Laura Bush biographer Ronald / FRI 1-21-11 / Bygone NYC punk club / Appassionata von Climax / Writer known as Old Possum / Epoch bats first appeared

Friday, January 21, 2011

Constructor: Pete Mitchell

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CBGB (CLUE) —

CBGB (Country, Blue Grass, and Blues) was a music club at 315 Bowery at Bleecker Street in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. // Founded by Hilly Kristal in 1973, it was originally intended to feature its namesake musical styles, but became a forum for American punk and New Wave bands like Ramones, Misfits, Television, the Patti Smith Group, Mink DeVille, The Dead Boys, The Dictators, The Fleshtones, The Voidoids, The Cramps, Blondie, The Shirts, and Talking Heads. In later years, it would mainly become known for Hardcore punk with bands such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of It All, and Youth of Today performing there. [...] The club closed in October 2006. The final concert was performed by Patti Smith on October 15. CBGB Fashions (the CBGB store, wholesale department, and online store) stayed open until October 31 at 315 Bowery. On November 1, 2006, CBGB Fashions moved to 19-23 St. Mark's Place, but it subsequently closed in the summer of 2008. (wikipedia)

• • •

This one felt fairly easy, but my time says "normal" or maybe even a shade higher. Nothing stumped me for very long, but I didn't speed through much of it either. Slow, steady progress. Pinwheel shapes (like the one formed by this grid) create relatively separate segments (here, quadrants), such that blowing through the grid quickly is tough to do ... which is just fine for a Friday. Ideal, even. Gave me time to SAVOR some of the better answers (51D: Make last, maybe). I liked a lot of this one. The banks of long answers are all good-to-great; I especially like the NE (the last section to fall), with its triumvirate of HUMBLE PIE (12D: Crow), MANGANESE (13D: Iron's preceder on the periodic table), and SLOBBERED (14D: Acted like a baby, in a way). Had a little trouble getting in there because I had CPLS instead of CPOS (31D: Navy equivalents of S.F.C.'s), which meant I couldn't see POISE at all (that "O" was the last letter in the grid, actually) (41A: Cool). Luckily, CBGB bailed me out and I was able to piece together the long Downs from there. Got a note from Pete (today's constructor) just before starting the puzzle—subject line read "Don't open this email until AFTER you've done Friday's puzzle"—and he referred me to an old write-up of mine from nearly three years ago, which he said was the inspiration for this puzzle. Took me a while to figure out what he meant, but then I stumbled on this:
32A: Company with a spokesduck (Aflac) - annoying. I feel sad to have lived long enough to see "spokesduck" enter the language.
Somehow I don't feel the same annoyance today, perhaps because it's much harder to get mad at SPOKESDUCK (1A: Aflac ad figure, facetiously) when it's livening up your grid by comically sitting on the head of TINA LOUISE (15A: She played Appassionata von Climax in Broadway's "Li'l Abner"). I liked the run-down quality of the symmetrical answers FIXER-UPPER (36A: Homebuyer's "bargain") and BAD HAIR DAY (42A: Result of a permanent failure? — great clue). All in all, I just liked it. Fine Friday fare.

[I have no frame of reference for this]

There were several things I didn't know in this puzzle, some of them dangerously close to one another. Let's start with CSTAR (9D: ___ Optics (telescope maker)) and KESSLER (10D: Laura Bush biographer Ronald). The former I pieced together from the fact that a C-STAR is a thing, and CSTAR sounds like "See Star," which is what you might do with a telescope. No way to get KESSLER except through crosses, which were all fair. Not sure I've heard EFAX said out loud or seen it in print, but I can at last imagine what it is (37D: High-tech transmission). I thought maybe Byron wrote "MAUD" (wrong—that's Tennyson), and if I even knew "LARA," I forgot (63A: Byron poem). A partial from a Thomas the Tank Engine story!? That's nuts, but kind of inspired (57A: "___ on the Line" (Thomas the Tank Engine story) ("A COW"). Words like EOCENE (30A: Epoch when bats first appeared) and CHELA I know from puzzles gone by. Ditto UIES, which I had the good sense to change from UEYS fairly early on (8D: They're hung across roads).

  • 17A: Chinchillas and boas, e.g. (EXOTIC PETS) — a great answer. My wife had occasion to refer to chinchillas earlier this evening. I forget why. Oh, her student is interning in a kindergarten classroom, and got superexcited because it was Zoomobile day!
  • 19A: "The Gene Krupa Story" title role player (MINEO) — Got this easily, which is weird, as I've never seen the movie. He's pretty common in crosswords (see also SELA, 60D: One of Swoosie's co-stars on "Sisters"). Plus, I probably had the -EO before even seeing the clue.
  • 27A: Ace pitcher's reward? (SALE) — someone else out there had to have had SAVE, right? This made 28D: Many an interrogee *very* interesting. "VIAL? What the...?"
  • 5D: Writer known as Old Possum, and his family (ELIOTS) — as in T.S. Gimme. "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" was the basis for ... "Cats!"
  • 54D: Wankel engine part (ROTOR) — wanted MOTOR, but that didn't really seem like a "part"...
  • 56D: Secretaries' charges: Abbr. (DEPTS.) — oh, "Secretary" as in "Secretary of the Interior." Gotcha. I had APPTS. here at first.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 12:17 AM  

What Rex said. Easy-medium. Can;t believe I put down GEICO GECKO (hey, 10 letters and an insurance spokesanimal) and didn't say "D'oh!" for about 10 minutes. Made the NW tough.

Have seen the Krupa clue for MINEO quite a few times. Last fill was the F in EFAX/AUF. Had it as S - probably terrible German, but easily fixed. I do wonder what an E-SAX is though.....

Never heard of Thomas the Tank Engine, so A COW (57A) was pretty opaque. Ditto CBGB,which I was sure had to be wrong. Not....

Anyway, a nice Friday. Thanks, Mr. Mitchell.

I unfortunatley found time after solving this puzzle to watch Colbert 12:18 AM  

Cluing an actress via a 55 year old play that no one's ever seen only works if the answer is Yma Sumac, and sir, I knew Yma Sumac, and TINALOUISE is no Yma Sumac

I just found TINALOUISE to be profanable, and on the subject of profanable,
a) It isn't a word,
b) Everything is subject to being profaned, not merely the sacred. Take for example ex NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman, seen by me just this evening on Colbert. Up until 11:30 this evening I merely thought she had been a horrible governor and EPA administrator. I shall now profane her based on her appearance on Colbert by saying she's a self-serving, dishonest Fox News toady. She places the blame for the various states' budgetary woes on the extreme costs of the retirement and medical benefits of the state workers. Seems she forgot that the way she funded her 30% reduction is state taxes back in the '90s was to raid the pension funds. Need a couple of extra billion to give away in tax breaks? Hell, don't bother to put anything into the pension funds for teachers, policemen, state workers. A decade or so later, just blame them for being greedy bastards. It really is their fault that you decided to not fund the contractually agreed to benefits, that when convenient you bumped up your estimated investment return by 25%, based on nothing, just to further reduce the amount you had to pay in, or that later you decided to fund what little you did put in by borrowing money at 8% in the expectation that you would recover that and more, but lost most of it. See, Ms Whitman is profanable, even though she wasn't sacred to begin with.

Sorry for the rant.

jae 12:59 AM  

Yes, a fine Fri. Lots to love here. Hiccups included UEYS, EPIC for ODIC (which made NE a bit tough), and SIT for SAT. Easy-medium for me too. Now I'm off to watch The Daily Show and Colbert...

syndy 1:03 AM  

so many things I didnT know! my first pass came up empty!so I cracked my knuckles and just started in Spokesduck was my first answer and it cracked me up when I realized it was right! Am way too familiar with Thomas and his buds but do you know how many stories there are? wanted julie newmar for appassionata.have to call this one challenging here

Falconer 2:22 AM  

Fantastic Friday puzzle ... because ... I got it with only one Google, at the very end.

My problem in northeast was having ENDS for OHMS. (Omega is used as the end point, as in the "alpha and omega" of an issue.) So that gave me EPIC instead of ODIC poetry, which prevented me from seing DUAL or MANGANESE.

Also troublesome was that I got the DUCK right away from DUPE but had "HUCK**DUCK" for a long time as I think of the duck as more of a huckster than a spokesanimal. That led me astray to HANDS instead of STEMS for "watch things" for awhile. Mystery solved when the PIXIE flew in.

CBGB was an awesome club and first thing in the grid for me. Probably one of those generational clues; you know it or you don't.

Proudest moment: Southeast went down for me in about 15 seconds. I was really on this constructor's wavelength.

All in all, a ducky effort. Nice work, Pete.

andrea that's what I'm talkin' about michaelsin' about 3:08 AM  

OK, Pete Mitchell, you got me again...
NW sat empty long after the rest of the puzzle was done with only KATES holding down the fort and (some sort of) DUCK.

In the end, had to Google TINALOUISE and the rest fell into place, but I count it as a DNF. I wanted Imogene Coco. I honestly never realized Tina Louise has done ANYTHING other than Gilligan's Island.

Plus I have always been prejudiced against her bec my dad once got on a plane, before there were seat assignments (?!) and Tina Louise's purse was in the seat next to her.
My dad asked if that seat was taken.
She looked at the purse, looked at him, looked back at the purse and said, "apparently" or something snooty. So boo to Ginger!

I loved NOLOVELOST and spending many minutes thinking about people who use a WAND:
Conductors, magicians, fairies, dry cleaners...but a PIXIE?
Maybe it could be a rebus: -A SYKES, -ERINGJEWS, um, -ERLUST, -SWORTHPRISON and for you Astro fans: -Y RODRIGUEZ

wandrea carla michaels 3:35 AM  

oh wow, when compiling the above WAND-rebus list, I came across WANDA JACKSON had no idea who that was, so left her off...20 minutes later, I turn on Letterman and there she is!!!
Life is wanderful sometimes...

I skip M-W 3:41 AM  

DNF because I don't watch commercial TV, and also don't know football???? so spokesduck crossed with "on one" was too much for me tonight..Missed o in poise also.
But loved @I unfortunately 's informative rant about Whitman. It's close to the story all over the country, unfortunately
Like @ Rex, though loved Don Juan, don't know Byron's Lara. Why would anyone write a bio of Laura Bush?
Agree with @REx that longer answers were great, except for Spokesduck. What's Aflac, anyway?
For any Times reader, CBGB would be hard to miss.

Anonymous 5:44 AM  

Can someone please explain 27A "Ace pitcher's reward"-- is this a reference to Ace Hardware and someone who "pitches their products by offering a sale"? thanks

CBCD 5:56 AM  

I might be the only poster here today who can say that my son's band played at CBGBs.

@Anon - to explain 'Ace pitcher's reward' - in this case, to pitch is to try to sell something, as in a sales pitch. A successful sales pitch results in a sale.

imsdave 6:04 AM  

@syndy - I wanted Julie Newmar too - I remember her from the movie version in the role of Stupifyin' Jones (wondered if they'd change the name - nope, turns out Stella Stevens played Apassionata in the movie).

MINEO was the first thing in the grid. Crossword regular Anita O'Day was also in that film. I hesitated at EFAX even with the AX in place - seems a little redundant to me, but looking it up after shows it to be a real thing.

Solid medium for me here, finishing in the low twenties. Very enjoyable puzzle.

Thanks Mr. Mitchell.

joho 8:08 AM  

This was one of those wonderful puzzles where I was able to get everything I didn't know.


Thank you, Pete Mitchell, for a Friday to SAVOR.

r.alphbunker 8:11 AM  

Sign of the times: The first association with wand user was TSA. Knew 1A was a DUCK long before I knew what kind. It was definitely my favorite answer and I enjoyed learning that it was the seed entry for the puzzle.

Also liked the answer BADHAIRDAY and its clue.

An excellent Friday puzzle.

David L 8:54 AM  

Hard side of medium for me, mainly because of the NW. Got KATES and ELIOTS quickly, but had DIALS at 1D, which led to me DUCKE??? for 1A. Tide turned when from somewhere I remembered KESSLER, but I've never heard of TINALOUISE and UIES seems like an unorthodox spelling.

This is getting into esoteric territory, but do pixies in fact use wands? I associate the latter with wizards and magicians and the like, but I confess I'm ignorant of the finer points of taxonomy here.

David L 8:59 AM  

Oops, didn't notice that andreahernameisverylong already questioned wand-use by pixies...

Vega 9:01 AM  

Like @andrea, my NW destroyed me, until I turned gbS into RLS, and then boom, I flew through it. I had to take everything out, though, and start over, and I'm still not convinced that PIXIEs, of all five-letter things, use wands. Still, some pretty fine stuff here today.

That Tina Louise video is out of control. OVERTHETOP, even.

I think I will probably smack my forehead in recognition as soon as I send this, but I'll ask anyway because I'm baffled: how are STEMS "watch things"? Thanks.

mitchs 9:09 AM  

DNF. NW. The 4th letter K had me confidently writing in DUCK. Couldn't escape from there.

Look Up Guy 9:17 AM  

[Continuing a tradition of FWIW findings without interpretation]

Tinkerbell, in the picture and the official Disney Character Archives is referred to as a pixie.

She has been featured in television commercials and program opening credits sprinkling pixie dust with a wand in order to shower a magical feeling over various other Disney personalities, though the 1953 animated version of Tinker Bell never actually used a wand.

But in the animated TV show, The Fairly OddParents, the Pixies are dull, wear grey suits, speak in monotone voices, wear pointy caps as opposed to the fairy crown-things and, unlike the fairies, treat magic like a business. Instead of wands, they carry cellphones which make the traditional Fairly Odd Parents 'Ping!' when a fairy uses magic

Howard B 9:19 AM  

One of the hardest Fridays for me in a long while. EFAX, A COW (not up on my Thomas the Tank Engine partials), CSTAR, and even TINA LOUISE, whose name I did not know, all really made things an extra challenge. Struggled with SPOKESDUCK but teased it out eventually.
This was a 'Challenging' on my own personal difficulty scale due to those snags, while the rest of the puzzle was right in the normal Friday zone. A worthy challenge.

Goes to show how much variance there is from person to person. So no squabbling here over relative difficulty ratings today, please. Remember, you're all right. This puzzle was easy, medium, tough, and Marquis De Sade cruel all in different places :).

nanpilla 9:46 AM  

Another sign of the times...
From the initial F I was thinking foreclosure for homebuyer's bargain, and thought "that's a little harsh". Then noticed it didn't fit, and felt relieved.

ALOOF for POISE held me up in the NE for quite a while.

Overall, this was a great puzzle.
DRAW STARES in the SE was just genius.

Kurt 9:46 AM  

Great Friday puzzle. It took awhile because like Rex I had APPTS for DEPTS, SAVE for SALE, & UEYS for UIES. Unlike Rex, I didn't have "the good sense to change [them] fairly early on." I hung on too long but eventually came around.

I loved the puzzle. SPOKESDUCK was laugh out loud funny. Thanks Mr. Mitchell. And I loved the write up. Thanks Rex.

aaron 9:54 AM  

I'd just like to point out that both today's puzzle and the one for January 21 in the NYT Crossword Page-A-Day desk calendar have EOCENE ("Dawn-of-mammals epoch") in almost the same spot (although its a down clue in the calendar).

Anonymous 10:05 AM  


STEMS are a part of a wind up pocket or wrist watch (before batteries) that are pulled out and turned to tension the watch spring.

I too was stuck on the SAVE/VIAL combination.

Pete M 10:28 AM  

@andrea: Great Tina Louise story! Love that!

Just checked the initial submission and found that the center had been reworked for the better. Was SAVE/VIER/EUR/ERAT/ETES. Kudos to Will or whoever fixed this up.

Lindsay 10:36 AM  

Slogged through without any real problems, though progress stalled in the NW. Never heard of TINA LOUISE, and unsure what sort of DUCK we were going for. Totally fell for the "Reggie" misdirection at 4D. Eventually it occurred to me that chinchillas and boas were EXOTIC somethings, PIXIE came into view and .... finito.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. That NE corner took the longest.
Another great name from Lil' Abner is Jubilation T. Cornpone.
How do I know this? I have no idea.
I have never read the Thomas books but trains used to have cow catchers on the front so I lucked out there. Speaking of cornpone, I was expecting the dish with greens to be a Southern food.
The spokesduck and the gecko are still amusing but the cavemen have run their course. Not funny anymore.

leah712 10:48 AM  

Can we make a neologism for "I had a lot of trouble with this puzzle and felt even worse when Rex said it was easy?" Whatever the term is, I experienced it today.

imsdave 11:08 AM  

@Two Ponies

Jubilation T. Cornpone


Stupifyin Jones

Vega 11:16 AM  

Thanks, @anon 10:05. Who knew those things had a name!

r.alphbunker 11:17 AM  

Whereas I had them as PETS and wanted UNUSUAL which didn't fit.

How about arexia meaning the condition of differing from rex. Arexia comes in different flavors. There is positive arexia which means you thought the puzzle easy but RP didn't. And there is more usual negative arexia in which the opposite happened. There is also emotional arexia which occurs when you feel that RP needlessly trashed a puzzle.

PuzzleNut 11:21 AM  

Sailed through most of this one. Writeovers at SAvE, SiT and HUMiLiatE, but otherwise seemed to be on the same wavelength as the constructor.
However, the NW was my last section and the only thing I had was SEESTO across the bottom. Unfortunately, after 15 minutes of head scratching, the whole NW was still blank. Would have helped to know ELIOT or MINEO to get some toehold, but alas, not to be. Thought the boas and chinchillas had to be some kind of fur stole or wrap, so that went nowhere. Never heard of Kate Bush, but had heard of Alan Jackson (but not Alan Bush). Even with WAND and the E, PIXIE was not coming to me. STEMS is a great answer, but with no crosses, no way.
I saw a show the other night about Gilligan's Island and Tina Louise was one of the cast that was interviewed. Not very impressed. Cluing her as Ginger may have been too easy, but any other clue seems just wicked.
Definitely ate some HUMBLE PIE today.

Ulrich 11:25 AM  

I, too, was able to work through this at a steady pace, with the toughest time in the NW, and finish eventually w/o help. The slow pace allowed me to savor the puzzle tremendously--all those long answers, some of which I got just from 2-3 crosses, which is always a case for jubilation in a Friday puzzle for me.

And believe it or not, I probably had as much trouble guessing AUF in the very center of the puzzle as anybody else--Auf Ferienreisen (On Holiday Trips) is not exactly my idea of a snappy tune title. Nevermind, a most enjoyable Thursday evening experience...

JaxInL.A. 11:35 AM  

I dont even follow sports, but I live and work near USC where Reggie Bush is a legend, and I know there's a Reggie Jackson, so I simply could not get KATES for that answer, even though Reggie clearly would not fit.

Loads of fun answers today. The NE and SW fell pretty smoothly, but oddly enough it was the short stuff that had me stumped, and in the end DNF. CSTAR? KESSLER? That and the aforementioned Reggie fixation, plus only a passing acquaintance with spokesfoul kept me out of the NW almost entirely. I also remembered Julie Newmar but not TINALOUISE. I had forgotten that the brilliant Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics for Lil Abner. Thanks for the clips, @imsdave.

Hated EFAX and like @rc I waffled between that and EsAX because I only know the German you need to sing Bach. I appreciate our constructor stopping by ands noting the changes in the center. Thanks and congratulations on a very successful puzzle!

It is always interesting to learn how the process works, and I agree that the published middle is stronger than the one he submitted. It still stumped me, though.

JaxInL.A. 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 11:43 AM  

@r.alphbunker: WOW! The brilliance of your linguistic invention boggles the mind! I LOVE "arexia" and hope that we adopt it wholeheartedly here. Thanks for a great laugh that will stay with me today.

Two Ponies 11:46 AM  

@ imsdave, Thanks! Good fun.
@ r.alphbunker, 43D on arexia.

JaxInL.A. 11:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:08 PM  

For those who did not know that pixies have wands, I have 2 words for you: TINKER BELL

Go Bears

killa cam 12:47 PM  

UIES? What the crap kind of spelling is that? Do not like. Do not like one bit.

syndy 12:48 PM  

@Imsdave;also thanks for both clips-Now I need to go to amazon and get me a copy

dk 12:52 PM  

Recently read Patti Smith' Just Kids. It talks about a time when I lived in NYC working photographing Ms. Smith and others. If you are of a certain age and know of the back room at Max's and the salad days of CBGB you may enjoy this book.

PIXIES use dust not a WAND... everyone knows that.

I was a lover of Mary Ann so I support Acme's Ginger rant.

Some odd fill as noted above but all and all a fun time.

*** (3 Stars)

leah712 12:56 PM  

@ r.alphbunker, love the term arexia with both positive and negative directions. You have taken an idle thought of mine and turned it into sheer brilliance.

arexia carla michaels 1:28 PM  

Totally agree with everything you said (save the Reggie business), as I too had EsAX for too long...but then I remembered just hours before discussing that I really didn't need a fax machine anymore bec they all come on email now as attached pdfs.
I was asking someone then how to sign and send back (as I deal with confidentiality disclosures all the time and my solution is to print out and just pop in the mail, as I haven't figured out my retro of me) so I had a smack on the head a la EFAX.

(@Ulrich, I actually said "auf!" when I figured it out...SO comforting to know it gave you pause too!!!)

@CBCD @ 5:56am
So, who was the band?!!!
Do tell, and ignore grumpies who cry name-dropping! I mean, look, even the constructor liked a mean Ginger story!

Also love "arexia"!!!
Even tho I've been lightly tut=tutted for trying to coin things resulting in a frowned upon too-insider-y feel (which I agree with reluctantly) I want to go on record as saying love it, whether it catches on or not! ;)

And in my wand list, I can't BELIEVE I left out the pervy TSA!

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

How do you know when you have a great puzzle? When the nitpickers are WANDering.


Anonymous 1:31 PM  

How do you know when you have a great puzzle? When the nitpickers are WANDering.


archaeoprof 1:48 PM  

NW was hardest for me too.

Aflac and Geico have the best ads on tv. The Geico one with Abraham Lincoln cracks me up every time.

Thanks, Pete Mitchell!

Stan 2:12 PM  

This was a wonderful puzzle to take up a snowy morning. Team-solved with spouse-who-is-not-in-the-headlines, amid much laughter. Great in-the-language long stacks and clever, precise clues (favorite: Homebuyer's "bargain").

Loved seeing CBGB again. I went there a *lot* when I got to NYC in 1977 and saw most of the early groups listed in the Wiki. I'm impressed that @dk photographed Patti Smith -- it's so cool that she won the National Book Award.

Good write-up/comments today. Let me chime in with @arexia carla: @CBCD, what's the band?

OISK 2:27 PM  

Minority view from old grouch. A boa constrictor is a pet in my mind, but a boa is a fur. Did not know Tina Louise. Who is Kate Bush? Uies? C star? Kessler?

The NW was impossible for me. Spokesduck, Tina Louise, and Mineo, with the Kates and the contrived Pixie is too much pop culture in the same quadrant. Got the rest of the puzzle, hard but fair.

Worst puzzle of the year, as far as I am concerned. (but the year is young...)

CBCD 2:31 PM  

@arexia carla and @stan -

Actually my son was in two bands that played at CBGBs

Down in Flames - one listing is here for July 2001:

Tear it Up - flyer here:

He made his mother so proud!

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

Ha! I thought that the "ace pitcher's reward" was "sale" as in: he becomes worth so much money, he's sold to another team. Well, at least I got it somehow...

David L 2:36 PM  

It may well be that Tinkerbell wielded a wand, but was the wand given to her by J.M. Barrie or Walt Disney? Disney has messed around with so many originals that I am not willing to accept his authority on the subject of pixies and their magical accouterments. Plus, where does Tinkerbell stow her wand when she's not actively magicking? Dust, on the other hand, you can keep in any handy pocket, or even a SACHET.

Moonchild 2:46 PM  

Lots to love today.
Not having Kate Bush as a video was a disappointment.
CBGB was a gimmee. Very cool that some of you have ties/memories of the place.
Don't know what a Wankel engine is but rotor was kinda intuitive.
No love lost was a nice touch.
Wondering where that originated.
Where is the Bard? Maybe he knows.
If I disagree with Rex does that make me arexual?

sanfranman59 3:14 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 29:53, 26:14, 1.14, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 16:06, 12:51, 1.25, 89%, Challenging

As was apparently a common experience, this one ended up a DNF for me because of the NW. Even with a good guess on Sal MINEO, like Andrea, I needed to cheat to get TINALOUISE, after which the rest of that section fell. Too bad, since I was on pace for a better than average Friday solve time. C'est la vie.

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

Just as I started to gloat about getting better this puzzle stumped me completely. The engineer in me (ret.) got OHMS and MANGANESE quickly. Also got I'M NO and MINEO. And guessed DUAL. But that's it. Zippo.
Google did not help much and I gave up when most of the squares were still blank.
By my standards this must be one of the most difficult Friday puzzles. Very discouraging. I don't know how Rex rates the difficulty as medium. But I agree that the puzzle includes some fresh word combinations such as EXOTIC PETS, FIXER UPPER, BAD HAIR DAY, OVER THE TOP, NO LOVE LOST, DRAW STARES, HUMBLE PIE and HEAR A CASE.
Now I will post my comments and read what others say about this puzzle.

mitchs 6:30 PM  

Huge kick out arexia and arexual. I think I prefer arexual, which would be indifference to Rex's reviews. Those who only visit and comment on Wordplay, for example. One could also be heterorexual, and always disagree; or homorexual, and have an inborn predisposition to always agree with the blogmeister.

We have enough trouble with Natick!

Too fun, but I agree that either would be too "in".

John V 6:41 PM  

So, this was two puzzles, for me. NW and then everything else. Latter puzzle fell into place as easy, NW ... DNF, alas.Didn't see spokesduck and Tina Luise would not have come in million years.

Stan 7:24 PM  

@CBCD: Excellent! Thanks for answering.

I skip M-W 7:59 PM  

Nitpicking on Stem meaning as provided by @anonymous at 10:05AM : You don't pull out a stem to wind a watch, but just turn it; you pull it out to set the time, which is true on even many electronic watches, at least those with analogue hands.
I like "arexia" for disagreement with Rex, but then is agreement "rexia?"

Sfingi 8:03 PM  

DNF. Total washout. And yesterday was so nice. Bought the NYT to find out about the mob.

Love the Fairly Odd Parents and the rules involved. Once had a deep discussion about them with a 5-year old.

Please tell me what "introductory course" = SOUP means.

@Moonchild - the Wankel seemed brilliant. It's OK. It's an internal combustion engine, but, Instead of pistons, or up-down energy, it uses circular energy with a roundish triangular twirling inside a housing to go through the stages of input, compression, ignition, exhaust.
Mazda used it for a while.

sanfranman59 8:08 PM  

@Sfingi ... think multiple-course dinner ... soup is usually the first (i.e. introductory) course

andrea wandalust michaels 8:09 PM  

Talked to my dad...TL didn't comment only gave him dirty look (this was 40+ years ago and we had a chuckle over it today, so once again, thank god for Rex.)

And half page article about WANDa Jackson in the WSJ! She is much more well-known than I thought and officially goes on the rebus list...
Article appears in Weekend section across from today's WSJ puzzle by Alice Long, which may or may not be a pseudonym for another constructor who may or may not be female.

Two Ponies 9:00 PM  

Arexual! Ha! Too funny. Gets my vote.

No surprise about Tina Louise. Thanks to Andrea for story.
Like @dk, I was a Mary Ann fan. You just Know she and the Professor were off in the palm trees together! Right?

michael 9:01 PM  

terrific puzzle - really enjoyed exotic pets and spokesduck and bad hair day and fixerupper.

Got stuck for a bit on save/sale but finally got it.

Will never like uies.

michael 9:01 PM  

terrific puzzle - really enjoyed exotic pets and spokesduck and bad hair day and fixerupper.

Got stuck for a bit on save/sale but finally got it.

Will never like uies.

fergus 9:08 PM  

Haven't enjoyed a puzzle as much as this one in quite some time. Maybe enhanced by sitting out in the late afternoon sun, but a solid struggle with, I count, 17 write-overs on the dead-tree I found in the left-over bin at the coffee shop. Write-overs correlate highly with good misdirection, along with numerous possibiites, which is what we're looking for in a Friday/Saturday effort.

SILLY GOOSE was a tentative entry for the DUCK since his sales pitch sounds more like a honk to me than a quack.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 7:28, 6:56, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 11:30, 8:56, 1.29, 99%, Challenging
Wed 10:40, 11:44, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium
Thu 19:29, 19:00, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 29:58, 26:14, 1.14, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:57, 3:42, 1.07, 83%, Challenging
Tue 5:29, 4:35, 1.20, 94%, Challenging
Wed 5:13, 5:46, 0.90, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:16, 9:09, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 15:52, 12:52, 1.23, 88%, Challenging

mac 10:21 PM  

Challenging for me today. And the NW killed me, like so many.
I got the bad hair day right away, although, with a bad perm, you will more likely have a bad hair month or so.

I love the spokesduck, but I did not get it. Will never forget it or a spokesgecko, though.
CBGB is totally unknown to me, alas, and I thought Appassionata von Climax was a perfect role for Dita von Teese, however she spells her name... To me, pixie is something to do with a haircut, and chinchilla and boas are fancy throws around the neck.

I'm not crazy about "arexia", it doesn't show a for or against a word/answer.

Whitman has disgraced herself over and over again, let's just ignore her from now on.

SethG 11:09 PM  

If you find some Friday puzzles to be relatively more difficult than Rex does, you must find other Friday puzzles to be relatively easier than Rex does. If you don't, you're working with a different Easy-Challenging scale than he is.

This was my third fastest Friday ever.

Daryl 12:50 AM  

NE was super easy for me, had CBGB, OHMS and it was off to the races. Not entirely sure the C-STAR / KESSLER part was fair, even if SPOKESDUCK was a great answer.

Marc 4:51 PM  

I have to rate this one as medium, because I DNF.

For some reason, the Northwest section of almost any puzzle is always the hardest for me, especially in Friday and Saturday puzzles. This one was particularly tough, as it was composed almost entirely of things I had no clue about.

I loathe L'il Abner, but I thought I was pretty smart when I guessed ANNMARGRET. Finally realized that wasn't going to cut it, and Googled for TINALOUISE. I've heard of her, but couldn't name one show she's appeared in. Now I can.

Also had to Google KESSLER, and sal MINEO.

With Bush and Jackson, I considered baseball players, but somehow Kate Jackson and Kate Bush never crossed my mind. Then there was the "watch things" --- I was stuck with ITEMS ... consequently I couldn't figure out the AFLAC duck nickname.

However, the rest of the puzzle was basically a breeze. The NE fell in a few short minutes, and the Southwest and the Southeast followed with reasonable ease.

And, as ever, I was defeated by the Northwest. Weird.

Waxy in Montreal 6:52 PM  

May be generational but MINEO and TINALOUISE were gimmes so the NW corner was no chore but not so the NE with its CBGB. Also, after filling-in the AX at the end of 37D was certain the answer was COAX which didn't help. All in all though, an excellent puzzle.

Dirigonzo 7:12 PM  

There was a pretty bad snow storm in northeast syndicationland today so I had to work on the puzzle in between attempts at clearing the driveway. Loved the things about the puz that the prime-timers loved 5 weeks ago. Like @Nanpilla my first thought on Homebuyer's bargain was Foreclosure which didn't fit, but Forcedsale did and I stuck with that for way too long. Also wanted 34d Assembly places to be factories so confusion reigned there for a while, too. Ultimately finished with an error because I stuck with gbS for the literary initials at 24a and the down crosses were unknowns for me. Still rate this as a fun Friday (except for the snow clearing part) though.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP