Host of a self-titled 1990s talk show / FRI 2-19-10 / "The Broken Tower" poet / Oregon Shakespeare Festival locale

Friday, February 19, 2010

Constructor: Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Challenging for Wade

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "Edessa (ancient Macedonian capital) —
Edessa (Greek: Έδεσσα, Édessa, IPA: [ˈe̞ðe̞sa]) is the capital of the Pella Prefecture of Macedonia, Greece. Administratively, it belongs to the Central Macedonia periphery and is also the capital of the defunct province of the same name. With a long history stretching back to antiquity, Edessa is home to the Marketing and Administration Departments of the University of Macedonia."

--Wikipedia (of course)

(Gotta love that last sentence. From super-global to micro-parochial non sequitir in 1.2 seconds.)
• • •

Hmm. I can already tell Puzzlegirl's been working on this blog formatting. She's got it programmed so that it won't let me do two spaces between sentences the way God intended. It just jumps back to one space. That drives me nuts.

I'll take that up with her later. On to the puzzle.

Our constructor today, in addition to directing two classics of American cinema (man, I bet he gets sick of that), is a star of Wordplay and an Arkansas district court judge. It is therefore fitting that he get his comeuppance by being found guilty of the charge of ASSAULT (21D: Blitzkrieg) based on the brutality displayed in this puzzle.

This was supposed to be an easy day, wasn't it? All the hotshot teachers' pets are off in Brooklyn strutting around, probably trying to act all cool when Shortz walks by but just aching for a chance to speak to him ("Hey, nice pen you got there. Bic?" "Shut up, kid, don't bother me. And bring me more whiskey."), and we stoner losers who didn't make the cut were supposed to get to order pizza and watch a movie. Instead we got . . . this.

It's a fine puzzle, unassailable really. Just hard. I'm guessing it wasn't that hard for you. You probably saw 34A (Metaphor for a middle-class American) and "Joe the Plumber" probably came to you immediately.

Know what came to me immediately? Joe Six-Pack. That didn't fit. I got a few down clues in the end, saw _UMBER emerging, and any vestige of a Joe popped out of my head just as good ol' Bob Seger's "Feel Like a Number" popped into my head.

And. Would. Not. Leave.

My first pass through the puzzle yielded not much more than AGATES (33A: Cat's-eye relatives), the first E in ELIEL (16A: The senior Saarinen) because, like LBJ, all those Saarinens had a thing about having identical monograms among their family members (LBJ even named his dog so that he'd have the LBJ monogram: "Little Beagle Johnson") and ONE-A (8D: First to be called up).

That's fine, I've worked with less and still emerged victorious, and I knew there were a few that would come to me as the moment ripened. I could see in my mind 22A Sportscaster Collingsworth, the stretched-out guy who looks like Bob Saget (no relation to Bob Seger. Or Pete Seeger) after somebody's used him for tug-of-war, but just couldn't place his name (CRIS); I knew it would come to me.
The NE fell. The SE fell. I struggled in the NW (my favorite part of this puzzle), but finally broke through. That left the "Crayola color in a 64-crayon box" (30D: sepia), which I tried to make "siena," and all the SW, which was anchored by my intransigently wrong answer for 34A: "Another number."

At 46:11 I turned off the timer. Hours passed. I'll spare you the rest, but the main point is I failed. I googled the crayon, which gave me the P for plumber, and that got it done.

  • 1A: Male gopher (office boy) — Shouldn't that be "gofer"? I was trying to get "prairie dog" to fit. Crosswords make you stupid.
  • 10A: People travel only one way on them (T-bars) -- Nice clue for an old standby.
  • 15A: "The Broken Tower" poet (Hart Crane) — I was real proud of getting that one off the N. I see that Judge Fleming has taught "Law and Literature." I took a class by that name at UT Law School, taught by Getman. I'll tell you about it sometime off line.
  • 19A: Orlando's ____ Arena (Amway) — There's an Amway Arena? Before you go, do you have to meet at Denny's to hear a spiel about "an exciting business opportunity"? (I wasn't going to use my time here for self-promotion, but if they're going to tee it up for me. . . .
  • 52A: Weapon for Wonder Woman (tiara) — I had LASSO here for a long time. What did the tiara do? Probably something goofy as hell. The lasso made you tell the truth. I guess that's useful in some situations. But that invisible airplane was ridiculous, because you could still see her. It's not like the bad guys would have been afraid of an airplane. It's Wonder Woman herself who needed to be invisible, not her mode of transportation. "Oh, look, there's Wonder Woman zooming across the sky toward us in a seated position." "Well, at least she doesn't have an airplane, so we should be safe."
  • 37A: Host of a self-titled 1990s talk show (Rupaul) — Freakishly, I somehow knew that. I can't remember what Rupaul was all about. I'm picturing Rick James and Lady Gaga at the same time. The problem at "Another number" kept me from sealing the deal, though.
  • 46A: New range rover? (foal) — Since you asked, no.
  • 54A: When women may get in for less (ladies day) — If this were football, I'd use one of my challenges on this one. Ladies' night, sure. Ladies' day? Jiffy Lube gives women half off their oil changes on Wednesdays, I think, but I've never heard it called "ladies' day." One of you internet people out there can google it and give me the statistics. I'd do it myself except I'm working on this Fisher Price toy Mac computer and not a real machine and can't toggle quickly to another page without watching the Mac do all its little swirly dance moves just getting something off a screen. Using a Mac is like living in Austin. Sometimes you just want the fascinating waiter to bring you your damn coffee.
  • 11D: They have chocolate relatives (black labs) — I like that one. Probably because I got it off the last "a" and it made me feel smart.
  • 32D: Encouraging statement start (be assured) — Did not like that one. It got me singing "Home on the Range" while trying to think of something to do with bank statements.
  • 34D: Kind of appointment (judicial) — Nice. And apropos. (Except I think our constructor was elected. Probably by promising to be "toughoncrime." That's what it takes down here. It's not enough to be "tough on crime." It has to be one word.)
  • 43D: Offer? (slayer) — Bravo!
Rex and/or crew should be dropping in here or in the comments to let us know what's going down in Brooklyn. Until then,

I remain,

Your faithful servant, Wade

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


chefwen 3:09 AM  

Wade, I'm with you on the difficulty rating. I Googled, I cheated, and yet I failed. Had it about seven eights done (with my cheats) but ended up with a few holes in the southern California area.

The only LADIES DAY that I can think of would involve playing golf.

Eagerly awaiting photogs of the revelers. Jealousy abounds! Have a great time fellow Rexites.

lit.doc 3:46 AM  

@Rex, I am sooo glad you posted early (or late, whatever, as it’s 2:15 CST and I have to teach tomorrow). I sincerely hope you’re more effed up than am I, unlikely as that seems). My heart goes out to you re two spaces after a terminal period, the way MLA, or god (if there’s a difference), intended. Nothing to brag about here as will become clear, but on first pass I actually slammed in JOE THE PLUMBER. What a sad commentary on [fill in the blank]. Yes (citing two decades in Corporate America), it’s GO’FER. Me too re LASSO foreeever before TIARA, and LADIES DAY is total crapola, meaning no disrespect to Victor Fleming for an excellently brain-crushing puzzle. And Best Observation Heard In Ages goes to your “Using a Mac is like living in Austin”. Would be even more apt if Macs came with piercings and tat’s.

The only section I can really take credit for is NW as far as 20A SAN_. As to the rest, “google” and “95:36” sez it all. Credit in SE for FOAL, DRIVE TIME, and SPEEDSTER, but… Casualty report includes, but is not limited to: HAMS before WAGS, BOMBS before CARGO, COOL IT before HOLD, IN RE before ATTN (which abetted 21D ____WAR before ASSAULT), BLACK CATS before LABS (was thinking marbles from AGATES), and DERATES before RE.

Note to Will Shortz: the Thursday-to-Friday escalation shouldn’t be from bitch-slap to automatic weapons.

BTW, I thought it was “Sana’a”, no? Any history majors present?

lit.doc 3:47 AM  

@chefwen, GO TO BED!

chefwen 4:17 AM  

@lit.doc. It's only 11 p.m here. Still the shank of the evening.

Samolse - A Samosa gone bad. The great ones are at Leonard's on Ohau, you have to eat them in the parking lot while they are still warm.

chefwen 4:34 AM  

Wow, it is time to go to bed. I mixed up Samosas with Malasadas, DOH!
And me a chef, shameful! I will blame the lateness of the hour.

Nightly night all!

edith b 6:13 AM  

As a college girl in the 60s, I was in love with difficult poets and the poetry they created and what was more romantic than a depressed alcoholic homosexual poet with a penchant for rough trade who committed suicide by jumping off a ship in the Gulf of Mexico (body never recovered) on his way back to New York? That is a thumbnail sketch of HARTCRANE, whose last published poem was "The Broken Tower."

15A was a neon for me and jump-started my solving experience today and I raced out of the NW down the West Coast. I had an easy time of it in the South but I bogged down a little in my final quadrent - the NE - as I had TRAMS at 10A for the longest time but finally BLACKLABS disabused me of that notion and I was able to finish in surprisingly good time for a Friday. I'm not a solver who pays any attention to time, for the most part, but I finished in under 12 minutes for those people who do care about time.

Sometimes when I get off to a great start, it gets the juices flowing and today was one of those days but I really enjoy being able to spend a half hour or more on late week puzzles.

I'm sure @lit.doc or @fergus knows more about Hart Crane than I as my memories go back better than 40 years and my memory may be faulty but Hart Crane is reason number 315 Why I Enjoy Crossword Puzzles so Much.

Elaine 7:08 AM  

Hand up for spending AN HOUR on this puzzle, and coming here to get the final letter. I had ODESSA for the [Ancient Macedonian capitol, which was spelled 'capital' in the puzzle) and I just Would Not Let It Go. Rotates? Lorates? RORATES? Since I had no confidence in ODESSA, why couldn't I reconsider?

Unbelievably, I did not Google anything, just gradually worked this all out. Had to give up AGGIES for AGATES (really, now--don't YOU call them Aggies, too?)

Had to change ATTACK to ASSAULT, CALF to FOAL, WITS to WAGS, RINSING to TINTING to RINSING....and I totally agree on LADIES' DAY.

I'd feel proud of myself if (a) I weren't so beat up, and (b) I hadn't read Edith B's post about finishing in under 12 MINUTES!!!! The only good thing-- it will probably crush Vic Fleming's soul to find out that someone tore through his satanic puzzle like that.

I charge Fleming with cruelty to a Fellow Arkansan, and Thanks, Wade, for your sympathetic write-up.

tzedhon-- Ancient Macedonian torture device

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Wade- Totally agree with you on gofer.

One of the funniest write-ups of the year.

I have no recollection of RuPaul having a talk show. I wonder if he ever discussed crossdressing word puzzles?

lgw 7:54 AM  

hmm... i seem to have had a different experience with this puzzle than most people. easy NW thanks to the short answers that immediately clarified "office boy" (despite the misspelled clue) and "hart crane" (although for some reason i kept thinking of browning's wonderful "childe roland to the dark tower came"). the other corners came more slowly but surely, even though i had "primetime" instead of "drivetime" and may never have heard of a "rerate" or a "ladies' day". but what had me stumped was the middle, which nobody else has even mentioned! i can't say that "joe" the plumber epitomizes the middle class in my imagination, but the answer became obvious at some point; but WHAT is a "watusi"? is this some kind of dance? the cross with "wags" didn't help because i'm unfamiliar with the (apparently defunct) phone company GTE, and "cards" is hardly a gimme based on "_a_s". after staring at this for 5 minutes, i sadly checked rex's answers after having proudly cracked the excellent "offer?" (slayer) and "new range rover?" (foal) clues. oh well, there's always saturday.

lgw 7:59 AM  

wow, vindicated! i googled "watusi" and the first things that came up were references to "Bos primigenius taurus", a.k.a. a type of East African cow with amusingly large horns. worth checking out:

Elaine 8:01 AM  

Yes, the 'Watusi' was a dance...being a teen in the 60's means that sock hops and all manner of dance fads were part of the landscape. When you see The Beatles' early photos and realize that their hair was considered 'long,' you know Things Have Changed.

Bill from NJ 8:25 AM  

I guess that the whippersnappers (as @Elaine says) lack a frame of reference for things like the Watusi and the Bristol Stomp and all the dance crazes that epitomized the 60s.

I was also a teen in the 60s and the dance I remember the most was the Pony, which was the basis of all my steps to the "fast ones."

I like puzzles that are also memory pieces and I liked this one.

loingstl is my capcha right now, which I see as a Brooklyn-based beer, an irony for all the ACPT goers.

ArtLvr 8:41 AM  

SALUTE to all who got through this without help! I did most of it last night, but was left with the SW to finish. This morning I saw JUDICIAL right away, but finally googled for TIARA. The rest fell quickly.

Our local radio people have Morning Drive and Afternoon Drive slots, by the way, not just DRIVE TIME. And the "spots" on DICE are usually Pips, no?

Anyway, congrats to Victor for a lovely puzzle!


edith b 8:53 AM  

@ArtLvr re:PIPs-

You are correct, as far as it goes, but DICE was the answer, not the clue. The clue referenced faces and spots.

Efron 8:54 AM  

BEASSURED as encouragement? The only time I've heard BE ASSURED is "Be assured that if you keep doing that I will beat your sorry ass back to last week" Ah, drunk fathers, gotta love them.

It wasn't enough that I could dredge up that Wonder Woman had a magic lasso/riata/noose/about 20 different tries there, she had a magic TIARA too? What did it do, convert you from an hardened criminal to an Ice Dancer?

JannieB 8:59 AM  

Wade - we've missed your voice on this blog. Welcome back! Definitely a challenge - didn't know the poet and that held up the NW forever. Also left in "we assured" since waste/baste seemed synonymous with that clue. Oh well!

Good luck to all at the tournament!

Jim Finder 9:14 AM  

@Elaine - "Capitol" is the name given to the most important building in a capital city.

LASSO > RIATA > TIARA was the progression here. Wonder Woman in the puzzle now! What's next -- Watchmen?

32A "Dress down" is not a principal definition for BASTE and that bemused me for a long time, but the internet certifies it as OK for a Friday puzzle.


Judith 9:37 AM  

The two spaces after a period thing was only necessary on typewriters. With word processors,the program automatically adjusts the spacing for you according to the font specification. One of the first things I often do with copy I edit is auto-replace all the double spaces with single spaces.

I totally failed on this puzzles, esp. the SW. Felt better to know something.

jesser 9:42 AM  

Many many write-overs. I wants SLOpson at 14D for way too long. I slapped down bigbeND as the Oregon festival city and CuNY at 5D, all of which conspired to make a big mess that took a while to slog out of. A good workout, this one.

Like TREADLE the other day appeared magically in my brainpan, today it was WATUSI (which immediately put bigbeND out of the running next door).

I don't know my poets, so HART uRANE almost made the cut, but I just knew it Couldn't Be Right, which is what forced me to replace the u with a C (after contemplating a T? a P?) Slog. Slog.

And old horse-face sports announcer wanted to be ChIp for the longest time. Aaaarrrggghh.

In the end, it all came together, but there was much gnashing of teeth, and I now need an OFFICE BOY with BROWN EYES to fetch me some coffee. Of that, you can BE ASSURED.

Oh, and RUPAUL is a better American than that sap JOE THE PLUMBER any day. That said, given the choice between those two and a BLACK LAB, I'll take the dog and go for a long walk to get over this morning's brain drain.

Great puzzle, Mr. Fleming. Hilarious write-up, Mr. Wade (despite the Mac ASSAULT).

Boties! -- jesser

PanamaRed 9:50 AM  

Failed miserably on this one. Had MONTEL for RUPAUL - didn't know he/she had a show.

I remember going to Milwaukee Braves games in the '50s with my Mom on LADIESDDAY, when her tickets were half-priced or less. And, it was always for day games mid-week, no ladies night.

Joon 9:51 AM  

wade makes me laugh.

Stan 10:06 AM  

Grrr, I ended up with WITS and the famous ISHLAND Shakespeare Festival (Ishland is near Oshkosh).

Otherwise enjoyed this.

Fine write-up and a good excuse to catch up on Nutcracker Buck videos.

retired_chemist 10:11 AM  

Doable but not without difficulty. Hand up for slamming in JOHN Q PUBLIC @ 34A but ending up with two empty spaces at the end. Decided it would not be JOHNNY....

Had DECK @ 27A and IN RE @ 40A; made the Crayola KHAKI-colored and Kansas was thus FUBAR. For too long. Got the SE and NE. That gave me JOE THE PLUMBER, who straightened out Kansas.

CAPTCHA is decor - I thought they were not allowed to be words....

Went to bed (and turned the timer off) with the NW complete but knowing I had at least one error in the SW. Had 44A as TINTING and 39A as ODESSA. That made 37D ROTATES, which, at 10 PM with a cold, one can stretch to have some meaning in common with the clue. Spent the first who knows how long in bed figuring out what BEASTURED @ 32D really was. Got it, then went to sleep. Woke up and fixed the SW in seconds, so ended up with a time on the sunny side of 30 minutes. Unless you count in real time, i.e. include my nocturnal noodling, which would add up to about 9 hours.

Anyway, a nice puzzle. Loved BLACK LABS, RUPAUL (did not know about his/her talk show but certainly it would be in character), OSHKOSH (I like learning geographic trivia), and TIARA. I have seen TIARA clued that way a couple of times recently so it was a gimme. I don't recall it from the comic book. ELIEL Saarinen - there was a well known organic chemist named E. O. Eliel, so I can remember that with only a little prompting.

Anyway, thanks and kudos to Mr. Fleming, who I presume is not related either to Ian or to Ulrich. I think Ulrich spells it Flemming anyway....

mitchs 10:12 AM  

Love the image of of awestruck puzzlers and the dismissive Mr. Shortz. If I'm ever in that position I will certainly break the ice with the pen question. Great stuff.

Because Martin is probably busy at the tournament I will state without fear of contradiction, or being Martinized, that a gofer is NOT a gopher!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

I laughed out loud when I saw 1 A, "Male gopher." I wasn't laughing a half hour later when I saw, as Wade et al have pointed out, that what was meant was "gofer."

Just one write-over, CUNY before CCNY.

And now to leave the cozy confines of New Jersey to see if I can find the Brooklyn Marriott and claim my seven-hundredth place trophy.

(I have resisted posting capthchas until now, but, by golly, it's "troffi"!!!)

Le Faux Martinizer 10:22 AM  

Agree with all who complained about gopher, but

From :

go·pher    /ˈgoʊfər/ Show Spelled[goh-fer] Show IPA


1925–30; resp. of gofer by assoc. with gopher

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Double spaces: I'm with Rex; for me, they make text much more readable. A rest for the eyes.

JC66 10:27 AM  

Great write up Wade.

As one of the oldsters, I remember when all, then most of the major league baseball games were played at 1 or 2 in the afternoon and took all of an hour and a half to two hours to complete. Wednesday was usually LADIES DAY and Google tells me the first one took place in 1883.

Ladel 10:35 AM  

Anybody know why RP is not participating in the ACPT?

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

For whatever reason this one slid into place like a pair of comfy slippers. Success breeds appreciation but I did enjoy the lively mix of answers.
The misdirection must have been right on my wavelength and it was my fastest Friday in ages.
So happy to have you sitting in Wade! Always a breath of fresh air.
Baste gave me pause but thinking of lambaste made it plausible.
Ladie's Day made me think of horse racing perhaps?
Thank you Mr. Fleming.

lit.doc 10:39 AM  

@Wade, so sorry for my confusion re the write-up authorship. Haven’t been here long, so didn’t recognize your name. Come back often, please. And for the benefit of my fellow teachers who all looked blankly at me when I shared the “using a Mac is like living in Austin” comment (yes, I live in Austin, and yes, I thought it was hysterical), is there a coherent explanation of what you meant? Didn’t strike me as requiring any explanation at all, but I was tired of being stared at before nine a.m.

@edith b, under twelve minutes?!!! Wow. Have this one bronzed, and hang it in the study. I am as impressed as I am amazed.

@tptsteve, LOL re the crossdressing word puzzle.

@Igw, LOL re your entire post.

Ulrich 10:41 AM  

The best reason for the ACPT is to have Wade commenting (no disrespect to the king implied ).

When I first looked at the gird, I saw the United Way helping hands in the middle, but got disabused of that notion immediately when I ran into brick walls on all sides. And then Joe the plumber raised his head and I realized that the grid represented a section through the odor traps any plumbing fixture needs (hopefully installed by a licensed plumber!).

@ret_chem: You're right about the spelling--the two m's are a sign of nobility!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  


This puzzle should be burned in hell. "Joe the Plumber" is not a symbol for middle class America. "Joe the Plumber" is a symbol for ignorant descendants of the Know-Nothing party.

Martin 11:02 AM  

You seem to have figured this out by yourselves. Both spellings (gofer and gopher) are in every dictionary I looked in. "Male gopher" misdirected in a way "Male gofer" wouldn't. Both correct. One more good.

busby 11:17 AM  

@Martin It's true that they're in the dictionaries, but the dictionaries are just codifying mis-information. The etymology of gofer is universally attributed to eliding "go for", as in "boy, go for a coffee for the crew". Any relationship to gopher as a critter is just wrong.
Once again, correct clue, much justifiable hue and cry, at least among those of us who feel reference works shouldn't codify errors.

Two Ponies 11:35 AM  

@ Ulrich, As you have done in the past I believe you are correct in spotting the plumber's trap.
When I first looked at the grid I thought it seemed unusual. If you are correct it elevates this already clever puzzle. Thank you for your insight.

Martin 11:45 AM  

Language develops largely by the acceptance and codification of errors. "Pea" started out as an illiterate's error, not realizing that "pease" was both plural and singular. Educated people howled. But people kept saying pea. A dictionary describes what people write. It is not it's job to dictate what they write. Nor is it a puzzle editor's.

Everybody has different likes and dislikes about language. If we didn't agree that dictionary would determine our domain, the raw material for constucting word puzzles, who's likes and dislikes would we accept? Mine? Yours? Will Shortz's? If you think about it, there is no better way to handle the messy world of words.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

All seemed reasonable til I hit Sherlock. How does that yeild tec?

V. 11:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shred 11:51 AM  

@Anon 11:49 - Sherlock was a detective, and TEC is a '40s slang for a private detective.

V. 11:52 AM  

"Using a Mac is like living in Austin. Sometimes you just want the fascinating waiter to bring you your damn coffee."

Funniest write-up ever. (Or eever, as the word verification box is prompting me to type.)

And yeah, hard.

retired_chemist 12:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:07 PM  

Gopher vs gofer: See the Wikipedia entry for hapax legomenon:

"Atzei Gopher (עֲצֵי-גֹפֶר - Gopher wood) is mentioned once in the Bible, at Genesis 6:14, in the instruction to make Noah's ark "of gopher wood". Because of the single appearance, the literal meaning is lost. Gopher is simply a transliteration, although scholars today tentatively suggest that the wood intended is cypress."

Doesn't help re today's clue but the phrase "hapax legomenon" is SO COOL.

lit.doc 12:17 PM  

@Ulrich - holy crap, a plumber's trap! Didn't see that. Wow.

@Martin - you're entirely correct re the evolution of language and the descriptive vs. proscriptive role of dictionaries. But I took @busby to be objecting to the etymology being misrecorded, which is a different matter altogether. Not even the OED cares what a word becomes, but does care very much about getting right whence it came. That it has or may become common to say/write "gopher" is fine, so long as the record reflects the word's white-collar-office origin.

joho 12:27 PM  

Hard puzzle but I really liked it. The SW was the most difficult for me. I knew it couldn't be oDESSA but I didn't know EDESSA. Having rIAtA didn't help. Eventually that corner fell after much trial and error.

Wade ... you crack me up!

Thank you, Victor Fleming!

Elaine 12:37 PM  

@Jim Finder
Thanks for the capital/capitol differentiation. Now, did I just forget this? Or did I never know this? have I been putting the wrong word down for 55-odd years? Or did no one else know better and thus no one was able to enlighten me sooner? So many questions, so little time.

Hey, great photo; looks just like you!

I took typing in HS; it was not "necessary" to space twice at the end of a sentence, but it *was* customary. As a mechanical device, the typewriter would do whatever you made it do. I continue to space twice after the final punctuation at the end of a sentence, including when I edit documents and manuscripts. I agree with Anony 10:23-- it helps the reader, which is all the motivation I need to continue the practice. (Is this addressed in MLA manuals? Keyboarding tutorials? Now I'm curious...)

@Two ponies
Hmmm...I think Ulrich was characterizing the *contents* of the grid with that plumbing simile...

Blackhawk 12:41 PM  

Surprised and delighted to see this marked as challenging. It is actually the first Friday puzzle that I have ever completed in under 30 minutes. I got CRIS, AGATES, ISLAS and HAGMAN quickly, and was off to the races.

So have to say I liked this puzzle a lot, as it was difficult but fair with no oddball crosswordese. Good job, Victor.

bushwhacked 12:46 PM  

It's next Tuesday and I'm still working on this one. Nothing but my five gimmes first time through.

A man's got to know his limitations.

Martin 12:52 PM  


I haven't seen any dictionary get the etymology wrong. They record go-fer and then association with the existing word gopher. The listing cited here is an example. This is how we get eggcorns and mondegreens as well as new meanings for old words. It's a very natural part of language evolution. I agree if a dictionary got it wrong it would be a serious error.

Stan 12:55 PM  

Re: MLA Style on spacing after final punctuation

obertb 12:58 PM  

God forbid that Joe the Plumber should become a symbol of middle class America. Better, as @jesser said, Rupaul than that loudmouthed anti-intellectual lout.

Oh, the puzzle.... In my wheelhouse, I guess, as Rex says. "Beautiful, beautiful BROWN EYES, I'll never love blue eyes again." HARTCRANE, ELIEL, SANA, RUPAUL, ISLAS, DRIVETIME--near gimmes. Some stuff I didn't know, but all gettable through crosses. At around 30 min., about an average Friday for me.

@Bob Kefuffle: You can be thankful that I'm not headed for the ACPT; I'd give you one hell of a run for that 700th place!

lit.doc 1:22 PM  

@Elaine, I was going to say "see dead-tree, 6th ed., 3.2.12", but I see that @Stan got there first.

@Martin, thanks. I only have an American Heritage at hand, and they don't connect gopher/gofer at all. I incorrectly inferred from your exchange with @busby that some dictionaries were rooting gofer in gopher.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Классные мультики мультфильм на кинозоуне.
электронная почта без регистрации

slypett 1:34 PM  

I was warned (by OOXTEPLERNON, no less, even though, strictly speaking, he is out of his bailiwick) that today would be a tough one. Cravenly, I crawled to Auntie Google for advice. She gave me EDESSA, along with a ruler across my knuckles for not knowing it. I finished with shameful errors.

Judge Fleming, may you be overruled by Judge Judy!

fergus 1:36 PM  

ERRAND BOY is what really messed me up

Susan 1:39 PM  

I don't know about the comic book, but in the awesome 1970s TV show with Linda Carter as Wonder Woman, the tiara was like a boomerang.

One of the most famous verses of Gérard de Nerval is about "la tour abolie," so HART CRANE did not leap to my mind. Eliot quotes it; anyone know if Hart Crane is referencing Nerval too?

If it weren't for the Orgegon Shakespeare Festival and CRIS Collingsworth I would not have been able to start this puzzle! I ended with DNF anyway, stumped in the SW.

Tre_bor 1:48 PM  

Ladies Day was a staple for daytime baseball games ... when they still had them.

John from NC 2:05 PM  

Thank you for standing up for the two-space rule.

Shamik 2:07 PM  

14:12 for me, so I guess it's an easy Friday. LOL..maybe all the uber-solvers are already here in Brooklyn hobnobbing in 8 syllable words. Me...i'm sitting doing the puzzle online in room 422. Husband is out exploring. Have to now balance shyness with excitement. "How 'bout that Bic pen, Mr. Shortz?"

Great write-up. Fun puzzle for Friday.

RodeoToad 2:07 PM  

Speaking of the seventies TV show "Wonder Woman," this is the clip I meant to use for that part of the write-up. Rex has a thing for Betty White; I got a thing for Debra Winger. (You gotta watch at least til 3:45 to get the full effect.)

edith b 2:19 PM  


This goes back 40 some years and I am but an armchair critic but here goes:

It is hard to say about Hart Crane, Gerard de Nerval and T S Eliot. Both Eliot and Crane quoted Nerval and Crane had a love/hate relationship with the poetry of Eliot and also quoted Eliot as often as he disparaged his work. I can see where la tour abolie might confuse you but I am not sure if there a relationship between it and Hart Crane's title "The Broken Tower."

Perhaps someone other than an "armchair critic" may be of some help.

PlantieBea 2:19 PM  

Woohoo Wade, loved your write-up. This puzzle was a challenge for me. I needed one google for HART CRANE. Most of this one fell in the hair salon where I had TINTING and RINSING today. Ended with one error at TAGS/TATUSI; the incorrect T was the last letter I entered.

GOPHER as used may be in the dictionary, but I, not knowing, discarded the implied meaning just knowing it would have been clued as GOFER. And you know, GOFER in the clue would have been tricky enough.

Thanks for the challenge, Victor Fleming. Have fun, all of you at the tournament.

Charles Bogle 2:36 PM  

@shred: I'm sure you're right re TEC; but, I haven't seen it in stuff I've read by Chandler, Cain etc--always "dick" Fairfield County CT the best ice cream places are a small chain called GOFER...which we all guessed was let's gofer ice cream....had experiences similar to @chefwen and I hand't anything stronger than coffee. One hand up for Phil Simms besting CRIS C as football commentator...had POVICH instead of RUPAUL and had to cheat to see the error of my ways; alas, no idea who RUPAUL is...very clever, challenging puzzle...felt a lot better coming here and seeing I had good company--thanks Wade for great write-up and good luck!

slypett 2:52 PM  

Wade: Great clip! Thanks.

chefbea 3:03 PM  

didn't get to the puzzle til now. couldnt finish so I came here. Great write-up Wade.

Don't have time to read all the comments. Can someone explain why dress down is baste??? You can baste a turkey or can baste a seam in sewing.

@Rex and @Mac thanks for your play by play of the goings on

Rube 3:12 PM  

I spent over an hour on this puzz with several googles. Attacking the SW from the East I had stylING, (WATUSI and ASHLAND were gimmes), giving wEAllmake for 32D. Sounded reasonable to me, but sure slowed me down.

Googling "90s talk shows" gave me a web page titled "Talk Shows of the 90s". Rupaul was NOT one of the 40 odd entries. I'll contend dERATES is a better answer than RERATES for "downgrades".

All you guys having trouble with gopher/gofer would be completely lost with "Chelsea Speak" which gave us such terms as "put up your dukes" and "the raspberry". And then there are British crosswords...

Me? I don't see the connection between SLAYER and Offer?

Clark 3:13 PM  

@Judith -- If you ever copy edit out the double spaces at the end of my sentences I will make you put them back in. (@Stan thanks for the MLA policy.) I think text scans better when there is a larger gap between sentences than between internal clauses.

@mitchs, et al -- I scanned a bunch of dictionaries, and ‘gopher’ seems to be well established as a variant or slang version of ‘gofer’. It’s Friday after all. And @busby, this is a crossword puzzle not a get together of the turn-back-the-tide language police. (@Martin 11:45 -- well said.)

This puzzle was hard hard hard. I had to sleep on the NW before I got anything going up there. But FROWNS and CuNY got me OFFICE BOY, and I was able to finish without waking Lady Google.

Good luck Brooklyn puzzlers. Thanks Wade.

chefbea 3:19 PM  

@Rube If you slay some one you off him

SethG 3:21 PM  

A friend of mine's cousin, an AMWAY (or something like it) dealer, gave him a showerhead with some sort of filter that needed to be frequently replaced. He called it "the gift that keeps on taking."


jae 3:32 PM  

I think I made this tougher than it really was. BOYFRIDAY to ERRANDBOY to the correct ANS. BINS for BAYS, RIATA for TIARA, CUNY for CCNY, HITMAN for SLAYER, and TINTING for RINSING. Nice to see I wasn't alone with some of these. I got it all sorted out but it took a long time (no where near 12 min. edith b, congrats). And, thanks for the laughs Wade.

sanfranman59 3:37 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 30:40, 26:11, 1.17, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 17:49, 12:40, 1.41, 96%, Challenging

I don't know how to explain it, but I had one of my better Friday solve times on this puzzle and didn't need to Google at all. Very unusual for me on a late-week puzzle that's destined for the Challenging category for both groups of solvers. For whatever reason, I guess I was just on Victor's wavelength. Looking back at the puzzle now, I have no idea how I came up with some of the answers. But I won't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

I miss the link to the syndicated puzzle,it is nice to look into the futer though...


Anonymous 4:37 PM  

The future too

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

It's...there. Right there, at the top of the screen. It says "Syndicated Puzzle".

And if Rex hasn't had a chance to update the date, you can get there by, among other ways, hitting the [End] key on your keyboard and clicking [Newer Post]. One key, one click, one second.

illegal-E 5:04 PM  

@shred, Charles Bogle

I have read not only Chandler's and Hammett's mysteries, but moth-eaten books about Bull-dog Drummond and Charlie Chan. (My granny had them; she is also the one who infected me with the crossword virus.) NObody said, "Tec." I think it's a trick.

@Stan; lit.doc
Thanks for the link. I am glad to see that MLA gives us some leeway. I can tell you that my publisher did not give a darn, and since the text was put into PageMaker anyway, I think it may have been moot. I have the same take on the spacing as I do re prose in general--anything that impedes the reader's flow needs adjusting.

@ellens365;Anony 4:43
I think Rex relocated the link to the syndicated puzzle; if you looked in the usual (old) spot, I understand the reaction! I used to be in SyndicationLand....

proution-- a stuck-up ion?

Two Ponies 5:33 PM  

@ Wade, I really enjoyed your song and the film clips.
What in the world is @tariely 1:23 pm saying? The letters are lovely but I'm afraid to click on the links.

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

@ Two Ponies - Google translate says it's "Cool cartoons cartoon on kinozoune. E-mail without registering."

Kelly 5:52 PM  

@jae : i also had BINS for BAYS, RIATA for TIARA, CUNY for CCNY, and HITMAN for SLAYER! i even chuckled after writing in hitman. haha.

CommieIBanker 5:55 PM  

FAQ is "Frequently ASKED Questions"--they're full of answers, but that's the whole thing, not a part. Pretty sure that's an error.

OldCarFudd 6:01 PM  

Great write-up, Wayne!

I'm glad I read the comments about gofer/gopher before I griped here. I thought it was wrong; now I know better.

This excellent puzzle took me three separate sessions, and I still ended up with an error: HLS/LaDame. I couldn't think what HLS meant. When I saw the answer, I couldn't think how HMS applied to Prince Chucklehead, until I realized that Prince of Wales is the name of a specific British Warship.

Ashland was a gimme. My stepson lives there, and my wife and I have seen marvelous performances at the Shakespeare Festival.

Hand up for slops on and hold on. I knew watusi, although I wouldn't have a clue on how to dance it.

@Ulrich - great visual of the plumber's trap.

I double-space at the ends of sentences.

sanfranman59 6:05 PM  

@CommielBanker ... I don't think it's an error. FAQs always list both the questions and the answers. So the answers are only part of a FAQ. Tricky cluing perhaps, but within bounds for a Friday, imho.

babslesley 7:46 PM  

I insisted that 1A (male gopher) should be MANFRIDAY (a male girl Friday who is a gofer--get it?). 8D fit nicely as I also insisted that it's AONE and not ONEA. No wonder I was such a loser in the northwest.

I too am old school--a two spacer at the end of sentences.

Bill from NJ 8:13 PM  

I also learned to type in high school in the 60s and I just automatically double tap at the end of a sentence. I don't like things all jammed up, don't you know.

Susan 8:23 PM  

@edith b for the armchair Crane. I only vaguely remember Crane from college English. Interesting to hear of his fraught relationship with Eliot. I do want to read the Crane poem now!

illegal-E 9:04 PM  

I just LOVE the Comments section. Information, opinion, inflection, nuance, and just plain fun!

thanks, guys!

sanfranman59 10:06 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 5:58, 6:54, 0.86, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:53, 8:42, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:03, 11:54, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:15, 19:28, 0.78, 9%, Easy
Fri 32:25, 26:13, 1.24, 93%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:40, 0.89, 20%, Easy-Medium
Tue 3:59, 4:27, 0.90, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:43, 5:51, 0.98, 50%, Medium
Thu 6:44, 9:20, 0.72, 5%, Easy
Fri 17:06, 12:39, 1.35, 96%, Challenging

lit.doc 10:22 PM  

@illegal-E, just now finished the evening news-entertainment (MSNBC guy here) and read the late posts. Ya *gotta* feel the love for double-space following terminal periods, eh? ;)

p.s. at least get a fake ID, ok?

salo 10:52 PM  

Oscar Wilde said he could resist everything but temptation. This came to mind as I was doing this puzzle and counted about 12 clues that I could use Google to answer. This is mildly annoying. I don't like to have to summon the discipline to resist the temptation to use Google.

Anonymous 12:02 AM  

@illegal-E, Thanks, I didn't see the newly moved stuff on top. It is a bit dark. Otherwise it isn't so bad out here in the past.

mac 12:40 AM  

@salo: I have to give credit to Merl Reagle, but "Noel Coward is no Oscar Wilde"!
It's too late to comment now, but I will try to remember and figure out my notes first thing tomorrow. This was another lovely day in puzzle land.....
Wish more of you were here. Wade, love your write-up, and as usual, love your music and pictures.

Bob Kerfuffle and Shamik, please email me and we can get together tomorrow.

Unknown 11:44 PM  

Great write-up, Wade! It really made me laugh! Thanks for the comments about Friday's puzzle. I apologize for not posting Friday. I was surprised Friday when I downloaded the puzzle and saw my byline. I thought I had somehow opened an Acrosslite file from a documents file on my laptop. I could hardly remember the puzzle. It was submitted in late 2008. Over half the clues had been changed. I decided to solve it, the better to meet all the "I hate you" comments, which were legion at the ACPT! With help from Merl, Marie and Bonnie, I was able to finish the puzzle in 25 minutes! My clue for OFFICEBOY? [Gender-based employee title]. My clue for JOETHEPLUMBER? [Unlikely celeb during the 2008 Obama-McCain debates]. My clue for SPEEDSTER? [Punt returner, often].

Doc John 5:33 PM  

It's Wednesday and I just finished. With 2 mistakes. Enough said.

Singer 1:39 PM  

From syndiland:
Wow, what a slog. Took nearly an hour, and had three Googles to get there:
MADAME Sans-Gene, AMWAY Arena and HART CRANE. Had lots of write-overs: wit for WAG, errand boy for OFFICE BOY, CUNY for CCNY, praise for SALUTE, as to for ATTN, lady's nite for LADIES DAY, tinting for RINSING, paste for BASTE, lasso followed by riata for TIARA. Don't like JOE THE PLUMBER as exemplar for the middle class. I see him as representative of the worst of the blue collar set.

My company requires us to use one space after periods, and our Word template is set up that way. I dislike it, but have slowly adapted to following that usage. I like it better the other way, though.

Also, as an Oregonian, I like the shoutout to Ashland's Shakespeare Festival, which has received Tony's as best regional theater. Kudos to them.

Captcha is "ughto" as in "ugh to single spacing after periods".

Singer 1:42 PM  

That should by Tonys - have a pet peave about misplaced apostrophes [apostrophe's ;-)] so shame on me

JW 2:36 PM  

They make cents = YRS???

Ladies Day is very common in the golf world.

Waxy in Montreal 3:32 PM  

@JW - There's a period after the cents clue which I think makes it an abbreviation for CENTURIES - comprised of YRS. (Years).

Thanks @Wade for your CHALLENGING classification as this makes it the first Friday puzzle rated that difficult for which I didn't need Google. (Of course, @Rex would probably have made it an EASY-MEDIUM.) Off to do the WATUSI nonetheless.

Anonymous 9:55 PM  

Maybe it's just late at night - but I cannot see how "Offer?" begets SLAYER.

Ninja Warrior 10:05 PM  

@Anonymous - Read the comments, especially chefbea at 3:19 PM.

To "off" someone is slang for killing said one. Hence an "offer" is a killer or a slayer.

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