TV persona giving prank interviews / FRI 2-11-11 / Hockey player's dangle / Antigonae opera composer / Title character of 1920s Broadway

Friday, February 11, 2011

Constructor: Adam Cohen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ADELLE Davis (21A: "Let's Cook It Right" author Davis) —

Daisie Adelle Davis (25 February 1904 - 31 May 1974), popularly known as Adelle Davis, was an American author and a pioneer in the fledgling field of nutrition during the mid-20th century. She advocated whole unprocessed foods, criticized food additives, and claimed that dietary supplements and other nutrients play a dominant role in maintaining health, preventing disease, and restoring health after the onset of disease. (wikipedia)
• • •

A solid if undistinguished themeless offering. I really do like fresh, contemporary entries in my themelesses, and this one had virtually none. Could have been from 30 years ago—except NORAH Jones (7D: Singer Jones). Even JETER is a little last-millennium. Nothing else is very Now. Smooth, but ... shrug. I wish themeless constructors would build grids around a handful of winning, modern names / terms / in-the-language phrases. It's the NYT. It should be forward-thinking. Currently, it's being outshone on a regular basis in that department by several other puzzles, including Peter Gordon's Fireball Crosswords and The Onion A/V Club puzzle. Being modern doesn't have to mean including some indie band that no one over 40 will have heard of; it simply means that the puzzle should seem at least vaguely responsive to the world as it's currently being lived in. I do admire today's puzzle — it's very well crafted — but I wish themelesses in particular would be a bit more daring than this.

Lots of names Again today, though only ADELLE and TED(s) (48A: Oscar-winning screenwriter Tally and others) were outside my knowledge base (ELIE is inside the base only because crosswords have pounded her name into my head ... she's a she, right? Damn, he's a he. Of course he is. ELIE Wiesel's a he. What was I thinking?) (3D: Fashion designer Saab). TED Tally won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "Silence of the Lambs." What the hell was going on with the sports clues today? A hockey player's "dangle?" That sounds obscene. And DEKE is already slang? Why would you need "dangle" when you have DEKE? I've never heard of this "dangle," though I'm admittedly not a hockey fan. I'll ask 5-time ACPT champion Tyler Hinman. He likes hockey, if his incessant hockey-season tweets are any indication. Bigger issue for me was the clue on JETER (39A: He broke Gehrig's 70-year all-time hits record). Misleading as hell. JETER does not hold the "all-time hits record." That record is held by Pete Rose. What JETER holds is the "all-time Yankees hits record." The fact that the clue omits this important bit of information makes it, pardon my French, total bullshit. JETER does have more all-time hits than any active player, but he's a good 1300+ hits shy of Rose's record. P.S. Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, but that's a point to be made another time.

[This is the go-to one-L ADELE of the future; get on board now]

Started this one with -SGT (1D: Squad leader: Abbr.) and TEES (19A: Two out of twenty?) and ELIE and that gave me a momentum that never ceased. Slowed a little in the SW when I double-stumbled with ATT and TILE (instead of ITT (37A: Onetime communications giant) and PINE (56A: Flooring option)), but I finally backed GET IN SHAPE (26D: Work out) into a corner and got out of there unscathed. Tore through the rest of it until the NE corner, which I inched my way through. Stupid ADELLE and stupid ITALIANATE held me up. Ironically, gave my lecture on Italy and the Renaissance today in Brit Lit I. Never once used the word ITALIANATE, though (12D: Like much Renaissance art). Speaking of Renaissance—two Shakespeare quotations?! That's more than I HATH ERST seen in a puzzle.(23A: "She ___ Dian's wit": Romeo + 49D: "The even mead, that ___ brought sweetly fort ...": "Henry V")

  • 1A: Loser to Al Pacino for Best Actor of 1992 (STEPHEN REA) — "The Crying Game"; Pacino won for (barf) "Scent of a Woman" (possibly my least favorite movie title ever).
  • 15A: Where pitchers are often placed (SALES ROOMS) — words cannot expression how tired I am of the use of "pitch" as a misdirection word in clues for AD- or SALES-related answers.
  • 29A: "Antigonae" opera composer (ORFF) — Got it off the "F" in ASIANFLU. Not really other options in that scenario.
  • 38A: Pesäpallo is their national sport (FINNS) — Hmmm. Wikipedia sez:
The rules of pesäpallo are quite complicated, but the idea of the game is simple. One team tries to score by hitting the ball and running through the bases, the other team tries to defend by catching the ball and putting the runners out. The key to the game and the most important difference between pesäpallo and baseball is the vertical pitching. Hitting the ball, as well as controlling the power and direction of the hit, is much easier. This gives the offensive game much more variety, speed and tactical dimensions than in baseball. The fielding team is forced to counter the batter’s choices with defensive schemes and anticipation, and the game becomes a mental challenge.
  • 35A: Group seen in late-night hours? (AEIOU) — I actually love this. Clever.
  • 41D: TV persona giving prank interviews (ALI G) — even though I've known of this character for years, I almost always trip on him when he shows up in xwords. ALIG just looks so odd in the grid.

  • 52A: Title character of 1920s Broadway (ABIE) — should be a gimme for any long-time solver. "ABIE's Irish Rose."
  • 59A: Old Hollywood method of promoting talent (STAR SYSTEM) — despite its self-professed oldness, this answer is probably my favorite. Snappy and original-seeming.
  • 25D: Onetime meringue-filled treats (OREOS) — Ew, really? I don't eat these much, but I much prefer the straight, untinted creme filling. I'm an original Double Stuf purist.
  • 55D: Minnesota city with Vermilion Community College (ELY) — A Garrison Keilloresque clue. I must have heard of this city at some point, because it went in pretty easily.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Don't have much to add to Rex but that I totally agree with his comments on hockey, and on Jeter and Pete Rose....

Dan 12:12 AM  

I really hope I'm not the only one who had TENS for 19a and stuck with it not having seen ELIE Saab before. DNF just because of that--I never even considered changing that square when I wasn't able to submit.

I guess there had to be an Elie other than Wiesel, but I'm fairly new to crosswords and hadn't come across Saab yet.

Still, my skill level is currently in the "tough Thursday" to "easy Friday or Saturday" range, so it was a fun challenge!

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

The angle of the dangle equals the torque of the dork....

syndy 1:27 AM  

Mostly liked the puzzle but then I'm not modern or forward thinkingI guess.(knew someone who was one of Adelle Davis' best friends)Got but did not "get" KALE or DEKE guessed FINNS from clue Pesapallo just sounded finnish!Speaking of daring what about 6 down? Loved AEIOU and cluing for CONGAS but agree about the Oreos-blech ----PREPHISI what a sot sees at the aquarium

john farmer 1:28 AM  

I just want to defend the JETER clue. I thought it was totally legit. There are career all-time hits leaders for the majors, for leagues, and for teams. (Not to mention, for righties, for lefties, for switch hitters, and so on. Baseball doesn't have a single record for anything.) The clue doesn't say which of the records, so it's up to the solver to figure it out. Anybody who knows baseball knows Rose has the major league record, so "Gehrig" in the clue points to another direction, the Yankees' team record. Besides, it was a pretty big story when Jeter broke the record at the end of 2009. A lot of fans probably knew this one cold, and non-fans probably don't care.

I do agree on Rose for the HOF, and the general comment on themelessees. Solid puzzle but it wouldn't have hurt to have a couple of answers with a little more something.

I skip M-W 2:18 AM  

For some reason, I didn't think of Orff right away so wrote in Duff arbitrarily, then, with Fi already there, I though of Fijis, although it's true Fijians would be better. Sounded enough like "baseball" to sort of believe this, then saw Orff and Finns so all was well. first puzzle I finished correctly in over a week. It helps to be ignorant, eter gave me Jeter, and had no idea he wasn't all-time, all-team record holder.
I used to read Adelle Davis, but she overdid it on the advice, and then died of bone cancer, which didn't seem that healthy.
I agree w/ @Rex Deke = Dangle??? Have anything to do with Greek letter delta= triangle? Sports are just not my sport.

As for Thurs, where endo and a_sis caught me, Erich Segal was a TA in an undergraduate humanities class, which dates me, once again. My first entry was Kagan, but couldn't remember how to spell her first name, so that caught me for a while. Donna Karan was a gimme,

but today's Saab? I thought that stood for Svensk something Aeronautical; I once owned one, er, two actually. Tried Rene before it turned out to be Elie.
back to Thurs, Mentee seems to me to be good back formation, certainly better than mentoree, or even the mentored. 2:19 AM  

Finished this puppy, but it took me a hellavalong time to do it. For some obscure reason I filled in Polkas at 42D, guess I got it confused with square dancing. DOH!
That messed me up for a long, long, time.

15A also threw me for a loop, I could not let go of a baseball term or a washstand item.

Oh well, there is always tomorrow as Annie would say.

Anonymous 2:25 AM  

More on this puzzle:
first fill for me was Asian flu, which helped with glitterati , which I thought was nicely clued, as was orange tree.

Aaron 2:25 AM  

Yo, check it: does I love that ALI G clip or what? Respect.

i skip M-W 2:26 AM  

my screen name didn't get on. I said the above
More on this puzzle:
first fill for me was Asian flu, which helped with glitterati , which I thought was nicely clued, as was orange tree.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

What's with this new format, I was totally flummoxed.

andrea car michaelS 2:30 AM  

waaah, had to look up DENIS and ORFF (again!) Orff!

Reno NevadA had to transmogrify into NOMEALASKA...painful.

Agree with the non-this century-ness of this one.

Seemed oddly/heavily split between Sports:

and yet, Very Hollywood/Bdway:


Normally I don't count or notice, but really way too many plurals (16!), lotS of them semi-cheaterS squareS in that two wordS met in S:
That'S more than ALITTLEBIT, NON?

Boy, if people didn't like the name-heaviness of yesterday, they will probably scream bloody hell today.

jae 2:31 AM  

Rex said it, solid but ho-hum. GLITTERTI was kinda fresh but BEQ did TWITTERATI a while back so, not so much.

Easy for me, I briefly had GTE and NBAERS for CAGERS but no real problems. OK, truth be told, I confused my states (I live in San Diego) and had BRUINS for GATORS for longer than I want to admit.

ROSE was my first thought also except 70 yrs didn't work.

For all you IPAD solvers out there, the guy who did this
one in 4 minutes and change is me. I have a
medical procedure tommorw and did the puzzle on paper due to needing to be mobile. I used IPAD to check my solution and did not really do it that quickly.

I did like this one.

andrea rolledover michaels 2:35 AM  

Actually now that I see none of the FOUR sets of 3 stacks of tens(!!!)
rely on plurals, I sort of take back my harrumph-ness about all the S's.

Oh, and that ROLLEDOVER echoed the early week entry ROLLOVERACD.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

How about two tens out of twenty for 19 across??

Smitty 7:16 AM  

@Dan - me too on TENS

Once again, not Easy or even Medium for me. But a fair puzzle.

I really wanted SPUTNIK to be the global scare of 1957

No BS 8:02 AM  

Apparently a dangle or a deke is a fake in hockey. (Clever misdirection for one like me who had alaska and system in place:
_ _ K E.) Lots of amazing "dekes" to be seen on youtube. Didn't know Tally couldn't come up with tree, wouldn not have recognized deke, so left with a Friday DNF. Sob.

Deb Amlen 8:05 AM  

I get fooled by ALIG too, but I loved the character, and your clip is fabulous.

The only other way to clue this might be considered an obscurity unless you were a denizen of the New York club scene in the '80s and '90s, or read the New York papers. Michael ALIG was a "club kid" who was tried for and subsequently convicted of murder. His story was all over the place back then, but was most famously covered my Michael Musto in The Village Voice.

The Bard 8:36 AM  

Romeo and Juliet > Act I, scene I

ROMEO: Bid a sick man in sadness make his will:
Ah, word ill urged to one that is so ill!
In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.(Rosaline)

BENVOLIO: I aim'd so near, when I supposed you loved.

ROMEO: A right good mark-man! And she's fair I love.

BENVOLIO: A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.

ROMEO: Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit;
And, in strong proof of chastity well arm'd,
From love's weak childish bow she lives unharm'd.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold:
O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,
That when she dies with beauty dies her store.

BENVOLIO: Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

ROMEO: She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste,
For beauty starved with her severity
Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair:
She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
Do I live dead that live to tell it now.

BENVOLIO: Be ruled by me, forget to think of her.

ROMEO: O, teach me how I should forget to think.

BENVOLIO: By giving liberty unto thine eyes;
Examine other beauties.

The Bard 8:37 AM  

King Henry V > Act V, scene II

BURGUNDY: My duty to you both, on equal love,
Great Kings of France and England! That I have labour'd,
With all my wits, my pains and strong endeavours,
To bring your most imperial majesties
Unto this bar and royal interview,
Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.
Since then my office hath so far prevail'd
That, face to face and royal eye to eye,
You have congreeted, let it not disgrace me,
If I demand, before this royal view,
What rub or what impediment there is,
Why that the naked, poor and mangled Peace,
Dear nurse of arts and joyful births,
Should not in this best garden of the world
Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?
Alas, she hath from France too long been chased,
And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach'd,
Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
Put forth disorder'd twigs; her fallow leas
The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory
Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts
That should deracinate such savagery;
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled cowslip, burnet and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burs,
Losing both beauty and utility.
And as our vineyards, fallows, meads and hedges,
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,
Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country;
But grow like savages,--as soldiers will
That nothing do but meditate on blood,--
To swearing and stern looks, diffused attire
And every thing that seems unnatural.
Which to reduce into our former favour
You are assembled: and my speech entreats
That I may know the let, why gentle Peace
Should not expel these inconveniences
And bless us with her former qualities.

David L 9:03 AM  

Closer to hard for me -- more names today than yesterday that I hadn't heard of, and some of the clues mystify me. Why is MAMA a remembered one, rather than any other relative? I understand that navel oranges come from an ORANGETREE, but does that make the tree a 'base' for navels?

But I mostly liked the longer fill. Good to see STEPHENREA in full, not just as a handy 3-letter answer.

I lived in Finland for a while, and never came across pesapallo. If I was going to name a national sport, I would have said skiing, or long-distance running, or hockey, or maybe soccer... Or drinking.

Why does no one remember Papa? 9:31 AM  

@David L "I Remember Mama", Broadway play, huge hit movie, television series that ran from '47 - '56.

jackj 9:51 AM  

When the clue is "Let's Cook It Right" author Davis and you have the first letter of the answer, an A from ASIANFLU and you think the next letter is an N, from the answer to "Crackers" being NUTS, then it's easy to put in ANGELA for the author's name, until you reflect that Angela probably doesn't cook but only heats things up and you erase her name and go in a different direction.

Greatly enjoyed this themeless.

mac 9:55 AM  

Yes, I had tens and Elin, also, and couldn't get Borat out of my head with AliG.

What is the star system?


Look Up Guy 9:56 AM  

[Continuing a tradition of FWIW search results, without further interpretation]

Definitions of DEKE on the Web:

•A deke, sometimes known as a dangle, is an ice hockey technique which a player uses to get past an opponent or "fake out" a goalie. The term is a Canadianism formed by abbreviating decoy.

jesser 10:01 AM  

Loved it. Just crunchy enough for late-week fare. I would have agreed with Rex about the DEKE/dangle thing, but I never saw it, because the acrosses down there saved me.

Writeover was at 32A, where I had sWEeT until 14D made that implausible. When I fixed that, the center fell into place nicely and gave me all the toe holds I needed to radiate out through the grid.

Did this puzzle give me trouble? Only A LITTLE BIT, but that's what Friday is s'posed to do!

Happy Weekend!

Insorpr! (some highly specialized kind of PR, but be damned if I can figure out any more'n that) -- jesser

a guy 10:12 AM  

Look Up Guy, if you're gonna copy and paste definitions why don't you find a useful one?

It means to put the puck in a tempting position in front of the defender or goaltender, goading them to commit to going for it, then moving it away before they can get it.

Dangling it in front of them like a tasty carrot, only to snatch it away and make them look silly... leaving them in an exposed position unable to defend against your next move.

quilter1 10:16 AM  

It took me awhile to get going, then slow and steady. Don't know hockey or much about baseball players. Loved the clue for CONGAS. Hand up for ATT and had lino before PINE. I'd say its a medium for me and agree its a good puzzle.

SethG 10:20 AM  

My first answer was PIG FARMS. I changed it to PIG SLOPS, but that held me up for a while in the NW. Otherwise, right over the plate.

[Sails events?] is a weird clue to use if you have SALES ROOMS in the puzzle.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Another hand up for TENS at 19A -- although in retrospect, the question mark in the clue should have tipped me off that it wasn't just a math question.

Unknown 10:31 AM  

DNF, held on to TENS, after all isn't Tiger Woods ex ELIN, so there could be a Swedish designer... What's strange is that I got 35A easily and enjoyed it. Had problems in the west with MCI/GETMUSCLES. Went through AZ, NM, CA, before I thought of FA for the "sunshine state".
As for the antiquity of the puzzle, half the people in the puzzle are still alive and in the news. I haven't got a clue for most rappers, unless they've been arrested or appear in some other medium. So, I liked this one.

Look Up Guy 10:48 AM  

@a guy

I was offering (without further comment) the origin of DEKE, an answer in the puzzle.

Thanks for adding the hockey detail, despite it not containing any refrence to DEKE.

Matthew G. 10:52 AM  

Fell for the TEnS/ELIn trap, having never heard of ELIE Saab. Nothing I could have done, since TENS works perfectly well as the across answer. Otherwise finished in pretty average Friday time.

The JETER clue is tricky but fair. It threw me for a loop, as I knew perfectly well that Lou Gehrig never held the all-time hits record _either_ — it was Ty Cobb's record that Pete Rose broke — so I then realized the clue had to be referring to something other than the all-MLB record. Then I got the J and it became clear. And although even I, as a lifelong Yankees fan, am inclined to agree with Rex that Jeter is a dated (and needs to wake up and smell his late 30s), this particular fact about him is timely — it was only last season that he broke Gehrig's record for most hits as a Yankee. I was at Yankee Stadium the game before he did it, and missed the moment by a day.

Stan 10:58 AM  

Loved seeing Stephen Rea spelled out at 1A (a first for the NYT). He is among the true glitterati of crosswords and should be invited to speak at ACPT.

Liked the puzzle and admired the grid: long stacks with a minimum of three-letter crosses.

BRANGELINA fits at 17A, but I gave up on it quickly.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

I had my knickers in a twist yesterday but there didn't seem to be enough proper names today to get my attention. I really enjoyed the solve a lot. I felt like I was inside Adam Cohen's head. AEIOU was my first entry.
Don't know baseball from that Finnish sport (they sound very similar) so the finer points of the Jeter clue were lost on me.
I left in Tens/Elin and I'm happy with them. It's my puzzle and I like it the way it is just fine.
I love Ali G!

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

What's with kale as answer to 18A-scratch?


Leslie 11:33 AM  

@Flowerlady9: They're both slang terms for money.

Answer Guy 11:34 AM  

@Flowerlady7 - Both are slang for money.

jae 11:35 AM  

@ anon 11:17 -- My take is that scratch is slang for money = green = KALE.

r.alphbunker 11:44 AM  

ALITTLEBIT was my big breakthrough.

STEPHENREA reminded me that
are all fifteen letters long.

davko 11:46 AM  

First, I'll give credit where credit is due, and say there were several clue/answer combos that were jewels, notably 17A (GLITTERATI), 35A (AEIOU), and 14D (SWEETENERS).

Otherwise, much of this grid relied on weak synonyms, contrived word associations, and outright deception (@ john farmer: Sorry, I beg to differ. Even my instant recognition of JETER as the answer to 39A could not justify the inaccurate and misleading wording of this clue -- the operative words being all-time, while failing to mention Yankees).

Other gripes: "Few" would have been more of a spot-on clue than "Some" for A LITTLE BIT (27D), and "Sails events?"(36D) barely seemed to demand a question mark, its answer being, by gosh, an event involving sails (yet I get the pun).

CAGERS and SALES ROOMS seem like tired old words that have dropped out of the vernacular. When has a sports commentator ever used the former? Or anyone besides puzzle constructors, for that matter?

@Mathew G - I fell into the 3D/19A trap too, TEN looking unrivaled, at first. While I'd never heard of Elie Saab, I probably should have realized there are rarely any variants on the name "Ellen"... and a lot more Elie's out there.

william e emba 11:50 AM  

KALE and scratch are both slang terms for dough, moolah, cabbage, bacon, etc.

I had TEnS also: since I parsed the clue as referred to the 10s place, I assumed that was what the ? was hinting at.

I had written ADELLa at first, which gave me SWEaTENERS. I had to stare at that for A LITTLE BIT trying to figure out why it was so funny looking.

We had carlORFF three weeks ago! In fact, one of the comments--let's Carl the whole thing Orff--has engraved his name in my memory for the first time in puzzle solving history.

I'll sympathize, but not agree, with Rex on JETER vs Rose in the cluing: sports writers/announcers told us that Jeter had broken the Yankee record. When Rose was on his consecutive game hitting streak, we heard about how he had set the NL record. Not "set the record". Etc. I don't agree with Rex since the clue is accurate, if read correctly. But I don't agree with Matthew G above that we are of course supposed to allow for all these possibilities. Unless narrowed down, the default is always the (American) major league record.

Unknown 12:09 PM  

Can someone explain AEIOU? I still don't get it.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Davko, when someone asks if you want soup, you don't ask for few.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

@A+ - The letters AEIOU appear, in order, in "late-night hours"

Unknown 12:19 PM  

ahhhh... thanks!

john farmer 12:53 PM  


...the operative words being all-time...

From, the record that Jeter broke is labeled "Career All Time."

There's not just one "all-time" record. If the clue said "all-time major league record," it would have been wrong. But it didn't say that.

Couch Potato 1:17 PM  

Thank god that punk Jeter hasn't touched my* all time record for hits!

* All time hits by someone who's never played the game. A 5,234,231,472 way tie with 0 hits.

Cathyat40 1:20 PM  

Agree Pete Rose s/b in the HOF. Found the puzzle easy-medium, but needed Mr. Happy Pencil as a guide on the NW trail. Andy Rooney and Ali G. deserve each other (in a good way). Mother owned paperbacks by Adelle Davis and was inspired to create homemade baby food in a pressure cooker, circa 1961 (Cathyat40 is 50). Post-solve Wikipedia queries revealed two new-to-me facts:

1. The term "Cold War" was coined by George Orwell in 1945.

2. (Adelle) Davis also wrote (under the pen name Jane Dunlap) a classic of psychedelic literature, Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD-25, which Harcourt also published in 1961. According to the book's dust jacket, "Dunlap" volunteered to be the subject of a medically supervised study employing lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD-25, and to record in detail her visions while under the drug's influence.

Coincidentally, father was a CIA LSD subject before my birth. Parents were worried baby would be adversely genetically altered due to Dad's ingestion of acid. Perhaps the baby food repaired me.

Lots of good humor in the comments today: @syndy - loved your captcha definition; @jackj - your reflection on Angela Davis' culinary practices made me LOL.

Captcha: modlet = Twiggy wannabe

Bassetwrangler 1:21 PM  

In my experience as an Army platoon leader (O-2), squad leaders are usually corporals (E-4) or, at most, sergeants (E-5) and not SSGTs (E-6) who are known as platoon sergeants.

I figured around this but am just bitter for getting hung up on the TEES-ELIE connection. Carry on.

PuzzleNut 1:52 PM  

Liked this one - right up my alley. Tough enough to entertain me for a good while, but ultimately solvable.
Never remember ELIE - always think there should be a Z in there somewhere.
Had ITALIANAgE for quite a while, and JEgER from crosses. I know of JETER so I finally changed it, but still didn't like ITALIANATE.
My other write-over shows how fortuidous some errors can be. Wrote in GLITzERATI based on the G?????RAT?, pretty proud of "knowing" that. Eventually fixed the Z, but my wrong answer gave me a pretty good toehold.
I think this is the second time in recent history that I've questioned ETES since I KNOW it is French for summers. It's hard enough keeping track of languages I don't know, but do they have to have all these words with double meanings.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

@william e emba 11:50 AM said...

KALE and scratch are both slang terms for dough, moolah, cabbage, bacon, etc.


With scores of slang synonyms for money, we have:

CLUE: Slang synonym for X


ENTRY: Slang synonym for X

with a rather indirect or obscure connection between CLUE and ENTRY. Another frequent value for X: "friend" (pal, chum, mac, ace [twice recently!], bud, bro, man, ...).

Dare I say "There ought to be a law!"?


davko 3:04 PM  

@anon 12:12 - Asking for "some soup" does not imply asking for a little bit; it implies asking for a helping of unspecified size. If I wanted a little bit, I'd ask for "a little soup." The clue is flawed because it equates "some" with a small amount instead of an indeterminate amount.

@john farmer - Semantically, you're correct. But as Rex points out, the glaring omission of an important qualifier is rather misleading, making a certain pardonable French expression quite apropos of this clue.

archaeoprof 3:43 PM  

The clue for 42A is misleading. It should read: "They're not allowed to travel, unless they're in the NBA."

sanfranman59 3:45 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 26:00, 26:16, 0.99, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:51, 12:53, 1.00, 56%, Medium

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Very little progress on my own so had to resort to Google early on. With Google I was able to solve the bottom and NW.
My downfall was in the NE corner. Had GNAWING for 25A and that messed me up royally. Could not think of ON A DIET which is a very clever clue. Never heard of KALE.
For me this was a difficult one but I had some satisfaction that I completed most of the puzzle.

syndy 4:15 PM  

Do you speak French? SOME! not enough to conjugate etre

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Nit: Renaissance lecture was coincidental, not ironic.

william e emba 4:30 PM  

While I'd never heard of Elie Saab, I probably should have realized there are rarely any variants on the name "Ellen"... and a lot more Elie's out there.

That's good thinking for early in the week. By the time we hit Friday, uncommon names become common. What's A LITTLE BIT ironic is not only did we have ELIN Nordegren (full name) in the grid a few weeks ago, the uncertainty about spelling her last name hosed a few of us, including yours truly. (No one had trouble with her first name, because of the theme and/or crosses.)

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

You may need some more understanding of "some".

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

There is nothing wrong with A LITTLE BIT for "Some". If you offer me some more soup, I might answer "Sure, A LITTLE BIT."

To "Would you like some more coffee, sir?", I might answer "Why yes, thank you, but just A LITTLE BIT, darlin'"

Alan 4:55 PM  

Vastly easier for me than yesterday's ladder of names, that, apart from E. Kagan, I'd never heard before. I was even able to do my own little private word ladder in the deep southwest. My 56across floor recovering was quickly remodeled from TILE to PILE to PINE.

mac 5:00 PM  

I went from lino (passed that factory 4 times in the last few days) to pine.

davko 5:06 PM  

From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate:

1: one indeterminate quantity, portion, or number as distinguished from the rest.
2: an indefinite additional amount

And it is I who needs some understanding of the word?
Furthermore, I never stated the clue was wrong, just that "Few" would have been better. (see 11:46).

davko 5:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
davko 5:31 PM  

Okay, I concede "few" is plural, while "a little bit" is singular. So maybe it's not the best clue, either.
Anyone got a word that tracks?

cody.riggs 5:40 PM  

Thanks to Rex for a great blog...coincidentally I started doing the NYT xword (in syndication) just a few weeks after Rex started this blog, and became a daily reader way back then (because of the syndication delay I've been following the second week of the blog.)

Last month, I cancelled the Oregonian and signed up for the Times, then used the archive to do the 5 weeks of Wed-Sun puzzles I missed. Today I'm finally caught up with the rest of you!

No more syndicationland for me! Free at last!

And as one who witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, I must add, "Go Egypt!"

Clark 6:02 PM  

@cody.riggs -- Congratulations on your 5 week sprint. Welcome to real time!

fergus 6:54 PM  

Looked at this puzzle for fifteen minutes and barely filled anything in. Making me realize that solving a Friday NYT is not so facile - if you're afflicted maybe at a bar sipping a Sierra Nevada.

R. McGeddon 7:16 PM  

One of the movies featured in the Golden Turkey Awards book was "I Dismember Mama."

R. McGeddon 7:24 PM  

By the way, I also used to skip M-W. Then I discovered this place.

Two Ponies 7:54 PM  

@ cody.riggs, Welcome aboard. Pull up a chair and get comfortable.
No problem here with a little bit.
After all, it's a Friday.
Again I ask "Did you miss the answer because of the clue?"
There is a reason it is called a puzzle. If you want exact definitions then amuse yourself reading a dictionary.

Stan 8:12 PM  

@cody -- you rock! Wilkommen.

However I do feel that the Oregonian is (or at least was) one of America's best small newspapers -- a really independent voice.

ttv 9:25 PM  

Adele is one who I adore. Like her performance.

michael 9:35 PM  

I also had ten/elin When so many of us make the same mistake, perhaps that suggests that elie saab is too obscure an answer. I don't feel strongly about this.

Really had to think about the Gehrig/Jeter answer and then had an aha moment. Liked it, but might not have been so happy if I weren't a baseball fan. Seems that most folks knowing something about baseball (perhaps a sane amount) would think "Rose" and then just be puzzled.

All in all, liked this puzzle, typical Friday level -- not easy, but gettable.

michael 9:37 PM  

Also, I've been to Ely and thought it was a nice little town, even if the temperature was 33 degrees on Memorial Day.

Sonata 11:16 AM  


My objection ti SALESROOMS was not the clue, but the answer - what in the world is a sales room?

@Rex - unTINTed oreos? What on earth do you mean, and what could it have to do with meringues?
This curious bit of cookie trivia intrigued me, so wikied it... Was amazed to see how many official variations on the Oreo theme exist, and saddened to know that I must be in a real minority - (I DISCARD that yukky white paste and just eat the biscuit) - but alas, that is NOT one of the pre-packaged variations!

Sails events - agree there should be no "?" - that is a straight-forward definition.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

What, oh what is the connection between "two out of twenty" and TEES?

Sonata: note the Wikipedia mention of the filling-free "100 Calorie Pack" Oreos. Have only seen them on airplanes but then I don't usually shop for cookies, apart from Anna’s thins.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

kateyule, the other four out of twenty are the W, the E, the N, and the Y.

Dirigonzo 12:48 AM  

It's 5 weeks later in syndication-land but it's still Friday so I expected this puzzle to be challenging, and I did everything I could to make it that way. I ignored the obvious answers (which turned out to be correct), I looked for a rebus (which wasn't there) and where there were two plausible answers I picked the wrong one. So when I finally finished and discovered it really wasn't that difficult I was a little disappointed (in myself, not the puzzle.) Finished with the TEnS/ELIn error that trapped so many others, though, so maybe that was a little challenging.

Veera 5:17 PM  

You're probably not reading this but Pesäpallo is the national sport of Finland. Invented or developed from baseball in the 1920s by a guy called Tahko Pihkala, it's a rural game (as in, if you live in Helsinki, you'll never hear of it) and it's gaining back it's popularity. Highly entertaining, and as an audience member you have to stay focused and know the rules, otherwise you won't understand what's going on. So very unlike baseball.

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