Brand written about by Hawthorne / FRI 10-22-10 / Host of the 1974 Asian Games / “La Legende des Siecles” poet / “Avalon” band

Friday, October 22, 2010

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

• • •

Hi! Andrea Carla Michaels here, sitting in for Rex as part of my week-long birthday celebration (and yes, I’m still accepting well wishes!) So, you know what that means, NO pulp fiction references, nor baseball (nor even college wrestling) (till tomorrow!) Can’t live without that? There is a train leaving for Hofstra in about 20 minutes and I’m sure Rex would appreciate front-row attendance!

So today we have a lovely offering from constructor Scott Atkinson, all Scrabbly, just the way I like my Fridays…Not only a complete pangram with the requisite X, J and Q, but he gives us two Zs and three Ks! (Why do all the great double ZZ words start with P? PALAZZI, PIZZAZZ, PUZZLE, PIZZARELLI?)

Usually I like to start at 1A. “What a wink often means”. Hmmmm. I toyed with a sharp stick in your eye (I wear contacts and that’s what makes me wink), complicity…even lasciviousness (which I have no idea how to spell…and still don’t). So I looked to 1D: “ ___ Sharp, founder of Four Seasons Hotel”, zero help there…TO my shock, it turns out 1D is a shout out to our very own Rex Parker, aka Professor Michael Sharp, as ISADORE is his father! (IMKIDDING)

2D “Let go” (MANUMIT) was even harder, even tho it appeared recently by one of the young boy constructors, I think. But it means to “set free, as slaves” which sounds more serious to me, than a simple “let go”.

So the NW remained initially blank. Thank goodness for 10A “Words that prevent firing” (the peppy “IQUIT!”) and I was off and running. That Q led easily to QUIRKY, which helped me realize that MIKADO refers to a person
(25A “Old Asian title”) not a place, and the IV then gave me IVANHOE (26D “Literary classic featuring the jester Wamba”).

Actually, the puzzle took my usual time (less than half an episode of “The Office”) but I have to admit, I got all the literary references without having read or seen any of them, I’m semi-embarrassed to say. That includes the aforementioned MIKADO, ETHAN (31A “Brand written about by Hawthorne), IVANHOE, and any work by JKROWLING, or the novelist Dominick DUNNE. I should have my library card revoked…or, I guess, better yet, reissued.

Here’s what I do know about, however: Anything potentially involving a gratuitous mention of italiani ragazzi. Ecce, 39D “Grand Canal sights” (PALAZZI). I’m guessing some of you debated whether the plural of GONDOLA was GONDOLAS or GONDOLE or GONDOLI. My initial musings on “Grand Canal sights” included Arcangelo, Alessandro and Valerio!

Ah, Venice! This, of course, leads me to 41A “Hot partner?” I had the H from IVANHOE, so I tried HEAVY, but HEAVYSET was already in the grid (29A “Thick”), so in went HUNKY, which I will count as a mini-malapop for DORY (54D “Small fishing vessel”).

Monday gal that I am, I am always looking for a theme, and this one seemed political:

Begin and SADAT, LeninGRAD, Bella ABZUG, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da SILVA, and GORE. Poor Al GORE… being ignominiously clued as 32D “Stick” (with an extra dig of WAXEN right below!) (I mean, how many masseuses does the man have to chase around Portland hotel rooms before he loses his image of being a WAXEN “stick”???!!!)

Even the musical references were a bit political; from “folkies” RICHIE HAVEN, and retro-hipsters’ ROXYMUSIC to John Lennon fans’ IMAGINE.

Even tho I consider myself a major Beatles’ fan, 43D “1970s peace anthem” was my biggest bugaboo. I went from the terribly wrong KUMBAYA to getting so far as to have IM- - INE, and then confidently writing in “I, ME, MINE”!

Perhaps it was because “__ Mine” had just been in an earlier week puzzle (by the way, those of you who skip early week puzzles and only do Thursday thru Sunday are missing some fabulous crosswords these past few weeks! Especially the Thursday puzzles that are being passed off as Wednesdays and the Friday ones that mysteriously appear on Tuesdays!).

Another of my more egregious first stabs involved 28D “Once-in-a-lifetime trip, for some” (HAJ). I dropped in LSD. (Then I turned on and tuned in…)

And finally, I had DEteCTS for 44D “Concentrates, in a way.” (DECOCTS). DECOCTS?! Seriously? That reminds me… I have a bris this Sunday.

Oh! Is it too late to mention the sort of cool SIN crossing SINKSIN? I mean look at it: SIN, SINkSIN! Triple SINS! That’s a lot of 24A“Letting one’s god down?” How many “Hail Marys” for that, my non-Jewish pals?

Drat, time to stop writing and I haven’t even gotten to my “I am the real ANASTASIA” stories!
Till next time! With love (and lots of technical assistance from SethG), -ACME

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Clark 2:26 AM  

Andrea you are on fier tonight. Or is that fyr? I got the wink right off the bat, which hardly ever happens. I too like hunky with my hot. By the way, the MIKADO is not bad as such things go. It includes the three little girls from school ("three little girls who all unwary come from a ladies seminary . . ."), a little dicky bird ("singing willow tit-willow tit-willow") and a pompous Lord High Executioner ("let the punishment fit the crime")

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Hey, Andrea ? Michaels, what fun to see you on this side of the fence. Fantastic and hilarious write up.

Can't say that I sailed through this one but I can say that I did finish. Yeah! Friday finished sans my part time puzzle partner who's lolly gagging on the mainland (actually, working his ass off)

Two totally unknowns to me were MANUMIT and DECOCTS. Spell check doesn't even know DECOCTS.

Enaway, glad to be done, relatively unscathed. Fits and starts takes on a whole new meaning.

Geometricus 6:05 AM  

Delightful writing, and felicitous birthday wishes, my Jewish pal. If I winked at you, it would mean YOU'RE CUTE, but too bad that wrong answer slowed me down so this puzzle took me over an hour. Not that you're not cute (your bris reference took my breath away -- literally), you are the cutest puzzle commentator alive, in every sense of the word. If flirting is a SIN for a married guy, I'll just have to say ten Hail Marys. This was my 2nd NYT puzzle done on my iPod app(Crosswords), and I like it more than I thought I would. I didn't know MANUMIT but Latin knowldge ("hand-sent" = release) confirmed what I had from crosses. I hate Harry Potter references (but please don't take my library card!), so I actually Googled galleons and knuts to get JKROWLING. Thanks again for all the fun, ACME, I wish you were doing Sat & Sun too!

shrub5 7:12 AM  

Happy Birthweek, Andrea!! Try to squeeze in as much indulgence and pampering as possible.

This puzzle was more like medium-challenging for me -- the challenging part being the SW corner where I had writeovers galore. 'Chilled, so to speak' went from DOZED to DAZED to LAZED. Wanted BRIDGES for 'Grand Canal sights' but Bela ABZUG nixed that. Now that I look back on this corner, it doesn't seem all that difficult but it was a painful journey.

Had the same incredulous "DECOCTS?" as you did. Got it totally through crosses. Goofed with ROWLING's initials as JR before correcting to JK.

Liked the 'Court star being courted?' clue for FREE AGENT despite its connection to the recent ridiculously hyped Cleveland to Miami decision.

David L 8:39 AM  

Easy-Medium??? I'm surprised -- this took me twice as long as typical Fridays, and I ended up with a mistake -- RONDE for RONDO, which left me with EMANI, which didn't make any sense but then the whole thing was full of odd words. Are there really OMANI Bedouins? I associate the latter with the Sahara -- an association admittedly based on nothing more than a dim memory of Lawrence of Arabia.

But hey, I knew DECOCTS. Took forever to get JKROWLING, though, not being an aficionado...

Leslie 8:45 AM  

SALTPETER gave me a pretty good start in the NW--like Andrea, I was stumped by all the many different things a wink could mean, so 1A didn't give me that initial foothold.

Wow, what a blast from the past to see Bella ABZUG in a puzzle!

Signed, "boxend" (where my cats like to lurk)

joho 9:06 AM  

ACME ... this is your best writeup to date! That one year older is definitely working to your benefit as you're wiser and funnier.

I liked that OMS crossed ISADORE Sharp ... sort of an homage to Rex' pursuit of yoga.

I had to Google so this was challenging to me. It was to discover the JKROWLING currency just as @Geometricus did. And ISADORE.

Even when done I didn't know MANUMIT but I knew it had to be right.

It's a great Friday puzzle, very well contructed. Thank you, Scott

Howard B 9:10 AM  

Thanks for the writeup, and happy B-day, ACMe! Seems we share a similar B-date this week.

This was a wicked solve in several spots. Had a much rougher time than you did, but that's why these things are subjective, and just one reason for lively discussion here.

Also entered LSD at first for HAJ, before realizing where I had tripped up. Won't catalog the rest of my errors on this one that I had to spackle up, as I'll run out of space and bore the daylights out of the readership; but it was a whole bunch ;).

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

A[fill in the blank]m- great write up. Happy birthday, very belatedly.

Had to slog away at this bit by bit to finish, but I enjoyed it. For me, the triad of answer and clues at 32D and 36D of stick/gore/gut had me looking for dirk.

Manumit??!! HUH? I'm glad the acrosses were there because that was way outside the box. Same with decocts, another wtf moment for me.

Have a great weekend all.

etrad- shorting a stock deal

mmorgan 9:12 AM  


Not sure why, but this one killed me -- and I was having a great week so far... ;-(

Great write-up, Andrea! And thanks for the Richie Havens clip -- I was there and remember it vividly! (He was actually one of the few acts I saw -- too much rain and mud.)

Joon 9:18 AM  

i see it's open mike night again. happy birthweek, andrea!

ArtLvr 9:39 AM  

Congrats to Scott and Will for Friday's felicitous scrabbly puzzle that Andrea was seeking, and to Acme -- Happy Birthmonth again.

I too began with I QUIT and QUIRKY, put in the KLATSCH early on as well as DECOCTS (sort of daring them both to stand up: they did!) Loved the WAXEN statues à la Madame Tussauds. (No, that doesn't take an aspostrophe.)

It all went more easily than I expected at the start, though I'm not sure if RINGS would be equipment near horses -- is this a circus or a gym? Or how ETHAN is a brand? Red A wasn't going to fit...

TGIF, though I wonder what knotty offering will appear tomorrow!


Kurt 9:43 AM  

Great write-up Andrea. And Happy Birthday.

I bit on I ME MINE and had DETECTS for DECOCTS. The crosses are a little off but not enought to make me redo them....SET and HUME, instead of SAC and HUGO.

Oh well. It was a fun puzzle. And mistakes every now and again are good for the soul ... I guess.

Good weekend everybody.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Congratulations to Roxy Music for getting out of the shadow of Crossword Hall of Famer Brian Eno -- finally getting the whole band in there!

PuzzleNut 10:09 AM  

WOW - Easy-Medium?? This one ate my lunch. What I did get took forever, but eventually threw in the towel on the SE.
I've read Harry Potter with all my kids, so JKR was a big gimme (about the only one).
Finished the NW scratching my head on MANUMIT, but it seemed it had to be right.
Slowed down in the SW with redlINED for EXAMINED. Had otS for HRS in the NE, but had a vague recollection of SILVA, which led me to INVADERS and TEAseTS. Loved the IQUIT clue, which finally opened up the corner for good.
(Reminds me of one of my favorite George Carlin lines - Suicide is man's way of telling God - "You can't fire me, I quit".)
In the SE, started with NOTnow for NOTIME and then changed it when I liked NOTnow for the down answer. Never fixed the down to NOTYET, so that remained a mess. Had Dhow for DORY and IMEMINE for IMAGINE (like Andrea, I also remebered that from earlier in the week, but I decided to stick with it.) Inspite of having ARFS, MAH and MISUSE all correct, there were just too many problems down there to complete. Even seeing the completed puzzle, I don't think I could have ever finished.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Could someone please explain how "Row Announcement" is ITSON? Feelling a little dense here. Thanks!

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

ROW = a fight. So, "It's on" as in "Bring it on."

Ulrich 10:17 AM  

I woke up in good spirits on account of the gorgeous weather here in CT--reading acme's write-up turned them even higher. Hilarious indeed.

Plus, the puzzle had a shout-out to me home town! Now comes the downer: Have to put a second layer of compound over drywall tape, and I'm not good at it--life is not fair...

Glitch 10:18 AM  


Many analysts of Hawthorne's "Ethan Brand" have agreed that the story is a cautionary tale about Hawthorne's Unpardonable Sin, divorcing one's head from ...

@Anon 10:12a

Think ROW as in Rowdy.


I thought that was you (I was there too). I was the one in the tee shirt, remember me?? :)


No BS 10:22 AM  

Wonderful puzzle, sparkling commentary! Note that saltpeter is also said to have decoct many a hunk! Rumored to be a kind of "tool softener."

mitchs 10:24 AM  

Easy Medium? Ouch! And you seem so nice in your posts!

reniekk 10:37 AM  

Very funny @NoBS...heh heh heh..tool softener. Great puzzle, great write-up CarlaBirthweekMichaels! Alittle trouble with MANUMIT, its true, pretty smooth solve with Brit Hubby getting SALTPETER(?!)And DORY, co-solving can be such a bonding activity!

jesser 10:39 AM  

Blogger ate my post. Damn blogger.

Liked the puzzle. Only writeover was at 47D where I wanted NOTnow, until ROXY MUSIC came into view and saved the day.

The SW was the hardest for me until EXAMINED appeared and gave me the traction I needed to see EXURBAN. After that, whoosh.

I'm with joho on how MANUMIT appeared and was confirmed.

Thanks for sitting in, Ms. Andrea!

Happy weekend, Rex and the Rexites!

Revativ! (What it all is.) -- jesser

Jim 10:53 AM  

Disaster...but in an unusual way. I solve in pen, but that's usually OK, as I'm not apt to guess very often and, when I do, I'm usually right.

Put in magnesium and ANASTASIA right away and then completely floored in the NW. Even when I realized magnesium was NEINed (isn't that an ingredient?...never, EVER heard of SALTPETER), the rest of that corner was decidedly not in my wheelhouse. It wasn't even in my wheelapartment.

RONDO...great! One of the all-time best...Beethoven's "Rage Over A Lost Penny". Outgoing Presdent SILVA also a gimme. Nice to see some more current event-y type stuff in there.

Object to a sinister misdirect (JKROWLING) as the keystone. Couldn't piece it together, because of LSD (how many spellings of HAJ are acceptable w/o putting in VAR? 10? 12?)

Can someone explain HRS? And GUT (not gutted)?

SW was OK but put -ia instead of -AN on EXURB and, well, Fanny's your aunt.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

Good puzzle! Took me a bit longer than it should have, mainly in the SW, where I had my one write-over, having thrown in an "S" at the end of 39 D, as I suspect many do when the clue says plural and we don't have a clue otherwise (Hissies? -- OK, SNITS makes sense after I see it.)

And a great write-up. Thank you, Andrea. Re your comment about being familiar with literary and musical names without having read/heard them: You wouldn't believe how many people thought I was a reader of books when all I ever read was the New York Times Book Review!

And I was going to point out the "SIN" theme, but Andrea got there first, too. But she didn't mention 62 A, SNITS (SIN anagrammed), 63 A, SYNTHESES (SIN homophone), or 62 D taking a right turn after the second letter (SEX)!

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

This one was pretty tough for me.
I finally threw in the towel in the Oregon area because I could not let go of IsadorA and did not get the misdirection of Brand. I guess I need to dust off my library card too.
I still enjoyed this very much.
Andrea, You are a welcome stand-in hostess. Great fun!
The clue that I have circled is the one for hewed. Huh?
@ No BS, I, too, remember that urban (or exurban) legend from high school where they supposedly laced the cafeteria food with salt peter to keep down our libidos.
Ha! As if anything could.
Oh, Andrea, at your bris don't forget to give the rabbi a tip.

dk 10:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 10:56 AM  

Andrea, you are smarter than me. And, suffice to say the leader of the 3D :). Outside of the the musical and Davis references I was asea for most of this AM.

Things started to 24D after about 20 minutes with puzzle chestnuts like RONDO providing some comfort.

*** (3 Stars) Scott I was whipsawn by your offering.

To those of you who have not met the charming Ms. Acme she is all you might imagine her to be... of course I could not possibly comment.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:57 AM  

@Jim - I assume HRS are Home Runs, for Stadium thrillers.

And re36 D, Ready to be totally remodeled, GUT, you must think of "Ready" as a verb, not an adjective. Works fine that way.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  


Thanks. As Marty McFly said "I have a real problem with that" (thinking 4th dimensionally, that is).

One other thing: don't see why 'Court star being courted' deserves a '?'. There's only one way to read that clue, as I see it, and the '?' Unnecessarily had me searching for deeper meaning. Anyone? Bueller?

Ulrich 11:05 AM  

@No BS, Two ponies: Clicking about saltpeter revealed that the European Union has a regulation that governs its use as a food additive--I wonder what use the regulators, or the adders, have in mind...

Lindsay 11:15 AM  

Easy-medium? Oh dear. Alzheimers must be setting in. Very sloggy decelerating to a full stop in the SE, where my toe-hold was the previously-mentioned (and wrong) "not now" @ 47D. Eventually got everything worked out perfectly, or so I thought until I came here and discovered that 51A is Iran crossing 46D Minuet. Not Iraq/Miquet. While I acknowledge that minuet is a word, that's not how I would have spelled it in a zillion tries! Minuette, perhaps? And the Q paired so nicely with the U!

CaseAce 11:26 AM  

When I went through basic training in the army at Fort Dix, New Jersey, back in the summer of 56, and we were exposed to Saltpeter in the barracks water coolers, little did we know what we were ingesting, or for what reason.
It wasn't until sometime later was I enlightened, as it were.
Upon reflection, here I was under the assumption that the army and basic training was all about making things hard-on us!

Mel Ott 11:26 AM  

I thought this was a really enjoyable Friday puzzle - just challenging enought to be interesting. Lots of very nice 7- and 9-letter words.

Knew the noun manumission from Civil War history, so I was able to work backward to the verb MANUMIT.

Only a couple of very minor quibbles. TEAPOTS have ears? And I didn't like the clue for GORE. Great chasm between being stuck with, let's say, a pin and being gored by a bull.

Cathyat40 11:26 AM  

When my Uncle Ed turned 75 he said that the SALTPETER the US Army gave him when he was a soldier in WWII had finally started working.

Loved this puzzle. The NW was the last to fall for me. Didn't know MANUMIT, so had to get it from crosses.

Cathyat40 11:30 AM  

Happy Birthday, Andrea!

Sparky 11:49 AM  

Thanks Andrea for an amusing and instructive writeup. Happy Birthday I kept thinking of tennis court not basketball. Picked away and had all but SW. Gondoli sat there for far too long. Finally erased it and things started to make sense. Happy to see Bella Abzug. Coincidence that Sharp visited when Parker away? Hmmmm. Thought I had finished, then realized I missed the M in OMS/MANUMIT cross. Oh, skit. Have a good weekend.

CaseAce 12:00 PM  

I don't know about Teapots having ears, but I do know Frenchmen have really big ones, thanks to their girlfriends desire to hold on to them!

Mel Ott 12:31 PM  

@Andrea OT, re yesterday's conversation about omicron/omega. It's been a long time since I studied Greek, but your perception about the endings of Greek words might have something to do with the rules for accents at or near the ends of words. The rules have something to do with whether the vowels are short or long. Sorry I can't speak with more clarity, but it's been awhile.

And Happy Birthday.

chefbea 12:52 PM  

Tough puzzle...DNF

Great write up Andrea. and Happy b-day

mac 12:53 PM  

Great puzzle, great writeup! Thanks for the laughter, Andrea!
I too went the I me mine, LSD route, and had "not now" for 42A.

Wonder if there is still saltpeter on smoked or cured salmon?


Van55 1:06 PM  

@ ACME -- thanks for filling in brilliantly today.

This was a DNF epic fail for me -- without considerable outside help. Not at all in my wheelhouse and way more challenging than medium for my knowledge set today.

Still an excellent puzzle.

CaseAce 1:19 PM  

One can find the Ethan Brand on their store shelves right next to the Neville Brand.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

A bitch (no pun intended)....!

John V 2:11 PM  

Not easy here, with a HUGE DNF. And this, after zipping through yesterday. Not even close on this one.

Scott A. 2:42 PM  

When I reflect on my first published themeless years hence, I will remember Will's awesome "Let one's god down" clue and ACM's bris reminder. I've been telling everyone at work about that and getting some serious guffaws!

Thanks for solving, everyone!

mrbreen 2:52 PM  

Easy-medium my ass. Took me ten minutes longer than a normal Friday.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable slog.

Happy birthday ACM!

andrea i'm kidding michaels 3:13 PM  

oops! Sorry, I will heretofore change this to MEDIUM-CHALLENGING, but let's see what SanFranMan says!

I didn't know how to rate, as I don't time myself, etc. So I wrote MEDIUM...but I really should not have given it a rating at all.
But then I thought since I actually finished it, no googling, no anythinging, maybe it was on the EASY side of MEDIUM...but now I'm sorry, so ignore the rating!
Maybe I'll get sethg to change it.

@shrub, @Kurt
Actually I had those same mistakes...JR for JK, the whole NOTNOW thing, and even the SET/HUME combo.
What saved me was the Scrabblyness, which is why that's so important...
(AND that SET was already in HEAVYSET, so trusting Will did not make a mistake, I had to rethink the second SET, which became SAC which leads to the infamous DECOCT)

(From all the stories above, it sounds like SALTPETER maybe a synonym for DECOCT!)

Sethg solved my mystery...I had learned MANUMIT from a puzzle young Tyler Hinman had in the Alameda tourney in Sept, which is why it helped today. MANUMIT hasn't actually been in the NYT since 2003, then twice by Patrick Berry on a Friday.

@mmorgan, @glitch
You were at Woodstock!!!!?!!!
Too cool. It sounded like in the video clip that RICHIE Havens went on first.
I have to admit, I'm old enough but I didn't know who he was till I saw the clip! The clue "Folkie" and the name RICHIE seemed like such a white-boy combo, but maybe I'm thinking Cunningham. Glad to be edified.

Married flirting is the best kind! It's no sin! Just ask Jimmy!
(He's the guy standing between Menachem and Anwar) ;)

jae 3:28 PM  

I always enjoy Andrea's writeups (happy birthday week), loved the bris/DECOCT comment. Medium for me. I got 1A right off the bat but got slowed down in NE with OTS vs. HRS. Also needed to fix ERURBIA in SW. Add me to those who haven't read any of the literary clue/answers, (No library card for you!), although I knew DUNNE from TrueTV. I really liked this one, a fine Fri. effort, thank you Scott Atkinson!

The Hag 4:03 PM  

This was a solid medium for me, but only due to the luck of the draw with names and titles. All the gimmies gave me good toeholds for the harder stuff.

I liked the grid just fine but I wasn't crazy about some of the clues. None the ones that I disliked slowed me down though, so I'll refrain from public nit-picking as an exercise in self-control. The one clue that did perplex me for quite awhile was for RICHIE, since I don't consider him to be, first and foremost, a folk singer. But on reflection I think that one was an fair misdirect.

Odd coincidence - just last night I was discussing with a crossword person whether or not Roxy Music's former label ATCO was fairgame for a puzzle or too obscure. Talk about plate of shrimp!

sanfranman59 4:17 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 28:26, 26:20, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:57, 12:51, 1.16, 80%, Challenging

@ACME: I think you've underestimated your crossword-solving prowess. By the numbers, this one is destined for a Medium-Challenging rating come days-end. My own solve time places it at the low end of my Challenging range. But since I don't record my time if I cheat, I think that any Friday I can solve without cheating is at most a Medium-Challenging puzzle.

chefwen 4:19 PM  

@ArtLvr - This is a guess but I thought of reaching for the brass RINGS on a Merry-Go-Round.

@CaseAce - Very funny thoughts re. your army days.

ArtLvr 4:36 PM  

@ Glitch -- thanks for the BRAND help! I was too busy to google afterward. Still wondering about the horse with nearby RINGS...


OISK 4:42 PM  

Finished without help, but I did not know I got it right until I logged on here and saw "manumit." Never heard of Roxymusic or decocts either, but guessed correctly once I got "Hugo." Took me about a half hour, so I would call it "medium" for a Friday. There were enough clever clues to make it really enjoyable - well done Mr. Atkinson. ( I liked the clue for "Oms", "Begin's Partner", and "equipment near a horse" to name a few

OISK 4:44 PM  

Oh, I assume that the "horse" was the piece of equipment found in a gymnasium - there are often sets of rings (for gymnastics) nearby. At least that is how I saw it.

Chris 4:48 PM  

Hi everyone,

Good puzzle - for me, I had three squares wrong.

Can someone please enlighten me on how "GDS" = "they're peddled"?!

Thanks, Chris

Chris 4:55 PM  

Ok, found it on Wordplay - apparently, "GDS" = "goods". Still a bit of a head-scratcher, but it's all good.

Now to the weekend!

The Hag 5:00 PM  

@ArtLvr -

I'm pretty sure it's a men's gymnastic thing where the events are pommel horse, rings, parallel bar, floor exercise, vault, er, um, maybe something too.

*reliteri - crosswordese for those who convert their liquid volumes from British to metric again*

Unknown 5:26 PM  

Thanks for sitting in Andrea and happy birthday. I really enjoyed your comments!

SethG 5:36 PM  

andrea easy-medium michaels is still trying to get me to change her rating, but I say that what her reaction was is what it was.

I had many of the same missteps as aemm, though I found the puzzle more challenging. Maybe because I wasn't at Alameda, so MANUMIT was a mystery. I saw Bella Abzug speak in '92, and the thing I remember most about her talk is her name; she was my first answer. The name is also what I know about Ivanhoe and Dunne.

Doc John 5:58 PM  

Fun write-up, Andrea. I especially loved your definition of DECOCTS.

edith b 6:45 PM  

My grandfather told me the-saltpeter-in-the-food story ... about his service in WWI. And my brother who served in Viet Nam in the '60s passed a similar story on to me about HIS basic training.

I would say scratch a war-time vet and you will get a similar story - what we called a "Middle Class Myth" when I was in college and is now called an "Urban Legend."

I had the North in pretty short order but both Southern corners gave me troubles - particularly the SE where I had HEAVY as a double mistake. I entered it at 47A instead of 41A (as the partner of HOT). Once I straightened that out and entered HUMID THAT broke the puzzle open for me.

An earlier Commenter said EXAMINED got them EXURBAN and broke the puzzle open and my experience was roughly the opposite - EXURBAN got me EXAMINED and got me out of the SW.

Bill from NJ 7:31 PM  

@CaseAce & Cathyat40 & edithb-

My Dad was a career GI who entered the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor and told me the Saltpeter in the Chow story when I was a young teen in the early Sixties.

That story really gets around.

mmorgan 9:24 PM  

Ah... MANUMISSION I might have eventually gotten, but MANUMIT? No way.

Yes, @Glitch, that was you! On the left and the tee-shirt was blue, right?

Seriously, I remember Richie Havens' performance more than anything else at Woodstock! The video was delicious.

Sfingi 9:41 PM  

@Andrea - That's ragazzi italiani. Noun first.

This was a stab to the heart.

At least I got SALTPETER. One of my ancestors, Trowbridge, helped the Revolution by selling it to the Rebels only. Lots of jokes ensue.

I guess a RIder is not equipment.

@Ulrich - Which reminds me, do you know this one from my knapsack of baby songs? -
Ich hab Equipagen und Pferde
Meine Mittel erlauben mir dass...
Oom pa pa

JaxInL.A. 12:12 AM  

Not sure if anyone comes to the blog this late in the day, but wanted to thank Andrea for a really fun write-up.

I had a reasonable time with the north of this puzzle. I even knew manumit (!?) Ran into trouble in the SE but made some headway. Faltered badly in the SW. I even knew Mrs. Abzug right away but couldnt decide which of her 5-letter names should go in. I had the opportunity to work with her around the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in the early 90s.

The only SW word I could enter confidently was SNITS. And its not helpful to know that the Grand Canal sight was an Italian word ending in i. In the end, I QUIT. It has been months since I could not finish a puzzle. And yet i liked so much about this one that I don't mind (too much).

I had NO TIME to post this morning because: a) puzzle too damn hard for the time I had (though I really enjoyed it and wish I had been able to beat my head at it a while longer), and b) had to leave early to go stand in line for hours to see Mr. Obama at USC. Great fun seeing so many young people (as many as 30,000 may have attended) getting excited about politics. Not as many protestors as I expected. Everyone generally behaved vey civilly. All the L.A. and California Dems there.

Matthew G. 12:37 PM  

Couldn't finish the SE after several days of coming back to it and trying to finish it off. Loved the rest of the puzzle, but simply did not know DECOCTS or ROXY MUSIC (that's a band, not a style? Okay ...). Also, I just don't regard WAXEN figures a la Madame Toussaud's as "statues" -- and I note they eschew that word themselves, preferring "figures." "Statues" connotes way too much permanence and solidity for wax. Finally, it didn't help that I had NOT now instead of NOT YET.

But it was a great puzzle, with WAXEN the only answer I genuinely object to. The other SE answers I didn't get because I just wasn't smart enough.

Unknown 11:04 PM  

I think nonce abbreviations should be banned. Nobody abbreviates "goods" as "gds" except x-word puzzlers.

NE was funniest for me. It was totally empty until "Iquit" and then it unraveled like a cheap sweater. I never even noticed HRS - it was full from the crosses.

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