FRIDAY, Dec. 4 2009 — Molly title role player 1999 / Singer of 1940s blues hit One Meat Ball / Railway terminus with Victory Arch

Friday, December 4, 2009

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: JOSH WHITE (30A: Singer of the 1940s blues hit "One Meat Ball") Joshua Daniel White (February 11, 1914–-September 5, 1969),[1] best known as Josh White, was a legendary American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. In the early 1930s, he also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton." [...] In 1931, White moved to New York and within a decade his fame had spread widely, and his repertoire expanded to include urban blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, folk songs from around the world, and hard-hitting political protest songs. He soon was in demand as an actor on radio, Broadway, and film. [...] White also would become the closest African-American friend and confidant to the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ironically, however, White's anti-segregationist and international human rights political stance presented in many of his recordings and in his speeches at rallies resulted in the right-wing McCarthyites incorrectly assuming that he must have been a Communist. Accordingly, from 1947 through the mid 1960s, White was caught in the vise grip of the anti-Communist Red Scare, and combined with his resulting attempt to clear his name, his career was harmed immeasurably. (wikipedia)


This grid is all about the stacks of 15s (and to a lesser extent the long Downs in the NE and SW corners). To reveal those long answers, you have to fight your way through a mess of short fill, an experience which, in this case, wasn't entirely pleasant. With the short fill in this puzzle, it felt like every other answer was a. an abbrev., b. a prefix/suffix, or c. some person I've never heard of, clued in some deliberately obscure way. The end result was an average puzzle, difficulty-wise, for a Friday, so in that sense the cluing was spot-on. But there was perhaps more short fill (and more wincing) than I'd like on a Friday. The long answers up top are OK. Nothing too memorable. The bottom is much better, with TRUMPED UP CHARGE (50A: Framing need) being my favorite, and WATERLOO STATION (55A: Railway terminus with the Victory Arch) being very nice as well (though I have no idea what it is — never heard of it). DEATH TRAP (29D: Perilous place) and LEGAL LIMIT (13D: Ceiling one should stay under) also add nice zing to the grid, and I was very pleased to learn who JOSH WHITE was (though he caused trouble in the middle — last letter in the grid was the "S" in ASHY, right above JOSH's name) (23D: Wan).

Clues that made me go "Who?"

  • 27A: "The Accumulation of Capital" author Luxemburg (Rosa)
  • 28A: "Love Story" score composer (Lai) — feels like crosswordese, but I honestly can't remember ever having seen it.
  • 30A: Singer of the 1940s blues hit "One Meat Ball" (Josh White)
  • 44A: Moten who played Bess in Broadway's "Porgy and Bess" (Etta)
  • 2D: "Molly" title role player (Shue) — I know the actress (Elisabeth), but not "Molly"
  • 48D: Real-estate tycoon Olenicoff (Igor)
  • 51D: Grand _____ (Annapolis Valley community) (Pre) — more a "Where?" than a "Who?"

This puzzle has "ONE'S" twice, which I don't like, but it also has ONE, TWO, and THREE, which I like a lot.


  • 26A: Cashiers (cans) — not a familiar usage to me. "Cashier" here means "dismiss" or "fire"; common in military contexts, usu. in passive voice.
  • 21D: Singer with the 5x platinum album "Nick of Time," 1989 (Raitt) — the one really familiar name I encountered today ... and yet my first thought was "... Stevie Nicks?"
  • 4D: One may be conceived on Veterans Day (Leo) — well, that's one way to celebrate.
  • 30D: Competition among mail carriers? (joust) — OK, that's a very good, very cute clue.
  • 37D: Leader exiled in 1979 (The Shah) — not loving the "THE" here. SHAH is reasonably common.
  • [41A: 4 letters (GHI) — I'm adding this just to stop the avalanche of mail that has already started (it's not even 9am yet). GHI are the letters on the number 4 on your phone's keypad.]
One announcement for lovers of challenging crosswords (and if you're reading this, you certainly count):

"Fireball Crosswords"!

The Sun Crossword was arguably the best crossword in the country while it ran. Then the Sun folded and the crossword was without a home. Bad news for solvers and constructors everywhere. Now the Sun Crossword, edited by Peter Gordon, is being reborn as "Fireball Crosswords" (I only just now put the "Sun" / "Fireball" connection together ... D'oh!). Peter's puzzles rival those of the NYT for innovation, entertainment, and overall quality. He's offering a subscription of 50 puzzles (published roughly once a week for a year, starting in January) for the absurdly low price of $10. The more subscriber interest there is, the more likely the endeavor will continue in the future. You will not be disappointed in these puzzles — subscriptions would make great (thoughtful, cheap) gifts for the xword-lovers in your life. For more information, see his website here. And for all you pen-and-paper solvers, don't be put off by the electronic delivery mode. It's really Sooooo easy to print puzzles out and solve them like a Luddite. I can walk you through it :)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS For those who weren't here early in the week (esp. you baseball fans), you are invited to check out a new free puzzle, which I wrote in honor of ... well, you'll see. It's called "Aces!" Get it here.

PPS Happy birthday, Jay-Z.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Vincent Lima 8:16 AM  

Sorry ROSA Luxemburg made you go "who?" For me it was a total gimme and I think the first thing to go on the grid.

I knew the leader exiled in 1979 had to be the Shah. (I was there!) But I couldn't imagine he'd appear with a "THE." (In fairness, this is better than the last time he appeared, a few months ago. He was identified as REZA, which was the name of his father and predecessor and is his son's name; his own name was Mohammad Reza. Trivia for a future crossword....)

No comment on SLEETIER?

imsdave 8:18 AM  

Rajiv Gandhi anyone? Totally agree with Rex on the Who? answers, but the crosses were fair enough.

Good start to the day.

kelen 8:29 AM  

ah, living a stone's throw from Grand Pre, birthplace of Longfellow's Evangeline, finally paid off. Now you know how it feels for us non-NYers with those sometimes obscure (to me at least) references to NY geographic areas...!

nanpilla 8:39 AM  

Starting with "before the deluge" for 1a got me absolutely nowhere. Then down at the bottom I had CHARGE at the end of 50a, and couldn't think of anything but framing pictures or houses. Home Depot charge fit there, but no....
It eventually all worked out in a normal Friday time, so in the end felt easier than yesterday's. I started in the middle, and worked my way all the way around.
I liked TASTEBUDS - great clue. And it took me a long time to realize that Price referred to Leontyne.

I know I'm going to hate myself for asking, but GHI?

Leslie 8:41 AM  

I have to agree with of Rex's "who??" reactions. I was surprised at his "eh??" reaction to Waterloo Station, though. Go to London, dude, and ride, ride, ride those subways!!

I generally worked this one from the bottom up, though my very first answer was EPI for "dermal opening." The 50A clue, "Framing need," had me thinking of the notion of setting someone up, but it still took me a bit to get TRUMPED UP CHARGE. Very cute!

Having "speed limit" instead of LEGAL LIMIT slowed me down in the NE.

Echoing Nanpilla's question on 41A.

Nice one, Martin Ashwood-Smith, you hyphenated devil, you!

joho 8:42 AM  

I give this puzzle 3 meatballs.

dk 8:44 AM  

Idi Amin or THESHAH choose your poison, not sure they share the same disposal year.

For cashier I had pays, which was my only stumble, of course it cost me about 10 minutes.... but whose timing, I mean we just do these things for the joy of it.

Back in the day when I was way OUTOFONESLEAGUE and played guitar, I had the JOSHWHITE songbook. Many great tunes like Diving Duck Blues with the line "If the river was whiskey, I would swim to the bottom and drink my way up." In short, this one was a gimme.

Fellow Flat Earthers I am happy Rex will show us how to print out puzzles. In my case I will need to get a printer.

**** (4 Stars) -- much to love about this one.

Speaking of DEATHTRAPS, lovely young wife has arranged for me to get additional life insurance. She also wants to watch Dial M for Murder and when I told her about the fill for 56a she said:
"Like an autopsy?" Probably nothin.

Rex Parker 8:50 AM  

"GHI" = numbers on the "4" key on your phone's keypad. I added an explanation to the write-up.


SethG 8:50 AM  

IDI AMIN was forced into exile in, yes, 1979.

Other than that, a smooth solve. It maybe helped that, having never heard of JOSH WHITE, I assumed his name would be JOSH WHITE off the xxxHWxxxx. And I feel like I got a lot of the short stuff from the long stuff instead of the other way around.

One of the ONES is under WATERLOO, and OPENED ONES HEART sounds like a Celine Dion song.

nanpilla 8:53 AM  

I knew I was going to hate myself!Thanks, Rex!

Ben 9:15 AM  

Good Friday test. Initially DEFIANT with wacky fill crossing the 15s, but ultimately not OUTOFONESLEAGUE and in fact quite doable. Enjoyed the two Js in the Scrabbly center and the original 15s. Nice work, Mr. Ashwood-Smith.

GHI clue creative; PRS now inevitable.

@Rex, you might take Sandy to dinner in London and enjoy a Waterloo Sunset.

I second the motion to support Peter Gordon's new venture. He's a first-rate crossword editor and, having met him at the ACPT, a good guy to boot.

Just out of curiosity, do you subscribe to the NYT puzzle online or solve it in the newspaper? And if you subscribe, do you print it out, solve on the screen at or use Across Lite?

Me, I'm an Across Lite guy.

Elaine 9:18 AM  

I'm with Leslie. @Rex: you need to get out more!

The Ayatollah Khomeini was also exiled in 1979...but wouldn't fit. Cute trick with THE SHAH.

I was vastly slowed by trying to fit a version of BEFORE THE FLOOD in the first line; once I gave in and Googled some of those seldom-hear-of folks, things fell into place nicely. I think it's because I was wearing my lucky earbobs.

Thanks, Rex, for GHI and LEO explanations. Sheesh. What a week!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:23 AM  

Very good Friday puzzle, I thought, and what a striking grid (even if there are rather heavy blocks of "cheaters" on the sides.

Worked my way through slowly, but only had write-overs that affected two answers: For 14 D, Wordsworth and Tennyson, working off the LA, I put in LAKEPOETS (I knew for sure Wordsworth was; I had a lovely vacation in England's Lake District about 15 years ago. Though Tennyson might have been.) before LAUREATES. Was greatly slowed down in getting 17 A by having write-overs in several of the Downs: ORNO (as is Go or no go?) for ORTO; SOFIA for SONIA (just ignorant); HEH for HEE; and the aforementioned LAKEPOETS!

I, too, wondered about GHI, but figured it out before coming here. IGOR Ilenicoff is totally unknown to me, but at that position in the grid, the Acrosses easily carried the day.

Elaine 9:25 AM  

We canceled our newspaper subscription, so I signed up for online. I used to skip MTW, but now that I am specifically paying for the thing I do it daily. I cherish my official status as a Luddite, so I print it out. I prefer to have all of the clues in front of me; I make little notes in the margin (multiple possibles, best guesses)...and I solve in ink. I'm AS OLD AS THE HILLS, and at times it's an advantage. I've been in WATERLOO STATION, among others; prefer Paddington, in case of bears.

Stan 9:26 AM  

JOSHWHITE was a gimme for me. He's perhaps the best/most interesting musician no one's ever heard of. There's a lot to be said for standing in ones favorite section of a music store, sampling all cds of people you've never heard of. That's the way I first heard him. Plus, the man could pick up the phone and say, "Franklin, Eleanor, I need a favor. Could you... " And they would.

Susan 9:30 AM  

I felt like Friday and Thursday were switched at birth. I had a DNF yesterday but today finished in a really fast Friday time (for me). I think it was a wavelength thing because "trumped up charge" was the first thing I thought of for 50A and that's just weird.

Another French novel clue 46A that was no help at all because the title in Eng. is so far from the orig. (La Condition humaine) Needed every cross...

@Vincent, I'm pretty sure both the 1979 deposed Shah and his father were referred to as "Reza Shah," by Iranians, although you're right, of course, about the son's full name.

@Ben, I subscribe to the NYTimes puzzles on line (just the puzzles, not the paper -- sad) and I solve it on their site using "play against the clock." I like that it tells you if you have an error but not where.

LOVED the Leo clue.

ArtLvr 9:39 AM  

I started in the middle, thinking Solon for the Ancient law man, but JOSH WHITE and JOUST made that section a cinch and added SENT to MONEY for a quick trip through the entire bottom half. Loved DEATH TRAP and the TRUMPED UP CHARGE!

The topmost three lines took much more effort, even with the ACORNS and LAUREATES firmly in place. I wanted ODE to be conceived "on" Veterans Day, though the preposition would more likely have been "for", and Speedlimit wth Dam off the D.

Once I had LET for Stop (w/up) and LEGAL LIMIT, the top line fell easily, then the light-sensitive IRIS, and finally SHUE and the rest. HEE hee, nearly OUT OF ONES LEAGUE...

Hands up if you ever tried to read "MANS Fate", the Malraux tale, in French -- it's a killer!


PlantieBea 9:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judith 9:52 AM  

This week has been a total loss for me. Maybe I should go back to easier puzzles!

Hindi_Xworder 9:52 AM  

घी मतलब clarified butter, ये फ़ौर लेटेर बकवस है। रजीव नहीं सोनिआ - ये तो बढिआ पज़्ज़ल बनाया है।

OldCarFudd 9:54 AM  

Hand up for SPEED LIMIT and DAM. I got halfway down the grid before seeing anything I was confident of. Got the long southern acrosses in jig time, and just walked back up to the top. I, too, got the short answers from the long ones, for the most part.

I get the dead tree paper delivered to my driveway, print a copy of the puzzle for my wife, and then solve in ink. I'm a proud luddite, too. That's why I buy cars that start with a crank.

Fun puzzle!

Denise Ann 9:55 AM  

I believe that the NYT on-line is free, and I pay for the puzzle. I usually start with "Play against the clock," except for Sunday when the grid is lousy.

Last night, I could not get into the upper half of this puzzle at all. I finished the bottom half pretty easily. So, I went to the Across Lite, and then was able to Google a little and get a start.

I enjoyed hearing "One Meat Ball."

By the way, do people do Brendan Emmett Kelly's three times a week independents? He sends an email. They are terrific.

Smitty 9:59 AM  

I agree 100% with Rex -
One thing I'm still stuck on...
"OR TO" go?
Am I missing something? OK TO go? is a stand alone. OR TO go? is not.

Wanted SPEEDIER for "more like a cold shower" but LED up didn't fit.

Meg 10:01 AM  

A really hard puzzle is when, after 15 minutes, I have 4 entries. That was my experience today, but I finished it (with no Googling) and then could not believe the MEDIUM rating!!!

Tried IDI and NOREIGA for a while plus HYMN for AMEN, MOVE for DO IT, and INCH for DENT. How many definitions are there for "make up"?

There's a large bruise on my forehead, but I totally loved the struggle!

@Ben: I subscribe and print out. Comfy chair, cup of coffee and no desire to time myself. I asked my husband, who plays 60's stuff on his guitar, "What if you went to a competition and you had to play 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes', but you had to play it faster than anybody else to win?"

retired_chemist 10:03 AM  

@ Ben - Across Lite here.

EASY. My fastest Friday ever. Pretty much all in my wheelhouse. First time I got all the 15s without A TON of crosses. Guessed MUON right @ 46D, which made 50A easier than if I had started with PION.

Favorite answer: LEO, which I didn't see until I checked.

3D OR TO (go?) seems strained to me - is it a phrase in some context I don't know?

Had ISM for 42A and wondered what JOUSM was - some USPS acronym I didn't know? Oh yeah - ISM could equally be IST. D'oh.....

Very nice, Mr. Ashwood-Smith. Are you the Martin that often makes trenchant comments here?

Rex Parker 10:07 AM  


Black Ink (mainly bec. AcrossLite won't print on my new MacBook Pro). Usually solve puzzles on-screen, but occasionally print and solve downstairs or in bed.

Ulrich 10:09 AM  

When I saw the unusual grid, with its isolated oval shape in the middle, which could be entered only through two narrow passages, my curiosity peaked: What would be hidden in that inner sanctum of the puzzle? Turns out, a hodge-podge of things: money crossing with rondo; the end of tastebuds pointing in; the front end of a singer pointing out; the first name of a murdered German communist leader; a German auxiliary verb... it appears in Luxemburg's most famous saying: Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden (Freedom is always the freedom of those who think differently).

Our friend MIES van der Rohe designed the monument erected for her and fellow-leader Karl Liebknecht, an early masterpiece of Modernism in Germany that was, of course, razed by the Nazis.

I'm glad I learned about Josh White...All in all, for me, the pluses outweigh the minuses in this puzzle.

David 10:12 AM  

Six fifteen across answers are always daunting at the outset. But once one worked from the hanging fruit - MBAS, MANS Fate, DOO, HRS, EPI, and so on, one was able to penetrate the foliage.

I'd much prefer HAHAS be clued with some reference to English gardens, but then that would have avoided the parallel to the clue for AMEN.

Glitch 10:20 AM  

@smitty & @r_c

"Will that pizza be eat in or to go?"

Liked this one, and because I guessed the 15's fairly easily, didn't notice the "fill".

Other answers (Josh White, Etta M.)came out of some back room of my mind.

Perhaps I was just on the "right wavelength" today, for once.


Dead tree subscriber, gives me a free subscription to A-Lite site which is my backup source when traveling. Paper solving preferred, my "timing unit" is cups of coffee.

Carisa 10:23 AM  

@Ben: I am a subscriber and I do the puzzle all 3 ways:
1. M-T-W I like to do timed on the website to challenge myself because I usually do them at work when I should be working, but I can usually do them in 5 to 7 minutes, so I can be pretty inconspicuous.
2. Th-F-Sa I do in Across Lite because they take a little more time and I can be less conspicuous.
3. On Sunday I print it out and work it on the sofa with my coffee.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

David said: "I'd much prefer HAHAS be clued with some reference to English gardens..."

FYI my original (submitted) clue for 31-Down HAHAS was "Sunken fences" because HEE was already in the grid.


-Martin Ashwood-Smith

miguel 10:34 AM  

So, Ghi is clarified butter in Hindi.

in Yiddish, its fir

anyone know Spanish?

treedweller 10:37 AM  

Today I failed miserably, cheated liberally, and did not feel I'd missed much. That says more about my mood than the puzzle, I think.

I solve against the clock in the NYT applet most days. Sometimes I print out Fridays and Saturdays and take them with me on my errands for the day. I use a pen when I do. I hate Across Lite because of how it interacts with the mouse.

@Denise Ann
I assume you mean on Sunday the grid flows outside the visible area on screen. You can correct this. Before starting the puzzle, click the link in the paragraph below the startup box that says "Enlarge grid." The whole puzzle will show up when you start it. If you start the puzzle, then click enlarge, you will be booted back to the startup screen and when you get back into the puzzle your time will already be running.

imsdave 10:44 AM  

@Ben - I used to get the paper, but gave that up with all the price hikes and decontenting over the past few years. I now subscribe to the puzzle online and print it out in draft mode (xwords really tear through your black ink in hurry), re-feed the paper into my printer and print the LAT on the flip side. I then solve in pencil.

When my subscription to the online NYT comes due, I will use that as a reminder that it's time to contribute to this site again.

HudsonHawk 10:49 AM  

Rolled through the southern 70% of this grid, then really slowed down for the upper 15s. Didn't help that I totally missed the Abbr. in the clue for 8D, so entered GRAS rather than TUES. Waffled between SPEED/LEGAL and DAM/LET. Decent Friday, no big complaints.

@dk, very funny!

@Ben, the dead tree edition is delivered to my door in my apt. building, so I'm all about the ball point pen and flimsy newsprint. I hate to admit it here, but I kinda like the KenKen too...

Parshutr 10:55 AM  

I started in the center, completed it without a hitch (except for ISM instead of IST)...then bogged down because of the 2nd rate cluing.
I solve Across Lite during the week, and sometimes on Sunday. Once in a while I grab the olde Parker and do it in ink, but Sunday is the only actual hardcopy I get.

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

Yabba dabba doo!
Somehow breezed through this but expected more trouble by looking at the long stacks.
Thanks for the Josh White info including the genre Urban Blues. That rings much more true than Urban Pop.
I think I might have liked this one better had it not come on the heels of yesterday's splendid offering.
Rex, I thought of Stevie as well for a second.
Favorite clue/answer: pack of lies.
@ miguel, Isn't it ghee?
@ Martin, I would not have gotten hahas from your original clue. Thanks for coming by. Nice job.
@ ben, Dead tree.

Alex S. 10:59 AM  

The "4 letters" type clue is pretty well worn by now but I kills me every time.

Squeek 11:01 AM  

@ dk, I think you might want to watch your back, dude. Perhaps she has been reading this blog and following your dialogue with a certain female. Hmmm?

Susan 11:08 AM  

@ArtLvr, yes, I've read La Condition humaine, but the only thing I remember about it was that it deals with Chinese communist insurgents. In grad school we had a pretty extensive reading list for our qualifying exams, and I had about a summer to prepare. I read it in chronological order, so I can tell you a lot about the medieval literature, where I was taking my time and taking notes and reading properly. By the time I got to the 20th century, time was running out and I was literally reading two books a day. Good times.

Stan 11:17 AM  

Solid puzzle.

Thanks to Rex and Stan 9:26 for the Josh White info. The song was a gimme (I grew up with Elektra/Folkways albums in the house) but I had no idea about White's cultural importance (the Roosevelts, McCarthyism, etc.) Must read more about the 40's.

And speaking of the 40's... @dk: If your wife starts dressing like Barbara Stanwyck and hiring young drifters to help with chores, watch out!

slypett 11:27 AM  

It was easy, because I tip-toed through the tulips with Auntie Google. I no longer feel any shame. I am a lost soul. Pray for me.

SueRohr 11:31 AM  

This puzzle must have been right on my wavelength because I solved it in record time and thought it was super easy. Every guess I made just turned out to be right. One of those lucky days, which I needed after yeaterday's punch in the face. I did, though, have jousm for a while and didn't understand 4 letters till I saw the explanantion. I always have to guess for eat or ate when the clue word "put" can be past or present. I also didn't care for "the" shah or for 37 and 40 across - (partners with no additional cluing.)

joho 12:36 PM  

@Ben ... I subscribe and always print out the puzzle and solve in ink.

miriam b 12:39 PM  

Instant replay of yesterday's experience, when I had to interrupt my solving efforts to keep IRIS's vet appointment. Today it was her brother Dewey's turn. When I returned, the unfilled part of the puzzle fell neatly into place. Nice puzzle.

Being a LEO, I suppose I could have been conceived on Veterans Day (before it existed as such), though doing the math with my birthdate, I doubt it, even allowing for the variability of the official Monday observance. Well, I guess that clue was not directed at people like me, who are ASOLDASTHEHILLS.

Two mentions of Wordsworth!

@Ben: First thing in the morning,I grab a pen,a cup of black coffee and the weekday paper and retreat to a strange cubbyhole which was originally a butler's pantry, but is now a quasi-office. Weekends are scheduled a little differently, but it's always the pen and the print paper, + or - the coffee; more likely tea.

bookmark 1:17 PM  

Ben, I subscribe and print it out at night. Most of the time I finish before I fall asleep. I have no interest in speed-solving, and I'm not a Luddite. It's a pleasure thing with me... savoring the crossword, in bed with the cat, husband watching TV. What a great life!

This puzzle was a struggle for me. I couldn't finish until I came here. Hubby and the cat were no help!

chefbea 1:22 PM  

Tough puzzle but easier than yesterday.

@Ben I subscribe to the nyt weekends only. That entitles me to get the times digest delivered to my mail box free every day (somedays I never get it). I print out the puzzle and do it with my papermate erasermate pen.

@Rex I have tried printing out the puzzle from the NYT site and am not able to either. I also have a mac

william e emba 1:27 PM  

For the exiled leader, I first wrote in PAHLAVI. For the "judgement problem", I had TASTE. Until I got to TASTEBUDS (uhoh, something's wrong here) that part of the puzzle was impossible.

While it's nice to tell us about JOSH WHITE, how about Leontyn Price? (As in ARIA="Price number".) I had to google after finishing to figure that one out.

And I agree, ROSA Luxemburg should be a gimme for everybody. Meanwhile, I'm having painful flashbacks. That's a second very famous non-fictional ROSA I couldn't think of the other week.

hazel 1:35 PM  

The tongue-in-cheek cluing, interesting fill (thanks for the Josh White dope), and the quota of thorny crosses made for a solid Friday solve.

@Ben - (1) you will be quizzed on our responses tomorrow :) (2) i'm an against the clock (but not a speed) solver - part of the daily statistic from @sanfranmann (I help to raise the median solve time pretty much every day!)

Patrick Merrell has an interesting (John Madden-like) constructor breakdown of the puzzle over on Wordplay.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@ miriam b
I don't believe Veteran's Day is observed on Mondays as a standard. It is always officially Nov. 11. The Feds use it as a holiday and observe it on the actual date, unless it falls on Sat/Sun. In that case they observe it either Friday or Monday as the case may be.
That said, pretty tough puzzle for me, but not as bad as yesterday.
Subscribe on-line and use Across Lite.

lit.doc 1:47 PM  

@ RP, VincentLima, SethG, and esp. dk, IDI AMIN fell onto the page immediately and attempted to eat my brain before he got "crossed out".

@ Ben (and darkman, re Auntie G.), I subscribe to the puzzle online and usually solve it there, as I can't yet get through the Th or Sat puzz's (and, as today, ditto Fri) without Googling liberally. Bleeding heart liberally. There's lots of company in that ring of hell, darkman.

@ Denise Ann, 47D!!! And I've got Ms. Price on vinyl! Terrific Verdi Requiem.

My best speed bump of the day: 45D, "Music to a minister's ears" had to be HYMN, crosses be damned.

barbara 2:04 PM  

I am missing something, can someone explain joust????

miriam b 2:10 PM  

@Anonymous 1:45: Thanks for the clarification. Well, if I was conceived on November 11, it would have been Armistice Day. As I said, ASOLDASTHEHILLS.

imsdave 2:12 PM  

@Barbara - Knights wore (chain) mail (kind of like woven metal) as part of their armor when they competed in jousts. Three and out.

Elaine 2:18 PM  

Instead of thinking "Postal Svc," think chain mail worn by knights for a tourney (jousting, tilting, whatever!)

Clark 2:44 PM  

I found this way harder than yesterday. I guess that means the rift in the space time continuum has closed up. (@hazel, high fives for yesterday.)

@Ben - I’m a paper subscriber, but I usually do the puzzle in Across Lite, cause I can do it the night before (and I’m too lazy to walk into the next room where the printer is). When I work on paper I always end up meandering around the puzzle. When I do it in Across Lite, I tend to go very disciplinedly (?) and fast through the acrosses and then the downs and then clean up what is left, which might be pretty close to the whole grid on a day like today. (Not that there's anything wrong with meandering; I've just been trying the other thing for a while.)

@Rex - I have a MacBook Pro, and I have never had any trouble printing from Across Lite. . . . [walking into room with printer] . . . Yup. Hard copy in hand.

chefbea 2:44 PM  

@Barbara welcome. Don't think I have seen you here before...and I would remember

Rex Parker 3:02 PM  

Issue is not computer but OS. At least OS as it's installed on my computer. Very weird bug. I have tiny issues all over the place (can't use NYT applet on Firefox, for instance ... tho' Safari works great). Bah.

sanfranman59 3:08 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 25:43, 25:57, 0.99, 52%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:37, 12:27, 1.09, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Glitch 3:22 PM  

If you search around the web for "The Shaw", the one exiled in 1979 is at the top of nearly every result list. If seach is for "shaw", the results are a bit more mixed.

Reminds me of an evening at an English pub, when one of our party mentioned "...oh, you have a queen", our very proper (and knighted) host replied, "no my young man, we do not have A queen, we have The Queen".


archaeoprof 3:37 PM  

Speed limit and Dam here too.

@Ben: I always solve it on paper, in ink. Fountain pen. And (like the Indigo Girls in "WordPlay"), I always fold the paper over.

I fear I could not survive a faculty meeting without the NYT crossword.

Shamik 3:42 PM  

@Ben: AcrossLite unless traveling and then I carry a puzzle book (right now Peter Gordon [ed] Friday Crosswords) or print out a few.

@DeniseAnn: I'm thinking you mean Brendan Emmett Quigley's independent puzzles...unless you're calling BEQ a clown. ; ) And yes, they're some of my favorites.

This one was clearly challenging for me and had to do it in two sittings, pausing the clock for a total of 36:39. Sadly, this new job keeps me from doing as many puzzles as I used to do...or i'm just getting old and slow. Anything above DOIT, MAJ, ROSA and JOSHWHITE was a major slog. Filled in ATON and NEO and had to walk away 'cause nothing would fall.

Steve J 3:47 PM  

It's been a while since I was so ambivalent about a puzzle. Nothing wrong here, but nothing much excited me (although I did really like the cluing for JOUST). The grid sure looked great, but the fill was a bit of a slog for me, even with getting one of the 15s (WATERLOOSTATION) and the two breaks out of the center pretty quickly. At least there was no googling for me, although there were a couple points I was right on the cusp.

Of course, it didn't help that I had DRUMMEDUPCHARGE for a long time.

andrea hee hee michaels 3:51 PM  

My friend Maria let's me use her password, so around 11 pm, I print out three copies for myself and the boy across the hall and the one downstairs.
@1am I crawl into bed, no hubby, two cats, video of Survivor, Amazing Race, SYTYCD or whatever reality show I've taped on my VCR (As I have mentioned I am OLD(er) than the (Oliver) HILLS) do the puzzle in pen.
It's none of your goddamned business what I am wearing!

Tho last night I went to sleep with 1-20 completely unsolved save TONS and HAR, both incorrect... yet the bottom 2/3 completely filled.
(Originally I wrote the THE for THESHAH in SO lightly you'd think I solved in pencil!)

Nice to see a new ETTA clue, tho STAGETWO next to DEATHTRAP was a bit upsetting for one who just had her first colonoscopy.

I have changed my name to just my number should it show up on your voice mail. In the meantime, I would suggest you hide your golfclubs.

If worse comes to worst, I will stand discreetly in the back of the service in all black with a veil, sobbing softly into Squeek's shoulder.

Daryl 4:01 PM  

Got WATERLOO STATION fairly quickly off 2 crosses and a lot fell fast. A good solid Friday, reasonably easy. Rex - you need to get out more!

One thing I love about Waterloo station (besides thinking of Terry and Julie from "Waterloo Sunset", one of the most beautiful pop songs ever) was that the Eurostar from Paris used to terminate there. I think that was the Brits taking the piss from the French.

chefwen 4:06 PM  

Just tried to post a comment and got some kind of an error, that's never happened before.

Enaway - @Ben - subscribe on-line and print out using Across Lite, solve in ink during the evening cocktail hour.

Wasn't able to finish Thursday or Friday puzzle, too busy playing tour guide to a bunch of Cheese Heads who are in town for Saturdays big game, Bucky Badger vs. the Warriors. In reading the comments from the last two days it seems that I saved myself some Tylenol.

O.K. Let's try this again.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:08 PM  

@Ben - I am a dead-tree subscriber to the NY Times. I always do the puzzle in ink on paper. It's my puzzle and literal write-overs, on rare occasions even multiple write-overs, don't bother me. (Good thing, too, as today my Verizon DSL was out of order most of the day, not for the first time.)

TMI: I used to do the puzzle every day at lunch. Now the competitive spirit, the drive to be among the first 50 comments on Rex's blog, has driven me to shift to doing the puzzle at breakfast.

mac 4:26 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, great write-up, brilliant comments! Probably has something to do with my confidence getting a huge boost after yesterday's whipping.

I really did like a lot of the clues and answers, and had an easy time. Actually did the top half before the rest, guessing right with Sonia, Acorns, ESL and a ton. That made 16A appear, and the rest was history.

Enjoyed Josh White, poor man. Isn't it odd to have a town named after a dance? Good, another Etta.
We have an almost haha in our yard. Don't they build them in England to keep the cattle out of the flowerbeds without spoiling the view?

@Andrea: LOL as usual....

@Ben: daily dead tree NYT delivered to the door, done with Pentel Twist-Erase 0.9, newspaper folded in half, 0.7 in the Sunday Magazine. Across Lite for LAT and Crossynergy.

jae 4:36 PM  

On the easy side of medium for me. I scanned the clues as it was coming out of the printer and thought that no way could 4d be an astrology clue. I was wrong. Fun solid Fri. I liked all the 15s.

@Ben -- I do M-T in AcrossLite just to make sure I can still do the easy ones in under 10 (I average about 1 1/2 to 2 x Rex). W-S I print out and savor using a mechanical pencil.

Squeek 4:44 PM  

Andrea, If it comes to that I'm there for you babe.
Golf clubs are not the proper rescue tools for an Escalade.

SethG 5:32 PM  

Sometimes I do the Sunday in the actual magazine. Using a pen, a Zebra F-301. In general I use the NY Times applet, since I go to that site anyway to get the puzzle and it's less of a pain for me than downloading the file.

I'm relatively indifferent between the applet and Across Lite, which I use every day for the LAT. I do not use the mouse.

I'm young yet, but I have been to 48 states. Two years ago I stopped in 5 continents during a 9-month (and one hour) backpacking trip. But I've never been to London, and couldn't have told you that's where Waterloo Station is, so I need to get out more too.

miriam b 5:32 PM  

testing (too rushed to explain why)

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

t wrkd. 2 rshd 2 s vwls.

Ben 7:23 PM  

@Miriam, I hope you worked the Kinks out.

Thanks everyone for answering my user poll. I feel like Rex for a day. Next poll: what does everyone think Andrea Carla Hahas Michaels is wearing? :)

I use Across Lite and, like @SethG, do not use the mouse. (I happen to hate taking my hands off the keyboard and have memorized keystrokes, shortcuts, etc., both PC (home) and Mac (work), for Nearly Everything.) I found the non-mouse Across Lite experience a bit cumbersome at first, then realized that you can set the app to allow perpendicular moves with just one arrow press, not the default setting of two (1st changes dir., 2nd actually moves cursor). Now I fly through grids.

I used to print out the puzzles and solve them on my commuter train (45 min. ride twice a day), but eventually, in deference to my continuing inability to get within a month of real time New Yorker reading (i.e. always 3-4 issues behind), I started solving only on the screen so I could read on the train.

Exception was during a trip from Chicago to Ariz. last March. It was a few days after the ACPT ended and I was on a puzzle high from the tournament, so I passed up the golden opportunity to catch up on the New Yorker and instead printed about 20 Friday and Saturday puzzles from the NYT website archive for my cross-country plane rides. Had a grand old time even though the lady sitting next to me took one look at all the Merrells, Klahns and Berrys and decided I was writing in Swahili.

Ben 7:25 PM  

p.s. But I bet @Squeek likes the mouse.

Stan 7:42 PM  

@Ben -- Just weighing in: Dead tree, subscription (I really love
walking up my driveway to get it every day, first TTD after pouring
coffee). But also very easy to print out from NYTimes Reader app.

chefbea 7:55 PM  

@andrea LOL

@Ben LOL

Cant wait to move to NC and start using my golf clubs again!!!

miriam b 8:06 PM  

@Ben: Thanks, all is well computer-wise.

Cross-country plane trips are useful for assuaging New Yorker guilt, I find. I must make a point of doing more traveling.

Today Andrea is wearing a prison jumpsuit, swim fins and a feather boa.

chefwen 8:13 PM  

@Ben - I'm thinkin silk jammies and fuzzy socks.

andrea if the shue fits michaels 8:26 PM  

Am I allowed to nip this latest poll in the (taste) bud?
(Besides, @Miriam B totally nailed it!)

On a different note (please!) I think it was a fitting tribute for Jay-Z's bday that there were 3 black singers of sort of the same era:
JOSHWHITE, ETTA (Meton) and Leontyne PRICE javascript:void(0)
(Altho Etta Moten lived to 102!!! And look how close her name is to Motown!)
which has got to be a record for the grey lady...
Had they made the ROSA clue PARKS, then it would really have been some sort of sub-theme.

Anonymous 9:50 PM  

I am going over the limit just for YOU. I hang out at my local library's FREE table...often picking up "The New Yorker." Some of these appear untouched by human hands despite being several years old. All I can say is, Providence has decreed that I get THE "New Yorkers" I need at the very time I need them. "How We Age Now"--just as we confront my mother-in-law's decline. Too many other examples to cite....but, hey. These things have LEGS! I live in Arkansas, for Chrissake...I'm not headed to the next hot Broadway play. But wherever you live, there are serious questions about our lives, and the NewYorker essayist are helping us examine them.

I imagine you are agreeing! right?
Your OLD AS THE HILLS friend,
Elaine in Arkansas

edith b 9:52 PM  

My husband gave me a Netbook - what he calls my "crossword machine" and I take it with us to breakfast on Thursday mornings - the place is a hot-spot - and I use Across Lite except on Sundays when I print it out as I have done the Sunday puzzle for years on paper and, by G*d, I'm too old to change.

Whenever Mr Ashwood-Smith's name is on the byline I think: stacks of 15 which used to intimidate me until I learned more about construction ON THIS BLOG and my method of approach changed. I try to attack thru the short downs and get the long acrosses piecemeal and today that approach was particularly successful. It didn't hurt that we have several JOSHWHITE LPs and pretty much built the Midlands thru that one answer.

Jim Horne used to have what the called the Freshness Factor on his old blog before he got the NYT job and , I think, this one was as fresh as it gets as I don't remember seeing any of the six 15s before

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

ARGH. I am having arthritis hell and I SWEAr to you I hit the plurals and stuff when i typed that post. Shoot.
It's cold up here and that is not helping, so please don't tweak me for screwing up the typing. I'm grammatically sound if not rheumatologically.
If that is a word.
ehw Not very Anonymouse Elaine

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

ARGH. I am having arthritis hell and I SWEAr to you I hit the plurals and stuff when i typed that post. Shoot.
It's cold up here and that is not helping, so please don't tweak me for screwing up the typing. I'm grammatically sound if not rheumatologically.
If that is a word.
ehw Not very Anonymouse Elaine

mac 10:03 PM  

The boa is bright red or turquoise.

retired_chemist 10:26 PM  

@ Ben - re

"Next poll: what does everyone think Andrea Carla Hahas Michaels is wearing? :)"

At least a smile....

CoolPapaD 10:31 PM  

Loved it - easier than Thursday for me. Could never have finished without all I've learned on this blog!

Why is THE SHAH thumbs down, when BEATLES wasn't OK a few weeks ago??

jeff in chicago 11:02 PM  

52 minutes. I'll take it! Liked this. TAINTEDEVIDENCE fits where TRUMPEDUPCHARGE goes with 4 good crosses. (5 when you have EAT for ATE!) It took me a bit to fix that. Also wanted HYMN for AMEN (Amen is "music to a minister's ears"?) Was very proud of myself for throwing in LAUREATES as one of my first answers.

I'm almost always an Across Lite solver. The exceptions are when I know I have a long train ride to deal with. And I get to the puzzle through the link at Cruciverb.

And thanks for the JOSH WHITE clip!

andrea scarfla michaels 11:07 PM  

Always :)
(and a scarf to hide unsightly neck rings I've had since childhood) ;)
OK. kalle nykta!

Funny to think of Jay-Z, 40, and Rex growing up same time, with parallel lives, one week and one day apart...

Sexy Sonya 11:27 PM  

What am I wearing? We're all naked underneath our clothes so why does it matter?

Schmidtenor 11:35 PM  

I really dislike these puzzles that make such a heavy use of proper names. Is it a crossword, or a pub trivia contest? I did manage a complete solve today, but only by staring and staring at the 15's, coming back to the puzzle over the course of the day, etc. Of course if one happens to already know the literary/historical references, then it's duck soup. I sing opera for a living, and I could probably fill a puzzle with opera esoterica that very few people would be able to solve without resorting to Google. And I'm sure that other crossword hobbyists could do the same with their own fields of expertise. If that was the kind of challenge I craved, there exist any number of online trivia quiz's on a variety of topics. As I've said before, I don't mind learning about the occasional Hottentot prince or orchid genus, as long as I'm given a fighting chance via the crosses.

I'm new to the blog here, and have only recently come back to solving the NYT after a 15-year hiatus. So perhaps I simply have a mistaken preconception about what a crossword puzzle should entail. In my mind, it should be primarily a test of the English language, cleverly clued, puns, plays on words, etc. (Okay, if I have to know that EINE means one, auf deutsch; and that AMIS are my friends in Paris, fine.) There are 171,476 words in the OED, so I don't think ROSA Luxemburg, ETTA Moten or SONIA Ghandi need to find their way in to have an interesting puzzle.

sanfranman59 12:29 AM  

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

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

Mon 7:41, 6:57, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:43, 8:38, 0.89, 24%, Easy-Medium
Wed 14:43, 11:49, 1.25, 94%, Challenging
Thu 34:05, 18:57, 1.80, 100%, (Super-Duper) Challenging
Fri 26:41, 26:00, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:41, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:06, 4:26, 0.93, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:08, 5:49, 1.23, 90%, Challenging
Thu 15:26, 9:07, 1.69, 100%, (Super-Duper) Challenging
Fri 12:56, 12:25, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Ben 1:01 AM  

@Elaine, it's uncanny how often the New Yorker hits an issue of particular interest, sometimes (as you say) right when it's most relevant. And if you like old issues from the free table at your library, I have several shoeboxes overflowing with the past few years' New Yorkers that you're welcome to if you want them. I'm done with them but I love the New Yorker so much I can't bear to just throw them away.

And speaking of the next hot Broadway play (as you were), on Wednesday I will be fortunate to attend the opening night of The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, currently in an eight-week Chicago tryout en route to Broadway. It's getting mixed reviews but a lot of attention. More info, if you're interested, here.

Bill from NJ 1:33 AM  

When I was in college in the late '60s, reading Andre Malraux - in the original French, don't you know - was all the rage. Very different experience from La condition humaine to Madame Bovary, which was the first novel I read in French.

I guess the subject matter of Malraux made all the difference in those days.

liquid el lay 5:07 AM  

I buy the paper with singles and change from a person behind a cash register. The guys can never figure out the tax with any consistency, so I pay anywhere from 2.15 to 2.20 for my copy. Then I go to the local bar and solve in ink with the paper folded to a half page. I try to finish the puzzle in time to read some of the paper, which I hear is quite good. This plan works poorly as I generally do this late in the week.

Got some reading in tonight, though, as I had to take a break from the puzzle when I got stuck trying to ford the northern river.

Nice article on the alaia surfboard.

Finished the gnarly northern river when I got home.

DEFIANT breached the river, and LAUREATES allowed me to see the HILLS of the NE. From ASOLDASTHEHILLS on the north bank I COURSEd to the south bank, not quite OUTOFmyLEAGUE, and completed the puzzle.

This did not constitute a stagetwo deathtrap.

[william e- I also thought pahlavi was theshaw]

Bob Kerfuffle 7:21 AM  

@edith b -

The Freshness Factor is still there.

edith b 8:39 AM  

@Bob K-

Wow! I never noticed. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. It gives me another place to check for information.

Doc John 6:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 6:40 PM  

Finally finished it! 2.5 weeks later!
I know nobody is going to see this but I just had to say it out loud.

Stan 6:55 PM  

@Doc John: Good for you!! Persistence rewarded...

Shiek 1:01 PM  

New Year's resolution was to move on to NYTimes crossward from an easier puzzle. Having some trouble. What could have been my clue for the word "rome" for Juliete's cry or dish made with ham? I have never seen an entire word in a space in a crossword. There has to be some sort of hint that I am missing.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:33 PM  

@Shiek -

Welcome to the world of New York Times crosswords!

Having an entire word in one space is one form of rebus. At other times single spaces have been filled with solid colors, numbers, little drawings (like a dog or a diamond), notes of the scale, Greek letters, etc.

There are two clues or hints to look for to tip you off to the use of a rebus:

(1) It is Thursday or Sunday, or

(2) The answers just don't make sense otherwise!

Shiek 2:00 PM  

Thank you.

Waxy in Montreal 7:24 PM  

I was fortunate enough to see JOSH WHITE perform live at McGill University in the early 60's. Believe it was for a taping of an episode of the Canadian CTV folk music show "Let's Sing Out" hosted by his longtime friend Oscar Brand. Like many of my generation, I'd never heard of Josh White but his performance was superb.

Jim Brown 11:26 PM  

I'm a bit of a simpleton, but liked 43A "They come in packs". Not an easy puzzle for me, but a fun one. Learned about JOSH WHITE when I recently read a very good book "A Heartbeat and a Guitar" about Johnny Cash's "Bitter Tears" album, the Folk Movement, injustices to Native people, etc.

Long Beach Lee 2:54 PM  

Blog Editor:
Am I wasting time commenting? I do the puzzle 6 weeks after the NY Times publication. The blogs seem to have a time stamp time, but no date. Does that mean that the out-of-towners don't get to comment, or just don't comment.

slypett 1:05 PM  

Can't really answer for Rex. But some of us do read the late posts and often send comments back. So, carry on, Long Beach Lee!

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