Favorite card game of Winston Churhill / FRI 4-23-10 / Lizard fuel beverage maker / 1886 Alcott sequel / 1040 subjs / Palate stimulus

Friday, April 23, 2010

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty:

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BEZIQUE (51A: Favorite card game of Winston Churchill) —

Bezique, is a 19th century French melding and trick-taking card game for two players derived from Marriage via Briscan by the addition of more scoring features, notably a peculiar liaison Q ♠and J under the names Bésigue, Binokel, Pinochle, etc., according to the country. [...] The game gained its greatest popularity in Paris by 1860 and in England a few years later. Perhaps the most famous proponent of the game was Winston Churchill, an avid player and early expert of Six-Pack, or "Chinese" Bezique. But since the late nineteenth century the game has declined in popularity. There is some evidence that the English writers Wilkie Collins and Christina Rossetti were also enthusiasts. (wikipedia)
• • •

I liked this puzzle quite a bit, until I discovered that I had an error. BAZIQUE / AVA instead of the apparently correct BEZIQUE / EVA. I consider this crossing, with this cluing, an editorial failure. If I am alone in my error (or, more specifically, if one or the other of these is common knowledge to the majority of you all), then I will stand corrected, but ... for the moment, let's see if I can explain why this crossing is objectively bad. Actually, the crossing is not bad. What is bad is the cluing on EVA (52D: 2006 Bond girl ___ Green). Do people know this Bond girl? If they do, did they know she was an "E" EVA and not an "A" AVA? BEZIQUE is one of exactly two words in this whole grid that, because it is odd and exotic, requires very fair crosses (UHRY is the other — 9D: Pulitzer winner for "Driving Miss Daisy" — and its crosses are just fine). Crossing that first vowel with a word whose first letter is going to be a total toss-up — that's just lazy editing. I'm happy to know BEZIQUE, but I couldn't care less about this unidentified, alleged Bond girl and whatever movie she is from. There was *no* need to go to some random, marginal EVA in that clue. Doing so didn't make the puzzle any tougher. It just made it shrug-worthy. Sad, because the grid is pretty sweet overall. Prickly in that way that good tough puzzles always are. Reasonable EVA clue would have made this puzzle highly satisfying all around.

Had trouble getting traction. Lots of floundering in the NW. Put in LOBBY at 19A: Room in Clue (STUDY). Put down ACNE for 20D: Cosmetologist's concern (instead of where it ultimately belonged, at 32A: Bad marks gotten in high school?). OLD SAW for 14D: Chestnut (CLICHÉ). And so on. Got my first real toehold with ZITI (48A: Tubes in an oven) / ZINC (48D: Calamine component), and built the puzzle up from there. There were some fat gimmes that I just didn't manage to see at first glance, like GO-GOS (31D: "Our Lips Are Sealed" band) and SOBE (33A: Lizard Fuel beverage maker) — any time "lizard" and "beverage" get together in a clue, the answer is SOBE. Coming out of the SE proved pretty easy, especially the SW, which went down lickety-split. The "X" in SUSSEX (41D: Area where the hoax Piltdown man was found) made ROLODEX (56A: Spinner with numbers) a cinch, and the fact that I've got Alcott on the brain (just bought the new Graphic Penguin Classics version of "Little Women," designed by Julie Doucet, and am preparing to read it once my wife is done with it ... the book opens with a quote from Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," which I just happened to teach today ...) made "JO'S BOYS" a snap as well (49A: 1986 Alcott sequel).

NE was toughish, partly because of UHRY, partly because I didn't know "Bad" was a German place, so couldn't make sense of 17A: Bad setting (GERMANY). Had to come at the section from below. Much respect to GAYDAR, which made me say 'wow.' Good clue (13D: Sense of orientation). Another good (tough) clue on NINE PIN (12D: One standing at the back of an alley). Honestly, the corners are just good all over today. For a reasonably high word-count themeless (72 words), the fill is remarkably interesting and (mostly) not burdened with IFFY (43A: Not settled) or stale junk. Nothing squirmy or forced. Just nice. My last stand was back in that pesky NW, which was harder than the rest of the grid By Far for me. At various points, I had LETTERS (?) for LECTERN (16A: Address location), ACTS for OPTS (3D: Gets off the fence), ATF (?!) for HUD (26A: Govt. org. associated with auctions), and the aforementioned OLD SAW for CLICHÉ. Also AIR for EAR (5D: Attention). I was thinking "AIR TIME," I think. Most major gaffe up there, though, has to be entering LAST LINE for EXIT LINE (29A: Blanche DuBois's "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," e.g.) – major because I entered it triumphantly and certainly, which kept all the longish Downs up there invisible to me for quite some time. Is that line the LAST LINE? It certainly is the last *spoken* line in the musical parody version performed some time back on "The Simpsons" — "Streetcar!"

  • 7A: Response of mock subservience ("YOU RANG?") — Guessed this off the "YO-" but had *no* confidence that it was right. Very happy to see it pan out. No idea where it comes from or why it's so familiar, but I love it.
  • 18A: 1040 subjs. (IRAS) — Man, "subjs" is a weird-looking abbrev. I don't know what I had here at first. Maybe DEPS? (Dependents?)
  • 31A: Founder of experimental physiology (GALEN) — ancient physician. Name is familiar from multiple encounters in graduate school.
  • 41A: Palate stimulus (SAPOR) — One of those weirdo words that has stuck with me for some reason. Related to the weirder SAPID.
  • 2D: Owner of Martini & Rossi, Dewar's and Grey Goose (BACARDI) — I was expecting something out of left field, like SARA LEE.
  • 28D: He played an attendant at Wally's Filling Station in 1960s TV (NABORS) — another gimme. Smooth-singing Jim NABORS played Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show."

[...Words fail...]

  • 33D: 2007 hit comedy with a character who dubbed himself McLovin ("SUPERBAD") — it occurs to me that some of you will not know this movie, and that that might affect your BEZIQUE-hunting chances. Negatively.

[... in which "McLovin" gets name-checked ...]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Orange 12:54 AM  

EVA was a gimme for me because just yesterday, I was wasting time at Go Fug Yourself and looked at the long list of celeb names in the index to see which name was most common after noting three Amandas. I kinda gave up after scrolling down to the three Evas—Green, Longoria Parker, and Mendes. I would've leaned EVA rather than AVA, but that cemented it. (There are six famous Kates there. And no, none of this lends itself to a crossword theme.)

jae 1:00 AM  

Unlike Rex I found this on easy side but very enjoyable. Nice stuff all through it. My first entry was TBONES so the NW was not a problem.

Rex is dead on about the BEZIQUE/EVA crossing. For me it was an "A" vs. "E" coin toss. So, I checked with my card fanatic sister and she knew BEZIQUE. Thus, I needed a bit of outside help to toss the coin correctly. "Actress Mendes (or Gabor)." would have been a better/fairer clue for me. That said, a pretty fine puzzle.

To be truthful I did have little problem in NW. I made the "I" in BACARDI look like and "L" so it took me a while to get EXITLINE.

Danny 1:08 AM  

EVA was the first answer I got! I'm not a Bond aficionado or anything, but I definitely knew her. She was everywhere when Casino Royale was released.

newspaperguy 1:18 AM  

Help me out, Rex. Just what are you doing to "prepare" to read Little Women? Share your wisdom and maybe I can do the same.

syndy 1:45 AM  

good puzzle,most of my trouble was in the sw had racer-rude instead of loser- loud.that slowed me up. guessed eva over ava because who names anybody ava anymore,also had superdad for awhile.hate to admit i was trying to stretch afla(a)c into afl-cio .shame on me

John McKnight 1:59 AM  

Fast Friday time. NW would've been thorny but THEROUX threw me a lifeline. "Riding the Iron Rooster", "My Other Life", "The Happy Isles of Oceania" and especially "Sir Vidia's Shadow" are books I would reread.
Slowed down when I used "You Rock! " instead of YOU RANG?.
A literary Lollapalooza with THEROUX, DOYLE,
JO'S BOYS, OPHELIA, Blanche DuBois, and UHRY.

Who is John McKnight? "MEET ME at the COPA" lyrics : "But I for one would rather visit John McKnight"

chris 2:14 AM  

Damn, Rex, good on you for the Wale video. I had no idea you were so cool. Seriously, great song.

I saw Brad Wiber's name and contemplated not doing the puzzle. I remember a string of his puzzles from about a year ago that I absolutely hated (full of Broadway and stuff I toss in the catchall "old folks" category, if memory serves). Much to my surprise and delight, I really liked this one. I had to stop for a moment after filling in Gaydar since it was such a good clue/answer pair. There was a bunch of stuff I didn't know, but all were clued and crossed reasonably. Really good puzzle overall.

As for Eva Green, she was Vesper Lind in Casino Royale. I happened to know her name on account of her super hotness, but I sympathize. I almost always leave that first letter blank on any Eva/Ava until I can get it from the cross, and if that's a tossup, I'm lost.

JF 3:03 AM  

For once, I happened to be on the same wavelength as the constructor on a Friday. Wrote in TBONES and OPHELIA and went to town. Lots more gimmes than usual, no real pauses to speak of, and finished with a Tuesday time. Guess I got lucky on this one.

Germany and Austria are covered with towns that start with BAD, which means 'bath' or 'spa'. I spent quite some time in Bad Ischl when I was younger. So that one came easily.

Had a laugh at GAYDAR--not usual fare for the NYT, and mine rarely fails. Fantastic clue for an unexpected answer.

Never heard of BEZIQUE, but since I saw Casino Royale, EVA was easy, along with the rest of the downs that spelled it out. I suppose if you never saw the movie, she'd be hard to get.

Any time I see Rocky and Bullwinkle references (MR BIG, eg), it brings a smile to my face--my grandfather was Bullwinkle.

Thanks Brad Wilber!

pauer 6:59 AM  

Great puzzle, Brad! I had DOLE and GORE as the LOSERs, and TAO where ZEN ended up, but other than that it was a smooth solve for me. I guessed EVE for EVA at first, so once DANCES fixed things I never questioned it. BEZIQUE looked sorta familiar- wonder if they play it in Mozambique.

The singing voice of Jim Nabors may be the freakiest thing ever.

Rex Parker 7:34 AM  

Having slept on it, I think EVA is the much better guess. Still, bah.


chefbea 7:35 AM  

Just got up. Haven't looked at the puzzle but did read some of yesterdays comments. I was absent yesterday as I have bronchitis and feel lousy. @jesser I hope you are feeling much better. I'll get to the puzzle later. and yesterday's

The Bard 7:45 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene I

HAMLET: Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.

OPHELIA: Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

HAMLET: You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.

OPHELIA: I was the more deceived.

HAMLET: Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
Where's your father?

OPHELIA: At home, my lord.

HAMLET: Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in's own house. Farewell.

OPHELIA: O, help him, you sweet heavens!

HAMLET: If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for
thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs
marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough
what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery , go,
and quickly too. Farewell.

OPHELIA: O heavenly powers, restore him!

HAMLET: I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and
nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages:
those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery , go.

Unknown 7:48 AM  

One man's bad cluing is another man's trivia blind spot. Had no trouble with bezique/eva, but punted on galen/gogos.

Joe 8:09 AM  

Hand up for tough NW and AVA. I thought it was pretty easy, but I'm a theatre nerd with great GAYDAR.

edith b 8:29 AM  

I'm not sure if this is the source of the quote You rang? or not but I remember Lurch from The Addams Family on TV from the 60s turning it into his catchphrase. He had this deep sonorous voice and it did stick in ones mind.

I came to BEZIQUE from my interest in WWII and Winston Churchill, a sort of sideways rememberance to be sure, but there it is but it broke that little logjam in the SE as AVENUEQ was a clue in a puzzle this week and I built this puzzle moving Westward Horace Greely like and got the Blanche DuBois clue without any crosses which gave me Paul Therooux.

I'm not usually on Brad Wilber's wavelength to this extent but with the help of a couple of neons like JOSBOYS and SUSSEX from an early interest in evolution helped me out considersably and I was able to get into the flow fairly early and knowing BACARDI got me out of a big jam in the NW.

I found this one crunchy but eminently doable and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Maynard G Krebs 8:30 AM  

You Rang ?

Jim H 8:42 AM  

I'm going to vote for the fairness of BEZIQUE. Sorry Rex.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Great write-up, but I don't agree about Eva/Bezique. Aren't Bond girls' names always some kind of pun? I think this one is a pun on "evergreen", which makes the "e" gettable.

joho 8:47 AM  

I knew EVA because I was impressed with her in "Casino Royale" but didn't know SUPERBAD. I had SUPERdAD. How well known is that movie anyway? And, of course, BEZIQUE is super common, right? Natick!!!!

I did feel good about just having one mistake, though, in this extremely interesting puzzle. My favorites were NINEPINE and GAYDAR.

@JF, wow, how many people can say "my grandfather was Bullwinkle?"

Thank you, Brad Wilber, for an almost perfect puzzle!

Van55 8:48 AM  

Tough challenge for me. K and W shy of a pangram I think.

David 8:48 AM  

Eva vs. Ava - no clue, but BEZIQUE felt a lot better than BAZIQUE.

Do we solve puzzles like this one subliminally? I looked at Brad Wilbur's puzzle at 5:30 a.m. (just after getting up), and little came to mind in a two minute period.

Two hours later at next view CHAPEAU leaped out at me, and from there it was off to the races. (More like the sack races with this one....) It was satisfying to reach the finish, for me in the SE where TIPJAR resisted me for a while because I didn't think of whose BOYS they were!

Nancy in PA 8:51 AM  

Hand up for the Ava/Bazique error. Somehow I was thinking Gardner and bazaar.Otherwise I loved this. Perfect Friday.

nanpilla 9:07 AM  

Finished this one in a Thursday time, so I figured it would be rated easy. Then I went to check my solution, and realized I had the AVA/EVA mistake. In retrospect, EVA would have been a better guess. In a 50/50 situation, always bet against me - I'm wrong 90% of the time!

@edith B - I thought of Lurch right away also.

Rex Parker 9:12 AM  

@Jim H,

If you'd actually read what I wrote, you'd see the "fairness" issue wasn't with BEZIQUE.


Rex Parker 9:17 AM  

And WTF with that pun explanation for EVA? EVA is a real person. I doubt her parents named her so that eventually she could be used in a Bond film.

And it's a short "e?" She's French, so I'm going to doubt that.


chefbea 9:17 AM  

Feeling a little better cuz I'm taking meds - the good old z-pac.

Loved Susie Q and Avenue Q. Never heard of gaydar and why does chestnut =cliche.

Great clue for ala mode

edith b 9:17 AM  

Wow, completely forgot Maynard G Krebs from Dobie Gillis which was the source of another catchphrase from Dobie's father, Herbert T Gillis: "I was in World War II - the big one - with the Good Conduct Medal."

David L 9:20 AM  

I'm going to disagree with Rex on the BEZIQUE/EVA cross, for the simple reason that I knew both of them and as a result got the SE corner done first. Unlike Rex, I had trouble with JOSBOYS, which I had trouble figuring out even after I'd got it from crosses.

My conclusion? One man's meat is another man's poison, as the old saying goes. I liked this puzzle -- a medium for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:20 AM  

I almost gave up on this one when I passed the 45 minute mark, then decided to give it one last try and came out victorious.

The NE was my quicksand area; I spent more time there than on the rest of the puzzle, mired by two bad guesses. Tried YOURULE where it was YOURANG, and foolishly had Meet Me at the FAIR before COPA. My last fill was GAYDAR, and what a surprise it was!

Also had difficulty with not knowing GOGOS and CALEB and only fishing GALEN out with a lot of crosses.

I only know BEZIQUE as crosswordese, but it came without too much trouble. To expand on Anonymous 8:46 AM, I think the point is that the names of Bond girls worth referencing are not simply puns, but double entendres (forgive me if my plural is not correct French). A simple EVA could have so many different and better clues.

Ben 9:21 AM  

Sailed through it in about 9 minutes until I hit a wall at the NW. Like Rex, put LASTLINE instead of EXITLINE, a disastrous move because I did not know THEROUX. After 2-3 minutes of blank staring I resorted to Google, something I generally refuse to do and have not done in maybe a year. With Theroux was in place the rest was a cinch.

Also debated ACTS/OPTS. Was thinking of HUD, I guess, but wanted FHA. Wasn't thinking French so the U in SUNSHINE looked wrong. That NW was tough.

I'll respectfully disagree with Rex about EVA Green, who got so much press from the Bond movie that to me her name is fair game. I never saw the movie but knew the answer. (Then again, I knew UHRY, SUPERBAD and GOGOS from 100 paces but had nothing on BEZIQUE. If you know it it's obvious, if not it's WTF.)

Eva Green's turn in Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" also got her a lot of ink. She titillated the critics by spending half the movie naked in the company of her brother.

Incidentally, I wrote a Chicago crossword tournament report. Read it here.

Does SUPERBAD mean extra-German-place-like?

It's a good read when you like one, Rex, although last Saturday's broadside was schadenfreudally entertaining.

Great puzzle, Brad Wilber.

Carisa 9:21 AM  

Because of my garbage brain, I knew without hesitation that it was EVA with an E. I'd never heard BEZIQUE but all my crosses were good so it was all good.

Ben 9:31 AM  

p.s. Rex beat me to pointing out that the name "Eva Green" is not a pun but the actress' actual name (for Hollywood purposes anyway). For that matter, many Bond vixens' names aren't puns either. Eva Green, for example, played Vesper Lynd, a pun on... nothing. They're not all Pussy Galore.

p.p.s. A college friend of mine co-wrote "Avenue Q," the best Broadway musical since "A Chorus Line." More about it here.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:43 AM  

Splendid puzzle. To throw my vote in, BEZIQUE was 100% familiar to me -- I threw it in once the Q appeared.

dk 9:49 AM  

@Maynard G. For my Andrea moment. I lived across the street from Frank Faylen (Dobbie's dad) in Hollywood. He was still bitter he was passed over for the film lead in Harvey. He played the lead on Broadway.

Puzzle moments - I had a problem in the SE as my fill was SUPERdad and dEZIQUE made sense as the card game to me... in dk's world of wild guesses. Most humiliating error was Gault instead of GALEN as I once taught History and Systems of Psychology. Son Andrew's nickname was MRBIG when he was a toddler.

This one took a while. I had a the NW (TBONES) to SE (DANCES) diagonal parking slot first with YOURANG and UHRY as the final fill.

**** (4 Stars) Love the Stones version of SUSIEQ.

Secret word: dinges - a tributary of the river Styx in the land without 6D

Paul Gottlieb 9:53 AM  

You really shouldn't have missed this, because all the Bond girls names are puns (e.g. Pussy Galore). Eva (ever) Green is just a weak example, but should have been a gimme

dk 9:53 AM  

Dobie's dad, dobbies are for when you listen to SUSIEQ

mitchs 9:57 AM  

Really enjoyed this one - a whole lot to like.

I learned that the sequel to "Little Women" was about the "JOSBOY" family...oh.

Completely agree with Rex re EVA BEZIQUE. Guessed the E, but still. Yes, we can argue about the relative obscurity of both Bezique and THIS particular EVA, but Rex's point remains valid. It's poor editing. Given bezique, the EVA cross should have been clued with (even a tough clue) reference to a more common EVA.

ArtLvr 10:05 AM  

I came away thinking it was not SUPERBAD but not quite supergood either. Only so-so. I'd teased out everything except the area around Tennessee, then had to google for GO-GOS and SOBE. So be it. Pfui.


joho 10:09 AM  

@Paul ... Eva Green is the real name of the actress, it is not her Bond girl's name. Her name in the movie in the role she played is not a pun like Pussy Galore.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Two throw-ins: Bacarat [wrong] and my first fill, Ophelia.
Eva is, how can I say this, most desirable crumpet, and the best part of the movie.
Best clue was bad setting; had to get bezique from crosses, but oblique (and Eva) sealed the deal.
I've been sitting since 1962 [zen=sitting] and zen is not a path. It is just sitting [zazen]. When you're sitting, you're not going anywhere, you're just where you are.

jesser 10:15 AM  

Another day of sleeping late and coming late to the party. Thanks, @Chef Bea for the get-well wishes. My favorite part of being sick is when you hit the point where you know you've turned the corner. I am not there yet.

Liked the puzzle, and guessed right at BEZIQUE/EVA, but it was a total guess. I'm with Rex on that one.

My error was in the NW, where I did not know THER_UX and didn't catch the trickery of C_R. So I guessed an e. FAIL! Humph.

Absolutely loved GAYDAR and AVENUE Q. In the interest of good taste, I will mostly refrain from comment about MR. BIG. (Hey, plenty of lust here for that Eva chick; I'm just saying!)

Only writeover was where I initially entered stRESS at 44A. Took a while to get that ironed out, but once JO'S BOYS came home to roost, it became evident what I was after in that area.

Hand up for remembering Lurch and his growl of a voice. Ah, 60's TV! Hand up for No Clue on UHRY, but fair crosses plopped it in there, lickety split.

And that will be all for now. Must attend to the volcanic throat. Sleep good.

Sionowl (what I frequently do when I look up in the garden section of the local Lowe's, where a Great Horned variety has made its home. It's tres cool!) -- jesser

CoolPapaD 10:20 AM  

Despite my flailing in the SW, I loved this one. GAYDAR was fantastic (I pride myself on my JEWDAR, which my non-MOT wife thinks is hysterical)! I'm rarely wrong!

I had MADEMAN / EDGY instead of MAFIOSO / IFFY, and it killed me, because I knew AS A RULE had to be right - had to come here to finish the remaining few.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN SUPERBAD, I CONSIDER IT THE FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE PAST DECADE (caps added for effect) - way better than all of the other teen / young adult flicks of the last few years (ie Knocked Up, The Hangover, etc). The scene where McLovin gets to shoot a gun with the cops kills me!

Dough 10:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 10:37 AM  

As far as Fridays go, this was doable for me, and therefore enjoyable.

The clue for Germany is cute, although I must nit-pick it: "Bad" is not A place--there are many, many Bäder in Germany. Or would you accept "mountain setting" as a clue for the USA? I suppose one could...

...and I consider Theroux a really bad travel writer--the only reason he seems to visit other countries is to feel superior compared to the natives--I take my Chatwin or Stewart (Rory) any time

Dough 10:39 AM  

I just loved the puzzle. Great words (gaydar, you rang, avenue q, exit line, susie q, rolodex, mr. big), and great clues (gaydar, you rang, germany, exit line, tip jar, etc.). Just a big two thumbs up. Re Bezique, I knew it, so Eva/Ava was a non-issue for me (never heard of her), although I do think Bond Girls are permitted trivia in crosswords (crossed fairly). It all depends on the stuff we know. I didn't know Gogos or Theroux and Hugo Boss is just vaguely familiar. Superbad seemed like a good answer, but I have no idea what it really is. Stuff I knew that I suspect others didn't include Uhry, Avenue Q, Jo's Boys. Like @Rex I had ACNE in the wrong place and after that was fixed was kind of weirded out to find it return elsewhere. Anyway, a super puzzle.

JaneW 10:50 AM  

EVA Green was completely unknown to me, but I got BEZIQUE from the "que" so it wasn't a problem. In the NW, I got hung up on a pretty simple clue, 5 down, had EYE instead of EAR for the longest time.

Some clues, I didn't know whether there's a twist to them or not. Eg 36 Across, "Giant in fashion" -- is HUGO BOSS particularly tall? But most of the cluing was delightful.

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

I'll take Rex's error and raise you one. With no idea about the movie or the card game or the actress my mystery card game was Dazique. Seemed as good as anything.
Aside from those speed bumps I thoroughly enjoyed this.
@ jesser, I think this puzzle was your personal get-well card. Hope it helps.
Do I remember Jim Nabors coming out of the closet back 30 years ago? I think Rock Hudson was involved.
My gaydar is awful. Whenever I am in France I think all of the men are gay. They are all so stylish and graceful with lovely accents. I get totally confused.

HudsonHawk 10:53 AM  

Loved the puzzle, but yep, AVA. And hot Bond girl actresses are usually right in my wheelhouse, but I missed out on her 15 minutes of fame. My Maxim subscription must have lapsed in 2006...

foodie 11:16 AM  

That south east corner was amazing with all the Z's and Q's. Wow!

When the telephone was first invented, some famous French aristocrat (whose name escapes me) thought it unacceptable. "On vous sonne et vous venez!" he exclaimed-- They ring you and you come!

I had a weird experience. I started with the dead tree version, and was only able to complete the corner defined by HUGOBOSS/HARE... Off of YOGURT I had YES MAAM in lieu of YOU RANG and nothing in the NE... And really stuck overall. Then I decided to try it on the Acrosslite version, threw in TBONES and it (mostly) came tumbling down. I find that the electronic format encourages me to guess which really helps.

Stan 11:22 AM  

Amusing, thorny puzzle with lots of little high points. Team-solved with wife, who knew BEZIQUE and JO'S BOYS.

I once talked with a Go-Go (Hurrah's, NYC). I asked her who they were going to sign with. She asked me why audiences in New York don't dance while the band is playing. Sorry, waxing nostalgic...

fikink 11:28 AM  

I bombed in the SW because I refused to google the Alcott sequel. But, don't cry for me, Argentina, the puzzle was well worth the struggle. I can't find any ABHORent fill and the clues for YOU RANG , GADAR rocked!

No, Rex, I think @Hudson Hawk told us that Sara Lee owned Coach.

Thank you, BW!

OISK 11:32 AM  

Too much pop culture for me. Once I have to look something up I admit defeat, and this was the first failure in over a month. Never heard of Gogos, Superbad, or Sobe. Had no trouble with the NW corner at all, nor the SW. Bit I did not know Galen or Nabors (never watched that show). Never heard of Meet me at the Copa either - started with Fair, but quickly realized that was wrong. All in all, despite some really good clues, (Gaydar and ninepin) I really disliked this one. (I see that I am a tiny minority!)

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Discovered (after reading your post) that I had made exactly the same EVA mistake, and for exactly the same reason. So I agree - cluing on that one sucked. But on the whole it was an easier Friday than usual for me.

raidodaze 11:54 AM  

I chose EVA because, "Has there ever been a AVA Bond Girl??"

Goedi 11:55 AM  

Until reading this, I also thought Eva Green was the name of the Bond Girl, not the actress. And I thought it was a pun/transposition of Eva Braun, not Evergreen. Wrong either way, I guess.
And, for what it's worth, if I were to guess at the punniness of Vesper Lind, I'd say it's a bastardization of the pronunciation of "West Berlin."

Joon 12:04 PM  

vesper lynd is indeed a pun, despite claims to the contrary by at least two commenters above. think "west berlin" (said with a superbad german accent). like berlin, the character's allegiances are divided down the middle. and if i've just spoiled the ending of a four-year old action flick for you, then i apologize. still a good movie--the opening parkour chase scene is unbelievable, and both of the leads are excellent.

SIX-PACK BEZIQUE was a theme answer in an old peter gordon NYT thursday in which all of the long answers contained X, Q, and Z. it's still got one of the highest average scrabble scores of any NYT puzzle.

Joon 12:05 PM  

scooped again! need to be terser.

I don't know why, but 12:22 PM  

somehow GAYDAR doesen't bother me but JEWDAR, as presented, does (cf 10:20a post)

Sandy 12:25 PM  

I usually take hours on a Friday, but today went comparatively quickly, except for the blank I left at Bezique/Eva. No Idea. Came here to learn the correct letter. Actually wondered at one stage if she could be "Iva."

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

If you are attracted to beautiful women--rent "The Dreamers". Eva Green will forever be a gimme after that. :)

JF 12:34 PM  

@joho: Only one. None of Bill Green's children had children except my mom.

lit.doc 12:39 PM  

Needed two googles to finish this one, one of which is totally embarrassing. NW was murder.

I’m ok with googling “Great Railway Bazaar” to get 1D T__EO_A, as I’ve never traveled. But having had to google “Rolling Stones 12x5” to get 39D _USIE_ is vexing. HUGO BOS_ no surprise, as I’m a blue jeans kinda guy. But AVENUE WTF has been in a cw recently enough that I ought to have remembered it, and I’m old enough to have known the name of the album “Susie Q” was on. But no, I was thinking “HUSEIN?” Left ‘em blank.

Hand up for EVA instead of AVA being a total swag, and LAST LINE before EXIT LINE.

@Ben, LOL re your definition of Superbäder.

Nick 12:48 PM  

To each his own, I guess. EVA was the first thing I filled in. She's a pretty famous international actress outside of being a Bond girl.

Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Nice puz. Thumbs up, even tho it didn't have any theme. BEZIQUE was a no-brainer for me; played it a lot as a kid, when we got bored and started working our way thru the Hoyle book. Also really liked SUPERBAD, as that was my ENTRYLINE into the puz.

But for me there were five certainties in this world: death, taxes, BEZIQUE, SUPERBAD, and YESDEAR for 7-Across. Made my NE corner experience a friggin' nightmare. Sparky clues throughout the puz. Not much wild-ass French stuff. 11 U's!!! I'm way cool with it.

mac 1:07 PM  

Wonderful puzzle! I ended up stuck in the NE. Never heard of gaydar, but how funny is that! 11D was aware of, alerted and alarmed for the longest time...

Piltdown man was brought up by Christopher Hitchens a few days ago, in relationship to Teilhard de Chardin, who is now suspected of having helped set it up. Teilhard de Chardin was someone my late father would mention, as he did Theroux, especially when he balked at getting on a plane! "I have travelled widely in Concord" was the line he used.

I think I have read enough Victorian era novels and seen Masterpiece Theater to know Bezique immediately. Good thing, because I do not know Eva Green.

peterp 1:14 PM  

i have no quibble with eva. sure, he could have used gabor, mendes, longoria or mrs. hitler but all would have been much too tuesday-like for a friday. i enjoyed the southeast, since it had two z's and two q's, the second of which did not even require the requisite u either across or down. but the northeast was a mess because i first had "you rule," could not make that work with "ophelia" and changed it to "you rate," only to get stymied on "one standing at the back of an alley." finally got "you rang" and then "ninepin" before hitting the dictionary for "gaydar," a new one for me.

foodie 1:16 PM  

@Orange, it's really interesting to see how how you pay attention to information and how it sticks...

One of the many reasons I like reading the comments (beyond learning new stuff, laughing at the jokes, etc.) is because one can observe different styles of thinking, different types of minds. It's also something I appreciate about Rex's write up- a great description of a mind at work.

poc 1:27 PM  

UHRY, NABORS, SOBE, all proper or company names and all guesses (correct, as it happens). BEZIQUE, not so much. I just knew it. As nice a name as PIQUET or ECARTE.

Some clever cluing today, which is always good. My favourite: 17A Bad setting. Very good :-)

I can tell that AVENUEQ is going to be part of the arsenal in future. Q-ending words are too rare to pass up.

Tinbeni 1:40 PM  

Saw it was a Brad Wilber, AS A RULE he is my nemesis, so I almost punted.

He threw me some T-BONES and BACARDI was a gimmie. Funny how in the area of alcohol I'm rarely stumped. Go fiqure.

SOBE & AVENUE Q were in recent xwords, this time the thinking CHAPEAU came through.
Looked at the JOSBOYS, thought WTF?, but I was sure of the downs. I have finally (recently) realized that sometimes you just have to have faith in "initial reactions" to a clue.

Knew EVA but BEZIQUE was all crosses and a learning moment, thanks Rex.

Rube 1:55 PM  

My hard copy version is a battle zone. Too many bad guesses to relate. After multiple googles for the pop culture stuff, (and JOSBOYS), ended up in the NE with kINgPIN and YOURAke. (Actually wanted something like pINspotter for 12D. That dates me.)

Came here to finish and get my WOTD, GAYDAR. Obviously been living in the burbs too long... out of contact with big city life. Never heard of TAEBO either, but gettable from the crosses. Even Dawg was new to this innocent. Loved the "Bad" joke. Wanted Fair for 25A, but COPA came out of the depths and worked much better.

Looking over the puz after finishing was impressed on the lack of tired fill. Good job.

Unknown 2:03 PM  

disagree that EVA clue was "lazy" editing. EVA was one of the few answers i got in the first pass. knew her from bertolucci's The Dreamers. (she won a bafta for the bond movie). refreshing and relevant alternative to the myriad of other ways to clue EVA.

has there ever been another AVA?

Moonchild 2:08 PM  

I was paddling around in the same boat as most folks here.
Tons of fun clues and answers.
My kind of puzzle.
I watched the Wale video.
I don't know this Lady Gaga person but ... that's a guy, right?

William Prevor 2:12 PM  

What? You have presumably done a lot of reading, yet do not know how to spell "bezique?" Hard to believe!
After finishing the puzzle, all I had to look up for meaning was "gaydar," so maybe our different takes on the puzzle are generational.

Jenny 3:00 PM  

Add my vote to those who say BEZIQUE is a card game one knows from books, but without having the foggiest idea how it's played. Like quadrille. I was unfamiliar with this EVA, but I don't see the crossing as obscure.

A very fast Friday for me overall.

william e emba 3:02 PM  

I've never actually played BEZIQUE, but I was familiar with the name. Perhaps because I played a heck of a lot of pinochle in grad school? I don't remember at this point.

On the other hand, I don't keep track of Bond girls anymore, so EVA or AVA was all the same to me.

Since this is a Friday, I think the cross is entirely legitimate.

I thought Little Men was going to be the sequel. I had no idea Alcott wrote a trilogy. Looking at -OSBOYS, I took a while to parse it and then guessed J.

sean m 3:11 PM  

i'm with rex on this one.

the one letter i had to guess was the 'eva' 'bezique' cross, which i too put in as A.

kind of lucked out with this puzzle otherwise. without thinking i instantly put in 'theroux' and 'ophelia' and 'gogos' and 'superbad.' making it an easier than usual friday for me.

most trouble was with that bezique corner.

lots of nice words in here overall.

Doc John 3:25 PM  

LOVED the clue for GAYDAR!
I totally agree with Rex about the Natick-ness of the EVA/BEZIQUE crossing (although I did manage to guess correctly).
Nice mention of "airtime", Rex, as today starts the ACE Spring Conference here in Southern California. I'll be getting lots of airtime on the various coasters in the next few days! (Plus a nod to the Mission Beach Giant Dipper, named as an ACE Coaster Landmark.)

dls 3:45 PM  

Seconding others -- EVA Green is hard to forget once you've seen The Dreamers. Knew BEZIQUE as a famously high-scoring Scrabble word. (CAZIQUE is another.)

sanfranman59 4:12 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 27:45, 26:29, 1.05, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:21, 12:50, 1.04, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Sfingi 4:31 PM  

Unbelievably difficult and beyond me. After filling in only two words correctly - JOSBOYS and OPHELIA - definitely girly school stuff, I had to Google 15 times, 13 for things I absolutely still don't know (SUPERBAD, AVENUEQ, etc.), and 3 I couldn't bubble up from my shrinking brain - BEZIQUE, THEROUX and GOGOS.

I had "fair" before "Club" - and it was COPA! Had pOSER before LOSER, RAmBO before TAEBO, "red" before EVA. (What do I know about James Bond - or want to?)
@Anon846 - Expected wordplay, also.

The only thing I know about BACARDI, since I'm close to a teetotaler, is a framed ad for their Limon in which the Twin Towers are "dancing." Try to find it. It's been suppressed.

Do you know how many organizations have handshake logos?

This Wilber guy lives in a different world than I do - young male, I'l bet. His entertainment choices cover everything I don't expect to see.
No wait - I think RUBE is a young man, and he's the closest to doing as poorly as I, or so he says here.

@Rube - I live in the city, but not THE city. I do know GAYDAR.
BTW - gays use the term GADAR. Jews don't use that other term. To me, it would be off limits anyway.

@Mac - grest stuff. Keep it coming.

The rest, which I guess I was supposed to get first, were too clever by half, except for 2 ugly ones, LAS and MED. I guess it's a great puzzle if you're a genius.

Not up to Friday yet, but I bought the NYT because LA was so easy and the NYT was easy yesterday. Bad move for the ego.

I will check out Doyle's scifi short stories, though.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

like a couple others, eva was the first one I spotted as knowing, I was like oh that's a gimme

archaeoprof 5:37 PM  

Late to the party today.

Hand up for Ava/Bazique. Saw Casino Royale but didn't catch her name...

I thought this puzzle was a striking mixture of high culture and pop culture. Most impressive!

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Seriously? You think one imperfect (for you) crossing renders a good puzzle "shrug-worthy"? Take a deep breath!

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

Your eva/bezique-type complaints would be more legitimate if it weren't for the fact that you only complain about the ones you personally don't know.

Rube 6:37 PM  

@Sfingi, I appreciate the compliment but you apparently missed my comment on "One standing in the back of an alley". When I was a kid there were guys who stood at the end of the bowling alley and who manually reset the pins. They were called pinspotters, or pin boys. Want to call me "young" now?

Also, I live a bridge away from San Francisco and still never heard of GAYDAR. I'm comfortable living under this rock.

Anyway, it appears that you and I have the same level of xword skills, (just different strengths). There are others like us out there and I propose a collaboration so that those "unreal" solvers on this blog don't take all of the glory. Those of us who really have to work at this late in the week deserve some credit too. Show yourselves. Xword Strugglers Unite!

kerryd 7:01 PM  

This one was super easy for me, and very enjoyable. Culturally, it was right up my ally: EVA and UHRY and AVENUEQ were all gimmes for me. And not one damn thing about sports!

Perfect! :)

Anonymous 7:37 PM  


des 7:39 PM  

Like many of you, I had never heard of GAYDAR, and since I was trying NOT to think of the COPA (I didn't want that Barry Manilow song in my head for the rest of the day), it was my final answer in the puzzle. I was sure Rex was going to make it his word of the day. Wrong as usual.

Sfingi 8:11 PM  

@Rube - I guess you are an oldster. I remember the human pinsetters. I think NINEPINS is pretty much a Boston game. The pins are skinny, too. Not that I play it.
Maybe GAYDAR is a NE thing.
I had been quitting the NYT after Wed. Maybe I'll go to Thurs., but not Fri. yet.

Our hometown paper is delivered and has the LA. I often pick up the USA Today which is always Wed. difficulty and has a bunch of other puzzles, one based on texting, which is interesting. There is no weekend USA. In another year, I hope I'm better.

I'm turning in.

Rube 8:49 PM  

@Sfingi, My wife does the USA Today sometimes and she says that there is now a Saturday USA Today puzzle. It too appears to be Wednesdayish. No Sunday tho.

michael 8:51 PM  

This was puzzle that seemed hard at first, but then I went through it fairly quickly. Really liked it and didn't even think about bezique/eva because I knew bezique. But then I had to google the superbad (never heard of it), sobe (ditto), Nabors (know him, but not Wally's Filling Station) so in the end I failed to finish.

foodie 9:09 PM  

@Rube, Sfingi et al, I'm thinking that the best collaboration for the "Xword strugglers" may be between people of different generations... I do best when my kids (in their late 20s/early 30's) are around because they know precisely the stuff that I have no hope of knowing. I learned GAYDAR from them a few years ago and was happy to see it today.

I have the added disadvantage of not knowing a lot of old stuff because I did not grow up here, and Friday/Saturday started off being truly impossible. I had to use everything at hand-- googling, thesaurus, puzzle husband, and different levels of cheating/peeking to finish. It's amazing to me how much I've improved over a couple of years, even though I am by no means a pro. But there is a way of thinking about these tough puzzles that slowly seeps in and makes a big difference. And best of all, it's great fun.

edith b 9:21 PM  

@anonymous 6:14-

Your comment makes no sense on its surface. You anonymice slay me - you snark at Rex from the cover of darkness. Show some guts for a change!!

I know Rex frowns on ad hominem attacks and if he decides to delete me so be it but I just had to get this off my chest.

Doug 9:36 PM  

Count me in for EVA/BEZIQUE. Saw Casino Royale, but for the first time since Sean C. was more interested in James Bond than the hottie.

Finished it on the busride home--What a nice way to end a Friday. Even better now that I've got a glass of wine and am watching the hockey.

lit.doc 9:36 PM  

@Sfingi and @Rube, about a year ago I was right where you are. One of the reasons I frequently post my typically laughable times is to testify to the presence of not-yet-proficient solvers in the conversation. Hang in there. This stuff is learnable.

Patricia Shepard 9:50 PM  

Bazique/Ava got me, too! Otherwise, great puzzle.

Unknown 11:50 PM  

Very very late, just posting in case the constructor is reading: loved loved loved this puzzle. It really stood out for me, kept going back to look at it just to appreciate it, fantastic words and mix of different cultural elements.

Despite getting bezique (from scrabble fame), agree that cross clue-ing needs to be absolutely solid, and if you don't know the Bond actress and are just aiming for a woman's name, it could be either ava or eva.

Learned the word 'sapor' today.

sanfranman59 1:20 AM  

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

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

Mon 7:25, 6:56, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 11:27, 8:52, 1.29, 96%, Challenging
Wed 10:12, 11:50, 0.86, 18%, Easy
Thu 14:42, 19:30, 0.75, 7%, Easy
Fri 27:47, 26:29, 1.05, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:43, 4:31, 1.26, 93%, Challenging
Wed 5:23, 5:48, 0.75, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:17, 9:21, 0.78, 10%, Easy
Fri 11:43, 12:48, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium

Bad Timing 1:04 AM  

"You rang?" is Lurch from The Addams Family. Classic stuff.

LKS 10:46 AM  

Just a quick FYI about the comment that no one is named Ava anymore. Go into an elementary classroom and you're likely to find an Ava. It's one of the top five baby names now.

rosie7466 6:02 PM  

Helloooooo....is anybody still there? We get the NYT puzzle (and only the Friday puzzle -the daily puzzle is LA Times) about four or five weeks later here in PA. I do enjoy reading the comments every Friday and have come to regognize many of the regulars. My comment on this puzzle: no one else mentioned the clue "Bronzes, maybe" I read bronzes as a verb, and entered "suntans". Did anybody else?

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

Nabors and Gaydar in the same crossword puzzle?? Hmm....

Laura 2:02 AM  

In syndication land here. Husband knew Superbad, Germany and Gaydar. I had to go dig out a Martini & Rossi bottle from the back of the cupboard to get Bacardi.

I especially liked Bro for Dawg. I can picture the irritating gentleman who might use those words frequently and interchangeably.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Also get the NYT in syndication.
And I also put "suntans" for bronzes.
A group of us tag-teamed to complete this Friday puzzle, with some help from our friends at Google:)

808 5:29 PM  

About 15 years ago a (male) friend was walking past Jim's house on the way to a popular Oahu surf spot. I'll never forget Jim's line as they passed by his mailbox. "I'll be waaatchin' you!" Gaydar indeed!

Sudsy in Chicago 2:09 PM  

Very fun puzzle, even though I couldn't finish it (a rare occurrence because I'm pretty darned stubborn). Could not for the life of me come up with TIP JAR or JOS BOYS, even though I had everything else in that corner. The NW would have been a problem for me too if CHAPEAU hadn't come up from some deep recess of my mind . . . the clue for that, by the way ("Lid"), gets my vote for being unfair. Unlike "nouveau riche," for example, "chapeau" has not earned a place in standard English. It should have been clued as non-English.
But I won't belabor the point as everything else was great. Loved EXIT LINE, YOU RANG, GAYDAR, SUZIEQ/AVENUEQ, HUGO BOSS, and even TIP JAR, despite its being part of my undoing.
(No opinion on the EVA/AVA issue, but I appreciate the point.)
Three cheers!

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP