Rhapsodie Hongroise composer / SAT 8-21-10 / Princess Najla player Broadway's Flahooley / Fulda feeder / Barrie's oddly genial man

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Leopold AUER (49A: "Rhapsodie Hongroise" composer) —

Auer, Leopold, 1845-1930, Hungarian violinist and teacher, studied at the conservatories of Budapest and Vienna and with Joseph Joachim in Hanover. He taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, 1868-1917. Among his pupils were Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, and Nathan Milstein. In 1918 he came to the United States, where he taught at the Institute of Musical Art, New York City, and the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. He became an American citizen in 1926. He was tremendously successful as a concert violinist and conductor. (Columbia Encyclopedia)
• • •

Entertaining outing from Mr. Silk today — fun to solve, and a good sight easier than yesterday's beast (though still suitably tough for a Saturday). The NW fell fast, and then: pause. That corner is hard to get out of—just these tiny little apertures. Having FREEZING somehow did not allow me to get DRIZZLE right away (17A: Winter weather hazard). That had to wait for OOZIER (12D: More like the Blob) (confirmed somewhat by ISR.->21A: Maccabiah Games setting: Abbr.). Tried KANSAN at first for 13D: Certain Tornado Alley resident, but that "Z" in OOZIER tipped me to DRIZZLE and so KANSAN became the correct TULSAN. The -TTOUT at 16A: Sew up a hole? was killing me for a little while. "QTIP is right (10D: Stick in a cabinet) ... UTZ is right (11D: Snack food brand) ... what the hell!?" (answer: PUTT OUT — back-to-back days with longish golf terms!) Also tried REQUOTE (?) before finally tumbling to the meaning of the clue at 8A: Indicator that you're back to your own words (UNQUOTE).

Once the NE was put to bed, I stepped gingerly down the grid toward the SW. A little trouble getting into that corner, as I somehow wanted OLDER for 40A: Primates vis-à-vis humans (ORDER). Also wanted ONEIDA for OJIBWA (40D: Native of the Lake Superior region) and DIMMEST for WARMEST (54A: Like the midafternoon hours, typically), so lots of rewrites going on down there. Still, all in all, not too much trouble. SE proved easiest of all. Right guesses right away at VIM and NINE, and then no missteps except for the feeble ALL-SIZE where ONE-SIZE was called for (38D: Endlessly adjustable, as clothing). Final letter was the "C" in CASED (47A: Like some joints) / COTAN [Sun together?] [Kidding: it's 47D: Trig ratio].

  • 27A: "Five Weeks in a Balloon" author (VERNE) — Is this the same as "Around the World in Eighty Days?" Because that's what made me guess VERNE. (No, they're different books entirely) My copy of "Around the World..." growing up definitely had a hot air balloon on it.
  • 28A: Surface for the Olympische Winterspiele (EIS) — one of about half a dozen German words I know, most of which I learned from crosswords.
  • 36A: Hub for Air Caraïbes Atlantique (ORLY) — really wanted something Caribbean here at first.
  • 43A: Barrie's "oddly genial man" (SMEE) — four-letter Barrie character. Come on.

  • 7D: Perfect-game pitcher Barker (LEN) — Gimme! Threw his perfect game for the Cleveland Indians, on May 15, 1981, against the Toronto Blue Jays
  • 18D: He said "I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury" (GROUCHO MARX) — kinda mad at myself for not getting this off the "G" alone. A few crosses made it clear.
  • 30D: Ivy with deep roots (YALE) — I *think* this clue is playing on the last name of YALE's founder, ELIHU Root. Wait, no, its founder was Elihu Yale. Whoa. Crosswire! (Elihu Root was the winner of the 1912 Nobel Peace Prize)
  • 32D: Fulda feeder (EDER) — if I tried to locate either on a map, I would Fail.
  • 34D: Princess Najla player in Broadway's "Flahooley" (YMA SUMAC) — as with GROUCHO, not happy I couldn't get this from the first letter. She's in crosswords enough!
See you Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Zeke 12:19 AM  

Only an answer like YMASUMAC could save a clue like Princess Najla player in Broadway's "Flahooley" from being the worst clue in the history of crosswords, and turn it into one of the better ones.
This one was near perfect. I mean, I bitched and groaned about having to know the airport codes for any one-time French island in the Caribean, only to have the airport simply be ORLY, the only possible fair answer. Nothing was outragously hard, nothing ws too cute, just a nice workout.

Will - Thanks for the HUAC yesterday, really helped me today. Nice cross reference to the Yma Sumac vehicle.

Robin 12:58 AM  

@Rex - great write-up. Puzzle was So much more fun than yesterday.
@Howard B - thanks for your kind words of encouragement yesterday - gave me the nerve to attempt this baby. But another golf thingy! OMG. Non-puzzle husband/golf expert's answer to Phil Mickelson clue was "crop duster" as opposed to the correct "flop shot." Also made me feel much better. If NPH doesn't know it, it isn't generally known.
Wanted "Tenerife" for 36A. Didn't fit. Don't know how to spell it, anyway.
So Howard B, you are right. Friday smart/Saturday smart is all relative. Just have to keep plugging along.
I Did know that 16A involved Putt - something, just struggled with the out part.

Robin 1:02 AM  

Big D'oh moment - finally figured out what a captcha is.

Clark 2:13 AM  

Tough stuff, but it eventually yielded. The NW put up a fight until I replaced 'Gates' (wrong!) with ASPIN. Then the SE almost beat me. I was about to throw in the towel when I changed INAhAZE to INADAZE, letting me see CANADA, CAN I, etc.

I have earned me some shut eye.

Tobias Duncan 2:14 AM  

Very happy to have nearly completed this puzzle after yesterdays near total shutdown(to add to my aggravation the Harvard degree wielding, smart-ass bartender at my local watering hole knocked out the friday puzzle while slinging drinks). Review was spot on for me this week. Last letter I would have put in, had I known who the heck Yma was, would have been the s in cased, but with the YMA junk I had going, I figured I had a bunch of errors and gave up.
Wanted elder for some reason for the primates clue. Not familiar with HUAC as an acronym( or is it an initialism?).For some reason I have always heard it said properly.But you give me the same clue two days in a row and my success rate increases dramatically.

andrea utz michaels 3:32 AM  

"Only an answer like YMASUMAC could save a clue like Princess Najla player in Broadway's "Flahooley" from being the worst clue in the history of crosswords, and turn it into one of the better ones." EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!

Liked that YMASUMAC and GROUCHOMARX were full names.

VERY Scrabbly! The X in BCOMPLEX helped me change Dangerfield to GROUCHOMARX (I could hear Rodney say that joke, plus same amount of letters! Not one of which overlaps unfortunately!)

For me, SO similar to yesterday! Took me hours, had HUAC as a bleedover, and was terribly cool pangram (plus! FOUR ZZZZ, 2JJ, 2XX, Q, K, etc. VERY nice...)

Same writeovers as @Rex: OneidA, OlDER, etc.

Sat there forEVER trying to think what a three letter German word for snow was...till EIS hit me!
(ow! 35A Headache cause? 55A INADAZE?)

This puzzle could be overlain on a World Weather map:

Admission: I had to google Tornado Alley to see what that phrase meant, but then got it...I thought it might be where Alley Oop was from!)

Also have never heard of UTZ.
Putz, check. Yutz, you bet. UTZ?
got me!

At one point I had everything from 20A on down but NOTHING up top.
Completely empty across the whole NW and NE.
Seriously thought 20A "Scratch": RASP might be crossing
10D "Stick in a cabinet": rasP (instead of QTIP, bec a foot rasp exists. I really really thought Barry Silk crossed two of the same words with two different definitions...hmmm, maybe I'll try to make that into a puzzle. An entire grid filled with double malapops! Collaborator?)

Ulrich 3:43 AM  

I can't remember another Saturday puzzle I was able to solve in such an orderly (more or less) fashion like this one--basically the same way our leader did: From NW (EIS and SKAT got me started there) to NE, which got me Groucho to open the south (having the O from Orly helped), then the SW from where the vitamin complex led me into the SE, where I discovered (after a while) my old friend YMA S. It wasn't fast--don't get me wrong--but it was steady.

Here's a thought w.r.t. to the perennial theme vs no-theme discussion. In today's themeless, FREEZING COLD, GROUCHO MARX, and BCOMPLEX VITAMIN form a giant I (as in I-beam) that constitutes, to me, the backbone of the entire puzzle. But they have absolutely nothing to do with each other semantically. Wouldn't it be esthetically more pleasing to have them related by a theme? I think so...

jae 3:51 AM  

I had this at easy-medium. I too had KANSAN at first and EAT for MOW. Plus my first guess at secdef was LARID. I agree with Robin, "this was much more fun than yesterday's".

@Andrea--my first thought was Dangerfield but the G in FREESING ruled him out.

EIS was a gimme as I attended a conference in Munich back in the 90's where if you needed ice in the room you needed to call room service (no machines). Trust me, I learned the word.

joecab 6:36 AM  

Groucho I got right away. Never heard of the quote, but is sure sounded like his kinda thang.

That bottom right killed me: had ATE for the "course" clue, And the kid's plea went from MINE to MAMA to NANA to finally the correct answer. Cobweb clue went from DISUSE to LOWUSE before falling into place as well. Nice puzzle though, and great letters. (Yes I like pangrams or anything that looks like it comes close, even if I don't demand them.)

Hmmm a Simpsons frame that could easily work for both the primate clue (definition of KWYJIBO) or because that word looks so much like OJIBWA. Clever clever.

Joe 8:06 AM  

I had a bit different experience from many, in that I liked yesterday's *much* better than this one. I thought Friday was fun and fresh and this one... no. The South fell almost immediately because I dropped in BCOMPLEXVITAMIN off a letter or two and then got GROUCHOMARX off the X. But the North was really nasty. NW fell first because ASPIN was a gimme for me. Followed politics closely in the '90s. Then SKAT and BASTES, then it was all over. The NE just pissed me off. I wanted OOZIER but was unwilling to give up on kanSAN. Can someone explain the clue at 30D for YALE? Is there more to it than just... Yale's old?

Spencer 8:15 AM  

First word was ANIS (French alcoholic beverage, 4 letters? Check!) Second was UNQUOTE, avoiding KANSAN (good thing TEXAN didn't fit).

Got NW pretty quickly, struggled with the S (also, falling asleep). Finishing it in the morning went better. It's amazing how being more awake improves my solving skills! Also, I don't get SSSSSSSSSSS from my fingers dropping onto the keyboard as I nod off. :-)

Glimmerglass 8:27 AM  

One quibble, though I don't think it hurt my time. Sleet isn't freezing drizzle. Drizzle is rain that freezes on contact with frozen pavement; sleet is falling ice. I got "sleet" first, then couldn't see NE corner (I had "gooier" at first up there). "unquote" straightened me out.

Joe 8:39 AM  

Oh! And I was literally eating UTZ potato chips while staring at 11D. Me: "What the hell? *munch munch* 3-letter snack food brand? *munch munch* Lay?"

Nancy in PA 9:41 AM  

Am I the only one who confidently wrote in Milton Berle instead of Groucho? Also threw in Gates for the Def. Sec'y. And it seemed downright diabolical to have BASTES unrelated to the sew up a hole clue. Live and learn...baste and lambaste are synonyms.

Difficult but ultimately satisfying.

mitchs 9:51 AM  

KANSAN held me up for a sight longer than it did Rex, though I guess that's not an occasion to stop the presses.

I only knew UTZ from "Mad Men" and didn't know it was a real brand.

As often happens on a Friday or Saturday, I progressed from the bottom up. Solid, fun Saturday.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

glimmerglass -- drizzle is just light rain; it can drizzle when it's 105 degrees out. so i think the clue's OK

great puzzle -- for me it went from being insanely difficult at first blush to fairly easy after about 10 minutes

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

The NW was the last to fall. As far as I was concerned, that "mouse" could have been COMICAL or MUSICAL, and--try as I might--I just couldn't TRANSGRESS where I should have TRESPASSed.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Cotan? come on give me a break!!Another made up word or abbrev. Before all you math einsteins jump on me I took enough college math to say I never heard of cotan. Maybe in new math it exists but this is supposed to be a puzzle of the people. Another Sat. much ado about nothing. No aha, no bling.

Rex Parker 10:26 AM  

I know squat about math, but I got through Trig (abbrev.) and know very well that COTAN is an abbrev. for COTANGENT. Basic. High school. Literally.


Two Ponies 10:58 AM  

Mr. Silk entertains as usual.
Fun, tricky, and lots of Z's and X's.
I had the G and first O of Groucho so I thought it might be a George.
I love Groucho.
More golf! At least I knew this one.
Clever misdirection for mow and even more golf.
Never heard of cozen.

Lindsay 11:03 AM  

I had [3 letter prefix TBD] multi-vitamin at 51A, which crossed convincingly with 52D mme and 46D pulse. That left 18D as a very long Italian name starting with g & ending with i. Giuliani? He's had marital problems. Giacometti? Still not enough letters, but picks up the c in 29A HUAC, and the m in 43A Smee. If you use your imagination.

Eventually sorted everything out, which is an improvement over yesterday when my non-knowledge of Italian proved a problem.

I'm posting with a name today. It's an experiment. If any axe-murderers show up at my door, it's back to "anonymous" :~)

Recovering Ax Murderer 11:29 AM  


Just looking for another hint:

Is that your first or last name?



Greene 11:34 AM  

I am one of the perhaps 4 puzzlers in the world that was able to write in YMA SUMAC based solely on the "Flahooley" clue. I'm not saying I'm proud of this.

"Flahooley" (1951), quite possibly the oddest musical to ever play Broadway, is remembered today pretty much only because it not only marked the Broadway debut of the lovely ingenue Barbara Cook, but also because it featured the bizarre vocal stylings of Peruvian-born YMA SUMAC with her four octave warbling, hissing, and grunting. Or was she really Brooklyn-born Amy Camus (YMA SUMAC spelled backward)? The world may never know.

The show itself was a delightful fantasy set in a toy factory with underlying contemporary social and political satire. The targets were capitalism, big business, and conformity, and the show's "genie hunts" and "doll burnings" were aimed directly at the witch hunts of McCarthyism. (How fun that Barry chose to include HUAC in this puzzle).

The authors of "Flahooley" unfortunately chose to engage in their sharp mockery of the American economic system during the Korean War and many deemed the satire inappropriate for the period. In his review in the "Mirror," critic Robert Coleman said, "The materials are there for a delightful, captivating fantasy, but alas, they have been subordinated to lengthy passages critical of our politics, economics and ethics...One first-nighter was overheard to say, 'With the United States at war, this is hardly the time to condemn a production system that has given us an amazingly high standard of living and, at the same time, managed to arm us and our allies.' We echo these sentiments."

Yikes! No wonder the show was so critical of 1950s conformity. Mercifully, times change, but "Flahooley" sank and vanished after a mere 40 performances. Probably because Miss Sumac was a recording artist for Capital Records, the show was recorded, but was out of print for many years. I remember very vividly when I chanced upon a battered old copy in a used record store, took it home and listened to all those bizarre numbers that Miss Sumac sang in the show (one couldn't really call them songs).

If anyone's interested, send me an e-mail and I'll send you a sound file of her stuff from the show. Very weird and completely wonderful.

David L 11:42 AM  

Very nice! A bit harder for me than yesterday (5 minutes harder, to be precise), but this was all high-quality stuff - clever clues, and nothing that made me curse or groan.

Well, OK, I have one question: why is 9D NURSE? What sort of operator would call on a nurse, and in what circumstances? I'm thinking maybe a 911 operator, but don't they just order an ambulance? I don't look for medical diagnostic help from 911...

Capt. James Hook 11:47 AM  

"and the Irish bo'sun Smee, an oddly genial man who stabbed, so to speak, without offence,and was the only Non-conformist in Hook's crew;"

Marcus Welby 11:50 AM  

@David L - the operator in question was most likely a surgeon, i.e. one who operates. Nurse, Scapel!

CoffeeLvr 11:54 AM  

Liked the puzzle, J's, Z's X's and all. I had three letters and three answers wrong. Stuck in the SE and ready to finish, INAhAZE so to speak . I knew CAwAhA had to be wrong, but couldn't let go of lOwUSE, after disUSE. No Googling, though.

@twangster, I agree with Glimmerglass, sleet isn't freezing drizzle. Sleet you can hear, freezing drizzle, like all drizzle, is slow quiet rain that freezes on contact with pavement, and on tree branches. Very common here in Midwest, and freezing drizzle damages a lot of trees here, every other year or so. Also, much more dangerous on the roads, sidewalks, parking lots, at least until the salt is applied. Enough meteorology, interesting that this cold topic doesn't make me wish for winter, in spite of the continuing Dog Days here in MO.

Lindsay 11:56 AM  

@Recovering Ax Murderer Seeking Hint

It's a location, not a name ....

CoffeeLvr 11:58 AM  

@Greene, thanks for the offer of Yma Sumac files, but my ex-husband was enthralled with her, and believe me I have heard enough for a lifetime.

Gravity 101 12:01 PM  

Sleet and freezing drizzle fall pretty much the same way though, up to down, do gently wafting involved.

David L 12:05 PM  

@Dr Welby -- Thanks, that makes sense. I guess I don't think of a surgeon as an operator in the usual sense. Darn these crossword constructors and their sneaky misdirection!

archaeoprof 12:34 PM  

Now THAT'S a fun puzzle. Hard, but fun. Charming. Lots of clever cluing, leading to phrases that are "in the language."

One big writeover: GeorgeBurns/GROUCHOMARX.

I hadn't thought about Les ASPIN in a very long time.

Thanks, Barry Silk!

Clark 1:02 PM  

@Greene -- If I didn't know you by now, I would think that you made up every word of your comment today. Flahooley indeed!

Mel Ott 1:16 PM  

Really liked the puzzle (liked yesterday too).

Don't usually like proper names but loved GROUCHOMARX right down the middle of the fairway. And connecting FREEZINGDRIZZLE & BCOMPLEXVITAMIN! Very nice indeed.

Enjoyed the misdirections, especially the clues for YALE and NURSE, even though I only got YALE from the crosses. Aha!

Agree with @Glimmerglass about the difference between FREEZINGDRIZZLE & SLEET. Close enough for a crossword clue? Probably. Able to get it and that's the important thing I suppose.

@Rex - thanks for explaining COTAN. I didn't see Cotangent until your post. Thought it was something this geezer forgot in the 53 years since HS trig.

@Greene- thanks for the illuminating post re Flahooley.

Sorry for the length of this post. Lot of good stuff to talk about.

Professor 1:35 PM  

didn't like the operator-nurse. Sil could've done better on that one!

retired_chemist 1:49 PM  

I failed.

There are SEVEN five letter Secretaries of Defense: Gates, Laird, Brown, Aspin, Perry, Cohen, and the second (latest) Gates.

There are remarkably many eleven letter comics: GROUCHO MARX, DANGERFIELD, MILTON BERLE, and the less likely GEORGE LOPEZ.

There are two similar-sounding Great Lakes tribes (OTTAWA, OJIBWA) and teh one used was spelled its less common way.

ASSUMES fits as well as ANNEXES at 56A, absent crosses. 8D could be PIRACY. ditto. 24A WOOL, ditto. MULTIPLE VITAMIN @ 51A, ditto. LOGICAL @ 1A, ditto. OFFENSE or AFFRONT @ 1D, ditto. WARMISH @ 54A, ditto.

We've heard of KANSAN preceding TULSAN. Me too.

Just got to where I couldn't see correct answers for the slew of incorrect ones I had cluttered the grid with.

Googled for GROUCHO, checked SKAT for trumps (never played it), confirmed ASPIN and OJIBWA, and finally got enough traction to limp to the finish line.

Nice puzzle, Barry. It's not you, it's me.

Noam D. Elkies 1:57 PM  

Anybody else here go with "offense" for 1D:OFF_BASE? It matches 5 of 7 letters, and "forgone" matches all but one in 15A:FAR_GONE. Thus that corner was the last to fall.

Despite that, and a wrong turn in the SW (yes, Oneida and dimmest/darkest for 40D:OJIBWA/54A:WARMEST), a surprisingly manageable Saturday, thanks largely to guessing 18D:GROUCHO_MARX out of the blue and finding it was actually right.

I knew 11D:UTZ only thanks to Lollapuzzoola II. UTZ_PRETZEL_STIX would make a great 14-letter answer. Last time UTZ appeared in xwordinfo's database was on a Thursday in 1995, clued as a 1989 Bruce Chatwin novel (what the Utz?). This year we got Oreo cookies and pickles (yum!), but no Utz.

49A:AUER appears again. The clue suggested Liszt before I saw it called for only four letters; for Z's (four of them!) I had to look elsewhere.

I don't remember when I last saw 47D:COTAN for a trig ratio. It's legitimate, but these days cos/sin=cot, not cotan. "Cotan" is used for a cotangent bundle, but I don't expect to ever see one of those in the NYTimes crossword, even a Saturday.

Did 34D:YMASUMAC ever host a holiday special called "XMAS with YMA S."?


syndy 2:07 PM  

I had George Gobel;then Dangerfield then proceeded to step in every land mine out there-oneida etch(20 A)Kansan liberal use of swear word ensued had S--r-hparty and still couldn't see it until out of the corner of my eye it popped! Barry Silk YOU THE BEAR!

foodie 2:15 PM  

I feel like bursting into the Neil Diamond song: "I've seen the light"..."For I've been released, and I've been regained"... Except you really don't want me to do that... But the song started playing in my head as I was doing this puzzle-- hey it's Saturday and I'm cruising along! Well, for a while anyhow. Sooo much better than I felt yesterday. Thank you Barry Silk!

@NDE: OFFENSE for me too

joho 4:04 PM  

Yesterday's was so much easier for me. This one was a lot of fun until the NE. I finally got RASP. It had to be UPDATE. But kanSAN was killing me. Also UNQUOTE. Makes sense now, but I wanted QTIP to be FILE as in, "Stick that file into a cabinet." Oy. And because of FILE I tried to make RASP RAle which takes RASP to a whole other level approaching death.

Barry, you killed me today. But, as always, a gorgeous puzzle.

PuzzleNut 4:11 PM  

Back in hot, humid Houston after a wonderful month in the mountains of Northern NM. Unfortunately, my internet access out there is very limitedm so I haven't been following this blog for some time.
A wonderful Saturday puzzle to return to. Just enough misdirections and obscure clues to make me work, but ultimately fair and solvable. Hands up for OttaWA, dangerfield, snowSKI (never heard of PARASKI, although I thought it might be jumpSKI, with the compound answers entered backwards). Had PUT?OUT and went through the whole alphabet for U?Z and thought it had to be a T. Still didn't see PUTT OUT for several minutes and then - Duh, of course. Had a few letters of YMA SUMAC, but once I had the Y, that was a gimme.
PS COTAN is perfectly fine in my book. My first thought was cosecant, but that doesn't abbreviate well.

fergus 4:26 PM  

Knew a professor guy who fancied himself an OBJIBWA -- he even made the effort to learn their language. Said it was easier that heiroglyphics, which he had mastered at an earlier age.

Still, my densest write-over section was the SW, what with NO SALE, DETUSK, and even EXTEXTS as a possibility for Takes over. A recent article about electronica addiction can be assigned responsibility for that one.

Agree with Rex on Fri-Sat Difficulty Ratings. Clever Cluing today; not overworked.

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

Had DANGERFIELD for 18D and CELEBRITIES for 31A and sat there very still for a long time with nothing making sense until I took them out. Then, ahhh...

OldSchoolSolver 5:09 PM  

I actually would have rated this one "easy" given that I solve on paper with pen and had no crossouts. Recently I've been getting my butt kicked, so this is not an arrogant boast. Seems like now the Friday puzzles are the hardest, but not necessarily in a good way: lots of obscure clues, thmese that are less than compelling and don't hold my interest enough to care whether I have to Google.

OldSchoolSolver 5:11 PM  

"Themes", that is (why I don't solve online).

JenCT 5:29 PM  

Fell into every trap mentioned, and DNF, but got close!

Looking forward to Sunday.

sanfranman59 6:00 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 6:38, 6:58, 0.95, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 11:09, 8:52, 1.26, 97%, Challenging
Wed 11:34, 11:44, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Thu 18:19, 19:17, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Fri 33:25, 26:39, 1.25, 90%, Challenging
Sat 32:01, 30:57, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:43, 0.96, 33%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:38, 4:34, 1.23, 97%, Challenging
Wed 5:35, 5:46, 0.97, 44%, Medium
Thu 8:22, 9:14, 0.91, 40%, Medium
Fri 17:25, 13:00, 1.34, 90%, Challenging
Sat 18:20, 17:43, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Ben 6:28 PM  

Usually grok Mr. Silk better than today, but still got thru it reasonably apace for a Saturday. Good puzzle, nice and tough.

Had INAHAZE at first, and SPIT for SKAT.

Interesting how many stabs people took at the comedian down the middle. I had G__________ and wanted, for some reason, GEORGEJESSEL. But that was 12 letters so I went with GEORGEBURNS even though he would never crack a "my lousy wife" joke. Eventually I got to GROUCHOMARX. Then I come here and see ACM went with DANGERFIELD.

harryhassell 9:26 PM  

Finished today's, did not finish yesterday's.

Got GROUCHOMARX off of the C in HUAC (from yesterday) and then the top half fell. The bottom came a little slower. OJIBWA was the last thing in. Solid, fun Saturday, especially the long answers.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:37 PM  

Did this one at the beach today. Took me, maybe, half the day? But . . . I wasn't really concentrating on the puzzle.

Instead of confirming every guess with crosses, I just threw in my best estimate, so I racked up more write-overs than usual: With NDE and foodie, OFFENSE before OFFBASE; MAMA for CANI; UNCLEAR for INADAZE; ODER for EDER; FITSALL for ONESIZE; MANILA for CANADA; and finally, with an explanation, at 54 A, CALMEST, this last because I remember from many years ago a Smokey Bear Public Service Announcement which said you should burn brush piles around 4 PM, when the winds were generally the lightest!

Vega 9:45 PM  

I *must* be getting better because this took me no time flat. Well, OK, that's an exaggeration, it was more like 45 minutes. And I did have a wrong letter: "a" instead of "u" in TULSAN (making it TaLSAN, which I figured was some literary character I'd never heard of, and PUTTOaT, which I figured was "Put to a T," some phrase I'd never heard of. Oh well). And I did start out with "unisize." But the Scrabbly letters help so much, besides being awesome. I thought it was a fine puzzle overall. The putt-out, though: ugh.


Rex Parker 9:46 PM  

PUT TO A T — I can see being convinced by that.

TALSAN, not so much :)


Stan 12:57 AM  

If I were a really Zen kind of guy, at 9 this morning I would have just written in OPTICAL (after considering COUNTRY) and UNQUOTE across the top of this one. But no: KANSAN, which seemed like an aha moment, stopped me in the NE, and many hours passed (during which time I bought a house -- well, didn't actually buy, but put in an offer on, something I've never done before). Anyway, later I figured out that UNQUOTE was right after all and the rest of the puzzle fell into place. Good late-week cluing here: not at all obvious but clear once you get it. Thanks Barry for a fun and diverting solve that helped me though a challenging day.

Stan 1:23 AM  

Lindsay: Välkommen!!!

And don't worry about @Recovering Ax Murderer -- he hardly ever kills any of us.

andrea just axin' michaels 3:13 AM  

Oh yeah? Whatever happened to @barry? @edith? @mexgirl?

Recovering Ax Murderer 11:50 AM  

I have no idea what happened to @mexgirl.


Anonymous 1:15 PM  

I was stuck on George Burns rather than Groucho Marx. It seems they're both credited with the same quote. It didn't help that I was stuck on Kansan also.

Unknown 12:53 PM  

UTZ?? Must be an east coast thing. Never heeered of such a thing.

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