TIBIA at first where TALUS ended up, ACETICACID. And JULIETTE BINOCHE wasn't a gimme for me. I needed most of the crosses.

Still an excellent puzzle with very few crossword cliches and some droll cluing. I liked EDNA for Best in show, for example, and OPED for Page with convictions.

Bravo to Doug Peterson.

thornibus 1:06 PM  

The "P" in 27D "G.P.S." stands for positioning, not routing. The clue should have said "nav".
I agree with @HudsonHawk - "Best" usually refers to Pete.
BTW - if you like Juliette Binoche, you can see all of her in "Les Amants de Pont Neuf". One of her earlier French film noir movies.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Sadly, not so many seem to have seen Juliette Binoche's vast body of work. Apart from The English Patient one should see Chocolat (with Johnny Depp) and also The Widow of St Pierre. She is one of France's leading actors and almost any movie she is in is worth seeing.

Apart from my rave on one of my favourite actors, I found the puzzle challenging and it took a while but felt a sense of achievement when I got the Aha.

Doug P 1:12 PM  

Thanks for the comments, everybody. It's always interesting to read about the unintentional traps and red herrings that find their way into the puzzle. As for PREXY, I noticed that it contained "REX," so I figured the entry might have a positive subliminal effect on Mr. Parker.

@Crosscan -- You're absolutely right. My original clue for JOSIE was Pussycat-related.

Martin 1:12 PM  

Historically, wood distillation was an important industrial source of acetic acid. From


"By 1910 most glacial acetic acid was obtained from the 'pyroligneous liquor' from distillation of wood."

It's still important today in areas where more modern methods are beyond local capabilities.

I thought it was a perfectly acceptable Friday "speed bump."

andrea violacarla michaels 1:14 PM  

This puzzle literally took me an hour and had to come together letter by letter but in the end, I liked it.

wow, you'd be lucky if JULIETTEBINOCHE (which was my first answer but I was convinced I was wrong bec I thought it was JULIET) showed up at your door. She is one of the most beautiful women alive
(think a smart, pretty, delicate Julia Roberts with a French accent)
You could rent "Blue" or that Austrian one of the intersecting lives by that director I like whose name escapes me! Is that helpful enough?

So far my favorite part of this is Rex saying VIOL looks like it's desperately searching for a suffix!!!!! I always think that re: VIOLA but not till his comment have I EVER made the connection between VIOL and VIOLIN!!!!!!!!!

(Insert here my already-told anecdote about what a total prick Mort Sahl is, esp to young comedians)

Clark 1:29 PM  

I was born on the campus of a post-secondary educational institution, lived on (or at the edge of) two others where my dad taught, and I have myself studied at three others, and taught at yet another. That's in six different states on both coasts and in the middle. The word PREXY crosses my radar screen for the first time today.

Could not get ACETICACID and ANKELA crossing DANKE (!) and EDNA to come into view.

I recommend the hiking around PIZ Bernina. Stay in Pontresina (Switzerland) and spend a week hiking around in the Roseg Valley and the Morteratsch Valley, with stunning views of Piz Bernina, Piz Palu, Piz Roseg. And if you want pizza you can eat, you can get the local stuff or hop accross the border for the Italian version.

Possibly useful xword info: The C-shaped sound holes of the viol family (which includes the string bass) stands in contrast to the F-shaped sound holes of the violin family (violin, viola, cello). Now if I could just remember TRAJAN for next time. 'J' in latin just seems so wrong.

retired_chemist 1:45 PM  

@ Martin - Thanks for the info on acetic acid as a wood distillate. I did not know that. Obviously.

mac 1:47 PM  

I loved this puzzle, a real Friday themeless, which I did without googles, and only the NE gave me the kind of trouble you leave behind while you go run errands, then return and solve. Thank you, Doug!

Never heard or saw the word Prexy, I will have to look it up. Instead of Steve Jobs, I was thinking of Bill Gates! Parapet took the place of Capitol.

Is there such a thing as an alpha female?

@Artlvr: funny you should mention "something yummy from a bakery"; did you see "Chocolat"?

I thought "Best in Show" was a very funny movie, do rent it!

Happy Birthday, Anthro.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

In re: PREXY

In the early-mid 1950's, Swarthmore college was in the search process for a new college president. This was shortly after Adlai Stevenson had had his first defeat as a (US) presidential candidate. The editors of the college newspaper perpetrated a hoax edition, proclaiming the selection of an outstanding new college leader, with the headline "ADLAI PREXY." Ever since, "prexy" has been in my readily-retrievable vocabulary, though I doubt I've ever actually spoken or written it.

Glitch 2:10 PM  

I've only run across PREXY in show biz slanguage, but aparently it's been around going on 180 years (per M-W Dict);

Main Entry: prexy
Function: noun
Etymology: prexy from prex, by shortening & alteration from president Date: 1828

slang : president —used chiefly of a college president


My G.P.S. outputs the route to my destination on its display screen.


retired_chemist 2:10 PM  

@ mac - re "Is there such a thing as an alpha female?"

Oh, yes. Oh, yes. In a dog pack (we refer to any group of dogs living together as a pack) the alpha bitch is the real power. Remember that for wild canids (wolves etc.) only the alpha female reproduces. It is thus a deep-seated biological imperative for females to vie for the alpha position.

FWIW I am far more scared if two bitches start posturing than if two male dogs do.

Some of my women dog show friends occasionally wear T-shirts saying "Alpha B***h." I do not argue.

Elaine 2:19 PM  


You would likely run across this word in a very old, black-and-white movie about the gay young students-- (not that kind of gay)--especially the misses who went off to college to meet husbands--and on the side, to pinch the rosy cheek of the bumbling, twittering Prexy just before jumping into the rumble seat for a spin with the BMOC.

Times change.

chefwen 2:39 PM  

Off to a bad start again, my first fill was 1 down and I picked pows over MIAS. After a couple of peeks at Uncle Googles place and a whole bunch of staring on my part, it finally started falling into place and I was happy to finish with no mistakes. Have no idea why I knew EDNA Best, but I did. I'll have to look her up in my movie book. AHA, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, one of my favorites as a youngster.

Agree with many others, challenging but enjoyable and doable.

archaeoprof 3:22 PM  

False starts today included:


Loved the clues for 46A and 48A.

VIOLS reminded me of a children's book I used to read to my kids about a substitute teacher named Viola Swamp. Clever little book, but I can't remember the title.

Anybody know it?

Ulrich 3:29 PM  

@Clark: Think of Livy--he's called Livius in Latin. Similar story with Trajan--Traianus in Latin--both the y and j sneak in in the transition from Latin to English.

BTW Danke to Swedish-Sounding Dog for the clue for Danke!

Bob Kerfuffle 3:29 PM  


Miss Nelson is Missing.

Love that Google Books!

sanfranman59 3:32 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 26:14, 26:00, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:00, 12:24, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Rarely do I have the patience to stick with a puzzle for more than about 30 or 40 minutes. This one kept my interest for 56 minutes and I had the satisfaction of completing it without resorting to Google/Wikipedia (although I did confirm a few answers along the way). I found the NE and the SW to be more challenging than the other quadrants. It took me way longer than it should have to recall UMASS, SAHL, DANKE and NILES (unforgivable since I was born and raised about 60 miles from there and McKinley made his name in my home county). I'm better off doing puzzles in the morning when my brain is functioning better, but I usually can't spare the time before heading off to the office so I generally do them before retiring for the night.

nanpilla 3:59 PM  

@mac : I was given an obvious alpha mare to ride for my french riding adventure. That experience cemented my conviction to only have geldings! My daughter's mare was very submissive and sweet. What a difference!

jae 4:07 PM  

Medium for me and a fun puzzle! ICLAUDIUS was my gimme. I needed some cross to ferret out JULIETTE and I've seen the movie. (Elaine was right about it BTW).

CoolPapaD 4:55 PM  

@andrea violacarla binoche michaels: I just spent a few minutes with Google images, and WOW, you are beyond correct! I shall be waiting patiently in case Mlle. Binoche wishes to stop by!!

archaeoprof 4:55 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: that's it! And I had forgotten the sequel, Miss Nelson is Back.

Great literature is unforgettable, isn't it.

mac 8:13 PM  

@Ulrich: do you think the "dog" in the SE is a phonetic signature?

Karen from the Cape 8:35 PM  

I needed all the crosses to get JULIETTE BINOCHE.
Unfortunatelyt, one of those was NILES, which I needed all the crosses to get. (I guessed RILES.)
Otherwise, a fun puzzle.
Did I learn about TRAJAN's column in art history? Or visiting the Astoria column?

Ulrich 8:52 PM  

@mac: Absolutely! And spelled backwards, we get "god", which brings us back to the 3-letter-word OOXTEPLERNON cult that started on this blog!

Mr. Bennett 310 9:20 PM  

So far, I have not seen Rex admit that he was stumped. Am I wrong? It just seems to me that a cross of two names that one simply does not recall can stump even the world's foremost puzzle champion. Am I mistaken?

sanfranman59 10:02 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 5:48, 6:57, 0.83, 14%, Easy
Tue 9:38, 8:39, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:16, 11:47, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:33, 18:26, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 26:11, 26:00, 1.01, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:07, 3:42, 0.84, 15%, Easy
Tue 4:56, 4:26, 1.11, 80%, Challenging
Wed 5:55, 5:46, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:40, 8:53, 0.86, 16%, Easy
Fri 12:19, 12:22, 1.00, 54%, Medium

Michael 10:32 PM  

I kept think that "Ballad of Josie" should be "Ballad of Josie Wales" and had to google to see that I was confusing two movies and it was "Josey" Wales anyhow.

I thought this was easier than Thursday's, which I couldn't finish because of the NW.

I've heard "prexy" but in terms of real-world speech, it's equivalent to "Frisco."

PuzzleGirl 10:41 PM  

Wasn't able to get to the puzzle until late today but really enjoyed it!

@treedweller: I can't see a reference to "The English Patient" without thinking That English Patient Movie.

@crosscan: Totally thought Josie and the Pussycats would be a fun clue when I finally got that answer.

Love the clue for ILLER and agree with Rex that's the only way to clue it.

Unknown 2:49 AM  

Got everything else, but never heard of TRAJAN, and never heard of "The Ballad of JOSIE", so I'm stuck trying NOSIE, POSIE, ROSIE, etc. Once again, a complete solve thwarted by the two proper name cross.

andrea and the pussycats 3:20 AM  

Yes, I too got JOSIE bec I was thinking about the Josey Wales film too (I think with Clint Eastwood) so it was one of those things where I got the right answer for the wrong reasons, even with a different spelling) and I do think there needs to be a name for that...
other than "doing crosswords"!

Someone at my Scrabble tournament referred to "playing a crossword" and it inexplicably bugged me to pieces.
"Solving a crossword"... "Doing a crossword"...yes. "Playing a crossword"??!! Ick.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

why is dog the answer for Frank>

Will 8:34 AM  

Never got the lower left. "Hamburger's acknowlegement"? Come on, that's just bad. "Best in show" also got me. Had no idea who Akela is, and I guess the viol is no longer made ("had")- tell that to the composers who are writing music for it.

I supose if I left it for another day, I might have worked it out, but it was time to get on with my life.

Glitch 9:33 AM  

@Anon 7:45a (in case you check back)

hotDOG = FRANKfurter

Daniel 4:04 PM  

Firefox v. 3.5.5 is out, you might want to see if that fixes the bug.

Singer 12:43 PM  

Syndiland responds - I couldn't remember JULIETTE BINOCHE's first name. Had druid (PAGANS), der (EIN), akera (AKELA), bankers followed by sellers (TELLERS). Saw CHEVROLET immediately, got FILE and FDA relatively quickly, I CLAUDIUS popped out. DANKE was easy, as was EDNA and ICIER. OGLE and ALPHA MALE were gimmes, but MOUNT FUJI took a long time, as did the entire NE. I wanted a name for Page with convictions. I thought it would be a famous jailbird, but the only Page I could come up with was Rodney.

The puzzle took me about 45 minutes with two Googles (JULIETTE and SAHL). I thought it was SAHL, but Googled it anyway. Bah.

Singer 5:15 PM  

Just realized that I was thinking Rodney King - Rodney Page used to be the director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. I would guess that Rod Page did have convictions, but not of the same variety as Rodney King.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

48A: Occasional medicine dropper? FDA. Are you aware the person or persons responsible for lacing Tylenol with cyanide in the fall of 1982 has never been identified.

Anonymous 8:16 PM  

I cannot believe that I am the only person that did not understand "sexist" as "unpc".......I don't get it. PLEASE someone tell me what it is all about:

BassManPDX 12:31 AM  

This one was rough for me, and I finally had to ask my crossword-hating wife for help to get TALUS and JULIETTE BINOCHE. After that it was some lucky guesses and running the alphabet on a few.

TALUS is interesting because the talus bone of some animals was used as a die in gambling ("roll them bones").

AKELA rang a bell from way too many years ago when I was in Cub Scouts:

The Law of the Pack

The Cub Scout follows Akela.
The Cub Scout helps the pack go.
The pack helps the Cub Scout grow.
The Cub Scout gives goodwill.

BassManPDX 1:20 AM  

My wife also also got TRAJAN's Column immediately. She was just dozing off as I read the clue to her. She muttered "Trajan" and drifted off...

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