Set of cursive Japanese symbols / FRI 10-8-10 / Popular bar since 1946 / Lake Chapala's state / His vet is Liz Wilson / Elegantly groomed

Friday, October 8, 2010

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HIRAGANA (28D: Set of cursive Japanese symbols) —

Hiragana (平仮名, ひらがな or ヒラガナ?) is a Japanese syllabary, one basic component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and the Latin alphabet (rōmaji). Hiragana and katakana are both kana systems, in which each character represents one mora. Each kana is either a vowel such as "a" (); a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" (); or "n" (), a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n, or ng (IPA: [ŋ]), or like the nasal vowels of French. (wikipedia)
• • •

As very-low-word-count (58) puzzles go, this one is good. Then again, I'm both a Johnny Cash *and* a Pretenders fan, so this puzzle got on my good side pretty early on with "RING OF FIRE" (5D: Country standard that begins "Love is a burning thing") and CHRISSIE HYNDE (27A: The great Pretender?). I think this puzzle (despite having only one real nutso word) might play toward the Challenging side, if only because a. low-word-count puzzles tend to rely on very common letters like E, R, etc. and b. when you're dealing with lots of wide-open space, very common letters don't do you much good in terms of providing footholds, i.e. helping you get crosses. This problem was especially evident for me in the NE, which took me quite a bit longer than any other section. Threw NO SENSE (14A: What a yo-yo might make) across and expected magic. Got none. E, N, S ... they just weren't giving me good traction. *&$%ing BENNETT (19A: Conservative pundit with a daily morning radio show) wasn't much help either, both because of all his super-common letters and because of my failure to know that he has a radio show at all, let alone that it comes on in the morning. In general, hard to get traction when there are no 3s and very few 4s to get you started. In the end, I'm impressed that there's not a lot more of what we usually see with sub-66 puzzles: made-up-seeming words, -ER words, plurals, etc. PILER (24A: One doing laundry, often) kind of hurt, but everything else 5+ felt good.

["Let's hear it for Akron!"]

Thought I was off to a fast start with STAG (1D: One way to go to a party) and TANNIC (12A: Somewhat astringent, as wine) and GEORGIA (18A: "Driving Miss Daisy" setting) all going down lickety-split, but AKRONOH (i.e. AKRON, OH, CHRISSIE HYNDE's home town) (15A: City where A.A. was founded), criminy! I think I threw ALTOONA in there at first, and then just backed off and waited for crosses. If it hadn't been for HORSE (33A: Basketball shooting game), I don't know how I would've gotten into the SW, and even then it was dicey. Luckily managed to pick up CLOSE SET off just the "C" and "O" (27D: Like an owl's eyes). Never heard of HIRAGANA — needed every cross there — and eventually just guessed that the first letter of -TMOS had to be "A" (34D: ___ Energy (big natural gas utility)). Not sure I understand why MUTED is [Soft, now], as opposed to [Soft, whenever]. Considered BEDS and COTS (?) before figuring out SODS (43D: Rolls out for sale at a nursery). Then, despite having NABOB (solidly) and COVEY (tentatively) in place, I couldn't do anything with the NW at first (14D: Big shot + 6D: Quail flock). I think the wild (if mildly educated) guess of AVIONIC at 17A: Like collision avoidance systems was what finally brought the section down. That allowed me to get NEON SIGN (8D: Strip teaser?) off the "EO" pairing, and that was pretty much that.

  • 6A: Biblical figure who received the curse of Ham (CANAAN) — why did I think CANAAN was a place??? Oh, because it is. Well, good. Would've been very unsettling if my brain had just invented the phrase "Land of Canaan"

  • 20A: Popular bar since 1946 (ALMOND JOY) — Ah ... bar. I see. Time to implore Hershey executives yet again to bring back the dark chocolate Almond Joy. Perfection.
  • 21D: Lake Chapala's state (JALISCO) — I've been LEFT JABbed (23A: Delivery that may floor you) by this damned "state" before and today it happened again. Even with the -ISCO in place I couldn't retrieve it. Grrrr.
  • 35D: Elegantly groomed (SOIGNÉ) — I'm going to start using this facetiously to describe people dressed to the nines. Better yet, I'm going to start calling such people "Rico SOIGNÉ":

  • 36D: It's worth a couple of bucks in Canada (TOONIE) — plunked down LOONIE. But no, "couple," as in "two," as in "TOOOOOONIE."
  • 41D: His vet is Liz Wilson (ODIE) — Daughter, this morning: "There's a new comic strip in the paper." Me: "Yeah, 'Cathy''s gone." Daughter: [Stunned look]. Me: "Well they didn't kill her. The artist just stopped drawing the comic." Daughter, who never read "Cathy" anyway: "Oh" [turns back to paper, resumes earnestly trying to understand what exactly is funny about "Hagar the Horrible"]
Bonus crossword video for you—discovered accidentally by wife as she was searching [M*A*S*H crossword] on youtube (long story, involving talk I gave to Binghamton University Retirees Club today about crosswords):

Oh, and then, this just in—brand new music video from S.F. band My First Earthquake called "Vow to Vowels." It's a love song about xwords (even features a shout-out to Will Shortz ... also rhymes "crossword" with WSJ tech columnist "Walt Mossberg" (dang!)). Lead singer sent me the link this morning, and I think it's adorable. Check it:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:18 AM  

It's a very lovely grid and a beautifully constructed puzzle. I found it, as you predicted Rex, on the challenging side because of the reasons you enunciated. But my QDI says it will be EM.

Parts of it were amazingly easy for me, especially the NW. But at some point, I got stuck with not enough of a toehold. Partial answers that all turned out to be correct, but no clear way to finish. I took a couple of stabs in the dark on short stuff and then confirmed them by google--IS IT, SAW A-- and that helped immensely. Having even a tiny island of solid ground in this open sea can be critical for survival.

But a quintessential Friday!

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

You have an error on 37 across. It should be Alice IS AT it again, not Alice IS IT it again. This makes the down answer HIRAGANA as you show correctly in the definition, but not in the puzzle

andrea canaan michaels 2:15 AM  

I think what he means by "Soft, now" IS as opposed to before when it was NOW it's soft, now that it's muted.

I swept thru this 3/4 of the way and then a dead halt in the NE corner. Ironically I only had NOSENSE...but for CANAAN I had know, that mOrrY of quails over there!

Anyway, what I got, I enjoyed...
and maybe BENNETT (whoever that is)will be happy to know that s/he is the same amount of letters as DRLAURA and DONIMUS...even tho I know he's not conservative!

Cool grid, BEQ, in more ways than two.
Tho only you could get away with TAKEA!

r.alphbunker 2:21 AM  

Like @foodie I sped through the NW but then crashed when I hit the chrissie hynd wall. I was puzzled why Pretenders was capitalized. Amazingly, given the number of BEQ xwords that I have done, I never thought rock band, not that that would have helped.

Made it through without googling although I did not get praised by the software after putting the last letter in. The mistake was obvious once I reached it, I had mused instead of muted. I wish the software wouldn't evaluate the puzzle until I asked it to.

Very satisfying solve.

chefwen 3:08 AM  

Chefwen + Friday + BEQ = DNF

Got close, but no ceegar!

That eastern seaboard looked a little nekked when I threw in the towel. Had a lot more fun yesterday.

Ben 4:52 AM  

Good puzzle, and appropriately rockin' as one might expect from a BEQ construction (CHRISSIEHYNDE, RINGOFFIRE). Slowed down a little in the NE but got there in 11:13. A nice Friday.

The reporter who did the White Sox crossword report, his parents and I play at the same tennis courts. For some reason no TV station is interested in airing my crossword report from that sports club.

I doubt Paul KONERKO or AJPIERZYNSKI have been in too many grids, but if slick-fielding shortstop ALEXEI Ramirez keeps playing at a high level, he will someday.

BTW, what's with the non-Russian ballplayers with the Russian first names? Not just Alexei but Vladimir Guerrero and Dmitri Young. They're all good too.

Gareth Bain 5:32 AM  

Re Canaan - almost all the Old Testament place names are named for people, e.g. Israel is a person and a place name.

Jon 7:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe 7:15 AM  

ANNEALED? If you say so.

SethG 7:51 AM  

I usually agree with Rex' relative difficulty (which almost always agrees with the stats) even when we take drastically different paths to the end result. But yeah, that NE was killer.

I started the NW with TANNIC/STAG/GEORGIA, but TAKE A, ENROLL, COIN TOSS, and HADJIS followed quickly and brought the acrosses with them. While he couldn't remember the state from the -ISCO, I couldn't remember it from the JAL-.

HORSE/RESTRING opened the SW, though I left the ISxT/HIRxGANA cross 'til the end. (Hint: it's not IS xT.) SE, I didn't plunk down LOONIE, I plunked down TWONIE.

NE, though, ugh. I had NABOB but _not_ COVEY. Guessed at the yo-yo type but still had no idea of the answer. I spent half my solve with everything to the write of NABOB and above WAGERS blank (except the P in PAY). Eventually, a stab at PILER (piler?) led me to -SIGN, I guessed at the poetry, vici.

Nice puzzle.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

West fell quickly, east, not so much. I had always known it as the curse of Canaan, not of Ham. Coincidently, Noah, whence comes the tale, is the Torah reading this week.

joho 8:50 AM  

I can't believe I finished correctly. That's what this blog has done for me. I just keep pushing on until I'm done.

The NE almost got me. I wanted NOnSENSE which obviously didn't fit. Finally shortened that and changed iSee to ASIN so I could get BENNETT. I really like the clue for NECTARS.

Has using a city and state abbreviation ever been done before as in AKRONOH? That doesn't seem kosher to me.

Loved CHRISSIEHYNDE stretching across the middle.

Very nice Friday, thank you, BEQ!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Sods is just plain ugly as clued.

PuzzleNut 8:58 AM  

I usually have the same experience with every BEQ puzzle. Start off with one or two answers and hit a wall. Slowly, another answer appears and before you know it, the puzzle looks pretty good. Very few Natticks in his puzzles, but lots of really tough clues. Add to that my limited knowledge of rappers and other current references and I always find him difficult.
That said, only one write-over (Alice DOES it again). Lots of very lucky guesses kept me going. Lots and lots of aha moments when you find an answer out of a mess of nothing(??YPE??V?E? turns into PAYPERVIEW).
Just saw an article about Chrissie Hynde the other day, so that helped with spelling her name. Knew ATMOS Energy from my Enron days when it was a little company in the Panhandle of Texas. They had big plans to grow through acquisitions and looks like they have arrived now with an appearance in the NYT puzzle.

glimmerglass 9:02 AM  

Tough for me, even though I knew RING OF FIRE (I'm a big Cash fan -- June wrote it), ALMOND JOY (a favorite), COVEY, and SAW A. Never heard of CHRISSIE HYNDE right across the middle, which made the NE and SW especially hard for me. The great Pretenders I know are all from the 1950s. Finally just guessed the CH and the IE, which turned out to work. Some appropriately tricky clues (MUTED, SNIP) and some vague ones with many possible answers (I SAID NO). AS IT WERE doesn't really mean seemingly. All in all a good challenge. As r.alphbunker said, a satisfying solve.

Nancy in PA 9:06 AM  

Was really looking forward to a You Tube Ring of Fire in today's write-up, though my favorite version (by The Bobs) doesn't seem to be available. Rico Soave was great.

Chrissie Hynde didn't come to me, but "I never saw a moor" did. Showing my age. Great puzzle. I love BEQ challenges.

Diana Holquist 9:11 AM  

Thrilled when I filled in the NW in a flash. (Yeah! Akronoh! I am so on this!) Then, like others, quickly humbled.

Had a lot of spelling issues. Right, Hadjis has a D. As does Chrissie, who I seem to think of as Ms. Hyne for some reason. And why oh why do I still quiver btw. "stear" and "steer"? Neither ever looks right...

Sickened by the the Hershey School scandal here in not happy to see Almond Joy(less).

Thnx for the baseball vid. Hilarious. 5 letter word for boredom...who knew?

edith b 9:11 AM  

When I taught middle school, I had a large number of African-American students and, at one point, we had a spirited discussion on the subject of the Curse of Ham. Long way around he barn to indicate I knew Canaan both as a place AND a name.

Like many others,I got a good jump in the NW and CANAAN anchored the NE for me. COVEY got me AVIONIC and I had a half the puzzle done - down to the CHRISSIEHYNDE wall- in a hot New York minute.

I had a little more trouble with the South but eventually pieced it all together through the ENVIOUS/PAYPERVIEW cross. All in all, I found it prety typical of a Friday puzzle.

jesser 9:26 AM  

I'm surprised the topic of cheater squares has not yet been broached, because there seem to be more than usual.

I love BEQ. He always makes me laugh during a solve. He did not disappoint today with 40A, which is a real issue for a leggy 6'2" fella like me. I love my Infiniti and my Jeep, but I could never fit in the back seats. I'd be folded up like a spitwad.

Dave Barry had a great line about the phrase "AS IT WERE," but I can't remember it except for the part where it made me laugh.

Love Love LOVE The Pretenders, so I got CHRISSIE HYNDE of the CHRI. No doubt Archaeoprof will be googoo eyed about RING OF FIRE.

Words I did not know that appeared through crosses: HIRAGANA and SOIGNE. Always cool to learn new words.

Clunkers for me were SODS, PILER and ACUTEST. Isn't ACUTE a superlative on its own. Can something be more perfect? I dunno. It's BEQ so I still have Love in my spleen.

I found it disturbing that there is a sector of my brain that so readily knew the name of a cartoon veterinarian and her particular patient. I'll send some bourbon to that sector this evening.

I'm off to Hobbs, NM, for a few days to visit with my best friend and his adorable son, who 'makes' Uncle Jess read stories to him. Uncle Jess frequently ad libs, and Liam grins beeg beeg when he catches me. Loves it.

I did not have one iota of trouble with JALISCO. That's beautiful country.

Finally, I must say that WEEDS is one hilarious show. Superb casting.

Happy weekend Rex and the Rexites!

Calita! (day) -- jesser

Mike Lewis 9:45 AM  

Finished in record Friday time. I would rate this one Easy.

Paused my iTunes music in order to check out the posted "Vow to Vowels" video. When it was over, I resumed iTunes (which is on shuffle). The song that came up immediately was this one:

Carisa 9:53 AM  

Has no one mentioned storeROOM and legROOM in one puzzle? And passing over top of one another?

Glitch 9:58 AM  


Perhaps from "How to Win an Argument" --- Dave Barry:

3) Use meaningless but weightly-sounding words and phrases.

Memorize this list:

Let me put it this way
In terms of
Per se
As it were
So to speak
You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as ``Q.E.D.,'' ``e.g.,'' and ``i.e.'' These are all short for ``I speak Latin, and you do not.''

Here's how to use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say: ``Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don't have enough money.''

You never win arguments talking like that. But you WILL win if you say: ``Let me put it this way. In terms of appetizers vis-a-vis Peruvians qua Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se, as it were. Q.E.D.''

Only a fool would challenge that statement.


jesser 10:02 AM  

@ Glitch: You're my new hero! :-)

mac 10:27 AM  

Enjoyable Friday puzzle, easy-medium for me. Liked annealed and enured together in the puzzle. Tried bevey before covey, and didn't know the meaning of "toonie" until I got here.

I wondered about the legroom and storeroom as well.

Love those Almond Joys, and found some dark chocolate ones in NY.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

'Acutest' makes me think of fingernails on chalkboards. On the few occasions I've had to superlativize acute, the usage became 'most acute'. Not saying it's wrong, just jarring.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

'Acutest' makes me think of fingernails on chalkboards. On the few occasions I've had to superlativize acute, the usage became 'most acute'. Not saying it's wrong, just jarring.

dk 10:33 AM  

Wanted no noise for the yoyo and Mr. Ed for the vet client, otherwise what everyone has written.

Glitch and jesser in case you are challenged: In psych school we learned -- Individuals who exhibit similar behaviors/responses are often diagnosed as

*** (3 Stars)

nanpilla 10:39 AM  

@carisa - I had the same problem. I resisted putting in STOREROOM because LEGROOM was already in the grid.

@jesser - also noticed the number of cheater squares, but the grid shape was so cool, I forgot about them.

The rest of the grid was pure pleasure, thanks, BEQ!

hazel 10:46 AM  

I miss Dave Barry. Excellent find, @Glitch/Jesser!!

Very nice puzzle - thought at first I was going to be spinning my wheels for a good while, but it came down pretty methodically - NE was last to go. THX @Rexblog for making me so much better. And that W-Sox video was fantastic.

The puzzle was a distraction while the Braves struggled time and time again at the plate. If only it had still been hot, all that fanning would have felt refreshing......

@Carisa - I don't understand what constitutes an "elegance" foul and what doesn't either. I will say that the infractions almost never bother me, including this time.

Nice grid, too.

Susan 10:48 AM  

I know Chrissie Hynde was the right answer but did not know how to spell her! That slowed me way down.

Anybody else have FREESPIN inside of NEONSIGN for the strip teaser? It seemed so plausible.

Lindsay 10:50 AM  

Happy to start with Ring of Fire. Happy to see Chrissie Hynde. Why aren't there more pop songs about surburban sprawl?

This blog brings out my confessional side, so I will confess I had an error. Anionic crossing coney. Hey, they're both words! Of course, If I'd bothered to review the clues, I would have seen that 6D should have been birds, not a bunny.

CoffeeLvr 10:51 AM  

Ahh, expletive deleted, I conquered the NE after sleeping on it, but I had ONE letter wrong where Japanese cursive crossed "Alice I DON'T KNOW It Again."

Hey, Rex, I haven't heard K'naan since I last rode in my son's car.

I really liked most of this puzzle.

I do have a quibble, which I will share, even though all's fair in cross and words. You will likely want to skip this. Collision avoidance systems are not just for airplanes any more:

Automobiles are now available with "collision avoidance systems that might provide a warning, prime the braking and safety systems, and potentially help reduce the severity of a crash or avoid it altogether.
Examples, which each operate in a slightly different way, are found" . . . on the following vehicles:
2010 & 2011 Volvo S60
Acura RL
Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class
BMW 5-Series and 7-Series
Infiniti FX and EX
Lincoln MKS and MKT
2011 Ford Taurus

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

This is by far the best BEQ puzzle I have ever done. I know he has lots of fans but I have never been one of them. I was SO happy to fill in a grid with clever clues and fresh words. True, there were a couple of questionable spots (like sods which are just rolls of sod to me) but no rap music or indie bands! OH was the only abbrev., no Roman numerals, and lots of fun misdirection. Nice satisfying Friday.
Agree with Anon 10:33 that "most acute" sounds much better.
Emily Dickenson never saw a moor?

emily d. 10:56 AM  

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:00 AM  

Great Friday puzzle! Good example of BEQ's work within the constraints of NYT publication. (Of course, his own site's puzzles get much juicier.)

At 45 minutes (with breakfast), a Medium for me.

Agree with @jesser in disliking SODS (do nurseries sell different varieties of grass as sod rolls?), but must disagree with @Anonymous 8:52 in that other, possibly more accurate, clues for SODS would be even uglier.

Re: 33 A, Basketball shooting game, a gimme if you remember the old movie, "They Shoot Horses Don't They?"

Glitch 11:03 AM  



Of the many sources for the Barry quote (originally from his newspaper column), I took it from the site of the Psychology Dept., University of Otago, New Zealand!


hazel 11:15 AM  

P.S. @Ben - Forgot to mention....

Let me put it this way. I'd always assumed that the Russian-sounding names had to do with Cuba's socialist policies as it were and its influence per se in the region, particularly over neighbors like the Dominican Republic. QED - Russian sounding names make it to the bigs. ;-)

Ben 11:19 AM  

My regret qua Dave Barry, as it were, is that throughout junior high school, never having heard of him or read his work, I flipped past his syndicated humor column every week in the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine because it was entitled "Notes on Western Civilization."

"Who wants to read some guy's notes on Western civilization?" I thought to myself as I hurriedly turned the page. Sadly, the answer was: me.

Masked and Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Not a real hard FriPuz for me. Rate 'er about two cinnamon rolls. Thoroughly enjoyed the black square designs on the sides. They look like fingers pointin' into the grid, or someone flippin' yah the bird, or somethin'. . .

Knew about Chrissie Ellen, but wasn't too good at rememberin' how to spell her last name. Shoot, I ain't too good at spellin' anything much longer than five letters. . .

Didn't know my right SOIGNE from my left TOONIE, but BEQ tossed me a crucial bone with ACUTEST, to save my bacon. . .

With me, every 2-syllable adjective sounds pretty painful with an -ER endin'. ACUTER -- SINCERER -- LEGALER -- nope, sorry: engine light every time. And, weirderly, most of 'em sound just fine with an -EST tacked on. Go figure.

G=6,U=2. Not bad, considerin' almost everything in the puz was fresh lookin' vocab. Mighty fun stuff. And that's what it's all about.

THX, BEQ. Thumbs up, dude.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Left side: easy. Right side: hard. So the two average medium? The right side is not for those who don’t read the Bible, don’t know the Pretenders, aren’t nattering nabobs, aren’t bookies, aren’t Easterners, aren’t bird-lovers and are Canada-ignorant slobs. The theme is birds: 2 left-handed on the sides and 2 right-handed at the top and bottom....

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

@ Bob K, Cute way to yank our chains and see if we know the movie is about a dance marathon.

Tinbeni 12:30 PM  

For me there were three WOD.
All learning moments.
All WTF's.
All going down.
All getable via crosses.

SODS going into WEEDS was my ACUTEST moment with this 2 mug of coffee slog.

chefwen: You may get 'no ceegar' but you do get a 'toast' at sunset.

FUN Friday.

Jim 12:48 PM  

Wow. A 'Wheel of Fortune' finalist's wet dream: R-S-T-L-N-E comprised half the squares--HALF! A-D-I made up another 22%. Never endeacored to count before, but that's gotta be some kind of record. If this is what it takes to get a 58-word puzzle, better they don't exist.

Thought puzzle would open up once I finally got a foothold (is it really foothole?) in the SW. That quadrant, difficult but reasonable, completed, along w CHRISSIEHYNDE, gave me confidence that was not to be justified. Hence, even more anger than I would normally have.

Anyone looking for that doozy the last three weeks, here it is. Unprecedented number of words (not proper names) I'd either never heard of or didn't undersand even after seeing it solved: TANNIC, PILER, TAKEA powder(?? PLEASE!!), COVEY, ANNEALED, SOIGNE, TOONIE, SONES.

Then spelling: never seen it spelled HADJIS, nor ENURED.

Lastly, since when do they add state abbrevs at the end of cities? No idea what JA0LISCO is and ATMOS is the most ridiculous company's name I've never heard of.

Pardon the rant, but this puzzle kicked my ass so badly, after reaching a new plateau of fri and sat solves, I'm just demoralized.

David L 1:03 PM  

Good challenging puzzle -- started with PAYPERVIEW, which I somehow plucked out of thin air, but then insisted for too long on ALABAMA instead of GEORGIA...

The only dislikable word is PILER. Not exactly a profession anyone aspires to. And anyway, aren't the pilers the people who throw their dirty laundry in a heap, so that the person doing the laundry is the UNPILER? Discuss...

John V 1:10 PM  

DNF. NE, as noted was a bear. Also had no clue on Chrissie Hynde, nor Jalisco, not soigne. Just one of those days. Alas.

What's in a name 1:11 PM  

Hey @Jim

Atmos Energy is the largest natural-gas-only distributor in the United States. Our regulated distribution operations deliver natural gas to 3.2 million residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and public-authority customers. Our distribution services are provided to more than 1,600 communities in 12 states.

As a name, Exxon, however ....


Clark 1:15 PM  

The NE did me in. Top four rows blank, except for AS IT WERE. But it left me wanting a rematch.

@David L -- The PILER seemed ok to me. The penultimate one doing laundry is the PILER; the final one is the put-awayer -- I guess. Well, now that I think about it, if the antepenultimate person is not the folder, then there would be no need to call in the PILER, as it were, QED.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@david L

A PILE of laundry is what you haul out of the dryer before everything gets folded, so i thought the clue was at least accurate.

Both ACUTEST and PILER push the boundaries a bit as it is difficult to imagine anyony using them that way in a sentence.

Thought someone might mention the presence of PILER and PLIERS in the same grid.


Van55 1:37 PM  

One look at the byline and I feared I was in for a royal buttkicking today. This one turned out to be an easy BEQ, but for the NE, which was gnarly in the extreme.

I don't think this was a vintage BEQ effort for reasons articulated by others: ANNEALED, PILER, ATMOS, etc. ISAIDNO is also ugly in my opinion.

Roy Orbison 1:55 PM  

Oh-oh, yes Im the great pretender
Pretending that Im doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
Im lonely but no one can tell

J N Arthur Rimbaud 2:19 PM  

@Emily D. - With all due respect, what with your being dead and all, that it's impolite to berate the dead: no you don't know what a moor looks like, or what a wave in the sea is like. You're just sitting there in your sad little house, pretending you understand life, the world, when in fact you've no idea.

foodie 2:28 PM  

SOIGNE (masc) and SOIGNEE (fem) means in French well-cared for including in appearance . SOIN is literally care and soigner is to care for or tend to. So, a nanny "soigne" your child, and your lawn can be SOIGNE (is a lawn masculine or feminine?)

I used to get in trouble in school because of my horrible handwriting, and my grade would be knocked down a few points because the homework did not have: "l'air soigné"- a well cared for look. The French equivalent of "Neatness Counts". As a result, I developed a prejudice against people with good handwriting. I know, I know, I'm going to hell for it.

When it speaks to human appearance, "soigné/soignée" implies good grooming and hygiene, not necessarily fancy dress style- nails, hair, make up, coordinated clothes. It is a very particular kind of elegance, nothing flamboyant or over the top or even necessarily chic.

Trust the French for having a 100 different words to describe dress-style.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

I didnt see if anyone else mentioned this, but, wasn't it a bit unusual to have an answer legROOM and an answer storeROOM in the same puzzle?

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

could this puzzle's theme be alcoholism?

P. Verlaine 2:53 PM  

@JNA Rimbaud. Picking on girls now, huh? How's your wrist feeling? :P

J N Arthur Rimbaud 3:11 PM  

@Paul V - So, they finally let you out of jail, no? Or did you type that with the crayons they let you use?

Leave it to you to defend writers of "common" sense, who think of the moors as a sea of heather, with their pretty little pinks and purples, when that's not the salient aspect of the moors, where the wind blows at night with a sound not heard by ear, but felt in the vestigal regions of your soul which knows of the existence of monsters, demons and devils, feels their presence, and dreams up the concept of Gods and heaven to make it possible to live with that pure knowledge. It's why you sucked as a poet.

archaeoprof 3:13 PM  

DNF for me today, but how can I not love a puzzle that includes Johnny Cash and RINGOFFIRE?!

deerfencer 3:33 PM  

Wanted JACKSONBROWN for the Great Pretender but it fell a letter short.

Foul on SODS--just a truly fugly word even if it is legal. Should have been clued as
"British barflies" (or something along those lines) as in "a bunch of worthless sods they were."

Otherwise a fun and creative puzzle.

Blue Stater 3:38 PM  


This item is left over from yesterday. I actually know about the Urban Dictionary and at least when I tried it it didn't have an entry for "reverse moby." I am truly a blue stater, and understandably resist the notion that my comments subtly cast blue staters in a bad light.

It used to be OK to be critical of the puzzles on this blog, which is why I joined it. And besides, I got today's (Friday's) puzzle, though I share the criticisms of it stated here (my criticisms usually aren't much different from anyone else's).

A Roy Orbison Fan 3:43 PM  

@Roy, 1:55 PM - I love your cover of The Great Pretender, but we don't want to give people the impression that you wrote it. It was written by Buck Ram for the Platters back in the 50s, and has been covered many times. (Roy, did you know your Wikipedia entry doesn't even mention it?) (And did you know that CHRISSIE HYNDE's band The Pretenders took their name from the song?)

We don't want a squabble between Roy and Buck like that smackdown going on between Rimbaud and Verlaine! (But love that one!)

Rex Parker 3:44 PM  

First, please don't ever restart an argument from the day before. It's of interest to precisely No One.

Second, people criticize the puzzle on this blog all the time, so I've no idea what you're on about.

Third, one guy jerks your chain a little and you can't just let it go? It's One Guy (not "this blog").

As you were,


Anonymous 3:59 PM  

sods is a verb

Sod Master 4:03 PM  

@Anon 3:59 Yes it is. It is also the plural for sod, as in we have different sods for different applications, Kentucky Blue grass sod for sunny areas, Bermuda sod for arid/high traffic regions, and a blue grass/fescue mix for shady regions.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

which one are you a master of?

P. Verlaine 4:08 PM  

@JNA Rimbaud - Sticks and stones, mon frere, sticks and stones. You've just never gotten over the fact that La Resistance used MY poem to signal the beginning of France's liberation from her darkest hour. But really, you can't seriously have expected them to associate such a momentous occasion with an unreadable screed like "Une Saison en Enfer?"

hazel 4:09 PM  

dead poet flamewar! awesome! brush yourself off, emily d! get back in there!

ED 4:16 PM  

I never saw a moor stupid argument.

Sparky 4:29 PM  

For the third day I've arrived here so late as to be completely redundant but what the hay? Started off this a.m. whiz bang in NW. Piece of cake. Then disaster. Picked on and off all day. I did manage SODS, STAGES, STOREROOM, which I then changed when LEGROOM arrived, RESTRING and a spare letter here and there. Yet I enjoyed the puzzle. I like BEQ's work. And Rex's comments today too. A fun day except for the squabbling. Tsk.

DDE 4:43 PM  

@Paul - I wouldn't get my chest too puffed up about our using "Chanson d'Automne" as our DDay signal to the French Resistance. It was specifically chosen for its innate fatuousness. It was our assesment that the Germans wouldn't dream that anything of significance could possibly be associated with that poem.

Moonchild 4:47 PM  

Great puzzle and now we have the battle of the poets! Yippee!
I could have sworn there were two L's in Philips.
@ deerfencer, I believe Brits call their barflies sots (seen frequently in xwords). Sods sounded goofy to me but I must bow to the Sod Master since he used it successfully in a sentence.
I had to hum the Cash song to get the title and that was fun.
Chrissie was a pleasant surprise since I was going through some moldy oldies in my head before it was revealed (giving me the H of that Japanese thing). Thx BEQ.

P. Verlaine 5:01 PM  

@"DDE" - I know that is really you Arthur! You can not fool me with your puppet sock! Ah, why must you torment me so! Mon Dieu! Je suis fou! Je t'aime! Je t'aime, toujours mon cher! Je suis perdu!

Trois et fini...

OISK 5:05 PM  

Last Friday's took me 15 minutes, but the NE of this one was killing me. Never heard of Chrissie Hynde and have no idea who the Pretender was. Gave up, and just as I was about to go to this site for the answer, a neon sign went off in my head! Finished it correctly. Well constructed puzzle, because the toughest answers, (for me, Hynde and Hiragana) were all crossed by reasonable ones. But I would call it harder than an average Friday...

I Before E 5:42 PM  

I usually do NYT in syndication, so while I read this blog regularly, I seldom comment. So I an thrilled to do today's puzzle from BEQ's site and comment contemporaneously. Maybe it's because I do his puzzles regularly, but I found this one of the easiest Friday NYTs in a while. Words I didn't know (Hiragana and Soigne, notably) easily popped in from the crosses. Like others, I found Ring of Fire and Crissie Hynde delightful and opened up large areas for me. Thanks BEQ.

chefwen 6:04 PM  

Thanks @Tinbeni - right back atcha!

Lookup Guy 6:09 PM  

•Sod (in British English) is a mildly offensive, pejorative term for a person, derived from sodomite but rarely nowadays used with this meaning. It has many uses, but particularly implies idleness (as in “lazy sod”). ...

•stupid person; fool; drunkard

PS: @Rex - Are [boring] dead poets exempt from the 3 and out rule?

Jim 6:31 PM  

Forgot to mention this earlier: 1A could just as easily have been answered 'FLY' or 'POWERUP' or 'GOTHROUGHCASTLEDOOR'. Just ridiculous. Throw a ', maybe' or
', sometimes' or '?' in there, would you please, maybe, sometimes???

ArtLvr 6:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 6:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 6:58 PM  

MUST SEE! Re -- Chamois on the MOUNTAINSIDE yesterday, here with Ulrich's help is a link to two amazing pix of big horn sheep strolling across the face of the cliff-like Buffalo Bill Dam at Cody, WY:




jesser 7:17 PM  

@Artlvr: Those pictures are ASTONISHING! But I can only look at them for a moment before I get vertigo...

jesser, amazed

ArtLvr 7:23 PM  

Thanks, jesser -- One more image of those crazy bighorn sheep on the dam, now that I've relearned how to link:


No, I don't know how high the dam is, or whether the sheep ever fall...


michael Chibnik 7:27 PM  

A left jab may "floor you" but that's not I usually think about a jab. I think of it as a punch to set you up for something like a left hook. Or else something to keep you off balance.

Not too hard for a BEQ, but I was stuck for a while with tautest instead of acutest.

"deign to" doesn't seem to me the same as "think worthy of" but I suppose someone will find this as an ok definition. For me, "deign to" means some snob doing a favor for the little people.

JenCT 7:28 PM  

@chefwen: Liked your math equation! Same for me (JenCT + Friday + BEQ = DNF!) The northeast did me in.

Rex - thanks for the Rico Suave clip - brings back memories. Also, loved the Vow to Vowels video.

mac 7:30 PM  

@artlvr: amazing pictures!

@Jim: come on! It wasn't that bad!

By the way, not knowing much about boxing, I had left cut for a bit. It sounded tougher than a jab.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

sod1    /sɒd/ Show Spelled
[sod] Show IPA
noun, verb, sod·ded, sod·ding.
1. a section cut or torn from the surface of grassland, containing the matted roots of grass.
2. the surface of the ground, esp. when covered with grass; turf; sward.
–verb (used with object)
3. to cover with sods or sod.

ArtLvr 8:35 PM  

Hi mac! I agreed with you about ACUTEST, and I'm glad you saw those images; I just wished I'd had them ready to post early yesterday! That dam is on the Shoshoni River at Cody, Wyoming, by the way. It'd be a handy name for a crossword where a vowel is wanted at the end, like JALISCO, but it's probably too obscure for anyone but BEQ?

I didn't see his name as constructor today until I had completed today's puzzle, and might even have skipped it if I'd noticed it. As it was, I inched along with only crosses to get me to the end, not knowing CHRISSIE HYNDE, HORSE or RING OF FIRE.

Here's hoping tomorrow brings us more sun to get all the damp dried out, plus another challenging puzzle with gettable twists!


Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Anglicism - Sod off, the lot of you!

Not complimentary...

NotalwaysrightBill 5:22 PM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

The west side fell pretty easily, with the crosses revealing HIRAGANA (new to me).

As a Mexiphile, I knew that the Lago de Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake, is in JALISCO. Many sources claim that the area hosts the world's largest enclave of voluntary, non-refugee expatriots (est. @ around 40,000, mostly retirees and most from the US and Canada). I definitely agree with @ jesser that that's beautiful country.

East side: SBT (sucked big time!).

Knew CANAAN but not SOIGNE (thanks @ foodie for elaborating the term). Hated many of the clues: "Limp, now"=SODDEDOFF doesn't work for me, even after being "Toughened" twice; WEEDS are not a row to hoe (though SODS might be); thought [clue for]=PILER was lame.

First guess upon discovering TOONIE, was that it's Canadian for a two-dollar Jessica Rabbit ("Why don't ya do right?"}, spoken in Bob Hoskins fashion. Canadians . . . .

Dirigonzo 5:48 PM  

Still lots to like about this puzzle even 5 weeks later. Like so many others I bogged down in the northeast, mostly because the only thing I spend less time doing than reading the Bible is listening to conservative talk radio in the morning or anytime, plus I had hardened for 9d which kept anything from coming into view. Eventually sorted it all out letter by letter until NEONSIGN appeared and lit up the area like a - well, neon sign, I guess.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

I have a problem with Avionic for collision avoidance system. While they are mostly used in airplanes, a lot of auto makers are starting to install them on newer cars. There, my nit is picked.

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