Releaser of 1921 in 1969 / FRI 2-26-10 / Tony's consigliere on Sopranos / Sci-fi smuggler / Target of Durocher's nice guys finish last sentiment

Friday, February 26, 2010

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ELKE Clijsters (3D: Tennis's Clijsters and others) —

Elke Clijsters (born January 18, 1985) is a former professional female tennis player from Belgium. Born in Bilzen, Bree, the daughter of Belgian football player Leo Clijsters (1956-2009) and sister of former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters (born 1983), she retired in 2004 because of health problems. She won the girls' U.S. Open doubles title in 2002 and reached a highest ranking of 389 on 15 September 2003. She played in the Belgium Fed Cup team in 2002, 2003 and 2004, losing all four matches, of which one was a singles match. [my emph.] In 2004, she reached the finals of two ITF singles tournaments, winning the one in Bournemouth. In the same year, she also reached the finals of two ITF doubles tournaments, of which she won one.

She married RSC Anderlecht footballer Jelle Van Damme on 31 May 2008 in Bree. They had they first child in 2009, a boy named Cruz Leo.

• • •

I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of love for this one from people who were excited to finish a Friday so quickly. This was my wife's fastest Friday ever, so I anticipate a certain amount of elation from people who normally struggle with Fridays. But I really, really didn't like this puzzle. I have hesitated using the word "hate" in recent years because it seems far too strong, but I can tell you that I *hated* ELKES so much that the puzzle was completely shot for me from there on out. How many ways did I hate it? Let me count. First, there is one ELKE. Her last name is SOMMER and she is legendary as both a sexy '60s actress and unsexy crosswordese. Nobody wants to see ELKE in a puzzle, but she's tolerable ... in the singular. In the plural? No. Why because (second ...) there aren't two crossworthy ELKES in the world. I invite you to (re-)read the wikipedia bio of ELKE Clijsters, above. Go ahead, I'll wait. . . . I thought that Craig HANSEN guy (relief pitcher from a few weeks back) was the biggest marginal nobody I'd ever seen in a puzzle. "And then along came ELKEEEEEEE!" Which brings me to point the third: You know how I said there's only one ELKE and her last name's SOMMER? Well, there's only one [Clijsters of tennis] and her name is KIM. This clue is ugly crosswordese, it puts someone with zero fame in the grid, *and* (most insulting), it tries to get cute by "tricking" us into thinking it's the (real) Clijsters of tennis fame. That's a big ball of stuff to hate right there.

Further, STANDOFF and [Stalemate] are synonymous. How in the world do you get to MEXICAN from the clue? As my wife asked last night, "What makes a STANDOFF 'MEXICAN?'" I think it involves guns and sombreros and a B-movie. Not sure. But I do know that whatever it is is not in the clue. Add in the absurd names of LAU (uncommon crosswordese) (40A: "The Art of Hitting .300" writer Charley) and SIL (WTF!?!?!) (47A: Tony's consigliere on "The Sopranos"), and you get a lot not to love. I can only guess that the puzzle came back from the test-solvers with Wednesday-type times and so ELKES and SIL and possibly a handful of other answers got the (absurd) clues they got to try to toughen things up, and maybe that gambit succeeded. But the puzzle became ultra-annoying in the process. Nothing about the fill felt fresh or original except MEXICANSTANDOFF, and the impact of that was blunted by a terrible, bland, vague clue. I see from the database that STAGEMANAGER (26A: One concerned with entrances and exits) and BOYMEETSGIRL (35A: Start of a traditional love story) are new too. First one is a bit blah. BOYMEETSGIRL is fantastic, but it's a lone bright spot today.

As for my solving experience — well my time wasn't nearly as fast as it ought to have been because of my MEXICANSTANDOFF with ELKES. Failed to do much in the NW and so went to where my eye seems to go naturally: pop culture, specifically the rather obvious clue for HAN SOLO (53A: Sci-fi smuggler). From there I went up and got BOYMEETSGIRL from the back end. Rode that over to the SW, where HISSYFIT (41A: A diva may throw one) (also original) and FIERY (42D: Very hot) opened things up pretty quickly. Then jumped over to the NE — where I took the (oddly obvious) HARD G (22D: What Greece has that Germany doesn't) up to TANTE (25A: Soeur de la mère) and worked my way in from there. Finished in the NW, which would have been a lovely enough section if ELKES weren't smeared all over it.

  • 1A: Releaser of "1921" in 1969 (The Who) — embarrassingly, I had No idea this was an song title of theirs.
  • 14A: Thing turned while speaking (PHRASE) — sometimes, I guess. A bit too cute.
  • 20A: Diet of Worms concern (HERESY) — "Diet of Worms" = always good for a laugh.
  • 23A: "___ Growing" (Temptations hit) ("IT'S") — Define "hit." Here, I'll give you examples of "hits": "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," "Get Ready," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Beauty is Only Skin Deep," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Cloud Nine," "I Wish It Would Rain" ... I'm getting tired, so I'll stop. Those are all "hits." But "It's Growing"!? Maybe this is ELKE Clijsters favorite Temptations song (though, to be fair to "IT'S Growing," IT'S a lot more legitimate as an answer than ELKES could ever hope to be).

  • 52A: Cell assignment (NUMBER) — I thought "cell" referred to prison. Wife thought it referred to a spreadsheet. Then I realized it's probably a phone. A cell phone.
  • 1D: Band member with a bent neck (TENOR SAX) — Wanted VIOLINIST. Don't like the instrument-as-member. The Saxophonist is the "member" of the band.
  • 4D: Cause of fitful sleep (WORRY) — wanted APNEA.
  • 6D: Target of Durocher's "Nice guys finish last" sentiment (OTT) — Durocher was the FIERY manager of (most notably) the Dodgers and Giants of the '40s and '50s. Mel OTT was the guy God invented to go in every other crossword ever made.
  • 9D: It ended in 1806: Abbr. (HRE) — Holy Roman Empire. Wife (historian) was proud to have gotten this off just the "E." I did the same, though only through some kind of crossword reflex and not because I know much about history.
  • 50D: Utah Stars' org. (ABA) — Utah Stars are memorable only (as far as I can tell) for signing Moses Malone as a high school student. They won the ABA title in 1971 under the leadership of the awesomely named Zelmo Beaty (there are no typos in that name, despite appearances).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 7:56 AM  

I usually start ANYwhere BUT the 1A/1D clues, but this puzzle did not offer me any traction: it only had two fill-in-the-blanks, neither of which I knew. Popular music/French; just swell! But this time, TENOR SAX went in at once, and I was just mowing things down. Loved the clues for SCHISM, PALETTE, and CHEATED.

I had ECOSPHERE before ECOSYSTEM--that SW was slowing me down until I finally realized I was reading the wrong clue after misreading the numerals at 41D. It was way past my bedtime, so this morning I returned and corrected and completed that corner in 10 seconds.

Which left the NW. Anyone else try APNEA for 4D? It's the first thing I think of. Guessed SANSKRIT, actually knew HERESY, realized 4D was wrong....finally Googled "1921"--the first answer that came up was from another Xword blog! THE WHO... Since I consider any Googling a Fail, I went ahead with 2D, which allowed me to complete the puzzle, still feeling, well, puzzled by ELKES. NO "Clijsters" hits for Elke on Google, BTW. Agree with Rex: KIM is the only fair Clijsters-clue.

Most painful miss: 6D. Mel OTT *used* to be my go-to baseball answer! Note to self: watch out for Josh Knapp.

Eric Berlin 8:13 AM  

"1921" is not an album -- it's a song from Tommy.

Blackhawk 8:14 AM  

Totally disagree w/ this analysis. If people have an easy time w/ this Friday puzzle then ipso facto there is nothing wrong with Elkes and Sil. They are inferable from the crosses. They are part of the crossworders' journey of discovery.

Personally I thought this was a great puzzle, with lively clues and no bad fill. Always great to be reminded of the great hitting instructor Charley Lau, "cell assignment" for number was clever; and cab ride / hoof it combo were nice. Bravo to the constructor.

John 8:15 AM  

The bottom half was Easy, the top half was screwy.(ELKE Indeed!)

Mexican Stand off is an in the language phrase. I had no problem with it. That and Stage Manager popped right in with only a few crosses. Had alot of trouble with BoyMeetsGirl for some reason.

The puzzle was still a fun solve.

My Catchca was ETABUNA. Sounds like an Upscale hotdog stand!

Jim H 8:20 AM  

1A "1921" is an album? I know it's a song... The third song on "Tommy", after "Overture" and "It's a Boy".

Have to agree on ELKES. Yech.

I first heard of MEXICAN STANDOFF from an episode of Get Smart. Max and the Kaos villain take turns pointing out the series of guns, each trained on the previous, and point out that nothing will happen. Then, after a series of gunshots, Max says, "Of course, all it takes is one wise guy."

joho 8:26 AM  

Thank you @Rex for a spot on write-up. I floundered in the NW, had "dream" before I got WORRY but managed to sort it out with a error free solve in the end.

It's always nice to finish a Friday but that's about all I can say. Did anybody else think "It's often taken down Broadway" a weird clue? CABRIDE? Seems so random and made up to me.

PALETTE was nice.

Kurt 8:29 AM  

I'm with General Parker. ELKES and SIL are horrible. Both the clues and the answers. Knowing that the answer to 47A was SILVIO, I started thinking Friday rebus??? Maybe a better clue would have been "Ton's consigliere on the Soprano's".

I also thought that this felt like a Wednesday puzzle with a few tricked up clues.

Enjoy the weekend.

Jeffrey 8:44 AM  

Speed of solving is irrelevant. This was a fantastic puzzle. Period.

Elaine 8:46 AM  

The therapist always addresses Mr. Soprano as "Anthony." Tony is a nickname, thus SIL is justifiable. Not pretty, but fair enough, given the universal recognition factor for the TV show, IMHO.

@Jim H
Thanks--perfect illustration. Would you believe...I still miss Maxwell Smart?

I thought it was a good puzzle... just had more popular music clues than I could cope with. (Scowl.) Can't call it easy if I couldn't finish it, so I won't.

jesser 8:47 AM  


Maybe I'm grumpy because I wanted to sleep late, but the cat had other ideas for me. He's a 20-pound affection slut who digs his (mercifully) clawless front paws into my arms when he wants to be petted. Time has no meaning to him. His name is Adonis, but this attention-seeking habit is not his most beautiful feature.

So I came to the puzzle grumpy. The NW gave me zero traction. My first fill was OR ELSE, followed immediately by PHRASE, which led to the quick demise of the NE. CHRISTENS and HARD G gave me traction to enter the middle, where STANDOFF stood by itself for a while. I'll get to that later. The clue for 'FRAID SO was perfect, so that fell in, which triggered CLUELESS and the SE was toast in short order. (Quibble: Are FLUTES really a whole section of an orchestra? I thought strings and woodwinds and percussion were sections. But FLUTES? Me no likey that one.)

BOY MEETS GIRL (you heteros get all the love) went in quickly, as did HISSY FIT, and we were off to the races in the SW. Never watched the Sopranos, so SIL was new to me. Loved the clue for CRIBS. The cross-reference at 12 and 27D gave me the brothers GIBB, which gave me the I in what would eventually become MEXICAN STANDOFF.

Really? I live 25 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, and less than an hour's drive from Ciudad Juarez, which is arguably the most dangerous city in the world today. It was not always so, and I have fond memories of it that I much prefer to its present-day reality. MEXICAN STANDOFF: I have never heard this phrase. I plan to call Mr. Significant Other at a decent hour and ask him -- a Mexican national -- if he knows the phrase. I didn't like it one whit.

I hated the NW for all the reasons Rex so aptly described. PEEL OUT and TENOR SAX were my entry points, after staring a while, and the rest of it came grudgingly and with many snorts of indignation. I gotta admit SCHISM is a cool word, but that is my only love up there.

There is a good chance I will drive to Hobbs, N.M. today. My son will have to appease the giant cat.


Teditype (the arduous act of typing at 6:44 a.m. on a vacation day) -- jesser

Martin L (No, not that Martin) 8:52 AM  

More SCHISM in puzzles, more HERESY please! Crossing them is just Great.

Captcha feratio - Stereo typical Japanese misspronunciation of, well, you know?

SethG 8:53 AM  

I've never finished a puzzle and had so little idea why so many of my answers were right. SIL and LAU were just random names, but I didn't know about the Diet of Worms, a SPORE case, I assume CRI is French for shout, HUIS is random French, TANTE is random French that turns out to be entirely unrelated to the bottom of the sea...

There's a juniors tennis player named Amandine HESSE, and her father and coach Yannick was ranked 488 in the world. Watch out for HESSES!

I tried TROMBONE because I do not know my musical instrument parts, and HINDUISM because I am stupid.

edith b 8:53 AM  

Tommy was my favorite album when it came out, although pretentiously caled a "Rock Opera, I listened to it throughout my junior year at college. "1921" was a song from that album.

THEWHO was a neon for me and I got TENORSAX without further crosses. Ironically, the X brought MEXICANSTANDOFF to mind immediately and I don't know from where. I was off to a great start but it was a bit of a slog from this point forward.

I don't often cry "foul! at a clue, figuring just because I don't know what it is, doesn't necessarily make it unfair - one persons WTF is another persons gimme, is how I look at it but ELKE??!! I agree with Rex on this as it is beyond misdirection. Only a hard-core tennis fan would possibly have heard of her and a doubt that a majority of them knew who she was. Couple that with another misdirection crossing it - the DRAG clue - made the NW a real problem for me.

The South was another problem as I tried to shoehorn PARADE into 48A but once CABRIDE presented itself, I was able to finish that area and move into th NE where the puzzle had it last stand.

I spent 45 minutes on this puzzle but, for the most part, I didn't enjoy the time I spent on it. It was a combination of rapid filling-in-the-blanks and a lot of staring.

lit.doc 8:57 AM  

I can live with one google and most of an hour on a Friday NYT. Had easily—no, strike that, it wasn’t—had at least two-thirds done in half an hour. But NE just wouldn’t yield. Finally googled 7A with _CH__B, which also filled 14A _HR__E, and done. Yikes.

I have issues, for lack of a better word, with a couple of the answers, though not legitimate grievances unless someone else makes a better case than I can. Yeah, I know, it’s a Friday NYT, but hey. ELKES? The freaking sister of a tennis star? And “1916”? Yeah, I listened to it like a bazillion times, but I was soooo stoned. Took ages to get that synapse to fire from such a thin clue. And having Yeats’ “Easter 1916” in more recent memory didn’t facilitate solving at all.

BEEGEE from a clue that seems to ask for one of the bro’s names, on the other hand, was brilliant, in an evil sort of way. Ditto “Participate in drag”. As always, wish I knew who do clue.

And I am soooo glad I didn’t have to figure out 6D. I do hope someone explains that one. Back after I get the KIDDOs, or KIDDs, or both—whatever—to work and have time to read Rex’s write-up and the morning posts.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

@SethG - HINDUISM wasn't stupid, I never understood how Avatars went from being the different manifestations of Vishnu to little pictures of flying pigs.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:01 AM  

I actually really liked this one, aside from the clunkers already mentioned. I think what did it for me was that a lot of the medium fill was interesting, which held my attention in the corners.

I do tend to agree that MEXICAN STANDOFF should have been given a better clue though. [It may come before a mass firing?]

edith b 9:01 AM  

Does anyone else get the error message "The word verification does not match" when you took pains to make sure that it did? I like to Preview my response before I post it and I always get that error.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Unlike RP, this puzzle and I were against each other all the way. Unfortunately, I lost.

I had tons of problems. No traction at all; wanted DRESSUP for 13A; mummy for 7D; and even tried BUOYEDUP for 18D. It was just plain ugly. Am I correct that a gull is slang for someone who's been taken?

I've never heard of a rocking CRIB as in 36A; cradles do though.

I did like that Heresy crossed with Schism- nice touch of European history.

jesser 9:05 AM  

This comment was previously sent, but never made it, and so I rewrite.

I laughed out loud and spit caffeine-laced beverages, @Martin L. Thanks for sharing that captcha!

I forgot to mention that I loved 24D, because it reminded me of some cartoon -- Bullwinkle, maybe? -- from my (misspent) youth. Anyway, the cartoon featured the line, "What's this? FAN MAIL from some flounder?" I cannot tell you why that makes me grin, but it does.

Grumpy mood subsiding slowly.

Poler! (honest, and I Have No Comment) -- jesser

ArtLvr 9:17 AM  

Tickled near to busting a rib at Rex's write-up! LAU a low blow, and ELKE(s) not STEAMY at all, etc. CLUELESS, I had a HOO? FIT, following upon my HISSY FIT.

What did i like? My hometown CHI, and Lewis Carroll's birthplace of the grinning CHESHIRE cat fame.

I also was inspired by the HRE clue to go back to the havoc wreaked on Europe by the excesses of the French Revolution and then Napoleon's wars of aggression and seeming defeat, the Congress of Vienna reconstructing their world in 1814-15 and having to deal with FOE Napoleon popping up again!

HAUNTing period of history, and should probably be called the real First World War -- so many thanks to Josh Knapp for that inspiration!


mitchs 9:18 AM  

What the heck's wrong with ELKES when crossed reasonably? This was a great puzzle with interesting entries, nice misdirection and for me just about the right toughness for a Friday.

Besides, HISSYFIT should easily overshadow what some perceive as clunkers.

jesser 9:22 AM  

New photo shows giant cat sitting under regulation 8x4 Kyther pool table. For anyone who may have doubted the size of this critter, I offer this evidence. And now, I am going to go have breakfast. Some STEAMY menudo sounds pretty good.

Calized! (Think back to yesterday and this is what happened when you hit the lottery) -- jesser

Three and outta here.

CoolPapaD 9:31 AM  

I am MAD! I would have had an error-free Googless Friday if not for that DAMNED ELKE! It's my own fault, of course; had I spelled SANSKRIT with the K instead of SANSCRIT, I'd have prevailed, so I blame myself instead of Josh Knapp.

I really did like this one overall! 'FRAID SO. Favorite = clue for OBESE.

From my sometimes faulty memory, it seems that Tony always called Sil Sil, never (or rarely) Silvio, and as Elaine noted, Sil is legit because Tony was clued - easy enough for a fan. When Sil took care of the Adriana problem - one of the BEST Sopranos moments EVER! I watched that scene countless times!

Bill from NJ 9:33 AM  


Mel OTT was a baseball player for the New York Giants in the 30s and was universally known as a nice guy among baseball writers. Leo Durocher was an opposing manager who was a wellknown SOB in baseball circles. He was tired of hearing what a "nice guy" Mel OTT was when he made that comment.

Howard B 9:36 AM  

In agreement here as well. I really enjoyed most of this puzzle, until the top. ELKE was clued in such a way that it took half of my solve time to decode (in addition to HUIS). I'm generally pretty lenient in my criticism, but when you have as much chance to get a word as if it were clued "The name of your aunt's best friend's neighbor, I think...", then perhaps it's a bit obscure.

Other than that though, it was a pretty nice puzzle :).

HudsonHawk 9:40 AM  

Put me in the "liked it" camp. But then my first entry was LAU, and I have a good friend named ELKE. As mitchs said, it was crossed reasonably, so I don't understand the hate.

Lon 9:44 AM  

Hysterical! Best write up in long time. Ditto, like 90% of your commments, so I won't bore folks by repeating.

mac 9:55 AM  

It wasn't just poor Elke who messed up my NW: apnea and sentinel for sanskrit were just as much to blame.

Looking back over the grid now, there are lots of great answers, like hissy fit, clueless, boy meets girl, rip out (perfect for carpet!) and 'fraid so.

Rock crabs, anyone? We're trying to fly to Naples, FLA tomorrow. May have to wait until Sunday if the snow keeps up.

wv: ate droil. Rude.

PlantieBea 10:01 AM  

Laughing after reading Rex's write-up on this one. The NW was troubling for me. I was relieved to get HESSE, THE WHO, CLOSERS, and PEEL OUT, which left me set up for the fatal error of SAN SERIF, ELEES, and OTF--a true WTF.

A few false starts including SAL or SYL for SIL, and TAXI CAB for CAB RIDE. Favorites were BOY MEETS GIRL, CLUELESS, and of course, HISSY FIT.

Matt Gaffney 10:09 AM  

Not sure what the objection is to SIL -- a major character on the most famous show the 2000s is fair game in my book.

ELKES aside, this is a beautiful grid. I wish my name were on it.

VaBeach puzzler 10:10 AM  

Re 36A: Do cribs rock? I thought only cradles did that ... unless this refers to cribs as digs for rockin' young people.

chefbea 10:11 AM  

Really did not like this puzzle. Took forever to get started and then had to google a lot and finally gave up and came here. Did like means of reaching the stars.

Am spending my birthday at home watching the snow. Was suppose to go to lunch and dinner but we are snowed in. Good thing we aren't moving today

@mac hope you make it to Fla

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

"This one’s a winner." -- Amy Reynaldo

Ulrich 10:20 AM  

@SethG: I'm as stupid as you.

I knew "Mexican standoff" b/c our cats, in various pairwise configurations, engage in same on a daily basis as per non-puzzle wife.

I'm with those who liked much of the fill, and some of the clues, too. And the ELKE clue is so outrageous that it becomes good again, from the other end, so to speak, IMHO

babslesley 10:22 AM  

I finished a Friday in decent time (45 minutes). Yeah. Don't rain on my parade.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Knowing tha KIMS would not fit in 3D, I tried daneS, despite the fact that Clijsters is from Blegium. SANSKRIT helped to eventually clear that up.

I follow women's tennis enough to say that ELKE Clijsters is way obscure.

Mel Ott was a great hitter from the late 20s to the 40s, hitting 511 home runs back when that meant something - in fact he was the only National League player with over 500 home runs until the 60's.

He was well-known as a gentleman, which was the exact opposite of Durocher's in-your-face style, and the quote was in reference to the fact that the Giants were often last under Ott's tenure ('42-'48).


Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Should have read '....Ott's tenure as player-manager ('42-'48)'.

addie loggins 10:26 AM  

This puzzle was very hard for me, but I thought a lot of the clues/answers were fun and creative (e.g., CABRIDE/HOOFIT, GIBBS/BEEGEE, BOYMEETSGIRL). I was not able to crack the NW, however, and can console myself now that it must have been that damn ELKE.

As I was telling someone (Rex?) at the tournament last weekend, my very favorite moment in solving a crossword puzzle is when I get two accrosses and see that they make a pair of letters that cannot possibly be right for the down, and when...voila, it's right after all. Had that experience with the DC created by MEXICANSTANDOFF and BOYMEETSGIRL... loved, loved, LOVED realizing that the differnce between Greece and Germany is a HARDG.

addie (a/k/a/ PuzzleSister)

andrea is it me? michaels 10:31 AM  

Personally I like it when @rex throws a HISSYFIT, so I thank all the many ELKES for that!

Bad sign when folks would rather talk about their captchas than the puzzle.

Maria and I named about 20 Temptation songs without hitting on that thanks for the clip!

OK. So, we have a SCHISM here...some loved this puzzle, some hated it...Guess it's a MEXICAN STANDOFF.
(That would be a GREAT entry for a themed puzzle, no?)

LOVE "Get Smart" and saw it for the first time in years and years and years a few days ago
(As I don't get cable at home...ahhh, home, if I ever get back there!) and it was the Mexican standoff episode which I'd never seen and it was so bizarre...Max was talking like Humphrey Bogart the whole time and it was like an entire movie...must have been crazy expensive to film...and every type of old cliche Mexican stereotype you can imagine...quite bizarre and ambitious.

Nice musical theme to this puzzle: THE WHO, the Brothers Gibb (twice!), TENOR SAX, FLUTES, a little Temptations, and Greene would love all the Bdway refs: HOOFIT, the musical plot of BOYMEETSGIRL), STEAMY NUMBERs, STAGEMANAGER with a good HISSYFIT thrown in.
I'd give the puzzle an 18. Nice beat and you can dance to it!

Now will try and face this snow one last day to get to a lunch that I hope Dan Feyer shows up to!

JayWalker 10:41 AM  

Yep! Finished all BUT the NW in short order and was happy with it all. I've long been familiar with the phrase "Mexican Standoff." Rex: your jes too young.
As for the NW. Mr. Knapp: There's misdirection and then there's B***S***. Not all of it, but let's face it - most of it.

lit.doc 10:43 AM  

@Rex, thanks for sharing your well-informed umbrage. I feel lots better about my own. I mean, it’s bad enough that I still have to struggle as hard as I do without constructors throwing crap like that at me. BTW, your felicitous “irrefutable contiguity” is the most marvelously literate turn of phrase I can recall seeing in the blogosphere. Not so sure, though, about today’s “BOYMEETSGIRL from the back end”…

@Elaine, 4D woulda been a “gimme” had I arrived there Acrossless.

@Jesser, me too re the FLUTES clue. They reside in the woodwinds section, of course.

@edith b, I once saw an interview with Roger Daltry in which he remarked “I can hardly believe we got away with calling [Tommy] a rock opera”. BTW, the captcha generator runs on a timer, but doesn’t refresh your screen when it changes the word thingy.

@Bill from NJ, thanks for explaining that. I was familiar with both men, but was clueless re the connection.

slypett 10:46 AM  

The NE came on like...well...a nor'easter, but the rest of the land was calm, though cloudy--not a breeze. Gradually, the skies cleared and sunshine reigned from sea to shining sea.

Anytime you can cross SCHISM with HERESY. you've got a winner. I remember studying the Diet (pronounced dee-et) of worms in a college history class. HISSYFIT always gives me an internal giggle. A MEXICANSTANDOFF occurs when you have two (or more) guys with guns pointed at each other. Why it's MEXICAN is anybody's guess. Maybe it referred, originally, to an event during the Mexican Revolution(?).

Stan 10:54 AM  

I really enjoyed this one throughout. Nice misdirection and fresh surprises in every corner. I'm not discounting Rex's opinion here, just not sharing it. Congrats to Josh Knapp.

In movies, the term "Mexican standoff" (with two or more characters pointing guns at each other) is most closely associated with Hong Kong action director John Woo and referenced by many others, notably Quentin Tarantino in "Reservoir Dogs."

Joel 10:54 AM  

Really? This puzzle is getting so much hate because of a couple of words that are fairly crossed? SIL and ELKES are ugly, but no harder for me than any 1980's actress clue that would be a gimme for Rex. I think that if the payoff wasn't there, I would dislike this puzzle on the basis of those two words but FANMAIL, HOOFIT, BOYMEETSGIRL, THEWHO, FRAIDSO, and practically all of the medium fill are payoff enough.

J-Dub 10:56 AM  

If you're not familiar with MEXICANSTANDOFF, you're not watching enough Tarantino movies. (Or Sergio Leone movies, for that matter.) In fact, I think there's a conversation in Inglorious Basterds about what qualifies something as a Mexican standoff. If I remember right, the main criteria is that everybody involved is bound to die.

Puzzle was maybe my quickest Friday ever, thanks to STAGEMANAGER and BOYMEETSGIRL somehow being the first two things I put in the grid. (With an assist from the ECO in ECOSYSTEM.) So I can hardly fault it for one or two pieces of crosswordese.

Glitch 10:58 AM  


Think gull as in gullible
Wiki has an entry for Mexican Standoff, "see also's" are Polish Parliment and Mutally Assured Destruction.

@jesser - per above, phrase may be Australian not Mexican, in origin.
SIL is as valid as APU and MOE


PS: @edithb

Don't bother to enter the captcha when you preview, it will change each time, ignore the error.

Enter the one showing just before you post.


hazel 10:58 AM  

Loved it!!

I also totally don't get why SIL is so much more horrible than APU or OMAR from The Wire? Iconic characters all. One of the first answers I wrote in.

Like the SCHISM/HERESY crossing also, @ArtLover, and the other paired clues too. Thought the puzzle had a lot of zing. ELKES - got it through crosses, as I regularly do on Fridays and Saturdays.

Thanks for the inside info on OTT/LEO @NJ Bill!! All of the baseball references totally ROCK!! Pitchers and catchers have reported!! Go Braves!!

@EdithB - I often (always?) have to type in WV twice as I like to preview too.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Put me in the "liked it" camp.
I thought the slangy answers were all fresh and in the language.
Before getting some crosses I thought the difference between Germany and Greece might be a
Long E.
At first I agreed with tptsteve about the crib v cradle point but I think VaBeach might have the right idea since this puzzle has a very modern feel to it.
@ edith b, I think the word verification thing has a timer on it and if your preview takes too long you have to try again.
Thanks Josh Knapp for a fun Friday.

poc 11:04 AM  

Rex's HISSYFIT about ELKE made up for the spectacularly obscure sports clues we usually have to put up with. The fact that this ELKE is just as obscure is simply sweet irony :-)

I liked this puzzle. Finished in about 20 minutes (despite not knowing ELKE).

Sarah 11:14 AM  

I got SANSKRIT right away, but had LUTHER instead of HERESY, since Luther really was the main topic of conversation at Worms. That slowed me down a lot. Didn't even know there was an ELKE Clijsters, and just guessed it when I kept looking at EL_E. I don't understand PEELOUT for "Participate in drag" at all; I had DRESS UP (which, I suppose, says something about my cultural references). This wasn't hard, but it was annoying and actually required much more googling than usual.

retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

I felt like a postman, just putting a bunch of letters in various boxes. I think the puzzle must have been better than my experience of it was.

Hand up for ECOSPHERE (and consequent HAL @ 47A), APNEA, TAXICAB @ 43A.

WTFs for ELKES, HUIS, SIL, and more.

Eventually got it all with no googling, but not much joy either.

OldCarFudd 11:23 AM  

I had never heard of this Elke or of Huis (which I believe means house in Dutch and Flemish, but I've never heard of it in French). I don't know much about The Who. Nevertheless, I got them all from crossings. I thought the rest of the puzzle was brilliant! Mexican standoff, boy meets girl, hissy fit, cabride/hoof it, peel out - geez louise, guys, aside from a couple of NW obscurities, what's not to like?

addie loggins 11:25 AM  

@sarah: think "drag race"

I thougth SIL was a perfectly fair answer; just depends on which TV shows one watches (not watching The Simpsons frequently puts me at a disadvantage).

Jim Finder 11:28 AM  

"Mexican standoff" is totally in the language, like French toast and Canadian bacon and English muffin ... It is a plain synonym for stalemate.

jae 11:31 AM  

I liked it too. I put in MEXICANSTANDOFF with no crosses and was pleasantly surprised when it worked. This was one of those easy-challenging ones for me with NW being hard mostly because of the much discussed ELKE (I actually tried KIMM with 2 Ms). SANSKRIT finally straightened me out. I did try to take a CARRIGE ride down Broadway until I realized not only was it spelled wrong but I also was not in Central Park and probably needed a CAB.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

A bit too much French in this puzzle for my tastes. Actually, any would be too much, as don't know that lingo at all. Is ELKES French, too? Sure didn't know it.

Overall, I thought the fill (with a few exceptions) and the cluing (W.A.F.E.) was just fine for a Friday. Hard to get every word to behave perfectly when constructing these wide open grids, I imagine.

Personally, I could go for themed Friday puzzles, with Friday-level cluing and fill. Thursdays with an attitude. Always more fun when the puzzle is about something. (Other than French)

OldCarFudd 11:49 AM  

@Sarah - Peel out comes from hot rodding/drag racing. If you accelerate a very powerful car from a standing start, you can spin the wheels on dry pavement, thus PEELING rubber from the tread. This is accompanied by clouds of blue rubber smoke, black skid marks on the road, appalling fuel consumption and a thundering racket, so it doesn't pass ecological muster. If the car has rear-wheel drive and a helluva lot of power, you can pull the front wheels right off the ground. This is called popping a wheelie. Motorcyclists do it a lot.

archaeoprof 11:57 AM  

I liked it too.

And thank you, Rex, for reminding me of Zelmo Beaty.

BTW, in the photo on the front page of my dead-tree NYT, Joe Biden looks like he is working the crossword puzzle...

xyz 12:03 PM  

@masked and any-none-muss

If it weren't for the French,I would not have had 11 answers before I started looking for help!

HUIS CLOS should be obvious to anyone whoever took more than French II as reading No Exit in original French language (VO as they call it in cinema) was mandatory, heck I read it in High School. (Clos should be a capital, though, tsk, tsk.)

Once I got a little help here and there I made good (for me) progress on the puzzle. Alas, only 1 single Friday completed. Ever.

Rex Parker 12:07 PM  

A. I KNOW WHAT A MEXICAN STAND-OFF IS. Point was that the clue has nothing in it at all to suggest Mexicanity.

B. "Fair crossings"? That's not a good standard on its own. By that standard, I could write a puzzle with [Name of my first dog] in it as long as the crosses were "fair."


snowmaiden 12:07 PM  

BOYMEETSGIRL from the back end... Giant busting gut!

baxter 12:12 PM  

I don't get spore - body in a case? What am I missing?

Anytime I finish a Friday in <30 minutes its easy...

fergus 12:12 PM  

If heresy leads to a schism, does that generate a Mexican stand-off? I found lots of odd little stories this puzzle could tell, so it seemed pretty good to me, though I did find the Clues plodding -- pretty direct and uninspired. How CHEATED a gull might feel is an example of this comparative Friday dullness.

Got to see manatees yesterday, swimming around in clear Blue Springs, an attraction that the State Park brochure defensively, and admirably, tags as the "Real Florida."

LAU and SIL were gimmies, but I do know batting coaches and modern mafia psychodrama -- my two areas of expertise.

Extra! (Ithink the captcha renews itself if you write for a while.)

Squeek 12:22 PM  

Diet of Worms?
Is that a new craze from California like Adkins or colonics?
Maybe a threat from Tony Soprano suggesting a dirt nap?

mitchs 12:25 PM  

@Rex, as a practical matter, that type of stuff happens all time. At least two or three times a week I run across proper names I've never heard of. Doesn't matter to me as long as they're not Naticked. So there's a rule that a word has to be "in use" or in the dictionary. Big deal. They can still be every bit as obscure as your dog's name. (Particularly now that constructors can Google any weird combination of consonants and vowels and maybe get lucky.)

Anyway, even if conceded, it's a small blemish on a great puzzle.

JenCT 12:33 PM  

Favorite answer: OBESE FOR Very upscale? (44D)

JenCT 12:34 PM  

Oops, left CAPS LOCK on

hazel 12:37 PM  

@Rex - cross words indeed.

does your first dog have a Wikipedia page?

HudsonHawk 12:38 PM  

@OldCarFudd, you reminded me of a scene in American Graffiti when Mackenzie Phillips says "PEEL OUT, I love it when guys peel out."

And SIL was played by Steve Van Zandt, aka Little Steven/Miami Steve of the E Street Band. Or as Bruce Springsteen introduces him: The Minister of Faith and Friendship, keeper of all that is righteous.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

For me, this puzzle was a challenge, but an enjoyable one. And no googling. 'elkes' is bad for all the reasons Rex writes (though I might have omitted some of the snittery), but still inferable from the crosses. And Elke Sommer is so tired, she ought to be retired from crosswords.

Lau is not obscure if you've followed baseball reasonably closely. Maybe it's more familiar to those of us who have followed baseball more than, say, The Simpsons. Sometimes the references match your experience, sometimes they don't.

HudsonHawk 12:41 PM  

Oops, I just checked IMDb, and it was Candy Clark rather than Mackenzie Phillips credited with that line.

xyz 12:45 PM  

Diet of Worms, I finally had to look it up. I had absolutely no idea...

apology if link above is done with errors

NOW I REALLY learned something today!

Lon 1:02 PM  

Forgive me if someone pointed this out already --

The real ELKE showed up in The Onion's puzzle on Wednesday.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:10 PM  

Confession: I haven't read anyone's comments yet, though I did read Rex's post.

No paper today because of snow storm, so I made another attempt at downloading Across Lite, all previous attempts having failed. Finally switched from Firefox to Safari, got the download, did today's puzzle.

First time, very frustrating, left me with no feel for the puzzle as I was completely hung up on the mechanics. Plus a little clock on the side telling me it took me more than 20 minutes to an incomplete finish, since I never did figure out that a "body in a case" was a spore.

Promise to read comments later; now to go out and open driveway the town plowed shut.

joho 1:16 PM  

Happy Birthday, @Chef Bea! It's my avatar's b-day today, too. He's 3.

Noam D. Elkes 1:17 PM  

Matt Gaffney writes:

"ELKES aside, this is a beautiful grid. I wish my name were on it."

While my name is almost IN this grid...

(Apparently the original pronunciation, and the one we still use in Hebrew, was "elkes", and we suspect that the name is related with "Elke", cf. the English names Michaels, Roberts, etc.)

This is the second appearance of 51A:CLUELESS; one of these days somebody will dare to have a clue along the lines of


A lucky 7th appearance of NUMBER (counting the split entry 1A/9A:INFINITE/NUMBER of 23.ix.06); nobody's clued it yet as "chloroform, for example" ;-)


chefbea 1:44 PM  

@bob kerfuffle. You know you can print the puzzle from across lite. That's what I do.

Rex Parker 1:46 PM  

Today appears to be "don't actually read the words" day. LAU is obscure to non-baseball fans, but my issue was that he's crosswordese of a kind (the *opposite* of "obscure"). And, as a practical matter, of course everyone has to get stuff they don't know from crosses. All the time. Usually, though, the answer is ... something with at least some small measure of crossworthiness. ELKE Clijsters has none. Not a single person has defended her as a valid entry, with even serious tennis fans saying "WTF?" Lastly, a Wikipedia page? That's your criterion? That's ... well, not well thought through — that's a kind way of putting it. By that logic, anyone reading this comment could be crossworthy in a matter of minutes.


bookmark 1:50 PM  

@jesser. Loved your cat photo! My Buddha "only" weighs 15 pounds. Check out this week's New Yorker. The article on Paul Krugman has a full-page color photo of him and his wife each holding a cat. His wife's cat is almost as big as she is.

Clark 1:54 PM  

I liked this puzzle just fine. Getting BOY MEETS GIRL with no crosses got me off to a good start.

I thought MEXICAN STANDOFF was perfectly clued. It is a synonym for 'stalemate' (by way of metaphor I guess -- after all, @Ulrich's cats aren't guys with guns) and as such doesn't need any hint as to its Mexican-ness IMHO. (Whether or not the phrase should be regarded as un-PC I will leave to @jesser to consult the S.O. and report back.) It has ten, count ‘em, ten entries in the Urban Dictionary FWIW. It is also a favorite device of Tarantino. All of his films but two have had one. Here is a blog blurb on the MEXICAN STANDOFF in Tarantino films.

Happy Birthday @chefbea!

mitchs 2:13 PM  

Maybe ELKE should become eponymous for "so obscure as to create hissyfits". 3 and out.

Martin 2:28 PM  

Does "violin section" grate as much as "flute section"? I agree that "string section" is a common usage, but it's not exclusive or official.

Just as the concertmaster is responsible for his "section," the violins, there is a principal second violin or assistant concertmaster or some other designated player who gets the blame if the second violins, his "section," doesn't play as expected. Depending on the repertoire, the principal flute could be the go-to guy for four flutists, one or more piccolo players and alto or even bass flutes. If you buy that there's a violin section but not a flute section, you are guilty of blatant stringism. If you don't accept "violin section" either, at least you're consistent and an honorable person.

Stan 2:40 PM  

@NDE: Good one re: 51.

@ChefBea: Happy birthday!

@joho: Is your avatar a curly-coated retriever?

Doc John 2:45 PM  

It had me at HISSY FIT.

Those French! They have a different word for everything!
-Steve Martin

edith b 2:56 PM  


Forgive me, but an answer like FRENCHLEAVE clued as Unexcused absence, of a sort, doesn't specifically refer to its "frenchness."

Is there something wrong with that clue/answer?

Rube 2:57 PM  

I'm in the camp which says that this is a good and enjoyable puzzle. Of course, any Friday puzzle I can get without Googles is IMO good.

With @Sarah and others I had Luther before HERESY, even took out TENOR to make it work.

When I got ELKES I thought that maybe this was Kim's real name, or maybe a nickname - after all Kim is a nickname. Stranger things have been done in xwords. (I'm the guy who didn't know that Starr = Starkey.) Of course the point is, as many have pointed out on the rant-topic-of-the-day, that, (for me), ELKES, THEWHO, LAU, GIBBS, BEEGEE, & HUIS were all unknowns but gettable from crosses. I see their clues and immediately move on, knowing that I don't know the answers and no amount of brain wracking will make them come. Of course, sometimes having a few crosses will bring something to mind, like the last two Es in BEEGEE, despite not previously knowing the connection with GIBBS. Same thing with having TH_W_O and seeing THEWHO, or _C_WAB => SCHWAB... all part of doing Xwords.

The trouble with all of the above is that there was nothing worth remembering in any of those unknowns. However, regarding May, which was clued as being named after an earth goddess (from Wikipedia):

"The month May has been named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Conversely, the Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for "elders," and that the following month (June) is named for the iuniores, or "young people" (Fasti VI.88)."

Didn't know that.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:02 PM  

@chefbea - First, Happy Birthday!

Second, Actually, the failing is entirely mine, but the point is that I have/had no idea what I could do in across lite. When I had the grid filled, the clock wouldn't stop, I couldn't get any response by clicking on "check", etc. I am definitely a digital immigrant, not a digital native.

@Noam D. Elkes - One of my most favorite crossword clues ever was "Number of people", where the answer was (I believe) "anesthetic."

Rube 3:14 PM  

Reading further on in that Wiki article on May:

"In both common Western calendrical systems, no other month begins on the same day of the week as May. This month and June are the only two months that have this trait. (See: Months in various calendars)"

E.g. this year May starts on Saturday and June starts on Tuesday. No other months start on those two days of the week this year. Works for leap years too.

Some of you may ask, "So what?". I find this sort of thing fascinating and want to pass it on. Must be the frustrated teacher in me, as well as underlines the Scientist in me.

Van55 3:33 PM  

I agree that ELKES, as clued, is just a bit unfair. I did a BING search for "ELKE" and Elke Clijsters didn't appear until page 10. (Interestingly, the first entry on the Bing list was that of the home page for Elke the Stallion -- an urban model and dancer). A Bing search for "Elke Sommer" generated 20,000,000 hits. Search for "Elke Clijsters" generated jsut 611,000.

Otherwise, this is a remarkably original puzzle and it's the constructor's first appearance in the NYT.

I am just a very casual baseball fan, but I knew Charlie LAU.

ArtLvr 3:34 PM  

@ chefbea -- Happy B-Day! And good luck with your move, snow or no snow.

@ mac -- it sounds as if storms are moving into FL again, but I hope you'll get some sunshine...

Albany is in a sweet spot again, barely a snow flurry while NYC and elsewhere get piled up. Note that Governor Paterson has had enough, and has just announced he's not running for a full term.

To all the other cat lovers, my Minou is not in contention for the really big -- unless you count all the fur.


captcha: proul

sanfranman59 3:47 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 23:00, 26:08, 0.88, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:54, 12:36, 0.86, 16%, Easy

Not Martin Gardner 3:48 PM  

@Rube -

It gets so busy around the holidays! You just have Christmas, and then, seven days later, it's New Year's Day. But what was the last year in which Christmas and New Year's Day were not the same day of the week?

Jet City Gambler 3:52 PM  

A Mexican standoff doesn't have to involve Mexicans, just as an Indian giver doesn't have to involve Indians, or a California stop doesn't have to involve Californians.

Buck Henry was a genius, and Get Smart had some of the best writing ever on TV. Harkening back to yesterday, I remember the episode where the Chief is undercover as a singing waiter, and he goes up on stage to sing a coded message to Max and 99 to the tune of "Allouette". Then two KOAS agents with guns come up behind him, then Max and 99 come up behind them, then two more KAOS agents come up behind them, and all the while they're all singing these nonsense phrases. Regis Philbin was also in that episode. Hilarious.

hazel 3:56 PM  

@Rex - I never said a Wikipedia page was a criterion for anything. READING!!

I just thought comparing someone who (1) is/was a world-ranked professional and (2) can be googled (#3 on the list of elkes - after Elke the Stallion and the much-beloved Elke Summers), so that (3) you can easily find a Wikipedia page - separates her from the name of your first dog. The rest of your rant against me/my thought process seems a bit mean-spirited - to put it kindly.

Again, I had no idea who this tennis player was, but, for me, that says nothing about her crossworthiness. When it comes to Friday Saturday puzzles, there's lots of stuff I just don't know. Elke was easily inferrable - although my first guess was Sven.

Go Braves!

chefwen 4:06 PM  

@chefbea - Have a wonderful birthday!

Put me into the "loved it camp". Although I did end up with a couple of empty white spaces, what I did finish was quite fun. I also loved the clue for OBESE. @tptsteve - my first fill for 13A was dress up. DOH!

To go off subject, not really, but kind of. Dear Old Dad sent me an email yesterday for help with a crossword clue of File crosser, I sent back RANK, with a short description of RAND AND FILE. He still didn't get it so a forwarded a definition from one of the on line dictionaries. Still doesn't get it. So now after 60 years of being a Mensa member, he thinks he is dumb. Can one of you word masters out there help me out?
BTW DOD is 90 and English is his second language, first being German.

Charles Bogle 4:16 PM  

A CABRIDE down Bdway instead of a CARRIAGE ride? How pedestrian...have mixed feelings here. On one hand, anytime I can do a Friday w some googling and time and end up with no (or, here, several errors, in SE) is a personal triumph, esp after yesterday's personal debacle. But on other hand, clues and answers were all over the lot, no connectives, little in the way of cleverness or chuckling at. Seemed forced. Overall, I'll take it--but we've seen lots, lots better

Dave in California 4:45 PM  

I had the same reaction to Elke as Rex.

I was reminded of a clue I once saw, "Hurler Mathewson." I was trying to figure out a rebus; the answer HAD to be CHRISTY, but there were only 5 letters in the answer. Turns out Christy had a brother named HENRY who pitched about 5 games in the major leagues...

Elaine 5:02 PM  

Unless we know what you've already tried, it is hard to come up with a description or illustrative usage that may be more successful. (I used to help people come up with usage algorithms for ESL students. We have a lot of confusing word pairs--similar meanings but used for different circumstances. RANK and FILE should be easier, as RANK refers to an officer, while the more numerous FILE would be a line of soldiers under his command. This might give a visual boost to comprehension.

Actually I was just reading the posts and noticing that everyone seems cranky, house-bound, and possibly in need of a nice bowl of snow ice cream. (Vanilla, heavy cream, snow. Slightly whip small amt of cream with vanilla, fold in fresh snow, eat. Excellent as a post-snowman-building dish.)

Hope everyone stays safe; (including on this blog.) See you tomorrow.

Martin 5:14 PM  


Actually, rank and file are all foot soldiers; ranks are rows and files are columns. (An army "files past.") The ranks might be arranged by rank, but it would be privates (aka cannon fodder) first. And generals do not bring up the rear. The officers are separate (maybe column headers or more probably in the reviewing stand).

That's why you only hear about rank-and-file at union or Democratic meetings. Republicans don't have rank-and-file -- only managers.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

@the redanman
No, clos should not be capitalized; in French, only the first word of a title is capitalized, unless the first word is an article, then the noun following is also capitalized. For example, Huis clos, Les Mouches (both are plays by Sartre)

lit.doc 5:33 PM  

@chefwen, might be easier if you dissociate it from the military connotation. Have DOD look at or imagine a chess/checkers board, on which all the ranks (rows) cross all the files(columns).

@Martin, I would most definitely not want to be so un-PC as to engage in blatant stringism. LOL!

Charles Bogle 5:34 PM  

Did LOVE the cluing of Ott. I believe Durocher actually said: "Now, you look over there at the (NY) Giants. Nice guys. They finish last."

jesser 6:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jesser 6:50 PM  

The drive to Hobbs, America was 4.5 hours in duration. The views along the road were spectacular! I am decidedly degrumpified!

@chefbea: Happy Birthday, and many more!

@Martin: Ok, you got me. I withdraw my objection to the FLUTE section. I will not be stringist, by gum.

@Bookmark: Thanks for the cat love. He is back home, and I am in Hobbs, where he can't reach me. Ha!

@Pretty Much God and Everybody: The S.O., who hails from Zacatecas, Mexico, says he has never heard the term, either. He is, by the way, fully fluent in English and has a master's from NMSU in math. No dummy, that one. But after reading the many comments, I cede the point. I will note, however, that I make it a point NOT to watch violent movies, so that is my defense, lame as it may be.

I don't think I've ever posted 4 times before, but I was speeding along the highway to Hobbs, so I feel quite the rebel. Apologies to anyone who is offended!

Flazimp (probably something I'll order from the sushi bar later) -- jesser

George NYC 7:05 PM  

Agree with @joho about CABRIDE down Broadway. Why Broadway, as opposed to, say, 5th Avenue? Ironically, the part of Broadway that the clue evokes, i.e. Times Square, IS NOW CLOSED TO TRAFFIC! Bloomberg made it a pedestrian mall. So the clue would have been better as "something you can no longer take all the way down Broadway." If only the puzzle editor had some local knowledge of the Times Square area...oh, wait...

joho 7:50 PM  

@George NYC ... so funny that I just popped in now to see your comment. I know! I kept thinking why Broadyway of all streets do cabs take you for a ride? I didn't know the part about it being closed however, which makes it worse!

Also someone earlier mentioned, I think maybe @Edith B, about trying to make PARADE work, heck, I was trying to shoehorn in TICKERTAPEPARADE!

@Stan ... my dog, Riley is most definitely a curly-coated retriever. That's exactly how he looks and what he does best. He throws the ball (or whatever) at your feet when he brings it back. And if it's not close enough, we just say, "I can't reach it." Then he gets it and places it right at your foot. He's actually a Cockapoo. I got the point that there must be a breed called "curly-coated retriever" but if ever there was one, it's Riley.

michael 8:06 PM  

I was going to object to Elkes, but I see that others have already done so better than I could have. I wrote in "Kims" (but it didn't fit) and then "Kimis" but it didn't work. When I finally got Elke, it was off to google and wikipedia.

I thought Mexican standoff was a completely fair answer, but vaguely wondered if it was politically correct (e.g. "Chinese fire drill"). I'm a big baseball fan and the first answer I filled in was "Lau," but I understand the objections. Still, fairer than "Elkes."

Moonchild 8:14 PM  

I was going to comment on the puzzle but, like someone noted above, there seems to be an aura of crabbiness.
@ hazel, I sympathize with you. It must be no fun to be singled out.
On the other hand I see that Rex's photo of the Utah Stars player is named Michael Jackson! Who knew?!?

Glitch 8:37 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle & @Noam D. Elkes

NY Times, Sat, Jul 29, 2006
Author: Bob Klahn:

48A. Number of people : ANESTHESIA


sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:36, 6:54, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Tue 11:04, 8:46, 1.26, 94%, Challenging
Wed 11:17, 11:53, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 22:49, 19:33, 1.17, 87%, Challenging
Fri 22:53, 26:08, 0.88, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:39, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:24, 4:28, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Wed 5:25, 5:50, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:26, 9:23, 1.22, 91%, Challenging
Fri 10:16, 12:35, 0.82, 11%, Easy

All you US hockey fans out there ... all together now ... USA! USA! USA!

kate 10:15 PM  

Great puzzle. I've never watched The Sopranos and am not familiar with Ms. Clijster, but got both pretty cleanly from crosses - and isn't that sort of part of the point of a crossword puzzle? Mexican Standoff is a phrase in the language. It was pretty easy -- I usually get stuck with a few squares on Friday and I finished this one handily and correctly.

mac 10:19 PM  

@Glitch: wasn't there a "number" clue or answer with a dentist in the last year?

Hope you have all done the LAT Doug Peterson puzzle. It's easy and smooth.

P.S. I am not crabby at all, I love my snowday and I'm all packed.

Noam D. ElkIes 10:46 PM  

Yes, one wouldn't normally speak of a "flute section" in an orchestra. Try marching band — there can be literally dozens of flutes. More than one can shake (twirl?) a baton at, you might say.


mac 10:55 PM  

In hindsight, that snowday looks odd, almost as funny as a friend's

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

This puzzle rules simply by virtue of having the Utah Stars in a clue. They were coolest fucking team in the coolest fucking league ever.

Stan 12:18 AM  

@joho: Riley sounds like a great boy!

My cats have asked me to add the following:

The pet avatars and comments are by far the most interesting features of the blog.

Beryl, Spooky, Booty, Syd, and Russell-aka-Goofus

WilsonCPU 11:50 AM  

OK, color me "mixed". I _really_ did not like this puzzle - I objected to ELKES for all the reasons given - but finished it in 15 minutes while eating lunch, so that made me feel good once I got here! Didn't seem "easy" at all, but it fell...

Captcha: "sporsame" - that exact body in the case, in seeds: e.g., a sporsame seed roll....

sendy 1:45 PM  

am i the only one who wanted "mummy"for 7d. I wanted it too bad to give up for the longest time

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