Rapper/actor Woolard / FRI 6-18-10 / Tubism artist / Poland Spring rival / Baba Looey was his deputy / Bushrope / Cubs bears crias

Friday, June 18, 2010

Constructor: Karen M. Tracey

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: JAMAL Woolard (39A: Rapper/actor Woolard who starred in "Notorious," 2009) —

Jamal Woolard (born July 8, 1975) is an American rapper and actor who portrayed The Notorious B.I.G. in the biopic Notorious. // Woolard, like Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.), is from Brooklyn, specifically L.G., Lafayette Gardens. In real life he raps under the name "Gravy". He is featured in the song "Untouchable" by Tupac Shakur on the Pac's Life album. (wikipedia)

• • •
This one destroyed me. Name after name after name I simply didn't know. It was just painful. I can look at the grid now and admire it — esp. the 15s that cross in the middle, QUICK DRAW MCGRAW (34A: Baba Looey was his deputy) and NAKED AS A JAYBIRD (8D: Like all new deliveries?), neither of which I got for a Long time — but I actually found the whole solving experience unpleasant, which I almost Never say about a Karen Tracey puzzle. In fact, I generally tend to be, happily, right on her wavelength. Today, I wasn't anywhere close. Difficulty was all in the barrage of names (and only somewhat in the cluing).

Beyond me:
  • INNER EAR — no idea how that's a [Labyrinth]
  • ZOT — rings a bell, kinda, but not really. And I live in Johnny Hart country (you frequently see Broome County stuff with "B.C." characters on it) (21D: Sound from the anteater in "B.C.")
  • BAOBOB — never saw that movie, barely recognize the tree name (9A: Tree that's home to Rafiki in "The Lion King")
  • HONORÉ — no way (33A: French caricaturist Daumier)
  • JAMAL — no way
  • CAL — if I knew it, I forgot it (41A: "East of Eden" twin)
  • EDA — uh uh (32D: Soprano Christiane ___-Pierre)
  • ROYKO — know him, of course, but couldn't see him at all from that clue (47A: Author of the best seller "Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago")
  • HEX BOLT — "common?" Yikes. It may be. But that name isn't (to me) (51A: Common metal fastener)

  • OLETA — never even heard of it (48D: River that drains the Everglades into Biscayne Bay)
  • QUINELLA — never even heard of it (34D: Track betting option)
  • LÉGER — know him well, but couldn't see him from that clue, or from -GER (42A: "Tubism" artist)
  • IRENE — guessed it from -ENE, but no no no. (40A: Chemistry Nobelist Joliot-Curie)
  • PAL — [Alter ego] metaphorically? Don't get it.
  • BORER — just ... in general? Anything that "bores?" Is it a specific kind of pest? (9D: Uninvited cornfield guest)
  • GEENA — know her, but, of course, BETTE fits. And OSSIE fits ... (27A: Davis in Hollywood)
  • WALK OVER — probably seen it before, but not a phrase I use or hear a lot. You can win "in a walk." You "roll over" an opponent. I'm sure WALK OVER's legit, just outside my field of usage. (37D: Rout)

Some painful plurals in INTS and ONEAS.

ROSCOE was about the only specialty word that was right up my alley today (18A: Gangster's piece). Not sure what I would have done in NW if my crosswordesey guesses of EFTS (5D: Bog youngsters) and LIANA (6D: Bushrope) hadn't helped me get AQUAFINA (15A: Poland Spring rival). Kept wanting COX but wasn't able to get any confirmation (until the Very end) (41D: Stroking coordinator). After the first several minutes, all I had was the lower SW, with ICE SKATE just sticking up out of there all by itself (36D: Devil's wear?). After that, I honestly don't know what happened. Just lots of stumbling around, here and there. No order. No system. If I hadn't just blindly hit on RETICENT (59A: Opposite of garrulous) — with no crosses except maybe the "N" from the other blind guess of ERMINE (44D: Regal trim) — I might still be doing this puzzle. Besides RETICENT and ROSCOE, virtually nothing else rolled my way today. Oh, the humility!

  • 1A: Early 20th-century mode of transportation (ZEPPELIN) — Insert Hindenburg analogy here. Or just repeat "Oh, the humility!"
  • 38A: Longtime drink nickname, with "the" (UNCOLA) — brain wanted *only* a mixed drink. Didn't see this 7Up nickname forEver.

  • 10D: Parts of décadas (AÑOS) — one of maybe 4-5 gimmes in the whole puzzle. And this one did Nothing for me.
  • 16A: Less steep (ON SALE) — nope, doesn't end in "-ER"
  • 45D: John of Broadway and his Grammy-winning daughter (RAITTS) — a simple "Bonnie" in this clue would've helped a lot ...
  • 26D: Flapper feature (RINGLET) — could think only of BOB haircuts. BOBCUTS?
I'm off to pretend this never happened.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:19 AM  

Thank you, thank you! I was feeling like such an idiot.

I put TRIFECTA for 34Down in the Southwest, and actually got IRENE, ELK and ADEPTS out of it! All correctly! Which made it very painful to unload. Then HERALDED right next door for 35D, for "Opened, in a way", which meant that QUICK DRAW MCGRAW was starting with TH. And so it went... I FOUND IT, in lieu of I'VE GOT IT, RETIRING instead of RETICENT... It hurts my heart to think about it all.

In retrospect, it should have been more gettable and more enjoyable. But I had to cheat to get anywhere.

And I'd like to lodge an objection to the definition of ZAFTIG. I think I know my plump terminology, and ZAFTIG is pleasantly plump. You can be well- proportioned and not plump. So Zaftig= well- proportioned? Not in my book.

Okay. I feel better.

retired_chemist 12:19 AM  

Got halfway through, watched the second half of the NBA final, then came back and finished up. Medium here.

Biggest hangup was sticking with MARIE @ 40A. Thinking the devil @ 356D wore some kind of ____CAPE didn't help either. BANYAN @ 9A, HEATER @ 18A ditto.

Did stick with HAUT @ 51D, eventually producing HEX BOLT. That was a WTF since the threaded part CANNOT be hexagonal. OK, per Google, it turns out to be common parlance for HEX HEAD BOLT, which makes sense.

ZAFTIG presumably relates to the German saftig, which translates as "juicy." "Well proportioned" seems a euphemism for what I think it REALLY means.

All told, a nice solve. Thank you, Ms. Tracy.

Clark 12:28 AM  

I got through with just three little mistakes -- not bad for me on a Friday. I was trying to keep my SLEEVES form coming out in public, which gave me a yiddish anteater that says VOT. And I figured a front could be a POSE. Well, I loved QUICK DRAW MCGRAW.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

I got INNER EAR from "Labyrinth" based on labyrinthitis, which is where one's inner ear goes all wonky.

Noam D. Elkies 1:35 AM  

Yes, looks like an impressive but tough Friday — glad I didn't plunge into it.

@ret.chemist: yes, 1D:ZAFTIG is related with the similar German word (as in Apfelsaft = apple juice, etc.; m-w.com reports a kinship between "saft" and English "sap", but I digress). The direct source is Yiddish, where it has the same literal meaning, and m-w.com defines it as "of a woman: having a full rounded figure : pleasingly plump", though indeed it is also used euphemistically for "unpleasantly plump".

Obligatory geekiness: 51A:HEXBOLT = 62:6f:6c:74


syndy 2:21 AM  

lots of hard stuff but finally got down in the southwest-man oh man! some people say hell is cold so maybe the devil wears some form of ice? had face and then pose and related and alpacas! wait a minute aren't the devils some sport team! ice skate-just one he must have good balance!still he let that llama out of the bag. nasty little worm that corn borer!

lit.doc 2:42 AM  

Wow, this one kicked my ass. DNF. Had to come here for three freebies to work it out. Best thing I can claim is that I got the crossed 15s and lots of the fill on my own. I was relieved to see Rex’s “Challenging” call. Would have been a cold day in hell before I got “Devil’s wear” (which should be a plural possessive IMO).

1D ZAFTIG let me work out NW. Neeeever would have gotten that one. 34D QUINELLA let me work out SW. Had ___FECTA and, damn it, there were three letters out there somewhere that would make it work. TRI? No, but something like that, for sure. 59A RETICENT let me work out the remainder, including the head-slapping DOH! when I saw that 59D “10, at times” was the 10th month. Argh.

Best moment was the “WTF is this doing in the NYT?!” when I saw that “Stroking coordinator” was COC no, wait, I mean COX. Swains have them, right?

@Rex, nice ironic play on “humanity” re 1A.

@retired_chemist, I should have taken your advice and come home at half time.

@Clark, hell, I was trying to keep SLEAZES from coming out in public for the longest time.

@NDE, “62:6f:6c:74”?!

4e:44:45 3:05 AM  

@lit.doc: ask http://www.dolcevie.com/js/converter.html to explain :-)


andrea zot! michaels 4:14 AM  

I loved this puzzle!!!!
2 Qs, 2 Zs, a J, an X, 4 Ks, 3 Fs!

hard but fun...tho until tonight, I thought it was QuickSdrawmcGraw. 40 years thinking there was an S!

Been trying to make a puzzle with NAKEDASAJAYBIRD for years...such a lovely 15.

I'm surprised @rex didn't know QUINELLA only bec I thought I learned it from this blog! Are you SURE it's never been the word of the day??

I had about 23 writeovers...but I think getting GEENA off the bat helped with the ZAFTIG thing...but just ONCE I'd like Will to ask someone Jewish how a Yiddish word is used so we wouldn't have discussions about how off it is, or whether or not SHMUCK is suitable for print or whatever. Same goes for MAVENS=ADEPTS.

My only question is I don't get INTS/Some exciting plays. Interests?

RAITTS was my first entrance bec I went out with her drummer for about 2 seconds, and I've run into her socially here now and then and it's always super awkward. I have a funny story about the title of her album "nick of time" and her blind poodle but I'm RETICENT to tell it here.

dls 4:17 AM  

Medium here. It helped that QUINELLA went in right away when I started looking at the SW, but I was stuck for a while after finishing the NE and SW, with almost no progress on the other corners other than TORA (but suspicions about EFTS and IVEGOTIT).

The breakthrough was fixing FOCAL, which I'd had originally as FOCUS; from __MAL I could guess JAMAL, and NAKEDASAJAYBIRD and LEGER went straight in. Got AQUAFINA off the terminal A in the NW, and I was home free.

Greene 6:31 AM  

Strangely, this puzzle didn't strike me as being that difficult. Of course, all Fridays are difficult for me, usually take in excess of an hour, and often end in a failed snarl of wrong answers. Not so this one which I did in about 35 minutes with startlingly few writeovers. I think my success has less to do with superior puzzling skills, and everything to do with the happy coincidence of just knowing many of the proper names involved.

I felt like I solved this puzzle backwards by starting in the SE where I got the RAITTS, ERMINE, and GOATEE in very short order. QUICK DRAW MCGRAW was a gimmie and allowed me to build north where BEEF STEW and ALOE VERA were correct guesses. I actually knew BAOBAB, but had the usual spelling errors. Attacked the the NW from both the east and the south (thank God for QUICK DRAW or I would have gotten stuck permanently).

Love the word ZAFTIG and am always reminded of Margaret Cho's quip: "ZAFTIG? Isn't that German for big fat pig?"

Got QUINELLA soley off the Q from QUICK DRAW then had a fun memory of multiple 7-Up commercials from the 70s with calypso songs about The UNCOLA.

I really enjoyed this puzzle because there were plenty of things I didn't know and yet I was able to piece the whole thing together from crosses and guesswork. It made me feel like I are smart. Thanks Ms. Tracey!

P.S. I was going to write a tribute paragraph to Broadway legend John RAITT, but thought I'd spare everyone today. IMS Dave has a nifty John RAITT story though, so maybe he'll stop by and share it. I can't even post a You Tube link to Mr. RAITT since I'm writing this at work where our computers are blocked from You Tube, Face Book, and the like. I can't even see Rex's videos! :-(

Ruth 6:58 AM  

@Andrea, I INTerpret "INTS" as interceptions. (They can be exciting.)
Now c'mon, are you gonna come through with the Bonnie Raitt story?

John 7:05 AM  

Andrea, You've been listening to Baba Looey too long. That's the way he pronounces it. I wonder if they came up with that name from Baba Loo?

INTS, Interceptions.

Smitty 7:59 AM  

I agree the cluing to words like Pal, zaftig, focal, adepts felt clunky. But there were some nice moments like inner ear.
Thanks for the memories of Zot!, the UnCola, and
Kweekstraw (as Baba Louie called him)
The Q gave me quinella, the only wager (exacta, trifecta, superfecta) to start with a q

Bob Kerfuffle 8:02 AM  

I came to the blog thinking Rex would rate it as easy, since I had finished in about 20 minutes, a Medium time for me, no write-overs. Of course, I *thought* I had finished correctly, but no, two letters off: Like @dls, I had put in FOCUS instead of FOCAL; unlike @dls, I did not correct that error since: a. FOCUS can mean "middle", b. JAMAL is another rapper, and everyone knows rappers don't follow any conventional rules of spelling, besides which I never heard of him, and c. Having SEGER instead of LEGER seems perfectly fine if like me you are thinking of E. C. Segar, and "Tubism" sounds to the uninitiated as a cartoony play on "Cubism.'

Good Friday puzzle overall.

And if 18 A had been RUSCOE, our Spanish purists would have had partial vindication.

SethG 8:07 AM  

Walkover can be a rout. I'm more familiar with it as a contest that doesn't happen, as when a tennis player's opponent withdraws for an injury.

AQUAFINA/GEENA/SNO CONE/ANKLE was the only stuff that I started with and stuck with. Even my other good guesses, like IVE GOT IT, were gone before they were back. My brain hurts.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

i don't know when the last time i got a full length answer with no crosses. thank god for watching all those cartoons on saturday morning.

i have aquafina in my kitchen right this moment. top of mind...otherwise i would have to go through all the brands of water in my head...which number about 4 or 5...including poland springs and aquafina. i lucked out.

a few things i had no idea: tubism? honore? is that a name? oleta? isn't she a soul singer?

without quickdraw i might have had a tougher time, hard to say. but getting that huge cross early helped.

imsdave 8:39 AM  

I truly expected an easy evaluation on this one. Anytime I come in under twenty on a Friday, that's fast for me. Growing up in Binghamton, one better know ZOT (z's always help). 15 letters across the middle with no helpers? Yes! John RAITT. Didn't know JAMAL, but -AMAL? What else could it be?

I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Raitt a few times. On one occasion, I picked him up at the West Palm Beach airport and drove him to Stuart to perform at one of my fathers birthday parties. On the trip, I asked him about Janis Paige's voice (if any of you have heard the original cast recording of "The Pajama Game", you'll know that her performance might best be described as 'pitchy'). He said "Dave, she's the only woman I ever met who could sing between the black and the white keys on the piano, but it didn't matter a bit. If you only could have seen her on stage".

mitchs 8:40 AM  


"Hey Queeksdraw, I thin we better go..."

"I'll do the thinnin' around here, Bobba Looey!"

I finished. TAUT is the opposite of bas. TEEBOLT is a common fastener and COE, surprisingly enough, means stroking coordinator.

Done and done.

CaseAceFos 8:41 AM  

I was "Quick to get the Draw on McGraw" but, alas, after that, just like this blog's creator, I was pretty much asea and way in over my head! I bow to your brains Lady Karen,you turned out a "too toughie" for this solver!

fikink 8:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie 8:41 AM  

Loved this--QUICKDRAW MCGRAW and NAKED AS A JAYBIRD alone made it very worthwhile. ZOT and ROSCOE were icing on the cake. Liked the symmetry of ONE-A's and DRAFTEES.

Like the rest of you, I thought 1D should be ZAFTIG, once 24D's SNO-CONE made me sure of the G in 27A's GEENA. But I really, really resisted putting it in for the same reason as everyone else.

fikink 8:42 AM  

ZAFTIG?! - sheesh! I am so Iowa! What a great word!

Speaking of that, @Dough, I liked your use of "dudgeon" yesterday.

QUICKDRAWMCGRAW got me in and ROYKO's Boss is on my shelf, but even with these gimmees, I struggled mightily.

But what a glorious struggle!
Ms. Tracey, I am always challenged by you - thank you for this!

Zeke 8:52 AM  

I could have sworn ZAFTIG was really ZoFTIG. I confused ROYKO with Rothko, which gave me pause there. I've loved a few bunnys in my day, but HEF "loved" them.
Reviewing it this AM, I can't tell which are mistakes and which are typos. Anyway, the puzzle was a welcome respite from watching the Celtics lose. Thought this would have been rated easy-medium, as I only paused the game 25 minutes to "complete" the puzzle.

Stephen (opus2) 9:13 AM  

I got a bunch I never heard of (royko, zaftig) plus some personal gimmes (quickdrawmcgraw, zot) after overcoming traps like ossie/bette/geena and thought I was done at 30 min (good Friday time for me) but alas also fell victim to focus/jamul/seger instead of focal/jamal/leger. Took the lustre off a challenging diversion.

David L 9:14 AM  

Big struggle -- lots of stuff I didn't know. Managed to finish the SW even tho I didn't know QUINELLA and didn't understand ICESKATE. Was pleased at finishing until I realized I had RINGNUT for RINGLET, giving me JAMAN and LUGER -- which seem about as plausible to me as the right answers. RINGNUT was because I was thinking of flapper as part of the machinery inside a toilet tank! Should've realized there wouldn't be that and HEXBOLT in the same puzzle.

But why RINGLET? Is the connection to flappers as dancing girls from the roaring 20s? I thought they usually wore pageboy and pixie 'dos...

David L 9:19 AM  

and now that I think of it, why is HEXBOLT a metal fastener? To me, it just means a bolt with a hex head. Works for metal, wood, plastic...

nanpilla 9:21 AM  

Embarrased how long it took me to get EQUINE! Interesting how many letters it shares with QUINELLA, which is involved in horse racing, but I don't think they share a root.

Loved this workout (probably because I was able to complete it). So much I've never heard of, but all getable with a lot of sweat.

On hot sweltering days, we are always saying "Oh, the humidity".

Got a litter of wild kittens under my back deck - adorable. Now I have to figure out how to trap and neuter them or I could end up with hundreds. My old orange cat is home for hospice care for cancer, and they are driving him crazy. At least they are giving him something to think about.

ArtLvr 9:23 AM  

I was so happy to get the NW first with ZEPPELIN and ZAFTIG! It seemed to bode well, and that was mostly true. Loved BAOBAB, ROSCOE, GOATEE, FUEL TANK, HEF and NAKED AS A JAY BIRD.

Like @foodie, I had the same quarrel with the definition of ZAFTIG, and I also bogged down a bit in the SW as I wagered on Trifecta until it just wouldn’t work. I knew there was a something -ELLA in the back of my mind. Aha, QUINELLA. EUREKA. Kudos to Karen — wish I could create one like this!


retired_chemist 9:30 AM  

@ David L - While flappers were before even my time, I think a RINGLET, a curl of hair, is meant to be a spit curl. Those were popular with flappers.

And maybe with nancys, which is my CAPTCHA.

ArtLvr 9:31 AM  

@nanpilla -- Very sorry about your older cat. I hand-fed a litter of wild kittens too for nearly a month a few years ago, and my older cat was highly jealous. She was much relieved when I found them all homes, but I missed them. Good luck!


Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Got Quick Draw McGraw immediately and Royko, too. Being a Chicagoan of a certain age, these two clues were gimmes. :-)

Roxie 9:53 AM  

@David L -- Hi, big boy. . . . Like my hair/

dk 9:55 AM  

Had to finish this in two sittings (soccer break). Wanted ZEPPELIN for 17A but was rescued by the xwordy EFTS.

Got the big ones early on. So this one was a Friday medium for me.

My only complaint is 41D's clue should have ended with cord. as COX is an abbreviation for coxswain.

Used to visit the Poland Spring House on cloudy/cool Maine summer days. I was slow to fill AQUAFINA as the two products are far apart in age. Calistoga is an age equivalent rival.

QUINELLA was a part of or race discussions a couple of weeks ago.

My egocentric answer for 27A was grad student.

*** (3 Stars) Lots of names but I knew them.

Roxie 9:56 AM  

Oh, horsefeathers! I meant, "Like my hair?"

joho 10:00 AM  

Yikes, this was hard! I can't believe I finished with only one error: pOSE for NOSE. Even so, I'm proud of myself and anybody else who completed this beautiful beast.

@foodie etal., I couldn't agree with you all more about ZAFTIG. @Greene, LOL at "Big, fat pig!"

Fantastic Friday, thank you, you devil, Karen Tracey!

Carisa 10:01 AM  

I was close to finishing but was stuck on the hex bolt / cox crossing. Just wasn't coming to me. Then I realized the puzzle was close to being a pangram and the only letter I didn't have yet was "X" and once I realized that, I cruised to the finish.

joho 10:01 AM  

Oh, and it's a pangram!

Wally Cox 10:07 AM  

@dk - COX has stood on its own with the meaning of coxswain (noun) at least since 1869, so I don't think it requires identification as an abbrev. (Unless you would also call for an abbrev. designation for "gym" (1871).)

Odile 10:26 AM  

I gave up with the NW mostly blank, came over here, and thought "good thing I stopped, I never would have gotten any of that." For the rest of it, though, I'm grateful that any Googling I did was highly educational. I hate when I have to Google a clue (and thus already feel a little sheepish) but don't learn anything interesting.

@Rex: Sydney already alluded to it, but the corn borer is a specific, and particularly nasty, pest.

David L 10:28 AM  

@ Roxie -- merci, tres jolie! -- only, would you could those ringlets? I would say waves, curls, something. Seeing as how I am, you know, a big expert on jazz age women's hairstylings...

David L 10:29 AM  

*call (more horsefeathers...)

PC 10:31 AM  

Difficult but doable with help and 3 cups of coffee. Knew RAITT and ROYKO but not JAMAL. Know Amhad. AQUAFINA by Pepsi has an exotic name but is American tap water. Funny story - I was listening to a talk show when the topic was horse racing. A caller asked what was the name for picking more than one horse on a bet. The radio host said "Exacta?" "No." "Trifecta?" "No." "QUINELLA?" "That's it! I'm having a baby and that's what I'm going to name her."

JenCT 10:36 AM  

First thought for 20A (SNEEZES) was a certain unpleasant gas, but it wouldn't fit...

Had BETTE before GEENA, also ALPACA before LLAMA, QUICK DRAW MCGRAW and HEX BOLTS were easy for me.

All in all though, DNF.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I was on the verge of giving up about six times but kept plugging away and managed to solve it. Getting the Q for Quick was a big breakthrough.

Howard B 10:42 AM  

@Noam: Nice :) For 51A (or is that 33A?), you could also have been really mean and said 0x75:73:61:69:6e .

Tough one today. Some fun stuff in there, though I'm with Rex's assessment, overall. Never did quite get the PAL clue context either. Still, a crunchy test.

RodeoToad 10:58 AM  

Hey, it's also a, whatayacallit, one of those special messages where somebody shows up at your door and tells you you suck? Panagram! That's it.

Karen Tracey is my favorite constructor and maybe my favorite person in the whole world besides the guy who came up with the idea to slow the bionic man down to make it look like he was running faster. This one was brutal, but I finished it! Last letter unironically was the Z in SNEEZES, because I had a T where the N was because I had RIATA instead of LIANA and I know you're not reading this blah blah blah.

QUINELLA, a wild-ass guess, broke it open for me. For a minute or two anyway. Tough puzzle. I never even saw the cartoon Quick Draw McGraw and don't remember it ever being on, but I know the name.

chefbea 11:02 AM  

Tough Friday. Googled a lot, then gave up and came here.

Grew up with art but never heard of tubism!!

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Art Linkletter?

PuzzleNut 11:05 AM  

A really nice Friday. Started with ROSCOE, BORER and ANOS and got the NE pretty quickly. I'm of the age that QUICKDRAWMCGRAW was a shoe-in with only the AW at the end. Didn't know LEGER or JAMAL, so I dumbly put in FOCIS (double plural). SEGER looked fine and JAMIL looked better than JAMUL. OLETA was unknown, but the crosses were all pretty easy. HEXBOLT is fine in my book, although HEX HEAD BOLT is more exact. They could be used with wood, but much more common to use as a metal fastener. There is an alpaca ranch down the road from our NM home so I've heard of crias (since alpaca didn't fit, figured it was the same name for llamas). Liked the ICESKATE answer, but took an awful lot of crosses to get it. ELK was my first guess but thought there were so many possible answers, I left it blank. Too bad, as it was the "key" to my ICESKATE. Had the NK in ANKLE which led to GEENA. Not familiar with Poland Springs water but was pretty sure of the FINA which then had to lead to AQUA. I don't get the PAL clue and had the hardest time seeing ZEPPELIN. ZAFTIG is another word that sounds vaguely familiar and fits the crosses.

matt 11:17 AM  

A rare Friday where I gave up after cycling through a couple times... brain's just not working today. Am I the only one who almost entirely associates BAOBABs with The Little Prince?

retired_chemist 11:20 AM  

@NDE re

51A:HEXBOLT = 62:6f:6c:74




in UTF-8 Cute!

@ Howard B re


OK, but I haven't found the character set this comes from. Help?

alight - nice crosswordy CAPTCHA

foodie 11:38 AM  

@Rolin Mains HONORE (Honor-eh) means honored. The one I know best is HONORE De Balzac.

And speaking of unusual names, JAMAL means beauty- same word as GAMAL (as in Abdul-Nasser) except the latter is the Egyptian pronunciation of the J. They make them all hard.

@Andrea,your comment about Will needing a consultant about yiddish seems right on the money. For someone who is so wonderful at language it's weird that, in this area, he accepts definitions that may be technically part of the meaning but really miss the essence. I certainly didn't grow up knowing ZAFTIG, but it's such a fantastic word, you gotta love and honor it, not water it down.

And while we're talking, could you please forget that RETICENT stuff and tell all?

@ Wade: LOL re Panagram!

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Less steep = on sale???

A price is less steep; an item is on sale

Otherwise I loved this puzzle.

QuicK Draw McGraw made it all worthwhile.

Shamik 12:46 PM  

Bah. I thought this was a quick easy puzzle for a Friday. And then came here to find 4 squares wrong:

FOCAL for FOCUS which gave me JAMUL and SEGER (both possible Naticks).

CON for COX which gives HENBOLT which is possible if you don't know old school hardware.

And finally ROYKA for ALETA: supreme Natick.


Shamik 12:51 PM  

My fast incorrectly solved puzzle time was 9:51...very fast for me on a Friday and more time wouldn't have helped.

@nanpilla: Sorry about your orange cat!

Van55 1:25 PM  

By my count, there are only 13 proper nouns in the puzzle, which is far fewer than in some puzzles that have given me trouble. But some of the proper names were doozies for me: HONORE, JAMAL, LEGER, OLETA. Just didn't know them.

By contrast, QUICKDRAWMCGRAW was my very first entry.

Solid, challenging puzzle!

Nancy in PA 1:32 PM  

@Wade--loved the blah blah blah. I had "vet" way too long for bunny lover, and refused to give up "banyan" until the bitter end. But finished with no errors, no Googles, so it's a win. Loved it, ultimately.

Smirkin 1:33 PM  

Quickdraw was a quick draw for me.The first answer I got. I'm the right age and spent too much of my youth watching cartoons.Got uncola and ankle from that. But even with that auspicious start, took me a while to get into the puzzle.

Zaftig clue didn't bother me...I read "well-proportioned" as amply proportioned.

OldCarFudd 1:42 PM  

@Shamik - Hand up for focus, Jamul and Seger. Other than than no errors. I enjoyed this.

Zeppelins predate the Hindenburg by a full generation. In fact, Graf (Count) von Zeppelin's eponymous rigid airships were in scheduled passenger service in the Lake Constance (Bodensee) area in 1901, 2 years before the Wright brother's contraption clattered off the ground at Kitty Hawk.

Here's a happier zeppelin story than the Hindenburg. Its sister ship, the Graf Zeppelin, made a passenger-carrying flight around the world in the early '30s. I once heard a talk by F. W. (Willi) von Meister, who as a very young man had been part of the advance ground crew for the Graf, awaiting its arrival in San Francisco from Tokyo.(Zeppelins needed a HUGE ground crew to get them moored, especially if there was any wind.) They'd been tracking the Graf by radio messages (it was a multi-day trip, since the critter only went about 40 mph) and expected its arrival mid-afternoon. It didn't show up, and didn't show up, and didn't show up, and everyone feared a disaster had occurred. Finally it arrived about dusk, to great relief. When young Willi von Meister got a chance, he asked Hugo Eckener, the great pioneer airship aviator who was captain of the flight, what had caused the delay. Eckener said: "Willi, when a passenger aircraft makes the first round-the-world flight in the history of mankind, it should come through the Golden Gate at sunset."

daisy 2:03 PM  

wait - there's a mistake. The tree is a baobOb tree which makes Aloe Vera start with an O...

Nick 2:16 PM  

I gave up on this one after only filling in a few clues, something I can't remember ever doing with a Friday. Now that I look at the grid, I'm glad I didn't struggle any longer. This was simply punishing, at least 2x harder than the majority of Saturday puzzles.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

daisy, no, it's not.

treedweller 3:48 PM  

She said "stroking COX". hehehe.

@Rex, borers are a family of insects (using the term "family" loosely--maybe it's a genera or a class, taxonomically). The larva chews into the stem and destroys the whole plant in many cases. I deal with squash borers in the garden, and a few borers in trees, but I was not familiar with the corn-eating variety.

fikink 3:57 PM  

HONORE and LEGER came from taking far too many 19th century art history hours...
DISMmalest of all.

@matt, no you are not alone in the BAOBAB-Little Prince association. The Little Prince is what gave me an educated guess. In fact, I think a Little Prince reference would have been too easy a clue for a Friday.

@wade, I was listening...really

@foodie, same thing applies with so many German words. I'd like to see Will write a clue for Gemütlichkeit.

@Andrea, te-e-e-ell.

mac 4:16 PM  

I'm with @fikink, a glorious struggle.

Nobody thought Prada with the devil's wear?? I did end up getting the ice skate.

Zaftig is plump, and not necessarily well-proportioned.

I figured ints. were international games. The US was robbed by the man from Mali.

I always think a beard probably masks a week chin, no need to cover up a cute dimple.

Oh yes, Rex, thanks for the challenging rating....

sanfranman59 4:18 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 27:47, 26:20, 1.05, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 15:30, 12:46, 1.21, 87%, Challenging

Kerry 4:25 PM  

So proud of myself... mighty struggle, finished with no writeovers. Confirmed ROYKO, HEXBOLT, etc., declared it perfect...

Then realized I had "FOCUS", JAMUL and SEGER. D'oh. I guess JAMAL makes more sense than JAMUL, but the name "LEGER" is unknown to me.

Ah, well. Considering how long I spent with an empty grid, then only SNOCONE/GEENA and HEF/BEEFSTEW and nothing else, I consider it a triumph (with an asterisk).

Doug 4:33 PM  

I liked it. It was hard, but I finished. TRIFECTA kept trying to squeeze in, but somehow QUINELLA snuck to the front from the backstretch of my memory. The rest just took thought, and about fifty years of context for UNCOLA, QUICKDRAW and HEF.

chefbea 4:36 PM  

@mac - I too thought Prada!!

jae 4:47 PM  

Bob Kerfuffle pretty much stole my comment. I too found it on the easy side of medium and like Bob et. al. made the FOCUS error. That said, this was a great puzzle with fantastic crossing 15s. Nice work Ms. Tracy!

shrub5 5:13 PM  

Could not finish this without googling. Actually it would be more accurate to say I could barely get started without g'ing. Had some entries here and there, mostly in the bottom half. Finally looked up Baba Looey to get the long across and then I was in business.

Favorites were two shorties:
Bunny lover (HEF)
Not fast (EAT)

For "East of Eden" twin, it helps me to remember that the twins' names Caleb (CAL) and Aaron (Aron) are based on Cain and Abel.

Saw the late great John RAITT in "Man of La Mancha." In an interview, he said one of his most difficult parts was Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" where he had to play dead for five long minutes in the second act.

Another hand up for Prada / Devil's wear. Liked that movie.

@Greene: you IS smart!

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

I was raied in Miami and I've never heard of the Oleta River!

Jeff Chen 7:00 PM  

Wow, this one kicked my butt. I'd agree with Rex that the proper names made it very difficult (thanks for rating it challenging, whew!) and I didn't care for the crosswordese like EFTS, but I really enjoyed the 15 intersecting 15 answers, as well as the ZEPPELIN/ZAFTIG cross. Wow, wish I had managed to get that!

Doc John 7:34 PM  

Wow, a puzzle rated Challenging and I managed to finish it in the same day (a busy work day, at that). Guess I'm getting better. I do pretty much agree with what Rex had to say but did get INNER EAR from Labyrinth although it's not the greatest clue. The labyrinth refers to the cochlea but there's a lot more in the inner ear besides that.

And from the "one man's WTF is another man's gimme" dept.- having grown up in Miami, I once got a ticket for water skiing in the OLETA River!

Off tomorrow for a week of coaster riding. Coaster Con is at Kennywood this year.

Tinbeni 7:35 PM  

HMM ... When the two 15's were the first answers in the grid I had a sense of "this will be easy" ...

The Mali referee showed up and and gave me a Red Card.

I've even been to the OLETA River State Park, and trust me after the part in "the park" it is more like a creek.
I doubt you could find a map of it from the coast into the everglades. Natick for this Floridian.

andrea quinella michaels 7:36 PM  

@fikink, foodie, ruth, et al
I shouldn't have teased...the story is too long for this blog (I gotta get me my own blog one of these here days)(I can hear some of you saying "amen to that" and not necessarily kindly!) ;)
Plus too much namedropping and bad language, so I will respond privately to any who ask.

@Two Ponies
That is interesting what you mentioned about eQUINE and QUINElla so I looked it up bec I assumed the QUIN was about betting five races or some such...but apparently it's from a Basque word about betting and the game of pelota...Can't embed the link bec I googled and it was a microfilmed newspaper article but you can put in QUINELLA derivation and it will come up.

sanfranman59 10:14 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 7:09, 6:55, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:22, 8:49, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Wed 12:55, 11:50, 1.10, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 17:10, 19:06, 0.90, 40%, Easy-Medium
Fri 28:10, 26:21, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:31, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Wed 6:37, 5:48, 1.14, 84%, Challenging
Thu 8:22, 9:09, 0.91, 43%, Medium
Fri 15:08, 12:45, 1.19, 85%, Challenging

Blackbird 11:00 PM  

So often Rex finds puzzles easy that I find challenging, so this is a switch. I found this easy.Knew baobab, knew Leger, finally remembered Honore, figured out Irene figured out Quickdraw MGraw. Naked as a jaybird is a familiar phrase, kind of southern, or country, but I heard it growing up in Brooklyn lo these many years ago. Borer is a specific kind of insect, a field pest. Found zaftig a fun word given the clue. Zaftig and zeppelin signalled each other on a "could it really be?" basis. Never heard of hexbolt, but it worked out. Never heard of quinella, but didn't have to know it, the other words just filled it in. Why pal? Because I got ami first, and translated back to pal, so a pal is a sidekick, and hence an alter ego. It's a leap, but it's a leap over a little puddle, not over a chasm. Jamal and ringlet both seemed like plausible answers, given the few letters I had for each word. Labyrinth is an anatomical term for the inner ear. Perfectly straight up clue and answer.

Stan 11:51 PM  

@nanpilla: In a similar situation (litter of feral kittens), I found this organization helpful:


They provide coupons for low- (or moderate-)cost spay/neutering.



who put me in touch with local people who would loan me humane traps.

Jo 6:36 PM  

Aaarg! A big dnf for me. Zaftig and Naked as a Jaybird came easily enough but never heard of baba looey or quick draw mcgraw and though used to betting never made a quinella bet. We call that a box around here.

On to the next one!

Nebraska Doug 12:45 PM  

It took me three days, but I finally got this one. Whew! I was completely stumped for a long time. I went to the store, picked up the puzzle when I got home and NAKED AS A JAY BIRD just came to me, opening up a lot of the puzzle. Then I got stumped again. What finally turned the corner was giving up on TRIFECTA, after I had QUINELLA, QUICK DRAW MCGRAW fell into place and opened up the rest of the puzzle. Count me in on those who don't like the cluing for PAL. Only got it by getting AMI first. Tough puzzle!!!

tbdrummer 2:36 PM  

Ok, now I don't feel so dumb, either. I did get Quick Draw McGraw, but only because I remember the toon from when I was a kid. I totally botched the SW corner...what the heck is a "quinella" anyhow? "Baobab" threw me for a loop...I guess I got about 60 percent of it right, then had to start cheating...BIG TIME. Oh, and as a general contractor, I can vouch that "HEX BOLT" is indeed a common term for a fastener. Go to a home builder store some time and ask for one, and they'll know exactly what you mean. It's the counterpart to a hex nut. All screw-type fasteners are referenced by their head, then by the thread count and length.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

I agree, this was a real toughie. And I was lucky enough to know Quick Draw McGraw right off the bat. I got BAOBAB fairly easily, as this was a familiar word for me, but only after going astray with BANYAN first.

Anonymous 5:31 AM  

Last to fall was NW where I started confidently with STEAMCAR and SHAPELY emanating from 1. Couldn't let 'em go for a long time .... so stubborn was I to keep these that I had to invent the Spanglish ESPANA for Spanish bridge until a native set me straight. Got my ego massaged with Rex's "challenging" rating was same as mine. Knowing the 'alter ego' of "El Kabong" helped big time across the middle.

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