Auburn competitors / FRI 1-14-11 / 1969 biopic / Union of 1284 / Violinist/bandleader Light / Robotic group popular in 1980s

Friday, January 14, 2011

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LILI Taylor (8D: Taylor of "The Haunting") —

Lili Anne Taylor (born February 20, 1967) is an American actress notable for her appearances in such award-winning indie films as Mystic Pizza, Short Cuts and I Shot Andy Warhol. (wikipedia) [loved her in "Short Cuts" and, especially, "Dogfight," opposite the late River Phoenix. So so good...]

• • •
[It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]


I don't think I've ever noticed Martin Ashwood-Smith's grids much before this week. I know the name, for sure — he's fairly prolific, and as one of the contributors to the CrosSynergy puzzle (a very decent, easy daily puzzle that you should be doing), I see his name a lot — but clearly I haven't been able to discern any signature style. His puzzles haven't stood out that much to me—this isn't bad; it probably means they are usually solid, just not showy. Well now he's got my attention, first because of a gorgeous grid he constructed for CrosSynergy this past Sunday, and now for this beauty, which I really like despite the fact that the grid seems to be spelling out "SS." I'll just pretend it's two snakes ... I don't know what that middle section represents. Looks like one snake is passing the other a parcel. ANYway ... back to my enjoyment of this puzzle.

I wonder if I'm predisposed to like a Friday puzzle that I manage to tear through. I don't think so. I mean, it's nice to have that feeling of accomplishment, but if I was wincing throughout, the quick completion time wouldn't be enough to make me forgive the bad stuff. Here, strangely, I actually liked the most difficult part the best—that is, the little snake parcel part in the middle. Those triple-15s up top and down below were a cinch to bring down, but that middle section, yikes. I had that thing criss-crossed with right answers (AMT, ADD, DREAM, MILKSHAKE (44A: Frosty's relative), KILOS, SEX, SAX) and *still* couldn't finish it off. Problem: Unexpected Xs (which I hereby copyright as a possible name for a future zany romantic comedy about a couple just starting their relationship who vacation at a lodge in Colorado only to find out that *both* of their ex-spouses happen to be vacationing there as well (independently) at the same time. Oh, the hijinks). No way I was getting to X-AXIS from [Base line] without one of those Xs in place. Finally guessed the unlikely DART at 23D: Zip (NADA? ZERO? Oh, not that kind of [Zip]? OK), which allowed me to see MARX (28A: "The Poverty of Philosophy" author), and then X-AXIS, TAXIS (38A: Hotel waiters?) (awesome central crossing), SOYA, and SKYE (39D: Island along Cullin Sound) fell quickly thereafter). The rest of the puzzle, I barely remember. I just know I enjoyed much of the long stuff, except ENGLAND AND WALES (66A: Union of 1284), which just doesn't make a nice, self-standing phrase.

Started by trying to get as many of those short Downs as possible up top. That's how you bring down those daunting-looking stacks—just hack at the crosses and they reveal themselves pretty readily. Usually. Here, I got ONTO and DSL and not a lot else until I noticed the gimme INRI (19A: Cross letters), which led immediately to SHRINER (11D: Fez wearer), FENS (30A: Peaty places), and SHARIF (which I got despite knowing little if anything about "CHE," 7D: 1969 biopic starring 10-Down). The TINE (25A: Part of a farm harrow) / ENOCH (26D: Violinist/bandleader ___ Light) crossing was a *little* harrowing (!), but everything else in the puzzle (outside the center), went Wednesday/Thursday quickly.

  • 42A: Robotic rock group popular in the 1980s (DEVO) — Huh, I guess their affect is pretty robotic ... I would not have thought to describe them that way. The 80s music / robot box in my head is filled by this:

  • 50A: Auburn competitors (REOS) — timely, as Auburn only just this past week defeated the Oregon REOS to win the BCS National Championship.
  • 43D: 100 centesimi (ONE LIRA) — somehow never thought of a LIRA as being divisible, let alone divisible into 100 parts.
  • 47D: Bird on a Kellogg's cereal box (TOUCAN) — got it quickly, and enjoyed it despite the fact that I've always found TOUCAN Sam phenomenally annoying. I mean, Silly Rabbit annoying. Lucky the Leprechaun annoying. Tony the Tiger annoying. You get the picture.
  • 54D: "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" novelist (INGE) — never heard of it, but guessed it off the "G"; INGE usually appears in the grid as a playwright.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Martin Ashwood-Smith is one of my fave constructors with a long history of jaw-dropping grids, often with stacked 15s.

Check this out!


Matthew G. 12:25 AM  

Beautiful puzzle. I don't know that I can call it easy, per se, but I can call it smooth and very satisfying. I finished in decent (but not stellar) Friday time, but had one wrong square (the intersection of LUCE and ELIA, neither of whom were familiar to me).

@Rex: I agree with most of your review, but you are mistaken in asserting that "ENGLAND AND WALES . . . just doesn't make a nice, self-standing phrase." On the contrary, this is more than just two country names joined by a conjunction --- within the context of the United Kingdom, England and Wales is a distinct jurisdiction, bound together by a shared legal system that distinguishes them, as a pair, from Scotland and Northern Ireland. So yes, there's England, and there's Wales, but there's also England and Wales.

More here:

anDREAMichaels 12:43 AM  

What threw me about the ENGLAND AND WALES thing was already having the AND of SOANDSOS so I thought it was ENGLAND-someone.

And I fell for the INRI vs TAUS thing for awhile (And bogS before FENS) so that was a bit of a mess.

I'll bet if you heard LUCE with a first name, like Henry LUCE or Clare Booth LUCE, it would sound more familiar...
(I spent a while trying to figure out if LUCk could be some sort of prefix for time!)

And even tho I didn't notice the rorschachyness of the grid, I did appreciate the middle being all X-y and K-y.

MEW is new, so for a while NAUTICALAreAmAp, which seemed made up...and was!

TONYTHETIGER 12...seems like you are on to something (tho godknows Peter will have already done it in the Sun!

And while we are at it, with KUNG fu and all, what was the outcome of the Grasshopper/Karate Kid debate? Mistake or not?

Fave clue: Overnight sensation = DREAM

I spent way too long trying to decide if it was uNa or uNo LIRA.
I think the whole answer should have been in italiano, no?

Anyway, liked this...always thought the phrase was A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE was a dangerous thing, but something tells me we had that discussion before...

Matthew G. 12:51 AM  

We're on the same wavelength today, Andrea. The last square I filled was my (incorrect) K in LUCk/kLIA. And I too thought the expression was "A little knowledge..."

As for LUCE, immediately after finding my error I thought, "I bet the person who started Time magazine was named Luce." Yep. But, too late.

syndy 12:54 AM  

okay please someone explain luce to me! It earned me my happy pencil but i still don't understand itthe puzzle looked scarey but went down smooth except of course LUCE!!second class mail gave me a little trouble but then OF COURSE!!

syndy 12:57 AM  

Okay did not know that,not being from there.

jae 1:07 AM  

Easy for me also. Faster than yesterday. Interesting grid and a solid puzzle. Only real missteps were FAVA and BOX in the center section.

fikink 1:23 AM  

A sweet puzzle, as I remember most of MA-S' puzzles to be.
Put SOLAR PANEL in, took it out, put it back...
Also had BOGS for a long time before I gave it up
TINES are there on my harrow in the toy barn and, of course, I had a narcissistic rush.
GENERAL INTEREST takes my prize for best clue and fill and TOUCAN was parrot when I was just throwing things down willy-nilly.
What a treat!

Styx guy looks like he is trying out for Jesus Christ Super Star and who could forget that Mystic Pizza is where Julia Roberts got her start?

@jae, I had FAVA at first too.

chefwen 1:59 AM  

I loved this puzzle, well, any Friday that I can complete with little stress is a good Friday. It was a little eerie for me as Jan 14 would have been mom's 90th birthday and to have R.I.P and I.N.R.I. in it was rather strange and brought back recent and sad memories.

Like Andrea, loved overnight sensation/DREAM. MEW was new to me as a small gull, think it's what a kitty would say when spotting a small gull.

Excellent puzzle!

r.alphbunker 2:54 AM  

The black squares arrangement made me think of Conway's Game of Life (wikipedia has a nice entry on it). Perhaps it could be the seed of a glider gun. It would be nice if Stand Alone's iPhone crossword puzzle would show you how the black squares of the puzzle evolve when the game is seeded with them.

Definitely an easy Friday for me. Some initial wrong entries but none were idees fixes. I heard somewhere that Martin Ashwood-Smith is a cab driver.

jae 2:57 AM  

@fikink -- for me it was a Silence of the Lambs thing.

I skip M-W 3:59 AM  

@Matthew G: Henry R. LUCE was a founder of Time, Inc., including the mags Time, Life, and Fortune and husband of Claire Booth Luce. The famous New Yorker parody: "Backward ran the sentences until reeled the mind. "
@AnDREAMicheals I had the same taus, bogs, problems
eventually finished correctly — nice puzzle

I skip M-W 4:10 AM  

Thanks, everyone for your very kind congratulations and wishes yesterday. I just read them now. My wife-to-be will not even do M-W x-words, but I won't mind.

imsdave 7:09 AM  

That was ridiculously fast, yet fun at the same time. Loved the X's and K's in the middle. Three erasures: ROOF/ROOM, PRO/PAL, and POWER/PANEL. A little nervous about tomorrow - these romps usually get followed up with a puzzle that smacks me down hard.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

What does RIP stand for? Pace?

Why I marvel at crosswords: How does one get "on ones high horse" from an "n" and an "s"? How does the brain do that?

r.alphbunker 8:00 AM  


RIP = Requiescat in pace.

A while back a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune guessed the phrase "Ive got a good feeling about this" with just the letter L showing. Try googling

Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

Okay, Rex. The "Oregon Reos" was a joke. Oregon are the Ducks (O. State are the Beavers). Auburn are the Tigers (or maybe War Eagles, confusingly). Was there once an auto called the Auburn? Is Reo an eye or hair color? I'm lost on this one.

David L 8:36 AM  

Almost a superfast Friday, but took a little extra time to get that TAXIS/XAXIS business in the middle. Even so, unusually easy for a Friday, but a nice puzzle. Started with BOGS for FENS, REST for PACE (assuming it was the English RIP, not Latin), and KOLA for SOYA, but other than that, plain sailing...

TEL and REOS don't mean anything to me, but easy to get from crosses.

foodie 8:39 AM  

@anonymous 7:40 and r.alphbunker, if you're interested in the idea of pattern recognition and prediction based on partial information, take a look at a book by Jeff Hawkins, called "On Intelligence". He's the inventor of the Palm Pilot but also has formal training in neuroscience and has pondered the question. He argues that this process is at the core of intelligence and that no attempt at modeling that-- e.g. AI or Neural Networks has truly captured this process.

OK, sorry about the geeky digression. Puzzle looked awesome, was awesome but my own intelligence was lacking. Too many uncertainties along the way, and it was late at night. So, I had to do this thing that Acrosslite lets you do-- check for errors along the way (without revealing what is correct). It helped me eliminate things like bogs in lieu of FENS and YUK in lieu of ICK ... I eventually got it.

CBCD 8:42 AM  

My most (at least to me) amusing self-inflicted erasure of the day - SNOWFLAKE for 'Frosty's relative'

joho 8:42 AM  

I just had a couple of missteps: stlo before CAEN and iNon before ONTO. I knew it'd be rated easy but was still happy to finish a Friday so quickly and enjoyed it, too. All those 15s were daunting at first but didn't put up too much of a fight.

Loved the middle section! AMT/DART/DREAM/XAXIS/KILOS/SKYE/SAX
Thank you, Martin!

Glimmerglass 8:49 AM  

Re: football. Perhaps the center figure is meant to be an oblate spheroid.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

I used to have only tepid attempts at Fridays, but since I got introduced to this blog a couple of months ago, I felt more eager.

I did not complete it for sure, but I still got a good feeling, as I filled in the middled part, which Mr. Rex Parker reported as the toughest.

One small victory a day is all that one needs.

@JaxInL.A: thanks for the leads for crosswordese

From Bangna/Bangkok

Golfballman 9:00 AM  

@glimmerglass: There once was a car named the Auburn. It was from the same era as a REO a car made by Ransom E. Olds thus REO.

Samantha 9:17 AM  

Thanks for that explanation, Golfballman! I got that one right (and sort of assumed that was the case) but it was still confusing.

I also fell victim to the LUCE/ELIA crossing. But hey, for me, one incorrect letter on an otherwise filled in Friday puzzle is pretty great, so I'll take it.

Chalk one up for the heathen getting INRI right out of the gate ... but I must complain about FENS instead of BOGS. That's just evil, particularly if one has read much in the way of either Seamus Heaney or P.V. Glob. Hmph.

Van55 9:19 AM  

@ACME. Per Deb Amlen, the GRASSHOPPER clue was a mistake, and the correction was to be printed today.

I did not find this one in me wheelhouse at all. Big ol' DNF.

jesser 9:29 AM  

SAX SEX makes me raise a toast to all you jazz lovers. I like the way Glenn Frey infuses SAX SEX into Eagles songs, myself.

My writeovers are in the SE, where I had SOLAR PowEr and Pro effing things up pretty good there for a while. The good ol' NAUTICAL ALMANAC gave me the nudge I needed to reasses 31D, and I was done!


I looked at the grid and saw I was missing the MAR_AXIS cross. I am embarrassed that I had to do an alphabet run to find the X. D'oh! Seems so obvious in hindsight!

Loved it! There wasn't one place I said ICK!

Choos! (what my ex called his zapatas) -- jesser

JaxInL.A. 9:30 AM  

OMG OMG OMG I finished without having to look up a single thing, in one of those nifty experiences that I think are the reason many of us solve puzzles. I looked at the grid and got a bit weak in the knees. I was sitting at the table as my 13-year-old daughter did math homework and said aloud "oh, no".  She thought I was being over-dramatic(!?!). 

But despite a daunting initial look at the clues, I just started. Each time I thought "I'll never get that," an answer would come to me.  SHRINER was my first answer, followed by ISNO, and then I hesitated to enter LEGO for big name in construction. (after discarding ACME for this first). I'm learning not to hesitate so much.  

Thanks, @foodie, for the disquisition (okay, that's overkill, but I love that word) on the thought process.

Speaking of constructors who are bloggers, has everyone seen Liz Gorski's clever Crossword City blog post with the grid containing the names of nine folks who have daily xword blogs?

Well, more to say about this fabulous puzzle but it's time to rouse the fam and make oatmeal.  Ran outta walnuts so just apples and spices in it today. 

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I got the bottom and the middle fairly quickly but the top but was anything but easy for me. I had very little and was forced to google "1969 biopic" to be able to finish. I knew there had been a recent Che movie so it didn't occur to me that there had already been one.

DBGeezer 9:50 AM  

Could someone please explain how Bust finds means KILOS (34d)?

SethG 9:53 AM  

Tore through the top and middle in about 2:00 each, majorly hung up on the bottom.

Top, filled in the last four downs with no crosses, then just had to decide between SECOND and FOURTH class mail.

Middle, I think it went ON A STREAK->KILOS->SOYA->SKYE->TAXIS.

Bottom, my big problem was not knowing RIP was Latin. I erased PARA more than once. Didn't know the authors, didn't know ENGLAND AND WALES, limped home.

jackj 9:54 AM  

Never heard of MILKSHAKE; thanks to Rex, will never forget MILKSHAKE!

Oh, the puzzle? It was a crossword.

retired_chemist 9:56 AM  

As always from Martin, a solid puzzle with no reasons to quibble. Medium though.

Hand up for sticking with TAUS (19A) way too long. In recompense, my "just try it" answer LEGO (15D) stuck just fine. I call that a fair trade. 51D SINGE was easily corrected to SCALD once LUCE appeared.

Not so lucky with 47D, where I overthought and overthought wrong. Trix does not have TRIXIE the (some kind of) bird on its box. No, it is a silly rabbit. And it is General Mills, not Kellogg. But the TOUCAN appeared as another blind stab (or a nearly totally repressed memory).

If I had a quibble it would be ARIZ clued as a Mex. neighbor. Thought a Mex. neighbor would be a nation. Proper clue is however the Mexican state of Sonora is abbreviated, but that would probably be pretty obscure. Since Arizona now has its own foreign policy re immigration, maybe the clue is actually appropriate.

Anyway, Thanks, Mr. Ashwood-Smith.

Lindsay 10:00 AM  


Here's the correction:


The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 51-Across, seeking the answer “Grasshopper.” The clue should have read, “Term of endearment used by Master Po for young Kwai Chang Caine in TV’s ‘Kung Fu’ ” — not “Term of endearment for the Karate Kid.”

JaxInL.A. 10:02 AM  

Apropos of yesterday's puzzle, last night Jim Svejda played the Rhenish Symphony on KUSC. I wonder if he does crosswords. For you classical music fans, L.A. Is blessed with the best (and least predictable) classical music radio station in the entire country. Really.  Please listen to their online stream at  There's a great profile of Jim Svejda in the January Los Angeles magazine that refers to him as "the Dr. Demento of classical music."  Check it out.  

Samantha 10:07 AM  

DBGeezer, re: KILOS

Drug bust.

archaeoprof 10:09 AM  

Not easy for me today. More like average in difficulty for Friday. But way above average in enjoyment!

@Rex: LOL at your Oregon Reos.

TEL el-Amarna made my archaeo-heart go pitter-pat. That site produced the Amarna tablets, an extensive collection of cuneiform tablets from the 14th century BCE.

quilter1 10:27 AM  

Despite having yuk for ICK and Lamb for ELIA at first, loved this solving experience. What a fun puzzle. NAUTICAL ALMANAC is fun to say. Did not know that The Haunting had been remade. The original was one of the scariest movies I've ever seen: Julie Harris unwittingly holding hands with something in the dark. I can't believe it would be as scary in color.
Grandpa was a SHRINER. RIP

Ulrich 10:58 AM  
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Ulrich 11:00 AM  

Yes, a very remarkable grid, cheater squares and all...(and no, I do not mean this as a criticism)

@dbgeezer: In case you didn't get Samatha's comment: The amount of heroin etc found in a bust is often expressed i.t.o. kilo(gram)s.

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

Fun Friday!
Slow start had me worried but it paid off. Great misdirecting clues.
X-axis looks cool in the grid.
Figured it had to be X since I doubted the author was simply Mary.
@ foodie, I love it when you digress. Anything pertaining to AI fascinates me. I can hardly wait for the upcoming Jeopardy match between Watson the computer and two very smart humans.
Are we taking the gull clue too literally? Could it mean a small protesting sound?

retired_chemist 11:16 AM  

Mew Gull per the Cornell Ornithology Lab.

CaseAce 11:17 AM  

Speaking of Stacks, I so prefer the ones that appeared in the (Chocolate)Milkshake video appended to Rex's blog this Frosty day!

foodie 11:24 AM  

@archaeoprof, thanks for the elaboration on TEL El-Amarna. It rang a bell, but I had to run through a bunch of options before I got to TEL (which means hill in Arabic, and I assume in Hebrew?). EIN (Source) a common first component of such a name was particularly hard to get rid of. In my defense, the name in Arabic is simply Al-Amarna, and I had never heard TEL associated with it. It turns out Wiki, the source of all knowledge, agrees with me, and the place seems flat as an Egyptian pancake. But now I know it's a variant.

Ironically, I have a facsimile of one of these tablets sitting in my office, and I love to look at it.

Two Ponies 11:38 AM  

@ r_c, Thanks. I was thinking of another definition of gull but turns out I was the one who was gulled.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

FriPuz's are slowly becoming my new fave. Last two have been great. Love this grid layout; makes the solving experience so ... gnarly. Thumbs up and thanks for a couple U's, Martin-dude.

Interestingly, this puz sports two things that 44 has recently called on the carpet in other puz's:
1. Connectivity probs for the center "snake larva" area. With Looong roads leading thru the narrow passes, even.
2. Lots of teeny (3-4 letter) words. 44(!) of them, out of a total of 70.

Extra nice write-up today, BTW. 44 seems to be recovering nicely from that "cocktails" puz hangover.

Van55 11:55 AM  


Thanks. How embarassing that I got the right answe immediately from the wrong clue!

JaxInL.A. 12:13 PM  

Still dealing with old business:

@Andrea, thanks for the note that the syndicated puzzle you mentioned was your NYT puzz that I couldn't put down. I thought it must be a different syndicate. I'm glad that you might check out Stanley Donen's movies. He's totally worth it.

@quilter1, it seems you have a new quilt with ?kiwi birds on it. Nice!

@Rex, FYI it seems that I'm back to not being able to see the videos. I today's case I can see #1 but not #2 (subject unclear) or #3 (which I'm guessing Devo). Thanks for posting them at all. Just wish they showed up consistently.

Three and out (first time for me). Happy MLK weekend everyone.

william e emba 12:17 PM  

After a few isolated answers up top and a bit better central left, I broke through in the southwest corner and then kept going. I even backed into the center from the easterly MILKSHAKE. All in all, the easiest Friday I've seen in months.

Hah! I got XAXIS off the ---IS, although I did not ink it in until verifying that one of the X's had a good cross.

Bogs vs FENS? Well, this Edmund Crispin fan naturally votes for Fen. And if you don't know why, well, go out and read all his books! They include some of the most intellectually witty mysteries ever written. At times, EC seemed to be inventing the Mission Impossible baffler.

A Philadelphia suburb in my general area is named Devon. The US-202 exit signs are usually vandalized to read DEVO. Sadly, I could not find any online to link. Perhaps you can come for the Devon Horse Show or something?

A different SAX (Rohmer) wrote about a different Fu (Manchu).

r.alphbunker 12:30 PM  

Thanks. I have ordered it. Looking at a few letters and having the answer pop into your head is much more enjoyable than running the alphabet trying to find an answer that fits. Running the alphabet is what a computer is good at. My guess is that humans are doing something else.

miriam b 12:45 PM  

@foodie: Yes, TEL means hill in Hebrew, as in TEL Aviv (Hill of Spring).

I loved this puzzle. The fact that the grid looks like a letter S set me to speculating about a possible S-related theme. Nope. Later, having filled out the top three 15-letter answers, I noted that each of them contains a pair of double consonants. When it turned out that the bottom three did not, I saw that there was no theme.

I wanted TSK for "that's nasty", a comment, perhaps, on inappropriate language.
That gave me the following Downs: an unknown four-letter author beginning with T, then STLO and KUNG, both of which made sense. Finally, saying "ICK, this is a ZOO," I came to my senses.

It's noon time, so I'm off to have lunch and see what the postman has brought today - probably a ton of SECONDCLASSMAIL. Or bills. Or both. Again, ICK.

balto 1:09 PM  

I thought I'd get killed on this, and the beginning was horrid, but ended up solving most of it myself -- satisfying given my time limit.

I thought the grid looks more like SOS, with the embedded O.

quilter1 1:13 PM  

@JaxinLA: I made that for my 7y/o granddaughter for Christmas. They do look like kiwis, but are fantasy goofy birds supposedly socializing on telephone wires. As I finish projects I expect my avatar will change.

chefbea 1:37 PM  

Easier than the usual Friday but DNF.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

I currently can't show you some monetary love, but I did show your blog some love on my blog. Thanks for saving my ass and entertaining me on a daily basis!

treedweller 2:10 PM  

I differ from Rex today in that I am happy to love a late-week puzzle that I get through to the end without google. I got stuck awhile on NAUTICALALMANAC because my quick glances at NAUTICALAL_A_A_ read the second AL as the first, but still had a pretty good time by my standards.

That Styx album came out during my freshman year in HS, right before our band took a bus trip from FW to FL (roughly 26.5 hrs each way, plus much shuttling in between). I was in the minority on my bus in that I Did Not Like That Song. We had something of a majority rules thing going with a boom box, so I heard that song enough that week to last me a lifetime. Some of the songs I hated then have since grown on me, but not this one.

ksquare 2:58 PM  

@golfballman Ransom E. Olds of REO fame was also the namesake of the late OLDSMOBILE brand.

Shamik 3:12 PM  

I'm a little on the slow side today and found this to be a medium. But a VERY enjoyable medium.

Two Ponies 3:18 PM  

@ foodie and @ william e emba,
Thank you for the book recommendations. I just ordered the Hawkins book and for my intro to Crispin I'm trying "The Moving Toyshop".

Where's @dk?

Unknown 3:20 PM  

Muchacho and nino are not the same thing. Nino is a baby while muchahcho is a boy.

PlantieBea 3:22 PM  

Nice smooth Friday, except I realized after getting here that I hadn't filled in the LUCE/ELIA E. Oh well, I would have guessed wrong with luck/klia, anyway. I really liked the long stacks on the top and bottom, and of course the snaky, swirly S and X grouping in the middle.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Not happy with 53A Ace -> PAL. Is "ace" really a synonym for PAL? If so, then it would seem as if any combo of slangy three-letter "male friend" words would do: bud, mac, bro, bub, guy, man... ICK!!!

Stephen 3:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen 3:32 PM  

Never have I enjoyed a Friday so much. Maybe any puzzle so much! The fill has those 15-stacks which are so smooth and natural, without any of the REG ickky 3-letter dreck.

The cluing was inspired on and on and on... "periodical", pandemonium, interject, waiters, frosty's relative, time starter, not had by, pocket, means, name in construction, overnight sensation(!), base line, bust finds, chute opener. Loved it all.

LAL, though? a tennis "ace"?? wtf?

got nailed by REST/PACE.

And I thought Kellogg had a rooster. Did they change somewhere in the last 50 years? Did they ask me first?

sanfranman59 3:37 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 23:34, 26:11, 0.90, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:23, 12:50, 0.89, 30%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

@Stephen check your down--that was not LAL but PAL.

and Kellogg's does use a rooster as a logo on the corn flakes box, but the TOUCAN is on Froot Loops.

archaeoprof 4:03 PM  

@Foodie: in archaeo-speak, TEL refers to any mound produced by the detritus of repeated human occupations. In that sense a tel can be almost flat, and still qualify for the use of the term.

BTW, are you _sure_ that tablet is a facsimile?? :)

Stephen 4:03 PM  

Ah, yes... PAL was one of the things I pondered and then discarded because I couldn't make sense of that answer either!
Then I just failed to correct it, and followed up by writing a dumb comment about the wrong word.

Back to the point... what's up with ace=PAL?

imsdave 4:24 PM  

repeating my post from the (wonderful) wordplay blog:

I plopped in PRO immediately for PAL. In retrospect, I realized that I have called my pals, ACE at times - usually in a somewhat derogatory fashion, as in "way to go, ace", when they've really botched something up. And sometimes, "wow - nice one!" But there is a bit of friendship intended there. I can't complain about anything when I do the NYT Friday in a 12ish kind of time - I suspect my friends would say "way to go, ace", if they had any clue what that means to me.

Double entendre.

mac 4:35 PM  

This was a real Friday to me, I'm afraid. Having limos for taxis held me up a long time. My first thought at 15D was also crossword puzzle constructor! Bank teller at 3D...

Beautiful puzzle, though, loved so-and-so, on ones high horse, general interest, nautical almanacs and shriner.

captcha: defector

foodie 4:50 PM  

@ archaeoprof, thank you! That's sooo cool, to come here and learn something in my native language! It even made immediate linguistic sense to me-- TEL in everyday parlance does have that "mound" connotation-- as in I have a TEL of laundry to do.

Re the tablet-- I wish :) but I guess if it were authentic, I'd feel compelled to give it back.

@ r.alphbunker, I'd be curious to hear what you think of that book. The topic of pattern recognition pops up here on a semi-regular basis.

@JaxInLA, when it comes to disquisitions, I can do a lot worse... I try to spare you guys :)

@miriam b, great to "see" you again!

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

This was a beautiful puzzle. I solved just a little bit before needing some Googling. Got the bottom part but got "stranded" on the top. Had HIGH ON ONE'S HORSE instead of ON ONE'S HIGH HORSE but quickly corrected. But also had GOLD DEALER on 3D instead of COIN DEALER that I could not correct.

Wanted REGIONAL AIR MAIL instead of SECOND CLASS MAIL in 1A. No wonder I could not nail the top part of the puzzle.

I liked some nice two words combinations that I did not expect like SO AND SOS (awesome), MAKE A CASE, SOLAR PANEL and ONE LIRA.

Based on my record on Friday puzzles I would have to rate this puzzle as medium to difficult. Very satisfying even though I did not finish it.

Unknown 7:42 PM  

I LOVED this puzzle! Fast and fun at the same time, yet still challenging enough to qualify for a Friday. Almost every answer made me chuckle. What I really enjoyed were the recurring and abutting letter combinations in four of (why not all of?) the long answers: 16A ONON; 17A LELE; 60 A ALAL and (the piece de resistance!), 66A ANDAND. Loved it.

Martin 8:01 PM  

Ace at Urban Dictionary.
Once more.
My Brother, My Ace (video)
Nas lyric: "Joe the Butcher's my ace."

michael 8:51 PM  

I got this all and liked it, but is medium-hard for me (even for a Friday). My favorite discovery was that there was a movie about Che made in 1969 with Omar Sharif (which I sure don't remember).

It took me forever to get so and so for some reason.

Kerry 9:02 PM  

Fascinating. I found this one tough... pretty much all the 15's came slowly.

I *started* at X-AXIS crossing TAXIS. Breezed through the middle, then slogged through the bottom then top.

ArtLvr 9:28 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle, which I first saw as an SOS made of white squares (okay, maybe an SoS). The end of 1D echoed my thought with SO-AND-SOS.

I thought of SMEW at 64D -- but that's a cute little diving duck with mask, not a gull. Google for adorable pix!

I also wondered how many 4-letter beans there are? I started with Lima but switched to SOYA as soon as I saw the SKYE clue. Fava et al didn't arise.

Re TEL, I'm still amused at the Arabic name given to the newly discovered ruins of an ancient lost metropolis which featured dense layers of ceramic molds for bread-making. The Yalie archeologists called it Umm Mawagir, or Mother of Bread Molds. We can only hope the Egyptians have an entirely different word for moldy growth on old bread! Um?

Pandemonium was perfect for ZOO, where we might picture the TOUCAN, MEW, and maybe certain CLANs on their HIGH HORSEs?


p.s. Did anyone notice the proposed revision of the traditional Zodiac to reflect present-day alignments of familiar constellations, causing consternation among those casting horoscopes for a living? A thirteenth sign called OPHIUCHUS is inserted from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17, and Scorpio is reduced to less than a week, Nov. 23-29. It's pronounced Off-ee-YOO-kuss, and if you picked up on the snaky prefix, it's because the Serpent-bearer is another name the healer Asclepius, with shedding of the snakeskin symbolizing rebirth. I'd bet that crossword constructors would love it, if it caught on...

Anonymous 9:42 PM  


Someone please explain.

davko 9:43 PM  

An admirable construction with one small quibble -- the implication that MEW can stand alone as a noun for MEW GULL. Often the descriptive word in a binomial can work in this manner (i.e. MALLARD for MALLARD DUCK), but in all my years of birding, I've never heard mew gulls referred to as just "mews."

sanfranman59 10:14 PM  

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

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

Mon 7:32, 6:55, 1.09, 83%, Challenging
Tue 8:16, 8:54, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:36, 11:44, 0.90, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:12, 19:00, 0.85, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 23:40, 26:11, 0.90, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:41, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:27, 4:34, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Wed 5:31, 5:47, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Thu 7:50, 9:09, 0.86, 30%, Easy-Medium
Fri 11:15, 12:50, 0.88, 27%, Easy-Medium

acme 11:27 PM  

@karen/anon 12:11am
Wow! 50+ puzzles all with 15 stacks!
(Jim Horne's database is truly unbelievable!!!!)
Interestingly, ONONESHIGHHORSE was used by MA-S in an earlier puzzle but in a totally different context.

In skimming his puzzles, GENERAL + another word has used with ASSEMBLY, HOSPITAL and now that is a very good sandwich word.
I would love to figure out how to make one of these!

Robin 1:50 AM  

Loved this puzzle, although when I first looked at the grid, I had to sort of scrunch up my shoulders and shift them left.

@Rex - sorry to break it to you about "Unexpected X's," but Noel Coward beat you to the punch in the play "Private Lives." Those X's and their new spouses ran into each other in a French hotel, not Colorado, so maybe that's enough difference to get your copyright.

Anonymous 10:36 PM  

I worked in a library once upon a time, and Periodicals was instantly recognizable as "Magazine Section", with horrible consequences.

Dirigonzo 6:06 PM  

I never worked in a library but "magazine section" was my first guess, too. Ultimately finished with no errors and lots of "aha" moments so this one was a lot of fun.

Someone above was anticipating the "Jeopardy" game between two former champions and a computer, and now 5 weeks later we know the outcome - the computer won (but I'll bet that it couldn't do this puzzle.)

Mary in Oregon 7:48 PM  

My hubby noticed that there are two B-1 Bombers - one on each side of the "football field" in the center! That's the male non-puzzle solver view, anyway.

Unknown 3:54 PM  

Great discussions like these always make me regret living in syndication land.

@r.alphbunker -- Great comment about the Game of Life. I put the grid into an online program and found that after about 970 generations it turns into 28 blinkers, 26 blocks, 18 beehives, 4 ships, 2 loaves, and 10 gliders. So it's an excellent seed pattern.

@william e emba -- I'm with you on Edmund Crispin. He's brilliant and hilarious.

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